Friday, April 9, 2010

Gold Price Fixing Bombshell

GOLD PRICE FIXING BOMBSHELL

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William Murphy, chairman of Gold Anti- Trust Action (GATA), shocked the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) by revealing the name and position of a whistle blower who had warned the CFTC Enforcement Division of market manipulation by JPMorgan Chase in advance of it happening and had witnessed Morgan traders boasting of their exploits.

The March 25 meeting was a “sham,” filled with deception and half-truths and with the “liars and thieves behaving like cornered rats,” according to several of those present. In what might have been a harbinger of things to come, CFTC announced a week before the hearing that they had had a fire in the room where its gold and silver records are held. No further information as to what kind of damage occurred was released.

Then during the six-hour hearing, the only time the live video feed went down was from one minute before Bill Murphy spoke until one minute afterward. Next, when he was finally asked a question by the panel, the audio mysteriously went out until right at the end of his answer.

When asked for some hard proof of the manipulation, Murphy released a well-guarded bombshell from a whistleblower who had been sending emails to the CFTC explaining how JPMorgan traders were rigging the gold market and then bragging about it. The whistleblower, a London metals trader named Andrew Maguire, had some quite damning evidence against the cartel, but the CFTC panel was visibly reluctant to learn any more and asked nothing else about it.

In November 2009, Maguire contacted the CFTC enforcement division to report this criminal activity. He described in detail the way JPMorgan Chase signals to the market its intention to take down the precious metals.

Traders recognize these signals and make money shorting the metals alongside JP Morgan. Maguire explained how there are routine market manipulations at the time of option expiry, non-farm payroll data releases and commodities exchange contract rollover, as well as ad-hoc events.

On Feb. 3, Maguire gave a two-day warning by email to Eliud Ramirez, a senior investigator for the CFTC’s Enforcement Division, that the precious metals would be attacked upon the release of the non-farm payroll data on Feb. 5. On Feb. 5, as market events played out exactly as predicted, further emails were sent to Ramirez while the manipulation was in progress.

It would not be possible to predict such a market move unless the market was manipulated. Murphy explained that despite the Enforcement Division receiving detailed information in December 2009, the manipulation continues unabated as can be seen by the way gold was taken down during the last week of March in order to rob holders of April gold call options in the strike range of $1,100 to $1,150, as the hammering made them expire as worthless.

GATA believes this new evidence and “smoking gun” will be a watershed event in liberating the gold market from its shackles of price suppression.

In a bizarre twist of events, the London metals trader and recent whistleblower Maguire and his wife were hit with a mysterious misfortune only a day after testifying. They were both injured and hospitalized when their car was struck by a hit-and-run driver in the London suburbs.

According to Adrian Douglas, who is Maguire’s contact man at GATA, Maguire and his wife were admitted to a hospital overnight and released and are expected to recover fully.

Maguire told Douglas by telephone that his car was struck by a car careening out of a side road. When a pedestrian who witnessed the crash tried to block the other driver’s escape, the other driver accelerated at the pedestrian, causing him to jump out of the way to avoid being hit. The other driver’s car then struck two additional cars in escaping.

As dramatic as this story is, there was another “bombshell” exposure revealed during the hearing. This was the testimony that Douglas was able to deliver during the hearing while assisting Harvey Organ with his testimony.

Douglas was able to introduce arguments that the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) over-the-counter gold market is nothing but a massive “paper gold” ponzi scheme. What was then astonishing is that the bullion bank apologist, Jeffery Christian, of CPM Group, who has always been staunchly against GATA, actually endorsed the Douglas comments as being “exactly right” and went on to confirm that the LBMA trades over 100 times the amount of gold it actually has to back the trades.

However, when Christian was asked directly, “Are you concerned that the shorts will not be able to deliver when called upon?” he said he was not, because it has been going on for decades, and “there are any number of mechanisms allowing for case settlements.”

Douglas had the final word, however. “He clearly does not understand that this is failure to deliver,” responded Douglas.

The US was behind the Rwandan Genocide: Installing a US Protectorate in Central Africa

The US was behind the Rwandan Genocide: Installing a US Protectorate in Central Africa

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From the outset of the Rwandan civil war in 1990, Washington's hidden agenda consisted in establishing an American sphere of influence in a region historically dominated by France and Belgium. America's design was to displace France by supporting the Rwandan Patriotic Front and by arming and equipping its military arm, the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA)


From the mid-1980s, the Kampala government under President Yoweri Musaveni had become Washington's African showpiece of "democracy". Uganda had also become a launchpad for US sponsored guerilla movements into the Sudan, Rwanda and the Congo. Major General Paul Kagame had been head of military intelligence in the Ugandan Armed Forces; he had been trained at the U.S. Army Command and Staff College (CGSC) in Leavenworth, Kansas which focuses on warfighting and military strategy. Kagame returned from Leavenworth to lead the RPA, shortly after the 1990 invasion.

Prior to the outbreak of the Rwandan civil war, the RPA was part of the Ugandan Armed Forces. Shortly prior to the October 1990 invasion of Rwanda, military labels were switched. From one day to the next, large numbers of Ugandan soldiers joined the ranks of the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA). Throughout the civil war, the RPA was supplied from United People's Defense Forces (UPDF) military bases inside Uganda. The Tutsi commissioned officers in the Ugandan army took over positions in the RPA. The October 1990 invasion by Ugandan forces was presented to public opinion as a war of liberation by a Tutsi led guerilla army.

Militarization of Uganda

The militarization of Uganda was an integral part of US foreign policy. The build-up of the Ugandan UPDF Forces and of the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) had been supported by the US and Britain. The British had provided military training at the Jinja military base:

"From 1989 onwards, America supported joint RPF [Rwandan Patriotic Front]-Ugandan attacks upon Rwanda... There were at least 56 'situation reports' in [US] State Department files in 1991... As American and British relations with Uganda and the RPF strengthened, so hostilities between Uganda and Rwanda escalated... By August 1990 the RPF had begun preparing an invasion with the full knowledge and approval of British intelligence. 20

Troops from Rwanda's RPA and Uganda's UPDF had also supported John Garang's People's Liberation Army in its secessionist war in southern Sudan. Washington was firmly behind these initiatives with covert support provided by the CIA. 21

Moreover, under the Africa Crisis Reaction Initiative (ACRI), Ugandan officers were also being trained by US Special Forces in collaboration with a mercenary outfit, Military Professional Resources Inc (MPRI) which was on contract with the US Department of State. MPRI had provided similar training to the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and the Croatian Armed Forces during the Yugoslav civil war and more recently to the Colombian Military in the context of Plan Colombia.

Militarization and the Ugandan External Debt

The buildup of the Ugandan external debt under President Musaveni coincided chronologically with the Rwandan and Congolese civil wars. With the accession of Musaveni to the presidency in 1986, the Ugandan external debt stood at 1.3 billion dollars. With the gush of fresh money, the external debt spiraled overnight, increasing almost threefold to 3.7 billion by 1997. In fact, Uganda had no outstanding debt to the World Bank at the outset of its "economic recovery program". By 1997, it owed almost 2 billion dollars solely to the World Bank. 22

Where did the money go? The foreign loans to the Musaveni government had been tagged to support the country's economic and social reconstruction. In the wake of a protracted civil war, the IMF sponsored "economic stabilization program" required massive budget cuts of all civilian programs.

