Monday, May 16, 2016

The covert biological war against South America: what we know and are yet to know

Latin America,
The land of diversity. From the harsh plateaus of Atacama deserts, to the freezing wastes of Andese mountains, and the green wetness of the Amazons, the rippling stipa of the pampas...
The people, black, white, yellow and different shades of brown.. Their festivals and their gods as colourful and diverse as they are.
But behind the carnivals and Miceretas lies the hidden face of Latin America. Poverty and congestion lie not far behind the colourful stage curtains..
For example, Neza-Chalco-Itza in Mexico City is reputed to be the largest slum in the world, with a population density of 80000 per square kilometer. And Peru, Bolivia and Columbia are respectively the top three cocaine producers in the world.
At the other end of the spectrum, Brazil and Mexico are among the largest economies of the world.
Beginning in the 1998, the politics of the Latin American countries took a turn to the left, which the popular media termed the pink tide. Literally beneath its nose, with its anti communist sentiments bordering on paranoia, it was surprising, to say the least, that the US allowed this pink tide to take place.
Or did it??
Since a very long time ago the former Cuban president, Fidel Castro had never minced his words regarding the numerous attempts to kill him. ( 638 according to some sources) But the most interesting thing about these assassination attempts is that at least some of them were executed using biological agents. In other words, US had used biological weapons against Fidel Castro.
Most infamously the CIA used cigars poisoned with botulinum toxin, and also a scuba diving suit infected with tubercle bacilli. But Castro survived all the plots.
The attempts on Fidel Castro are about the only episodes with definitive evidence pointing to US employing bio weapons against Latin America. But lack of good evidence apart, are they the only attempts??
To find the answer, let's travel back in time to 1963 to Dallas, Texas. On November 22nd of that year, in Dealy plaza, Dallas, history was created with the assassination of JFK. Immediately, JFK assassination triggered suspicions of conspiracy. Not the least, because of the gunning down of the alleged assasin Lee Harvey Oswald, by the Texas night club owner Jack Ruby, only two days later.
Jack Ruby was duly arrested and while awaiting trial, in1966, he died from the complications of severely disseminated cancer.
He had cancer in liver, lungs, brain, lymph nodes, pancreas, ribs and vertebrae. In the brain only, there were 8 separate tumors. But he didn't have any in 1964, just two years before.
Dallas deputy Sherriff at that time, Al Maddox, claimed that Ruby had once told him, that he was injected with cancer cells.
Fantasies of a sensationalist?? Possibly, but let's go again to 1964, July.
An eminent orthopaedic surgeon and cancer researcher, Dr.Mary Sherman's brutality murdered mutilated and half burnt body was found in her apartment. Her murder was never solved and probably never will be. But in 1997, a book authored by Ed Haslam, claimed to solve the mystery. The plot summary stating that, Dr.Sherman was working in an undercover project to create a virus which causes cancer. The aim? To kill Fidel Castro.
The book has many scientific flaws and implausible theories. But the fact remains that Dr. Sherman has done research on oncology and also on polio virus.
In both the above incidents, Jack Ruby and Dr. Sherman, the recurring theme is cancer.
Ed Haslam's book has been dismissed as implausible and Jack Ruby's allegations as ravings.
But it is possible that in the light of the above two intriguing incidents in the distant past, new clues may reveal themselves about the use of biological weapons on Latin America.
In 2013, Hugo Chávez, the 64th president of Venezuela, succumbed to cancer. The cancer was first diagnosed in 2011.
Meanwhile in Paraguay, president Fernando Lugo had been diagnosed with Non Hodgkin lymphoma in 2010.
President Christina Fernandez a prominent left wing politician from Argentina, in turn received her diagnosis of thyroid cancer in 2011.
But the situation in Brazil easily suppresses anything. Dilma Rousseff its current left wing president was diagnosed with early stage axillary lymphoma in 2009. Her predecessor, Lula de Silva was diagnosed with malignant tumor of larynx in 2011. Itamar Franco, another past president of Brazil was diagnosed with leukaemia, also in 2011...
Pretty weird? Or should we be asking what's going on?
So obviously, the US didn't just ignore the pink tide. The experiments which possibly began as early as 1960s, ought to have obviously yielded some tangible results by now. And the tangible results may be those diagnoses from 2009 to 2011.
Cancer causing viruses are definitely not fiction. That much we know. For example it is a fairly old discovery that some batches of injectible polio vaccines produced in the US between 1955 and 1961 were contaminated with SV40, a monkey virus. But what is new knowledge is CDC's reluctant acceptance after decades of denial that SV40 is a human polyoma virus. I.e. That it can cause cancer in multiple tissues.
Research data shows that SV40 has been isolated from multiple human cancers. And those researches also indicate a 37% rise in ependymomas, 26% rise in osteogenic sarcomas, 34% rise in bone tumors and a 90% rise in mesotheliomas after exposure to SV40.
So harnessing the power to cause cancer is definitely not fiction.
Cancer is definitely not the only form of biological agent unleashed on south America.
A new virulent strain of HIV which can kill in something like three years was discovered only last year from Cuba. Chance mutation? Or something better than chance? Again its left to speculation.
The Haiti cholera epidemic is another unfortunate event that up to date, has claimed more than 9000 lives. The outbreak started in 2010, after the devastating Haiti earthquake. The strain was identified as originating from south asia. UN officials and the CDC were extremely reluctant to investigate the source. But in 2011, under pressure, the UN relented and discovered that the source of the epidemic was a Nepalese peace keeping force camp.
It could be the poor sanitation and waste disposal of the camp that started the epidemic. But it is equally possible that the virulent cholera strain alien to the latin America was introduced intentionally.
Viruses and diseases against humans is not the only component of biological warfare. Diseases against plant and entomological weapons are also part of the deal.
In 2000, as part of America's war on drugs it formulated a plan to release strains of the fungus 'Fusarium oxysporum' which is herbicidal against coca. The country of focus was Columbia. But the plan had to be pulled out amidst general opposition from regional countries.
As of 2015 US scientists are contemplating the feasibility of dropping certain breeds of caterpillars onto Columbian and Peruvian coca fields.
But the big problem with these agents is that nobody can be sure of their behaviour. After all they are biological organisms. They can easily mutate or even merely adapt into infesting and destroying other crops as well.
So the big brother up north is definitely not going to allow the south be......

