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Stolen identities of dead children reused by Britain police force

 

 and  published in The Guardian on Feb. 3, 2013:

“Police spies stole identities of dead children”

Britain’s largest police force stole the identities of an estimated 80 dead children and issued fake passports in their names for use by undercover police officers.

The Metropolitan police secretly authorised the practice for covert officers infiltrating protest groups without consulting or informing the children’s parents.

The details are revealed in an investigation by the Guardian, which has established how over three decades generations of police officers trawled through national birth and death records in search of suitable matches.

Undercover officers created aliases based on the details of the dead children and were issued with accompanying identity records such as driving licences and national insurance numbers.

Some of the police officers spent up to 10 years pretending to be people who had died.

The Met said the practice was not “currently” authorised, but announced an investigation into “past arrangements for undercover identities used by SDS [Special Demonstration Squad] officers”.

Keith Vaz, the chairman of parliament’s home affairs select committee, said he was shocked at the “gruesome” practice. “It will only cause enormous distress to families who will discover what has happened concerning the identities of their dead children,” he said. “This is absolutely shocking.”

The technique of using dead children as aliases has remained classified intelligence for several decades, although it was fictionalised in Frederick Forsyth’s novel The Day of the Jackal.

As a result, police have internally nicknamed the process of searching for suitable identities as the “jackal run”. One former undercover agent compared an operation on which he was deployed to the methods used by the Stasi.

Two undercover officers have provided a detailed account of how they and others used the identities of dead children. One, who adopted the fake persona of Pete Black while undercover in anti-racist groups, said he felt he was “stomping on the grave” of the four-year-old boy whose identity he used.

“A part of me was thinking about how I would feel if someone was taking the names and details of my dead son for something like this,” he said. The Guardian has chosen not to identify Black by his real name.

The other officer, who adopted the identity of a child who died in a car crash, said he was conscious the parents would “still be grief-stricken”. He spoke on the condition of anonymity and argued his actions could be justified because they were for the “greater good”.

Both officers worked for a secretive unit called the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), which was disbanded in 2008.

A third undercover police officer in the SDS who adopted the identity of a dead child can be named as John Dines, a sergeant. He adopted the identity of an eight-year-old boy named John Barker, who died in 1968 from leukaemia.

The Met said in a statement: “We are not prepared to confirm nor deny the deployment of individuals on specific operations.”

The force added: “A formal complaint has been received which is being investigated by the DPS [Directorate for Professional Standards] and we appreciate the concerns that have been raised. The DPS inquiry is taking place in conjunction with Operation Herne’s investigation into the wider issue of past arrangements for undercover identities used by SDS officers. We can confirm that the practice referred to in the complaint is not something that would currently be authorised in the [Met police].”

There is a suggestion that the practice of using dead infant identities may have been stopped in the mid-1990s, when death records were digitised.

However, the case being investigated by the Met relates to a suspected undercover police officer who may have used a dead child’s identity in 2003.

The practice was introduced 40 years ago by police to lend credibility to the backstory of covert operatives spying on protesters, and to guard against the possibility that campaigners would discover their true identities.

Since then dozens of SDS officers, including those who posed as anti-capitalists, animal rights activists and violent far-right campaigners, have used the identities of dead children.

One document seen by the Guardian indicates that around 80 police officers used such identities between 1968 and 1994. The total number could be higher.

Black said he always felt guilty when celebrating the birthday of the four-year-old whose identity he took. He was particularly aware that somewhere the parents of the boy would be “thinking about their son and missing him”. “I used to get this really odd feeling,” he said.

To fully immerse himself in the adopted identity and appear convincing when speaking about his upbringing, Black visited the child’s home town to familiarise himself with the surroundings.

Black, who was undercover in the 1990s, said his operation was “almost Stasi-like”. He said SDS officers visited the house they were supposed to have been born in so they would have a memory of the building.

It’s those little details that really matter – the weird smell coming out of the drain that’s been broken for years, the location of the corner Post Office, the number of the bus you get to go from one place to another,” he said.

The second SDS officer said he believed the use of the harvested identities was for the “greater good”. But he was also aware that the parents had not been consulted. “There were dilemmas that went through my head,” he said.

