Adonis Diaries

Archive for July 2020

Break the Chain”. A song?

Lyrics by Tena Clark.  Music by Tena Clark/Tim Heintz
I raise my arms to the sky
On my knees I pray I’m not afraid anymore
I will walk through that door
Walk, dance, rise
Walk, dance, rise
I can see a world where we all live Safe
And free from all oppression
No more rape or incest, or abuse
Women are not a possession
You’ve never owned me, don’t even know me
I’m not invisible, I’m simply wonderful
I feel my heart for the first time racing
I feel alive, I feel so amazing
I dance cause I love
Dance cause I dream
Dance cause I’ve had enough
Dance to stop the screams
Dance to break the rules
Dance to stop the pain
Dance to turn it upside down
It’s time to break the chain, oh yeah
Break the Chain Dance, rise Dance, rise
In the middle of this madness, we will stand
I know there is a better world
Take your sisters and your brothers by the hand
Reach out to every woman and girl
This is my body, my body’s holy
No more excuses, no more abuses
We are mothers, we are teachers,
We are beautiful, beautiful creatures
I dance cause I love
Dance cause I dream
Dance cause I’ve had enough
Dance to stop the screams
Dance to break the rules
Dance to stop the pain
Dance to turn it upside down….

Produced by Eve Ensler and V-Day, directed by Tony Stroebel, written and produced by Tena Clark with music by Tena Clark and Tim Heintz

Are we seeing Reality as is? The trouble with false assumption

What survival evolution has to do with Reality?

Brains and neurons have no causal powers, such as causes and effects.

Note: Re-edit of “Are we able to see Reality as is?  July 8, 2015

I love a great mystery, and I’m fascinated by the greatest unsolved mystery in science, perhaps because it’s personal.

It’s about who we are, and I can’t help but be curious.

The mystery is this:

What is the relationship between your brain and your conscious experiences, such as your experience of the taste of chocolate or the feeling of velvet?

This mystery is not new.

In 1868, Thomas Huxley wrote,

“How it is that anything so remarkable as a state of consciousness comes about as the result of irritating nervous tissue is just as unaccountable as the appearance of the genie when Aladdin rubbed his lamp.”

Huxley knew that brain activity and conscious experiences are correlated, but he didn’t know why.

To the science of his day, it was a mystery. In the years since Huxley, science has learned a lot about brain activity, but the relationship between brain activity and conscious experiences is still a mystery. Why?

Why have we made so little progress?

Some experts think that we can’t solve this problem because we lack the necessary concepts and intelligence.

We don’t expect monkeys to solve problems in quantum mechanics, and as it happens, we can’t expect our species to solve this problem either.

Well, I disagree. I’m more optimistic. I think we’ve simply made a false assumption.

Once we overcome this false assumption, we just might solve this problem. Today, I’d like to tell you what that assumption is, why it’s false, and how to fix it.

Let’s begin with a question: Do we see reality as it is?

I open my eyes and I have an experience that I describe as a red tomato a meter away. As a result, I come to believe that in reality, there’s a red tomato a meter away.

I then close my eyes, and my experience changes to a gray field, but is it still the case that in reality, there’s a red tomato a meter away? I think so, but could I be wrong? Could I be misinterpreting the nature of my perceptions?

We have misinterpreted our perceptions before.

We used to think the Earth is flat, because it looks that way. Pythagoras discovered that we were wrong.

Then we thought that the Earth is the unmoving center of the Universe, again because it looks that way. Copernicus and Galileo discovered, again, that we were wrong.

Galileo then wondered if we might be misinterpreting our experiences in other ways. He wrote: “I think that tastes, odors, colors, and so on reside in consciousness. Hence if the living creature were removed, all these qualities would be annihilated.”

That’s a stunning claim. Could Galileo be right? Could we really be misinterpreting our experiences that badly? What does modern science have to say about this?

Neuroscientists tell us that about a third of the brain’s cortex is engaged in vision. When you simply open your eyes and look about this room, billions of neurons and trillions of synapses are engaged.

This is a bit surprising, because to the extent that we think about vision at all, we think of it as like a camera.

It just takes a picture of objective reality as it is. There is a part of vision that’s like a camera: the eye has a lens that focuses an image on the back of the eye where there are 130 million photoreceptors, so the eye is like a 130-megapixel camera.

But that doesn’t explain the billions of neurons and trillions of synapses that are engaged in vision. What are these neurons up to?

Neuroscientists tell us that they are creating, in real time, all the shapes, objects, colors, and motions that we see.

It feels like we’re just taking a snapshot of this room the way it is, but in fact, we’re constructing everything that we see. We don’t construct the whole world at once. We construct what we need in the moment.

There are many demonstrations that are quite compelling that we construct what we see. I’ll just show you two.

In this example, you see some red discs with bits cut out of them, but if I just rotate the disks a little bit, suddenly, you see a 3D cube pop out of the screen. Now, the screen of course is flat, so the three-dimensional cube that you’re experiencing must be your construction.

In this next example, you see glowing blue bars with pretty sharp edges moving across a field of dots. In fact, no dots move. All I’m doing from frame to frame is changing the colors of dots from blue to black or black to blue. But when I do this quickly, your visual system creates the glowing blue bars with the sharp edges and the motion. There are many more examples, but these are just two that you construct what you see.

 But neuroscientists go further.

They say that we reconstruct reality. So, when I have an experience that I describe as a red tomato, that experience is actually an accurate reconstruction of the properties of a real red tomato that would exist even if I weren’t looking.

Why would neuroscientists say that we don’t just construct, we reconstruct?

The standard argument given is usually an evolutionary one.

Those of our ancestors who saw more accurately had a competitive advantage compared to those who saw less accurately, and therefore they were more likely to pass on their genes.

We are the offspring of those who saw more accurately, and so we can be confident that, in the normal case, our perceptions are accurate.

You see this in the standard textbooks. One textbook says, for example, “Evolutionarily speaking, vision is useful precisely because it is so accurate.” So the idea is that accurate perceptions are fitter perceptions. They give you a survival advantage.

Is this correct? Is this the right interpretation of evolutionary theory? Well, let’s first look at a couple of examples in nature.

The Australian jewel beetle is dimpled, glossy and brown. The female is flightless. The male flies, looking for a hot female. When he finds one, he alights and mates.

There’s another species in the outback, Homo sapiens. The male of this species has a massive brain that he uses to hunt for cold beer. And when he finds one, he drains it, and sometimes throws the bottle into the outback.

Now, as it happens, these bottles are dimpled, glossy, and just the right shade of brown to tickle the fancy of these beetles. The males swarm all over the bottles trying to mate. They lose all interest in the real females.

Classic case of the male leaving the female for the bottle. (Laughter)  The species almost went extinct.

Australia had to change its bottles to save its beetles. (Laughter)

Now, the males had successfully found females for thousands, perhaps millions of years. It looked like they saw reality as it is, but apparently not. Evolution had given them a hack.

A female is anything dimpled, glossy and brown, the bigger the better. (Laughter) Even when crawling all over the bottle, the male couldn’t discover his mistake.

Now, you might say, beetles, sure, they’re very simple creatures, but surely not mammals. Mammals don’t rely on tricks. Well, I won’t dwell on this, but you get the idea. (Laughter)

So this raises an important technical question: Does natural selection really favor seeing reality as it is?

Fortunately, we don’t have to wave our hands and guess; evolution is a mathematically precise theory. We can use the equations of evolution to check this out. We can have various organisms in artificial worlds compete and see which survive and which thrive, which sensory systems are more fit.

A key notion in those equations is fitness.

Consider this steak: What does this steak do for the fitness of an animal? Well, for a hungry lion looking to eat, it enhances fitness. For a well-fed lion looking to mate, it doesn’t enhance fitness.

And for a rabbit in any state, it doesn’t enhance fitness, so fitness does depend on reality as it is, yes, but also on the organism, its state and its action.

Fitness is not the same thing as reality as it is. And it’s fitness, and not reality as it is, that figures centrally in the equations of evolution.

10:20 So, in my lab, we have run hundreds of thousands of evolutionary game simulations with lots of different randomly chosen worlds and organisms that compete for resources in those worlds.

Some of the organisms see all of the reality, others see just part of the reality, and some see none of the reality, only fitness. Who wins?

I hate to break it to you, but perception of reality goes extinct.

In almost every simulation, organisms that see none of reality but are just tuned to fitness drive to extinction all the organisms that perceive reality as it is. So the bottom line is, evolution does not favor vertical, or accurate perceptions. Those perceptions of reality go extinct.

This is a bit stunning. How can it be that not seeing the world accurately gives us a survival advantage?

That is a bit counterintuitive. But remember the jewel beetle. The jewel beetle survived for thousands, perhaps millions of years, using simple tricks and hacks.

What the equations of evolution are telling us is that all organisms, including us, are in the same boat as the jewel beetle. We do not see reality as it is. We’re shaped with tricks and hacks that keep us alive.

Still, we need some help with our intuitions.

How can not perceiving reality as it is be useful? Well, fortunately, we have a very helpful metaphor: the desktop interface on your computer.

Consider that blue icon for a TED Talk that you’re writing. Now, the icon is blue and rectangular and in the lower right corner of the desktop. Does that mean that the text file itself in the computer is blue, rectangular, and in the lower right-hand corner of the computer? Of course not.

Anyone who thought that misinterprets the purpose of the interface. It’s not there to show you the reality of the computer. In fact, it’s there to hide that reality.

You don’t want to know about the diodes and resistors and all the megabytes of software. If you had to deal with that, you could never write your text file or edit your photo.

So the idea is that evolution has given us an interface that hides reality and guides adaptive behavior. Space and time, as you perceive them right now, are your desktop. Physical objects are simply icons in that desktop.

There’s an obvious objection.

Hoffman, if you think that train coming down the track at 200 MPH is just an icon of your desktop, why don’t you step in front of it?

