Drishtikone Newsletter #348: Unleashing The Zombies

Zombies are science fiction. But there are diseases and natural phenomena that mirror zombie-like behavior. Genetic engineering can weaponize them for biowarfare. How ready are we?

Last updated on Jul 18, 2022

Posted on Jul 17, 2022

Climbing up from ocean
Photo by Daniel Jensen / Unsplash
“There's no right and wrong anymore. Just living and dying.” ― Molly Looby, ZA

Bhim's son Ghatotkacha and his wife Ahilawati or Mauravi had a son named Barbarik also called Baliyadev, Belarsen, and Khatushyamji.  

Barbarik was said to be the greatest warrior in Mahabharat.  He had the boon of "Three Arrows".  When Krishna wanted to know how long will the warriors take to finish the Mahabharat war - the warriors had their own timelines: Bhishma said he could finish the war in 20 days. Dronacharya needed 25 days and Karna said 24 days.  When Krishna, disguised as a Brahmin asked Barbarik the same question, he said 1 minute.

When asked how?

He said he would use his first arrow to mark all the things (or opponents) that he wants to destroy. Then, using the second arrow, he will mark all those things that he wanted to save. And finally, the third arrow will destroy everyone or everything that is not marked and then return to his quiver.

But he had an oath - to fight for any group which is on the losing side.

That is when Krishna showed him his Virat Roop and asked for his head because if he did what he had taken the oath of and given his capabilities, he would be the only man standing at the end of the war.

Just that - a tool to identify people and target them collectively based on a set of criteria - could make Barbarik the most powerful warrior amongst all the luminaries in Mahabharat.

That distinction and power stand supreme even now.

If someone could identify certain groups of people given a set of characteristics and target them collectively in millions or billions and either control them and/or destroy them, imagine what the world would become.

For that, they will have to turn us all into zombies.  

Are they ready?  

More importantly, are we?


Zombies in Brooklyn?!

On July 12th, 2016, more than 30 people were wandering around with empty staring eyes, groaning, and shuffling arms and feet in a strange manner.  Zombie-like.  

Locals did not know who they were and why they were behaving in that manner?

They called 9-11 and told the emergency line.  The dispatcher called those strangely behaving people - "Zombies".

On July 12, 2016, the New York City Emergency Medical Services (EMS) was dispatched to the scene of a multiple-casualty incident in the borough of Brooklyn in New York City. First responders reported that there were multiple persons at the scene, all of whom had a degree of altered mental status that was described by bystanders as “zombielike.” Subsequent media reports of the outbreak on July 12, 2016, identified 33 persons exposed to an unknown drug, of whom 18 (number confirmed by law enforcement) were transported to two local medical centers. The ages of the persons requiring transport were 25 to 59 years (mean, 36.8 years), and all the persons were male. Eight of the persons identified themselves to emergency medical staff as homeless. (Source: The New England Journal of Medicine)

The cause was said to be a powerful synthetic cannabinoid called AMB-FUBINACA.

The report, based on blood and urine samples drawn from eight of the 18 men taken to area hospitals that day, offers the first detailed look at a powerful drug that has caused dozens of people to overdose. It identifies the drug as a synthetic cannabinoid called AMB-FUBINACA that was originally developed by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer. (Source: New York Times)

The culprit drug that day had a street name - AK-47 or 24 Karat Gold.  And it was 85 times more powerful and potent than normal marijuana.

One of the affected woman being treated, New York Times (Source)

Developed by Pfizer and often created in labs in China - these drugs are largely unregulated.

The Resident Evil

A city called Raccoon City has a secret.  Resident Evil, the movie gets its plot from there.

In an underground bioengineering facility of the Umbrella corporation called “The Hive”, a deadly and mutating virus called the T-virus is unleashed.  In order to contain its spread, a supercomputer named “Red Queen” seals all the entrances and exits and kills everyone in it.

A team of commandos highly trained in combat needs to get out and contain the Tyrant virus or the T-virus.  To get out, however, they need to get past the Red Queen and her defenses.  That includes flesh-eating employees who are still not dead and a beast who gets stronger with each kill.

The first movie was made in 2002 on a viral Japanese video game named Resident Evil.  After the first movie, an entire series came out.

