The US empire has a well-known history of interfering with foreign nations to make them fall into line with the empire’s “international rules-based order.” The methods range from peaceful trade and cooperation to coercion, propaganda, economic sanctions, sponsorship of dissident groups, rigging elections, manipulations of parliamentary procedures, assassination, and violent overthrow through support of a military coup d’etat or a revolution. If all else fails, there is a resort to occupation or annexation. Less well-known are the methods used in domestic politics to weaken the power of citizens to choose who will govern them and to simultaneously strengthen the influence of the power elite—the banks, oil companies, big tech companies, and other large corporate interests that have long governed in Washington through their corporate law firms and offices in New York and elsewhere.
One preferred method of gaining this influence is to focus on the office of vice president because it is not subject to democratic processes. The vice president doesn’t have to rise through the slow and troublesome process of cultivating popular support and winning primaries on the long road to the White House. The vice president is appointed by the nominee for president, and there are many historical examples of the nominees choosing an unlikely VP candidate that appeared to have been forced upon him. The natural choice for VP would be the person who was the second-most popular candidate in the primary contest, but this candidate is seldom chosen. Instead, the VP is often a surprise choice, someone who has been out of the spotlight, or even someone who lacked rapport with voters and had a confessed lack of interest in contact with the common folk one needs to engage with on the campaign trail.
Throughout recent history, the VP choice has often been someone whom the power elite would like to get into the White House, should something unfortunate happen to the president, or it is someone they would like to turn into presidential material for future presidential elections. A brief discussion of some examples:
Truman was a US senator at the time of the Democratic Convention in 1944. He had absolutely no power base with the rank and file of the party that could get him elected to the VP slot (which at the time was chosen by ballot at the convention). With FDR’s declining health apparent to all, the VP choice was considered crucial for the future direction of the country. The party establishment wanted to push the country to the right and undo the “socialism” and Soviet-friendly policies of FDR. The Cold War was in its early planning stages. Current VP Henry Wallace was the favorite at the convention by a large margin, but Truman was foisted on the crowd at the last minute through back-room dealings and procedural trickery.
JFK chose LBJ at the last minute for the VP ticket, for a reason that remains unclear. There has been speculation that it was blackmail by LBJ and Herbert Hoover, head of the FBI. For those who plotted JFK’s assassination, it was crucial to have a VP in place who would keep US forces in Vietnam and reverse JFK’s policies of independent development for former European colonies and peaceful co-existence with the USSR.
Richard Nixon was a complete outsider, a poor farmer’s son from California who had no ties to the power elite, but he was a useful tool to them as a common man who was also an ambitious and rabid anti-communist. He rose quickly in the 1950s through Congress and then into the position of Eisenhower’s VP, which opened the door to his unsuccessful presidential campaign against JFK in 1962 and his successful campaigns in 1968 and 1972. His fall during Watergate coincided with his softened stance against communism that led to détente with China and the USSR.
Gerald Ford was Nixon’s VP and became president when Nixon resigned. He was a US Congressman and former member of the Warren Commission that famously buried the truth about the JFK assassination. His CIA ties were obvious, but the power elite may have just seen him as a stepping stone for his VP, Nelson Rockefeller. Traditionally, they had always wanted to use common stock “good old American boys” as political candidates to do their bidding. People with family ties to the great corporate titans knew that even in the US there were class resentments that made it impossible for them to be elected as president. But once Rockefeller had got close to the presidency through the VP office, suddenly there were two assassination attempts on Gerald Ford during his short 28-month presidency.
G.H. W. Bush
Bush was a former head of the CIA when he became Ronald Reagan’s VP. He had no taste or talent for presidential election campaigns. Like Ford, Reagan was the victim of an attempted assassination. In his case, his removal would have put in the White House a CIA man with old family ties to the power elite. In 1988, Bush managed to get elected president, thanks to his time as VP under Reagan. With someone like Bush in the White House, there was no reason to have a candidate for the power elite in the VP position, which explains why the unthreatening and bland Dan Quayle was selected for the position.
The VP office changed when George W. Bush (son of GHW) became president. He didn’t have his father’s CIA resume or deep political experience. He was inexperienced in Washington and out of his depth as a power broker and statesman, but, like Richard Nixon, he was popular and electable. Assassination attempts on a member of the Bush family were out of the question, so the solution was to have Dick Cheney as VP running the show like a regency—a Cardinal Richelieu behind the throne.
Joe Biden ran in the presidential primaries in 1988 and 2008, but neither campaign went well because he was caught in embarrassing lies in the former instance and gaffes in the latter. Only his eight years as Barack Obama’s VP gave him legitimacy as presidential material, but nonetheless he would have been seriously challenged if all the other candidates had not dropped out obediently in March 2020. His mental faculties were in obvious decline during the primary debates, and he was tainted by the scandals involving his son. He maintained a certain level of support during the primaries because of his association with the Obama years, but no one believed he could hold up through the coming primaries and convention. The corona virus pandemic threw everything into confusion, then suddenly all of Biden’s competitors agreed to drop out of the race. His declining health was not a problem because the obvious plan of the Democratic Party machine was to have a favored person in place as VP—to be announced much later when Kamala Harris’ terrible showing at the primaries would be old news. Since the autumn of 2020, both Biden and Harris have made several “gaffs” in which they referred to “the Harris administration” or “the Harris presidency.”
While Joe Biden was unlikely to win against competitors who could speak coherently and extemporaneously, Kamala Harris was even less likely to gain any momentum. She fared badly in the early debates and primaries, and had already quit before Biden became the anointed one. As with so many others on this list, the reaction to her being chosen as VP displayed, in the starkest way, a very strange American tolerance of unpopular people taking the VP shortcut to the executive branch. Americans are proud of their constitution precisely because it is not a parliamentary system. They have the right to elect their head of state, but they tolerate the rise to power through the VP “back door” of people like Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, Gerald Ford, Dick Cheney and Kamala Harris.
The list above has no mention of the Carter, Clinton and Obama presidencies. They can be viewed as exceptional because Carter came after the Vietnam War when the power elite backed off for a few years to reorganize and prepare for the Reagan counter-revolution. The same could be said for the Clinton era when the power elite took time out to re-organize for the post-Cold War era.
Obama is also a seeming anomaly, a curious case of someone who rose quickly from humble roots, somewhat like Richard Nixon. One might wonder why his mother, an anthropologist, was married to a Kenyan who had come to Hawaii on an American scholarship to study Russian, and why she later divorced, moved to Indonesia and married a military officer just at the time when Suharto’s CIA-backed new order was taking over the country and killing a million communist party members. Obama rose quickly through the Democratic Party in Illinois—University of Chicago Law School (1991-2004), state senator (1997-2004) then US senator (2005-2008), then became the Madison Avenue-constructed presidential candidate of hope and change. Like Carter and Clinton, Obama was elected after the nation had developed extreme war fatigue from Vietnam, the Cold War and the Gulf War, and the “war on terror.” The power elite were content to step back and reorganize for a few years while these fresh faces on the scene provided the illusion that meaningful change would come.
As much as Carter, Clinton and Obama seem to be exceptions to the power elite-sponsored types who rose through the VP holding pattern, they never challenged the status quo the way JFK did. Carter sold arms to Indonesia during the atrocities in East Timor and was the first to use Islamic “freedom fighters”—at that time to destabilize Afghanistan when it was aligned with the Soviet Union. Clinton continued GHW Bush’s (Bush I) policy against Iraq, let the takeover of Central Africa continue (Uganda, Rwanda and Congo) and carried out the “humanitarian intervention” that assured that socialism would die in Yugoslavia. Obama continued GW Bush’s (Bush II) war on terror, increased drone bombing, sponsored an anti-Russia revolution in Ukraine, overthrew the government of Honduras, turned Libya into a failed state, and used, like Carter, Islamic “freedom fighters” to carry out a “civil war” in Syria.
Now we await the imminent rise of Kamala Harris to the presidency sometime during the four-year term of President Biden. It is obvious that he will have to bow out for “health reasons.” Thus it is a good time to ask how she has been positioned to soon become the president of the United States.
James DiEugenio’s two-part article in Kennedys and King,, provides a good overview of her time as attorney general of California. Recently, Harris has been marketed as the ideal “identity politics” candidate. She is Obama with a bit extra because she is a woman in addition to her mixed racial heritage. Liberals cheered when she became VP because she was the antidote to the Trump era. She would be a model for girls of color to aspire to. However, James DiEugenio’s article stresses that no one should be fooled by these superficial qualities. As attorney general, she was a law-and- order politician whose policies on crime, education and corporations were right-wing enough to make her indistinguishable from a classic Republican. She has no connection with the old Democratic Party values or the progressive ideals of the Kennedys in the 1960s.
She was the strongest critic of Biden during the primary campaign. No other candidate criticized him as much as she did, so it is curious that Biden would choose her, unless of course it wasn’t really his choice to make. The party bosses must have dictated it just like they had dictated to all the others to step aside for Joe.
The power elite loves her because she consistently sided with corporate interests during her term as attorney general in California. Most curiously, she did them a big solid favor when it was time to decide whether to give a new trial to Sirhan Sirhan, the convicted assassin of RFK in 1968. In 2012, his lawyers had successfully brought his case to the point where the attorney general had to decide on the matter. She helped the national security establishment by keeping all the dirt in that case from finally being exposed. Now, a few years later, she has been rewarded for her efforts with the position of VP and a short path to the White House.
Harris’ explanation for dismissing Sirhan’s application for a retrial was very carefully worded. A CNN report from 2012 quoted her thus:
In sum, (Sirhan) cannot possibly show that no reasonable juror would have convicted him if a jury had considered his ‘new’ evidence and allegations, in light of the overwhelming evidence supporting the convictions and the available evidence thoroughly debunking (Sirhan’s) second-shooter and automaton theories…
The theory that a person could be hypnotized into planning and committing a murder against his will is a controversial (if not fantastic) one and has not been adopted by … the American Psychological Association…
Thus, even if (Sirhan) could show that some psychologists believe in mind control or hypno-programming, his showing of actual innocence is nevertheless based on a debatable theory that is not universally accepted in the psychology community…
[Even if it could be proven] that a second gunman successfully shot Senator Kennedy, [Sirhan] would still be guilty of the charged crimes. [Under California’s vicarious liability law], an aider and abettor is guilty not only of the offense he intended to facilitate or encourage, but also of any reasonably foreseeable offense committed by the person he aids and abets.
It is notable that her statement as attorney general admits the strong possibility of other people being involved in the assassination, so even if we accept that Sirhan Sirhan should not get another trial, this admission should lead to a new government investigation of this very important historical crime. Prosecution of individual perpetrators may not be possible fifty years after the crime, but a government inquiry shedding light on a conspiracy to murder a Democratic Party primary candidate is something that another Democratic Party primary candidate should be interested in. One would think that the party of JFK and RFK might want some justice finally.
Harris’ dismissal of the theory that Sirhan was mind-controlled might seem sensible to anyone who is not familiar with the case. At first glance it sounds ludicrous to suggest that someone could be induced to commit a crime under hypnosis, but those who have read the in-depth studies of the assassination, such as Lisa Pease’s A Lie Too Big to Fail, know that there is a great deal of evidence to support the argument of Sirhan’s lawyers that he was indeed in a hypnotic trance, unaware of what he was doing, and used to distract witnesses from the real killers. In the following paragraphs, I summarize some of the main points in the case put forward by Lisa Pease based on her twenty-five years of research on the RFK assassination.
Sirhan Sirhan is alleged to have killed Robert F. Kennedy in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, shortly after midnight on June 5, 1968. RFK had just finished a victory speech after winning the California primary and was exiting through a pantry in the hotel kitchen. Sirhan moved toward RFK from his front, firing a small handgun several times. He was immediately wrestled to the floor by several witnesses.
Those witnesses all noticed that Sirhan had a glazed, serene expression on his face, and that, considering his small body size, he had a tremendously strong grip on the weapon. The first police officers who interviewed him also noticed his strange mental state. He didn’t know who he was or what had happened, and he couldn’t answer questions or speak coherently. The most sensible thing he asked, something which showed he understood at least something about his situation, was, “Have I been before a judge?” Many hours later when he was brought before a judge, he began to speak and act more normally, as if the crack of the judge’s gavel had been the programmed cue to snap out of the hypnotic state.
The problem for Sirhan was that both the prosecution and the defense had motives to not pursue any evidence of conspiracy. For the prosecution, gathering evidence of a conspiracy would only complicate matters and prolong the trial. Everyone in law enforcement knew that their gathering of evidence of conspiracy would drag them into the dangerous netherworld of intelligence agencies. In some cases, officers of the LAPD, the LA County Sherriff’s Office and the FBI were tied to these agencies. Those who were not were savvy enough to know which rocks should be left unturned if they cared about preserving their careers or their lives.
