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Twitter labels RT & Sputnik but NOT BBC, NPR & VOA as it launches blitz on state media staff & govt officials

RT | August 6, 2020

Twitter has declared war on certain state-affiliated media entities, announcing accounts belonging to senior staff will be labeled and their tweets won’t be amplified or recommended. The BBC and US state-funded media are exempt.

The microblogging platform announced it will label accounts belonging to key government officials in countries on the UN Security Council, as well as accounts belonging to state-linked media outlets, their editors-in-chief and senior staff.

In a Thursday blog post, it warned it will no longer show tweets from state-linked media accounts on the home screen, notifications, or search.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Twitter left a sizable loophole for the US and friendly nations, explaining that “state-financed media organizations with editorial independence, like the BBC in the UK or NPR in the US for example, will not be labeled.”

“We believe this is an important step so that when people see an account discussing geopolitical issues from another country, they have context on its national affiliation and are better informed about who they represent,” Twitter explained in the post, adding that it would not be labeling government officials’ personal accounts – just those associated with their offices.

Betraying a shockingly dim understanding of American media, Twitter explained that “unlike independent media, state-affiliated media frequently use their news coverage as a means to advance a political agenda.”

Perhaps attempting to fend off discrimination lawsuits, they added that the move had come after consultation with “a number of expert groups, including members of the Digital and Human Rights Advisory Group in Twitter’s Trust & Safety Council.”

That group includes notoriously censor-happy entities like the Anti-Defamation League, the Dangerous Speech Project, and Feminist Frequency.

Clicking on the new labels takes the viewer to a page explaining the policy, which hints it “will be expanded to include additional countries in the future.” The page refers to them as “election labels,” suggesting the policy is a response to ongoing baseless claims that Russian social media manipulation was responsible for President Donald Trump’s 2016 victory. With the November election less than 100 days away, social media platforms are scrambling to censor non-approved views, especially those they can link to un-American activities.

A Twitter spokesman declined to provide a full list of entities to be censored to Reuters, but mentioned RT, Sputnik, and Xinhua News by name. Facebook recently adopted a similar policy, complete with double standard for US and friendly state-controlled media organizations.

August 6, 2020 Posted by | Russophobia | , , | 1 Comment

The campaign to silence climate debate on Facebook

Interview of the CO2 Coalition’s Caleb Rossiter

ImproveThePlanet • July 8, 2020

On this week’s Power Hour Alex Epstein interviews Dr. Caleb Rossiter, Chairman of the CO2 Coalition.

There is an active campaign, led by billionaire anti-fossil-fuel activist Tom Steyer, to convince Facebook to remove the CO2 Coalition from its platform.

Some highlights include:
* Rossiter’s decades-long work on African issues.
* Why fossil fuels, especially coal, are crucial to African prosperity.
* How Rossiter became suspicious of climate models.
* CO2 as a warming gas *and* a plant fertilizing gas.
* How challenging climate catastrophism hurt Rossiter’s career.
* How the “paid off by the fossil fuel industry” narrative is laughable.

July 18, 2020 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular, Video | | Leave a comment

The real goal of the ‘Stop Hate for Profit’ campaign against Facebook has nothing to do with ‘hate speech’

By Helen Buyniski | RT | June 29, 2020

A deep-pocketed astroturf campaign has created the impression that Facebook users are up in arms about racism on the platform, but the ‘Stop Hate for Profit’ campaign is a naked political power-grab by the usual suspects.

The campaign emerged earlier this month and has gathered a huge amount of support from corporations eager to check the Black Lives Matter box and burnish their image. But it’s not clear if these companies have looked into who’s behind the initiative, or what their intentions are. Stop Hate for Profit’s organizers appear less concerned with stopping “hate” than they are with muscling their way into Facebook’s boardroom and seizing the power to permanently silence political opponents.

Stop Hate for Profit’s website is operated by the Anti-Defamation League, an advocacy group notorious for its heavy-handed censorship tactics that has bragged about its involvement in YouTube content purges and regularly smears critics of Israeli policy as froth-mouthed anti-Semites. Listed co-sponsors of the campaign include activist organizations Color of Change, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, and a “media freedom” group called Free Press, which according to its mission statement seeks to “change the media to transform democracy to realize a just society.” In practice, that apparently translates to lending “free press” cover to ideologically-motivated censorship campaigns.

Because make no mistake, Stop Hate for Profit is ideologically-motivated, and its intention is censorship. All three of the aforementioned groups have at least one common financial backer: billionaire currency speculator George Soros’ Open Society Foundations. Soros has made no secret of the fact that he wants Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg out of the top position, penning a series of increasingly unhinged op-eds earlier this year accusing the social media tycoon of colluding with US President Donald Trump to get the latter re-elected. Soros repeatedly demanded not only that Zuckerberg be removed from power, but that Facebook be stripped of its Section 230 legal protections, treated as a publisher and not a platform – and thus rendered liable for any and all user-generated content.

It’s not too surprising, then, that this group of Soros-backed organizations just happens to have set its sights squarely on Facebook’s profitability. By taking aim at the 99 percent of Facebook’s profits obtained through advertising, the campaign has already exacted a beating on the company’s stock price, which tumbled 8.3 percent on Friday. Facebook’s value has plummeted $56 billion since the campaign started, kicking Zuckerberg off the world’s three-richest-people list and making the platform’s investors very unhappy.

The more Facebook’s poor performance can be tied to the actions of the CEO, the more likely investors are to send him packing – and Soros likely laughing all the way to the bank.

Zuckerberg has stubbornly refused to fact-check political advertising on his platform, even as Facebook subjects all non-politicians’ speech to microscopic examination by ideological crusaders loaded down with their own baggage and conflicts of interest, allowing Trump and other conservative politicians to buy their way into voters’ hearts without fear that some Soros-funded fact-checker will ruin the moment. This – not some epidemic of “hate speech” – is the problem Stop Hate for Profit is most determined to fix.

The campaign’s answer to the question of “hate speech” on Facebook is multifaceted, but all the solutions it comes up with end with groups like the ADL gaining absurd levels of power within the immensely profitable platform. They demand Facebook submit to “regular, third party independent audits of identity-based hate and misinformation” – presumably to be conducted by the ADL or its affiliates – and refund money to advertisers whose content appeared next to material that was later yanked for violating terms of service.

And they want those terms of service to cover a lot more content – everything from “climate denialism” to “militia” are to be excised from the platform if Facebook wants its advertiser dollars back.

This isn’t the first time these same forces have united to demand Facebook preemptively shut down speech they don’t like under the guise of fighting “hate.” In 2018, the Southern Poverty Law Center – the ADL’s chief rival for the donations of wealthy liberals with enormous persecution complexes – urged tech platforms to allow “individuals and organizations” (like the SPLC, presumably) to “flag hateful activities” as well as “groups and individuals engaged in hateful activities” so that they might be speedily ushered off the platform. The SPLC’s partners in this endeavor? Color of Change, Free Press, and the National Hispanic Media Coalition.

Not everyone who’s signed on to Stop Hate for Profit is necessarily in it for the censorship, of course. Some corporations no doubt think they’re actually doing something good. But ironically, some of the participants don’t appear to actually be pulling their ads from Facebook at all, as Gizmodo discovered last week. Companies eager to be seen as taking a stand against Facebook have pulled their most obvious ads, but apparently left in place advertising deals through the Facebook Audience Network, which displays ads targeted based on Facebook activity across third-party apps, or continue to advertise with Facebook subsidiary Instagram.

It’s only fitting that a campaign that is at its heart a pantomime of caring about marginalized groups should be met by a pantomime of corporate activism from its real targets – Facebook’s investors. Soros has spoken, will Zuckerberg be pried loose from the CEO’s chair?

Helen Buyniski is an American journalist and political commentator at RT. Follow her on Twitter @velocirapture23

Read more:

Don’t make me repeat myself again! Soros threatens Zuckerberg must be removed from Facebook ‘one way or another’

June 30, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | Leave a comment

Zuckerberg loses $7.2 BILLION after corporate ad boycott pressing Facebook to police ‘hate speech’

RT | June 27, 2020

Plummeting Facebook shares have wiped out billions of founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s personal wealth. The impetus? Corporations such as Coca-Cola and Verizon have pulled their ads, demanding that Facebook censor hate speech.

Zuckerberg lost $7.2 billion, after Facebook’s shares fell by 8.3 percent on Friday, Bloomberg reported. The dive in value happened after Unilever, one of the largest advertisers in the world, joined the list of major companies that suspended their ad campaigns on Facebook and its subsidiary Instagram. At around the same time, Coca-Cola said it was also pulling all its social-media advertising for 30 days.

More than 120 corporations, including Verizon, Dove, Lipton, Hershey’s, and Honda joined the boycott organized by activists and civil-rights groups that demanded Facebook combat what they term hate speech and disinformation on its platform.

Responding to the criticism, Zuckerberg, whose remaining net worth is now being estimated at $82.3 billion by Bloomberg, has promised to ban ads with “hateful content.” The prohibited advertising will include materials that describe a specific demographic as “a threat to the physical safety, health or survival of others.” He also vowed to fight potential voter suppression, and to take down posts by politicians and government officials if the company deems them to be an incitement to violence.

While Zuckerberg did not explicitly mention the boycott, it was clear from the announcement he was trying to appease its critics. The US media landscape has been deluged by a wave of calls for advertiser boycotts that came in the wake of the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests. The action targeted primarily conservative outlets and speakers, and ended up being so widespread that it garnered the attention of US President Donald Trump, who considered making such behavior “illegal.”

Still, while Facebook has largely avoided explicit Twitter-style hounding of ‘wrong’ political opinions so far, the social-media platform has been frequently accused of censorship. Despite its proclaimed strive for “transparency,” Facebook is very vague on its policies about ‘forbidden’ content. It has been repeatedly caught flagging and removing certain posts for no obvious reason. One of the most recent scandals involved a colored version of an iconic World War II photo depicting a Soviet flag over the Reichstag – that was sanctioned on V-Day for showing “dangerous individuals and organizations.”

Other Silicon Valley giants, such as Twitter and Google-owned YouTube, have been waging an open war on comments deemed hateful or inflammatory. Twitter has been embroiled in a public spat with Trump, labeling several of his tweets as violating the company’s policy against “abusive behavior.”

June 27, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | 3 Comments

SouthFront is Censored under Cover of Pandemic

By Rick Sterling | Dissident Voice | June 8, 2020

Censorship of alternative media is becoming more widespread in the COVID19 era. This article documents the case of SouthFront.

Introducing SouthFront

Where do you find daily news, videos, analysis and maps about the conflict in Syria? Detailed reports about the conflicts in Libya, Yemen and Venezuela? News about the rise of ISIS in Mozambique? Original analysis of events in the US and Russia? SouthFront is the place.

SouthFront is unique and influential, reaching a global audience of hundreds of thousands. They have  opinion articles but their reports and videos are informational and factual. Their website says,

SouthFront focuses on issues of international relations, armed conflicts and crises…. We try to dig out the truth on issues which are barely covered by the states concerned and the mainstream media.

Censorship by Facebook and YouTube

A major disinformation and censorship drive against SouthFront was recently launched. On April 30 the SouthFront Facebook account with about 100,000 subscribers was deleted without warning or notice.

On May 1, SouthFront’s main YouTube account with over 150 thousand subscribers was terminated. The English language channel had 1,900 uploaded videos with 60 million views over the past 5 years.

While the SouthFront website continues as before, the above actions remove important distribution channels which SouthFront has painstakingly built up.

The censorship has been accompanied by a parallel disinformation campaign promoted by corporate, governmental and establishment “think tank” organizations. This is in the context where the US State Department’s Global Engagement Center (GEC) has a direct liaison with Silicon Valley companies and teams focused on “countering the propaganda” from Russia, China and Iran with a current budget of $60 million per year.

In a March 2020 hearing, Senator Chris Murphy (D – Conn) lobbied for increased funding and more censorship. He said, “It’s hard to chase one lie after another. You have to actually go after the source and expose the source as illegitimate or untrustworthy, is that right?” Lea Gabrielle, head of GEC, responded “That’s correct.”

When the Senator says “it’s hard to chase one lie after another,“ he is acknowledging that it’s often hard to show that it’s a lie. Even more so when it is not a lie. It is much easier for the authorities to simply say the source is untrustworthy- or better yet to eliminate them — as they have tried to do with SouthFront.

False Accusations by Facebook

The elimination of SouthFront’s Facebook account was based on a Facebook sponsored investigation titled “April 2020 Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior Report.” The 28 page report says:

We’re constantly working to find and stop coordinated campaigns that seek to manipulate public debate across our platforms…. We view influence operations as coordinated efforts to manipulate public debate for a strategic goal where fake accounts are central to the operation…. This month we removed eight networks of accounts, Pages and Groups….. Our investigation linked this activity to … two media organizations in Crimea – News Front and SouthFront. We found this network as part of our internal investigation into suspected coordinated inauthentic behavior.

First, SouthFront is not trying to “manipulate public debate”; they are providing news and information which is difficult, if not impossible, to find elsewhere. It seems to be the censors who are trying to manipulate debate by shutting out some voices.

Second, SouthFront does not have “fake accounts”; they have a public website plus standard social media outlets like Facebook and YouTube (until cancelled). Third, SouthFront has no connection to NewsFront nor operations in Crimea.

NewsFront and SouthFront are completely different organizations. They share the name “Front” but that is irrelevant. Does Facebook confuse the New York Times with Moscow Times? After all, they both have “Times” in their title.

Facebook has shut down SouthFront on the basis of misinformation and smears.

False Accusations by DFRLab

The  Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) was created by the Atlantic Council, a “non partisan organization that galvanizes US global leadership.” It is another organization which is quick to label alternative foreign policy voices as “Russian propaganda.” DFRLab claims to have “operationalized the study of disinformation by exposing falsehoods and fake news”. They reported the censorship of SouthFront with a report titled “Facebook removes Russian propaganda outlet in Ukraine” with subtitle “The social network took down assets connected to NewsFront and SouthFront, propaganda websites supportive of Russian security services.”  They reported that the two “demonstrated a close relationship by liking each other’s pages.” As anyone who uses Facebook is aware, it is common to “like” a wide variety of articles and publications. The suggestion that “liking” an article proves a close relationship is silly.

The DFRLab  report says NewsFront and SouthFront “disseminated pro-Kremlin propaganda in an array of languages, indicating they were attempting to reach a diverse, international audience beyond Russia.”

First, NewsFront and SouthFront are completely distinct and separate organizations. Second, is there anything unusual about a website trying to expand and reach different audiences? Don’t all publications or outlets do that? This is a tactic of the new censors: to portray normal behavior as sinister.

Another censorship tactic is to assert that it is impermissible to question the veracity of certain findings. Thus DFRLab report says NewsFront posted “outright disinformation” when it published a story that “denied the culpability of Russian-backed separatists’ involvement in the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines MH-17”. They suggest this proves it is Russian propaganda and false. However, the facts about the downing of MH-17 are widely disputed. For example. one of the foremost American investigative journalists, the late Robert Parry, came to the same conclusion that the MH-17 investigation was manipulated and the shoot-down was probably NOT as portrayed. Parry did many articles on this important event, confirming that it is not “Russian propaganda”.

The Atlantic Council is one of the most influential US “think tanks”. It appears they have created the DFRLab as a propaganda tool to disparage and silence the sources of alternative information and analysis.

Disinformation by European Council “Task Force”   

The goals and priorities of the European Union are set by the European Council. They are also increasingly active in suppressing alternative information and viewpoints.

In 2015 the European Council created an East StratCom Task Force to “address Russia’s ongoing disinformation campaigns”. Their major project is called EUvsDISINFO. They say, “Using data analysis and media monitoring services in 15 languages, EUvsDISINFO identifies, compiles, and exposes disinformation cases originating in pro-Kremlin media.”

