Archive | March 19th, 2020

Syrian Army stifles Saudi Zio-Wahhabi jihadist attack in southern Idlib

Syrian Army

Saudi Zio-Wahhabi jihadist rebels launched an attack on the Syrian Arab Army’s (SAA) positions in southern Idlib on Thursday, targeting the latter’s positions around the town of Hazarin.

According to a military source near this front, a group of jihadist rebels attempted to infiltrate the Syrian Army’s positions at Hazarin, prompting the troops protecting the area to engage the militants before they could breach their lines

The source said the Syrian Army managed to repel the jihadist attack after a short firefight in the Jabal Al-Zawiya region of southern Aleppo.

He would add that the militants suffered several casualties during the failed infiltration attempt on Thursday.

Thursday’s attack by the jihadist rebels marked the first time that they have engaged the Syrian Arab Army in a firefight since the ceasefire was announced.

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Nazi soldiers kill a teen, injure 112 unarmed Palestinians

Israeli soldiers kill a teen, injure 112 unarmed Palestinians

Mohammad Abdul-Karim Hamayel, 15, shot in the head by Nazi sniper while taking part in an unarmed demonstration on Palestinian land.

Zionist snipers fatally shot a 15-year-old in the head with an expanding bullet, shot a 17-year-old in the head with a steel bullet (he remains in critical condition), shot a TV journalist in the head, etc…

The Palestinian Health Ministry has reported that Nazi soldiers killed one teen, and injured at least 112 Palestinians, during the ongoing protest on the al-‘Arma Mountain, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus.

The Ministry said Mohammad Abdul-Karim Hamayel, 15, was shot with an expanding bullet in the head. He was rushed to a local hospital before succumbing to his serious wounds.

Tarif Ashour, the spokesperson of the Health Ministry, said at least thirteen Palestinians were rushed to Rafidia governmental hospital, including a seventeen year old, who was shot with two rubber-coated steel bullets in his head. He was rushed to surgery, and remains in critical condition.

Shortly afterward, the soldiers shot two Palestinians with rubber-coated steel bullets in their heads, causing hemorrhaging in the brain; one of them remains in life-threatening condition.

In addition, a journalist working for the Palestinian TV, identified as Bakr Abdul-Haq, was shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet in his head, and at least thirteen other residents were shot with similar rounds.

The total number of injuries stood at more than 112 Palestinians at the time of this report, among them, 90 were suffering the severe effects of teargas inhalation, and eighteen who were shot with steel bullets.

The soldiers also abducted at least three young men, after more than 40 additional military vehicles invaded the area.

Nazi Jewish settlers invading area

The protests are still ongoing as more soldiers and fanatic illegal colonists [aka settlers] continue to flock to the mountain and prevented many Palestinian ambulances from approaching it.

The head of the Beita Fuad Maali Village Council told Wafa reporters that scores of illegal Israeli colonists began storming the mountain last night and are still in the place, explaining that hundreds of Palestinian citizens remain stationed on the mountain to repel their invasion.

Ghassan Douglas, a Palestinian Authority official who monitors Nazi colonialist activities, said that there have been calls by colonists to storm the mountain, in an attempt to control an archaeological historical site above its summit, and install an illegal colony [aka settlement] after occupying the entire Palestinian Mountain. [Since Israeli settlements are illegal under international law, IMEMC and many others feel that the terms “colony” and “colonists” are more accurate terms for them.]

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Human RightsComments Off on Nazi soldiers kill a teen, injure 112 unarmed Palestinians

Both Trump and Pence should be tested for Coronavirus

Image result for Trump and Pence PHOTO

Subject: Both Trump and Pence should be tested for Coronavirus

Dear Editor,

Both Trump and Pence met and shook hands with both Brazilian President Bolsonaro and his aide who tested positive for Coronavirus. Hence Trump and Pence must self-quarantine and also get tested. However, they have refused. After three days of dragging his feet, the President finally got tested. Why wouldn’t the Vice President get tested too?