For the defense, a conspiracy would prove that Sirhan committed a pre-meditated act and he would thus get the death penalty. If the defense could make the jury believe that Sirhan acted alone in a diminished mental capacity and did not premeditate the crime, he would receive a lighter sentence.
In order for the defense and prosecution to follow the no-conspiracy strategy, they had to hide and overlook an overwhelming amount of evidence that pointed to conspiracy, such as…
Coroner Noguchi’s report stated that the fatal bullet wound hit RFK behind the right ear, and the gun was fired from very close range, but Sirhan shot only from the front, and never got that close to RFK.
The bullets presented at the trial were not fired from Sirhan’s gun, and it is possible that his gun was loaded with blanks.
Sirhan’s gun could hold only eight bullets, but several more bullets than that were found in the other victims’ non-fatal wounds, and in the walls, ceiling and doorframe. An audio recording confirmed that more than eight shots were fired.
Witnesses saw suspects fleeing the scene, the most suspicious of which was the woman in the black and white polka dot dress who was heard shouting, “We killed Bobby Kennedy” as she ran out of the hotel. She was likely Sirhan’s handler and accomplice in the pantry. Her polka dot dress may have been an element of a post-hypnotic suggestion planted during an earlier hypnotic episode. When police officers took statements from these witnesses, they subjected these young people to several hours of intense questioning. The LAPD investigator in charge told them to “stop lying” and give up on the notion that they had seen a woman in a polka dot dress and heard her declare, “We killed Bobby Kennedy.” The woman completely disappeared from the evidence presented at the trial.
As mentioned above, witnesses noticed Sirhan was in a very unusual mental state that they couldn’t explain. There was no trace of alcohol on his breath, but he may have been drugged.
Witnesses saw other suspicious individuals in the hotel that day and evening. It is likely there was another team ready to carry out the plot if RFK had exited through the only other route from the stage. One woman, who was likely a reluctant participant forced into the scheme, warned someone she met at the hotel that RFK was going to be killed that night.
Thane Cesar, the body guard at RFK’s right arm at the time of the killing, worked for a security agency with known ties to the CIA. He was in the best position to shoot RFK behind the ear while the crowd was distracted by Sirhan shooting from the front. There were probably one or two other shooters in the room who took advantage of the distraction caused by Sirhan.
Sirhan suffered extreme wartime trauma during his childhood in Palestine. His family came to the US as refugees, after which he grew up to become a very mild-mannered and amiable person. After a fall from a horse, he was taken to a hospital where it is suspected he became involved in government mind-control experiments. Because of his childhood traumas and personality profile, he belonged to the minority of the population that is highly susceptible to hypnosis.
Lisa Pease devotes several pages to explaining how hypnosis works and the history of court cases in which hypnosis was an issue. One court decision in Denmark found a hypnotist guilty for having forced someone else to commit a murder. The accused in that case actually met the hypnotist after the trial and was, apparently, hypnotized again and given the post-hypnotic suggestion to confess to the crime—to say that he had been lying previously. Other than this famous case, there are few court cases that have dealt with the question of guilt under hypnosis.
Lisa Pease attended demonstrations of hypnosis to see how it works, and her most shocking observation was to see how it affected subjects after they had been snapped out of the trance. She saw a hypnotized woman on stage given a note of fake money from a board game. The hypnotist told her that she had just won a twenty-five-thousand dollar check. She was brought out of her trance and she went back to her seat in the audience. After the show, Lisa Pease had a chance to talk to the woman about how she felt under hypnosis, but the most interesting thing she said, and did, concerned the “check” she had been given. She took it out of her purse, and both she and Lisa Pease looked at it. For Lisa Pease it was obviously a piece of play money, but the woman insisted, “I have to give this back. This is too much. I can’t keep this.” Even after the hypnosis had ended, the woman was still hallucinating that she was holding an authentic cheque worth twenty-five-thousand dollars.
For Lisa Pease, this illustrated exactly how Sirhan could have been controlled long after he was snapped out of hypnosis. I found these pages of the book quite interesting and disturbing because I started to see how the lines could be blurred between everyday propaganda, repeated lies, gaslighting, brainwashing, hypnosis and coercion under duress, or coercion under threat of harm or promise of reward. Where does one of these end and the others begin? If you have ever let yourself be hypnotized to overcome a phobia or an addiction (which are themselves rooted in childhood traumas that create susceptibility to hypnosis), you left yourself vulnerable to being triggered or controlled at a later time through post-hypnotic suggestion.
Lisa Pease described the case of a psychology student who, while studying hypnosis, had himself hypnotized to see if he could detect or resist its effects. The hypnotist planted a post-hypnotic suggestion that after the session he should walk over to a deck of cards on the table, go through the deck and take out the ace of spades. When he came out of the trance, he wandered about the room and eventually went over to the deck of cards. He stopped and told the hypnotist, “I want to go through these cards and take out the ace of spades, but I think this is a post-hypnotic suggestion, so I’m not going to do it.” It seemed like he had defeated the hypnosis and asserted his own will, but that was not the end of it. For the next while he tried to go about his day, but he couldn’t forget about the deck of cards. He felt compelled to go back to it and take out that ace of spades. Eventually, he did so in order to restore his peace of mind.
Other subjects, unaware of the techniques of hypnosis and failing to notice, for example, that the urge to go to the cards was a post-hypnotic suggestion, would self-deceptively rationalize their actions. When asked why they walked over to the deck of cards and pulled out the ace of spades, they would give some reason such as, “Someone told me about a card trick once. I suddenly wanted to remember how it works.”
This understanding of hypnosis clarifies why Sirhan may have done and said many things in his everyday life that were actually programmed actions and declarations, and why what he said later about them may have been rationalizations made up after the fact. He lunged at RFK with a gun, instigated by the woman in the polka dot dress beside him, hallucinating that he was at a firing range. Before that he had written incriminating things in his diary, and later, during his trial he blurted out that he acted with “twenty years of malice aforethought.” Years later he was still rationalizing why he had shot RFK, even though just after the crime he had no memory of it. This is why, for someone like Kamala Harris, Sirhan seems to not deserve a new trial. He confessed, right? What’s left to talk about? It was only much, much later that Sirhan began to understand what had happened to him and he and his lawyers prepared his application for a retrial.
This consideration of what happened to Sirhan leads us to question what happened to the entire population that experienced the RFK assassination through reports on the crime in the mass media. If Sirhan wasn’t aware of what he was doing, what can we say about all the police officers, lawyers, judges, journalists, and the citizenry who saw everything but also saw nothing—legal professionals who overlooked so much evidence of conspiracy? How does an entire nation become propagandized and hypnotized into participating in a conspiracy of silence? As Bob Dylan wrote about the assassinations in Murder Most Foul, “shot down like a dog in broad daylight… thousands were watching, no one saw a thing…” it was “the greatest magic trick ever under the sun.”
The same question applies to so much else that has happened in the years since 1968. The public never got the full truth about, or justice for, Watergate, the Iran-Contra affair, the year 2000 election fraud, the collapse of the World Trade Center in New York, or the 2008 financial crisis, to name the most notorious “crimes against democracy” as they are called by the author Lance deHaven-Smith. We could add to the list all the people who have become delusional conspiracy theorists about Russian influence on American politics (Jimmy Dore recently went through dozens of them uttered by professional journalists who used to be reasonably sane commentators).
Do cathode ray tubes and blue-light displays, or endless repetition of messages put us into a hypnotic trance? What unknown post-hypnotic suggestions do they leave in our minds, making us feel compelled to do certain things that would have once seemed very odd? For the last year, people have been made to believe that they are always potential symptomless vectors of disease, and made to feel compelled to wear masks over their faces and nervously wait for a vaccine to save them from a virus with a 99.7% survival rate. They also feel compelled to make others conform to these compulsions. In another time, in a society with different urgent matters to attend to, such a virus threat would have been an under-the-fold, back-page news item about tragic deaths at over-burdened hospitals—just another category of tragic deaths that we tolerate all the time.
