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US Judge tosses frivolous lawsuit by Sulome Anderson seeking to destroy The Grayzone

Press TV – June 30, 2021

The District of Columbia Superior Court has rejected a lawsuit filed by writer Sulome Anderson seeking to destroy The Grayzone, a news website, over one of its articles which showed Anderson published blatant misinformation falsely alleging Iranian attacks on Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

On May 9, 2018, Anderson tweeted two videos that she claimed showed Iran allegedly firing missiles at the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Many Twitter users immediately pointed out that the videos contained no such footage.

Anderson then deleted these tweets. However, an archived Google search shows the cached versions of the tweets.

In the first of the two deleted tweets, Anderson wrote, “Video of Iranians firing missiles into Israel just minutes ago.”

In the second deleted tweet, she added, “Another video of Iranian missile fire at the Israeli Golan, sent to me by a source in Hezbollah.”

Both videos were found to be bogus, as Anderson herself soon acknowledged. She issued a correction, tweeting, “Correction: earlier today I posted a video a source sent me who was under the impression that it was of an Israeli airstrike in Syria this morning; it was actually of a mine clearing in Damascus. Miscommunication down the line. Tweet has been deleted.”

Later in May, Ben Norton of The Grayzone wrote an article for the website, entitled “Sulome Anderson Admits Her Supposed Hezbollah Source Is ‘Incredibly Unreliable.’” The article consisted primarily of Anderson’s own admission that her sources were not credible.

In December of the same year, Sulome filed a frivolous, million-dollar suit claiming libel, defamation, and tortious conspiracy against The Grayzone’s editor Max Blumenthal and Norton.

She also taunted and threatened William Moran, Blumenthal’s friend and long-time personal attorney, with the coming lawsuit.

However, on June 16, Judge William M. Jackson rejected the lawsuit, putting an end to the entitled heiress’ three-year-long campaign to smear and bankrupt The Grayzone with the help of a powerful DC lawyer closely linked to the Israel lobby, the website reported.

The daughter of the AP reporter Terry Anderson, Sulome, who speaks Arabic, has reported from the Middle East for outlets such as the Atlantic, NBC News, the Daily Beast, and Newsweek.

Her lawsuit against The Grayzone was boosted by some powerful friends in the corporate media. CNN host Jake Tapper and New York Magazine’s in-house neoliberal enforcer, Jonathan Chait, were among those who prompted the suit.

Commenting on Twitter about her lawsuit, Sulome claimed that “this has very little to do with defaming me,” conceding her ulterior motive to muzzle and destroy The Grayzone.

The malicious quality of the complaint, however, prompted an exasperated statement by Judge Jackson at the start of the July 2019 hearing.

“I don’t think anyone expected to see a journalist using libel law to try to sue another journalist in a local court,” the judge commented.

Jackson also rejected the main allegation in Sulome’s legal assault that The Grayzone “had engaged in a nefarious conspiracy to defame her with a collection of anonymous Twitter accounts with which we had no connection.”

“If a judge had validated such an absurd claim, Sulome’s legal assault could have made social media users liable for tweets by anonymous users simply because they shared similar opinions or ideology,” the website said in its report.

In a statement to The Grayzone, the website’s legal defenders at Hawgood & Moran Law called Sulome’s complaint as “a Trojan Horse that would have ended the free and open exchange of ideas on social media.”

“Sulome Anderson reported a false casus belli based on an admittedly ‘incredibly unreliable source,’” the counsel explained, adding she “then unleashed a venerable, or at least very expensive, DC law firm in an attempt to effectively banish not only social media use but also having (alleged) thoughts that her attorney would deem controversial.”

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June 30, 2021 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | | Leave a comment

UN chief sounds alarm over abuses against Kashmiri children by India

Press TV – June 30, 2021

United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has voiced grave concerns about human rights violations against children in the Indian-administered Kashmir.

“I call upon the [Indian] government to take preventive measures to protect children, including by ending the use of pellets against children, ensuring that children are not associated in any way to security forces, and endorsing the Safe Schools Declaration and the Vancouver Principles,” Guterres said in the UN Report on Children 2021 released on Tuesday.

The UN report cited numerous violations involving Indian forces attacking Kashmiri children in the Indian-administered Kashmir.

“A total of 39 children (33 boys, 6 girls) were killed (9) and maimed (30) by pellet guns (11) and torture (2) by unidentified perpetrators (13) (including resulting from explosive remnants of war (7), crossfire between unidentified armed groups and Indian security forces (3), crossfire between unidentified armed groups, and grenade attacks (3)), Indian security forces (13), and crossfire and shelling across the line of control (13),” it said.

The UN secretary-general also condemned the military occupation of several schools in the Indian-administered Kashmir by the New Delhi forces.

