The House Oversight Committee’s National Security Subcommittee held a hearing this week on the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s Unaccompanied Alien Children Program. Robin Dunn Marcos, director of the office, appeared, but if you watch that hearing you’ll learn a lot more from the questions than the answers — because there weren’t many answers on key issues, such as the fate of 85,000 children the office has apparently lost contact with. Someone needs to put a up a large “Help Wanted” sign in Washington, because the American people are desperately in need of accountability on migrant children — both in the government and in the media.
“Unaccompanied Alien Children”.
Until late 2002, unaccompanied alien children or “UACs” were not really a thing. That’s not to say that the then-Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) — precursor to CBP and ICE in immigration enforcement and to USCIS in adjudicating immigration benefits — did not encounter, process, and in cases detain alien kids without parents or guardians. It did.
And it often received criticism for how it did so. In 1985, two organizations sued the INS on behalf of alien children being detained by the agency. The purpose of the suit, as NPR has explained, was to “challeng[e] procedures regarding the detention, treatment, and release of children”.
That case went through several levels of judicial review, including by the Supreme Court in March 1993 on the question of whether the then-controlling regulation limiting the release of those children without parents or guardians violated the constitution’s Due Process clause.
That regulation provided for the release of UACs only to their parents, close relatives, or legal guardians, “except in unusual and compelling circumstances”. If not released under this provision, an INS official was required to find “suitable placement … in a facility designated for the occupancy of juveniles.”
Justice Scalia, writing for six other justices, found that the regulation was not unconstitutional. He noted:
The parties to the present suit agree that the Service must assure itself that someone will care for those minors pending resolution of their deportation proceedings. That is easily done when the juvenile’s parents have also been detained and the family can be released together; it becomes complicated when the juvenile is arrested alone, i. e., unaccompanied by a parent, guardian, or other related adult.
The matter was remanded to U.S. district court, and in January 1997, the Clinton DOJ and the plaintiffs entered into a stipulated settlement agreement (the Flores settlement agreement, or FSA).
The FSA governed the conditions of detention and release of unaccompanied children in INS custody, but it never satisfied the advocates. When the INS was abolished and DHS created in the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (HSA), they had the chance to act.
A Democratic amendment to HSA defined the term “unaccompanied alien child” as:
a child who — (A) has no lawful immigration status in the United States; (B) has not attained 18 years of age; and (C) with respect to whom — (i) there is no parent or legal guardian in the United States; or (ii) no parent or legal guardian in the United States is available to provide care and physical custody.
That amendment also gave responsibility for the care and placement of those UACs to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
There was little debate when this amendment was approved, so it’s unclear why anybody thought that ORR would do a better job with those kids than the former INS had, or as the future ICE — which has authority to detain aliens generally — would do.
In any event, the change was not that significant at first, because DHS didn’t encounter many UACs to transfer. According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the number of UACs DHS referred to ORR in the early 2000s “averaged 6,700 annually”.
That quickly changed in 2008, however, when congressional Democrats pushed through the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA).
Section 235 of the TVPRA divided UACs into two groups: (1) children from the “contiguous” countries of Canada and Mexico; and (2) minor nationals of “non-contiguous” countries (everywhere else).
Under that provision, a UAC from a contiguous country can be returned home if the child has not been trafficked and does not have a credible fear of return.
UACs from non-contiguous countries, however, must be transferred to ORR within 72 hours and placed into formal removal proceedings (UACs can’t be placed into expedited removal), even if they have not been trafficked and have no fear of return. ORR is then directed to place most of those children with “sponsors” in the United States.
That created an opening for parents, other family members, guardians, and traffickers in the United States interested in bringing children living in those “non-contiguous” countries to do so, urged by smugglers with their own agendas.
That is my perspective, at least, but take a look at the statistics and decide for yourself: According to CRS, in FY 2008, the fiscal year before TVPRA took effect, CBP encountered fewer than 10,000 UACs at the Southwest border.
By FY 2009, when that bill was signed, that figure rose to around 20,000 UACs, 82 percent of them Mexican nationals, and just 17 percent from the non-contiguous “Northern Triangle” countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
The number of UACs entering illegally kept growing thereafter, with Border Patrol apprehending more than 68,500 of them in FY 2014. By that point, however, just 23 percent of UACs came from Mexico and 77 percent from the Northern Triangle.
Faced with a surge in “non-contiguous” UACs that year, President Obamadesperately wrote to Congress, asking it to provide DHS with “additional authority to exercise discretion in processing the return and removal of unaccompanied minor children from non-contiguous countries like Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador” — that is, to fix section 235 of TVPRA. That did not happen.
The Hottest Button.
Immigration has become a “hot button” issue on Capitol Hill — right up there with gun control and abortion — although as my colleague George Fishmanrecently explained, members reached bipartisan accord on it as recently as 2005. And as a subset, the treatment of UACs has become the hottest button.
Obama knew that fixes were needed, but even he could not convince Congress to do anything to bring that about, and not even stunning Senate reports in 2016 and 2018 on ORR failures forced a change.
Instead of legislative action, various parties — including most notably Joe Biden — have decided to demagogue the issue for political advantage. Let me explain.
The Trump administration attempted to address the UAC issue through any number of administrative actions, including “a biometric and biographic information-sharing agreement between ORR and DHS … intended to ensure greater child safety and immigration enforcement”. That vetting took time, however, and by FY 2020, UACs were spending on average 102 days in ORR custody while that office found a suitable sponsor in the United States.
Trump had left himself vulnerable on the issue of alien children, however, due to a poorly implemented 2018 plan (“zero tolerance”) to prosecute alien adults who had brought children with them when they entered illegally in “family units” (FMUs) for “improper entry” (a misdemeanor federal offense).
When the adults in those FMUs were sent to U.S. Marshal’s Service custody for prosecution, the children were deemed “unaccompanied” and sent to ORR — a process derided as “family separation” by Trump’s legion of detractors. The plan was poorly implemented (and more poorly explained), prompting a firestorm in the press.
Trump had to quickly shut zero tolerance down, but by then the damage had been done. Anything he tried to do thereafter relating to migrant children — including a plea for additional funding to move UACs out of overcrowded CBP processing centers and into ORR shelters in the spring of 2019 — was twisted in the increasingly hostile press and played for outrage by Congress.
That 2019 crisis led to the “kids in cages” trope, in which the public was almost categorically led to believe that UACs were sitting in squalor in government detention because Trump wanted to abuse them, and not because Congress refused to provide funding.
Then-candidate Biden issued various position papers on his immigration plans, but he only highlighted — and the press only focused on — his promises to eliminate the cages and reunify separated families. Here’s how he stated it, at the top of his campaign’s immigration website:
It is a moral failing and a national shame when … children are locked away in overcrowded detention centers and the government seeks to keep them there indefinitely. When our government argues in court against giving those children toothbrushes and soap. When President Trump uses family separation as a weapon against desperate mothers, fathers, and children seeking safety and a better life.
When I say “the press only focused on”, consider that there was only one immigration question asked during the 2020 presidential debates between Biden and Trump, from Kristen Welker at NBC News:
Mr. President, your administration separated children from their parents at the border, at least 4000 kids, You’ve since reversed your zero tolerance policy, but the United States can’t locate the parents of more than 500 children. So how will these families ever be reunited?
Trump did himself no favors in response, fumbling his answer and deflecting by asking Biden “who built the cages?”
Biden Rides In. Biden then rode into office promising to reunite those families (and attempting to use Border Patrol and ICE funds to do so, although curiously separation reportedly continues under his administration), and to move UACs out of ORR custody as quickly as possible.
That all led to a brand-new UAC surge, which has eclipsed the one Obama faced in 2014. In March 2021 alone, Border Patrol agents at the Southwest border apprehended more than 16,000 non-contiguous UACs — five times as many as in the prior December.
That forced Biden to open up “temporary” shelters known as “emergency intake sites”, or “EIS”. Advocates soon complained about the conditions in those EIS, and by April Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) was threatening to shut down the one in San Antonio, calling in the Texas Rangers (a component of the state’s Department of Public Safety), to investigate what was going on there.
By March 2022, it was revealed that ORR had lost 20,000 of the UACs it had released to sponsors under Biden, and complaints about EIS were amplified last September when the HHS Office of Inspector General issued a blistering report on the office’s failures in keeping track of children in its care and vetting potential sponsors.
Though honestly, “amplified” is likely the wrong word. Aside from me and a few congressional staffers, few if any in the media noticed what was going on, even as Biden began cutting corners in vetting potential UAC sponsors, including by revoking Trump’s biometric and biographic information-sharing agreement between ORR and DHS.
By April 17, according to HHS, “the average length of time an unaccompanied child remained in ORR’s care was 25 days”.
This only changed when the New York Times started running a series of exposés on released UACs who were being forced into grueling labor and hardship in February.