This organization is part of the disinformation campaign against SouthFront. In April 2019 they published an analysis “SouthFront – Russia Hiding Being Russian.” The story falsely claims that SouthFront “attempts to hide the fact it is registered and managed in Russia.” The SouthFront team is international and includes Russians along with numerous other nationalities. Key spokespersons are the Bulgarian, Viktor Stoilov, and an American, Brian Kalman. They do not hide the fact that the website is registered in Russia or that PayPal donations go to an account in Russia. The website is hosted by a service in Holland. It is genuinely international.

EUvsDISINFO demonstrates the disinformation tactic of falsely claiming to have “exposed” something that is “hidden” when it is public information. There is nothing sinister about collaboration between different nationalities including Russia. EUvsDISINFO suggests there are sinister “pro-Kremlin networks.” In reality, SouthFront is a website run by a dedicated and underpaid staff and lots of volunteers. While the European Council gives millions of dollars to EUvsDISINFO, SouthFront operates on a tiny budget without government support from Russia or anywhere else.

False accusations by US Department of Defense

On April 9, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Laura Cooper, spoke at a press briefing. She identifies SouthFront by name and accuses them of “reporting that there actually was no pandemic and that some deaths in Italy might in fact have been from the common flu.”

The first accusation is because of the SouthFront article “Pandemic of Fear.” In contrast with the accusation, the article says, “The COVID-19 outbreak is an apparent threat which cannot be ignored.” The article also discusses the much less reported but widespread pandemic of fear.

The second false accusation is regarding the high death toll in Italy. SouthFront reported the findings of a report from the Italian Ministry of Health which suggested the previous mild winter and flu season had “led to an increase in the pool of those most vulnerable (the elderly and those with chronic illnesses) that can increase the impact of the epidemic COVID-19 on mortality and explain, at least in part, the increased lethality observed in our country.” This is very different than saying the deaths were caused by the common flu. In any case, the findings came directly from Italian health authorities not SouthFront.

In the same press conference, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense says she wishes to “reign in malign actors that are spreading misleading disruptive information”. The censors claim the higher ground but engage in misinformation and falsehoods as they seek to silence discussion and debate.

Conclusion

There is a coordinated effort to manipulate and restrict what the public sees and hears in both North America and Europe. Under the guise of “fact checking” and stopping “Russian propaganda,” the establishment has created private and government sponsored censors to distort and diminish questioning media. They label alternative media “Russian” or “pro Kremlin” even though many of the researchers and writers are from the West and have no connection or dependency on the Russian government.

SouthFront is an example of a media site doing important and original reporting and analysis. It is truly international with offices in several countries. The staff and volunteers include people from four continents. The censorship and vilification they are facing seems to be because they are providing information and analysis which contradicts the western mainstream narrative.

In recent developments, SouthFront is posting videos to a secondary YouTube channel called SouthFront TV. When that was also taken down on May 16, they challenged the ruling and won. The channel was restored with the acknowledgment “We have confirmed that your YouTube account is not in violation of our Terms of Service.”

SouthFront is still trying to have their main channel with 152K subscribers restored. Their Facebook account is still shut down and attempts to disparage their journalism continues. The censorship has escalated during the Covid-19 crisis.

Rick Sterling is an investigative journalist who has visited Syria several times since 2014. He lives in the SF Bay Area and can be reached at rsterling1@gmail.com.

June 8, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , , | Leave a comment

Big Tech Pandemic

By Leo Goldstein | Watts Up Wth That? | June 8, 2020

Patients in Wuhan, China, are being saved with high-dose vitamin C. In the U.S., you can get your Twitter or Facebook account deleted or your video scrubbed for even talking about it. – American Association of Physicians and Surgeons

The Statistics

Strikingly, the 10 countries with the highest COVID-19 mortality rates are large Western countries, including the US, UK, France, Spain, and Italy. The non-Western country with the highest mortality rate is Ecuador, ranked at #13. Ecuador only has 195 deaths/million, however, compared with the median of around 450 deaths/million in the “top 10”. No Asian countries make the top-20 list despite being close to the epicenter of the epidemic and having high population densities. No African country makes the list despite many having much traffic from China.

Table 1. The 20 countries with the highest COVID-19 mortalities (2020-06-03)

Country Cases/M Deaths/M Population
1 Belgium 5,065 822 11,585,802
2 Spain 6,139 580 46,753,443
3 UK 4,097 580 67,858,826
4 Italy 3,862 555 60,468,295
5 Sweden 4,042 450 10,094,432
6 France 2,319 443 65,262,729
7 Netherlands 2,728 349 17,132,042
8 Ireland 5,081 336 4,933,409
9 USA 5,693 327 330,854,064
10 Channel Islands 3,223 265 173,737
11 Switzerland 3,572 222 8,649,729
12 Canada 2,450 196 37,716,316
13 Ecuador 2,293 195 17,621,217
14 Luxembourg 6,431 176 625,142
15 Brazil 2,628 147 212,442,762
16 Peru 5,310 145 32,934,728
17 Portugal 3,261 142 10,198,850
18 Germany 2,198 104 83,763,806
19 Denmark 2,033 100 5,790,665
20 Iran 1,915 95 83,906,701

Worldometers, 06/03/2020, 9:30 am CT

*Eliminated from the comparison are countries with less than 100k population (San Marino, Sint Maarten, Montserrat, Monaco, Bermuda, Isle of Man, and Andorra).

Possible Explanations

The popular hypotheses, such as the use of anti-malarial drugs in some countries and anti-tuberculosis vaccination of children in others, do not explain these differences.

Chloroquine and similar drugs are not widely used for malaria prevention in India and other malaria-affected countries. Travelers do take anti-malarials for prophylaxis, but locals acquire some immunity from exposure to it in childhood. If they do contract malaria, they are treated with chloroquine or artemisinin combo for a few days. India uses less HCQ per million population than the US.

One observational hypothesis posits that full national anti-tuberculosis vaccination (BCG) correlates with lower COVID-19mortality. BCG is typically given to babies at birth, sometimes with boosters in late childhood. This hypothesis suggests that BCG provides some degree of long-term immunity to COVID-19. Even if there is correlation, however, it is not relevant here. The UK had full BCG from 1953–2005. Belgium had it from about 1953–1995 and France from 1950–2007. Ireland started mandatory BCG vaccination in the 1950s and still has it.

Other factors exist. Less developed countries might not detect and report cases and deaths from COVID-19 as completely as more developed countries. They also have lower ratios of older people and have low urbanization.

Amplifying Factors

On the other hand, population density in the cities of non-Western countries is typically higher than in Western ones. Mumbai has 32 thousand persons per km2, while New York City has just 10,000 persons per km2. People in non-Western countries also tend to have less physical distance between them. There are more persons per area at work and home, and multiple generations often live together in the same households. Even in developed Russia and Ukraine, the typical physical distance between persons is about three times less than in the US, which should translate to a much higher transmission speed, and exponentially higher rates of cases and deaths.

Many non-Western countries also have low hygienic standards. Many suffer from bad nutrition, cold weather, lack of UVB sunlight, and other immunity-compromising factors. Less developed countries also have much lower capacities to hospitalize and treat those who are severely ill.

Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

The top dozen Western countries share another distinguishing factor: information flow dominated by Google, Facebook, Twitter, and their accomplices (here, Masters of the Universe or “MOTUs”). The media are downstream of them, depending on information, clicks, and even cash handouts from them. These companies collaborated with the WHO, spread panic (like Google’s SOS Alert), misled government health agencies and the public about coronavirus mortality (e.g., calling COVID-19 a pandemic was wrong). They have been removing helpful medical advice and even opinions simply because they were not endorsed by the WHO or confused government agencies. Notice that this debate ban prevents scientists and clinicians from communicating helpful information to government agencies, and even communicating among themselves. Many governments censor information, such as the Soviet Union. With all the inferiority of such a model, the Soviet government developed and possessed all the anti-epidemic expertise and capacities it wanted. In the US, most expertise and capacity in this and other fields is with its citizens, from whom the government can receive help and advice when needed. Citizens do provide such help and advice, but the MOTU use their physical control of the communications channels to block and remove information helpful to fight the epidemic. For example, Google blocked access to the scientific paper An Effective Treatment for Coronavirus (COVID-19) by James Todaro and Gregory Rigano, which made a case for CQ and HCQ on March 13–15.

