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For the last week and a half, the biggest news in the US presidential election has been Hunter Biden’s laptop.

This is the October Surprise, the bombshell that breaks during a general election year in the United States.

Around April 12, 2019, Joe Biden’s son Hunter dropped off a laptop at a repair shop in Wilmington, Delaware. The owner sent him an invoice after repairing the device.

Hunter Biden never picked up the laptop. Nor did he pay the bill.

As is usual with most things dropped off for repair, the law stipulates that the shop owner can take possession of them. Delaware law says this happens after 90 days. Sometime afterwards, the owner began looking at the contents.

Larry C Johnson, who knows the owner’s father, has an excellent story on Gateway Pundit about what happened next. A summary follows.

As news emerged about Ukraine later that year, the owner was alarmed by the contents on the laptop. He contacted his father, a decorated Vietnam veteran, for advice. His father said that the FBI needed to know about the laptop.

In September, the owner travelled to New Mexico with the evidence. There, he went to the FBI. The FBI were not interested.

The owner returned home. Nothing happened for two months, then he received a visit from the FBI office in Wilmington, Delaware. The owner offered to give them the hard drive, but they did not take it. Two weeks later, they returned to serve him with a subpoena, with which he complied. He also gave them the hard drive and the laptop.

However, he had previously made a copy of the hard drive. After not having heard anything more from the FBI, he contacted the office of former New York City mayor, Rudy Giuliani, to offer a copy of the hard drive to him. Giuliani accepted the offer and shared the contents with the New York Post.

It turns out that not only is there information on Biden’s business dealings, including mentions of his father, but also some horrific videos that few people have seen because they are that shocking.

Rudy Giuliani has been giving interviews about the laptop. He and a small group of people have seen the contents.

This is from last Thursday, October 15:

He gave an interview to Steve Crowder the next day:

At the weekend, the New York Post (NYP) came out with a number of exposés about the contents of the laptop.

President Trump approved:

On Friday, October 17, the NYP reported Joe Biden’s reaction to those exposés (more here):

It wasn’t ’til 7:45 p.m. Friday at the Detroit airport that the former vice president briefly stopped for questions and CBS reporter Bo Erickson asked about the damning emails found on Hunter’s laptop, which was abandoned last April at a Mac repair shop.

“I have no response,” snapped Joe. “Another smear campaign. Right up your alley.”

A video of Joe’s remarks on Erickson’s Twitter account has been viewed 6 million times.

The left-leaning media outlets claim the story is ‘Russian disinformation’:

Russian disinformation? This is how the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, etc., run protection for the Biden campaign. They have ignored or maligned our stories, and claimed the emails were “hacked.”

Another NYP report said that Facebook and Twitter censored the paper’s article on the Bidens’ dealings in Ukraine. True, they did:

The Post obtained a 2015 email indicating that Vadym Pozharskyi, an adviser to the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, thanked Hunter Biden for “giving an opportunity” to meet his father, who was then serving as vice president under Barack Obama.

The elder Biden has previously said he has “never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings.”

The controversy further escalated after Facebook and Twitter began cracking down on the spreading of the article on social media.

“While I will intentionally not link to the New York Post, I want be clear that this story is eligible to be fact checked by Facebook’s third-party fact checking partners,” Facebook spokesman Andy Stone tweeted Wednesday. “In the meantime, we are reducing its distribution on our platform.”

Twitter claimed in a statement that it had taken action against the article in keeping with the company’s “Hacked Materials Policy” and prevented users from sharing the report. The company rolled back its overzealous crackdown amid backlash, which included a mea culpa from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

The Gateway Pundit reminded readers of their 2019 report about a press conference that a Ukranian parliamentarian held regarding a second laptop with information connected to the Bidens (emphasis in the original):

Ukrainian Pariamentarian Andriy Derkach (pictured) held a much publicized press conference last October in Ukraine.

In his press conference Derkach revealed that Joe Biden was paid $900,000 for lobbying efforts from Burisma Holdings in Ukraine.

Derkach even brought charts and images as proof during his presentation.

This is the same organization that paid Hunter Biden over $50,000 a month to sit on their board in an obvious pay-for-play maneuver.

Cristina Laila reported on this development back in October last year…

Fox News came out with news about Biden’s ties to China, also censored on social media:

Then there was the Daily Mail story on Hunter Biden’s alleged connections with Kazakhstan. Their reporter, Guy Adams, wrote (emphases mine):

in 2014, when Joe, as Vice President, was helping to implement U.S. policy in Ukraine, Hunter took a highly-paid job with a Ukranian energy company called Burisma (of which more later).

Around the same time, he built murky and contentious connections with Russia, helping his investment advisory firm Rosemont Seneca receive some $3.5m from the billionaire widow of former Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhov (best known on these shores for once donating £138,000 to Sadiq Khan’s Mayor’s Fund for London).

Then there was a somewhat dubious episode in China, where Hunter arranged for an entrepreneur called Jonathan Li, with whom he was setting up an investment fund, to hold a meeting (and enjoy a very public handshake) with Joe in a Beijing hotel lobby during an official visit.

Such ventures, in regions of the world hardly known for their probity, have always smelled distinctly whiffy. So what, then, ought we to make of the revelation that, when his father was Vice President, Biden Jr was doing business in a fourth cash-soaked but highly corrupt country?

Namely: Kazakhstan.

The Mail can reveal that between 2012 and 2014, Hunter worked as a sort of go-between for Kenes Rakishev, a self-styled ‘international businessman, investor and entrepreneur’ with close family connections to the kleptocratic regime of his homeland’s despotic former president Nursultan Nazarbayev.

(Nazarbayev is a name readers may be familiar with: he’s the dictator famed for taking Prince Andrew on occasional goose hunts.)

Emails passed to this newspaper via anti-corruption campaigners from the Central Asian country reveal that Biden Jr held extensive meetings with Rakishev, who was looking to invest a portion of his personal fortune in New York and Washington DC. He also travelled to the Kazakh capital of Astana to hold business discussions.

Hunter Biden then attempted to persuade Rakishev to buy into a Nevadan mining company, brokering a series of meetings with the firm, before convincing him to invest a cool million dollars with Alexandra Forbes Kerry, the film-maker daughter of Democrat Senator and former Presidential candidate John Kerry.

Rakishev, who wrote messages in broken English, appears to have become intimate with the Vice President’s son, calling Hunter ‘my brother!’ and ‘my brother from another mother!’.

They shared gossip about their family holidays and dined together at luxury restaurants in New York and Washington DC (‘I’m on vacation with family [at] Lake Michigan . . . trying to spend some much needed time with my wife and daughters. It’s my 20th anniversary of marriage tomorrow,’ Hunter told Rakishev in July 2013).

It may even be that Joe Biden himself was dragged into the oligarch’s orbit. An unverified photograph, published on the website of an anti-corruption group called the Kazakhstani Initiative on Asset Recovery, appears to show Hunter introducing his Dad to both Rakishev and one Karim Massimov, the former Kazakh Prime Minister.

So who exactly is Rakishev? …

Rakishev, for his part, is married to the daughter of a former mayor of the country’s capital city (recently re-named ‘Nursultan,’ after the elderly despot), who later served as its Defence Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. All in all it was an intriguing nexus.

Fast forward to 2012 and Rakishev had just joined Forbes magazine’s top-15 list of Kazakhstan’s ‘most influential’ tycoons, with estimated assets of some $332 million. Like many an oligarch in possession of a huge fortune, Rakishev was now looking for a safe place to park it, so had come to America in search of new places to invest his hard-earned roubles.

Sadly, things hadn’t gone entirely smoothly. For in the highly-regulated world of Western capitalism, Rakishev discovered that blue-chip investment partners were often reluctant to take his cash.

To blame? The fact that no one was entirely sure where his wealth actually came from

The United States Department of Justice then took an interest in Rakishev. It soon dragged him into an investigation of potential breaches the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act related to ‘an investment in the oil and gas industry in Kazakhstan’.

Though Rakishev immediately denied all wrongdoing, and no charges were ever filed, in September 2013 he decided to hire a notoriously expensive U.S. law firm called Greenberg Traurig to deal with incoming fire related to the probe

It was, doubtless, a very annoying (and expensive) business; not to mention highly frustrating for a man who had perhaps grown used to getting his own way. Which is perhaps what persuaded him to take meetings with Hunter Biden, a member of one of America’s most powerful political dynasties.

In May 2012, he was emailed by Hunter’s business partner Devon Archer, a lawyer and former Abercrombie & Fitch model. ‘Can you have dinner with me, Hunter Biden, Alex [Forbes Kerry] and team on Wednesday next week in NYC? I want to let Hunter know when he should come up from DC to see you on Wednesday. Looking forward to seeing you!’

Rakishev replied: ‘Hi Devon! I would be happy to have a dinner with you and all our friends! Thank you very much for invitations! Take care my brother!’

By July, Hunter had travelled to Astana to discuss business opportunities. ‘I wanted to check in with you and see what our next steps are to follow up on our visit to Kazakhstan,’ he wrote in an email to Rakishev sent shortly afterwards. ‘Let me know if you need anything from me.’

Three months later, Biden was helping Rakishev hold discussions about investing in Prospect Global Resources, a potash mining firm based in eastern Arizona.

Although the emails the Mail has seen show that the talks eventually broke down, he remained on friendly terms: ‘I wanted to reach back out to you and continue our conversations,’ Hunter wrote to Kulibayev on November 25, 2012. ‘I understand you and Timur evaluated PGRX but it was not a good fit at this time. Thank you for taking a look at it and for the quick feedback as well. Let me know when you’d like to connect.’

The duo remained in close contact throughout the following year, discussing a range of business ventures.

Then, in late October 2013, Biden’s partner Archer arranged a conference call between Rakishev and the aforementioned Alex Forbes Kerry, who was by then attempting to raise cash to launch a film production firm.

Immediately after the call that December, Rakishev emailed with happy news: ‘Thank you my brother from another mother! Thanks you very much my brother! We decided to invest 1 mln [million]! Give them my email!’

Ms Forbes Kerry, who has never publicly acknowledged her debt to Rakishev, finalised the deal in January 2014. The following month, she and Biden met Rakishev for dinner in Washington DC.

‘It was a pleasure to meet you with Devon and Hunter the other day,’ she told him by email afterwards. ‘I want to thank you for the beautiful watch! I am sorry I didn’t open it at the table. I misunderstood and thought it was a baby present so I only opened it when I was at home. It is absolutely beautiful and you are so generous . . . Please come to New York soon and bring your family. We will host you and your team.’