“The United Nations verified the use of seven schools by Indian security forces for four months. Schools were vacated by the end of 2020,” it said.

Guterres expressed “alarm” over “detention and torture” by the Indian troops and their overall use of force against Kashmiri children in the Muslim-majority region.

“I am alarmed at the detention and torture of children and concerned by the military use of schools,” he said.

The UN chief called on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to ensure that children were kept out of way of “all forms of ill-treatment” when taken into detention in prisons in the Indian-administrated Kashmir.

The disputed Muslim-majority Kashmir, located in the Himalaya region, is mainly divided between India and Pakistan, while a third strip of land in northern Kashmir is held by China.

The people in Kashmir have been fighting New Delhi for independence or unification with neighboring Pakistan since the two countries were partitioned in 1947.

June 30, 2021 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture | , , | Leave a comment

The assassination of Nizar Banat means there’s only one solution for the Palestinians

By Feras Abu-Helal – Arabi21 – June 28, 2021

The assassination of political activist Nizar Banat during his arrest by Palestinian Authority security services is a turning point in occupied Palestine. It is no less important and dangerous than the shift represented by the recent Jerusalem uprising, which covered Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza and the territory occupied since 1948.

The occupied West Bank has not witnessed events like this before, and the PA has never appeared as strategically and morally stripped as it is now, because its failure in terms of managing internal affairs and human rights has also been exposed alongside its flawed approach to national affairs and resistance against the occupation. The only people who can’t see this are those who benefit from the status quo.

What made Banat’s killing different from all of the PA’s previous crimes, both on the national and internal level, is that all of its flaws were condensed into one operation. The first was the silencing of the anti-occupation voice, as the difference between the latter and the PA is not based on personal interest, or even to the management of domestic affairs, but is essentially a dispute over the PA’s performance and the way it deals with Israel and its occupation. His killing followed Banat’s criticism of the shameful vaccine deal, according to which the PA would hand over new vaccines to the Israelis in exchange for vaccines that expire soon. This showed clearly that the PA favours Israelis over its own people.

Another national paradox for the Palestinian people is that the same PA security forces that melt into the background when their Israeli counterparts are on the scene — not least during the recent events in Jerusalem — and never, ever, confront soldiers or armed settlers when they attack Palestinians and their land, are the same “security forces” which beat Nizar Banat to death after entering his home like thieves in the night and dragging him from his bed. This paradox confirmed to every Palestinian that the PA security forces exist solely to protect the occupation state and oppress the people of Palestine under occupation.

Banat’s assassination also revealed the PA’s indifference to human rights, and its intolerance of criticism. It behaved like every other repressive Arab regime that kills its opponents because of their opinions. Although repression and human rights violations must always be condemned, they are even more shocking and criminal when they come from a self-rule organisation against its own people struggling under a military occupation. The people face a double cycle of repression, at the hands of the Israeli occupation — which is inherently repressive — and the PA, which is supposed to represent their interests. The Palestinians can resist the occupation but are helpless in front of the PA’s repressive security forces, because they know that the occupation is the main issue. Hence, the PA not only adds to the repression of the people, but also distorts the national compass.

After the killing of Banat, the PA behaved like a typical Arab regime. The theory proposed by the late Yasser Arafat and applied to a large extent was dropped; the so-called democracy of the forest of guns, which had little to do with democracy, but was a slogan that allowed criticism and internal conflicts without resorting to weapons, within the framework of the Palestinian national movement. Arafat bore all criticism, accusations and even splits, even though he had national legitimacy to represent all groups of the Palestinian people at the time. The PA today not only coordinates its security repression with Israel, but also lacks any national or electoral legitimacy, and is incapable of accepting criticism. So it simply kills its political opponents.

The PA resorted to its base instincts which are a disgrace for a national liberation movement. It was in denial when it claimed initially that Banat’s was a natural death due to a pre-existing condition. Then it issued contemptable statements about the investigation after the uproar at the murder. It then sent in its security thugs in plain clothes to attack protesters, and issued tribal statements in support of the president, especially from Hebron, where Nizar Banat was from. All of this exposed the PA like never before, as nothing but a primitive authority that identifies with other repressive Arab regimes, with a leadership that is supposed to represent a “national liberation movement”.

Under normal circumstances, there is no “single” solution to any political crisis, as politics is the result of the interaction of several complex factors and profit and loss calculations. However, the killing of Nizar Banat and the events that preceded and followed it have made matters clear to every Palestinian. The national impasse has only one solution: delegitimise and close down this authority.

The Palestinian factions, especially Hamas, must bear their responsibility for this delegitimisation; they should refuse any dialogue with Fatah under the Oslo umbrella. Dialogue must be established on a national basis to agree on the way to resist the occupation, not on how to relieve Israel of its responsibility and grant it an occupation that carries no political, economic and security cost.