And after you’re gone, and your theory with you, we’ll know that there’s more to that train than just an icon.

Well, I wouldn’t step in front of that train for the same reason that I wouldn’t carelessly drag that icon to the trash can: not because I take the icon literally — the file is not literally blue or rectangular — but I do take it seriously.

I could lose weeks of work. Similarly, evolution has shaped us with perceptual symbols that are designed to keep us alive. We’d better take them seriously.

If you see a snake, don’t pick it up. If you see a cliff, don’t jump off. They’re designed to keep us safe, and we should take them seriously. That does not mean that we should take them literally. That’s a logical error.

Another objection: There’s nothing really new here. Physicists have told us for a long time that the metal of that train looks solid but really it’s mostly empty space with microscopic particles zipping around.

There’s nothing new here. Well, not exactly. It’s like saying, I know that that blue icon on the desktop is not the reality of the computer, but if I pull out my trusty magnifying glass and look really closely, I see little pixels, and that’s the reality of the computer. Well, not really — you’re still on the desktop, and that’s the point.

Those microscopic particles are still in space and time: they’re still in the user interface. So I’m saying something far more radical than those physicists.

Finally, you might object, look, we all see the train, therefore none of us constructs the train.

But remember this example. In this example, we all see a cube, but the screen is flat, so the cube that you see is the cube that you construct. We all see a cube because we all, each one of us, constructs the cube that we see.

The same is true of the train. We all see a train because we each see the train that we construct, and the same is true of all physical objects.

We’re inclined to think that perception is like a window on reality as it is. The theory of evolution is telling us that this is an incorrect interpretation of our perceptions.

Instead, reality is more like a 3D desktop that’s designed to hide the complexity of the real world and guide adaptive behavior. Space as you perceive it is your desktop. Physical objects are just the icons in that desktop.

We used to think that the Earth is flat because it looks that way. Then we thought that the Earth is the unmoving center of reality because it looks that way. We were wrong. We had misinterpreted our perceptions.

Now we believe that spacetime and objects are the nature of reality as it is. The theory of evolution is telling us that once again, we’re wrong.

We’re misinterpreting the content of our perceptual experiences. There’s something that exists when you don’t look, but it’s not spacetime and physical objects.

(Is that true to senses that don’t need to go through the filter of the brain processors, like smell and touch?)

It’s as hard for us to let go of spacetime and objects as it is for the jewel beetle to let go of its bottle. Why?

Because we’re blind to our own blindnesses.

But we have an advantage over the jewel beetle: our science and technology.

By peering through the lens of a telescope we discovered that the Earth is not the unmoving center of reality, and by peering through the lens of the theory of evolution we discovered that spacetime and objects are not the nature of reality.

When I have a perceptual experience that I describe as a red tomato, I am interacting with reality, but that reality is not a red tomato and is nothing like a red tomato.

Similarly, when I have an experience that I describe as a lion or a steak, I’m interacting with reality, but that reality is not a lion or a steak.

And here’s the kicker: When I have a perceptual experience that I describe as a brain, or neurons, I am interacting with reality, but that reality is not a brain or neurons and is nothing like a brain or neurons.

And that reality, whatever it is, is the real source of cause and effect in the worldnot brains, not neurons.

Brains and neurons have no causal powers. They cause none of our perceptual experiences, and none of our behavior.

Brains and neurons are a species-specific set of symbols, a hack.

What does this mean for the mystery of consciousness? Well, it opens up new possibilities.

For instance, perhaps reality is some vast machine that causes our conscious experiences. I doubt this, but it’s worth exploring.

Perhaps reality is some vast, interacting network of conscious agents, simple and complex, that cause each other’s conscious experiences. Actually, this isn’t as crazy an idea as it seems, and I’m currently exploring it.

But here’s the point: Once we let go of our massively intuitive but massively false assumption about the nature of reality, it opens up new ways to think about life’s greatest mystery.

I bet that reality will end up turning out to be more fascinating and unexpected than we’ve ever imagined.

The theory of evolution presents us with the ultimate dare: Dare to recognize that perception is not about seeing truth, it’s about having kids. And by the way, even this TED is just in your head.

Chris Anderson: First of all, some people may just be profoundly depressed at the thought that, if evolution does not favor reality, doesn’t that to some extent undermine all our endeavors here, all our ability to think that we can think the truth, possibly even including your own theory, if you go there?

Donald Hoffman: Well, this does not stop us from a successful science. What we have is one theory that turned out to be false, that perception is like reality and reality is like our perceptions. That theory turns out to be false.

Okay, throw that theory away. That doesn’t stop us from now postulating all sorts of other theories about the nature of reality, so it’s actually progress to recognize that one of our theories was false. So science continues as normal. There’s no problem here.

CA: This is cool, but what you’re saying I think is it’s possible that evolution can still get you to reason.

DH: Yes. Now that’s a very, very good point. The evolutionary game simulations that I showed were specifically about perception, and they do show that our perceptions have been shaped not to show us reality as it is, but that does not mean the same thing about our logic or mathematics.

We haven’t done these simulations, but my bet is that we’ll find that there are some selection pressures for our logic and our mathematics to be at least in the direction of truth. I mean, if you’re like me, math and logic is not easy.

We don’t get it all right, but at least the selection pressures are not uniformly away from true math and logic. So I think that we’ll find that we have to look at each cognitive faculty one at a time and see what evolution does to it.

What’s true about perception may not be true about math and logic. (Fact is, human use vision (perception) 80% of all our senses.)

CA: I mean, really what you’re proposing is a kind of modern-day Bishop Berkeley interpretation of the world: consciousness causes matter, not the other way around.

DH: Well, it’s slightly different than Berkeley. Berkeley thought that, he was a deist, and he thought that the ultimate nature of reality is God and so forth, and I don’t need to go where Berkeley’s going, so it’s quite a bit different from Berkeley. I call this conscious realism. It’s actually a very different approach.

Donald Hoffman on March 2015

Note 1: The way I comprehended this awesome speech is:

1. There are only 2 realities:  The survival process of the species and Death

2. If mankind tampers with the survival process we are doomed (as we already decimated countless other species)

3. We don’t love Death. We don’t love making babies: we just deal with this survival reality as best we can.

4. Love is not within the realm of making babies: we just fall in love.

5. Keep mathematics and logic out of the survival process and do not allow them to give us new ideas on that topic

Note 2: Human species survived for millions of years without knowing that earth is Not round or that it was turning around the sun. Now, our species want to colonize Mars. What for? If all these expenditure on discovering the galaxies and building nuclear missiles… were applied to preserving the climate change for our survival for a couple centuries more.

Didn’t George looked like you?

George Floyd #

René Philombe wrote in 1977.

The man who looks like you,

.. Why ask me
If I’m from Africa
If I’m from America
If I’m from Asia
If I’m from Europe

Why ask me
The length of my nose
The thickness of my mouth
The color of my skin
What about the name of my gods?

I’m not black
I’m not a red one
I’m not a white man
I’m not a yellow

Because I am a man
The man of all heaven
The man of all time
The man who looks like you!

Western colonial powers to dig into its “reserves” of sovereign funds

Implicit sovereign funds of centuries of looted wealth from their colonies

Covid-19 pandemics has forced the colonial powers to start printing currencies in order to cover for the “expenses” of focusing on their crumbling health institutions and lack of the necessary health human services.

They are printing money in the $ trillion, money Not covered my any incoming foreign currencies or export or expanding internal economy.

Fending off mass revolts of serious decrease in standard of living is the price for the creation of inflation at long period. 

A quick overview that condenses the main phases of western colonial powers wealth accumulation.

1) Slave trades:

After Constantinople fell in 1443 into the hands of the Ottoman Empire, all the slave routes from central and eastern Europe stopped. The Europeans colonial powers had to seek slaves from Africa, indirectly from Cairo, Tunisia, Algeria and directly by their own ships.

One third of the slaves died in the crossing of the African desert and as many in the crossing of the oceans.

All the universities and facilities and fancy buildings and institutions were the result of slave trading. And the symbols are falling and the universities are starting to redirect funds for the inclusion of “minorities” into their programs.

Actually, the American colonies revolted against England because the British Empire made it illegal to “import slaves”. Implicitly, England didn’t stop trading slaves but this law was a sword to harass the rich colons who were expanding their business and Not paying enough taxes.

2) First industrial revolution and child labor.

In order to export products to the colonies at exorbitant “added values”, the colonial powers in mainly England and France put children and women to work in sweatshop factories and in the mines.

Generations of youth were lost in shortened life expectancy, uneducated, and a life of miseries and indignities.

These generations were sacrificed simply because the people in the colonies were Not to learn any skills in production or transforming their raw materials into even semi-finished products.

3) Second industrial revolution and mass infrastructure and transport within their countries and in the colonies in order to quicken the exploitation of the raw materials in their colonies and fast transport of moving of their troops.

4) From 1950 to 1980, China experienced 30 years of internal instability, famine and inequities. Millions of Chinese barely survived the many dogmatic pronouncement of Mao that reduced this Nation into stagnation at all level: economically, financially, education, culture…

Millions starved, were dispatched into far away villages and camps, and forgotten there. China just lived in the memory of faked propaganda as the leading fair and equitable communist nation. The western colonial powers had a field day of Not encountering any serious economic competitor.

5) The fall of Berlin Wall and invasion of financial multinationals of world markets.

The US lead the way in concretizing the notion of “World Free Market” by forcing the acceptance of their financial multinationals in the economy and finance and production in the foreign countries.

Financial crisis followed crisis and many countries suffered the movements of faked and fictitious trillion of dollars circulating around the globe, with no fundamental coverage in Gold or real material production.

And what now?

China is in the forefront at all levels.

And still China is the leading country in sweatshop factories, displacing millions to countryside whenever a giga project is underway, and many millions are barely surviving.

Yes, still generation of Chinese are still being sacrificed in order to supply this God of Export, as many generations of the poorer classes in Europe and USA were sacrificed a centuries ago.

And what now?

China is back to re-creating the Silk Road, inland and by sea and is the second most powerful economic power, and by far the the leading creditor nation, if Not the only real creditor nation with $ trillions to spare and buy foreign bonds.

Fact is, almost all States are debtor States, even Japan is the second debt nation after the USA.

Only China and a few of Northern European States (Scandinavian States of Norway, Sweden, Danmark, Holland, Finland…) have “sovereign funds” to rely on in time of major financial crisis.

The colonial powers have to dig into its “reserves” of sovereign funds of centuries of looted wealth in order to fend off mass revolts of serious decrease in standard of living

Note: When all the US liabilities are accounted for, US national debt amount to $135 trillion, Not the official $26 trillion. In this Covid-19 pandemics, the US printed (balance sheet) over $10 trillion. Mind you that during the financial crisis  of 2007, US printed less than one trillion.

No country ever was paid on the principal for US bond purchases. Trump financial blackmail of Saudi Kingdom was of two kinds: Fresh money on useless weapon, and slashing a large portion of Saudi principal, thus reducing the interest to be redeemed.

When is the next holocaust?

As if these kinds genocide didn’t take place several times since WW2

The Horrors in this century: atomic bombs, chemical weapons used in Korea, China, Viet Nam, Iraq.

Illegal cluster bombs and missiles, depleted Uranium, phosphorous bombs, biological weapons…

Mass transfer of people, in Myanmar, the Palestinians, Iraq, Syria, former Yugoslavia, Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia, Congo, Rwanda, Tibet… And in China from 1950 to 1980 and still being applied occasionally to the millions of Chinese

Shameful refugee camps strewn everywhere, and refugees converging from everywhere for food, water and makeshift shelter… Converging from remote countries in desert lands, jungles, seas… Crossing unwelcomed closed borders…

Sea refugees, drowning in seas, refused access to ports…

Note: Re-edit of “Otherwise, the next holocaust is imminent.  April 9, 2010

Otherwise, the next holocaust is imminent; (Apr. 9, 2010)

A month ago, I saw an old Japanese movie “The seven samurais”.

You have this village of rice growers experiencing yearly raids by a gang of 40 robbers as the crop is harvested and stored.

The village leaders decided this year to hire a few samurais to defend the village on the expected date of the raid. The leader suggested hiring 4 samurais, to be fed expensive rice though he knew perfectly well that the village needs at least seven samurais: the leader wanted to lure the village into accepting this proposition to circumvent their miserly attitude.

The first hired samurai was to select the other six samurais but he found only five willing to die for just food and lodging, just to defend “despicable” land growers.

The village idiot let the secret to the samurais that the village has hidden plenty of food and expensive condiment and they are just acting poor and starving.

The samurais trained and disciplined the villagers to take arms and defend the village; the samurais were the squad leaders at the major entrances of the village.

As the samurais arrived to the village all young girls were rounded up and hidden out of sight. Males believed that girls will instantly fall in love with samurais and then flee the village at the first occasion.

The main excuse of the village males was that customs of class distinctions forbade land growers into marrying with noble men.

Finally, the samurais successfully defended the village and 5 of them died in that endeavor.

The next day, the villagers were back growing rice and harvesting fields as a routine way of life.  The leader of the surviving samurai said to the young samurai in training: “We lost again. Peasants won.”

Elite classes claim their privileges as emanating from a God who divided mankind into two major groups: the governing and the slave classes.

In aristocratic Europe of the last century elite classes resented many religious sects, especially those living separated from the society or in ghettos.

(It is true today and for good reasons: they behave as cults, or the “preferred elite” to their God)

the Jews proclaimed to be the select race in face of the European elite classes who considered themselves the select class.

Pogroms after pogroms and the Jews refused to learn and relent on their myths on the ground that it was this myth that kept them united over the years.

Then pogrom was elevated to holocaust:  Now it was a whole nation claiming to be the select and purest race.

Nazi propaganda convinced most Germans that they are the purest race of all and must dominate.

There is no doubt in my mind that most Germans implicitly knew of the holocaust of Jews and other lower “races” and that genocide was at work: they opted to play it dumb as long as they were winning battles after battles.

I also believe that Nazi Germany didn’t care for the Jews in the “Arabic world”: they didn’t exhibit any threat to the purity of their race; it was the Jews in Europe, citizens in European States, which were to be exterminated.

Either the myth or the de facto power was to win in this race among select races!

The Jews still refused to learn and relent after this first terrible holocaust.

After the war, the US and European States decided that the best way to stop the resumption of pogroms in their elitist culture was to ship the Jews to Palestine and create a State for them.

The European elite classes knew that pogroms will recur since they staunchly clanged to the ideology of being the crème of the crème.  Europe aristocrats and elite classes sent the Jews packing to Palestine with plenty of financing, arms. and political support in the UN.

For over 60 years, Israel has been emulating the western mentality of being “the select people much better of the neighboring masses.”

The Palestinians, consistently labeled “Arabs” by the Zionist propaganda, have been humiliated as fit only for labor work.

Millions of Palestinians have been massacred and their descendants want revenge.

Millions of Palestinians have been chased out of their villages and towns to live in ghettos of camps and they want revenge and that the UN applies the right of return voted on in 1948.

Ironically, Israel is still pursuing “transfer” policies with the tacit agreement of the US and many European States.

After 60 years of establishing this implanted colonial State of Israel, now the “orthodox” Jews want Israel to be of pure Jews.

Mosques and churches have to be demolished and the Pharisee laws applied over the land.

The Western States are tired of their monster Frankenstein creation.

The Moslem/Arab World is running out of patience.

Secular Jews in Israel have got to get organized and united and win the next election!

Otherwise, the next holocaust is imminent.

Tidbits #57

Once fish swallow more micro-plastic than plankton, we are doomed. Everywhere human navigate, micro-plastic exist. Space and beer have micro-plastic. Actually, the sources of rivers are more polluted in micro-plastic than the rest of the river.

The past is supposed to be a phase to grow up, Not to dwell upon. You moved forward, just keep moving onward.

Private Lebanese banks (there are No publicly owned banks), the hunting dogs for our militia/mafia “leaders” , have figured out that it cannot lose by lending the government at 18% interest rate (Ponzi scheme), on the assumption that a State cannot go bankrupt. The government has always enough assets and “properties” to redeem its debt to the banks. The banks are working also on the assumption that it is their “shareholders” (most of them are the successive Parliament deputies in the last 3 decades) who want their money back, and Not the 80% of the small depositors who lost everything and are hungry and in despair.

I contend that the purpose of any “sovereign fund” is to re-launch the economy when the banks and financial institutions exercise undue pressure on the government in order to keep the interest rates high for the small enterprises.

The gross domestic product GDP does Not allow for the health of our children, the air quality, water quality, the quality of their education or the joy of their play, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public official

When you have two sets of laws, two sets of norms, two sets of values, two sets of roads.’ How would you call such a State of Israel? Apartheid for sure, and worse, a colonial occupier too

A lot of hysterical outburst for re-instituting Aghia Sophia as a mosque? It was a mosque for 450 years, transformed into a museum in 1937, still a museum, but can be used to also pray. And why you all forgot that mandated France, gave away to Turkey Syrian land, as vast as current Syria?

Short-lived preferences (like joining a guerrilla movement) may be impossible to undo when preferences return to original state (impossible to get out when emotions are back to normal)

The ancient city-state of Athens could Not swallow the concept of free expressions in public. Athens political structure was mainly controlled by the oligarchy and the rich conservatives. And the famous “philosophers” like Socrates, Anaxagoras and Protagoras charged that all these adventurer aristocrats depleted the finances of the City with extravagant wars, for seeking political status. The oligarchy fomented successive wars on other cities in order to keep the empire cowed and the subjugated city-states paying their due taxes.

The soul, the spirit… are what your brain interpret of your sensory experiences. Since we mostly ignore or forget the “context” of our experiences (people, environment, emotional status…) it is impossible to classify the types of spirit we ended up with.

A purely military government in Lebanon is Not necessary. What is needed is that the army, Hezbollah and Syria agree on the kind of coup d’etat is appropriate and how to close all the borders for coming in and going out. Without any exception and start open trials.

The Middle-East “status” has to wait the negotiations on the status of sphere of influence among US, China, Russia and EU. Covid-19 is the catalyst to get these super countries around a table.

Juin 1958, lors de la conférence, à Berne, célébrant le 50e anniversaire de la découverte de la relativité, Max Born, ami de longue date d’Einstein, chargé de rendre hommage à Lorentz et Poincaré déclara « petitement » : « Le raisonnement qu’a utilisé Henri Poincaré est exactement le même que celui qu’Einstein avait introduit dans son premier article de 1905 …  » 

The work of Henri Poincaré precede the principles “discovered” by Einstein. Einstein le pilla, concerne principalement les mathématiques pures, la physique et l’astronomie. Miléna MARIC, la 1ère femme d’Einstein, était une remarquable matheuse qui a rédigé une bonne partie des travaux d’einstein qui était physicien mais pas matheux.

Les deux génies méconnus , Clémence Royer ( qui a inventé la physique quantique ) et Burkhard Heim ( qui a fusionné théorie de la relativité et physique quantique ) .

Mobile phone Towers of terror? In Mexico, technicians repairing mobile phone towers dread a common discovery: parasite antennas installed by drug cartels that piggyback on telecom company infrastructure.

Reuters reports that some workers have been threatened and even kidnapped to repay cartel equipment, while others are extorted for protection money. Some of that cash in turn comes from US and Chinese firms like AT&T and Huawei that operate in Mexico. One thing is clear: The Mexican government is looking the other way—Tim Fernholz

The US poultry industry is actively exposing its workers to Covid-19. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been protecting corporations over workers,

Have ever felt you are walking on air?

