• AltSignals and Fetch.ai Cryptocurrencies Comparison – Which is the Better Investment?
    As investors explore the exciting merger of artificial intelligence and crypto, two interesting projects, AltSignals and Fetch, are attracting market attention as leading projects in this new AI cryptocurrency sector.
    Both platforms leverage AI to deliver innovative solutions on blockchain, but they do so in markedly different ways. Analysts are now comparing these two pioneering AI cryptocurrencies, exploring their unique characteristics and potential as investments. This helps determine what might be the best choice for portfolios looking to achieve the best returns in 2024.
    What is AltSignals?
    AltSignals represents innovation in the field of trading signals, establishing itself as a trusted leader since 2017. The platform has consistently delivered high-quality, reliable trading signals to a large community of subscribers, achieving a rate of remarkable average success of 64% across thousands of signals. The success of this platform is largely based on its proprietary indicator, AltAlgo™, an advanced tool that has played a decisive role thus far.
    With a bold initiative to push the boundaries of trading intelligence, AltSignals takes the next step with the introduction of ActualizeAI . This innovative AI-powered platform is committed to revolutionizing trading signals by integrating advanced technologies such as machine learning, natural language processing (NLP) and predictive analytics. The ultimate goal is to grow the platform's success rate to over 80%, strengthening AltSignals' position as a market leader. ActualizeAI represents a significant advancement, aiming to provide real-time actionable insights that evolve and improve through continuous learning and exposure to market data, setting it apart in the AI cryptocurrency space .
    How does AltSignals work?
    The mainstay of AltSignals is its transition from the proven AltAlgo™ to the more advanced ActualizeAI. This change marks a significant improvement in the platform's ability to analyze and interpret market trends. ActualizeAI uses a blend of machine learning, natural language processing (NLP) and predictive analytics, allowing it to process massive amounts of data and provide nuanced and more accurate trading signals.
    The introduction of the ASI token ICO is a strategic move aimed at financing and promoting the development of ActualizeAI. ASI token holders who own 10,000 or more can enjoy a variety of benefits within the platform, including the AltScalpPRO scalping indicator, a 10-day free trial of the AltAlgo™ indicator and signals Limited Editions of ActualizeAI. When traders hold 25,000 tokens or more, they also have limited access to AutoTrading features, as well as discounts on the platform's future AI projects and access to exclusive pre-sale events.
    Holders of 50,000 tokens or more receive lifetime access to ActualizeAI and its comprehensive offering of trading signals, as well as lifetime membership to the AI Members Club , access to advanced ecosystem features from AltSignals. This investment level includes additional benefits such as unlimited watchlists, full access to AutoTrading, access to AltAlgo, and much more.
    All ASI token holders also have a say in the governance of the platform, and this democratic approach allows the community, which already numbers over 50,000 members, to contribute to the direction and growth of the platform . The appointment of Sebastian Diaconu as Product Manager, an expert in the crypto and trading sectors, highlights AltSignals' commitment to this new chapter. Diaconu's regular engagement with the community, through FAQ sessions and updates, guarantees transparency and promotes a strong bond between the platform and its users.
    During a recent FAQ on December 8, Diaconu shared information about the updated product's user interface and discussed how the new ActualizeAI technology would integrate with the existing signals service, demonstrating the dedication of AltSignals for innovation and user engagement.
    ASI Price Prediction: Is $1 Realistic for 2025?
    The prospect of AltSignals' ASI token for 2025 is attracting more and more attention from the crypto community. Industry analysts are talking about ASI's potential to hit the $1 mark, a claim enabled by the AltSignals team's strong foundation and strategic roadmap. This optimism is reinforced by the anticipated Bitcoin halving event, a factor known to boost the crypto market , particularly helping high-potential and early-stage tokens like ASI.
    The growing enthusiasm around ASI is understandable. Its impressive achievements in the cryptocurrency pre-sale phase, having raised an incredible $1.6m in just 9 months, are a testament to how many in the industry are realizing the incredible potential of the ASI token, especially if the it is considered to be available at the discounted price of only $0.01875 .
    What is Fetch?
    Fetch is a revolutionary blockchain platform designed to harness the power of artificial intelligence to automate and improve everyday tasks and transactions. At the heart of Fetch.ai is the concept of decentralization, where the platform uses “digital twins”. These are AI-driven bots that represent users to perform tasks such as booking flights or executing DeFi transactions autonomously. These bots interact with others on the network, learning and trading on behalf of their users, simplifying and optimizing the user experience in various areas.
    FET Price Prediction
    When it comes to Fetch.ai's native cryptocurrency, FET, the future looks bright. The concept of using AI for automation in blockchain has caught the attention of investors, and with the current price of around $0.57 and a market cap of around $500 million, many believe that FET could grow 3-4x in 2025. This would represent solid returns for investors.
    ASI vs FET: What is the best investment for 2024?
    2023 has been a banner year for the AI industry, which is forecast to grow from $241.8 billion to $740 billion by 2030 . As we approach 2024, the investment potential of AI cryptocurrencies, such as AltSignals' ASI and Fetch's FET, is increasing, with each bringing their share of innovations. Fetch.ai's FET offers an innovative approach to automated and AI-driven solutions, highlighting its potential in the ever-evolving blockchain space and offering the possibility of modest but solid returns.

    However, the real buzz revolves around AltSignals’ ASI token. With its advanced AI technology in trading signals and the expected help from Bitcoin halving, ASI stands out as a particularly attractive investment opportunity. It embodies the fusion of technology and market foresight, positioning it for potentially significant growth over the next year.
    For investors ready to seize opportunities in the dynamic cryptocurrency market, ASI offers an unrivaled blend of innovation and potential, making it an indispensable choice. The window of opportunity is narrowing, it is time to act. ASI represents not only an investment, but also an implication in the future of AI in trading. 2025 could be a revolutionary year for ASI holders.
    To purchase AltSignals (ASI), visit the official AltSignals website .
    You can Find our Indicator and Binance Futures signals on our website below...
    Website: https://bit.ly/MarketAnalysisASI
    Make sure to like, subscribe and hit the notification bell to keep up to date with our videos! Check it out https://bit.ly/MarketAnalysisASI
    AltSignals and Fetch.ai Cryptocurrencies Comparison – Which is the Better Investment? As investors explore the exciting merger of artificial intelligence and crypto, two interesting projects, AltSignals and Fetch, are attracting market attention as leading projects in this new AI cryptocurrency sector. Both platforms leverage AI to deliver innovative solutions on blockchain, but they do so in markedly different ways. Analysts are now comparing these two pioneering AI cryptocurrencies, exploring their unique characteristics and potential as investments. This helps determine what might be the best choice for portfolios looking to achieve the best returns in 2024. What is AltSignals? AltSignals represents innovation in the field of trading signals, establishing itself as a trusted leader since 2017. The platform has consistently delivered high-quality, reliable trading signals to a large community of subscribers, achieving a rate of remarkable average success of 64% across thousands of signals. The success of this platform is largely based on its proprietary indicator, AltAlgo™, an advanced tool that has played a decisive role thus far. With a bold initiative to push the boundaries of trading intelligence, AltSignals takes the next step with the introduction of ActualizeAI . This innovative AI-powered platform is committed to revolutionizing trading signals by integrating advanced technologies such as machine learning, natural language processing (NLP) and predictive analytics. The ultimate goal is to grow the platform's success rate to over 80%, strengthening AltSignals' position as a market leader. ActualizeAI represents a significant advancement, aiming to provide real-time actionable insights that evolve and improve through continuous learning and exposure to market data, setting it apart in the AI cryptocurrency space . How does AltSignals work? The mainstay of AltSignals is its transition from the proven AltAlgo™ to the more advanced ActualizeAI. This change marks a significant improvement in the platform's ability to analyze and interpret market trends. ActualizeAI uses a blend of machine learning, natural language processing (NLP) and predictive analytics, allowing it to process massive amounts of data and provide nuanced and more accurate trading signals. The introduction of the ASI token ICO is a strategic move aimed at financing and promoting the development of ActualizeAI. ASI token holders who own 10,000 or more can enjoy a variety of benefits within the platform, including the AltScalpPRO scalping indicator, a 10-day free trial of the AltAlgo™ indicator and signals Limited Editions of ActualizeAI. When traders hold 25,000 tokens or more, they also have limited access to AutoTrading features, as well as discounts on the platform's future AI projects and access to exclusive pre-sale events. Holders of 50,000 tokens or more receive lifetime access to ActualizeAI and its comprehensive offering of trading signals, as well as lifetime membership to the AI Members Club , access to advanced ecosystem features from AltSignals. This investment level includes additional benefits such as unlimited watchlists, full access to AutoTrading, access to AltAlgo, and much more. All ASI token holders also have a say in the governance of the platform, and this democratic approach allows the community, which already numbers over 50,000 members, to contribute to the direction and growth of the platform . The appointment of Sebastian Diaconu as Product Manager, an expert in the crypto and trading sectors, highlights AltSignals' commitment to this new chapter. Diaconu's regular engagement with the community, through FAQ sessions and updates, guarantees transparency and promotes a strong bond between the platform and its users. During a recent FAQ on December 8, Diaconu shared information about the updated product's user interface and discussed how the new ActualizeAI technology would integrate with the existing signals service, demonstrating the dedication of AltSignals for innovation and user engagement. ASI Price Prediction: Is $1 Realistic for 2025? The prospect of AltSignals' ASI token for 2025 is attracting more and more attention from the crypto community. Industry analysts are talking about ASI's potential to hit the $1 mark, a claim enabled by the AltSignals team's strong foundation and strategic roadmap. This optimism is reinforced by the anticipated Bitcoin halving event, a factor known to boost the crypto market , particularly helping high-potential and early-stage tokens like ASI. The growing enthusiasm around ASI is understandable. Its impressive achievements in the cryptocurrency pre-sale phase, having raised an incredible $1.6m in just 9 months, are a testament to how many in the industry are realizing the incredible potential of the ASI token, especially if the it is considered to be available at the discounted price of only $0.01875 . What is Fetch? Fetch is a revolutionary blockchain platform designed to harness the power of artificial intelligence to automate and improve everyday tasks and transactions. At the heart of Fetch.ai is the concept of decentralization, where the platform uses “digital twins”. These are AI-driven bots that represent users to perform tasks such as booking flights or executing DeFi transactions autonomously. These bots interact with others on the network, learning and trading on behalf of their users, simplifying and optimizing the user experience in various areas. FET Price Prediction When it comes to Fetch.ai's native cryptocurrency, FET, the future looks bright. The concept of using AI for automation in blockchain has caught the attention of investors, and with the current price of around $0.57 and a market cap of around $500 million, many believe that FET could grow 3-4x in 2025. This would represent solid returns for investors. ASI vs FET: What is the best investment for 2024? 2023 has been a banner year for the AI industry, which is forecast to grow from $241.8 billion to $740 billion by 2030 . As we approach 2024, the investment potential of AI cryptocurrencies, such as AltSignals' ASI and Fetch's FET, is increasing, with each bringing their share of innovations. Fetch.ai's FET offers an innovative approach to automated and AI-driven solutions, highlighting its potential in the ever-evolving blockchain space and offering the possibility of modest but solid returns. However, the real buzz revolves around AltSignals’ ASI token. With its advanced AI technology in trading signals and the expected help from Bitcoin halving, ASI stands out as a particularly attractive investment opportunity. It embodies the fusion of technology and market foresight, positioning it for potentially significant growth over the next year. For investors ready to seize opportunities in the dynamic cryptocurrency market, ASI offers an unrivaled blend of innovation and potential, making it an indispensable choice. The window of opportunity is narrowing, it is time to act. ASI represents not only an investment, but also an implication in the future of AI in trading. 2025 could be a revolutionary year for ASI holders. To purchase AltSignals (ASI), visit the official AltSignals website . ⬇️You can Find our Indicator and Binance Futures signals on our website below... Website: https://bit.ly/MarketAnalysisASI ⬇️ Make sure to like, subscribe and hit the notification bell to keep up to date with our videos! Check it out ⬇️ https://bit.ly/MarketAnalysisASI
    BIT.LY
    AltSignals - #1 Best Crypto Signals
    Join AltSignals VIP - The Best Telegram Crypto Signals. Daily Trading Signals for Binance Futures, Spot & Forex since 2017. Over 50K Members!
    0 Comments 0 Shares 775 Views
  • AltSignals and Fetch.ai Cryptocurrencies Comparison – Which is the Better Investment?

    As investors explore the exciting merger of artificial intelligence and crypto, two interesting projects, AltSignals and Fetch, are attracting market attention as leading projects in this new AI cryptocurrency sector.
    Both platforms leverage AI to deliver innovative solutions on blockchain, but they do so in markedly different ways. Analysts are now comparing these two pioneering AI cryptocurrencies, exploring their unique characteristics and potential as investments. This helps determine what might be the best choice for portfolios looking to achieve the best returns in 2024.
    What is AltSignals?
    AltSignals represents innovation in the field of trading signals, establishing itself as a trusted leader since 2017. The platform has consistently delivered high-quality, reliable trading signals to a large community of subscribers, achieving a rate of remarkable average success of 64% across thousands of signals. The success of this platform is largely based on its proprietary indicator, AltAlgo™, an advanced tool that has played a decisive role thus far.
    With a bold initiative to push the boundaries of trading intelligence, AltSignals takes the next step with the introduction of ActualizeAI . This innovative AI-powered platform is committed to revolutionizing trading signals by integrating advanced technologies such as machine learning, natural language processing (NLP) and predictive analytics. The ultimate goal is to grow the platform's success rate to over 80%, strengthening AltSignals' position as a market leader. ActualizeAI represents a significant advancement, aiming to provide real-time actionable insights that evolve and improve through continuous learning and exposure to market data, setting it apart in the AI cryptocurrency space .
    How does AltSignals work?
    The mainstay of AltSignals is its transition from the proven AltAlgo™ to the more advanced ActualizeAI. This change marks a significant improvement in the platform's ability to analyze and interpret market trends. ActualizeAI uses a blend of machine learning, natural language processing (NLP) and predictive analytics, allowing it to process massive amounts of data and provide nuanced and more accurate trading signals.
    The introduction of the ASI token ICO is a strategic move aimed at financing and promoting the development of ActualizeAI. ASI token holders who own 10,000 or more can enjoy a variety of benefits within the platform, including the AltScalpPRO scalping indicator, a 10-day free trial of the AltAlgo™ indicator and signals Limited Editions of ActualizeAI. When traders hold 25,000 tokens or more, they also have limited access to AutoTrading features, as well as discounts on the platform's future AI projects and access to exclusive pre-sale events.
    Holders of 50,000 tokens or more receive lifetime access to ActualizeAI and its comprehensive offering of trading signals, as well as lifetime membership to the AI Members Club , access to advanced ecosystem features from AltSignals. This investment level includes additional benefits such as unlimited watchlists, full access to AutoTrading, access to AltAlgo, and much more.
    All ASI token holders also have a say in the governance of the platform, and this democratic approach allows the community, which already numbers over 50,000 members, to contribute to the direction and growth of the platform . The appointment of Sebastian Diaconu as Product Manager, an expert in the crypto and trading sectors, highlights AltSignals' commitment to this new chapter. Diaconu's regular engagement with the community, through FAQ sessions and updates, guarantees transparency and promotes a strong bond between the platform and its users.
    During a recent FAQ on December 8, Diaconu shared information about the updated product's user interface and discussed how the new ActualizeAI technology would integrate with the existing signals service, demonstrating the dedication of AltSignals for innovation and user engagement.
    ASI Price Prediction: Is $1 Realistic for 2025?
    The prospect of AltSignals' ASI token for 2025 is attracting more and more attention from the crypto community. Industry analysts are talking about ASI's potential to hit the $1 mark, a claim enabled by the AltSignals team's strong foundation and strategic roadmap. This optimism is reinforced by the anticipated Bitcoin halving event, a factor known to boost the crypto market , particularly helping high-potential and early-stage tokens like ASI.
    The growing enthusiasm around ASI is understandable. Its impressive achievements in the cryptocurrency pre-sale phase, having raised an incredible $1.6m in just 9 months, are a testament to how many in the industry are realizing the incredible potential of the ASI token, especially if the it is considered to be available at the discounted price of only $0.01875 .
    What is Fetch?
    Fetch is a revolutionary blockchain platform designed to harness the power of artificial intelligence to automate and improve everyday tasks and transactions. At the heart of Fetch.ai is the concept of decentralization, where the platform uses “digital twins”. These are AI-driven bots that represent users to perform tasks such as booking flights or executing DeFi transactions autonomously. These bots interact with others on the network, learning and trading on behalf of their users, simplifying and optimizing the user experience in various areas.
    FET Price Prediction
    When it comes to Fetch.ai's native cryptocurrency, FET, the future looks bright. The concept of using AI for automation in blockchain has caught the attention of investors, and with the current price of around $0.57 and a market cap of around $500 million, many believe that FET could grow 3-4x in 2025. This would represent solid returns for investors.
    ASI vs FET: What is the best investment for 2024?
    2023 has been a banner year for the AI industry, which is forecast to grow from $241.8 billion to $740 billion by 2030 . As we approach 2024, the investment potential of AI cryptocurrencies, such as AltSignals' ASI and Fetch's FET, is increasing, with each bringing their share of innovations. Fetch.ai's FET offers an innovative approach to automated and AI-driven solutions, highlighting its potential in the ever-evolving blockchain space and offering the possibility of modest but solid returns.

    However, the real buzz revolves around AltSignals’ ASI token. With its advanced AI technology in trading signals and the expected help from Bitcoin halving, ASI stands out as a particularly attractive investment opportunity. It embodies the fusion of technology and market foresight, positioning it for potentially significant growth over the next year.
    For investors ready to seize opportunities in the dynamic cryptocurrency market, ASI offers an unrivaled blend of innovation and potential, making it an indispensable choice. The window of opportunity is narrowing, it is time to act. ASI represents not only an investment, but also an implication in the future of AI in trading. 2025 could be a revolutionary year for ASI holders.
    To purchase AltSignals (ASI), visit the official AltSignals website .
    You can Find our Indicator and Binance Futures signals on our website below...
    Website: https://bit.ly/MarketAnalysisASI
    Make sure to like, subscribe and hit the notification bell to keep up to date with our videos! Check it out https://bit.ly/MarketAnalysisASI
    AltSignals and Fetch.ai Cryptocurrencies Comparison – Which is the Better Investment? As investors explore the exciting merger of artificial intelligence and crypto, two interesting projects, AltSignals and Fetch, are attracting market attention as leading projects in this new AI cryptocurrency sector. Both platforms leverage AI to deliver innovative solutions on blockchain, but they do so in markedly different ways. Analysts are now comparing these two pioneering AI cryptocurrencies, exploring their unique characteristics and potential as investments. This helps determine what might be the best choice for portfolios looking to achieve the best returns in 2024. What is AltSignals? AltSignals represents innovation in the field of trading signals, establishing itself as a trusted leader since 2017. The platform has consistently delivered high-quality, reliable trading signals to a large community of subscribers, achieving a rate of remarkable average success of 64% across thousands of signals. The success of this platform is largely based on its proprietary indicator, AltAlgo™, an advanced tool that has played a decisive role thus far. With a bold initiative to push the boundaries of trading intelligence, AltSignals takes the next step with the introduction of ActualizeAI . This innovative AI-powered platform is committed to revolutionizing trading signals by integrating advanced technologies such as machine learning, natural language processing (NLP) and predictive analytics. The ultimate goal is to grow the platform's success rate to over 80%, strengthening AltSignals' position as a market leader. ActualizeAI represents a significant advancement, aiming to provide real-time actionable insights that evolve and improve through continuous learning and exposure to market data, setting it apart in the AI cryptocurrency space . How does AltSignals work? The mainstay of AltSignals is its transition from the proven AltAlgo™ to the more advanced ActualizeAI. This change marks a significant improvement in the platform's ability to analyze and interpret market trends. ActualizeAI uses a blend of machine learning, natural language processing (NLP) and predictive analytics, allowing it to process massive amounts of data and provide nuanced and more accurate trading signals. The introduction of the ASI token ICO is a strategic move aimed at financing and promoting the development of ActualizeAI. ASI token holders who own 10,000 or more can enjoy a variety of benefits within the platform, including the AltScalpPRO scalping indicator, a 10-day free trial of the AltAlgo™ indicator and signals Limited Editions of ActualizeAI. When traders hold 25,000 tokens or more, they also have limited access to AutoTrading features, as well as discounts on the platform's future AI projects and access to exclusive pre-sale events. Holders of 50,000 tokens or more receive lifetime access to ActualizeAI and its comprehensive offering of trading signals, as well as lifetime membership to the AI Members Club , access to advanced ecosystem features from AltSignals. This investment level includes additional benefits such as unlimited watchlists, full access to AutoTrading, access to AltAlgo, and much more. All ASI token holders also have a say in the governance of the platform, and this democratic approach allows the community, which already numbers over 50,000 members, to contribute to the direction and growth of the platform . The appointment of Sebastian Diaconu as Product Manager, an expert in the crypto and trading sectors, highlights AltSignals' commitment to this new chapter. Diaconu's regular engagement with the community, through FAQ sessions and updates, guarantees transparency and promotes a strong bond between the platform and its users. During a recent FAQ on December 8, Diaconu shared information about the updated product's user interface and discussed how the new ActualizeAI technology would integrate with the existing signals service, demonstrating the dedication of AltSignals for innovation and user engagement. ASI Price Prediction: Is $1 Realistic for 2025? The prospect of AltSignals' ASI token for 2025 is attracting more and more attention from the crypto community. Industry analysts are talking about ASI's potential to hit the $1 mark, a claim enabled by the AltSignals team's strong foundation and strategic roadmap. This optimism is reinforced by the anticipated Bitcoin halving event, a factor known to boost the crypto market , particularly helping high-potential and early-stage tokens like ASI. The growing enthusiasm around ASI is understandable. Its impressive achievements in the cryptocurrency pre-sale phase, having raised an incredible $1.6m in just 9 months, are a testament to how many in the industry are realizing the incredible potential of the ASI token, especially if the it is considered to be available at the discounted price of only $0.01875 . What is Fetch? Fetch is a revolutionary blockchain platform designed to harness the power of artificial intelligence to automate and improve everyday tasks and transactions. At the heart of Fetch.ai is the concept of decentralization, where the platform uses “digital twins”. These are AI-driven bots that represent users to perform tasks such as booking flights or executing DeFi transactions autonomously. These bots interact with others on the network, learning and trading on behalf of their users, simplifying and optimizing the user experience in various areas. FET Price Prediction When it comes to Fetch.ai's native cryptocurrency, FET, the future looks bright. The concept of using AI for automation in blockchain has caught the attention of investors, and with the current price of around $0.57 and a market cap of around $500 million, many believe that FET could grow 3-4x in 2025. This would represent solid returns for investors. ASI vs FET: What is the best investment for 2024? 2023 has been a banner year for the AI industry, which is forecast to grow from $241.8 billion to $740 billion by 2030 . As we approach 2024, the investment potential of AI cryptocurrencies, such as AltSignals' ASI and Fetch's FET, is increasing, with each bringing their share of innovations. Fetch.ai's FET offers an innovative approach to automated and AI-driven solutions, highlighting its potential in the ever-evolving blockchain space and offering the possibility of modest but solid returns. However, the real buzz revolves around AltSignals’ ASI token. With its advanced AI technology in trading signals and the expected help from Bitcoin halving, ASI stands out as a particularly attractive investment opportunity. It embodies the fusion of technology and market foresight, positioning it for potentially significant growth over the next year. For investors ready to seize opportunities in the dynamic cryptocurrency market, ASI offers an unrivaled blend of innovation and potential, making it an indispensable choice. The window of opportunity is narrowing, it is time to act. ASI represents not only an investment, but also an implication in the future of AI in trading. 2025 could be a revolutionary year for ASI holders. To purchase AltSignals (ASI), visit the official AltSignals website . ⬇️You can Find our Indicator and Binance Futures signals on our website below... Website: https://bit.ly/MarketAnalysisASI ⬇️ Make sure to like, subscribe and hit the notification bell to keep up to date with our videos! Check it out ⬇️ https://bit.ly/MarketAnalysisASI
    BIT.LY
    AltSignals - #1 Best Crypto Signals
    Join AltSignals VIP - The Best Telegram Crypto Signals. Daily Trading Signals for Binance Futures, Spot & Forex since 2017. Over 50K Members!
    0 Comments 0 Shares 794 Views
  • Dig In and Thrive: A Review of "The Self-Sufficient Backyard"
    https://independentbackyard.com/my-book/#aff=Khan8045
    Dreaming of a more self-reliant lifestyle? Look no further than "The Self-Sufficient Backyard" by Ron and Johanna Melchiore. This insightful guidebook packs a wealth of knowledge into an easy-to-read format, empowering you to transform your backyard into a haven of homegrown goodness.
    Whether you're a seasoned homesteader or a curious newbie, this book offers something for everyone. Seasoned veterans will appreciate the Melchiores' 40 years of experience woven throughout. They share not just successes, but also the challenges they've faced, making the journey relatable and the advice realistic.
    For beginners, "The Self-Sufficient Backyard" is a goldmine. The book breaks down complex topics like gardening, food preservation, and even small-scale animal husbandry into manageable steps. Diagrams and clear instructions make it easy to visualize and implement the projects, even for those without prior experience.
    A refreshing aspect of this book is its focus on scalability. The Melchiores emphasize that self-sufficiency isn't limited to sprawling farms. Their tips and projects can be adapted to fit any backyard size, from a suburban plot to a city balcony. No matter your limitations, you can take steps towards a more independent and sustainable life.
    "The Self-Sufficient Backyard" goes beyond just practical skills. It encourages a mindful approach to living, emphasizing eco-friendly practices and a deep respect for the natural world. This holistic perspective makes the book not just a guide, but an inspiration for a more fulfilling and connected way of life.
    **Here are some of the book's highlights:**
    * **Over 100 DIY projects:** From constructing raised garden beds to creating your own seed bank, there's something for every skill level.
    * **Detailed guidance on:** Gardening, food preservation techniques (canning, drying, etc.), raising chickens and other small animals.
    * **Focus on eco-friendly practices:** Learn how to be self-sufficient while minimizing your environmental impact.
    * **Scalable for any backyard size:** Tips and tricks to maximize your space, no matter how big or small.
    * **Inspirational and informative:** A wealth of knowledge presented in an engaging and accessible way.
    Whether you're looking to grow your own vegetables, raise backyard chickens, or simply reduce your reliance on store-bought goods, "The Self-Sufficient Backyard" is the perfect companion on your journey towards a more self-reliant and rewarding lifestyle.
    Dig In and Thrive: A Review of "The Self-Sufficient Backyard" https://independentbackyard.com/my-book/#aff=Khan8045 Dreaming of a more self-reliant lifestyle? Look no further than "The Self-Sufficient Backyard" by Ron and Johanna Melchiore. This insightful guidebook packs a wealth of knowledge into an easy-to-read format, empowering you to transform your backyard into a haven of homegrown goodness. Whether you're a seasoned homesteader or a curious newbie, this book offers something for everyone. Seasoned veterans will appreciate the Melchiores' 40 years of experience woven throughout. They share not just successes, but also the challenges they've faced, making the journey relatable and the advice realistic. For beginners, "The Self-Sufficient Backyard" is a goldmine. The book breaks down complex topics like gardening, food preservation, and even small-scale animal husbandry into manageable steps. Diagrams and clear instructions make it easy to visualize and implement the projects, even for those without prior experience. A refreshing aspect of this book is its focus on scalability. The Melchiores emphasize that self-sufficiency isn't limited to sprawling farms. Their tips and projects can be adapted to fit any backyard size, from a suburban plot to a city balcony. No matter your limitations, you can take steps towards a more independent and sustainable life. "The Self-Sufficient Backyard" goes beyond just practical skills. It encourages a mindful approach to living, emphasizing eco-friendly practices and a deep respect for the natural world. This holistic perspective makes the book not just a guide, but an inspiration for a more fulfilling and connected way of life. **Here are some of the book's highlights:** * **Over 100 DIY projects:** From constructing raised garden beds to creating your own seed bank, there's something for every skill level. * **Detailed guidance on:** Gardening, food preservation techniques (canning, drying, etc.), raising chickens and other small animals. * **Focus on eco-friendly practices:** Learn how to be self-sufficient while minimizing your environmental impact. * **Scalable for any backyard size:** Tips and tricks to maximize your space, no matter how big or small. * **Inspirational and informative:** A wealth of knowledge presented in an engaging and accessible way. Whether you're looking to grow your own vegetables, raise backyard chickens, or simply reduce your reliance on store-bought goods, "The Self-Sufficient Backyard" is the perfect companion on your journey towards a more self-reliant and rewarding lifestyle.
    0 Comments 0 Shares 5229 Views
  • Explore this fully customizable project portfolio management dashboard PowerPoint template, to showcase overall project status, implementing strategies, money spend on each strategy and other core information of multiple projects. This PPT template also helps the team leaders and managers to monitor required information at one place. Download Now: https://bit.ly/3UTPlZ6
    #portfoliomanagement #dashboard #dashboarddesign #dashboardlayout #projectmanagement #ppt #slides
    Explore this fully customizable project portfolio management dashboard PowerPoint template, to showcase overall project status, implementing strategies, money spend on each strategy and other core information of multiple projects. This PPT template also helps the team leaders and managers to monitor required information at one place. Download Now: https://bit.ly/3UTPlZ6 #portfoliomanagement #dashboard #dashboarddesign #dashboardlayout #projectmanagement #ppt #slides
    BIT.LY
    Project Portfolio Management Dashboard PowerPoint Template
    Features: No. of slides: 01 Widescreen 16:9 Edit "excel" data as per the requirement Replace texts as per your need "Theme" based colors Replace icons and image as per the need
    0 Comments 0 Shares 2324 Views
  • Summarise project status that helps managers monitor real-time projects, evaluate performances, and make better decisions. Explore this fully editable project summary report dashboard PowerPoint template to showcase metrics and key stats related to the project. Explore Now: https://bit.ly/3ua6bd2
    #projectreport #dashboard #dashboarddesign #ProjectManagement #powerpointpresentation #slides #ppt
    Summarise project status that helps managers monitor real-time projects, evaluate performances, and make better decisions. Explore this fully editable project summary report dashboard PowerPoint template to showcase metrics and key stats related to the project. Explore Now: https://bit.ly/3ua6bd2 #projectreport #dashboard #dashboarddesign #ProjectManagement #powerpointpresentation #slides #ppt
    BIT.LY
    Project Summary Report Dashboard PowerPoint Template
    Features: Widescreen 16:9 Edit "Excel" data as per your business requirement Replace texts as per your need "Theme" based colors Replace icons and image as per the need
    0 Comments 0 Shares 3303 Views
  • BLUM is a hybrid exchange implemented as a Telegram DApp, which aims to build an infrastructure to easily trade various tokens on the centralized exchange CEX and the decentralized exchange DEX.

