Aletho News


Algeria to discuss joining BRICS with Russia

The BRICS bloc represents an alternative to western economic hegemony, and can serve as a powerful tool to bypass economic sanctions

The Cradle | September 11, 2022

According to media reports on 8 September, the newly appointed Russian ambassador to Algeria, Valeryan Shuvayev, announced that the North African country’s president, Abdelmajid Tebboune, will likely visit Moscow before the end of the year to discuss mutual cooperation between the two countries.

Tebboune’s potential visit will center around Algeria’s desire to join the Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS) group of emerging economies.

The BRICS group of nations represents the world’s most prominent economies outside of the western hemisphere.

In his first media appearance outside of the Russian embassy in Algeria, Shuvayev stated that President Tebboune sent a letter to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin regarding his country’s desire to join BRICS.

In May, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Algeria and met with President Tebboune, as well as his Algerian counterpart, Ramtane Lamamra, where they discussed a boost in relations between both countries, and the intention to sign a number of agreements in the near future that will further enhance the relationship between Moscow and Algiers.

Two months later, in late July, Tebboune referred to the BRICS group as a significant “economic and political power” which is of interest to the North African state and added that his country holds the necessary criteria to be included into the organization.

In mid-August, former Algerian Industry Minister, Ferhat Ait Ali, said during an interview: “This bloc seeks to attract countries that are neither poor nor very rich, but rather countries that [can serve as an] alternative to Western hegemony.”

The BRICS group “includes two historical allies and partners for Algeria to trust in… namely China and Russia, and other partners who have no problem in the progress of our economic system in parallel with theirs,” the former Algerian minister added.

Algeria and Russia have historically enjoyed a smooth relationship. The Soviet Union was the first country to establish diplomatic relations with Algeria following its independence from French colonial occupation in 1962.

The BRICS group of emerging economies represents a beneficial alternative to the dominant US and western-led economic system, especially for countries negatively affected by western sanctions.

In June, the Islamic Republic of Iran submitted an application to become a member of the BRICS group. Tehran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Saeed Khatibzadeh, said at the time that the bloc’s member countries represent 30 percent of the world’s GDP and 40 percent of the global population.

September 11, 2022 Posted by | Economics | , | 1 Comment

US, E3 untrustworthy; Iran pursues an agreement to secure its interests: Marandi

Press TV – September 11, 2022

An advisor to the Iranian negotiating team has described the US government and the three European signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal as “untrustworthy”, stating that Tehran pursues an agreement that best secures its national interests.

During an interview on Saturday night, Mohammad Marandi said Iran was not the party that withdrew from the 2015 deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), emphasizing that the three European countries (France, Britain, and Germany) obediently follow the policies of whoever is in the White House.

He added that Iran knows that any possible accord will fail unless the Western countries put an end to their false accusations against Tehran.

Marandi noted that the European troika and Washington are aware of the peacefulness of the Iranian nuclear program, stressing that Iran wants to reach an agreement that would secure its rights.

During the interview with the Lebanese Arabic-language al-Mayadeen television news network, he continued, “We cannot trust the Americans and Europeans,” highlighting that “the three European countries are all allies of the United States. They are not neutral, and we should not be deceived by their propaganda.”

Marandi also took a swipe at Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Grossi, stating that he “stands with Europeans and Americans, and is submissive to them.”

The advisor to the Iranian negotiating team went on to say that a European official once confirmed during the course of JCPOA revival negotiations in the Austrian capital of Vienna that Iran’s demands are rightful, but “the Americans are the ones who are delaying and procrastinating” the talks.

Marandi stressed that Iran is “ready to sign the agreement,” noting that “the Europeans need the agreement more than Iran, because of their need for gas.”

On the issue of Iranian natural gas, he told al-Mayadeen that “Iran sells its gas and oil, and is able to obtain financial revenues,” adding that “the longer the agreement is delayed, the bigger the problem for Europe would be because it wants gas as the winter is approaching.”