Note: this is a long story/song that spanned almost 3 decades. I cut it short in this post.

I should have told Barbara (Written in 2003 and posted on 2008)

I called up Barbara and I invited myself to stay overnight at her apartment.

She had many friends.

She was attached at the moment to a fashionable young man,

Working in fashion and with fashion, but they had problems.


She appeared depressed and disappointed and not in the mood for me.

Her TV was on 24 hours.  I slept and woke up with the TV on.


I visited her six years later during my second extended trip to the USA:

Barbara’s sister Sue had told me that Barbara was married and living in Oklahoma City.

I met Barbara at Thanksgiving and she did not look the Barbara of my vision.


Her skin looked darker, her face emaciated,

Down to earth, resigned and decked in simple blue jeans and an old black sweater.

She was married to a full-blooded American Indian, herself a half-blooded,

A soft spoken husband, a polite artist who toured the USA exhibiting his paintings.


She stayed at home designing jewelry and managing her man’s business.

I accepted her invitation for a Thanksgiving lunch.

I went down to Oklahoma City for an important and specific purpose of mine:

I was determined to tell Barbara my secret.


I went down with my steady girlfriend at the time.

Barbara’s eyes had an ironic shine looking at my oriental short friend.

She asked my friend all kinds of questions about our relationship,

How we met and what are our plans.


She said to me: “You know, someone needs news about your friend”.

She meant that her sister needed to know the whereabouts of her ex-husband.

I had lost track of the whereabouts of my friend too and could not be of much help.


Barbara was entitled to know the truth,

That the first time she walked with me,

She made me feel that I was the most glamorous guy in town.

But I did not tell Barbara the truth.


I don’t recall that I talked during my two hours stay at Thanksgiving.

Maybe it did not feel right at that moment

But I should have persevered on my initial decision:

This truth was hers no matter what.


She could be eighty, but age does not erase the feeling,

That to my young eyes,

She was the most glamorous woman I set my eyes on.


She could be a hundred, but age does not change the fact,

That Barbara made me once walk on air.

“If you break it, you own it. You’ll be the proud owner of 25 million Iraqis in 18 fractious provinces?”

Why you failed to resign General Colin Powell, former Secretary of State?

“What choices had I? After all it was the wish of My President”? 

Do you recall General Colin Powell? Former Secretary of State to Bush Jr. who invaded and destroyed Iraq and its people in 2003?

Well, he is still waiting for answers on Iraq invasion?

And refusing to admit his cowardness?

An educated cowardness that fail to confront genocide is the worst kind of sins.

Powell had lamely said to Bush Jr.: ““If you break it, you own it. You’ll be the proud owner of 25 million Iraqis in 18 fractious provinces.”

As if this brainless, alcoholic President had any notion of owning the safety, security and health of 18 million Iraqis. Bush Jr. almost choked to death voraciously swallowing a hamburger, Not trained to chew as decent people should

Illegal Depleted uranium bombs and missiles used extensively, most ancient archeological sites devastated and used are military depot for ammunition, oil pouring in valleys and water streams

More than one million civilian Iraqis dead, three times that number handicapped and with chronic illnesses and suffering until now, babies still being born with 2 heads and no members, as many refugees in bordering countries and inside Iraq, in Infamous camps and prisons (Abu Ghraib prison..)

By Published in NYT July 16, 2020

Early one morning in August 2002, Jack Straw, the British foreign minister at the time, drove with a small entourage to a beach house in East Hampton on Long Island.

The house belonged to the billionaire Ronald Lauder, who for most of August was hosting his good friend and Straw’s American counterpart, Colin Powell.

The foreign minister and the secretary of state had become extraordinarily close over the previous year.

Powell’s customary 11 p.m. calls to the Straw household had prompted Straw’s wife to refer to him as “the other man in my life.” The August meeting at the Lauder residence, Powell would later say, was an attempt to answer a question: “Could we both stop a war?”

For nearly a year — since just a few days after the Sept. 11 attacks — Powell had watched as the idea of invading Iraq, once the preoccupation of a handful of die-hards in other corners of the Bush administration, took on increasingly undeniable momentum. (Two years before attacking and occupying Iraq, the plan was already drawn)

Powell thought this invasion would be disastrous — and yet the prospect had for months seemed so preposterous to Powell and his deputies at the State Department that he assumed it would burn out of its own accord.

But by that August, it had become evident to Powell that he was Not winning the argument.

On Monday, Aug. 5, a couple of weeks before the meeting in East Hampton, he and Condoleezza Rice, President George W. Bush’s national security adviser, joined Bush for dinner at the White House residence.

For two hours, Rice said little while Powell proceeded to do what no one else in the Bush administration had done or would do: tell the president to his face that things in Iraq could go horribly wrong. “If you break it, you own it,” he famously told Bush. “This will become your first term.”

As they sat on the veranda of the beach house, Powell recounted the dinner meeting to Straw. “I told him, ‘Removing Saddam is the easy part,’” he said.

“ ‘You’ll be the proud owner of 25 million Iraqis in 18 fractious provinces.’” They talked for three hours. Powell spoke ruefully of Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld — men he had known for years, both of whom had changed, he told Straw, and not for the better.

Straw listened sympathetically. He shared Powell’s views on the folly of invasion. His own boss, Prime Minister Tony Blair, professed a commitment to regime change in Iraq, but one that was orderly and supported by other countries in the West as well as in the Arab world.

Such a coalition, achieved through the passage of a United Nations resolution, might persuade Saddam Hussein to comply with weapons inspectors and avoid military confrontation.

But Blair’s attempts to deliver this message to Bush were not getting through, in part because the prime minister was not terribly forceful in delivering it. Straw was plainly frustrated with Blair, who he feared was becoming Bush’s enabler. Powell pressed him to keep trying. “You’ve got to get Tony to convince the president to go to the U.N.,” he said.

The day after he returned to London, Straw warned Blair that he should not dismiss the prospect of Bush’s unilaterally taking his country to war. “You have to take this seriously,” the foreign minister said, “because there are contrary voices. Cheney and Rumsfeld are in a different place. We haven’t landed this yet.”

Powell was Blair’s ally in this cause, but Straw could see that the secretary of state was only a single voice in Bush’s ear, and not necessarily the one that counted.

As it turned out, the secretary’s voice was the most prescient in the Bush administration.

And yet Powell’s “you break it, you own it” warning to the president would be overshadowed by the fact that he was also the war’s most effective salesman. The sale had been made in a speech before the United Nations on Feb. 5, 2003: a methodical recitation of the American intelligence agencies’ findings on Iraq’s weapons program demonstrating the urgency of putting an end to it, by invasion if necessary.

It was precisely the secretary of state’s skepticism about the wisdom of war that made him the Bush White House’s indispensable pitchman for it.

Alone among the president’s war council, the four-star general was seen by Republicans and Democrats, the news media and the public as a figure of unassailable credibility. If Powell said Hussein presented an immediate danger to the United States, then surely it was so.

The speech remains one of the most indelible public moments of the Bush presidency.

By the time Powell resigned from his post, his performance that morning before the U.N. Security Council had come to symbolize the tragic recklessness of Bush’s decision to go to war.

Iraq, it was by then widely understood, had played No role in the Sept. 11 attacks, nor did it possess weapons of mass destruction. Nearly all the intelligence Powell presented to the world in his speech turned out to be false.

Credit…Photo illustration by Joan Wong

With the benefit of 15 years of hindsight, it’s possible to see Powell’s U.N. speech as a signal event in the broader story of American governance.

It is Exhibit A for the argument that would help propel Donald Trump to the White House in 2016 — that the U.S. government was not on the level, that the “establishment” figures of both parties were at once fools and manipulators.

In June, when Powell told CNN that he would be voting for Joe Biden in November, Trump shot back on Twitter: “Didn’t Powell say that Iraq had ‘weapons of mass destruction?’ They didn’t, but off we went to WAR!”

Because of its long shadow, the U.N. speech invites one of the Bush presidency’s most poignant what-ifs.

What if that same voice that publicly proclaimed the necessity of invading Iraq had instead told Bush privately that it was not merely an invitation to unintended consequences but a mistake, as he personally believed it to be?

What if he had said No to Bush when he asked him to speak before the U.N.?

Powell would almost certainly have been obligated to resign, and many if not all of his top staff members involved in the Iraq issue would also have quit; several had already considered doing so the previous summer.

If the State Department’s top team had emptied out their desks, what would Powell’s close friend Straw have done? “If Powell had decided to resign in advance of the Iraq war,” Straw told me, “I would almost certainly have done so, too.”

Blair’s support in the Labour Party would have cratered — and had Blair withdrawn his support for war under pressure from Parliament or simply failed to win an authorization vote, the narrative of collapsed momentum would have dominated the news coverage for weeks.

Doubters in the upper ranks of the American military — there were several — would have been empowered to speak out; intelligence would have been re-examined; Democrats, now liberated from the political pressures of the midterm elections, would most likely have joined the chorus.

This domino effect required a first move by Bush’s secretary of state. “But I knew I didn’t have any choice,” Powell told me. “What choice did I have? He’s the president.” (That’s a lot of crap)

I’m sort of not the resigning type,” Straw said. “Nor is Powell. And that’s the problem.” (Two people holding on faked power)

In August 2018, in the course of researching a book on the lead-up to the Iraq war, I went to see Powell at the office in Alexandria, Va., that he has maintained since leaving the Bush administration in early 2005.

Powell, who is now 83, is as proud and blunt-speaking as he was during his career in public service.

Over the course of our two hour long conversations, he made clear that he was all too aware of the lonely turf he was destined to occupy in history.

It was not the turf that anyone, least of all Powell himself, would have imagined for him in 2001.

He entered the Bush administration as a four-star general of immense popularity and political influence. He left it four years later, discarded by Bush in favor of a more like-minded chief diplomat, Condoleezza Rice.