Finally, what sort of mass brain massage must occur for the public accept so many unqualified and unelectable politicians turning themselves into “presidential” material via the office of vice president? In March 2020, the six-year-old movement behind Bernie Sanders was suddenly gone like the spring snow, along with the Democratic Party primaries. Was it just a dream? Have we awakened or gone back to sleep? The democratic process of selecting a nominee died without a whimper of protest in a nation driven mad by Trump news and the corona virus pandemic. Kamala Harris’ anointment was another egregious example of a losing candidate coming back from obscurity to take a shortcut to power through a vice presidential appointment. Like many of her predecessors, she too has been rewarded for her role as an aider and abettor of the coup d’etat coverup that unfolded between November 22, 1963 and June 5, 1968.
To conclude, a series of tweets posted about indications that in the 2020-2021 period, hypnosis techniques have been applied on the general public:
Hypnotherapists have been noticing blatant hypnosis and NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) techniques (for example, the Milton Model. Hypnotic Language Patterns) being used by the government and state-controlled media during the pandemic:
- Fractionation: You get them to do something not once, but again and again, increasing the level of intensity each time. Usually you do this 3 times (multiple lockdowns in various countries have occurred). This increases compliance.
- A ‘Yes’ set: Get them to say ‘Yes’ to something small at first (2 weeks to “flatten the curve”) then gradually increase (months of lockdown, Christmas cancelled, socially/economically coerced into vaccines). In this way they’re much more likely to keep saying yes.
- Confusion: Keep them in a constant state of uncertainty. The conscious mind responds by “going offline” as it searches for the appropriate response for something it has no precedent for. Then it’s much easier for the manipulator to gain access to the unconscious mind.
- Change belief systems. For example, lockdown rules are changing on a day-to-day basis. We’re living in a world we’ve never lived in before. Everyone’s stumbling about with no idea how to behave. We’ve no energy left to fight our oppressors.
- Repetition: Repeat the same information over and over (see any newspaper / TV news for evidence of this!)
Max Perry, “A New Book Warns of the Imminent Danger of a Kamala Harris Presidency,” Greanville Post, October, 2020. Review of Kamala Harris and the Future of America: An Essay in Three Parts by Caleb Maupin (August 31, 2020).
Nebojsa Malic, “Manufacturing Kamala: ‘Biden-Harris administration’ verbiage is another step closer to the president the US media wanted all along,” RT, March 29, 2021.
 James DiEugenio, “Kamala Harris, a study in showboating, Part 1,” Kennedys and King, June 28, 2019, https://kennedysandking.com/articles/kamala-harris-a-study-in-showboating.
 James DiEugenio, “Kamala Harris, a study in showboating, Part 2,” Kennedys and King, July 2, 2019, https://kennedysandking.com/articles/kamala-harris-part-2.
 Michael Martinez and Brad Johnson, “Prosecutors rebut jailed RFK assassin’s claims in freedom quest,” CNN, February 5, 2012, https://edition.cnn.com/2012/02/04/justice/california-sirhan-rfk/index.html
 Lisa Pease, A Lie Too Big to Fail: The Real History of the Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy (Feral House, 2018). For the discussion of hypnosis and mind control experiments, see the chapter “Mind Games,” pages 375-454.
 “La grippe de 1968, une pandémie qui n’a pas fait de vague” (The Influenza of 1968 : A Pandemic That Made No Waves), Geo, May 5, 2020, https://www.geo.fr/histoire/la-grippe-de-1968-une-pandemie-qui-na-pas-fait-de-vague-200598 . From the article: “People were coming in on stretchers, in a horrible state. They were dying of pulmonary hemorrhage, blue lips, all gray. There were all ages …,” recalled infectious disease specialist Dr. Pierre Dellamonica in the daily journal Libération, in 2005. The dead were piled up “in the back rooms of hospitals and in morgues” at the height of the epidemic in France in December 1969, health historian Patrice Bourdelais told AFP. No headlines in the newspapers at the time, no government action or even medical alert… Moreover, the sensitivity to death is not what it is today: “The 31,000 victims of the Hong Kong flu [in France] did not create a scandal. They were not even remarked upon for several decades,” comments the historian. It was not until 2003 … that the death toll of this epidemic in France was realized. It was the time of … the economic boom of the post-WWII era… an event like a deadly flu was not as intolerable as it is today. International tensions, with wars still ongoing in Vietnam, the humanitarian crisis of Biafra in Africa—these gave a different perspective on the suffering linked to an epidemic that was more deadly than usual.