Effects of COVID-19 Misinformation in the US

In the US, most COVID-19 deaths happened in the New York cluster. NYC also spread COVID-19 nationally and internationally. These are some main mistakes made by NYC in handling the epidemic:

  • It blocked early HCQ treatment of COVID-19 victims.
  • It failed to recommend and, where relevant, implement nutritional and environmental mitigation measures to slow the epidemic.
  • It allowed COVID-19 patients to mix with other patients and unprotected healthcare personnel in hospitals.
  • It sent young COVID-19 patients to nursing homes.

None of these mistakes was caused by material factors or a lack of knowledge in the public domain. None of these are obvious only in hindsight. All were caused by incorrect assumptions about COVID-19 and/or by panic, both of which were spread by the MOTUs (General incompetence and the politics of NYC have just aggravated these mistakes, I hope).

The resistance to recommending vitamin C, which was caused by misinformation spread by the MOTU directly and through their proxy “fact-checkers,” is an example of how much damage they inflicted.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C has always been recommended as safe and helpful for many health conditions, including the prevention and treatment of respiratory infections. An abundance of evidence and studies supports the use of vitamin C to prevent and alleviate respiratory diseases.

Despite this, in February, the WHO published a Q&A on COVID-19 advising against taking vitamin C, even comparing taking vitamin C to smoking:

“The following measures ARE NOT specifically recommended as 2019-nCoV remedies as they are not effective to protect yourself and can be even harmful:
* Taking vitamin C
* Smoking
* Drinking tradition herbal teas
* Wearing multiple masks to maximize protection
* Taking self-medication such as antibiotics

With all the incompetence and power hunger of the WHO, this is bad copywriting rather than bad judgment. An ordinary person can easily recognize that. However, the MOTU “fact-checkers” interpreted it in the worst conceivable way.

Apparently, it started in the article “These are false cures and fake preventative measures against coronavirus. Help fact-checkers spread the word” (February 13) published by the Poynter Institute (the entity that certifies the fact-checkers used by Google, Facebook, and Microsoft):

Aos Fatos reported that the World Health Organization says on its website that taking vitamin C is not recommended as a way to prevent coronavirus. It is actually dangerous, just like smoking and taking antibiotics without a prescription.

The linked Aos Fatos article did not say that. The Poynter Institute omitted the “not specifically recommended” clause. “Fact-checkers” are in the clickbait business, too. This “advice” went beyond Google and Facebook: the New York Times (NYT) article “Coronavirus Myths” (March 17) said:

You might be tempted to bulk order vitamin C or other supposedly immune-boosting supplements, but their effectiveness is a long-standing fallacy. Even in the cases of colds or flus, vitamin C hasn’t shown a consistent benefit.

Unlike Google, the NYT is supposed to have human editors. Where were they? Its other article with the strange title “Supplements for Coronavirus Probably Won’t Help, and May Harm” (March 23) called vitamin C “a purported immune booster.”USA Today was even worse: “We rate the claim that vitamin C can help cure or prevent the novel coronavirus FALSE because it is not supported by our research”—as if it conducted research.

It seems that Google and Facebook forgot that these fact-checkers were intended as proxies to justify their politically motivated editorializing by pretending it was third-party information. They started using them as authoritative sources. By May 20, it was easier to find “stabilized oxygen” than vitamin C in Google searches including the word COVID-19.

The MOTU financially benefited from their misdeeds. More people were forced to use Facebook, Twitter, Google Docs, YouTube, and Microsoft Skype instead of meeting face-to-face.

Facebook and Twitter Examples

The MOTU have been collaborating and colluding with the WHO to misinform the public and government in the US and other countries since early February. The NYT article “W.H.O. Fights a Pandemic Besides Coronavirus: an ‘Infodemic’” (Feb 6) wrote

Google launched what it calls an “SOS Alert,” which directs people who search for “coronavirus” to news and other information from the W.H.O., including to the organization’s Twitter account . . .

The health agency has worked especially closely with Facebook. The company has used human fact-checkers to flag misinformation, which can come to their attention through computer programs that identify suspicious keywords and trends. Such posts can then be moved down in news feeds, or, in rare cases, removed altogether.

These are some results of this close work. “Coronavirus: World leaders’ posts deleted over fake news” (BBC, 2020-03-31),

Facebook and Twitter have deleted posts from world leaders for spreading misinformation about the coronavirus. Facebook deleted a video from Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro that claimed hydroxychloroquine was totally effective in treating the virus.

Brazil is the sixth-largest country of the world by population. By that time, the use of CQ or HCQ for COVID-19 had been endorsed to some degree by the governments of China, India, and the US. Did Facebook and Twitter executives think they knew better?

Facebook: Combatting COVID-19 Misinformation

We regularly update the claims that we remove based on guidance from the WHO and other health authorities.

Once a post is rated false by a fact-checker, we reduce its distribution so fewer people see it, and we show strong warning labels and notifications to people who still come across it, try to share it or already have.

Facebook: An Update on Our Work

Informing People Who Interacted With Harmful COVID-19 Claims

We’re going to start showing messages in News Feed to people who have liked, reacted or commented on harmful misinformation about COVID-19 that we have since removed. These messages will connect people to COVID-19 myths debunked by the WHO …

Twitter: An update on our continuity strategy during COVID-19

Broadening our definition of harm to address content that goes directly against guidance from authoritative sources of global and local public health information. . . . [W]e will require people to remove tweets that include:

* Denial of global or local health authority recommendations to decrease someone’s likelihood of exposure to COVID-19 . . .

* Description of alleged cures for COVID-19, which are not immediately harmful but are known to be ineffective . . .

* Denial of established scientific facts . . .

* [The list is going on and on]

It is incredible: denial of recommendations … global health authority … alleged cures … denial of established scientific facts. “Require people to remove tweets” means temporary disabling their accounts until they remove the tweets that Twitter dislikes.

The global conversation about COVID-19 and ongoing product improvements are driving up total monetizable DAU (mDAU), with quarter-to-date average total mDAU reaching approximately 164 million, up 23% from 134 million in Q1 2019 . . .

… manufacturing delays in China have compromised the supply chain, resulting in delays in deliveries to our data centers.

Have they de-platformed critics of the Chinese government to avoid “manufacturing delays” or something else?

Most people would think that if Google, Facebook, or Twitter deleted information related to treatment or prevention of the pandemic, they were 100% sure it was false and harmful. Few would believe that they did that on a whim or based on the opinion of entities like Snopes. And they would be branded “conspiracy theorists.”

Remarks

Other Possible Factors

Anti-tuberculosis vaccines and their administration schedules vary by country, and some countries might have COVID-19 protective effects from them.

Another hypothesis is put forward in the following papers:

“Have the malaria eradication measures been behind the COVID-19 pandemic?” Elnady Hassan M., Sohag Medical Journal, opinion article

“Parasites and their protection against COVID-19—Ecology or Immunology?” Ssebambulidde et al., preprint:

One plausible hypothesis for the comparatively low COVID-19 cases/deaths in parasite-endemic areas is immunomodulation induced by parasites.

I consider these hypotheses too exotic to discuss here and just mention them. Many confounding factors remain when comparison among countries is done.

Miscellaneous

  • Another commonality among the highest-mortality countries is climate alarmism taking over the scientific community.
  • The “fact-checkers” seem to be the original sources of some of the worst hoaxes on the Internet.
  • Yes, the MOTUs used artificial intelligence to misinform the public and governments about COVID-19.
  • Besides the direct effects of bans, removals, and the deplatforming of information and speakers who knew more about COVID-19 than the WHO, these actions had chilling effects on discussions related to COVID-19.
  • Coughing into one’s elbow is outright harmful advice because it makes the sleeve a virus-spreader.

