Piers Corbyn Arrested – Again
Piers Corbyn solicitor has written to let us know that he was arrested again yesterday at an anti-lockdown rally in Sheffield.
Just to let you know that Piers Corbyn has been arrested and roughy handled by police in Sheffield today and was detained overnight while the police “gather evidence” that he is an organiser even though he was just a speaker.
We are starting to live in a Police State if this is how they treat a 73 year-old man for daring to speak at a peaceful political rally, in alleged breach of a Regulation that has never been debated in Parliament, for a non-imprisonable offence. To justify the arrest they claim it was done to out of necessity “for his own protection!” – a ludicrous assertion. It appears quite arbitrary, disproportionate and unnecessary, and conveniently prevents him speaking at the 12 noon rally today in Glasgow.
In my view it’s a shocking abuse of state power and should be utterly repellent to anybody who values the civil liberties that people in this country are meant to be proud of.
There was also an arrest of Kate Shemerani by police yesterday outside Downing Street, again for organising a political rally. Fortunately, she was released after her details were taken, but she also faces a £10,000 fine.
Will any single Member of Parliament from ANY Political Party be prepared to question what is being done on the streets of Britain when the Coronavirus Act is up for renewal on September 26th, to be debated for the very first time.
If not, what is our democracy worth?
A protestor who took part in the rally outside Downing Street yesterday confirms that the police made arrests.
Territorial Support Officers kettled our rally in Whitehall today and were quite brutal. Extinction Rebellion crew allowed free rein with no visible hassle. Not us. Kate Shemirani was collared and arrested for speaking on a megaphone.
You may think people like Piers Corbyn and Kate Shemerani are cranks, but why is their right to protest being curtailed while the police give BLM and XR protestors a free pass?
Stop Press: According to today’s Sunday Times, MPs are furious about XR’s blockade of printing plants on Friday night and are determined to stop similar protests in future. Boris has branded the blockades “completely unacceptable”.
Even the BBC Admits PCR Test is Flawed
Hallelujah! BBC News has finally got around to running a piece casting doubt on the reliability of the PCR test because… wait for it… it’s over-sensitive! Oh, and it can also produce false positives, apparently.
The main test used to diagnose coronavirus is so sensitive it could be picking up fragments of dead virus from old infections, scientists say.
Most people are infectious only for about a week, but could test positive weeks afterwards.
Researchers say this could be leading to an over-estimate of the current scale of the pandemic.
But some experts say it is uncertain how a reliable test can be produced that doesn’t risk missing cases.
So who are these “scientists” and “researchers”? Step forward Professor Carl Heneghan and his team at the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine.
Worth reading in full.
Meanwhile, a new paper published by SAGE has admitted that a sample consisting entirely of water could produce a positive test result if the detection threshold level is set low enough. Here’s the killer paragraph:
When these swab samples are tested, the amount of signal they produce in a test is proportional to the amount of virus in the swab sample. Strong positive samples will give a strong signal, weak samples will give a weak signal. Different types of test use different types of signal – the signal may be the detection of a PCR product, or luminescence, or colour change. True negative samples (e.g. water, buffer or a sample taken from an uninfected person) can also give a very low signal. When a test is implemented, a decision must be made about where to set the threshold level that a signal must cross in order to be called a positive test result.
Perhaps this explains why a papaya tested positive in Tanzania.
Guardian Sides With the Oppressor
The Guardian has published a report on yesterday’s National Freedom Day protest in Melbourne that’s heavily slanted in favour of the authorities. “Protesters seen chanting ‘freedom’ and hurling abuse at police and media while not wearing masks,” reads the sub-head. It continues:
At least 15 people have been arrested at Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance and Albert Park after at least 200 protesters defied the city’s stage-four lockdowns to hold an anti-lockdown rally on Saturday.
Police in New South Wales also arrested three people at an unauthorised protest in Sydney’s Hyde Park while another protest was held at Sydney’s Olympic Park. Smaller protests were also held in Townsville, Brisbane and Byron Bay.