The case of the third officer, John Dines, reveals the risks posed to families who were unaware that their children’s identities were being used by undercover police.

During his covert deployment, Dines had a two-year relationship with a female activist before disappearing from her life. In an attempt to track down her disappeared boyfriend, the woman discovered the birth certificate of John Barker and tried to track down his family, unaware that she was actually searching for a dead child.

She said she was relieved that she never managed to find the parents of the dead boy. “It would have been horrendous,” she said. “It would have completely freaked them out to have someone asking after a child who died 24 years earlier.”

The disclosure about the use of the identities of dead children is likely to reignite the controversy over undercover police infiltration of protest groups.

Fifteen separate inquiries have already been launched since 2011, when Mark Kennedy was unmasked as a police spy who had slept with several women, including one who was his girlfriend for six years.

On Tuesday the select committee will hear evidence from lawyers representing the 11 women who are suing the Met after forming “deeply personal” relationships with the spies. Kennedy, who worked for a sister unit to the SDS, is not believed to have used the identity of a dead child.

Vaz said MPs were now likely to demand answers from the Met police about the use of children’s identities. “My disbelief at some of the tactics used [by undercover police] has become shock as a result of these latest revelations. It is clear that inappropriate action has been taken by undercover police in the past. But this has now taken it to a new level,” he said.

“The committee will need to seek answers from the Metropolitan police, to find out why they allowed these gruesome practices to happen.”

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Part 11. How Israel in 1948 committed Ethnic Cleansing of Palestinians, about 400,000 within days in first stage

The Expropriation of Palestinian Land

Resolution 181 and the Early Phases of the 1948 War

Brain Dead. Explain to me, in lay terms

As far as I know, the medical profession has reached this consensus: “When diagnosed as brain dead, you are dead and done with. Period”

And yet, many “patients” are diagnosed as brain dead, and forced to “live” under therapeutic interventions

What it means to be brain dead in lay terms?

I will not search googles for what being brain dead means. I’ll try to surmise from my accummulated readings what it means to be brain dead, and in return I am asking the readers to correct my ignorance.

What I suspect is that a brain dead casualty is someone that medical instruments failed to detect” electrical activities” in the brain.

What that means?

Is our patient unable to even dream at all?

And so, what’s going on in this body where the heart is still pumping blood to places except the brain parts?

Is blood still reaching the automatic portions of the brain that keep the heart functional?

Are the lymbic brain portions for reflexes and basic survival activities still receiving blood?

I conjecture that the brain parts for seeing, hearing, feeling…all the external senses are dead?

I conjecture this patient cannot feel pain at all, even “unconsciously”?

Now, if many parts of the brain are not receiving blood, and consequently, are not irrigated with sugar to function, then these cells must be decaying? (Brain lives on sugar)

Which means that worms are already eating and reproducing in these locations?

Does that means some kind of pheromone chemicals are injected in the skull to keep worms at bay?

Who’s Really Crossing the U.S. Border, and Why They’re Coming

By Stephanie Leutert.  Saturday, June 23, 2018, 10:04 AM

Central American migrants riding freight trains through Mexico (Flickr/Peter Haden)

Over the past week, the separation of 2,000 children from their parents along the U.S. border has forced immigration into the national spotlight.

The majority of migrants aren’t dangerous criminals. Many are women and families—and many are fleeing gang violence rather than seeking to spread that violence farther north.

For the past two years, I’ve worked to document these issues at the Strauss Center for International Security and Law at the University of Texas at Austin, and also in the Beyond the Border column for Lawfare—based in part on my fieldwork from across Mexico.

To understand Central American migrants means first abandoning the depiction of the “Northern Triangle” of Central America as a homogeneous region.

All three countries have different histories and contemporary political realities, along with varying security and development indicators that help explain today’s situation.

Using the World Bank’s measure, Honduras has the highest levels of poverty, with 30% of the population living at $3.20 a day or less, compared to Guatemala (25%), and El Salvador (ten percent).

Note: these States are dominated by US multinational companies who control the poorer countries

Meanwhile, 2/3 of Salvadorans live in cities, compared to 55 percent of Hondurans and closer to 50 percent of Guatemalans.