The European energy crisis comes as tensions persist between Russia and the West over Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine. Natural gas prices have soared in Europe to all-time highs since the West began unleashing waves of sanctions against Moscow.

Ever since, Russia’s Gazprom has drastically reduced its gas deliveries to Europe, saying that the anti-Russia sanctions have blocked the delivery of a turbine needed to stream gas to Europe via pipeline.

‘A weak Biden’

As for the United States, Marandi said, “US President Joe Biden is weak, and suffers from internal and economic problems before the midterm elections.”

Marandi added that “the Europeans have no problem in reaching an agreement, but rather the problem lies with weak Biden [administration].”

On Saturday, Iran slammed the latest “unconstructive and ill-considered” statement issued by the three European signatories to the JCPOA, saying they must accept the consequences if it continues to follow Israel’s lead.

“It is regrettable that by [issuing] such an ill-considered statement, the three European countries have followed in the footsteps of the Zionist regime down a path that will lead to the failure of negotiations,” the Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Nasser Kan’ani said.

‘US’s support for terrorists’

Marandi also condemned Washington over its support for the terrorist Mujahedin-e-Khalq Organization (MKO) that has been hosted by Albania since 2016, stating that its members have been carrying out attacks against Iran.

On Wednesday, Albania, which has for years hosted the anti-Iran MKO terrorists in collusion with the US, severed diplomatic ties with Tehran, accusing it of orchestrating a July “cyberattack” against Tirana.

Kan’ani identified the United States, the Israeli regime, and the MKO as the “third parties” that have propelled Tirana into taking the decision.

Russia’s Permanent Representative to the International Organizations in Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov, described the latest statement issued by three major European powers about Iran as “very untimely”.

“Very untimely indeed. Right at a critical moment at the #ViennaTalks and on the eve of the session of the #IAEA Board of Governors,” Ulyanov, who also leads the Russian delegation at the Vienna talks on Iran nuclear deal, wrote in a tweet.

In a press release on Saturday, France, Britain, and Germany raised serious doubts as to Iran’s intentions and commitment to a successful outcome on the JCPOA, claiming that Tehran’s position contradicts its legally binding obligations and jeopardizes prospects of restoring the nuclear deal.

The European trio said they have “negotiated with Iran, in good faith, since April 2021, to restore and fully implement” the JCPOA, along with other participants to the deal and the United States.

The United States, under former president Donald Trump, abandoned the agreement in May 2018 and reinstated unilateral sanctions that the agreement had lifted.

The talks to salvage the agreement kicked off in the Austrian capital city of Vienna in April last year, months after Joe Biden succeeded Trump, with the intention of examining Washington’s seriousness in rejoining the deal and removing anti-Iran sanctions.

Despite notable progress, the US indecisiveness and procrastination caused multiple interruptions in the marathon talks.

September 11, 2022 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

German President Says Homeless Numbers May Rise Amid Cost-of-Living Crisis

Samizdat – 11.09.2022

More people in Germany may become homeless this winter as soaring costs of living keep adding pressure on vulnerable households, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier warned on Sunday.
Over 300,000 Germans do not have a home, Steinmeier told a conference at his Bellevue residence. Of them, 45,000 are forced to sleep rough on the streets.

“More than 300,000 is a huge figure! And let’s be clear: this number may rise in the coming months. The war and crises may increase the number of people suffering from lack of housing in fall and winter,” he said.

Germany marks the Day of the Homeless on September 11. The German president traditionally invited people who do not have a roof over their head to his Berlin residence in the upscale Tiergarten neighborhood.

Steinmeier said that the problem of homelessness was more acute than ever at this time of crisis. He urged politicians to make sure that “the topic is not relegated to the bottom of the political agenda”.

Germany and other European countries are suffering from soaring inflation and immense energy prices caused by Brussels’ decision to impose sanctions on Russia after the start of the special military op in Ukraine. As a result, gas prices and energy bills at record-high levels have become a major issue for many Europeans.