June 8, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Full Spectrum Dominance, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , , | 1 Comment

FBI launches open attack on ‘foreign’ alternative media outlets challenging US foreign policy

By Gareth Porter | Grayzone Project | June 5, 2020

The FBI has publicly justified its suppression of dissenting online views about US foreign policy if a media outlet can be somehow linked to one of its adversaries. The Bureau’s justification followed a series of instances in which Google and other social media platforms banned accounts following consultations with the FBI.

In a particularly notable case in 2018, the FBI encouraged Facebook, Instagram and Google to ban the American Herald Tribune (AHT), an online journal that published critical opinion articles on US policy toward Iran and the Middle East. The bureau has never offered a clear rationale, however, despite its private discussions with Facebook on the ban.

The FBI’s first step toward intervening against dissenting views on social media took place in October 2017 with the creation of a Foreign Influence Task Force (FTIF) in the bureau’s Counterintelligence Division. Next, the FBI defined any effort by states designated by the Department of Defense as major adversaries (Russia, China, Iran and North Korea) to influence American public opinion as a threat to US national security.

In February 2020, the FBI defined that threat in much more specific terms and implied that it would act against any online media outlet that was found to fall within its ambit. At a conference on election security on February 24, David K. Porter, who identified himself as Assistant Section Chief of the Foreign Influence Task Force, defined what the FBI described as “malign foreign influence activity” as “actions by a foreign power to influence US policy, distort political sentiment and public discourse.”

Porter described “information confrontation” as a force “designed to undermine public confidence in the credibility of free and independent news media.” Those who practice this dark craft, he said, seek to “push consumers to alternative news sources,” where “it’s much easier to introduce false narratives” and thus “sow doubt and confusion about the true narratives by exploiting the media landscape to introduce conflicting story lines.”

“Information confrontation”, however, is simply the literal Russian translation of the term “information warfare.” Its use by the FTIF appears to be aimed merely at justifying an FBI role in seeking to suppress what it calls “alternative news sources” under any set of circumstances it can justify.

While expressing his intention to target alternative media, Porter simultaneously denied that the FBI was concerned about censoring media. The FITF, he said “doesn’t go around chasing content. We don’t focus on what the actors say.” Instead, he insisted that “attribution is key,” suggesting that the FTIF was only interested in finding hidden foreign government actors at work.

Thus the question of “attribution” has become the FBI’s key lever for censoring alternative media that publishes critical content on US foreign policy, or which attacks mainstream and corporate media narratives. If an outlet can be somehow linked to a foreign adversary, removing it from online platforms is fair game for the feds.

The strange disappearance of American Herald Tribune

In 2018, Facebook deleted the Facebook page of the American Herald Tribune, a website that publishes commentary from an array of notable authors who are harshly critical of US foreign policy. Gmail, which is run by Google, quickly followed suit, along with the Facebook-owned Instagram.

Tribune editor Anthony Hall reported at the time that the removals occurred at the end of August 2018, but there was no announcement of the move by Facebook. Nor was it reported by the corporate news media until January 2020, when CNN elicited a confirmation from a Facebook spokesman that it had indeed done so in 2018. Furthermore, the FBI was advising Facebook on both Iranian and Russian sites that were banned during that same period of a few days. As Facebook’s chief security officer Alex Stamos noted on July 21, 2018, “We have proactively reported our technical findings to US law enforcement, because they have much more information than we do, and may in time be in a position to provide public attribution.”

On August 2, a few days following the removal of AHT and two weeks after hundreds of Russian and Iranian Pages had been removed by Facebook, FBI Director Christopher Wray told reporters at a White House briefing that FBI officials had “met with top social media and technology companies several times” during the year, “providing actionable intelligence to better enable them to address abuse of their platforms by foreign actors.” He remarked that FBI officials had “shared specific threat indicators and account information so they can better monitor their own platforms.”

Cybersecurity firm FireEye, which boasts that it has contracts to support “nearly every department in the United States government,” and which has been used by Department of Homeland Security as a primary source of “threat intelligence,” also influenced Facebook’s crackdown on the Tribune. CNN cited an unnamed official of FireEye stating that the company had “assessed” with “moderate confidence” that the AHT’s website was founded in Iran and was “part of a larger influence operation.”

The CNN author was evidently unaware that in US intelligence parlance “moderate confidence” suggests a near-total absence of genuine conviction. As the 2011 official “consumer’s guide” to US intelligence explained, the term “moderate confidence” generally indicates that either there are still differences of view in the intelligence community on the issue or that the judgment ”is credible and plausible but not sufficiently corroborated to warrant higher level of confidence.”

CNN also quoted FireEye official Lee Foster’s claim that “indicators, both technical and behavioral” showed that American Herald Tribune was part of the larger influence operation. The CNN story linked to a study published by FireEye featuring a “map” showing how Iranian-related media were allegedly linked to one another, primarily by similarities in content. But CNN apparently hadn’t bothered to read the study, which did not once mention the American Herald Tribune.

Finally, the CNN piece cited a 2018 tweet by Daily Beast contributor Josh Russell which it said provided “further evidence supporting American Herald Tribune’s alleged links to Iran.” In fact, his tweet merely documented the AHT’s sharing of an internet hosting service with another pro-Iran site “at some point in time.” Investigators familiar with the problem know that two websites using the same hosting service, especially over a period of years, is not a reliable indicator of a coherent organizational connection.

CNN did find evidence of deception over the registration of the AHT. The outlet’s editor, Anthony Hall, continues to give the false impression that a large number of journalists and others (including this writer), are contributors, despite the fact that their articles have been republished from other sources without permission.

However, AHT has one characteristic that differentiates it from the others that have been kicked off Facebook: The American and European authors who have appeared in its pages are all real and are advancing their own authentic views. Some are sympathetic to the Islamic Republic, but others are simply angry about US policies: Some are Libertarian anti-interventionists; others are supporters of the 9/11 Truth movement or other conspiracy theories.

One notable independent contributor to AHT is Philip Giraldi, an 18-year veteran of the CIA’s Clandestine Service and and an articulate critic of US wars in the Middle East and of Israeli influence on American policy and politics. From its inception in 2015, the AHT has been edited by Anthony Hall, Professor Emeritus at University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada.

In announcing yet another takedown of Iranian Pages in October 2018, Facebook’s Gleicher declared that “coordinated inauthentic behavior” occurs when “people or organizations create networks of accounts to mislead others about who they are what they’re doing.” That certainly doesn’t apply to those who provided the content for the American Herald Tribune.

Thus the takedown of the publication by Facebook, with FBI and FireEye encouragement represents a disturbing precedent for future actions against individuals who criticize US foreign policy and outlets that attack corporate media narratives.

Shelby Pierson, the CIA official appointed by then director of national intelligence in July 2019 to chair the inter-agency “Election Executive and Leadership Board,” appeared to hint at differences in the criteria employed by his agency and the FBI on foreign and alternative media.

In an interview with former acting CIA Director Michael Morrell in February, Pierson said, “[P]articularly on the [foreign] influence side of the house, when you’re talking about blended content with First Amendment-protected speech… against the backdrop of a political paradigm and you’re involving yourself in those activities, I think that makes it more complicated” (emphasis added).

Further emphasizing the uncertainty surrounding the FBI’s methods of online media suppression, she added that the position in question “doesn’t have the same unanimity that we have in the counterterrorism context.”

Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist who has covered national security policy since 2005 and was the recipient of Gellhorn Prize for Journalism in 2012. His most recent book is The CIA Insider’s Guide to the Iran Crisis co-authored with John Kiriakou, just published in February.

June 6, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Russophobia | , , , , , | 5 Comments

‘System glitch’: Facebook admits RT Deutsch story was WRONGLY labeled ‘fake’ but damage to traffic is already done

RT | June 4, 2020

Facebook fact checkers have labeled a video published by RT’s German-language branch RT Deutsch ‘fake news,’ after the outlet reported a viewership spike. They later blamed a ‘technical glitch’ but the damage was already done.

An innocent post about a hospital being built in Russian city of Ufa to treat people suffering from Covid-19 had somehow incurred the displeasure of Facebook’s ever-watchful fact checkers. It is trivial to discover lots of stories about the project in Russia’s regional and national media, as well as a plenty of videos of the hospital under construction on platforms such as YouTube.

Yet Facebook’s guardians of truth still declared that video of the hospital was false and labelled it as such in mid-May, just a day after it was published. When RT sought to find out the reasons for such a move, it emerged that the fact-checker involved was Fatabyyano, a platform normally verifying Arabic-language stories about the Middle East and North Africa.

In what came as an even bigger surprise, the link attached to the RT Deutsch video as proof of its alleged falsehood led to a post analyzing an entirely different story about some quotes on Covid-19 falsely attributed to the former French minister and ex-UN Under-Secretary-General, Philippe Douste-Blazy.

When RT attempted to contact the fact checkers and point out the discrepancy, it received no reply. Only a message to Facebook administration set things into motion. Fatabyyano CEO Moath Altheher apologized to RT and said that his agency never rated any German-language content, let alone the specific RT post. He blamed the whole incident on an alleged “technical problem with the system” or an email glitch.

The “false” tag has since been removed from the video in question, but the damage has already been done, since RT Deutsch reported a steep downfall in the number of ‘likes’ and shares of its content following the incident. The tag also caused RT Deutsch to temporarily lose access to Facebook’s Instant Articles service, as well as to content monetization options. Facebook algorithms limit the spread of content from sources it deems ‘fake news factories’, meaning that fewer people could actually see RT Deutsch posts.

The “glitch” took place right after RT Deutsch reported that it became the fifth most popular German-language outlet on Facebook, citing video viewership data from March 2020.

June 5, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Russophobia | | Leave a comment

China urges Facebook to drop ‘ideological bias’ after it slaps warning labels on ‘state-controlled media’ pages

RT | June 5, 2020

The Chinese government has accused Facebook of “ideological bias” after the social media giant announced plans to put warning labels on Chinese “state-controlled” media pages including Xinhua and CCTV.

The Chinese news agency and TV channel are among the outlets which Facebook has designated as “wholly or partially under editorial control of a state”, based on the opinion of unnamed experts. Beijing criticized the change on Friday, saying social media platforms should not create obstacles for traditional media.

“We hope that the relevant social media platform can put aside the ideological bias and hold an open and accepting attitude towards each country’s media role,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said during a daily briefing.

Facebook started labeling media pages on Thursday. Outlets associated with countries including China, Russia or Iran are described as “state-controlled”.

However, public broadcasters in nations allied with Washington, have been given softer markers. The BBC in Britain has the label: “Confirmed Page Owner: British Broadcasting Corporation”. The Facebook page of the US government news channel Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty had no label at the time of writing.

The labeling spree has coincided with an embarrassing failure to police content on Facebook. The network’s “fact checkers” flagged as fake a report by RT Deutsch about the construction of a hospital in a Russian city. Facebook claimed it was false, and provided a link to an unrelated check of quotes wrongly attributed to a former French minister. This was explained as a “glitch” by the company.

June 5, 2020 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite | | Leave a comment

Zuckerberg won’t censor Trump, but don’t mistake Facebook for a bastion of free speech

By Helen Buyniski | RT | June 2, 2020

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has taken heat over refusing to hide a post from US President Donald Trump that Twitter claimed “glorified violence.” But his reasons are more about placating power than defending free speech.

Zuckerberg’s decision to leave up a Trump post condemning the riots in Minneapolis that warned “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” upset Facebook employees, a few of whom even threatened to appeal to the company’s newly-appointed oversight board – notoriously larded with anti-Trump voices.

But the CEO’s reasoning – “people should be able to see this for themselves, because ultimately accountability for those in positions of power can only happen when their speech is scrutinized out in the open” – had little in common with the fiery rhetoric of free speech activism. In fact, it was so mind-numbingly obvious it would likely have gone unremarked-upon in any other era. How, indeed, are Americans supposed to hold their leaders accountable if they don’t know what those leaders are saying?

It’s not clear if anyone would even have expected Facebook to take action on Trump’s post, had Twitter not already done so, hiding the message behind a warning that it violated the platform’s rules about “glorifying violence.” And it’s unlikely that Twitter would have taken action on that particular message had the president not been needling the platform for weeks with envelope-pushing tweets, starting with accusing MSNBC host Joe Scarborough of murdering an intern nearly 20 years ago.

While Scarborough and co-host Mika Brzezinski demanded Trump be kicked off Twitter for the smears, it was a post about mail-in voting that finally brought down Twitter’s fact-check hammer. Still, that was enough of a rationale for Trump to unveil an executive order proposing to strip social media platforms of their cherished Section 230 immunity, which protects them from lawsuits based on user-generated content but also forbids them from selectively curating that content. Checkmate?

Silicon Valley is hurtling into a future whose ever-shrinking boundaries are dictated by censorship algorithms and all rough edges are sanded off (literally, in Twitter’s case) lest any comment wound another user’s feelings. Facebook is as guilty of this as anyone, alerting Instagram users when they’re about to post a “bullying” comment and banning “sexual” emojis. Even as social media styles itself the “new public square,” platforms find themselves in the surreal position of trying to outdo each other in silencing their users: if Facebook exiles conservative performance artist Alex Jones, declaring him a “dangerous individual,” Youtube and Twitter follow suit.

However, while Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has attempted to apply the platform’s increasingly absurd restrictions across the board, subjecting even the president of the US to Kafkaesque limitations that seem to shift from day to day, Zuckerberg knows on which side his bread is buttered. While his competitors in Silicon Valley wore their anti-Trump politics on their sleeves, the Facebook founder met with Republican congressmen and took care to include Breitbart in the rollout of Facebook News, triggering howls of outrage from liberals.

While Dorsey exiled political advertising from his platform completely earlier this year, Zuckerberg has clung to his promise not to fact-check the speech of politicians – ensuring a steady flow of advertising dollars from both parties’ campaigns, even as Democratic politicians condemn Facebook’s hands-off approach.

This doesn’t make Zuckerberg a free speech hero, or Facebook a bastion of political enlightenment. “Regular” users will still find themselves shadow-banned or exiled entirely if they post too much “wrongthink,” as even popular pages like PragerU have discovered recently. The Facebook CEO’s equal-opportunity pandering merely makes him a competent businessman, and means he’ll almost certainly survive whatever Section 230-related crackdown is coming.

It also makes it vanishingly unlikely Zuckerberg’s platform will face anything like a takeover bid from formidable Republican “vulture capitalist” and rabidly pro-Israel Trump donor Paul Singer. The notorious hedge-funder reportedly sought to oust Dorsey from Twitter earlier this year when the CEO suggested he’d be stepping back from full-time management of the company to spend six months of the year in Africa. While Singer was apparently rebuffed with the help of loyal Twitter employees and fellow billionaire Elon Musk, he still has four directors on the company’s board and may still be circling overhead looking for signs of weakness.

Twitter has fallen a long way from the days when it referred to itself as “the free speech wing of the free speech party” and now competes with Facebook and YouTube for the title of Silicon Valley’s Ministry of Truth. The future of social media looks bleak indeed when Zuckerberg is cast as the defender of free speech. But ordinary Facebook users shouldn’t mistake his indulgence of Trump for standing on principle. His legendarily low opinion of the platform’s users – “dumb f***s” – is more pertinent now than ever.

Helen Buyniski is an American journalist and political commentator at RT. Follow her on Twitter @velocirapture23

June 3, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Leave a comment

Vitamin C in COVID-19 Prevention

Vitamin C in COVID-19 Prevention

This is not medical advice. This is a petition to federal and state governments to urgently publish recommendations for vitamin C intake as a prevention measure against COVID-19.