Finally, Guatemala’s authorities report that 40% of the population is indigenous, versus closer to 10 percent in Honduras, and an almost non-existent indigenous population in El Salvador (0.2 percent). These factors help explain what moves migrants from each country to travel to the United States.

Take the following map, which illustrates the hometowns of Central American migrant families apprehended at the border (as reported by the U.S. Border Patrol) from 2012-2017.

In Honduras, most families report that they are coming from major cities, such as San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa; the situation is similar in El Salvador, with migrants hailing from San Salvador and San Miguel.

This urbanization matters: these cities have high levels of urban gang violence, committed by MS-13 and Barrio 18. These groups have divided control of the cities up into a patchwork quilt and earn the majority of their money from local-level extortion. (The gangs are under the control of US multinationals who use them to extract more privileges)

 

Hometowns of Apprehended Central American Family Units

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, FOIA request.

 

For Central American residents, control of these gangs over their neighborhood likely means a weekly or monthly extortion payment simply for the right to operate a business or live in their territory.

The price for failing to provide this money is death. All it takes is a neighbor or nearby shopkeeper to be gunned down for failing to pay the adequate fees, and it becomes clear that the only options are pay or flee.

Parents may also send their children to the United States or take them north as the gangs try to recruit them into their activities: Boys of 11 years old (or younger) may be recruited as lookouts and teenage girls may be eyed for becoming the members’ “girlfriends.”

Older women who date or at one point dated a gang member can become trapped and unable to escape the violence, with partner-violence a driving migratory factor for many women.

While the gang activities and gender-based violence can empty out neighborhoods, they are Not the only factors driving outward migration from these cities.

Across the region’s larger cities, LGBT migrants are fleeing discrimination and violence. At a recent trip to a migrant shelter in southern Mexico, I listened as the shelter’s director recounted the story of a father and teenage son who had fled Guatemala City only a few weeks prior: the father was afraid that his son would be killed for coming out as gay.

It is not an idle threat. Since 2009, 264 LGBT people in Honduras have been murdered. The La 72 shelter in Tenosique, Tabasco even has a building in the shelter dedicated to providing specialized housing for LGBT migrants.

Among migrants leaving Guatemala, some are fleeing gangs or societal violence in cities, but many migrant families and unaccompanied children come from the Guatemalan highlands, which are more rural, agriculture-based, indigenous, and have lower rates of violence (defined by homicides) than other parts of the country.

In asylum proceedings in the United States, women and children from this region frequently cite endemic family and domestic violence, and neglect from the local police who cannot speak their languages or do not answer their phone calls.

These areas have also been buffeted by a changing climate, frequent natural disasters, and droughts. And the poverty in these regions leaves residents with little ability for resilience in the face of unpredictable rains or external events.

Without an ability to live safely or prosperously in Central America, residents begin looking to head north to the United States. That means coming up with the $6,000 to $10,000 necessary for hiring a smuggler.

To obtain this money, residents may sell their land or property, rely on the generosity of friends or family in the United States, or borrow money from local loan sharks and leave their farms and property as collateral. This latter option has its own consequences: migrants who use loan sharks and then are detected and deported by Mexican or U.S. officials are unable to pay back the loans, losing their lands in the process and becoming displaced once again.

Once the migrants have found a way to raise the money—or if they set out without a smuggler—then they will begin their journey through Mexico. Their mode of transportation and experience will depend heavily on the amount of money that they have, the smuggler’s modus operandi, and whether they plan to seek asylum or try to pass between ports of entry undetected into the United States.

Migrants often find smugglers through recommendations from friends and family and they choose between various services on a sliding scale of prices. Migrants with significant amounts of money could choose to take planes to the U.S.-Mexico border and cross in to the country on fake documents; migrants with less money may pay to ride in a trailer through Mexico or take buses through the country; and those without any money at all will walk or ride on the roof of the trains that pass through Mexico.

These routes also change based on Central America’s geography.

Hondurans generally enter Mexico closer to the Gulf Coast, Salvadorans enter along the Pacific coast, and Guatemalans enter more frequently through crossing points in between. While the image of migrants riding Mexico’s train network dominates the migration narrative, this is far from the only way to reach the United States.

Surveys by researchers from El Colegio de la Frontera Norte (COLEF) of Central Americans who were recently deported by U.S. authorities give a sense of these routes’ diversity.

In 2017, roughly 40% of Hondurans reported riding the train and 40 percent said that they traveled in a tractor trailer at one point in their journey. However, Guatemalan and Salvadoran migrants reported taking these two means of transportation at much lower levels. I

n fact, only 1% of Salvadorans and 8% of Guatemalans said that they had ridden the train at any point during their trip through Mexico, and instead reported primarily taking buses through the country.

The journey across Mexico is not, as Trump commented on Thursday, “like … walking through Central Park.”

Migrants are extorted, robbed, assaulted, raped, kidnapped, and murdered at alarmingly high levels and with almost complete impunity. The perpetrators vary by geographic area, including MS-13 and Barrio 18 in the southern part of Mexico (the very gangs that many are escaping); larger criminal groups such as the Zetas and Gulf Cartel in the northern parts of the country such as Tamaulipas; local kidnapping rings and bandits throughout the territory; and even municipal, state, and federal migratory and public security authorities.

2017 Doctors Without Borders report noted that 68% of the migrants that it provided services to in shelters across Mexico had been the victim of a crime during the journey. Women and children are also at particular risk, with nearly 1/3 of the women reporting that they were sexually assaulted during their trip through Mexico.

And many Central American migrants are female—many more than the Mexican migrants who came before them. While female Mexican migrants averaged around 13 percent of all Mexican migrants apprehended by the Border Patrol from FY1995 through FY2017, Central American women averaged between 20 and 32 percent. I

n recent years these numbers have increased even more, with women constituting 48 percent of all Salvadoran migrants in the last fiscal year and Honduran women reaching 43 percent of migrants from their country.

 

Percent of Female Central American and Mexican Migrants

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, FOIA request.

 

This change is even more dramatic when looking at families and unaccompanied minors. While these groups make up a small proportion of Mexican migrants overall, in recent years, Central American families and unaccompanied children have constituted on average between 40 and 60 percent of the migrants from Central America arriving to the United States.

The numbers of unaccompanied children peaked in FY2014 and have since declined slightly, while the number of families arriving at the border—particularly from Honduras and Guatemala—has remained steady.

 

Apprehended Unaccompanied Minors and Families Along the Southwest Border

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/stats/sw-border-migration.

 

In other words, the families that the Trump administration has focused on separating make up an increasingly high proportion of the migrants who reach the U.S. border.

Previously, many migrants would seek to reach the United States by hiking through the desert undetected. But in recent years, families have begun crossing the border and waiting for a Border Patrol agent, or showing up at ports of entry, to ask for asylum. Before the Trump administration’s recent immigration crackdown, these families would be then taken to a family detention center, where they would have to pass a “credible fear” interview to be released—that is, prove that they have a real fear of returning to their home countries.

At least 77% of the families pass this hurdle and are released with an ankle monitor or after paying a bond. They can then begin their cases in immigration courts.

The Trump administration is looking to shake up this system. Under the current policy and the June 20th executive order, the administration is pushing to detain families together for months, if not years, while their cases are processed.

However, this flies in the face of the Flores settlement, a 1997 consent decree that courts have found to require that children not be detained for more than 20 days. The administration is now seeking to modify the settlement, a gambit that seems unlikely to succeed given the deciding judge’s previous rulings on the matter against the Obama administration.

 

U.S. Asylum Cases Received by the Executive Office of Immigration Review

Executive Office of Immigration Review, U.S. Department of Justice, https://www.justice.gov/eoir/file/asylum-statistics/download.

 

At the moment, the Trump administration’s policy is in flux. It’s not clear what will happen if the judge declines to amend the Flores settlement. Yet according to Politico, the administration focus on detaining adults indefinitely has hit it’s own wall—a casualty of insufficient resources on the part of the government.

And while the Border Patrol has announced plans to return to their parents the children who are in its custody, there are still thousands of migrant children separated from their parents and families that remain in gut-wrenching uncertainty.

Even in the best of situations, the current arrival of tens of thousands of Central American migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border would bring its own challenges: addressed effectively, it would require rethinking and shifting resources within the United States’ immigration and asylum systems to better process not just single adults but also mothers and fathers with toddlers and teenagers, who are in need of special protections.

