Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

Infectious Diseases Expert Says UK Lockdown is Not Working

By Paul Joseph Watson | Summit News | January 21, 2021

Infectious diseases expert Professor Steven Riley says current data shows that the national lockdown in the United Kingdom is not working.

Riley, who is professor of infectious disease dynamics at Imperial College London, cited a React study which shows “the prevalence of infection increased between 6 and 15 January,” after the national lockdown was announced on January 4.

“It’s long enough that, were the lockdown working effectively, we would certainly have hoped to have seen a decline,” said Riley.

The professor added that current research “certainly doesn’t support the conclusion that lockdown is working.”

As we highlighted last week, a peer reviewed study by Stanford researchers found that mandatory lockdowns do not provide more benefits to stopping the spread of COVID-19 than voluntary measures such as social distancing.

The researchers found “no clear, significant beneficial effect of [more restrictive measures] on case growth in any country.”

While numerous studies show that lockdowns have no impact on reducing the spread of viruses, an avalanche of data shows that they cost lives.

Academics from Duke, Harvard, and Johns Hopkins have warned that there could be around a million excess deaths over the next two decades as a result of lockdowns.

Thousands of doctors and scientists are on record as opposing lockdown measures, warning that they will cause more death than the coronavirus itself.

January 21, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , | 1 Comment

UK Labour leader Starmer hired former Israeli spy for social media team

MEMO | January 19, 2021

Britain’s Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer hired a former Israel spy to work in his social media team, The Electronic Intifada has revealed. Assaf Kaplan was hired as a “social media listener”, and worked formerly for the infamous 8200 cyber unit of the Israeli intelligence services. In a profile of Kaplan on an ex-employer’s website, he is described as a “Unit 8200 veteran”.

Unit 8200 specialises in cyber intelligence, and is known for its role in blackmailing and assassinating Palestinians, as revealed in a shocking Guardian report in 2014. Another former Unit 8200 officer revealed anonymously the extent of the activities undertaken by the unit, some of which resulted in the killing of an innocent child in the Gaza Strip. Operatives also used sexual preferences to blackmail Palestinians into becoming collaborators with the Israeli occupation authorities.

“Once when I was the unit representative, there was someone suspicious next to a weapons warehouse in Gaza and we thought he was our target,” explained the anonymous source. “It had taken us a long time to find him. Judging by his location, the time and similar data, we concluded it was him. After we assassinated him it turned out that he was a kid… I remember an image on the screen of him in an orchard, and the explosion on the screen, the smoke clearing and his mother running to him, at which point we could see he was a child. The body was small. We realised we had screwed up.”

Another pointed out that “any Palestinian” may be targeted and may suffer from sanctions such as the denial of permits, harassment, extortion or even direct physical injury. “Such instances might occur if the individual is of any interest to the system for any reason. Be it indirect relations with hostile individuals, physical proximity to intelligence targets, or connections to topics that interest 8200 as a technological unit.” Any information that might enable “extortion” of an individual is considered relevant information by the 8200 team. “Whether said individual is of a certain sexual orientation, cheating on his wife or in need of treatment in Israel or the West Bank, he is a target for blackmail.”

Kaplan was also involved in the latest General Election in Israel, working for Israeli Labor as deputy head of campaigns. The party suffered a catastrophic collapse in its share of the vote, and there are now rumours that it will be wiped out completely in the upcoming election in March.

Although some Twitter users have pointed out that Israeli citizens are subject to mandatory conscription into the Israeli army, the duration of national service is only two and a half years. Kaplan apparently served in Israeli intelligence for nearly five years, twice the normal conscription period. Other Twitter users have said that Kaplan is being singled out simply because he is an Israeli citizen, and that if it was any other intelligence service there wouldn’t be any problem.

January 19, 2021 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

Will Sir David Attenborough attempt to save Red-listed Kittiwakes from giant wind turbine project?

Global Warming Policy Forum – 19/01/21

On the 31st of December last year Alok Sharma, then Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, gave planning consent for the giant Hornsea 3 offshore wind farm. He decided to over-ride planning inspectors who had advised refusal on the grounds of unacceptable environmental impacts on the Red-listed Kittiwake populations of the East Coast, whose resting and nesting sites are protected by Natura 2000 legislation, some of the strongest environmental protection in Europe.

In giving consent Mr Sharma said that that contribution of the Hornsea 3 scheme to reaching Net Zero was more important than the affect on the local environment and its bird populations, and justified ignoring Natura 2000 protection.

This sets a precedent that the renewables industry has already identified as “opening the floodgates” for any major industrial development that can make a claim, however tenuous, to low carbon credentials.

The GWPF has written to Sir David Attenborough, asking him to intervene personally to reverse this decision and request a moratorium of the mega-project before it is too late.

January 19, 2021 Posted by | Environmentalism, Progressive Hypocrite | | Leave a comment

Is This Fraud Ever Going to End?

By Dr Vernon Coleman

I sometimes envy the zombies who believe that the only problem is an infection which causes a disease called covid-19.

They get up in the morning, check in the mirror to make sure they haven’t died in the night, munch their chocolate flavoured bran flakes, choose a mask that goes best with their chosen outfit for the day and venture out into the world a little nervous but confident that their government is doing its best to protect them in these tricky times.

As they go about their business they disinfect their hands at every possible opportunity, carefully obey the social distancing rules and wait impatiently for the vaccine.

In a way I occasionally envy them their ignorance. They are like not very bright goldfish swimming round and round in one of those glass bowls.

People sometimes refer to the ignorant as sheep but this isn’t fair.

I have kept sheep and they are far more intelligent than most people imagine. Hardly anyone has bothered to do any research because, like cows and pigs, sheep are just farm animals and farmers and vets don’t have much interest in studying animals whose destiny is to be slaughtered, chopped up and eaten.

For example, the books will tell you that sheep are colour blind. They aren’t.

I used to have a four wheel drive vehicle which was the same model as the vet’s. My car was blue and his was green. When the sheep saw my car coming they ran towards me because I always gave them biscuits. When they saw the vet coming they ran away because he always wanted to check their feet and they didn’t like that. I later tested with different coloured feed buckets and I can promise you that sheep are not colour blind. They are actually very bright animals – far more intelligent than Gates, Fauci or Whitty and invariably a darned site better conversationalists. And they are brave too. My sheep once frightened a dog so much that the dog’s owner begged me to call my sheep off his dog.

So, to me, the ignorant thickos who still believe the coronavirus is the new plague are zombies or collaborators.

The vigilance of the collaborators means that every trip to the shops has become something of an ordeal.

The staff in the supermarket are always fine and actually a few seem genuinely sympathetic. But there is invariably one customer who worships Bill Gates, probably has his picture above his bed, and who feels it is his duty to confront any intelligent people he sees with naked faces.

This morning I hadn’t got more than three feet into the supermarket when a pompous, sanctimonious mask-finder general, one of Commander Dick’s shame police, rushed up to my wife and rudely and aggressively demanded that she put on a mask. That’s Commander Dick of the Metropolitan police.

