The Long, Strange History of Bill Gates Population Control

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Three months into the global pandemic, Bill Gates has displaced George Soros as the chief bogeyman of the right.

Gates, who has announced that his $40 billion-foundation will shift its “total attention” to fighting COVID-19, has been accused of a range of misdeeds, from scheming to profit off a vaccine to creating the virus itself. On April 8, Fox News host Laura Ingraham and Attorney General Bill Barr speculated about whether Gates would use digital certificates to monitor anyone who got vaccinated.

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A Christian Right broadcaster, Brannon Howse of “Worldview Watch,” warned that Gates and the “medical globalist deep state” were using the crisis to regulate people’s fertility depending on their worldview, through “procreation tickets” and microchips. On Instagram, anti-vaccination activist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., posted a video featuring a “1984”-style audience listening to Gates, with text declaring that the Microsoft Corp. co-founder “is conducting global social and medical experimentation,” via the World Health Organization. The New York Times noted that misinformation about Gates has become “the most widespread of all coronavirus falsehoods” trending online.


In 2010, a former staffer with a government health initiative in Ghana made a shocking claim: a project partially funded by the Gates Foundation had tested the contraceptive Depo-Provera on unsuspecting villagers in the remote region of Navrongo, as part of an illicit “population experiment.” The woman making the charge was the Ghanian-born, U.S.-educated communications officer for another Gates-funded initiative by the Ghanaian government and Columbia University to use mobile phones to improve health care access for rural women and children. She had previously attempted to sue her employer for a multi-million dollar settlement when, after repeated clashes with her boss, her contract wasn’t renewed.

The lawsuit fizzled, but with help from a small U.S. nonprofit called the Rebecca Project for Human Rights, she shopped a series of stories to Ghana’s tabloid press. The Depo-Provera story caused a national scandal. Although it was denounced by Ghanaian health professionals and traditional leaders as libelous—the Navrongo project hadn’t tested any medications— so many death threats were directed at the project that some staff had to be evacuated across the Burkina Faso border.

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The episode would mark the opening shot in a new war over birth control in Africa. It also reflected an evolution in the U.S. anti-abortion movement’s strategy in which it started to co-opt the language of women’s and civil rights used by progressives. There were fewer bloody fetus posters and more talk about how abortion and contraception violated women’s safety and impeded racial justice.

Anti-abortion groups hired black activists and highlighted uglier aspects of the history of reproductive health care — in particular, the courting of the eugenics movement by Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger in the early part of the 20th century. A right-wing documentary, Maafa 21: Black Genocide in 21st Century America, used a Swahili word that refers to the holocaust of African enslavement to denounce Planned Parenthood as racist. Billboards in Atlanta and Manhattan carried messages like, “The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb.” And federal and state legislators proposed a series of bills banning race- and sex-selective abortions in order to insinuate that abortion providers deliberately target communities of color.

As black feminists pointed out, these groups cared little for women’s or civil rights in general, or black women’s well-being in particular. (A 2009 U.S. House bill titled the “Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act” was co-sponsored by a champion of the Confederate flag.)

But the strategy exploited the real and painful history of medical abuses against people of color in the U.S., from compulsory or coercive sterilization campaigns from the 1910s to ’60s (including the sterilization of a third of all Puerto Rican mothers between 20 and 49 years old by 1965) to unsafe contraceptives marketed to poor women of color from the 1970s to ’90s. And the legacy of those abuses could be profound. One 2016 study found that the notorious Tuskegee Study, wherein hundreds of black men were left with untreated syphilis so U.S. government researchers could track the progress of the disease, led to such mistrust of the medical establishment that it reduced the life expectancy of a generation of black men by more than a year.

The Rebecca Project, a small, Washington-based nonprofit focused on issues disproportionately affecting women of color, hadn’t been involved on either side of the abortion fight. But in 2011, the group released a thinly-sourced report titled “Non-Consensual Research in Africa: The Outsourcing of Tuskegee,” outlining what it claimed was a series of unethical U.S.-backed medical experiments in Africa.