Ever since 2006, the Palestinian dialogue has been based on the wrong foundations, and was thus unable to break away from Oslo. If Hamas and the other factions are trying to end the division in this way, then they are making a big mistake. Fatah, meanwhile, must choose between being part of the people and their resistance, or standing with the occupier in an authority that has failed nationally, legally and in managing internal affairs.

This choice was clear in 2006, and many Palestinian writers and elites demanded that it be made. Now, though, it has become clearer after the Jerusalem Intifada and the victory of the resistance, as well as the assassination of Nizar Banat.

June 30, 2021 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Leave a comment

Serbia Leads in Cancer Deaths in Europe After NATO Strikes, Oncology Institute Director Says

Sputnik – 29.06.2021

BELGRADE – The use of depleted uranium bombs by NATO in 1999 and the destruction of environmentally hazardous facilities during air strikes led to Serbia currently leading in cancer deaths across Europe, Danica Grujicic, director of the Institute for Oncology and Radiology of Serbia (IORS), told Sputnik.

“There are more and more children with oncological disorders, cancer appears in previously uncharacteristic age groups. In patients, including children, the growths react weaker to therapy. Despite all necessary tests, it is increasingly difficult to predict the behavior of tumors. Serbia is now first place in Europe in mortality from cancer,” Grujicic said.

She stressed that the consequences of the use of uranium and chemicals during the bombings of Yugoslavia by NATO will be felt for a long time, especially taking into account what the UN Environment Program described as an “ecocide” and a “regional environmental disaster in April 1999.”

The oncologist noted that the first results of the bombings, which may be called the “acute phase” in the medial field, are death, destruction of infrastructure, and pollution of the air, rivers and soil. The next stage, according to Grujicic, is the “chronic phase,” which was first noticed by veterinarians in the south of central Serbia after domestic animals began bearing abnormal offspring.

Medics then started observing more cases, as benign growths develop unpredictably and aggressively in humans, Grujicic noted.In 2018, there were almost 30,000 new cancer patients registered in central Serbia, without including the autonomous regions of Kosovo and Vojvodina, compared to 19,000 in 1999. The death toll in 2018 reached 15,500, as opposed 12,000 in 1999, despite better treatment available, the oncologist stated. Within the country there have been some 58,000 new cancer cases reported in one year, out of a population of seven million.

A group of some one hundred scientists and medical experts previously suggested that the Serbian government conduct a detailed study on the consequences of the 1999 NATO strikes. The half-life of uranium is about 4.5 billion years.

NATO airstrikes in Yugoslavia continued from March 24 to June 10, 1999. The exact number of victims of the airstrikes is unknown. Serbian authorities suggest that as many as 2,500 people, including 89 children, were killed and about 12,500 people were injured in the bombings. According to various sources, the material damage is assessed at between $30 billion and $100 billion.

The military operation was conducted without the approval of the UN Security Council and on the basis of Western countries’ allegations that Yugoslavian authorities had carried out ethnic cleansing in Kosovo and provoked a humanitarian catastrophe.

June 30, 2021 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Over 180 unmarked graves found at former Catholic school in Canada, indigenous group says, in third such find

RT | June 30, 2021

A Canadian indigenous group has said 182 unmarked graves have been discovered in the South Interior of the province of British Columbia, the third such discovery in the past two months near former Catholic schools.

The burial site is located at the former Catholic-run St. Eugene’s Mission School, the Lower Kootenay Band announced on Wednesday.

The community of ʔaq’am – or St. Mary’s Indian Band – based near the city of Cranbrook made the gruesome find after using radar detection equipment, which apparently pointed to there being graves around a meter below the surface.

Last week, 751 unmarked graves were uncovered at a Catholic school in Saskatchewan province, another indigenous community announced.

That discovery came after the remains of 215 children, some as young as three years old, were found at another Catholic school in British Columbia in May.

St. Eugene’s, now a casino and resort, was run by the Catholic Church from 1890 until the 1970s, according to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a body set up to document the history of indigenous students in Canadian schools.

The Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre said the school was hit by frequent outbreaks of influenza, mumps, measles, chickenpox, and tuberculosis.

As many as 100 people from the Lower Kootenay Band had been forced to attend the institution, the group said.

“It is believed that the remains of these 182 souls are from the member Bands of the Ktunaxa Nation, neighbouring First Nations communities and the community of ʔaq’am,” the community said in a statement.

More than 150,000 indigenous children were required to attend Catholic-run state schools in Canada from the 1870s until 1997.

In 2015, a report by the commission said the government’s forced assimilation of indigenous students and the system itself could “best be described as ‘cultural genocide.’”