He mournfully predicted to others that his obituaries first paragraph would include his authorship of the U.N. speech.

In the decade and a half since then, Powell’s world and Bush’s have intersected only at the margins.

The secretary takes pains not to speak ill of the president he once served, even when he announced in 2008 that he would be supporting Barack Obama as Bush’s successor.

He was on hand for the opening of Bush’s presidential library in 2013. But he has not attended the administration’s annual alumni gatherings, and since leaving office he has refused to defend Bush’s legacy-defining decision to invade Iraq.

On the one other occasion I interviewed Powell, while gathering material for a book about Bush’s presidency in 2006, he was wary and did not wish to speak on the record.

It was a time of chaos in Iraq, and of score-settling memoirs in Washington.

A dozen years later, however, that caginess had mostly fallen away. Some of the core mysteries that still hung over the most consequential American foreign-policy decision in a half-century, I found, remained mysteries even to Powell.

At one point during our first conversation in 2018, he paraphrased a line about Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction from the intelligence assessment that had informed his U.N. speech, which intelligence officials had assured him was rock solid: “ ‘We judge that they have 100 to 500 metric tons of chemical weapons, all produced within the last year.’ How could they have known that?” he said with caustic disbelief.

I told Powell I intended to track down the authors of that assessment. Smirking, he replied, “You might tell them I’m curious about it.”

Not long after meeting Powell, I did manage to speak to several analysts who helped produce the classified assessment of Iraq’s supposed weapons program and who had not previously talked with reporters.

In fact, I learned, there was exactly zero proof that Hussein had a chemical-weapons stockpile.

The C.I.A. analysts knew only that he once had such a stockpile, before the 1991 Persian Gulf war, and that it was thought to be as much as 500 metric tons before the weapons were destroyed.

The analysts had noted what seemed to be recent suspicious movement of vehicles around suspected chemical-weapons plants. There also seemed to be signs — though again, no hard proof — that Iraq had an active biological-weapons program, so, they reasoned, the country was probably manufacturing chemical weapons as well.

This was, I learned, typical of the prewar intelligence estimates: They amounted to semi-educated guesses built on previous and seldom-challenged guesses that always assumed the worst and imagined deceptiveness in everything the Iraqi regime did. The analysts knew not to present these judgments as facts. But that distinction had become lost by the time Powell spoke before the U.N.

Moreover, a circular reasoning guided the intelligence community’s prewar estimates.

As an intelligence official — one of many who spoke to me on the condition of anonymity — said: “We knew where we were headed, and that was war. Which ironically made it that much more difficult to change the analytic line that we’d stuck with for 10 years. For 10 years, it was our pretty strong judgment that Saddam had chemical capability.” Whether or not this was still true, “with American soldiers about to go in, we weren’t going to change our mind and say, ‘Never mind.’”

“I am capable of self-pity,” Powell wrote in “My American Journey,” his 1995 memoir. “But not for long.”

In his ascent to chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H.W. Bush, the Harlem-born son of Jamaican immigrants had prevailed over racism, hard-ass generals in the Army and right-wingers who found him insufficiently hawkish.

His appointment by Bush and Cheney, then the secretary of defense, also turned out to be a stroke of political genius.

During the gulf war, his poise and resolve on television rallied Americans leery of foreign entanglements after the horror of Vietnam. It was thoroughly unsurprising when Bush’s son appointed Powell his secretary of state.

But their relationship was fraught from the start. Bush was not at all like his father, whom Powell had greatly admired.

The new president was far more conservative, far less reverential of international alliances.

Bush also understood the power that Powell’s popularity conferred on him, and he knew that Powell, who had once considered and decided against running for president, could change his mind anytime he wished.

And when it came to policy in the Middle East, Powell was not where the rest of Bush’s team was. He was, as a top National Security Council staff member who respected Powell would recall, “more of a dissident, who,” as the administration drifted steadily toward confrontation with Hussein, “would say, ‘I’m fighting a rearguard action against these [expletive] crazies.’”

Recalling the chaotic days after the Sept. 11 attacks, Powell told me, “The American people wanted somebody killed.”

Bush Jr. himself confessed to a gathering of religious leaders in the Oval Office on the afternoon of Sept. 20, “I’m having difficulty controlling my blood lust.”

For Powell, it was plain at the time that the “somebody” deserving to be killed was Osama bin Laden, along with his network and the Taliban government in Afghanistan that had given him haven.

When Bush and the rest of his senior foreign-policy team gathered at Camp David four days after the attacks, Powell argued that the world would support such a mission — but that a global coalition would fall apart if the U.S. began attacking other countries.

Rumsfeld (Defense minister) archly replied: “Then maybe it’s not a coalition worth having.

Rumsfeld argued that a “global war on terror” should in fact be global. This was not an academic argument.

A number of voices inside the administration had for years before the Sept. 11 attacks viewed Hussein as a principal sponsor of radical Palestinian groups and now maintained that any counterterrorism effort worth its salt necessarily encompassed Iraq.

These figures were concentrated in Rumsfeld’s Pentagon and in Cheney’s office. They included Rumsfeld’s deputy, Paul Wolfowitz; the under secretary of defense for policy, Douglas Feith; Scooter Libby, Cheney’s chief of staff; and Cheney himself. (They are members or supporters of the extremist Evangelical sect that believe a Second Coming is soon when Israel occupies Jerusalem entirely)

At Camp David, Wolfowitz went so far as to argue that Hussein was most likely behind the Sept. 11 attacks. Iraq was “the head of the snake,” he contended, and should be America’s primary target. Powell thought the deputy secretary of defense’s logic was absurd. But, he noted, Bush did not dismiss it outright, saying instead, “OK, we’ll leave Iraq for later.”

Bush was true to his word. On Oct. 7, the president announced the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom, a military attack on Al Qaeda and the Taliban. His administration’s policy focused on Afghanistan throughout the final months of 2001. But while spending Thanksgiving with Army troops at Fort Campbell in Kentucky, the president proclaimed, “Afghanistan is just the beginning of the war on terror.”

A month later, Bush was briefed by Gen. Tommy Franks of U.S. Central Command on a possible plan for invading Iraq. And a month after that, on Jan. 29, 2002, the president delivered his State of the Union address branding Iraq, Iran and North Korea the Axis of Evil.

“Iraq,” Bush Jr. told Congress, “continues to flaunt its hostility towards America and to support terror.”

Throughout early 2002, the Iraq debate played out largely in the National Security Council cabinet-level meetings known as the Principals Committee.

Powell advocated the approach championed by Blair and Straw: have Bush go to the U.N. and press for a resolution condemning Hussein.

Rumsfeld was adamant that the United States should not be slowed down by coalition-building.

The interagency gatherings often descended into face-to-face bickering between the two sides, quarrels that spilled over into bureaucratic back alleys. Skilled infighter though he was, Powell was plainly frustrated by what one Principals Committee attendee described as “Don’s style, this Socratic asking of questions rather than tell you where he stood.”

Rumsfeld was not Powell’s only rival in the room. Cheney had a history with both men. He owed his career to Rumsfeld, whose coattails had carried him from the Office of Economic Opportunity to the Ford White House in 1974.

And as the elder Bush’s defense secretary, Cheney watched attentively as his Joint Chiefs chairman hoovered up publicity. That had been useful during the gulf war, up to a point. But Powell had also offered unsolicited policymaking advice to the White House and off-the-cuff troop-downsizing estimates to the press.

Cheney — a figure of legendary discretion whose Secret Service code name at one time was Back Seat — had come to believe that Colin Powell was playing for Colin Powell.

In the Principals Committee meetings, men who had known one another for decades could no longer disguise their ill feelings. At the beginning of one meeting, Richard Armitage, Powell’s deputy secretary, genially offered the vice president some coffee. Cheney smiled. “Rich,” Armitage recalled him replying, “if you gave it to me, I’d have to have a taster.”

As one of Powell’s subordinates put it: “The secretary and Armitage thought we could get by with a rope-a-dope approach: Let’s play along. Let them hang themselves. Because this idea is so cockamamie, it’ll never happen.”

Of Hussein, “Powell kept saying, ‘He’s a bad guy in a box, so let’s keep building the box,’” another one of his deputies recalled. “And he hoped that over time, the president might say: ‘Ah, OK, I get it. The box is good.’”

But by the summer of 2002, this argument was clearly losing ground.

One morning that summer, Powell’s under secretary of state for political affairs, Marc Grossman, called Libby’s deputy, Eric Edelman. The two had traveled in the same foreign-policy circles for decades, but their collegiality had begun to fray over Iraq. So Edelman was surprised when Grossman said, “I’d like to meet with you on some kind of neutral territory.” They chose the coffee shop in the basement of the Corcoran Gallery.

Once they were seated, Grossman got right to the point. “Eric,” Edelman recalled him asking, “has the president already decided to go to war, and we’re just in this interagency circle jerk?

“I don’t think the president has decided to go to war,” Edelman replied. “But I do think the president has decided the problem Saddam presents can’t just drag on forever.”

Just hours before Powell joined Bush for dinner on Aug. 5, General Franks briefed Bush on what would become the final war plan for invading Iraq.

Still, Powell could see that his grim prophecy to the president — “this will become your first term” — registered. “What should I do?” Bush asked.

Go to the United Nations, Powell advised him. After all, Hussein had violated numerous U.N. resolutions regarding his weapons program, aggression toward Kuwait and treatment of his own people. The U.N. was the aggrieved party. But if he were to do so, Powell added, there was a chance that Hussein would surrender his weapons. Bush would have to accept a changed regime as a substitute for regime change.

It was arguably the most important message that Bush would hear from any of his subordinates in his entire presidency — and, in what Powell left out of the message, the most important missed opportunity.

When Bush asked, “What should I do?” his secretary of state could have spoken his mind and said, “Don’t invade Iraq.” But he didn’t. (What? Didn’t Powell believe this infantile Bush Jr. needed a clear cut answer?)