The World Bank was responsible for monitoring the Ugandan budget on behalf of the creditors. Under the "public expenditure review" (PER), the government was obliged to fully reveal the precise allocation of its budget. In other words, every single category of expenditure --including the budget of the Ministry of Defense-- was open to scrutiny by the World Bank. Despite the austerity measures (imposed solely on "civilian" expenditures), the donors had allowed defense spending to increase without impediment.

Part of the money tagged for civilian programs had been diverted into funding the United People's Defense Force (UPDF) which in turn was involved in military operations in Rwanda and the Congo. The Ugandan external debt was being used to finance these military operations on behalf of Washington with the country and its people ultimately footing the bill. In fact by curbing social expenditures, the austerity measures had facilitated the reallocation of State of revenue in favor of the Ugandan military.

Financing both Sides in the Civil War

A similar process of financing military expenditure from the external debt had occurred in Rwanda under the Habyarimana government. In a cruel irony, both sides in the civil war were financed by the same donors institutions with the World Bank acting as a Watchdog.

The Habyarimana regime had at its disposal an arsenal of military equipment, including 83mm missile launchers, French made Blindicide, Belgian and German made light weaponry, and automatic weapons such as kalachnikovs made in Egypt, China and South Africa [as well as ... armored AML-60 and M3 armored vehicles.23 While part of these purchases had been financed by direct military aid from France, the influx of development loans from the World Bank's soft lending affiliate the International Development Association (IDA), the African Development Fund (AFD), the European Development Fund (EDF) as well as from Germany, the United States, Belgium and Canada had been diverted into funding the military and Interhamwe militia.

A detailed investigation of government files, accounts and correspondence conducted in Rwanda in 1996-97 by the author --together with Belgian economist Pierre Galand-- confirmed that many of the arms purchases had been negotiated outside the framework of government to government military aid agreements through various intermediaries and private arms dealers. These transactions --recorded as bona fide government expenditures-- had nonetheless been included in the State budget which was under the supervision of the World Bank. Large quantities of machetes and other items used in the 1994 ethnic massacres --routinely classified as "civilian commodities" -- had been imported through regular trading channels. 24

According to the files of the National Bank of Rwanda (NBR), some of these imports had been financed in violation of agreements signed with the donors. According to NBR records of import invoices, approximately one million machetes had been imported through various channels including Radio Mille Collines, an organization linked to the Interhamwe militia and used to foment ethnic hatred. 25

The money had been earmarked by the donors to support Rwanda's economic and social development. It was clearly stipulated that funds could not be used to import: "military expenditures on arms, ammunition and other military material". 26 In fact, the loan agreement with the World Bank's IDA was even more stringent. The money could not be used to import civilian commodities such as fuel, foodstuffs, medicine, clothing and footwear "destined for military or paramilitary use". The records of the NBR nonetheless confirm that the Habyarimana government used World Bank money to finance the import of machetes which had been routinely classified as imports of "civilian commodities." 27

An army of consultants and auditors had been sent in by World Bank to assess the Habyarimana government's "policy performance" under the loan agreement.28 The use of donor funds to import machetes and other material used in the massacres of civilians did not show up in the independent audit commissioned by the government and the World Bank. (under the IDA loan agreement. (IDA Credit Agreement. 2271-RW).29 In 1993, the World Bank decided to suspend the disbursement of the second installment of its IDA loan. There had been, according to the World Bank mission unfortunate "slip-ups" and "delays" in policy implementation. The free market reforms were no longer "on track", the conditionalities --including the privatization of state assets-- had not been met. The fact that the country was involved in a civil war was not even mentioned. How the money was spent was never an issue.30

Whereas the World Bank had frozen the second installment (tranche) of the IDA loan, the money granted in 1991 had been deposited in a Special Account at the Banque Bruxelles Lambert in Brussels. This account remained open and accessible to the former regime (in exile), two months after the April 1994 ethnic massacres.31

Postwar Cover-up

In the wake of the civil war, the World Bank sent a mission to Kigali with a view to drafting a so-called loan "Completion Report".32 This was a routine exercise, largely focussing on macro-economic rather than political issues. The report acknowledged that "the war effort prompted the [former] government to increase substantially spending, well beyond the fiscal targets agreed under the SAP.33 The misappropriation of World Bank money was not mentioned. Instead the Habyarimana government was praised for having "made genuine major efforts-- especially in 1991-- to reduce domestic and external financial imbalances, eliminate distortions hampering export growth and diversification and introduce market based mechanisms for resource allocation..." 34, The massacres of civilians were not mentioned; from the point of view of the donors, "nothing had happened". In fact the World Bank completion report failed to even acknowledge the existence of a civil war prior to April 1994.

In the wake of the Civil War: Reinstating the IMF's Deadly Economic Reforms

In 1995, barely a year after the 1994 ethnic massacres. Rwanda's external creditors entered into discussions with the Tutsi led RPF government regarding the debts of the former regime which had been used to finance the massacres. The RPF decided to fully recognize the legitimacy of the "odious debts" of the 1990-94. RPF strongman Vice-President Paul Kagame [now President] instructed the Cabinet not to pursue the matter nor to approach the World Bank. Under pressure from Washington, the RPF was not to enter into any form of negotiations, let alone an informal dialogue with the donors.

The legitimacy of the wartime debts was never questioned. Instead, the creditors had carefully set up procedures to ensure their prompt reimbursement. In 1998 at a special donors' meeting in Stockholm, a Multilateral Trust Fund of 55.2 million dollars was set up under the banner of postwar reconstruction.35 In fact, none of this money was destined for Rwanda. It had been earmarked to service Rwanda's "odious debts" with the World Bank (--i.e. IDA debt), the African Development Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

In other words, "fresh money" --which Rwanda will eventually have to reimburse-- was lent to enable Rwanda to service the debts used to finance the massacres. Old loans had been swapped for new debts under the banner of post-war reconstruction.36 The "odious debts" had been whitewashed, they had disappeared from the books. The creditor's responsibility had been erased. Moreover, the scam was also conditional upon the acceptance of a new wave of IMF-World Bank reforms.

Post War "Reconstruction and Reconciliation"

Bitter economic medicine was imposed under the banner of "reconstruction and reconciliation". In fact the IMF post-conflict reform package was far stringent than that imposed at the outset of the civil war in 1990. While wages and employment had fallen to abysmally low levels, the IMF had demanded a freeze on civil service wages alongside a massive retrenchment of teachers and health workers. The objective was to "restore macro-economic stability". A downsizing of the civil service was launched.37 Civil service wages were not to exceed 4.5 percent of GDP, so-called "unqualified civil servants" (mainly teachers) were to be removed from the State payroll. 38

Meanwhile, the country's per capita income had collapsed from $360 (prior to the war) to $140 in 1995. State revenues had been tagged to service the external debt. Kigali's Paris Club debts were rescheduled in exchange for "free market" reforms. Remaining State assets were sold off to foreign capital at bargain prices.

The Tutsi led RPF government rather than demanding the cancellation of Rwanda's odious debts, had welcomed the Bretton Woods institutions with open arms. They needed the IMF "greenlight" to boost the development of the military.