Introduction

Can vitamin C prevent or alleviate symptoms of acute respiratory tract infections, including COVID-19? (Gorton & Jarvis, 1999) reported 85% decrease of cold and flu symptoms in the test group taking vitamin C, compared with the control group, not taking vitamin C. The test group took vitamin C prophylactically and over the course of disease at 3,000 mg per day (1,000 mg x 3), and an increased dose of 6,000 mg (1,000 mg x 6, hourly) on the first day of symptoms onset. This specific regimen is important: taking a moderate amount of vitamin C prophylactically and during illness, and a larger dose on the first day of symptoms onset.

There is a caveat. The dosage in this study is 1.5-2 times higher than what doctors feel comfortable recommending to the public, as far as I see. Nevertheless, the research reviewed below supports the conclusion that 1.5-2 times lower doses help against broad class of ARTI, including colds and flu, although expectably less. COVID-19 is an acute respiratory tract infection (ARTI). The reasonable assumption is that what helps against multiple prior viral ARTI would help against COVID-19.

Vitamin C Role in the Immune System

Vitamin C does not prevent infection, but it helps the immune system combat it. It has been shown to alleviate symptoms, sometimes to the point where symptoms are not detectable. Thus, a person can feel as if s/he never got sick, since no symptoms ever presented, and may count this as having prevented the illness.

Vitamin C, at its normal level 70 μmol/L, is a necessary part of the immune system.  Excess vitamin C intake (over 200 mg/day) is normally excreted in urine. But when a body experiences physiological stress, it consumes the vitamin C present in the blood and thus, needs an increased intake (Hemilä, Vitamin C and Infections, 2017). All existing studies agree on this point. Observations have shown that in such conditions even many grams of vitamin C per day are neither excreted nor accumulate in blood.

(Hemilä & Chalker, 2019) listed several studies, showing that vitamin C levels drop in patients hospitalized with acute respiratory infections to less than 10-35% of the normal level. (Carr, 2017) found that all ICU patients in one hospital had less than on third of the normal vitamin C level.

The rationale behind discovered Vitamin C supplementation

When a person gets a viral respiratory infection, the body starts fighting it using the vitamin C present in the blood. That decreases vitamin C levels in the blood, impairing the immune system, even before the symptoms appear. But if it regularly receives extra vitamin C, it stops excreting it, but consumes in fighting the infection. In the most successful regimens (Ran, 2018), symptoms are used as a signal that the body requires even more vitamin C in order to maintain normal vitamin C blood levels while consuming more of it in fighting the infection. That justifies increased intake of it on the first symptomatic day and until the body overcomes the virus. This time might be shorter than the period for which symptoms exist. The first symptomatic day might have a special significance, possibly because it is when the body has not produced enough antibodies specific to the virus.

Safety

The human body has natural safety valves for vitamin C. First, excess of it is removed in urine. Second, it typically causes diarrhea before getting close to potentially dangerous levels.

(National Institute of Health, 2020) confirms safety of vitamin C:

Vitamin C has low toxicity and is not believed to cause serious adverse effects at high intakes. The most common complaints are diarrhea, nausea, abdominal cramps, and other gastrointestinal disturbances due to the osmotic effect of unabsorbed vitamin C in the gastrointestinal tract.

Possible Vitamin C Regimen

This is a possible Vitamin C regimen against COVID-19, for adults.

Some doctors recommend taking the higher dose only on the first day of symptoms onset. The dose is for an average 70 kg person. Those weighing much more or less should adjust proportionately. Older and non-healthy persons (i.e., the most at-risk group) should consult their physicians

Possible contra-indications: some kidney diseases, chemotherapy and radiation treatments, cholesterol lowering drugs,  diabetes in postmenopausal women (National Institute of Health, 2020). For other people, diarrhea is a sign to decrease or stop taking vitamin C.

It is not expected to completely protect against the Wuhan coronavirus or to approach the effectiveness of HCQ + Zn prophylaxis.

I remind that this is not medical advice, but a starting point for CDC/NIH/FDA and state governments to develop the medical advice. Follow your doctor’s recommendations.

Vitamin C Controversies and Misconceptions

Some confusion surrounds the use of vitamin C because different amounts are used for different purposes and produce different results. The officially recommended minimum intake of vitamin C 75-90 mg per day is just that – the minimum, established long ago to prevent scurvy. Many people exceed this amount simply by eating ordinary food; a medium orange contains 70 mg of vitamin C.

Studies with vitamin C supplementation of less than 1 g/day have shown little or no effect on respiratory infections. This was a cause of the confusion among medical professions. At such amounts, “control” group’s vitamin C intake was not controlled and might have exceeded the amounts taken by the intervention group. Also, low level vitamin C supplementation might provide benefits too low to detect. That might have caused confusion among medical professionals. Further, most studies gave vitamin C either prophylactically or during illness, but not both (Hemilä, Vitamin C and Infections, 2017).

On the high end, mega-doses of vitamin C (like tens of grams per day), delivered intravenously in hospital settings, is successfully used in treatment of many serious diseases and conditions, including late stages of severe cases of COVID-19. They are used for patients with sepsis (Kashiouris, 2020) and acute respiratory distress syndrome. Such doses and associated treatments are beyond the scope of this article.

Thus, this review is only concerned with vitamin C doses of 1 – 3 g/day prophylactically, and 3 – 6 g/day during ARTI. Such doses have been shown helpful in easing ARTI, and safe for almost all people.

Studies Review

Peer Reviewed Papers

(Hemilä, 2017) is a meta-analysis of multiple studies. It concludes that vitamin C is helpful against many infections, especially the common cold. The study suggests a linear dose – effect function up to 6-8 g/day.

(Hemilä & Chalker, 2019) is another meta-analysis. In 12 trials, totaling 1766 patients , vitamin C, given during the time of treatment, reduced ICU stays by an average of 7.8%. The vitamin C doses were relatively small, 1-3 g/day. (In four studies, higher doses were used, but those studies were either excluded from the meta-analysis (Dingchao 1994) or given very low weight in the calculations (Tanako 2000, Fowler 2014, Zabet 2016)). In this study vitamin C was given too little too late.

(Marik & Hooper, 2017) explains that vitamin C acts like a “stress hormone”. Most vertebrates synthesize their vitamin C and increase its production during physiological stress. Humans, as well as primates and guinea pigs, are exceptions to this rule. Therefore, we need to obtain vitamin C from food or supplements, and we may need to increase our intake in times of physiological stress.

(Colunga Biancatelli, Berill, & Marik, 2019) explains concepts behind vitamin C antiviral benefits. Unfortunately, they cite a 2013 review by Hemilä et al., which did not find benefits of vitamin C supplementation, as explained above. The more recent meta-analysis (Hemilä, Vitamin C and Infections, 2017) has firmly established evidence of such benefits.

(Ran, 2018) is a review, showing benefits of taking daily vitamin C supplements before and increasing the dosage when common cold occurs. It proposes a regimen of taking 1 g/day prophylactically while healthy and 3-4 g/day while having a cold.

Non peer reviewed sources

Drugs.com:

Beneficial effects of vitamin C supplementation have been reported for

Elderly people with acute respiratory infections

Recurrent acute respiratory distress syndrome

Reducing the severity and duration of the common cold

Reducing the length of hospital stay and symptoms in elderly patients with pneumonia

Reducing the duration of mechanical ventilation in people in ICU

Preventing the common cold in people who are vitamin C deficient

Preventing the incidence of pneumonia in people who are vitamin C deficient.

Studies have shown that excretion of vitamin C is decreased during infections, such as the common cold, suggesting that more is utilized during times of need.

COVID-19: Prevention and Treatment, Vitamin C (cihs.edu, Michelle Fauver, Ph.D.):

If you choose to supplement with vitamin C as a preventive, you might want to start with 2 grams a day administered orally

To use vitamin C supplementation as a treatment for colds or flus (remember we still have the flu going around), the best results have been obtained by administering 6-8 g (6,000-8,000 mg) immediately upon appearance of the first symptoms, then continuing that dose daily until the symptoms subside.

8 g/day is likely to cause diarrhea.

Remarks

  • The effect of prophylactic doses of vitamin C in COVID-19 infection have not been quantified. But even if the effect were small (and there is no reason to think that it is small), when the infection spreads exponentially, it decreases the exponential coefficient. It is a possibly large impact, at a miniscule cost, with almost no risk. Further, vitamin C seems to help the immune system to decrease the viral load even if it does not alleviate the symptoms.
  • Taking vitamin C is not the only helpful prophylactic measure receiving less attention than it deserves. Another research piece shows similar benefits of cod liver oil, used in this country for hundreds of years, or its equivalent – a diet rich in wild caught salmon or mackerel.
  • Physiological stress is not the same as psychological stress. I do not know whether lockdowns and forced social isolation cause physiological stress.
  • While it is not the role of the federal government to recommend diets and vitamin supplements, Google and Facebook delete and hide information about potentially effective COVID-19 prophylactics and treatment, if it does not come from WHO or a government. Thus, to allow such information to reach the public, the federal government should either rein in Google and Facebook, or itself make the recommendations.
  • I prefer the name Wuhan coronavirus the COVID-19 pathogen. This is where the virus was detected first. The name SARS-CoV-2 is associated with SARS of 2003, which had a much higher mortality ratio. This association is misleading and causes unnecessary panic.
  • To avoid the appearance of bias, I excluded from this review most known enthusiasts of the vitamin C. I also did not rely upon the peer-reviewed Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, although it is a recognized medical journal, and included in multiple indexes.
  • It is impossible not to mention Linus Pauling in this article. I do not know whether he was right or wrong about vitamin C. It might be that some of his ideas were correct, but explanation and/or clinical recommendations were not.
  • A medical group of Eastern Virginia Medical School, headed by Dr. Paul Marik, has developed and published its own COVID-19 prophylactic regimen, including vitamin C, Zinc, and Quercetin. It is occasionally mentioned in comments on this site.

References

Carr, A. (2017). Hypovitaminosis C and vitamin C deficiency in critically ill patients despite recommended enteral and parenteral intakes. Critical Care. Retrieved from https://ccforum.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13054-017-1891-y

Colunga Biancatelli, R. M., Berill, M., & Marik, E. P. (2019). The antiviral properties of vitamin C. Expert Review of Anti-infective Therapy. Retrieved from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14787210.2020.1706483

Gorton, H., & Jarvis, K. (1999). The effectiveness of vitamin C in preventing and relieving the symptoms of virus-induced respiratory infections. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/S0161-4754(99)70005-9

Hemilä, H. (2017). Vitamin C and Infections. Nutrients. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9040339

Hemilä, H., & Chalker, E. (2019). Vitamin C Can Shorten the Length of Stay in the ICU: A Meta-Analysis. Nutrients. Retrieved from https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/11/4/708

Kashiouris, M. (2020, January 22). The Emerging Role of Vitamin C as a Treatment for Sepsis. Nutrients. Retrieved from https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/2/292/htm

Marik, P. E., & Hooper, M. H. (2017). Vitamin C and Sepsis, Response. The Chest Journal. Retrieved from https://journal.chestnet.org/article/S0012-3692(17)31252-7/fulltext

National Institute of Health. (2020, February 27). Vitamin C. Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-HealthProfessional/

Ran, L. (2018). Extra Dose of Vitamin C Based on a Daily Supplementation Shortens the Common Cold: A Meta-Analysis of 9 Randomized Controlled Trials. BioMed Research International. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/1837634

May 31, 2020 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Two can play Section 230 game: Trump’s EO uses key statute against social media censorship

By Nebojsa Malic | RT | May 28, 2020

Social media giants have long hid behind a law shielding them from litigation to censor content they did not like. President Donald Trump’s executive order just reminded them that laws can also be used as a sword.

Though the First Amendment to the US Constitution prohibits the government from restricting freedom of speech, social media platforms have long argued this does not apply to them as private companies. The executive order signed by Trump on Thursday points out that their status as platforms, and immunity from endless civil lawsuits, depends on their removal of controversial content being done “in good faith.”

The order instructs federal agencies to focus on that qualifier when considering Section 230 (C) of 47 US Code to social media companies, noting that this clearly does not apply when their practices are “deceptive” or “pretextual,” inconsistent with their own terms of service, and used to stifle viewpoints with which they disagree.

Until now, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others could have it both ways, insisting they were “platforms” and therefore not liable for user-generated content, while acting as “publishers” and actively deciding which content they would allow, using entirely arbitrary and ever-changing rules.

The issue became political after 2016, when Trump used social platforms to bypass the establishment media that overwhelmingly favored – and endorsed – his opponent. The ‘Russiagate’ conspiracy theory wasn’t just used in an attempt to get Trump out of office, but also to pressure social media giants to censor viewpoints the establishment did not like – overwhelmingly targeting Trump supporters, but also purging dissident voices on the left.

It made little difference whether the companies did so internally, or by outsourcing it to third parties – such as Facebook did recently – the people making these decisions invariably turned out to be passionately partisan.

The fact that Trump specifically called out Twitter’s “head of integrity” and referenced the presence of a Democrat impeachment witness on Facebook’s Oversight Board indicates that Thursday’s order did not come out of the blue. The advanced copy leaked to friendly journalists earlier in the day likewise suggested that the White House has been laying the groundwork for such a measure for years, just waiting for the right moment.

Remember when a federal judge ruled that Trump is not allowed to block trolls on his personal account, because Twitter was a “designated public forum” and he is an elected official? Trump does, and he’s using the same logic to put the responsibility on social media to act as such.

Critics, of course, claimed that Trump was only acting now – after years of doing nothing and “monitoring the situation” – because Twitter dared “fact check” his opinions on mail-in ballots this week.

Attempting to shield his employees from Trump’s ire, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey argued that the president’s tweets “may mislead people into thinking they don’t need to register to get a ballot.”

Trump called this “ridiculous” and “stupid.” Think of him what you want, but in this instance he’s correct – Dorsey is really reaching here, and insulting the intelligence of millions of Americans in the process.

Perhaps one of the most absurd features of the Trump era is the extent to which his critics have openly sacrificed their own publicly professed principles in order to oppose him. Thus the self-styled civil libertarians on the left suddenly decided they actually love private corporations and hate government regulations, coming out in support of purging “hate speech” (a nonexistent category in US law).

All of a sudden, the First Amendment applied only to the government – but not to Twitter, Facebook or YouTube. Nor did they bother protesting when those companies applied German, Pakistani or Chinese laws to silence Americans. But now the American Civil Liberties Union is reacting to Trump’s order by shrieking “He can’t do that!”

Except that yes, he can. Ensuring US laws are faithfully executed is literally his mandate (Article II, Section 3). Trump is not revoking Section 230 – only Congress can do that – but he is clearly issuing new guidance as to how it is to be enforced. The federal government may not even need to do much – Trump seems to be well aware of Saul Alinsky’s Rule 9:“The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.”

The mere prospect of being stripped of Section 230 protections and facing costly litigation as a result may prompt these companies to rethink their behavior. Or they could decide their commitment to the ideology of “social justice” and connections to one party in the US political system trump business concerns, so to speak. We’ll see what happens.

The trouble with the latter approach is that Joe Biden, the Democrat nominee facing off against Trump in November, has just recently called for abolishing Section 230 altogether – making Trump’s position the more moderate and reasonable one by comparison, from their standpoint.

As I’ve argued before, the battle has never been over a particular tweet or two, but over who gets to be the arbiter of truth – the American people, or the establishment and its allies in legacy and social media.

At the end of the day, that’s what this executive order is all about.

Nebojsa Malic is a Serbian-American journalist, blogger and translator, who wrote a regular column for Antiwar.com from 2000 to 2015, and is now senior writer at RT. Follow him on Twitter @NebojsaMalic

May 29, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , | Leave a comment