Perhaps the most tireless lobbyist for invasion in 2002 was a smooth-talking Iraqi expatriate named Ahmad Chalabi.

The leader of the Iraqi National Congress, an aspiring government in exile, Chalabi had for years been feeding sympathetic policymakers and journalists a utopian vision of what a post-Hussein democratic Iraq might look like. On the veranda in East Hampton, Powell complained to Straw that Wolfowitz, Feith, Cheney and Libby were hopelessly smitten with Chalabi. “You wouldn’t believe how much this guy is shaping our policy,” he told Straw.

Chalabi had also been vigorously disseminating intelligence seeking to tie Hussein to Al Qaeda.

Cheney, Libby, Wolfowitz and Feith found his evidence on this subject to be persuasive. By contrast, Powell’s team found it highly unlikely that Hussein would consort with Islamic terrorists who despised the secular Iraqi regime.

George Tenet, the director of the C.I.A., broadly agreed with Powell on the administration hawks’ intelligence — so it was at first glance mystifying that the U.S. intelligence community, by the summer of 2002, was providing the most convincing arguments for going to war.

Tenet had by then come to believe that Bush’s mind was made up about overthrowing Hussein, even as the president continued to maintain otherwise.

Some who worked with Tenet — a Clinton holdover whose agency’s work was repeatedly criticized by Rumsfeld and others — thought he fretted that the White House would come to see him as unhelpful and proceed to disregard the C.I.A.’s assessments altogether. “Here we had this precious access,” recalled one of Tenet’s senior analysts, “and he didn’t want to blow it.”

Sometime in May 2002, Bush received a Presidential Daily Briefing from the C.I.A. that included perhaps the most alarming intelligence about Iraq that he had yet heard.

National Security Agency intercepts had picked up communications between an Iraqi general and an Iraqi procurement agent who was based in Australia. The general had directed the procurement agent to buy equipment for Iraq’s unmanned aerial vehicles program. In the spring of 2002, the agent had given an Australian equipment distributor his shopping list. Among the items was Garmin GPS software that included maps of major American cities.

Alarmed, the distributor contacted the authorities. This P.D.B. presented Bush with the first intelligence appearing to confirm his nightmare scenario: Hussein intended to attack the United States.

This marked a turning point for Bush, according to one of his senior advisers. “We get this report about, They’ve bought this software that’s supposed to be mapping the United States. He’s hearing this intel, and the diplomacy is going nowhere. And so I think that’s when he really starts thinking, I’ve got to get something done in Iraq.”

As it happened, there was a more innocent explanation for the mapping software. Two C.I.A. analysts and an Australian intelligence officer eventually brought the Iraqi procurement agent in for questioning and confronted him about the American maps. The Iraqi was stunned.

He said it was the Garmin hardware he had been interested in. The only reason he bought the mapping software, he said, was because he thought the hardware wouldn’t work without it. The presentation on the vendor’s web page seemed to confirm this account.

But this revelation, like others tempering the most dire view of Iraq’s capabilities, was swept aside by the self-compounding momentum toward war. In a speech in Cincinnati in October 2002, Bush likened America’s confrontation with Hussein to World War II — an indicator that the president could not foresee a diplomatic outcome.

In early December, word reached the C.I.A. that the White House wanted it to prepare an oral presentation on Iraq’s weapons program that would feature an “Adlai Stevenson moment” — referring to the 1962 episode in which the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. presented open-and-shut photographic evidence of Soviet ballistic-missile installations in Cuba.

The timing of the request seemed odd, given that Hans Blix, the U.N.’s chief weapons inspector, and his team were already in Iraq and would presumably be furnishing on-the-ground visual proof of Hussein’s arsenal, if it existed, any day now. The fact that such a presentation was being ordered up was tantamount to a White House vote of no confidence in Blix.

The presentation was referred to internally at the C.I.A. as the Case. That Tenet did not resist the request suggested that the agency had crossed a red line. “The first thing they teach you in C.I.A. 101 is you don’t help them make the case,” said an agency official who was involved in the project. “But we were all infected in the case for war.”


Credit…Photo illustration by Joan Wong

The task of supervising the intelligence on Iraq’s weapons program fell largely to Tenet’s deputy director, John McLaughlin. McLaughlin was a beloved figure among the agency’s analysts. As measured and even-tempered as Tenet was mercurial, he wore natty suspenders but was otherwise a by-the-book professional who pored over classified documents with a ruler, sliding it slowly downward line by line. He enjoyed performing sleight-of-hand coin tricks, which earned him the code name Merlin from the C.I.A. security detail.

McLaughlin met with the agency’s analytical team headed by Bob Walpole, the national intelligence officer for strategic programs. The deputy director told the analysts that the White House had asked for their best story on Iraq. The analysts sent up what visuals they had.

McLaughlin reviewed them with astonishment. “This is all there is?” he asked when they convened again. He also asked them, “Do we have any slam-dunk evidence of W.M.D.?

Larry Fox, a senior chemical-weapons analyst, did not watch basketball. He asked McLaughlin what “slam dunk” meant.

“Like a smoking gun,” the deputy director explained. “Undeniable. Caught red-handed.”

“Ah,” Fox said. “Well, no. We don’t have any.”

For the next two weeks, several analysts fine-tuned the presentation.

On Friday afternoon, Dec. 20, McLaughlin stood in Rumsfeld’s conference room at the Pentagon before a group that included Wolfowitz, Feith and Franks and recited the Case. Rumsfeld and his team were polite but visibly unimpressed. They asked few questions.

The following morning, McLaughlin and his colleagues were sent to the Oval Office for a repeat performance, accompanied by Tenet, for a gathering that included Bush, Cheney, Rice and Libby.

“This is a rough draft — it’s still in development,” McLaughlin began. For the next 20 or so minutes, McLaughlin spoke almost entirely uninterrupted. It was a smoother performance than his briefing the day before at the Pentagon. Bush and the others listened intently. But a thick silence settled in after he finished. “Again, this is a first draft,” Tenet assured the president.

“Nice try,” the president said to McLaughlin.

Bush did not appear to mean it sarcastically. Bush expressed his concern clearly, according to notes taken by an attendee: “Look, in about five weeks I may have to ask the fathers and mothers of America to send their sons and daughters off to war. This has to be well developed.”

Bush Jr. emphasized the need to make the case to “the average citizen. So it needs to be more convincing. Probably needs some better examples.” (The decision to go to war was already made?)

It was clear to everyone in the room that Bush had already made up his mind about the Iraqi threat. The only question to him was whether the C.I.A. had what it took to convince the public that the threat justified war. “Maybe have a lawyer look at how to lay out the structure of the argument,” Bush continued. “Maybe someone with Madison Avenue experience should look at the presentation.” He added, “And it needs to tie all this into terrorism, for the domestic audience.”

The president asked Tenet whether his agency could build a more convincing case. It was to that question — not, as often reported, a question relating to whether Hussein posed a threat — that the C.I.A. director infamously replied: “Slam dunk.”

McLaughlin tried again. He instructed Bob Walpole to make the Case more persuasive. “Give me everything you’ve got,” Walpole in turn told his weapons team, according to one of the analysts. “Never mind sourcing or other problems.” He wanted the kitchen sink.

On Dec. 28, Walpole and McLaughlin went to the White House to discuss the Case with Rice. Just a couple of minutes into his summary, Rice stopped him. “Bob?” she said with evident concern. “If these are just assertions, we need to know this now.”

“They’re analytical assessments,” Walpole replied. “The agencies have attached confidence levels to them.”

Rice studied her copy, frowning. “What’s ‘high confidence’?” she asked. “About 90 percent?”

“About that,” he said.

The national security adviser gaped at Walpole and McLaughlin. “Well,” she finally said, “that’s a heck of a lot lower than what the P.D.B.s are saying!”

The chemical and biological weapons cases were based on inference, Walpole conceded. The nuclear case, he said, was “the weakest.”

Rice turned to McLaughlin. “You have gotten the president way out on a limb on this,” she said. Walpole — who personally thought that invading Iraq made absolutely no sense — nonetheless could see that the administration wouldn’t be satisfied with a case that was built only on deceptions and shady activity. He wrote to his analysts, “We must make a public case that ‘Iraq HAS WMDs.’”

Unknown to Walpole’s team, a parallel process was underway in the Office of the Vice President.

Immediately after the Dec. 21 meeting in the Oval Office, Cheney had said privately to Bush, “You know, Scooter’s already been working on something we could use.” Two days later, Libby called Edelman, his deputy, and told him about McLaughlin’s weak presentation. “The president doesn’t think it’s nearly persuasive enough,” Cheney’s chief of staff said. “And so they’ve given O.V.P. the assignment of redoing that.”

The next morning, Cheney’s staff got to work on their alternative presentation. John Hannah, Cheney’s assistant for national security affairs, was tasked with the section on biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. Libby had instructed his Middle East specialist to put every damning bit of raw intelligence he could find into his brief. The burden would then be on the C.I.A. analysts to argue why any of it should be thrown out.

On Saturday, Jan. 25, Libby gave a preview of the new presentation in the Situation Room. The audience included Rice, Wolfowitz, Armitage and Stephen Hadley, the deputy national security adviser.

More notable, the political side of the White House — including Karl Rove, Bush’s longtime adviser, and Dan Bartlett, his communications director — was now hearing the intelligence case against Hussein for the very first time.

Wolfowitz thought Cheney’s chief of staff had done a great job. Rove found much to admire about it as well. Because many in the group were communications specialists, the conversation quickly moved on from the intelligence to the matter of its delivery. “I recall the general sense was, Who would be the best person to make this case at the U.N.?” Rove told me. “And the obvious answer was Colin Powell, chief diplomat.”

“Are you with me on this?” Bush asked Powell. The two were alone in the Oval Office on Jan. 13, 2003. “I think I have to do this. I want you with me.”