Despite the austerity measures, defense expenditure continued to grow. The 1990-94 pattern had been reinstated. The development loans granted since 1995 were not used to finance the country's economic and social development. Outside money had again been diverted into financing a military buildup, this time of the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA). And this build-up of the RPA occurred in the period immediately preceding the outbreak of civil war in former Zaire.

Civil War in the Congo

Following the installation of a US client regime in Rwanda in 1994, US trained Rwandan and Ugandan forces intervened in former Zaire --a stronghold of French and Belgian influence under President Mobutu Sese Seko. Amply documented, US special operations troops -- mainly Green Berets from the 3rd Special Forces Group based at Fort Bragg, N.C.-- had been actively training the RPA. This program was a continuation of the covert support and military aid provided to the RPA prior to 1994. In turn, the tragic outcome of the Rwandan civil war including the refugee crisis had set the stage for the participation of Ugandan and Rwandan RPA in the civil war in the Congo:

"Washington pumped military aid into Kagame's army, and U.S. Army Special Forces and other military personnel trained hundreds of Rwandan troops. But Kagame and his colleagues had designs of their own. While the Green Berets trained the Rwandan Patriotic Army, that army was itself secretly training Zairian rebels... [In] Rwanda, U.S. officials publicly portrayed their engagement with the army as almost entirely devoted to human rights training. But the Special Forces exercises also covered other areas, including combat skills... Hundreds of soldiers and officers were enrolled in U.S. training programs, both in Rwanda and in the United States... [C]onducted by U.S. Special Forces, Rwandans studied camouflage techniques, small-unit movement, troop-leading procedures, soldier-team development, [etc]... And while the training went on, U.S. officials were meeting regularly with Kagame and other senior Rwandan leaders to discuss the continuing military threat faced by the [former Rwandan] government [in exile] from inside Zaire... Clearly, the focus of Rwandan-U.S. military discussion had shifted from how to build human rights to how to combat an insurgency... With [Ugandan President] Museveni's support, Kagame conceived a plan to back a rebel movement in eastern Zaire [headed by Laurent Desire Kabila] ... The operation was launched in October 1996, just a few weeks after Kagame's trip to Washington and the completion of the Special Forces training mission... Once the war [in the Congo] started, the United States provided "political assistance" to Rwanda,... An official of the U.S. Embassy in Kigali traveled to eastern Zaire numerous times to liaise with Kabila. Soon, the rebels had moved on. Brushing off the Zairian army with the help of the Rwandan forces, they marched through Africa's third-largest nation in seven months, with only a few significant military engagements. Mobutu fled the capital, Kinshasa, in May 1997, and Kabila took power, changing the name of the country to Congo... U.S. officials deny that there were any U.S. military personnel with Rwandan troops in Zaire during the war, although unconfirmed reports of a U.S. advisory presence have circulated in the region since the war's earliest days.39

American Mining Interests

At stake in these military operations in the Congo were the extensive mining resources of Eastern and Southern Zaire including strategic reserves of cobalt -- of crucial importance for the US defense industry. During the civil war several months before the downfall of Mobutu, Laurent Desire Kabila basedin Goma, Eastern Zaire had renegotiated the mining contracts with several US and British mining companies including American Mineral Fields (AMF), a company headquartered in President Bill Clinton's hometown of Hope, Arkansas.40

Meanwhile back in Washington, IMF officials were busy reviewing Zaire's macro-economic situation. No time was lost. The post-Mobutu economic agenda had already been decided upon. In a study released in April 1997 barely a month before President Mobutu Sese Seko fled the country, the IMF had recommended "halting currency issue completely and abruptly" as part of an economic recovery programme.41 And a few months later upon assuming power in Kinshasa, the new government of Laurent Kabila Desire was ordered by the IMF to freeze civil service wages with a view to "restoring macro-economic stability." Eroded by hyperinflation, the average public sector wage had fallen to 30,000 new Zaires (NZ) a month, the equivalent of one U.S. dollar.42

The IMF's demands were tantamount to maintaining the entire population in abysmal poverty. They precluded from the outset a meaningful post-war economic reconstruction, thereby contributing to fuelling the continuation of the Congolese civil war in which close to 2 million people have died.

Concluding Remarks

The civil war in Rwanda was a brutal struggle for political power between the Hutu-led Habyarimana government supported by France and the Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) backed financially and militarily by Washington. Ethnic rivalries were used deliberately in the pursuit of geopolitical objectives. Both the CIA and French intelligence were involved.

In the words of former Cooperation Minister Bernard Debré in the government of Prime Minister Henri Balladur:

"What one forgets to say is that, if France was on one side, the Americans were on the other, arming the Tutsis who armed the Ugandans. I don't want to portray a showdown between the French and the Anglo-Saxons, but the truth must be told." 43

In addition to military aid to the warring factions, the influx of development loans played an important role in "financing the conflict." In other words, both the Ugandan and Rwanda external debts were diverted into supporting the military and paramilitary. Uganda's external debt increased by more than 2 billion dollars, --i.e. at a significantly faster pace than that of Rwanda (an increase of approximately 250 million dollars from 1990 to 1994). In retrospect, the RPA -- financed by US military aid and Uganda's external debt-- was much better equipped and trained than the Forces Armées du Rwanda (FAR) loyal to President Habyarimana. From the outset, the RPA had a definite military advantage over the FAR.

According to the testimony of Paul Mugabe, a former member of the RPF High Command Unit, Major General Paul Kagame had personally ordered the shooting down of President Habyarimana's plane with a view to taking control of the country. He was fully aware that the assassination of Habyarimana would unleash "a genocide" against Tutsi civilians. RPA forces had been fully deployed in Kigali at the time the ethnic massacres took place and did not act to prevent it from happening:

The decision of Paul Kagame to shoot Pres. Habyarimana's aircraft was the catalyst of an unprecedented drama in Rwandan history, and Major-General Paul Kagame took that decision with all awareness. Kagame's ambition caused the extermination of all of our families: Tutsis, Hutus and Twas. We all lost. Kagame's take-over took away the lives of a large number of Tutsis and caused the unnecessary exodus of millions of Hutus, many of whom were innocent under the hands of the genocide ringleaders. Some naive Rwandans proclaimed Kagame as their savior, but time has demonstrated that it was he who caused our suffering and misfortunes... Can Kagame explain to the Rwandan people why he sent Claude Dusaidi and Charles Muligande to New York and Washington to stop the UN military intervention which was supposed to be sent and protect the Rwandan people from the genocide? The reason behind avoiding that military intervention was to allow the RPF leadership the takeover of the Kigali Government and to show the world that they - the RPF - were the ones who stopped the genocide. We will all remember that the genocide occurred during three months, even though Kagame has said that he was capable of stopping it the first week after the aircraft crash. Can Major-General Paul Kagame explain why he asked to MINUAR to leave Rwandan soil within hours while the UN was examining the possibility of increasing its troops in Rwanda in order to stop the genocide?44

Paul Mugabe's testimony regarding the shooting down of Habyarimana's plane ordered by Kagame is corroborated by intelligence documents and information presented to the French parliamentary inquiry. Major General Paul Kagame was an instrument of Washington. The loss of African lives did not matter. The civil war in Rwanda and the ethnic massacres were an integral part of US foreign policy, carefully staged in accordance with precise strategic and economic objectives.