My wife was startled and upset and politely told him that she was exempt. He still scowled, and I thought he deserved more. And with my wife’s permission, I explained that it wasn’t really any of his business but that she’d had surgery for breast cancer and a month’s radiotherapy which has caused damage which makes breathing difficult. Thanks to the absurd coronavirus hoax, the hospital physiotherapy department is still closed so she is in pain most of the day. I wish someone would explain that to me, incidentally. My wife can have a tattoo, were she so inclined, or her hair done, but she cannot have physiotherapy because the physiotherapy department is still closed. I pointed out to the mask-wearing prefect that nurses at the hospital told her to remove her mask after she almost collapsed with palpitations caused by her condition.

You might have thought a human being would have been embarrassed. Not a bit of it. The Dick police specials are shameless. The cretin, utterly indifferent and uncaring, just shrugged and demanded to know why I wasn’t wearing a mask.

I always explain to the thickos that the mask they are wearing does absolutely no good, that mask wearing is dangerous, that they didn’t wear a mask last year so why are they wearing one this year and that covid-19 has killed fewer people than the flu.

I do this because I think these zombies need to be educated before they accost an elderly or frail person and cause serious upset.

Sadly, however, in my now generous experience the mask promoting lunatics always run away when you reply to their muttered, `where’s your mask?’ mantra. The collaborators compound their selfishness and their ignorance with good old-fashioned cowardice: without exception, they run away. Say something, anything, in reply and they scoot away back to the hole in the skirting board.

And that’s what happened with this coward. He ran off. All mouth but no guts.

`You are an idiot!’ I shouted at the retreating mask wearer.

Not witty, I admit, but adequate.

The collaborators will destroy our lives as well as their own unless they are brought to heel.

I had trouble in the bank, too. There was, inevitably, a lengthy queue outside which was fine because Bill Gates’s cloud of calcium carbonate hanging in the sky was keeping the sun at bay though I wonder how many people will freeze to death when the weather becomes a little chillier. All part of the Agenda 21 plan to get rid of the elderly and the frail.

Eventually, when I got a foot in the door, a girl whom I could identify as a staff member only because of her uniform, asked me where my mask was and wanted to know if I was exempt. I smiled and nodded and she offered to get me a lanyard with a label to hang around my neck to show that I was exempt. Since I don’t want a lanyard with a label any more than I want a mask I just smiled and said no thank you and explained that masks are entirely useless because viruses go straight through the material.

`I know,’ she said. `But wearing a mask gives people confidence.’

What madness. She knows that masks are useless but she thinks they give people confidence. Does she think all their customers are half-witted five-year-olds? The answer is obviously yes.

And talking of five-year-olds, when is someone going to start arresting parents who force small children to wear masks? In England, children under 11 are exempt from mask wearing. (Look at the Government website for the latest information because the rules change almost daily.) There is much talk of authorities taking children away from parents who disapprove of vaccination. I think they’ve got it the wrong way round. They should be taking children away from parents who force children to wear masks or let them get vaccinated.

Just before we left town, we saw a maskless man come out of the supermarket. Like conspirators we chatted for a few moments. He was quite awake and aware of the fraud being perpetrated upon us. He told us that he watched UK Column and the old man in a chair. He didn’t have the faintest idea the old man, without his chair, was standing just two feet away from him. We didn’t mention it.

You and I are involved in a war where we are not quite sure whom we are fighting or precisely what their final aims might be – other than the fact that we are destined to be drones, slaves, proles in a world run by a new self-appointed aristocracy.

The minute we think we have worked it out and know what the rules are they change the rules. It is a world which appears to have been designed by Lewis Carroll to make Franz Kafka feel comfortable.

The only stable currency is the lie.

It is no exaggeration to say that it is fair to assume that everything anyone in authority says will be a lie. They do it so naturally that I sometimes wonder if any of the politicians and their advisors realise just how much they are lying. Maybe it’s just like breathing. They do it without thinking.

I think we perhaps all misunderstand how vile politicians are. Auberon Waugh once said that the only thing that any of them is really interested in is the chance to make decisions and see them put into effect – to press a button and watch us all jump.

He was right, but the politicians have recently been joined by an army of advisors, hangers on and confidants who are also in it for the power, and who have very real views on how the world should be but who cannot be bothered to stand for election. The Rothschilds, the Rockefellers, Gates, Soros and so on are all too arrogant to expose themselves to the ballot box and I suspect they all hold us in contempt.

It is often said that the truth will set us free but the one certainty these days is that long before we get there we will be disappointed, frustrated and not a little angry.

They say we must be prepared for a second wave.

A second wave of what?

Did we actually have a first wave? Covid-19 killed less people than the flu. What sort of wave is that? More of a ripple really.

How can there be a second wave without a first wave?

We could, I suppose, have a second ripple.

Take out the hundreds of thousands of old people who were murdered in care homes around the world, and the hundreds of thousands who were put down as dying of covid-19 but actually died of something else and the total number who have allegedly died of the coronavirus can hardly be called a wave. It certainly wasn’t much of a pandemic.

In England and Wales, the excess number of deaths has fallen below the five year average for the fifth week in a row. Moreover, the figures now show that more than 90% of covid-19 deaths occurred in people over 60, and 90% of those who died in hospital had existing health conditions before they got infected. In due course the real figures will be available and they will, I suspect, show that over 90% were in their 80s or older, and had two or three co-morbidities.

There are regions of England where I suspect that more people are dying from falling off horses than are dying from the coronavirus. Does that mean that we’ve having an epidemic of deaths caused by people falling off horses? In many parts of the world anything that actually kills people is a bigger threat than the coronavirus. Is rabies now a global pandemic? How about falling off mountains? I would bet that there have been more suicides, caused by fear and despair for the future than covid-19 deaths in some places in the last month.

Nothing much makes any sense any more, does it?

And yet, as hypnotherapist and author Colin Barron points out, many of the so-called experts on covid-19 don’t have any medical qualifications. Neil Ferguson is a mathematician and yet his predictions were used as the basis for the global lockdowns.

Everyone with a certificate in basic woodwork has suddenly become a medical expert.

The other day the Scottish Daily Mail printed a letter from someone called Professor Greg Philo of Glasgow University who warns `the fear is real and we need a strategy to eliminate the virus’.

So, what is Professor Philo’s medical speciality? Medicine? Surgery? Epidemiology? General Practice?

None of the above.

The only Professor Philo I could find is a professor of communications and social change.

And if you’ve got any idea what that means then you have my commiserations.

Why do such people assume the right to pontificate about whether or not a virus infection is a threat?

As Dr Barron says, there was a time when only taxi drivers were experts on everything. These days even professors of communications and social change want to share their conclusions about a complex piece of global manipulation.

We have reached the strange position where paranoia is no longer a medical condition. It is a rational state of mind. Governments have lied about lockdowns, they have lied about the number of deaths, they have lied about the need for masks and they have lied about social distancing. Trying to dismantle the lies and find the kernel of truth is like playing three dimensional chess and if that isn’t the most mixed up metaphor in history then I’ll try again another day.

I can’t remember the last time a politician said anything that bore even a faint relationship to the truth. You’d be mad not to assume that everything the dishonest, deceitful cynical politicians and the advisors say is a barefaced lie. We’re being ruled by crazed psychopaths who have somehow succeeded in encouraging the collaborators to believe that it is possible to remove all risk from human life.

Politicians and their advisors should be forced to wear logos on their suits to list their sponsors, allegiances and connections. They’d have so many advertising logos they would look like race car drivers. All BBC staff should have EU and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation logos on their clothing at all times. The Guardian too. Anyone with links to a drug company should be banned from any sort of public role. As I have shown in previous videos, the world’s drug companies are more dishonest and dishonourable than tobacco companies. We would be better off if the world were run by a cabal of Colombian drug barons than the pirate crew currently striving for global control.

Telling lies is the new normal in our world.

They say that wearing masks will provide protection. This isn’t true. What evidence there is shows that masks are entirely pointless and potentially dangerous. Only the clinically insane and people with IQs in single figures think masks are of any value whatsoever. Why don’t footballers have to wear masks when they’re playing? Because masks impede their breathing. Why do even politicians and government advisors agree that those with respiratory problems don’t have to wear masks? The answer is obvious – because masks impede breathing.

They say that it will be necessary to introduce more lockdowns to prevent more deaths. But even governments now admit that lockdowns cause more deaths than they prevent. So the only possible reason for having more lockdowns is to kill more people.

They say they need to introduce new laws to avoid a second wave of infections and deaths. The truth is that it was the last lot of laws – the social distancing, the lockdowns and the masks – which have caused the deaths. More laws will result in more deaths.

They say we have to close our borders to keep out the virus. This is bollocks. In March I suggested closing airports to control the infection rate. But airports were left open. Now that the death rate has collapsed they want to stop people travelling. They are desperate to stop anyone travelling or having a good time. They are deliberately creating fear to sustain their corrupt, satanic ideology.

They say that testing is showing up more cases. This is so deceitful it’s worthy of Bernie Madoff. The tests which are being used throw up so many false positives that they are about as much use as a castrated ram in a field full of sheep. And even the politicians and their advisors must realise that if you test ten times as many people then the chances are that you will find more people who have or have had the infection. Tracking and tracing is simply an infringement of our civil liberties. It is of no value whatsoever.

They say the only way we will ever get back to normal will be with a vaccine. This is the biggest lie of all. Worst of all, they say that the new vaccine will be safe. They cannot possibly know this. The dimmest, most stupid person you know can judge whether their new vaccine will be safe as well as they can.

Politicians, advisors, commentators and professors of golf course management claim that the world will not get back to normal until there is a vaccine available. There is of course, another unspoken option: that the majority will realise that the coronavirus scare is a hoax; a massive fraud deliberately arranged by people with malignant intentions.

And that’s what is going to happen.

I will leave you with a quote from the Robert Donat film version of the Count of Monte Cristo: `They call me mad because I tell the truth.’

What more can I say?

Vernon Coleman’s bestselling book about the coronavirus is called `Coming Apocalypse’. It is available on Amazon as a paperback and an eBook.

Copyright Vernon Coleman August 2020

January 17, 2021 Posted by | Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , | 2 Comments

WE ARE NOT AS STUPID AS THEY THOUGHT WE WERE

LondonRealTV | January 13, 2021

January 14, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Timeless or most popular, Video | , | 4 Comments

Lockdown Britain turning into East Germany? No, in many ways it’s worse. Believe me… I was there

By Neil Clark | RT | January 14, 2021

“I don’t want to live in East Germany,” says Nigel Farage in a new video in which he expresses concern at where Britain is heading. He has a point; I was in the DDR in 1989 and found it to be less oppressive than Britain today.

It started with stamps. My interest in the ‘German Democratic Republic’ began when a very nice lady called Frieda, who lived on our road when I was a child, started to give me her old East German stamps for my collection. She was from the DDR, and went every year to visit her elderly mother there. She told my mother she was followed by the secret police when she went back. My apolitical fascination with this rather mysterious ‘Behind the Iron Curtain’ country grew. I had a pen friend who lived in Karl-Marx-Stadt (Chemnitz), and we exchanged football pennants and stickers. In September 1989, I was finally able to visit. It was some experience.

Without wishing to brush over or downplay in any way the negatives, which I will go into, I found the country was a lot less grim than popularly portrayed. Perhaps that was partly due to the gloriously sunny weather. But it soon became clear to me that, despite living in a ‘dictatorship’, people could still enjoy happy, meaningful lives. I remember packed bars and restaurants (including one self-service cafeteria that was open all night at Erfurt station, where my friend and I spent our first night on wooden benches).

We also witnessed a very joyous old-style wedding – with horse and carriage ­– in the centre of beautiful Wernigerode, the quaint little town in the Harz Mountains where we stayed. I travelled around on trains (including a wonderful old steam locomotive), buses, and trams. In Magdeburg, I went to a football match. I chatted with people wherever I went. I found everyone friendly and eager to enter into conversations. I was also struck by the very high general level of education. People loved talking about books.

It’s a sobering thought that things I could do in East Germany in 1989 I cannot do in the locked-down Britain of today. Pubs, restaurants, and nightclubs are shut, by Order of the State. Ditto theatres and other places of public entertainment. Football matches are played ‘behind closed doors’. Earlier this week, Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi appealed for people not to stop and chat to friends they bump into outside, and also told people not to sit on park benches! “Don’t go out and sit or have that opportunity of social interaction,” he said. Again, this is worse than East Germany.  You could always meet your friends there, and make new ones too.

In less than 12 months, Britain has been transformed from a relatively free country into an authoritarian police state where physical social interaction is strongly discouraged, if not illegal. Last week, we saw a shocking video of police breaking into a home in Scotland after a ‘tip-off’ that there were ‘too many people’ there.

In Wales, a couple were given a fixed penalty notice for travelling seven miles to see the wife’s 94-year-old mother in a care home, a journey the police deemed ‘unnecessary’. “I feel like I’m living in some sort of dystopian novel after what happened,” a ‘mortified’ Mrs Carol Richards said afterwards (After much publicity, the fine was subsequently rescinded, but that still doesn’t excuse the police action).

Under the ‘rules’, people have even been prevented from visiting seriously ill loved ones in hospital. Just how inhuman is that?

The biggest bugbear people I spoke to had with life in the old DDR was the restrictions on foreign travel. But although we have no Berlin Wall, we have restrictions on travel in Britain today (at least for the plebs). When Home Secretary Priti Patel boasted about ending free movement, the left presumed she was talking about immigration. It transpired it was the British people’s free movement that was ending, under the guise of fighting a virus.

And with the World Economic Forum-sponsored roll-out of health passports – which the power behind the throne, Tony Blair, assures us “will” happen – will those who refuse to get vaccinated ever be able to leave the country again? It’s certainly a major concern.

East Germany had its Stasi, which we all know about; in ‘free democratic’ Britain, people are encouraged to call ‘hotlines’ and use ‘online portals’ to snitch on their neighbours if they believe they are breaching Covid regulations. My friend, the Oxford academic Mark Almond, tweeted that he has a friend who is a chairman of a gardening association here, but who was in East Berlin in 1983. Mark’s friend told him she had received anonymous denunciations of breaches of lockdown in the allotment! “Makes one nostalgic for the Stasi,” she remarked.

“Ah,” I hear some of you say… “But East Germany was a de facto one-party system, whereas Britain is a multi-party democracy. There’s really no comparison.” But what use is having opposition parties if they all toe the ‘official’ line and agree with the government on the biggest issues of the day? All of the parliamentary parties are pro-lockdown. The only opposition to the Conservatives from Labour has been on the lines of “You’re not locking down hard enough!” When Parliament debated the latest lockdown measures last week, just 16 MPs – out of a House of 650 – voted against. Not one Labour MP opposed.

It was the very wise French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery who noted in ‘The Little Prince’, “what is essential is invisible to the eye.” So it is with societies. We can cite GDP figures until we’re blue in the face, but the important thing about a country is how things feel. Are people happy? Is there joy to be had in everyday life?

The mood in East Germany in September 1989 was optimistic. Perhaps people thought positive change was on its way. Perhaps others were genuinely enthused by the 40 Jahre DDR celebrations. I don’t feel the same atmosphere in Britain today. People seem demoralised and depressed. That’s borne out by the news that antidepressant use soared in 2020, with six million people in England receiving anti-depressants in the three months to September – the highest figure on record.

The downbeat national mood is not at all surprising when you consider that people have been physically isolated from one another and we have been fed a 24/7 diet of fear-porn from the government and most of the media for the past nine months. Relentless psychological warfare has been waged on us. It has certainly taken its toll. Who wouldn’t be depressed if they watched Piers Morgan and ‘Good Morning Britain’ every day?

East Germany was an attempt to build a ‘workers’ state’ out of the ruins of the Third Reich. But although economically it represented a big change to what had gone on before, with a largely collectivised planned economy, the important point is that everyday life wasn’t that much different to how it had been for centuries. The basics remained the same.

People could still go out, socialise, have a laugh and a joke, a pint and a smoke, spend time with their families, and find love and romance and happiness in chance encounters. In other words, do all the things that make life worth living.  But such simple pleasures – which we took for granted before March 2020 – are deprived to us in Britain today, where under the imposition of the ‘Great Reset’ we are being conditioned to accept as a ‘new normal’ an entirely abnormal way of living that goes against every human instinct.

As bad as things are in early 2021, even worse will follow, unless there is a massive pushback against the globalists’ dystopian agenda. An agenda which, as my fellow RT.com columnist Tomasz Pierscionek pointed out last week, is about constructing a “living hell that combines the worst of Communist totalitarianism with the worst of capitalism’s detached callousness towards those deemed expendable, perhaps topped off with liberal and woke militants cancelling those committing thought crimes.”

In a TV interview on Wednesday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock admitted he had no timetable for a lifting of lockdown even after vaccinations. Priti Patel has already told us“social distancing is here to stay.” Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty has said that lockdown (if it is ever eased) could be re-imposed next winter.

Is this really our future? Rolling lockdowns, bans on seeing our families and friends, and threats of even tougher restrictions hanging permanently over us? And all this while being told to ‘mask up’ and keep two or even three metres away from our fellow human beings – and of course not to chat to them. The utterly hellish and soul-destroying ‘New Normal’ designed for us by the Davos elites makes late 1980s East Germany – for all its well-documented faults – look like paradise on Earth. Just think about that for a moment.

Neil Clark is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and blogger. His award winning blog can be found at http://www.neilclark66.blogspot.com. He tweets on politics and world affairs @NeilClark66

January 14, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Revealed: UK Sets Up Media Influencing Project in Venezuela

By Matt Kennard and John McEvoy | Declassified UK | January 6, 2021

The UK government has established a journalism project to ‘influence’ Venezuela’s ‘media agenda’ while a Foreign Office-funded foundation is spending £750,000 on a secretive ‘democracy-promotion’ programme in the country, as Britain appears to deepen efforts to remove the Maduro government.

  • UK government has allocated £250,000 from its aid budget to ‘influence’ local and national ‘media agendas’
  • British funding for journalism should not be ‘referred or linked to’, government says
  • Westminster Foundation for Democracy has spent over £750,000 in Venezuela since 2016
  • It refuses to tell Declassified details about its partners in Venezuela
  • Foundation’s country representative sympathised with armed coup attempt in the country

As Venezuela’s political crisis continues, the UK government has initiated a new project promoting investigative journalism in Latin America which furtively covers Venezuela.

The project, launched last summer and intended to “influence” the media agenda in the country, follows a long history of the British government using journalism as an influencing tool. It raises suspicions that it aims to help remove the leftist government of Venezuela president Nicolás Maduro.

In a separate programme, the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD), a majority UK-government funded organisation, has spent over £750,000 to “strengthen democracy” in Venezuela since 2016, according to documents obtained by Declassified.

The WFD’s programmes in the country are shrouded in secrecy due to apparent concerns about the security of its staff, although its country representative advertises his affiliation to the organisation online.

The British government controversially recognises Venezuelan opposition figure Juan Guaidó as president and is running a number of anti-government programmes in the country using the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) which supports projects designed “to tackle instability and to prevent conflicts that threaten UK interests”.

The aim of the fund’s new journalism project is stated to be the creation of a “new platform that strengthens media organisation [sic] throughout the region and provides journalists with a platform in which they can collaborate and build regional stories”.

Programme literature notes that successful applicants should display “a capacity to link into – and ultimately influence – local and national media agendas”.

But they are warned that “the British government — and its resourcing of the project — should not be expressly referred or linked to the individual outputs of the project (i.e. individual articles, events etc).”

Run by the British embassy in Bogotá, Colombia, the call for applications noted that successful bids would start in August 2020. There has been no public update since, although the Foreign Office told Declassified there had been delays due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On the public advert, applicants are advised to budget up to £250,000 for their projects, but the Foreign Office told Declassified : “it is not currently possible to confirm what budget will be available for this project.”

Declassified’s repeated questions about the project to its two coordinators in Bogotá went unanswered. However, a Foreign Office spokesperson told Declassified: “It is inaccurate to conflate this call for bids with the UK position on Venezuela, which has not changed. We want to see a democratic transition with free and fair elections take place in Venezuela.”

The CSSF put out a public call in June last year for applications from journalists seeking to cover crime and corruption in Colombia, Peru and Panama, adding there was the “potential to cover linked events in other neighbouring countries”. The word Venezuela did not appear.

However, CSSF documentation published three days before the advert outlined the same programme with the addition of Venezuela in its title. The furtive inclusion of the country appears to reflect Foreign Office reticence to publicise its increased involvement in Venezuela.

The summary of another CSSF programme, again in Colombia for the year ending March 2020, includes the recommendation to “engage” Foreign Office officials “about options to develop CSSF programmes in Venezuela”.

A September 2019 job advert for a CSSF programme manager in Lima, Peru, notes that the successful applicant will work “with colleagues in Colombia, Panama and, potentially, Venezuela”. 

Declassified recently revealed that the CSSF has spent £450,000 setting up an anti-government coalition in Venezuela, again by furtively adding the project to an existing programme focused on Colombia and beginning in 2019.

Journalism as information war

The UK government has long used the media to undermine foreign leaders and political movements it perceives as a threat to British business interests.

Declassified recently revealed that a secretive Cold War propaganda unit, named the Information Research Department (IRD), tried to prevent Chilean socialist Salvador Allende from winning presidential elections in 1964 and 1970.

Declassified files also reveal that during the Brazilian dictatorship of 1964-1985, the IRD “assiduously cultivated” one of Brazil’s leading left-wing publishers, Samuel Wainer.

Though the unit was shut down in 1977, Britain has continued to sponsor journalistic ventures in Latin America. In response to a freedom of information request, the Foreign Office revealed that, between January 2016 and September 2018, it funded Venezuelan news outlet Fundación Efecto Cocuyo, as well as the Instituto Radiofónico Fe y Alegría and Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Prensa.

While receiving funds from the British government, Efecto Cocuyo teamed up with two British organisations — Bellingcat and Forensic Architecture — to “call for more evidence” regarding the killing of Óscar Pérez at the hands of Venezuelan police. Pérez, a police officer, had hijacked a police helicopter and, on 27 June 2017, used it to attack a number of government buildings in central Caracas.

In July 2019, Efecto Cocuyo’s editor, Luz Mely Reyes, spoke at the UK government’s “Global Conference for Media Freedom” event in London. Then foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt, addressing the conference, said Reyes “has defied the Maduro regime by co-founding an independent news website, Efecto Cocuyo”, without mentioning the website’s links to the British government.

London’s support for media projects in Venezuela appears to mirror that of the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED). According to its accounts, the NED has funded “freedom of information” projects in Venezuela aimed at fostering a “greater understanding of the spillover effects of Venezuelan corruption and criminal activity” by working with “investigative journalists and partner organisations”.

A 2017 NED project, with a budget of over $60,000, aims to “increase transparency and accountability in the Venezuelan government procurement processes. And to foster collaboration with journalists across the region”.

Media freedom group, Reporters Without Borders, which is also funded by the NED, notes: “Venezuela’s president since 2013, Nicolás Maduro persists in trying to silence independent media outlets and keep news coverage under constant control.”

It adds: “The climate for journalists has been extremely tense since the onset of a political and economic crisis in 2016, and is exacerbated by Maduro’s frequent references to ‘media warfare’ in an attempt to discredit national and international media criticism of his administration.”

The embassy in Bogotá

One of the two Foreign Office points of contact for the project at the British embassy in Bogotá is Claudia Castilla, a Colombian national who was a UK government-funded Chevening Scholar in London from 2017-18.

Castilla appears to be a strong supporter of the Venezuelan opposition, writing in February 2014 “I think I fell in love with Leopoldo López”, referring to a leading opposition figure. At the time US-educated López was promoting street protests in a strategy known as “The Exit”, after Maduro won presidential elections in April 2013.

From 2014-15, Castilla worked as a research assistant for the Colombian chapter of Transparency International, where she “formulated public policy recommendations”. Declassified recently revealed the UK government funded Transparency International’s Venezuelan chapter to set up an “anti-corruption” coalition in the country.

From 2012 to 2013, Castilla worked for the Cerrejón Foundation, the charitable arm of the controversial Cerrejón coal mine in Colombia which is run by three London-listed mining multinationals. For the latter period of her employment, Castilla was the foundation’s “social control advisor”.

‘Democracy promotion’

Documents obtained by Declassified also show that the Westminster Foundation for Democracy — Britain’s “democracy promotion” arm — has been running expensive programmes in Venezuela.

The WFD claims to be “the most effective organisation sharing the UK democratic experience”, but its operations are shrouded in secrecy.

Venezuela hosts the WFD’s only full-scale programme and permanent office in Latin America as part of a project which began in 2016. Since then the WFD has spent £760,680, according to figures obtained by Declassified.

The largest outlay was £248,725 in 2017-2018, as the EU announced a sanctions regime against Venezuela and British officials intensified calls for “different people at the helm” of the Venezuelan government.

Alan Duncan, then minister of state for the Americas, said in 2018: “Maduro’s double crime is that his destruction of the economy has been followed by the systemic undermining of democracy.” He added: “The revival of the oil industry [in Venezuela] will be an essential element in any recovery, and I can imagine that British companies like Shell and BP, will want to be part of it.”

Last year, the WFD spent £113,193 on its Venezuela operations, while Declassified understands a bid for funding of just over £27,500 for next year is awaiting approval. The WFD has two full-time staff in Venezuela.

In December, UN human rights experts found that “since November 2020 Venezuela has systematically stigmatised and persecuted civil society organisations, dissenting voices and human rights defenders”.

The WFD has no similar programmes in UK government-allied dictatorships such as Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, or the United Arab Emirates.

The Foundation told Declassified: “WFD works to strengthen democracy around the world. We are funded by the UK as well as other governments (including Canada, Germany, Norway and Switzerland) and international organisations (such as the United Nations Development Programme) and are operationally independent.”

But the vast majority of the WFD’s funding comes from the British government. In the year to March 2020, it provided £11.4-million to the Foundation, while all other sources of income added up to £1.5-million.

The WFD said that in Venezuela it works “with a range of MPs, National Assembly staff, civil society, and academics” but it refused to disclose to Declassified information about who those partners are. It said this was “to avoid endangering the physical health or safety of those partners”.

However, the WFD’s country representative in Venezuela advertises his position on his public Linkedin page, and his email and phone number are available through WFD job adverts.

As its Venezuela programme began in 2016, the WFD published an article on the independent news site openDemocracy in association with Daniel Fermín, a Venezuelan researcher.

The article asked: “Can Venezuela’s president [Nicolás Maduro] be unseated peacefully?”. In the following two years, openDemocracy was awarded $99,661 (£74,131) by the US analogue of the WFD, the National Endowment for Democracy.

According to a 2018 WFD posting for a job in Venezuela’s capital, Caracas, its country representative is expected to work with the British embassy and must “contribute to development of future business opportunities in Venezuela”.

When asked why it focused on Venezuela, the foundation told Declassified: “WFD programmes have been active in other countries across Latin America. We stand ready to launch new programmes and country offices when the opportunity arises.”

Neutrality 

The WFD says that it “works on a cross-party basis” in Venezuela, “seeking to engage all sides of the political divide while supporting democratic institutions in the country”.

In January 2019, shortly after Guaidó proclaimed himself president, the WFD’s country representative wrote that “last years elections [sic] were a sham and therefore Maduro is an usurper”.

The next month — after trucks of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) attempted to enter Venezuelan territory — he said: “Non-intervention cannot be an absolute principle that doesn’t consider other factors”.

On 30 April, when Guaidó launched an armed coup attempt in Caracas, the WFD’s representative announced that Guaidó’s actions were “not an assault on democracy but the other way round”. Elsewhere, he has described Chavismo — referring to former president Hugo Chávez — as a “plague”.

UK parliamentarians overseeing WFD’s operations have also disparaged the Venezuelan government. Conservative MP Richard Graham, the chair of WFD’s board of governors for the duration of its Venezuela project, said in December 2019 that “Islington Corbynsistas [sic] don’t get that extreme left ideas never work, whether in 2019 Venezuela or 80s Liverpool”.

The WFD’s board is appointed by the UK foreign secretary and is modelled on the NED, which has been described by the Washington Post as the “sugar daddy of overt [US] operations”. Since Chávez’s election in 1998, the NED has been the guiding hand behind a number of efforts to overthrow the government in Venezuela.

While the NED’s operations abroad have received some independent scrutiny, the WFD – has largely operated under media silence.

Matt Kennard is head of investigations at Declassified UK. John McEvoy is an independent journalist who has written for International History Review, The Canary, Tribune Magazine, Jacobin, Revista Forum, and Brasil Wire.

Declassified UK is an investigative journalism organisation that covers the UK’s role in the world. Follow Declassified on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Sign up to receive Declassified’s monthly newsletter here.

January 13, 2021 Posted by | Deception | , , | Leave a comment

CONFIRMED: Britain Will Issue VACCINE PASSPORTS

By Steve Watson | Summit News | January 12, 2021

Despite previous government denials that there are any plans to roll out COVID vaccine passports, reports have confirmed that every person vaccinated in two select areas of Britain will be offered exactly that as a ‘trial’ being rolled out with immediate effect.

The London Telegraph reports that biometrics firm iProov and cybersecurity firm Mvine have developed the vaccine passports, which will be optionally provided as an app on phones of those vaccinated.

The government will conduct the rollout in two local authorities, and monitor its application until March.

The report notes that the government has ploughed £75,000 into the trial already, which is claimed to be a way of monitoring who has had the vaccine.

Frank Joshi, director and founder of Mvine noted that while the project started as just a way of keeping a record of COVID tests, extra funding was pumped into it in order to turn it into a vaccine passport scheme.

“Originally we started off with this need to prove whether you’ve had an antibody test, but it can be equally used to demonstrate whether you’ve been vaccinated,” Joshi said, according to the report.

Andrew Bud, chief executive of the other company involved, iProov, said that the system will be integrated with the National Health Service, and could easily be rolled out to everyone in the country.

“We’re talking about a piece of remarkable technology that can be brought to bear and can be readily integrated with the NHS,” he said.

The development appears to be separate from the government contracts given to two other firms to develop COIVD ‘freedom passports’, which we reported on several weeks ago.

Last month, Britain’s vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi announced that the government had no plans to introduce immunity passports en mass, or place restrictions on those who do not take the jab.

This latest revelation puts Zahawi’s already dubious claim into serious doubt.

We also previously reported, back in November, on the UK government’s active plans to develop a QR code system to use as an ‘immunity passport’.

The report, stemming from sources close to the government, noted that “Those who refuse to get the Covid-19 jab would likely be refused entry to venues, as part of the same proposals.”

Other reports have suggested that an app already used prominently in the UK by people to book doctor and hospital appointments could implement a vaccination status section that will show whether a person has taken the coronavirus jab or not, and that businesses may use it to refuse entry to those who have not.

The spectre of so called ‘immunity passports’ is looming globally.

Yesterday it was revealed that Denmark is the latest country to announce that it is rolling out a ‘Covid passport’, to allow those who have taken the vaccine to engage in society without any restrictions.

Recently, the government in Ontario, Canada admitted that it is exploring ‘immunity passports’ in conjunction with restrictions on travel and access to social venues for the unvaccinated.

Last month, Israel announced that citizens who get the COVID-19 vaccine will be given ‘green passports’ that will enable them to attend venues and eat at restaurants.

litany of other government and travel industry figures in both the US, Britain and beyond have suggested that ‘COVID passports’ are coming in order for ‘life to get back to normal’.

Sam Grant, campaign manager at the civili liberties advocacy group Liberty has warned that “any form of immunity passport risks creating a two-tier system in which some of us have access to freedoms and support while others are shut out.”

“These systems could result in people who don’t have immunity potentially being blocked from essential public services, work or housing – with the most marginalised among us hardest hit,” Grant further warned.

“This has wider implications too because any form of immunity passport could pave the way for a full ID system – an idea which has repeatedly been rejected as incompatible with building a rights-respecting society,” Grant further urged.

January 12, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , | 1 Comment

UK Government Hires Men to Stand in Public with TV on Head for Pandemic Propaganda

Britain’s bizarre ‘Robocop-like’ walking propaganda digital billboards (Image Credit: Gomo Digital)
21st Century News Wire | January 12, 2021

In one of the most desperate and bizarre moves yet, a local government in the UK has begun recruiting men to walking the streets with TVs strapped over their heads, supposedly to help police during a highly unpopular lockdown.

Bradford Council in Yorkshire announced their new ‘iWalkers’ scheme, where local council staff and volunteers are deployed onto the streets with a 19 inch screen weighing 18 lbs, mounted on their shoulders.

According to reports, the program ran for two days before it began to go horribly wrong. The government scheme was so ridiculous, residents thought it might have been satire at first, or a prank, not believing that the local government had lost the plot to such a degree. When they realized the plan was actually a real government initiative, the public backlash was severe, and so embarrassed council officials panicked and removed their Facebook post detailing their ‘exciting new program.’

A number of outrageous comments, both in person and online, were hurled at the walking Robocop-like human propaganda digital billboards

These real-life Teletubies were supposed to be walking the city and town streets, wearing masks, while their TV’s would be pushing out government propaganda on COVID, designed by a government behavioural insights team and applied behavioural psychologists – to nudge residents into tighter lockdown compliance, and to keep the public abreast of minute-to-minute ever-changing “coronavirus rules and restrictions.”

According to reports, the cost of Bradford’s COVID Teletubies is being paid for through Government funding of “Covid-19 communications.”

Local government officials denied they had deleted their new initiative because of public embarrassment, and instead claimed that it was suddenly taken down because of public comments that supposedly “crossed the line into abuse of people who are working hard to help residents and workers in Bradford District stay safe and stop the spread of the virus.”

The incident comes at a bad time for local councils who have recently decreed that they will be squeezing the working class even more by raising their council taxes (aka poll tax) – all of this amid a steep economic depression instigated by the reactionary COVID lockdown policies of the UK government.

Government officials tried to justify the expensive theme park-style stunt by saying that, “There are still many key workers in the city who may wish to get some information on testing where testing sites are close by and it’s really important that we have people out on the streets who can provide this.”

The Orwellian saga continues…

January 12, 2021 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science | , | Leave a comment

“Careless Talk Costs Lives” – Fresh Calls To Silence Pandemic Skepticism

OffGuardian | January 6, 2021

Throughout 2020, there has regularly been claimed to be a Left-biased pandemic zealotry in operation. We see Wales’ strict corona measures. Victoria. New Zealand. Most recently, two examples chill the blood.

Keir Starmer, appearing on the ITV’s Good Morning Britain, said

we have to deal with the antivaxx campaigns because they will cost lives and if we need to pass emergency legislation to deal with them I would be prepared to work with the government on that.

George Monbiot said, today, we need to…

criminalise the spreading of blatant disinformation about the pandemic. As in wartime, careless talk costs lives.

No doubt the output of Off-Guardian over the last 12 months would fall into the brackets these gentlemen are referring to.

As if to underpin this apparent slant of the Left toward authoriranianism, Talkradio, oft touted as a Right Wing platform, was today deplatformed from Youtube. It was subsequently ‘replatformed’ after a UK minister from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sportminister ‘inquired’ as to why.

Apart from raising the question of how much at the beck and call of government these supposedly ‘private’ and independent Silicone Valley tech companies are, it is an unsettling sign of potential things to come.

January 6, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , | 3 Comments

Police Demand Power to Force Entry Into Homes of Suspected Lockdown Violators

It went from “just wear the mask” to this

By Paul Joseph Watson | Summit News | January 6, 2021

Police are demanding new powers to force entry into the homes of suspected lockdown violators after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a new national lockdown in England.

The call was made by David Jamieson, the police and crime commissioner for the West Midlands police, England’s second biggest force.

“For the small minority of people who refuse entry to police officers and obstruct their work, the power of entry would seem to be a useful tool,” said Jamieson.

“I have raised this issue with the policing minister previously and clarity on the power of entry would help police officers enforce the new Covid regulations more easily,” he added.

As we previously highlighted, police are already breaking into people’s homes without warrants under the guise of enforcing lockdown restrictions, so any new law will just codify the process.

Since most of the country was already under a de facto full lockdown, the new national lockdown was announced by Boris Johnson primarily to hand police more draconian powers.

The government has already stated that the new measures will continue until the end of March at the earliest, meaning the next 3 months will be replete with examples of police abusing their powers to target people for simply trying to live their lives.

As we reported earlier, senior Scotland Yard officials have already said they will adopt more “hardline” measures to enforce the lockdown, including interrogating people on the street and handing out more fines.

This despite the fact that Brits were previously informed that police officers wouldn’t be able to attend crimes such as burglaries due to budget cuts.

January 6, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , | 2 Comments

What is left to say?

By Dr Malcolm Kendrick | December 30, 2020

I have not written much about COVID19 recently. What can be said? In my opinion the world has simply gone bonkers. The best description can be found in Dante’s Inferno, written many hundreds of years ago.

In it, Dante describes the outcasts, who took no side in the rebellion of angels. They live in the vestibule. Not in heaven, not in hell, forever unclassified. They reside on the shores of the Acheron. Naked and futile, they race around through a hellish mist in eternal pursuit of an elusive, wavering banner, symbolic of their pursuit of ever-shifting self-interest.

I find this description of the desperate pursuit of an elusive wavering banner rings rather true. This, it seems, is pretty much the place we have arrived at. Which banner have you decided to follow?

The ‘COVID19 s the most terrible infection ever, and we must do everything in our power to stop it, whatever the cost’ banner.

Or the ‘What on earth are we doing? This is no worse than a bad flu, and we are destroying the world economy, stripping away basic human rights and killing more people than we are saving’ banner.

There may be others.

Between these two, main, completely incompatible positions, lies the truth. It is in pretty poor shape. It has been crushed, and bent out of shape, smashed, and left as a broken heap in the corner. I search where I can, to find the fragments, in an attempt to bring together a picture that makes some kind of sense.

But what to believe? Who to believe?

I feel somewhat like Rene Descartes. In order to find the ineluctable truth he scraped everything away until he was left with ‘Cogito, ergo sum’. ‘I think, therefore I am.’

I have stripped away at the accuracy of PCR COVID19 testing. I found myself left with nothing I could make any sense of. I hacked down to establish the way that COVID19 deaths are recorded. All I found were assumptions and difficulties.

Did someone die with COVID19, of COVID19 – or did it have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with COVID19? Who knows? I certainly don’t, and I wrote some of the death certificates myself.

Have we overestimated deaths, or underestimated deaths? I do not know … and so it goes on.

So, what do I know? I know that COVID19 exists – or I am as certain of this as I can be. Was it a natural mutation from a bat, or was it created in a laboratory? Well, I suppose it doesn’t really matter. It’s here, and there is no chance that any Government, anywhere, would ever admit responsibility for creating the damned thing. So, we will never know. If you asked me to bet, I would say it was created in a lab, then escaped by accident.

Is it deadlier than influenza? Well, it is certainly deadlier than some strains of influenza. Indeed, most strains. However, Spanish flu was estimated to have killed fifty million, when the world’s population was about a fifth of what it is now. So, COVID19 is definitely less deadly than that one. About as deadly as the influenzas of 1957 and 1967. Probably.

Will it mutate into something worse? Who knows.

Will the current vaccines work on mutated strains? Who knows.

Can it be transmitted by asymptomatic carriers? Who knows.

How effective are the current vaccines going to be? Who knows.

What are we left with?

At the beginning, I kept relatively quiet on how deadly COVID19 would prove to be. Because I didn’t know. The figures raged up and down. The infection fatality rate become a battle scene, with warriors lined up on either side to defend their positions.

I even got attacked by factcheckers, the self-appointed know-it-alls who are, it seems, capable of judging on all matters of scientific dispute. Truly, the Gods have descended to live amongst us. Those who can determine what is true, and what is not. No need for any further clinical trials, or any more scientific studies of any sort, ever. We just need to ask the Fact Checkers for the answer, to any given question.

Anyway, it appeared that tens of thousands died in some countries, almost none in others. What I was waiting to see, was the impact on the one outcome that you cannot alter, or fudge. The outcome that is overall mortality i.e. the chances of dying, of anything.

I did this because, when it comes to recording deaths from a specific illness, things can go in and out of fashion. A couple of years ago I looked at deaths from sepsis. At one time this was a condition of far lower priority. Doctors didn’t routinely search for it, or routinely record it, on death certificates.

Sepsis is an infection that gets into the blood, toxins are released, and people die. Everyone knew it happened. Or at least I hope they did.

Then, all of a sudden, there was a gigantic push to look for it more diligently, diagnose it more, treat it better. I think this was generally a good thing. Sepsis is eminently treatable, if you think to look for it, and lives can be saved. We now have initiatives like ‘Sepsis six’ and warnings that pop up on computers. ‘Have you considered sepsis,’ and suchlike. I love it … not. Because I do not love being told how to think, and do my job, by a computer algorithm programmed with ‘zero risk’ as their touchstone. But, hey ho.

In 2013, in the UK, a report was published by the health ombudsman ‘Time to Act – severe sepsis, rapid diagnosis and treatment saves lives.’ As the report stated.

‘Sepsis is a more common reason for hospital admission than heart attack – and has a higher mortality.’ The UK Sepsis Trust 1

That last statement is somewhat disingenuous, as many people with sepsis are very elderly, often with multiple morbidities, and suchlike. They were probably going to die, shortly, from something else.

Anyway. With all this activity, with all this increased sepsis recognition and treatment, you would expect the rate of deaths from sepsis to fall. It did not. The rate has gone up, by around 30% since 2013. Does this mean there is far more sepsis going about? Or, that it is just more often written on death certificates? I suggest the latter. I use this example, simply to make it clear that even the cause of death written on a death certificate is far from rock solid evidence.

With COVID19, this is a massive problem. In the UK, and several other countries if you have had a COVID19 positive test (which may, or may not, be accurate) and you die within twenty-eight days of that positive test, you will be recorded as a COVID19 death. I do not know much for sure about COVID19, but I do know that is just complete nonsense.

There are so many cases where – even if the COVID19 test was accurate – COVID19 would have had nothing whatsoever to do with the death. Another thing known, or at least we probably know, is that the vast majority of people who die had many other things wrong with them.

In the US, the Centre of Disease Control (CDC) found that ninety-four per cent of people who died of COVID19 ‘related deaths’ had other significant diseases (co-morbidities) 2.  This ninety-four per-cent figures would only be the co-morbidities that were known about – who knows what lurked beneath? Especially as people stopped doing post-mortems (i.e., autopsies in the US).

So yes, they had COVID19 (or at least they had a positive test – which may not be the same thing), but they were often very old, and already severely ill. Using an extreme example, someone with terminal cancer who is a week from death, catches COVID19 in hospital, and dies. What killed them? The statistics say COVID19. I say, bollocks.

When I started in medicine, ‘bronchopneumonia’ (a bad chest infection) used to be known as the ‘old man’s friend.’ For those who were very old, and frail, often demented, lying in care homes, often incontinent, a chest infection represented a reasonably painless way to die.

Very often we would not actively treat it, instead we allowed for a peaceful death. Indeed, this still happens. Less so now, as someone, somewhere, often a relative from a country far, far, away – who has not visited for years – is far more likely to sue you.

Did they really die of bronchopneumonia? You could argue yes, you could argue no. Yes, it was the thing that finally pushed them over the edge. No, they were already slowly dying as their body gave out. In the end, what does anyone actually die of? My Scottish grannie, who lived to one hundred and two, used to say ‘they die frae want of breath.’ Entirely accurate, but, alas, also completely useless.

So, what you need to do, is look beyond what is written on death certificates. You need to look at what is happening to the overall mortality. Whilst you can argue endlessly, pointlessly, about specific causes of death. What you cannot argue about is whether or not someone is alive, or dead. Even I usually get this one right. No pulse, no breathing, no reaction of the pupils to light, no response to pain… and suchlike. Yup, dead. Now… what they die of? Um… let me think.

Thus, I have tended to look to EuroMOMO. The European Mortality Monitoring project. As they say, of themselves:

‘The overall objective of the original European Mortality Monitoring Project was to design a routine public health mortality monitoring system aimed at detecting and measuring, on a real-time basis, excess number of deaths related to influenza and other possible public health threats across participating European Countries.

Mortality is a basic indicator of health. Therefore, understanding its epidemiology is fundamental for effective public health planning and action.

Mortality monitoring becomes pivotal during influenza or other pandemics for several reasons. In a severe pandemic, mortality monitoring can be a robust way to monitor the pandemics progression and its public health impact when other systems are failing, due to an overburdened health care sector. Decision makers will require data on the pandemics impact and on deaths by age and geographical area in various stages of the pandemic. Mortality monitoring can provide such estimates, which will be important to guide and prioritize health service response and decision-making, i.e. use of antivirals and vaccines.’ 3

Here are the data that you can therefore, pretty much, fully rely on. It is where I go to see what is really happening across Europe. Not all of Europe, as some countries do not participate. However, there are more than enough, to get a good picture. It encompasses key countries such as Spain, Italy, the UK (split into four separate countries), Sweden and suchlike.

Here is the graph of overall mortality for all ages, in all countries. The graph starts at the beginning of 2017 and carries on to almost the end of 2020.

As you can see, in each winter there is an increase in deaths. In 2020, nothing much happened at the start of the year, then we had – what must have been – the COVID19 spike. The tall pointy bit around week 15.

It started in late March and was pretty much finished by mid-May. Now, we are in winter, and the usual winter spike appears. It seems to be around the same size as winter 2017/18. It also seems to have passed the peak and is now falling. But it could jump up again. [The figures in the most recent weeks can always be a bit inaccurate, as it can take some time for all the data to arrive]

Two things stand out. First, there was an obvious ‘COVID19 spike’. Second, what we are seeing at present does not differ greatly from previous years. The normal winter spike in deaths.

If we split this down into individual countries, this reasonably clear pattern falls apart.

Here are the figures from England

Unlike the first graph, the scale on the left is not absolute numbers. It is a thing called the Z-score. Which means standard deviation from the mean. Sorry, maths. If the Z-score goes above five, this means something significant is happening. The red, upper, dotted line is Z > 5. As you can see, despite the howls of anguish from England about COVID19 overwhelming the country, we are really not seeing much at all.

What of Sweden, that pariah country? They did not fully lock-down, the irresponsible fools (all they did was follow WHO guidance – by the way), and we are now told they are suffering terribly, they should have enforced far more rigid lockdown, their ‘experiment’ failed etc. etc. COVID19 shall have its vengeance. Or to quote Arnie – I’ll be back.

As you can see, nothing much happening in Sweden either.

Then, if you look further, there are anomalies all over the place. Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK, and did exactly the same things as the rest of the UK with regard to lockdown, masks etc. At least it did in the earlier part of the year. However, it shows a completely different pattern to England. Or, to be fully accurate, it shows no pattern at all. No waves, and nobody drowning.

What of Slovenia?

As you can see absolutely nothing happened earlier in the year in Slovenia. Now, it has the biggest spike of all – apart from, maybe, Switzerland. Earlier in the year it was held up as a great example of how brilliantly effective masks were. Now… you don’t hear so much about masks. Maybe masks only work in months beginning with M. [Maybe, whisper it, they don’t work at all].

So, what have I learned from euroMOMO? First that it appears to have made absolutely no difference if a country locked down hard, and early, or did not. Everyone points at Norway and Finland as examples of great and early government action, and how wonderful everything would have been if we had done the same.

Well, look up at Northern Ireland. Then look at Finland

Spot the difference. There is none.

Of course, much of the most heated debate surrounded what happened during the so-called first wave. Who dealt with it well, or badly. Now, everyone in Europe is doing much the same things. Lockdown, restrictions on travel, restrictions on meeting other people, everyone wearing masks, etc. etc. Yet some countries are having a new wave, and others are not.

There is a special prize for anyone who can match up the severity of restrictions in various countries, to the Z-score. I say this, because no correlation exists.

So, again, what have I learned about COVID19? I learned that all Governments are floundering about, all claiming to have exerted some sort of control over this disease and ignoring all evidence to the contrary. In truth, they have achieved nothing. As restrictions and lockdowns have become more severe, in many cases the number of infections has simply risen and risen, completely unaffected by anything that has been done.

The official solution is, of course, more restrictions. ‘We just haven’t restricted people enough!’ Sigh. When something doesn’t work, the answer is not to keep doing it with even greater fervour. The real answer is to stop doing it and try something else instead.

I have also learned that, in most countries, COVID19 appears to be seasonal. It went away – everywhere – in the summer. It came back in the autumn/winter, as various viruses do.

On its return it has been, generally, far less deadly. Much as you would expect. The most vulnerable died on first exposure, and far fewer people had any resistance to it, at all. Now, a number of people do have some immunity, and many of the vulnerable are already dead.

Which means that, in this so-called second wave, COVID19 is no greater an issue than a moderately bad flu season.

If I were to recommend actions. I would recommend that we stop testing – unless someone is admitted to hospital and is seriously ill. Mass testing is simply causing mass panic and achieves absolutely nothing. At great cost. We should also just get on with our lives as before. We should just vaccinate those at greatest risk of dying, the elderly and vulnerable, and put this rather embarrassing episode of mad banner waving behind us.

Hopefully, in time, we will learn something. Which is that we should not, ever, run about panicking, following the madly waved banners… ever again. However, I suspect that we will. This pandemic is going to be a model for all mass panicking stupidity in the future. Because to do otherwise, would be to admit that we made a pig’s ear of it this time. Far too many powerful reputations at stake to allow that.

1: https://www.ombudsman.org.uk/sites/default/files/Time_to_act_report.pdf

2: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/covid_weekly/index.htm?fbclid=IwAR3-wrg3tTKK5-9tOHPGAHWFVO3DfslkJ0KsDEPQpWmPbKtp6EsoVV2Qs1Q&_ga=2.83596054.1497558416.1598967201-386365132.1598967194#Comorbidities

3: https://www.euromomo.eu/about-us/history/

January 3, 2021 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment