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What SAGE gets wrong: The evidence that almost everyone is exposed during a surge and most are immune

By Will Jones • Lockdown Sceptics • July 17, 2021

During a Covid surge, what proportion of the population is exposed to an infective dose of the virus, which they either fight off with no or minimal symptoms or are infected by? This is one of the most important questions scientists need to answer.

It’s closely related to the question of whether lockdowns work. If lockdowns work then, as per SAGE and Imperial orthodoxy, the restrictions successfully prevent the virus from reaching most people, who remain unexposed and susceptible – and hence in need of vaccination to protect them when the protective restrictions are lifted. If lockdowns don’t work, however, then they don’t prevent the virus spreading, and thus the majority of people will be exposed to it as it spreads around unimpeded by ineffectual restrictions.

Another related question is: What proportion of exposed people are infected? Using ONS data we can estimate that around 10-15% of the country tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 over the autumn and winter. How many were exposed to the virus to produce this number of infections? Was it, say, 10-20%, with half to all of them catching the virus? Or was it more like 80-90%, with around 10% being infected? It’s a question that makes all the difference in our understanding of the virus and how to respond to it.

If almost all are exposed during a surge, and relatively few of them are infected, then a number of things follow. First, most people have enough immunity to fight off the virus when exposed to it, and only a small minority become infected. Second, the surge ends when enough of that small minority who are particularly susceptible to this virus or variant acquire immunity through infection, i.e., when herd immunity is reached. Third, there won’t be another surge or wave until there is a new virus or variant which evades enough of the existing population immunity to require herd immunity to be topped up via a further spread of infections.

If, on the other hand, very few are exposed during a surge, and most of them are infected, none of these things is true. It means: Most people have little immunity and are highly susceptible. A surge which infects 10-20% of the population has exposed not much more than that. The surge does not end because of herd immunity but because of restrictions. And there will be another surge as soon as restrictions are eased or behaviour changes and the unexposed begin to be exposed again. SAGE orthodoxy, in other words.

The evidence, however, is strongly supportive of the first position – ubiquitous exposure – not the second, limited exposure.

Consider the secondary attack rate (SAR, the proportion of contacts an infected person infects). Data from Public Health England consistently shows this figure sits around 10-15%, meaning around 85-90% of the contacts of infected people do not become infected. It rises during a surge, which is typically due to the higher SAR of a novel variant, and then falls after the surge, as the new variant’s SAR also falls.

Such data is much more consistent with ubiquitous exposure than with limited exposure, as it shows that only a minority of those exposed to an infected person are themselves infected (10-15%), meaning ubiquitous exposure with a minority infected is the much more plausible scenario. This meshes with the data on high levels of prior immunity via T cells and other mechanisms.

Another key data point is the fact that surges consistently peak abruptly and begin to fall, independently of the imposition of restrictions. For instance, as Professor Simon Wood has shown, all three lockdowns in England were imposed after infections had peaked and begun to decline. Similarly, multiple peer-reviewed studies have shown no relationship between the imposition of restrictions and Covid infections or deaths across different countries and U.S. states.

The pattern of abrupt peaks and falls in incidence, independent of restrictions, is strongly indicative of hitting a herd immunity threshold (or overshooting it), as the virus or variant runs out of susceptible people to infect and exhausts itself.

Similarly, when restrictions are lifted there is typically no immediate surge, as there wasn’t in Europe last summer and in numerous U.S. states such as Texas and Mississippi in spring 2021. Surges only tend to occur when a new variant arrives, which again suggests it is not restrictions that are preventing spread to a still highly susceptible population but herd immunity that is preventing it, at least until a new virus or variant arrives to temporarily disturb it.

How, though, does the virus circumvent restrictions to achieve ubiquitous exposure of the population, and apparently without being noticeably even slowed down by the restrictions or voluntary distancing behaviour?

The answer, as I have suggested previously, likely lies in the airborne transmission of the virus. It is likely that the virus primarily spreads through building up to infective levels in the air, and that people are infected by breathing it in (a form of transmission which face masks do little or nothing to prevent). During a surge the virus becomes increasingly ubiquitous in the air at higher concentrations, accelerating exposure and infections until the herd immunity threshold is hit, at which point it abruptly enters decline. This explains why even though it is at its highest point of prevalence and was spreading at its fastest rate just a few days before, it suddenly stops and enters sustained decline. It is hard to see how any explanation other than herd immunity can explain this consistently abrupt change in the rate of virus transmission, particularly as there is no evidence of a similarly abrupt change in public behaviour in the mobility data.

Is there any concrete evidence that SARS-CoV-2 or other airborne viruses like influenza are ubiquitous in the air? Yes, there is. As HART notes in its bulletin this week:

For novel influenza viruses, between 7% and 8% are susceptible and develop antibodies in the first winter, much as we saw with SARS-CoV-2… If a certain proportion of the population are susceptible to infection in any one season, those individuals will end up infected sooner or later, regardless of which day they are exposed.

Studies have demonstrated that influenza is transmitted by aerosol particles and that such particles are prolific, indeed ubiquitous, in all indoor settings during the winter season. What stops people contracting the virus is their level of susceptibility, not their level of exposure.

HART refers to a study on influenza from 2014, which argues:

There are some amounts of the virus in the air constantly. These amounts are generally not enough to cause disease in people, due to infection prevention by healthy immune systems. However, at a higher concentration of the airborne virus, the risk of human infection increases dramatically. Early detection of the threshold virus concentration is essential for prevention of the spread of influenza infection.

The idea of a “threshold virus concentration” at which an outbreak is triggered (rather than just low level transmission) may be important for understanding how airborne viruses spread, and how they can become ubiquitous during a surge. Seasonal factors such as temperature, humidity, UV radiation, human behaviour (e.g. gathering indoors with little ventilation), and cycles in the human immune system may play a role in how easily this threshold concentration is reached.

study in JAMA tested the air in hospitals for SARS-CoV-2 and found plenty, particularly in the public areas:

Overall, 14 of 42 samples (33.3%) in public areas were positive, with 9 of 16 (56.3%) in hallways, 2 of 18 (11.1%) in other indoor areas, and 3 of 8 (37.5%) in outdoor public areas (P = .01).

There isn’t yet much evidence from other settings, though a study, COVAIR by Imperial College, is underway and the results will be of great interest when they eventually appear.

To my mind, this is the explanation that (at least for now) explains all the known facts better than others – the low secondary attack rate, the ineffectiveness of lockdowns, the outbreaks that explode then suddenly end, the absence of resurgence when restrictions are lifted, the repeated hitting of herd immunity, and so on. At the heart of it is the idea of ubiquitous exposure – that almost everyone, not just a small percentage, are exposed each time the virus passes through, and the vast majority are already immune.

July 17, 2021 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | | 1 Comment

Russia’s about-face on Syria’s Idlib is the opening gambit of a larger diplomatic chess game

By Scott Ritter | RT | July 17, 2021

The Russian vote at the UN Security Council in favor of extending a humanitarian air corridor into Syria has been touted by the US government as a victory of American diplomacy. Moscow might have other ideas.

In a rare display of diplomatic cooperation, the US and Russia agreed last week on a one-year extension of the UN Security Council authorization for humanitarian aid supplies to reach northern Syria through the Bab al-Hawa crossing on the border with Turkey.