Despite the good diplomatic relations between Paris and Washington and the apparent unity of the Western military alliance, it was an undeclared war between France and America. By supporting the build up of Ugandan and Rwandan forces and by directly intervening in the Congolese civil war, Washington also bears a direct responsibility for the ethnic massacres committed in the Eastern Congo including several hundred thousand people who died in refugee camps.

US policy-makers were fully aware that a catastrophe was imminent. In fact four months before the genocide, the CIA had warned the US State Department in a confidential brief that the Arusha Accords would fail and "that if hostilities resumed, then upward of half a million people would die". 45 This information was withheld from the United Nations: "it was not until the genocide was over that information was passed to Maj.-Gen. Dallaire [who was in charge of UN forces in Rwanda]." 46

Washington's objective was to displace France, discredit the French government (which had supported the Habyarimana regime) and install an Anglo-American protectorate in Rwanda under Major General Paul Kagame. Washington deliberately did nothing to prevent the ethnic massacres.

When a UN force was put forth, Major General Paul Kagame sought to delay its implementation stating that he would only accept a peacekeeping force once the RPA was in control of Kigali. Kagame "feared [that] the proposed United Nations force of more than 5,000 troops... [might] intervene to deprive them [the RPA] of victory".47 Meanwhile the Security Council after deliberation and a report from Secretary General Boutros Boutros Ghali decided to postpone its intervention.

The 1994 Rwandan "genocide" served strictly strategic and geopolitical objectives. The ethnic massacres were a stumbling blow to France's credibility which enabled the US to establish a neocolonial foothold in Central Africa. From a distinctly Franco-Belgian colonial setting, the Rwandan capital Kigali has become --under the expatriate Tutsi led RPF government-- distinctly Anglo-American. English has become the dominant language in government and the private sector. Many private businesses owned by Hutus were taken over in 1994 by returning Tutsi expatriates. The latter had been exiled in Anglophone Africa, the US and Britain.

The Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) functions in English and Kinyarwanda, the University previously linked to France and Belgium functions in English. While English had become an official language alongside French and Kinyarwanda, French political and cultural influence will eventually be erased. Washington has become the new colonial master of a francophone country.

Several other francophone countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have entered into military cooperation agreements with the US. These countries are slated by Washington to follow suit on the pattern set in Rwanda. Meanwhile in francophone West Africa, the US dollar is rapidly displacing the CFA Franc -- which is linked in a currency board arrangement to the French Treasury.


Notes (Endnote numbering as in the original chapter)

19. Written in 1999, the following text is Part II of Chapter 5 on the Second Edition of The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order. The first part of chapter published in the first edition was written in 1994. Part II is in part based on a study conducted by the author and Belgian economist Pierre Galand on the use of Rwanda's 1990-94 external debt to finance the military and paramilitary.

20. Africa Direct, Submission to the UN Tribunal on Rwanda, http://www.junius.co.uk/africa- direct/tribunal.html Ibid.

21. Africa's New Look, Jane's Foreign Report, August 14, 1997.

22. Jim Mugunga, Uganda foreign debt hits Shs 4 trillion, The Monitor, Kampala, 19 February 1997.

23. Michel Chossudovsky and Pierre Galand, L'usage de la dette exterieure du Rwanda, la responsabilité des créanciers, mission report, United Nations Development Program and Government of Rwanda, Ottawa and Brussels, 1997.

24. Ibid

25. Ibid

26. ibid, the imports recorded were of the order of kg. 500.000 of machetes or approximately one million machetes.

27. Ibid

28. Ibid. See also schedule 1.2 of the Development Credit Agreement with IDA, Washington, 27 June 1991, CREDIT IDA 2271 RW.

29. Chossudovsky and Galand, op cit

30. Ibid.

30. Ibid.

32. World Bank completion report, quoted in Chossudovsky and Galand, op cit.

33. Ibid

34. Ibid

35. See World Bank, Rwanda at http://www.worldbank.org/afr/rw2.htm.

36. Ibid, italics added

37. A ceiling on the number of public employees had been set at 38,000 for 1998 down from 40,600 in 1997. See Letter of Intent of the Government of Rwanda including cover letter addressed to IMF Managing Director Michel Camdessus, IMF, Washington,http://www.imf.org/external/np/loi/060498.htm , 1998.

38. Ibid.

39. Lynne Duke Africans Use US Military Training in Unexpected Ways, Washington Post. July 14, 1998; p.A01.

40. Musengwa Kayaya, U.S. Company To Invest in Zaire, Pan African News, 9 May 1997.

41. International Monetary Fund, Zaire Hyperinflation 1990-1996, Washington, April 1997.

42. Alain Shungu Ngongo, Zaire-Economy: How to Survive On a Dollar a Month, International Press Service, 6 June 1996.

43. Quoted in Therese LeClerc. "Who is responsible for the genocide in Rwanda?", World Socialist website athttp://www.wsws.org/index.shtml , 29 April 1998.

44. Paul Mugabe, The Shooting Down Of The Aircraft Carrying Rwandan President Habyarimama , testimony to the International Strategic Studies Association (ISSA), Alexandria, Virginia, 24 April 2000.

45. Linda Melvern, Betrayal of the Century, Ottawa Citizen, Ottawa, 8 April 2000.

46. Ibid

47. Scott Peterson, Peacekeepers will not halt carnage, say Rwanda, rebels, Daily Telegraph, London, May 12, 1994.

IDF Soldiers Target Peaceful Protests in the Buffer Zone

IDF Soldiers Target Peaceful Protests in the Buffer Zone

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Patchwork clouds of smoke moved to and fro in the wind above a group of Palestinian youth waving Palestinian flags, standing on top of a low dirt ridge. Beyond it lay the Israeli border. I was near the Nahal Oz crossing, east of Gaza City in the northern segment of the Gaza Strip, close to where Israel used to bring diesel fuel into the Gaza Strip. It was Land Day. The sharp pop of bullets beginning to fly through the air grew louder as I drew closer to the group of shebab and cameramen stationed there, watching the youth below. They were maybe 150 meters from the border.

The smoke was from tires and garbage bags that had been set aflame or grass on which someone had tossed a match. The smoke gave the scene the look of a war zone. It looked like what it was. On the far side of the border were several Israel Defense Forces (IDF) jeeps, at least two Merkava tanks, looming, their turrets pointed at the group of fired-up Palestinians. There was also a Hammer, an electronic monitoring vehicle that can hear conversations at a great distance.

Other Palestinian youths were closer to the border, maybe 100 meters, well inside the Israeli-decreed "buffer zone." All were bravely waving Palestinian flags. Bravely, because Israeli soldiers shoot to kill inside the buffer zone. They were there to commemorate Land Day. Land Day in Palestine is celebrated on March 30, an annual commemoration of the events of that day in 1976. In response to the Israeli government's announcement of its plan to expropriate thousands of dunums - a dunum is a quarter acre - of land, Palestinians carried out a general strike, and there were marches in Arab towns across the breadth of Palestine. In violent confrontations with the Israeli army, six Palestinian citizens of Israel were killed.

Land Day was the first time since 1948 that Palestinians in Israel organized resistance to Israeli policies as a national collective. Its importance permeates the national consciousness. In Gaza, Land Day this year was big. The Popular Campaign for Security in the Buffer Zone and the Beit Hanoun-based Local Initiative group organized six simultaneous protests: the one I attended, at Nahal Oz; one each at Maghazi and Khuza'a in the central Gaza Strip; one in Beit Hanoun and one in Beit Lehiya, both in the northern part of the Gaza Strip; and one in Rafah, close to where Gaza adjoins Israel and Egypt.