September 11, 2022 Posted by | Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | | 1 Comment

The West is poised to throw Yemen under the bus again to fuel its economic war on Russia

By Robert Inlakesh | Samizdat | September 11, 2022

Strained by the consequences of the ongoing conflict between NATO and Russia over Ukraine, France may be destroying all prospects for peace in Yemen, in a bid to secure energy resource from the United Arab Emirates.

Considered to be home to the worst humanitarian crisis in modern history, according to the United Nations, earlier this year, its people saw glimmers of hope towards ending its seven-year long war. A ceasefire truce, which has largely held since April, has been viewed as the first step towards reaching a UN-mediated solution for peace between the Ansarallah government in Sanaa and the Saudi-led coalition forces which claim to represent the internationally backed Yemeni government in exile.

According to UN estimates, the total number of people killed in Yemen’s war already reached 377,000 by the beginning of 2022. The civilian death rate is said to have doubled, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), since the controversial withdrawal of UN human rights monitors last October.

Although Saudi coalition forces and Ansarallah, popularly referred to in Western media as the “Iran-backed Houthi rebels,” have managed to keep fighting to a minimum during the past months, another major player in the south of Yemen has recently decided to go on the offensive. The Southern Transitional Council (STC), often called Yemen’s southern separatists, are backed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and declared the start of a new military operation in the Abyan province “to cleanse it of terrorist organisations.” This follows territorial gains by the STC, in neighboring Shawba province, against the Muslim Brotherhood aligned Islah Party and others. The offensives launched by the UAE-backed STC have been regarded as a major challenge to UN efforts to end the conflict in Yemen, as well as having imperiled the Saudi initiative, which it calls the ‘Yemen Presidential Council,’ aimed at solidifying the legitimacy of the alternative Yemeni leadership in exile.

Where France Comes In

Although its role is little known to the Western public, Paris is the third largest arms supplier to the UAE and Saudi Arabia for their war efforts in Yemen, ranking just behind the US and UK. In fact, Germany, Spain and Italy have also sold weapons that have been used in the devastating war. Despite criticism, from human rights groups, of French weapons being used by Abu Dhabi and Riyadh to commit war crimes, the sale of weapons has continued from France.

April 15, 2019, French investigative magazine, Disclosepublished an expose on Paris’s role in Yemen’s war. The information presented was based on a leaked French Military Intelligence (DRM) report dating back to September, 2018, clearly proving that the country had sold offensive weapons that were used in civilian areas, a charge that the French government has denied. As far back as June, 2018, credible reports began to emerge that French special forces units were operating on the ground in Yemen, alongside forces belonging to the UAE. Last December, Paris decided to further tighten its relationship with Abu Dhabi, signing its largest ever weapons sale to the UAE, worth 19.23 billion US dollars according to a report from Reuters.

France first turned to the US

France is now desperately in need of alternative energy suppliers to Russia, in order to meet its required needs, fearing that as the winter hits, Moscow may strategically cut off its natural gas completely. As part of NATO, Paris is backing a US-led initiative which seeks to make Russia pay an economic and military price for its offensive in Ukraine, however, this strategy has majorly backfired economically.

US President Joe Biden made two major foreign policy pledges when running for office in 2020, which are relevant to the current French predicament. The first being to revive the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal and the second being to find a diplomatic solution to the war in Yemen. Due to the ongoing NATO-Russia conflict, seeking a revival of the Iran nuclear deal has re-emerged on the political agenda of his administration in a major way. Iran, free from sanctions, could become an alternative source to fill the energy needs of Europe in the future, yet it could take some time for this to actually happen.

On the issue of the war in Yemen, Joe Biden pledged as part of his first speech on his government’s foreign policy goals, that he would hold Saudi Arabia to account and seek to find a solution to the crisis in Yemen. However, the war in Ukraine clearly changed his approach to Riyadh, so much so that Washington signaled in the review a decision to not sell offensive weapons to the Saudi government. The US President was heavily criticized by Human Rights Watch for traveling to Saudi Arabia in July.