    Bloom was selected as one of the key projects in the field of MVB DeFi, Binance Labs' accelerator program.

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  • The WHO Pandemic Agreement: A Guide
    By David Bell, Thi Thuy Van Dinh March 22, 2024 Government, Society 30 minute read
    The World Health Organization (WHO) and its 194 Member States have been engaged for over two years in the development of two ‘instruments’ or agreements with the intent of radically changing the way pandemics and other health emergencies are managed.

    One, consisting of draft amendments to the existing International health Regulations (IHR), seeks to change the current IHR non-binding recommendations into requirements or binding recommendations, by having countries “undertake” to implement those given by the WHO in future declared health emergencies. It covers all ‘public health emergencies of international concern’ (PHEIC), with a single person, the WHO Director-General (DG) determining what a PHEIC is, where it extends, and when it ends. It specifies mandated vaccines, border closures, and other directives understood as lockdowns among the requirements the DG can impose. It is discussed further elsewhere and still under negotiation in Geneva.

    A second document, previously known as the (draft) Pandemic Treaty, then Pandemic Accord, and more recently the Pandemic Agreement, seeks to specify governance, supply chains, and various other interventions aimed at preventing, preparing for, and responding to, pandemics (pandemic prevention, preparedness and response – PPPR). It is currently being negotiated by the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB).

    Both texts will be subject to a vote at the May 2024 World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, Switzerland. These votes are intended, by those promoting these projects, to bring governance of future multi-country healthcare emergencies (or threats thereof) under the WHO umbrella.

    The latest version of the draft Pandemic Agreement (here forth the ‘Agreement’) was released on 7th March 2024. However, it is still being negotiated by various committees comprising representatives of Member States and other interested entities. It has been through multiple iterations over two years, and looks like it. With the teeth of the pandemic response proposals in the IHR, the Agreement looks increasingly irrelevant, or at least unsure of its purpose, picking up bits and pieces in a half-hearted way that the IHR amendments do not, or cannot, include. However, as discussed below, it is far from irrelevant.

    Historical Perspective

    These aim to increase the centralization of decision-making within the WHO as the “directing and coordinating authority.” This terminology comes from the WHO’s 1946 Constitution, developed in the aftermath of the Second World War as the world faced the outcomes of European fascism and the similar approaches widely imposed through colonialist regimes. The WHO would support emerging countries, with rapidly expanding and poorly resourced populations struggling under high disease burdens, and coordinate some areas of international support as these sovereign countries requested it. The emphasis of action was on coordinating rather than directing.

    In the 80 years prior to the WHO’s existence, international public health had grown within a more directive mindset, with a series of meetings by colonial and slave-owning powers from 1851 to manage pandemics, culminating in the inauguration of the Office Internationale d’Hygiene Publique in Paris in 1907, and later the League of Nations Health Office. World powers imposed health dictates on those less powerful, in other parts of the world and increasingly on their own population through the eugenics movement and similar approaches. Public health would direct, for the greater good, as a tool of those who wish to direct the lives of others.

    The WHO, governed by the WHA, was to be very different. Newly independent States and their former colonial masters were ostensibly on an equal footing within the WHA (one country – one vote), and the WHO’s work overall was to be an example of how human rights could dominate the way society works. The model for international public health, as exemplified in the Declaration of Alma Ata in 1978, was to be horizontal rather than vertical, with communities and countries in the driving seat.

    With the evolution of the WHO in recent decades from a core funding model (countries give money, the WHO decides under the WHA guidance how to spend it) to a model based on specified funding (funders, both public and increasingly private, instruct the WHO on how to spend it), the WHO has inevitably changed to become a public-private partnership required to serve the interests of funders rather than populations.

    As most funding comes from a few countries with major Pharma industrial bases, or private investors and corporations in the same industry, the WHO has been required to emphasize the use of pharmaceuticals and downplay evidence and knowledge where these clash (if it wants to keep all its staff funded). It is helpful to view the draft Agreement, and the IHR amendments, in this context.

    Why May 2024?

    The WHO, together with the World Bank, G20, and other institutions have been emphasizing the urgency of putting the new pandemic instruments in place earnestly, before the ‘next pandemic.’ This is based on claims that the world was unprepared for Covid-19, and that the economic and health harm would be somehow avoidable if we had these agreements in place.

    They emphasize, contrary to evidence that Covid-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2) origins involve laboratory manipulation, that the main threats we face are natural, and that these are increasing exponentially and present an “existential” threat to humanity. The data on which the WHO, the World Bank, and G20 base these claims demonstrates the contrary, with reported natural outbreaks having increased as detection technologies have developed, but reducing in mortality rate, and in numbers, over the past 10 to 20 years..

    A paper cited by the World Bank to justify urgency and quoted as suggesting a 3x increase in risk in the coming decade actually suggests that a Covid-19-like event would occur roughly every 129 years, and a Spanish-flu repetition every 292 to 877 years. Such predictions are unable to take into account the rapidly changing nature of medicine and improved sanitation and nutrition (most deaths from Spanish flu would not have occurred if modern antibiotics had been available), and so may still overestimate risk. Similarly, the WHO’s own priority disease list for new outbreaks only includes two diseases of proven natural origin that have over 1,000 historical deaths attributed to them. It is well demonstrated that the risk and expected burden of pandemics is misrepresented by major international agencies in current discussions.

    The urgency for May 2024 is clearly therefore inadequately supported, firstly because neither the WHO nor others have demonstrated how the harms accrued through Covid-19 would be reduced through the measures proposed, and secondly because the burden and risk is misrepresented. In this context, the state of the Agreement is clearly not where it should be as a draft international legally binding agreement intended to impose considerable financial and other obligations on States and populations.

    This is particularly problematic as the proposed expenditure; the proposed budget is over $31 billion per year, with over $10 billion more on other One Health activities. Much of this will have to be diverted from addressing other diseases burdens that impose far greater burden. This trade-off, essential to understand in public health policy development, has not yet been clearly addressed by the WHO.

    The WHO DG stated recently that the WHO does not want the power to impose vaccine mandates or lockdowns on anyone, and does not want this. This begs the question of why either of the current WHO pandemic instruments is being proposed, both as legally binding documents. The current IHR (2005) already sets out such approaches as recommendations the DG can make, and there is nothing non-mandatory that countries cannot do now without pushing new treaty-like mechanisms through a vote in Geneva.

    Based on the DG’s claims, they are essentially redundant, and what new non-mandatory clauses they contain, as set out below, are certainly not urgent. Clauses that are mandatory (Member States “shall”) must be considered within national decision-making contexts and appear against the WHO’s stated intent.

    Common sense would suggest that the Agreement, and the accompanying IHR amendments, be properly thought through before Member States commit. The WHO has already abandoned the legal requirement for a 4-month review time for the IHR amendments (Article 55.2 IHR), which are also still under negotiation just 2 months before the WHA deadline. The Agreement should also have at least such a period for States to properly consider whether to agree – treaties normally take many years to develop and negotiate and no valid arguments have been put forward as to why these should be different.

    The Covid-19 response resulted in an unprecedented transfer of wealth from those of lower income to the very wealthy few, completely contrary to the way in which the WHO was intended to affect human society. A considerable portion of these pandemic profits went to current sponsors of the WHO, and these same corporate entities and investors are set to further benefit from the new pandemic agreements. As written, the Pandemic Agreement risks entrenching such centralization and profit-taking, and the accompanying unprecedented restrictions on human rights and freedoms, as a public health norm.

    To continue with a clearly flawed agreement simply because of a previously set deadline, when no clear population benefit is articulated and no true urgency demonstrated, would therefore be a major step backward in international public health. Basic principles of proportionality, human agency, and community empowerment, essential for health and human rights outcomes, are missing or paid lip-service. The WHO clearly wishes to increase its funding and show it is ‘doing something,’ but must first articulate why the voluntary provisions of the current IHR are insufficient. It is hoped that by systematically reviewing some key clauses of the agreement here, it will become clear why a rethink of the whole approach is necessary. The full text is found below.

    The commentary below concentrates on selected draft provisions of the latest publicly available version of the draft agreement that seem to be unclear or potentially problematic. Much of the remaining text is essentially pointless as it reiterates vague intentions to be found in other documents or activities which countries normally undertake in the course of running health services, and have no place in a focused legally-binding international agreement.

    REVISED Draft of the negotiating text of the WHO Pandemic Agreement. 7th March, 2024

    Preamble

    Recognizing that the World Health Organization…is the directing and coordinating authority on international health work.

    This is inconsistent with a recent statement by the WHO DG that the WHO has no interest or intent to direct country health responses. To reiterate it here suggests that the DG is not representing the true position regarding the Agreement. “Directing authority” is however in line with the proposed IHR Amendments (and the WHO’s Constitution), under which countries will “undertake” ahead of time to follow the DG’s recommendations (which thereby become instructions). As the HR amendments make clear, this is intended to apply even to a perceived threat rather than actual harm.

    Recalling the constitution of the World Health Organization…highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.

    This statement recalls fundamental understandings of public health, and is of importance here as it raises the question of why the WHO did not strongly condemn prolonged school closures, workplace closures, and other impoverishing policies during the Covid-19 response. In 2019, WHO made clear that these dangers should prevent actions we now call ‘lockdowns’ from being imposed.

    Deeply concerned by the gross inequities at national and international levels that hindered timely and equitable access to medical and other Covid-19 pandemic-related products, and the serious shortcomings in pandemic preparedness.

    In terms of health equity (as distinct from commodity of ‘vaccine’ equity), inequity in the Covid-19 response was not in failing to provide a vaccine against former variants to immune, young people in low-income countries who were at far higher risk from endemic diseases, but in the disproportionate harm to them of uniformly-imposed NPIs that reduced current and future income and basic healthcare, as was noted by the WHO in 2019 Pandemic Influenza recommendations. The failure of the text to recognize this suggests that lessons from Covid-19 have not informed this draft Agreement. The WHO has not yet demonstrated how pandemic ‘preparedness,’ in the terms they use below, would have reduced impact, given that there is poor correlation between strictness or speed of response and eventual outcomes.

    Reiterating the need to work towards…an equitable approach to mitigate the risk that pandemics exacerbate existing inequities in access to health services,

    As above – in the past century, the issue of inequity has been most pronounced in pandemic response, rather than the impact of the virus itself (excluding the physiological variation in risk). Most recorded deaths from acute pandemics, since the Spanish flu, were during Covid-19, in which the virus hit mainly sick elderly, but response impacted working-age adults and children heavily and will continue to have effect, due to increased poverty and debt; reduced education and child marriage, in future generations.

    These have disproportionately affected lower-income people, and particularly women. The lack of recognition of this in this document, though they are recognized by the World Bank and UN agencies elsewhere, must raise real questions on whether this Agreement has been thoroughly thought through, and the process of development been sufficiently inclusive and objective.

    Chapter I. Introduction

    Article 1. Use of terms

    (i) “pathogen with pandemic potential” means any pathogen that has been identified to infect a human and that is: novel (not yet characterized) or known (including a variant of a known pathogen), potentially highly transmissible and/or highly virulent with the potential to cause a public health emergency of international concern.

    This provides a very wide scope to alter provisions. Any pathogen that can infect humans and is potentially highly transmissible or virulent, though yet uncharacterized means virtually any coronavirus, influenza virus, or a plethora of other relatively common pathogen groups. The IHR Amendments intend that the DG alone can make this call, over the advice of others, as occurred with monkeypox in 2022.

    (j) “persons in vulnerable situations” means individuals, groups or communities with a disproportionate increased risk of infection, severity, disease or mortality.

    This is a good definition – in Covid-19 context, would mean the sick elderly, and so is relevant to targeting a response.

    “Universal health coverage” means that all people have access to the full range of quality health services they need, when and where they need them, without financial hardship.

    While the general UHC concept is good, it is time a sensible (rather than patently silly) definition was adopted. Society cannot afford the full range of possible interventions and remedies for all, and clearly there is a scale of cost vs benefit that prioritizes certain ones over others. Sensible definitions make action more likely, and inaction harder to justify. One could argue that none should have the full range until all have good basic care, but clearly the earth will not support ‘the full range’ for 8 billion people.

    Article 2. Objective

    This Agreement is specifically for pandemics (a poorly defined term but essentially a pathogen that spreads rapidly across national borders). In contrast, the IHR amendments accompanying it are broader in scope – for any public health emergencies of international concern.

    Article 3. Principles

    2. the sovereign right of States to adopt, legislate and implement legislation

    The amendments to the IHR require States to undertake to follow WHO instructions ahead of time, before such instruction and context are known. These two documents must be understood, as noted later in the Agreement draft, as complementary.

    3. equity as the goal and outcome of pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, ensuring the absence of unfair, avoidable or remediable differences among groups of people.

    This definition of equity here needs clarification. In the pandemic context, the WHO emphasized commodity (vaccine) equity during the Covid-19 response. Elimination of differences implied equal access to Covid-19 vaccines in countries with large aging, obese highly vulnerable populations (e.g. the USA or Italy), and those with young populations at minimal risk and with far more pressing health priorities (e.g. Niger or Uganda).

    Alternatively, but equally damaging, equal access to different age groups within a country when the risk-benefit ratio is clearly greatly different. This promotes worse health outcomes by diverting resources from where they are most useful, as it ignores heterogeneity of risk. Again, an adult approach is required in international agreements, rather than feel-good sentences, if they are going to have a positive impact.

    5. …a more equitable and better prepared world to prevent, respond to and recover from pandemics

    As with ‘3’ above, this raises a fundamental problem: What if health equity demands that some populations divert resources to childhood nutrition and endemic diseases rather than the latest pandemic, as these are likely of far higher burden to many younger but lower-income populations? This would not be equity in the definition implied here, but would clearly lead to better and more equal health outcomes.

    The WHO must decide whether it is about uniform action, or minimizing poor health, as these are clearly very different. They are the difference between the WHO’s commodity equity, and true health equity.

    Chapter II. The world together equitably: achieving equity in, for and through pandemic prevention, preparedness and response

    Equity in health should imply a reasonably equal chance of overcoming or avoiding preventable sickness. The vast majority of sickness and death is due to either non-communicable diseases often related to lifestyle, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus, undernutrition in childhood, and endemic infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV/AIDS. Achieving health equity would primarily mean addressing these.

    In this chapter of the draft Pandemic Agreement, equity is used to imply equal access to specific health commodities, particularly vaccines, for intermittent health emergencies, although these exert a small fraction of the burden of other diseases. It is, specifically, commodity-equity, and not geared to equalizing overall health burden but to enabling centrally-coordinated homogenous responses to unusual events.

    Article 4. Pandemic prevention and surveillance

    2. The Parties shall undertake to cooperate:

    (b) in support of…initiatives aimed at preventing pandemics, in particular those that improve surveillance, early warning and risk assessment; .…and identify settings and activities presenting a risk of emergence and re-emergence of pathogens with pandemic potential.

    (c-h) [Paragraphs on water and sanitation, infection control, strengthening of biosafety, surveillance and prevention of vector-born diseases, and addressing antimicrobial resistance.]

    The WHO intends the Agreement to have force under international law. Therefore, countries are undertaking to put themselves under force of international law in regards to complying with the agreement’s stipulations.

    The provisions under this long article mostly cover general health stuff that countries try to do anyway. The difference will be that countries will be assessed on progress. Assessment can be fine if in context, less fine if it consists of entitled ‘experts’ from wealthy countries with little local knowledge or context. Perhaps such compliance is best left to national authorities, who are more in use with local needs and priorities. The justification for the international bureaucracy being built to support this, while fun for those involved, is unclear and will divert resources from actual health work.

    6. The Conference of the Parties may adopt, as necessary, guidelines, recommendations and standards, including in relation to pandemic prevention capacities, to support the implementation of this Article.

    Here and later, the COP is invoked as a vehicle to decide on what will actually be done. The rules are explained later (Articles 21-23). While allowing more time is sensible, it begs the question of why it is not better to wait and discuss what is needed in the current INB process, before committing to a legally-binding agreement. This current article says nothing not already covered by the IHR2005 or other ongoing programs.

    Article 5. One Health approach to pandemic prevention, preparedness and response

    Nothing specific or new in this article. It seems redundant (it is advocating a holistic approach mentioned elsewhere) and so presumably is just to get the term ‘One Health’ into the agreement. (One could ask, why bother?)

    Some mainstream definitions of One Health (e.g. Lancet) consider that it means non-human species are on a par with humans in terms of rights and importance. If this is meant here, clearly most Member States would disagree. So we may assume that it is just words to keep someone happy (a little childish in an international document, but the term ‘One Health’ has been trending, like ‘equity,’ as if the concept of holistic approaches to public health were new).

    Article 6. Preparedness, health system resilience and recovery

    2. Each Party commits…[to] :

    (a) routine and essential health services during pandemics with a focus on primary health care, routine immunization and mental health care, and with particular attention to persons in vulnerable situations

    (b) developing, strengthening and maintaining health infrastructure

    (c) developing post-pandemic health system recovery strategies

    (d) developing, strengthening and maintaining: health information systems

    This is good, and (a) seems to require avoidance of lockdowns (which inevitably cause the harms listed). Unfortunately other WHO documents lead one to assume this is not the intent…It does appear therefore that this is simply another list of fairly non-specific feel-good measures that have no useful place in a new legally-binding agreement, and which most countries are already undertaking.

    (e) promoting the use of social and behavioural sciences, risk communication and community engagement for pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.

    This requires clarification, as the use of behavioral science during the Covid-19 response involved deliberate inducement of fear to promote behaviors that people would not otherwise follow (e.g. Spi-B). It is essential here that the document clarifies how behavioral science should be used ethically in healthcare. Otherwise, this is also a quite meaningless provision.

    Article 7. Health and care workforce

    This long Article discusses health workforce, training, retention, non-discrimination, stigma, bias, adequate remuneration, and other standard provisions for workplaces. It is unclear why it is included in a legally binding pandemic agreement, except for:

    4. [The Parties]…shall invest in establishing, sustaining, coordinating and mobilizing a skilled and trained multidisciplinary global public health emergency workforce…Parties having established emergency health teams should inform WHO thereof and make best efforts to respond to requests for deployment…

    Emergency health teams established (within capacity etc.) – are something countries already do, when they have capacity. There is no reason to have this as a legally-binding instrument, and clearly no urgency to do so.

    Article 8. Preparedness monitoring and functional reviews

    1. The Parties shall, building on existing and relevant tools, develop and implement an inclusive, transparent, effective and efficient pandemic prevention, preparedness and response monitoring and evaluation system.

    2. Each Party shall assess, every five years, with technical support from the WHO Secretariat upon request, the functioning and readiness of, and gaps in, its pandemic prevention, preparedness and response capacity, based on the relevant tools and guidelines developed by WHO in partnership with relevant organizations at international, regional and sub-regional levels.

    Note that this is being required of countries that are already struggling to implement monitoring systems for major endemic diseases, including tuberculosis, malaria, HIV, and nutritional deficiencies. They will be legally bound to divert resources to pandemic prevention. While there is some overlap, it will inevitably divert resources from currently underfunded programs for diseases of far higher local burdens, and so (not theoretically, but inevitably) raise mortality. Poor countries are being required to put resources into problems deemed significant by richer countries.

    Article 9. Research and development

    Various general provisions about undertaking background research that countries are generally doing anyway, but with an ’emerging disease’ slant. Again, the INB fails to justify why this diversion of resources from researching greater disease burdens should occur in all countries (why not just those with excess resources?).

    Article 10. Sustainable and geographically diversified production

    Mostly non-binding but suggested cooperation on making pandemic-related products available, including support for manufacturing in “inter-pandemic times” (a fascinating rendering of ‘normal’), when they would only be viable through subsidies. Much of this is probably unimplementable, as it would not be practical to maintain facilities in most or all countries on stand-by for rare events, at cost of resources otherwise useful for other priorities. The desire to increase production in ‘developing’ countries will face major barriers and costs in terms of maintaining quality of production, particularly as many products will have limited use outside of rare outbreak situations.

    Article 11. Transfer of technology and know-how

    This article, always problematic for large pharmaceutical corporations sponsoring much WHO outbreak activities, is now watered down to weak requirements to ‘consider,’ promote,’ provide, within capabilities’ etc.

    Article 12. Access and benefit sharing

    This Article is intended to establish the WHO Pathogen Access and Benefit-Sharing System (PABS System). PABS is intended to “ensure rapid, systematic and timely access to biological materials of pathogens with pandemic potential and the genetic sequence data.” This system is of potential high relevance and needs to be interpreted in the context that SARS-CoV-2, the pathogen causing the recent Covid-19 outbreak, was highly likely to have escaped from a laboratory. PABS is intended to expand the laboratory storage, transport, and handling of such viruses, under the oversight of the WHO, an organization outside of national jurisdiction with no significant direct experience in handling biological materials.

    3. When a Party has access to a pathogen [it shall]:

    (a) share with WHO any pathogen sequence information as soon as it is available to the Party;

    (b) as soon as biological materials are available to the Party, provide the materials to one or more laboratories and/or biorepositories participating in WHO-coordinated laboratory networks (CLNs),

    Subsequent clauses state that benefits will be shared, and seek to prevent recipient laboratories from patenting materials received from other countries. This has been a major concern of low-and middle-income countries previously, who perceive that institutions in wealthy countries patent and benefit from materials derived from less-wealthy populations. It remains to be seen whether provisions here will be sufficient to address this.

    The article then becomes yet more concerning:

    6. WHO shall conclude legally binding standard PABS contracts with manufacturers to provide the following, taking into account the size, nature and capacities of the manufacturer:

    (a) annual monetary contributions to support the PABS System and relevant capacities in countries; the determination of the annual amount, use, and approach for monitoring and accountability, shall be finalized by the Parties;

    (b) real-time contributions of relevant diagnostics, therapeutics or vaccines produced by the manufacturer, 10% free of charge and 10% at not-for-profit prices during public health emergencies of international concern or pandemics, …

    It is clearly intended that the WHO becomes directly involved in setting up legally binding manufacturing contracts, despite the WHO being outside of national jurisdictional oversight, within the territories of Member States. The PABS system, and therefore its staff and dependent entities, are also to be supported in part by funds from the manufacturers whom they are supposed to be managing. The income of the organization will be dependent on maintaining positive relationships with these private entities in a similar way in which many national regulatory agencies are dependent upon funds from pharmaceutical companies whom their staff ostensibly regulate. In this case, the regulator will be even further removed from public oversight.

    The clause on 10% (why 10?) products being free of charge, and similar at cost, while ensuring lower-priced commodities irrespective of actual need (the outbreak may be confined to wealthy countries). The same entity, the WHO, will determine whether the triggering emergency exists, determine the response, and manage the contracts to provide the commodities, without direct jurisdictional oversight regarding the potential for corruption or conflict of interest. It is a remarkable system to suggest, irrespective of political or regulatory environment.

    8. The Parties shall cooperate…public financing of research and development, prepurchase agreements, or regulatory procedures, to encourage and facilitate as many manufacturers as possible to enter into standard PABS contracts as early as possible.

    The article envisions that public funding will be used to build the process, ensuring essentially no-risk private profit.

    10. To support operationalization of the PABS System, WHO shall…make such contracts public, while respecting commercial confidentiality.

    The public may know whom contracts are made with, but not all details of the contracts. There will therefore be no independent oversight of the clauses agreed between the WHO, a body outside of national jurisdiction and dependent of commercial companies for funding some of its work and salaries, and these same companies, on ‘needs’ that the WHO itself will have sole authority, under the proposed amendments to the IHR, to determine.

    The Article further states that the WHO shall use its own product regulatory system (prequalification) and Emergency Use Listing Procedure to open and stimulate markets for the manufacturers of these products.

    It is doubtful that any national government could make such an overall agreement, yet in May 2024 they will be voting to provide this to what is essentially a foreign, and partly privately financed, entity.

    Article 13. Supply chain and logistics

    The WHO will become convenor of a ‘Global Supply Chain and Logistics Network’ for commercially-produced products, to be supplied under WHO contracts when and where the WHO determines, whilst also having the role of ensuring safety of such products.

    Having mutual support coordinated between countries is good. Having this run by an organization that is significantly funded directly by those gaining from the sale of these same commodities seems reckless and counterintuitive. Few countries would allow this (or at least plan for it).

    For this to occur safely, the WHO would logically have to forgo all private investment, and greatly restrict national specified funding contributions. Otherwise, the conflicts of interest involved would destroy confidence in the system. There is no suggestion of such divestment from the WHO, but rather, as in Article 12, private sector dependency, directly tied to contracts, will increase.

    Article 13bis: National procurement- and distribution-related provisions

    While suffering the same (perhaps unavoidable) issues regarding commercial confidentiality, this alternate Article 13 seems far more appropriate, keeping commercial issues under national jurisdiction and avoiding the obvious conflict of interests that underpin funding for WHO activities and staffing.

    Article 14. Regulatory systems strengthening

    This entire Article reflects initiatives and programs already in place. Nothing here appears likely to add to current effort.

    Article 15. Liability and compensation management

    1. Each Party shall consider developing, as necessary and in accordance with applicable law, national strategies for managing liability in its territory related to pandemic vaccines…no-fault compensation mechanisms…

    2. The Parties…shall develop recommendations for the establishment and implementation of national, regional and/or global no-fault compensation mechanisms and strategies for managing liability during pandemic emergencies, including with regard to individuals that are in a humanitarian setting or vulnerable situations.

    This is quite remarkable, but also reflects some national legislation, in removing any fault or liability specifically from vaccine manufacturers, for harms done in pushing out vaccines to the public. During the Covid-19 response, genetic therapeutics being developed by BioNtech and Moderna were reclassified as vaccines, on the basis that an immune response is stimulated after they have modified intracellular biochemical pathways as a medicine normally does.

    This enabled specific trials normally required for carcinogenicity and teratogenicity to be bypassed, despite raised fetal abnormality rates in animal trials. It will enable the CEPI 100-day vaccine program, supported with private funding to support private mRNA vaccine manufacturers, to proceed without any risk to the manufacturer should there be subsequent public harm.

    Together with an earlier provision on public funding of research and manufacturing readiness, and the removal of former wording requiring intellectual property sharing in Article 11, this ensures vaccine manufacturers and their investors make profit in effective absence of risk.

    These entities are currently heavily invested in support for WHO, and were strongly aligned with the introduction of newly restrictive outbreak responses that emphasized and sometimes mandated their products during the Covid-19 outbreak.

    Article 16. International collaboration and cooperation

    A somewhat pointless article. It suggests that countries cooperate with each other and the WHO to implement the other agreements in the Agreement.

    Article 17. Whole-of-government and whole-of-society approaches

    A list of essentially motherhood provisions related to planning for a pandemic. However, countries will legally be required to maintain a ‘national coordination multisectoral body’ for PPPR. This will essentially be an added burden on budgets, and inevitably divert further resources from other priorities. Perhaps just strengthening current infectious disease and nutritional programs would be more impactful. (Nowhere in this Agreement is nutrition discussed (essential for resilience to pathogens) and minimal wording is included on sanitation and clean water (other major reasons for reduction in infectious disease mortality over past centuries).

    However, the ‘community ownership’ wording is interesting (“empower and enable community ownership of, and contribution to, community readiness for and resilience [for PPPR]”), as this directly contradicts much of the rest of the Agreement, including the centralization of control under the Conference of Parties, requirements for countries to allocate resources to pandemic preparedness over other community priorities, and the idea of inspecting and assessing adherence to the centralized requirements of the Agreement. Either much of the rest of the Agreement is redundant, or this wording is purely for appearance and not to be followed (and therefore should be removed).

    Article 18. Communication and public awareness

    1. Each Party shall promote timely access to credible and evidence-based information …with the aim of countering and addressing misinformation or disinformation…

    2. The Parties shall, as appropriate, promote and/or conduct research and inform policies on factors that hinder or strengthen adherence to public health and social measures in a pandemic, as well as trust in science and public health institutions and agencies.

    The key word is as appropriate, given that many agencies, including the WHO, have overseen or aided policies during the Covid-19 response that have greatly increased poverty, child marriage, teenage pregnancy, and education loss.

    As the WHO has been shown to be significantly misrepresenting pandemic risk in the process of advocating for this Agreement and related instruments, its own communications would also fall outside the provision here related to evidence-based information, and fall within normal understandings of misinformation. It could not therefore be an arbiter of correctness of information here, so the Article is not implementable. Rewritten to recommend accurate evidence-based information being promoted, it would make good sense, but this is not an issue requiring a legally binding international agreement.

    Article 19. Implementation and support

    3. The WHO Secretariat…organize the technical and financial assistance necessary to address such gaps and needs in implementing the commitments agreed upon under the Pandemic Agreement and the International Health Regulations (2005).

    As the WHO is dependent on donor support, its ability to address gaps in funding within Member States is clearly not something it can guarantee. The purpose of this article is unclear, repeating in paragraphs 1 and 2 the earlier intent for countries to generally support each other.