In Gaza, as elsewhere, the struggle over land is increasingly urgent. This phase of nonviolent struggle has so far had a rural character, the result of zero-sum conflict between farmers and the occupying Army. Either farmers have access to their land or they don't. If they don't struggle for it they will lose it, and in some cases, as in the West Bank villages of Budrus and Bilin, where nonviolent mobilization partially changed the route of the apartheid wall, struggle over land has led to partial Palestinian victories - or ameliorated Palestinian defeat.

The Gazan buffer zone is particularly injurious for the besieged population there. Farmers are forcefully prevented from farming within 300 meters of the border, and have to worry about fumigation of their crops or sniper bullets within two kilometers, according to the Palestine Center for Human Rights (PCHR). As PCHR added, "30% of Gaza's agricultural land cannot be worked without severe personal risk, causing the loss of livelihoods."

This is the best land in Gaza. Ahmed Sourani from the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees (PARC) has commented that the buffer zone destroys the possibility of independent agricultural development in Gaza, which already has a population far in excess of the land's carrying capacity. This is not a natural occurrence. Eighty percent of Gaza's population has refugee status, having fled one or another Israeli depredation.

With 30 percent of Gaza's farmland unavailable, sustainable planning is impossible. This land, and the abutting zones that are intermittently penetrated by sniper bullets, cannot be developed, although it is the natural place for infrastructural build-up in Gaza. As Sourani has written, "The border areas are the most fertile land in Gaza Strip. These agricultural lands constitute a food basket and represent food security to all those living in the region."

Naturally, these restrictions have created mounting fury. They are restrictions that can only be maintained by force, and force is how they are maintained. According to the PCHR's tabulations, from January 20 2009 to the end of the year, 37 people were murdered in the buffer zone. There were 166 recorded attacks.

The demonstration I was at was "calm": no one was shot and bullets were restricted to warning shots, 10 or 20 meters away, as Palestinian youths huddled behind a large, intact piece of concrete, maybe the remains of a destroyed well. On their own land, they hid there for safety, probably within 80 meters of the border. For them, the Israeli sniper bullets may not have been warning shots. A PressTV reporter said that he felt the whiz of a bullet fly by his head, 500 meters from the border. When you shoot a bullet and there's nothing behind it, it goes until it hits something. Still, the Nahal Oz demonstration was without casualties. Others were not.

Further south, in Khoza'a, a village east of Khan Younis, Israeli snipers used live ammunition, the reports muffled by silencers, to shoot three Palestinian youths: Hani Riad al-Najjar, 17; Walaa' Farid al-Najjar, 19; Jom'a Ramadan al-Najjar, 22. Walaa' was shot in the thigh. According to ISM volunteer Eva Bartlett, he said, "I saw the soldier who shot me. He didn't give any warning, just shot me right away." Israeli snipers often target the upper thigh, hoping to sever the femoral artery. Such wounds bleed the victim out quickly, and, often, snipers prevent EMT crews from reaching the victims of their marksmanship. When that happens the victims die.

Jom'a was shot in the head. Hani was wounded in both legs, the left one by gunshot, the right one by shrapnel. That shrapnel is still embedded in his body. As he testified to Bartlett, "The Israeli soldier was lying on a dirt mound across from us. He fired at me without warning." The bullet hit just below his knee, and he will need an operation in order to remove it.

According to Bartlett, the demonstration in Khoza'a got close to the border shortly after noontime. IDF jeeps quickly arrived, and soldiers left their jeeps and assumed firing positions. Jom'a placed a flag on the border fence, and ten minutes after, he was shot. As Bartlett wrote, "Israeli soldiers repeatedly opened fire on the very visibly unarmed demonstrators, without any verbal warning, nor without warning shots in the air." Jom'a has bullet shrapnel embedded in his skull. If he is lucky, it will be removable.

An IDF spokesperson told Ma'an news agency that their internal investigations showed that "soldiers operated in accordance with accepted dispersal procedures." This can only mean that the IDF reserves the right to pump bullets into the legs of young Palestinian men for protesting peacefully on their own land.

Struggle for power continues in Kyrgyzstan

Struggle for power continues in Kyrgyzstan

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Two days after the main opposition groups in Kyrgyzstan claimed to have overthrown the government of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, control over the impoverished country remains in dispute.

Opposition leader Roza Otunbayeva, head of the self-proclaimed provisional government, said Bakiyev is organizing resistance in the southern city of Jalalabad. Otunbayeva and her backers control a number of government buildings in the capital, Bishkek, and other provincial cities. The opposition claims to have won the backing of most of the army and police.

The criminality of the Bakiyev regime was demonstrated in its massacre of protesters who marched on the presidential headquarters in Bishkek on Wednesday. Riot police fired point blank into thousands of demonstrators, mostly workers, killing at least 74 and injuring over 400 others.

The mass protest in the capital followed similar demonstrations in outlying cities earlier in the week. A major spur to the eruption of popular rage at the Bakiyev government was the regime’s imposition of sharp increases in the prices of basic commodities. The government increased the price of water and gas twofold, at a time when most workers and the rural poor have been hit hard by the global recession.

Many Kyrgyz families rely on remittances from relatives working abroad, especially in Russia. However, as jobs have been cut these itinerant workers have been among the first to be laid off.

KyrgyzstanKyrgyzstan is one of the poorest countries in the region, with a per capita gross domestic product one-ninth that of neighbouring Kazakhstan. Average daily wages are around $5.

The opposition leaders who are claiming to head a new “people’s government” do not represent the Kyrgyz masses. For the most part, they are former officials in the regimes of Bakiyev or his predecessor, Askar Akayev. The latter was overthrown in the 2005 US-backed “Tulip Revolution,” which installed Bakiyev in power.

As in the other countries that had Washington-backed “colour revolutions”—Georgia and Ukraine—the supposedly democratic leader supported by the US and other Western powers continued the anti-democratic methods of the ousted regime and intensified the economic attacks on the working population.

The Obama administration bears major political responsibility for Bakiyev’s massacre of workers on Wednesday. The popular movement against the American-backed despot has exposed the utter hypocrisy of US foreign policy and the predatory aims that underlie the war in Afghanistan.

A major reason for US support for Bakiyev has been his willingness, despite popular opposition, to allow the US military to continue using the Manas base near Bishkek as the central staging ground for moving US and NATO troops into Afghanistan and supplying the counterinsurgency operation.

US imperialism, under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, has supported the Bakiyev administration despite its well-known record of human rights abuses. The regime has been internationally condemned for the detention, intimidation and killing of its political opponents.

On a recent trip to the country, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon was forced to acknowledge that Kyrgyzstan failed to meet basic international standards of democratic rights, especially with regard to freedom of the media. Dozens of journalists who have voiced criticism of Bakiyev and his cronies have been assaulted or killed over the past five years, while several independent media outlets have been censored or closed down.

Last year, Bakiyev organized a presidential election that was widely seen, in Kyrgyzstan and by international election monitors, as rigged. Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe election monitors declared that the Kyrgyz vote “fell short of key standards” and the Bakiyev government had employed “ballot stuffing,” “multiple voting,” and physical threats against monitors.

