China’s Damning U.S. Human Rights Report May Be Propaganda, but It’s Not Wrong
China just released a 13,000-word report on the state of human rights in the United States. While the report clearly has an agenda, it’s not inaccurate.
By Alan Macleod - 18.
Amid a global pandemic, you might be forgiven for having missed that the State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China just released a 13,000-word report (see below) on the state of human rights in the United States.
Entitled “The Record of Human Rights Violations in the United States in 2019,” it begins by quoting Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “We lied, we cheated, we stole … It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment,” Pompeo said of his time as head of the Central Intelligence Agency during a Q&A at Texas A&M University.
The document reads similarly to reports from other human rights groups like Amnesty International, Freedom House or Human Rights Watch, providing copious facts and figures to highlight shortcomings of the American system on a range of issues.
For example, on racist policing, it notes that, “Shootings and brutal abuse of African Americans by policemen are frequent. African American adults are 5.9 times more likely to be incarcerated than white adults. A U.N. Special Rapporteur called such racial disparities a vestige of slavery and racial segregation.”
The report expresses alarm at the increase in racial hate crimes. “White supremacy in the United States has shown a resurgence trend,” it claims, noting that the majority of domestic terror related arrests were linked to white supremacist individuals or groups. It cites a November FBI study that counted thousands of racial hate crimes, almost half of them motivated by anti-African American sentiment. Intolerance against Jews and Muslims is also increasing rapidly the report noted.
It also takes aim at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and its “zero tolerance” policy on illegal immigration, noting that well over 100 people were arrested while demonstrating against those policies. Thus, if skim-read, China’s report could be mistaken for one written by liberal Western organizations based in London or Washington, D.C. But, in fact, it was written directly in opposition to the human rights industry; in its foreword it explicitly states:
The United States claims to be founded on human rights, touting itself as a world human rights defender. Following a framework of its own narrow understanding of human rights and using its core interests of pursuing global hegemony as a yardstick, the United States released annual reports on other countries’ human rights every year by piecing together innuendoes and hearsay. These reports wantonly distorted and belittled human rights situation in countries and regions that did not conform to U.S. strategic interests, but turned a deaf ear and a blind eye to the persistent, systematic and large-scale human rights violations in the United States.”
Furthermore, it goes much further than most Western human rights reports do, incorporating economic and social rights into its critique. These rights are enshrined in the United Nations’ 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and are commonly seen as the cornerstone of human rights. The report states that homeless people are in a “miserable situation,” in the United States and are rarely treated with sympathy or helped, noting that an astonishing 80,000 California community college students had been forced to sleep in cars during the previous year alone. It also highlights the “shocking problem” of child poverty; the poverty ratio of American children having barely improved in the last 30 years. The report concluded that, “No child should have to worry where her next meal will come from or whether she will have a place to sleep each night in the wealthiest nation on Earth.” A lack of healthcare is also a killer; around 14 percent of adults have no coverage whatsoever.
The United States, however, has always explicitly rejected the Universal Declaration and its economic and social rights. Its ambassador to the U.N. during the Reagan years, Jeanne Kirkpatrick, famously labeled the Declaration a “letter to Santa Claus.” Likewise, Western human rights organizations rarely broach the topic of economic or labor rights; Human Rights Watch’s co-founder believed them to be antithetical to democracy and even described the very concept as “authoritarian.”
The Chinese report also expands its field to discuss the U.S. role in harming human rights worldwide. “In order to maintain its hegemony over the world, the United States pursued unilateralism and trampled on the international order and international system with the purposes and principles of the U.N. Charter as its core,” it states, citing the rights of Afghans, Iraqis and Syrians whose lives have been destroyed by American interventions and condemning the U.S. for its sanctions on Cuba and Venezuela.
Well-written, well-sourced propaganda
Of course, many in the West will simply brush the report off as Chinese-government funded propaganda, which it is. The report certainly has an agenda, as its foreword and conclusion make clear. But perhaps we should go deeper and question if this well-written, well-sourced document is propaganda, what makes those from Western-backed human rights organizations any different?
Freedom House, for example, is overwhelmingly funded by Washington, consistently shows a strong conservative bias, and was even employed by the Pentagon to perform what it called “clandestine activities” – i.e. regime change – in Iran. Human Rights Watch began as a Cold War organization directly targeted against Communist governments and last November proved crucial in the overthrow of Evo Morales, the democratically-elected socialist president of Bolivia.
Amnesty International, perhaps the most famous human rights organization in the world, has an arguably darker past still. As MintPressNews revealed last year, one co-founder of the organization, Peter Benenson, was an avowed anti-Communist with deep ties to the British Foreign and Colonial Offices, propping up the apartheid regime of South Africa at his government’s request. Another co-founder, Luis Kutner, was an FBI asset who was involved in the government’s assassination of Black Panther leader Fred Hampton. Kutner went on to form an organization called “Friends of the FBI,” dedicated to countering and combating criticism of the Bureau.
Despite the fact they are united against a common enemy – the coronavirus – the U.S. and China are again at loggerheads, President Trump is facing criticism for continually describing COVID-19 as the “Chinese Virus,” despite explicit World Health Organization warnings against doing so. Trump has used the outbreak to double down on the necessity of building the border wall against Mexico, despite the fact that the virus began in China. Professor Ian Haney Lopez of the University of California, Berkeley, an expert in racist language in American politics, told MintPress:
Labeling COVID-19 the “Chinese virus” is entirely in keeping with Donald Trump’s pattern of dog whistling. The term is designed to trigger racist fears (foreigners as disease-carriers), while preserving plausible deniability (defensible as merely a statement about geography).
The Chinese report concludes by stating:
People have discerning eyes. The United States has long been deceitfully touting itself as a so-called “role model” for upholding human rights, while flagrantly playing with double standards on human rights issues. Human rights, viewed by the United States as a tool to maintain its hegemony, have been championed or violated by it according to its own needs. Actions speak louder than words. The United States, a country preoccupied with human rights problems at home, unscrupulously tramples on the human rights of people in other countries, resulting in untold sufferings.
Whether it convinces many Americans of its legitimacy remains to be seen.
Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, The Guardian, Salon, The Grayzone, Jacobin Magazine, Common Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary. @AlanRMacLeod
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Full text: Record of human rights violations in USA in 2019
By Xinhua - 13. March 2020
BEIJING - China on Friday issued a report on the human rights situation in the United States.
The report, titled The Record of Human Rights Violations in the United States in 2019, was released by the State Council Information Office.
The Record of Human Rights Violations in the United States in 2019
State Council Information Office of the People's Republic of China
"We lied, we cheated, we stole ... It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment," said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a speech on April 15, 2019.
The remarks of US politicians have completely exposed their hypocrisy of adopting double standards on human rights issues and using them to maintain hegemony.
The United States claims to be founded on human rights, touting itself as a world human rights defender. Following a framework of its own narrow understanding of human rights and using its core interests of pursuing global hegemony as a yardstick, the United States released annual reports on other countries' human rights every year by piecing together innuendoes and hearsay. These reports wantonly distorted and belittled human rights situation in countries and regions that did not conform to US strategic interests, but turned a deaf ear and a blind eye to the persistent, systematic and large-scale human rights violations in the United States.
This report is based on a variety of published data, reports and research findings. The facts detailed in the report prove that in recent years, especially since 2019, the human rights situation in the United States has been poor and deteriorating.
-- The United States is a country with the worst gun violence in the world. The number of mass killings in the United States hit a record high of 415 in 2019, with more than one happening for every day of the year. In total 39,052 people died from gun related violence in the United States in 2019. A person is killed with a gun in the United States every 15 minutes. “This seems to be the age of mass shootings,” commented USA Today.
-- Elections have become money games for the rich. Spending in the 2018 elections for Congress topped US$5.7 billion, making the battle for control of the House and Senate the most expensive midterm ever. In 2018, the 10 largest individual donors funneled more than US$436 million to Super PACs (political action committees) in the midterm elections. The race to raise money for the 2020 presidential election is heating up. Candidates have raised more than US$1.08 billion for the election.
-- The United States has the most serious polarization between the rich and poor among developed countries. The Gini Index grew to 0.485 in 2018, the highest level in 50 years. The wealthiest 10 percent of US households control nearly 75 percent of household net worth. The bottom 50 percent saw essentially zero net gains in wealth from 1989 to 2018.
-- The United States is currently the only developed country where millions of people are hungry. There were 39.7 million people living in poverty in the United States, according to US Census Bureau figures released in 2018. On a single night in the previous year, more than half a million Americans lacked permanent shelter. There were 65 million adults who chose not to seek treatment for a medical issue because of the cost.
-- Racial hate crimes in the United States have shocked the world. White supremacy in the United States has shown a resurgence trend. The majority of domestic terror related arrests were linked to white supremacist violence. A white man opened fire and killed 22 people at a Walmart superstore in El Paso, Texas. His motive was hatred toward Hispanics. "The United States has always been in the midst of a white nationalist terrorist crisis," reads a comment.
-- Shootings and brutal abuse of African Americans by policemen are frequent. African American adults are 5.9 times more likely to be incarcerated than white adults. An UN Special Rapporteur called such racial disparities a vestige of slavery and racial segregation.
-- The racial gap in employment and wealth is striking. Over the past 40 years, workers of African descent have consistently endured an unemployment rate approximately twice that of their white counterparts. The typical wealth for a white household is nearly 10 times that for African Americans. If current trends continue, it could take more than 200 years for the average family of African descent to accumulate the same amount of wealth as its white counterparts.
-- Religious intolerance continues to deteriorate. Pew Research Center surveys showed that about 82 percent of respondents say Muslims are subject to at least some discrimination in the United States. Some 64 percent say Jews face at least some discrimination in the United States. Extremists inspired by extremist ideology were responsible for 249 anti-Semitic incidents in 2018. An UN report noted the exceptionally violent anti-Semitic incidents in the United States.
-- The United States has the most dangerous situation for women among high-income countries. In 2015, an astounding 92 percent of all women killed with guns in these countries were from the United States. Women in the United States were 21 times more likely to die by firearm homicide than women in peer nations. Every month, an average of 52 women were shot and killed by an intimate partner. Up to 70 percent of US women had experienced physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime.
-- Child poverty is a shocking problem. Around 12.8 million US children lived in poverty and a total of 3.5 million children under five were poor, with 1.6 million of those children living in extreme poverty. "No child should have to worry where her next meal will come from or whether she will have a place to sleep each night in the wealthiest nation on Earth," commented the Children's Defense Fund in a report, adding that yet "about one in five children in America lived in poverty and faced these harsh realities every day."
-- Poverty among the elderly is becoming more and more serious. One in 12 seniors aged 60 and older -- 5.5 million people -- did not have enough food. About 40 percent of middle-class Americans would live close to or in poverty by the time they reach age 65.
-- The US government's treatment of immigrants has become increasingly harsh and inhumane. The “zero-tolerance” policy caused the separations of many children from their families. US immigration authorities had separated more than 5,400 children from their parents at the Mexico border since July 2017. A total of 24 immigrants, including seven children, have died in US custody since 2018.
-- The United States is "the most warlike nation in the history of the world." The United States has spent US$6.4 trillion on wars it launched since 2001, which resulted in more than 800,000 deaths and left tens of millions displaced.
I. Civil and Political Rights in Name Only
The United States flaunts itself as "the land of freedom" and a "beacon of democracy," which, however, is just something imaginary that fools the people and the world. The lack of restraint in the right to hold guns has led to rampant gun violence, posing a serious threat to citizens' life and property safety. Worsening money politics distorts public opinion and makes the so-called democratic election a game for the rich.
Politics has led to a proliferation of guns. The manufacture, sale and use of guns in the United States is a huge industrial chain, forming a huge interest group. Interest groups such as the National Rifle Association made large political donations for presidential and congressional elections. The intertwined drawbacks of party politics, election politics and money politics make it difficult for the legislative and executive authorities to do anything about gun control, only allowing the situation to deteriorate. According to an US online media report dated Dec 11, 2019, the United States has far more guns than any other country and in 2017 the estimated number of civilian-owned firearms in the United States was 120.5 guns per 100 residents, meaning there were more firearms than people. According to a Nov 20, 2019 report on the website of the Center for American Progress, one person is killed with a gun in the United States every 15 minutes, citing figures on shooting deaths from 2008 through 2017. In total 39,052 people died from gun related violence in the United States in 2019.
Mass shootings occurred one after another. The United States is a country with the worst gun violence in the world. Frequent mass shootings have become a defining feature of the United States. Citing figures from the Gun Violence Archive (GVA) , the online edition of The Mirror reported on Dec. 30, 2019 that the number of mass killings in the United States hit a record high of 415 in 2019, with more than one happening for every day of the year. That compares with 337 in 2018; 346 in 2017; 382 in 2016; 335 in 2015 and 269 in 2014, the first year the GVA kept records. The three worst US shootings of 2019 took place in El Paso, Texas, Virginia Beach, and Dayton, Ohio, which killed 22, 12 and nine people, respectively. "This seems to be the age of mass shootings," commented USA Today in an online report.
Violent crimes number is alarming. The "Crime in the United States, 2018" report released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in 2019 showed that in 2018, an estimated 1,206,836 violent crimes occurred nationwide, including 16,214 murders, 139,380 rapes, 282,061 robberies, and 807,410 aggravated assaults. The "Criminal Victimization, 2018" report released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics in 2019 showed that the number of violent-crime victims aged 12 or older in the United States was 3.3 million in 2018, rising for three consecutive years.
