Monday, July 9, 2018

The Milk of Human Cruelty

If you thought the kidnapping and imprisonment of 3,000 children by ICE thugs was cruel and inhuman, then get a load of this
A resolution to encourage breast-feeding was expected to be approved quickly and easily by the hundreds of government delegates who gathered this spring in Geneva for the United Nations-affiliated World Health Assembly.
Based on decades of research, the resolution says that mother’s milk is healthiest for children and countries should strive to limit the inaccurate or misleading marketing of breast milk substitutes.
Then the United States delegation, embracing the interests of infant formula manufacturers, upended the deliberations.
It gets worse. As the New York Times reports, not only did the American delegation refuse to introduce the resolution, it threatened every single country intending to support it with economic sanctions for failure to privilege the profits of infant formula manufacturers over the health of babies.

When the unnamed US delegates' attempt to destroy the resolution (through removal of language touting the benefits of breastfeeding over bottle feeding) failed, they got downright nasty. They effectively tried turning nursing mothers and babies into enemy combatants in Donald Trump's global trade war.

Ecuador, which originally had been slated to introduce the resolution, was the first to get the Tony Soprano treatment. Not only would it lose money, it would lose military assistance from the United States. It was an offer that Ecuador couldn't refuse, and so it immediately caved. Other nations, mostly in Africa, which hosts at least one American military base in each country of that continent, also refused to go against the world's sole remaining Superpower. Ditto for many countries in Latin America. They fell like dominoes under the onslaught of the Orange Scare.

But despair not! Because this story of attempted blackmail and extortion does have a somewhat happy ending:
 In the end, the Americans’ efforts were mostly unsuccessful. It was the Russians who ultimately stepped in to introduce the measure — and the Americans did not threaten them.

 "We’re not trying to be a hero here, but we feel that it is wrong when a big country tries to push around some very small countries, especially on an issue that is really important for the rest of the world,” said the delegate, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

He said the United States did not directly pressure Moscow to back away from the measure. Nevertheless, the American delegation sought to wear down the other participants through procedural maneuvers in a series of meetings that stretched on for two days, an unexpectedly long period.
In the end, the United States was largely unsuccessful. The final resolution preserved most of the original wording, though American negotiators did get language removed that called on the W.H.O. to provide technical support to member states seeking to halt “inappropriate promotion of foods for infants and young children.”
The United States also insisted that the words “evidence-based” accompany references to long-established initiatives that promote breast-feeding, which critics described as a ploy that could be used to undermine programs that provide parents with feeding advice and support.
Perhaps the Russians stepping in and saving the day is why there hasn't been very much news coverage and media-manufactured outrage about the Trump administration's latest attempt to cull the world of disposable people.

 The outrage is definitely justified. Because by proactively performing the extermination ritual early, as soon after birth as is inhumanely possible, the Trump regime wants nothing less than to prevent kids from ever having the health and the strength to toddle across our precious borders.

So the positive interference by Russia simply does not compute in the corporate media hive-mind. Election-meddling and democracy-destroying and (alleged) Novichok-poisoning Russians acting in a humane manner? If it's not a fluke, then they have to have ulterior motives. They just have to. 

 Besides, the Democrats are way too busy exposing the "right to life" hypocrisy of the Republicans as Trump announces his next anti-abortion Supreme Court justice to fret overly much about global injustices. Even the plight of the imprisoned 3,000 Central American children is beginning to fade from the Official Narrative thanks to the latest conservative judge becoming the greatest threat to democracy this country has ever seen.

Even if he is ever directly confronted over his deranged horror of breast milk, Donald Trump will no doubt do what Donald Trump does best: fly in the face of all fact, and declare the Resolution passage to be a win.* Not only is it a victory against "evidence-based" science which proves that breast milk is rich in antibodies, it is a victory for infant formula manufacturers in particular and the junk food advertising industry in general. Thanks to pressure from Trump, countries which want to warn their citizens about the health dangers of foods laden down with salt and sugar will no longer get technical support and financial resources from W.H.O.

Donald Trump is trying to make the world safe for Nestle, Similac... and Doritos. And, it should be fairly obvious, he wants to quit W.H.O. itself, if not utterly destroy it.

Nestle will continue marketing its powdered infant formula in countries with untreated drinking water. It will continue extracting water for its bottling empire even from areas in the United States which are going dry from climate change. And in perhaps the cruelest extraction of all, it will continue removing potable groundwater from the lead-poisoned Flint, Michigan area. And government officials will continue refusing to supply clean bottled water to the lead-poisoned residents of Flint.

For its own Make America Great Again part, the Trump administration unabashedly would rather see an estimated 800,000 children die every year around the world for lack of breastfeeding than see one dollar lost to unfettered capital. They'd rather that the global corporations already gifted with recent tax cuts to such an obscene state of record corpulence also get to suck up the estimated $300 billion saved in annual health costs through the breastfeeding of babies.

The Trump Collective's war against infant nutrition gives a whole new grotesque meaning to the balloon facsimile of a Baby Trump which is set to float above London this week in protest of his visit. The Baby-in-Chief literally wants to snatch food from the mouths of babes.

Not that the liberal #Resistance isn't also complicit in the relentless "herd-culling" all over the world. The poor are scapegoated for being too many and therefore responsible for their own plights. Overpopulation is regularly tsk-tsked by elites as being the main threat to our endangered planet, while the plunder and predation and pollution by oil companies and other extractors (including the Pentagon) are given a relative free pass. 

The Trump administration is only the latest and clankiest link in the long chain of capitalistic cruelty.

Philosopher Etienne Balibar observed that this institutional cruelty seeks both to "eliminate human beings, and to remove the humanity from human beings."

This dual cruelty is now right out in the open under Trump.

The first type, which Balibar calls ultraobjective cruelty, treats people as things or useless remnants. The second - ultrasubjective cruelty - treats people as evil incarnate, devils or dangerous animals which threaten us and must be eliminated at all costs. The intended targets are simultaneously portrayed as both subhuman and superhuman.

 Racism is at the root of this cruelty, Balibar asserted, and it, too, is manifested in two main ways. First there are the outright murders (an estimated three per day in the US by domestic law enforcement) and the maltreatment of immigrants by the unaccountable ICE police force. Second are the usually invisible social and economic exclusions meted out on a daily basis to groups which have been designated as superfluous: the poor, the young, the old, the darker-hued, the disabled, the sick.

So it's absolutely a straight line from Trump's exclusion of black and brown families from his father's New York City rental empire to his current exclusions, both actual and attempted, of black and brown people from what he's called "shit hole countries". Capitalism under Trump is even trying to exclude people from something so basically life-protecting and universal as human breast milk. 

"So cruelty is not just one form of extreme violence," Balibar said. "It is violence that can oscillate in unmediated fashion, between ultra-naturalistic, anonymous forms and an impulse toward suicide and criminal compulsion."

Trump has fetishized hate and fear to such an extent that he doesn't even seem to care if he destroys whole countries, including his own, in the process. He would rather America died than have it contaminated by nonexistent bogeymen. And with an approval rating hovering around the 40-45% range, he is definitely not alone in his thought processes.

Tellingly, none of the American thugs and blackmailers present at the United Nations conference has been identified by name. The delegates and lobbyists prefer to remain anonymous for the protection of their own cruelty and violence. And the participants who recounted the threats and blackmail to the media also prefer to remain anonymous for fear of further retaliation from the Trump administration.

As the New York Times reported, 
Although lobbyists from the baby food industry attended the meetings in Geneva, health advocates said they saw no direct evidence that they played a role in Washington’s strong-arm tactics. The $70 billion industry, which is dominated by a handful of American and European companies, has seen sales flatten in wealthy countries in recent years, as more women embrace breast-feeding. Over all, global sales are expected to rise by 4 percent in 2018, according to Euromonitor, with most of that growth occurring in developing nations.


* Trump considered the Times revelations about his reps' shilling for powdered formula moguls at the UN health meeting to be confrontational enough to merit his tweeting displeasure:
What an ignorant doofus. Breastfeeding ability does not correlate with poverty, nor do women need "access to formula" because of alleged malnutrition, although an adequate diet certainly helps. If they can't afford food, how can they possibly afford pricey formula? I suppose what Trump and his oligarchic buddies are aiming for are strong-arm deals with despots in poor countries. It would go something like this: you guys pass a law requiring women to bottle-feed, and we'll help you loot your treasury in exchange for whole shiploads full of the powder substitute we can't sell enough of in the United States. The only women still having babies are affluent enough and educated enough to reject the powdery crap in favor of the healthy natural stuff their own bodies produce.

So since the oligarchs and the media they own can't fool all the people all of the time, they'll settle for fooling some of the most vulnerable and poorest people on earth. Trump's whole career has been based on the marketing of lies for his own gain, so why wouldn't he lie about breastfeeding too?

Pssst... and he really doesn't like women very much. The sight of a breastfeeding mother probably makes him feel very jealous as well as insecure. Leave to Trump to broadcast his misogyny by making women feel insecure and doubtful about their unique ability to nurture another human being.

The brilliant people who'll be flying the Trump baby replica over London this week couldn't have chosen a better time for their stunt. 


The Joker said...

I don't know how badly Ecuador needs U.S. assistance and trade, but surely they had other options to simply caving to U.S. threats, options that would have been better strategically as well as with regard to maintaing their self-respect. Most crudely -- but language that Donald Trump and his lackeys surely understand -- the U.S. ambassador could have been summoned by the Ecuadorian government and instructed that DJT could go f*ck himself.

More diplomatically, they could have done what so many Third World nations so successfully did during the cold war, that is, played the major powers against each other. A leak by Ecuador that they were soliciting bids from Russia or China for, say, a military base on Ecuadorian soil would have completely turned the tables on U.S. blackmail. The U.S. would probably have begun begging Ecuador to accept U.S. aid and trade.

Karl Kolchak said...

It isn't Trump who has the urge to destroy America--no doubt he loves the creature comforts. But a lot of people who voted for him likely know that they and their children are perpetually screwed, even if they won't consciously admit it, and supporting Trump is their way of ensuring they don't go down alone.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Nestle commands more than 50% of the world's baby formula market, but you don't need a baby to boycott Nestle.

You may be buying several Nestle products routinely, not just from their food line but also cosmetics, water and pet food. (Link to complete list of Nestle products below.) Here are some of the Nestle's products you're probably buying now:
Nescafé, Coffee-mate, Taster's Choice, Perrier, Pellegrino, Poland Spring, Gerber, Carnation, Cross & Blackwell, Lean Cuisine, Cheerios, Haagen Dasz, Baby Ruth, Friskies, KitKat, L'Oreal, Lauren, Maybelline, Cetaphil, Tidy Cat.

The UN and independent advocacy groups around the world have been outing Nestle for decades. For example, hospital maternity wards in Africa are finagled into handing out packets of Nestle formula during the mother's stay in the hospital and when mother and child leave the hospital. Clean water may be hard to find for the mixing of baby formula. Many families cannot afford to buy more formula, so they dilute it to make it last longer. By then, the mother is no longer making breast milk. And formula lacks the immune protection provided through mother's milk. The child weakens, etc., etc., etc.

For a complete list of Nestle products with pictures of each label:

If you can't do without Nestle products, at least ask your dog to step up and boycott Friskies and Alpo. Good dog !

Erik Roth said...

Jay-O, bravo!!
Great follow-up with "news you can use" as the late, great Danny Schechter, the news dissector, might say.
Apropos, note this exchange I just had, and hope you all will find worthy, however lengthy.

Question to Fairtrade:
I read this disturbing yet compelling article by Hans Theyer, executive director of Fairtrade America:

That concludes:
The next time you buy chocolate, take a moment in the grocery store aisle and consider where your treat comes from. Look for Fairtrade options that can provide farmers with a better price.

So, the obvious question, which you really should answer, especially now that it is high summertime:
What Fairtrade chocolate bars are “available" for making s’mores?
Where can they be found?
How are those options identified?

Please do due diligence!
I presume that Hershey's and Nestles, the dominant brands available, are not FairTrade. True?

Follow through and supply consumers with information essential to aid this very worthy cause.
We need brand names for FairTrade alternatives, and the supply sources identified to purchase those.
What food corporations need to be lobbied to offer such Fairtrade chocolate?
Thank you.

Erik Roth

To which I received this reply:

Hello Erik,

Thanks for your email and your interest in Fairtrade chocolate! The availability of Fairtrade chocolate is expanding - Fairtrade brands like Divine Chocolateand Endangered Species are distributed across the county in stores ranging from Whole Foods, Walmart, Target or even CVS. You can also purchase many of the Fairtrade Chocolate brand’s products directly from their website or on Amazon. You can find a list of brands certified in the US with links to their stores on our website:

Kind regards,

Jason Sanches │ Marketing Assistant
Phone: +1 (202) 640-1178 | Mobile: +1 (561) 254-2497
1400 Eye St NW, Suite 425, Washington, DC 20005

Keep up to date with everything Fairtrade! Website / Blog /

voice-in-wilderness said...

I expect that many, perhaps most, of the 90% of Republican party members who support Trump, consider themselves Christians -- and good Christians. Yet they embrace every cruel revanchist and retrograde policy the Trump and the party in Congress promotes. It shows what a meaningless term "Christian" is, in current usage!

Will this posting be found some day when I'm being considered for the Supreme Court? Oh, wait a minute, that is in a parallel universe!

The Joker said...

It's not just the opposition to breast-feeding by this administration, or the traumatic separations of young children from their parents at the border. Today there is this being reported:

"Massachusetts allows school to continue with electric shocks.
The only US facility using shocks on children with learning disabilities has fought off another legal challenge."

And that in supposedly enlightened Massachusetts.

Do not deceive yourselves with hope or wishful thinking or denial. A country whose legal system allows that to be done to children with learning disabilities will have no qualms about murdering its political opponents, or Blacks, Hispanics, Arabs, or Jews. That recent "First Dog on the Moon" cartoon may unfortunately turn out to be much more predictive than the average person may think it to be.

Fascism is coming.
First Dog on the Moon.
Things are so bad even white people are frightened. We are stretched and weary and you cannot oppose everything.

The Joker said...

Meanwhile... :

"May bids for Trump Brexit backing with vow to rip up red tape.
PM tries to win US support for soft Brexit plan, as presidential visit draws angry protests."

“It’s also an opportunity to tear down the bureaucratic barriers that frustrate business leaders on both sides of the Atlantic. And it’s an opportunity to shape the future of the world through cooperation in advanced technology, such as artificial intelligence.”, The Guardian reported her as saying.

May wore an ankle-length red gown and red shoes and held hands with Donald Trump. Well, fitting, I suppose, since she appears intent on figuratively prostituting herself and Britain to Trump, unfettered capitalism, and a surveillance plus A.I.-enabled deep state.