June 30, 2021 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | | 3 Comments

Government Says Vaccine Passports Won’t Be Mandatory – They’re Lying

By Richie Allen | June 30, 2021

The Daily Mail is reporting this morning that the government has shelved plans to use vaccine passports after July 19th, the so-called Freedom Day.

The Mail claims that it has been told that covid certification will not be required at mass gatherings when restrictions are lifted.

Government sources have revealed that those attending festivals, concerts or sporting events will not be required to show proof of vaccination or proof of immunity. That sounds good right?

Wrong. The Mail also reports that:

Organisers will, however, be permitted to run their own schemes, with the Premier League among those expected to introduce some form of certification to prove those attending football grounds do not pose a Covid risk.

There’s the kicker. Organisers will be permitted to run their own schemes. The government is simply passing the buck to the private sector. Here’s what I think will happen in the coming months. It’s all so predictable.

Shortly, the government will confirm that it will not be imposing mandatory covid certification. There will be lots of virtue signalling. Ministers will wax lyrical about civil liberties. “The UK is not that sort of country,” they will claim.

The government will say that it has listened to the hospitality industry and understands the concerns of pub and restaurant owners who do not want to be chasing customers for proof of vaccination.

From late July, through August and September, life will feel more normal. It’ll be a false dawn. We’ll hit October. Covid case numbers will rise steadily. Many of those who took the mRNA jabs will become seriously ill and die. This will be blamed on the mythical variants.

Testing will be ramped up. The redundant and thoroughly discredited PCR test will find Covid in nearly everyone who is screened. The government will say that there is a danger that the NHS will be overwhelmed. They’ll say that flu is back too. Of course it’ll be a very virulent strain of flu. The government will tell us that regretfully, restrictions must be reimposed.

There will be real panic in the hospitality and entertainment industries. Fearing for their businesses, owners will scream bloody murder. At the 11th hour a compromise will be reached. That compromise will be the introduction of vaccine passports.

Landlords and restaurateurs who were previously critical of the scheme, will rush to embrace it. People who had a covid booster jab and a flu jab (meaning they will have had four jabs in 2021), will demand the introduction of the passport to allow them to socialise.

Enormous pressure will be brought to bear on people like me who haven’t had a jab and never will. This was never about a virus. It was always about conditioning us to take gene altering vaccines and lots of them. It’s unimaginably evil, but it is happening.

June 30, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , , , | Leave a comment

Trust me – I’m from Big Pharma

By Kate Dunlop | The Conservative Woman | June 29, 2021

THE behaviour of political and public-health leaders across the world over the past fifteen months has been deplorable: for reasons yet to be confirmed, they have turned themselves into procurers for Big Pharma.

Governments not only funded fast-paced vaccine development but also psychologically prepared their populations to receive them by means of sustained media manipulation. Billions of pounds in public money has been transferred to drug corporations which have been insulated from civil legal challenge in respect of harm or loss arising from their products.

Medical staff have lost a great deal of public trust by colluding with vaccine stakeholders and withdrawing general support. They have delivered experimental gene therapies to people who did not need them but who were cowed into having them, and they have exposed young people, healthy adults and pregnant women to unnecessary risks without their full knowledge or consent in breach of their own ethical and professional standards.

When the UK government granted Pfizer civil legal immunity in December 2020 it enabled a private commercial entity to avoid the already restricted product liabilities that might have given it cause to consider. Regulation 345 of the Human Medicines Regulations (HMR) 2012, gave it blanket protection from civil lawsuits arising from any ‘unforeseen complications’ with Covid jabs.

Such legal immunity is unusual but came from an emergency government consultation in September 2020, after the Department of Health and Social Care under Matt Hancock had determined that changes to civil liability were necessary to ‘better facilitate the widespread use of a Covid-19 vaccine in Britain’.

Emergency approval had already been granted for Pfizer/BioNTech’s two-shot ‘vaccines’ through Regulation 174 of the HMR, which allowed them to avoid statutory licensing procedures, so with civil legal protections, they were unfettered. Crony capitalism and avarice beat prudence and public protection.

The government, likely for political expediency,  included Covid jabs on the Vaccine Damage Payments Scheme (VDPS) (Vaccine Damage Payments (Specified Disease) Order 2020, SI 2020/1411). This scheme is taxpayer funded and provides for ‘the very rare possibility where someone is severely disabled as a result of taking a vaccine’.

To qualify for assistance, a claimant must provide medical evidence that proves to the Department of Work and Pensions that on ‘the balance of probability’ there is a ‘causal link between the vaccine and the claimed disability [and] that the resulting disability is severe – up to 60 per cent’.

Those who can prove their cause receive a one-off tax-free payment of £120,000. The test poses two key challenges for claimants, the high threshold of disablement and the relatively low level of compensation.

Consumer Protection Rights and common law rights still apply for people damaged by Covid-19 vaccines but due to the legal definition of product defects and a rule known as the ‘state-of-the-art defence’, it may be very difficult to get compensation: only time and case law will tell.

The very fact that Covid vaccine research was funded by government is curious and may, arguably, make them also liable; that manufacturers’ experimental products were given emergency authorisation is questionable; that immunity against civil action for damages was granted is an egregious betrayal; and the continuing promotion of the jabs, despite growing evidence of harm, is evil.

In both the UK and the US, a condition for the release of any new drug is that there be no other effective treatments available. We all know now that proven therapeutics were available to treat the early symptoms of Covid-19 but that they were, and still are, suppressed. Viable alternatives include ivermectin hydroxychloroquine and zinc, dexamethasone and other corticosteroids (prednisone, methylprednisolone), and remdesivir.

What distinguishes these remedies from novel ‘vaccines’ is that they are already fully licensed and off-patent. They are relatively cheap to manufacture and administer, and therefore unlikely to bring new long-term income streams to Big Pharma.

All of which brings us unhappily to our question: Why on earth was our government so eager to fund the activity of international drug giants and why did it provide them with tax-funded legal immunities for products that only they will profit from?

It’s not as if Boris Johnson, Matt Hancock or their Sage advisers can claim ignorance of the business practices or track records of these outfits: they all have strong public links to them, either as employees, researchers, directors, business partners, shareholders, or recipients of funding.

In December 2020, Global Justice Now, a UK-based ‘social justice organisation’ published a report which concluded:

‘The current pharmaceutical model is . . . deeply flawed, delivering outcomes which are poor value for money for the public sector, which exacerbate global inequality and which are driven by the objective to make sky-high returns to shareholders, not a healthier population.’

It described the market as dysfunctional with incentives for ‘the most appalling behaviour including aggressive marketing of inappropriate drugs, kickbacks to doctors, claims of testing drugs on children without proper consent, massive price hikes on essential medicines, profiteering, blocking competition, and secrecy’.

In the US, Public Citizen, a non-profit, consumer rights advocacy group, published Twenty Seven Years of Pharmaceutical Industry Criminal and Civil Penalties 1991 through 2017, which detailed the 412 settlements against drug companies that resulted in them paying out $38.6 billion in criminal and civil penalties. A small loss relative to the $711 billion in net profits made by the 11 largest global drug companies during ten of those 27 years (2003-2012).

Pfizer, now the leading Covid mRNA vaccine manufacturer, was found guilty of more transgressions than any other company and forced to pay 34 settlements amounting to $4.7billion: AstraZeneca had to settle just over $1billion on 13 matters, including concealing data.

Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $2.8billion in 20 settlements that included unlawful promotion of prescription drugs and unfair practices.

Such penalties are clearly accepted by the companies as a ‘cost of doing business’. They are certainly no incentive to changing behaviour.

Criminal prosecutions of executives of drug companies are extremely rare, as are prosecutions of politicians. Nonetheless, a forensic assessment of who is liable for the risks, damages, and losses brought by Covid -19 ‘vaccines’ is long overdue.

June 30, 2021 Posted by | Corruption, Timeless or most popular | | Leave a comment

Big Tech created a gold mine of data for law enforcement

By Didi Rankovic | Reclaim the Net | June 30, 2021

It’s not exactly news at this point: law enforcement agencies are increasingly seeking Big Tech’s cooperation in giving them access to massive data sets taken from users of social networks and other online platforms and services.

And although some reports now address this topic in the context of the way these powers were used during the Trump era Department of Justice (DoJ), the practice neither started, nor ended with the previous US administration.

Instead, over the past six years, there has been a steady and entirely predictable rise in requests for detailed personal data that Big Tech collects from users and their devices. The more data – the more requests.

The latest available statistics from the first half of last year show that Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft received three times more requests for information about users’ calls and emails, and content like photos and texts, compared to 2015. But tech giants collect – and hand over – much more than that, shopping and driving route history being some of the data harvested thanks to map and payment apps.

In the first half of 2020 alone US law enforcement asked for this data a total of 112,000 times – and Big Tech complied either fully or partially in 85% of cases. Facebook and Instagram in particular, having the largest combined user base, also topped this list.

And while the behemoths say that most of that data is “non-content” – such as metadata – user’s privacy is not much better off for it, considering that identifiable information can clearly be extracted from multiple correlated metadata points.

In a recent report, AP cites the case of Newport, a small town with a large tourist industry, whose police department is now increasingly relying on obtaining data from tech companies when investigating crimes.

“The amount of information you can get from people’s conversations online – it’s insane,” Newport supervising detective Robert Salter shared with the agency.