The Biden administration had made the extension of this authorization its highest priority when it came to US-Syrian policy. For its part, Russia had long been hesitant to allow such an extension, insisting it should be replaced by cross-line humanitarian deliveries.

It’s been alleged that the Bab al-Hawa crossing point was being used to resupply Islamic militant groups opposed to the Syrian government of President Bashar Assad that are operating inside Idlib province, which borders Turkey.

Russia’s vote in favor of the extension for up to 12 months took many observers by surprise, given Moscow’s past objections.

The US media called it a victory for the Biden administration, underscoring the importance of the June summit meeting between the US president and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in Geneva, Switzerland. The US made Syria, and in particular the issue of continued access by humanitarian organizations to refugee camps located in Idlib, a high priority at that meeting. The fact that Moscow and Washington have reached a compromise on the operation of the Bab al-Hawa crossing, from the perspective of Russia, was a clear sign regarding the efficacy of the Geneva process.

“We hope that it might be a turning point that is indeed in line with what Putin and Biden discussed in Geneva,” Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told reporters after the vote.

The situation, however, is far more complicated than the zero-sum diplomatic game being promoted in the US mainstream media. Idlib isn’t just a repository of internal refugees from the decade-long civil conflict that has wracked Syria since 2011 – it is the final redoubt of foreign-backed Islamic militants who have been waging a bloody fight against the Russian-backed Syrian government. The Islamic militant groups, many of which are allied with Al-Qaeda, once controlled much of the Syrian countryside and were operating in the suburbs of the Syrian capital of Damascus.

The decision by the Russian government to intervene militarily on the side of Assad in September 2015 helped turn the tide against the Islamic militant forces. Over the course of the next three years, the Syrian army, backed on the ground by Hezbollah and pro-Iranian militias, and in the air by the Russian Air Force, was able to recapture all of the militant-held territory save for the last remaining bastion in Idlib.

The situation inside Idlib is complex, with the various factions among the Islamic militants fighting among themselves to establish primacy. Many of these groups, including Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), are reportedly reliant upon foreign support for their survival and have been linked to both Turkey and the US in terms of serving as an anti-Assad proxy force. Recent claims by the exiled Turkish mafia leader Sedat Peker regarding the alleged shipment of “billions of dollars” worth of military equipment disguised as humanitarian aid to HTS and other anti-Assad groups operating inside Idlib only reinforced the concerns of the opponents to keeping the Bab al-Hawa crossing open.

There is a real humanitarian crisis ongoing inside Idlib, where millions of Syrian citizens remain housed in refugee camps that are little more than tent cities erected in open fields. The refugees are totally dependent upon international aid groups for the essentials of life, including food, water, shelter and medicine. With the restoration of central government control over much of Syria, however, and the willingness on the part of the Syrian government to resettle these refugees back in their original homes without any threat of retribution or retaliation, there is a growing sentiment among the Russian and Syrian government that the refugees have become little more than political pawns used by Syria’s many enemies, including Turkey and the US, to create the perception of a despotic regime while fostering continued instability inside Idlib that serves as an engine to motivate and recruit new anti-Assad fighters.

This reality served as the core argument underpinning the Russian objection to keeping the Bab al-Hawa crossing open. There is another reality, however, which also guided the Russian decision, namely the lack of a viable military solution to the problem of Idlib. Russia and the Syrian government are committed to a course of action that has the Syrian government asserting control over the totality of Syrian sovereign territory – including Idlib.

While Russia and Syria continue to conduct airstrikes against Islamic militant positions inside Idlib, and the Syrian army and its allies likewise exert pressure on Islamic militant forces on the ground, the feeling in both Moscow and Damascus is that the problem of Idlib cannot be resolved through force of arms unless one is willing to unleash a bloodbath that would cause more problems than it would solve.

The key to a solution in Idlib is for both Turkey and the US to recognize the futility of continuing to use it as a base of anti-Assad activity, and to finally give up on their dreams of regime change in Damascus. Such a policy change, however, will not happen overnight and will require considerable diplomatic cooperation on the part of all parties involved – including Russia. The Russian agreement to keep the Bab al-Hawa crossing open for another year, when seen in this light, represents the opening round of a lengthy diplomatic battle over the future of Idlib, Syria and the Middle East as a whole.

Scott Ritter is a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer and author of ‘SCORPION KING: America’s Suicidal Embrace of Nuclear Weapons from FDR to Trump.’ He served in the Soviet Union as an inspector implementing the INF Treaty, in General Schwarzkopf’s staff during the Gulf War, and from 1991-1998 as a UN weapons inspector.

July 17, 2021 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , , | 4 Comments

Biden forced to accept humiliating defeat in Afghanistan: Analyst

Press TV – July 17, 2021

US President Joe Biden was forced to accept a humiliating defeat in Afghanistan and paving the way for the Taliban’s return to power in the country, according to Ashok Swain, a leading conflict analyst.

Biden vowed that the US is pulling out of Afghanistan by August 31, ending America’s longest war which started by the invasion of the country by US-led troops, ousting the Taliban regime in Afghanistan in October 2001, and eventually pulling its troops out after destroying what was left of it.

Swain, who is a Sweden-based Indian professor heading the Peace and Conflict Research department at Uppsala University, blamed former US president Donald Trump for Washington’s humiliating defeat in Afghanistan.

“Donald Trump, giving diplomatic legitimacy to the Taliban, and signing a deal with them to withdraw the troops, left no option for Joe Biden but to accept the humiliating defeat,” Swain said in an interview with Press TV on Saturday.

The conflict expert noted, however, that the Americans had already realized that they would never win the US war on Afghanistan. The US “was looking for a face-saver to withdraw, but it never came.”

“The realization of the failure, increasing human and economic costs, and growing tension with China left no option for the US but to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan,” Swain said, adding, “In the last 20 years, it has spent more than 2.3 trillion dollars, lost 2,400 of its troops and 3,800 private security contractors” in Afghanistan.

“[The Afghanistan] project has failed miserably” for the United States government, he pointed out.

‘Taliban will likely take control of Afghanistan’

“The Taliban is going to take control of Afghanistan sooner than later,” according to Swain.

The conflict expert linked the Taliban’s likely return to power in the militant group’s leaders’ selection of fighters, alongside their diplomatic know-how in interacting with others.

“The Taliban has been more ethnically inclusive in recruiting fighters and has been diplomatically savvy in dealing with countries and powers interested in Afghanistan,” he said.

“[T]he Taliban forces are ideologically indoctrinated and battle-hardened. Even in some cases, they are better funded” than the army, he added.

On the other hand, the Afghan army “is not a homegrown force but a militia created with foreign funding. Moreover, the Afghan army is highly segmented, and many troops are loyal to their ethnic group leaders than the Afghan government in Kabul,” Swain pointed out.

‘US allies cannot depend on US for security’

The senior conflict analyst noted that the declining clout of the United States has made the Americans incapable of providing security in Middle Eastern countries dependent on the US military.

“With the decline of American power, the US will be forced to limit its global military presence, and that will result in the withdrawal of its troops from many countries, particularly from the Middle East/West Asia,” the Indian expert said. “A country can never feel safe if it is dependent on foreign troops for its security and stability.”

‘US military presence in the region creates instability’

Swain said the regimes supported in the region by the United States were mostly undemocratic monarchies.

“The regimes in the Middle East, West Asia are mostly undemocratic and primarily run by monarchies,” he said.

The professor noted that the Americans had no interest in bringing democracy or prosperity to the region, and their military presence has proven to make the lives of the war-stricken people worse and more difficult than it was without them. “It clearly shows that there has been no US interest in democratizing the region. In the name of security and stability, the US keeps on supporting highly undemocratic regimes. However, the US-backed authoritarian regimes have neither brought security nor stability as the region continues to suffer from violent wars and civil wars.”

July 17, 2021 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , | 1 Comment

CENSORED: CDC Records Almost 12,000 DEATHS in 7 Months Following COVID-19 Injections

Health Impact News | July 16, 2021

The U.S. CDC released more data today in their Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), a U.S. Government funded database, and now admit that they have received reports of nearly 12,000 deaths during a 7-month period since the COVID-19 shots were given emergency use authorization by the FDA last December.

This includes 997 deaths among unborn children, which is separate from the 10,991 deaths recorded where the “patient” (the one getting the shot) died.

Source.

There are now 551,172 adverse reactions recorded out of 463,457 cases, including 9,274 permanent disabilities, 59,403 emergency room visits, 30,781 hospitalizations, and 8,831 life threatening injuries.

You will not find a single corporate media outlet reporting these government statistics, as this has to be the MOST CENSORED information in the United States.

Not only will you NOT find this information reported in the corporate media, you will find “fact checking” articles trying to debunk these statistics, by stating that the presence of these reports does not “prove causation.”

To put this in perspective, however, these recorded deaths during the last 7 months are now almost twice as many deaths as have been recorded by the CDC following vaccinations since they started recording such statistics back in 1990.

The Medalerts.org interface for the VAERS government database allows one to search all the way back to 1901, and from January 1, 1901 through November 30, 2020, which is the last month before the COVID-19 shots were given emergency use authorization, there are a total of 6,255 deaths recorded following ALL vaccines.

Source.

And what is the U.S. Government’s position on these 12,000 deaths and half million injuries recorded from those who chose to receive one of these experimental injections during the last 7 months?

Go door-to-door and try to convince even more people to get them, as the pharmaceutical companies producing these shots now expand their trials to include young children and pregnant women.

If you are pregnant or have children, you do not need to wait for the results of these trials. There is plenty of data here to show how deadly these shots are.

Brushing off these statistics, which represent only a fraction of what is actually happening in the public since so few health professionals report these adverse reactions to VAERS in the first place, is most certainly a criminal act leading to genocide.

This is a non-partisan issue as not a single U.S. Governor from either a Blue or Red state has taken action to stop these injections in pregnant women or children. They are ALL accomplices to mass murder, and should be arrested and tried for these crimes.

July 17, 2021 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, War Crimes | , | 1 Comment

Mental ‘virus’ or real, governments can’t just censor and imprison their way out of immunity debt

By Helen Buyniski | RT | July 16, 2021

Covid-fearing parents may think they’re doing their kids a favor by keeping them inside, masked and encased in a bubble of hand sanitizer. But as humans we need pathogens to function – literally and metaphorically.

Evolution, it turns out, isn’t stupid. There’s a reason our guts are swarming with bacteria, and while we’ve been taught to recoil at the very concept (especially after a year and a half of plague-talk in which bacteria are regularly brutally assaulted with jets of hand sanitizer for nothing more than existing), those microscopic creatures actually digest our food for us. If it weren’t for them, we’d starve.

The bacterial colonies that call us home also need to interact with one another, which means once in a while touching a doorknob (or even a subway pole) and not immediately dousing your microscopic hitchhikers in caustic death-juice; sneezing on public transit without having to worry you’ll be lynched; and letting your kid play in the mud with other kids. Their lives could depend on it, as several countries previously praised for their ability to control their citizens are being reminded.

Under Covid-19’s new abnormal, we think nothing of going weeks without seeing friends, months without seeing family, long periods without so much as touching another person, and are told that this is not only healthy – if you don’t do it, you could die! So we learn to run across the street when we spot an old friend coming in for a hug, and to almost preemptively say “no” when our kids ask if they can for once play with their friends in real life instead of through an endless series of screens.

Turns out this is a great way to guarantee future epidemics. New Zealand, a global media darling for its 26 (reported) Covid deaths, is experiencing a major spike in a normally non-threatening childhood illness, since – while kids remain all but unaffected by Covid-19 – the same doesn’t hold true for other common respiratory diseases. Nearly 1,000 cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) have been diagnosed in just five weeks in the country, more than half of the number usually reported in an entire 29-week winter, according to the Guardian, which quoted public health experts placing the blame squarely on the “immunity debt” incurred from the country’s prolonged, stringent Covid lockdowns. In other words, “two weeks to flatten the curve” was one thing, but 18 months later, the curve is flattening us.

This problem wasn’t exactly unknown to medical science, and NZ’s willingness to go down this path rather than, say, encourage residents to come out of their homes and behave like normal humans when the worst danger of Covid-19 had passed, speaks to a pattern of martyrdom and virtue signaling that President Jacinda Ardern has capitalized on expertly. Her government postponed elections, forced new arrivals into “quarantine camps” for a period of not less than two weeks even with negative test results (positive results, or worse a refusal to be tested, could have you locked up even longer), and has all but smothered the independent press. The economy imploded, posting its largest quarterly decline in history, and housing costs remained unmanageable for many.

Yet she and her party got a historic mandate to rule (in October’s delayed election, with unprecedented numbers of mail-in ballots, after Facebook shut down one of the opposing parties’ pages right before Election Day, and other asterisks that went unmentioned by the press as they dined on her fiance’s cooking during the vote count). Turns out democracy is a risk factor for Covid-19, too. Who knew?

The phenomenon of “immunity debt” translates well to information, and Wellington isn’t the only government long overdue for a reckoning regarding the censorship it’s been forcing down its citizens’ throats, supposedly in the name of protecting them from infectious bad ideas. Kiwis were already resigned to being shut out of the global conversation after the Christchurch mosque shooting made it OK – nay, expected! – for an emergency to require termination of non-approved communications – and 10-year prison sentences for anyone who wouldn’t comply and delete the wrongthink. For a “democratic” country to enact such censorship would have elicited screams if it had come from Trump’s America, but Ardern was doing it in the name of Safety. With literally no way to test the success of such measures other than an absurd “X number of days without another mass shooting,” the silencing campaign was preemptively declared a success and governments around the world signed on, elevating censorship to the chief crime (and protest)-fighting method. Object? What are you, a terrorist?

Applying analogous measures while the world panicked over Covid-19 was a no-brainer, and in many countries it has been effectively – if not literally – forbidden to question the official story of the virus’ arrival and spread, even though the World Health Organization and its national counterparts were changing that “official story” on a monthly, if not weekly basis. Context-free videos of people dropping to the ground and convulsing in China, even without an implication those people even had the virus, put the fear into the rest of the world and, by the time American news networks were getting caught rerunning footage of packed Italian hospitals as “Covid-hit New York City,” even dissenting voices had largely shied away from questioning the “facts” the government was putting out. Only in cases where the government was not pushing total fear was it acceptable to mock the orders one was given, because not wanting us to live in fear could only mean they didn’t really care about us.