    Article 20. Sustainable financing

    1. The Parties commit to working together…In this regard, each Party, within the means and resources at its disposal, shall:

    (a) prioritize and maintain or increase, as necessary, domestic funding for pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, without undermining other domestic public health priorities including for: (i) strengthening and sustaining capacities for the prevention, preparedness and response to health emergencies and pandemics, in particular the core capacities of the International Health Regulations (2005);…

    This is silly wording, as countries obviously have to prioritize within budgets, so that moving funds to one area means removing from another. The essence of public health policy is weighing and making such decisions; this reality seems to be ignored here through wishful thinking. (a) is clearly redundant, as the IHR (2005) already exists and countries have agreed to support it.

    3. A Coordinating Financial Mechanism (the “Mechanism”) is hereby established to support the implementation of both the WHO Pandemic Agreement and the International Health Regulations (2005)

    This will be in parallel to the Pandemic Fund recently commenced by the World Bank – an issue not lost on INB delegates and so likely to change here in the final version. It will also be additive to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, and other health financing mechanisms, and so require another parallel international bureaucracy, presumably based in Geneva.

    It is intended to have its own capacity to “conduct relevant analyses on needs and gaps, in addition to tracking cooperation efforts,” so it will not be a small undertaking.

    Chapter III. Institutional and final provisions

    Article 21. Conference of the Parties

    1. A Conference of the Parties is hereby established.

    2. The Conference of the Parties shall keep under regular review, every three years, the implementation of the WHO Pandemic Agreement and take the decisions necessary to promote its effective implementation.

    This sets up the governing body to oversee this Agreement (another body requiring a secretariat and support). It is intended to meet within a year of the Agreement coming into force, and then set its own rules on meeting thereafter. It is likely that many provisions outlined in this draft of the Agreement will be deferred to the COP for further discussion.

    Articles 22 – 37

    These articles cover the functioning of the Conference of Parties (COP) and various administrative issues.

    Of note, ‘block votes’ will be allowed from regional bodies (e.g. the EU).

    The WHO will provide the secretariat.

    Under Article 24 is noted:

    3. Nothing in the WHO Pandemic Agreement shall be interpreted as providing the Secretariat of the World Health Organization, including the WHO Director-General, any authority to direct, order, alter or otherwise prescribe the domestic laws or policies of any Party, or to mandate or otherwise impose any requirements that Parties take specific actions, such as ban or accept travellers, impose vaccination mandates or therapeutic or diagnostic measures, or implement lockdowns.

    These provisions are explicitly stated in the proposed amendments to the IHR, to be considered alongside this agreement. Article 26 notes that the IHR is to be interpreted as compatible, thereby confirming that the IHR provisions including border closures and limits on freedom of movement, mandated vaccination, and other lockdown measures are not negated by this statement.

    As Article 26 states: “The Parties recognize that the WHO Pandemic Agreement and the International Health Regulations should be interpreted so as to be compatible.”

    Some would consider this subterfuge – The Director-General recently labeled as liars those who claimed the Agreement included these powers, whilst failing to acknowledge the accompanying IHR amendments. The WHO could do better in avoiding misleading messaging, especially when this involves denigration of the public.

    Article 32 (Withdrawal) requires that, once adopted, Parties cannot withdraw for a total of 3 years (giving notice after a minimum of 2 years). Financial obligations undertaken under the agreement continue beyond that time.

    Finally, the Agreement will come into force, assuming a two-thirds majority in the WHA is achieved (Article 19, WHO Constitution), 30 days after the fortieth country has ratified it.

    Further reading:

    WHO Pandemic Agreement Intergovernmental Negotiating Board website:

    https://inb.who.int/

    International Health Regulations Working Group website:

    https://apps.who.int/gb/wgihr/index.html

    On background to the WHO texts:

    Amendments to WHO’s International Health Regulations: An Annotated Guide
    An Unofficial Q&A on International Health Regulations
    On urgency and burden of pandemics:

    https://essl.leeds.ac.uk/downloads/download/228/rational-policy-over-panic

    Disease X and Davos: This is Not the Way to Evaluate and Formulate Public Health Policy
    Before Preparing for Pandemics, We Need Better Evidence of Risk
    Revised Draft of the negotiating text of the WHO Pandemic Agreement:

    Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
    For reprints, please set the canonical link back to the original Brownstone Institute Article and Author.

    Authors

    David Bell
    David Bell, Senior Scholar at Brownstone Institute, is a public health physician and biotech consultant in global health. He is a former medical officer and scientist at the World Health Organization (WHO), Programme Head for malaria and febrile diseases at the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) in Geneva, Switzerland, and Director of Global Health Technologies at Intellectual Ventures Global Good Fund in Bellevue, WA, USA.

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    Thi Thuy Van Dinh
    Dr. Thi Thuy Van Dinh (LLM, PhD) worked on international law in the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Subsequently, she managed multilateral organization partnerships for Intellectual Ventures Global Good Fund and led environmental health technology development efforts for low-resource settings.

    View all posts
    Your financial backing of Brownstone Institute goes to support writers, lawyers, scientists, economists, and other people of courage who have been professionally purged and displaced during the upheaval of our times. You can help get the truth out through their ongoing work.

    https://brownstone.org/articles/the-who-pandemic-agreement-a-guide/

    https://www.minds.com/donshafi911/blog/the-who-pandemic-agreement-a-guide-1621719398509187077
    The WHO Pandemic Agreement: A Guide By David Bell, Thi Thuy Van Dinh March 22, 2024 Government, Society 30 minute read The World Health Organization (WHO) and its 194 Member States have been engaged for over two years in the development of two ‘instruments’ or agreements with the intent of radically changing the way pandemics and other health emergencies are managed. One, consisting of draft amendments to the existing International health Regulations (IHR), seeks to change the current IHR non-binding recommendations into requirements or binding recommendations, by having countries “undertake” to implement those given by the WHO in future declared health emergencies. It covers all ‘public health emergencies of international concern’ (PHEIC), with a single person, the WHO Director-General (DG) determining what a PHEIC is, where it extends, and when it ends. It specifies mandated vaccines, border closures, and other directives understood as lockdowns among the requirements the DG can impose. It is discussed further elsewhere and still under negotiation in Geneva. A second document, previously known as the (draft) Pandemic Treaty, then Pandemic Accord, and more recently the Pandemic Agreement, seeks to specify governance, supply chains, and various other interventions aimed at preventing, preparing for, and responding to, pandemics (pandemic prevention, preparedness and response – PPPR). It is currently being negotiated by the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB). Both texts will be subject to a vote at the May 2024 World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, Switzerland. These votes are intended, by those promoting these projects, to bring governance of future multi-country healthcare emergencies (or threats thereof) under the WHO umbrella. The latest version of the draft Pandemic Agreement (here forth the ‘Agreement’) was released on 7th March 2024. However, it is still being negotiated by various committees comprising representatives of Member States and other interested entities. It has been through multiple iterations over two years, and looks like it. With the teeth of the pandemic response proposals in the IHR, the Agreement looks increasingly irrelevant, or at least unsure of its purpose, picking up bits and pieces in a half-hearted way that the IHR amendments do not, or cannot, include. However, as discussed below, it is far from irrelevant. Historical Perspective These aim to increase the centralization of decision-making within the WHO as the “directing and coordinating authority.” This terminology comes from the WHO’s 1946 Constitution, developed in the aftermath of the Second World War as the world faced the outcomes of European fascism and the similar approaches widely imposed through colonialist regimes. The WHO would support emerging countries, with rapidly expanding and poorly resourced populations struggling under high disease burdens, and coordinate some areas of international support as these sovereign countries requested it. The emphasis of action was on coordinating rather than directing. In the 80 years prior to the WHO’s existence, international public health had grown within a more directive mindset, with a series of meetings by colonial and slave-owning powers from 1851 to manage pandemics, culminating in the inauguration of the Office Internationale d’Hygiene Publique in Paris in 1907, and later the League of Nations Health Office. World powers imposed health dictates on those less powerful, in other parts of the world and increasingly on their own population through the eugenics movement and similar approaches. Public health would direct, for the greater good, as a tool of those who wish to direct the lives of others. The WHO, governed by the WHA, was to be very different. Newly independent States and their former colonial masters were ostensibly on an equal footing within the WHA (one country – one vote), and the WHO’s work overall was to be an example of how human rights could dominate the way society works. The model for international public health, as exemplified in the Declaration of Alma Ata in 1978, was to be horizontal rather than vertical, with communities and countries in the driving seat. With the evolution of the WHO in recent decades from a core funding model (countries give money, the WHO decides under the WHA guidance how to spend it) to a model based on specified funding (funders, both public and increasingly private, instruct the WHO on how to spend it), the WHO has inevitably changed to become a public-private partnership required to serve the interests of funders rather than populations. As most funding comes from a few countries with major Pharma industrial bases, or private investors and corporations in the same industry, the WHO has been required to emphasize the use of pharmaceuticals and downplay evidence and knowledge where these clash (if it wants to keep all its staff funded). It is helpful to view the draft Agreement, and the IHR amendments, in this context. Why May 2024? The WHO, together with the World Bank, G20, and other institutions have been emphasizing the urgency of putting the new pandemic instruments in place earnestly, before the ‘next pandemic.’ This is based on claims that the world was unprepared for Covid-19, and that the economic and health harm would be somehow avoidable if we had these agreements in place. They emphasize, contrary to evidence that Covid-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2) origins involve laboratory manipulation, that the main threats we face are natural, and that these are increasing exponentially and present an “existential” threat to humanity. The data on which the WHO, the World Bank, and G20 base these claims demonstrates the contrary, with reported natural outbreaks having increased as detection technologies have developed, but reducing in mortality rate, and in numbers, over the past 10 to 20 years.. A paper cited by the World Bank to justify urgency and quoted as suggesting a 3x increase in risk in the coming decade actually suggests that a Covid-19-like event would occur roughly every 129 years, and a Spanish-flu repetition every 292 to 877 years. Such predictions are unable to take into account the rapidly changing nature of medicine and improved sanitation and nutrition (most deaths from Spanish flu would not have occurred if modern antibiotics had been available), and so may still overestimate risk. Similarly, the WHO’s own priority disease list for new outbreaks only includes two diseases of proven natural origin that have over 1,000 historical deaths attributed to them. It is well demonstrated that the risk and expected burden of pandemics is misrepresented by major international agencies in current discussions. The urgency for May 2024 is clearly therefore inadequately supported, firstly because neither the WHO nor others have demonstrated how the harms accrued through Covid-19 would be reduced through the measures proposed, and secondly because the burden and risk is misrepresented. In this context, the state of the Agreement is clearly not where it should be as a draft international legally binding agreement intended to impose considerable financial and other obligations on States and populations. This is particularly problematic as the proposed expenditure; the proposed budget is over $31 billion per year, with over $10 billion more on other One Health activities. Much of this will have to be diverted from addressing other diseases burdens that impose far greater burden. This trade-off, essential to understand in public health policy development, has not yet been clearly addressed by the WHO. The WHO DG stated recently that the WHO does not want the power to impose vaccine mandates or lockdowns on anyone, and does not want this. This begs the question of why either of the current WHO pandemic instruments is being proposed, both as legally binding documents. The current IHR (2005) already sets out such approaches as recommendations the DG can make, and there is nothing non-mandatory that countries cannot do now without pushing new treaty-like mechanisms through a vote in Geneva. Based on the DG’s claims, they are essentially redundant, and what new non-mandatory clauses they contain, as set out below, are certainly not urgent. Clauses that are mandatory (Member States “shall”) must be considered within national decision-making contexts and appear against the WHO’s stated intent. Common sense would suggest that the Agreement, and the accompanying IHR amendments, be properly thought through before Member States commit. The WHO has already abandoned the legal requirement for a 4-month review time for the IHR amendments (Article 55.2 IHR), which are also still under negotiation just 2 months before the WHA deadline. The Agreement should also have at least such a period for States to properly consider whether to agree – treaties normally take many years to develop and negotiate and no valid arguments have been put forward as to why these should be different. The Covid-19 response resulted in an unprecedented transfer of wealth from those of lower income to the very wealthy few, completely contrary to the way in which the WHO was intended to affect human society. A considerable portion of these pandemic profits went to current sponsors of the WHO, and these same corporate entities and investors are set to further benefit from the new pandemic agreements. As written, the Pandemic Agreement risks entrenching such centralization and profit-taking, and the accompanying unprecedented restrictions on human rights and freedoms, as a public health norm. To continue with a clearly flawed agreement simply because of a previously set deadline, when no clear population benefit is articulated and no true urgency demonstrated, would therefore be a major step backward in international public health. Basic principles of proportionality, human agency, and community empowerment, essential for health and human rights outcomes, are missing or paid lip-service. The WHO clearly wishes to increase its funding and show it is ‘doing something,’ but must first articulate why the voluntary provisions of the current IHR are insufficient. It is hoped that by systematically reviewing some key clauses of the agreement here, it will become clear why a rethink of the whole approach is necessary. The full text is found below. The commentary below concentrates on selected draft provisions of the latest publicly available version of the draft agreement that seem to be unclear or potentially problematic. Much of the remaining text is essentially pointless as it reiterates vague intentions to be found in other documents or activities which countries normally undertake in the course of running health services, and have no place in a focused legally-binding international agreement. REVISED Draft of the negotiating text of the WHO Pandemic Agreement. 7th March, 2024 Preamble Recognizing that the World Health Organization…is the directing and coordinating authority on international health work. This is inconsistent with a recent statement by the WHO DG that the WHO has no interest or intent to direct country health responses. To reiterate it here suggests that the DG is not representing the true position regarding the Agreement. “Directing authority” is however in line with the proposed IHR Amendments (and the WHO’s Constitution), under which countries will “undertake” ahead of time to follow the DG’s recommendations (which thereby become instructions). As the HR amendments make clear, this is intended to apply even to a perceived threat rather than actual harm. Recalling the constitution of the World Health Organization…highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition. This statement recalls fundamental understandings of public health, and is of importance here as it raises the question of why the WHO did not strongly condemn prolonged school closures, workplace closures, and other impoverishing policies during the Covid-19 response. In 2019, WHO made clear that these dangers should prevent actions we now call ‘lockdowns’ from being imposed. Deeply concerned by the gross inequities at national and international levels that hindered timely and equitable access to medical and other Covid-19 pandemic-related products, and the serious shortcomings in pandemic preparedness. In terms of health equity (as distinct from commodity of ‘vaccine’ equity), inequity in the Covid-19 response was not in failing to provide a vaccine against former variants to immune, young people in low-income countries who were at far higher risk from endemic diseases, but in the disproportionate harm to them of uniformly-imposed NPIs that reduced current and future income and basic healthcare, as was noted by the WHO in 2019 Pandemic Influenza recommendations. The failure of the text to recognize this suggests that lessons from Covid-19 have not informed this draft Agreement. The WHO has not yet demonstrated how pandemic ‘preparedness,’ in the terms they use below, would have reduced impact, given that there is poor correlation between strictness or speed of response and eventual outcomes. Reiterating the need to work towards…an equitable approach to mitigate the risk that pandemics exacerbate existing inequities in access to health services, As above – in the past century, the issue of inequity has been most pronounced in pandemic response, rather than the impact of the virus itself (excluding the physiological variation in risk). Most recorded deaths from acute pandemics, since the Spanish flu, were during Covid-19, in which the virus hit mainly sick elderly, but response impacted working-age adults and children heavily and will continue to have effect, due to increased poverty and debt; reduced education and child marriage, in future generations. These have disproportionately affected lower-income people, and particularly women. The lack of recognition of this in this document, though they are recognized by the World Bank and UN agencies elsewhere, must raise real questions on whether this Agreement has been thoroughly thought through, and the process of development been sufficiently inclusive and objective. Chapter I. Introduction Article 1. Use of terms (i) “pathogen with pandemic potential” means any pathogen that has been identified to infect a human and that is: novel (not yet characterized) or known (including a variant of a known pathogen), potentially highly transmissible and/or highly virulent with the potential to cause a public health emergency of international concern. This provides a very wide scope to alter provisions. Any pathogen that can infect humans and is potentially highly transmissible or virulent, though yet uncharacterized means virtually any coronavirus, influenza virus, or a plethora of other relatively common pathogen groups. The IHR Amendments intend that the DG alone can make this call, over the advice of others, as occurred with monkeypox in 2022. (j) “persons in vulnerable situations” means individuals, groups or communities with a disproportionate increased risk of infection, severity, disease or mortality. This is a good definition – in Covid-19 context, would mean the sick elderly, and so is relevant to targeting a response. “Universal health coverage” means that all people have access to the full range of quality health services they need, when and where they need them, without financial hardship. While the general UHC concept is good, it is time a sensible (rather than patently silly) definition was adopted. Society cannot afford the full range of possible interventions and remedies for all, and clearly there is a scale of cost vs benefit that prioritizes certain ones over others. Sensible definitions make action more likely, and inaction harder to justify. One could argue that none should have the full range until all have good basic care, but clearly the earth will not support ‘the full range’ for 8 billion people. Article 2. Objective This Agreement is specifically for pandemics (a poorly defined term but essentially a pathogen that spreads rapidly across national borders). In contrast, the IHR amendments accompanying it are broader in scope – for any public health emergencies of international concern. Article 3. Principles 2. the sovereign right of States to adopt, legislate and implement legislation The amendments to the IHR require States to undertake to follow WHO instructions ahead of time, before such instruction and context are known. These two documents must be understood, as noted later in the Agreement draft, as complementary. 3. equity as the goal and outcome of pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, ensuring the absence of unfair, avoidable or remediable differences among groups of people. This definition of equity here needs clarification. In the pandemic context, the WHO emphasized commodity (vaccine) equity during the Covid-19 response. Elimination of differences implied equal access to Covid-19 vaccines in countries with large aging, obese highly vulnerable populations (e.g. the USA or Italy), and those with young populations at minimal risk and with far more pressing health priorities (e.g. Niger or Uganda). Alternatively, but equally damaging, equal access to different age groups within a country when the risk-benefit ratio is clearly greatly different. This promotes worse health outcomes by diverting resources from where they are most useful, as it ignores heterogeneity of risk. Again, an adult approach is required in international agreements, rather than feel-good sentences, if they are going to have a positive impact. 5. …a more equitable and better prepared world to prevent, respond to and recover from pandemics As with ‘3’ above, this raises a fundamental problem: What if health equity demands that some populations divert resources to childhood nutrition and endemic diseases rather than the latest pandemic, as these are likely of far higher burden to many younger but lower-income populations? This would not be equity in the definition implied here, but would clearly lead to better and more equal health outcomes. The WHO must decide whether it is about uniform action, or minimizing poor health, as these are clearly very different. They are the difference between the WHO’s commodity equity, and true health equity. Chapter II. The world together equitably: achieving equity in, for and through pandemic prevention, preparedness and response Equity in health should imply a reasonably equal chance of overcoming or avoiding preventable sickness. The vast majority of sickness and death is due to either non-communicable diseases often related to lifestyle, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus, undernutrition in childhood, and endemic infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV/AIDS. Achieving health equity would primarily mean addressing these. In this chapter of the draft Pandemic Agreement, equity is used to imply equal access to specific health commodities, particularly vaccines, for intermittent health emergencies, although these exert a small fraction of the burden of other diseases. It is, specifically, commodity-equity, and not geared to equalizing overall health burden but to enabling centrally-coordinated homogenous responses to unusual events. Article 4. Pandemic prevention and surveillance 2. The Parties shall undertake to cooperate: (b) in support of…initiatives aimed at preventing pandemics, in particular those that improve surveillance, early warning and risk assessment; .…and identify settings and activities presenting a risk of emergence and re-emergence of pathogens with pandemic potential. (c-h) [Paragraphs on water and sanitation, infection control, strengthening of biosafety, surveillance and prevention of vector-born diseases, and addressing antimicrobial resistance.] The WHO intends the Agreement to have force under international law. Therefore, countries are undertaking to put themselves under force of international law in regards to complying with the agreement’s stipulations. The provisions under this long article mostly cover general health stuff that countries try to do anyway. The difference will be that countries will be assessed on progress. Assessment can be fine if in context, less fine if it consists of entitled ‘experts’ from wealthy countries with little local knowledge or context. Perhaps such compliance is best left to national authorities, who are more in use with local needs and priorities. The justification for the international bureaucracy being built to support this, while fun for those involved, is unclear and will divert resources from actual health work. 6. The Conference of the Parties may adopt, as necessary, guidelines, recommendations and standards, including in relation to pandemic prevention capacities, to support the implementation of this Article. Here and later, the COP is invoked as a vehicle to decide on what will actually be done. The rules are explained later (Articles 21-23). While allowing more time is sensible, it begs the question of why it is not better to wait and discuss what is needed in the current INB process, before committing to a legally-binding agreement. This current article says nothing not already covered by the IHR2005 or other ongoing programs. Article 5. One Health approach to pandemic prevention, preparedness and response Nothing specific or new in this article. It seems redundant (it is advocating a holistic approach mentioned elsewhere) and so presumably is just to get the term ‘One Health’ into the agreement. (One could ask, why bother?) Some mainstream definitions of One Health (e.g. Lancet) consider that it means non-human species are on a par with humans in terms of rights and importance. If this is meant here, clearly most Member States would disagree. So we may assume that it is just words to keep someone happy (a little childish in an international document, but the term ‘One Health’ has been trending, like ‘equity,’ as if the concept of holistic approaches to public health were new). Article 6. Preparedness, health system resilience and recovery 2. Each Party commits…[to] : (a) routine and essential health services during pandemics with a focus on primary health care, routine immunization and mental health care, and with particular attention to persons in vulnerable situations (b) developing, strengthening and maintaining health infrastructure (c) developing post-pandemic health system recovery strategies (d) developing, strengthening and maintaining: health information systems This is good, and (a) seems to require avoidance of lockdowns (which inevitably cause the harms listed). Unfortunately other WHO documents lead one to assume this is not the intent…It does appear therefore that this is simply another list of fairly non-specific feel-good measures that have no useful place in a new legally-binding agreement, and which most countries are already undertaking. (e) promoting the use of social and behavioural sciences, risk communication and community engagement for pandemic prevention, preparedness and response. This requires clarification, as the use of behavioral science during the Covid-19 response involved deliberate inducement of fear to promote behaviors that people would not otherwise follow (e.g. Spi-B). It is essential here that the document clarifies how behavioral science should be used ethically in healthcare. Otherwise, this is also a quite meaningless provision. Article 7. Health and care workforce This long Article discusses health workforce, training, retention, non-discrimination, stigma, bias, adequate remuneration, and other standard provisions for workplaces. It is unclear why it is included in a legally binding pandemic agreement, except for: 4. [The Parties]…shall invest in establishing, sustaining, coordinating and mobilizing a skilled and trained multidisciplinary global public health emergency workforce…Parties having established emergency health teams should inform WHO thereof and make best efforts to respond to requests for deployment… Emergency health teams established (within capacity etc.) – are something countries already do, when they have capacity. There is no reason to have this as a legally-binding instrument, and clearly no urgency to do so. Article 8. Preparedness monitoring and functional reviews 1. The Parties shall, building on existing and relevant tools, develop and implement an inclusive, transparent, effective and efficient pandemic prevention, preparedness and response monitoring and evaluation system. 2. Each Party shall assess, every five years, with technical support from the WHO Secretariat upon request, the functioning and readiness of, and gaps in, its pandemic prevention, preparedness and response capacity, based on the relevant tools and guidelines developed by WHO in partnership with relevant organizations at international, regional and sub-regional levels. Note that this is being required of countries that are already struggling to implement monitoring systems for major endemic diseases, including tuberculosis, malaria, HIV, and nutritional deficiencies. They will be legally bound to divert resources to pandemic prevention. While there is some overlap, it will inevitably divert resources from currently underfunded programs for diseases of far higher local burdens, and so (not theoretically, but inevitably) raise mortality. Poor countries are being required to put resources into problems deemed significant by richer countries. Article 9. Research and development Various general provisions about undertaking background research that countries are generally doing anyway, but with an ’emerging disease’ slant. Again, the INB fails to justify why this diversion of resources from researching greater disease burdens should occur in all countries (why not just those with excess resources?). Article 10. Sustainable and geographically diversified production Mostly non-binding but suggested cooperation on making pandemic-related products available, including support for manufacturing in “inter-pandemic times” (a fascinating rendering of ‘normal’), when they would only be viable through subsidies. Much of this is probably unimplementable, as it would not be practical to maintain facilities in most or all countries on stand-by for rare events, at cost of resources otherwise useful for other priorities. The desire to increase production in ‘developing’ countries will face major barriers and costs in terms of maintaining quality of production, particularly as many products will have limited use outside of rare outbreak situations. Article 11. Transfer of technology and know-how This article, always problematic for large pharmaceutical corporations sponsoring much WHO outbreak activities, is now watered down to weak requirements to ‘consider,’ promote,’ provide, within capabilities’ etc. Article 12. Access and benefit sharing This Article is intended to establish the WHO Pathogen Access and Benefit-Sharing System (PABS System). PABS is intended to “ensure rapid, systematic and timely access to biological materials of pathogens with pandemic potential and the genetic sequence data.” This system is of potential high relevance and needs to be interpreted in the context that SARS-CoV-2, the pathogen causing the recent Covid-19 outbreak, was highly likely to have escaped from a laboratory. PABS is intended to expand the laboratory storage, transport, and handling of such viruses, under the oversight of the WHO, an organization outside of national jurisdiction with no significant direct experience in handling biological materials. 3. When a Party has access to a pathogen [it shall]: (a) share with WHO any pathogen sequence information as soon as it is available to the Party; (b) as soon as biological materials are available to the Party, provide the materials to one or more laboratories and/or biorepositories participating in WHO-coordinated laboratory networks (CLNs), Subsequent clauses state that benefits will be shared, and seek to prevent recipient laboratories from patenting materials received from other countries. This has been a major concern of low-and middle-income countries previously, who perceive that institutions in wealthy countries patent and benefit from materials derived from less-wealthy populations. It remains to be seen whether provisions here will be sufficient to address this. The article then becomes yet more concerning: 6. WHO shall conclude legally binding standard PABS contracts with manufacturers to provide the following, taking into account the size, nature and capacities of the manufacturer: (a) annual monetary contributions to support the PABS System and relevant capacities in countries; the determination of the annual amount, use, and approach for monitoring and accountability, shall be finalized by the Parties; (b) real-time contributions of relevant diagnostics, therapeutics or vaccines produced by the manufacturer, 10% free of charge and 10% at not-for-profit prices during public health emergencies of international concern or pandemics, … It is clearly intended that the WHO becomes directly involved in setting up legally binding manufacturing contracts, despite the WHO being outside of national jurisdictional oversight, within the territories of Member States. The PABS system, and therefore its staff and dependent entities, are also to be supported in part by funds from the manufacturers whom they are supposed to be managing. The income of the organization will be dependent on maintaining positive relationships with these private entities in a similar way in which many national regulatory agencies are dependent upon funds from pharmaceutical companies whom their staff ostensibly regulate. In this case, the regulator will be even further removed from public oversight. The clause on 10% (why 10?) products being free of charge, and similar at cost, while ensuring lower-priced commodities irrespective of actual need (the outbreak may be confined to wealthy countries). The same entity, the WHO, will determine whether the triggering emergency exists, determine the response, and manage the contracts to provide the commodities, without direct jurisdictional oversight regarding the potential for corruption or conflict of interest. It is a remarkable system to suggest, irrespective of political or regulatory environment. 8. The Parties shall cooperate…public financing of research and development, prepurchase agreements, or regulatory procedures, to encourage and facilitate as many manufacturers as possible to enter into standard PABS contracts as early as possible. The article envisions that public funding will be used to build the process, ensuring essentially no-risk private profit. 10. To support operationalization of the PABS System, WHO shall…make such contracts public, while respecting commercial confidentiality. The public may know whom contracts are made with, but not all details of the contracts. There will therefore be no independent oversight of the clauses agreed between the WHO, a body outside of national jurisdiction and dependent of commercial companies for funding some of its work and salaries, and these same companies, on ‘needs’ that the WHO itself will have sole authority, under the proposed amendments to the IHR, to determine. The Article further states that the WHO shall use its own product regulatory system (prequalification) and Emergency Use Listing Procedure to open and stimulate markets for the manufacturers of these products. It is doubtful that any national government could make such an overall agreement, yet in May 2024 they will be voting to provide this to what is essentially a foreign, and partly privately financed, entity. Article 13. Supply chain and logistics The WHO will become convenor of a ‘Global Supply Chain and Logistics Network’ for commercially-produced products, to be supplied under WHO contracts when and where the WHO determines, whilst also having the role of ensuring safety of such products. Having mutual support coordinated between countries is good. Having this run by an organization that is significantly funded directly by those gaining from the sale of these same commodities seems reckless and counterintuitive. Few countries would allow this (or at least plan for it). For this to occur safely, the WHO would logically have to forgo all private investment, and greatly restrict national specified funding contributions. Otherwise, the conflicts of interest involved would destroy confidence in the system. There is no suggestion of such divestment from the WHO, but rather, as in Article 12, private sector dependency, directly tied to contracts, will increase. Article 13bis: National procurement- and distribution-related provisions While suffering the same (perhaps unavoidable) issues regarding commercial confidentiality, this alternate Article 13 seems far more appropriate, keeping commercial issues under national jurisdiction and avoiding the obvious conflict of interests that underpin funding for WHO activities and staffing. Article 14. Regulatory systems strengthening This entire Article reflects initiatives and programs already in place. Nothing here appears likely to add to current effort. Article 15. Liability and compensation management 1. Each Party shall consider developing, as necessary and in accordance with applicable law, national strategies for managing liability in its territory related to pandemic vaccines…no-fault compensation mechanisms… 2. The Parties…shall develop recommendations for the establishment and implementation of national, regional and/or global no-fault compensation mechanisms and strategies for managing liability during pandemic emergencies, including with regard to individuals that are in a humanitarian setting or vulnerable situations. This is quite remarkable, but also reflects some national legislation, in removing any fault or liability specifically from vaccine manufacturers, for harms done in pushing out vaccines to the public. During the Covid-19 response, genetic therapeutics being developed by BioNtech and Moderna were reclassified as vaccines, on the basis that an immune response is stimulated after they have modified intracellular biochemical pathways as a medicine normally does. This enabled specific trials normally required for carcinogenicity and teratogenicity to be bypassed, despite raised fetal abnormality rates in animal trials. It will enable the CEPI 100-day vaccine program, supported with private funding to support private mRNA vaccine manufacturers, to proceed without any risk to the manufacturer should there be subsequent public harm. Together with an earlier provision on public funding of research and manufacturing readiness, and the removal of former wording requiring intellectual property sharing in Article 11, this ensures vaccine manufacturers and their investors make profit in effective absence of risk. These entities are currently heavily invested in support for WHO, and were strongly aligned with the introduction of newly restrictive outbreak responses that emphasized and sometimes mandated their products during the Covid-19 outbreak. Article 16. International collaboration and cooperation A somewhat pointless article. It suggests that countries cooperate with each other and the WHO to implement the other agreements in the Agreement. Article 17. Whole-of-government and whole-of-society approaches A list of essentially motherhood provisions related to planning for a pandemic. However, countries will legally be required to maintain a ‘national coordination multisectoral body’ for PPPR. This will essentially be an added burden on budgets, and inevitably divert further resources from other priorities. Perhaps just strengthening current infectious disease and nutritional programs would be more impactful. (Nowhere in this Agreement is nutrition discussed (essential for resilience to pathogens) and minimal wording is included on sanitation and clean water (other major reasons for reduction in infectious disease mortality over past centuries). However, the ‘community ownership’ wording is interesting (“empower and enable community ownership of, and contribution to, community readiness for and resilience [for PPPR]”), as this directly contradicts much of the rest of the Agreement, including the centralization of control under the Conference of Parties, requirements for countries to allocate resources to pandemic preparedness over other community priorities, and the idea of inspecting and assessing adherence to the centralized requirements of the Agreement. Either much of the rest of the Agreement is redundant, or this wording is purely for appearance and not to be followed (and therefore should be removed). Article 18. Communication and public awareness 1. Each Party shall promote timely access to credible and evidence-based information …with the aim of countering and addressing misinformation or disinformation… 2. The Parties shall, as appropriate, promote and/or conduct research and inform policies on factors that hinder or strengthen adherence to public health and social measures in a pandemic, as well as trust in science and public health institutions and agencies. The key word is as appropriate, given that many agencies, including the WHO, have overseen or aided policies during the Covid-19 response that have greatly increased poverty, child marriage, teenage pregnancy, and education loss. As the WHO has been shown to be significantly misrepresenting pandemic risk in the process of advocating for this Agreement and related instruments, its own communications would also fall outside the provision here related to evidence-based information, and fall within normal understandings of misinformation. It could not therefore be an arbiter of correctness of information here, so the Article is not implementable. Rewritten to recommend accurate evidence-based information being promoted, it would make good sense, but this is not an issue requiring a legally binding international agreement. Article 19. Implementation and support 3. The WHO Secretariat…organize the technical and financial assistance necessary to address such gaps and needs in implementing the commitments agreed upon under the Pandemic Agreement and the International Health Regulations (2005). As the WHO is dependent on donor support, its ability to address gaps in funding within Member States is clearly not something it can guarantee. The purpose of this article is unclear, repeating in paragraphs 1 and 2 the earlier intent for countries to generally support each other. Article 20. Sustainable financing 1. The Parties commit to working together…In this regard, each Party, within the means and resources at its disposal, shall: (a) prioritize and maintain or increase, as necessary, domestic funding for pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, without undermining other domestic public health priorities including for: (i) strengthening and sustaining capacities for the prevention, preparedness and response to health emergencies and pandemics, in particular the core capacities of the International Health Regulations (2005);… This is silly wording, as countries obviously have to prioritize within budgets, so that moving funds to one area means removing from another. The essence of public health policy is weighing and making such decisions; this reality seems to be ignored here through wishful thinking. (a) is clearly redundant, as the IHR (2005) already exists and countries have agreed to support it. 3. A Coordinating Financial Mechanism (the “Mechanism”) is hereby established to support the implementation of both the WHO Pandemic Agreement and the International Health Regulations (2005) This will be in parallel to the Pandemic Fund recently commenced by the World Bank – an issue not lost on INB delegates and so likely to change here in the final version. It will also be additive to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, and other health financing mechanisms, and so require another parallel international bureaucracy, presumably based in Geneva. It is intended to have its own capacity to “conduct relevant analyses on needs and gaps, in addition to tracking cooperation efforts,” so it will not be a small undertaking. Chapter III. Institutional and final provisions Article 21. Conference of the Parties 1. A Conference of the Parties is hereby established. 2. The Conference of the Parties shall keep under regular review, every three years, the implementation of the WHO Pandemic Agreement and take the decisions necessary to promote its effective implementation. This sets up the governing body to oversee this Agreement (another body requiring a secretariat and support). It is intended to meet within a year of the Agreement coming into force, and then set its own rules on meeting thereafter. It is likely that many provisions outlined in this draft of the Agreement will be deferred to the COP for further discussion. Articles 22 – 37 These articles cover the functioning of the Conference of Parties (COP) and various administrative issues. Of note, ‘block votes’ will be allowed from regional bodies (e.g. the EU). The WHO will provide the secretariat. Under Article 24 is noted: 3. Nothing in the WHO Pandemic Agreement shall be interpreted as providing the Secretariat of the World Health Organization, including the WHO Director-General, any authority to direct, order, alter or otherwise prescribe the domestic laws or policies of any Party, or to mandate or otherwise impose any requirements that Parties take specific actions, such as ban or accept travellers, impose vaccination mandates or therapeutic or diagnostic measures, or implement lockdowns. These provisions are explicitly stated in the proposed amendments to the IHR, to be considered alongside this agreement. Article 26 notes that the IHR is to be interpreted as compatible, thereby confirming that the IHR provisions including border closures and limits on freedom of movement, mandated vaccination, and other lockdown measures are not negated by this statement. As Article 26 states: “The Parties recognize that the WHO Pandemic Agreement and the International Health Regulations should be interpreted so as to be compatible.” Some would consider this subterfuge – The Director-General recently labeled as liars those who claimed the Agreement included these powers, whilst failing to acknowledge the accompanying IHR amendments. The WHO could do better in avoiding misleading messaging, especially when this involves denigration of the public. Article 32 (Withdrawal) requires that, once adopted, Parties cannot withdraw for a total of 3 years (giving notice after a minimum of 2 years). Financial obligations undertaken under the agreement continue beyond that time. Finally, the Agreement will come into force, assuming a two-thirds majority in the WHA is achieved (Article 19, WHO Constitution), 30 days after the fortieth country has ratified it. Further reading: WHO Pandemic Agreement Intergovernmental Negotiating Board website: https://inb.who.int/ International Health Regulations Working Group website: https://apps.who.int/gb/wgihr/index.html On background to the WHO texts: Amendments to WHO’s International Health Regulations: An Annotated Guide An Unofficial Q&A on International Health Regulations On urgency and burden of pandemics: https://essl.leeds.ac.uk/downloads/download/228/rational-policy-over-panic Disease X and Davos: This is Not the Way to Evaluate and Formulate Public Health Policy Before Preparing for Pandemics, We Need Better Evidence of Risk Revised Draft of the negotiating text of the WHO Pandemic Agreement: Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License For reprints, please set the canonical link back to the original Brownstone Institute Article and Author. Authors David Bell David Bell, Senior Scholar at Brownstone Institute, is a public health physician and biotech consultant in global health. He is a former medical officer and scientist at the World Health Organization (WHO), Programme Head for malaria and febrile diseases at the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) in Geneva, Switzerland, and Director of Global Health Technologies at Intellectual Ventures Global Good Fund in Bellevue, WA, USA. View all posts Thi Thuy Van Dinh Dr. Thi Thuy Van Dinh (LLM, PhD) worked on international law in the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Subsequently, she managed multilateral organization partnerships for Intellectual Ventures Global Good Fund and led environmental health technology development efforts for low-resource settings. View all posts Your financial backing of Brownstone Institute goes to support writers, lawyers, scientists, economists, and other people of courage who have been professionally purged and displaced during the upheaval of our times. You can help get the truth out through their ongoing work. https://brownstone.org/articles/the-who-pandemic-agreement-a-guide/ https://www.minds.com/donshafi911/blog/the-who-pandemic-agreement-a-guide-1621719398509187077
    BROWNSTONE.ORG
    The WHO Pandemic Agreement: A Guide ⋆ Brownstone Institute
    The commentary below concentrates on selected draft provisions of the latest publicly available version of the draft agreement that seem to be unclear or potentially problematic.
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  • Why Does the WHO Make False Claims Regarding Proposals to Seize States’ Sovereignty?
    By David Bell, Thi Thuy Van Dinh December 11, 2023 Government, Law, Public Health 15 minute read
    The Director General (DG) of the World Health Organization (WHO) states:

    No country will cede any sovereignty to WHO,

    referring to the WHO’s new pandemic agreement and proposed amendments to the International Health Regulations (IHR), currently being negotiated. His statements are clear and unequivocal, and wholly inconsistent with the texts he is referring to.

    A rational examination of the texts in question shows that:

    The documents propose a transfer of decision-making power to the WHO regarding basic aspects of societal function, which countries undertake to enact.
    The WHO DG will have sole authority to decide when and where they are applied.
    The proposals are intended to be binding under international law.
    Continued claims that sovereignty is not lost, echoed by politicians and media, therefore raise important questions concerning motivations, competence, and ethics.

    The intent of the texts is a transfer of decision-making currently vested in Nations and individuals to the WHO, when its DG decides that there is a threat of a significant disease outbreak or other health emergency likely to cross multiple national borders. It is unusual for Nations to undertake to follow external entities regarding the basic rights and healthcare of their citizens, more so when this has major economic and geopolitical implications.

    The question of whether sovereignty is indeed being transferred, and the legal status of such an agreement, is therefore of vital importance, particularly to the legislators of democratic States. They have an absolute duty to be sure of their ground. We systematically examine that ground here.

    The Proposed IHR Amendments and Sovereignty in Health Decision-Making

    Amending the 2005 IHR may be a straightforward way to quickly deploy and enforce “new normal” health control measures. The current text applies to virtually the entire global population, counting 196 States Parties including all 194 WHO Member States. Approval may or may not require a formal vote of the World Health Assembly (WHA), as the recent 2022 amendment was adopted through consensus. If the same approval mechanism is to be used in May 2024, many countries and the public may remain unaware of the broad scope of the new text and its implications to national and individual sovereignty.

    The IHR are a set of recommendations under a treaty process that has force under international law. They seek to provide the WHO with some moral authority to coordinate and lead responses when an international health emergency, such as pandemic, occurs. Most are non-binding, and these contain very specific examples of measures that the WHO can recommend, including (Article 18):

    require medical examinations;
    review proof of vaccination or other prophylaxis;
    require vaccination or other prophylaxis;
    place suspect persons under public health observation;
    implement quarantine or other health measures for suspect persons;
    implement isolation and treatment where necessary of affected persons;
    implement tracing of contacts of suspect or affected persons;
    refuse entry of suspect and affected persons;
    refuse entry of unaffected persons to affected areas; and
    implement exit screening and/or restrictions on persons from affected areas.
    These measures, when implemented together, are generally referred to since early 2020 as ‘lockdowns’ and ‘mandates.’ ‘Lockdown’ was previously a term reserved for people incarcerated as criminals, as it removes basic universally accepted human rights and such measures were considered by the WHO to be detrimental to public health. However, since 2020 it has become the default standard for public health authorities to manage epidemics, despite its contradictions to multiple stipulations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR):

    Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind including no arbitrary detention (Article 9).
    No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence (Article 12).
    Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state, and Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country (Article 13).
    Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers (Article 19).
    Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association (Article 20).
    The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government (Article 21).
    Everyone has the right to work (Article 23).
    Everyone has the right to education (Article 26).
    Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized (Article 28).
    Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein (Article 30).
    These UDHR stipulations are the basis of the modern concept of individual sovereignty, and the relationship between authorities and their populations. Considered the highest codification of the rights and freedoms of individuals in the 20th century, they may soon be dismantled behind closed doors in a meeting room in Geneva.

    The proposed amendments will change the “recommendations” of the current document to requirements through three mechanisms on

    Removing the term ‘non-binding’ (Article 1),
    Inserting the phrase that Member States will “undertake to follow WHO’s recommendations” and recognize WHO, not as an organization under the control of countries, but as the “coordinating authority” (New Article 13A).
    States Parties recognize WHO as the guidance and coordinating authority of international public health response during public health Emergency of International Concern and undertake to follow WHO’s recommendations in their international public health response.

    As Article 18 makes clear above, these include multiple actions directly restricting individual liberty. If transfer of decision-making power (sovereignty) is not intended here, then the current status of the IHR as ‘recommendations’ could remain and countries would not be undertaking to follow the WHO’s requirements.

    States Parties undertake to enact what previously were merely recommendations, without delay, including requirements of WHO regarding non-State entities under their jurisdiction (Article 42):
    Health measures taken pursuant to these Regulations, including the recommendations made under Articles 15 and 16, shall be initiated and completed without delay by all State Parties and applied in a transparent, equitable and non-discriminatory manner. State Parties shall also take measures to ensure Non-State Actors operating in their respective territories comply with such measures.

    Articles 15 and 16 mentioned here allow the WHO to require a State to provide resources “health products, technologies, and know-how,” and to allow the WHO to deploy personnel into the country (i.e., have control over entry across national borders for those they choose). They also repeat the requirement for the country to require the implementation of medical countermeasures (e.g., testing, vaccines, quarantine) on their population where WHO demands it.

    Of note, the proposed Article 1 amendment (removing ‘non-binding’) is actually redundant if New Article 13A and/or the changes in Article 42 remain. This can (and likely will) be removed from the final text, giving an appearance of compromise without changing the transfer of sovereignty.

    All of the public health measures in Article 18, and additional ones such as limiting freedom of speech to reduce public exposure to alternative viewpoints (Annex 1, New 5 (e); “…counter misinformation and disinformation”) clash directly with the UDHR. Although freedom of speech is currently the exclusive purview of national authorities and its restriction is generally seen as negative and abusive, United Nations institutions, including the WHO, have been advocating for censoring unofficial views in order to protect what they call “information integrity.”

    It seems outrageous from a human rights perspective that the amendments will enable the WHO to dictate countries to require individual medical examinations and vaccinations whenever it declares a pandemic. While the Nuremberg Code and Declaration of Helsinki refer specifically to human experimentation (e.g. clinical trials of vaccines) and the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights also to the provider-patient relationship, they can reasonably be extended to public health measures that impose restrictions or changes to human behavior, and specifically to any measures requiring injection, medication, or medical examination which involve a direct provider-person interaction.

    If vaccines or drugs are still under trial or not fully tested, then the issue of being the subject of an experiment is also real. There is a clear intent to employ the CEPI ‘100 day’ vaccine program, which by definition cannot complete meaningful safety or efficacy trials within that time span.

    Forced examination or medication, outside of a situation where the recipient is clearly not mentally competent to comply or reject when provided with information, is unethical. Requiring compliance in order to access what are considered basic human rights under the UDHR would constitute coercion. If this does not fit the WHO’s definition of infringement on individual sovereignty, and on national sovereignty, then the DG and his supporters need to publicly explain what definition they are using.

    The Proposed WHO Pandemic Agreement as a Tool to Manage Transfer of Sovereignty

    The proposed pandemic agreement will set humanity in a new era strangely organized around pandemics: pre-pandemic, pandemic, and inter-pandemic. A new governance structure under WHO auspices will oversee the IHR amendments and related initiatives. It will rely on new funding requirements, including the WHO’s ability to demand additional funding and materials from countries and to run a supply network to support its work in health emergencies (Article 12):

    In the event of a pandemic, real-time access by WHO to a minimum of 20% (10% as a donation and 10% at affordable prices to WHO) of the production of safe, efficacious and effective pandemic-related products for distribution based on public health risks and needs, with the understanding that each Party that has manufacturing facilities that produce pandemic-related products in its jurisdiction shall take all necessary steps to facilitate the export of such pandemic-related products, in accordance with timetables to be agreed between WHO and manufacturers.

    And Article 20 (1):

    …provide support and assistance to other Parties, upon request, to facilitate the containment of spill-over at the source.

    The entire structure will be financed by a new funding stream separate from current WHO funding – an additional requirement on taxpayers over current national commitments (Article 20 (2)). The funding will also include an endowment of voluntary contributions of “all relevant sectors that benefit from international work to strengthen pandemic preparation, preparedness and response” and donations from philanthropic organizations (Article 20 (2)b).

    Currently, countries decide on foreign aid on the basis of national priorities, apart from limited funding that they have agreed to allocate to organizations such as WHO under existing obligations or treaties. The proposed agreement is remarkable not just in greatly increasing the amount countries must give as treaty requirements, but in setting up a parallel funding structure disconnected from other disease priorities (quite the opposite of previous ideas on integration in health financing). It also gives power to an external group, not directly accountable, to demand or acquire further resources whenever it deems necessary.

    In a further encroachment into what is normally within the legal jurisdiction of Nation States, the agreement will require countries to establish (Article 15) “…, no-fault vaccine injury compensation mechanism(s),…”, consecrating effective immunity for pharmaceutical companies for harm to citizens resulting from use of products that the WHO recommends under an emergency use authorization, or indeed requires countries to mandate onto their citizens.

    As is becoming increasingly acceptable for those in power, ratifying countries will agree to limit the right of their public to voice opposition to the WHO’s measures and claims regarding such an emergency (Article 18):

    …and combat false, misleading, misinformation or disinformation, including through effective international collaboration and cooperation…

    As we have seen during the Covid-19 response, the definition of misleading information can be dependent on political or commercial expediency, including factual information on vaccine efficacy and safety and orthodox immunology that could impair the sale of health commodities. This is why open democracies put such emphasis on defending free speech, even at the risk of sometimes being misleading. In signing on to this agreement, governments will be agreeing to abrogate that principle regarding their own citizens when instructed by the WHO.

    The scope of this proposed agreement (and the IHR amendments) is broader than pandemics, greatly expanding the scope under which a transfer of decision-making powers can be demanded. Other environmental threats to health, such as changes in climate, can be declared emergencies at the DG’s discretion, if broad definitions of ‘One Health’ are adopted as recommended.

    It is difficult to think of another international instrument where such powers over national resources are passed to an unelected external organization, and it is even more challenging to envision how this is seen as anything other than a loss of sovereignty. The only justification for this claim would appear to be if the draft agreement is to be signed on the basis of deceit – that there is no intention to treat it other than as an irrelevant piece of paper or something that should only apply to less powerful States (i.e. a colonialist tool).

    Will the IHR Amendments and the Proposed Pandemic Agreement be Legally Binding?

    Both texts are intended to be legally binding. The IHR already has such status, so the impact of the proposed changes on the need for new acceptance by countries are complicated national jurisdictional issues. There is a current mechanism for rejection of new amendments. However, unless a high number of countries will actively voice their oppositions and rejections, the adoption of the current published version dated February 2023 will likely lead to a future shadowed by the permanent risks of the WHO’s lockdown and lockstep dictates.

    The proposed pandemic agreement is also clearly intended to be legally binding. WHO discusses this issue on the website of the International Negotiating Body (INB) that is working on the text. The same legally binding intent is specifically stated by the G20 Bali Leaders Declaration in 2022:

    We support the work of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) that will draft and negotiate a legally binding instrument that should contain both legally binding and non-legally binding elements to strengthen pandemic PPR…,

    repeated in the 2023 G20 New Delhi Leaders Declaration:

    …an ambitious, legally binding WHO convention, agreement or other international instruments on pandemic PPR (WHO CA+) by May 2024,

    and by the Council of the European Union:

    A convention, agreement or other international instrument is legally binding under international Law. An agreement on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response adopted under the World Health Organization (WHO) would enable countries around the globe to strengthen national, regional and global capacities and resilience to future pandemics.

    The IHR already has standing under international law.

    While seeking such status, WHO officials who previously described the proposed agreement as a ‘treaty” are now insisting neither instrument impacts sovereignty. The implication that it is States’ representatives at the WHA that will agree to the transfer, rather than the WHO, is a nuance irrelevant to its claims regarding their subsequent effect.

    The WHO’s position raises a real question of whether its leadership is truly ignorant of what is proposed, or is actively seeking to mislead countries and the public in order to increase the probability of acceptance. The latest version dated 30 October 2023 requires 40 ratifications for the future agreement to enter into force, after a two-thirds vote in favor within the WHA. Opposition by a considerable number of countries will therefore be needed to derail this project. As it is backed by powerful governments and institutions, financial mechanisms including IMF and World Bank instruments and bilateral aids are likely to make opposition from lower-income countries difficult to sustain.

    The Implications of Ignoring the Issue of Sovereignty

    The relevant question regarding these two WHO instruments should really be not whether sovereignty is threatened, but why any sovereignty would be forfeited by democratic States to an organization that is (i) significantly privately funded and bound to obey the dictates of corporations and self-proclaimed philanthropists and (ii) jointly governed by Member States, half of which don’t even claim to be open representative democracies.

    If it is indeed true that sovereignty is being knowingly forfeited by governments without the knowledge and consent of their peoples, and based on false claims from governments and the WHO, then the implications are extremely serious. It would imply that leaders were working directly against their peoples’ or national interest, and in support of external interests. Most countries have specific fundamental laws dealing with such practice. So, it is really important for those defending these projects to either explain their definitions of sovereignty and democratic process, or explicitly seek informed public consent.

    The other question to be asked is why public health authorities and media are repeating the WHO’s assurances of the benign nature of the pandemic instruments. It asserts that claims of reduced sovereignty are ‘misinformation’ or ‘disinformation,’ which they assert elsewhere are major killers of humankind. While such claims are somewhat ludicrous and appear intended to denigrate dissenters, the WHO is clearly guilty of that which it claims is such a crime. If its leadership cannot demonstrate how its claims regarding these pandemic instruments are not deliberately misleading, its leadership would appear ethically compelled to resign.

    The Need for Clarification

    The WHO lists three major pandemics in the past century – influenza outbreaks in the late 1950s and 1960s, and the Covid-19 pandemic. The first two killed less than die each year today from tuberculosis, whilst the reported deaths from Covid-19 never reached the level of cancer or cardiovascular disease and remained almost irrelevant in low-income countries compared to endemic infectious diseases including tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV/AIDs.

    No other non-influenza outbreak recorded by the WHO that fits the definition of a pandemic (e.g., rapid spread across international borders for a limited time of a pathogen not normally causing significant harm) has caused greater mortality in total than a few days of tuberculosis (about 4,000/day) or more life-years lost than a few days of malaria (about 1,500 children under 5 years old every day).

    So, if it is indeed the case that our authorities and their supporters within the public health community consider that powers currently vested within national jurisdictions should be given over to external bodies on the basis of this level of recorded harm, it would be best to have a public conversation as to whether this is sufficient basis for abandoning democratic ideals in favor of a more fascist or otherwise authoritarian approach. We are, after all, talking about restricting basic human rights essential for a democracy to function.

    Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
    For reprints, please set the canonical link back to the original Brownstone Institute Article and Author.

    Authors

    David Bell
    David Bell, Senior Scholar at Brownstone Institute, is a public health physician and biotech consultant in global health. He is a former medical officer and scientist at the World Health Organization (WHO), Programme Head for malaria and febrile diseases at the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) in Geneva, Switzerland, and Director of Global Health Technologies at Intellectual Ventures Global Good Fund in Bellevue, WA, USA.

    View all posts
    Thi Thuy Van Dinh
    Dr. Thi Thuy Van Dinh (LLM, PhD) worked on international law in the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Subsequently, she managed multilateral organization partnerships for Intellectual Ventures Global Good Fund and led environmental health technology development efforts for low-resource settings.

    View all posts
    Your financial backing of Brownstone Institute goes to support writers, lawyers, scientists, economists, and other people of courage who have been professionally purged and displaced during the upheaval of our times. You can help get the truth out through their ongoing work.