Powell had cautioned Bush a few months earlier about the consequences of invading Iraq, and he had gone further in private conversations with others, saying he thought the idea of going to war was foolish on its face. But the secretary of state had never expressed this outright opposition to the president.

And although Powell would not admit it, Bush’s request that he be the one to make the case against Hussein to the U.N. was enormously flattering.

Even Cheney had explicitly acknowledged that Powell was the right man for the job. As the secretary told one of his top aides: “The vice president said to me: ‘You’re the most popular man in America. Do something with that popularity.’” But, Powell added to his aide, he wasn’t sure he could say no to Bush anyway.

“There’s only so many times I can go toe to toe with the V.P.,” he said. “The more I think about it, the more I realize it’s important to keep the job.”

Once the decision was made that Powell would deliver the U.N. speech, he was handed the text that Libby’s team had prepared. Powell viewed the document suspiciously. Among the first things he noticed about Libby’s text were the lurid intimations about Hussein’s supposed ties with bin Laden’s organization. “You guys really believe all this [expletive]?” he scoffed to one of Cheney’s deputies.

After first scrapping the entire section dealing with Iraq’s alleged ties to Al Qaeda, the secretary tasked Carl Ford, the director of the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (I.N.R.), with reviewing the speech’s claims on biological, chemical and nuclear weapons.

Ford’s staff worked overnight. Their memo of objections to Hannah’s weapons section on Jan. 31 came to six single-spaced pages and cited at least 38 items that were deemed either “weak” or “unsubstantiated.”

The I.N.R. analysts warned that Iraq’s alleged chemical-weapon decontamination trucks could simply be water trucks. Libby’s team had claimed that a shipment of aluminum tubes that the C.I.A. had intercepted on its way to Iraq in 2001 was intended for use in uranium-enrichment centrifuges (a claim that was leaked to The New York Times). The I.N.R. analysts maintained that the tubes were for rocket launchers. Three of the critique’s most common phrases were “plausibility open to question,” “highly questionable” and “draft states it as fact.”

Meanwhile, Powell’s chief of staff, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, was also hashing out the text on weapons with Hannah. The sources in the text weren’t footnoted, and Wilkerson grimaced as he watched Hannah fumble through his binders. After one query, Hannah produced a New York Times article as his source. Between I.N.R.’s factual objections and Hannah’s halting command of the material, Powell was fast losing faith in the work by Libby’s team. He instructed Wilkerson to start from scratch.

It was George Tenet who came to the rescue, Powell later said. Tenet suggested that he base the new speech on the National Intelligence Estimate relating to Iraq’s weapons capability that had been thrown together in less than three weeks the previous September. It was, after all, the consensus product of the American intelligence community. What could go wrong?

For the next three days, Powell, dressed in jeans, sat in Tenet’s conference room on the seventh floor in C.I.A. headquarters with his speechwriting team. Line by line, data point by data point, the secretary read out the text and then asked: “Does that sound right? What’s the source on this? Opposition? Kurdish? Asylum seeker? Can we trust him?” If the answer did not suit him, Powell’s reply would be: “I’m not comfortable with that. Throw it on the floor.”

To the outside observer, the process seemed methodical and professional. Dan Bartlett dropped by the C.I.A. over the weekend. “Everybody’s in the room,” Bartlett recalled. “He’s got their undivided attention. This is going to be done right. I left thinking, OK, I feel good about this.

Powell had reason to feel sanguine about the process as well. Tenet was there, along with McLaughlin and the aluminum tube he had taken to carrying as a prop, which at one point he rolled across the conference-room table. Whenever Powell seemed concerned about a particular claim, Tenet’s staff would usher in what seemed to be the proper analyst to affirm the source’s validity.

What Powell did not know was that there were other C.I.A. officials not present in the conference room who seriously doubted much of the National Intelligence Estimate’s contents. This was particularly evident on the subject of Hussein’s biological-weapons capabilities. Some of the most arresting visuals in the Case — the only ones that seemed to catch the attention of the Pentagon officials during McLaughlin’s early rehearsal of the C.I.A.’s presentation — were photographs of a vehicle believed to be an Iraqi mobile biological-weapons lab.

Its description had been supplied by a former Iraqi chemical engineer code-named Curveball, who had made his way to Germany in 1999, seeking asylum and in exchange offering spectacular details about Iraq’s weapons program. “The really strong stuff was Curveball,” remembered Bill McLaughlin, a C.I.A. military analyst (and no relation to John McLaughlin) who was in the conference room on Saturday, Feb. 3. “It was the kind of specificity we needed to show. It was the centerpiece of the discussion.”

But Curveball claims to have been part of a mobile biological-weapons program had also polarized the agency. The American intelligence community still did not have access to the source himself. “We don’t have a case officer in touch with this guy,” Tenet had once muttered to his staff.

Though many analysts at the C.I.A. considered the Iraqi engineer credible, the agency’s Directorate of Operations officers, who dealt firsthand with informants, believed they knew a liar when they saw one. In Curveball, they saw a liar.

In December, John McLaughlin asked his executive assistant, Stephen Slick, to (as Slick would put it) “get to the bottom of a disagreement within the building about the veracity of one human source.” Tyler Drumheller, the chief of the directorate’s European division, instructed Margaret Henoch, the division’s chief of the group of countries that included Germany, to “look into Curveball.” Referring to the directorate deputy director, Jim Pavitt, he added, “Pavitt wants him to be vetted, because apparently we’re going to use him to justify going into Iraq.”

Henoch’s staff’s discussions with German intelligence agents led them to conclude that Curveball was not on the level. On Dec. 19, Henoch argued this point to Slick. To a chief biological-weapons analyst in the room who had fervently believed Curveball’s claims, Henoch said: “You guys are trained to write papers. You write to prove a thesis, rather than evaluating the information. And I think that’s what you’ve done here.”

Henoch was overruled; a day later, Slick issued his opinion that the intelligence community had conducted an “exhaustive review” of Curveball and “judged him credible.” But Slick later acknowledged that there was “not much more” to the biological-weapons case than Curveball.

When another C.I.A. analyst expressed concern about Curveball to a deputy on the weapons of mass destruction task force, the deputy’s email response began, “Let’s keep in mind the fact that this war’s going to happen regardless of what Curveball said or didn’t say, and that the Powers That Be probably aren’t terribly interested in whether Curveball knows what he’s talking about.” Pavitt, too, conveyed to a colleague that war was inevitable and that those against it could “tap dance nude on Pennsylvania Avenue and it would make no difference.”

McLaughlin would later insist that he was unaware that doubts had been expressed about Curveball’s veracity. Still, before Powell was to deliver his U.N. speech, the deputy director instructed Slick to check on Curveball’s “current status/whereabouts.” Slick’s memo to Drumheller on Feb. 3 said, “A great deal of effort is being expended to vet the intelligence that underlies SecState’s upcoming U.N. presentation.”

But the memo made no mention of a cable that had been sent to the agency’s headquarters a week before by the C.I.A.’s chief of station in Berlin, Joe Wippl. The German intelligence agency handling Curveball “has not been able to verify his reporting,” Wippl warned. He added: “The source himself is problematical. Defer to headquarters, but to use information from another liaison service’s source whose information cannot be verified on such an important, key topic should take the most serious consideration.”

Powell knew nothing about these serious concerns. The C.I.A.’s dissenters were not in the room during the secretary’s U.N. speech preparation — and Curveball’s intelligence was the room’s star attraction. “George was on the team, and that itself is an issue,” Wippl would later reflect. “It was, ‘Hey, guys, we’re going to war — and we’ll find this stuff anyway once we’re there.’ It’s something that, in retrospect, kind of makes you sick.”

On the evening of Feb. 4 at U.N. headquarters, Powell went over his speech one final time. He asked Tenet if he felt comfortable with the facts marshaled in the speech. The C.I.A. director said that he did. “Good,” Powell said. “Because I want you sitting right behind me when I give it tomorrow morning.” Tenet was reluctant — he was aware that his appearing with the secretary would give the appearance that the C.I.A. was putting its seal of approval on administration policy — but he was way past the point of protesting.

At 10:30 the following morning, Powell addressed the international body. For the next 76 minutes, he laid out the U.S. government’s case against Hussein.

“My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources,” Powell said in his calm, sonorous baritone. “These are not assertions. What we’re giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence.” (Deep down, Powell knew he was lying through his teeth. What a shame)

The story Powell told marked a departure from the Bush administration’s evocations of madness, evil and mushroom clouds. It was an investigator’s meticulous brief of institutionalized deception and murderous intent. Powell spoke of a key source, “an eyewitness, an Iraqi chemical engineer,” who happened to be watching the speech at home with his wife in Erlangen, Germany. He spoke of one of Curveball’s confirming sources, “an Iraqi major” — surprising a Defense Intelligence Agency staff member watching the speech who, months earlier, had interviewed the major and determined him to be a fabricator.

He spoke of decontamination trucks at chemical-weapons factories, to the consternation of the chemical-weapons analyst Larry Fox, who had repeatedly warned that the speech was making too much out of what might well be innocuous vehicles but had been repeatedly overruled by his superiors. And he spoke of aluminum tubes that “most experts think” were to be used for uranium enrichment — ignoring his department’s own experts, including the I.N.R.’s director, Carl Ford, who became heartsick watching Powell on TV and informed the secretary three months later that he was resigning.

In the audience in the Security Council chamber was a young U.N. weapons inspector named Dawson Cagle, who had recently returned from Baghdad.

Sitting next to Cagle was one of Hans Blix’s senior munitions experts, who had also just returned from Iraq’s capital. The expert’s mouth opened when Powell displayed photographs of trucks moving into a suspected weapons of mass destruction bunker, hours before an inspection team was due to visit, followed by a photo of the inspectors filing through a now-empty bunker.