Some of the examples were documented stories of legitimate concern — for instance, HIV-positive women in southern Africa had been pressured into sterilization procedures by local health care entities. The report attempted to link them to shakier allegations of USAID funding being used for coercive sterilization campaigns in other countries. But the report’s real target, it seemed, was the Gates-backed health initiative in Navrongo. Later, the report’s lead author would suggest that people involved with the project should be charged with attempted genocide.

The report had numerous factual problems. Its author ― the Rebecca Project’s chief financial officer, Kwame Fosu ― also hadn’t disclosed a significant conflict of interest: The employee who’d leveled the charges against the Ghana project was the mother of his child. The fallout wound up splitting the organization, as one of its founders and several staff departed, taking with them all the Rebecca Project’s funding. Left with the group’s name, Fosu doubled down on his conspiratorial claims.


In 2013, Fosu published another report, “Depo-Provera: Deadly Reproductive Violence Against Women.” Drawing heavily on unnamed sources, paranoid accusations and the rhetoric of right-wing anti-abortion groups, this report used the Ghana story to anchor claims of a massive international conspiracy, led by the Gates Foundation, to push dangerous contraceptives on poor black women as a means of decreasing African births and advancing “population control ideology.” Fosu brought the Rebecca Project into alliance with a network of conservative Catholic nonprofits, like C-Fam and the Population Research Institute (PRI), that had long focused on fighting reproductive rights in developing nations or at the United Nations.

His new allies began publicizing Fosu’s claims to a large audience of conservative activists, arguing that he had uncovered the smoking gun confirming their long-held suspicions. As the head of PRI put it, “The population controllers will stop at nothing to stop African women from having children.” By 2014, the Rebecca Project was focusing full-time on the scourge of Depo-Provera. At the same time, the Gates Foundation was undertaking a new mission to radically expand contraceptive access to women in Africa, including with a new, low-dose adaptation of Depo-Provera.

The foundation’s family planning campaign had already drawn predictable backlash from religious groups. But as U.S. anti-abortion groups and websites circulated the Rebecca Project’s allegations, the opposition was no longer dominated by complaints that Gates was tempting African women to defy their faith. The new narrative was that Gates was waging “chemical warfare on poor women” in a neocolonial effort to suppress African births.

Soon, powerful figures across Africa were making similar claims, undermining vital public health projects in the process. In 2014, Zimbabwe’s Registrar General, Tobaiwa Mudede — the official responsible for overseeing the country’s dubious elections — warned women to avoid modern contraceptives because they caused cancer and were a Western ploy to limit African population growth. In 2015, Mudede told parliamentarians, “Western countries are bent on curtailing the population of the darker races of the world.” According to a parliamentary committee, Mudede’s campaign panicked Zimbabwean women, who flooded into clinics to have contraceptive implants removed.

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In Kenya, all 27 members of the nation’s Conference of Catholic Bishops declared that a WHO/UNICEF campaign to administer neonatal tetanus vaccines to women of childbearing age was really “a disguised population control programme.” According to the bishops, the vaccines were laced with a hormone that would cause repeated miscarriages and eventual sterility.

The same conservative Catholic network the Rebecca Project had allied itself with published numerous stories amplifying the bishops’ accusations and casting doubt on the government’s response. The Kenyan Parliament was forced to have the vaccine tested repeatedly. But by the time the claims were debunked, priests around Kenya had already instructed their congregants to refuse the vaccine.

Back in the U.S., Fosu also worked with C-Fam to lobby delegates from African nations, with some success. After a meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women, a regional grouping of African countries released an unprecedented statement expressing concerns over “harmful contraceptives,” echoing specific claims by Fosu and his allies. The next month, at the Commission on Population and Development, delegates couldn’t agree on an outcome document for the first time in the commission’s 48 years — the result, conservative advocates claimed, of African and other developing nations’ frustration with “the profusion of references to population control, adolescent sexual activity, abortion, and comprehensive sexuality education.

To be continue......


The Long, Strange History of Bill Gates Population Control The Long, Strange History of Bill Gates Population Control Reviewed by Anson Moore on July 23, 2020 Rating: 5

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