Organised by a broad coalition of online groups linked by a mish-mash of conspiracy theories, Saturday’s Melbourne protest was planned in defiance of lockdown restrictions, mandates on mask-wearing in Victoria, 5G, vaccinations and “child trafficking and pedophilia”.
We were left wondering how today’s ultra-woke Guardian would have reported protests against illiberal regimes in the past:
Police in Beijing arrested a group of anti-social troublemakers earlier today at an unauthorised protest in Tiananmen Square…
Authorities in East Germany last night did their best to stop a group of so-called freedom fighters dismantling an historic wall in Berlin…
You can see some photographs of the Melbourne protest here.
A Sceptical Scientist Writes
We got an email from a sceptical scientist who felt a twinge of guilt on reading the item in yesterday’s update about the difficulty Sunetra Gupta and her team are having getting published in respectable journals. It’s quite long, but worth reading in full as it throws a good deal of light on why scientists who haven’t drunk the Covid Kool-Aid are having difficulty getting their voices heard.
Thanks for the ongoing sanity that is Lockdown Sceptics. I read the piece yesterday about how the scientific community is slowly starting to wake up to the fact that we have been significantly underestimating the level of immunity in the population (something that LS has been saying for months). I was really struck by these lines:
“Unfortunately, not all scientists are so timid with their views. Could it be the silence of too many sceptical scientists that has allowed more confident scientists like Neil Ferguson to become so influential?”
As sceptical scientist myself, this point hit home, but the reasons for the silence of the sceptical scientific voice are not just to do with lack of confidence.
Firstly, it is important for a scientific argument to have data. Without data you’re just expressing an opinion which, of course, can still carry weight depending on who is expressing it. However, there are real issues both with the data we have around COVID-19 and its reporting.
It is a well-known problem in science that the “negative results” are rarely published and so the literature is heavily weighted towards positive findings. This can lead to a false perception of what is happening. So for sceptical scientists wanting to make arguments, the data may simply not be there as it was a “negative result”.
Scientists also tend to want to publish interesting findings. As a result, the COVID-19 literature tends to be biased towards the serious or rare cases as these are by definition “interesting”.
Here’s an example of the title and the first few lines of a case report in the New England Journal of Medicine from April, which illustrates this point:
Coagulopathy and Antiphospholipid Antibodies in Patients with COVID-19
“We describe a patient with Covid-19 and clinically significant coagulopathy, antiphospholipid antibodies, and multiple infarcts. He was one of three patients with these findings in an intensive care unit designated for patients with COVID-19….”
There is nothing wrong with this paper, it is a typical case report. However notice that the title gives no qualification of the fact that the patients are in the intensive care unit and as such are not representative of the vast number of patients with COVID-19. If you just read the title you could erroneously infer that ALL patients with COVID-19 have issues with their blood coagulating and their immune system going haywire. That’s the problem, a report of a rare finding, designed to alert clinicians in the ICU of potential complications, can feed confirmation bias in a lot of the media (and the public) that COVID-19 is the new plague that will kill you as soon as look at you.
Unfortunately you cannot publish the balancing paper:
Mild cough in Patients with COVID-19
“We describe a patient with Covid-19 and a mild dry cough that resolved itself in a few weeks…”
It is uninteresting. Although ironically it would be interesting (and probably publishable) if COVID-19 was actually causing all patients to have major complications!
Finally as you reported today in your article about Prof. Gupta, there is also further worrying bias in the COVID-19 literature with editors scared to publish “dangerous” ideas that could “impact our response to COVID-19”. Limiting publication of such finding in “lesser journals” (essential ones that aren’t so widely read), is an effective way of burying the findings as they may appear less “valuable” than a publication in Nature.
This literature bias makes addressing the major issue facing the sceptical scientist even more daunting. This issue is that they need to overturn established orthodoxy around COVID-19 and our responses to it.