“I’m in that photo,” the munitions expert whispered to Cagle. “I went into that bunker that those trucks pulled up to. There was a three-inch layer of pigeon dung covering everything. And a layer of dust on top of that. There’s no way someone came in and cleaned that place out. No way they could’ve faked that.”

But back at the White House, Bush watched Powell’s speech in the small dining room connected to the Oval Office, visibly pleased. On Capitol Hill, at a Democratic Senate caucus meeting after the U.N. speech, Tom Daschle, the majority leader, told his colleagues that he was now “really convinced” that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. To the caucus, he said: “You may not trust Dick Cheney. But do you not trust Colin Powell?”


An earlier version of this article referred incorrectly to the United Nations chamber where Colin Powell delivered a speech in February 2003. It was the Security Council, not the General Assembly.

Robert Draper is a writer at large for the magazine. He last wrote about Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale.

Note 1: If Powell had the guts to resign instead of participating in the genocide of the Iraqi people, and later the Syria people, He could have been President instead of Barack Obama. Powell never felt he is legitimate and entitled to run for the Presidency. He was contented with his hobby of repairing vintage Volvo cars

Note 2: Powell must have had hints of Hillary Clinton plans and decision to “create” and launch Da3esh (ISIS) during her tenure of Obama State chief. Has anyone heard Powell taking a stand on that horror and machiavelic decision?



No Palestinian babies?

The peace makers with Israel are Egyptians, Jordanians, or Moroccans.

Their “leaders” are: dictators, absolute monarchs….

Who cares if they are dictators or absolute monarchs…

Who cares for the opinions of masses?


One of their leaders, the Egyptian dictator Sadat, was awarded

A joint Nobel peace laureate with the famous assassin Begin.

Menachem Begin, this prime minister and a staunch Jewish Jihadist, the precursor of Bin Laden.

Assassinated British soldiers and UN chief Bernadote

That is beside the point.


The enemies of Israel are “Arabs”, not their leaders.

We have high hope in the people.


The criminals of the Oklahoma City bombing

Should have been Arabs.

Exceptions do occur.  Human nature you know.


Sirhan Sirhan assassinated Robert Kennedy.  He is a Palestinian of dual citizenship.

No motives:  Just bad “Arabs attitude”.

Not that Robert promised exclusive support for Israel in his election campaign.


If push comes to shove, if a motive is needed,

Why, Sirhan is a hatemonger of the defenders of Civil Rights!


The most famous heart surgeon, Michael Debakey,

The poet of “The Prophet” and much more, Gebran Khalil Gebran,

The founder of St. Jude hospital for children with cancer, Danny Thomas,

Said they are Arabs from Lebanon.  The media beg to differ:


They are all, at best, of Lebanese descendants.

The bombers of the World Trade Tower are the Arabs, Not from Saudi Kingdom.

The perpetrators of the Achilles Loro are the Arabs.


Literature Nobel prize winner, Naguib Mahfouz,

Says he is Arab.  Ask him.

The media insist that he is just Egyptian.


Those who shoot down commercial airplanes are Arabs.

Israel strikes Arab/Palestinian refugee camps.

Israel retaliates for Arab suicide bombings.


Israel lodges a cannon shell, inadvertently, on a UN compound in Qana of South Lebanon.

About one hundred “Arabs”, mostly Lebanese civilians, died.  Give or take fifty Arabs.

Apology to the UN.


Arabs/Palestinians/Lebaneses were massacred in the camps of Sabra and Shatila in Beirut.

Arabs killing Arabs.  Israel could care less.

How dare you blame Israel Defense Force!

They just happened to be there;


Completely cordoning off the Palestinian camps of civilians.

Freeing Lebanon by devastation, crimes against humanity and highway robberies.


No, there are no Arab babies.  There are no Arab youths.

Just Arabs.  Bad.  Arabs.

Definitely there are no Palestinians to bad mouth the people of Palestine.

Note:  Since I wrote this poem in 1998, many atrocities came alive.

The attack on the Twin Towers, the preemptive wars on Afghanistan and Iraq, the Israeli genocide in the Palestinian camp of Jenine, the barbaric preemptive war on Lebanon in 2006 that lasted 33 days, the genocide war on Gaza, the embargo on Gaza, the building of the Wall of Shame in Israel…

There are two problems with this question.

  1. It neglects the law of large numbers; and
  2. It assumes that one of two things happen: you die or you’re 100% fine.

The US has a population of 328,200,000. If 1% of the population dies, that’s 3,282,000 people dead.

Three million people dead would monkey wrench the economy no matter what.

That more than doubles the number of annual deaths all at once.

The second bit is people keep talking about deaths.

Deaths, deaths, deaths. Only one percent die! Just one percent! One is a small number! No big deal, right?

What about the people who survive the affliction?

For every one person who dies:

  • 19 more require hospitalization.
  • 18 of those will have permanent heart damage for the rest of their lives.
  • 10 will have permanent lung damage.
  • 3 will have strokes.
  • 2 will have neurological damage that leads to chronic weakness and loss of coordination.
  • 2 will have neurological damage that leads to loss of cognitive function.

So now all of a sudden, that “but it’s only 1% fatal!” becomes:

  • 3,282,000 people dead.
  • 62,358,000 hospitalized.
  • 59,076,000 people with permanent heart damage.
  • 32,820,000 people with permanent lung damage.
  • 9,846,000 people with strokes.
  • 6,564,000 people with muscle weakness.
  • 6,564,000 people with loss of cognitive function.

That’s the thing that the folks who keep going on about “only 1% dead, what’s the big deal?” don’t get.

The choice is not “ruin the economy to save 1%.”

If we reopen the economy, it will be destroyed anyway. The US economy cannot survive everyone getting COVID-19.

Edited to add:

Wow, this answer has really blown up. Many people are asking about the sources, so here’s the basic rundown:

This model assumes that the question’s hypothetical is correct and the fatality rate is 1%.

It also assumes for the sake of argument 100% infection.

(In reality, neither of these is a perfect match to reality. The infection rate will never hit 100%, but the fatality rate in a widespread infection is likely to be greater than 1%, because health care services will be overwhelmed.)

The statistics I used in this answer were compiled from a number of different sources.

I spent quite a bit of time writing the answer. Unfortunately, I don’t have my search history in front of me, so I’ll attempt to re-compile them.

Some of the sources include:

What we know (so far) about the long-term health effects of Covid-19

Physicians have also reported an increase in inflammation of and damage to the heart muscle in Covid-19 patients. One study published in March found that out of 416 hospitalized Covid-19 patients, 19% showed signs of heart damage.

Another study from Wuhan published in January found 12% of Covid-19 patients showed signs of cardiovascular damage. Other studies have since found evidence of myocarditis, inflammation of the heart muscle that can cause scarring, and heart failure in Covid-19 patients.

Now, physicians warn that Covid-19 survivors may experience long-lasting cardiac damage and cardiovascular problems, which could increase their risk for heart attack and stroke. Doctors also warn Covid-19 could worsen existing heart problems.

What We Know About the Long-Term Effects of COVID-19

“Some of the data that we’re getting now from the China studies, one study that was just published in JAMA Neurology showed that 36.4% of patients had neurologic issues,” said Dr. Sheri Dewan, neurosurgeon at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield, Illinois. “One of the review articles that came out at the end of February discussed the possibility of virus traveling into the olfactory neurons, through the olfactory bulb, and into the brain.”

Lifelong Lung Damage: A Serious COVID-19 Complication?

“Holes in the lung likely refers to an entity that has been dubbed ‘post-COVID fibrosis,’ otherwise known as post-ARDS [acute respiratory distress syndrome] fibrosis,” said Dr. Lori Shah, transplant pulmonologist at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

ARDS occurs when fluid builds up in tiny air sacs in the lungs called alveoli. This reduces oxygen in the bloodstream and deprives the organs of oxygen which can lead to organ failure.

Post-COVID fibrosis, according to Shah, is defined as lung damage that’s irreversible and can result in severe functional limitations from patients, such as cough, shortness of breath, and need for oxygen. […]

According to The Lancet, in a piece titled, “Pulmonary fibrosis secondary to COVID-19: A call to arms?,” the first series of hospitalized patients in Wuhan, China showed that 26% required intensive care and 61% of that subset developed ARDS.

What we know (so far) about the long-term health effects of Covid-19

Physicians report that patients hospitalized for Covid-19 are experiencing high rates of blood clots that can cause strokes, heart attacks, lung blockages, and other complications, Parshley reports.

For instance, physicians are seeing an uptick in strokes among young patients with Covid-19.

The blood clots also can travel to other organs, leading to ongoing health problems.

For instance, pulmonary embolisms, which occur when the clots block circulation to the lungs, can cause ongoing “functional limitations,” like fatigue, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, and discomfort when performing physical activity, Parshley reports.

Similarly, blood clots in the kidneys can cause renal failure, which can cause life-long complications.

Heart damage

Physicians have also reported an increase in inflammation of and damage to the heart muscle in Covid-19 patients. One study published in March found that out of 416 hospitalized Covid-19 patients, 19% showed signs of heart damage.

Another study from Wuhan published in January found 12% of Covid-19 patients showed signs of cardiovascular damage. Other studies have since found evidence of myocarditis, inflammation of the heart muscle that can cause scarring, and heart failure in Covid-19 patients.

Now, physicians warn that Covid-19 survivors may experience long-lasting cardiac damage and cardiovascular problems, which could increase their risk for heart attack and stroke. Doctors also warn Covid-19 could worsen existing heart problems.

The numbers in this answer were made from extrapolations about percentages of COVID-19 long-term effects reported in a range of studies on Google Scholar, assuming a hypothetical 100% US infection rate and a 1% fatality rate.

Of course, in reality, a high infection rate would cause the mortality and comorbidity rates to skyrocket, so if anything, these numbers are conservative.

Wear your damn masks, people.




July 2020

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