    https://brownstone.org/articles/why-does-the-who-make-false-claims-regarding-proposals-to-seize-states-sovereignty/
    Why Does the WHO Make False Claims Regarding Proposals to Seize States’ Sovereignty? By David Bell, Thi Thuy Van Dinh December 11, 2023 Government, Law, Public Health 15 minute read The Director General (DG) of the World Health Organization (WHO) states: No country will cede any sovereignty to WHO, referring to the WHO’s new pandemic agreement and proposed amendments to the International Health Regulations (IHR), currently being negotiated. His statements are clear and unequivocal, and wholly inconsistent with the texts he is referring to. A rational examination of the texts in question shows that: The documents propose a transfer of decision-making power to the WHO regarding basic aspects of societal function, which countries undertake to enact. The WHO DG will have sole authority to decide when and where they are applied. The proposals are intended to be binding under international law. Continued claims that sovereignty is not lost, echoed by politicians and media, therefore raise important questions concerning motivations, competence, and ethics. The intent of the texts is a transfer of decision-making currently vested in Nations and individuals to the WHO, when its DG decides that there is a threat of a significant disease outbreak or other health emergency likely to cross multiple national borders. It is unusual for Nations to undertake to follow external entities regarding the basic rights and healthcare of their citizens, more so when this has major economic and geopolitical implications. The question of whether sovereignty is indeed being transferred, and the legal status of such an agreement, is therefore of vital importance, particularly to the legislators of democratic States. They have an absolute duty to be sure of their ground. We systematically examine that ground here. The Proposed IHR Amendments and Sovereignty in Health Decision-Making Amending the 2005 IHR may be a straightforward way to quickly deploy and enforce “new normal” health control measures. The current text applies to virtually the entire global population, counting 196 States Parties including all 194 WHO Member States. Approval may or may not require a formal vote of the World Health Assembly (WHA), as the recent 2022 amendment was adopted through consensus. If the same approval mechanism is to be used in May 2024, many countries and the public may remain unaware of the broad scope of the new text and its implications to national and individual sovereignty. The IHR are a set of recommendations under a treaty process that has force under international law. They seek to provide the WHO with some moral authority to coordinate and lead responses when an international health emergency, such as pandemic, occurs. Most are non-binding, and these contain very specific examples of measures that the WHO can recommend, including (Article 18): require medical examinations; review proof of vaccination or other prophylaxis; require vaccination or other prophylaxis; place suspect persons under public health observation; implement quarantine or other health measures for suspect persons; implement isolation and treatment where necessary of affected persons; implement tracing of contacts of suspect or affected persons; refuse entry of suspect and affected persons; refuse entry of unaffected persons to affected areas; and implement exit screening and/or restrictions on persons from affected areas. These measures, when implemented together, are generally referred to since early 2020 as ‘lockdowns’ and ‘mandates.’ ‘Lockdown’ was previously a term reserved for people incarcerated as criminals, as it removes basic universally accepted human rights and such measures were considered by the WHO to be detrimental to public health. However, since 2020 it has become the default standard for public health authorities to manage epidemics, despite its contradictions to multiple stipulations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR): Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind including no arbitrary detention (Article 9). No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence (Article 12). Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state, and Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country (Article 13). Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers (Article 19). Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association (Article 20). The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government (Article 21). Everyone has the right to work (Article 23). Everyone has the right to education (Article 26). Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized (Article 28). Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein (Article 30). These UDHR stipulations are the basis of the modern concept of individual sovereignty, and the relationship between authorities and their populations. Considered the highest codification of the rights and freedoms of individuals in the 20th century, they may soon be dismantled behind closed doors in a meeting room in Geneva. The proposed amendments will change the “recommendations” of the current document to requirements through three mechanisms on Removing the term ‘non-binding’ (Article 1), Inserting the phrase that Member States will “undertake to follow WHO’s recommendations” and recognize WHO, not as an organization under the control of countries, but as the “coordinating authority” (New Article 13A). States Parties recognize WHO as the guidance and coordinating authority of international public health response during public health Emergency of International Concern and undertake to follow WHO’s recommendations in their international public health response. As Article 18 makes clear above, these include multiple actions directly restricting individual liberty. If transfer of decision-making power (sovereignty) is not intended here, then the current status of the IHR as ‘recommendations’ could remain and countries would not be undertaking to follow the WHO’s requirements. States Parties undertake to enact what previously were merely recommendations, without delay, including requirements of WHO regarding non-State entities under their jurisdiction (Article 42): Health measures taken pursuant to these Regulations, including the recommendations made under Articles 15 and 16, shall be initiated and completed without delay by all State Parties and applied in a transparent, equitable and non-discriminatory manner. State Parties shall also take measures to ensure Non-State Actors operating in their respective territories comply with such measures. Articles 15 and 16 mentioned here allow the WHO to require a State to provide resources “health products, technologies, and know-how,” and to allow the WHO to deploy personnel into the country (i.e., have control over entry across national borders for those they choose). They also repeat the requirement for the country to require the implementation of medical countermeasures (e.g., testing, vaccines, quarantine) on their population where WHO demands it. Of note, the proposed Article 1 amendment (removing ‘non-binding’) is actually redundant if New Article 13A and/or the changes in Article 42 remain. This can (and likely will) be removed from the final text, giving an appearance of compromise without changing the transfer of sovereignty. All of the public health measures in Article 18, and additional ones such as limiting freedom of speech to reduce public exposure to alternative viewpoints (Annex 1, New 5 (e); “…counter misinformation and disinformation”) clash directly with the UDHR. Although freedom of speech is currently the exclusive purview of national authorities and its restriction is generally seen as negative and abusive, United Nations institutions, including the WHO, have been advocating for censoring unofficial views in order to protect what they call “information integrity.” It seems outrageous from a human rights perspective that the amendments will enable the WHO to dictate countries to require individual medical examinations and vaccinations whenever it declares a pandemic. While the Nuremberg Code and Declaration of Helsinki refer specifically to human experimentation (e.g. clinical trials of vaccines) and the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights also to the provider-patient relationship, they can reasonably be extended to public health measures that impose restrictions or changes to human behavior, and specifically to any measures requiring injection, medication, or medical examination which involve a direct provider-person interaction. If vaccines or drugs are still under trial or not fully tested, then the issue of being the subject of an experiment is also real. There is a clear intent to employ the CEPI ‘100 day’ vaccine program, which by definition cannot complete meaningful safety or efficacy trials within that time span. Forced examination or medication, outside of a situation where the recipient is clearly not mentally competent to comply or reject when provided with information, is unethical. Requiring compliance in order to access what are considered basic human rights under the UDHR would constitute coercion. If this does not fit the WHO’s definition of infringement on individual sovereignty, and on national sovereignty, then the DG and his supporters need to publicly explain what definition they are using. The Proposed WHO Pandemic Agreement as a Tool to Manage Transfer of Sovereignty The proposed pandemic agreement will set humanity in a new era strangely organized around pandemics: pre-pandemic, pandemic, and inter-pandemic. A new governance structure under WHO auspices will oversee the IHR amendments and related initiatives. It will rely on new funding requirements, including the WHO’s ability to demand additional funding and materials from countries and to run a supply network to support its work in health emergencies (Article 12): In the event of a pandemic, real-time access by WHO to a minimum of 20% (10% as a donation and 10% at affordable prices to WHO) of the production of safe, efficacious and effective pandemic-related products for distribution based on public health risks and needs, with the understanding that each Party that has manufacturing facilities that produce pandemic-related products in its jurisdiction shall take all necessary steps to facilitate the export of such pandemic-related products, in accordance with timetables to be agreed between WHO and manufacturers. And Article 20 (1): …provide support and assistance to other Parties, upon request, to facilitate the containment of spill-over at the source. The entire structure will be financed by a new funding stream separate from current WHO funding – an additional requirement on taxpayers over current national commitments (Article 20 (2)). The funding will also include an endowment of voluntary contributions of “all relevant sectors that benefit from international work to strengthen pandemic preparation, preparedness and response” and donations from philanthropic organizations (Article 20 (2)b). Currently, countries decide on foreign aid on the basis of national priorities, apart from limited funding that they have agreed to allocate to organizations such as WHO under existing obligations or treaties. The proposed agreement is remarkable not just in greatly increasing the amount countries must give as treaty requirements, but in setting up a parallel funding structure disconnected from other disease priorities (quite the opposite of previous ideas on integration in health financing). It also gives power to an external group, not directly accountable, to demand or acquire further resources whenever it deems necessary. In a further encroachment into what is normally within the legal jurisdiction of Nation States, the agreement will require countries to establish (Article 15) “…, no-fault vaccine injury compensation mechanism(s),…”, consecrating effective immunity for pharmaceutical companies for harm to citizens resulting from use of products that the WHO recommends under an emergency use authorization, or indeed requires countries to mandate onto their citizens. As is becoming increasingly acceptable for those in power, ratifying countries will agree to limit the right of their public to voice opposition to the WHO’s measures and claims regarding such an emergency (Article 18): …and combat false, misleading, misinformation or disinformation, including through effective international collaboration and cooperation… As we have seen during the Covid-19 response, the definition of misleading information can be dependent on political or commercial expediency, including factual information on vaccine efficacy and safety and orthodox immunology that could impair the sale of health commodities. This is why open democracies put such emphasis on defending free speech, even at the risk of sometimes being misleading. In signing on to this agreement, governments will be agreeing to abrogate that principle regarding their own citizens when instructed by the WHO. The scope of this proposed agreement (and the IHR amendments) is broader than pandemics, greatly expanding the scope under which a transfer of decision-making powers can be demanded. Other environmental threats to health, such as changes in climate, can be declared emergencies at the DG’s discretion, if broad definitions of ‘One Health’ are adopted as recommended. It is difficult to think of another international instrument where such powers over national resources are passed to an unelected external organization, and it is even more challenging to envision how this is seen as anything other than a loss of sovereignty. The only justification for this claim would appear to be if the draft agreement is to be signed on the basis of deceit – that there is no intention to treat it other than as an irrelevant piece of paper or something that should only apply to less powerful States (i.e. a colonialist tool). Will the IHR Amendments and the Proposed Pandemic Agreement be Legally Binding? Both texts are intended to be legally binding. The IHR already has such status, so the impact of the proposed changes on the need for new acceptance by countries are complicated national jurisdictional issues. There is a current mechanism for rejection of new amendments. However, unless a high number of countries will actively voice their oppositions and rejections, the adoption of the current published version dated February 2023 will likely lead to a future shadowed by the permanent risks of the WHO’s lockdown and lockstep dictates. The proposed pandemic agreement is also clearly intended to be legally binding. WHO discusses this issue on the website of the International Negotiating Body (INB) that is working on the text. The same legally binding intent is specifically stated by the G20 Bali Leaders Declaration in 2022: We support the work of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) that will draft and negotiate a legally binding instrument that should contain both legally binding and non-legally binding elements to strengthen pandemic PPR…, repeated in the 2023 G20 New Delhi Leaders Declaration: …an ambitious, legally binding WHO convention, agreement or other international instruments on pandemic PPR (WHO CA+) by May 2024, and by the Council of the European Union: A convention, agreement or other international instrument is legally binding under international Law. An agreement on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response adopted under the World Health Organization (WHO) would enable countries around the globe to strengthen national, regional and global capacities and resilience to future pandemics. The IHR already has standing under international law. While seeking such status, WHO officials who previously described the proposed agreement as a ‘treaty” are now insisting neither instrument impacts sovereignty. The implication that it is States’ representatives at the WHA that will agree to the transfer, rather than the WHO, is a nuance irrelevant to its claims regarding their subsequent effect. The WHO’s position raises a real question of whether its leadership is truly ignorant of what is proposed, or is actively seeking to mislead countries and the public in order to increase the probability of acceptance. The latest version dated 30 October 2023 requires 40 ratifications for the future agreement to enter into force, after a two-thirds vote in favor within the WHA. Opposition by a considerable number of countries will therefore be needed to derail this project. As it is backed by powerful governments and institutions, financial mechanisms including IMF and World Bank instruments and bilateral aids are likely to make opposition from lower-income countries difficult to sustain. The Implications of Ignoring the Issue of Sovereignty The relevant question regarding these two WHO instruments should really be not whether sovereignty is threatened, but why any sovereignty would be forfeited by democratic States to an organization that is (i) significantly privately funded and bound to obey the dictates of corporations and self-proclaimed philanthropists and (ii) jointly governed by Member States, half of which don’t even claim to be open representative democracies. If it is indeed true that sovereignty is being knowingly forfeited by governments without the knowledge and consent of their peoples, and based on false claims from governments and the WHO, then the implications are extremely serious. It would imply that leaders were working directly against their peoples’ or national interest, and in support of external interests. Most countries have specific fundamental laws dealing with such practice. So, it is really important for those defending these projects to either explain their definitions of sovereignty and democratic process, or explicitly seek informed public consent. The other question to be asked is why public health authorities and media are repeating the WHO’s assurances of the benign nature of the pandemic instruments. It asserts that claims of reduced sovereignty are ‘misinformation’ or ‘disinformation,’ which they assert elsewhere are major killers of humankind. While such claims are somewhat ludicrous and appear intended to denigrate dissenters, the WHO is clearly guilty of that which it claims is such a crime. If its leadership cannot demonstrate how its claims regarding these pandemic instruments are not deliberately misleading, its leadership would appear ethically compelled to resign. The Need for Clarification The WHO lists three major pandemics in the past century – influenza outbreaks in the late 1950s and 1960s, and the Covid-19 pandemic. The first two killed less than die each year today from tuberculosis, whilst the reported deaths from Covid-19 never reached the level of cancer or cardiovascular disease and remained almost irrelevant in low-income countries compared to endemic infectious diseases including tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV/AIDs. No other non-influenza outbreak recorded by the WHO that fits the definition of a pandemic (e.g., rapid spread across international borders for a limited time of a pathogen not normally causing significant harm) has caused greater mortality in total than a few days of tuberculosis (about 4,000/day) or more life-years lost than a few days of malaria (about 1,500 children under 5 years old every day). So, if it is indeed the case that our authorities and their supporters within the public health community consider that powers currently vested within national jurisdictions should be given over to external bodies on the basis of this level of recorded harm, it would be best to have a public conversation as to whether this is sufficient basis for abandoning democratic ideals in favor of a more fascist or otherwise authoritarian approach. We are, after all, talking about restricting basic human rights essential for a democracy to function. Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License For reprints, please set the canonical link back to the original Brownstone Institute Article and Author. Authors David Bell David Bell, Senior Scholar at Brownstone Institute, is a public health physician and biotech consultant in global health. He is a former medical officer and scientist at the World Health Organization (WHO), Programme Head for malaria and febrile diseases at the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) in Geneva, Switzerland, and Director of Global Health Technologies at Intellectual Ventures Global Good Fund in Bellevue, WA, USA. View all posts Thi Thuy Van Dinh Dr. Thi Thuy Van Dinh (LLM, PhD) worked on international law in the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Subsequently, she managed multilateral organization partnerships for Intellectual Ventures Global Good Fund and led environmental health technology development efforts for low-resource settings. View all posts Your financial backing of Brownstone Institute goes to support writers, lawyers, scientists, economists, and other people of courage who have been professionally purged and displaced during the upheaval of our times. You can help get the truth out through their ongoing work. https://brownstone.org/articles/why-does-the-who-make-false-claims-regarding-proposals-to-seize-states-sovereignty/
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    Why Does the WHO Make False Claims Regarding Proposals to Seize States’ Sovereignty? ⋆ Brownstone Institute
    If it is indeed the case that our authorities and their supporters within the public health community consider that powers currently vested within national jurisdictions should be given over to external bodies on the basis of this level of recorded harm, it would be best to have a public conversation as to whether this is sufficient basis for abandoning democratic ideals in favor of a more fascist or otherwise authoritarian approach.
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  • Inside the anti-Syria lobby’s Capitol Hill push for more starvation sanctions
    Hekmat AboukhaterMarch 20, 2024

    A week from the 13th anniversary of the US-backed Syrian dirty war, the American Coalition for Syria held its annual day of advocacy in Washington DC. I went undercover into meetings with Senate policy advisors and witnessed the lobby’s cynical campaign to starve Syria into submission.

    On the morning of March 7, as the US Capitol teemed with lobbyists securing earmarks ahead of appropriations week and activists decrying the Gaza genocide, one special interest group on the Hill stood out. In the corridors of the Rayburn building, a group of roughly 50 people prepared for a busy day of advocating for sanctions to be levied against their homeland.

    They were the Anti-Syria lobby — and had I infiltrated their influence campaign.

    Throughout the day, I watched as this group pushed US officials to accept their policy of starvation sanctions while cynically ignoring famished Palestinians in Gaza.

    Among the lobbyists was Raed Saleh, the head of the Syrian White Helmets, who were to propagandize for regime change from behind humanitarian cover.

    I attended a total of seven meetings with policy teams representing Senators Sherrod Brown, Maggie Hassan, Ben Cardin, Mark Kelly, Chris Van Hollen, John Fetterman, and Rick Scott. Throughout these sessions, I witnessed the anti-Syria Lobby attempt to bully and manipulate US officials into accepting their policy of starvation while cynically throwing starving Palestinians in Gaza under the bus.

    At one moment, Raed Saleh, head of the Syrian White Helmets, which was founded by British intelligence, and funded by NATO states, painted Israeli air strikes against Syria in a positive light.

    During a separate meeting, Wa’el Alzayat of the pro-Zionist Muslim outreach Emgage even demanded Senator Chris Van Hollen’s office support the approval of aid for Al Qaeda-linked militias in Syria.

    “Stop freaking out about the stuff going to terrorists,” he insisted, adding that “the Brits are doing it, the Turks are doing it, [and] the Qataris are doing it.”

    Purporting to be a voice for all Syrians, the anti-Syria lobby is spearheaded by the American Coalition for Syria (ACS), an umbrella organization representing opposition groups such as the Syrian American Council (SAC), the Syrian Forum, and a handful of others located in the US and Turkey.

    Emgage, meanwhile, has been credited with getting the diaspora vote out for then-candidate Joe Biden in November 2020. The group has since fallen under criticism for acting as a de facto extension of the Biden White House and Democratic Party within the Muslim community. Emgage board member Farooq Mitha formally went to work for the Biden Pentagon in March 2021. On March 7, Alzayat aimed to weaponize Emgage’s influence against Democratic Senators who seemed uncomfortable with an escalating sanctions policy.

    “I need a good story for my voters,” he explained to Senator Van Hollen’s team.

    Throughout their sanctions campaign on the Hill, Alzayat and his cohorts operated like a miniature version of their Israel lobby allies, supplying roughly 50 volunteers with folders outlining talking points and the biographies of congressional representatives. The bios included a comprehensive list of the Senator or Representative’s recorded stance on Syria, such as their votes on the extension of the AUMF, the US military withdrawal from Syria, and previous sanctions packages targeting the country.



    The handouts also laid out the lobby’s key legislative requests, which largely focused on securing development aid for militia-controlled territory in Syria — including that held by Al Qaeda’s local ally in the country — and ensuring passage of the ‘Assad Regime Anti Normalization Bill,’ which seeks to extend and expand sanctions targeting Damascus.

    The Anti-Syria Lobby’s resemblance to their Israeli counterparts was no mistake. As Republican Florida Sen. Rick Scott’s chief of staff reassured us, “the Israelis want you guys in charge.”


    Syrian Civil War map|Syrian Civil War map (November 24, 2023) via Wikimedia Commons. Edited by author
    More Starvation Sanctions

    Ever since the US included Syria on its inaugural State Sponsor of Terrorism (SST) list over Damascus’ support for the Palestinian resistance in 1979, Washington has gradually ratcheted up its financial war on the Syrian people. When decades of covert hybrid war erupted into an all-out proxy battle for the country’s territory—and survival—in 2011, the Anti-Syria Lobby officially began to take shape in Washington.


    Syria is the unrivaled champion of the SST having never been delisted since the list’s inception in 1979.
    In 2019, as Syria’s government emerged victorious from a multi-year battle with foreign-backed militias, Washington decided that while Damascus may have won the war, it would not win the peace. That January, New York Rep. Eliot Engel, a recipient of $1.8 million in AIPAC donations, introduced a sanctions package known as the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act. Trump signed the bill as part of the National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2020.


    The US has a 45-year long tradition of sanctioning and isolating Syria economically in response to the country’s support of Palestinian resistance
    The bill was unprecedented in both the way that it sanctioned broad sectors of the Syrian economy rather than only specific individuals, and in its deployment of so-called “secondary sanctions.” Secondary sanctions are imposed on parties that do business with a sanctioned entity even if those exchanges occur outside of the sanctioning entity’s jurisdiction.

    Syria’s economy has been in free fall ever since the Caesar sanctions came into effect. Today, over 12 million Syrians representing more than half of the total population face food insecurity — a 51% increase from 2019. Meanwhile, 90 percent of the population lives under the poverty line. In 2019, the US dollar exchanged for 500 Syrian Pounds. Today, that number is more like 14,100— figures that represent a 2,720 percent devaluation.


    The Syrian currency has devalued by 35,150% since the initial exchange rate of 40 SYP to 1 USD early 2011
    Though H.R. 3202 appears to be focused on addressing UN aid divergence, and sanctioning previously unsanctioned entities like Asma Al Assad’s Syria Trust for Development and the Syrian Red Crescent, the real agenda of the bill is found deep within its 22-page text.

    With the Caesar Sanctions set to expire by the end of 2024, H.R. 3202 seeks to quietly extend the aggressive financial measures until 2032.


    The new bill’s main aim, which received very little attention, is the extension of the Caesar Act for 8 more years.
    Having passed the House with overwhelming enthusiasm, H.R. 3202’s sister bill in the Senate can only pass with Democratic support. It was introduced by Israeli lobby-funded Republican Idaho Sen. James Risch last September and has since been co-sponsored by arch-neoconservative Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

    Because S. 2935 can only pass with Democratic sponsorship, the Anti-Syria Lobby chose Sen. Ben Cardin, the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and sponsor of the anti-Russia Magnitsky Act, as a crucial target for influence.

    After meeting with Sherrod Brown’s office, Cardin’s Research and Legislative Assistant, Christopher Barr, hosted us in the Senator’s office. There, Raed Saleh of the White Helmets complained to Barr that USAID had slashed funding for his organization from $12 million to $3 million in recent years.

    Next, it was time to discuss the true purpose of our visit: the passage of S. 2935.

    Barr appeared uneasy from the outset and even expressed displeasure about the bill, complaining, “What passed the House was kind of a lot… the list of targets is vast.”

    “Syria has already been so heavily sanctioned,” he added.

    In response, Ghanem revealed a critical piece of information about the forces driving the dirty war on Syria, explaining that the impetus to expand and extend Caesar did not come from the Anti-Syria Lobby itself, but someone on Capitol Hill. Ghanem explained that the Hill source actually contacted the American Coalition for Syria to alert them to the fact that Caesar was set to expire, lamenting the fact that its sunset would amount to a loss of “US leverage over the Syrian regime.”

    This line echoed the disturbing language of officials representing both the Biden and Trump administration alike. In 2019, neoconservative operative Dana Stroul declared that thanks to Caesar, Washington “holds a card on preventing reconstruction aid and technical expertise from going back,” to Syria. She lauded the fact that the U.S. could weaponize that “leverage” to keep Syria in “rubble.” Two years later, she would take up post as Deputy Secretary of Defense for the Middle East under Biden.


    Similarly, during an event at the neoconservative think tank, WINEP, the following year, the Special Envoy for Syria under Trump, Joel Rayburn, boasted that Caesar “lowers the bar” for evidence-based sanctions and allows for the broad targeting of any and all reconstruction projects in Syria.


    “We don’t have to prove, for example, that a company that’s going in to do a reconstruction project in the Damascus region is dealing directly with the Assad regime,” Rayburn explained.

    “We don’t have to have the evidence to prove that link,” he continued. “We just have to have the evidence that proves that a company or an individual is investing in […] the construction sector, the engineering sector, most of the aviation sector, the finance sector, energy sector, and so on.”

    These public confessions did not stop the Anti-Syria Lobby from lying to the faces of congressional staffers throughout their March 7 campaign. During a meeting with Sen. Mark Kelly’s office, Ghanem falsely stated that the Caesar Sanctions were “targeted,” “not sectoral,” and “not [an] embargo, nothing punishing to civilians.”

    Yet Alena Douhan, the UN Special Rapporteur on Sanctions who visited Syria to document the effects of Washington’s unilateral sanctions regime on Syria, disagrees. In her 19-page report she clearly states that the sanctions are both illegal and inhumane in the way they affect the average Syrian.

    Stabilization for me but not for thee

    The second legislative ask came in the form of a well rehearsed speech by Ghanem, Zayat, and others, outlining what US tax dollars do and don’t fund in Syria. US aid packages are typically divided into two categories: “humanitarian funding” earmarked for goods such as food, water, and basic medical supplies or “stabilization” funding designed to secure a country as it transitions out of a period of turmoil. Unlike humanitarian assistance, stabilization funding may be used to support major investment and infrastructure projects such as roads, schools, healthcare facilities, and government services.

    The US is the primary funder of humanitarian aid in both North East (NE) and NW Syria. However, while the US spends abundantly on stabilization needs in NE Syria, it spends $0 on the NW. That is because while Washington has long dreamed of establishing a secessionist Kurdish state in Syria’s Northeast, it neglected to send stabilization funds to the Northwest in order to avoid providing direct support to HTS, the Al Qaeda offshoot that governs the territory. The Anti-Syria Lobby was in Washington to change that.

    Leading the push for US funds to Al Qaeda-affiliated elements in Northwest Syria was Wa’el Alzayat, a Syrian expat who proudly served in Iraq’s Green Zone under George Bush’s State Department and more recently published a shocking Washington Post oped begging US officials not to “lift sanctions to help Syria earthquake victims.” In the office of Sen. Chris Van Hollen, Alzayat voiced his frustration with US hesitation in the Northwest.

    “Stop freaking out about the stuff going to terrorists,” he demanded, adding that “the Brits are doing it, the Turks are doing it, the Qataris are doing it.”




    We’re missing out on a golden opportunity here to stabilize the region and leverage it for a political settlement,” he pleaded. In other words, Alzayat was openly lobbying US officials to strengthen Al Qaeda’s position in Syria in order to leverage the terrorist group against the country’s government.

    Alzayat then weaponized his six-figure salary as head of Emgage to bully Van Hollen’s office into bowing before the anti-Syria Lobby, falsely claiming that his AIPAC-linked organization was “behind” the “Uncommitted” vote campaigns that damaged Biden’s primary performance in Michigan and Minnesota.




    Towards the end of the meeting, the regime change lobbyist cynically invoked Israel’s slaughter of 30,000 Palestinians in Gaza to make the case for Al Qaeda in Syria one last time.

    He argued that although “his community” is up in arms about the Biden administration’s funding and arming of the Gaza genocide, they would gladly flock back to the Democratic Party if the US funded roads and schools in Al Qaeda-controlled Idlib.

    “I need a good story for my voters,” Alzayat explained, noting the Muslim community’s disapproval of the Biden Administration’s policy in Gaza and Yemen.

    “You’re upset about all these disappointments,” he continued, play-acting a scenario in which he convinced a Muslim constituent to vote for Biden, again. “Guess what? They’re pumping 50 million into the school sector in the North [of Syria]!”




    Overtures Towards Israel

    The Israel-Palestine crisis loomed large throughout the ACS lobbying trip. Sen. Sherrod Brown’s secretary happened to be a hijabi Muslim woman sporting a pendant outlining the map of Palestine around her neck. As she greeted us, Farouk Belal, the head of the Syrian American Council, grumbled to Ghanem and me: “I hope she’s not with the resistance.”

    When I asked him to clarify what he meant as we exited the office, he explained that people aligned with the Palestinian cause in Washington “don’t like us.”

    Meanwhile, in Sen. Cardin’s office, Raed Salah of the White Helmets painted Israeli strikes on Syria which have crippled Syrian infrastructure, regularly damaged the country’s International civilian airports, and killed hundreds of Syrian Soldiers and civilians alike in a positive light:

    “The situation in Syria is very complicated. Every day we hear of Israeli strikes on the dens, or the bases of the IRGC and its militias. Even we as Syrians did not know the extent to which the Iranians were entrenched in the country…”




    For Saleh, the Israeli strikes do nothing but highlight the presence of the Syrian government-invited Iranian military presence in Syria.

    Later that day, Ghanem attempted to capitalize on Sen. Fetterman’s fanatical pro-Israel antics by describing recent developments in Syria to a 20-something staffer. Referring to the Syrian government’s successful campaign to retake southern territory, he explained that the South is “where they lob missiles on Israel, by the way.” The aide dutifully transcribed this seemingly random piece of information in her notepad. Towards the end of the meeting, Fetterman was discussed as a potential Democratic sponsor of S. 2935 in the Senate.

    In Senator Rick Scott’s office, a Cuban American Government Relations Associate for ACS, Alberto Hernandez, accidentally said the quiet part out loud. When Senator Scott’s ultra-Zionist National Security Advisor, Paul Bonicelli, asked if our group had connected with our “counterparts” in the Israeli lobby so that they could “vet” our proposals — revealing that Scott has apparently outsourced his brain to Zionists — Hernandez remarked: “Formally? No. Informally.”

    He then turned to the rest of the ACS team in the meeting room and said: “You didn’t hear me say that.”

    That admission prompted Bonicelli to suggest that ACS directly coordinate with groups such as the Aramaic Church in Israel, which has supported regime change efforts in Damascus despite overwhelming Christian support of the government within Syria itself.

    As the meeting wound to a close, Bonicelli informed us that he agreed with ACS on the necessity to oppose Iran and Russia.

    “If Obama had done the right thing in 2012, we wouldn’t be here,” he lamented, adding: “the Israelis want you guys in charge.”


    At one point during the meeting in Rick Scott’s Office, Alberto Hernandez, and Sarah Salas, a Cuban American legislative aide, expressed full agreement with US use of unilateral sanctions as means to “push” governments that “we don’t like.”
    Starving Syrians Without A Mandate

    Though several ACS volunteers shared painful personal encounters with the Syrian government throughout the day, many were simply too far removed from Syria to truly represent the voice of Syrian people, especially the 12 million plus civilians currently living in Syrian government-controlled territory.

    One 24-year-old woman who did not speak Arabic and has not been to Syria since 2003 described the Syrian Army’s 2016 liberation of Aleppo from Al Qaeda-linked militants as “the fall of Aleppo.”

    Other Syrians like myself experienced the terror of the West’s proxy war in Syria firsthand. In 2012, my aunt and cousins watched in horror as the Turkish-backed Liwa’ Al Tawhid, an umbrella group of takfiri jihadist militias, arrived on their street in the Seryan El Jdideh neighborhood of Aleppo. The militants proceeded to execute a local pick-up truck driver and steal his vehicle, leaving his bleeding corpse on the street. Shahba, where my family lived up until 2015, was located just a stone’s throw away from these sectarian death squads during our final months there.

    The Syrian dirty war was bloody and gruesome, yet the picture that ACS paints is entirely one-sided. Unfortunately, while organizations like ACS have flocked to the Beltway swamp throughout the last 13 years, there are no Syrians present in Washington DC to counter them. While these groups claim to speak on behalf of the Syrian people, those of us who have lived and still live in areas controlled by Syrian government — regardless of our political affiliations—are rendered voiceless in the very center of power where our perspective should matter most. Even Syria’s embassy has been shuttered since 2014, while Syrian diplomats at the UN in New York are heavily monitored and restricted from traveling beyond the NYC metro area.