The advantage that modellers had at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic is that they did not much real world data because they could run their models built on assumptions. So it’s not surprising that the modellers got in first. It is only now that we have the actual data can we look at what the modelling predictions and point out how inaccurate these were and start to see where the assumptions were wrong.
The problem is that the models and modellers created and established “facts” and you require a lot more data to overcome an established “fact” than was needed to create that “fact” in the first place.
This was compounded by the fact that we then implemented solutions with assumed efficacy (e.g. wearing face coverings, lockdowns) and the use of these solutions have now become more articles of faith rather than scientific hypotheses. So to overcome such solutions will require large amounts of evidence to achieve a shift amongst the scientific community, many of whom have been active advocates of these very solutions. Imagine what data you would actually need to persuade Nicola Sturgeon that mask wearing has no benefit or Matt Hancock that lockdown is not the answer? I’d wager it would be almost impossible and will be all the more impossible if don’t allow the publication of “dangerous data” in the first place.
Finally I think it import to also understand that science is a professional industry and that most scientists work for businesses and institutions. Most of these businesses and institutions will have implemented COVID-19 based policies, supported by senior leadership who, even if they don’t believe in the policies, will need to be seen to be “doing the right thing”. Scientists working in these organisations will also have contractual obligations that will limit their ability to publish without permission or produce communication that could be deemed to be detrimental to their place of work. Imagine if you worked for one of the companies working on developing a vaccine and wanted to publish something saying that “vaccines are a waste of time and money because everyone will be basically immune through infection before they get to the clinic”? This effectively means that the vast majority of scientists are in environments that require a level of collective “self-censorship” and so, with a few exception, most of us have to bite our tongues or run the genuine risk of “blow back” on careers. We are not in the position of having a comfortable academic chair from which to cast our pearls of wisdom.
Despite this, science is built on data and so ultimately I have to believe that we can get to a point where we stop treating COVID-19 as a special case and recognize it as just another disease to go alongside all the other risks we face in being alive. I am greatly encourage by the fact that we’re seeing journals like the BMJ publish “sceptical” opinion pieces as it shows that this shift may be starting to occur although today’s article about Prof. Gupta shows that we may have a lot further to go.
The Politicisation of the Civil Service
Charles Moore had a great column in the Telegraph yesterday bemoaning the politicisation of the Civil Service.
The Civil Service Code says the “core values” of the Civil Service are “integrity, honesty, objectivity and impartiality”. It explains the word “impartiality”: you must not “allow your personal political views to determine any advice you give or your actions”. You must not “act in a way that unjustifiably favours or discriminates against particular individuals or interests”.
The Code also justifies whistle-blowing: if you “believe that you are being required to act in a way that conflicts with this code, your department or agency must consider your concern, and make sure that you are not penalised for raising it”.
But what happens if your department’s leaders are themselves breaching the Code and actively encouraging their staff to do the same? Who will then be brave enough to trust the Code’s claim that you will not be penalised for blowing the whistle?
Several of those brave enough to challenge this dogma are members of the Free Speech Union and we’re doing our best to protect them as their employers try and punish them in various ways.
On Friday, Donald Trump ordered state agencies to stop racial sensitivity training, labelling it “divisive, anti-American propaganda”. Russell Vought, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, wrote a two-page letter to the heads of federal executive departments and agencies ordering them to “cease and desist from using taxpayer dollars to fund these divisive, un-American propaganda training sessions”.
It has come to the President’s attention that Executive Branch agencies have spent millions of taxpayer dollars to date “training” government workers to believe divisive, anti-American propaganda.
For example, according to press reports, employees across the Executive Branch have been required to attend trainings where they are told that “virtually all White people contribute to racism” or where they are required to say that they “benefit from racism”. According to press reports, in some cases these trainings have further claimed that there is racism embedded in the belief that America is the land of opportunity or the belief that the most qualified person should receive a job.