Despite US attempts to have Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states increase their oil production, none have yet complied in the manner that Washington had hoped for. Specifically in the cases of the UAE and Saudi Arabia, it is clear that both are seeking to fast track their journey to diversify their economies. That has meant them hanging onto their strategic reserves of oil and gas, during a global energy crisis, which has made fiscal sense for them. In the cases of Venezuela and Iran, despite the US having seemingly reached out to both, neither seem to be a real replacement to Russia in the near future.

All Bets On Yemen

France is now looking for alternatives on its own. In June, the European Union announced that it had signed an agreement with Israel and Egypt. Under the deal, Israel will send gas through pipelines to Egypt, where it will then be transported to Europe. Although this may work, Tel Aviv does not have the capacity to replace Moscow as Europe’s main supplier of gas. Israel seeks to double its gas output, but in doing so is already running into potential problems over its maritime border dispute with Lebanon and its planned extraction of gas from the ‘Karish field’ in September, considered to be located in a disputed area. Lebanese Hezbollah has even threatened to strike all of Israel’s gas facilities in the event that Beirut is not given a fair deal to access its own resources.

French President, Emmanuel Macron, has attempted to persuade resource rich Algeria to become part of the EU’s solution, also going on a three-day trip to Algiers in order to mend ties. Algeria, which maintains close relations with Moscow, withdrew its ambassador from Paris for three months last year, during a diplomatic row. Macron had accused the Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune’s government of “exploiting memory” and “rewriting history” of the colonial era and even questioned the legitimacy of Algeria as a State prior to French settler-colonial rule there. Around 1.5 million Algerians were killed in the battle for independence from France, which its resistance eventually managed to win in 1962. The tone of the French president has now dramatically changed from that of last year, with Macron remarking that both nations “have a complex, painful common past. And it has at times prevented us from looking at the future.”

The other major alternative path that France seems to be now seeking, is through its close alliance with the UAE. As mentioned above, it has been clear for some time that Paris has been involved in supplying weapons, logistical support and even boots on the ground to its allies in Abu Dhabi and Riyadh, aiding their fight in Yemen. However, it is also clear that the UAE has not been interested in cutting into its strategic oil reserves to meet the demands of Europe.

In July, as President Macron hosted the Emirati President, Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, in Paris, the French ministry of economy announced a new strategic energy agreement between the UAE and France. An aide to the French president noted that France was eager to secure diesel fuel from the UAE, hinting that the cooperation agreement involving France’s ‘Total Energies’ and the UAE’s ‘ADNOC’ may be linked. Although it is unknown as to what the specifics of the “strategic agreement” are, it has been speculated that the deal could potentially be worth billions.

Then, in August, the UAE-backed STC suddenly began new offensive operations in both the Shabwa and Abyan provinces. It just so happens that the STC forces decided to take over the energy sites in the Shabwa province too. Leading human rights NGOs had urged Paris to keep in mind Abu Dhabi’s human rights abuses in the advent of the signing of the strategic energy agreement, calls clearly not heeded. On August 21st, when UAE-backed forces seized the oil facilities in Yemen’s south, it may have been with the French deal in mind. Yemen’s former foreign minister, Dr. Abu Bakr al-Qirbi stated on Twitter that “preparations are being made to export gas from the Balhaf facility in light of increased international gas prices.” This was then followed by an announcement from the parliament of the Sana’a-based National Salvation Government, warning of suspicious movement from both US and French forces.

The key Balhaf facility, in Yemen’s Shabwa province, has reportedly been turned into a base for forces belonging to the UAE, with allegations suggesting that Paris could “provide protection for the facility through the French Foreign Legion.” There are also countless reports of the UAE looting resources from Yemen, which would seem to support the idea that they could be attempting to extract them to send to France. The latest reported looting of Yemen’s resources, from June, quotes Yemeni officials as having alleged that a Gulf Aetos tanker, carrying 400,000 barrels of Yemeni crude oil, had departed from Rudum port and was being operated by the UAE.