    As I witnessed on Capitol Hill, there are few obstacles to the anti-Syria lobby’s ruthless push to prevent the majority of Syrians from emerging from the ruins of war.

    https://thegrayzone.com/2024/03/20/anti-syria-lobbys-capitol-hill-sanctions/
    Inside the anti-Syria lobby’s Capitol Hill push for more starvation sanctions Hekmat AboukhaterMarch 20, 2024 A week from the 13th anniversary of the US-backed Syrian dirty war, the American Coalition for Syria held its annual day of advocacy in Washington DC. I went undercover into meetings with Senate policy advisors and witnessed the lobby’s cynical campaign to starve Syria into submission. On the morning of March 7, as the US Capitol teemed with lobbyists securing earmarks ahead of appropriations week and activists decrying the Gaza genocide, one special interest group on the Hill stood out. In the corridors of the Rayburn building, a group of roughly 50 people prepared for a busy day of advocating for sanctions to be levied against their homeland. They were the Anti-Syria lobby — and had I infiltrated their influence campaign. Throughout the day, I watched as this group pushed US officials to accept their policy of starvation sanctions while cynically ignoring famished Palestinians in Gaza. Among the lobbyists was Raed Saleh, the head of the Syrian White Helmets, who were to propagandize for regime change from behind humanitarian cover. I attended a total of seven meetings with policy teams representing Senators Sherrod Brown, Maggie Hassan, Ben Cardin, Mark Kelly, Chris Van Hollen, John Fetterman, and Rick Scott. Throughout these sessions, I witnessed the anti-Syria Lobby attempt to bully and manipulate US officials into accepting their policy of starvation while cynically throwing starving Palestinians in Gaza under the bus. At one moment, Raed Saleh, head of the Syrian White Helmets, which was founded by British intelligence, and funded by NATO states, painted Israeli air strikes against Syria in a positive light. During a separate meeting, Wa’el Alzayat of the pro-Zionist Muslim outreach Emgage even demanded Senator Chris Van Hollen’s office support the approval of aid for Al Qaeda-linked militias in Syria. “Stop freaking out about the stuff going to terrorists,” he insisted, adding that “the Brits are doing it, the Turks are doing it, [and] the Qataris are doing it.” Purporting to be a voice for all Syrians, the anti-Syria lobby is spearheaded by the American Coalition for Syria (ACS), an umbrella organization representing opposition groups such as the Syrian American Council (SAC), the Syrian Forum, and a handful of others located in the US and Turkey. Emgage, meanwhile, has been credited with getting the diaspora vote out for then-candidate Joe Biden in November 2020. The group has since fallen under criticism for acting as a de facto extension of the Biden White House and Democratic Party within the Muslim community. Emgage board member Farooq Mitha formally went to work for the Biden Pentagon in March 2021. On March 7, Alzayat aimed to weaponize Emgage’s influence against Democratic Senators who seemed uncomfortable with an escalating sanctions policy. “I need a good story for my voters,” he explained to Senator Van Hollen’s team. Throughout their sanctions campaign on the Hill, Alzayat and his cohorts operated like a miniature version of their Israel lobby allies, supplying roughly 50 volunteers with folders outlining talking points and the biographies of congressional representatives. The bios included a comprehensive list of the Senator or Representative’s recorded stance on Syria, such as their votes on the extension of the AUMF, the US military withdrawal from Syria, and previous sanctions packages targeting the country. The handouts also laid out the lobby’s key legislative requests, which largely focused on securing development aid for militia-controlled territory in Syria — including that held by Al Qaeda’s local ally in the country — and ensuring passage of the ‘Assad Regime Anti Normalization Bill,’ which seeks to extend and expand sanctions targeting Damascus. The Anti-Syria Lobby’s resemblance to their Israeli counterparts was no mistake. As Republican Florida Sen. Rick Scott’s chief of staff reassured us, “the Israelis want you guys in charge.” Syrian Civil War map|Syrian Civil War map (November 24, 2023) via Wikimedia Commons. Edited by author More Starvation Sanctions Ever since the US included Syria on its inaugural State Sponsor of Terrorism (SST) list over Damascus’ support for the Palestinian resistance in 1979, Washington has gradually ratcheted up its financial war on the Syrian people. When decades of covert hybrid war erupted into an all-out proxy battle for the country’s territory—and survival—in 2011, the Anti-Syria Lobby officially began to take shape in Washington. Syria is the unrivaled champion of the SST having never been delisted since the list’s inception in 1979. In 2019, as Syria’s government emerged victorious from a multi-year battle with foreign-backed militias, Washington decided that while Damascus may have won the war, it would not win the peace. That January, New York Rep. Eliot Engel, a recipient of $1.8 million in AIPAC donations, introduced a sanctions package known as the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act. Trump signed the bill as part of the National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2020. The US has a 45-year long tradition of sanctioning and isolating Syria economically in response to the country’s support of Palestinian resistance The bill was unprecedented in both the way that it sanctioned broad sectors of the Syrian economy rather than only specific individuals, and in its deployment of so-called “secondary sanctions.” Secondary sanctions are imposed on parties that do business with a sanctioned entity even if those exchanges occur outside of the sanctioning entity’s jurisdiction. Syria’s economy has been in free fall ever since the Caesar sanctions came into effect. Today, over 12 million Syrians representing more than half of the total population face food insecurity — a 51% increase from 2019. Meanwhile, 90 percent of the population lives under the poverty line. In 2019, the US dollar exchanged for 500 Syrian Pounds. Today, that number is more like 14,100— figures that represent a 2,720 percent devaluation. The Syrian currency has devalued by 35,150% since the initial exchange rate of 40 SYP to 1 USD early 2011 Though H.R. 3202 appears to be focused on addressing UN aid divergence, and sanctioning previously unsanctioned entities like Asma Al Assad’s Syria Trust for Development and the Syrian Red Crescent, the real agenda of the bill is found deep within its 22-page text. With the Caesar Sanctions set to expire by the end of 2024, H.R. 3202 seeks to quietly extend the aggressive financial measures until 2032. The new bill’s main aim, which received very little attention, is the extension of the Caesar Act for 8 more years. Having passed the House with overwhelming enthusiasm, H.R. 3202’s sister bill in the Senate can only pass with Democratic support. It was introduced by Israeli lobby-funded Republican Idaho Sen. James Risch last September and has since been co-sponsored by arch-neoconservative Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. Because S. 2935 can only pass with Democratic sponsorship, the Anti-Syria Lobby chose Sen. Ben Cardin, the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and sponsor of the anti-Russia Magnitsky Act, as a crucial target for influence. After meeting with Sherrod Brown’s office, Cardin’s Research and Legislative Assistant, Christopher Barr, hosted us in the Senator’s office. There, Raed Saleh of the White Helmets complained to Barr that USAID had slashed funding for his organization from $12 million to $3 million in recent years. Next, it was time to discuss the true purpose of our visit: the passage of S. 2935. Barr appeared uneasy from the outset and even expressed displeasure about the bill, complaining, “What passed the House was kind of a lot… the list of targets is vast.” “Syria has already been so heavily sanctioned,” he added. In response, Ghanem revealed a critical piece of information about the forces driving the dirty war on Syria, explaining that the impetus to expand and extend Caesar did not come from the Anti-Syria Lobby itself, but someone on Capitol Hill. Ghanem explained that the Hill source actually contacted the American Coalition for Syria to alert them to the fact that Caesar was set to expire, lamenting the fact that its sunset would amount to a loss of “US leverage over the Syrian regime.” This line echoed the disturbing language of officials representing both the Biden and Trump administration alike. In 2019, neoconservative operative Dana Stroul declared that thanks to Caesar, Washington “holds a card on preventing reconstruction aid and technical expertise from going back,” to Syria. She lauded the fact that the U.S. could weaponize that “leverage” to keep Syria in “rubble.” Two years later, she would take up post as Deputy Secretary of Defense for the Middle East under Biden. Similarly, during an event at the neoconservative think tank, WINEP, the following year, the Special Envoy for Syria under Trump, Joel Rayburn, boasted that Caesar “lowers the bar” for evidence-based sanctions and allows for the broad targeting of any and all reconstruction projects in Syria. “We don’t have to prove, for example, that a company that’s going in to do a reconstruction project in the Damascus region is dealing directly with the Assad regime,” Rayburn explained. “We don’t have to have the evidence to prove that link,” he continued. “We just have to have the evidence that proves that a company or an individual is investing in […] the construction sector, the engineering sector, most of the aviation sector, the finance sector, energy sector, and so on.” These public confessions did not stop the Anti-Syria Lobby from lying to the faces of congressional staffers throughout their March 7 campaign. During a meeting with Sen. Mark Kelly’s office, Ghanem falsely stated that the Caesar Sanctions were “targeted,” “not sectoral,” and “not [an] embargo, nothing punishing to civilians.” Yet Alena Douhan, the UN Special Rapporteur on Sanctions who visited Syria to document the effects of Washington’s unilateral sanctions regime on Syria, disagrees. In her 19-page report she clearly states that the sanctions are both illegal and inhumane in the way they affect the average Syrian. Stabilization for me but not for thee The second legislative ask came in the form of a well rehearsed speech by Ghanem, Zayat, and others, outlining what US tax dollars do and don’t fund in Syria. US aid packages are typically divided into two categories: “humanitarian funding” earmarked for goods such as food, water, and basic medical supplies or “stabilization” funding designed to secure a country as it transitions out of a period of turmoil. Unlike humanitarian assistance, stabilization funding may be used to support major investment and infrastructure projects such as roads, schools, healthcare facilities, and government services. The US is the primary funder of humanitarian aid in both North East (NE) and NW Syria. However, while the US spends abundantly on stabilization needs in NE Syria, it spends $0 on the NW. That is because while Washington has long dreamed of establishing a secessionist Kurdish state in Syria’s Northeast, it neglected to send stabilization funds to the Northwest in order to avoid providing direct support to HTS, the Al Qaeda offshoot that governs the territory. The Anti-Syria Lobby was in Washington to change that. Leading the push for US funds to Al Qaeda-affiliated elements in Northwest Syria was Wa’el Alzayat, a Syrian expat who proudly served in Iraq’s Green Zone under George Bush’s State Department and more recently published a shocking Washington Post oped begging US officials not to “lift sanctions to help Syria earthquake victims.” In the office of Sen. Chris Van Hollen, Alzayat voiced his frustration with US hesitation in the Northwest. “Stop freaking out about the stuff going to terrorists,” he demanded, adding that “the Brits are doing it, the Turks are doing it, the Qataris are doing it.” We’re missing out on a golden opportunity here to stabilize the region and leverage it for a political settlement,” he pleaded. In other words, Alzayat was openly lobbying US officials to strengthen Al Qaeda’s position in Syria in order to leverage the terrorist group against the country’s government. Alzayat then weaponized his six-figure salary as head of Emgage to bully Van Hollen’s office into bowing before the anti-Syria Lobby, falsely claiming that his AIPAC-linked organization was “behind” the “Uncommitted” vote campaigns that damaged Biden’s primary performance in Michigan and Minnesota. Towards the end of the meeting, the regime change lobbyist cynically invoked Israel’s slaughter of 30,000 Palestinians in Gaza to make the case for Al Qaeda in Syria one last time. He argued that although “his community” is up in arms about the Biden administration’s funding and arming of the Gaza genocide, they would gladly flock back to the Democratic Party if the US funded roads and schools in Al Qaeda-controlled Idlib. “I need a good story for my voters,” Alzayat explained, noting the Muslim community’s disapproval of the Biden Administration’s policy in Gaza and Yemen. “You’re upset about all these disappointments,” he continued, play-acting a scenario in which he convinced a Muslim constituent to vote for Biden, again. “Guess what? They’re pumping 50 million into the school sector in the North [of Syria]!” Overtures Towards Israel The Israel-Palestine crisis loomed large throughout the ACS lobbying trip. Sen. Sherrod Brown’s secretary happened to be a hijabi Muslim woman sporting a pendant outlining the map of Palestine around her neck. As she greeted us, Farouk Belal, the head of the Syrian American Council, grumbled to Ghanem and me: “I hope she’s not with the resistance.” When I asked him to clarify what he meant as we exited the office, he explained that people aligned with the Palestinian cause in Washington “don’t like us.” Meanwhile, in Sen. Cardin’s office, Raed Salah of the White Helmets painted Israeli strikes on Syria which have crippled Syrian infrastructure, regularly damaged the country’s International civilian airports, and killed hundreds of Syrian Soldiers and civilians alike in a positive light: “The situation in Syria is very complicated. Every day we hear of Israeli strikes on the dens, or the bases of the IRGC and its militias. Even we as Syrians did not know the extent to which the Iranians were entrenched in the country…” For Saleh, the Israeli strikes do nothing but highlight the presence of the Syrian government-invited Iranian military presence in Syria. Later that day, Ghanem attempted to capitalize on Sen. Fetterman’s fanatical pro-Israel antics by describing recent developments in Syria to a 20-something staffer. Referring to the Syrian government’s successful campaign to retake southern territory, he explained that the South is “where they lob missiles on Israel, by the way.” The aide dutifully transcribed this seemingly random piece of information in her notepad. Towards the end of the meeting, Fetterman was discussed as a potential Democratic sponsor of S. 2935 in the Senate. In Senator Rick Scott’s office, a Cuban American Government Relations Associate for ACS, Alberto Hernandez, accidentally said the quiet part out loud. When Senator Scott’s ultra-Zionist National Security Advisor, Paul Bonicelli, asked if our group had connected with our “counterparts” in the Israeli lobby so that they could “vet” our proposals — revealing that Scott has apparently outsourced his brain to Zionists — Hernandez remarked: “Formally? No. Informally.” He then turned to the rest of the ACS team in the meeting room and said: “You didn’t hear me say that.” That admission prompted Bonicelli to suggest that ACS directly coordinate with groups such as the Aramaic Church in Israel, which has supported regime change efforts in Damascus despite overwhelming Christian support of the government within Syria itself. As the meeting wound to a close, Bonicelli informed us that he agreed with ACS on the necessity to oppose Iran and Russia. “If Obama had done the right thing in 2012, we wouldn’t be here,” he lamented, adding: “the Israelis want you guys in charge.” At one point during the meeting in Rick Scott’s Office, Alberto Hernandez, and Sarah Salas, a Cuban American legislative aide, expressed full agreement with US use of unilateral sanctions as means to “push” governments that “we don’t like.” Starving Syrians Without A Mandate Though several ACS volunteers shared painful personal encounters with the Syrian government throughout the day, many were simply too far removed from Syria to truly represent the voice of Syrian people, especially the 12 million plus civilians currently living in Syrian government-controlled territory. One 24-year-old woman who did not speak Arabic and has not been to Syria since 2003 described the Syrian Army’s 2016 liberation of Aleppo from Al Qaeda-linked militants as “the fall of Aleppo.” Other Syrians like myself experienced the terror of the West’s proxy war in Syria firsthand. In 2012, my aunt and cousins watched in horror as the Turkish-backed Liwa’ Al Tawhid, an umbrella group of takfiri jihadist militias, arrived on their street in the Seryan El Jdideh neighborhood of Aleppo. The militants proceeded to execute a local pick-up truck driver and steal his vehicle, leaving his bleeding corpse on the street. Shahba, where my family lived up until 2015, was located just a stone’s throw away from these sectarian death squads during our final months there. The Syrian dirty war was bloody and gruesome, yet the picture that ACS paints is entirely one-sided. Unfortunately, while organizations like ACS have flocked to the Beltway swamp throughout the last 13 years, there are no Syrians present in Washington DC to counter them. While these groups claim to speak on behalf of the Syrian people, those of us who have lived and still live in areas controlled by Syrian government — regardless of our political affiliations—are rendered voiceless in the very center of power where our perspective should matter most. Even Syria’s embassy has been shuttered since 2014, while Syrian diplomats at the UN in New York are heavily monitored and restricted from traveling beyond the NYC metro area. As I witnessed on Capitol Hill, there are few obstacles to the anti-Syria lobby’s ruthless push to prevent the majority of Syrians from emerging from the ruins of war. https://thegrayzone.com/2024/03/20/anti-syria-lobbys-capitol-hill-sanctions/
    THEGRAYZONE.COM
    Inside the anti-Syria lobby's Capitol Hill push for more starvation sanctions - The Grayzone
    A week from the 13th anniversary of the US-backed Syrian dirty war, the American Coalition for Syria held its annual day of advocacy in Washington DC. I went undercover into meetings with Senate policy advisors and witnessed the lobby’s cynical campaign to starve Syria into submission. On the morning of March 7, as the US Capitol teemed with lobbyists securing earmarks ahead of appropriations week and activists decrying the Gaza genocide, one special interest group on the Hill stood out. […]
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  • Scientist claims ‘smoking gun’ evidence COVID-19 intentionally created by researchers in Chinese lab
    Ronny Reyes
    COVID-19 may have been created in a Chinese lab, a British professor told the UN Wednesday, with another expert claiming that evidence of the likelihood has reached “the level of a smoking gun.”

    Richard H. Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University, was quoted saying in a new Wall Street Journal article that the virus that killed millions around the world may actually have been manmade in China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology.

    He cited evidence found in a 2018 document from the lab that talked of making such a virus.

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    “[The document] elevates the evidence provided by the genome sequence from the level of noteworthy to the level of a smoking gun,” Ebright said in the piece by former New York Times editor Nicholas Wade.

    Richard H. Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University, says there is enough evidence to suggest the pandemic was man-made. 4
    Richard H. Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University, says there is enough evidence to suggest the pandemic was manmade. Rutgers New Brunswick
    The papers from the lab cited by Ebright contained drafts and notes regarding a grant proposal called Project DEFUSE, which sought to test engineering bat coronaviruses in a way that would make them more easily transmissible to humans.

    The proposal was ultimately rejected and denied funding by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, but Wade suggested that their work could have been carried out by researchers in Wuhan who had secured Chinese government funding.

    Advertisement

    “Viruses made according to the DEFUSE protocol could have been available by the time Covid-19 broke out, sometime between August and November 2019,” wrote Wade, a former science editor of the New York Times.

    Virologist Zhengli Shi, a researcher of coronavirus in bats at the Wuhan facility, was on the team seeking to engineer a virus that was more easily transmissible to humans. 4
    Virologist Zhengli Shi, a researcher of coronavirus in bats at the Wuhan facility, was on the team seeking to engineer a virus that was more easily transmissible to humans. AFP via Getty Images
    “This would account for the otherwise unexplained timing of the pandemic along with its place of origin.”

    Along with the research notes, Wade claimed the specific genetic structure of the coronavirus that allowed it to infect humans served as another strong indication of “the virus’s laboratory birth.”

    Advertisement

    “Whereas most viruses require repeated tries to switch from an animal host to people, SARS-CoV-2 infected humans out of the box, as if it had been preadapted while growing in the humanized mice called for in the DEFUSE protocol,” Wade wrote.

    While scientists continue to debate whether the coronavirus pandemic was a natural occurrence or manmade, Ebright believed there was credibility that the work proposed by the now-controversial EcoHealth Alliance led to the development COVID-19.

    Following the release of the 2018 documents — which were published by US Right to Know through a Freedom of Information Act request — Ebright said there was clearer evidence that the virus was manufactured in a lab, the Daily Telegraph reported.

    Advertisement

    The 2018 documents contained drafts and notes regarding Project DEFUSE and how to synthesize bat coronaviruses to make them more transmissible.

    The Wuhan Institute of Virology stands at the center of scrutiny over the origins of Covid-19. 4
    The Wuhan Institute of Virology stands at the center of scrutiny over the origins of COVID-19. AFP via Getty Images
    The researchers proposed introducing “appropriate human-specific cleavage sites” to the spike proteins of SARS-related viruses in the lab, the same method several biologists have said could have been used to synthesize the coronavirus that led to the pandemic.

    According to the documents, the researchers had planned to conduct a portion of the research at the Wuhan lab where they noted that safety conditions were not up to US standards, to the point where they claimed American scientists would “likely freak out.”

    Advertisement

    A spokesperson for EcoHealth Alliance said its research played no role in the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “Documents representing incomplete or early drafts of the proposal have been acquired via the Freedom of Information Act and published along with allegations regarding their intent. These allegations are false, based on misunderstanding of edits and comments on the document, and based on misleading out-of-context quotations, and a lack of understanding of the process by which federal grants are awarded,” the spokesperson said.

    “Because the work was not selected for funding, any assertions about these details are by definition based on review of incomplete information and are extremely misleading.”

    Dr. Filippa Lentzos, an associate professor of science and international security at King’s College London. 4
    Dr. Filippa Lentzos, an associate professor of science and international security at King’s College London, called on scientists to follow more rigorous safety standards. King College London
    Advertisement

    While COVID-19’s origins remain a mystery, Dr. Filippa Lentzos, an associate professor of science and international security at King’s College London, said the world needed to acknowledge that the possibility exists that the virus was synthesized.

    Speaking before the UN in New York on Wednesday, Lentzos presented the work of the Independent Task Force on Research with Pandemic Risks, which calls on scientists the world over to follow stricter regulations lest another worldwide breakout occur, the Telegraph reported.

    “We have to acknowledge the fact that the pandemic could have started from some research-related incident,” Lentzos said.

    Advertisement

    “Are we going to find that out? In my view, I think it’s very unlikely that we will. We need to do better in the future,” she added.

    “We are going to see more ambiguous events.”


    https://nypost.com/2024/02/29/world-news/scientists-may-have-started-the-covid-pandemic-article/


    https://telegra.ph/Scientist-claims-smoking-gun-evidence-COVID-19-intentionally-created-by-researchers-in-Chinese-lab-03-11
    Scientist claims ‘smoking gun’ evidence COVID-19 intentionally created by researchers in Chinese lab Ronny Reyes COVID-19 may have been created in a Chinese lab, a British professor told the UN Wednesday, with another expert claiming that evidence of the likelihood has reached “the level of a smoking gun.” Richard H. Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University, was quoted saying in a new Wall Street Journal article that the virus that killed millions around the world may actually have been manmade in China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology. He cited evidence found in a 2018 document from the lab that talked of making such a virus. Advertisement “[The document] elevates the evidence provided by the genome sequence from the level of noteworthy to the level of a smoking gun,” Ebright said in the piece by former New York Times editor Nicholas Wade. Richard H. Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University, says there is enough evidence to suggest the pandemic was man-made. 4 Richard H. Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University, says there is enough evidence to suggest the pandemic was manmade. Rutgers New Brunswick The papers from the lab cited by Ebright contained drafts and notes regarding a grant proposal called Project DEFUSE, which sought to test engineering bat coronaviruses in a way that would make them more easily transmissible to humans. The proposal was ultimately rejected and denied funding by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, but Wade suggested that their work could have been carried out by researchers in Wuhan who had secured Chinese government funding. Advertisement “Viruses made according to the DEFUSE protocol could have been available by the time Covid-19 broke out, sometime between August and November 2019,” wrote Wade, a former science editor of the New York Times. Virologist Zhengli Shi, a researcher of coronavirus in bats at the Wuhan facility, was on the team seeking to engineer a virus that was more easily transmissible to humans. 4 Virologist Zhengli Shi, a researcher of coronavirus in bats at the Wuhan facility, was on the team seeking to engineer a virus that was more easily transmissible to humans. AFP via Getty Images “This would account for the otherwise unexplained timing of the pandemic along with its place of origin.” Along with the research notes, Wade claimed the specific genetic structure of the coronavirus that allowed it to infect humans served as another strong indication of “the virus’s laboratory birth.” Advertisement “Whereas most viruses require repeated tries to switch from an animal host to people, SARS-CoV-2 infected humans out of the box, as if it had been preadapted while growing in the humanized mice called for in the DEFUSE protocol,” Wade wrote. While scientists continue to debate whether the coronavirus pandemic was a natural occurrence or manmade, Ebright believed there was credibility that the work proposed by the now-controversial EcoHealth Alliance led to the development COVID-19. Following the release of the 2018 documents — which were published by US Right to Know through a Freedom of Information Act request — Ebright said there was clearer evidence that the virus was manufactured in a lab, the Daily Telegraph reported. Advertisement The 2018 documents contained drafts and notes regarding Project DEFUSE and how to synthesize bat coronaviruses to make them more transmissible. The Wuhan Institute of Virology stands at the center of scrutiny over the origins of Covid-19. 4 The Wuhan Institute of Virology stands at the center of scrutiny over the origins of COVID-19. AFP via Getty Images The researchers proposed introducing “appropriate human-specific cleavage sites” to the spike proteins of SARS-related viruses in the lab, the same method several biologists have said could have been used to synthesize the coronavirus that led to the pandemic. According to the documents, the researchers had planned to conduct a portion of the research at the Wuhan lab where they noted that safety conditions were not up to US standards, to the point where they claimed American scientists would “likely freak out.” Advertisement A spokesperson for EcoHealth Alliance said its research played no role in the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Documents representing incomplete or early drafts of the proposal have been acquired via the Freedom of Information Act and published along with allegations regarding their intent. These allegations are false, based on misunderstanding of edits and comments on the document, and based on misleading out-of-context quotations, and a lack of understanding of the process by which federal grants are awarded,” the spokesperson said. “Because the work was not selected for funding, any assertions about these details are by definition based on review of incomplete information and are extremely misleading.” Dr. Filippa Lentzos, an associate professor of science and international security at King’s College London. 4 Dr. Filippa Lentzos, an associate professor of science and international security at King’s College London, called on scientists to follow more rigorous safety standards. King College London Advertisement While COVID-19’s origins remain a mystery, Dr. Filippa Lentzos, an associate professor of science and international security at King’s College London, said the world needed to acknowledge that the possibility exists that the virus was synthesized. Speaking before the UN in New York on Wednesday, Lentzos presented the work of the Independent Task Force on Research with Pandemic Risks, which calls on scientists the world over to follow stricter regulations lest another worldwide breakout occur, the Telegraph reported. “We have to acknowledge the fact that the pandemic could have started from some research-related incident,” Lentzos said. Advertisement “Are we going to find that out? In my view, I think it’s very unlikely that we will. We need to do better in the future,” she added. “We are going to see more ambiguous events.” https://nypost.com/2024/02/29/world-news/scientists-may-have-started-the-covid-pandemic-article/ https://telegra.ph/Scientist-claims-smoking-gun-evidence-COVID-19-intentionally-created-by-researchers-in-Chinese-lab-03-11
    NYPOST.COM
    Scientist claims ‘smoking gun’ evidence COVID-19 intentionally created by researchers in Chinese lab
    Covid-19 may have been created by a “research-related incident,” a British professor told the UN Wednesday, with Richard H. Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University, claimin…
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  • Scott Ritter: We are witnessing the bittersweet birth of a new Russia | VT Foreign Policy
    March 10, 2024
    VT Condemns the ETHNIC CLEANSING OF PALESTINIANS by USA/Israel

    $ 280 BILLION US TAXPAYER DOLLARS INVESTED since 1948 in US/Israeli Ethnic Cleansing and Occupation Operation; $ 150B direct "aid" and $ 130B in "Offense" contracts
    Source: Embassy of Israel, Washington, D.C. and US Department of State.

    Tucker Carlson’s confused exasperation over Russian President Vladmir Putin’s extemporaneous history lesson at the start of their landmark February interview (which has been watched more than a billion times), underscored one realty. For a Western audience, the question of the historical bona fides of Russia’s claim of sovereign interest in territories located on the left (eastern) bank of the Dnieper River, currently claimed by Ukraine, is confusing to the point of incomprehension.

    Vladimir Putin, however, did not manufacture his history lesson from thin air. Anyone who has followed the speeches and writings of the Russian president over the years would have found his comments to Carlson quite familiar, echoing both in tone and content previous statements made concerning both the viability of the Ukrainian state from an historic perspective, and the historical ties between what Putin has called Novorossiya (New Russia) and the Russian nation.

    For example, on March 18, 2014, during his announcement regarding the annexation of Crimea, the president observed that “after the [Russian] Revolution [of 1917], for a number of reasons the Bolsheviks – let God judge them – added historical sections of the south of Russia to the Republic of Ukraine. This was done with no consideration for the ethnic composition of the population, and these regions today form the south-east of Ukraine.”

    Later during a televised question-and-answer session, Putin declared that “what was called Novorossiya back in tsarist days – Kharkov, Lugansk, Donetsk, Kherson, Nikolayev and Odessa – were not part of Ukraine then. These territories were given to Ukraine in the 1920s by the Soviet Government. Why? Who knows? They were won by Potemkin and Catherine the Great in a series of well-known wars. The center of that territory was Novorossiysk, so the region is called Novorossiya. Russia lost these territories for various reasons, but the people remained.”

    Novorossiya isn’t just a construct of Vladimir Putin’s imagination, but rather a notion drawn from historic fact that resonated with the people who populated the territories it encompassed. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, there was an abortive effort by pro-Russia citizens of the new Ukrainian state to restore Novorossiya as an independent region.

    Scott Ritter: Helping Crimea recover from decades of Ukrainian misrule is a tough but necessary challenge

    Read more

    Scott Ritter: Helping Crimea recover from decades of Ukrainian misrule is a tough but necessary challenge

    While this effort failed, the concept of a greater Novorossiya confederation was revived in May 2014 by the newly proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. But this effort, too, was short-lived, being put on ice in 2015. This, however, did not mean the death of the idea of Novorossiya. On February 21, 2022, Putin delivered a lengthy address to the Russian nation on the eve of his decision to send Russian troops into Ukraine as part of what he termed a Special Military Operation. Those who watched Tucker Carlson’s February 9, 2024, interview with Putin would have been struck by the similarity between the two presentations.

    While he did not make a direct reference to Novorossiya, the president did outline fundamental historic and cultural linkages which serve as the foundation for any discussion about the viability and legitimacy of Novorossiya in the context of Russian-Ukrainian relations.

    “I would like to emphasize,” Putin said, “once again that Ukraine is not just a neighboring country for us. It is an integral part of our own history, culture, and spiritual space. It is our friends, our relatives, not only colleagues, friends, and former work colleagues, but also our relatives and close family members. Since the oldest times,” Putin continued, “the inhabitants of the south-western historical territories of ancient Russia have called themselves Russians and Orthodox Christians. It was the same in the 17th century, when a part of these territories [i.e., Novorossiya] was reunited with the Russian state, and even after that.”

    The Russian president set forth his contention that the modern state of Ukraine was an invention of Vladimir Lenin, the founding father of the Soviet Union. “Soviet Ukraine is the result of the Bolsheviks’ policy,” Putin stated, “and can be rightfully called ‘Vladimir Lenin’s Ukraine’. He was its creator and architect. This is fully and comprehensively corroborated by archival documents.”

    Putin went on to issue a threat which, when seen in the context of the present, proved ominously prescient. “And today the ’grateful progeny’ has overturned monuments to Lenin in Ukraine. They call it decommunization. You want decommunization? Very well, this suits us just fine. But why stop halfway? We are ready to show what real decommunizations would mean for Ukraine.”

    In September 2022 Putin followed through on this, ordering referendums in four territories (Kherson and Zaporozhye, and the newly independent Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics) to determine whether the populations residing there wished to join the Russian Federation. All four did so. Putin has since then referred to these new Russian territories as Novorossiya, perhaps nowhere more poignantly that in June 2023, when he praised the Russian soldiers “who fought and gave their lives to Novorossiya and for the unity of the Russian world.”

    The story of those who fought and gave their lives to Novorossiya is one that I have wanted to tell for some time now. I have borne witness here in the United States to the extremely one-sided coverage of the military aspects of Russia’s military operation. Like many of my fellow analysts, I had to undertake the extremely difficult task of trying to parse out fact from an overwhelmingly fictional narrative. Nor was I helped in any way in this regard by the Russian side, which was parsimonious in the release of information that reflected its side of reality.

    In preparing for my December 2023 visit to Russia, I had hoped to be able to visit the four new Russian territories to see for myself what the truth was when it came to the fighting between Russia and Ukraine. I also wanted to interview the Russian military and civilian leadership to get a broader perspective of the conflict. I had reached out to the Russian Foreign and Defense ministries through the Russian Embassy in the US, bending the ear of both the Ambassador, Anatoly Antonov, and the Defense Attache, Major-General Evgeny Bobkin, about my plans.

    While both men supported my project and wrote recommendations back to their respective ministries in this regard, the Russian Defense Ministry, which had the final say over what happened in the four new territories, vetoed the idea. This veto was not because they didn’t like the idea of me writing an in-depth analysis of the conflict from the Russian perspective, but rather that the project as I outlined it, which would have required sustained access to frontline units and personnel, was deemed too dangerous. In short, the Russian Defense Ministry did not relish the idea of me being killed on its watch.

    Under normal circumstances, I would have backed off. I had no desire to create any difficulty with the Russian government, and I was always cognizant of the reality that I was a guest in the country.

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    The last thing I wanted to be was a “war tourist,” where I put myself and others at risk for purely personal reasons. But I also felt strongly that if I were going to continue to provide so-called “expert analysis” about the military operation and the geopolitical realities of Novorossiya and Crimea, then I needed to see these places firsthand. I strongly believed that I had a professional obligation to see the new territories. Fortunately for me, Aleksandr Zyryanov, a Crimea native and director general of the Novosibirsk Region Development Corporation, agreed.

    It wasn’t going to be easy.

    We first tried to enter the new territories via Donetsk, driving west out of Rostov-on-Don. However, when we arrived at the checkpoint, we were told that the Ministry of Defense had not cleared us for entry. Not willing to take no for an answer, Aleksandr drove south, towards Krasnodar, and then – after making some phone calls – across the Crimean Bridge into Crimea. Once it became clear that we were planning on entering the new territories from Crimea, the Ministry of Defense yielded, granting permission for me to visit the four new Russian territories under one non-negotiable condition – I was not to go anywhere near the frontlines.