These types of “trainings” not only run counter to the fundamental beliefs for which our Nation has stood since its inception, but they also engender division and resentment within the Federal workforce. We can be proud that as an employer, the Federal government has employees of all races, ethnicities, and religions. We can be proud that Americans from all over the country seek to join our workforce and dedicate themselves to public service. We can be proud of our continued efforts to welcome all individuals who seek to serve their fellow Americans as Federal employees. However, we cannot accept our employees receiving training that seeks to undercut our core values as Americans and drive division within our workforce.
Marvellous stuff. When is Boris Johnson going to follow suit?
UN Warns First Famines Due to Lockdown On Their Way
According to a report in the New York Times, the UN has warned of looming famines in Yemen, South Sudan, northeast Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo as a result of the pandemic.
In a letter to members of the U.N.’s Security Council, the official, Mark Lowcock, the under secretary general for humanitarian affairs, said the risk of famines in these areas had been intensified by “natural disasters, economic shocks and public-health crises, all compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic.” Together, he said, “these factors are endangering the lives of millions of women, men and children.”
The letter, which has not been made public, was conveyed by Mr. Lowcock’s office to the Security Council on Friday under its 2018 resolution requiring updates when there is a “risk of conflict-induced famine and widespread food insecurity.” A copy of the letter was seen by The New York Times.
United Nations officials have said before that all four areas are vulnerable to food deprivation because of chronic armed conflicts, and the inability of humanitarian relief providers to freely distribute aid. But the added complications created by the pandemic have now pushed them closer to famine conditions.
Worth reading in full.
Postcard From Kiev
A reader has sent us a postcard from Kiev. Sounds lovely, although Ukraine has banned foreign visitors until September 28th.
Arriving in Kiev after an eight month absence and having read online the daily usual dire threats and hand wringing from Government officials on how people must change their behaviour to stop the “deadly” spread of COVID it was pleasant to see how everyone just ignores this bleating and gets on with life as usual. The weather was beautifully warm and sunny while I was there and the outdoor cafes and restaurants were full. There was barely a mask to be seen and even the staff in shops, restaurants and hotels who are legally obliged to wear them treated this requirement as optional. In the airport most people did their “duty” and wore masks although usually at chin level. Everyone I spoke to was cheerfully dismissive of the virus. As one said to me: “This country has enough problems without artificially creating another one”. I went to a couple of very pleasant non-socially distanced house parties and wandered happily around the city.
- ‘The Truth, and the Anti-Black Violence of My Lies‘ – Jessica Krug, a Professor of African-American history at George Washington University, confesses to not actually being black. But if race is a “social construct”…
- ‘Ian Brown receives backlash online for apparent anti-vaxxer views‘ – Ian Brown of The Stone Roses comes out as a lockdown sceptic and is immediately branded an “anti-vaxxer” by the NME
- ‘Quarantine policy “in tatters” as UK divides over Portugal and Greece‘ – Scotland and Wales have red-listed Portugal and Greece, but England hasn’t
- ‘“After five days the coronavirus infectious period is over,” says top German virologist‘ – Another nail in the coffin of the Government’s 14-day quarantine nonsense
- ‘Patients will be told to call 111 instead of going to A&E in NHS shake-up‘ – “If you’re having a heart attack, press four…”
- ‘Mad, bad and vague ideas are hidden behind impactful language‘ – Madeline Grant takes a closer look at the Sussex’s Netflix plans
- ‘Wear a mask while having sex, Canada’s top doctor suggests‘ – Can it be a Hannibal Lecter mask, please?
- ‘Rights groups challenge mandatory face mask rules in France‘ – French local authorities are being forced to revise orders making mouth and nose coverings compulsory as courts side with civil liberties groups
- ‘You had one job‘ – Christopher Snowdon has written an IEA briefing paper on the shortcomings of the WHO and PHE
- ‘When could social distancing end – and what are the UK rules?‘ – Boris has said social distancing rules may be scrapped before the end of the year
- ‘School closes due to single case of coronavirus‘ – The JCB Academy in Staffordshire told pupils to stay at home on Friday after a single case of coronavirus
- ‘Low-dose Hydroxychloroquine Therapy and Mortality in Hospitalized Patients with COVID-19: A Nationwide Observational Study of 8075 Participants‘ – Another study shows HCQ works
- ‘52% of young adults in the US are living with their parents. That’s the highest share since the Great Depression‘ – Disturbing report from CNN
- ‘No one should make us go back to the office. But what would we lose?‘ – Good piece by Matthew Lynn in the Telegraph about the benefits of going to the office
- ‘Stop unnecessary cancer deaths caused by the COVID disruptions and save thousands of lives‘ – Petition urging the NHS to restore proper cancer care
- ‘Virus shifts to young as lockdown fears ease‘ – The Times reveals that even the Government’s public health advisers are waking up to the fact that the new cases are mainly among young people who aren’t at risk of dying from the virus
- ‘Lockdown-free Sweden’s coronavirus case rate is now lower than Nordic neighbours Denmark and Norway‘ – The Daily Mail is warming to the Swedish model
Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers
Five today: “Wilfull Negligence” by Salon d’O, “A Catalogue of Errors” by Ace Bushy Striptease, “Long Way From Freedom” by the Trews, “Wake Me Up When It’s Over” by The Silent Majority and “What The World Is Waiting For” by The Stone Roses.
Love in the Time of Covid
We have created some Lockdown Sceptics Forums that are now open, including a dating forum called “Love in a Covid Climate” that has attracted a bit of attention. We’ve also just introduced a section where people can arrange to meet up for non-romantic purposes. We have a team of moderators in place to remove spam and deal with the trolls, but sometimes it takes a little while so please bear with us. You have to register to use the Forums, but that should just be a one-time thing. Any problems, email the Lockdown Sceptics webmaster Ian Rons here.
Small Businesses That Have Re-Opened
A few months ago, Lockdown Sceptics launched a searchable directory of open businesses across the UK. The idea is to celebrate those retail and hospitality businesses that have re-opened, as well as help people find out what has opened in their area. But we need your help to build it, so we’ve created a form you can fill out to tell us about those businesses that have opened near you.
Now that non-essential shops have re-opened – or most of them, anyway – we’re focusing on pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants, as well as other social venues. As of July 4th, many of them have re-opened too, but not all (and some of them are at risk of having to close again). Please visit the page and let us know about those brave folk who are doing their bit to get our country back on its feet – particularly if they’re not insisting on face masks! If they’ve made that clear to customers with a sign in the window or similar, so much the better. Don’t worry if your entries don’t show up immediately – we need to approve them once you’ve entered the data.
“Mask Exempt” Lanyards
We’ve created a permanent slot down here for people who want to buy (or make) a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and it has the advantage of not explicitly claiming you have a disability. But if you have no qualms about that (or you are disabled), you can buy a lanyard from Amazon saying you do have a disability/medical exemption here (now showing it will arrive between Oct 7th to Oct 16th). The Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. You can get a “Hidden Disability” tag from ebay here and an “exempt” card with lanyard for just £3.99 from Etsy here.
Don’t forget to sign the petition on the UK Government’s petitions website calling for an end to mandatory face nappies in shops here (now almost 31,500).
A reader has started a website that contains some useful guidance about how you can claim legal exemption.
And here’s a round-up of the scientific evidence on the effectiveness of mask (threadbare at best).
Stop Press: A man avoided wearing a face mask on an EasyJet flight to Tenerife by ordering a packet of Pringles at the beginning of the flight and making them last four hours. Michael Richards said he tried out the experiment for “a laugh” and not because he is an “anti-masker”.
Shameless Begging Bit
Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the past 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. Doing these daily updates is a lot of work. If you feel like donating, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links we should include in future updates, email us here. (If you want us to link to something, don’t forget to include a link.)
Another great satirical video from AwakenWithJP. It begins: “As your trusted health authority I’ll share with you why you should be more scared than ever before…”
Watch it before YouTube takes it down…