Friday, May 6, 2016

The dead who walk...

Haiti, a unique country occupying the eastern part of the island of Hispaniola... Dubbed 'La perle des Antilles' both for its natural beauty and also the vast fortune that it provided to France, it's colonial rulers, Haiti was indeed the wealthiest of French colonies.
Haiti being the only nation in the world established as the result of a successful slave revolt, boasts of having defeated three European super powers. France, Britain and Spain.
But since declaring itself a free nation it has suffered dejection, political isolation, political humiliation and interference from other nations as well as perhaps even bio terrorism.
The Haitian religion or Voodooism is a curious mix of native African religions and Roman Catholicism. And it's got a rich colourful culture with many unique rituals and beliefs. But up until modern times, Haiti was mostly shrouded in mystery and its culture and beliefs were painted in a negative light in the western eye.
In 1915, in response to anti American revolts and threats to the US economic dominance over Haiti, American forces occupied island. That was when strange reports of men (and women) who are raised from death, to be turned into slaves, started to reach the west.
In Haitian Creole, they were called the 'Zombi'.
Haitian legends state that a zombie is a corpse which is reanimated by a wizard that they call 'a bokor'. The zombie thus created is purported to be completely under the control of the bokor.
Reports of such real people who were supposed to have died, but who later walked into their villages, were investigated by researchers. One such notable case is a man named 'Clarivius Narcisse' who was presumed to be dead and buried in 1962. But he returned home 18 years later and claimed that he had been dug up from his grave and forced to work in a sugar cane plantation.
The idea that zombies are really a scientifically explainable phenomenon, had been prevalent from those early times. The most widely circulated theory was that zombies are people who are put into a state of paralysis which resembles death. After that they are buried and the body is later unearthed by the bokor, and revived by another drug. After that the 'dead' man is kept under the absolute control of the bokor by the administration of hallucinogens. The ingredients of the magical concotion are of course kept secret. But they are reputed to contain Puffer fish poison, Datura plant extract, camphor and most gruesomely a newly buried baby's brain.
Wade Davis, one of the proponents insisting on a scientific explanation for the zombies, claims that the active ingredient from the puffer fish, Tetrodotoxin is responsible for the creation of zombies. But this claim had been refuted in 1990s based on results obtained by analytical chemistry.
But although analytical chemistry failed to show positive results for the alleged toxins, the fact remains that the puffer fish poison, Datura etc are definitely used by the bokor.
So can there be a truth in the myth? Is it possible to create a so called zombie by using the above medicines?
Also worth noting is that not just any old person, or even any old bokor can create a zombie. Only the most experienced and the seasoned could do it, and even so, there is no guarantee that you would succeed every time. The same medicines may act differently in the hands of different bokors. So why the big uncertainty??
The puffer fish, is a primarily marine and estuarine fish, which contain the toxin tetrodotoxin. The fish isn't inherently poisonous but the toxin is produced by symbiotic or infective bacteria. So the exact amount of poison in a given puffer fish is difficult to predict. The toxicity varies depending on the species, the geographical locality and the season of the year.
The toxic nature of the Puffer fish is know in other civilizations as well, the Chinese writing about it at around 2000 BC.
But with experience and local knowledge, predicting the toxicity maybe a different matter, thus accounting for the fact that only certain bokors are successful. For example the fish caught in the sea is more poisonous than their counterparts caught in estuaries.
The active ingredient in Puffer fish, tetrodotoxin, can kill in 17 minutes. But death can take up to 4 to 6 hours most commonly. The victim although completely paralyzed, remains in a lucid state until shortly before death. Some victims go into a coma. If the victim survives for 24 hours he usually fully recovers within 2 to 3 days.
According to the legends the presumably dead victim is buried and later dug up and revived by the bokor. Camphor is supposed to be one of the ingredients used for revival. It is interesting to note that camphor, obtained from plants of Lamiaceae family, especially rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), may contain caffeic acid and rosmarinic acid, whic have acetyle choline esterase inhibitors. And although not sufficiently investigated, acetyl choline esterase inhibitors are proposed as anti toxins for tetrodotoxin.
The legends do not stop there and go on to say that powerful medicines are repeatedly given to the zombies to maintain submission.
One such drug is supposed to be obtained from a plant of the genus Datura. Datura is a known hallucinogen with anticholinergic activity.
But here also the toxicity changes among individual plants, from leaf to leaf, from the age of the plant and flowering etc. So to use Datura safely and obtain the desired effects at the same time one has to be extremely experienced.
Another ingredient which is supposed to be used in the making of a zombie is the brain of a recently buried baby. This is the one ingredient which had been subjected to least scientific scrutiny. The infant brain having known chemical difference from the adult brain may indeed be used for its chemical properties.. Or on the other hand, this addition could well be in order to add a touch of mysticism.
Most probably there are yet still more active ingredients which we have never heard about. A secret handed down from one generation of bokors to the other, but eventually as most other ancient magic, dying slowly and getting lost and forgotten in history.
But on the other hand, as some historians tend to argue, the myth of the zombies is just what it is... a myth, conveying the story of Haiti's slavery in metaphorical language..
As usual, we may never know....