Rakishev responded that he intended to take up that offer in September. ‘Let’s be in touch!’ he wrote.

Sadly, at the time of this happy exchange, Biden’s marriage was in the process of breaking down

After that, Ukraine seemed to be Biden’s main focus.

SkyNews Australia has taken a deep dive into the Biden laptop story.

RealClearPolitics has looked into Hunter’s career path and Joe Biden’s influence in his getting jobs.

Now people are going back into newspaper archives to see what has been written about the two. Joe was a US Senator for Delaware for many years before he became Obama’s vice president. MBNA is located in Delaware. Joe helped Hunter get his first job out of university in the late 1990s at MBNA. It paid a six-figure salary. This is what happened a few years later:

Americans have been wondering why the FBI did not act sooner over Joe Biden’s dealings when he was vice president and now, during his candidacy for the White House.

As the Bidens are Catholics, it is not surprising that Church Militant is writing about this story:

Christine Miles published the article in Church Militant on October 20. Excerpts follow, emphases mine.

A Chinese whistleblower is working with Rudy Giuliani’s group on this:

DingGang Wang, a member of Miles Guo’s team, which has worked with Steve Bannon and Rudy Giuliani for many months, said in a Sept. 24 broadcast for Lude Media — two weeks before the New York Post bombshell — that he has reviewed the contents of a laptop owned by Hunter Biden.

This is what he said in September:

He explained:

“Who filmed these?” he asked. “The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) did it!”

Wang indicates there is much more compromising material on the laptop, and that the CCP is using the child porn videos as blackmail against Joe Biden, whom they hope is elected president.

“The message of the CCP is: Don’t ever think I don’t have your secrets in possession,” Wang explained. “To give you this hard drive is to let you know that, don’t forget, we have evidence of your crimes. You have to win this election.”

Sexual blackmail is a classic tactic of the communists, and was routinely used by the KGBIn addition to the famed “honeytrap,” wherein female KGB agents seduced American men and caught their misdeeds on tape, there is evidence General Secretary Yuri Andropov created pedophile rings in order to blackmail businessmen and political leaders.

The tactic is also used in communist China.

The article goes on to say:

The New York Post confirmed porn was found on Hunter’s laptop: “A computer camera roll of nearly 25,000 images is loaded with sexually explicit selfies and porn (which The Post is not publishing) … .”

Hunter Biden’s attorney has acknowledged the laptop belongs to his client in an email requesting that it be returned to his client.

One of Hunter’s former business partners, Bevan Cooney, independently verified the authenticity of the emails, a number of which included him.

The New York Post spent a week independently verifying and authenticating the laptop’s ownership.

Tucker Carlson of Fox News also confirmed that his own team independently authenticated the contents of the laptop.

“This afternoon we received nonpublic information that proves, conclusively, this was indeed Hunter Biden’s laptop, period,” Carlson said during a broadcast last week. “The materials on the hard drive of that computer that no one but Hunter Biden could’ve known about or have replicated. This is not a Russian hoax.”

“We are saying this definitively. We are not speculating,” he added. “The laptop in question is real. It belonged to Hunter Biden.”

The Director of National Intelligence, John Ratcliffe, has confirmed that this is not a Russian hoax:

The Secret Service have been involved in matching dates and locations to their own logs:

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) says his staff have independently authenticated the emails.

Rudy Giuliani has turned over evidence to the Delaware State Police:

Giuliani also discusses the Bidens’ shady dealings in the second half of the following video:

Revolver has a summary of the interview, with information about the photos and a bit about what Giuliani told NewsMax:

there is no indication that Joe reported Hunter to the police. Delaware state law requires all persons with knowledge of child abuse to report it to the police, although the state Supreme Court has suggested that mandatory reporting only applies to teachers, doctors, and similar professionals.

Joe Biden’s inaction after such a horrifying admission from his own son would be appalling, but not surprising. Joe Biden has been an enabler for his entire 47 years in politics. Joe Biden enabled Hunter’s drug use and inappropriate behavior — just like he enabled NAFTA, just like he enabled the rise of China, and just like he enabled the credit-card association MBNA in his home state of Delaware. Biden has been an indulgent father toward his son, not only with respect to his drug use, but more importantly with his corrupt arrangements with foreign oligarchs.

In the interview, Giuliani suggested that Joe’s behavior towards his son might go beyond enabling to abuse. “Joe Biden used his son for twenty years as a Bag Man and he knew he was a drug addict,” Rudy told NewsMax host Greg Kelly. He continued, “This kid has a crack problem because his father put him in situations he shouldn’t be in.”

Giuliani tweeted:

Meanwhile, the aforementioned former business associate of Hunter Biden’s, Bevan Cooney, has been in an Oregon federal prison for over a year. Recently, Cooney provided two Breitbart journalists with access to his personal emails, a number of which concern his business dealings. On Tuesday, October 20, Cooney was moved to another detention facility:

On Tuesday, several days after emails Cooney provided to Breitbart News senior contributor Peter Schweizer and journalist Matthew Tyrmand became public, federal agents moved him from his cell to protect him. Tyrmand, who is in contact with members of Cooney’s family, told Breitbart News that Cooney was moved from his cell in a federal prison in Oregon around 11:00 a.m. local time on Tuesday. Tyrmand said that Cooney spoke with family members multiple times on Tuesday, which he said is “much more than usual” …

Cooney provided Schweizer and Tyrmand with written authorization to access his Gmail account, and to publish all newsworthy information from his trove of 26,000 emails. Some of them are personal and unrelated to the Biden corruption, but many of them—including ones already published last week and this week on Breitbart News and elsewhere—demonstrate a culture of corruption surrounding the Biden family.

The first story published on Breitbart News last week, by Schweizer and author Seamus Bruner, detailed how Hunter Biden and his associates secured high-level White House meetings for Chinese Communist Party-connected elites visiting Washington from China. That included, per those Chinese elites, a secret unreported meeting with then-Vice President Joe Biden himself. Other emails that surfaced on One News Network showed a deeper relationship between the Bidens and the ex-wife of the former Moscow mayor Elena Baturina. More emails surfaced Monday in another Breitbart News report showing how Hunter Biden’s business associate viewed his relationship with his father, Joe Biden—a “direct administration pipeline”—as a form of “currency” to trade on and make more money. More stories are in the works.

Vice President Mike Pence says that now is the time for Joe Biden to start answering questions about the emails, although the candidate did not make any public appearances until Thursday in the second and final presidential debate:

While Americans would like to get answers — before the election — President Trump is putting the heat on Attorney General William Barr to investigate this matter:

I have not watched this video, but Rudy Giuliani explains what the Bidens have been doing for the past 30 years.

While many Americans have been taking advantage of early voting, many others have not yet voted.

It would be nice if the media could do a decent job, but they do not. Therefore, information is hard to come by.

The media prefer emotional appeals, rather than facts, when discussing presidential candidates.

Maria Shriver is the niece of the late John F and Bobby Kennedy as well as the former Mrs Arnold Schwarzenegger. This is what she has to say on Joe Biden:

Another soft touch came from Gamespot, describing the virtual Biden campaign in a video game called Animal Crossing: New Horizons:

The Joe Biden campaign put some serious work into its island in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The Democratic presidential nominee can be seen walking around his field office, a polling place, and much more in the meticulously designed ‘Biden HQ.’ He’ll shout one of his campaign slogans, “no malarkey” if you speak to his character. And that’s a fact, Jack …

The island has Joe Biden yard signs, a field office with a basement full of trains (one of Joe Biden’s nicknames is ‘Amtrak Joe’ since he often commuted by train), a polling place with voter information, and an ice cream stand in front of Nook’s Cranny. There are a lot of fun spaces on the island, including Joe Biden fliers (made with custom designs) on the ground in places.

The lack of left-leaning media coverage has had the desired effect: a minor dip of two percentage points in Biden’s popularity.

The reality about Joe Biden is much different.

Tony Bobulinski, a US Navy veteran and former business associate of Hunter Biden’s, gave a press conference before the US presidential debate on Thursday, October 22. He was a special guest of President Trump and spent his own money to get to the debate, held in Nashville:

Bobulinski did not take questions from the press, as he said that he would be meeting separately with members of the US Senate and the FBI today (Friday).

As evidence, he showed reporters three mobile phones which only he has handled. He read out a statement with dates and events of his involvement with Hunter. The Epoch Times (paywall) has a short summary:

… two hours before the debate, Mr. Bobulinski himself, a Navy veteran and a Democrat, gave a surprise press conference and made a statement that was like rolling a hand grenade into the debate. He made it clear—specifying date and location—that he personally had been in a meeting with Joe and Hunter Biden to discuss their business dealings with the Chinese—in effect that Joe Biden had lied to America.

He had more, implying the Biden were indeed a crime family with international connections that could endanger our national security.

More on the Bidens next week.

Joe Biden, 78, has made so many gaffes on his campaign tour, it’s hard to know where to start.

Here are but a few.

This six-minute compilation, a parody of a Time-Life advert, is a great starting point:

Yes, Joe Biden really did say this:

At the end of his Erie, Pennsylvania ‘rally’ — I use the term advisedly — he wasn’t sure where to go. And, Biden, who wants every American to wear a mask, didn’t bother with his:

NBC’s Katy Tur reminded him how to wear one in Nevada:

He removed his mask to cough in front of an audience:

During the summer, he nearly fell asleep and forgot what he was going to say:

Last week, he called for a $15 million minimum wage, corrected it to $15,000 and finally got there with $15:

On Monday, October 12, in Toledo, Ohio, he said he was running for the Senate. Oh, dear:

On a more serious note, he recently told Pennsylvania voters he would not ban fracking, but he’s been consistent on saying he would ban fracking and fossil fuels (replaced by what, exactly?!) throughout his campaign:

Can you imagine if Donald Trump had done any of these things between 2016 and now? These clips would have been broadcast repeatedly. But, because it’s Biden, the Dems in the media (99.9%) ignore them.

As for packing the Supreme Court — adding more justices to it rather than just replacing them one by one — he consistently refuses to answer the question.

In this interview, he tells the reporter that only Republicans want to know the answer to the question and they don’t deserve that information:

Therefore, we can assume the answer is ‘yes’.

California congressman Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader in the House of Representatives, says the Democrats aren’t what they used to be:

In closing, Jesse Watters has an excellent summary of the Biden-Harris campaign platform:

In short, Joe Biden would undo all the good work that President Trump has done at home and abroad.

That means the possibility of war, dodgy deals with China and more, e.g. Iran.

At home, the probability would be soaring taxes, a crippling Green New Deal combined with increased poverty and inequality.

Why did it take Obama-Biden so long to get the US out of recession after 2008?

President Trump completed the job in short order in 2017.

Furthermore, Obama’s infrastructure promises of ‘shovel ready’ jobs and ‘I’m gonna build me some bridges’ never materialised during his eight years in the White House.

Why would Joe Biden operate any differently?

In closing, Biden voters should be aware that they are actually ticking the box for Kamala Harris, because she would be in the Oval Office fairly soon should Biden win. Based on his campaign utterances, Biden is unlikely to be able to take important decisions on his own and will be kept out of sight except on rare occasions.

This is dangerous territory.

Vote wisely. Use 2020 vision.

Andrew Neil’s Spectator TV posted its sixth episode of The Week in 60 Minutes on Thursday, October 8, 2020:

Guests included Prof David Nabarro, World Health Organization special envoy for Covid-19; Andy Preston, mayor of Middlesbrough; Pat Leahy, political editor of the Irish Times and a few Spectator journalists.

The programme began with the status of coronavirus measures in Ireland.

Pat Leahy, political editor of the Irish Times, says that the Irish government was surprised by the recent recommended lockdown which they ultimately rejected. The Irish government were highly critical of the proposed measures, privately and publicly. Leahy explained that the head of the public health advisers has been off work because of compassionate leave, then, last Sunday, he returned and recommended another lockdown. The Irish government took it as, he says, a ‘power play’.

The government objected to the health experts’ very quick meetings amongst themselves and with government officials. Leahy said that the government were ‘annoyed’.

The government did not disagree with the recommended measures per se, but there was a fine balance to be achieved. The minister of finance warned of employment and social consequences, because a number of jobs would not be coming back. He and his staff needed to consider if other measures could be taken instead.

Neil mentioned today’s minimal COVID-19 deaths in Ireland. Leahy agreed and said that the so-called second wave has much less severe than the first. That said, the admissions to hospitals have been rising dramatically. So, there is a question about whether the second wave is different from the first. The Irish government felt they could weigh the statistics, adopting a wait-and-see approach. Leahy said that Dr Leo Varadkar, a physician who was formerly the prime minister and is now the deputy prime minister, essentially threw the nation’s chief medical officer Tony Holohan ‘under the bus’.

Leahy said that the part of Ireland’s problem was assigning decisions to scientists and doctors in the first wave earlier this year. Currently, scientific advice ‘is only one factor’ in the decision making process that the Irish government will take with regard to coronavirus measures. Leahy said that time will tell whether the public will back the government. The economic factors are such that things could change in the weeks to come.

Katy Balls was up next, advocating Swedish models that a number of Conservative MPs back. A number of backbenchers disapprove of Drs Whitty and Vallance.

Conversation then turned to the WHO’s Prof David Nabarro who says we are still in a bit of the first wave and we’re not over it, so we need to learn how to live with the virus without lockdown and the ‘closing down of economies’. What he calls ‘the middle path’ requires holding the virus at bay while allowing the economy to resume in order to make certain we can put safeguards in place, so that we can stop the virus whilst getting local ‘actors’, as well as testing and tracing, involved as much as possible and a common commitment to each other to keep everything as safe as possible. He said that lockdowns serve only to give a health service some breathing space.

Nabarro said that is what South East Asian countries are doing, also Germany and Canada. As lockdown lifts, nations can deal with increased cases ‘elegantly’.

As for Ireland, Nabarro sided halfway with the Irish government and halfway with the scientific advisors. He did caution that public buy-in was necessary for any success.

Nabarro predicted many more weeks of uncertainty but that we would feel ‘much more comfortable’ in the New Year.

Neil asked Nabarro about Prof Sunetra Gupta’s views on a milder lockdown. Nabarro said that the WHO do not advocate lockdowns as an absolute principle. (UK government: please take note!) He cited the damage done to the Caribbean and Pacific tourist industry. As a result, many more people could lapse into poverty.

Neil brought up Scotland’s coming lockdown and a possible one in the North of England.

Kate Andrews had current statistics, comparing them to Sir Patrick Vallance’s alarming case graph from the third week of September. So far, we are not close to Vallance’s projection, but the UK is higher than France’s and Spain’s cases, respectively.

The effect of local lockdowns showed a skyrocketing in positive tests (‘cases’).  According to statistics, it is possible that Leicester should have already been taken out of lockdown.

Kate Andrews showed graphs that revealed that hospitality was responsible for a very low number of cases: around four per cent, not dissimilar to this pie chart, which I cited last Friday.

Nabarro intervened, saying he preferred ‘local integrated responses’, because breaking the virus involves input from every institution, be it a factory or a house of worship. He praised Leicester for its diversity, holding it up as a model for the world.

The Spectator‘s political editor, James Forsyth, came on to comment about the former Labour ‘Red Wall’ in the North. Much of that Red Wall voted for Conservatives in December 2019. Forsyth said that lockdown will be viewed as flooding has been in recent years: even if measures taken are not political, they look as if they ARE political. Northerners see that London and the surrounding Home Counties will not be locked down, and, as a result, will suffer fewer socio-economic casualties.

Andy Preston, the Independent mayor of Middlesbrough, was the next guest. He has been positively incandescent about lockdown. The transmission is a bit choppy, but Preston said that many of his residents didn’t personally know many people who had or died of COVID-19. He added that Middlesbrough’s residents have paid more in tax whilst losing out locally. He felt that ‘the Government is doing stuff to us’.

Preston has asked for a temporary ban on in-house socialising but supports frequenting restaurants. He said that local government and the UK government need to work together on measures.

Preston said that he thought there was an ‘inside group’ of advisers to the government, with no one from Middlesbrough involved.

He said that this type of decision making could go ‘very badly wrong for the country’.

Talk then turned towards the American vice presidential debate. Freddy Gray covered this segment. He said that Mike Pence is ‘a very accomplished performer’, ‘intelligent and he spoke very fluently’. He disclosed that he has never been a Pence fan but predicted that he could be the next Republican nominee in 2024.

Neil said that a Trump-Biden virtual debate would not be the first. Nixon broadcasted in 1960 from Los Angeles. Gray said that no one knew what is going on in Trump’s mind and said that the American president had gone ‘full gonzo’.

Viewers’ questions came next.

The first had to do with successful measures against COVID-19. Nabarro commented on coronavirus success in South East Asia, which he attributed to community buy-in and no delay in taking action, which can result in more problems later.

Another viewer said that England’s mayors needed to come together with regard to England’s lockdown. Andy Preston said he would back Manchester’s Andy Burnham, a former Labour MP.

A third viewer wondered about the vote coming up this week on England’s 10 p.m. curfew. Katy Balls said she doubted whether Labour would oppose the vote, but Conservative rebels might have their chance in the weeks to come to succeed in voting against the Government. (Personally, I don’t think it will happen. Most of the Opposition support lockdown measures and restricting civil liberties.)

James Forsyth says that half the Conservative MPs really detest the Government’s coronavirus restrictions. He cited the communications surrounding them and questioned what the £12bn poured into the ‘test and trace’ programme has actually achieved. He said it was ‘not delivering’.

Andrew Neil asked about the Great Barrington Declaration, which Prof Sunetra Gupta and many other physicians signed a week ago in Massachusetts. Kate Andrews said that Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there would be a ‘game changer’ with no social restrictions a year from now. As such, time is not a big deal for Boris. Neil said that Boris sounded like Chauncey Gardiner. I don’t like saying this, but I tend to agree with his assessment. Boris seems off the rails right now.

Leahy had the final word, measuring the rising positive tests with closed pubs and other measures. The Irish government, he says, needs to give these new measures time to work, including buy-in from the public to avoid another lockdown. He predicts another two to three weeks.

The final question came to Nabarro about the origin of the virus. He said, in short, that there was no definitive answer. ‘You [have to] bring in independent actors’, therefore, the WHO would need ‘to bring in other staff to help’.

Hmm. Interesting.

Then, in an abrupt change of tone, Nabarro sounded a blast at certain countries, including Belarus and Spain, saying that a second wave could come soon and that no nation should be complacent.

Hmm.

Charles Stanley Wealth Managers sponsored this week’s programme. For that, we are most grateful. Agree or disagree, Spectator TV is manna in a desert of dry, one-way MSM broadcasts.

This week, a mini-rebellion erupted on the Conservative back benches over coronavirus.

More on that in a moment.

First, let’s have a look at Friday’s headlines.

As millions of Britons are worrying about their vanishing income, it is shameful that the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, an independent body which oversees the system of allowances and salaries for Members of Parliament, decided to give them a pay rise! Incidentally, a Labour MP is shown in the photograph below:

Unconscionable!

Although the economy was starting to recover earlier in the summer when lockdown was lifted, things are different today:

It’s been a challenging year for Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who replaced Sajid Javid in March, just a fortnight before lockdown. He delivered a brilliant budget for a bright year ahead, then coronavirus struck.

Sunak is one of the contrarians on coronavirus and is said to prefer letting Britons get back to work.

That said, he has given billions in financial aid to the nation and delivered a Winter Economic Plan. However, pressure is on now to not only find a way to boost the Treasury’s coffers but also to provide extra financial support to the areas of the country which are under what seems to be permanent lockdown. The Huffington Post has more on today’s new measures.

These are the highlights:

This is his latest tax plan:

Hmm:

It’s a tough job, so I’m glad Rishi is in that post. He’s doing the best he can.

Next door, at No. 10 Downing Street, Rishi’s former aide Allegra Stratton has been named as Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s new press secretary. Conservative men across the nation had hoped for a Kayleigh McEnany, but we will wish Ms Stratton well in her new job:

Note how media and politics intertwine. Stratton is connected not only to Nos. 10 and 11 Downing Street but also to top adviser Dominic Cummings as well as to The Spectator:

Guido Fawkes says (emphases in the original):

Widely anticipated and always the bookies favourite, Allegra Stratton has been confirmed as the new Downing Street Press Secretary. Her experience as a television reporter on Newsnight, ITV News and with Peston will stand her in good stead. 40 year-old Allegra is married to the Spectator’s James Forsyth. They have one child. She has done a good job spinning for Rishi and he will miss her…

Bring on the briefings…

Stratton left ITV in April to work for Rishi:

I had bookmarked a tweet from ITV’s political editor Robert Peston a few months ago when No. 10 announced its search for a press secretary. Unfortunately, I subsequently deleted it. Peston tweeted that he knew of a perfect candidate, someone who had worked for him and was now working for Rishi Sunak: Allegra Stratton.

And, lo, it came to pass.

Here’s an interesting tweet from May, after Dominic Cummings had to give a press conference in the garden of No. 10 to apologise for his questionable trip up North to Barnard Castle (a town named for its castle) with his wife Mary Wakefield and their four-year-old son:

One of Cummings’s goals was to clear out No. 10 of Remainers in senior positions. Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill, the most senior Remainer and the man in charge of civil servants, resigned during the summer.

Sedwill’s replacement is Simon Case, who used to work for Prince William:

Guido Fawkes has posted Case’s email to civil servants, popularly referred to as ‘mandarins’, and says:

Simon Case, Sir Mark Sedwill’s replacement as Cabinet Secretary, has got off to a strong start in the job by sending an email to all civil servants boasting of his ‘profound sense of pride in our nation’s history”, telling Whitehall staff “We must maintain our dedication to honesty, integrity, impartiality and objectivity.” Guido hopes counselling will be put in place for any distressed metropolitan mandarins at this time…

Now on to coronavirus.

Scotland’s Nicola Sturgeon is putting much of that nation under a 16-day ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown (pubs shut, no alcohol in restaurants, no visiting) during half-term (break for schools). Yet she is decommissioning the Nightingale hospital in Glasgow. Why?

In England and Wales, questions have been raised about the new contact-tracing app:

Today (Friday), the Telegraph‘s Chief Political Correspondent Christopher Hope interviewed the Conservative MP, Sir Iain Duncan Smith, who had a lot to say not only on coronavirus but also Brexit (he thinks large parts of the Withdrawal Agreement should be torn up if we want a Canada deal).

Excerpts follow (emphases mine):

Boris Johnson will never defeat the coronavirus pandemic, Sir Iain Duncan Smith has said, and instead must start to help Britons to learn to live with the disease.

The former Conservative leader told today’s Chopper Politics podcast … : “‘I’ve never been to a time like this where we have almost suspended all judgement on everything else as secondary to Covid.

“And the truth is that if we go on just trying to push these spikes down the whole timethen we could be in this for years because there are very few vaccines that have been completely effective against viruses.”

Sir Iain said the focus on Covid meant that other risks were being completely ignored. He said that the problem was “we’ve lost the balance of risks. We now have only one risk. And if you think of only one risk, then you can damage everything around you.

He added that he thought the right course of action regarding coronavirus was “managing it but not expecting that, as people say, we can defeat this, because I honestly don’t think we will actually.”

YES!

The 30-minute podcast is here. Hope interviews other guests, too.

Conservative MPs are warning Boris not to take the votes of former Labour-supporting area lightly. Those areas, many of which now have Conservative MPs, are the ones most affected by semi-permanent lockdown:

Earlier in the week, the Government postponed a vote on the 10 p.m. curfew on pubs and restaurants in England. It has been rescheduled for next week:

Members of the public are understandably concerned. One summarised Boris’s speech at the (virtual) Conservative Party conference this week:

But I digress.

The reason the Government are picking on the hospitality sector is because of this chart, which MPs on both sides of the aisle dispute:

Hospitality venues are at the top of the list.

Note that schools and workplaces are not mentioned.

This is the reality, and this is what dissenting MPs are going by. Hospitality is ranked at 4 per cent (see pie chart):

The hospitality sector had to put a lot of money into their businesses in order to reopen during the summer, yet the Government is targeting them. That is also true in France, but we’ll stick with England for now:

I am very concerned about this eventuality:

Conservative MP Steve Baker talks a good game, but he voted with the Government this week to renew coronavirus restrictions.

ITV interviewed him yesterday:

ITV has excerpts of Baker’s interview:

Speaking to the Acting Prime Minister podcast, the MP said the rule is “badly evidenced and appears to be counter-productive”.

He said the rule, which forces pubs to close between 10pm and 5am, is “wrecking the hospitality industry, which we only just pumped lots of taxpayers money into through Eat Out to Help Out”.

He claimed the “cost of lockdowns are worse than the cost of the disease” and suggested the PM is only imposing them because of hopes of a vaccine “turning up and solving all these problems”.

He said he fears the UK is in “grave danger” of “jumping into a lobster pot here from which we can’t emerge” if a vaccine is not forthcoming.

“The danger we’re in at the moment is we’ll destroy our economy,” he told podcast host Paul Brand.

He said he supports Prime Minister Boris Johnson in his response to coronavirus, but questioned whether he is “betting the country on a vaccine turning up”.

“If his strategy is based on a vaccine coming, I think there’s going to be a problem,” he said.

The Wycombe MP appeared to suggest the team around the prime minister was not allowing him to use his strengths …

Mr Baker, who was a prominent Brexit supporter, said he “deeply” regrets the way the UK divided over EU membership and said he can feel the same happening with coronavirus.

I’m really worried that our society is polarising with hysterical arguments on both sides.

“What I am saying is I want us to have a radical spirit of concern for one another, a radical willingness to listen to one another and then be moderate in what we say and do to try and close all these, all these divides.” 

I agree wholeheartedly with every word.

In closing, I really hope that Steve Baker and the other Conservative rebels vote against the Government on the hospitality curfew next week.

They won’t win, but they will send a strong message to Boris and Matt Hancock.

Below is Episode 5 of Spectator TV’s The Week in 60 Minutes, which aired on Thursday, October 1, 2020:

It was another hour of informative television, hosted by Andrew Neil.

Discussion points prove that a week is a long time not only in politics but also where coronavirus is concerned.

Although the first segment is now dated, as thousands of extra ‘cases’ (positive test results, for the most part) were discovered missing from English coronavirus stats last Friday, The Spectator‘s economics correspondent Kate Andrews reviewed Chief Scientific Officer Sir Patrick Vallance’s alarming graph from two weeks ago. The English stats were flat when Andrews gave her commentary.

This is a graph from October 6, showing actual data plotted against Vallance’s:

This is also worth noting, including the comparison of hospitalisations from earlier in the year:

Kate Andrews said that France and Spain are levelling out. Nearly one week on, that is continuing. Spain’s positive test numbers/cases are falling noticeably:

In any event, Andrews rightly pointed out that COVID deaths are still far fewer than flu or other causes. In fact, she said, 51% of Britons now worried about the economy, particularly in light of lockdowns across a growing swathe of England in the North and the Midlands.

Spectator editor Fraser Nelson thinks Boris has created some space to evaluate COVID measures, as he will now be meeting with Vallance and Chief Medical Officer Dr Chris Whitty once a week.

The magazine’s political editor, James Forsyth, said that the hotspots are more regional now and that Tory MPs from regions with lower positive test rates will ask for easing lockdown restrictions with more focus on improving the economy. That has happened in Parliament but not to a great enough extent to make a difference when it comes to voting on coronavirus restrictions. The Government won the vote on the Rule of Six hands down this week.

Kate Andrews says economists now think recovery will take longer because of new restrictions.

They are absolutely correct. A lot of businesses in the hospitality and entertainment sectors are likely to suffer during the winter months. Restaurant and banqueting venue owners do not know whether they should take bookings for Christmas parties. Businesses — their customers — are also loath to make large Christmas bookings. At the weekend, Boris predicted that the coming months would be ‘bumpy’ through Christmas ‘and possibly beyond’, perhaps ‘until Easter’. Boris and much of his Cabinet are banking on a vaccine appearing on the market by that time. Oh, dearie, dearie me.

The best part of the interview was the segment with Prof Sunetra Gupta, an infectious disease epidemiologist and a professor of theoretical epidemiology at the University of Oxford. Last weekend, Prof Gupta signed the Great Barrington Declaration in western Massachusetts, opposing the current form of Western lockdowns. Those who wish to watch that segment separately can tune in below:

She doubted the validity of Vallance’s graph which, she said, still applies to the first, rather than a second, wave. She said that what we are seeing is in line with the way viruses work in the autumn. She thinks that governments and scientists should move away from lockdowns because of other equally urgent issues involving human life. She also said that lockdowns serve only to delay more COVID-19 cases. She believes that we need to learn to live with the virus and added that it should settle down eventually, as with the flu. She says this is called endemic equilibrium. She told Neil that she recently met with Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Unfortunately, she said, Boris told her he disagrees with her scientifically reasoned request to return to normality.

That makes it even more obvious that Boris is all in for a vaccine, nothing less. How sad.

Talk turned to the appointment of a new chairman of the BBC. Charles Moore, a long-time conservative journalist and former Spectator editor, was thought to be the likely candidate last week. Andrew Neil interviewed Claire Fox from the Institute of Ideas, who spoke about Charles Moore and the BBC, which many Britons believe is biased against conservative ideas. Claire Fox said that we have to have a national discussion and ‘shake up’ about what we expect from the media, because people think there is a one-sided narrative and ‘groupthink at their core’.

Fraser Nelson said that conservatives don’t really play that game, to their detriment.

In the days that followed, Charles Moore indicated that he would not apply for the job at the BBC (more here from The Telegraph):

Andrew Neil discussed the US election debate, which had taken place earlier last week. Matt Purple of The American Conservative, probably the only anti-Trump journalist at that publication, said it was ‘a Chernobyl’, largely because Trump does not correct his errors. He said that Biden is ahead in the polls. Neil asked about the undecided voters watching the debate. Purple said that Trump’s ‘temperament’ is the issue. He also thinks that independent voters see Joe Biden as a ‘better package’. He added that incumbents have a record to defend and that Trump ‘burned the most’.

I find it incredible that Matt Purple thinks Trump is a bad president. I wonder why he works for The American Conservative, which Rod Dreher, a solid conservative, edits.

In any event, Purple’s words were music to Andrew Neil’s ears. Like most middle- and upper-class Britons, he loathes Trump, for whatever reason.

Neil asked Kate Andrews, an American, whom she preferred. She said that, although she is conservative, she was leaning towards Joe Biden. No surprise there.

Neil said that Trump is going to lose both the popular and Electoral College vote. He mentioned a plethora of court cases to be settled afterwards.

Looking into American history, Neil mentioned the controversy surrounding Rutherford Hayes’s election in 1876, which took four months to resolve. Purple agreed, predicting more violence in the streets.

Andrew Neil ended the hour by reading out questions from viewers.

John Prescott (not the retired politician) asked about coronavirus metrics. Gupta said that health officials need to look at deaths and the correct number of cases versus the number of tests then benchmark those data against other infections.

Roger Murphy asked about reversing lockdown. James Forsyth said that we will see in a fortnight, because this is the first time we have seen local pushback to lockdowns. Fraser Nelson said that Boris is missing the point. Lockdown, he added, will not help strengthen the Red Wall that the Conservatives won in the North last December. Locking down London is another possible sticking point.

No doubt this week’s Spectator TV broadcast, to be filmed on Thursday, will cover Boris’s speech at the Conservative Party conference and rebel Conservative MPs who want lockdown rules to be changed. I’ll post that video soon.

There are two more increasingly popular Spectator TV videos to view, brilliantly presented by Andrew Neil.

Each of the episodes below is one hour long, but it is unlikely that those seeking real news and analysis will be bored.

As a supporter of President Trump, I was somewhat less impressed with Episode 3, from September 17, which downplayed his chances for re-election as well as his foreign policy, as many of us consider it a peacetime triumph:

Sweden’s state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell was the first to be interviewed about his nation’s handling of coronavirus. As we know, they had no lockdown.

Tegnell regretted not having controlled the many deaths in care homes — similar to those in other Western nations. There were also other lives that could not be saved because of co-morbidities. He said that a lockdown would not have saved them.

The problem in the care homes related to their separation from a national health care system, again, not dissimilar to the tragic result seen in other nations, particularly the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

He indicated that Sweden wanted to ensure that care home fatalities were resolved going forward as well as those among minority populations. He said that an EU commission was looking into those challenges.

Neil asked why Sweden was one of the few countries that ignored the projections from Imperial College London earlier this year. Tegnell replied that Imperial’s models were ‘quite extreme’ and ‘doubtful’. He added that models are not made ‘for prognosis’ because ‘you don’t really know’ what is going to happen.

He said, ‘This is not a competition’ and expressed his desire for more international collaboration and discussion to find a common pathway towards fighting the a second wave of the pandemic as well as agreement on testing.

He said that Sweden had been conducting 80,000 tests a week with no recent deaths.

Good for Sweden. They did well considering they bucked all the odds.

In case the interview is difficult to listen to because Tegnell is on a train, here is another transmission:

Episode 4 of Spectator TV, from Thursday, September 24, covered a multitude of health, economic and political topics:

Kate Andrews talked about the broadcast that Dr Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance made about coronavirus last week. Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, gave a statement last week on a winter economic programme. It focussed on a change from furlough, which expires in October, to a jobs subsidy for viable employment. She said that there is no doubt that unemployment will rise in the UK in the coming months.

James Forsyth echoed that and said that Rishi Sunak’s plan is to retain as many current jobs as possible but also to create many more.

On that note, Katy Balls said that there is some tension between 10 and 11 Downing Street. Boris errs on the side of health and personal safety. Rishi is more focussed on the economic numbers in order to keep Britain afloat.

With regard to coronavirus, Dr Flavio Toxvaerd, an economic epidemiologist from Cambridge University, said that epidemiologists do not have a good estimation of human behaviour. He did not believe that we were likely to see the latest coronavirus predictions from Whitty and Vallance’s graphs come true. That said, there is a delicate balance to be struck between health and the economy in dealing with COVID-19. Both are critical at this time. Neither can be viewed in isolation.

With regard to his eponymous amendment anticipated to be brought before the House of Commons, Sir Graham Brady said he felt confident that any future coronavirus-related statutory instruments would have to be brought before the House of Commons for debate and a vote prior to implementation.

Questions have been raised as to Boris Johnson’s future as Prime Minister. Katy Balls and James Forsyth both thought that he would not be gone by the end of the year, as many have predicted over the past several days. Leaving the EU, they predicted, will put fuel in the tank for 2021, so to speak.

Turning to the upcoming US elections, Dominic Green said that a Biden administration would favour the EU more than the United Kingdom emerging from Brexit. Again, this assumes that Joe Biden will win the election. Green rightly warned that polls are unreliable. (We saw the same situation four years ago with the polls and the ‘Trump can’t win’ theme. We are seeing it again now.)

Thousands of us are grateful to the NatWest Group for sponsoring these useful broadcasts.

There were so many insights on coronavirus last week that I couldn’t fit them all in.

On Friday, I summarised Michael P Senger’s article about China’s role in the coronavirus crisis.

More information follows:

Rather sagely, a lady replied:

As did another:

The day before, there was the confession from a Facebook whistleblower about online political persuasion:

The article, dated September 14, features quotes from former Facebook data scientist Sophie Zhang.

The article states (emphases mine):

The 6,600-word memo, written by former Facebook data scientist Sophie Zhang, is filled with concrete examples of heads of government and political parties in Azerbaijan and Honduras using fake accounts or misrepresenting themselves to sway public opinion. In countries including India, Ukraine, Spain, Brazil, Bolivia, and Ecuador, she found evidence of coordinated campaigns of varying sizes to boost or hinder political candidates or outcomes, though she did not always conclude who was behind them.

“In the three years I’ve spent at Facebook, I’ve found multiple blatant attempts by foreign national governments to abuse our platform on vast scales to mislead their own citizenry, and caused international news on multiple occasions,” wrote Zhang, who declined to talk to BuzzFeed News. Her LinkedIn profile said she “worked as the data scientist for the Facebook Site Integrity fake engagement team” and dealt with “bots influencing elections and the like.”

She added:

I have personally made decisions that affected national presidents without oversight, and taken action to enforce against so many prominent politicians globally that I’ve lost count.

The BuzzFeed article continues:

The memo is a damning account of Facebook’s failures. It’s the story of Facebook abdicating responsibility for malign activities on its platform that could affect the political fate of nations outside the United States or Western Europe. It’s also the story of a junior employee wielding extraordinary moderation powers that affected millions of people without any real institutional support, and the personal torment that followed.

“I know that I have blood on my hands by now,” Zhang wrote.

According to the article, Facebook allegedly delayed taking action on the following:

  • It took Facebook’s leaders nine months to act on a coordinated campaign “that used thousands of inauthentic assets to boost President Juan Orlando Hernandez of Honduras on a massive scale to mislead the Honduran people.” Two weeks after Facebook took action against the perpetrators in July, they returned, leading to a game of “whack-a-mole” between Zhang and the operatives behind the fake accounts, which are still active.
  • In Azerbaijan, Zhang discovered the ruling political party “utilized thousands of inauthentic assets… to harass the opposition en masse.” Facebook began looking into the issue a year after Zhang reported it. The investigation is ongoing.
  • Zhang and her colleagues removed “10.5 million fake reactions and fans from high-profile politicians in Brazil and the US in the 2018 elections.”
  • In February 2019, a NATO researcher informed Facebook that “he’d obtained Russian inauthentic activity on a high-profile U.S. political figure that we didn’t catch.” Zhang removed the activity, “dousing the immediate fire,” she wrote.
  • In Ukraine, Zhang “found inauthentic scripted activity” supporting both former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, a pro–European Union politician and former presidential candidate, as well as Volodymyr Groysman, a former prime minister and ally of former president Petro Poroshenko. “Volodymyr Zelensky and his faction was the only major group not affected,” Zhang said of the current Ukrainian president.
  • Zhang discovered inauthentic activity — a Facebook term for engagement from bot accounts and coordinated manual accounts— in Bolivia and Ecuador but chose “not to prioritize it,” due to her workload. The amount of power she had as a mid-level employee to make decisions about a country’s political outcomes took a toll on her health.
  • After becoming aware of coordinated manipulation on the Spanish Health Ministry’s Facebook page during the COVID-19 pandemic, Zhang helped find and remove 672,000 fake accounts “acting on similar targets globally” including in the US.
  • In India, she worked to remove “a politically-sophisticated network of more than a thousand actors working to influence” the local elections taking place in Delhi in February. Facebook never publicly disclosed this network or that it had taken it down.

The BuzzFeed article reports that Facebook’s spokesperson Liz Bourgeois said:

It’s highly involved work that these teams do as their full-time remit. Working against coordinated inauthentic behavior is our priority, but we’re also addressing the problems of spam and fake engagement. We investigate each issue carefully, including those that Ms. Zhang raises, before we take action or go out and make claims publicly as a company.

BuzzFeed says that it did not reproduce Ms Zhang’s full text because it contains personal information.

The article added:

In her post, Zhang said she did not want it to go public for fear of disrupting Facebook’s efforts to prevent problems around the upcoming 2020 US presidential election, and due to concerns about her own safety. BuzzFeed News is publishing parts of her memo that are clearly in the public interest.

“I consider myself to have been put in an impossible spot – caught between my loyalties to the company and my loyalties to the world as a whole,” she said. “The last thing I want to do is distract from our efforts for the upcoming U.S. elections, yet I know this post will likely do so internally.”

Zhang said she turned down a $64,000 severance package from the company to avoid signing a nondisparagement agreement. Doing so allowed her to speak out internally, and she used that freedom to reckon with the power that she had to police political speech.

“There was so much violating behavior worldwide that it was left to my personal assessment of which cases to further investigate, to file tasks, and escalate for prioritization afterwards,” she wrote.

That power contrasted with what she said seemed to be a lack of desire from senior leadership to protect democratic processes in smaller countries. Facebook, Zhang said, prioritized regions including the US and Western Europe, and often only acted when she repeatedly pressed the issue publicly in comments on Workplace, the company’s internal, employee-only message board.

“With no oversight whatsoever, I was left in a situation where I was trusted with immense influence in my spare time,” she wrote. “A manager on Strategic Response mused to myself that most of the world outside the West was effectively the Wild West with myself as the part-time dictator – he meant the statement as a compliment, but it illustrated the immense pressures upon me.”

A former Facebook engineer who knew her told BuzzFeed News that Zhang was skilled at discovering fake account networks on the platform.

The second half of the article is also worth reading — and circulating.

Michael P Senger, the author of the article I cited on Friday, tweeted coronavirus-related news about Pennsylvania’s continued lockdown:

Note that China was mentioned.

The title of Stacy Rudin’s article for the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) is ‘Federal Court Holds “Stay at Home” Orders and Mandatory Business Closures Unconstitutional’.

Excerpts follow, emphases mine:

For six months, Americans in 43 states have lived under unprecedented executive orders restricting freedoms as basic as whether they can work, leave their homes, and expose their faces in public. These mandates are not duly enacted laws — they are orders issued by one of the three branches of government. They constitute a system of one-person rulesomething none of us expected could ever happen in the United Statesand no one, apart from the 43 newfound state dictators, is sure when it will expire.

Today, after six months of this, a Pennsylvania Federal Court in Butler County v. Wolf reviewed the indefinite “emergency” restrictions imposed by the executive branch of Pennsylvania government, declaring limitations on gathering size, “stay-at-home orders,” and mandatory business closures unconstitutional. Refusing to accept the alleged need for a “new normal,” the Court stated that an “independent judiciary [is needed] to serve as a check on the exercise of emergency government power.”

About time. The Judicial Branch is coming to save us.

The article is worth circulating. It goes into American history, beginning with the Constitution in the 18th century and citing President Lincoln in the 19th.

The Pennslyvania Federal Court stated:

There is no question that our founders abhorred the concept of one-person rule. They decried government by fiat. Absent a robust system of checks and balances, the guarantees of liberty set forth in the Constitution are just ink on parchment.

Furthermore:

In times of crisis, even a vigilant public may let down its guard over its constitutional liberties only to find that liberties, once relinquished, are hard to recoup and that restrictions — while expedient in the face of an emergency situation — may persist long after immediate danger has passed.

The AIER article went on to say:

We cannot allow our freedom to become “ink on parchment.” Many of our governors seek to do just that — they won’t even designate an endpoint to their “emergency” powers. When does the “emergency” end? This should be easy to say — X number of deaths per million, X number of deaths over X number of weeks — yet they will not say it. They want us to live under the constant threat of house arrest and livelihood deprivation, even though all we ever agreed to was a two-week effort to “flatten the curve.” We never agreed to an indefinite or permanent “new normal,” or to do whatever our wise governor dreams up and declares necessary to “eliminate infections.”

The article thanked Judge Stickman, speaking for the Pennsylvania Federal Court:

Thank you, Judge Stickman, for recognizing our predicament, and for taking the first step towards restoring our freedom today by reminding those with authoritarian leanings that “governors cannot be given carte blanche to disregard the Constitution for as long as the medical problem persists.” The response to an emergency cannot undermine our system of constitutional liberties, or the system of checks and balances protecting those liberties. Liberty before “governor-guaranteed safety” — this is the American way, famously stated by Benjamin Franklin: “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Pennsylvania’s Governor Wolf appeared to back down (italics in the original):

Incredibly, Governor Wolf responded that his stay-at-home orders are “not actually orders at all, but merely recommendations,” and that they are constitutional because they do not “shock the conscience.”

Yet, the article’s author says:

I’m willing to bet that Pennsylvania citizens would beg to differ.

The Court’s decision stated that large populations were never quarantined (some local populations, e.g. St Louis, were during the Spanish Flu).

Not only that, the judges traced the origin of the virus to China:

In analyzing the constitutionality of “lockdowns,” the Court first traced the origin of the concept to its source — Wuhan, China — and recognized that population-wide lockdowns are “unprecedented in American law.” Even during the Spanish Flu, the deadliest pandemic in history by far, “nothing remotely approximating lockdowns were imposed.” Although the United States has faced many epidemics and pandemics, “there have never previously been lockdowns of entire populations — much less for lengthy and indefinite periods of time.” Quarantines are legally recognized, but refer to the isolation of sick people and those known to have been directly exposed to sick people. They are statutorily limited to the duration of the incubation period of the disease — a period which Governor Wolf’s “lockdown” plainly exceeded.

Not only have lockdowns never been imposed in American history, but they are not even mentioned in recent pandemic management guidance offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”). In its 2017 guidelines for managing pandemics, the CDC recommends numerous protective measures such as hand washing, limited-duration school closures, and cancellations of mass gatherings, but nothing “even approximating the imposition of statewide (or even community-wide) stay at home orders or the closure of all [‘non-essential’] businesses.” Even for pandemics of “Very High Severity,” the CDC recommends only voluntary isolation of sick persons and their household members. “This is a far, far cry from a statewide lockdown such as the one imposed by [Governor Wolf’s] stay-at-home order.”

The article goes on to discuss small and medium business issues, which are of primary importance today. The court decided, in their own words (emphasis here in the original):

The Constitution cannot accept the concept of a ‘new normal’ where the basic liberties of the people can be subordinated to open-ended emergency mitigation measures. Rather, the Constitution sets certain lines that may not be crossed, even in an emergency. Actions taken by Defendants crossed those lines. It is the duty of the Court to declare those actions unconstitutional.

In related news Daniel Levitt, who works for tech firms in Silicon Valley, tweeted:

Ah, but increased testing is taking care of that issue. Hmm.

A podcast host from Ohio found that the WHO never stated that quarantine stopped influenza. Coronavirus is not influenza, yet it seems to share some of the same characteristics. Even more interesting is that, with the presence of COVID-19, influenza — the big worry of the cold weather season — seems to have disappeared south of the Equator.

Interesting:

It’s all a bit of a mystery, but Kyle Lamb goes on to answer questions:

Does Kyle Lamb know more than our respective chief scientific officers? Perhaps. Perhaps not. In any event, he has gone further by probing the subject, which is more than our chief scientific officers have done.

Meanwhile, in the UK, an NHS GP pleads with Prime Minister Boris Johnson to change course on lockdowns. Here’s yet another newspaper article mentioning a time period of a fortnight (yawn).

I pity the remaining vulnerable, especially the elderly. Click the image to see the article in full:

I could not agree more.

Message to the NHS: get on with it! You’ve had since May.

Since the summer, England’s Nightingale Hospitals have been stood down for lack of use:

What will happen? A repeat of March and April?

My head is spinning at the prospect.

Once again, private care will turn out to be no better:

Good grief.

Then there is the matter of testing.

This thread is about the North East of England. The author is Professor of Industrial Economics Nottingham University Business School and states clearly that he is expressing his own views:

Sunderland is in the latest coronavirus hotspot area.

Understandably, residents are anxious to get PCR tests.

Yet, the queue was two miles long at the local testing centre:

The queues are for people who have booked a test:

It’s the same in London, as per Tom Copley, the Deputy Mayor of London for Housing. Again, you need a code (obtained online) in order to get a test:

After all these months, this is unbelievable, especially from a notionally Conservative government.

As Tim Worstall said on September 17:

You’ve had 6 months to get testing sorted out. It’s possible to do basic tests – basic note – for £1 a piece with reagent dosed paper hankies.

Also:

seriously, why do we give, or have taken from us, 35% of everything to a structure that can’t even manage this?

I could not agree more.

In closing, Dr Li-Meng Yan, a physician and virologist who also holds a PhD, is a Chinese whistleblower who worked at a WHO lab in Hong Kong. She is now out of the country in a secret location but has given at least two interviews in the past week.

The first was on Friday, September 11, on ITV’s Loose Women, a lunchtime chat show in Britain:

She explained that she had access to a lot of secret information about COVID-19 and could no longer keep quiet, even if it meant losing her social credit score, which she did. She said she had been warned at the outset ‘not to cross the line’ because ‘she could be disappeared’. She said that the Chinese government deleted everything about her that had appeared online. One wonders if her bank account was also frozen. It happens.

She told the show’s panel that the virus was engineered in a lab and that it is not a natural virus.

She said that the Chinese government has downplayed her role in Hong Kong and is discrediting her.

The panel asked her why China would do such a thing and she replied that she had no insight into the government’s ‘evil thinking’, then added that whatever they did ‘worked’: meaning — although she left this unstated — illness, death, panic, lockdown and economic damage.

I am glad that Loose Women interviewed her, because the show gets good ratings. Consequently, a lot of women in Britain will have found out more about the Chi-vi, as I call it.

On Tuesday, September 15, she appeared on Fox News’s Tucker Carlson Tonight, to present the same details:

Tucker wasn’t quite sure what to think. He acknowledged he does not have the scientific background to probe further.

A tip of the hat to my cyberfriend Wolf for the next part of this story.

Dr Yan, along with three other researchers, published a scientific paper on Monday, September 14: ‘Unusual Features of the SARS-Cov-2 Genome Suggesting Sophisticated Laboratory Modification Rather Than Natural Evolution and Delineation of Its Probable Synthetic Route’.

This is the introduction (emphases mine):

Yan, Li-Meng; Kang, Shu; Guan, Jie; Hu, Shanchang

The COVID-19 pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 has led to over 910,000 deaths worldwide and unprecedented decimation of the global economy. Despite its tremendous impact, the origin of SARS-CoV-2 has remained mysterious and controversial. The natural origin theory, although widely accepted, lacks substantial support. The alternative theory that the virus may have come from a research laboratory is, however, strictly censored on peer-reviewed scientific journals. Nonetheless, SARS-CoV-2 shows biological characteristics that are inconsistent with a naturally occurring, zoonotic virus. In this report, we describe the genomic, structural, medical, and literature evidence, which, when considered together, strongly contradicts the natural origin theory. The evidence shows that SARS-CoV-2 should be a laboratory product created by using bat coronaviruses ZC45 and/or ZXC21 as a template and/or backbone. Building upon the evidence, we further postulate a synthetic route for SARS-CoV-2, demonstrating that the laboratory-creation of this coronavirus is convenient and can be accomplished in approximately six months. Our work emphasizes the need for an independent investigation into the relevant research laboratories. It also argues for a critical look into certain recently published data, which, albeit problematic, was used to support and claim a natural origin of SARS-CoV-2. From a public health perspective, these actions are necessary as knowledge of the origin of SARS-CoV-2 and of how the virus entered the human population are of pivotal importance in the fundamental control of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as in preventing similar, future pandemics.

ZeroHedge posted excerpts from the paper, which is way above my pay grade. The article ends with a reminder from ZeroHedge that they were suspended from Twitter months ago for alleging the same theory:

As a reminder, Zero Hedge was banned from Twitter on Jan 31 for making just this allegation, following a hit-piece written by an alleged pedophile (who was later fired for plagiarism) and countless so-called “scientists” screaming that our take was fake news and nothing but propaganda. Five months later Twitter admitted it had made a mistake, stating “we made an error in our enforcement action in this case.”

Speaking of Twitter, on September 15, ZeroHedge also reported that Dr Yan’s Twitter account was quickly suspended, days after she created it this month (emphases in the original):

On Sunday afternoon we asked how long before the twitter account of the “rogue” Chinese virologist, Dr. Li-Meng Yan, who yesterday “shocked” the world of establishment scientists and other China sycophants, by publishing a “smoking gun” scientific paper demonstrating that the Covid-19 virus was manmade, is “silenced.”

We now have the answer: less than two days. A cursory check of Dr Yan’s twitter page reveals that the account has been suspended as of this moment …

If Yan was wrong, why not just let other scientists respond in the open to the all too valid arguments presented in Dr. Yan’s paper? Isn’t that what “science” is all about? Why just shut her up?

Because if we have already crossed the tipping point when anyone who proposes an “inconvenient” explanation for an established “truth” has to be immediately censored, then there is little that can be done to salvage the disintegration of a society that once held freedom of speech as paramount …

We hope Twitter will provide a very reasonable and sensible explanation for this unprecedented censorship.

Indeed.

Back now to the contents of the paper that Dr Yan co-authored.

US Army Colonel Lawrence Sellin (Ret.) explained it in layman’s terms for the Gateway Pundit: ‘Dr. Lawrence Sellin: The Unequivocal Evidence Chinese Scientist Dr. Li-Meng Yan Provides Proof COVID-19 was Created by China’s Military’.

Dr Sellin gives us the overview, which is still scientific (emphases in the original):

China has claimed that a bat coronavirus named RaTG13 is the closest relative to the COVID-19 virus, but RaTG13 is not actually a virus because no biological samples exist. It is only a genomic sequence of a virus for which there are now serious questions about its accuracy.

Dr. Yan suggests that RaTG13 may have been used to divert the world’s attention away from the true source of the COVID-19 pandemic.

She claims that the COVID-19 virus originated in laboratories overseen by China’s People’s Liberation Army, using bat coronaviruses ZC45 and/or ZXC21 collected from Zhoushan, China and used as the viral “backbone” for genetic engineering.

Those bat coronaviruses were originally isolated and characterized between July 2015 and February 2017 under the supervision of the Third Military Medical University (Chongqing, China) and the Research Institute for Medicine of Nanjing Command (Nanjing, China).

The article goes on to explain how the receptor binding motif (RBM), which defines the coronavirus’ ability to bind to the specific human angiotensin converting enzyme-2 receptor (ACE2) underwent genetic manipulation.

That critical segment of the COVID-19 virus is bounded by two “restriction sites” not found in any related bat coronaviruses, which allow researchers to easily splice, that is, cut and paste components of other viruses into the viral backbone.

The presence of those restriction sites is a known marker for genetic manipulation.

Furthermore, the COVID-19 virus contains a furin polybasic cleavage site with an amino acid sequence of proline-arginine-arginine-alanine or PRRA that facilitates membrane fusion between the virus and the human cell and widely known for its ability to enhance pathogenicity and transmissibility.

Such a sequence is not found in any other related bat coronavirus and, so far, there is no natural evolutionary pathway identified that could explain the appearance of that PRRA segment.

In contrast, techniques for the artificial insertion of such a furin polybasic cleavage site by genetic engineering have been used for over ten years.

Dr. Yan and her colleagues note that the two arginine amino acids in that PRRA segment are coded by the nucleotide sequence CGG-CGG, which rarely appears in tandem and strongly suggests that this furin cleavage site is the result of genetic engineering.

In addition, the presence of a “FauI” restriction site at the furin polybasic cleavage site is also an indication of genetic manipulation.

Goodness me. We have these scientific allegations and all the UK government is thinking of is a second lockdown.

It is sad that we will not be reading or hearing about this paper in the media. Once again, please circulate the links with family and friends. Thank you.

Yesterday, I saw the following tweet on Guido Fawkes, Britain’s top website for all things political.

He rarely tweets about President Trump or MAGA, so I was intrigued:

Naturally, I went to read Guido’s post, which simply featured this 3:37-minute long video:

Ricky Rebel and his team of talent, including The Deplorable Choir, defused hostility and turned it into a rousing dance party in the streets:

On AUG 22, 2020, a violent #BlackLivesMatter mob swarmed the Trump Unity Bridge in Beverly Hills. The Trump Unity Bridge responded to #BLM with a DANCE OFF to their unifying theme song MAGA / YMCA!

They rewrote the lyrics to the Village People’s YMCA to fit the positive unity of Trump supporters. The lyrics are in the video. Stay tuned until the end to read the clever credits, which are also in the YouTube description.

This is great fun to watch — and gutsy.

That’s the way to do it. Well done!

Recently, The Atlantic published an anti-Trump article saying he has no regard for military veterans.

The article also has other falsehoods in it about President Trump’s time in the White House, supplied by anonymous sources:

First Lady Melania Trump tweeted:

The Atlantic wants to help Joe Biden win, of course:

President Trump is angry with Fox News for pressing on with the lies. This Twitter user says that the reporter in question is married to another journalist who works for NPR, which is pro-Democrat:

I’ll get to that story tomorrow.

Trump’s former press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, is angry about The Atlantic‘s article:

Former ambassador John Bolton, who has written an anti-Trump book, also says that The Atlantic‘s article is wrong. The American president did not show up at a military cemetery in France in 2018 for a memorial ceremony because his security detail would not allow it. Breitbart carried the story:

Bolton, who has emerged as an adversary of the president since leaving the administration last fall, wrote in his tell-all book about Trump that the visit to the cemetery by helicopter had been canceled because of weather. Driving, Bolton wrote, was not an option because of the “unacceptable risk” of being stuck in traffic if an emergency arose. He criticized the media for falsely reporting that Trump skipped his visit because he was “afraid of the rain.”

He also denied the accusations about the president’s words:

On Friday, Bolton confirmed his account in an interview with the Times, and added that he never heard Trump say “losers” or “suckers”:

He got support from an unlikely source on Friday when John R. Bolton, his former national security adviser who has broken with him and called him unfit for office, said he was on the trip in question and never heard Mr. Trump make those remarks. “I didn’t hear that,” Mr. Bolton said in an interview. “I’m not saying he didn’t say them later in the day or another time but I was there for that discussion.”

History tells us that the Democrats used the same tactic with Abraham Lincoln, who was also a Republican:

Let us fast-forward to 2007 to Donald Trump, real estate mogul and proprietor of the golf club at Mar-a-Lago. He welcomed veterans every Monday and said that their wives were in tears:

Veterans have been on to Obama’s vice president Biden for some time, as this video from March shows. Biden had no Secret Service detail earlier this year because he was not the official nominee at the time:

Fast forward to the present day. These three disabled veterans say that President Trump has done more for minorities and the military than any other US president. The retired Marine says that he was a staunch Democrat, but no longer because of what the Democrats have been doing over the past several years and because President Trump has cleaned up the Department of Veterans Affairs, enabling them to get the health care they need:

This US Army veteran says that Joe Biden doesn’t care about American troops and would cut military funding. He says that President Trump has always been there for all the armed forces:

This man is a retired paratrooper and tells of all the reforms President Trump has put into the Department of Veterans Affairs and the military, making both stronger than ever. He says that The Atlantic is ‘a disgrace to journalism’ and ‘fake news’:

This veteran says that Joe Biden and the Democrats want to ‘burn down’ America and turn it into ‘a socialist crap-hole’, but ‘we’re not going to let that happen’. He staunchly supports President Trump:

This veteran is also pro-Trump. Contrary to what the Democrats and their water-carrying buddies in the media said in 2016, Trump has started no wars and is trying to get troops out of Afghanistan:

This veteran also supports Trump for the same reason:

I hope these tweets help put to rest the lies that have been circulating about President Trump.

Hats off to OAN’s Jack Posobiec, a Navy veteran, for starting the #VetsBackTrump trend on Twitter.

Remember the events of March 2020?

It was only six months ago, yet, because of coronavirus, the world has changed dramatically for many of us in Western countries.

What was supposed to be a three-week lockdown has turned into a six-month socio-political experiment.

Science isn’t settled

On August 25, Dr Malcolm Kendrick posted yet another excellent analysis of the situation: ‘COVID — What have we learned?’

Excerpts follow, emphases mine.

During the past six months, the public have received contradictory messages:

We have learned that people who are asymptomatic can, cannot, can, cannot, can, cannot, can… spread the virus.

That the accuracy of PCR antigen testing is brilliant, useless, brilliant, useless, brilliant, useless.

That false positive tests are impossible, common, impossible, common, impossible, common.

That facemasks are useless, necessary, useless, necessary, useless… absolutely necessary.

We also know that some people are, are not, are, are not are, naturally immune. In addition, we know that having had COVID means that you can, cannot, can, cannot, can cannot – maybe you can, frankly who knows, get it again.

Let’s not forget that, in the UK, the government downgraded coronavirus as no longer being a ‘disease of high consequence’ on March 19.

On March 23, the UK went into lockdown.

Dr Kendrick says:

The only disease in history which has required lockdown, including the obliteration of many basic human rights, and the trashing of the entire economy. Yet it is not a disease of high consequence?

This happened virtually unremarked. Very quietly, you could almost say sneakily. What on earth went on here? My guess is this was done to stop healthcare workers suing the NHS if they contracted COVID at work – as almost no medical staff had adequate PPE. There may be other reasons, but I struggle to think what they may be.

Then came the hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) controversy. HCQ used with azithromycin and/or zinc, according to a strict protocol (Drs Zelenko, Raoult) can help many (not all) patients in the early stages of COVID-19.

Yet, the doctors who have documented their success with HCQ, a long-standing anti-malarial drug, have been vilified. Is it because HCQ is available by prescription and is cheap as chips, alleviating the need for a vaccine?

As a physician, Kendrick read many papers on HCQ:

… having read around the area, it seemed that hydroxychloroquine might do some good. It was certainly pretty safe, and we had nothing else at the time. Thus, I recommended that it might be used.

Then, the distorting engine was switched to full power. Driven by two main fuel types. Type one was money. Companies with anti-viral agents, such as remdesivir, did not want a ‘cheap as chips’ drug being used. No sirree, they wanted massively expensive (and almost entirely useless) anti-virals to be used instead.

This resulted in a study published in the Lancet, no less, slamming hydroxychloroquine through the floor. It turns out the study was almost entirely fabricated, by researchers strongly associated with various companies who, surprise, surprise, make anti-virals.

The other fuel type was the hybrid money/vaccine. If hydroxychloroquine (plus zinc and azithromycin) works, then there was great concern this would lower uptake of any vaccine that was developed. In addition, it would not be possible to impose emergency vaccine laws, which would make the manufacture of any vaccine far quicker and easier.

Such laws, in the US, are known as Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA). If enacted, these laws mean that a vaccine does not have to be tested for safety and efficacy before use. Just whack it out there, untested. Also, there is no possibility of suing a vaccine manufacturer if it turns out the vaccine caused serious problems.

In the US, UK, and several other countries, complete legal protection against vaccine damage is already enshrined in the law, so nothing changes here.

Bottom line — the quest for money is determining how this scenario is unfolding, and scientists cannot agree as to how. Vested interests are at play, so the science is not settled:

So, what have we learned? We have learned that medical science is not a pure thing – not in the slightest. We have also learned that the world of research has not come together to conquer COVID, it has split apart

It is said that the first casualty of war is the truth. Never has this been more certain that with COVID. In this case, first we killed the truth, then we killed science, then we beat inconvenient facts to death with a club. It is all extraordinarily depressing.

Lack of rational thinking

It has become clear that politicians and members of the public got caught up in a media-driven frenzy of fear.

Between March and June, I watched BBC News after each of the UK government’s coronavirus daily briefings.

In mid-March, prior to March 23, presenters and reporters pleaded for a lockdown, because every other country had one.

Two months later, BBC News was asking when lockdown would be lifted. They never mentioned that we were the last European nation to lock down. Therefore, it was logical that those nations had done so earlier would reopen earlier.

In between, the BBC drove us into a COVID-dominated news cycle, stoked with fear.

On August 24, John Church, an oil and gas professional, wrote a guest post on Hector Drummond’s website: ‘John Church: Burning Witches’. John Church doesn’t cite the media, but he does take the public to task for abandoning rational thinking:

It appears that human stupidity in the 21st century knows no bounds, and the mass stampede off the cliff that we have all made, with very few exceptions, is a testament to the validity of my concern. I don’t need to describe the absurdity of the world in August 2020, because one just has to open a newspaper to read about the catastrophic damage that has been done by our actions. Totally self-inflicted. All of this has been in response to a fear of death from a viral epidemic which did indeed kill some people, as is usual with viral epidemics. But not many, and the rest of us have survived with a survival rate somewhere between 99.9% and 99.99% depending on demographics, how deaths have been counted (or miscounted), and how effectively we managed to shield the truly vulnerable. But in summary pretty much every country has a survival rate well north of 99.9%.

What on earth were we thinking ? Or was it just a case of just not thinking ? At an individual level, of course there were good analyses and examples of critical thought, but the great learning from the last four months is how society can throw rational behaviour out of the window and, in a fit of hysterical panic, just run around like headless chickens.

I would put politicians in that basket, too. Ultimately, they enacted lockdown policies.

We need to begin thinking in an informed way about death on a national level:

There is the total lack of awareness about the ‘normal’ number of deaths in any year, month or week. Over 600,000 people die in the UK every year, and this is entirely normal! … In the UK, at a rate of about 1600 per day. We never hear this on the news. We never hear it said that thirty people died from Covid, but this was actually only around 2% of the daily death count. And a slight pause for thought would lead to other observations: such as that if 40,000 people in the UK have died from this virus, then it means 99.94% of us have survived. Or how if we take the gigantic step of looking at the age breakdowns which can be accessed with three clicks from the website of the Office of National Statistics, over 90% of the deaths are from people over 60. And almost all of these people also had serious other diseases. Most of us take far more risk getting into a car, and yet huge numbers of young and middle aged people were genuinely worried for their health. And still are. What were we thinking?

Mr Church wisely asks us to consider the difference between ‘lives’ and ‘livelihoods’:

Secondly, the way we almost point blank refused to allow any thought or discussion to be made about equivalences between ‘lives’ and ‘livelihoods’. Everyone wanted to save lives (“what if it was your granny?”), but no one seemed able to think about how much saving those lives would cost. It was like the sight of the oncoming tsunami of unemployment, impoverishment, additional deaths due to untreated cancers, and the general deleterious effects of a huge recession were going to happen to somebody else.

Thirdly, he rightly says that lockdown only suppresses the virus. It doesn’t kill it:

And thirdly, our total inability to see that the lockdown was not a solution, just a delay of the problem. Even Boris told us: we must lockdown to “flatten the curve”. But you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see beyond this brilliantly flawed strategy what the problem is. As soon as you release the lockdown, you just revive the problem you were trying to solve. Because it wasn’t a solution, just a delay.

Governments will be reluctant to admit they made a mistake:

… worse, once you have locked down it becomes difficult to admit it was a mistake because, through your own sacrifice, you are now emotionally invested in the enterprise. This is known as the sunk-cost fallacy. I look around the world in amazement and see how everyone was just totally blind to this obvious issue. It’s like a giant psychotic Ponzi scheme, with the hugely sad and final outcome that it will crash. Just look at Australia and New Zealand if you want to watch this tragedy unfold in slow motion. Every attempt to release themselves results in a resurgence of the problem, and, unlike European countries, the problem hasn’t even really started there, so they still have it all to come. It is genuinely tragic to watch these once proud and free nations implode. What on earth were they thinking?

What should the UK have done? We should have kept going with social distancing and maintaining life as normal:

by mid-April it was clear we had over-reacted and we should have changed track. We didn’t. We doubled down, moved the goal posts and four months later this is where we are. Future generations will look back and remark on the illogicalities, the inability to mentally execute simple trade-offs, and the staggering numerical illiteracy of the people of the world in the early 21st century. For all our technological and intellectual prowess, we are no better than those who used to burn witches because the harvest failed.

Unsubstantiated ideas we fell for

On August 23, Stacey Rudin wrote an excellent article for the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER): ‘Save Yourself: Stop Believing in Lockdown’.

The first myth she explores is that ‘lockdown saves lives’. The West took unprecedented action based on the what China (?!) was doing:

Blind faith in lockdown rapidly took hold in March 2020 like a fire in a haystack. The spark that ignited it was terror, lit by the media’s sensationalist reporting of the “disaster” in Northern Italy, shortly followed by the doomsday predictions from fancy-sounding (“Imperial College! London!”) modelers. Those same modelers offered a lifeline: — lockdown, the long awaited real-life opportunity to test a pet theory. Too bad we never stopped to question their credibility (“they sound so fancy!”) and motives (“we’ve been waiting for this moment!”) before taking any action — particularly drastic, life-altering action

A second, even bigger credibility issue is found when we consider the first lesson we ever learned about “lockdown.” That lesson came from China. None of us — or even our parents — had ever heard of a population-wide quarantine until the Chinese government planted the idea with a highly-publicized “lockdown” of its own

This normalized the concept, preparing our minds to accept it as a scientifically-supported measure to manage infectious diseases. Then, after bombarding us with images of its citizens’ sacrifices, China predictably declared, “It worked! We defeated the virus! Disease is gone!”

The lifeline. The island of escape. Thank you, China — because of you, we will not die.

Little did we know that decades of public health work unequivocally established the opposite: “There is no basis [in science] for recommending quarantine either of groups or individuals.” 

The second myth is that everyone must avoid getting COVID-19:

Some people, particularly the very elderly with serious comorbidities, should indeed try to avoid infection. But for the millions of people at low risk, COVID should be treated the same as the flu. They should circulate normally, serving humanity by exposing themselves to the virus without hysteria, as the Swedes did. This will minimize overall mortality by reducing the duration of the epidemic, freeing the high-risk elderly from confinement earlier, and avoiding all of the lockdown deaths and other traumas. It is a scientific fact that every epidemic ends at the threshold of “herd immunity” — not before.

The alternative we have chosen — an epidemic identical in size, but longer in duration, with people at statistically zero risk hiding inside their homes getting more stressed, fatter, and sicker — is utter madness. The most tragic part is Imperial explained this to us on March 16, and posted it online for everyone to see:

Once interventions are relaxed . . . infections begin to rise, resulting in a predicted peak epidemic later in the year. The more successful a strategy is at temporary suppression, the larger the later epidemic is predicted to be in the absence of vaccination, due to lesser build-up of herd immunity.”

While Imperial designed lockdown as an ICU-capacity management strategy, it apparently did not foresee the difficulty in persuading people terrified by lockdown to go right back out and live two weeks later. “All clear! We have thousands of ICU beds staffed and ready for you! Good luck!”

I will come back to the ICU-management strategy versus extended measures tomorrow. It was the subject of a debate in the House of Commons this week!

The third myth is that people aren’t safe without masks:

Established science says that masks and distancing don’t work, anyway — COVID-19 spontaneously shows up on naval ships 49 days into isolation, and similar viruses have appeared during the 17th week of perfect Antarctic quarantines. But at least you will feel like you’re doing something.

The fourth myth is feeling stupid for having fallen for lockdown:

There is no shame in falling for such a sophisticated propaganda scheme. Most people did. A few shining stars have since emerged to admit their mistake, quietly adopting the Swedish approach.

The fifth, and final, myth is that coronavirus is more dangerous than the flu:

Nope. As stated above, in terms of mortality impact, Sweden already proved that COVID-19 is indeed similar to the flu. The diseases are similar in other respects — both can have long-term health effects, both kill random outliers (the flu even kills young teachers), and both can cause hospitals to overflow, as influenza did as recently as two years ago. They have similar survival rates: ~997 out of 1,000 for COVID, ~999 out of 1,000 for flu. Over fifty percent of Americans don’t even get the flu shot, yet we have destroyed the planet to “stop” COVID-19.

Why did it happen? Because the media chose to depict this virus as Black Plague — and we believed it. Now that we know that the media can do this, we can understand why the U.K. Prime Minister — and others in his position — was afraid of its powers. He reportedly imposed lockdown because he was threatened as follows: “If he didn’t lock down, journalists will ask him on national television to accept responsibility and apologise to the families of those who have died as a result of Covid-19, because the rhetoric would have been that it was his fault for not locking down. In other words, the media had a three-step plan: (1) convince us that politicians have the power to stop death, (2) put the politicians in the position of needing to do what the media suggests will “save our lives,” (3) watch as we drive ourselves over a cliff.

The media cannot do this without our participation. We can stop them immediately by refusing to believe their superstitious, pseudo-scientific proposition that this is the only disease in history that needed a politician-imposed lockdown to abate. They cannot trick us into burning down our own houses once we simply stop believing that politicians have the power to stop death. Standing firmly on this foundation of scientific truth, we will finally be at peace, realizing that COVID-19, like every disease in history, will infect a certain number of people, kill a minute percentage of them, and then move along, lockdown or no lockdown. 

We really must stop believing otherwise. Our credulity is destroying us

As we enter September, not much is really opening back up. Sure, it might be doing so on paper, but, in the UK, many people are still working from home. That has a huge impact on local economies in cities. London is still a ghost town. Think of all the shops that rely on intensive daily trade: from sandwich places to shoe repair shops.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, had a restaurant programme that ran throughout August from Mondays to Wednesdays: Eat Out to Help Out. I’m sure it helped the restaurant trade to some extent, but if people need to travel in a mask on public transport, including taxis, then it will be some time before we can return to normality.

Furthermore, if department stores have to be one-way and COVID-compliant, no one is going to be shopping for the pleasure of it, especially if they have to wear masks. Online orders beckon.

In the beauty industry, some close-contact procedures on men and women were banned for months.

I had expected better by now, but, then, I was foolish enough to think that the lockdown was only going to last for three weeks.

How wrong I was.

How wrong our government is to persist with ever-changing rules on how businesses can and cannot operate.

If Boris and Rishi expect things to start humming along, they’re going to have to persuade Health Secretary Matt Hancock to let go of the strings and let us manage our own lives — sooner rather than later.

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