Trump made a fool of himself at first by describing Coronavirus as “fake news,” and it would all clear up in no time at all only to backtrack three days later by declaring a “national emergency.” Trump should set a good example for the country by not acting arrogant and ignorant.

The son of the Brazilian President tweeted that his father has been tested for the virus and is awaiting the result. Meanwhile, Trump said he was not concerned about being exposed to the Coronavirus after reports surfaced about Bolsonaro’s top aide tested positive.

Mahmoud El-Yousseph

Posted in USAComments Off on Both Trump and Pence should be tested for Coronavirus

U.S.A: Michael Flynn’s Pardon

Image result for Michael Flynn's PHOTO

Subject: Michael Flynn’s Pardon

Dear editor,

For the last few days, the White House has been leaking information about the President’s plan to pardon Michael Flynn. Wait, wait, don’t tell me! Was he not the same White House official about who Trump once tweeted: “I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI.” Flynn has pleaded guilty to those lies about his contacts with the Russian ambassador to the United States during the presidential transition period.”

The former US National Security Adviser Flynn and his son Michael Flynn, Jr. were allegedly involved in a plot to kidnap a Muslim cleric living in the US and deliver him to the Turkish government for a $15 million fee. During his time in office which last only 14 days, Flynn has the audacity to call the entire Islamic religion as a “vicious cancer” in the body of 1.7 billion people on this planet.

In the event the White House is gauging public reaction and/or seeking a public input about pardoning Michael Flynn, he strikes me like the 1985 Iran-Contra Scandal and Lt. Col. Oliver North all over again. Simply put, what Trump is implying, “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” My two cents on the subject: Treason should not be rewarded!

Mahmoud El-Yousseph

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US Navy reports first suspected coronavirus case on ship

US Navy 2nd Fleet Conducts NAVEUR Convoy Exercise in the Atlantic

The US Navy reported its first suspected case of the new coronavirus aboard a ship, saying a sailor had tested positive for the disease but the result needed to be confirmed by health authorities.

It came a week after another US Navy sailor stationed in southern Italy contracted COVID-19, which has killed more than 3,700 people worldwide including nearly 70 in the United States.

“A Sailor assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) tested ‘presumptive positive’ for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), marking the first case for a sailor aboard a Navy ship,” the Navy said in a statement on Sunday evening.

The sailor was in quarantine at home, it said, adding that “personnel that the individual immediately identified having close contact with have been notified and are in self-isolation at their residences.”

The Navy said that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would need to confirm the positive result.

The USS Boxer is currently in port at a naval base in San Diego, according to local media.

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US and China trade barbs over coronavirus

US and China trade barbs over coronavirus

US President Donald Trump doubled down Tuesday on calling the coronavirus spreading rapidly across the world the “Chinese Virus,” despite protests from Beijing.

“It did come from China, so I think it’s very accurate,” Trump told a news conference, defending tweets in which he used the label for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trump indicated that another motive was payback for what he said was China’s disinformation campaign blaming the US military for the virus.

“China was putting out information which was false,” he said.

“I didn’t appreciate the fact that China was saying that our military gave it to them. Our military did not give it to anybody.”

The two countries have sparred over the origin of the virus for days, with a Chinese official promoting conspiracy theories claiming it was brought to China by the US army and Beijing accusing American officials of stigmatizing an entire nation.

In his original tweet on Monday, Trump described US airlines and other industries being “particularly affected by the Chinese Virus.”

Earlier Tuesday, he tweeted that some US states were “being hit hard by the Chinese Virus.”

Trump’s allies had previously referred to the pandemic as the “Chinese coronavirus”, but Beijing said Tuesday it was “strongly indignant” over the phrase, which it called “a kind of stigmatization”.

The United States should “immediately stop its unjustified accusations against China,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters.

A commentary by the official Xinhua news agency said using “racist and xenophobic names to cast blame for the outbreak on other countries can only reveal politicians’ irresponsibility and incompetence which will intensify virus fears.”

The war of words reignited diplomatic tensions between the two countries, which have tussled over trade and other disputes since Trump took office.

Trump’s comments were also criticized inside the United States, with warnings it could incite a backlash against the Asian-American community.

“Our Asian-American communities — people YOU serve — are already suffering. They don’t need you fueling more bigotry,” tweeted New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose state is one of the hardest-hit by the virus in the country.

The World Health Organization said more cases and deaths had been reported in the rest of the world than in China.

The new coronavirus was first detected late last year, with China’s own health officials initially saying its source was a live animal market in the central city of Wuhan, whose government had initially tried to cover up the outbreak.

But China has sought to distance itself from the virus, saying the origin is still unknown, while seeking global goodwill by offering aid to countries facing serious outbreaks.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in a phone call he initiated with top Chinese official Yang Jiechi, voiced anger that Beijing has used official channels “to shift blame for COVID-19 to the United States”, the State Department said.

Pompeo “stressed that this is not the time to spread disinformation and outlandish rumors, but rather a time for all nations to come together to fight this common threat”, the department added.

The State Department on Friday summoned the Chinese ambassador, Cui Tiankai, to denounce Beijing’s promotion of a conspiracy theory that had gained wide attention on social media.

Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian suggested on Twitter last week that “patient zero” in the global pandemic may have come from the United States.

“It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation,” tweeted Zhao, who is known for his provocative statements on social media.

‘Stern warning’ to US
Pompeo himself has sought to link China to the global pandemic, repeatedly referring to the “Wuhan virus” despite advice from health professionals that such geographic labels can be stigmatizing.

Yang issued a “stern warning to the United States that any scheme to smear China will be doomed to fail”, Xinhua said in its summary of the call with Pompeo.

The key Chinese foreign policy leader “noted that some US politicians have frequently slandered China and its anti-epidemic efforts and stigmatized the country, which has enraged the Chinese people”, Xinhua said.

Yang called on the US side to “correct its wrongful behavior”.

Trump is under fire over his handling of the pandemic, and his backers have sought to cast the coronavirus as a disease brought by foreigners.

Republican Senator Tom Cotton, a Trump ally, has spoken of the “Chinese coronavirus” and in a recent statement vowed, “we will hold accountable those who inflicted it on the world”.

While COVID-19 has largely come under control in China, it has killed more than 7,000 people around the world and severely disrupted daily life in Western countries.

Posted in USA, ChinaComments Off on US and China trade barbs over coronavirus

Surge in COVID-themed cyberattacks

Surge in COVID-themed cyberattacks

by Agence France-Presse

It may look like an email from a supervisor with an attachment on the new “work from home policy.” But it could be a cleverly designed scheme to hack into your network.

The abrupt move of millions of people to working remotely has sparked an unprecedented volume of attacks to trick people into giving up credentials to attackers, according to security researchers.

“We’ve never seen anything like this,” said Sherrod DeGrippo, head of threat research for the security firm Proofpoint.

“We are seeing campaigns with message volumes up to hundreds of thousands which are leveraging this coronavirus.”

The pandemic has created a perfect storm for cyberattacks, with millions of people working in unfamiliar, less secure circumstances and eager for information about the virus and new organizational policies being implemented.

This opens up a new avenue for malicious actors using phishing emails or “social engineering” to gain access or steal sensitive information.

“When someone is working form their home it is a similar threat profile as at an airport or a Starbucks, you just don’t have that protection you might have in the workplace,” DeGrippo said.

“And if we’re at home with our family where we feel safe, you might see a family member hop on to do homework, and might not understand the security controls. Keeping mom’s and dad’s computer for mom and dad is the right thing to do.”

Preying on fear, sympathy
Tom Pendergast of the security and privacy training firm MediaPRO said many of the millions of people adjusting to the new landscape are unprepared for teleworking.

“It’s one thing if people have been working remotely with equipment that has been properly configured,” Pendergast said. “It’s different for people who haven’t had that experience.”

Attackers are taking advantage of people’s fears about COVID-19 with scare tactics to get people to click on malicious links or attachments, but also playing on sympathies with fake crowdfunding pages purported to be for people who have fallen ill, he added.

Pendergast said health care organizations are especially susceptible to schemes such as ransomware because “they are less likely to shut down their systems by refusing to pay.”

This was highlighted with a major hospital in the Czech Republic hit with ransomware following an email campaign with a coronavirus “awareness” message, according to media reports.

“The COVID-19 scare has proven lucrative for cybercriminals in recent weeks as healthcare institutions scramble to test patients, treat the infected and protect their own staff from the contagion,” said a blog post from Filip Truta of the security firm BitDefender.

“Healthcare infrastructures are highly susceptible to hacker attacks because of lax cybersecurity skills and safeguards.”

Stepped-up warnings
The potential for costly cyberattacks has prompted warnings for stepped up vigilance.

The French public-private cybersecurity alliance this week warned businesses to be alert for faked emails related to purported orders or bank transfers, or phone calls aimed at obtained financial account information.

The US Department of Homeland Security issued an alert this month warning that the COVID epidemic has increased threats and that “cyber actors may send emails with malicious attachments or links to fraudulent websites to trick victims into revealing sensitive information.”

Hawaii’s attorney general Clare Connors advised residents to watch for fraudulent emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or experts saying they have information about the virus.

“Scammers may still offer fake vaccines and other bogus medical products claiming to offer ‘cures’ for the virus,” a statement from Connors’ office said.

DeGrippo said virtually all the cyber schemes related to the pandemic are financially motivated and added that “personally I find it depraved… it is taking humanity at its most vulnerable and trying to use that for financial gain.”

She warned that the threats may evolve as attackers craft new scheme and techniques.

“I can see some attackers sending messages like, ‘I’m in quarantine and need you to buy something for me,’ or ‘I need you to make this transfer of funds,’” she said.

“I think we’ll see criminals leveraging the coronavirus to do more of that.”

Posted in USA, HealthComments Off on Surge in COVID-themed cyberattacks

US-led coalition troops begin leaving Iraq bases

Noose Tightening Around ISIL In Mosul, Carter Says

by Agence France-Presse

The US-led coalition will redeploy hundreds of troops from bases in Iraq including to outside the country, coalition and US officials said Tuesday, with one calling it a “historic” move.

The announcement came hours after another rocket attack targeted an Iraqi base where foreign troops are located, the 24th such attack in less than six months.

“The coalition is re-positioning troops from a few smaller bases,” said coalition spokesman Myles Caggins.

The first redeployment was taking place Tuesday from Qaim, the western base along the border with Syria, a coalition official told AFP.

“A transfer ceremony is taking place today to hand over the facilities to Iraqi forces, and the intent is that all coalition troops will be leaving Qaim,” the official said.

“It’s historic,” the official added, saying about 300 US-led coalition troops would be moved out of the base.

Some had already been redeployed to coalition positions in neighboring war-ravaged Syria along with artillery, while others would be sent to other bases in Iraq or to Kuwait.

The official denied that the redeployment was a response to a spike over the last week in rocket attacks targeting foreign troops stationed across Iraq.

Early Tuesday, two Katyusha rockets hit an Iraqi base south of the capital hosting Spanish units of the US-led coalition as well as NATO troops.

On March 11, a volley of rockets killed two US military personnel and a British soldier at the Taji airbase, which was hit again three days later.

The US responded with air strikes on five positions controlled by Kataeb Hezbollah, a Iran-backed group and member of the Hashed al-Shaabi military network.

The Hashed has been formally integrated into the Iraqi state’s security forces but more hardline groups continue to operate independently.

Some 5,200 US forces are positioned across Iraq and form the bulk of the coalition set up in 2014 to help local forces battle the Islamic State jihadist group.

They are deployed at about a dozen bases in Iraq alongside local forces.

A US official told AFP that coalition troops would leave three bases. In addition to Qaim, troops at the Qayyarah and Kirkuk bases in northern Iraq were set to be withdrawn by the end of April.

While Qaim has not been hit by rockets, both Qayyarah and Kirkuk have faced heavy rocket fire in recent months.

“There was no trigger but the violence helped keep the (withdrawal) pace fast,” the official added, saying overall troop numbers in Iraq would remain the same.

In January, Iraq’s parliament voted to oust all foreign forces from the country after a US drone strike in Baghdad killed top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani and the Hashed’s deputy chief, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

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Palestinian Zionist traitors just recommended Nazi Gantz to be prime minister

Arab-Israeli parties just recommended Benny Gantz to be prime minister. Here’s why that’s historic.


Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint List, left, with other party members at the party headquarters in the Arab-Israeli city of Shfaram, March 2, 2020. (David Cohen/Flash90)

(JTA) — Amid all the justifiable focus on the coronavirus and its consequences, there was major political news in Israel this week: Benny Gantz, the Blue and White party leader, was tapped by the president to assemble a government coalition — bringing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu closer to his ouster than he’s been in 11 years.

Buried in the development is a history-making nugget: The Joint List of Arab-dominated parties was among those that recommended Gantz to President Reuven Rivlin as the man they wanted to form a coalition. Its 15 votes provided the necessary majority of 61.

It makes obvious sense: The Arab parties want to oust Netanyahu, whose ministers have reviled their lawmakers as traitors. But the referral heralded a breakthrough of integration that has vexed Jews and Arabs since before the state was established more than seven decades ago. 

Here’s what drove the Joint List to recommend Gantz for the prime ministership and what it could mean for Israel.ADVERTISING

Why is this historic?

Gantz may not form a government in the next three or so weeks, and if he does, it may be a national unity sharing arrangement with Netanyahu necessitated by the coronavirus that would exclude the Joint List. 

In any case, the Joint List would only support the government from outside a coalition — meaning that sometimes it would vote with Gantz and others in the bloc but not officially join the group in name.

There’s no guarantee that will happen. Last week, a key party outside Gantz’s bloc that had pledged support and two others already in his camp threatened to leave the coalition group over Gantz’s negotiations with the Joint List.

But before all that theoretical stuff happens, just the Joint List’s referral, and Gantz’s embrace of it, means an Arab-Israeli voice at the national table has taken a leap from unimaginable to inevitable.

“It represents a historic change for the Arab public,” Maisam Jaljuli, a senior official in Hadash, one of the four parties that makes up the Joint List, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in an interview. “It signifies a desire for integration.”

So this has never happened?

It’s actually not the first time that Arab-dominated parties have supported an Israeli government. However, it doesn’t take anything away from this political moment because Israeli politics have undergone tectonic shifts over the past few decades. 

Hadash and another Arab-dominated party, the Arab Democratic Party, backed the government led by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and then, after his assassination, Shimon Peres, from 1992 to 1996.

Their five members were critical ino keeping Rabin from being ousted after he launched the Oslo Accords. The peace deal with the Palestinians spurred the haredi Orthodox Shas party to leave the government in 1993, reducing Rabin’s Knesset majority to the bare minimum of 61.

The two Arab parties reaped benefits for their support. Those four years included rollbacks of discriminatory laws and major investment in infrastructure in the Arab sector. 

But Netanyahu’s election in 1996, his policy of marginalizing Arab-dominated parties and the second intifada of Arab violence launched in 2000 made those four years of influence for Arab legislators an anomalous blip.

How the Arab and Jewish parties grew apart

At the outset of the second intifada, Israeli police killed 13 Arab-Israeli protesters. Palestinian terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians skyrocketed, and some Arab-Israeli political figures voiced support for the violence. Jewish and Arab communities grew increasingly radicalized and there was a breakdown in trust. The integration of Arabs and Jews, an issue that had preoccupied early Zionists, seemed further away than ever.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the 37th World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem, Oct. 20, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

That began to change during the 2015 elections, when there was talk of the Joint List supporting a Labor Party-led government. But Netanyahu, who on the morning of Election Day warned his supporters of Arabs in buses voting “in droves,” pulled out a surprise victory.

Talk of Arab-led party backing for a center-right government also resurfaced before and after the deadlocked elections of April and September.

The latest election, on March 2, was the third in less than a year and the first that offered any candidate a viable way of reaching a parliamentary majority of 61 Knesset seats. A centrist like Gantz cannot ignore 15 Knesset members in seeking to form a government, if he is truly serious about dethroning Netanyahu. 

So the notion of an alliance, however tenuous, between Zionist and Arab-led parties is no longer an anomaly but a matter of fact for the center and the left.

“We won’t be relegated to the rear, where no one takes us into account,” Jaljuli said.

How we got to now: Netanyahu, and also Trump

The Joint List’s move was not so much about its love for Gantz — the former head of Israel’s army — as it was about its desire to remove a long-hated rival from power.

Since 2015, Netanyahu and his Likud party have moved rightward both in policies and rhetoric. Netanyahu’s targeting that year of “Arab voters,” as opposed to “Arab parties,” worked to erode a longstanding principle among Zionist politicians that Arab Israelis are equal to Jewish ones.

Massive Likud billboard ads this campaign cycle featured a photo of Gantz sitting alongside Ahmad Tibi, a leader of the Taal Party — one of the four on the Joint List — who is reviled on the right wing for once having been an adviser to PLO leader Yasser Arafat. 

Arab voters saw that as delegitimizing their elected leadership. The message, in their view, was that even sitting alongside an Arab made a Jew suspect.

“The billboards delegitimize Arab leaders to prevent Gantz from forming a government with the backing of the minority parties,” said Shibley Telhami, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who has focused on intercommunal relations in Israel.

Netanyahu over the past three years has pushed through a nation-state law, which he said consolidated Israel’s character as a Jewish state. Arabs, however, saw the measure as codifying discrimination, and another law that penalized illegal building as effectively targeting Arabs more than Jews.

Furthermore, President Donald Trump’s release of his long-awaited peace plan in January may have backfired. The plan, with its support of Israeli control over some of the West Bank, was seen as a bid to help Netanyahu consolidate his right-wing support.

But another provision suggested pushing areas of Israel populated mainly by Arab citizens into a future Palestinian state. That sparked cries of protest from the Arab-Israeli community, in turn prompting Israeli and U.S. figures to backpedal. 

The result was high turnout among Arab-Israeli voters, which only increased with each election over the past year.

It was also about integration

Ayman Odeh, the Hadash leader, forged the four disparate parties into the Joint List in 2015 primarily to make sure Arab parties had representation in the Knesset after a new law increased the threshold for parties to make the cut. He succeeded beyond expectations, electing 13 Knesset members, the third-largest representation in the parliament.

He used his newfound fame to advance a message of integration, one that advanced Arab equality within the reality of a Jewish state. Odeh does not embrace Zionism, but he is careful not to reject it either. 

“Cooperation between people, Arab and Jewish, is the only principled political strategy that will lead to a better future for us all,” he wrote last year in The New York Times.

Odeh’s outlook reflects the reality of an Arab minority that has developed a robust middle class packed with physicians, businesspeople and professionals. These people in their work spheres have become Hebrew speakers and formed friendships with Jewish Israelis. 

Telhami said that the anti-Jewish Arab propaganda outside of Israel and the Palestinian areas no longer resonates for Arab Israelis, if it ever did.

“A young generation wants to be more involved in politics,” he said. “They feel Arab, and they have an Arab identity and a Palestinian identity. But they are also Israeli in many ways, a vast majority are born after 1948, it’s the state they have grown up with, the media, the school system, the language, Hebrew, the workplace where they have close friends and colleagues.

“The Jew is not the ‘other,’ it is part of who they are.”

Posted in ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Palestinian Zionist traitors just recommended Nazi Gantz to be prime minister

In search of the truth about this new coronavirus, Covid-19

Like most people, when it comes to coronavirus Covid-19, I’m no expert on the relevant scientific fields of microbiology, infectious diseases or epidemiology. Complete absence of knowledge in such a highly technical issue can seem like a good reason not to enter into the debate at all and why, until now, I have chosen to avoid writing on this subject. The change of heart happens because, like you too, I have a serious, since vested interest, not only in trying to determine the truth, but also in sharing the fruits of my own investigations.

Before I come to the science or discuss the UK government’s response, I wish to make clear that although I believe the government has acted recklessly by playing down the seriousness of SARS-CoV-2 (the technical name for the disease itself), parts of the media have been reckless in a different way: rushing around like a clucking flock of Chicken-lickens (dare I add) with their heads cut off, all clamouring in that ostentatious 24/7 rolling news coverage way of theirs to reinforce the opinion that “the sky is falling in”. Some of this febrile media panic has become so bad that other more reserved news reports have actually confirmed that a mass hysteria is being irresponsibly (if fortunately to great extent ineffectively) whipped up:

University of California, Irvine associate professor E. Alison Holman, who has published research on media exposure to mass-trauma events, said the toilet paper scare appeared to have originated with articles about stocking up before the virus’ spread.

“A week ago, there were a handful of articles in major newspapers saying, here’s what you should do to prepare for the coronavirus. And one of the top things that was listed on at least two or three websites — major media outlets — was: Buy toilet paper,” Ms. Holman said. “I think some of the freak-out about getting toilet paper has to do with that.”

She described the media-fueled worry as “a little overblown,” while others have gone so far as to accuse the press of sensationalizing the virus to juice ratings. 1

Liberally mixed into this whole confusion is the swirling uncertainty of an aggregate of internet information, misinformation and disinformation (or ‘fake news’ if you must – as if propaganda is only the product of our internet age). It ought to go without saying really that you shouldn’t automatically trust anything you read, with the original source of the story key to understanding any subsequent interpretation of it – a caveat that in no way excludes the articles on my own blog, but also applies to mainstream broadcasters and newspapers.

I try to take great care with the inclusion of references wherever relevant, always doing my best to navigate a course to avoid any deliberate lies and well-intentioned misunderstandings and errors. Sometimes this puts me at odds with the stance taken by other researchers, journalists and bloggers whose views I ordinarily subscribe to. Right now, there are many who justifiably are alerting their own audiences to the danger that measures rolled out to contain this disease ranging from increased surveillance and the introduction of cashless exchange 2 to lockdowns, curfews, and arrest and detainment, which may be difficult or impossible to rollback. In the notorious words of Rahm Emanuel: “Never let a crisis go to waste”. Not wishing to downplay this very real alternative danger, I therefore encourage readers to follow the work of investigative reporter Whitney Webb who explains in her latest article:

The decision to classify government coronavirus preparations in mid-January, followed by the decision to coordinate the domestic response with the military and with intelligence deserves considerable scrutiny, particularly given that at least one federal agency, Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), will be given broad, sweeping powers and will work closely with unspecified intelligence “partners” as part of its response to a pandemics like COVID-19.

The CBP’s pandemic response document, obtained by The Nation, reveals that the CBP’s pandemic directive “allows the agency to actively surveil and detain individuals suspected of carrying the illness indefinitely.” The Nation further notes that the plan was drafted during the George W. Bush administration, but is the agency’s most recent pandemic response plan and remains in effect.

Though only CBP’s pandemic response plan has now been made public, those of other agencies are likely to be similar, particularly on their emphasis on surveillance, given past precedent following the September 11 attacks and other times of national panic. Notably, several recent media reports have likened coronavirus to 9/11 and broached the possibility of a “9/11-like” response to coronavirus, suggestions that should concern critics of the post-9/11 “Patriot Act” and other controversial laws, executive orders and policies that followed. 3

Click here to read the full article entitled “US Intel Agencies Played Unsettling Role in Classified and ‘9/11-like’ Coronavirus Response Plan” published by Mint Press News.

I would also point you to the research of John Whitehead who writes of the current crisis:

Don’t go underestimating the government’s ability to lock the nation down if the coronavirus turns into a pandemic, however. After all, the government has been planning and preparing for such a crisis for years now.

The building blocks are already in place for such an eventuality: the surveillance networks, fusion centers and government contractors that already share information in real time; the government’s massive biometric databases that can identify individuals based on genetic and biological markers; the militarized police, working in conjunction with federal agencies, ready and able to coordinate with the federal government when it’s time to round up the targeted individuals; the courts that will sanction the government’s methods, no matter how unlawful, as long as it’s done in the name of national security; and the detention facilities, whether private prisons or FEMA internment camps, that have been built and are waiting to be filled.

Now all of this may sound far-fetched to you now, but we’ve already arrived at the dystopian futures prophesised by George Orwell’s 1984, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, and Philip K. Dick’s Minority Report4

Click here to read the full article entitled “Coronavirus vs. Mass Surveillance State: Which Poses the Greater Threat?” published in Counterpunch.

It is wise to be cautious. The remedy can often be worse than the disease; however, this is no excuse whatsoever to downplay the threat once we understand that the threat is real.


Science, what science?

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO director general, said Europe – where the virus is present in all 27 EU states and has infected 25,000 people – had become the centre of the epidemic, with more reported cases and deaths than the rest of the world combined apart from China. […]

Tedros stressed that countries should take a comprehensive approach. “Not testing alone,” he said. “Not contact tracing alone. Not quarantine alone. Not social distancing alone. Do it all. Find, isolate, test and treat every case, to break the chains of transmission… do not just let this fire burn.” 5

[bold highlight added]

Click here to read the full Guardian report published on Friday entitled “‘Do not let this fire burn’: WHO warns Europe over Covid-19”.

Having completed what Boris Johnson and the UK government have comically, bordering on the self-satirical, described as the “containment” phase – a period in which countless people who arrived in Britain from infected areas were permitted entry without quarantine and never tested or traced – we have now reached the “delay” phase, which will, they say, “flatten the curve” to slow up the rate of hospital admissions, whilst permitting the development of herd immunity.

On paper, such a lassez-faire approach might have merits. In the long run, it will certainly mean the population becomes resistant to this particular strain of virus, lessening concerns of another outbreak once the current one has passed. Meanwhile, any slowing down of transmission of the virus will save lives. In fact, this approach would be commendable for an outbreak of flu, but unfortunately what we are dealing with isn’t flu. It isn’t even the same virus; this is a SARS-like virus and comparisons to flu are misleading for many reasons (pictures sometimes tell a better story than words):

Naomi O’Leary@NaomiOhReally

A powerful video.
At the heart of Italy’s Coronavirus outbreak, Giovanni Locatelli compares the obituaries page of local daily newspaper @webEcodiBergamo on February 9 and March 13.5,3854:42 PM – Mar 14, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy4,783 people are talking about this

Now for some figures: as of March 9th, South Korea had tested 190,000 people, with 7,478 confirmed cases and 51 deaths. 6 That equates to a 0.7% mortality rate, which matches what has also been reported outside of Wuhan in China. This is the best estimate of the mortality rate we currently have – for comparison, the rate is around 0.1% for seasonal flu. That represents a hugely significant difference. Of course, the death rates and hospitalisation rates can only be based on confirmed cases, which means that the recorded figures can be high because there is insufficient testing of non-serious cases. The positive here is quite obvious, but there is also a negative to consider: that the spread of this disease is already far more widespread than any current data indicates.

On top of this, Covid-19 is highly transmissible. Best estimates indicate that is may be 3-4 times more infectious. As the spread is exponential and this is the base multiplier, the rise in the number of cases can be expected to far exceed a typical rise in cases of flu, putting an enormous extra strain on any health service. It accounts for why China has locked down a city, constructed new hospitals and flown in some 50,000 extra medics. It also explains how the situation in Italy has become so desperate.

Indeed, if transmission in the UK or elsewhere is not sufficiently slowed, then we can expect to see scenes like those in Italy where the health system has been overwhelmed with so many serious cases requiring intensive care. So what measures have we taken that Italy did not? Or Spain (which is also beginning to see a dramatic spike in cases)?

Posted in Health, UKComments Off on In search of the truth about this new coronavirus, Covid-19

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