  1. Resident Evil (2002)
  2. Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)
  3. Resident Evil: Extinction (2007)
  4. Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010)
  5. Resident Evil: Retribution (2012)
  6. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2016)

Zombies have become so ubiquitous in the videos, Halloween, and kids' movies that we laugh them off.

Can they even be a reality?

The Rabid ones

Rabid.

The fanatical humans amongst us are now referred to as rabid.  

Once a belief, ideology, or rage sets in, the person acts without control or reason.  Uncontrolled emotions and rage.

This word rabid however comes from the disease that infects humans bitten by animals who are infected by a virus called Rabies.

Its symptoms include - nausea, vomiting, violent movements, uncontrolled excitement, fear of water, an inability to move parts of the body, confusion, and loss of consciousness.

A partly zombie-like behavior.

Could rabies have been the inspiration for zombie movies?

(Source: "Updates on Rabies virus disease: is evolution toward “Zombie virus” a tangible threat?" [download link]; National Library of Medicine)

Although not as crazy as the movies have made the zombies to be, the rabies patient however does lose control over his nervous system, brain, and other cognitive areas.

What's in animals today could be in humans tomorrow (psst... with some help of course!)

The process of a disease moving from animals to humans - as the COVID-19 virus did - is called zoonotic spillover.

"How do viruses leap from animals to people and spark pandemics?", Chemical and Engineering News (Source)

How does this spillover really occur?

Proceedings B - is a study published in 2020 that discussed the spillover threat.

In these troubling times where the global Covid-19 pandemic rages on, Proceedings B has published a timely study that investigated animal-human interactions that have led to a spillover of viruses from animals to humans. The study found that the viruses most likely to spill over to infect humans are those from domestic animals and species better adapted to human landscapes. The spillover risk was also greatest from threatened wild animals that were declining in number due to exploitation or destruction of habitat. (Source: The Royal Society)

As humans force themselves on lands that were inhabited by wild animals, we set in motion pathways for interaction with these animals as well.

When people venture into forested areas for resources and when animals venture out of their habitats to raid crops, the chances increase for transmission of zoonotic – or animal-to-human – disease. A prime example is HIV, which is caused by a virus that jumped from wild primates to humans via infected bodily fluids. “We humans go to these animals,” study co-author Eric Lambin, the George and Setsuko Ishiyama Provostial Professor in Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences. “We are forcing the interaction through transformation of the land.” (Source: Stanford News)

Yes, the spillover happens when humans squeeze the land use and take over habitats from wild animals.  

But human intervention via laboratory synthesis is equally possible.

"Zoonoses Likely to Be Used in Bioterrorism" (Source)

And that is what really matters in the end.  

Nature has all kinds of species of viruses, bacteria and pathogens.  With the ability to genetically engineer organisms and viruses - do we humans have the power to destroy the world?

Let us check out some ingenious and dangerous species that will truly shock you with their ingenuity in how they do things.

Making of the Zombie Ants

There is a fungus deep inside the Amazon rainforest.  It does the unthinkable.  It takes over the entire bodies and minds of the ants it infects.

Its only goals are propagation and dispersal.

As the ant gets infected by the Cordyceps parasitic fungus, the spores start spreading throughout the ant's body via its tendrils.

The ant strangely starts moving to the top of the nearby plant and makes a strong death grip with its jaws around the leaf or the twig.

And slowly, the fungus starts consuming the ant as its nutrition slowly.  Finally coming out of its head.  When it reaches its peak, the ends of the tendrils or mycelia burst open and release spores in the air, which in turn attack other unsuspecting ants.

Cordyceps' modus operandi is quite complex and ingenious!  

Back in 2017, Prof. Hughes and his team scanned ultra-thin slices of infected ants under a powerful microscope to build a 3D model, painstakingly marking which parts were ant and which were fungus. That gave them a much more detailed look at what was happening structurally at the cellular level. They found a surprisingly high percentage of fungal cells in the ants' bodies. The cells were concentrated directly outside the brain without ever penetrating the brain. Instead, the fungal cells formed an elaborate, interconnected 3D network, enabling them to communicate with each other and exchange nutrients. They essentially cut the brain off from the rest of the ant's body, so the networked cells can control its behavior. As Ed Yong wrote in The Atlantic, "The ant ends its life as a prisoner in its own body. Its brain is still in the driver's seat, but the fungus has the wheel." (Source: Ars Technica / emphasis added)

Here is how it works.  However, one word of caution about Attenborough's movie - while the Cordyceps fungus controls the ant's movements and body, it does not control the brain as the new research has shown.

Luckily for us humans, Cordyceps do not infect humans. (Source)

At least yet.

Toxoplasma gondii - The Patient Parasite

There is a parasite (parasites are part of the organisms called eukaryotes and are different from bacteria or viruses) that is the epitome of patience.

It infects a lot of hosts - called intermediate hosts.  Most rodents and even humans.  But it has an issue.  It can only reproduce in the gut of a cat.  

So guess what it does?  

It uses rats as the vehicle.

Cornell University - College of Veterinary Medicine (Source)

No, it just doesn't infect the rats.  It takes over its mind functions.  

Once infected, the rat loses its fear of cats and becomes willing prey for one lurking around.  Thus enabling the virus to get into the cat's gut!

(Source)

These rats are popularly called zombie rats.

But what about the other 'intermediate host' - the humans?

Well, it has been known for creating schizophrenia and a change in the sense of smell in infected humans.

The prevalence of toxoplasmosis is higher in schizophrenics than in the general population. It has been suggested that certain symptoms of schizophrenia, including changes in olfactory functions, are in fact symptoms of toxoplasmosis that can be easily detected in schizophrenics only due to the increased prevalence of toxoplasmosis in this population. Schizophrenics have impaired identification of odors and lower sensitivity of odor detection. Here we searched for differences in olfactory functions between 62 infected and 61 noninfected non-schizophrenic subjects. The infected men scored better in the standard odor-identification test. The infected women rated all smells as more intensive while the infected men rated nearly all smells as less intensive. Infected women rated the pleasantness of the smell of undiluted cat urine as higher than the non-infected women and the opposite was true for the men (the opposite direction shifts in men and women were described earlier for highly diluted cat urine). Toxoplasmosis had no effect on the rated pleasantness of the smell of other stimuli. Our results suggest that latent toxoplasmosis is associated with changes in the olfactory functions in humans; however, the observed changes differ from those observed in schizophrenics. (Source)

In areas that could represent a serious risk, the toxoplasma gondii parasite infection has been known to increase the risk of traffic accidents in humans.

The subjects with latent toxoplasmosis have significantly increased risk of traffic accidents than the noninfected subjects. Relative risk of traffic accidents decreases with the duration of infection. These results suggest that 'asymptomatic' acquired toxoplasmosis might in fact represent a serious and highly underestimated public health problem, as well as an economic problem. (Source: Flegr, J., Havlícek, J., Kodym, P. et al. Increased risk of traffic accidents in subjects with latent toxoplasmosis: a retrospective case-control study. BMC Infect Dis2, 11 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2334-2-11)

Could such parasites or viruses which take over the nervous system and/or brains be weaponized and used for biowarfare?

Futuristic Art?

A cult classic - 28 Days later - released in 2002, had a zombie infection plot and is often rated by the connoisseurs as the finest zombie movie ever made.  Here is a brief storyline as shared on the IMDB site:

Animal activists invade a laboratory with the intention of releasing chimpanzees that are undergoing experimentation, infected by a virus -a virus that causes rage. The naive activists ignore the pleas of a scientist to keep the cages locked, with disastrous results. Twenty-eight days later, our protagonist, Jim, wakes up from a coma, alone, in an abandoned hospital. He begins to seek out anyone else to find London is deserted, apparently without a living soul. After finding a church, which had become inhabited by zombie like humans intent on his demise, he runs for his life. Selena and Mark rescue him from the horde and bring him up to date on the mass carnage and horror as all of London tore itself apart. This is a tale of survival and ultimately, heroics, with nice subtext about mankind's savage nature. (Source: IMDB)

Check out the trailer of this movie.

Is this just a movie based on a crazy plot?

Are movies like Resident Evil and 28 Days Later just some imaginative fiction storytelling or could they be pointing to something that could actually happen?

Let us look at some data points and see where they lead us.  Remember these days we are more often than not in that place called the Gray Zone.  (Read Issue #246 - The Gray Zone Dots for more info)

The Face-Eating Zombie in Miami

In May 2012, a 65-year-old homeless man named Ronald Poppo was attacked on the MacArthur Causeway off-ramp at around 2 pm.

The attacker was 31-year-old Rudy Eugene who was naked.  He attacked Ronald in the most horrifying manner.

Source: Miami Herald Retrieved from Archive.org 

People who saw the attack speculated that the trigger could have been a certain type of synthetic drug called 'Bath Salts' which have been known to induce strange behavior in addicts.  

Hours before his murderous attack, though, Eugene was seen by his friend and girlfriend using marijuana.  He traveled to Urban Beach Weekend on Miami Beach.  There he abandoned his car on the beach and then walked 3 miles to MacArthur Causeway.  On the way, he stripped and left the clothes on the way. And there he did what he did to Ronald Poppo.

Once on the Miami side of the causeway, he encountered Poppo where the MiamiMover crosses the causeway, in view of security cameras atop the Miami Herald building. Those cameras detailed how the naked cannibal attacked the much older Poppo, knocked him to the ground, and stripped him of his clothing. Once overcome, Eugene chewed flesh from Poppo's face, but a later autopsy report found he did not actually eat it. (Source: CBSNews)

Was it really marijuana that made an otherwise normal man behave like a zombie?

Ebola outbreaks and their ramifications

Ebola is a virus that has infected populations in Africa.  Specifically Congo.

Ebola virus was first described in 1976 near the Ebola River in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since then, the virus has emerged periodically and infected people in several African countries. Prior known cases and outbreaks of EVD are described below by year or country where they were discovered or imported. Information is also available on current and recent outbreaks, including those that are still ongoing. (Source: CDC)

The mortality rate for the Ebola virus is 88%.  Besides HIV (causing AIDS) and Rabies, Ebola has the highest mortality rate recorded amongst humans.

What starts off as a strong relentless fever takes on many scary complications within the body.

Ebola triggers a paradoxical combination of blood clots and hemorrhages. The patient’s bloodstream throws clots, and the clots lodge everywhere, especially in the spleen, liver, and brain. This is called D.I.C., or disseminated intravascular coagulation. D.I.C. is a kind of stroke through the whole body. No one knows how Ebola triggers blood-clotting. As the strokelike condition progresses and capillaries in the internal organs become jammed with clots, the hemorrhaging begins: blood leaks out of the capillaries into the surrounding tissues. This blood refuses to coagulate. It is grossly hemolyzed, which means that its cells are broken. You are stuffed with clots, and yet you bleed like a hemophiliac who has been in a fistfight. Your skin develops bruises and goes pulpy, and tears easily, and becomes speckled with purple hemorrhages called petechiae, and erupts in a maculopapular rash that has been likened to tapioca pudding. Your intestines may fill up completely with blood. Your eyeballs may also fill with blood. Your eyelids bleed. You vomit a black fluid. You may suffer a hemispherical stroke, which paralyzes one whole side of the body and is invariably fatal in a case of Ebola. In the pre-agonal stage of the disease (the endgame), the patient leaks blood containing huge quantities of virus from the nose, mouth, anus, and eyes, and from rips in the skin. In the agonal stage, death comes from hemorrhage and shock. (Source: New Yorker)

The worst thing is that the patient starts resembling and behaving like a zombie.

Crisis in the Hot Zone, New Yorker

In a 2014 article Michael Osterholm wrote an article in the New York Times titled "What We’re Afraid to Say About Ebola".  What's shocking is that in the 6 months preceding the article - there had been 4300 cases and 2300 deaths.  The WHO had predicted that thousands of fresh cases were likely to occur in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria.

What really makes this situation really dangerous are two possibilities: (i) Larger population in Africa and (ii) possibility of ebola being transmissible by air.

The first possibility is that the Ebola virus spreads from West Africa to megacities in other regions of the developing world. This outbreak is very different from the 19 that have occurred in Africa over the past 40 years. It is much easier to control Ebola infections in isolated villages. But there has been a 300 percent increase in Africa’s population over the last four decades, much of it in large city slums. What happens when an infected person yet to become ill travels by plane to Lagos, Nairobi, Kinshasa or Mogadishu — or even Karachi, Jakarta, Mexico City or Dhaka?  The second possibility is one that virologists are loath to discuss openly but are definitely considering in private: that an Ebola virus could mutate to become transmissible through the air. You can now get Ebola only through direct contact with bodily fluids. But viruses like Ebola are notoriously sloppy in replicating, meaning the virus entering one person may be genetically different from the virus entering the next. The current Ebola virus’s hyper-evolution is unprecedented; there has been more human-to-human transmission in the past four months than most likely occurred in the last 500 to 1,000 years. Each new infection represents trillions of throws of the genetic dice.  If certain mutations occurred, it would mean that just breathing would put one at risk of contracting Ebola. (Source: New York Times / emphasis added)

But you know what? There was a situation which brought out the specter of air transmissibility long back.

At Fort Detrick - an Army Base in Frederick, Maryland (also called USAMRIID), Lt Col Nancy Jaax shared the details of a horrifying situation in that base which inspired a book and a movie.  What Jaax shared with Richard Preston for his article in the New Yorker suggests that air transmission may already be happening.

Nancy Jaax continued with the experiment, and all the monkeys that had been infected with Ebola died; the drugs had no effect on the course of the disease. She kept two control monkeys—healthy monkeys—apart from the others, in separate cages inside the hot suite. Then both control monkeys died of Ebola. They had not been injected with virus, and their cages were on the far side of the room from those of the sick monkeys. “So the question is: How did they get it?” Lieutenant Colonel Nancy Jaax said to me. “They probably got it from aerosolized droplets from the sick monkeys. That was when I knew that Ebola could spread through the air.” (Crisis in the Hot Zone, by Richard Preston)

So there you go.  This was in 1992.

The research frontiers

One of the ways that man has been able to mess with the nature most is by replicating and often artificially creating the same things that nature has formulated over billions of years.

Artificial virus

An artificial virus has been successfully developed.  Some researchers from Wageningen UR, along with colleagues from the University of Leiden, Eindhoven University of Technology, and Radboud University Nijmegen have achieved this.

Artificial virus improves delivery of new generations of pharmaceuticals / Wageningen University

They say:

"hopefully lead to safe and effective methods for delivering new generations of pharmaceuticals, especially in gene therapy"

How cute is that?

What they forgot to disclose was how this technology could be used to replicate the deadly viruses synthetically with more accuracy at an industrial scale!

Can a virus, say like Ebola, be artificially engineered to act in a certain manner while making it more transmissible?

Victor Nikiforov, the head of the Department of Infectious Diseases at Federal Medical-Biological Agency (FMBA) in Russia has a grim warning:

"Such Possibility exists"

Just as the New York Times article wondered, Nikiforov underlines the threat of the Ebola virus becoming airborne.

“Actually, this virus can be used in the form of a spray, which can lead to very big trouble,” the disease expert is cited as saying by the RIA-Novosti news agency. It’s very hard to track down efforts to create bioweapons, despite the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention in place since 1972, he said. “Biological weapons are nothing like a nuclear bomb… In order to make a nuclear bomb, one would require a uranium mine, a nuclear power plant and so on,” but biological weapons “are made in a small laboratory, which can be easily camouflaged,” Nikiforov said. “You know that there are rogue states. And here's the thing, I can’t guarantee that some country isn’t preparing something of the kind,” he added. (Source: "Ebola can be turned into bioweapon, Russian & UK experts warn" Russia Today/RT)

The worse thing is that the Russian scientist is wary of the recent Ebola virus outbreaks in Africa.  They have become far too common.

“I am concerned about the prevalence and pathogenicity of the situation, which is too much even for Ebola. Too many people are dying. I don’t rule out that there’s something artificial here… What is happening with Ebola there, could there also be something man-made about it?” he said. (Source: "Ebola can be turned into bioweapon, Russian & UK experts warn" Russia Today/RT)

Is the Ebola virus already being tampered with artificially?

With genetic engineering and the new frontiers of research, the possibilities are endless and existentially fatal for this planet.

US 'research' on Ebola and the first scare

Well, many think that the US has been doing just that - tampering with the Ebola virus.

Dr. Cyril Broderick, a former professor of Plant Pathology at the University of Liberia’s College of Agriculture and Forestry, wrote a letter in the "Daily Observer" in Liberia, with things that were quite disturbing.