    We left Feodosia early on the morning of January 15, 2024. At Dzhankoy, in northern Crimea, we took highway 18 north toward the Tup-Dzhankoy Peninsula and the Chongar Strait, which separates the Sivash lagoon system that forms the border between Crimea and the mainland into eastern and western portions. It was here that Red Army forces, on the night of November 12, 1920, broke through the defenses of the White Army of General Wrangel, leading to the capture of the Crimean Peninsula by Soviet forces. And it was also here that the Russian Army, on February 24, 2022, crossed into the Kherson Region from Crimea.

    The Chongar Bridge is one of three highway crossings that connect Crimea with Kherson. It has been struck twice by Ukrainian forces seeking to disrupt Russian supply lines, once, in June 2023, when it was hit by British-made Storm Shadow missiles, and once again that August when it was hit by French-made SCALP missiles (a variant of the Storm Shadow.) In both instances, the bridge was temporarily shut down for repairs, evidence of which was clearly visible as we made our way across, and on to the Chongar checkpoint, where we were cleared by Russian soldiers for entry into the Kherson Region.

    At the checkpoint we picked up a vehicle carrying a bodyguard detachment from the reconnaissance company of the Sparta Battalion, a veteran military formation whose roots date back to the very beginning of the Donbass revolt against the Ukrainian nationalists who seized power in Kiev during the February 2014 Maidan coup. They would be our escort through the Kherson and Zaporozhye Regions – even though we were going to give the frontlines a wide berth, Ukrainian “deep reconnaissance groups”, or DRGs, were known to target traffic along the M18 highway. Aleksandr was driving an armored Chevrolet Suburban, and the Sparta detachment had their own armored SUV. If we were to come under attack, our response would be to try and drive through the ambush. If that failed, then the Sparta boys would have to go to work.

    Our first destination was the city of Genichesk, a port city along the Sea of Azov. Genichesk is the capital of the Genichesk District of the Kherson Region and, since November 9, 2022, when Russian forces withdrew from the city of Kherson, it has served as the temporary capital of the region. Aleksandr had been on his phone since morning, and his efforts had paid off – I was scheduled to meet with Vladimir Saldo, the local Governor.

    RT

    Genichesk is – literally – off the beaten path. When we reached the town of Novoalekseyevka, we got off the M18 highway and headed east along a two-lane road that took us toward the Sea of Azov. There were armed checkpoints all along the route, but the Sparta bodyguards were able to get us waved through without any issues. But the effect of these checkpoints was chilling – there was no doubt that one was in a region at war.

    To call Genichesk a ghost town would be misleading – it is populated, and the evidence of civilian life is everywhere you look. The problem was, there didn’t seem to be enough people present. The city, like the region, is in a general state of decay, a holdover from the neglect it had suffered at the hands of a Ukrainian government that largely ignored territories that had, since 2004, voted in favor of the Party of Regions, the party of former President Viktor Yanukovich, who was ousted in the February 2014 Maidan coup. Nearly two years of war had likewise contributed to the atmosphere of societal neglect, an impression which was magnified by the weather – overcast, cold, with a light sleet blowing in off the water.

    As we made our way into the building where the government of the Kherson Region had established its temporary offices, I couldn’t help but notice a statue of Lenin in the courtyard. Ukrainian nationalists had taken it down in July 2015, but the citizens of Genichesk had reinstalled it in April 2022, once the Russians had taken control of the city. Given Putin’s feeling about the role Lenin played in creating Ukraine, I found both the presence of this monument, and the role of the Russian citizens of Genichesk in restoring it, curiously ironic.

    Vladimir Saldo is a man imbued with enthusiasm for his work. A civil engineer by profession, with a PhD in economics, Saldo had served in senior management positions in the “Khersonbud” Project and Construction Company before moving on into politics, serving on the Kherson City Council, the Kherson Regional Administration, and two terms as the mayor of the city of Kherson. Saldo, as a member of the Party of Regions, moved to the opposition and was effectively subjected to political ostracism in 2014, when the Ukrainian nationalists who had seized power all but forced it out of politics.

    Aleksandr and I had the pleasure of meeting with Saldo in his office in the government building in downtown Genichesk. We talked about a wide range of issues, including his own path from a Ukrainian construction specialist to his current position as the governor of Kherson Oblast.

    We talked about the war.

    But Saldo’s passion was the economy, and how he could help revive the civilian economy of Kherson in a manner that best served the interests of its diminished population. On the eve of the military operation, back in early 2022, the population of the Kherson Region stood at just over a million, of which some 280,000 were residing in the city of Kherson. By November 2022, following the withdrawal of Russian forces from the right bank of the Dnieper River – including the city of Kherson – the population of the region had fallen below 400,000 and, with dismal economic prospects, the numbers kept falling. Many of those who left were Ukrainians who did not want to live under Russian rule. But others were Russians and Ukrainians who felt that they had no future in the war-torn region, and as such sought their fortunes elsewhere in Russia.

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    “My job is to give the people of Kherson hope for a better future,” Saldo told me. “And the time for this to happen is now, not when the war ends.”

    Restoration of Kherson’s once vibrant agricultural sector is a top priority, and Saldo has personally taken the lead in signing agreements for the provision of Kherson produce to Moscow supermarkets. Saldo has also turned the region into a special economic zone, where potential investors and entrepreneurs can receive preferential loans and financial support, as well as organizational and legal assistance for businesses willing to open shop there.

    The man responsible for making this vision a reality is Mikhail Panchenko, the Director of the Kherson Region Industry Development Fund. I met Mikhail in a restaurant located across the street from the governmental building which Saldo called home. Mikhail had come to Kherson in the summer of 2022, leaving a prominent position in Moscow in the process. “The Russian government was interested in rebuilding Kherson,” Mikhail told me, “and established the Industry Development Fund as a way of attracting businesses to the region.” Mikhail, who was born in 1968, was too old to enlist in the military. “When the opportunity came to direct the Industry Development Fund, I jumped at it as a way to do my patriotic duty.”

    The first year of the fund’s operation saw Mikhail hand out 300 million rubles (almost $3.3 million at the current rate) in loans and grants (some of which was used to open the very restaurant where we were meeting.) The second year saw the allotment grow to some 700 million rubles. One of the biggest projects was the opening of a concrete production line capable of producing 60 cubic meters of concrete per hour. Mikhail took Alexander and me on a tour of the plant, which had grown to three production lines generating some 180 cubic meters of concrete an hour. Mikhail had just approved funding for an additional four production lines, for a total concrete production rate of 420 cubic meters per hour.

    “That’s a lot of concrete,” I remarked to Mikhail.

    “We are making good use of it,” he replied. “We are rebuilding schools, hospitals, and government buildings that had been neglected over the years. Revitalizing the basic infrastructure a society needs if it is to nurture a growing population.”

    The problem Mikhail faces, however, is that most of the population growth being experienced in Kherson today comes from the military. The war can’t last forever, Mikhail noted. “Someday the army will leave, and we will need civilians. Right now, the people who left are not returning, and we’re having a hard time attracting newcomers. But we will keep building in anticipation of a time when the population of the Kherson region will grow from an impetus other than war. And for that,” he said, a twinkle in his eye, “we need concrete!”

    I thought long and hard about the words of Vladimir Saldo and Panchenko as Aleksandr drove back onto the M18 highway, heading northeast, toward Donetsk. The reconstruction efforts being undertaken are impressive. But the number that kept coming to mind was the precipitous decline in the population – more than 60% of the pre-war population has left the Kherson region since the Russian military operation began.

    According to statistics provided by the Russian Central Election Commission, some 571,000 voters took part in the referendum on joining Russia that was held in late September 2022. A little over 497,000, or some 87%, voted in favor, while slightly more than 68,800, or 12%, voted against. The turnout was almost 77%.

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    These numbers, if accurate, implied that there was a population of over 740,000 eligible voters at the time of the election. While the loss of the city of Kherson in November 2022 could account for a significant source of the population drop that took place between September 2022 and the time of my visit in January 2024, it could not account for all of it.

    The Russian population of Kherson in 2022 stood at approximately 20%, or around 200,000. One can safely say that the number of Russians who fled west to Kiev following the start of the military operation amounts to a negligible figure. If one assumes that the Russian population of the Kherson Region remained relatively stable, then most of the population decline came from the Ukrainian population.

    While Saldo did not admit to such, the Governor of the neighboring Zaporozhya Region, Yevgeny Balitsky, has acknowledged that many Ukrainian families deemed by the authorities to be anti-Russian were deported following the initiation of the military operation (Russians accounted for a little more than 25% of the pre-conflict Zaporozhye population.) Many others fled to Russia to escape the deprivations of war.

    Evidence of the war was everywhere to be seen. While the conflict in Kherson has stabilized along a line defined by the Dnieper River, Zaporozhye is very much a frontline region. Indeed, the main direction of attack of the summer 2023 Ukrainian counteroffensive was from the Zaporozhye region village of Rabotino, toward the town of Tokmak, and on towards the temporary regional capital of Melitopol (the city of Zaporozhye has remained under Ukrainian control throughout the conflict to date.)

    I had petitioned to visit the frontlines near Rabotino but had been denied by the Russian Ministry of Defense. So, too, was my request to visit units deployed in the vicinity of Tokmak – too close to the front. The closest I would get would be the city of Melitopol, the ultimate objective of the Ukrainian counterattack. We drove past fields filled with the concrete “dragon’s teeth” and antitank ditches that marked the final layer of defenses that constituted the “Surovikin Line,” named after the Russian General, Sergey Surovikin, who had commanded the forces when the defenses were put in place.

    The Ukrainians had hoped to reach the city of Melitopol in a matter of days once their attack began; they never breached the first line of defense situated to the southeast of Rabotino.

    Melitopol, however, is not immune to the horrors of war, with Ukrainian artillery and rockets targeting it often to disrupt Russian military logistics. I kept this in mind as we drove through the streets of the city, past military checkpoints, and roving patrols. I was struck by the fact that the civilians I saw were going about their business, seemingly oblivious to the everyday reality of war that existed around them.

    As was the case in Kherson, the entirety of the Zaporozhye Region seemed strangely depopulated, as if one were driving through the French capital of Paris in August, when half the city is away on vacation. I had hoped to be able to talk with Balitsky about the reduced population and other questions I had about life in the region during wartime, but this time Aleksandr’s phone could not produce the desired result – Balitsky was away from the region and unavailable.

    If he had been available, I would have asked him the same question I had put to Saldo earlier in the day: given that Putin was apparently willing to return the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions to Ukraine as part of the peace deal negotiated in March 2022, how does the population of his region feel about being part of Russia today? Are they convinced that Russia is, in fact, there to stay? Do they feel like they are a genuine part of the Novorossiya that Putin speaks about?

    Saldo had talked in depth about the transition from being occupied by Russian forces, which lasted until April-May 2022 (about the time that Ukraine backed out of the ceasefire agreement), to being administered by Moscow. “There never was a doubt in my mind, or anyone else’s, that Kherson was historically a part of Russia,” Saldo said, “or that, once Russian troops arrived, that we would forever be Russian again.”

    But the declining population, and the admission of forced deportations on the part of Balitsky, suggests that there was a significant part of the population that had, in fact, taken umbrage at such a future.

    I would have liked to hear what Balitsky had to say about this question.

    Reality, however, doesn’t deal with hypotheticals, and the present reality is that both Kherson and Zaporozhye are today part of the Russian Federation, and that both regions are populated by people who had made the decision to remain there as citizens of Russia. We will never know what the fate of these two territories would have been had the Ukrainian government honored the ceasefire agreement negotiated in March 2022. What we do know is that today both Kherson and Zaporozhye are part of the “New Territories” – Novorossiya.

    Russia will for some time find its acquisition of the “new territories” challenged by nations who question the legitimacy of Russia’s military occupation and subsequent absorption of the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions into the Russian Federation. The reticence of foreigners to recognize these regions as being part of Russia, however, is the least of Russia’s problems. As was the case with Crimea, the Russian government will proceed irrespective of any international opposition.

    The real challenge facing Russia is to convince Russians that the new territories are as integral to the Russian motherland as Crimea, a region reabsorbed by Russia in 2014 which has seen its economic fortunes and its population grow over the past decade. The diminished demographics of Kherson and Zaporozhye represent a litmus test of sorts for the Russian government, and for the governments of both Kherson and Zaporozhye. If the populations of these regions cannot regenerate, then these regions will wither on the vine. If, however, these new Russian lands can be transformed into places where Russians can envision themselves raising families in an environment free from want and fear, then Novorossiya will flourish.

    Novorossiya is a reality, and the people who live there are citizens by choice more than circumstances. They are well served by men like Saldo and Balitsky, who are dedicated to the giant task of making these regions part of the Russian Motherland in actuality, not just in name.

    Behind Saldo and Balitsky are men like Panchenko, people who left an easy life in Moscow or some other Russian city to come to the “New Territories” not for the purpose of seeking their fortunes, but rather to improve the lives of the new Russian citizens of Novorossiya.



    For this to happen, Russia must emerge victorious in its struggle against the Ukrainian nationalists ensconced in Kiev, and their Western allies. Thanks to the sacrifices of the Russian military, this victory is in the process of being accomplished.

    Then the real test begins – turning Novorossiya into a place Russians will want to call home.


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    https://www.vtforeignpolicy.com/2024/03/scott-ritter-we-are-witnessing-the-bittersweet-birth-of-a-new-russia/


    https://telegra.ph/Scott-Ritter-We-are-witnessing-the-bittersweet-birth-of-a-new-Russia--VT-Foreign-Policy-03-11
    Scott Ritter: We are witnessing the bittersweet birth of a new Russia | VT Foreign Policy March 10, 2024 VT Condemns the ETHNIC CLEANSING OF PALESTINIANS by USA/Israel $ 280 BILLION US TAXPAYER DOLLARS INVESTED since 1948 in US/Israeli Ethnic Cleansing and Occupation Operation; $ 150B direct "aid" and $ 130B in "Offense" contracts Source: Embassy of Israel, Washington, D.C. and US Department of State. Tucker Carlson’s confused exasperation over Russian President Vladmir Putin’s extemporaneous history lesson at the start of their landmark February interview (which has been watched more than a billion times), underscored one realty. For a Western audience, the question of the historical bona fides of Russia’s claim of sovereign interest in territories located on the left (eastern) bank of the Dnieper River, currently claimed by Ukraine, is confusing to the point of incomprehension. Vladimir Putin, however, did not manufacture his history lesson from thin air. Anyone who has followed the speeches and writings of the Russian president over the years would have found his comments to Carlson quite familiar, echoing both in tone and content previous statements made concerning both the viability of the Ukrainian state from an historic perspective, and the historical ties between what Putin has called Novorossiya (New Russia) and the Russian nation. For example, on March 18, 2014, during his announcement regarding the annexation of Crimea, the president observed that “after the [Russian] Revolution [of 1917], for a number of reasons the Bolsheviks – let God judge them – added historical sections of the south of Russia to the Republic of Ukraine. This was done with no consideration for the ethnic composition of the population, and these regions today form the south-east of Ukraine.” Later during a televised question-and-answer session, Putin declared that “what was called Novorossiya back in tsarist days – Kharkov, Lugansk, Donetsk, Kherson, Nikolayev and Odessa – were not part of Ukraine then. These territories were given to Ukraine in the 1920s by the Soviet Government. Why? Who knows? They were won by Potemkin and Catherine the Great in a series of well-known wars. The center of that territory was Novorossiysk, so the region is called Novorossiya. Russia lost these territories for various reasons, but the people remained.” Novorossiya isn’t just a construct of Vladimir Putin’s imagination, but rather a notion drawn from historic fact that resonated with the people who populated the territories it encompassed. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, there was an abortive effort by pro-Russia citizens of the new Ukrainian state to restore Novorossiya as an independent region. Scott Ritter: Helping Crimea recover from decades of Ukrainian misrule is a tough but necessary challenge Read more Scott Ritter: Helping Crimea recover from decades of Ukrainian misrule is a tough but necessary challenge While this effort failed, the concept of a greater Novorossiya confederation was revived in May 2014 by the newly proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. But this effort, too, was short-lived, being put on ice in 2015. This, however, did not mean the death of the idea of Novorossiya. On February 21, 2022, Putin delivered a lengthy address to the Russian nation on the eve of his decision to send Russian troops into Ukraine as part of what he termed a Special Military Operation. Those who watched Tucker Carlson’s February 9, 2024, interview with Putin would have been struck by the similarity between the two presentations. While he did not make a direct reference to Novorossiya, the president did outline fundamental historic and cultural linkages which serve as the foundation for any discussion about the viability and legitimacy of Novorossiya in the context of Russian-Ukrainian relations. “I would like to emphasize,” Putin said, “once again that Ukraine is not just a neighboring country for us. It is an integral part of our own history, culture, and spiritual space. It is our friends, our relatives, not only colleagues, friends, and former work colleagues, but also our relatives and close family members. Since the oldest times,” Putin continued, “the inhabitants of the south-western historical territories of ancient Russia have called themselves Russians and Orthodox Christians. It was the same in the 17th century, when a part of these territories [i.e., Novorossiya] was reunited with the Russian state, and even after that.” The Russian president set forth his contention that the modern state of Ukraine was an invention of Vladimir Lenin, the founding father of the Soviet Union. “Soviet Ukraine is the result of the Bolsheviks’ policy,” Putin stated, “and can be rightfully called ‘Vladimir Lenin’s Ukraine’. He was its creator and architect. This is fully and comprehensively corroborated by archival documents.” Putin went on to issue a threat which, when seen in the context of the present, proved ominously prescient. “And today the ’grateful progeny’ has overturned monuments to Lenin in Ukraine. They call it decommunization. You want decommunization? Very well, this suits us just fine. But why stop halfway? We are ready to show what real decommunizations would mean for Ukraine.” In September 2022 Putin followed through on this, ordering referendums in four territories (Kherson and Zaporozhye, and the newly independent Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics) to determine whether the populations residing there wished to join the Russian Federation. All four did so. Putin has since then referred to these new Russian territories as Novorossiya, perhaps nowhere more poignantly that in June 2023, when he praised the Russian soldiers “who fought and gave their lives to Novorossiya and for the unity of the Russian world.” The story of those who fought and gave their lives to Novorossiya is one that I have wanted to tell for some time now. I have borne witness here in the United States to the extremely one-sided coverage of the military aspects of Russia’s military operation. Like many of my fellow analysts, I had to undertake the extremely difficult task of trying to parse out fact from an overwhelmingly fictional narrative. Nor was I helped in any way in this regard by the Russian side, which was parsimonious in the release of information that reflected its side of reality. In preparing for my December 2023 visit to Russia, I had hoped to be able to visit the four new Russian territories to see for myself what the truth was when it came to the fighting between Russia and Ukraine. I also wanted to interview the Russian military and civilian leadership to get a broader perspective of the conflict. I had reached out to the Russian Foreign and Defense ministries through the Russian Embassy in the US, bending the ear of both the Ambassador, Anatoly Antonov, and the Defense Attache, Major-General Evgeny Bobkin, about my plans. While both men supported my project and wrote recommendations back to their respective ministries in this regard, the Russian Defense Ministry, which had the final say over what happened in the four new territories, vetoed the idea. This veto was not because they didn’t like the idea of me writing an in-depth analysis of the conflict from the Russian perspective, but rather that the project as I outlined it, which would have required sustained access to frontline units and personnel, was deemed too dangerous. In short, the Russian Defense Ministry did not relish the idea of me being killed on its watch. Under normal circumstances, I would have backed off. I had no desire to create any difficulty with the Russian government, and I was always cognizant of the reality that I was a guest in the country. Western ‘expertise’ on the Ukraine conflict could lead the world to a nuclear disaster Read more Western ‘expertise’ on the Ukraine conflict could lead the world to a nuclear disaster The last thing I wanted to be was a “war tourist,” where I put myself and others at risk for purely personal reasons. But I also felt strongly that if I were going to continue to provide so-called “expert analysis” about the military operation and the geopolitical realities of Novorossiya and Crimea, then I needed to see these places firsthand. I strongly believed that I had a professional obligation to see the new territories. Fortunately for me, Aleksandr Zyryanov, a Crimea native and director general of the Novosibirsk Region Development Corporation, agreed. It wasn’t going to be easy. We first tried to enter the new territories via Donetsk, driving west out of Rostov-on-Don. However, when we arrived at the checkpoint, we were told that the Ministry of Defense had not cleared us for entry. Not willing to take no for an answer, Aleksandr drove south, towards Krasnodar, and then – after making some phone calls – across the Crimean Bridge into Crimea. Once it became clear that we were planning on entering the new territories from Crimea, the Ministry of Defense yielded, granting permission for me to visit the four new Russian territories under one non-negotiable condition – I was not to go anywhere near the frontlines. We left Feodosia early on the morning of January 15, 2024. At Dzhankoy, in northern Crimea, we took highway 18 north toward the Tup-Dzhankoy Peninsula and the Chongar Strait, which separates the Sivash lagoon system that forms the border between Crimea and the mainland into eastern and western portions. It was here that Red Army forces, on the night of November 12, 1920, broke through the defenses of the White Army of General Wrangel, leading to the capture of the Crimean Peninsula by Soviet forces. And it was also here that the Russian Army, on February 24, 2022, crossed into the Kherson Region from Crimea. The Chongar Bridge is one of three highway crossings that connect Crimea with Kherson. It has been struck twice by Ukrainian forces seeking to disrupt Russian supply lines, once, in June 2023, when it was hit by British-made Storm Shadow missiles, and once again that August when it was hit by French-made SCALP missiles (a variant of the Storm Shadow.) In both instances, the bridge was temporarily shut down for repairs, evidence of which was clearly visible as we made our way across, and on to the Chongar checkpoint, where we were cleared by Russian soldiers for entry into the Kherson Region. At the checkpoint we picked up a vehicle carrying a bodyguard detachment from the reconnaissance company of the Sparta Battalion, a veteran military formation whose roots date back to the very beginning of the Donbass revolt against the Ukrainian nationalists who seized power in Kiev during the February 2014 Maidan coup. They would be our escort through the Kherson and Zaporozhye Regions – even though we were going to give the frontlines a wide berth, Ukrainian “deep reconnaissance groups”, or DRGs, were known to target traffic along the M18 highway. Aleksandr was driving an armored Chevrolet Suburban, and the Sparta detachment had their own armored SUV. If we were to come under attack, our response would be to try and drive through the ambush. If that failed, then the Sparta boys would have to go to work. Our first destination was the city of Genichesk, a port city along the Sea of Azov. Genichesk is the capital of the Genichesk District of the Kherson Region and, since November 9, 2022, when Russian forces withdrew from the city of Kherson, it has served as the temporary capital of the region. Aleksandr had been on his phone since morning, and his efforts had paid off – I was scheduled to meet with Vladimir Saldo, the local Governor. RT Genichesk is – literally – off the beaten path. When we reached the town of Novoalekseyevka, we got off the M18 highway and headed east along a two-lane road that took us toward the Sea of Azov. There were armed checkpoints all along the route, but the Sparta bodyguards were able to get us waved through without any issues. But the effect of these checkpoints was chilling – there was no doubt that one was in a region at war. To call Genichesk a ghost town would be misleading – it is populated, and the evidence of civilian life is everywhere you look. The problem was, there didn’t seem to be enough people present. The city, like the region, is in a general state of decay, a holdover from the neglect it had suffered at the hands of a Ukrainian government that largely ignored territories that had, since 2004, voted in favor of the Party of Regions, the party of former President Viktor Yanukovich, who was ousted in the February 2014 Maidan coup. Nearly two years of war had likewise contributed to the atmosphere of societal neglect, an impression which was magnified by the weather – overcast, cold, with a light sleet blowing in off the water. As we made our way into the building where the government of the Kherson Region had established its temporary offices, I couldn’t help but notice a statue of Lenin in the courtyard. Ukrainian nationalists had taken it down in July 2015, but the citizens of Genichesk had reinstalled it in April 2022, once the Russians had taken control of the city. Given Putin’s feeling about the role Lenin played in creating Ukraine, I found both the presence of this monument, and the role of the Russian citizens of Genichesk in restoring it, curiously ironic. Vladimir Saldo is a man imbued with enthusiasm for his work. A civil engineer by profession, with a PhD in economics, Saldo had served in senior management positions in the “Khersonbud” Project and Construction Company before moving on into politics, serving on the Kherson City Council, the Kherson Regional Administration, and two terms as the mayor of the city of Kherson. Saldo, as a member of the Party of Regions, moved to the opposition and was effectively subjected to political ostracism in 2014, when the Ukrainian nationalists who had seized power all but forced it out of politics. Aleksandr and I had the pleasure of meeting with Saldo in his office in the government building in downtown Genichesk. We talked about a wide range of issues, including his own path from a Ukrainian construction specialist to his current position as the governor of Kherson Oblast. We talked about the war. But Saldo’s passion was the economy, and how he could help revive the civilian economy of Kherson in a manner that best served the interests of its diminished population. On the eve of the military operation, back in early 2022, the population of the Kherson Region stood at just over a million, of which some 280,000 were residing in the city of Kherson. By November 2022, following the withdrawal of Russian forces from the right bank of the Dnieper River – including the city of Kherson – the population of the region had fallen below 400,000 and, with dismal economic prospects, the numbers kept falling. Many of those who left were Ukrainians who did not want to live under Russian rule. But others were Russians and Ukrainians who felt that they had no future in the war-torn region, and as such sought their fortunes elsewhere in Russia. Fyodor Lukyanov: How does the Russia-Ukraine conflict end? Read more Fyodor Lukyanov: How does the Russia-Ukraine conflict end? “My job is to give the people of Kherson hope for a better future,” Saldo told me. “And the time for this to happen is now, not when the war ends.” Restoration of Kherson’s once vibrant agricultural sector is a top priority, and Saldo has personally taken the lead in signing agreements for the provision of Kherson produce to Moscow supermarkets. Saldo has also turned the region into a special economic zone, where potential investors and entrepreneurs can receive preferential loans and financial support, as well as organizational and legal assistance for businesses willing to open shop there. The man responsible for making this vision a reality is Mikhail Panchenko, the Director of the Kherson Region Industry Development Fund. I met Mikhail in a restaurant located across the street from the governmental building which Saldo called home. Mikhail had come to Kherson in the summer of 2022, leaving a prominent position in Moscow in the process. “The Russian government was interested in rebuilding Kherson,” Mikhail told me, “and established the Industry Development Fund as a way of attracting businesses to the region.” Mikhail, who was born in 1968, was too old to enlist in the military. “When the opportunity came to direct the Industry Development Fund, I jumped at it as a way to do my patriotic duty.” The first year of the fund’s operation saw Mikhail hand out 300 million rubles (almost $3.3 million at the current rate) in loans and grants (some of which was used to open the very restaurant where we were meeting.) The second year saw the allotment grow to some 700 million rubles. One of the biggest projects was the opening of a concrete production line capable of producing 60 cubic meters of concrete per hour. Mikhail took Alexander and me on a tour of the plant, which had grown to three production lines generating some 180 cubic meters of concrete an hour. Mikhail had just approved funding for an additional four production lines, for a total concrete production rate of 420 cubic meters per hour. “That’s a lot of concrete,” I remarked to Mikhail. “We are making good use of it,” he replied. “We are rebuilding schools, hospitals, and government buildings that had been neglected over the years. Revitalizing the basic infrastructure a society needs if it is to nurture a growing population.” The problem Mikhail faces, however, is that most of the population growth being experienced in Kherson today comes from the military. The war can’t last forever, Mikhail noted. “Someday the army will leave, and we will need civilians. Right now, the people who left are not returning, and we’re having a hard time attracting newcomers. But we will keep building in anticipation of a time when the population of the Kherson region will grow from an impetus other than war. And for that,” he said, a twinkle in his eye, “we need concrete!” I thought long and hard about the words of Vladimir Saldo and Panchenko as Aleksandr drove back onto the M18 highway, heading northeast, toward Donetsk. The reconstruction efforts being undertaken are impressive. But the number that kept coming to mind was the precipitous decline in the population – more than 60% of the pre-war population has left the Kherson region since the Russian military operation began. According to statistics provided by the Russian Central Election Commission, some 571,000 voters took part in the referendum on joining Russia that was held in late September 2022. A little over 497,000, or some 87%, voted in favor, while slightly more than 68,800, or 12%, voted against. The turnout was almost 77%. Sergey Poletaev: As the second anniversary of the Russia–Ukraine conflict approaches, who has the upper hand? Read more Sergey Poletaev: As the second anniversary of the Russia–Ukraine conflict approaches, who has the upper hand? These numbers, if accurate, implied that there was a population of over 740,000 eligible voters at the time of the election. While the loss of the city of Kherson in November 2022 could account for a significant source of the population drop that took place between September 2022 and the time of my visit in January 2024, it could not account for all of it. The Russian population of Kherson in 2022 stood at approximately 20%, or around 200,000. One can safely say that the number of Russians who fled west to Kiev following the start of the military operation amounts to a negligible figure. If one assumes that the Russian population of the Kherson Region remained relatively stable, then most of the population decline came from the Ukrainian population. While Saldo did not admit to such, the Governor of the neighboring Zaporozhya Region, Yevgeny Balitsky, has acknowledged that many Ukrainian families deemed by the authorities to be anti-Russian were deported following the initiation of the military operation (Russians accounted for a little more than 25% of the pre-conflict Zaporozhye population.) Many others fled to Russia to escape the deprivations of war. Evidence of the war was everywhere to be seen. While the conflict in Kherson has stabilized along a line defined by the Dnieper River, Zaporozhye is very much a frontline region. Indeed, the main direction of attack of the summer 2023 Ukrainian counteroffensive was from the Zaporozhye region village of Rabotino, toward the town of Tokmak, and on towards the temporary regional capital of Melitopol (the city of Zaporozhye has remained under Ukrainian control throughout the conflict to date.) I had petitioned to visit the frontlines near Rabotino but had been denied by the Russian Ministry of Defense. So, too, was my request to visit units deployed in the vicinity of Tokmak – too close to the front. The closest I would get would be the city of Melitopol, the ultimate objective of the Ukrainian counterattack. We drove past fields filled with the concrete “dragon’s teeth” and antitank ditches that marked the final layer of defenses that constituted the “Surovikin Line,” named after the Russian General, Sergey Surovikin, who had commanded the forces when the defenses were put in place. The Ukrainians had hoped to reach the city of Melitopol in a matter of days once their attack began; they never breached the first line of defense situated to the southeast of Rabotino. Melitopol, however, is not immune to the horrors of war, with Ukrainian artillery and rockets targeting it often to disrupt Russian military logistics. I kept this in mind as we drove through the streets of the city, past military checkpoints, and roving patrols. I was struck by the fact that the civilians I saw were going about their business, seemingly oblivious to the everyday reality of war that existed around them. As was the case in Kherson, the entirety of the Zaporozhye Region seemed strangely depopulated, as if one were driving through the French capital of Paris in August, when half the city is away on vacation. I had hoped to be able to talk with Balitsky about the reduced population and other questions I had about life in the region during wartime, but this time Aleksandr’s phone could not produce the desired result – Balitsky was away from the region and unavailable. If he had been available, I would have asked him the same question I had put to Saldo earlier in the day: given that Putin was apparently willing to return the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions to Ukraine as part of the peace deal negotiated in March 2022, how does the population of his region feel about being part of Russia today? Are they convinced that Russia is, in fact, there to stay? Do they feel like they are a genuine part of the Novorossiya that Putin speaks about? Saldo had talked in depth about the transition from being occupied by Russian forces, which lasted until April-May 2022 (about the time that Ukraine backed out of the ceasefire agreement), to being administered by Moscow. “There never was a doubt in my mind, or anyone else’s, that Kherson was historically a part of Russia,” Saldo said, “or that, once Russian troops arrived, that we would forever be Russian again.” But the declining population, and the admission of forced deportations on the part of Balitsky, suggests that there was a significant part of the population that had, in fact, taken umbrage at such a future. I would have liked to hear what Balitsky had to say about this question. Reality, however, doesn’t deal with hypotheticals, and the present reality is that both Kherson and Zaporozhye are today part of the Russian Federation, and that both regions are populated by people who had made the decision to remain there as citizens of Russia. We will never know what the fate of these two territories would have been had the Ukrainian government honored the ceasefire agreement negotiated in March 2022. What we do know is that today both Kherson and Zaporozhye are part of the “New Territories” – Novorossiya. Russia will for some time find its acquisition of the “new territories” challenged by nations who question the legitimacy of Russia’s military occupation and subsequent absorption of the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions into the Russian Federation. The reticence of foreigners to recognize these regions as being part of Russia, however, is the least of Russia’s problems. As was the case with Crimea, the Russian government will proceed irrespective of any international opposition. The real challenge facing Russia is to convince Russians that the new territories are as integral to the Russian motherland as Crimea, a region reabsorbed by Russia in 2014 which has seen its economic fortunes and its population grow over the past decade. The diminished demographics of Kherson and Zaporozhye represent a litmus test of sorts for the Russian government, and for the governments of both Kherson and Zaporozhye. If the populations of these regions cannot regenerate, then these regions will wither on the vine. If, however, these new Russian lands can be transformed into places where Russians can envision themselves raising families in an environment free from want and fear, then Novorossiya will flourish. Novorossiya is a reality, and the people who live there are citizens by choice more than circumstances. They are well served by men like Saldo and Balitsky, who are dedicated to the giant task of making these regions part of the Russian Motherland in actuality, not just in name. Behind Saldo and Balitsky are men like Panchenko, people who left an easy life in Moscow or some other Russian city to come to the “New Territories” not for the purpose of seeking their fortunes, but rather to improve the lives of the new Russian citizens of Novorossiya. For this to happen, Russia must emerge victorious in its struggle against the Ukrainian nationalists ensconced in Kiev, and their Western allies. Thanks to the sacrifices of the Russian military, this victory is in the process of being accomplished. Then the real test begins – turning Novorossiya into a place Russians will want to call home. ATTENTION READERS We See The World From All Sides and Want YOU To Be Fully Informed In fact, intentional disinformation is a disgraceful scourge in media today. So to assuage any possible errant incorrect information posted herein, we strongly encourage you to seek corroboration from other non-VT sources before forming an educated opinion. About VT - Policies & Disclosures - Comment Policy Due to the nature of uncensored content posted by VT's fully independent international writers, VT cannot guarantee absolute validity. All content is owned by the author exclusively. Expressed opinions are NOT necessarily the views of VT, other authors, affiliates, advertisers, sponsors, partners, or technicians. Some content may be satirical in nature. All images are the full responsibility of the article author and NOT VT. https://www.vtforeignpolicy.com/2024/03/scott-ritter-we-are-witnessing-the-bittersweet-birth-of-a-new-russia/ https://telegra.ph/Scott-Ritter-We-are-witnessing-the-bittersweet-birth-of-a-new-Russia--VT-Foreign-Policy-03-11
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    Scott Ritter: We are witnessing the bittersweet birth of a new Russia
    Building Novorossiya back up after Ukrainian neglect and war is a monumental but unavoidable task
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  • ‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’ Day 143: Gaza famine is ‘man-made,’ says UNRWA Chief
    UNRWA says that the famine in northern Gaza can be avoided if more food convoys are allowed in, but Israel continues to hold up over 2000 aid trucks. Meanwhile, Netanyahu reaffirms plans to invade Rafah, where 1.5 million Gazans have sought shelter.