Washington remained virtually silent on the election fraud. Indeed, Obama subsequently praised Bakiyev.

The blatantly fraudulent 2009 vote in Kyrgyzstan took place just weeks after the Iranian presidential election was condemned by Washington—without any substantive evidence—as rigged. The difference in Washington’s attitude to the two elections was not based on any objective appraisal of the electoral standards in either country. The Bakiyev regime was an ally in Washington’s occupation of Afghanistan, and so could rig the vote as it wished, while the government in Tehran is a prime target for US aggression and “regime change.”

The explosive events in Kyrgyzstan have evidently taken Washington by surprise. Bakiyev’s son, Maksim Bakiyev, was scheduled to meet with administration officials in Washington on Thursday, but the meeting has been postponed. The elder Bakiyev named his son to head the Central Agency on Development, Investment, and Innovation last October.

The US military also announced that it had suspended flights in and out of the Manas base.

At the same time, the head of the provisional government, Roza Otunbayeva, has longstanding and close ties to the US. A former high official under Akayev, she was the first ambassador to the US from Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet republic, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. A key leader of the Tulip Revolution, Otunbayeva served briefly as foreign minister under Bakiyev.

Although some opposition leaders have called for the closure of the US military’s Manas base, Otunbayeva has hastened to reassure Washington, declaring that the provisional government will maintain the status quo.

Washington has reacted cautiously to the events in Kyrgyzstan, publicly calling for “restraint” from both the government and opposition sides. The US will seek to pressure whichever political formation consolidates power to ensure the continuation of US military operations at the Manas base.

The threat of civil war in Kyrgyzstan has been heightened by the nepotism of the Bakiyev regime, which has used state power to line the pockets of Bakiyev’s sons and brothers at the expense of rival factions of the local elite. The president’s family has monopolized “practically all the country’s resources,” causing friction between pro-government clans from the south of the country and groups from the traditionally more developed northern regions, according to Andrey Ryabov of the Carnegie Moscow Centre.

Ryabov also stated, “Russia, the US, China and the European Union are interested in keeping political stability in the country and prevent it from falling into chaos that may give an opening to Islamic radicalism in the south.”

The US elite also fears that other despotic allies in the region-—including the puppet regime of Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan—could be threatened by popular uprisings. The scale and anger of the protests by the country’s impoverished masses pose a threat to all sections of the local elite and to the major powers.

Notwithstanding their conflicting geo-political and economic interests in Kyrgyzstan, Moscow and Beijing, like Washington, view any sign of popular revolt with fear and hostility. The Stalinist regime in China, which shares a border with Kyrgyzstan, recently violently suppressed expressions of opposition in its western province of Xianjing, while the Russian elite is fighting a low-level but brutal war against a growing insurgency in its Muslim-majority North Caucasus region.

In a move that indicates its concerns about a further deterioration of the security situation in the country, Moscow has recognized Otunbayeva as the head of a “government of national confidence.” Moscow is expected to pressure Bakiyev into entering negotiations leading to his resignation.

“The worst [outcome] for the US, Russia and China is instability and clan warfare,” said Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of the magazine Russia in Global Affairs. “If Bakiyev tries to get support in the south, that’s the path to civil war.”

Seeking to shore up its position, Russia on Thursday sent an additional 150 paratroopers to its air base in Kyrgyzstan. Russian state television reported that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told Otunbayeva yesterday that the Kremlin was ready to provide Kyrgyzstan with “humanitarian aid.”

The Russian elite wants to limit the role of US imperialism in Central Asia, a region traditionally within Moscow’s sphere. However, the primary aim of Moscow, as well as its rivals in Washington and Beijing, is to ensure that the mass movement of workers and poor in Kyrgyzstan against the Bakiyev regime is brought rapidly under control.

The major powers will all seek to impose their will on whatever new government emerges, at the expense of their international rivals and the Kyrgyz masses.

The West Virginia mine disaster and the collapse of the United Mine Workers

The West Virginia mine disaster and the collapse of the United Mine Workers

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The deaths of at least 25 West Virginia miners in the worst mining disaster in more than a quarter century is a tragic and stark demonstration of the state of class relations in America today.

In many regards, conditions in the Appalachian coalfields resemble those of a century ago. Faced with high levels of unemployment and poverty, workers are forced to jeopardize their lives in dangerous mines.

Multimillionaire mine operators, like Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, disregard elemental safety regulations and compel miners to work 12-hour shifts in order to maximize profit. They know full well that once the news media have left and federal and state agencies have held their hearings, they will be free to continue profiting from the killing and maiming of coal miners.

As one woman from the area told the media, “We’re nothing but disposable commodities.”

Miners confront huge firms with immense resources without any organization to defend them. It has not always been so. Indeed, the site of the present mine explosion was, as late as the early 1990s, a stronghold of the United Mine Workers union and a center of militant strikes and mass resistance to the coal bosses’ demands for speedup and attacks on mine safety and workers’ health coverage.

Even at the height of the union’s membership and power, however, rank-and-file miners repeatedly came into conflict with the conservative leadership and its policies of class collaboration. The gains won through the UMW were due to the militant action of the workers.

For three solid decades, however, the UMW has repudiated the militant traditions with which the miners were associated and sought to integrate itself ever more closely with corporate management and the government. Over this period the union has betrayed one struggle after another. The result has been the collapse of the UMW, to the point where its active membership has fallen from 120,000 in 1978 to 14,000 at present.

What underlay the betrayal and disintegration of the UMW? How is it that the miners have come to their present desperate situation?

The miners, particularly in West Virginia, were historically among the most militant and class-conscious sections of the American working class. Over a century of struggle, they evinced unsurpassed courage, solidarity and readiness to sacrifice.

Throughout much of the 20th century, the social weight and strategic position of the miners was something the US corporate and political establishment could not ignore.

The UMW established its roots in southern West Virginia during the bitter Mine Wars of the 1920s and 1930s. The names of great class battles—“Bloody Mingo,” the “Battle of Blair Mountain,” the “Matewan Massacre”—give a sense of the intensity of social conflict when miners responded in kind to the violence of the coal companies, their hired gunmen and the authorities.

The miners spearheaded the drive to build the new CIO industrial unions in the 1930s, and during World War II defied Roosevelt and launched a national strike, winning substantial demands while the industry was making record profits from wartime production. Again in 1947, the miners defied the back-to-work order issued by Congress, declaring, “Let the senators dig the coal,” and won their greatest wage increase, improvements in health care, and protections against the Taft-Hartley antistrike act.

In 1974, after a series of wildcat strikes, mass protests against unsafe conditions and black lung disease, and rebellions against the UMW leadership, miners won a 54 percent wage and benefit increase over three years following a 28-day strike. This was followed by the historic 111-day walkout in 1977-78, when miners once again defied a presidential back-to-work order, this time from Democrat Jimmy Carter.

Despite the militancy and solidarity of the miners, however, their movement suffered from an ultimately fatal political flaw. It was the same weakness that undermined the entire American labor movement.

The miners never established their political independence from the Democratic Party and capitalist politics in general. Their struggles, within the framework of the United Mine Workers union, never acquired a consciously anti-capitalist character.

Throughout their history, the miners’ struggles continuously raised questions of political perspective and program. From the turn of the century onward there were demands for the nationalization of the mines, as economic downturns, mechanization and the anarchy of coal production for the capitalist market led to mass unemployment, impoverishment of mining communities and the continuous sacrifice of miners’ lives and limbs to the bosses’ drive for profit.

The need for the political organization of the working class independently of the two big business parties was repeatedly posed, as miners faced injunctions, back-to-work orders and state repression from officials of both parties who were bribed agents of the coal operators.

From the earliest days, however, the leadership of the UMW opposed any struggle against the capitalist system. In a radio address in September 1937, UMW President John L. Lewis appealed to the ruling class to recognize the unions because, he said, they would “prove the finest bulwark against the intrusion of alien doctrines of government.”

“Unionization,” Lewis said, “as opposed to communism, presupposes the relation of employment; it is based upon the wage system and it recognizes fully and unreservedly the institution of private property and the right to investment profit.”

From the outset, the hallmark of the American trade unions was anti-socialism, servility to the profit system and opposition to any independent political struggle by the working class. While trade unions throughout the world essentially shared this pro-capitalist outlook, the political backwardness of the American trade unions was the most pronounced.

In 1955, after socialists and other left-wing militants had been driven out of positions of leadership, the CIO leaders merged with the American Federation of Labor and established the AFL-CIO on the basis of the explicit defense of the profit system and US imperialist interests around the world. Over the next 25 years, as American capitalism lost its position of world economic dominance and the US ruling elite replaced its policy of relative class compromise with one of unrelenting class war, this perspective led the working class to disaster.

Like his British counterpart, Margaret Thatcher, President Reagan—who had smashed the 1981 PATCO air traffic controllers’ strike—was determined to break the back of the miners in order to achieve a permanent rollback in the conditions of the working class as a whole.

In 1985-86, with the full backing of the White House and state and local authorities, AT Massey Coal (spearheaded by Blankenship) launched a union-busting drive against the UMW, in which it revived methods of class violence not seen since the Mine Wars of the early decades of the 20th century.

The UMW, led by then-President Richard Trumka (now president of the AFL-CIO), responded by isolating the 2,600 Massey strikers and abandoning the union’s long-standing tradition of calling all miners out on a national strike. The UMW did nothing to defend militant miners who were arrested, framed up and thrown in jail, and, after leaving the strikers to languish on the picket lines for 14 months, Trumka called off the strike, opening the door to a wave of union busting and concessions throughout the coalfields. The UMW conducted a similar betrayal in the 1989-90 Pittston strike.

The objective conditions that facilitated the domination of a right-wing bureaucracy over the working class—the immense power and economic reserves of American capitalism and the global dominance of its industry—no longer exist.

As a new period of class struggle emerges out of the current crisis, miners will seek to build new organizations of struggle. This is absolutely necessary and critical. However, the bitter lessons of history must be learned—above all, that the resistance of the miners must be based on a conscious fight for the independent political mobilization of the working class against the capitalist system and all of its political representatives.

Vaccine Contamination: Pig Virus DNA Found in Rotarix

Vaccine Contamination: Pig Virus DNA Found in Rotarix

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On March 22, 2010, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials adhering to the precautionary principle advised American doctors to suspend use of Rotarix 1 vaccine until the agency finds out why DNA from a swine virus (porcine circovirus 1 or PCV1) was found in the live rotavirus vaccine. The FDA said there is “no evidence at this time” that the vaccine manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline and given to babies at 2,4 and 6 months of age to prevent diarrhea poses any safety risk. 2
Independent Lab Using New Technology Found Contamination

The discovery that viral DNA is contaminating Rotarix vaccine was made by a team of scientists at an independent research lab in San Fransisco, California, where they used new technology to detect fragments of viral genetic material in vaccines using genetic sequencing. 3

More testing confirmed that many copies of DNA from the pig virus were present in all Rotarix vaccine lots released since the vaccine was licensed in 2008 because the pig virus DNA also contaminated the working cell bank and the original viral “seed” stock, from which Rotarix vaccine was first produced. 4

Two Other Live Virus Vaccines Contaminated

The surprising discovery reportedly was made after the independent lab used new technology to evaluate the purity of eight live virus vaccines for polio, rubella, measles, yellow fever, human herpes 3 (varicella or chicken pox), rotavirus (Rotarix and RotaTeq) and MMR. In addition to pig viral DNA found in Rotarix vaccine, low levels of DNA fragments from avian (bird) leukosis virus (a retrovirus) was found in measles vaccine and DNA fragments of a virus similar to simian (monkey) retrovirus was found in RotaTeq vaccine. 5

FDA Looking For Answers

After the team double checked their findings, researchers notified GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) on February 9, 2010 and GSK notified the FDA on March 15, 2010, which prompted the FDA’s action on March 22, 2010 to suspend use of Rotarix. The FDA says it “does not know how DNA from PCV1 came to be present in Rotarix” or whether “this means that intact virus is present. Additional studies are being conducted.” 6

Rotavirus Vaccines Use Monkey, Cow, Pig Materials for Production
Rotarix is a genetically engineered vaccine that GSK created by isolating human rotavirus strain infecting a child in Cincinnati and using African Green monkey kidney cells to produce the original viral seed stock from which all Rotarix vaccine has been made. 7 In the FDA licensing process, Rotarix had to meet certain FDA standards, that included demonstrating the vaccine was not contaminated with, for example TSE (Transmissable Spongiform Encephalopathy or “mad cow” disease, a brain wasting disease) 8 or with cow viruses because bovine (cow) serum was used to prepare the original viral seed stock. Porcine trypsin, an enzyme in the pancreatic juice of a pig, was also used to make the viral seed stock. 9
RotaTeq is a genetically engineered vaccine containing five human-cow reassortment strains of rotavirus that were created at the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania (CHOP), where strains of rotavirus that give cows diarrhea were combined with strains of rotavirus that cause diarrhea in humans. The reassortment viruses were transported to Merck, where master seeds were produced using African Green Monkey kidney cell cultures. Fetal bovine (cow) serum and porcine trypsin was used to make the “seed” stock. 10 There are small amounts of bovine serum and cell culture media (monkey viral DNA) that remain in RotaTeq vaccine. 11 12

FDA Suggests Drug Companies Test for Vaccine “Purity”

In a February 2010 FDA document, Guidance for Industry: Characterization and Qualification of Cell Substrates and Other Biological Materials Used in the Production of Viral Vaccines for Infectious Disease Indications, the FDA lists “non-binding recommendations” for drug companies making vaccines using animal and human cell substrates. 13 Under the heading “Testing for Adventitious Agents,” the FDA states “assurance that products are free of adventitious agents is a critical component of meeting the [FDA regulations] requirement for purity.” Under the heading “Testing for Residual Cellular DNA,” the FDA states, “Residual DNA might be a risk to your final product because of oncogenic (cancer causing) and/or infectivity potential.”

Déjà Vu: Monkey Viruses Contaminated Polio Vaccines

Contamination of vaccines with animal viruses is not new. In the 20th century, polio vaccines given to tens of millions of people worldwide were contaminated with simian virus 40 (SV40), which was found to cause cancer in animals and is associated with human brain, bone and lung cancers but the government denies SV40 is causing those cancers in humans. 14 15 16 17

There has been controversy about the link between experimental polio vaccines tested in Africa in the 1950’s and 1960’s that were contaminated with a monkey virus, simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV). Soon after the polio vaccine trials in Africa, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) emerged. 18 Many questions about the failure of researchers and technology to screen for monkey viruses in those vaccines remain to this day.