With Trump safely out of the White House, though, the entire American power structure has presented a united front pushing the same stultifying and borderline-nonsensical message of fear on offer from Ardern. The Biden administration is no longer even covering up unconstitutional behaviors like “flagging misinformation” for Facebook to delete, and even the White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki seems to have been forced into arguing with herself as social media muffles all opposing voices. Pacified by deliveries of occasional helicopter money whose value is steadily declining – a fact they might understand if they hadn’t declared math racist – Americans have proudly stepped up to act as the guards in the narrative managers’ mental prison. Far from demanding more transparency from their government, Americans are demanding less, while dog piling on dissenters – aware at some basic level they’re being lied to but unwilling to admit who’s doing the lying.

New Zealand’s censorship may be more photogenic – certainly Ardern is easier on the eyes than the ever-stumbling gaffe-mummified Biden – but both countries are headed straight for a wall built up by years of unpaid epistemological “immunity debt.” One cannot simply stuff “offensive” ideas or “misinformation” down the pipes eternally unless one wants to experience a killer mental toilet backup. The more reality has diverged with whatever is believed by these increasingly-unhinged closed societies, the more of a mess that backup will leave. Neither country can afford such a meltdown, and both would be wise to start allowing reality to filter back into their media before it’s too late. That means ending knee-jerk social media censorship (which has been shown to make users more gullible when it comes to fake news, anyway), rolling back the ever-expanding definition of “hate speech,” and in general behaving like adults.

Instead, Wellington is trying to make “hate speech” itself a crime punishable by three years in prison, and continues to push absurd poll results in which “75% of New Zealanders feel like the country is heading in the right direction, and for the most part, Covid-19 is not impacting their future.” Washington is trying to take the Second Amendment away from its citizens even while still choking on the First. Meanwhile, over in the UK, the Johnson government is warning of an influenza “epidemic” even as citizens remain under lockdown from the last Covid wave. It’s hard to guess which of these three policies will fail first, but whichever one it is, I wouldn’t want to be in charge of the cleanup job.

Helen Buyniski is an American journalist and political commentator at RT. Follow her on Telegram

July 17, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , | 1 Comment

Chicken Licken Finds Safety and Freedom in the Land of Covidia

By Rob Slane | The BlogMire | July 16, 2021

Once upon a time there was a little chick called Chicken Licken. One day as she was scratching about in the farmyard, she heard a message coming from the television in the farmhouse saying that everyone must stay home or else we would all die.

‘Oh no,’ cried Chicken Licken. ‘I must go into my coop and stay there.’

So off she went to stay in her coop for three weeks, which was how long the nice man on the telly reckoned it would take. On the way, she met Henny Penny.

‘Oh Henny Penny,’ cried Chicken Licken, ‘There’s a deadly virus about and if we don’t stay cooped up we’re all going to die.’

‘But why would those who are perfectly healthy need to do that?’ asked Henny Penny confused. ‘If we’re healthy, that means we haven’t got it. And if we haven’t got it, we can’t spread it.’

‘Henny Penny!’ replied Chicken Licken aghast. ‘The man on the telly said that healthy people can spread it to one another even if they haven’t got it. Stay Safe.’

‘Sounds like nonsense to me,’ said Henny Penny, ‘but I suppose they must know what they’re talking about.’

So Chicken Licken and Henny Penny hurried off to their coops. On the way they met Cocky Locky.

‘Oh Cocky Locky,’ cried Chicken Licken. ‘There’s a deadly virus about, and we need to go into Lockdown to protect vets from being overwhelmed.’

‘But we’ve never quarantined millions of the healthy before Xi Jinping did it in China,’ said Cocky Locky, ‘and there’s not a jot of scientific evidence that it will do anything to prevent deaths, although it will undoubtedly wreck our society, economy, and lead to a never-ending medical tyranny.’

‘Cocky Locky, I’m ashamed of you,’ sneered Chicken Licken. ‘You sound more like Tucker Carlson by the day. I think you need to stop watching right-wing talk shows and alternative media and instead get your news from established sources like the BBC and CNN. Follow the Science.’

So Chicken Licken, Henny Penny and Cocky Locky hurried off to their coops. On the way they met Ducky Lucky.

‘Oh Ducky Lucky,’ cried Chicken Licken, ‘There’s a deadly virus about and we all need to put pieces of cloth across our faces.’

But they told us we shouldn’t do that,’ replied Ducky Lucky. ‘And besides, what good is a piece of cloth with holes of an order of magnitude bigger than virus particles?’

‘Ducky Lucky,’ said Chicken Licken disapprovingly. ‘I’m shocked to hear you question the science. Wear Your Mask!’

‘Okay then,’ said Ducky Lucky in resignation as she strapped to her face a piece of old rag she found on the floor. ‘I suppose if the man on the telly says it will do us good, we’d better do it then.’

So Chicken Licken, Henny Penny, Cocky Locky and Ducky Lucky hurried off to their coops. On the way they met Drakey Lakey.

‘Oh Drakey Lakey,’ cried Chicken Licken. ‘There’s a deadly virus about and you need to take a PCR test.’

‘But I’m feeling fine,’ replied Drakey Lakey. ‘Why would I need to take a test for an illness I don’t have? And besides, the PCR test is not a clinical diagnostic tool and cannot tell whether you are infected or infectious.’

‘Drakey Lakey!’ said Chicken Licken frowning contemptuously. ‘I never dreamt you were a conspiracy fowl. Everything you say has been debunked by various factchecking websites and the mainstream media. Are you saying they’re all wrong? Get Your Test!’

‘Well okay, I don’t want to be seen as a crank,’ replied Drakey Lakey anxiously, shoving the test up his beak.

‘Aagghh!’ cried Drakey Lakey. ‘Even though I feel perfectly fine and healthy, the test tells me I have the deadly virus.’

‘You see,’ said Chicken Licken smugly. ‘I told you it was a conspiracy theory to doubt those who are trying to keep us safe. Now stop listening to Mike Yeadon, Sucharit Bhakdi and Peter McCullough and go and self-isolate.’

So Chicken Licken, Henny Penny, Cocky Locky, Ducky Lucky and Drakey Lakey hurried off to their coops. On the way they met Goosey Loosey.

‘Oh Goosey Loosey,’ cried Chicken Licken. ‘There’s a deadly virus about which is like the plague and it could kill us all.’

‘Hmm?’ replied Goosey Loosey quizzically. ‘Actually, according to John Ioannidis, the world’s most cited epidemiologist, the Infection Fatality Rate of this virus is between 0.15% – 0.23% — about the same as a bad flu season. What is more, it’s only really dangerous to the elderly and sick.’

‘Goosey Loosey! Are you saying the lives of the elderly are worth nothing?’ said Chicken Licken, sounding like Cathy Newman.

‘Well no, that wasn’t what I meant,’ replied Goosey Loosey looking somewhat shamed. ‘But if we know which people it effects, surely targeted protection towards them would make more sense than this scattergun approach.’