What these offensive moves by the STC also mean, is that the Saudi-backed forces in Yemen and Ansarallah will likely also get involved in the combat too. This could mean the dissolution of the ceasefire truce between the two sides, the renewal of the Ansarallah offensive to take the oil rich Marib province from the Saudi-backed forces and the death of any potential peace initiative to end the war.

It is unlikely that Ansarallah will stay silent, if the STC are aiding in the theft of Yemen’s resources for the sake of France. One of the major reasons behind the dramatic escalation of violence last year, was the Ansarallah offensive, launched with the aim of taking out the last northern stronghold of the Saudi-led coalition, Marib. The purpose of taking the resource rich area would be to stop the looting of Yemen’s resources, which according to reports is amounting to the theft of millions of barrels per year. Some sources claim that an unofficial agreement is in place between the US and Saudi governments, to purposefully keep the resources of Yemen away from its people and instead, divert the profits to Saudi banks.

Part of the reason why there was a Yemeni revolution in 2011, then a seizure of power in 2015 by Ansarallah in conjunction with the country’s military, was the popular belief that the past two Presidents of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh and Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, were corrupt. The people of Yemen were fed up with Saleh for a multitude of reasons, primarily that he mismanaged resources, had sold out to the United States and was corrupt. President Hadi was later to be seen as a stooge, controlled completely by the Saudis.

Perhaps the biggest problem here however, is not just that Yemen is a resource rich country, with a starving population, being torn apart by foreign powers, but also that nobody even knows what their governments are involved in. On August 25, then British prime minister, Boris Johnson, stated, about rising energy bills, that “While people are paying energy bills, people in Ukraine are paying with blood”. Yet, it may turn out that for Europe to keep the lights on, the people of Yemen will pay with their blood. Except in this case, the UK, US and France can’t blame that bloodshed on Moscow, this is their own doing.

Robert Inlakesh is a political analyst, journalist and documentary filmmaker currently based in London, UK. He has reported from and lived in the occupied Palestinian territories and currently works with Quds News.

September 11, 2022 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Pro-Western Bots Behind Vast Majority of Russia-Ukraine Tweets Studied, New Report Finds

Samizdat – 11.09.2022

A bombshell report has revealed that one of the largest bot armies ever discovered was secretly working to advance Western interests in NATO’s ongoing proxy war on Russia in Ukraine.

Researchers at the University of Adelaide who studied 5.2 million tweets published in the weeks after Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine have published an alarming new study which found that 60% to 80% of those posts were shared by fake accounts – and 90% of them were in favor of Kiev.

According to their groundbreaking research, fake accounts using hashtags like #IStandWithUkraine, #IStandWithZelenskyy, and #ISupportUkraine were utilized en masse to perpetuate myths like the “Ghost of Kiev” – a non-existent pilot that pro-Ukraine influencers held up for months as an example of supposed anti-Russian gallantry before the Kiev regime’s military quietly acknowledged he never existed.

Such bots were deployed at key moments in the conflict, like when fighting began in Mariupol and when Russia gained a foothold in its first major Ukrainian city, researchers found.

According to information compiled by the Stanford Internet Observatory and Graphika, one pro-US page targeting Central Asian social media users went as far as doctoring a photograph of Puerto Rican actress Valeria Menendez in an effort to convince audiences that there were real human beings behind the influence campaign.

The impact that networks of such bot accounts may have had on public perceptions surrounding the Ukraine proxy war has yet to be determined.

But with Western audiences increasingly preoccupied by more immediate issues like the energy crisis spawned by anti-Russia sanctions or the lack of drinkable water in US cities such as Jackson, Mississippi, polls show that interest in the Ukraine conflict has fallen at least twenty-fold since late February – and it’s likely that the bots’ operators have experienced a serious decline in engagement.

