Tuesday, January 5, 2021

A Cheap C-19 Treatment? A Win for Assange? Don't Celebrate Just Yet.

Inexpensive Generic Treatments Bad. Big Pharma Vaccines Good.

You may have heard the news going around that an inexpensive anti-parasitic drug called ivermectin might hold promise in treating sick COVID patients.

Initial studies suggest that not only does the drug reduce the time needed for patients to clear the virus, but it also may reduce the death rate.

“In leaked slides published ahead of the study's release next month, the scientists behind the research combined results from 11 trials of the drug involving more than 1,400 patients,” the Daily Mail reports. “This revealed only eight Covid-19 patients out of 573 who received the drug died, compared to the 44 out of the 510 who received a placebo.”

Scientists believe ivermectin works against COVID by essentially paralyzing the virus. In addition to treating parasitic infections when taken as a pill, ivermectin is also used topically to treat eczema and as a liquid to kill head lice. It was developed in the 1970s.

But we’ve been down this road, haven’t we? When doctors stepped forward to report their success in treating COVID patients with a drug cocktail that included hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug developed in the 1950s, the mainstream media melted down, framing it as some kind of dangerous, untested fringe drug with severe side effects. If ivermectin shows similar promise in treating COVID, expect the same kind of media hysteria.

You know why they do this, don’t you? It’s not because the drugs are actually dangerous. They’ve both been around for decades. And all drugs have side effects, so that’s not it, either. No, the answer lies in who pays the bills of those doing the demonizing. Turn on your TV and see just how many pharma ads there are, paying for the same TV programs that want you to think that decades-old generic drugs are too dangerous for you to even consider taking. The talking heads want you to think that the only “cure” can come from experimental new vaccines, developed by the same mutlibillion-dollar pharma companies whose incessant ads keep them on the air.

He who pays the piper calls the tune.

A Pyrrhic Victory for Assange

Julian Assange won’t be extradited to the United States to stand trial — for now. Although the ruling is a victory for journalistic freedom, I’m reluctant to be too excited about it — because the judge gave the right ruling for the wrong reasons.

Crucially, District Judge Vanessa Baraitser didn’t reject the U.S. Justice Department’s rationale for the extradition. She only said that Assange was at risk of suicide if handed over the U.S. custody. Assange’s mental health has reportedly been hanging by a thread as he rots in Belmarsh Prison, where he’s kept in isolation 23 hours a day. He’s being held without charge, having already served a 50-week sentence for jumping bail when he fled to the Ecuadorian embassy in London for asylum in 2012.

The United States wants Assange to stand trial for espionage. As the head of WikiLeaks, his organization released a trove of classified documents exposing U.S. abuses of power and war crimes. Arguably the most shocking revelation was the infamous “Collateral Murder” video, which shows the view from an Apache military helicopter as its occupant capriciously mows down 11 civilians and two journalists on the streets of Baghdad.

I mention all this because it puts the lie to the U.S. Justice Department’s claim that it wants to prosecute Assange for putting American lives in danger. Assange only released the information that was given to WikiLeaks. He did what any investigative journalist does when exposing corruption and other wrongdoing. To prosecute Assange, therefore, would be to prosecute journalists for doing what journalists do, placing freedom of the press on a very slippery slope.

That means Assange is essentially being prosecuted for embarrassing the United States. It’s an act of retaliation against a truth-teller. It’s an attempt to shoot the messenger. And it’s the same impulse that people in power are using even now to squelch discussion about the virus and the election. The truth is their enemy, and from the time of Christ on down, this is how those in power respond to those who would expose them. Their guilt compels them to silence the truth-tellers by any means necessary.

There may be some glimmer of hope for Assange, as Mexico’s president has offered him asylum. But even then, there would be no guarantee that someone wouldn’t find a way to strong-arm Mexico into handing him over to U.S. authorities. After all, Assange was supposed to be safe in the Ecuadorian embassy. And he was for seven years — until a new president in Ecuador bowed to pressure from the U.S., UK, and Spanish governments and let the London police raid the embassy and drag Assange out.

And so now Assange sits in prison, still awaiting his fate. The U.S. is likely to appeal the extradition denial, so this fight far from over. If the U.S. prevails and gets its way, Assange could face a 175-year sentence, guaranteeing that he would never again be a free man.

And that’s why I can’t get too excited about this ruling. In essence, the judge only ruled that she won’t extradite Assange because if he kills himself, it would deny the U.S. government the right to kill him in slow motion behind bars.

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