‘If you’re referring to the so-called Great Barrington Declaration,’ said Chicken Licken dismissively, ‘not only did Matt Hancock dismiss it out of hand, but you won’t find it coming up in the Google rankings – that’s how thoroughly discredited it is.’

‘Oh,’ replied Goosey Loosey taken aback. ‘Well, I suppose if Google, Facebook and other Big Tech companies have decided it’s not something we should see, it can’t have any credibility, can it?’

‘Indeed,’ said Chicken Licken. Now come along and Don’t Kill Granny.’

So Chicken Licken, Henny Penny, Cocky Locky, Ducky Lucky, Drakey Lakey and Goosey Loosey hurried off to their coops. On the way they met Turkey Lurkey.

‘Oh Turkey Lurkey,’ cried Chicken Licken. ‘There’s a deadly virus about for which there’s no known treatments.’

‘I don’t think that’s the case,’ replied Turkey Lurkey. ‘A number of highly qualified physicians and scientists have put in place treatment protocols, some of which prevent up to 85% of deaths.’

‘Turkey Lurkey,’ sneered Chicken Licken. ‘You sound like a card-carrying Covidiot. Do you really think if such treatments existed, the Government and the scientists on the telly would ignore them?’

‘But they’ve been suppressed and censor…’

‘Stop it!’ screeched Chicken Licken. ‘Stop spreading disinformation. Now come along with us and Help Save Lives.’

So Chicken Licken, Henny Penny, Cocky Locky, Ducky Lucky, Drakey Lakey, Goosey Loosey and Turkey Lurkey hurried off to their coops, keeping two wings apart as they went. On the way they met Foxy Loxy.

‘Oh Foxy Loxy,’ cried Chicken Licken. ‘There’s a deadly virus about, it’s mutating into new variants, and we’re all going to die.’

‘If you come with me,’ said Foxy Loxy with a glint in his eye. ‘I’ll keep you safe and give you your freedom back.’

With sighs of relief, Chicken Licken, Henny Penny, Cocky Locky, Ducky Lucky, Drakey Lakey, Goosey Loosey and Turkey Lurkey followed Foxy Loxy who took them to a yard surrounded by black and yellow walls covered in slogans, such as ‘Watch Out for Invisible Dangers,’ whilst over the gates were the words, ‘Safety and Freedom for All’.

‘This, my friends, is where you can lay aside all your fears,’ explained Foxy Loxy calmly. ‘Once you enter here, I not only give you my personal guarantee for your safety, since it is guarded day and night by my own family, but we will give you all the freedom you like, within these four walls. As if that weren’t enough, we’re actually giving away two shots of our brand new Virus Vanquisher as part of the entry package. We’ve been working on it flat out for days, so you really are very lucky birds indeed. What are you waiting for?’

As they received their shots and filed into the yard, the gates clanged shut behind them. Looking up at the top of the walls, they were reassured to see the kindly eyes of the smiling Loxy family keeping watch over them, and glad to hear the ping of the app they’d been given telling them what to do and when to do it. But most of all they were comforted by the words on the inside of the gates:

‘All who attempt to leave do so at their own risk.
Stay Safe. Be Free. Never Leave.’

July 17, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | | 1 Comment

Canada’s Heritage Minister says free speech online ‘undermines democracy’

By Dan Frieth | Reclaim the Net | July 17, 2021

Offensive remarks on social media are legal, but Canada’s Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault says they “undermine democracy.”
The government is promoting the internet censorship bill C-36, which seeks to obligate social media platforms to mass censor.

In a briefing, reviewed by Blacklock’s Reporter, the Heritage Ministry argued for censorship of offensive Twitter messages because he says they prevent “a truly democratic debate.”

“This content steals and damages lives,” the briefing read. “It intimidates and obscures valuable voices, preventing a truly democratic debate.”

In late June, the cabinet introduced Bill C-36, which threatens social media users with house arrests and fines of up to $50,000 for sharing content that promotes “detestation or vilification.”

“Our objective is to ensure more accountability and transparency from online platforms while respecting the Canadian Charter Of Rights And Freedoms,” said the June 16 briefing note.

“The mandate of the Department of Canadian Heritage includes the promotion of a greater understanding of human rights.”
Under Canada’s Criminal Code, so-called “hate speech” (open to interpretation) is a crime. What Bill C-36 does is make hate speech illegal even when there is no evidence of a crime.

“Social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter are increasingly central to participation in democratic, cultural and public life,” said the briefing note.

“However, social media platforms can also be used to threaten, intimidate, bully and harass people or used to promote racist, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, misogynist and homophobic views that target communities, put people’s safety at risk and undermine Canada’s social cohesion or democracy.”

July 17, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | 4 Comments

The Guardian plumbs new depths: its resident ‘Russiagate’ fanatics claim that Putin got Trump elected

By Paul Robinson | RT | July 16, 2021

From 2016 to 2020, a single story with two elements dominated the American headlines: Russiagate. The first part of the narrative was the claim that the Russian government had used a range of tools, including disinformation, to ensure Trump clinched his country’s highest office. The second was that Trump had knowingly colluded with Moscow to achieve this goal.

After endless repetition, these claims became something close to sacred ‘truths’ for some people. And yet, as we now know, the whole thing began with a falsehood, or more accurately a single document containing a whole series of falsehoods.

This was the infamous ‘Steele dossier’, assembled by former British intelligence office Christopher Steele, as part of a strategy by the Democratic Party to dig up dirt to blacken Trump’s reputation.

The dossier contained a number of inflammatory stories about Trump’s relationship with Russia. It also claimed its information came from sources close to the upper echelons of the Kremlin. This was untrue. As we now know, the information was hearsay, collected second- or third-hand by someone who didn’t even live in Russia. In short, it was a near total fabrication.

Unfortunately, Russiagate induced many journalists to abandon any effort at critical thinking and to treat all anti-Russian allegations with a distinct credulity. Particularly prominent among them was Luke Harding of The Guardian, who even published a book entitled ‘Collusion’, laying out the case against the Russians and Trump. Its logic was often rather bizarre. For instance, Harding’s “evidence” that an associate of an associate of Trump was a Russian spy was that he used emojis in an email.

I kid you not. You use emojis, you’re a Russian spy. It gives one a sense of the quality of Harding’s argument.

Indeed, Harding has what the British call ‘form.’ In another instance, he claimed Trump’s one-time campaign manager, Paul Manafort, along with unnamed “Russians”, had met WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Unfortunately, the story turned out to be untrue. It was never retracted.

In short, there are reasons why some might want to treat what Harding says with a generous pinch of salt.

All of which is necessary background for his latest article in The Guardian, which details confidential documents he claims to have seen, allegedly showing “that Vladimir Putin personally authorized a secret spy operation to support a ‘mentally unstable’ Donald Trump in the 2016 US presidential election.” The piece is co-authored by two other reliably anti-Russian Guardian hacks, Dan Sabbagh and Julian Borger.

The documents in question are supposedly records of a meeting of Russia’s National Security Council, which is said to have concluded that Trump’s election was desirable, as it would “lead to the destabilization of the US’s sociopolitical system.” To this end, the meeting purportedly resolved to “use all possible force to facilitate his election,” including introducing “‘media viruses’ into American public life, which would … alter mass consciousness.”