But despite the administration’s claims to the contrary, the numbers of Central Americans arriving at the border are not near the all-time highs, and there is no infestation or invasion of MS-13.

What the data shows instead is something far less dramatic: men, women, families, and children who are arriving to seek safety and the basic American dream of a better life.

Syria: Destroyed for a second time?

Nizar Ghanem published on OpenDemocracy on March 25, 2013

Note: Remember this article was published in 2013, thus any numbers in casualties have to be at least quadrupled.

The Syrian social movement has to be conscious of the necessity of establishing a just economy.

Strong checks need to be built against the post-war government so that all Syrians understand the conditions of aid and consequences of reconstruction plans on their lives and the lives of their children.

The war in Syria has already resulted in the human, economic, and material destruction of the state and society. The numbers are staggering.

Seventy thousand people have been killed so far and more than two million refugees are dispersed across refugee camps in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.

(For example, Lebanon alone witnessed the arrival of 2 million refugees, on a population barely 4.5 million. And the UN and colonial powers are pressuring Lebanon Not to repatriate the Syrian to the liberated regions)

In addition to the partial destruction of major cities such as Aleppo, Homs, and Daraa, their infrastructure, industries and individual households.

Any future government will be faced with the task of the reconstruction of Syria. Who gets to reconstruct Syria, and how, will be both a reflection of the triumphant forces on the ground, and another phase in the Syrian social struggle.

(Note: the colonial powers and the “Arabic” Gulf States and Saudi Kingdom are dragging their feet since then on contemplating infusing financial aid to Syria. Actually, the Syrian government has expressed that it will be picking and choosing those who decide to invest).

There is a risk of a neo-liberal approach to reconstruction, which puts markets and growth ahead of people and culture and promotes the ethics of profit seeking, rather than socialized systems of economic organization. This would be a second destruction of the soul, character and material organization of one of the oldest urban spaces on this planet. (The new Syrian society is Not about to let the multinationals set their conditions)

The Baath party was never a haven of economic equality. (At least in the few years before the outbreak of the war. Syria enjoys universal health care and education)

Syria was run as a private enterprise, where a broad coalition between the regime and a politically obedient business class in Aleppo, Damascus and other major cities was forged. The economy itself was reeking of corruption, crony capitalism and monopolies.

Emulating the Chinese model, where economic liberalization goes side by side with political authoritarianism, the Baath regime underwent a liberalization process after 2000. This process of privatization transferred state property to trusted individuals with close links to the regime.

The Makhlouf family was notorious for its corruption; it controlled transportation systems such as Tartous port and air transport, telecommunication companies, part of the oil industry, real-estate projects in addition to major business deals with the Syrian army.

This business empire, which came out of the liberalization policies of Bashar Assad, was one of the reasons cited for the Syrian uprising.

The reconstruction of Syria raises the main question posed by political economy – that is, the dilemma between economic growth and distribution.

Who gets what in the after-math of the Syrian uprising? Should the economic benefits of reconstruction go either to a bloated internal elite, or to foreign companies, the main conditions that brought about the uprising will remain intact.

There is an obvious need for attracting foreign capital to invest in infrastructure, rebuild households, cities, bridges, and factories. Also, an invigoration of economic growth is needed. But who shall be the prime beneficiaries from this process is an important question that will be asked by the same social forces that paid the real price for ousting the regime.

The example of Iraq is useful in this context.

The economic liberalization policies that invited international consultancy firms into a process of privatizing the oil industry and other government assets, led to an increased surge in violence, which destabilized Iraq for a considerable time.

The liberalization process is a fragmenting force that weakens the central state in relation to various agencies whether it be foreign, or local business networks, NGOs and other institutions.

In societies that already experience sectarian tension and weak governance structures, this process could lead to the creation of cantons and ultimately encourage war-lords and the fragmentation of state institutions. Iraq is evidence of that.

Another significant example is Lebanon.

After two decades of civil war, the reconstruction boom of the ‘90s left Lebanon with high internal and external debt approaching $50 bn. (It reached now $90 bn, or 130% of the GDP, and a third of the budget goes into repaying the interest)

(Lebanon didn’t need to borrow money: it was a political decision from the new elite and militia/mafia leaders to spoil the economy. The war in Lebanon didn’t end with a victor and the militia leaders remained in power)

Also, the privatization process was conducted in a way that benefited a tight business community in a patronage relationship with the political class. The development process favoured a marginal elite, while neglecting the peripheral regions.

The repercussions were enormous as Lebanon failed to develop a solid infrastructure, public transportation and more generally a clear economic plan to generate jobs.

Instead of a developmental state that took care of nurturing the productive forces of society, the reconstruction of Lebanon brought about the opening up of the Lebanese markets to international capital flows which resulted in a real-estate bubble that both destroyed the urban space of coastal cities in addition to creating a staggering inequality.

The destruction of Syrian infrastructure has already whetted the appetite of multi-national companies. Competing Qatari and Turkish firms are busy designing plans for the reconstruction of the main cities. (Actually, that was their plans until they failed miserably)

Russian, Iranian and Chinese firms are not far off either. (They will reap the profit of the reconstruction)

How the conflict gets settled will definitely include a divvying up of reconstruction contracts, in ways which would reflect the regional political balance of power.

What will make the liberalization process of Syria even more traumatic is that it is going to be done under extremely weak and broken state structures. It would indeed be an ironic outcome if Syria went back to the situation it found itself in postcolonial times.

Let us not forget that Syrians, like many other third world countries, supported the nationalization projects precisely in order to wrest the control of foreign capital from their country’s assets and resources.

Any reconstruction that fails to invest in the productive capacity of the Syrian economy, and in creating long-term added value and durable job opportunities for thousands of Syrians will weaken Syria, both state and society.

This obviously depends on the source of funding.

Capital flows coming from the Gulf region are most likely to invest in the market for real-estate, rather than productive sectors. Any Syrian transition plan would do wisely to diversify capital sources, while making sure that Syria’s market is not dominated by large monopolies or oligopolies.

At the same time, special attention should be given to investment in productive sectors and innovative growth such as in telecom, IT and manufacturing. The Syrian National Council has presented a generic plan for the reconstruction of Syria, which by no means responds to those challenges. A testament to what might come.

Syrian cities possessed an authenticity that it is hard to find in the current Middle East. The urban space reflected the history of an entrenched civilization that gave the world one of the first writing systems, theology, art and science. The Syrian revolution and its heroic escalation against the autocratic regime held onto the values of human dignity, equality and freedom.

It would be a tragedy if we were made to witness a second destruction, whereby the urban space is given to multinational companies who would engineer yet another Dubai at the expense of Syrian culture.

The Syrian social movement has to be conscious of the necessity of establishing democracy, and strong checks against the post-war government, to make sure that Syrians understand the conditions of aid and consequences of reconstruction plans on their lives and the lives of their children.

Do not destroy Syria twice.

As in India, US Farmers Caught in Crushing Agribusiness Debt Trap Turn to Suicide in Spiking Numbers

With Bayer-Monsanto now the largest seed and agro-chemical company in the world, its near monopoly on prices and its disregard for farmers and environmental health mean that the despair that has consumed India’s farmers will soon be planted in the United States.

Over 12,000 farmers in India still committing suicide every year. US farmers developing a farmer-suicide epidemic 

June 27, 2018

MINNEAPOLIS – Over a decade ago, a disturbing trend among farmers in India captured headlines, as suicides among Indian farmers began to spiral out of control.

Many of those farmers were indebted to giant agribusiness corporations like Monsanto, which – after gaining access to India’s seed sector in 1998 – enticed poor farmers to buy new “bio-engineered” seeds every planting season along with the associated agro-chemicals required to grow them, promising bigger yields that would offset the costs.

When such benefits failed to materialize, many farmers – confronted with an ever-growing debt snowball – were faced with losing their land, leading many to take their lives by drinking the very same agro-chemicals that had helped trap them in debt.

Though it has faded from the headlines, the crisis has continued unabated, with over 12,000 farmers in India still committing suicide every year.

While the crisis in India may seem a distant problem to many Americans, new reports have indicated that the U.S. is developing a farmer-suicide epidemic of its own.

A new report in CBS News notes that farmers in America now die at a rate higher than that of any other occupation and 5  times higher than that of the general population, even as the national suicide rate as a whole has jumped over the last few decades.

As CBS notes, the increase in suicides mirrors a similar phenomenon in the 1980s, when U.S. farmers faced economic hardship related to debt, and suicides spiked.

Jennifer Fahy, communications director with Farm Aid, told CBS at the time that “the farm crisis was so bad, there was a terrible outbreak of suicide and depression.” Fahy now warns that the current situation is “actually worse.”

The newly reported increase in U.S. farmer suicides — much like the crisis for India’s farmers – is related to debt, specifically to global seed and agribusiness corporations that continue to raise prices as farmers’ incomes fall.

Farm income has been dropping steadily since 2013, with the average this year set to be 35% less than it was five years ago.

Meanwhile, farmers have seen a 300 % price increase in recent years on products like seeds, fertilizer and agro-chemicals produced by giant agribusiness corporations like Monsanto, Cargill, Syngenta and others.

Many farmers in the U.S. are dependent on “bio-engineered” seeds and their requisite chemicals, molded by decades of U.S. policy that pushed for farm consolidation and favored the adoption of these products.

As a result, most American farmers have become dependent on these commodities and, because they must be purchased again every planting season, have been taking out loans just to be able to plant. (In order to get subsidies, farmers must cooperate with these agro multinationals?)

As Todd Eney, a fourth-generation farmer in central Montana, told Business Insider last month:

Our farm has been out here since 1935, and I’m 40 years old and I’ve watched a lot of small family farms in our area go under. They can’t compete because they can’t pay the price of input because of what these companies are wanting to charge for input now.”

The growing debt burden has been known for some time, with reports warning five years ago that U.S. farmers would be the next group to “be slammed by debt.”

Yet now — in addition to the massive debt accumulated by many farmers — President Trump’s trade and tariff war, as well as the Federal Reserve’s raising of interest rates, have compounded to put even more financial pressure on the nation’s farmers.

Bayer-Monsanto merger leaves American farmers fearing worst is yet to come

Activists protest against the acquisition of the US agrochemical company Monsanto by the German Bayer company outside the annual shareholders meeting of Bayer in Bonn, Germany, Friday, May 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

Activists protest the acquisition of the US agrochemical company Monsanto by the German Bayer in Bonn, Germany, May 25, 2018. Martin Meissner | AP

Unfortunately, the situation for American farmers is soon likely to get much worse, thanks to the merger of agribusiness giants Monsanto and Bayer, which concluded earlier this month.

The resulting mega-company now controls around a third of the U.S. seed and pesticide market and has inspired the other largest agribusinesses in the world to plan mergers, including Dow Chemical and DuPont.

After the merger was announced, many farmers voiced their concerns that it would allow Bayer-Monsanto to consolidate even more of the seed market and use its privileged position to further increase prices.

Beyond an imminent jump in prices for farmers, the merger affects farmers in yet another way, as their products, time and again, have been shown to cause mass die-offs of farmers’ most important pollinator: bees.

Many Bayer and Monsanto products have been found to harm bee populations, even in studies they themselves funded. As a result, over 340 native bee populations are facing extinction and over half of all bees in the U.S. are actively declining.

With the bee population facing unprecedented die-offs, any worsening of their precarious situation will have a major impact on U.S. farms and, by extension, farmers.

With Bayer-Monsanto now the largest seed and agrochemical company in the world, its near monopoly on prices and its disregard for farmers and environmental health mean that the despair that has consumed India’s farmers will soon be planted in the United States.

Top Photo | File – A 70-year-old former farmer at his farm north of Hope, N.D. Ann Arbor Miller | AP

Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and a contributor to Ben Swann’s Truth in Media. Her work has appeared on Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has also made radio and TV appearances on RT and Sputnik. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.

Stories published in our Daily Digests section are chosen based on the interest of our readers. They are republished from a number of sources, and are not produced by MintPress News. The views expressed in these articles are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect MintPress News editorial policy.

Part 6. How Israel in 1948 committed Ethnic Cleansing of Palestinians, about 400,000 within days in first stage

Who Started the War in 1948?


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

July 2018
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