Horowitz (1998) was deliberate and unambiguous when he explained the threat of new diseases in his text, Emerging Viruses: AIDS and Ebola - Nature, Accident or Intentional. In his interview with Dr. Robert Strecker in Chapter 7, the discussion, in the early 1970s, made it obvious that the war was between countries that hosted the KGB and the CIA, and the ‘manufacture’ of ‘AIDS-Like Viruses’ was clearly directed at the other. In passing during the Interview, mention was made of Fort Detrick, “the Ebola Building,” and ‘a lot of problems with strange illnesses’ in “Frederick [Maryland].” By Chapter 12 in his text, he had confirmed the existence of an American Military-Medical-Industry that conducts biological weapons tests under the guise of administering vaccinations to control diseases and improve the health of “black Africans overseas.”  (Source: Daily Observer)

Fort Detrick - “the Ebola Building”?  The same building and the scare we discussed earlier when we talked about Lt. Col. Nancy Jaax.

Well, that was the 'ground zero' of the first Ebola scare in the US.

In the fall of 1989, dozens of macaques imported from the Philippines suddenly died at Hazelton Research Products' primate quarantine unit in Reston, where animals were kept and later sold for lab testing. Company officials contacted the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Md. — Jaax's unit — concerned they might be dealing with an outbreak of hemorrhagic fever among the monkeys.  Initial testing revealed something much worse: Ebola, specifically the Zaire strain, which had a 90 percent fatality rate in humans. Four workers at the quarantine facility tested positive for exposure to the virus. (Source: USA Today)

Although the four workers did not get sick because the strain was a different one that did not attack humans (Ebola-Reston), it was enough of a scare for even National Geographic to make a movie on it.

The book which inspired this movie was written by Richard Preston.

The Hot Zone, by Richard Preston

What could have happened if the Ebola strain was indeed deadly for humans?  

More importantly, what may happen with other strains that are deadly to humans and are being engineered and tested in science labs where their weaponization can be enabled?

A Biowarfare Existential event in the offing?

In Dartmouth's Journal of Science, Mackenzie Foley wrote an insightful article in 2013 titled "Genetically Engineered Bioweapons: A New Breed of Weapons for Modern Warfare". (Source)

With synthetic genes, viruses, and organisms, biotechnology offers ways to create a "stealth virus" that remains "dormant for an extended amount of time until triggered externally to cause disease."  The viruses could start off programmed death of living cells in humans.  

Or even more scarier could be "Personalized bioweapons" to carry out assassinations via designer pathogen that targets a specific person's genome.

Or as is the case with some zombie viruses we have seen earlier - the creation of "Host swapping diseases where animal viruses could be modified to infect humans!

Although bioweapons have been used in war for many centuries, a recent surge in genetic understanding, as well as a rapid growth in computational power, has allowed genetic engineering to play a larger role in the development of new bioweapons. In the bioweapon industry, genetic engineering can be used to manipulate genes to create new pathogenic characteristics aimed at enhancing the efficacy of the weapon through increased survivability, infectivity, virulence, and drug resistance (2). While the positive societal implications of improved biotechnology are apparent, the “black biology” of bioweapon development may be “one of the gravest threats we will face” (2). (Source: Dartmouth Journal of Science)

Increasingly, we are staring at a biowarfare crisis that may use viruses that unleash brain-altering conditions to transform humans into zombies, where they have no control over themselves.

Is anyone planning for a Zombie Attack?

Is anyone doing anything to save the population of a country?

Yes!

The US is already looking into it.  

Here is the document prepared by the US Strategic Command called CONOP-888.  It looks at the response from the entire US administration in case of a zombie-style attack on the planet.

Pentagon has seriously invested time in understanding and finding ways to tackle an attack where the planet is overrun by flesh-eating zombies.

In an unclassified document titled “CONOP 8888,” officials from U.S. Strategic Command used the specter of a planet-wide attack by the walking dead as a training template for how to plan for real-life, large-scale operations, emergencies and catastrophes. And the Pentagon says there’s a reasonable explanation. “The document is identified as a training tool used in an in-house training exercise where students learn about the basic concepts of military plans and order development through a fictional training scenario,” Navy Capt. Pamela Kunze, a spokeswoman for U.S. Strategic Command, told CNN. “This document is not a U.S. Strategic Command plan.” Nevertheless, the preparation and thoroughness exhibited by the Pentagon for how to prepare for a scenario in which Americans are about to be overrun by flesh-eating invaders is quite impressive. (Source: CNN)

Need we say more?

What does the future portend?

When Christopher Columbus reached the shores of Hispaniola on October 12, 1492, now called the Bahamas, he was met with indigenous people called the Lucayans.  They came and offered Columbus and his men food and water.  After such a long journey, here was this leader of a group of ships who were met by such warm people who thought the visitors "were from heaven".