Unfortunately, Harding fails to provide full copies of the documents in question, limiting himself to a single extract. Nor does he say where he got the papers. The only corroborating evidence is that “The Guardian has shown the documents to independent experts who say that they appear to be genuine.” Of course, many “independent experts” also believed in the Steele dossier, the Hitler diaries, the Zinoviev letter, and many other dubious or entirely fabricated documents. An appeal to anonymous “experts” isn’t particularly useful.

Indeed, there are some reasons to treat the story with a degree of scepticism.

First, the documents are like the perfect, solid-gold-plated proof that Russiagate storytellers have been seeking for years. The story is a little bit too good to be true.

Second, if these papers are indeed real, either somebody in the Kremlin has decided to leak the most top secret of top-secret documents, or British intelligence has a spy there and has then fed the information to Harding, risking exposing him or herself.

Both options are out of keeping with the past. Leaks from Putin’s team are very rare, to the point of being almost non-existent, and, as far as we know, neither the British, nor indeed any Western intelligence agency, has ever had a spy in the heart of the Kremlin. One can’t rule it out, but one has to have one’s doubts.

Third, the alleged motivation for backing Trump outlined in the documents smacks of what people in the West now retroactively think happened, rather than what would have likely been in the mind of Russian officials at the time.

In 2016, the primary reason why the Kremlin might have wanted Trump elected was a perception that he was not as hostile to Russia as his rival Hillary Clinton. Indeed, he had stated in speeches that he favored better relations with Moscow. But this isn’t mentioned in Harding’s documents. Instead, the focus is on “destabilizing” the United States by stirring up trouble through the election of a mentally unstable president.

These are not ideas that anybody in authority in the Kremlin has ever publicly expressed. Instead, they are ideas that gradually became dogma among conspiracy theorists between 2016 and 2020. In other words, the documents read like what Western Russiagate theorists imagine is what the Russians think, rather than what they really do think.

And fourth, it turns out that the short excerpt published with Harding’s article has a number of linguistic and grammatical errors, giving rise to speculation that it was written by a non-native speaker of Russian and then translated. Of course, this is far from firm proof of forgery – it could be that Kremlin notetakers just don’t write very well. But it’s food for thought.

One common method of rating intelligence is an alpha-numerical system in which the letters measure the reliability of the source (from A, ‘Reliable’, to E, ‘Unreliable’, and F, ‘Reliability Unknown’), and the numbers measure the reliability of the information (from 1, ‘Confirmed from other sources’, to 5, ‘Improbable’, and 6, ‘Validity of the information cannot be determined’). In this case, one would probably have to rank Harding’s story as D6. The reliability of the source – Harding – is open to doubt, and the validity of the information cannot be confirmed.

This doesn’t mean the documents are fakes. D6 doesn’t mean false. But, at the same time, it’s not exactly A1 either – you need to treat the information in question with extreme caution.

Maybe the Russian National Security Council did indeed plot to put Trump in the White House. Or maybe not. We’re not in a position to tell. Either way, but you shouldn’t take The Guardian’s word for it.

Paul Robinson, a professor at the University of Ottawa. He writes about Russian and Soviet history, military history, and military ethics, and is author of the Irrussianality blog http://t.me/irrussian

July 17, 2021 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | | 3 Comments

White House: If you’re banned for “misinformation” on one platform, you should be banned from ALL platforms

More calls for censorship from the Federal Government

By Tom Parker | Reclaim the Net | July 16, 2021

After making the shocking admission that the Federal Government is flagging content for Facebook to censor in yesterday’s White House Press Briefing, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki doubled down on the censorship rhetoric in today’s Press Briefing by calling for users to be banned from all platforms if they post “misinformation” and dismissing concerns that the Biden administration is acting as “Big Brother.”

During the Press Briefing, Psaki was asked to elaborate on the Biden administration’s flagging of misinformation to Facebook and to respond to a CNN report about the Biden administration’s “frustration with what they view as Facebook’s failures to uphold its own policies on vaccine misinformation.”

Psaki responded by framing the flagging issue as simply staying in “regular touch with social media platforms” to make them “aware of the latest narratives dangerous to public health” and engaging with them to “better understand the enforcement of social platform policy.”

She insisted that the social media platforms make the decisions when it comes to content moderation.

Of course, Psaki failed to mention that while Facebook is technically free to make its own content moderation decisions, this outreach about so-called dangerous public health narratives is coming from the same Federal Government that is placing huge amounts of pressure on Facebook’s business through an antitrust lawsuit.

When pressed on whether Facebook’s censorship has been as proactive as the White House would like, Psaki said there are “more steps everyone can take” and suggested that one step that “could be constructive for public health” is for social media platforms to coordinate and implement cross-platform censorship when users post alleged misinformation.

“You shouldn’t be banned from one platform and not others…for providing misinformation,” Psaki added.

After she was told that Facebook had already removed 18 million pieces of “COVID misinformation” and connected more than two billion people to “reliable information,” Psaki was asked whether the White House finds this “sufficient.”

“Clearly not,” Psaki responded.

She added: “They’re a private sector company, they’re gonna make decisions about additional steps they can take, it’s clear there are more that can be taken.”

Psaki also dismissed Fox News reporter Pete Doocy’s question about a lot of people on Facebook being concerned about “Big Brother watching you” now that they know the White House flags posts to Facebook to be censored.

“They’re more concerned about that than people dying across the country because of a pandemic where misinformation is traveling on social media platforms?” Psaki said. “That seems unlikely to me. If you have the data to back that up, I’m happy to discuss it.”

When Doocy raised the double standard with which The White House flags and censors so-called misinformation, Psaki again dismissed the concerns.

“There are videos of Dr. Fauci from 2020 before anybody had a vaccine and he’s out there saying there’s no reason to be walking around with a mask,” Doocy said. “So, is the administration going to contact Facebook and take that down?”

Psaki responded by arguing that Fauci said: “Science evolves, information evolves.”

But when she discussed other claims that she doesn’t approve of during the Press Briefing, such as claims that the vaccines cause infertility, Psaki framed it as “information that is irresponsibly traveling” and pushed social media platforms to let the White House know that they’re “taking steps to address it.”

The White House Press Secretary’s comments are yet another example of the increasing collaboration between public officials and private companies that are raising First Amendment violation flags.

Prior to Psaki’s recent statements, numerous reports have pointed to similar public-private sector censorship collaborations. These include a recent lawsuit showing that Democrats have worked with Twitter to flag tweets and get them taken down and a recent letter from Republicans accusing Fauci of advising Facebook to censor lab leak theories.

July 17, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | 1 Comment

Non-Matching Ballot Totals, Duplicate Votes & Cyber Problems Cast Doubt on 2020 Election Results

By Ekaterina Blinova – Sputnik – 17.07.2021

Republican lawmakers and non-partisan activists in Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania are continuing to push for election integrity. This week a number of discrepancies have been found by independent auditors in Arizona and Georgia, raising new questions about the outcome of the 2020 election.

The alleged 2020 election fraud saga is far from being over in Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania despite President Joe Biden and the US mainstream media decrying the “big lie” and downplaying vote irregularity claims.