Using Cancer Cells to Produce Vaccines?

Vaccine manufacturers have long used cell material that comes from the bodies of mammals, including humans, monkeys, cows, pigs, dogs and rodents, as well as birds or insects to make vaccines now in use or to make experimental vaccines. There is an inherent risk of contamination with viruses and other microbes (or DNA from those microbes) that can escape detection during the vaccine development, testing, licensing, manufacturing and oversight process. 19 There has even been discussion among vaccine manufacturers and the FDA in the last decade about using neoplastic (cancer) cell substrates to make vaccines but the risk of contamination with cancer cell DNA is a big risk. 20

New Influenza Vaccines: Is Contamination Possible?

In searching for ways to make seasonal influenza vaccines in a faster, easier and less expensive way than relying on chicken eggs for production, drug companies have experimented with using dog kidney cells and human fetal retinal cells. However, these cell lines have been documented to cause tumors in animals, especially dog kidney cells (MDCK). 21

At a November 19, 2009 meeting of the FDA Vaccines & Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, a vaccine manufacturer asked for permission to use insect (caterpillar) cells to make pandemic influenza shots. But insect cells can be contaminated with insect viruses that are hard to detect. The FDA Committee, on that day, voted “no.” 22

Unanswered Questions about Rotarix Contamination

There are lots of questions about how the manufacturer of Rotarix vaccine and the FDA both missed the pig virus DNA contaminating the original seed stock and all doses of Rotarix vaccine given to more than one million American children in the past few years. 23

Is there state-of-the-art technology that is being used by private laboratories but not by drug companies and the FDA?

Why did the independent team of scientists, who found the contamination, notify the vaccine manufacturer first rather than also immediately reporting their finding directly to the FDA?

What about the significance of finding bird viral DNA in measles vaccine and the monkey viral DNA in RotaTeq vaccine?

Wake Up Call for Industry & Government

The contamination of Rotarix vaccine is only the latest in a long history of vaccine contamination issues that require a re-examination of the way vaccines are made and tested. It is a wake-up call for industry and government

The big question people are asking is: why do drug companies making vaccines continue to use cells from animals, birds and insects that can be contaminated with viruses and other adventitious agents that are hard to detect?

The FDA was right to suspend use of Rotarix vaccine until they know more. Hopefully, this serious vaccine production and testing issue will be addressed immediately by vaccine manufacturers. If not, the next pandemic or serious health problem affecting large populations may be one that comes out of a vaccine lab.

REFERENCES:


1 National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC). Rotarix and Rotarix Vaccine.
http://www.nvic.org/Vaccines-and-Diseases/Rotavirus.aspx

2 FDA. News Release: Components of Extraneous Virus Detected in Rotarix Vaccine: No Known Safety Risk, FDA Recommends Clinicians Temporarily Suspend Use of Vaccine As Agency Learns More. March 22, 2010. http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm205625.htm

4 FDA. Detection of DNA from PCV1 in Rotarix. March 22, 2010. http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/ApprovedProducts/ucm205545.htm

5 See Reference #3 above.

6 FDA. See Reference #4 above.

7 FDA. Memorandum: Review of Vero Cell Banks used for Vaccine Production and Adventitious Agent Testing of Virus Seeds and Vaccine Human Rotavirus Vaccine (HRV) – Rotarix. April 1, 2008. http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/ApprovedProducts/ucm134138.htm

8 FDA. Summary Basis for FDA Regulatory Action – Rotarix. June 4, 2007. http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/ApprovedProducts/ucm133543.htm

9 European Medicines Control Agency. Evaluation of Medicines for Human Use: Rotarix Vaccine (Control of Materials (Reagants) page 4). 2006. http://www.ema.europa.eu/humandocs/PDFs/EPAR/rotarix/063906en6.pdf

10 European Medicines Control Agency. Evaluation of Medicines for Human Use: RotaTeq Vaccine (Active Substance (Manufacture). Pages 3-10. http://www.ema.europa.eu/humandocs/PDFs/EPAR/Rotateq/066906en6.pdf

11 FDA. Memorandum: Clinical Review of New Biologics License Application – RotaTeq (Description of the Product). Page 12. April 6, 2005. http://www.fda.gov/downloads/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/ApprovedProducts/UCM142304.pdf

12 European Medicines Control Agency. See Reference #10 above. Page 6.

13 FDA. Guidance for Industry: Characterization and Qualification of Cell Substrates and Other Biological Materials Used in the Production of Viral Vaccines for Infectious Disease Indications. February 2010. http://www.fda.gov/downloads/BiologicsBloodVaccines/
GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/Guidances/Vaccines/UCM202439.pdf

14 Bookchin D, Schumacher J. The Virus and the Vaccine: The True Story of a Cancer-Causing Monkey Virus, Contaminated Polio Vaccine, and the Millions of Americans Exposed. St. Martin’s Press: New York. 2004. http://www.nvic.org/resource-center/books.aspx

15 Fisher BL. Congressional Testimony: The SV-40 Virus: Has Tainted Polio Vaccine Caused an Increase in Cancer? U.S. House Government Reform Committee. September 10, 2003. http://www.nvic.org/vaccines-and-diseases/Polio-SV40/BLFTestimonySV40.aspx

16 U.S. Congress. Congressional Hearing: Preventing Another SV40 Tragedy: Are Today’s Vaccine Safety Protocols Effective? U.S. House Government Reform Committee. November 13, 2003. http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=108_house_hearings&docid=f:92772.wais

17 Carlsen W. Rogue Virus in the Vaccine: Early Polio Vaccine Harbored Virus Now Feared to Cause Cancer in Humans. San Francisco Chronicle. July 15, 2001. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2001/07/15/MN193825.DTL

18 Carlsen W. Quest for the Origin of AIDS: Controversial Book Spurs Search for How the Worldwide Scourge of HIV Began. San Francisco Chronicle. January 14, 2001. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2001/01/14/MN140641.DTL

19 See Reference # 13 above.

20 FDA. Designer Cells as Substrates for the Manufacture of Viral Vaccines. 2001. http://www.fda.gov/OHRMS/DOCKETS/AC/01/briefing/3750b1_01.pdf

21 WHO. Initiative for Vaccine Research: Use of Cell Lines for the Production of Influenza Virus Vaccines: the Appraisal of Technical, Manufacturing and Regulatory Considerations. April 10, 2007.
http://www.who.int/vaccine_research/diseases/influenza/WHO_Flu_Cell_Substrate_Version3.pdf

22 FDA. Vaccines & Related Biological Products Advisory Committee. Safety & Effectiveness of Purified Recombinant Influenza Hemagglutinin Vaccine for the Prevention of Influenza (FluBlok). November 19, 2009. http://www.fda.gov/downloads/AdvisoryCommittees/CommitteesMeetingMaterials/
BloodVaccinesandOtherBiologics/VaccinesandRelatedBiologicalProductsAdvisoryCommittee/UCM197912.pdf

23 FDA. Background on Rotavirus Vaccines: How Many Doses of Rotarix Have Been Sold? March 22, 2010. http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/ApprovedProducts/ucm205543.htm