Oversight Hearing.Which brings me to this week’s hearing. Among the key takeaways were that only about 37 percent of released UACs end up with a parent, and that about two-thirds of them are working full-time jobs (often without work authorization). Respectfully, if the Biden administration believes that there is a worker shortage in the United States, migrant kids in sweatshops aren’t the solution.
Shockingly, however, Director Dunn Marcos could not (or would not) confirm in response to questioning by Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) that her office had lost contact with “85,000 kids” it had released to sponsors. All she could say was that in 81 percent of post-release follow-up safety and welfare calls, ORR was able to make contact with the child. Meaning that in about one-fifth of UAC cases, ORR lost contact.
All procedural arguments are self-serving, but Chairman Glenn Grothman (R-Wisc.) was spot-on when he went off script to complain:
It’s particularly aggravating to see these kids come across the border and have the press not cover what’s going on, when these kids may never see their parents again, and just a few years ago we saw the press screaming about broken families.
Compare whatever coverage you may see about Rep. Biggs’ questioning on 85,000 UACs to the following report from the Washington Post in May 2018, during the Trump administration:
During a Senate committee hearing late last month, Steven Wagner, an official with the Department of Health and Human Services, testified that the federal agency had lost track of 1,475 children who had crossed the U.S.-Mexico border on their own (that is, unaccompanied by adults) and subsequently were placed with adult sponsors in the United States. As the Associated Press reported, the number was based on a survey of more than 7,000 children:
From October to December 2017, HHS called 7,635 children the agency had placed with sponsors, and found 6,075 of the children were still living with their sponsors, 28 had run away, five had been deported and 52 were living with someone else. The rest were missing, said Steven Wagner, acting assistant secretary at HHS.
Let me do the math for you. The AP report referenced showed HHS reached 79.5 percent of UACs it had released during three months in 2017 but could not contact 1,475 of them.
Dunn Marcos asserted that her office had been able to reach 81 percent of UACs it released but couldn’t even confirm that it was unable to contact 85,000 others.
The difference between 79.5 percent and 81 percent is 1.5 percent — basically a rounding error.
The difference between 85,000 and 1,475, however, is 83,525 — more lost kids than are enrolled in the Austin (Texas) Independent School District — America’s 41st largest. If somehow someone had lost every student in Austin’s public schools, every outlet would cover it like CNN covered the first Gulf War. Biggs’ unanswered contention? Crickets.
Did I mention that the headline on the May 2018 Post article was “The U.S. lost track of 1,475 immigrant children last year. Here’s why people are outraged now”? In that vein, where’s the outrage now?
I’m not saying the press should have cut Donald Trump slack on migrant kids. “Politics ain’t beanbag”, and in many ways he did himself few favors. But if the media isn’t solely composed of partisan hacks playing gotcha on such children, they should be as enraged about 85,000 lost kids now as they were about a fraction of that number in 2018. They aren’t — and that’s the true outrage.
BREAKING: House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Rep Mark Green tells us he has just learned all Democrats on the committee are pulling out from attending a field hearing about the border crisis in Texas on Wednesday. He says that’s despite several Dems confirming attendance, & inviting their own minority witness, who is confirmed on the federal panel. US Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz is also set to testify. Chairman Green says he was given no reason for the abrupt pullout. Chairman Green’s statement below. #FoxNews
Homeland Security committee Dems confirm that they will not be attending the border hearing
They say that they never agreed to attend in the first place so they are not “pulling out.”
It’s time America takes ACTION! SPEAK UP!
Call: Rep Mark Green’s office 202-224-3121 (Capitol switchboard)
Speak to the staff of ranking committee chair, this gets your message to him directly…. otherwise, our voices are diluted 🇺🇸
STATEMENT from Ranking Member Bennie Thompson (D):
“After careful consideration, Committee Democrats have decided not to participate in the Republicans’ field hearing this week. Unfortunately, it has become clear that Republicans planned to politicize this event from the start, breaking with the Committee’s proud history of bipartisanship. Instead of a fact-finding mission to develop better border security and immigration policies, Republicans are traveling to the border to attack the Administration and try to score political points with their extreme rhetoric – despite having voted against the resources border personnel need. Committee Democrats are in regular contact with Department leadership and stakeholders on the ground and will be taking substantive site visits to the border – including as soon as this week.”
The Luge press’s is only too happy to run cover for the lies. Just a few days ago the Lying Press, Associated Press in this case, touted that the numbers of border crossers is down significantly, as if the announcements of the parole amnesty convinced millions of illegal aliens enroute through Central America or flying into Mexico from Africa, Asia, and South America to just return home and try and use the app to enter, rather than try their luck at the border. Actually, luck has nothing to do with it; coyotes who work for the cartels have guaranteed entry to the United States, no matter how many attempts it takes.
A sharp drop in illegal border crossings since December could blunt a Republican point of attack against President Joe Biden as the Democratic leader moves to reshape a broken asylum system that has dogged him and his predecessors.
A new poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows some support for changing the number of immigrants and asylum-seekers allowed into the country. About 4 in 10 U.S. adults say the level of immigration and asylum-seekers should be lowered, while about 2 in 10 say they should be higher, according to the poll. About a third want the numbers to remain the same.
The decrease in border crossings followed Biden’s announcement in early January that Mexico would take back Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans under a pandemic-era rule that denies migrants the right to seek asylum as part of an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19. At the same time, the U.S. agreed to admit up to 30,000 a month of those four nationalities on humanitarian parole if they apply online, enter at an airport and find a financial sponsor.
Instead, the reality is that the Fiscal Year 2023 is heading tobreak the record of illegal immigration from the last two fiscal years, when over 5 million illegal aliens entered or attempted to enter the United States, with most being released into the United States.
Migrant encounters at the southern border have already surpassed the one million mark for Fiscal Year 2023, multiple Customs and Border Protection (CBP) sources tell Fox News, marking an unprecedented pace for encounters.
As of Friday, the total migrant encounters at the border were at 1,008,217 for the fiscal year, which began in October. Of those, 87.8% were single adults. Just 328,454 were expelled under Title 42 — the pandemic-era protocol that allows border agents to rapidly expel border crossers.
There were more than 1.7 million encounters overall in FY 2021 and over 2.3 million in FY 2022. The first months of FY 2023 have outpaced those of the prior fiscal year. This time last year, numbers for FY22 through March 1 were 839,819—well under the 1 million mark.
Meanwhile, there have been 354,522 known “gotaways”—illegal immigrants who have evaded Border Patrol agents but have been detected on another form of surveillance. In FY 2022, there were nearly 600,000gotaways.
One may argue that the last few days have educated the illegal aliens and the numbers are dropping. But sadly for the Biden Regime and the Lying Press, reality has struck, and badly. Illegal aliens for whom the CBP One app is not available or not working have decided they are coming in, by hook or by crook, but mostly by violence. In fact, they are reverting to the common tactic that appeared during the early Clinton Regime, rushing the Ports-of-Entry (POE), the facilities where pedestrians and motor vehicles enter the United States from Mexico. Such tactics began in the 90s, but occasionally happened more recently as well under the Obama Regime and the Trump Administration.
Unhealthy Landscapes: Policy Recommendations on Land Use Change and Infectious Disease Emergence
The could possibly be the rabbit hole from Hell… Some of it seems like it could make sense but that’s how the work. I wonder what one would find if they dug deep – real deep and followed the money Trail on this subject???
Anthropogenic land use changes drive a range of infectious disease outbreaks and emergence events and modify the transmission of endemic infections. These drivers include agricultural encroachment, deforestation, road construction, dam building, irrigation, wetland modification, mining, the concentration or expansion of urban environments, coastal zone degradation, and other activities. These changes in turn cause a cascade of factors that exacerbate infectious disease emergence, such as forest fragmentation, disease introduction, pollution, poverty, and human migration. The Working Group on Land Use Change and Disease Emergence grew out of a special colloquium that convened international experts in infectious diseases, ecology, and environmental health to assess the current state of knowledge and to develop recommendations for addressing these environmental health challenges.
The group established a systems model approach and priority lists of infectious diseases affected by ecologic degradation. Policy-relevant levels of the model include:
specific health risk factors, landscape or habitat change, and institutional (economic and behavioral) levels.
a) to provide information to local communities about the links between environmental change and public health;
b) to facilitate fully interdisciplinary research from a variety of natural, social, and health sciences and train professionals who can conduct interdisciplinary research; and
c) to engage in science-based communication and assessment for policy making toward sustainable health and ecosystems.
Human-induced land use changes are the primary drivers of a range of infectious disease outbreaks and emergence events and also modifiers of the transmission of endemic infections (Patz et al. 2000).
These land use changes include:
coastal zone degradation
the concentration or expansion of urban environments
and other activities.
These changes in turn cause a cascade of factors that exacerbate infectious disease emergence, such as forest fragmentation, pathogen introduction, pollution, poverty, and human migration. These are important and complex issues that are understood only for a few diseases. For example, recent research has shown that forest fragmentation, urban sprawl, and biodiversity loss are linked to increased risk for Lyme disease in the northeastern United States (Schmidt and Ostfeld 2001). Expansion and changes in agricultural practices are intimately associated with the emergence of Nipah virus in Malaysia (Chua et al. 1999; Lam and Chua 2002), cryptosporidiosis in Europe and North America, and a range of food-borne illnesses globally (Rose et al. 2001). Road building is linked to the expansion of bushmeat consumption that may have played a key role in the early emergence of human immunodeficiency virus types 1 and 2 (Wolfe et al. 2000), and simian foamy virus has been found in bushmeat hunters (Wolfe et al. 2004).
In recognition of the complexity of land use change and the risks and benefits to human health that it entails, a special colloquium titled “Unhealthy Landscapes: How Land Use Change Affects Health” was convened at the 2002 biennial meeting of the International Society for Ecosystem Health (6–11 June 2002, Washington, DC) to address this issue. The invited experts worked to establish consensus on the current state of science and identify key knowledge gaps underlying this issue. This article condenses the working group’s report and presents a new research and policy agenda for understanding land use change and its effects on human health. Specifically, we discuss land-use drivers or human activities that exacerbate infectious diseases; the land–water interface, common to many infectious disease life cycles; and conclusions and recommendations for research and training from the working group.
Land-Use Drivers of Infectious Disease Emergence
The emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) resulting from land use change can be entirely new to a specific location or host species. This may occur either from “spillover” or cross-species transmission or simply by extension of geographic range into new or changed habitats. More than 75% of human diseases are zoonotic and have a link to wildlife and domestic animals (Taylor et al. 2001).
The working group developed an extensive list of processes by which land use affects human health (specifically, infectious disease occurrence) and of other factors that contribute to this relationship: agricultural development, urbanization, deforestation, population movement, increasing population, introduction of novel species/pathogens, water and air pollution, biodiversity loss, habit fragmentation, road building, macro and micro climate changes, hydrological alteration, decline in public health infrastructure, animal-intensive systems, eutrophication, military conflict, monocropping, and erosion (ranked from highest to lowest public health impact by meeting participants). The four mechanisms that were felt to have the greatest impact on public health were changes to the physical environment; movement of populations, pathogens, and trade; agriculture; and urbanization. War and civil unrest were also mentioned as a potentially acute and cross-cutting driver. Infectious disease agents with the strongest documented or suspected links to land use change are listed in Table 1.
Changes to the biophysical environment.
Rates of deforestation have grown exponentially since the beginning of the 20th century. Driven by rapidly increasing human population numbers, large swaths of species-rich tropical and temperate forests, as well as prairies, grasslands, and wetlands, have been converted to species-poor agricultural and ranching areas. The global rate of tropical deforestation continues at staggering levels, with nearly 2–3% of forests lost globally each year. Parallel with this habitat destruction is an exponential growth in human–wildlife interaction and conflict. This has resulted in exposure to new pathogens for humans, livestock, and wildlife (Wolfe et al. 2000). Deforestation and the processes that lead to it have many consequences for ecosystems. Deforestation decreases the overall habitat available for wildlife species. It also modifies the structure of environments, for example, by fragmenting habitats into smaller patches separated by agricultural activities or human populations. Increased “edge effect” (from a patchwork of varied land uses) can further promote interaction among pathogens, vectors, and hosts. This edge effect has been well documented for Lyme disease (Glass et al. 1995). Similarly, increased activity in forest habitats (through behavior or occupation) appears to be a major risk factor for leishmaniasis (Weigle et al. 1993). Evidence is mounting that deforestation and ecosystem changes have implications for the distribution of many other microorganisms and the health of human, domestic animal, and wildlife populations.
One example of the effects of land use on human health is particularly noteworthy. Deforestation, with subsequent changes in land use and human settlement patterns, has coincided with an upsurge of malaria and/or its vectors in Africa (Coluzzi 1984, 1994; Coluzzi et al. 1979), in Asia (Bunnag et al. 1979), and in Latin America (Tadei et al. 1998). When tropical forests are cleared for human activities, they are typically converted into agricultural or grazing lands. This process is usually exacerbated by construction of roads, causing erosion and allowing previously inaccessible areas to become colonized by people (Kalliola and Flores Paitán 1998). Cleared lands and culverts that collect rainwater are in some areas far more suitable for larvae of malaria-transmitting anopheline mosquitoes than are intact forests (Charlwood and Alecrim 1989; Jones 1951; Marques 1987).
Another example of the effects of land use on human health involves deforestation and noninfectious disease: the contamination of rivers with mercury. Soil erosion after deforestation adds significant mercury loads, which are found naturally in rainforest soils, to rivers. This has led to fish in the Amazon becoming hazardous to eat (Fostier et al. 2000; Veiga et al. 1994).
This alters the composition of host species in an environment and can change the fundamental ecology of microorganisms. Because of the nature of food webs within ecosystems, organisms at higher trophic levels exist at a lower population density and are often quite sensitive to changes in food availability. The smaller patches left after fragmentation often do not have sufficient prey for top predators, resulting in local extinction of predator species and a subsequent increase in the density of their prey species. Logging and road building in Latin America have increased the incidence of cutaneous and visceral leishmaniasis (Desjeux 2001), which in some areas has resulted from an increase in the number of fox reservoirs and sandfly vectors that have adapted to the peridomestic environment (Patz et al. 2000). Foxes, however, are not very important reservoirs for leishmaniasis in Latin America (Courtenay et al. 2002), and a more important factor in the transmission cycle includes domestic dogs.
Ostfeld and Keesing (2000) have demonstrated that smaller fragments in North American forests have fewer small mammal predators. Results suggest that the probability that a tick will become infected depends on not only the density of white-footed mice but also the density of mice relative to that of other hosts in the community. Under this scenario, the density effect of white-footed mice, which are efficient reservoirs for Lyme disease, can be “diluted” by an increasing density of alternative hosts, which are less efficient at transmitting Lyme disease. These results suggest that increasing host diversity (species richness) may decrease the risk of disease through a “dilution effect” (Schmidt and Ostfeld 2001).
Gold mining is an extractive industry that damages local and regional environments and has adverse human health effects, because mercury is used to extract gold from riverbeds in the tropical forests. Not only does mercury accumulate in local fish populations, making them toxic to eat (Lebel et al. 1996, 1998), but mercury also suppresses the human immune system. Also, in gold-mining areas, more mosquito-breeding sites and increased malaria risk result from digging gem pits in the forest and from craters resulting from logging; broader disease spread occurs as populations disperse throughout the region (Silbergeld et al. 2002).
Movement of populations, pathogens, and trade.
The movement of humans, domestic animals, wildlife populations, and agricultural products through travel, trade, and translocations is a driver of infectious disease emergence globally. These sometimes inadvertent, sometimes deliberate movements of infectious disease and vectors (e.g., the introduction of smallpox and measles to the Americas by Spanish conquistadors) will continue to rise via continually expanding global travel and by development of Third World populations. Human introduction of pathogens, hosts, or materials into new areas has been termed “pathogen pollution” (Daszak et al. 2000).
Land use changes drive some of these introductions and migrations and also increase the vulnerability of habitats and populations to these introductions. Human migrations also drive land use changes that in turn drive infectious disease emergence. For example, in China’s Yunnan Province, an increase in livestock populations and migration has led to an increase in the incidence of schistosomiasis (Jiang et al. 1997). In Malaysia, a combination of deforestation, drought, and wildfires has led to alterations in the population movements and densities of flying foxes, large fruit bats known to be the reservoir for the newly emergent zoonosis Nipah virus (Chua et al. 1999). It is believed that the increased opportunity for contact between infected bats and pigs produced the outbreak of the disease in pigs, which then was transmitted to people in contact with infected pigs (Aziz et al. 2002).
Another example of human-induced animal movement on a much larger scale is the international pet trade. This movement of animals involves many countries and allows for the introduction of novel pathogens, such as monkeypox, with the potential to damage ecosystems and threaten human and animal health. Monkeypox was originally associated with bushmeat hunting of red colobus monkeys (Procolobus badius); after a localized epidemic emerged in humans, monkeypox persisted for four generations via human-to-human contact (Jezek et al. 1986).
Human movement also has significant implications for public health. Not only are travelers (tourists, businesspeople, and other workers) at risk of contracting communicable diseases when visiting tropical countries, but they also can act as vectors for delivering infectious diseases to another region or, in the case of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), potentially around the world. Refugees account for a significant number of human migrants, carrying diseases such as hepatitis B and tuberculosis and various parasites (Loutan et al. 1997). Because of their status, refugees become impoverished and are more exposed to a wide range of health risks. This is caused by the disruption of basic health services, inadequate food and medical care, and lack of clean water and sanitation (Toole and Waldman 1997). People who cross international boundaries, such as travelers, immigrants, and refugees, may be at increased risk of contracting infectious diseases, especially those who have no immunity because the disease agents are uncommon in their native countries. Immigrants may come from nations where diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria are endemic, and refugees may come from situations where crowding and malnutrition create ideal conditions for the spread of diseases such as cholera, shigellosis, malaria, and measles [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 1998].
The importance of zoonotic diseases should be emphasized. Zoonotic pathogens are the most significant cause of EIDs affecting humans, both in the proportion of EIDs that they cause and in the impact that they have. Some 1,415 species of infectious organisms are known to be pathogenic to people, with 61% of them being zoonotic. Of the emerging pathogens, 75% are zoonotic, and zoonotic pathogens are twice as likely to be associated with emerging diseases than are nonzoonotic pathogens (Taylor et al. 2001). More important, zoonotic pathogens cause a series of EIDs with high case fatality rates and no reliable cure, vaccine, or therapy (e.g., Ebola virus disease, Nipah virus disease, and hantavirus pulmonary syndrome). Zoonotic pathogens also cause diseases that have some of the highest incidence rates globally [e.g., acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)]. AIDS is a special case, because it is caused by a pathogen that jumped host from nonhuman primates and then evolved into a new virus. Thus, it is in origin a zoonotic organism (Hahn et al. 2000).
Because of the important role of zoonoses in current public health threats, wildlife and domestic animals play a key role in the process by providing a “zoonotic pool” from which previously unknown pathogens may emerge (Daszak et al. 2001). The influenza virus is an example, causing pandemics in humans after periodic exchange of genes among the viruses of wild and domestic birds, pigs, and humans. Fruit bats are involved in a high-profile group of EIDs that includes rabies and other lyssaviruses, Hendra virus and Menangle virus (Australia), and Nipah virus (Malaysia and Singapore), which has implications for further zoonotic disease emergence. A number of species are endemic to both remote oceanic islands and more populous suburban and rural human settlements; these may harbor enzootic and potentially zoonotic pathogens with an unknown potential for spillover (Daszak et al. 2000).
Thus, some of the current major infectious threats to human health are EIDs and reemerging infectious diseases, with a particular emphasis on zoonotic pathogens transferring hosts from wildlife and domestic animals. A common, defining theme for most EIDs (of humans, wildlife, domestic animals, and plants) is that they are driven to emerge by anthropogenic changes to the environment. Because threats to wildlife habitat are so extensive and pervading, many of the currently important human EIDs (e.g., AIDS, Nipah virus disease) are driven partly by human-induced changes to wildlife habitat such as encroachment and deforestation. This is essentially a process of natural selection in which anthropogenic environmental changes perturb the host–parasite dynamic equilibrium, leading to the expansion of those strains suited to the new environmental conditions and facilitating expansion of others into new host species (Daszak et al. 2001).
Crop irrigation and breeding sites.
Agriculture occupies about half of the world’s land and uses more than two-thirds of the world’s fresh water (Horrigan et al. 2002). Agricultural development in many parts of the world has increased the need for crop irrigation, which reduces water availability for other uses and increases breeding sites for disease vectors. An increase in soil moisture associated with irrigation development in the southern Nile Delta after the construction of the Aswan High Dam has caused a rapid rise in the mosquito Culex pipiens and consequential increase in the arthropod-borne disease Bancroftian filariasis (Harb et al. 1993; Thompson et al. 1996). Onchocerciasis and trypanosomiasis are further examples of vector-borne parasitic diseases that may be triggered by changing land-use and water management patterns. In addition, large-scale use of pesticides has had deleterious effects on farm workers, including hormone disruption and immune suppression (Straube et al. 1999).
Once agricultural development has expanded and produced food sufficient to meet local need, the food products are exported to other nations, where they can pose a risk to human health. The increase in imported foods has resulted in a rise in food-borne illness in the United States. Strawberries from Mexico, raspberries from Guatemala, carrots from Peru, and coconut milk from Thailand have caused recent outbreaks. Food safety is an important factor in human health, because food-borne disease accounts for an estimated 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5,200 deaths in the United States each year (CDC 2003). Other dangers include antibiotic-resistant organisms, such as Cyclospora, EscherichiacoliO157:H7, and other pathogenic E. coli strains associated with hemolytic uremic syndrome in children (Dols et al. 2001).
Agricultural secondary effects need to be minimized, such as the emerging microbial resistance from antibiotics in animal waste that is included in farm runoff and the introduction of microdams for irrigation in Ethiopia that resulted in a 7-fold increase in malaria (Ghebreyesus et al. 1999).
On a global basis, the proportion of people living in urban centers will increase to an unprecedented 65% by the year 2030 (Population Reference Bureau 1998). The 2000 census shows that 80% of the U.S. population now lives in metropolitan areas, with 30% living in cities of 5 million or more. The environmental issues posed by such large population centers have profound impacts on public health beyond the city limits (Knowlton 2001).
Alterations of ecosystems and natural resources contribute to the emergence and spread of infectious disease agents. Human encroachment of wildlife habitat has broadened the interface between wildlife and humans, increasing opportunities for both the emergence of novel infectious diseases in wildlife and their transmission to people. Rabies is an example of a zoonotic disease carried by animals that has become habituated to urban environments. Bats colonize buildings, skunks and raccoons scavenge human refuse, and in many countries feral dogs in the streets are common and the major source of human infection (Singh et al. 2001).
Infectious diseases can also pass from people to wildlife. Nonhuman primates have acquired measles from ecotourists (Wallis and Lee 1999). Also, drug resistance in gram-negative enteric bacteria of wild baboons living with limited human contact is significantly less common than in baboons living with human contact near urban or semiurban human settlements (Rolland et al. 1985).
The Land–Water Interface
Another major driver of infectious disease emergence results from the land–water interface. Land use changes often involve water projects or coastal marine systems in which nutrients from agricultural runoff can cause algal blooms.
Currently the seventh Cholera pandemic is spreading across Asia, Africa, and South America. In 1992, a new serogroup (Vibrio cholerae O139) appeared and has been responsible for epidemics in Asia (Colwell 1996). The seasonality of cholera epidemics may be linked to the seasonality of plankton (algal blooms) and the marine food chain. Studies using remote-sensing data of chlorophyll-containing phytoplankton have shown a correlation between cholera cases and sea surface temperatures in the Bay of Bengal. Interannual variability in cholera incidence in Bangladesh is also linked to the El Niño southern oscillation and regional temperature anomalies (Lobitz et al. 2000), and cholera prevalence has been associated with progressively stronger El Niño events spanning a 70-year period (Rodo et al. 2002). This observation on cholera incidence may represent an early health indicator of global climate change (Patz 2002).
Infectious diseases in marine mammals and sea turtles could serve as sentinels for human disease risk. Sea turtles worldwide are affected by fibropapillomatosis, a disease probably caused by one or several viruses and characterized by multiple epithelial tumors. Field studies support the observation that prevalence of this disease is associated with heavily polluted coastal areas, areas of high human density, agricultural runoff, and/or biotoxin-producing algae (Aguirre and Lutz, in press). This represents the breakdown of the land–water interface, to the point that several pathogens typical of terrestrial ecosystems have become established in the oceans. Toxoplasmosis in the endangered sea otter (Enhydra lutris) represents an example of pathogen pollution. Massive mortalities in pinnipeds and cetaceans reaching epidemics of tens of thousands are caused by four morbilliviruses evolving from the canine distemper virus (Aguirre et al. 2002). Additionally, overfishing has myriad ramifications for marine ecosystems and sustainable protein food sources for human populations.
Cryptosporidium, a protozoan that completes its life cycle within the intestine of mammals, sheds high numbers of infectious oocysts that are dispersed in feces. A recent study found that 13% of finished treated water still contained Cryptosporidium oocysts, indicating some passage of microorganisms from source to treated drinking water (LeChevallier and Norton 1995). The protozoan is highly prevalent in ruminants and is readily transmitted to humans. Thus, management of livestock contamination of watersheds is an important public health issue.
One example of how overexploitation of a natural water resource led to infectious disease is that of Lake Malawi in Africa. Overfishing in the lake reduced the population of snail-eating fish to such a level that snail populations erupted. Subsequently, schistosomiasis incidence and prevalence markedly rose after this ecologic imbalance (Madsen et al. 2001).
Recommendations from the Working Group
Conceptual model: bringing land use into public health policy.
The recommendations stemming from the international colloquium are highly relevant to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA), a broad multiagency/foundation-sponsored scientific assessment of degraded ecosystem effects on human well-being. A conceptual framework of the MEA already provides an approach to optimize the contribution of ecosystems to human health (MEA 2003). This framework offers a mechanism to a) identify options that can better achieve human development and sustainable goals, b) better understand the trade-offs involved in environment-related decisions, and c) align response options at all scales, from the local to the global, where they can be most effective. This conceptual framework focuses on human well-being while also recognizing associated intrinsic values. Similar to the MEA, focus is particularly on the linkages between ecosystem services and human health. Workshop participants developed a conceptual model (Figure 1). Like the MEA, it assumes a dynamic interaction between humans and ecosystems that warrants a multiscale assessment (spatial and temporal).
By using this framework, policy makers may approach development and health at various levels. These levels include specific health risk factors, landscape or habitat change, and institutional (economic and behavioral) levels. For sound health policy, we must shift away from dealing primarily with specific risk factors and look “upstream” to underlying land-use determinants of infectious disease and ultimately the human behavior and established institutions that are detrimental to sustainable population health. The World Health Organization (WHO) has developed a similar DPSEEA (driving forces, pressures, state, exposure, effect, actions) model that in a similar way describes the interlinkage between human health and different driving forces and environmental change (WHO 1997).
As such understanding increases, it will become more feasible to plan how to prevent new infectious disease emergence. Yet, because these are rare events, accurate predictions will remain daunting. It is already evident that inserting humans into complex ecosystems can lead to a variety of EIDs, but health outcomes depend on the economic circumstances of the human population. In poor and tropical communities, land use change can lead to major shifts in infectious disease patterns. For these situations, many conventional public health interventions can prevent several infectious diseases at relatively low cost. In rich and temperate-climate communities, the infectious disease shifts tend to be more disease specific, for example, in the case of Lyme disease and habitat fragmentation.
Research on deforestation and infectious disease.
Considering the deforestation that usually accompanies agricultural development, new conservation-oriented agriculture should be pursued. As discussed above, water project development and modern livestock management present major health disease risks. However, often the secondary unintended consequences can also wreak havoc; for example, a leaking dam may present greater risks than the reservoir itself. A distressingly large number of development projects not only have adverse effects on human health but also fail to attain their primary economic purposes in a sustainable manner.
Habitat fragmentation, whether caused by forest destruction, desertification, or land-use conversion, affects human and wildlife health and ecosystem processes. There is already much research undertaken by landscape ecologists on the consequences of habitat fragmentation for wildlife, especially larger animals. It would be important to study the effects of landscape fragmentation on public health hazards. Such research could entail three components. The first component consists of gathering baseline data, including using historical data where possible and beginning monitoring programs where necessary. Key data include identifying and quantifying the relevant pathogen load of wildlife, livestock, and human communities in fragmented landscapes. The goals of this data collection are, first, to identify key infectious diseases, both chronic and emergent or reemergent and, second, to document the consequences of fragmentation on relative abundance of wildlife and subsequent pathogen load. For example, the loss of large predators in fragmented habitats in the northeastern United States has led to a superabundance of rodent vectors for Lyme disease.
The second component of the research program would involve health impact modeling, primarily in three areas: a) estimating changes in the relative abundance of organisms, including infectious disease vectors, pathogens, and hosts; b) projecting potential vector or transmission shifts (e.g., should the Nipah virus shift to pulmonary as well as neurologic expression in humans as in swine); and c) projecting the impact of infectious diseases in a region on different geographic scales.
The results of these analyses, if successful, could support the third component of research: development of decision-support tools. Improved decisions on land-use policy could be made from a better understanding of costs and benefits to health and environmental decision makers. In all probability, however, they will be very location specific. For example, to construct an irrigation scheme in India would likely invite a malaria epidemic, whereas the same activity in sub-Saharan Africa may have little effect on malaria transmission. It is worth mentioning that costs and benefits could depend on the time course over which they are assessed. For example, some land-use changes can lead to short-term increases in transmission followed by longer-term decreases (e.g., irrigation and malaria in Sri Lanka) or vice versa (e.g., deforestation and cutaneous leishmaniasis in Latin America).
Policies to reduce microbial traffic/pathogen pollution.
In today’s interconnected world, it becomes very important to invest in the worldwide control of infectious diseases in developing countries, for example. It is also necessary to control transport to stem the flow from one place to the next.
Improved monitoring of trade is warranted in order to target infectious disease introductions. In the attempt to prevent the invasion of a pathogen (and drug-resistant organisms) into the vulnerable areas subject to land use changes, we need to pay greater attention to controls at the sources. We need to document and map these trades and investigate the vectors, the infectious diseases they harbor, and the populations they threaten. Risk assessment should guide surveillance and the development of test kits, targeting point-of-origin intervention to preempt these processes. Assessments must further include nonmarket costs (usually to the detriment of the environment and long-term sustainable health). We should communicate to both the exporters and consumers the need to make their trades clean, economically viable, and certified “clean and green” by an independent scientific agency at the source and/or destination. Additionally, strategies for screening travelers for pathogens that may be introduced to a region should be improved.
Centers of Excellence in Ecology and Health Research and Training.
One approach to developing the issues to which this article draws attention is the creation of a system of regional- or subregional-based interdisciplinary Centers of Excellence in Ecology and Health Research and Training. Based at regional universities and/or research institutes but with very close links to the surrounding communities, these centers would have the following objectives:
Providing information based on good science to local communities about the links between environmental change and public health, including the factors that contribute to specific infectious disease outbreaks. The new research agenda must gather information on household and community perspectives about proposals for the use of their land. These perspectives are key to assessing the cost/benefit of a proposed project. Training local professionals in environmental, agricultural, and health science issues, with a particular focus on granting degrees in a new “trans”-discipline linking health and the environment, would be emphasized.
Acting as centers of integrated analysis of infectious disease emergence, incorporating perspectives and expertise from a variety of natural, social, and health sciences. Research activities would range from taxonomy of pathogens and vectors to identifying best practices for influencing changes in human behavior to reduce ecosystem and health risks.
Incorporating a “health impact assessment” as an important cross-sectorial decision-making tool in overall development planning (parallel to an environmental impact assessment), along with the need for doing more research.
Equipping professionals with the ability to recommend policy toward maintaining ecosystem function and promoting sustainable public health for future generations. For example, the link between forest fragmentation and Lyme disease risk could lead to preserving more intact tracts of forest habitat by planning “cluster” housing schemes.
Implementing research and policy programs.
In selecting areas for research and the placement of centers of excellence, it is important to choose geographically representative, highly diverse areas around the world. In addition, research projects should take place in regions or landscapes that have both well characterized and less characterized patterns of infectious disease emergence or transmission for comparison purposes. Local health and environment professionals, who are in the best position to understand local priorities, should make the choices within each region for initial research areas and sites.
Addressing trade-offs among environment, health, and development.
There are some inherent trade-offs when considering land-use change and health. They are ethical values, environmental versus health choices, and disparities in knowledge and economic class. Trade-offs are between short-term benefit and long-term damage. For example, draining swamps may reduce vector-borne disease hazards but also destroy the wetland ecosystem and its inherent services (e.g., water storage, water filtration, biologic productivity, and habitats for fish and wildlife). Research can help decision making by identifying and assessing trade-offs in different land-use-change scenarios. Balancing the diverse needs of people, livestock, wildlife, and the ecosystem will always be a prominent feature.
When considering issues of land use and infectious disease emergence, the public needs to be attentive to entire ecosystems rather than simply their local environs. Although we may not live within a certain environment, its health may indirectly affect our own. For example, intact forests support complex ecosystems and provide essential habitats for species that are specialized to those flora and that may be relevant to our health. If these complex relationships are disrupted, there may be unforeseen impacts on human health, as the above examples clearly demonstrate.
Three new initiatives are rising to the challenges presented above. The first initiative, the Consortium for Conservation Medicine (CCM), was formed recently to address these health challenges at the interface of ecology, wildlife health, and public health (Figure 2). At its core, conservation medicine champions the integration of techniques and partnering of scientists from diverse disciplines, particularly veterinary medicine, conservation biology, and public health. Through the consortium, therefore, these experts work with educators, policy makers, and conservation program managers to devise approaches that improve the health of both species and humans simultaneously [more information is available from the CCM website (CCM 2004)].
The second initiative, the new international journal EcoHealth, focuses on the integration of knowledge at the intersection of ecologic and health sciences. The journal provides a gathering place for research and reviews that integrate the diverse knowledge of ecology, health, and sustainability, whether scientific, medical, local, or traditional. The journal will encourage development and innovation in methods and practice that link ecology and health, and it will ensure clear and concise presentation to facilitate practical and policy application [more information is available from the EcoHealth website (EcoHealth 2004)].
The third initiative, the MEA, is an international work program designed to meet the needs of decision makers and the public for scientific information concerning the consequences of ecosystem change for human health and well-being and for options in responding to those changes. This assessment was launched by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan in June 2001 and will help to meet the assessment needs of international environmental forums, such as the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Convention to Combat Desertification, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, and the Convention on Migratory Species, as well as the needs of other users in the private sector and civil society [more information is available from the Millennium Assessment Working Groups website (Millennium Assessment Working Groups 2004)].
As this working group of researchers continues to work on these topics, we face three challenges. First, strong trans-disciplinary research partnerships need to be forged to approach the research with the degree of creative thinking and comprehensiveness required by the nature of the problems. Second, if the work is to influence policy, the choice of questions and the research must be undertaken collaboratively with the local community and also through discussion with decision makers in government, industry, civil society, and other sectors. Third, investigators must consider how they can integrate their findings into the social, economic, and political dialogue on both the environment and health, globally and locally. As links between land use and health are elucidated, an informed public will more readily use such discoveries to better generate political will for effective change.
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Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg and the Child Rape Assembly Line
This article was printed in VICE Media LLC in November of 2013. Despite Rabbi Rosenberg’s efforts at shedding light on this issue, the abuse continues. We here at LostMessiah.com will continue to print the articles and comment.
Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg, the lone whistleblower among the Satmar, a powerful Hasidic sect, who recently was the victim of a bleach attack in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. All photos by Christian Storm.
Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg—who is 63 with a long, graying beard—recently sat down with me to explain what he described as a “child-rape assembly line” among sects of fundamentalist Jews. He cleared his throat. “I’m going to be graphic,” he said.
A member of Brooklyn’s Satmar Hasidim fundamentalist branch of Orthodox Judaism, Nuchem designs and repairs mikvahs in compliance with Torah Law. The mikvah is a ritual Jewish bathhouse used for purification. Devout Jews are required to cleanse themselves in the mikvah on a variety of occasions: Women must visit following menstruation, and men have to make an appearance before the High Holidays, such as Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Many of the devout also purify themselves before and after the act of sex and before the Sabbath.
On a visit to Jerusalem in 2005, Rabbi Rosenberg entered into a mikvah in one of the holiest neighborhoods in the city, Mea She’arim. “I opened a door that entered into a schvitz,” he told me. “Vapors everywhere, I can barely see. My eyes adjust, and I see an old man, my age, long white beard, a holy-looking man, sitting in the vapors. On his lap, facing away from him, is a boy, maybe seven years old. And the old man is having anal sex with this boy.”
Rabbi Rosenberg paused, gathered himself, and went on: “This boy was speared on the man like an animal, like a pig, and the boy was saying nothing. But on his face—fear. The old man [looked at me] without any fear, as if this was common practice. He didn’t stop. I was so angry, I confronted him. He removed the boy from his penis, and I took the boy aside. I told this man, ‘It’s a sin before God, a mishkovzucher. What are you doing to this boy’s soul? You’re destroying this boy!’ He had a sponge on a stick to clean his back, and he hit me across the face with it. ‘How dare you interrupt me!’ he said. I had heard of these things for a long time, but now I had seen.”
The child sex abuse crisis in ultra-Orthodox Judaism, like that in the Catholic Church, has produced its share of shocking headlines in recent years. In New York, and in the prominent Orthodox communities of Israel and London, allegations of child molestation and rape have been rampant. The alleged abusers are schoolteachers, rabbis, fathers, uncles—figures of male authority. The victims, like those of Catholic priests, are mostly boys. Rabbi Rosenberg believes around half of young males in Brooklyn’s Hasidic community—the largest in the United States and one of the largest in the world—have been victims of sexual assault perpetrated by their elders. Ben Hirsch, director of Survivors for Justice, a Brooklyn organization that advocates for Orthodox sex abuse victims, thinks the real number is higher. “From anecdotal evidence, we’re looking at over 50 percent. It has almost become a rite of passage.”
Ultra-Orthodox Jews who speak out about these abuses are ruined and condemned to exile by their own community. Dr. Amy Neustein, a nonfundamentalist Orthodox Jewish sociologist and editor of Tempest in the Temple: Jewish Communities and Child Sex Scandals, told me the story of a series of Hasidic mothers in Brooklyn she got to know who complained that their children were being preyed on by their husbands.
In these cases, the accused men “very quickly and effectively engage the rabbis, the Orthodox politicians, and powerful Orthodox rabbis who donate handsomely to political clubs.” The goal, she told me, is “to excise the mother from the child’s life.” Rabbinical courts cast the mothers aside, and the effects are permanent. The mother is “amputated.” One woman befriended by Dr. Neustein, a music student at a college outside New York, lost contact with all six of her children, including an infant she was breastfeeding at the time of their separation.
Rabbi Rosenberg inspects a ritual purification bath, known as a mikvah. In 2005, he witnessed a young boy being raped inside a similar bath.
Seven years ago, Rabbi Rosenberg started blogging about sex abuse in his community and opened a New York City hotline to field sex abuse complaints. He has posted appeals on YouTube, appeared on CNN, and given speeches across the US, Canada, Israel, and Australia. Today, he is the lone whistleblower among the Satmar. For this he is reviled, slandered, hated, feared. He receives death threats on a regular basis. In Yiddish and Hebrew newspapers, advertisements taken out by the self-described “great rabbis and rabbinical judges of the city of New York” have denounced him as “a stumbling block for the House of Israel,” “a public rebuker and preacher of ethics” who “persists in his rebelliousness” and whose “voice has been heard among many Jewish families, especially young people in their innocence… drawn to listen to his poisonous and revolting speeches.” Leaflets distributed in Williamsburg and Borough Park, the centers of ultra-Orthodoxy in Brooklyn, display his bearded face over the body of a writhing snake. “Corrupt Informer,” reads one of the leaflets, followed by the declaration that Rabbi Rosenberg’s “name should rot in hell forever. They should cut him off from all four corners of the earth.”
When Rabbi Rosenberg wants to bathe at a mikvah in Brooklyn to purify himself, none will have him. When he wants to go to synagogue, none will have him. “He is finished in the community, butchered,” said a fellow rabbi who would only talk anonymously. “No one will look at him, and those who will talk to him, they can’t let it be known. The pressure in our community, it’s incredible.”
The powerful men—and it is worth noting that this community is regulated by men only—who govern the world of ultra-Orthodox Judaism would rather their adherents be blind in their faith, their eyes closed to the horrors Rabbi Rosenberg is exposing. Like the Catholic establishment, the rabbinate seeks to cover up the crimes, quiet the victims, protect the abusers, and deflect potential criticism of their institutional practices. Those who speak out are vilified, and the faithful learn to shut their mouths. When the father of the seven-year-old boy whom Rabbi Rosenberg rescued from the Jerusalem bathhouse showed up to collect his son, he couldn’t believe his son had been raped. Trembling, terrified, he whisked his son away to get medical help but was still too scared to raise a formal complaint. According to Ben and Survivors for Justice, “The greatest sin is not the abuse, but talking about the abuse. Kids and parents who step forward to complain are crushed.”
As for Rabbi Rosenberg, when he voiced his concerns to the rabbinate in Israel, he was brought up on charges by the mishmeres hatznuis, the archconservative Orthodox “modesty squad,” which regulates, often through threats of violence, proper moral conduct and dress in the relations between men and women. The modesty squad is a sort of Jewish Taliban. According to Rabbi Rosenberg, the rapist he caught in the act was a member of the modesty squad, which charged him with the unconscionable offense of having previously been seen walking down a street in Jerusalem with a married woman. “But it’s OK to molest children,” he adds.
The abuse and its cover-up are symptoms of wider political dysfunction—or, more precisely, symptoms of socially disastrous political control by religious elites.
“This isn’t a problem about a few aberrant cases or an old-fashioned community reluctant to talk to police about sexual matters,” said Michael Lesher, a practicing Jew who has investigated Orthodox sex abuse and represented abuse victims. “This is about a political economy that links Orthodox Judaism with other fundamentalist creeds and with aspects of right-wing ideologies generally. It’s an economy in which genuine religious values will never really rise to the top, so long as they’re tied to the poisonous priorities that elevate status and power over the basic human needs of the most vulnerable among us.”
Michael, who is completing a book on the topic, noted that the infamous Rabbi Elior Chen, convicted in 2010 in what was arguably Israel’s worst case of serial child abuse, is still defended in public statements by leading ultra-Orthodox rabbis. Among other legal and moral crimes, the rabbi forced his victims to eat feces, claiming that this cruelty was necessary to “purify” the children he abused.
According to Ben, the ultra-Orthodox community has never been as repressive as it is today. The repression, as he describes it, stems from the burden of having too many children. Huge families are encouraged: Every child born to a Hasid is seen as “a finger in the eye of Hitler.” Ben also told me that the average family size among Williamsburg Hasidim is nine, and that some families include more than 15 children.
Mikvah Israel of Boro Park, one of the many mikvahs in Brooklyn that no longer accept Rabbi Rosenberg.
Families saddled with an increasing number of children soon enter into a cycle of poverty. There is simultaneously an extreme separation of the sexes, which is unprecedented in the history of the Hasidim. There is limited general education, to the point that most men in the community are educated only to the third grade, and receive absolutely no sexual education. No secular newspapers are allowed, and internet access is forbidden. “The men in the community are undereducated by design,” Ben said. “You have a community that has been infantilized. They have been trained not to think. It’s a sort of totalitarian control.”
The rabbis, dominating an ignorant and largely poverty-stricken flock, determine the fate of every individual in the community. Nothing is done without the consent of the rabbinical establishment. A man wants to buy a new car—he goes to the rabbi for counsel. A man wants to marry—the rabbi tells him whether or not he should marry a particular bride. As for the women, they don’t get to ask the rabbi anything. Their place is beneath contempt.
Michael told me that current Orthodox leadership, accruing wealth from the tithes of subservient followers, is “drifting to the right, politically as well as religiously.” Many rabbis in New York City have taken up the banner of neoliberalism. “Every English-language Orthodox publication I know embraced Romney during the 2012 elections, decried national health insurance, blamed liberals for bribing the lower classes,” he said. “In Orthodox society, just as in America at large, the financial mismatch between the elite and the rest of us is ominously large.”
Michael also notes that the problem is not confined to the extremists. “The same patterns of victim-blaming, covering up, idealizing the rabbis so that cover-ups aren’t even acknowledged, are found all across the spectrum of Orthodoxy,” he told me. “The Orthodox left was shamefully slow to react to Rabbi Baruch Lanner’s abuse or to the similar case of Rabbi Mordechai Elon.” Rabbi Lanner, a former New Jersey yeshiva high school principal, was found guilty in 2000 of sexually abusing dozens of teenage students over the decades of his tenure. Rabbi Elon, who had publicly denounced homosexuality, was convicted last August on two counts of forcible sexual assault on a male minor, following several years of reports of his abuse of young boys.
“I have children come to me with their parents, and the blood is coming out of the anus,” Rabbi Rosenberg told me when we met. “These are zombies for life. What are we to do?”
This of course is the key question, and no answers are forthcoming. Michael holds out little hope that the situation will change. “If Orthodox institutions continue on their current trajectory,” he said, “I’d say things could get worse before they get better.”
A few weeks after our interview, Rabbi Rosenberg was walking through the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn when an unidentified man rushed up behind him, tapped him on the shoulder, and threw a cup of bleach in his face. He went to the hospital with facial burns and was temporarily blinded. Such is the measure of justice among the Satmar that a once-respected rabbi, now amputated from the community, should find himself chemically burned on a street in a neighborhood considered holy.
Later Rabbi Rosenberg told me a story of being surrounded by young boys in Williamsburg. The boys cursed him, laughed at him, threatened him, and spat at him. He wondered how many of them would end up molested.
American Rabbi Suspected of Running Baby Trafficking Network
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(JTA) — Israeli police have arrested five people, including an American rabbi who heads a yeshiva, for allegedly running an international baby trafficking ring that targeted mentally disabled mothers.
The Nazareth Magistrate’s Court on Thursday identified the rabbi as Shmuel Puretz, 44, a businessman who divides his time between New York and Jerusalem, according to The Times of Israel. He and at least four other suspects were arrested in February, but details of the three-year investigation against them had been subject to a gag order until the court lifted parts of it on Thursday.
All the suspects have been released pending an indictment and trial.
Puretz, who denies the allegations, is accused of sending Israeli expectant mothers in need or suffering from a mental disability from within haredi Orthodox communities to the United States so they would give birth there. The babies would be given to childless foster parents who allegedly paid Puretz and others for the babies.
Many details about the affair, including how much money the handlers allegedly charged, are still subject to a gag order.
Yediot Aharanot reported in a 2017 expose about the affair that they charged a $100,000 to $150,000 “handling fee” per child.
One alleged accomplice is Rivkah Segal, a rabbi’s wife from Migdal Haemek, a city in northern Israel. She is suspected of abusing her legal guardianship over an expectant mother with mental health problems. The mother said that Segal had her flown to New York highly pregnant, deliver a boy in a Caesarian procedure and had him taken from her.
Segal denied the charges. But an Israeli court last week ruled she should pay that mother $144,000 in damages.
Missing Children’s Statistics
One Missing Child Is One Too Many
The lack of a common definition of “missing child,” and a common response to the issue, results in few reliable statistics on the scope of the problem around the world.
This, however, is only a snapshot of the problem. In many countries, statistics on missing children are not even available; and, unfortunately, even available statistics may be inaccurate due to: under-reporting/under-recognition; inflation; incorrect database entry of case information; and deletion of records once a case is closed.
800K Children Missing in US Each Year; Pedophilia Epidemic Sweeping Globe
800,000 children a year in the United States go missing, with many of them falling into the hands of predators who traffick the children through pedophilia networks where the children suffer unimaginable horrors such as Satanic ritual abuse.
This number is comprised of documented cases of children gone missing, and does not include children who are born and bred into pedophilia networks and have no birth certificates. It also does not include undocumented immigrant children who are trafficked across the border.
Worldwide, the number is closer to 8 million children missing and being sexually trafficked by International pedophile rings.
Such is the scope of the epidemic that The International Tribunal for Natural Justice (ITNJ) convened over a 3-day period in Westminster, London to launch their Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Human Trafficking and Child Sex Abuse.
The Judicial Commission is comprised of world leaders who have been involved in fighting child sex trafficking for years, and includes intelligence officers, politicians, legal scholars, and many others.
The International Tribunal was formed because most of the world’s government bodies today have been corrupted and no longer represent the people, but instead serve the interest of private corporations, and as such, justice is seldom found in most government judicial courts around the world today to stop such a heinous crime as child sex trafficking.
In fact, the child sex trafficking network today is actually facilitated by the rich and powerful, whose influence reaches into the political and judicial branches of society.
From the INTJ report:
The ITNJ initiative has arisen as a response to the disregard for the rule of law exhibited by (alleged) public officials, corporate directors, and ‘world leaders’ who have deliberately privatized and weaponized the governments of the world against their own people.
It is the culmination of years of endeavour and research on the part of many people from a diverse set of backgrounds dedicated to safeguarding a viable future for human kind. It is recognized that we the people must take responsibility in holding government to account when it violates basic human rights and natural law.
Today we know conclusively that many of these activities are being facilitated by politically and financially powerful individuals, government, and corporate organizations who perennially avoid being brought to account for their actions due to their affluence and influence.
Included in the court proceedings of the first Judicial Commission of the Tribunal were powerful testimonies from victims who suffered unimaginable horrors as children being sexually abused and trafficked through this powerful world-wide pedophilia network that sexually trafficks children, a human trafficking network that brings in more revenue than the trafficking of weapons and drugs.
During the opening Plenary Session, Chief Counsel Robert David Steele, a former CIA officer, gave perhaps the best summary of the purpose of Tribunal’s Judicial Commission, which has been condensed into a 15 minute video:
A partial transcript:
As a parent and as a patriot I have been outraged for some time by the clear and present danger to society of pedopredation (pedophilia or paedophilia).
I recognize now that child torture, child murder, and child organ harvesting is an ‘accepted’ practice at the highest levels of government, the NGO and multinational corporate sector, as well as throughout academic institutions and civil society.
This scourge persists because it is allowed to exist by the complicit authorities.
As a former spy and pioneer for Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) I have worked with INTERPOL, EUROPOL, Scotland Yard, the FBI, and the national intelligence and law enforcement services or their representatives from over 66 countries.
What I have found, without exception, is that they are all staffed by good people trapped in bad systems – systems that are not allowed to properly address this scourge – the multi-generational crime against humanity known as pedophilia.
Pedophilia – a ‘love for children’ – is not an accurate term. There is no love for children manifest in any aspect of child slavery, sexual abuse, torture, murder, or body harvesting.
For this reason the inaugural seating of the Commission of Inquiry into Human Trafficking & Child Sex Abuse, at the behest of ITNJ Commissioner Carine Hutsebaut (a criminologist and psychotherapist) the term ‘Pedopredation,’ has been designated as a more appropriate term, along with the term ‘pedosexual,’ for that considerable sub-set abuses of children outside the Satanic ritual network.
It is vital to note that many organizations that started out with the best of intentions – from the Boy Scouts to the day care centers to United Nations assistance and development groups to Oxfam as the most recent example – appear to have been infiltrated by pedopredators.
By virtue of being in daily contact with the most vulnerable members of society, our children, many of the mandated organizations have, over time, attracted numerous pedopredators to their ranks, and been compromised by their lack of proper vetting processes, as well as also turning a deliberate blind eye to the transgressions of staff.
This need not be so if governments were honest and counterintelligence were to be exercised. It appears to be a matter of policy at the highest levels of global leadership to turn a blind eye to pedopredation and pedosexuality.
It appears that pedopredation – including the attendant torture and murder of infants to produce adrenalized blood via ritual Satanic abuse – is in some cases considered an elite ‘privilege’ whereupon these echelons are permitted to practice such perversity with impunity.
There are two additional causes for alarm.
First, there appears to be a deliberate campaign by the elite to infect local, state (province) and national police, prosecutors, and judges – from Australia to Zimbabwe – with a ‘taste’ for pedosexuality.
It is used as both an initiation rite into the Deep State and Shadow Government, and as a basis for blackmail.
Worse, we are now seeing two terrible trends: one toward abusing and murdering children before they learn to speak (they cannot bear witness); and the other, perhaps brought back by US forces from Afghanistan, the combination of war dogs and toddlers in a devastating combination of child rape and bestiality – dogs raping children for videos to be sold.
Add to this the growing market in fetuses, the most prized being those delivered on the floor as part of a Satanic ritual, and one has an inkling of the greatest evil on the planet.
Second, it has become clear from our early inquiries with ample documentation, that both the family courts and the insolvency courts are being used to strip children from families to convert the children into a commodity that can be sold for cash, and are also being used to strip assets from wealthy individuals who are not part of the Deep State network.
Governments are complicit in child and asset stripping, which would not occur if registrars, lawyers (barristers), and judges were held accountable. False claims and documents abound, and in their tolerated existence, challenge the legitimacy of the government.
ENOUGH! The purpose of the Commission is to do what has not been done before: to document the actual totality of missing children each year (preliminary estimates yet to be documented are eight million a year, or 22,000 a day); and also to document what happens to these children once they are ingested into the local to global pedopredation network of networks.
The average lifespan of a child once in the pedopredation (pedophilia or paedophilia) system is estimated by some to be two years — those being groomed for ‘leadership’ roles that perpetuate pedosexuality at all levels live much longer
The Government sells many of the 700,000 kids that go missing each year!- THAY ARE NOW SEX SLAVES FOR THE ELITE!
Almost a year after Representative Cynthia McKinney was told by Donald Rumsfeld that it was not the policy of the Bush administration to reward companies that engage in human trafficking with government contracts, the scandal continues to sweep up innocent children who are sold into a life of slavery at the behest of Halliburton subsidiaries , Dyncorp and other transnational corporations with close ties to the establishment elite.
On March 11th 2005, McKinney grilled Secretary Rumsfeld and General Myers on the Dyncorp scandal.
“Mr. Secretary, I watched President Bush deliver a moving speech at the United Nations in September 2003, in which he mentioned the crisis of the sex trade. The President called for the punishment of those involved in this horrible business. But at the very moment of that speech, DynCorp was exposed for having been involved in the buying and selling of young women and children. While all of this was going on, DynCorp kept the Pentagon contract to administer the smallpox and anthrax vaccines, and is now working on a plague vaccine through the Joint Vaccine Acquisition Program. Mr. Secretary, is it [the] policy of the U.S. Government to reward companies that traffic in women and little girls?”
The response and McKinney’s comeback was as follows.
Rumsfeld: “Thank you, Representative. First, the answer to your first question is, is, no, absolutely not, the policy of the United States Government is clear, unambiguous, and opposed to the activities that you described. The second question.”
McKinney: “Well how do you explain the fact that DynCorp and its successor companies have received and continue to receive government contracts?”
Rumsfeld: “I would have to go and find the facts, but there are laws and rules and regulations with respect to government contracts, and there are times that corporations do things they should not do, in which case they tend to be suspended for some period; there are times then that the – under the laws and the rules and regulations for the – passed by the Congress and implemented by the Executive branch – that corporations can get off of – out of the penalty box if you will, and be permitted to engage in contracts with the government. They’re generally not barred in perpetuity.”
McKinney: “This contract – this company – was never in the penalty box.”
Rumsfeld: “I’m advised by DR. Chu that it was not the corporation that was engaged in the activities you characterized but I’m told it was an employee of the corporation, and it was some years ago in the Balkans that that took place.”
Watch the video here.
Rumsfeld’s effort to shift the blame away from the hierarchy at Dyncorp and onto the Dyncorp employees was a blatant attempt to hide the fact that human trafficking and sex slavery is a practice condoned by companies like Dyncorp and Halliburton subsidiaries like KBR.
What else are we to assume in light of recent revelations cited in the Chicago Tribune that Halliburton subsidiary KBR and Dyncorp lobbyists are working in tandem with the Pentagon to stall legislation that would specifically ban trafficking in humans for forced labor and prostitution by U.S. contractors?
Three years has now elapsed since President Bush’s promise to bring an end to this disgrace and the Pentagon is still yet to actually bar the practice.
And the employees themselves that are burned for blowing the whistle, like Kathryn Bolkovac who was sacked for reporting on Dyncorp officials who were involved in the Bosnian sex trade.
Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is one of very few representatives in high office aside from Cynthia McKinney to demand answers on this issue.
We applaud Blagojevich’s eforts. The iron curtain of official denial and soft-peddling is falling down.
What has happened to the children who were sold into slavery and forced to satisfy the demands of sick pedophiles working on behalf of the US government?
Where were the investigations and convictions in other cases of establishment orchestrated child slavery and prostitution? Like the NATO officials responsible for the mushrooming of child prostitution in Kosovo?
What happened to UN officials identified as using a ship charted for ‘peacekeepers’ to bring young girls from Thailand to East Timor as prostitutes?
In addition, we received an E mail from a person claiming to be a Dyncorp employee stating that a high level Dyncorp official is breaking the law by accepting payment from the US government and in turn the American taxpayer by falsifying timesheets and claiming pay for hours not worked.
The contact states that this was repeatedly brought to the attention of DynCorp program managers by Dyncorp employees but they were told it was “none of their business.”
It is important to stress that at the moment these are allegations and we have no proof of this other than the validity of the e mail.
The e mail is a reminder that we should always consider the fact that the vast majority of Dyncorp employees are just doing their jobs and have nothing to do with this scandal. It is a small faction at the head of the hydra that have authorized and engaged in these horrors.
We have a government that says it doesn’t advocate torture and yet tries to block a law that would end torture. We have a government that repeatedly burns lower level minions to wash its hands of every major scandal that encompasses policies directly administered by the government itself, as in the case of Abu Ghraib and the Dyncorp sex scandal.
A government that covers-up for those who force children into prostitution and slavery is a clear danger to our very way of life.
We must demand answers and finally put an end to a process that exploits and wreaks terror on the lives of the most innocent and vulnerable members of society, whether they be in the Balkans, East Timor or here at home.
President Joe Biden, in a widely expected but nevertheless highly disappointing to many anti-illegal immigration activists move, decided to end Title 42, an immigration law implemented by the Trump Administration that gave immigration authorities the ability to more easily and quickly get rid of illegal immigrants. Just the News, reporting on that move, notes that:
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday the end of enforcement of Title 42, a decades-old federal law impose by the Trump administration to limit immigration to stop the spread of COVID-19 during the pandemic.
The announcement was widely expected and will be effective May 23, a date that was also expected.
The CDC, the agency technically responsible for the law because it related to public health and the pandemic, announced the end of Title 42 by saying in a statement that:
“In consultation with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), this termination will be implemented on May 23, 2022, to enable DHS time to implement appropriate COVID-19 mitigation protocols, such as scaling up a program to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to migrants and prepare for resumption of regular migration under Title 8.
“After considering current public health conditions and an increased availability of tools to fight COVID-19 (such as highly effective vaccines and therapeutics), the CDC Director has determined that an Order suspending the right to introduce migrants into the United States is no longer necessary.“
Team Biden, for its part, argued that ending the measure would not mean that illegal immigrants would be able to stay in the US, arguing in a press conference conducted by Kate Beddingfield that:
“To be clear, most individuals who crossed the border without legal authorization will be promptly placed into removal proceedings and if they are unable to establish a legal basis to remain in the United States, they’ll be expeditiously removed.
“As a reminder, economic need and flight from generalized violence is not a basis for asylum, but rather asylum is for those with a well-founded fear of persecution on a protected ground.”
Biden’s lackey can claim whatever she wants, but illegal immigrants themselves don’t seem to believe her. They, supposedly in desperate need of help but still somehow able to stay up to date on changes to US policy, have been massing around the border in expectation of Title 42 being done away with. As I reported a few days ago:
[A]ccording to Axios, there are not only perhaps 170,000 migrants waiting to head to the border once Title 42 ends, but there are also perhaps 25,000 migrants waiting along the US-Mexico border to cross once it’ll be harder to deport them.
So, while Team Biden claims that getting rid of a major tool for removing illegals won’t prove deleterious to the anti-illegal immigration mission, a tool Yahoo reports has been used about 1.7 million times in the Biden presidency, the illegal immigrants who are risking the border crossing seem to think otherwise. That means, at the very least, that the Border Patrol officer bravely manning the border despite Biden’s bumbling could soon have an even larger problem to deal with.