People's property safety is at risk. The Crime in the United States, 2018 report released by the FBI showed that in 2018 there were an estimated 7,196,045 property crime offenses in the nation, with a rate of property crime estimated at 2,199.5 per 100,000 inhabitants. Property crimes in 2018 resulted in losses estimated at US$16.4 billion. Among the property crimes were an estimated 748,841 thefts of motor vehicles and 1,230,149 burglaries. The estimated rate of motor vehicle thefts was 229 per 100,000 inhabitants. Vehicles stolen were worth an estimated total of more than US$6 billion. Victims of burglary offenses suffered an estimated US$3.4 billion in property losses. The average dollar loss per burglary offense was US$2,799.
Poor handling of cases by the police resulted in the loss of public confidence. Incidents reported to the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) of the FBI in 2018 involved nearly 6.6 million criminal offenses and nearly 7 million victims. The website of Pew Research Center reported on Oct 17, 2019 that in the United States in 2018, 45.5 percent of violent crimes and 17.6 percent of property crimes were cleared, citing FBI figures. Many victims did not report a crime out of a feeling that police "would not or could not do anything to help." In 2018, only 43 percent of violent crimes and 34 percent of property crimes tracked by the Bureau of Justice Statistics were reported to police.
Citizens' personal dignity and privacy are systematically violated. According to a Dec 6, 2019 report on the website of the Dallas Morning News, Texas is home to eight secretive surveillance centers, which, supported jointly by federal, state and local law enforcement departments, are created for the purpose of better sharing intelligence and better monitoring and analyzing social media and other online forums. A decade ago, when fusion centers were coming online, the American Civil Liberties Union issued a warning that the centers had ambiguous lines of authority and excessive secrecy. The threat, it stated, for "the creation of a total surveillance society," is real. According to an US Government Accountability Office report released on June 4, 2019, the FBI's face recognition office can now search databases with more than 641 million photos. Half of US adults -- more than 117 million people -- are in a law enforcement face recognition network, according to a Georgetown University study report, which raises serious questions about privacy and civil liberties violations, particularly for African Americans.
Prison management disorders resulted in frequent abuse scandals. A report carried by the website of the Department of Justice on April 3, 2019 said Alabama’s prisons for men fail to protect prisoners from prisoner-on-prisoner violence and sexual abuse and that prisoners experience serious harm, including deadly harm, as a result. The website of the Sun reported on Dec 10, 2019 that 14 women are suing the Coleman Federal Correctional Complex in the United States over systemic abuse they claim to have endured at the prison. Allegations of sexual assault and harassment behind bars in the United States skyrocketed 180 percent from 2011 to 2015. Solitary confinement, which according to the United Nations is a torturous practice, causes severe mental and physical pain or suffering and may even lead to death. A 2017 survey of state prisons estimated around 61,000 prisoners are held in solitary confinement in the United States on any given day, according to a Sept 4, 2019 report on the website of the Guardian.
Political elections were reduced to money games. CNN reported on Feb 7, 2019 that spending in the 2018 elections for Congress topped US$5.7 billion, shooting past the US$5.3 billion spent during the then-recording breaking 2008 presidential election and making the battle for control of the House and Senate the most expensive midterm ever. The Florida US Senate race was the most expensive contest of the midterms, with the spending topping US$209 million. The winning candidate Republican Rick Scott poured more than US$63 million of his personal fortune into the contest. In 2018, the 10 largest individual donors funneled more than US$436 million to Super PACs (political action committees) in the most expensive midterm elections ever, according to a report dated Aug 14, 2019 on the website of the Time magazine. Big money in politics has overwhelmed the political process, granting wealthy special interests more power now than at any time in recent American history, "distorting the voices of everyday citizens and putting the foundation of our democracy at risk."
The race to raise money for the 2020 presidential election is heating up. According to data released on Dec 29, 2019 on the website of the Federal Election Commission, candidates have raised more than US$1.08 billion for the 2020 presidential election and spent US$531 million. In his first week as a Democratic US presidential candidate, Michael Bloomberg launched a US$40-plus million advertising campaign, according to a HuffPost report dated Nov 30, 2019. Presidential candidates have spent more than US$100 million on digital ads, noted a report released by the Center for Responsive Politics on Nov 24, 2019.
America's self-touted "freedom of the press" is in name only. For the third time in three years, the United States’ standing in an annual index of press freedom declined, according to a report released on the website of the Washington Post on April, 18, 2019. Data released by the website of the US Press Freedom Tracker on Dec 29, 2019 showed that in 2019 in the United States there were 38 journalists who were attacked, 28 incidents in which journalists were denied access to government events, nine journalists who were arrested or faced with criminal charges. Since 2017, at least 54 journalists have been subpoenaed or had their records seized and 36 journalists have been arrested while covering protests in the United States. The current US Administration is "mounting the most direct attack on press freedom in American history," according to a report dated Dec 12, 2019 on the website of the Guardian.
Demonstrators were arrested for protesting against government policies. Calls for the closure of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have intensified since the US Government in 2018 implemented its "zero tolerance" policy on immigration. About 100 protesters demanding an end to the ICE were arrested in New York City, according to a CNN report on Aug 11, 2019. At least 15 protesters were arrested in a demonstration organized by Greenpeace USA on Sept 12, 2019, according to a report on the website of Houston Chronicle. Nearly 40 protesters attended a planned protest in Miami on Nov 29, 2019 for government action on climate change and one protester was arrested, according to a report on the website of Miami Herald.
II. Absence of Basic Guarantee of Social and Economic Rights
Behind the overall prosperity of the United States is the cruel reality of the serious polarization between the rich and the poor in the country. The income distribution gap continues to widen, the medical and education cost continues to rise, the coverage of social security is shrinking and the lives of the people at the bottom are miserable.
The gap between rich and poor hit a 50-year high. In May 2018, Philip G. Alston, the United Nation's special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, published a report saying the United States had the highest rate of income inequality among Western countries. The Washington Times reported on its website on Sept 27, 2019 that the Gini Index of the United States has been rising steadily over the past five decades, citing figures from the US Census Bureau. The Gini Index grew to 0.485 in 2018, the highest level in 50 years. Citing a report from the New York-based financial firm JP Morgan Chase, the USA Today website reported on May 26, 2019 that the wealthiest 10 percent of US households control nearly 75 percent of household net worth. “The increasing consolidation of wealth in the hands of a few has gone beyond what many Americans deem to be justified or morally acceptable.” The basic trend of widening income gap in the United States is casting negative influences on the enjoyment and realization of human rights. The New York Times website reported on Sept 10, 2019 that the expanding gap between rich and poor is not only widening the gulf in incomes and wealth in America. It is helping the rich lead longer lives, while cutting short the lives of those who are struggling. The polarization between the rich and the poor in the United States is a stable long-term trend. The main reason for this trend is structural, which is determined by the political system of the United States and the capital interests represented by the US government. The US government not only lacks the political will to eliminate these structural causes, but also continuously introduces policies and measures to strengthen them. In the United States, “the persistence of extreme poverty is a political choice made by those in power,” said Alston, the special rapporteur.
Inequality in income distribution is growing. USA Today reported on its website on April 17 and May 26, 2019 that income inequality is a growing problem in the United States, which could be contributed to factors including the stagnant middle-class wages and skyrocketing executive compensation. In some of the largest and most recognizable global companies, chief executives earn in less than an hour as much as their typical employee earns in an entire year. MyLogIQ, a data aggregator of public companies, released a report comparing total CEO compensation to median employee compensation for companies on the S&P 500 index, identifying 13 companies where the CEO makes at least 1,000 times the salary of their typical employee, while the biggest contrast was 3,566 times. Citing a Federal Reserve report, the Forbes website reported on May 29, 2019 that in 2018, the richest 10 percent held 70 percent of total household wealth, up from 60 percent in 1989. The share funneled to the top 1 percent jumped to 32 percent in 2018 from 23 percent in 1989. The bottom 50 percent saw essentially zero net gains in wealth over those 30 years, driving their already meager share of total wealth down to just 1 percent from 4 percent, who are literally getting crushed by the weight of rising inequalities.
People at the bottom are living in distress. In the United States, where the economy is already highly developed, many still face the threat of hunger. The United States remains the only developed country where millions go hungry, according to an article published on Dec 16, 2019 on the website of the American Bar Association. According to the US Census Bureau, there are 39.7 million people living in poverty in the United States, including 12.8 million children in 2018. American Progress website reported on Feb 13, 2019 that more than 4 in 10 Americans are struggling to afford basics such as housing, food, and health care. The US Congress has refused to raise the federal minimum wage of US$7.25 per hour for a decade, contributing to the worsening of poverty. The Economic Policy Institute said on Aug 27, 2019 that the real value (inflation-adjusted) of the federal minimum wage in 2019 has dropped 17 percent since 2009 and 31 percent since 1968. The Los Angeles Times reported on its website on May 7, 2019 that the US government proposed to use a sham inflation rate to throw millions off poverty rolls. “This administration isn’t interested in knowing how many Americans are living in poverty, or how to help them. In the games it wants to play with numbers.”
The homeless are in a miserable situation. USA Today reported on its website on Oct 7, 2019 that on a single night in the previous year, more than half a million Americans lacked permanent shelter, according to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. Los Angeles Times reported online on July 2, 2019 that nearly 8 million Americans lost homes in the recession and its aftermath. For America’s middle class, the homeownership rate fell to about 60 percent in 2016 from roughly 70 percent in 2004, according to separate Federal Reserve data. The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority on June 4, 2019 released the results of the 2019 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, which showed 58,936 people in Los Angeles County experiencing homelessness, representing a 12 percent rise from the previous year. CNN reported on June 18, 2019 that the rise in homelessness in neighboring counties was equally bracing. Homelessness was up 43 percent in Orange County over the previous year, 28 percent in Ventura County and 50 percent in Kern County. The homeless did not receive sympathy or help. The BBC website reported on July 18, 2019 that government officials in West Palm Beach, Florida are trying to drive the homeless away from the city's waterfront space by playing on an endless loop of music through the night. Maria Foscarinis, executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, said, "Driving them out by blaring music is just inhumane and really shocking."
The public medical burden is overwhelming. The health gap between the United States and countries with the same level of development continues to widen, one reason is that the public medical burden is too heavy. CBS website said on July 1, 2019 that price hikes on prescription drugs are surging, with more than 3,400 drugs having boosted their prices in the first six months of 2019, an increase of 17 percent in the number of drug hikes from a year earlier, while the average price hike is 10.5 percent. On Nov 21, 2019, the American Broadcasting Company website cited a new report by the Commonwealth Fund to report that middle-class employees' premium and deductible contributions rose nearly 6 percent per year between 2008 and 2018, during which the share of such spending in household income also climbed to 11.5 percent from 7.8 percent. American Broadcasting Company reported on April 3, 2019 that Americans borrowed US$88 billion to pay for health care in the past 12 months. According to a new national survey by Gallup and West Health, 15 million Americans deferred purchasing prescription drugs due to the costs of the medications. Beyond that, there were 65 million adults who chose not to seek treatment for a medical issue because of the cost, according to the survey.
The number of people without health insurance soars. The United States is one of the few developed countries that do not have universal health insurance, and a significant number of residents do not have health insurance, so they cannot get the health care they deserve when they fall ill. The website of the Los Angeles times on Jan 23, 2019 reported that at the end of 2018, 13.7 percent of US adults were uninsured, up from 10.9 percent at the end of 2016, according to a survey by Gallup. The new report also indicates that some 7 million US adults have likely lost or dropped coverage since 2016. More than 21 percent of adults under 35 now lack health insurance, according to the Gallup survey, up nearly 5 percentage points in just the last two years. A study by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families found the number of children in the United States without health insurance increased in 2018 for the first time in more than a decade.
Drug abuse is getting worse. American Progress reported online on Jan 10, 2019 that 630,000 people died of drug overdoses across the country from 1999 through 2016. In 2017, a staggering 72,000 Americans died of drug overdoses -- nearly 200 people every day. The Guardian website reported on Dec 18, 2019 that the popularity of drug has been booming in US campuses, as about one out of five high school students in the United States said they vaped marijuana in the previous year. On May 29, 2019, the Chicago Tribune reported on its website that according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, one in 16 high school seniors report daily use of marijuana.
Shrinking government financial aid leads to a surge in financial pressure on college students. APM (American Public Media) website reported on Feb 25, 2019 that states have cut their investment in higher education by US$9 billion in the last decade, which had led to surging tuitions and burden of paying student loans. The Forbes reported on its website on Feb 25, 2019 that borrowers collectively owed more than US$1.5 trillion in student loan debt in the US in 2019, hitting a record high. Student loan debt was the second highest consumer debt category - behind only mortgage debt. The website of USA Today reported on June 10, 2019 that many college students were having difficulties finding a place to sleep. The report cited a survey to say that homelessness affected 18 percent of respondents attending two-year colleges, and 14 percent of those attending four-year institutions. The number who said they had experienced housing insecurity was 48 percent for those enrolled in four-year institutions. Still, of the nearly 399,000 community college students in California who experienced some period of homelessness in the previous year, 80,000 of them slept in their cars.
III. Ethnic Minorities Suffer from Bullying and Exclusion
Racial discrimination has always accompanied the development of the United States in history, and skin color plays an important role in determining the fate of Americans. The political structure and ideology of white supremacy have caused ethnic minorities to suffer all-round discrimination in various fields such as politics, economy, culture and social life in the United States.
White supremacy is on the rise. In essence, the United States is still a country of white Anglo-Saxon Protestants. All other races, ethnic groups, and religious and cultural communities endure various levels of discrimination. Since 2016, white supremacy in the United States has shown a resurgence trend, leading to racial opposition and hatred. The Guardian website reported on Nov 12, 2019 that senior White House adviser Stephen Miller shaped the 2016 election coverage of the hard right-wing website Breitbart with material drawn from prominent white nationalists, Islamophobes, and far-right websites, according to a new investigative report by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Miller also praised America's early 20th-century race-based, restrictionist immigration policies. While running for election, the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis referred to old racist tropes linking people of African descent to monkeys and implying lesser evolutionary achievement. A report of the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent issued on Aug 2, 2019 said that politicians from the United States have used language that has reinforced the negative stereotyping of people of African descent. The legacy of racial stereotypes and negative characterizations of people of African descent, which were created to justify the enslavement of Africans, and continue to harm people of African descent and violate their human rights.
USA Today reported on its website on June 27, 2019 that more white supremacist propaganda appeared on US college campuses that academic year, marking a three-year rise in racist materials. In the spring semester alone, a hate watchdog group recorded 161 cases of extremist propaganda on 122 campuses across 33 states and the District of Columbia. Some of the propaganda featured attacks on minority groups such as Jews, people of African descent, Muslims and non-white immigrants, while others with white supremacist content. According to the Anti-Defamation League, white supremacist propaganda posters and stickers outside of college campuses also spiked, with 672 instances in the first five months of 2019, compared to 868 incidents over the entire year in 2018. According to an online report of the Huffington Post on April 5, 2019, FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before Congress that white supremacy is a persistent and pervasive threat to US security. Later, he also told Congress that the majority of domestic terror related arrests since the previous October had been linked to white supremacist violence. The New York Times reported online on Aug 7, 2019 that from Pittsburgh to Christchurch, and now El Paso, white men accused of carrying out deadly mass shootings have cited the same paranoid fear: the extinction of the white race. The idea that “white people will be replaced by people of color,” was cited directly in the four-page screed written by the man arrested in the killing of 22 people in El Paso. “The United States has always been in the midst of a white nationalist terrorist crisis,” said Ibram Kendi, director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University.
Racial discrimination is common in law enforcement. UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance pointed out that people of African descent in the United States are still killed and brutalized at alarming rates by law enforcement authorities and vigilantes, who have little to no accountability. African American adults are 5.9 times more likely to be incarcerated than white adults. Such racial disparities are a vestige of slavery and racial segregation. People of African descent are more likely to be seen as criminals by police officers and treated with cruel measures. CNN reported on March 1, 2019 that in an appalling act of police violence with racial discrimination six police officers shot Willie McCoy, a 20-year-old rapper, about 25 times in the head, ear, neck, chest, arms, shoulders, hands, and back. McCoy's sister, Simone Richard, said the police executed her brother and didn't give him a chance to put his hands up. According to a report on the website of the Guardian on Aug 19, 2019, Donald Neely, 43, is a homeless and mentally ill African American. He was arrested by two rangers on a charge of criminal trespassing. The officers attached Neely to a rope, his hands handcuffed behind his back, while they rode on horseback leading Neely through the streets of Galveston, Texas. This scene with great historical association triggered widespread outcry across the country. CNN reported on Dec 17, 2019 that Mississippi prosecutor Doug Evans excluded many African American jurors from trials since he took office in 1992. African American jurors were 4.4 times more likely to be struck down than white jurors. And in cases where the defendant was an African American, Evans' strike rate against jurors of African descent was "even more pronounced."
Racial inequality in the workplace and people's livelihood have not improved. The Center for American Progress reported on Aug 7 and Dec 5, 2019 on its website that compared with their white counterparts, African American workers face systematic obstacles to getting jobs. They face higher unemployment rates, fewer job opportunities, lower pay, poorer benefits and greater job instability. Slavery and racial segregation concentrated workers of color in undervalued occupations. Occupational segregation and the persistent devaluation of workers of color are a direct result of intentional government policy. While African American, Asian, and Hispanic or Latino people comprise 36 percent of the overall US workforce, they constitute 58 percent of miscellaneous agricultural workers; 70 percent of maids and housekeeping cleaners; and 74 percent of baggage porters, bellhops and concierges. The median wages for these jobs are far below the median wages for all industries in the United States.
Employment discrimination perpetuates inequality in economic well-being, especially for people of African descent. Over the past 40 years, workers of African descent have consistently endured an unemployment rate approximately twice that of their white counterparts. The labor market expansion in the past 10 years in the United States has not eliminated the systematic racial differences. Among those who worked full time all year in 2018, African American men earned 70.2 cents for every dollar earned by white men, and white women earned 78.6 cents. African American women earned 61.9 cents for every dollar that white men earned. Citing figures from the Federal Reserve, Los Angeles Times reported on July 2, 2019 that racial disparities in wealth have worsened, as the typical wealth for a white household is nearly 10 times that for African Americans. According to a report on the website of USA Today on Nov 8, 2019, in Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis area of Wisconsin, the unemployment rate for African Americans is 13.9 percent, while that for the white people is only 3.9 percent. The median income for the households of African descent is just 43.8 percent of the figure for the white households. Just 27.8 percent of African American heads of household own their homes, less than half the 68.2-percent white homeownership rate.
Racism is pervasive in the workplace and in everyday life. According to a CNN report on Jan 18, 2019, after an investigation, the Ohio Civil Rights Commission confirmed that General Motors did allow a racially hostile environment. The African American employees endured racist comments or threats. The N-word was regular at the workplace where African American employees were called "monkey," or told to "go back to Africa." White workers wore shirts with Nazi symbols underneath their coveralls. Bathrooms in the workplace were declared for "whites only." A white employee threatened his African American supervisor: "Back in the day, you would have been buried with a shovel." When African American employees reported the racial discrimination to upper management, they were told to deal with it themselves. USA Today reported on its website on Nov 8, 2019 that African American employees complained of growing racism and discrimination inside the Facebook company. Twelve current and former African American employees offered up a long list of micro aggressions, including two white employees asking an African American program manager to clean up after they finished eating breakfast. People of color were treated as unfriendly and abnormal there. “Racism, discrimination, bias, and aggression do not come from the big moments. It’s in the small actions that mount up over time and build into a culture where we are only meant to be seen as quotas, but never heard, never acknowledged, never recognized, and never accepted,” said some African American employees. CNN reported on its website on Aug 28, 2019 that TV anchor Alex Housden in Oklahoma likened her African American cohost to a gorilla, drawing criticism of racism attacks.
According to a report on the website of the Center for American Progress on Aug 7, 2019, people of color continue to endure rampant discrimination in the housing market: 17 percent of Native Americans, 25 percent of Asian Americans, 31 percent of Latinos, and 45 percent of African Americans report experiencing discrimination when trying to rent or buy housing. By contrast, just 5 percent of white Americans report experiencing housing discrimination. Racial bias not only undermines access to housing but can also affect property values. One study found that homes in African American neighborhoods were undervalued by an average of US$48,000 due to racial bias, resulting in US$156 billion in cumulative losses nationwide. For centuries, structural racism in the US housing system has contributed to stark and persistent racial disparities in wealth and financial well-being, especially between African American and white households. These differences are so entrenched that if current trends continue, it could take more than 200 years for the average family of African descent to accumulate the same amount of wealth as its white counterparts.
Non-white children suffer from serious discrimination in education. CNN reported on Feb 27, 2019 that predominantly white school districts in the United States get US$23 billion a year more than districts that educate mostly non-white children. The average white school district got US$13,908 for every student in 2016, compared to US$11,682 per student in districts that mostly serve people of color. In the meantime, white districts enroll just over 1,500 students, while non-white districts serve over 10,000 students, about six times of the former. African American students are three times more likely to be suspended or expelled than their white peers, according to the US Department of Education. The finding most indicative of racial bias is that in 84 Southern school districts, 100 percent of students suspended were of African descent. Even African American preschool students are more likely to be suspended than students of other races. In fact, a study published in Psychological Science suggests that whites begin to perceive African American boys as threatening at just 5 years old, associating them with adjectives such as “violent,” “dangerous,” “hostile” and “aggressive.” The negative racial biases African American children face, and the correlated high suspension rates can result in African American children falling behind academically, and eventually dropping out of school. It also increases the chances that they will have contact with the criminal justice system. And punitive discipline may be one of the reasons suicides among African American boys are rising.
Hate crime climbs to high level. A report released on Nov 12, 2019 by the FBI showed that law enforcement agencies submitted incident reports in 2018 involving 7,036 single-bias incidents, 57.5 percent of which stemmed from a race/ethnicity/ancestry bias. A total of 46.9 percent of single-bias hate crime offenses were motivated by anti-Black or African American bias, while among 5,155 victims of race/ethnicity/ancestry motivated hate crime, 47.1 percent were victims of crimes motivated by offenders’ anti-Black or African American bias. The Guardian on Aug 4, 2019 on its website reported a mass shooting happening on Aug 3 at a Walmart superstore in the Texas border city El Paso. The shooter is 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, who drove 650 miles to the border city and rampaged into the superstore, opening fire and killing 22. He said this attack was a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas. According to a CNN report on Dec 20, 2019, a 14-year-old girl was walking to Indian Hills Junior High when a vehicle drove onto the sidewalk and ran over her. The attempted murder was committed by a 42-year-old Iowa woman who said she did so because the teenager "was a Mexican." The New York Post reported on Nov 7, 2019 on its website that Mahud Villalaz, a 42-year-old Latin American, was attacked by Clifton A. Blackwell, a white man who asked Villalaz, "why did you invade my county?" and threw acid in Villalaz’s face.
Intolerance against Judaism and Islam continues to worsen. The FBI annual report found that 20.2 percent of the single-bias hate crimes were prompted by the offenders’ religious bias. Of the 1,617 victims of anti-religious hate crimes, 56.9 percent were victims of crimes motivated by offenders’ anti-Jewish bias and 14.6 percent were victims of anti-Islamic (Muslim) bias. Americans say some religious groups continue to be discriminated against and disadvantaged, according to an analysis of Pew Research Center surveys in March 2019. About 82 percent of respondents say Muslims are subject to at least some discrimination in the United States, and 56 percent say Muslims are discriminated against a lot. A total of 63 percent of respondents say that being Muslim hurts someone’s chances for advancement in American society at least a little, including 31 percent who say it hurts their chances a lot. In the 2019 survey, 64 percent say Jews face at least some discrimination in the United States, up 20 percentage points from the last time this question was asked in 2016. The UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief noted the exceptionally violent anti-Semitic incidents in the United States, including a deadly shooting in a synagogue which had caused great loss of lives and injuries. The shooter’s comments during the attack and his social media activity on the days preceding it revealed a belief in a host of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories rooted in a far-right, white supremacist ideology. Later, another gunman similarly motivated by white supremacist ideology attacked a separate synagogue. The UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance also expressed grave concern at the alarming rise of anti-Semitism in the United States. She noted with concern alarming increases in anti-Semitic incidents tied to neo-Nazi groups and affiliated white supremacist and white nationalist groups. Known extremist groups or individuals inspired by extremist ideology were responsible for 249 anti-Semitic incidents in 2018, the highest level of anti-Semitic incidents with known connections to extremists or extremist groups since 2004 and the third-highest year on record since the organization started tracking the data in the 1970s.
The rights of indigenous people have been violated. The UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living and on the right to non-discrimination in this context said in a report that Native Americans were subjected to adverse treatment 28 per cent of the time when they tried to rent a home in competition with a similarly qualified, non-indigenous white individual. Native Americans may also be refused to extend rental contracts on the basis of discrimination. A report released on Nov 18, 2019 by the National Public Radio, called "Closing the Water Access Gap in the United States," shows that native Americans are more likely to have trouble accessing water than any other group. Fifty-eight out of every 1,000 Native American households lack plumbing, compared with 3 out of every 1,000 white households, according to the report. This disparity has implications for public health. Native Americans experience more deaths, poverty and higher unemployment rates. The incidence of murders and disappearances against indigenous people is well above average. Native Americans are nearly four times more likely to be victims of homicide than the general population in Montana,, where Native Americans are just 6.7 percent of the total population, but make up 26 percent of missing persons cases. In Hawaii, indigenous Hawaiians and other Pacific islanders accounted for only 10 percent of the overall population, but for 39 percent of the people experiencing homelessness. These numbers continue to grow as the cost of living increases and tourism development forces them to leave their homelands. On May 10, 2019, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination sent a letter to the government of the United States raising its concern that the planned construction of a 30-meter telescope on Mauna Kea in the State of Hawaii might affect the rights of indigenous peoples over their ancestral lands. It also expressed concern about allegations of a lack of adequate consultation and failure to seek the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples. The Committee also expressed concerns regarding the desecration of the Pu’uone sand dunes complex, a burial site of the Kanaka Maoli indigenous people in Central Maui in the State of Hawaii, which had reportedly been used for extractive activities over a period of years without the free, prior and informed consent of Kanaka Maoli and resulted in the removal of innumerable graves in the area.