Arizona

On 13 July, Senate President Karen Fann announced that vote counts do not match in the Maricopa County 2020 election audit. The announcement was followed by hearings in the Arizona Senate which were held on 15 July. Doug Logan, CEO of Cyber Ninjas, the leading group of independent auditors, provided a preliminary overview of discrepancies found during the recount.

According to Logan, auditors could not find records concerning tens of thousands of mail-in ballots in Maricopa County: “We have 74,000 [mail-in ballots] that came back from individuals where we don’t have a clear indication that they were ever sent out to them,” he underscored.

​The auditor further revealed that approximately 18,000 people voted but were removed from voter rolls “soon after the election”; there were 11,326 people who were not on the voter rolls on 7 November 2020, but appeared on the rolls on 4 December 2020; and there were 3,981 people who voted after registering after 15 October 2020.

​CEO of CyFIR Ben Cotton, one of the subcontractors taking part in the recount, said that the analysis of the election management system and network exposed “severe cybersecurity problems.” The reported discrepancies have triggered concerns among the state GOP, given that President Joe Biden won Arizona by a razor-thin margin of 10,000 votes, or 0.3 percentage points.

Responding to the latest discoveries, Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jack Sellers blasted the auditors as “incompetent”. “What we heard today represents an alternate reality that has veered out of control since the November General Election”, Sellers stated.

To clear up the issues, the audit team requested more items to complete their review, including ballot envelope images, router images, splunk logs, hard drives that contain information about the 2020 election, as well details on Maricopa County’s policies and procedures. However, the state’s Democratic Party and the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors vocally opposed providing any material to whom they called “uncertified auditors”. The county officials have yet to provide the state Senate with previously subpoenaed items including routers or router images.

Former President Donald Trump has called the recent Arizona Senate hearings on the Maricopa County election audit “devastating news to the radical left Democrats”, suggesting that “there was no victory” for then-presidential candidate Joe Biden in the state.

Screenshot from the video allegedly showing election staffers in Fulton County, Atlanta, Georgia, staying behind and pulling out boxes of extra ballots

© PHOTO : YOUTUBE / DONALD J. TRUMP
Screenshot from the video allegedly showing election staffers in Fulton County, Atlanta, Georgia, staying behind and pulling out boxes of extra ballots

Georgia

New discrepancies have also been found in Fulton County, where most of Atlanta is located. A nonpartisan election integrity nonprofit called Voters Organised for Trusted Election Results in Georgia (VoterGA) reported on Wednesday that at least 36 batches of mail-in ballots containing 4,255 votes were redundantly reported in the Fulton County audit results for the 3 November election. This includes 3,400 extra votes for then-Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, 865 extra votes for Donald Trump and 43 extra votes for Jo Jorgenson.

​The election integrity activists also believe that seven audit tally sheets were “falsified to contain fabricated vote totals”. Thus, for example, a batch containing 59 ballot images for Biden and 42 for Trump was reported as 100 for the Democratic candidate and zero for the ex-president, according to Voters GA. In addition to that, it turned out that nearly 200 ballots were scanned two times before a recount.

​The group is conducting an examination of digital ballot images following a months-long lawsuit filed last year. VoterGA particularly sought clearance to inspect all 147,000 absentee ballots cast in Fulton County last November, citing concerns about potential election fraud. Last fall, Joe Biden won the state by a thin margin of 12,670 votes.

Following the disclosure, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger called upon the Fulton County to fire Richard Barron, its elections director, and Ralph Jones, the county’s voter registration chief.

​However, the secretary of state has also come under criticism from some of his Republican Party peers who insist that he and Governor of Georgia Brian Kemp should resign because they had apparently known about the irregularities but concealed them from the public.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania, which was won by Joe Biden by a margin of 80,555 votes, has also become a new battleground for the GOP effort to review the 2020 elections results.

In June, a delegation of Pennsylvania Republican lawmakers visited the Arizona audit and signalled that they are interested in launching a similar recount effort. The initiative is being led by Pennsylvania state GOP Senator Doug Mastriano, who chairs the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee and is regarded as a potential future gubernatorial candidate.

​On 7 July, Mastriano announced that he had sent letters to Philadelphia, York, and Tioga counties, asking them to turn over election materials by 31 July.

“The case for a forensic investigation of the 2020 general election is evident to any unbiased observer,” Mastriano wrote in an official statement. “This was the first election in Pennsylvania with ‘mass’ mail-in voting. In 2020, there were 2.7 million ballots cast by mail and absentee compared to about 263,000 absentee ballots cast in 2016. Many of these ballots were counted at offsite locations with little outside observation or oversight. Furthermore, mail ballots without signature verification were permitted to be counted across the Commonwealth.”

According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, the materials requested by Mastriano include ballots, voting machines, vote counting equipment, mail-in

​However, it was reported on 15 July that Tioga County Commissioners would not provide access to their ballots and election equipment after receiving a directive from the Pennsylvania Department of State to withstand Mastriano’s effort and to not allow third parties to conduct a forensic audit of the 2020 election results. On 16 July, York County also refused to take part in the recount citing the legality of Mastriano’s request, the legality of his demand, the cost to the county and their lack of staff to complete the project. They also raised concerns over possible decertification of their election equipment by the Department of State.

The state’s GOP issued a statement denouncing the Department of State’s directives as “an attack on the General Assembly’s power to review, investigate, and legislate in matters within its legislative authority, which includes Pennsylvania’s election system.”

July 17, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , , , | 3 Comments

Social media misinformation ‘killing people,’ Biden says, as White House doubles down on private censorship

RT | July 16, 2021

US President Joe Biden claimed social media platforms are “killing people” with misinformation about Covid-19, as his press secretary Jen Psaki made a case for deplatforming ‘offenders’ across the ostensibly private networks.

“They’re killing people,” Biden told reporters who asked him to send a message to platforms like Facebook. “The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated. And they’re killing people,” he shouted, over the noise of a helicopter outside the White House on Friday.

On Thursday, US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy issued an advisory against health “misinformation,” calling it “an imminent and insidious threat to our nation’s health.” He defined it as information that is “false, inaccurate, or misleading according to the best available evidence” and claimed 67% of unvaccinated Americans had heard at least one “myth” about Covid-19 vaccines.

At the same press conference, Psaki admitted the government was “flagging problematic posts for Facebook,” causing a stir among some civil libertarians.

Insisting that it was these ostensibly private companies doing the censorship and not the federal government – thereby trying to dodge the thorny issue of the First Amendment – Psaki then doubled down on Friday, saying that platforms should coordinate their rules and terms of service so that a person “shouldn’t be banned from one platform and not others… for providing misinformation out there.”

Her announcement raised more than a few eyebrows across the political spectrum. Journalist Glenn Greenwald, responsible for publishing NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations in 2013, called the entire line of White House thinking “pernicious.”

Psaki was “issuing decrees on who should and shouldn’t be allowed to use social media, then smugly scoffing at the notion that this should concern anyone on the ground that we’re going to die if we don’t submit to the White House’s orders,” Greenwald added, summarizing her exchange with Fox News’ Peter Doocy.