Digital privacy groups like the EFF call this “the golden age of government surveillance” as law enforcement not only has more access to data, but is also more prone to using gag orders, leaving its targets unawares.

The EFF suggests tech companies use strong encryption as one remedy to the police “short-circuiting constitutional protections against unreasonable searches.”

June 30, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | Leave a comment

Are regular health checks good for you?

By Sebastian Rushworth, M.D. | June 30, 2021

Regular health checks (a.k.a routine visits) are probably the bane of many a primary care physician’s existence. I can’t imagine many things more boring than running through a standardized list of questions with a patient who feels absolutely fine, then going through a list of lab values that are almost invariably within the normal reference range, and finally topping it off with a perfunctory physical examination. Nothing converts a highly trained professional into an unthinking automaton more than the regular health check.

Of course, the physician’s feelings about regular health checks aren’t really what matters (except in so far as they cause physicians to choose not to work in primary care, and thereby cause a shortage of primary care physicians). What matters is whether the regular health check results in objective benefits for the patient. Well, do they?

A review was recently published in JAMA (the Journal of the American Medical Association) that sought to answer that question. Regular health checks are a big part of what primary care physicians do in many countries. In the US for example, 8% of doctor’s appointments are for a regular health check. This means that a lot of money is poured into them, and it therefore makes sense to try to figure out whether or not they actually do any good. Otherwise that money could be better used elsewhere, like for example launching Jeff Bezos into space.

The review included both randomized trials and observational studies, with the only requirements for inclusion being that a study have at least 200 participants, that there be a control group, that the health check be conducted in a primary care clinic, and that it be a “general” health check, i.e. not designed to screen specifically for any one disease. 19 randomized trials and 13 observational studies were identified. The smallest study had 240 participants, while the largest had almost 500,000 participants, and the length of follow-up varied from six months to thirty years. The oldest included study was published in 1973, and the most recent was published in 2017. Virtually all were carried out in western Europe or north America, with a disproportionately large proportion of the studies being carried out in Denmark, because apparently the Danes are disproportionately interested in health screening.

The frequency of the health check varied quite a lot. Some of the studies had a single visit, some had a visit annually or bi-annually, and some had irregular intervals.

So, what were the results?

13 randomized trials studied the effect of health checks on mortality, and eleven of these failed to show any benefit. This includes the study that ran the longest, a Danish trial with almost 18,000 people that provided health checks at baseline and then after five years and again after ten years. It failed to show any difference in mortality after thirty years. It also includes the largest study, another Danish trial with almost 60,000 people that provided health checks at baseline and again five years out (and also at the one year and three year marks for those deemed to be at high risk). It failed to show any mortality benefit after ten years of follow-up.

As mentioned, two of the thirteen studies did show a mortality benefit. The larger, another Danish study with 50,000 participants, which provided a single health check and then followed participants for five years to see what happened, showed an extremely marginal benefit (10% vs 11 % dead five years out), but the result only just crossed the threshold for statistical significance and could thus easily be a fluke. The other of the two was a smaller study with 4,195 people conducted in the US, which provided a health check at baseline and at one year out. It showed an improvement in mortality at two years (8% vs 11%) and four years (19% vs 22%).

Overall, though, I think it’s safe to conclude that the totality of studies that have so far been done of regular health checks fail to show that they result in any reduction in mortality. Of course, whether you’re dead or alive isn’t the only thing that matters. So let’s look at other outcomes too.

Five randomized trials looked at whether regular health checks helped prevent cardiovascular disease and cardiovascular events (a.k.a. heart attacks and strokes). All five failed to find any benefit. This is a bit odd, since one rationale for regular health checks is that they catch problems like high blood pressure and high cholesterol early, one major goal of which is to prevent cardiovascular events.

Four randomized trials and six observational studies did seek to understand whether the health checks increased detection of disease. A randomized trial conducted in Denmark (of course), in which 1,104 participants aged 45-64 were randomized to either a health check or “usual care” (i.e. don’t bother the doctor unless you feel sick) and then followed for one year, the health check had resulted in more than twice as many people being treated with anti-depressants (5% vs 2%). As I’ve written about previously, anti-depressants don’t work (better than placebo), but do result in significant side effects, so it’s questionable whether this is a good thing.

The health check did not however result in an increase in the diagnosis of high blood pressure, hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol), or diabetes. Which is a bit surprising, quite frankly. Other trials did find a difference, however. An American trial in which 906 adults were randomized to a single health check or usual care and then followed for a year found that the health check resulted in a significant increase in the number of people diagnosed with high blood pressure (14% vs 10%). A British observational study including over 85,000 people found that attending regular health checks was associated with an increased likelihood of being diagnosed with high blood pressure, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease. Participants were also more likely to be diagnosed with hypercholesterolemia and treated with statins.

So the totality of evidence suggests that regular health checks do result in an increase in the number of people being given diagnoses and thus the number of people being put on medical treatment. But they don’t improve mortality or the frequency of cardiovascular events. That is strange, isn’t it? How do we explain that?

Here’s what I think.

Firstly, some of these diagnoses don’t actually result in any treatment. Take chronic kidney disease, for example. As people age, their kidneys gradually wear out. Once your kidneys’ capacity is at around 70% of the normal value in a healthy young person, you will be diagnosed as suffering from “chronic kidney disease”. Luckily, the kidneys have an enormous amount of spare capacity, and you don’t actually develop any symptoms until the kidneys are down to 10 to 15% of their original capacity. Most people who have been diagnosed with chronic kidney disease die of other causes long before their kidney function gets to that point. So regular health checks might increase the number of people diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, but the diagnosis doesn’t actually change anything in reality (except for the psychological harms of now thinking that you have a chronic disease, of course).

Secondly, there are many diagnoses that are treated, but where the benefits of treatment are so marginal that it isn’t clear whether treatment actually improves overall outcomes. This applies to mildly elevated blood pressure and blood sugar. Treating very high blood pressure and very high blood sugar is undoubtedly a good thing. But when they are only marginally raised, then treatment is much more questionable, and it’s not clear that the benefits outweigh the harms. The reason this is relevant is that most of the people identified with these conditions through health checks are at the milder end of the spectrum, and thus statistically unlikely to benefit from medical interventions.

Another condition that falls in to this category is the aforementioned hypercholesterolemia. Reducing cholesterol levels in the blood results in a reduction in deaths from heart disease (at least, that’s what the trials produced by the corporations that own the cholesterol lowering drugs say), but it doesn’t result in a reduction in overall mortality. Which does rather beg the question why we even bother to treat high cholesterol.

Thirdly, if regular health checks increase diagnoses and thus increase drug prescriptions, then they also increase the problem of polypharmacy, which is now a leading cause of death. Polypharmacy (taking many drugs simultaneously) frequently cancels out the benefits seen in clinical trials, where unusually healthy and young patients are being treated with a single drug or just a few drugs (i.e. a situation very far from the clinical reality).

It is thus easy to see how regular health checks could result in an increase in diagnoses and an increase in prescriptions without there being any noticeable improvement in survival.

Let’s move on and look at some more results.

Overall, health checks were associated with small improvements in blood pressure and cholesterol, as would be expected given the increase in prescriptions. However, it is hard to see what the value of an improvement in a surrogate marker is if there is no actual improvement in survival.

There was also a consistent increase in the uptake of disease specific screening services in people who took part in health checks. Which intuitively sounds like a good thing, except that again the reality is far more complicated. As I’ve written about before, both breast cancer screening and prostate cancer screening harm far more people than they help, and don’t result in any reduction in overall mortality. So increasing uptake of screening interventions can actually be a bad thing overall. It all depends on which particular screening interventions are being recommended.

Ok, let’s sum up. Regular health checks result in an increased probability of receiving a diagnosis and an increased probability of being put on drugs. They do not however improve longevity. With that being the case, the increase in diagnoses and drug prescriptions is of questionable value, and might even be a net negative, when side effects of the drugs and the negative psychological consequences of thinking of yourself as someone with a “chronic disease” are considered.

June 30, 2021 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | Leave a comment

Canada’s government is seeking to silence Canadian journalists at home and abroad with a draconian censorship bill

By Eva Bartlett | RT | June 30, 2021

As a Canadian journalist, I could be subject to a censorship bill which, if passed in Senate, means the government in Canada can effectively shadow-ban and censor my voice into oblivion, along with other dissenting voices.

After seeing his tweet on the issue of Bill C-10, recently passed in the House of Commons, I spoke with Canadian journalist Dan Dicks about this. He explained that the bill is being presented as being about Canada bringing Big Tech companies under the regulation of the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission), to have them display more Canadian content.

“But what people are missing,” he cautioned, “is that there were clauses put into this bill, protections for certain publishers and content creators that would protect people like myself and yourself.”

Those clauses, he said, were recently removed from the bill, leading many content-creating Canadians aware of the bill to worry they will be treated the same as a broadcaster or a programmer, subject to the regulations of the CRTC.

The bottom line is that, beyond the mumbo jumbo of the government, this is the latest attack on freedom of expression, and on dissent.

“It really appears that it’s a backdoor to be able to control the free flow of information online, and to begin to silence voices that go against the status quo,” Dicks said, warning that fines for violators could follow.

“It’s not looking good for individual content creators. Anybody who has any kind of a voice or a significant audience, where they have the ability to affect the minds of the masses, to reach millions of people, they are going to be the ones who are on the chopping block moving forward.”