According to a Pew Research Center survey titled Race in America 2019, more than 150 years after the 13th Amendment abolished slavery in the United States, most US adults say the legacy of slavery continues to have an impact on the position of people of African descent in American society today. More than four-in-ten say the country hasn’t made enough progress toward racial equality. About 58 percent say race relations in the United States are bad, and about 65 percent say it’s become more common for people to express racist views in recent years. About 76 percent of African descendants and Asians and 58 percent of Hispanics say they have experienced discrimination or have been treated unfairly because of their race or ethnicity at least from time to time. A total of 53 percent of the surveyed says race relations are getting worse. Most African descendants (73 percent), Hispanics (69 percent) and Asians (65 percent) say the current administration has made race relations worse, compared with about half of whites (49 percent). About 59 percent say that being white helps people’s ability to get ahead in the country at least a little. About two thirds of the respondents say people of African descent are treated unfairly by the criminal justice system and in dealing with police. More than half of African American adults say it’s not too or not at all likely that the country will eventually achieve racial equality.
IV. Severe Discrimination and Violence Against Women
Since the founding of the United States over two centuries ago, women have been fighting for gender equality. But even to this day, the United States has still not ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women. Women in the United States still face systematic, broad and institutional discrimination, with shocking overt and covert gender discrimination in various forms.
Women face severe violent assaults. Everytown Research reported on its website on Oct 17, 2019 that the United States was the most dangerous country for women among high-income nations considering its widespread and growing use of guns by abusers. In 2015, an astounding 92 percent of all women killed with guns in these countries were from the United States. Women in the United States were 21 times more likely to die by firearm homicide than women in peer nations, and nearly half of female firearm homicide victims were killed by a current or former intimate partner, the report said. The study found that access to a gun made it five times more likely that the abusive partner will kill his female victim. Every month, an average of 52 women were shot and killed by an intimate partner, with 4.5 million women having reported being threatened with a gun. USA Today reported on Nov 20, 2019 that the number of domestic violence-related homicides was rising. According to UN Women, up to 70 percent of US women had experienced physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime. According to the US National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in three women had experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner. Of women who were murdered, one in three was killed by an intimate partner.
Women face common sexual offending and sexual harassment. According to a joint survey by institutions including US nonprofit organization Stop Street Harassment and University of California San Diego, 81 percent of women had experienced some form of sexual harassment during their lifetime. According to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, more than 3.3 million US women ages 18 to 44 were raped the first time they had sexual intercourse. Researchers estimated that one in 16 US women had similar experiences and the average age of women who experienced forced sexual initiation was 15.6. The UN website cited data from UN Women on Nov 24, 2019 that about a quarter of female undergraduate university students reported having experienced sexual assault or sexual misconduct. CNN reported on May 2, 2019 that, according to a report released by the Pentagon, sexual assault rates for women in the active duty force increased significantly, with women between the ages of 17 to 24 being at the highest risk of sexual assault. Army Times reported on Aug 21, 2019 that sexual assault prevalence in the Army rose for women from 4.4 percent in 2016 to 5.8 percent in 2018.
Sexual assault cases kept increasing. According to the 2018 Crime in the United States report released by the FBI in 2019, there were an estimated 139,380 rapes reported to law enforcement in 2018, 2.7 percent higher than the 2017 estimate and 18.1 percent higher than the 2014 estimate. According to a report by the Denver Post on March 15, 2019, 51 females filed charges to the US District Court for the District of Colorado against the US Olympic Committee, its officers, directors and national governing board for failing to prevent sexual abuse by former coaches and national team doctor Larry Nassar. A majority of the plaintiffs were minors at the time of the abuse and some were still minors, with the youngest athlete listed in the lawsuit being only eight. The 51 plaintiffs said the US Olympic Committee could have prevented the abuse of young female athletes, but failed to take effective measures.
Gender discrimination in the workplace extensively exists. The Louisiana Weekly on Dec 16, 2019 reported that, among women, more than four in ten said they had experienced gender discrimination in the workplace when it comes to getting equal pay or promotions. Data released by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics in November 2019 showed that, in 2018, women who were full-time wage and salary workers had median usual weekly earnings that were 81 percent of the earnings of male full-time wage and salary workers. The New York Times on Feb 8, 2019 reported that throughout the US workplace, pregnancy discrimination remained widespread. They were passed over for promotions and raises, and were fired when they complain, the report said. HuffPost reported on Dec 4, 2019 that the United States was one of just a handful of countries that does not guarantee any paid time off to new mothers. New America's report showed that 48 percent of mothers had taken unpaid leave to care for a new baby. Each child chopped 4 percent off a woman's hourly wages, according to an analysis by a sociologist at the University of Massachusetts. The number of pregnancy discrimination claims filed annually with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had been steadily rising for two decades and was hovering near an all-time high. Based on data from the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Index, it was estimated that it would take the United States another 208 years to reach gender equality.
Problems of gender and racial discrimination overlap. Faced with both gender and racial discrimination, ethnic minority women were under particularly miserable conditions. Philanthropy News Digest reported on Feb 8, 2019 that, based on a survey of over 4,300 nonprofit staff, women of color were unfairly treated in terms of finding new jobs and promotions. WBUR reported on Oct 28, 2019 that only about 20 percent of white men were working in low-wage jobs, while 40 percent of black women were working in low wage jobs and then 46 percent of Latino or Hispanic women. CNBC reported on April 2, 2019 that black women earned 61 US cents for every dollar earned by their white male counterparts. The reported added that Native American women earned 58 cents to every dollar, and Latina women earned 53 cents. The Wall Street Journal reported on Nov 22, 2019 that Latina women suffered from the worst gender wage gap for any group of minority women. Data for 2019 showed that Latina women earned 46 percent less than white men and 31 percent less than white women.
Women face more severe threat from poverty. USA Today reported on Nov 6, 2019 that, according to 24/7 Wall St., women were far more likely than men to live below the poverty line. A total of 10.6 percent of men in the United States lived below the poverty line, while 12.9 percent for women. Gender wage gap in the United States remained among the highest in the rich world and 70 percent of US poor were women and children. Of the 7.1 million older adults living in poverty in the United States, nearly two out of three were women. The US Census Bureau estimated that 16 percent of women aged over 65 lived at or below the poverty line. Black, Hispanic, and Native American women were almost two times more likely to live in poverty than older white women. According to a Harvard study, US Congress had severely cut funding to women's business development centers beginning in 2009. In addition, nearly every state in the United States had cut funding and programs (also reduced at the federal level) that had once helped women enforce their child support awards and trained them to re-enter the workforce. Such moves had exacerbated women's poverty problems.
V. Vulnerable Groups Living in Difficulties
As the largest developed economy in the world, the United States has been refusing to ratify multiple key international human rights conventions, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The US government not only has insufficient political will to improve the conditions for vulnerable groups, but also keeps cutting relevant funding projects. Tens of millions of children, elder people, and disabled people live without enough food or clothing, and face threats of violence, bullying, abusing and drugs, which is beyond explanation.
Child poverty is a shocking problem. The Hill reported on Nov 18, 2019 that while levels of extreme poverty worldwide had dropped dramatically, the poverty ratio of US children was about the same rate as 30 years ago. The Economic Policy Institute's 2018 Income and Poverty report showed that, nationwide, 18.4 percent of children lived in poverty, and 13 percent of children lived in areas of concentrated poverty. Data from the US Census Bureau showed that 12.8 million US children lived in poverty by 2018. Children of color made up nearly three-quarters of all poor children in 2018. Nearly one in four children of color in the United States was poor. A total of 3.5 million children under 5 were poor in 2018, with 1.6 million of those children living in extreme poverty. The overall child poverty rate was 20.3 percent in Florida. Nearly 1.2 million California children lived in low-income neighborhoods, who were less likely than those in more affluent areas to have access to quality public schools, healthy food and medical care, also making it harder for them to break out of the poverty cycle once they become adults. No child should have to worry where her next meal will come from or whether she will have a place to sleep each night in the wealthiest nation on Earth. Yet about one in five children in the United States lived in poverty and faced these harsh realities every day, said a report issued by the Children's Defense Fund.
Child abuse is an alarming problem. The US Administration for Children and Families, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, on Jan 28, 2019 published the report of Child Maltreatment 2017, showing that approximately 3.5 million children were involved in the child victim reports, increasing by approximately 10 percent from 2013 to 2017. Investigations found about 674,000 victims of child abuse and neglect, 2.7 percent higher than that in 2013. A national estimate of 1,720 children died from abuse and neglect. According to the data, 18.3 percent were physically abused, and 8.6 percent were sexually abused. Indiana had the worst child abuse problems, with as many as 65 children dying due to abuse and/or neglect from July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017. CBS News reported on Aug 6, 2019 that about 65,000 cases of child sex abuse were reported annually, according to non-profit organization American Society for the Positive Care of Children.
Campus safety conditions keep worsening. According to data released by the National Center for Education Statistics in April 2019, in 2017, among students ages 12-18, there were about 827,000 total victimizations at school and 503,800 victimizations away from school. There was a rise in cyberbullying nationwide, with three times as many girls reporting being harassed online or by text message than boys. Louisiana led the United States in incidents of bullying with nearly one in four students reporting being bullied. School shootings took place time and again. CNN reported on Nov 19, 2019 that there had been 45 school shootings in the first 46 weeks of 2019, with nearly an average of one school shooting a week.
Poverty of the elderly becomes worse. MarketWatch reported on May 19, 2019 that, according to research by Feeding America, a nonprofit organization, an alarming one in 12 seniors aged 60 and older -- 5.5 million people -- did not have enough food in 2017. New Mexico, Louisiana and Mississippi were the three states with the highest number of seniors -- more than 10 percent of the state's senior population affected by the hunger crisis. About 40 percent of middle-class Americans would live close to or in poverty by the time they reach age 65, according to a study by the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis at the New School. The Guardian reported on May 24, 2019 that social security was, in the end, insufficient to protect a surprisingly large number of older Americans from poverty. Of those who were still at working ages, 62 percent of African Americans and 69 percent of Latinos had no retirement savings, which meant that they were almost entirely reliant on social security after retirement.
Medical expenses are too high for the elder to afford. According to a nationwide survey published by Health Affairs in 2019, 53 percent of respondents with severe illnesses were faced with serious problems when dealing with medical bills even they were Medicare beneficiaries. The Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-profit organization, said US elder people spent the most on long-term care facility services, which were not covered by Medicare. Among them, people with Alzheimer's disease or Parkinson's disease spent the most on long-term care services.
Elderly care services are expensive and fraught with problems. SFGATE reported on Oct 19, 2019 that the cost of care for the elderly in the United States was too high. The cost could put a family into the poor house unless the elderly person qualifies for Medicaid. For example, nursing homes in Albany County cost around US$400 a day on average if the elderly person doesn't qualify for Medicaid. Nearly 400 facilities in the United States had serious ongoing health, safety or sanitary problems, according to a Senate report in 2019. But the federal government for years had kept under wraps their names, which made the problems left unsolved and hard to fix.
Elderly abuse and suicide rates are shocking. Medical Xpress reported on June 14, 2019 that about 16 percent of older adults were victims of some form of mistreatment, including financial exploitation, neglect, physical abuse, psychological abuse and sexual abuse. More than US$5.3 billion was spent annually on medical care related to injuries incurred by older adults as a result of violent crime. More than 8,500 people aged 65 or above committed suicide in the United States in 2017, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Due to the fact that seniors were lonelier, frailer and more isolated, one out of four senior citizens that attempted suicide died, 50 times the possibility for younger people.
Disabled people face severe discrimination when finding jobs. The Center for American Progress reported on July 26, 2019 that disabled adults experienced poverty at nearly twice the rate of their nondisabled counterparts. One in four Americans with disabilities faced unique challenges in securing gainful employment and establishing financial security. Widespread ableism and stereotypes against disable people persisted. NBC News reported on Aug 9, 2019 that, according to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission federal workforce data, workers with disabilities were fired at almost two times the rate of those without disabilities. The government fired 2,626 disabled employees in 2017, a 24 percent increase over 2016. A report released in 2019 by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that the employment-to-population ratio for working-age people with disabilities decreased by 1.9 percent year on year.
The accessibility of government projects to help the disabled is not enough. The government was narrowly crafting specialized definitions of disability to restrict access to critical support programs such as Medicaid and nutrition assistance. Some projects to help the disabled kept them waiting for too long, even for years. Chicago Tribune reported on Dec 3, 2019 that nearly 20,000 people with developmental disabilities in Illinois were on a waiting list for disabilities services including home care and job coaches, among services. Most waited an average of seven years before they are selected. USA Today reported on Sept 16, 2019 that, according to the Kaiser Foundation, more than 6 million kids with physical and mental disabilities relied on government health care, but these programs were so poorly designed that it made it harder for their recipients to get good, timely care.
Barrier-free environment is under poor construction. Los Angeles Times reported on April 1, 2019 that, due to the government's poor oversight, a project to build low-income apartments with federal funds of Los Angeles failed to allow wheelchair users have safe access to kitchens, bathrooms, balconies and other living spaces. Sinks and kitchen counters were also unusable for wheelchair users, which did not comply with federal housing requirements and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The National Law Review on Aug 2, 2019 reported that, in the first half of 2019, website accessibility cases had significantly increased, where plaintiffs with disabilities alleged that they could not access websites. Fortune reported on Sept 21, 2019 that, in January 2019, Parkwood Entertainment became the defendant in a class-action lawsuit alleging that it violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and failed to provide accommodation for people with significant vision impairments, leaving an estimated 2 million blind people and others with vision impairments unable to access the website.
VI. Migrants Suffer Inhumane Treatment
Decades of US intervention in its “backyard” Latin America directly led to the worsening of the immigration problems in the Americas. The current US government, out of political considerations, took unprecedented extreme measures and inhumane law enforcement actions toward immigrants, resulting in frequent human rights violations of immigrants that were severely condemned by the international community.
"Zero-tolerance" policy caused family separation. In recent years, the US government had adopted increasingly strict and inhumane measures against immigrants, in particular the “zero-tolerance” policy announced in April 2018 which caused the separations of many families. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reported on its website on Oct 25, 2019 that US immigration authorities had separated more than 5,400 children from their parents at the Mexico border since July 2017. Lee Gelernt, attorney of the ACLU, said the inhumane and illegal policy torn apart thousands of families, including babies and toddlers. “Families have suffered tremendously, and some may never recover.” Some children were detained in separate facilities for months. Video footage provided by the US Customs and Border Protection showed children in cages and under thin space blankets. The practice of forcing parents to part with their children could constitute "government-sanctioned child abuse," Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, UN high commissioner for human rights, said at a Human Rights Council session on June 18, 2018. Felipe González Morales, the UN special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, called for a halt to the detention of unaccompanied migrant children and families with children for reasons related to their administrative immigration status. He said detention of children based on their migratory status was a violation of the international law, noting that the move was detrimental to the well-being of a child and produced long-term severe adverse impacts on children. The Washington Post reported on its website on July 30, 2019 that the US government had taken nearly 1,000 migrant children from their parents at the US-Mexico border since the judge ordered the US government to curtail the practice more than a year ago. Approximately 20 percent of the new separations affected children under 5 years old. The practice of forcing children to separate from their parents severely infringed migrants’ human rights. In a speech delivered by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet at the 42nd session of the Human Rights Council on Sept 9, 2019, she said the continued separation of migrant children from their parents and the prospect of a new rule which would enable children to be indefinitely detained had sharply reduced the protection for migrant families. “Nothing can justify inflicting such profound trauma on any child.”
Migrant children were in the ordeal. According to a report by the Washington Post on its website on Aug 22, 2019, two federal agencies that handle immigrants -- the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Homeland Security -- said they would issue a rule allowing children to stay with their parents in US detention centers for longer than the current 20-day maximum. The change would let the administration keep entire families in custody as long as needed and allow virtually unlimited incarceration of children. As of September 2019, at least 2,838 unaccompanied migrant children lived in 35 shelters across Texas. These shelters had a long history of regulatory inspections that had uncovered serious health and safety deficiencies. Between 2016 and 2019, inspectors discovered more than 552 health and safety violations at the facilities. The Los Angeles Times reported on its website on Dec 10, 2019 that three children died from the flu while in federal immigration custody in 2018. The flu mortality rate among migrant children in federal immigration custody was nine times higher than the general population. The report quoted Dr. Mario Mendoza, a retired anesthesiologist, as saying that denying children the basic healthcare being offered was intentionally cruel and inhumane. According to a report by the New York Times on its website on June 26, 2019, a group of journalists, physicians and lawyers were allowed on tours of the border station in Clint, Texas, where hundreds of migrant children were held. A physician likened the conditions to “torture facilities.” According to a report by the Baltimore Sun on its website on July 31, 2019, the conditions of the McAllen Border Patrol Station was disturbing. The author of the report recounted that “I saw many families huddled together in overcrowded conditions. I saw children behind fencing and basically in cages. Some children were in clothing that was soiled and had not been changed since they arrived in the United States.” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said in a report published on the UN website on July 8, 2019 that she was appalled by conditions of migrants and refugees in detention in the United States. “I am deeply shocked that children are forced to sleep on the floor in overcrowded facilities, without access to adequate healthcare or food, and with poor sanitation conditions,” she said, adding that the detention of migrant children may constitute cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment that is prohibited by the international law.
Migrants suffer cruel abuses. The Washington Post reported on its website on Nov 26, 2018 that the US authorities used tear gas on multiple occasions to stop migrants from Central America, injuring many people. According to a report by the New York Times on June 21, 2019, a report of the Department of Homeland Security showed that the border processing center in El Paso held up to 900 migrants at a facility designed for 125. Some of the detainees had been held in standing-room-only conditions for days or weeks. The Time magazine reported on its website on July 10, 2019 that 24 immigrants had died in US custody since 2018. According to a report by Arizona Range News on its website on July 8, 2019, the community group Arizona Jews for Justice organized demonstrations in Phoenix on July 2, 2019, protesting against human rights violations by immigrant detention centers and denouncing the squalid detention conditions that seriously violated humane standards, including expired food, inadequate medical care, moldy bathrooms and unreported security incidents. CNN on June 22, 2018 reported grave abuse at migrant detention facilities. It said the medical records of Shiloh Treatment Center, one of the detention facilities, showed that children were being injected with sedatives and antipsychotics. A 13-year-old from El Salvador described an incident when, after he tried to run away, he was assaulted by staff -- causing him to faint and leaving him with bruises. Then, despite his objections, he was given an injection of a drug "to calm him down." An 11-year-old referred to as Maricela in court records said she was taking 10 pills a day that had side effects including headaches, loss of appetite and nausea. One teenager, who fled Guatemala to escape an abusive father and forced child labor, had been in federal custody for almost two years at Yolo County Juvenile Detention Facility in California, another secure facility paid by the government to house migrant children, which he described as a juvenile jail where they were treated like criminals. At Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center, detainees reported being stabbed with a pen, kept in handcuffs, taunted by staff and being deprived of clothing and mattresses.
The United States was the culprit of the worsening immigration problems in the Americas. The Guardian reported on its website on Dec 19, 2018 that “the destabilization in the 1980s -- which was very much part of the US cold war effort -- was incredibly important in creating the kind of political and economic conditions that exist in those countries today. The families in the migrant caravans trudging toward the US border are trying to escape a hell that the US has helped to create.” An article carried by commondreams.com on Aug 15, 2019 said that factors driving Central Americans from their homes were political corruption and repression, the power of the drug cartels and climate change -- all factors that, in significant ways, could be attributed to the United States’ actions in Latin America for decades.
VII. The United States Wantonly Trampled on Human Rights in Other Countries
In order to maintain its hegemony over the world, the United States pursued unilateralism and trampled on the international order and international system with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter as its core. As a country that was so good at withdrawing from cooperation, breaching commitments, shirking international responsibilities and shaking the foundation for global cooperation, that was always imposing sanctions and resorting to forces, the United States was the culprit plunging many places around the world into disturbances and chaos, and was responsible for humanitarian disasters that followed.
Militarism led to human rights disasters. In a speech delivered by former US President Jimmy Carter in June 2019, he pointed out that the United States had only enjoyed 16 years of peace in its 242-year history, making the country “the most warlike nation in the history of the world.” The United States had been at war for decades, the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen and so on. The majority of the wars started by the United States were unilateral actions, neither authorized by the UN Security Council nor approved by the US Congress. These wars caused large casualties and enormous property loss, leading to appalling human rights disasters. The estimated cost of the United States’ global war on terror since late 2001 stood at US$6.4 trillion and it was estimated that up to 801,000 people have died in post-9/11 wars, according to reports released by the Costs of War project based at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University in 2019. Statistics showed that the Afghanistan war claimed the lives of more than 40,000 civilians and around 11 million Afghan people became refugees. More than 200,000 civilians died in the Iraq war and around 2.5 million became refugees. The death toll of civilians in the Syrian war surpassed 40,000 while 6.6 million fled the country. The US government shielded war criminals and connived at their crimes. On Nov 19, 2019, Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, expressed the office’s concern over the US presidential pardons for three US service members who were accused of war crimes. These three cases involved serious violations of international humanitarian law, including the “shooting of a group of civilians and execution of a captured member of an armed group,” Rupert said.
Bullying actions threatened international institutions. John Bolton, former US national security adviser, and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, warned in September 2018 and in March 2019 respectively that if the International Criminal Court (ICC) went ahead with investigating personnel from the United States and its allies, the United States would impose retaliatory measures against the personnel that were directly responsible for the investigations such as a ban on their entry to the United States, fund freeze and even economic sanctions on the ICC. “These threats constitute improper interference with the independence of the ICC and could hinder the ability of ICC judges, prosecutors, and staff to carry out their professional duties,” according to UN experts, who insisted that the United States stop threatening the ICC. Previously, ICC prosecutors applied to judges for an investigation into alleged war crimes by all the warring parties in the Afghanistan war. Some US servicemen and intelligence officers were suspected of "torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, rape and sexual abuse" toward detainees in Afghanistan and other places. According to James Goldston, a law expert, the US officials’ remarks had made it clear that the US government only took the international law seriously when it was in the interest of the United States.
Unilateral sanctions grossly infringed on human rights in other countries. According to a report on the UN website on Nov 7, 2019, for the 28th consecutive year, the UN General Assembly had adopted a resolution calling for an end to the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States against Cuba. According to a report by the United Nations on May 28, 2019 titled “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba,” the economic and commercial embargo in almost six decades was a massive, flagrant and systematic violation of the human rights of all Cubans. The report said it is imperative that the government of the United States comply with the resolutions adopted by the international community in the General Assembly and unconditionally end its embargo policy against Cuba. In a statement published by the UN website on Aug 8, 2019, High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet pointed out that the unilateral sanctions imposed by the United States on Venezuela would have far-reaching implications on the rights to health and to food in a country where there were already serious shortages of essential goods.
The United States refused to fulfill its international obligations. In recent years, the United States withdrew from multilateral mechanisms out of its own interest, including the UN Human Rights Council, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and the UN Global Compact on Migration, breaking rules and making troubles to the international governance system. CNN reported on its website on Nov 4, 2019 that the United States submitted formal notification of its withdrawal from the Paris climate accord. It sent a powerful message to the rest of the world that “as the damaging impacts of climate change become more apparent, the United States ... will not be a part of the international charge to solve the crisis,” the report said.
People have discerning eyes. The United States has long been deceitfully touting itself as a so-called “role model” for upholding human rights, while flagrantly playing with double standards on human rights issues. Human rights, viewed by the United States as a tool to maintain its hegemony, have been championed or violated by it according to its own needs. Actions speak louder than words. The United States, a country preoccupied with human rights problems at home, unscrupulously tramples on the human rights of people in other countries, resulting in untold sufferings. Such hurtful acts are a grave violation of international morality and human conscience and are despised by all people who hold on to kindness and justice. We advise the US authorities to restrain their arrogance and prejudice, make a clear-eyed examination of the United States' own human rights problems and fix them, instead of pointing fingers at other countries and making irresponsible remarks.
From www.jimstone.is :
70 years of US suspicion toward Chinese scientists—and what those caught in the middle should do now
The US has a fraught history at the intersection of science and China relations
By Andrea Widener - 22. March 2020
Charles Lieber after he was released on bail in January Credit: Katherine Taylor/Reuters/Newscom
Earlier this year, Harvard University chemist Charles Lieber appeared in a Massachusetts courtroom shackled and wearing an orange jumpsuit. Charged with fraud over his collaborations with China, Lieber was told by a federal judge that he was considered a “serious flight risk” and was ordered to pay a $1 million bail bond to secure his release. The image of a prominent chemist incarcerated over felony charges sent a shock wave through the science community.
After years of funding agencies and universities encouraging collaborations with China, the crackdown on scientists who do collaborate seems sudden—and scary.
But it’s not new. Since the 1950s, scientists of Chinese origin working in the US have faced suspicions or even charges of spying for China. Some cases involved real espionage or fraud, but in many others, charges were later downgraded or dismissed.
“The tension over science is reflective of broader tensions between China and the US,” says Mara Hvistendahl, author of the new book The Scientist and the Spy, which details the US Federal Bureau of Investigation’s extreme efforts to catch a scientist accused of passing agricultural trade secrets to China. “At moments when the two countries are at odds, science and technology become flash points.”
This is clearly one of those moments. The Donald J. Trump administration laid out its plans for trade sanctions against China in 2016, and tensions have only escalated since. For scientists, the turning point might have been the US Department of Justice’s 2018 announcement of the China Initiative, a program aimed at curbing espionage efforts, including in academia.
Related: Amid tensions with China, US emphasizes rules around research security
That initiative led to the Lieber indictment. The Chinese government is “enticing US researchers to collaborate with the Chinese as a way of initiating the transfer of US technology to China,” says Andrew Lelling, the US attorney for the District of Massachusetts, who is prosecuting Lieber. “If you are collaborating with any Chinese entity, whether it’s a university or a business, you are giving that technology to the Chinese government.”
While the China Initiative targets espionage, actual charges against academics have been primarily for grant fraud. That is true for Lieber, who is charged with lying to federal agencies about money he received as part of China’s Thousand Talents program. It’s also true for Feng “Franklin” Tao, a University of Kansas chemist first charged in August 2019 with wire fraud and program fraud. Both cases are ongoing.
Scrutiny of Chinese collaborations likely won’t end anytime soon. FBI agents have been surprising scientists in their university labs, at their homes, or even at the airport as they head out for meetings. The National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and other agencies have started strictly enforcing reporting requirements for international funding and collaborations.
Going forward, scientists should expect to answer questions about their work, whether it be in the US or in China. “You don’t have to be Chinese. Anybody who collaborates with Chinese colleagues could become a target of the FBI,” says Temple University physics professor Xiaoxing Xi. “Once you become a target, everything you’re doing—your life—will be under the microscope.”
