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The Ebola Drone….

October 18, 2014
Fighting Ebola in Sierre Leone

Fighting Ebola in Sierre Leone

1.

Ah, if Raytheon could only develop an Ebola drone!! Wouldn’t this solve everything? A technical fix to stop these undocumented, illegal microbes from entering the country. Its production would make profits for the military industrial complex to boot, always an important consideration in the country’s economic well-being these days. A micro-weapon to be directed by a microchip that could be anus inserted, like a suppository. Cutting edge technology!

As they, drones, come in all sizes these days, it needs to be made small enough to enter the human bloodstream to attack all those nasty viruses. Of course the will be collateral damage, a lung here, a kidney there, a testicle here, an ovary there ..but given precision bombing of our developing micro-weapons we could find a way to fight the virus and keep down our own organ casualties.

Go for it!

2.

Here in the United States, as would be expected to a certain degree, much media attention focuses on the growing number of Ebola cases of people States-side. On some level, this concern is needed to prevent the disease from spreading here in the United States.

But the situation has gotten more than a bit out of hand.

Let’s keep in mind that while vigilance is appropriate that the kind of scare tactics which are currently being employed by the nation’s Republican Party in an effort to swing the upcoming mid-term elections their way, have transformed a potential danger into something approaching a panic, with the media and certain elements of the government responsible for it and it is pretty cynical stuff.

The developing pattern is disturbing: building on a grand tradition of post-9-11 national paranoia, narcissism and xenophobia, there is too much attention – nay national hysteria – concerning Ebola’s potential impact here in the states and much less concern for its outbreak in Africa where it is reaching epidemic proportions by all accounts.

The developing pattern is disturbing: building on a grand tradition of post-9-11 national paranoia, narcissism and xenophobia, there is too much attention – nay national hysteria – concerning Ebola’s potential impact here in the states and much less concern for its outbreak in Africa where it is reaching epidemic proportions by all accounts.

That President Obama would be (and is) blamed for the spread of Ebola is more than a bit over the top. More ultra-right wing drivel from the likes of Pat Robertson and other flaky theorists. True enough, the Obama Administration has been slow to address the crisis where it needs most attention – in Africa, but even here, the record is improving as the president (finally) understands the stakes involved. As Obama’s attention is more accurately focused on the dealing with what is needed – a massive U.S. medical brigade to be sent to West Africa as the Cubans have done, his Republican opponents turn up the heat to undermine the more reasonable aspects of his program.

Most of the hysteria (detailed on this blog yesterday) appears to be coming from the Republican corner of the political spectrum, and once again, the right-wing of the right-wing of that corner. Besides their usual penchant for blaming the President essentially for waking up in the morning and being this nation’s first Black first executive, Robertson, Hagee and Co. have, as usual, a simplistic and xenophobic solution for dealing with the Ebola dilemma.

It is no different from their solution for addressing the immigration crisis: close the country’s borders! Sound familiar? Cancel air flights to and from the effected countries of West Africa? Develop an “Ebola drone” that from a high altitude with the help of military satellites can identify “potential Ebola terrorists” or “illegal and undocumented Ebola immigrants” and with (something less than) pinpoint accuracy from a sanitized military base somewhere deep in the country’s heartland (like Fergeson, Missouri) can zap potential Ebola carriers with heat seeking missiles?

Same old, same old.

In fact there is NO difference between how this country deals with its Latin American immigration crisis and the emerging scenarios for addressing Ebola: keep ‘em out, send’em back. a. Stupid? b. Racist? c. Short-sighted? d. All of the above? All the trends that make Republican Party Tea-Party politics the wonder that it is today. I am particularly impressed by watching the same Republican members of Congress, those same folks who love to vote for war and against Obama’s Affordable Healthcare Act, those folks that have done pretty much everything in their power to reduce or cut funding to regulatory agencies, the Center for Disease Control, and veterans benefits now grilling the managers of the Health bureaucracies they have cut to pieces for being unprepared for the Ebola crisis.

Unable to run on their record, in an attempt to tiptoe around, if not bury, their role in helping to precipitate the 2008 global economic crisis, their unending efforts to gridlock Congress, their global warming denial, their responsibility for U.S. involvement in foreign wars in Afghanistan, Iraq 1 and now Iraq 2, Republicans have no choice but to engage in “attack mode” in this election campaign. They have now added the Ebola danger to their arsenal of lies and are playing that card for all it is worth. Might work, who knows, with all that Citizens’ United money to grease the way.  It will more than likely drop off the media radar once the November 5 elections are over. Such was the fate of Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the Center for Disease Control, attacked in a Congressional hearing two days ago , little more than a Republican Party feeding frenzy, for supposedly not doing enough to stem the epidemic.

Unable to run on their record, in an attempt to tiptoe around, if not bury, their role in helping to precipitate the 2008 global economic crisis, their unending efforts to gridlock Congress, their global warming denial, their responsibility for U.S. involvement in foreign wars in Afghanistan, Iraq 1 and now Iraq 2, Republicans have no choice but to engage in “attack mode” in this election campaign. They have now added the Ebola danger to their arsenal of lies and are amplifying the threat and playing that card for all it is worth. Might work, who knows, with all that Citizens’ United money to grease the way. It will more than likely drop off the media radar once the November 5 elections are over.

With a little help from their friends at Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and the usual crowd of right-wing talk show hosts, Republicans have managed to scare the pants off the American people that a U.S. Ebola epidemic is imminent. Having so whipped up that fear – their main contribution to the national political dialogue be it on foreign intervention, healthcare or Ebola, Republicans now cynically claim that they represent “public opinion.”

While there are many examples of this ploy, none represent it more vividly than Colorado’s very own Cory Gardner, Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in a close race with his Democratic opponent, Colorado’s U.S. Senator Mark Udall. Cory Gardner is one of the Republican Party in Colorado’s “rising stars” which is a vivid statement on the state of the party here. Little more than a young neo-con air-head who never met a fracking well he didn’t like, or a national health care program that he did, Gardner, like so many Tea Party Republicans of his ilk, unable to run on his record as a U.S. Congressman, hopes that playing the Ebola hysteria card, along with a flood of Koch Brothers-like money, will push him over the top. As such, Gardner has joined the Republican chorus calling for immediate travel bans from affected African regions.

3.

There is another striking parallel between the way the government and media here are treating immigration and the growing Ebola danger: as if Washington has nothing to do with it, they carefully avoid any responsibility that the United States government and business community have had in either creating or intensifying the problem. Yet at the heart of the unending stream of undocumented immigration into the United States is the overall socio-economic crisis afflicting Guatemala, Honduras and other Central American countries.

U.S. support for Latin American military dictators and the region’s economic oligarchy are, by today, legend from Henry Kissinger and the C.I.A.’s role in the overthrown of the Allende government in Chile in 1973, to the genocidal attack against Guatemalan Mayan peasants in the 1980s, to the coups against Aristede in Haiti and Zelaya in Hondoras and the attempts to overthrow the Chavez-led government in Venezuela, U.S. Latin American policy has had more than an incidental and destabilizing impact on the region.

I know that it is too much to ask, but to stop the flow of immigration – driven by repression, and economically triggered desperation – it would help more for the United States, in tandem of course with the peoples of Central America – to develop a kind of Central American Marshall Plan. This would do a lot more to alleviate the immigration crisis than the militarization of the border, itself characterized by more toxic forms of anti-immigrant racism, these past years. Of course such an active economic development process would be meaningless without democratic changes which would entail dropping support for the U.S. based corporate interests (oil companies, United Fruit, etc) that have benefited from the political-economic status quo at the expense of their people.

Likewise, true enough, it is not the United States government or corporate America that caused the Ebola outbreak which stems from a matrix of biological and social causes, but to argue that U.S. and corporate Africa policy has nothing to do with a century (or more) of U.S. and/or European policy towards the continent is a cop-out. It is more likely that the disease itself – and many like it – perculate in the regions near the African equator – rather than in the laboratories of the C.I.A. (not that they are above such things). All the evidence suggests natural biological causes, a viral condition carried by fruit bats that jumped to other mammals and at some point before 1976 when it was first clearly identified, mutated to affect humans.

But such conditions, as well as other “tropical diseases” have been shown far more likely to spread in regions where the population has low resistance to all kinds of diseases as a result of poor diet, badly organized (or virtually non-existent) healthcare delivery system and war – all of which characterize the African countries Ebola has targeted. While it is now fashionable and to a certain extent justifiable to drone on about African political repression, corruption, and the like, the Mobutu’s, Ben Ali’s and Mubareks’ of Africa could not have stayed in power as long as they did without being propped up by U.S. and European (particularly French) policies, both political and economic. African countries were little more than Cold War pawns for most of the post-World War II period and now little more than extraction factories for oil, natural gas, copper, etc.

Such governments are not known for their investments in healthcare. Guinea, Sierre Leone and Liberia are among the poorest, not only in Africa but in the world. The term “healthcare system” in these places is little more than an oxymoron with the number of doctors, nurses, hospitals and drugs available at a global low. Add to that IMF structural adjustment programs that insist in government budget cuts for social services and deduced subsidies for medical care and the toxic cocktail of reduced resistance to disease in such places is amplified that much more.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Jim permalink
    October 19, 2014 3:34 pm

    Has Cory come down with
    a case of Koch- bola ?
    His job was selling
    Farm equipment, lobbying for corn
    for ethanol, and promoting a Keystone
    foreign pipeline, while there is a glut
    of shale oil and Natural gas in
    the U S.
    Has Cory followed oil prices lately, he
    should try reading the Wall Street Journal, and being alert on North
    Dakota events.
    gas

  2. October 21, 2014 12:03 pm

    Actually thermal imagery probably can LOCATE people who are ill with Ebola in REAL-TIME over wide outdoor areas and concealed by rural vegetation. Specific body temperatures put out specific IR wavelengths. Same type of technology that can spot marijuana from the air.

    True people on the ground are still needed for those who stay inside modern buildings (older grass huts are often see through). Also it takes someone on the ground to separate out people with other illnesses from Ebola patients. But just knowing who and where people running fevers are in rural areas and walking the streets could cut the workload and speed containment by a huge amount.

    Of course old style epidemic workers often just like talking with people and following the trail of corpses a few days after they got sick. Its a matter of pride in their social skills and deductive abilities. That skill is still often needed but fiercely holding out that its the only tool possible is either ignorance or foot dragging at the world’s expense.

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