Source: Washington Post

What do you think Columbus was thinking at that time?  Being thankful and having gratitude?

Naah!

He wrote in his journal:

“With 50 men they can all be subjugated and made to do what is required of them.”

Control.

Source - Journal of Christopher Columbus (During His First Voyage, 1492-93)

Subdue, control, and annihilation he and his men did.  And much more!

After significantly overselling the prospects for gold to the king and queen of Spain, Columbus returned to Hispaniola with 17 ships and 1,200 men. The men he had left at the fort the year before had all been killed, “after they had roamed the island in gangs looking for gold, taking women and children as slaves for sex and labor,” Zinn wrote. (Source: Washington Post)

They had come in contact with the Taíno people - like the Lucayans.  The barbarism and the annihilation that started thereafter is difficult to even share, leave along imagine!

Bartolomé de las Casas who arrived in Hispaniola in 1502 and participated in the annihilation of the Taíno people renounced that and shared the details of the genocide that occurred.

“They [Spanish explorers] forced their way into native settlements, slaughtering everyone they found there, including small children, old men, pregnant women, and even women who had just given birth. They hacked them to pieces, slicing open their bellies with their swords as though they were so many sheep herded into a pen. They even laid wagers on whether they could slice a man in two at a stroke, or cut an individual’s head from his body, or disembowel him with a single blow of their axes. They grabbed suckling infants by the feet and, ripping them from their mothers’ breasts, dashed them headlong against the rocks. Others, laughing and joking all the while, threw them over their shoulders, shouting, ‘Wriggle, you little perisher.’ (Source: Washington Post / Originally from “A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies.”)

Howard Zinn wrote in “A People’s History of the United States.” that by 1650, the Taíno people were extinct!

Imperialist forces have prized Control as their biggest achievement.  How they control others and how many - is a sign of how powerful they are.  

The naiveté and simplicity of the victims become the greatest weapon in the hands of the imperialist forces.

And, the mindset of Columbus did not die with him.  It carries on till today.  

The urge to control is the basis of the Social Media revolution.  The popular apps are now being built for their addictive content by people who are experts in the science of addiction.

Creators of social media platforms deliberately foster addictive behavior, according to the BBC's Panorama. The inventor of the infinite scroll, Aza Raskin, told the BBC that "it's as if they're taking behavioral cocaine and just sprinkling it all over your interface. And that's the thing that keeps you like coming back and back and back." The infinite scroll makes Facebook and Instagram users stay on the platforms longer, said Raskin, who has worked at Mozilla and Jawbone.  "Behind every screen on your phone, there are generally like literally a thousand engineers that have worked on this thing to try to make it maximally addicting" Raskin added. (Source: Bizjournals)

Mind Control.

Social media is the "soft" art of mind control.  You are being tracked, controlled, logged, and mined for everything that you are and do, but you are not being tortured or killed.  At least in the normal manner of things.  Yet.

The rewards from just that level of mind control have been huge!

Imagine if someone had the means to not just control your brain but even your body and make you do things that you would not otherwise.  Maybe even murder someone or cannibalize a near and dear one.  Or worse, kill yourself?

All without your consent. Heck without you even consciously knowing it!

What would happen if entire populations are subjected to such a level of imperialist attack by forces that have been as evil and ideologically driven as Christopher Columbus was?  And, let us not kid ourselves, there are such forces on the planet even now.

There would be no place to go for us to live normally anymore!

The fiction of what is shown in movies like "Hunger Games" coupled with "28 Days Later" may actually play out on this planet!

And, it is no longer just "Science Fiction".  It is eminently doable.  And someone somewhere may be working on it as we speak!

Video Corner: Nambi Narayanan - Portrait of a genius

Nambi Narayanan is one of the greatest scientists that India has produced.  His life's story is a sordid reflection of how personal agendas within one party - the Indian National Congress - aligned with those of the largest spying and intelligence organization in the world - the CIA - to destroy the career and life of this genius.  More importantly, it set back the achievements of science and technology in India by at least 20-30 years.

It is very rare that Arnab Goswami is so calm and collected.  When he is, he shows his brilliance that is hidden otherwise.  If you have not watched this program, please do.  It gives a lot of information on what happened.

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