History of suspicion
In 2015, FBI agents barged into Xi’s house and arrested him in front of his family. “I had no idea this was coming,” he says.
Xi was charged with sharing proprietary information with China. But the FBI overreached. Charges against Xi were dropped after several scientists submitted statements that the information he shared was public. He is now suing the FBI, saying it falsified evidence. “I would never have imagined that the government would charge somebody with no truth in their evidence. I just simply couldn’t imagine that,” Xi says.
The FBI’s focus on academic science is misplaced, Xi says. Journals require that scientists report sufficient details so work can be reproduced, and patent offices require similar detail to demonstrate that technology is unique. “They don’t have to steal. They can read your paper,” he says.
The FBI, Xi says, has “absolutely no understanding about how science is done, and they have absolutely no understanding what has made America a leader in the world in science and technology”—open international collaboration.
Chinese students have been part of that exchange since well before the Chinese communist revolution in 1949, says science historian Zuoyue Wang, a professor at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. When President Richard Nixon reopened diplomatic relations with China in 1972, scientists were among the first Americans to reach out to their Chinese counterparts.
Since then, Chinese students have come to the US in growing numbers to train as scientists. Some went back, but many stayed and became part of the US scientific establishment. “When US and China collaborations started, China was at such a low level scientifically and technologically that there was no concern that China would be a big competitor to the US,” Wang says.
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But that doesn’t mean everything went smoothly, says Frank Wu, a legal historian at the University of California Hastings College of the Law. “It doesn’t matter how many generations you’ve been here or your family has been here. You’re still looked at as, ‘Oh, you’re really from somewhere else; you’re really loyal to some other nation,” he says.
Starting in the 1950s, Chinese scientists became targets of US scrutiny. Author Hvistendahl has uncovered FBI documents showing that during the Cold War, the FBI had a program dedicated to surveilling Chinese American scientists, including those who were US citizens.
In the 1980s, politicians and some national security experts put intense pressures on the government to restrict international collaborations, including those with China, Wang says. But the administration of President Ronald Reagan eventually adopted regulations promoting international collaboration.
Accusations against scientists of Chinese origin resurfaced in the late 1990s. In 1999, Los Alamos National Laboratory physicist Wen Ho Lee was charged with sending US nuclear secrets to China and held in solitary confinement for 9 months. The charges were later reduced to a single count of downloading classified information, and the federal judge overseeing his case apologized to Lee for the treatment he received. The US government also paid Lee $895,000 to settle a lawsuit claiming that leaks about the case violated his privacy.
In recent decades, as China’s scientific knowledge and spending have grown, many US universities and agencies encouraged collaboration to facilitate access to the research there and promote global scientific advancement. US scientists of Chinese descent were often asked to make those connections because of their language skills and cultural affiliation, Wang says. Scientists of both Western and Chinese origin saw inclusion in China’s Thousand Talents program as a badge of honor just a few years ago. Now the FBI is suspicious of anyone involved in the Chinese government program to connect Chinese scientists with top researchers in Western countries.
“This conduct was encouraged until recently. Then it became tolerated, then became frowned upon, and now it’s criminal,” Wu says. “It’s hard to imagine such a dramatic change, but it correlates to the deterioration of US-China relations.”
The China Initiative
In recent years, as the Trump administration pushed forward with a trade war with China, the FBI has increasingly raised concerns about research security.
When China has achieved technological advances, “there’s been a tendency to assume that they’re products of theft, particularly by immigrant scientists,” Hvistendahl says. “It’s pretty complicated because the Chinese government does target ethnic Chinese researchers, but there are many people who don’t have any interest in giving up secrets.”
Announced with fanfare by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in 2018, the US Department of Justice’s China Initiative was designed to target economic espionage. The initial focus was on protecting intellectual property, which led to many charges of corporate espionage and theft of industrial intellectual property.
Moving forward, it will become harder to defend the claim that someone just didn’t know.
Valerie Bonham, lawyer, Ropes & Gray
But now the scope has expanded to include universities and academic scientists. For academics, that primarily means prosecuting people who have lied about their contacts with China, US Attorney Lelling says. “The concern there is transparency. If you’re collaborating with the Chinese, that can be perfectly legal. But you can’t lie about it.”
Several federal science agencies have tried to say the crackdown isn’t about any particular country. Lelling, however, says it is a “China-specific problem” but that calling it racism is “ridiculous.”
“We happen to be locked in a rivalry with a nation-state that is composed almost 100% of Han Chinese. So, unfortunately, a disproportional number of your targets are going to be Han Chinese. If we were locked in a global rivalry with France, a disproportional number would be from France,” he says. “We’re not looking for people based on their ethnicity; we’re looking for the conduct.”
Temple University’s Xi was one of those caught up in that initial push into academia, and the Department of Justice has pursued several other cases as well.
“There are real cases of people at universities and in the private sector who have behaved badly and broken American laws,” Wu, the legal historian, says. “Those individuals should be investigated, prosecuted, and punished. But there seem to be an awful lot of false positives. They haven’t done anything wrong.”
Lelling acknowledges that sometimes prosecutors get it wrong. “The error rate for this initiative is no worse than the error rate for any other aggressive law enforcement,” he says.
Over time, Lelling says, the number of erroneous charges will go down as FBI agents and prosecutors learn more about how science works, in part by increasing cooperation with universities. “The investigators involved have to build their own expertise in the underlying activity. And I think you see that here,” he says.
At a meeting hosted by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities last month, several vice presidents for research confirmed their relationships with law enforcement are improving.
Mark McLellan from the University of North Texas had been on the job 100 days by the time of the meeting, and he had already had two meetings with the FBI and one with the local Department of Justice office, he said. His goal is to make sure law enforcement officials feel comfortable reaching out to universities if someone there is under suspicion.
Related: University of Kansas chemist indicted on fraud charges
At the same time, McLellan wants to make sure law enforcement understands the university’s mission. The University of North Texas is a “research institution that wants to be global, that wants to be welcoming and engaged, but also in compliance.”
What should scientists do?
With frequent news of researchers losing their jobs or being prosecuted over ties with China, scientists are scared. And legal experts say that deficiencies in reporting relationships with Chinese institutions exist.
“I do think it’s a real problem. I don’t think it’s isolated. I think that things will get worse before they get better,” says Valerie Bonham, a lawyer with the firm Ropes & Gray and a former senior adviser at the US National Institutes of Health.
Bonham has been speaking at universities around the country, advising scientists about how to work in the current environment. Scientists should be looking carefully at their ongoing relationships, especially with China, she says. They should make sure that when they enter into a collaboration, they’re comfortable disclosing the terms to their universities, funding agencies, or law enforcement. “If folks do that, then they don’t have a reporting problem,” she says.
Prosecutor Lelling agrees. Lieber is charged with lying to federal investigators about his affiliation with the Thousand Talents program and funding he received from Wuhan University of Technology. He’s not charged with selling trade secrets or spying for the Chinese government. “That distinction is important,” Lelling says.
Not all scientists collaborating with foreign colleagues or working in China need to worry. At Tianjin University, Jay Siegel, dean of pharmaceutical science and technology, says his school has worked hard to be sure its many foreign collaborators—including those who are part of the Thousand Talents program—follow strict reporting rules.
“We have a very clear reporting structure and a series of memoranda of understanding with the universities where our experts come from,” Siegel says.
If a scientist didn’t disclose something in the past, the best course is to disclose it to the university as soon as possible, Bonham says. It will be easier to do that now, in this first phase of investigations. There’s been so much publicity about the crackdown that “moving forward, it will become harder to defend the claim that someone just didn’t know” about the rules, she says.
Related: Second GSK scientist admits to trade-secret theft
Dozens of Chinese Americans and others have reached out to Wu in recent months. His advice? “If you’ve had any contact with the Chinese talent program, be afraid, be very afraid,” he says. “Find yourself a good lawyer.”
Many scientists may think they haven’t done anything wrong or that the focus on China will just blow over. But Wu doesn’t see that happening anytime soon. If someone has run afoul of the rules, “it’s not the end of the world,” he says. “But if you don’t deal with it, it will just get worse.”
Additional reporting by Bethany Halford
Washington benefits from new SARS unsettling major competitors. Prior to the advent of the 2019-nCoV coronavirus, it was believed that the so-called “first package” of the US-China trade agreement, which was signed on behalf of the Celestial Empire by Vice Premier of the State Council of the PRC Liu He, is a tactical move, thanks to which China will get a respite.
By Julia Papsheva - 09.
And then there is the presidential election in the USA, and it is still unknown whether Donald Trump will be able to gain a foothold in the Oval Office for a second term … But, it seems, a malicious virus that has matured either in the stomachs of bats, or in a snake’s gut, has confused all the cards to a friend Xi Jinping.
Against the background of alarming reports from the Chinese province of Hubei (when this material was being prepared, more than 4.5 thousand people fell ill with pneumonia, and 106 died, and these are not final numbers. – Auth.) Copper and iron ore prices collapsed.
Copper is getting cheaper for ten days in a row, and yesterday the price fell by 1.5% to $ 5,834.5 per ton. Iron ore futures are falling in price, on Tuesday at the Singapore auction they offered 85 dollars per ton – a decrease of 6.4%. But, as Bloomberg predicts, $ 80 per tonne is not such a distant prospect. Prices for black gold also plummeted – April futures for the North Sea Brent crude mixture were already trading below $ 58 per barrel.
At the same time, the Fitch rating agency cautiously reports that the spread of coronavirus will first of all have a negative impact on the economies of Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore, since in these countries the most vulnerable regions to the epidemics are tourism and the service sector. The statement is indisputable – everyone will get it, and yet China, presumably, is more than others, since it is the Chinese economy that is the main consumer of both metals and energy, and tourism with a service sector is not the last source of replenishment of the treasury. And since the prices of these goods went down, the Chinese economy also caught the “virus”. And it is easier to negotiate with a “sick” client, which is well known even without Trump.
It is noteworthy that 2019-nCoV got to the American technological giant Apple, whose production facilities are located just 500 kilometers from the “home” of the coronavirus – the Wuhan metropolis. And now, according to the Nikkei Asian Review, the production of popular iPhone smartphones is in jeopardy. Starbucks also found itself in a difficult situation, which, due to quarantine, had to close a large half of its four thousand coffee houses operating in China (by the way, this is the second largest market after the United States). But at the same time, the Americans for some reason do not look like such victims of the epidemic, especially Apple, whose leadership at the very beginning of the trade and economic confrontation with China advised to evacuate production facilities in the United States.
… It seems as if President Trump saw everything in advance, like Wolf Messing or old Wang. However, both Apple and Starbucks were really out of luck. You can’t say the same about the American political establishment, which is making titanic efforts to bring to its knees the “presumptuous China.” And why should these efforts necessarily be of an economic nature? ..
The main question is – who benefits from another SARS unsettling a competitor? If we apply the well-known trick highly likely, unceremoniously used by British ex-prime minister Theresa May to hang the so-called Skripals poisoning in Russia, then the answer is obvious: the coronavirus epidemic 2019-nCoV, which hit China, is highly likely on the hand of the United States. And the worse for Beijing, the better for Washington. Moreover, the outlook for the epidemic is not yet encouraging. For example, some experts argue that if the spread of 2019-nCoV cannot be stopped, up to 250 million Chinese can become victims of the virus, which is almost two in number in Russia.
By the way, about the prospects. The Cepi Global Vaccine Coalition has reportedly invested a total of $ 12.5 million in three projects, in which researchers are ready to expeditiously develop the 2019-nCoV vaccine.
Scientists from the University of Queensland, as well as two American biotechnology companies Inovio and Moderna, participate in the work. The American National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) is also involved. And it seems that microbiologists from Hong Kong have already developed a vaccine against the new coronavirus, as Professor of Hong Kong University Ewan Kwok-Jung hastened to inform the newspaper South China Morning Post. But her research, he claims, could take more than a year. German Shipulin, the deputy director of the Center for Strategic Planning of the Ministry of Health of Russia, does not promise an imminent victory over 2019-nCoV. So the hands of the coronavirus 2019-nCoV can be considered as yet untied, and there are suspicions that the United States may be involved in this epidemic. In the Russian media, this assumption has already been made.
US operations as part of a biological warfare against the entire planet
As a result of the dengue epidemic in Cuba from 1978-1981, up to 500 thousand people were affected. Fidel Castro said this was the result of an American biological attack. Washington did not confirm or refute the allegations of the Cuban leader.
Pentagon bio laboratories exist in 25 countries around the world. They are funded by the Military Threat Reduction Agency under a $ 2.1 billion military program. The joint biological interaction program includes laboratories located in the countries of the former Soviet Union, such as Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, as well as in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Africa.Washington did not confirm or refute this data.
By the location of these biological laboratories, we can confidently indicate the four countries and territories against which the American biological threats are now directed, these are Russia, Iran, China and the countries of Central and West Africa. Washington did not confirm or refute this data.
The American company CH2M Hill, under contracts for the Pentagon bio labs in Georgia, Uganda, Tanzania, Iraq, Afghanistan, Southeast Asia, was funded in the amount of $ 341.5 million. Of this amount, almost half ($ 161.1 million) was allocated for research in Lugar Center in Tbilisi. Washington did not confirm or refute this data.
Its subcontractor, the private company Battelle, has been operating in the Pentagon bio labs in Afghanistan, Armenia, Georgia, Uganda, Tanzania, Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam. Battelle conducts research, development, testing and assessment of the use of both highly toxic chemicals and highly pathogenic biological agents for a wide range of US government agencies. The company has entered into federal contracts totaling $ 2 billion and ranks 23rd in the list of 100 best US state contractors. Washington did not confirm or refute this data.
The Pentagon has a very long history of using insects as carriers of disease. According to a partially declassified US Army report of 1981, American scientists conducted a series of experiments on insects. These operations were part of the US Entomological War as part of a biological weapons program.Washington did not confirm or refute this data.
The report reported two scenarios: 16 simultaneous attacks on the city by A. Aegypti mosquitoes infected with yellow fever, as well as Tularemia aerosol attack, and assessed their effectiveness in cash and human losses. The results were very cynical. Pentagon specialists managed to “kill” 625 thousand people at a cost of $ 0.29 per unit. Washington did not confirm or refute this data.
Operation Big Itch: Field trials were conducted to determine the coverage and survivability of tropical rat fleas Xenopsylla cheopis for use as a disease carrier in biological warfare. Washington did not confirm or refute this data.
Operation Big Buzz: 1 million A. Aegypti mosquitoes were raised. One third of them were placed in ammunition, dropped from aircraft and scattered on the ground. Mosquitoes survived in the air and actively sought human blood. Washington did not confirm or refute this data.
Operations on military experiments with tropical mosquitoes and ticks in Georgia. Such species of mosquitoes and fleas (which were studied in the past as part of the US Entomological War Program) were imported into Georgia and tested at the Lugar Center.Washington did not confirm or refute this data.
Anthrax is one of the biological agents in the arsenal of the US Army, not only in the past. Despite Pentagon claims that this program is only defensive, there are facts to the contrary. In 2016, at the Lugar Center, American scientists conducted a study “Genome Sequence of the Soviet / Russian Bacillus anthracis Vaccine Strain 55-VNIIVViM” (Genome Sequence of the Soviet / Russian Anthracite Cancer Vaccine in Russia), which was funded by the US Agency’s Biological Weapons Sharing Program Threat Reduction (DTRA) in Tbilisi, and implemented by Metabiota. Washington did not confirm or refute this data.
Congo-Crimean hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) is caused by the tick-borne virus Nairovirus (Nairovirus). The disease was first described in Crimea in 1944 and was called Crimean hemorrhagic fever. Later, it caused an epidemic in the Congo in 1969. In 2014, 34 people were infected with the CCHF, including a 4-year-old child, three of whom died. Pentagon biologists are currently studying the virus in Georgia as part of the DTRA project, Epidemiology of febrile illnesses caused by Dengue viruses and other Arboviruses in Georgia. The project included trials on patients with fever symptoms and collection of ticks as possible distributors of CCHV for laboratory analysis.Washington did not confirm or refute this data.
Similar CCHV outbreaks occurred in Afghanistan, where 3 Pentagon bio-laboratories are present. As of December 2017, 237 cases of CCHV were reported in this country, 41 of which were fatal. Washington did not confirm or refute this data.
Bats are also being studied as a carrier of various diseases at the Lugar Center, which scientists say are carriers of the Ebola virus, Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and other deadly diseases. As of June 2017, 1980 cases were recorded with 699 deaths in 19 countries around the world caused by MERS-CoV. This virus is designed and manufactured in the USA. Washington did not confirm or refute this data.
Another weapon of bioterrorism is, according to a 1981 US Army report, Tularemia, or Rabbit Fever, developed in the USA. New tularemia carriers, such as ticks and rodents, are currently being developed. DTRA has launched a number of projects on Tularemia and in Georgia at the Lugar Center. Highly pathogenic agents (EDP) can be used for military purposes.Washington did not confirm or refute this data.
Ukraine itself does not have control over military biological laboratories on its territory. Under the 2005 Agreement between the US Department of Defense and the Department of Health of Ukraine, the Ukrainian government is prohibited from publicly disclosing confidential information about the US program. Ukraine is also required to transfer all dangerous pathogens to the US Department of Defense for biological research. Under this Agreement, the Pentagon was granted access to many state secrets of Ukraine. Washington did not confirm or refute this data.
The Pentagon has invested at least $ 65 million in gene editing research. The U.S. Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has provided seven research teams to develop tools for altering the genome of insects, rodents, and bacteria through the DARPA Safe Gene program using new CRISPR-Cas9 technology. Washington did not confirm or refute this data.
The worst biological weapon that may have already been used and possibly used in Russia is, again, perhaps used against the “enemy” of the USA – China. Until recently, ethnic biological weapons (biogenetic weapons) were theoretical weapons, the purpose of which is, first of all, to harm people of certain ethnic groups or genotypes (Russians, Chinese, etc.). Although officially the research and development of ethnic bio-weapons has never been publicly confirmed, documents show that the United States collects biological materials from certain ethnic groups – Russians and Chinese. American National Socialism in its purest form.
US Air Force specifically collects samples of Russian DNA and synovial tissue, which causes concern in Moscow about a hidden American program for the use of biological weapons.
Senator Franz Klintsevich commented on the words of President Vladimir Putin on the purposeful collection of Russian biomaterial: “In the West, everything is done very scrupulously and verified to the smallest detail: if we use biological weapons, then surely … The relevant services in the West should know that we are aware of their interest. Let those who are engaged in this work on the territory of the Russian Federation not be offended. ”
And it cannot be said that such suspicions have no reason. As you know, the United States ratified the Geneva Protocol and the Biological Weapons Convention back in 1975. But biological games overseas have not stopped, and not only in the national territory. Already after the collapse of the USSR, American biological laboratories appeared, which is precisely established in Georgia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan. Where else – except that the State Department knows that it claims to be absolutely peaceful organizations involved in the development of medicines. But if they are so peaceful, then why, one wonders, did the Americans build them not at home, but at the other end of the world?
And the participants of the “visiting” American biological project are very specialized. For example, the US Army Institute of Infectious Disease Medical Research (USAMRIID, Fort Detrick), the Military Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), which is a division of the Pentagon, the Central Asian and Caucasian Biosafety Association, which monitors the biological potential of the CIS countries, the Biological Threat Reduction Program (Nunn-Lugar program) and so on.
Comments, as they say, are unnecessary. Not so long ago, the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation analyzed documents on the activities of the so-called “health center” that the Americans built in Georgia, and came to the conclusion: in fact, this is a “death factory”, which killed 73 people who were used by overseas biologists as experimental rabbits. But the fact of the matter is that American bio-laboratories are scattered not only around Russia, but also around the world, where America has its own interests.
And another question, where did the 2019-nCoV coronavirus originate – in a bat or in some American “health center”? Where is it more highly likely?
THE USAmerican Counter-Spin on COVID-19:
By Steven Lee Myers -
BEIJING — China is pushing a new theory about the origins of the coronavirus: It is an American disease that might have been introduced by members of the United States Army who visited Wuhan in October.
There is not a shred of evidence to support that, but the notion received an official endorsement from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, whose spokesman accused American officials of not coming clean about what they know about the disease.
The intentional spreading of an unfounded conspiracy theory — which recirculated on China’s tightly controlled internet on Friday — punctuated a downward spiral in relations between the two countries that has been fueled by the basest instincts of officials on both sides.
The insinuation came in a series of posts on Twitter by Zhao Lijian, a ministry spokesman who has made good use of the platform, which is blocked in China, to push a newly aggressive, and hawkish, diplomatic strategy. It is most likely intended to deflect attention from China’s own missteps in the early weeks of the epidemic by sowing confusion or, at least, uncertainty at home and abroad.
Mr. Zhao’s posts appeared to be a retort to similarly unsubstantiated theories about the origins of the outbreak that have spread in the United States. Senior officials there have called the epidemic the “Wuhan virus,” and at least one senator hinted darkly that the epidemic began with the leak of a Chinese biological weapon.
“The conspiracy theories are a new, low front in what they clearly perceive as a global competition over the narrative of this crisis,” said Julian B. Gewirtz, a scholar at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard.
“There are a few Chinese officials who appear to have gone to the Donald J. Trump School of Diplomacy,” added Mr. Gewirtz, who recently published a paper on China’s handling of the AIDS epidemic, after a similar disinformation campaign. “This small cadre of high-volume Chinese officials don’t seem to realize that peddling conspiracy theories is totally self-defeating for China, at a moment when it wants to be seen as a positive contributor around the world.”
The circulation of disinformation is not a new tactic for the Communist Party state. The United States, in particular, is often a foil of Chinese propaganda efforts. Last year, Beijing explicitly accused the American government of supporting public protests in Hong Kong in an effort to weaken the party’s rule.
The old tactic has been amplified by more combative public diplomacy and a new embrace of a social media platform that is blocked in China to spread a message abroad.
Victor Shih, an associate professor at the University of California at San Diego who studies Chinese politics, said that while the campaign was very likely an attempt to distract and deflect blame, a more worrisome possibility was that some officials fabricated the idea and persuaded top leaders to believe it.
“If the leadership really believes in the culpability of the U.S. government,” he warned, “it may behave in a way that dramatically worsens the bilateral relationship.”
China’s leader, Xi Jinping, has faced sharp criticism for the government’s initial handling of the outbreak, even at home. Public anger erupted in February when a doctor who was punished for warning his colleagues about the coronavirus died, prompting censors to redouble their efforts to stifle public criticism.
Chinese officials have repeatedly urged officials in other countries not to politicize what is a public health emergency. Conservatives in the United States, in particular, have latched on to loaded terms that have been criticized for stigmatizing the Chinese people. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo referred to the “Wuhan virus,” while Representative Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California, called it the “Chinese coronavirus.”
In response, Chinese officials and state news media have stepped up their criticism of American officials’ comments.
Only days before Mr. Zhao’s latest post, the Xinhua news agency published a commentary denouncing “Washington’s poisonous coronavirus politics” and warning that spreading rumors simply encouraged “fear, division and hate.”
“Their dangerously irresponsible statements are highly counterproductive at this drastic hour that demands solidarity and cooperation,” the commentary, written by Gao Wencheng, said, “and could be much more menacing than the virus itself.”
The coronavirus, according to all evidence, emanated from Wuhan, China, in late December. Scientists have not yet identified a “patient zero” or a precise source of the virus, though preliminary studies have linked it to a virus in bats that passed through another mammal before infecting humans.
A senior official of China’s National Health Commission, Liang Wannian, said at a briefing in Beijing last month that the likely carrier was a pangolin, an endangered species that is trafficked almost exclusively to China for its meat and for its scales, which are prized for use in traditional medicine.
The first cluster of patients was reported at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, and studies have since suggested that the virus could have been introduced there by someone already infected. Wuhan and the surrounding province of Hubei account for the overwhelming amount of cases and deaths, so there is no scientific reason to believe the virus began elsewhere.
Mr. Zhao’s assertion began with a post linking to a video of the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert R. Redfield, testifying before the House on Wednesday and suggesting that some flu deaths might have been caused by the coronavirus.
“When did patient zero begin in US?” Mr. Zhao wrote on Twitter, first in English and separately in Chinese. “How many people are infected. What are the names of the hospitals? It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your date! US owe us an explanation.”
Mr. Zhao appeared to refer to the Military World Games, which were held in Wuhan in October. The Pentagon sent 17 teams with more than 280 athletes and other staff members to the event, well before any reported outbreaks. The Pentagon has had confirmed cases in South Korea and Italy and is bracing for more to emerge, but no illnesses have been tied to American service members from October.
Mr. Zhao’s remarks were spread on China’s most prominent social media platform, Weibo, under a hashtag: #ZhaoLijianPostedFiveTweetsinaRowQuestioningAmerica. By late afternoon on Friday, that hashtag had been viewed more than 160 million times, along with screenshots of the original Twitter posts.
The State Department summoned the Chinese ambassador on Friday to protest Mr. Zhao’s comments, officials in the Trump administration said.
At the regular briefing at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday, another spokesman, Geng Shuang, sidestepped three questions about whether Mr. Zhao’s suggestion had politicized the crisis and reflected official Chinese policy.
He instead noted the statements made by American officials and lawmakers to “smear and attack” China.
“We are firmly opposed to this,” he said. “In fact, the international community, including the United States at home, have different views on the source of the virus. What I have been saying in recent days is that the Chinese side always believed that this is a scientific issue and requires scientific and professional opinions.”
BUT THIS IS FACT:
WASHINGTON Army officials have suspended most research involving dangerous germs at the biodefense laboratory at Fort Detrick, Md., which the F.B.I. has linked to the anthrax attacks of 2001, after discovering that some pathogens stored there were not listed in a laboratory database.
The suspension, which began Friday and could last three months, is intended to allow a complete inventory of hazardous bacteria, viruses and toxins stored in refrigerators, freezers and cabinets in the facility, the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.
The inventory was ordered by the institute’s commander, Col. John P. Skvorak, after officials found that the database of specimens was incomplete. In a memorandum to employees last week, Colonel Skvorak said there was a high probability that some germs and toxins in storage were not in the database.
Rules for keeping track of pathogens were tightened after the 2001 anthrax letters, which killed five people. But pressure to improve recordkeeping and security at the Army institute intensified six months ago after the suicide of Bruce E. Ivins, a veteran anthrax researcher, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s announcement that prosecutors had been preparing to charge Dr. Ivins with making the deadly anthrax powder in his laboratory there.
A spokesman for the institute, Caree Vander Linden, said an earlier review had located all the germ samples listed in the database. But she said some “historical samples” in institute freezers were not in the database, and the new inventory was intended to identify them so they could be recorded and preserved, or destroyed if they no longer had scientific value.
One scientist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment, said samples from completed projects were not always destroyed, and departing scientists sometimes left behind vials whose contents were unknown to colleagues. He said the Army’s recordkeeping and security were imperfect but better than procedures at most universities, where research on biological pathogens has expanded rapidly since 2001.
The suspension will interrupt dozens of research projects at the institute, whose task is to develop vaccines, drugs and other measures to protect American troops from germ attacks and disease outbreaks. Ms. Vander Linden said some critical experiments involving animals often used to test vaccines and drugs would not be halted.
News of the suspension, first reported Monday by the Science magazine blog ScienceInsider, comes as the Justice Department has been interviewing scientists at the Army institute to prepare the government’s legal defense against a lawsuit filed by the family of Robert Stevens, the Florida tabloid photography editor who was the first to die in the 2001 letter attacks.
That lawsuit, filed in 2003 and delayed by the government’s unsuccessful efforts to have it dismissed, accuses officials of failing to assure that anthrax bacteria at Fort Detrick and other government laboratories were securely stored. Dr. Ivins was not suspected in the attacks at that time, but the F.B.I.’s conclusion last year added new weight to the lawsuit’s claims.
The F.B.I. has released evidence of Dr. Ivins’s mental problems and of a genetic link between the mailed anthrax and a supply of the bacteria in his laboratory. But many of Dr. Ivins’s former colleagues at the Army institute have said they are not convinced that he mailed the letters.
The F.B.I. has asked the National Academy of Sciences to convene a panel of experts to review its scientific work on the case, and the bureau and academy are completing a contract for the review, said an academy spokesman, William Kearney.
The anthrax case has underscored the threat of biological attack by biodefense insiders like Dr. Ivins, who have access to pathogens and the expertise to work with them.
The number of such researchers has grown rapidly since 2001, when the anthrax letters set off a spending boom on biodefense that led to a rapid addition of laboratories working on potential bioweapons, notably anthrax.
Before 2001, only a few dozen such facilities worked with anthrax. Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has registered 219 laboratories to do so, said an agency spokesman, Von Roebuck. He said 10,474 people had been cleared to work with dangerous pathogens and toxins nationwide after background checks by the Justice Department.
China Locked in Hybrid War with USA
by Pepe Escobar March 17, 2020
Among the myriad, earth-shattering geopolitical effects of coronavirus, one is already graphically evident. China has re-positioned itself. For the first time since the start of Deng Xiaoping’s reforms in 1978, Beijing openly regards the US as a threat, as stated a month ago by Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the Munich Security Conference during the peak of the fight against coronavirus.
Beijing is carefully, incrementally shaping the narrative that, from the beginning of the coronovirus attack, the leadership knew it was under a hybrid war attack. Xi’s terminology is a major clue. He said, on the record, that this was war. And, as a counter-attack, a “people’s war” had to be launched.
Moreover, he described the virus as a demon or devil. Xi is a Confucianist. Unlike some other ancient Chinese thinkers, Confucius was loath to discuss supernatural forces and judgment in the afterlife. However, in a Chinese cultural context, devil means “white devils” or “foreign devils”: guailoin Mandarin, gweilo in Cantonese. This was Xi delivering a powerful statement in code.
When Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, voiced in an incandescent tweet the possibility that “it might be US Army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan” – the first blast to this effect to come from a top official – Beijing was sending up a trial balloon signaliing that the gloves were finally off. Zhao Lijian made a direct connection with the Military Games in Wuhan in October 2019, which included a delegation of 300 US military.
He directly quoted US CDC director Robert Redfield who, when asked last week whether some deaths by coronavirus had been discovered posthumously in the US, replied that “some cases have actually been diagnosed this way in the US today.”
Zhao’s explosive conclusion is that Covid-19 was already in effect in the US before being identified in Wuhan – due to the by now fully documented inability of US to test and verify differences compared with the flu.
Adding all that to the fact that coronavirus genome variations in Iran and Italy were sequenced and it was revealed they do not belong to the variety that infected Wuhan, Chinese media are now openly asking questions and drawing a connection with the shutting down in August last year of the “unsafe” military bioweapon lab at Fort Detrick, the Military Games, and the Wuhan epidemic. Some of these questions had been asked – with no response – inside the US itself.
Extra questions linger about the opaque Event 201 in New York on October 18, 2019: a rehearsal for a worldwide pandemic caused by a deadly virus – which happened to be coronavirus. This magnificent coincidence happened one month before the outbreak in Wuhan.
Event 201 was sponsored by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Economic Forum (WEF), the CIA, Bloomberg, John Hopkins Foundation and the UN. The World Military Games opened in Wuhan on the exact same day.
Irrespective of its origin, which is still not conclusively established, as much as Trump tweets about the “Chinese virus,” Covid-19 already poses immensely serious questions about biopolitics (where’s Foucault when we need him?) and bio-terror.
The working hypothesis of coronavirus as a very powerful but not Armageddon-provoking bio-weapon unveils it as a perfect vehicle for widespread social control – on a global scale.
Cuba rises as a biotech power
Just as a fully masked Xi visiting the Wuhan frontline last week was a graphic demonstration to the whole planet that China, with immense sacrifice, is winning the “people‘s war” against Covid-19, Russia, in a Sun Tzu move on Riyadh whose end result was a much cheaper barrel of oil, helped for all practical purposes to kick-start the inevitable recovery of the Chinese economy. This is how a strategic partnership works.
The chessboard is changing at breakneck speed. Once Beijing identified coronavirus as a bio-weapon attack the “people’s war” was launched with the full force of the state. Methodically. On a “whatever it takes” basis. Now we are entering a new stage, which will be used by Beijing to substantially recalibrate the interaction with the West, and under very different frameworks when it comes to the US and the EU.
Soft power is paramount. Beijing sent an Air China flight to Italy carrying 2,300 big boxes full of masks bearing the script, “We are waves from the same sea, leaves from the same tree, flowers from the same garden.” China also sent a hefty humanitarian package to Iran, significantly aboard eight flights from Mahan Air – an airline under illegal, unilateral Trump administration sanctions.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic could not have been more explicit: “The only country that can help us is China. By now, you all understood that European solidarity does not exist. That was a fairy tale on paper.”
Under harsh sanctions and demonized since forever, Cuba is still able to perform breakthroughs – even on biotechnology. The anti-viral Heberon – or Interferon Alpha 2b – a therapeutic, not a vaccine, has been used with great success in the treatment of coronavirus. A joint venture in China is producing an inhalable version, and at least 15 nations are already interested in importing the therapeutic.
Now compare all of the above with the Trump administration offering $1 billion to poach German scientists working at biotech firm Curevac, based in Thuringia, on an experimental vaccine against Covid-19, to have it as a vaccine “only for the United States.”
Social engineering psy-op?
Sandro Mezzadra, co-author with Brett Neilson of the seminal The Politics of Operations: Excavating Contemporary Capitalism, is already trying to conceptualize where we stand now in terms of fighting Covid-19.
We are facing a choice between a Malthusian strand – inspired by social Darwinism – “led by the Johnson-Trump-Bolsonaro axis” and, on the other side, a strand pointing to the “requalification of public health as a fundamental tool,” exemplified by China, South Korea and Italy. There are key lessons to be learned from South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore.
The stark option, Mezzadra notes, is between a “natural population selection,” with thousands of dead, and “defending society” by employing “variable degrees of authoritarianism and social control.” It’s easy to imagine who stands to benefit from this social re-engineering, a 21st century remix of Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death.
Amid so much doom and gloom, count on Italy to offer us Tiepolo-style shades of light. Italy chose the Wuhan option, with immensely serious consequences for its already fragile economy. Quarantined Italians remarkably reacted by singing on their balconies: a true act of metaphysical revolt.
Not to mention the poetic justice of the actual St. Corona(“crown” in Latin) being buried in the city of Anzu since the 9thcentury. St. Corona was a Christian killed under Marcus Aurelius in 165 AD, and has been for centuries one of the patron saints of pandemics.
Not even trillions of dollars raining from the sky by an act of divine Fed mercy were able to cure Covid-19. G-7 “leaders” had to resort to a videoconference to realize how clueless they are – even as China’s fight against coronavirus gave the West a head start of several weeks.
Shanghai-based Dr. Zhang Wenhong, one of China’s top infectious disease experts, whose analyses have been spot on so far, now says China has emerged from the darkest days in the “people’s war” against Covid-19. But he does not think this will be over by summer. Now extrapolate what he’s saying to the Western world.
It’s not even spring yet, and we already know it takes a virus to mercilessly shatter the Goddess of the Market. Last Friday, Goldman Sachs told no fewer than 1,500 corporations that there was no systemic risk. That was false.
New York banking sources told me the truth: systemic risk became way more severe in 2020 than in 1979, 1987 or 2008 because of the hugely heightened danger that the $1.5 quadrillion derivative market would collapse.
As the sources put it, history had never before seen anything like the Fed’s intervention via its little understood elimination of commercial bank reserve requirements, unleashing a potential unlimited expansion of credit to prevent a derivative implosion stemming from a total commodity and stock market collapse of all stocks around the world.
Those bankers thought it would work, but as we know by now all the sound and fury signified nothing. The ghost of a derivative implosion – in this case not caused by the previous possibility, the shutting down of the Strait of Hormuz – remains.
We are still barely starting to understand the consequences of Covid-19 for the future of neoliberal turbo-capitalism. What’s certain is that the whole global economy has been hit by an insidious, literally invisible circuit breaker. This may be just a “coincidence.” Or this may be, as some are boldly arguing, part of a possible, massive psy-op creating the perfect geopolitlcal and social engineering environment for full-spectrum dominance.
Additionally, along the hard slog down the road, with immense, inbuilt human and economic sacrifice, with or without a reboot of the world-system, a more pressing question remains: will imperial elites still choose to keep waging full-spectrum-dominance hybrid war against China?
Pepe Escobar is a Brazilian journalist. He writes a column – The Roving Eye – for Asia Times Online, and works as an analyst for RT, Sputnik News, and Press TV.
Claire Fu contributed research.
While much of this is counter-spin to cover the bio-weapon labs:
How climate change and wildlife influence the coronavirus
By Amy Harder - 27. March 2020
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
The good news is, climate change is not directly at play with the coronavirus. The bad news: we humans are still root drivers in pandemics like this one.
Driving the news: Buying, selling and consuming wild animals, such as at the Wuhan, China, market where this novel coronavirus is believed to have originated, is increasingly spreading deadly infectious diseases, experts say.
By the numbers: Zoonotic diseases — those spread from animals to humans — have “quadrupled in the last 50 years, mostly in tropical regions,” according to a letter more than 100 wildlife and environmental groups sent to Congress this week.
- The groups asked lawmakers to direct 1% of stimulus funds — about $20 billion — to address the loss of animals' natural habitat and wildlife trade, which they consider "the root causes of the problem." It ultimately wasn’t included.
How it works: “We know that tropical diseases tend to have wildlife as reservoirs more than temperate diseases,” said Lee Hannah, a senior scientist in climate change biology at the nonprofit Conservation International.
- Bats and pangolins (scaly anteaters) have especially been linked to this coronavirus and prior ones.
- So when you take animals like that out of the wild and move them into cities, “you’re taking something that’s known to be a wildlife disease reservoir and putting it into a densely populated area,” Hannah said. “As we’re seeing, that’s just crazy.”
Where it stands: China announced late last month it was permanently banning wildlife trade and consumption, according to The New York Times, but conservation experts nonetheless say loopholes still exist and illegal trading could increase, per the Times.
The big picture: Scientists say these types of close encounters with disease-carrying animals are just one part of a complex relationship between humans and nature. Climate change has a massive, overarching impact on it all, though it’s a less direct connection than, say, wild animal markets.
To the degree climate change is connected to infectious diseases, it’s in these indirect ways:
- Air pollution, largely from fossil-fuel emitting sources that also drive climate change, is a key factor that worsens any given virus’ impact on human health, according to Aaron Bernstein, a pediatrician and director of Harvard University’s Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment.
- A study of the 2003 outbreak of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in Asia found that “people exposed to the highest level of air pollution were twice as likely to die from the disease as those who were not,” Bernstein said.
- Increasing temperatures could change the habitat for disease-carrying mosquitoes, such as with Zika, into more northern locales, Bernstein says. That’s unlikely to spread so quickly like COVID-19, the illness stemming from the coronavirus, because Zika is primarily spread via mosquitoes.
- Deforestation, which is linked to increased carbon dioxide emissions, also destroys wildlife habitat, which increases the risk of close human-animal encounters, according to Bernstein.
The intrigue: Other strains of infectious viruses, like the seasonal flu, often peak in the winter, partly because people spend more time inside in closer quarters. Scientists are still studying whether this coronavirus will behave like that when it comes to warmer weather.
- Could climate change, which is increasing temperatures around the world, paradoxically help make viruses like COVID-19 less terrible? Don’t bet on it, experts say.
“They [coronaviruses] might become slightly less infectious under conditions where people are outdoors more in warmer climates. There may be an element of truth in that, but I don’t think we can rely on climate change to save us from COVID-19.”
— Paul Hunter, medicine professor, University of East Anglia in England
The bottom line: The indirect impact of climate change on infectious diseases far outweighs any potential indirect positive.
Also the UN is in on the paid-for spin to only point fingers at the animals - leaving out man-made virus creations.
Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted from animals to humans. Zoonoses threaten economic development, animal & human well-being and ecosystem integrity.