In a video making rounds on social media, Psaki tells Doocy that everyone, including journalists, ought to be more concerned about “the number of people who are dying around the country” due to misinformation rather than any Big Brother-like behavior by the government. When he argued the opposite, she replied, “That feels unlikely to me.”

“We don’t take anything down… Facebook makes decisions,” she insisted.

Asked politely by Philip Wegmann of RealClearPolitics to explain how often and how long the White House has been flagging “misinformation,” and if she could define it, Psaki responded with generalizations and claims that all this information is “publicly available” on social networks.

Psaki’s remarks amounted to an admission that the government is coordinating with private corporations to ban people from social media, podcast host Jack Murphy pointed out, calling it “literal fascism before our eyes.”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was conspicuously silent about this threat to freedom of expression, Greenwald noted, and was instead tweeting about transgender issues.

Meanwhile, a UK-based nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) claimed the White House relied on their research in identifying the people producing alleged “misinformation,” and promoted their CEO Imran Ahmed’s TV appearance in which he spoke about online “superspreaders.”

CCDH first drew attention in June 2020, when NBC – one of the big three broadcast TV networks in the US – cited their research in a story trying to pressure Google into demonetizing the blog ZeroHedge and the conservative-leaning online magazine Federalist.

July 17, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | 17 Comments

Covid-19 vaccines for children: hypothetical benefits to adults do not outweigh risks to children

By Elia Abi-Jaoude, Peter Doshi, and Claudina Michal-Teitelbaum | BMJ | July 13, 2021

As the majority of adults in multiple rich western countries have now received at least one dose of a covid-19 vaccine, the focus is turning to children. While there is wide recognition that children’s risk of severe covid-19 is low, many believe that mass vaccination of children may not just protect children from severe covid-19, but also prevent onward transmission, indirectly protecting vulnerable adults and helping end the pandemic. However, there are multiple assumptions that need to be examined when judging calls to vaccinate children against covid-19.

First, the disease in children is commonly mild, and serious sequelae remain rare. Despite “long covid” recently garnering increased attention, two large studies in children show that prolonged symptoms are uncommon and overall similar or milder in children testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 compared to those with symptoms from other respiratory viruses. The US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) estimates put the infection fatality rate from covid-19 among children 0 to 17 years old at 20 per 1,000,000. Hospitalization rates are also very low, and have likely been overestimated. Furthermore, a large proportion of children have already been infected with SARS-CoV-2. The CDC estimates 42% of US children aged 5 to 17 years have been infected by March 2021. Given that SARS-CoV-2 infection induces a robust immune response in the majority of individuals, the implication is that the risks covid-19 poses to the pediatric population may be even lower than generally appreciated.

In the clinical trial underlying the authorization of Pfizer-BioNTech’s mRNA vaccine in children aged 12 to 15, of the close to 1000 children who received placebo, 16 tested positive for covid-19, compared to none in the fully vaccinated group. Given this low incidence, the fact that covid-19 is generally asymptomatic or mild in children, and the high rate of adverse events in those vaccinated (e.g. in Pfizer’s trial of 12-15 year olds, 3 in 4 kids had fatigue and headaches, around half had chills and muscle pain, and around 1 in 4 to 5 had a fever and joint pain), a comparison of quality-adjusted life-years in the trial would very much favour the placebo group.  Potential benefits from the vaccine, including protection of children against severe covid-19 or long covid, or covid-19 months in the future, could affect this balance, but such benefits were not shown in the trial and remain hypothetical.

Even if one assumes protection against severe covid-19, given its very low incidence in children, an extremely high number would need to be vaccinated in order to prevent one severe case. Meanwhile, a large number of children with very low risk for severe disease would be exposed to vaccine risks, known and unknown. Thus far, Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine has been judged by Israel’s government as likely linked to symptomatic myocarditis, with an estimated incidence between 1 in 3000 to 1 in 6000 in men ages 16 to 24.  Furthermore, the long term effects of gene-based vaccines, which involve novel vaccine platforms, remain essentially unknown.

In terms of the risk of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from children to adults, this is also low and decreasing, though not negligible. School teachers are more likely to get SARS-CoV-2 from other adults than they are from their students. The contribution of schools to community transmission has been consistently low across jurisdictions. In addition, considering estimates that 42% of those aged 5 to 17 years in the US are now post-covid, this should only lower the risk of transmission from children.  Add to this the fact that most adults in rich western countries have received at least one dose of covid-19 vaccine—around 80% of UK adults now have SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, whether from past infection or from vaccination—and it seems the opportunities for children to be vectors of transmission to adults are dwindling.

Given all these considerations, the assertion that vaccinating children against SARS-CoV-2 will protect adults remains hypothetical.  Even if we were to assume this protection does exist, the number of children that would need to be vaccinated to protect just one adult from a bout of severe covid-19—considering the low transmission rates, the high proportion of children already being post-covid, and most adults being vaccinated or post-covid—would be extraordinarily high. Moreover, this number would likely compare unfavourably to the number of children that would be harmed, including for rare serious events.

A separate, but crucial question is one of ethics. Should society be considering vaccinating children, subjecting them to any risk, not for the purpose of benefiting them but in order to protect adults? We believe the onus is on adults to protect themselves. In multiple jurisdictions around the world, the vast majority of adults, including those that are at high risk, have not been fully vaccinated against covid-19. If the goal is to protect adults, shouldn’t efforts be focused on ensuring adults are fully vaccinated rather than targeting children? Further, it is highly inequitable to be vaccinating very low risk children in wealthy countries while many vulnerable adults in low-income countries have not had any doses.

There is no need to rush to vaccinate children against covid-19—the vast majority stands little to benefit, and it is ethically dubious to pursue a hypothetical protection of adults while exposing children to harms, known and unknown. The risk/benefit consideration may be different in children at relatively higher risk of severe disease, such as those who are obese or immunocompromised. Otherwise, the focus should be on ensuring safe and effective vaccines are available for the adult populations which stand the most to benefit, especially those at high risk. In the meantime, there should be ongoing active evaluation of risks to youth, including research into risk factors for severe covid-19 and the impact of new variants, as well as ongoing evaluation of vaccine efficacy and safety.  There should also be ongoing evaluation of the protection afforded by infection-induced immunity relative to vaccine-induced immunity, especially in youth.

See alsoShould we delay covid-19 vaccination in children?

Elia Abi-Jaoude, Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, ON, Canada

Peter Doshi, Department of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research, University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, Baltimore

Claudina Michal-Teitelbaum, Preventive Medicine, Independent Researcher, Lyon, France

Competing interests: PD has received travel funds from the European Respiratory Society (2012) and Uppsala Monitoring Center (2018); grants from the FDA (through University of Maryland M-CERSI; 2020), Laura and John Arnold Foundation (2017-22), American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (2015), Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (2014-16), Cochrane Methods Innovations Fund (2016-18), and UK National Institute for Health Research (2011-14); was an unpaid IMEDS steering committee member at the Reagan-Udall Foundation for the FDA (2016-20), and is an editor at The BMJ.  EAJ and CMT have no relevant financial conflicts of interest to declare.  The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect official policy or position of the University of Maryland or the University of Toronto.

Acknowledgment: The authors wish to thank Jennie Lavine for her comments on this article.

Not commissioned, peer reviewed. 

July 17, 2021 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science | | Leave a comment