Names like James Corbett come to mind. Although based in Japan, as a Canadian he would be subject to the bill. And with his very harsh criticisms of many issues pertaining to the Canadian government, he is a thorn they would surely be happy to remove under the pretext of this bill.

Or Dicks, who likewise creates videos often critiquing Canadian government actions.

Or researcher Cory Morningstar, authors Maximilian Forte, Mark Taliano, Yves Engler, or outspoken physicist Denis Rancourt, to name a handful of dissenting voices. Agree or not with their opinions, they have the right to voice them.

Or myself. I’ve been very critical of Canada’s Covid policies and hypocrisy, as well as Canada’s whitewashing of terrorism in Syria, support to neo-Nazis in Ukraine, and unwavering support for Israel which is systematically murdering, starving, and imprisoning Palestinian civilians–including children.

An article on the Law & Liberty website, which describes itself as focussing on “the classical liberal tradition of law and how it shapes a society of free and responsible persons,” notes the bill enables “ample discretion to filter out content made by Canadians that doesn’t carry a desirable ideological posture and [to] prioritize content that does.”

The article emphasizes that the bill violates Canadians’ right to free expression, as well as “the right to express oneself through artistic and political creations, and the right to not be unfairly suppressed by a nebulous government algorithm.”

It noted that Canadians with large followings, like Jordan Peterson, Gad Saad and Steven Crowder, “each enjoy audiences which far exceed any cable television program.”

As with my examples above, these prominent Canadian voices likewise risk shadow-banning under this bill.

But, worse, there is another bill, C-36, that also portends heavy censorship: the “Reducing Online Harms” bill. This one not only involves censorship, but hefty fines and house arrests for violators

The same  Law & Liberty article notes, “Canada is also expected to follow the template of Germany’s NetzDG law, which mandates that platforms take down posts that are determined to constitute hate speech—which requires no actual demonstrated discrimination or potential harm, and is thus mostly subjective—within 24 hours or to face hefty fines. This obviously will incentivize platforms to remove content liberally and avoid paying up.”

The Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF), rightly, contests this bill, noting, “the proposed definition of hate speech as speech that is ‘likely’ to foment detestation or vilification is vague and subjective.”

Maxime Bernier, leader of the People’s Party of Canada, is likewise extremely critical of the bills.

The CCF points out the potential complete loss of Canadians’ fundamental rights with these bills.

It should be common sense that these bills are extremely dangerous to Canadians, however cloaked in talk of levelling playing fields and of combating hate speech they may be.

Eva Bartlett is a Canadian independent journalist and activist. She has spent years on the ground covering conflict zones in the Middle East, especially in Syria and Palestine (where she lived for nearly four years).

June 30, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | 2 Comments

Singaporean Ministers Announce That Country Must Learn to Live With COVID-19

By Noah Carl • Lockdown Sceptics • June 29, 2021

Singapore has recorded fewer deaths from COVID-19 than almost any other country with reliable data: only 36 to date, which equates to a rate of just six per million. (The U.K.’s official COVID-19 death rate is 1,890 per million.)

And according to the World Mortality Dataset, Singapore has had zero excess mortality since the pandemic began. On the other hand, the country did take a sizeable economic hit last year – with GDP falling by 5.4% (compared to only 2.8% in Sweden).

What’s more, Singapore has not recorded more than 100 cases in a day since August of last year. If any advanced country has come close to “Zero Covid”, it’s Singapore.

Despite that record, three Singaporean ministers have announced that “COVID-19 may never go away” and “it is possible to live normally with it in our midst”.

Writing in The Straits Times, Gan Kim Yong, Lawrence Wong and Ong Ye Kung (the ministers for trade, finance and health) say that “COVID-19 will very likely become endemic”. This means that “the virus will continue to mutate, and thereby survive in our community”.

In other words, the Singaporean Government is under no illusion that it will be possible to eliminate COVID-19, contrary to the claims of the “Zero COVID” movement. Indeed, a survey by Nature of 119 experts found that 89% believe it is “likely” or “very likely” that SARS-CoV-2 will become an endemic virus.

“We can’t eradicate it”, the ministers write, “but we can turn the pandemic into something much less threatening, like influenza.” How do they propose to deal with the virus going forward?

First, they intend to proceed with their vaccination program, which aims to have two thirds of people vaccinated by August 9th. Second, they intend to continue testing, but “the focus will be different”. For example, the country will cease “monitoring COVID-19 infection numbers every day”. Third, they intend to keep using and developing effective treatments for COVID-19.

As Yong, Wong and Kung conclude, “History has shown that every pandemic will run its course.” Though one might object that even the few remaining measures are no longer necessary, the ministers seem to understand what they’re talking about. Their article is worth reading in full.

June 30, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics | , , | Leave a comment