    Leila WarahFebruary 26, 2024
    Palestinians stand in line for food aid, Deir al-Balah, February 2, 2024. (Photo: Omar Ashtawy/APA Images)
    Palestinians stand in line for food aid, Deir al-Balah, February 2, 2024. (Photo: Omar Ashtawy/APA Images)
    Casualties

    29,782+ killed* and at least 70,043 wounded in the Gaza Strip.
    380+ Palestinians killed in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem
    Israel revises its estimated October 7 death toll down from 1,400 to 1,147.
    579 Israeli soldiers killed since October 7, and at least 3,221 injured.**
    *This figure was confirmed by Gaza’s Ministry of Health on Telegram channel on February 24. Some rights groups put the death toll number at more than 38,000 when accounting for those presumed dead.

    ** This figure is released by the Israeli military, showing the soldiers whose names “were allowed to be published.”

    Key Developments

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stresses that the assault on the crowded city of Rafah will take place but may be delayed by captive exchange deal.
    UNRWA: Famine in northern Gaza can be avoided if more food convoys are allowed in.
    Orthodox Jews take over Muslim shrine, vandalize graves in West Jerusalem.
    WFP: Enough food is waiting across Gaza’s borders to feed entire population.
    Aerial photos show over 2,000 aid trucks on Egyptian side of Rafah crossing.
    Renowned Gazan artist Fat’hi Ghabin dies after being denied treatment abroad.
    Gaza Ministry of Health: Dialysis and intensive care patients facing death in northern Gaza as hospitals run out of fuel.
    18-year-old Israeli woman jailed for refusing to serve in army over war on Gaza.
    UNRWA: Report of two-month-old baby dying in Gaza from hunger “horrific.”
    Israeli defense minister vows to continue targeting Hezbollah regardless of the situation in Gaza.
    Israeli forces partially withdraw from Nasser Hospital on Sunday, reports Al Jazeera.
    Israeli military erects watchtower with surveillance cameras at Al-Aqsa Mosque.
    Israeli forces kill at least 10 people waiting for aid in Gaza City, reports Wafa.
    U.S. airman sets self on fire in protest over Israel’s genocide in Gaza.
    Israel advances construction of 3,344 new illegal housing units in the occupied West Bank.
    Gaza Media Office: Israeli forces have taken Palestinian civilians hostage and used them as human shields in several military operations.
    ‘One in six children in northern Gaza is malnourished’

    While Israel’s violent aggression on Gaza approaches the five-month mark, the situation in the besieged enclave deteriorates by the day as the population undergoes an Israeli-imposed famine as a result of the blockade.

    Following reports of a two-month-old baby starving to death on Friday, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) has said the high risk of malnutrition continues to increase, with one in six children in northern Gaza “severely malnourished.”

    “We continue to appeal for regular humanitarian access,” UNRWA said in a post on X.

    Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian physician and humanitarian advocate, says infant death from starvation is a direct consequence of Israeli restrictions on aid entering the coastal enclave.

    “This is not a tragedy; it is man-made. Starvation is being forced upon the people of Gaza by the Israeli occupation forces,” Gilbert, who has more than 30 years of experience working in Gaza hospitals, told Al Jazeera.

    “Just two days ago, the international nutrition cluster came out with a very alarming report … that there is a sharp increase in the drivers of malnutrition in Gaza — food insecurity, a lack of diversity in the diet and decreasing infant and young child feeding possibilities.”

    Gilbert said Israel’s restriction of food and water in the enclave was a “huge war crime.”

    “How can the world just sit idly by and watch children die from starvation?”

    The situation is the worst in the north of Gaza, where UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini says Israel has not allowed food to be delivered since January 25 and that the U.N.’s calls to send food aid have been denied and fallen on deaf ears.

    Since then, Lazzarini said, UNRWA and other UN agencies “have warned against looming famine, appealed for regular humanitarian access, and stated that famine can be averted if more food convoys are allowed into northern Gaza on a regular basis.”

    “This is a man-made disaster. The world committed to never let famine happen again. Famine can still be avoided, through genuine political will to grant access and protection to meaningful assistance. The days to come will once again test our common humanity and values,” he said.

    Similarly, Samer Abdeljaber, the World Food Programme’s (WFP’s) director for emergencies, says enough food is stocked up across Gaza’s borders to feed the entire population. However, it cannot safely reach the war-torn population due to the ongoing violence and extensive Israeli security checks.

    Ariel photos posted by Al Jazeera Arabic show over 2,000 aid trucks piled up on the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing in the southern Gaza Strip.

    “We have enough food across the borders, even from Jordan and Egypt, to be able to support 2.2 million people,” said Abdeljaber, as cited by Al Jazeera.

    “But we need to make sure we have the right access to Gaza from different crossings so that we can actually reach the people — whether they are in the north or the south or in the central areas.”

    “Safe routes is one of our requirements to continue assistance to the north and that can only be guaranteed if that is a speedy process,” Abdelkader said. “Delays at the checkpoints are making it impossible for us to reach deeper into the north.”

    Nada Tarbush, a diplomat at the Palestine Mission to the U.N., has urged world governments to intervene and ensure the “urgent delivery of food, clean water and medicine via airdrops in Gaza.”

    “Blocking the delivery of humanitarian aid is a war crime. Using starvation as a means of warfare is a war crime. Collective punishment is a war crime,” she said in a post on X.

    On Monday afternoon, Israel allowed the entry of 10 aid trucks into the northern part of the Gaza Strip amid reports of starvation, according to Al Jazeera correspondents. However, it is likely to be only a trickle compared to the needs of the desperate population.

    “Clean water is scarce. Solid waste is accumulating. The spread of diseases is on the rise,” UNRWA has said.

    “The situation is catastrophic, but UNRWA teams continue working to provide critical aid.”

    Israeli forces kill Palestinians waiting for aid…again

    Meanwhile, when humanitarian aid is allowed into the besieged enclave, the safety of civilians collecting the assistance is not protected or assured. Several reports continue to surface of Israeli forces targeting Palestinians waiting for humanitarian aid.

    Most recently, on Sunday evening, Israeli forces killed at least ten people waiting for aid in Gaza City by shelling and firing on the crowds of Palestinians waiting for food aid trucks to arrive, reported Wafa.

    At least 15 people were injured in the attack, and they have been transferred to the nearby al-Shifa Hospital.

    According to Al Jazeera, two fishermen were also shot dead at the shore of Khan Younis.

    Israel: Invasion of Rafah will happen no matter what

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has continued planning the Israeli assault on Rafah. Approximately 1.5 million Palestinians are seeking shelter in the southernmost city after being forcibly displaced, many of them several times, from other areas of Gaza.

    Netanyahu has said if Israel and Hamas reach a deal, that it will delay a military operation in Rafah, but stressed to CBS News that Israel would have to invade at a certain point later.

    “If we have a deal, it will be delayed somewhat, but it will happen. If we don’t have a deal, we’ll do it anyway,” Netanyahu said.

    Senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri has said that Netanyahu’s remarks have cast doubt over Israel’s willingness to secure a deal.

    “Netanyahu’s comments show he is not concerned about reaching an agreement,” Abu Zuhri told Reuters, accusing the Israeli leader of wanting “to pursue negotiation under bombardment and the bloodshed [of Palestinians].”

    As Israel’s plans advance, global concern has increased over the human cost of the operation.

    The U.S. has called on Israel to present a “credible” plan for protecting civilians crammed into the city before launching the assault. At the same time, Israel’s European allies have warned against the offensive altogether.

    “If the Israeli army were to launch an offensive on Rafah under these conditions, it would be a humanitarian catastrophe,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has said.

    “We think it is impossible to see how you can fight a war amongst these people. There’s nowhere for them to go,” said U.K. Foreign Secretary David Cameron

    UNICEF has also warned that an attack on Rafah would be catastrophic, with more than 600,000 children sheltering in the path of an assault and a severely limited humanitarian lifeline already on the brink of collapse.

    “Thousands more could die in the violence or by lack of essential services, and further disruption of humanitarian assistance. We need Gaza’s last remaining hospitals, shelters, markets and water systems to stay functional. Without them, hunger and disease will skyrocket, taking more child lives,” UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell said in a statement.

    Meanwhile, Israeli defense minister Yoav Gallant has vowed to continue targeting Hezbollah regardless of the situation in Gaza.

    “If anyone thinks that when we get a hostage release deal and pause in Gaza, it will alleviate what is going on here — they’re wrong,” Gallant said, according to Haaretz.

    He added that Israel would push Hezbollah to retreat from its northern border “either by agreement or by force.”

    Hezbollah and Israel have been exchanging fire since October, and the Lebanese group says it will not stop its attacks until the war on Gaza ends.

    Netanyahu’s office issued a brief statement on Monday morning stating that they presented the War Cabinet with a “plan for evacuating the population from the areas of fighting in the Gaza Strip.”

    It is unclear what those plans are. However, there are fears that Israel plans on forcibly expelling Gaza’s population to Egypt.

    Gaza’s hospitals are still under attack

    Hospitals across the Gaza Strip continue to struggle under Israel’s attacks, making it extremely difficult for Palestinian civilians to receive adequate medical care.

    In Northern Gaza, the Palestinian Ministry of Health has said the situation is “beyond description,” as hospitals run out of fuel. Medical refrigerators have run out of electricity, which risks the destruction of large quantities of sensitive medication.

    The lack of fuel has also had devastating consequences for rescue missions in the war-torn area, as dozens of ambulances and medical services have been taken out of service.

    The effects of this shortage have also left dialysis and intensive care patients facing death due to the lack of basic supplies.

    In Khan Younis, southern Gaza, a UN delegation observed “catastrophic conditions” during a visit to the besieged al-Amal Hospital in the city.

    “The delegation witnessed the extent of the damage caused by Israeli occupation artillery shelling to several floors of the hospital, as well as the catastrophic conditions inside due to severe shortages in food, drinkable water, medical supplies, and medication,” the Palestinian Red Cresent said.

    Meanwhile, at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, “snipers are still in the vicinity of the hospital and, tragically, are still shooting at anything moving near it,” Al Jazeera correspondent Hani Mahmoud reported from Gaza. “Despite the Israeli military’s statement that it has completed operations inside Nasser Hospital.”

    Occupied West Bank: Illegal settlement construction

    While the world’s eyes are on Gaza, Israel is taking the chance to advance the construction of 3,344 new housing units in the occupied West Bank, 2,350 units in the settlement of Maale Adumim, 694 in Efrat, and 300 in Kedar, according to Peace Now.

    “They are significant and expansive projects that will greatly impact the possibility of reaching a two-state solution, especially the plans in Efrat and Kedar,” the Israeli nonprofit said in a statement.

    “The decision to promote thousands of unnecessary and harmful housing units in settlements is a hasty and irresponsible decision by an extremist government that has long lost the trust of the people,” it added.

    Palestinian Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh resigns

    Palestinian Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh handed in his resignation to President Mahmoud Abbas at the opening of Monday’s government meeting in Ramallah, reports Reuters.

    Shtayyeh said he was moved to step down due to the “unprecedented escalation” in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem and the “war, genocide and starvation in the Gaza Strip,” as cited by Al Jazeera.

    Shtayyeh noted there are “efforts to make the [Palestinian Authority] an administrative and security authority without political influence, and the PA will continue to struggle to embody the state on the land of Palestine despite the occupation.”

    “I see that the next stage and its challenges require new governmental and political arrangements that take into account the new reality in Gaza and the need for a Palestinian-Palestinian consensus based on Palestinian unity,” he added.

    U.S. military member self-immolation

    A U.S. military service member set himself on fire in an act of protest against the war in Gaza outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington.

    According to Reuters, an Air Force spokesperson confirmed that the incident, which occurred on Sunday afternoon and was live-streamed on Twitch, involved an active-duty airman.

    “I will no longer be complicit in genocide,” said the man, wearing military fatigues, in the live video as he approached the embassy.

    He then doused himself in a clear liquid and set himself on fire, repeatedly screaming, “Free Palestine,” in the viral footage.

    NBC News has reported that the man, identified by social media as Aaron Bushnell, has succumbed to his wounds.

    Similarly, in December 2023, CNN reported a person set themselves on fire outside the Israeli consulate in Atlanta.

    https://mondoweiss.net/2024/02/operation-al-aqsa-flood-day-143-gaza-famine-is-man-made-says-unrwa-chief/
    ‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’ Day 143: Gaza famine is ‘man-made,’ says UNRWA Chief UNRWA says that the famine in northern Gaza can be avoided if more food convoys are allowed in, but Israel continues to hold up over 2000 aid trucks. Meanwhile, Netanyahu reaffirms plans to invade Rafah, where 1.5 million Gazans have sought shelter. Leila WarahFebruary 26, 2024 Palestinians stand in line for food aid, Deir al-Balah, February 2, 2024. (Photo: Omar Ashtawy/APA Images) Palestinians stand in line for food aid, Deir al-Balah, February 2, 2024. (Photo: Omar Ashtawy/APA Images) Casualties 29,782+ killed* and at least 70,043 wounded in the Gaza Strip. 380+ Palestinians killed in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem Israel revises its estimated October 7 death toll down from 1,400 to 1,147. 579 Israeli soldiers killed since October 7, and at least 3,221 injured.** *This figure was confirmed by Gaza’s Ministry of Health on Telegram channel on February 24. Some rights groups put the death toll number at more than 38,000 when accounting for those presumed dead. ** This figure is released by the Israeli military, showing the soldiers whose names “were allowed to be published.” Key Developments Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stresses that the assault on the crowded city of Rafah will take place but may be delayed by captive exchange deal. UNRWA: Famine in northern Gaza can be avoided if more food convoys are allowed in. Orthodox Jews take over Muslim shrine, vandalize graves in West Jerusalem. WFP: Enough food is waiting across Gaza’s borders to feed entire population. Aerial photos show over 2,000 aid trucks on Egyptian side of Rafah crossing. Renowned Gazan artist Fat’hi Ghabin dies after being denied treatment abroad. Gaza Ministry of Health: Dialysis and intensive care patients facing death in northern Gaza as hospitals run out of fuel. 18-year-old Israeli woman jailed for refusing to serve in army over war on Gaza. UNRWA: Report of two-month-old baby dying in Gaza from hunger “horrific.” Israeli defense minister vows to continue targeting Hezbollah regardless of the situation in Gaza. Israeli forces partially withdraw from Nasser Hospital on Sunday, reports Al Jazeera. Israeli military erects watchtower with surveillance cameras at Al-Aqsa Mosque. Israeli forces kill at least 10 people waiting for aid in Gaza City, reports Wafa. U.S. airman sets self on fire in protest over Israel’s genocide in Gaza. Israel advances construction of 3,344 new illegal housing units in the occupied West Bank. Gaza Media Office: Israeli forces have taken Palestinian civilians hostage and used them as human shields in several military operations. ‘One in six children in northern Gaza is malnourished’ While Israel’s violent aggression on Gaza approaches the five-month mark, the situation in the besieged enclave deteriorates by the day as the population undergoes an Israeli-imposed famine as a result of the blockade. Following reports of a two-month-old baby starving to death on Friday, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) has said the high risk of malnutrition continues to increase, with one in six children in northern Gaza “severely malnourished.” “We continue to appeal for regular humanitarian access,” UNRWA said in a post on X. Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian physician and humanitarian advocate, says infant death from starvation is a direct consequence of Israeli restrictions on aid entering the coastal enclave. “This is not a tragedy; it is man-made. Starvation is being forced upon the people of Gaza by the Israeli occupation forces,” Gilbert, who has more than 30 years of experience working in Gaza hospitals, told Al Jazeera. “Just two days ago, the international nutrition cluster came out with a very alarming report … that there is a sharp increase in the drivers of malnutrition in Gaza — food insecurity, a lack of diversity in the diet and decreasing infant and young child feeding possibilities.” Gilbert said Israel’s restriction of food and water in the enclave was a “huge war crime.” “How can the world just sit idly by and watch children die from starvation?” The situation is the worst in the north of Gaza, where UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini says Israel has not allowed food to be delivered since January 25 and that the U.N.’s calls to send food aid have been denied and fallen on deaf ears. Since then, Lazzarini said, UNRWA and other UN agencies “have warned against looming famine, appealed for regular humanitarian access, and stated that famine can be averted if more food convoys are allowed into northern Gaza on a regular basis.” “This is a man-made disaster. The world committed to never let famine happen again. Famine can still be avoided, through genuine political will to grant access and protection to meaningful assistance. The days to come will once again test our common humanity and values,” he said. Similarly, Samer Abdeljaber, the World Food Programme’s (WFP’s) director for emergencies, says enough food is stocked up across Gaza’s borders to feed the entire population. However, it cannot safely reach the war-torn population due to the ongoing violence and extensive Israeli security checks. Ariel photos posted by Al Jazeera Arabic show over 2,000 aid trucks piled up on the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing in the southern Gaza Strip. “We have enough food across the borders, even from Jordan and Egypt, to be able to support 2.2 million people,” said Abdeljaber, as cited by Al Jazeera. “But we need to make sure we have the right access to Gaza from different crossings so that we can actually reach the people — whether they are in the north or the south or in the central areas.” “Safe routes is one of our requirements to continue assistance to the north and that can only be guaranteed if that is a speedy process,” Abdelkader said. “Delays at the checkpoints are making it impossible for us to reach deeper into the north.” Nada Tarbush, a diplomat at the Palestine Mission to the U.N., has urged world governments to intervene and ensure the “urgent delivery of food, clean water and medicine via airdrops in Gaza.” “Blocking the delivery of humanitarian aid is a war crime. Using starvation as a means of warfare is a war crime. Collective punishment is a war crime,” she said in a post on X. On Monday afternoon, Israel allowed the entry of 10 aid trucks into the northern part of the Gaza Strip amid reports of starvation, according to Al Jazeera correspondents. However, it is likely to be only a trickle compared to the needs of the desperate population. “Clean water is scarce. Solid waste is accumulating. The spread of diseases is on the rise,” UNRWA has said. “The situation is catastrophic, but UNRWA teams continue working to provide critical aid.” Israeli forces kill Palestinians waiting for aid…again Meanwhile, when humanitarian aid is allowed into the besieged enclave, the safety of civilians collecting the assistance is not protected or assured. Several reports continue to surface of Israeli forces targeting Palestinians waiting for humanitarian aid. Most recently, on Sunday evening, Israeli forces killed at least ten people waiting for aid in Gaza City by shelling and firing on the crowds of Palestinians waiting for food aid trucks to arrive, reported Wafa. At least 15 people were injured in the attack, and they have been transferred to the nearby al-Shifa Hospital. According to Al Jazeera, two fishermen were also shot dead at the shore of Khan Younis. Israel: Invasion of Rafah will happen no matter what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has continued planning the Israeli assault on Rafah. Approximately 1.5 million Palestinians are seeking shelter in the southernmost city after being forcibly displaced, many of them several times, from other areas of Gaza. Netanyahu has said if Israel and Hamas reach a deal, that it will delay a military operation in Rafah, but stressed to CBS News that Israel would have to invade at a certain point later. “If we have a deal, it will be delayed somewhat, but it will happen. If we don’t have a deal, we’ll do it anyway,” Netanyahu said. Senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri has said that Netanyahu’s remarks have cast doubt over Israel’s willingness to secure a deal. “Netanyahu’s comments show he is not concerned about reaching an agreement,” Abu Zuhri told Reuters, accusing the Israeli leader of wanting “to pursue negotiation under bombardment and the bloodshed [of Palestinians].” As Israel’s plans advance, global concern has increased over the human cost of the operation. The U.S. has called on Israel to present a “credible” plan for protecting civilians crammed into the city before launching the assault. At the same time, Israel’s European allies have warned against the offensive altogether. “If the Israeli army were to launch an offensive on Rafah under these conditions, it would be a humanitarian catastrophe,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has said. “We think it is impossible to see how you can fight a war amongst these people. There’s nowhere for them to go,” said U.K. Foreign Secretary David Cameron UNICEF has also warned that an attack on Rafah would be catastrophic, with more than 600,000 children sheltering in the path of an assault and a severely limited humanitarian lifeline already on the brink of collapse. “Thousands more could die in the violence or by lack of essential services, and further disruption of humanitarian assistance. We need Gaza’s last remaining hospitals, shelters, markets and water systems to stay functional. Without them, hunger and disease will skyrocket, taking more child lives,” UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell said in a statement. Meanwhile, Israeli defense minister Yoav Gallant has vowed to continue targeting Hezbollah regardless of the situation in Gaza. “If anyone thinks that when we get a hostage release deal and pause in Gaza, it will alleviate what is going on here — they’re wrong,” Gallant said, according to Haaretz. He added that Israel would push Hezbollah to retreat from its northern border “either by agreement or by force.” Hezbollah and Israel have been exchanging fire since October, and the Lebanese group says it will not stop its attacks until the war on Gaza ends. Netanyahu’s office issued a brief statement on Monday morning stating that they presented the War Cabinet with a “plan for evacuating the population from the areas of fighting in the Gaza Strip.” It is unclear what those plans are. However, there are fears that Israel plans on forcibly expelling Gaza’s population to Egypt. Gaza’s hospitals are still under attack Hospitals across the Gaza Strip continue to struggle under Israel’s attacks, making it extremely difficult for Palestinian civilians to receive adequate medical care. In Northern Gaza, the Palestinian Ministry of Health has said the situation is “beyond description,” as hospitals run out of fuel. Medical refrigerators have run out of electricity, which risks the destruction of large quantities of sensitive medication. The lack of fuel has also had devastating consequences for rescue missions in the war-torn area, as dozens of ambulances and medical services have been taken out of service. The effects of this shortage have also left dialysis and intensive care patients facing death due to the lack of basic supplies. In Khan Younis, southern Gaza, a UN delegation observed “catastrophic conditions” during a visit to the besieged al-Amal Hospital in the city. “The delegation witnessed the extent of the damage caused by Israeli occupation artillery shelling to several floors of the hospital, as well as the catastrophic conditions inside due to severe shortages in food, drinkable water, medical supplies, and medication,” the Palestinian Red Cresent said. Meanwhile, at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, “snipers are still in the vicinity of the hospital and, tragically, are still shooting at anything moving near it,” Al Jazeera correspondent Hani Mahmoud reported from Gaza. “Despite the Israeli military’s statement that it has completed operations inside Nasser Hospital.” Occupied West Bank: Illegal settlement construction While the world’s eyes are on Gaza, Israel is taking the chance to advance the construction of 3,344 new housing units in the occupied West Bank, 2,350 units in the settlement of Maale Adumim, 694 in Efrat, and 300 in Kedar, according to Peace Now. “They are significant and expansive projects that will greatly impact the possibility of reaching a two-state solution, especially the plans in Efrat and Kedar,” the Israeli nonprofit said in a statement. “The decision to promote thousands of unnecessary and harmful housing units in settlements is a hasty and irresponsible decision by an extremist government that has long lost the trust of the people,” it added. Palestinian Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh resigns Palestinian Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh handed in his resignation to President Mahmoud Abbas at the opening of Monday’s government meeting in Ramallah, reports Reuters. Shtayyeh said he was moved to step down due to the “unprecedented escalation” in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem and the “war, genocide and starvation in the Gaza Strip,” as cited by Al Jazeera. Shtayyeh noted there are “efforts to make the [Palestinian Authority] an administrative and security authority without political influence, and the PA will continue to struggle to embody the state on the land of Palestine despite the occupation.” “I see that the next stage and its challenges require new governmental and political arrangements that take into account the new reality in Gaza and the need for a Palestinian-Palestinian consensus based on Palestinian unity,” he added. U.S. military member self-immolation A U.S. military service member set himself on fire in an act of protest against the war in Gaza outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington. According to Reuters, an Air Force spokesperson confirmed that the incident, which occurred on Sunday afternoon and was live-streamed on Twitch, involved an active-duty airman. “I will no longer be complicit in genocide,” said the man, wearing military fatigues, in the live video as he approached the embassy. He then doused himself in a clear liquid and set himself on fire, repeatedly screaming, “Free Palestine,” in the viral footage. NBC News has reported that the man, identified by social media as Aaron Bushnell, has succumbed to his wounds. Similarly, in December 2023, CNN reported a person set themselves on fire outside the Israeli consulate in Atlanta. https://mondoweiss.net/2024/02/operation-al-aqsa-flood-day-143-gaza-famine-is-man-made-says-unrwa-chief/
    MONDOWEISS.NET
    ‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’ Day 143: Gaza famine is ‘man-made,’ says UNRWA Chief
    UNRWA says that the famine in northern Gaza can be avoided if more food convoys are allowed in, but Israel continues to hold up over 2000 aid trucks. Meanwhile, Netanyahu reaffirms plans to invade Rafah, where 1.5 million Gazans have sought shelter.
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