The reports of massive chemical attacks in Syria might become the “red line” for the US for active military intervention. But even rudimentary analysis of the story shows it is too early to believe its credibility.
The Middle Eastern newspaper, Al Arabiya, reports that “At least 1,300 people have been killed in a nerve gas attack on Syria’s Ghouta region, leading opposition figure George Sabra said on Wednesday…” The paper went on to claim that the Government of President Bashar al Assad was responsible for the attacks. If confirmed it could be the “red line” that US President Obama previously stated would tip the US into active military intervention in Syria, using No Fly Zones and active military steps to depose Assad.
That in turn could erupt into a conflagration across the Middle East and a Super Power confrontation with Russia and China and Iran on one side, and the USA, UK, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar on the opposite side. Not a happy prospect for world peace at all.
Therefore the story is worth analyzing carefully. When we do, several things jump out as suspicious. First the newspaper breaking the story was Al Arabiya, initially saying that at least 500 people have been killed, according to activists. From there it got picked up by major international media. Making the story more fishy by the minute were reports from different media of the alleged number of dead that changed by the minute – 635 then to 800 by USA Today and 1,300 by Rupert Murdoch’s SkyNews.
A handout image released by the Syrian opposition’s Shaam News Network shows bodies of children and adults laying on the ground as Syrian rebels claim they were killed in a toxic gas attack by pro-government forces in eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of Damascus on August 21, 2013. (AFP Photo)
Al Arabiya, the origin of the story, is not a neutral in the Syrian conflict. It was set up in 2002 by the Saudi Royal Family in Dubai. It is majority-owned by the Saudi broadcaster, Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC). Saudi Arabia is a major financial backer of the attempt to topple Syria’s government. That is a matter of record. So on first glance Saudi-owned media reporting such an inflammatory anti-Assad allegation might be taken with a dose of salt.
When we examine the printed content of their story, it gets more suspicious still. First they cite “activists at the Syrian Revolutionary Command Council said regime fighter planes were flying over the area after the bombardment, accusing the forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad of using chemical agents.” This is doubtful on many levels. First we can imagine that anti-government (unnamed) “activists” fighting Assad’s forces would not be exactly neutral.
The story gets even murkier. Further in the text of the article we read that the “Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said dozens of people were killed, including children, in fierce bombardment.” Now the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) has been the source of every news report negative against the Syrian Assad government since the war began in 2011. More curious about the humanitarian-sounding SOHR is the fact, as uncovered by investigative journalists, that it consists of a sole Syrian refugee who has lived in London for the past 13 years named Rami Abdul Rahman, a Syrian Sunni muslim who owns a clothing shop and is running a Twitter page from his home. Partly owing to a very friendly profile story on the BBC, he gained mainstream media credibility. He is anything but unbiased.
The other aspect of the suspicious reports is the “convenient” fact they coincide with the arrival two days earlier of an official UN weapons inspection team, allowed by the government, to investigate allegations of chemical weapons use in the Syrian war. It begs the most obvious question: What conceivably would Bashar al Assad stand to gain from using banned chemical weapons just at the time he has agreed to let a UN chemical weapons team into Syria?
daily alternative | alternative news – Syria gas attack story has whiff of Saudi war propaganda
Argentine and Brazilian Doctors Name Larvicide as Potential Cause of Microcephaly
A report from the Argentine doctors’ organisation, Physicians in the Crop-Sprayed Towns, challenges the theory that the Zika virus epidemic in Brazil is the cause of the increase in the birth defect microcephaly among newborns.
The increase in this birth defect, in which the baby is born with an abnormally small head and often has brain damage, was quickly linked to the Zika virus by the Brazilian Ministry of Health. However, according to the Physicians in the Crop-Sprayed Towns, the Ministry failed to recognise that in the area where most sick people live, a chemical larvicide that produces malformations in mosquitoes was introduced into the drinking water supply in 2014. This poison, Pyriproxyfen, is used in a State-controlled programme aimed at eradicating disease-carrying mosquitoes.
The Physicians added that the Pyriproxyfen is manufactured by Sumitomo Chemical, a Japanese “strategic partner” of Monsanto. Pyriproxyfen is a growth inhibitor of mosquito larvae, which alters the development process from larva to pupa to adult, thus generating malformations in developing mosquitoes and killing or disabling them. It acts as an insect juvenile hormone or juvenoid, and has the effect of inhibiting the development of adult insect characteristics (for example, wings and mature external genitalia) and reproductive development. It is an endocrine disruptor and is teratogenic (causes birth defects), according to the Physicians.
The Physicians commented: “Malformations detected in thousands of children from pregnant women living in areas where the Brazilian state added Pyriproxyfen to drinking water are not a coincidence, even though the Ministry of Health places a direct blame on the Zika virus for this damage.”
They also noted that Zika has traditionally been held to be a relatively benign disease that has never before been associated with birth defects, even in areas where it infects 75% of the population.
Since 2014, the insecticide Pyriproxyfen has been use to kill mosquitos in water tanks in Brazil
Larvicide the most likely culprit in birth defects
Pyriproxyfen is a relatively new introduction to the Brazilian environment; the microcephaly increase is a relatively new phenomenon. So the larvicide seems a plausible causative factor in microcephaly – far more so than GM mosquitoes, which some have blamed for the Zika epidemic and thus for the birth defects. There is no sound evidence to support the notion promoted by some sources that GM mosquitoes can cause Zika, which in turn can cause microcephaly. In fact, out of 404 confirmed microcephaly cases in Brazil, only 17 (4.2%) tested positive for the Zika virus.
Brazilian health experts agree Pyriproxyfen is chief suspect
The Argentine Physicians’ report, which also addresses the Dengue fever epidemic in Brazil, concurs with the findings of a separate report on the Zika outbreak by the Brazilian doctors’ and public health researchers’ organisation, Abrasco.
Abrasco also names Pyriproxyfen as a likely cause of the microcephaly. It condemns the strategy of chemical control of Zika-carrying mosquitoes, which it says is contaminating the environment as well as people and is not decreasing the numbers of mosquitoes. Abrasco suggests that this strategy is in fact driven by the commercial interests of the chemical industry, which it says is deeply integrated into the Latin American ministries of health, as well as the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organisation.
Abrasco names the British GM insect company Oxitec as part of the corporate lobby that is distorting the facts about Zika to suit its own profit-making agenda. Oxitec sells GM mosquitoes engineered for sterility and markets them as a disease-combatting product – a strategy condemned by the Argentine Physicians as “a total failure, except for the company supplying mosquitoes”.
The poor suffer most
Both the Brazilian and Argentine doctors’ and researchers’ associations agree that poverty is a key neglected factor in the Zika epidemic. Abrasco condemned the Brazilian government for its “deliberate concealment” of economic and social causes: “In Argentina and across America the poorest populations with the least access to sanitation and safe water suffer most from the outbreak.” The Argentine Physicians agreed, stating, “The basis of the progress of the disease lies in inequality and poverty.”
Abrasco added that the disease is closely linked to environmental degradation: floods caused by logging and the massive use of herbicides on (GM) herbicide-tolerant soy crops – in short, “the impacts of extractive industries”.
The notion that environmental degradation may a factor in the spread of Zika finds backing in the view of Dino Martins, PhD, a Kenyan entomologist. Martins said that “the explosion of mosquitoes in urban areas, which is driving the Zika crisis” is caused by “a lack of natural diversity that would otherwise keep mosquito populations under control, and the proliferation of waste and lack of disposal in some areas which provide artificial habitat for breeding mosquitoes”.
daily alternative | alternative news – Argentine and Brazilian Doctors Name Larvicide as Potential Cause of Microcephaly
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