September 11, 2022 Posted by | Deception | | 1 Comment

Switzerland May Build Radioactive Waste Storage Facility Near German Border

Samizdat – 11.09.2022

The Swiss Federal Office of Energy (BFE) has stated that an area of northern Switzerland near the border with Germany might be used for the construction of a nuclear waste storage facility.

The Swiss government has yet to approve a deep geological repository for spent nuclear fuel and other radioactive waste, due to be located in the region of Nordlich Lagern, north of Zurich.

BFE spokeswoman Marianne Zuend told Reuters that the project was initiated by the National Cooperative for the Disposal of Radioactive Waste (NAGRA), a company which plans to propose the Nordlich Lagern site on Monday.

“This is only an announcement of where they (Nagra) would like to build,” Zuend pointed out, adding that the BFE is overseeing the process.

She also said that “All the details will have to be elaborated now by NAGRA to be put into the official demand that they will submit in about two years’ time to the authorities.”

According to NAGRA, the proposal also has yet to get the green light from the Swiss parliament, with the government not expected to make a final decision on the site until 2029. The construction of the repository may only start in 2045.

AFP news agency, in turn, quoted NAGRA spokesman Felix Glauser as saying that they “chose Nordlich Lagern as the safest site for a deep geological repository.”

He referred to “extensive investigations” that he said “have shown that Nordlich Lagern is the most suitable site and has the largest safety reserves.”

The German Federal Ministry for the Environment has voiced concern regarding NAGRA’s plans, which were also slammed by Christian Kuhn, a member of the German parliament (Bundestag) from Baden-Wurttemberg.

He argued that the proximity of the planned nuclear waste storage site to Baden-Württemberg village in Hohentengen “poses a problem both during the construction phase and during the operation of the repository.”

Right now, there are four active nuclear power plants (NPPs) in Switzerland, which may reportedly continue their operation as long as their safety is guaranteed.

September 11, 2022 Posted by | Environmentalism, Nuclear Power | , | Leave a comment

Revealed: Ministers ignored warnings on school closures

By UsForThem | TCW Defending Freedom | September 7, 2022

‘After schools shut their gates on Friday afternoon, they will remain closed until further notice.’

When then Education Secretary Gavin Williamson stood up in Parliament on March 18 2020 to utter these words, a chill went through the nation, especially parents. It was another two days before Boris Johnson announced that all pubs, restaurants, gyms and other social venues across the country were to close, putting children’s education firmly behind adults’ entertainment. That chill turns to an icy blast when it becomes clear that this seismic decision, one which will impact many children into their adult lives, was made in full knowledge that closures were likely to be lengthy – months, not weeks – and that there was little consideration as to what that would mean for children, nor any plan to support them.

Former Chancellor Rishi Sunak, in his tell-all interview of lockdown decision-making, made clear that no one was prepared to consider the impact of school closures. ‘Forget about the economy,’ Sunak recalls himself saying, ‘surely we can all agree that kids not being in school is a major nightmare . . . There was a big silence afterwards. It was the first time someone had said it. I was so furious.’

To see such wilful blindness – some might say recklessness – at the heart of government in regard to the welfare, education and safeguarding of some 12million children in black and white is sobering. In light of that acknowledgment, we decided to do a deep dive into the minutes of Sage (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) to see what more the records could tell us about warnings that were ignored.

Our findings raise serious questions about the integrity of the assumptions made around school closures, the lack of any serious recognition of the impact on children in documented decision-making, and most consequential of all, about why the government and Department for Education (DfE) were not prepared for the scale of the shutdown when Sage had repeatedly made clear that, according to their estimates, school closures would need to be lengthy to have any impact.

School closures never anticipated to be effective in the long term

The core planning assumption at the outset (mid-February 2020) was for schools to stay open, in line with the assumptions of the previous influenza pandemic plans and the recognition that ‘any impact from school closures on the total number of cases is likely to be highly limited’.

Some (most notably the Institute for Government in their report on the government’s handling of education during the pandemic) have suggested that the policy switch to full school closures happened rapidly over the weekend of March 16/17 and took the DfE by surprise. However, if one tracks through the Sage minutes, a clear pattern is evident whereby the question of closures appears to escalate from a ‘probably not’ or perhaps an ‘if’, to a ‘when?’ and ‘for how long?’

A few factors make this progression especially perplexing. First, the impact of school closures on transmission was always highly uncertain. Even in the minutes of March 17, just before closures, the minutes read ‘Our best assessment is that they would reduce the reproduction number by between 10 per cent and 20 per cent’ and even that remains heavily caveated: ‘The impact of school closures, as a stand-alone policy, on Covid-19 would be expected to be smaller than for influenza.’

Early suggestions for mass school closures had been predicated on the basis that they should be considered only if children were responsible for high levels of transmission. But the day before Williamson’s statement, SPI-M-O (Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling, Operational sub-group) predicted that ‘infected children could be an average of 25 per cent to 75 per cent as likely to transmit SARS-CoV-2 per contact than adults’. Why, then, were the models not re-run with these lower transmission rates?

Finally, all the models showed that when schools reopened, cases would increase again, and the effectiveness of the measure would therefore be limited. At best it was known from the start that school closures could only be a short term, very incomplete tool – ostensibly to help ‘save the NHS’ – yet this tool was still employed again a year later, in January 2021, and almost a third time when the NHS found itself in trouble again.

Children discriminated against vs other groups

In early February 2020, the view of SPI-M-O was that potential interventions had the ability to delay the pandemic for only one month, listing four interventions predicted to have the most impact. School closures were included in that list, despite a clear acknowledgement that the incubation period and lack of prior immunity among adults would mean that this would not be expected to be as effective a tool as in a flu pandemic.

By early March 2020, Sage recommended social distancing for over-70s as a key intervention estimated to reduce deaths by 20-30 per cent, and combined with isolation of symptomatic individuals and their households, by 50 per cent. Closing schools in this model had no impact on deaths. In light of this, why were school closures always on the table, and especially given the uncertain benefits, never rigorously questioned in regard to the long-term impact on children?

Lack of recognition of the impact on children 

The Sage minutes recognise throughout that closing schools would have ‘impact’. Occasionally it is acknowledged that these impacts are on children, such as in the magnificently underplayed phrase ‘foregone education’ or in the guise of ‘educational costs’, but far more often the impacts on the rest of the population are the priority, for instance in terms of the following:

  • Parent absenteeism
  • Concern for grandparents forced to care for children off school
  • Impact on the economy and especially the health care system
  • Providing education on pandemic control such as handwashing to share with families

In truth, and as Sunak implied, Sage rarely looked at the implications for children. Only one paper with the Sage minutes for the six weeks preceding the decision to close schools raises the spectre of the awful treatment that we now know was suffered by the most vulnerable of young people. And it could not have been more underplayed: ‘Almost all strategies will result in reduced, or changed, adult oversight of children. This presents a risk of unintended consequences.’ So the deaths of Star Hobson and Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, and those of the other 220 children whose deaths during lockdown were thought to involve abuse or neglect, were ‘unintended consequences’ that no one in authority bothered to consider.

Lack of preparation and honesty on duration of closures

Sage say clearly in their minutes that ‘allowing exams to take place in otherwise closed schools would only have a marginal impact’, a conclusion drawn by most other countries as well. So why were Gavin Williamson and the Department for Education unprepared for this eventuality, when school closures had been on the table for at least six weeks before the decision was announced? Most shameful of all, though, is that the ‘closed until further notice’ announced by Gavin Williamson on 18 March was envisaged the day before by the scientists as variously ‘a long period’, ‘until September’,  or – at best – ‘school closures would need to last several months to maintain the effect seen’.

So given that Sage were clearly signalling from early February that if schools closed it would need to be for a significant period, why was there no communication of this when schools closed? Why was there no plan for exams? Why had there been no attempt in the weeks prior to the closures to prepare pupils, parents and teachers for distance learning? Most of all, why weren’t the known safeguarding concerns acted upon?

Were school closures inevitable?

It is hard to recall now the increasing levels of uncertainty and fear in media and government communications in March 2020. By mid-March, with 20 per cent of teachers isolating and school attendance at 70 to 80 per cent, school closures may have become the only option. However, imagine if, as well as a plan to close schools, the DfE had a plan to reopen them, or – as envisaged in previous pandemic plans – to keep some form of in-person teaching going using a retired/reserve workforce. Imagine if the government had not chosen in its communications a route that decreed ‘the perceived level of personal threat needs to be increased among those who are complacent, using hard-hitting emotional messaging’ – a narrative which not only impacted the mental health of children, but also made it almost impossible to have a balanced view on the need for schools to reopen, leading to the chaos of isolations as well as the school closures of January 2021.

The decision-making around school closures, almost complete failure to grasp the severe and in some cases fatal implications for school closures on children, and the apparent lack of any coherent plan for reopening or education whilst schools were closed must be central to any examination by the UK Covid-19 Inquiry. If children and young people are once again excluded from the process, it will be a stark admission that our society places a lower value on children than on adults.

September 11, 2022 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

Covid Vaccines Up to 100 Times More Likely to Cause Serious Injury to a Young Adult Than Prevent It, Say Top Scientists


University COVID-19 vaccine mandates are unethical because the vaccines are up to nearly 100 times more likely to cause a person of student age serious injury than prevent him or her from being hospitalised with COVID-19, a new study has concluded.

The study, whose authors include Dr. Kevin Bardosh, a recipient of funding from the pro-vaccination Wellcome Trust led by Sir Jeremy Farrar, and Dr. Tracy Beth Høeg of the Florida Department of Health, presents a risk-benefit assessment of booster vaccines among people of student age and provides five ethical arguments against mandates.

The researchers estimate that 22,000-30,000 previously uninfected adults aged 18-29 must be boosted with an mRNA vaccine to prevent just one COVID-19 hospitalisation. In the study, which is currently undergoing peer-review, the authors analyse CDC and reported adverse event data and find that booster mandates are likely to cause a net expected harm. They estimate that for every COVID-19 hospitalisation prevented in previously uninfected young adults, 18 to 98 serious adverse events will occur, including 1.7 to 3.0 booster-associated myocarditis cases in males, and 1,373 to 3,234 cases of serious injury which interferes with daily activities.

The authors add that given the high level of natural immunity following infection now present in the population, the actual risk-benefit profile is even less favourable.

On the basis of this evidence they argue that university booster mandates are unethical because:

  1. no formal risk-benefit assessment exists for the age group;
  2. vaccine mandates may result in a net expected harm to individual young people;
  3. mandates are not proportionate: expected harms are not outweighed by public health benefits given the modest and transient effectiveness of vaccines against transmission;
  4. U.S. mandates violate the reciprocity principle because rare serious vaccine-related harms will not be reliably compensated due to gaps in current vaccine injury schemes; and
  5. mandates create wider social harms.

They consider counterarguments, such as a desire for socialisation and safety, and show that such arguments are weak and lack scientific and ethical support.

The authors include Dr. Vinay Prasad of the University of California and Dr. Martin A. Makary and Dr. Stefan Baral of Johns Hopkins University. A previous intervention in February by many of the same authors, published in BMJ Global Health, took a strong ethical stance against vaccine coercion in the form of mandates and passports.

It’s been clear for some time that the cost-benefit assessment of the vaccines will not be favourable for young people. But with leading scientists, including some funded by pro-vaccination organisations like the Wellcome Trust, now putting the case in top journals, hopefully the message will get through to politicians and administrators, especially in America, who continue to impose vaccine requirements on young adults.

While the present paper is focused on vaccine coercion, its arguments also apply more generally to the offer of vaccination to young adults, and raise questions as to whether vaccine recipients are being fully apprised of the risks and likely benefits before consenting to the inoculation.

September 11, 2022 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment