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Border Chaos Continues

Peter Schrank’s cartoon in yesterday’s Times

The list of countries restricting or banning travel from the UK today grew to over 40, including much of continental Europe. The international responses to the new ‘variant’ of the virus range from outright bans to new self-isolation requirements regardless of a negative PCR test (as in the case of Greece). The border closures are not all limited to UK travellers either. Sweden has banned visitors from Denmark as well as the UK, and Saudi Arabia has slammed its borders shut completely. The knee-jerk actions are reminiscent of the early phase of the pandemic, where country after country copied each other’s panicky lockdowns. It deals yet another blow to the ailing travel and airline industries, as cancelled flights out of the UK number in the hundreds and climbing.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson held a press conference yesterday and scarcely mentioned the unfolding travel bans. Instead, he focused on the ongoing issues at the Dover-Calais crossing, insisting that the blockade would be resolved in a matter of hours after a conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard writes in today’s Telegraph, closing the UK-France border is just another exercise in closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.

Emmanuel Macron’s ban on lorries entering France wins the prize for the most pointless political gesture since the onset of this pandemic. The mutant strain B.1.1.7 is already all over Europe.

British scientists spotted it early and have tracked it in real-time because the UK has carried out almost as much genome sequencing of COVID-19 as the rest of the world combined. Harvard epidemiologist William Hanage says the UK has the most advanced genomic monitoring regime on the planet.

Denmark is one of the few other states in Europe that also does extensive and rapid sequencing. Lo and behold, the Danes have found the same mutation. Many countries do little or no genomic sequencing at all. 

It stretches credulity to imagine that a variant picked up in samples as far back as September is not already rampant in Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, and indeed France. It had months to run when borders were wide open, long before the second lockdowns. 

He goes on to quote the German virologist Christian Drosten whose somewhat sceptical comments in a German radio interview were also picked up by the Daily Mail.

Christian Drosten, Angela’s Merkel’s pandemic guru, says the mutation is almost certainly spreading in Germany already and he is sceptical about the data interpretation by Prof Neil Ferguson’s team at Imperial. “I am not particularly worried,” he told Deutschlandfunk, taking a gentle swipe at headline bio-hysteria.

Prof Drosten is careful not to violate scientific etiquette but he came as close as you can to rebuking the British Government – and by implication the modellers on the NERVTAG committee – for pushing a conclusion beyond the known evidence. 

He questions the pseudo-quantification behind claims that the new strain is 70% more transmissible. “There are too many unknown strains to say something like that,” he told Covid reporter Kai Kupferschmidt. 

Interesting that Christian Drosten, the lead author on the paper that wrote the rules on mass PCR testing that is currently being challenged by Dr Mike Yeadon and others, is a “mutant strain” sceptic.

Another expert to add a note of moderation was the microbiologist Dr Hugh Pennington, whose comments yesterday were reported in the Press and Journal.

The Aberdeen University Professor said: “The big issue with the variant is that it’s no nastier than the first one that came in March.

“It doesn’t kill people more readily or make them any more unwell but it’s said to be more transmissible. However, that’s what we’re being told. We have not seen any evidence to back that claim up.

“We haven’t seen any data that shows the increase in England is down to the new variant rather than people just not behaving themselves. Politicians won’t want to say that.

“If this virus has mutated to become more transmissible that would be a scientific novelty.

“It could be a coincidence with it getting commoner as the infection rate goes up.”

He said the only way to be sure, ahead of waiting on retrospective studies, would be to find out if the variant is more transmissible by checking what the infected dose is of one person to compare.

Mr Pennington added: “Is it more transmissible because you only have to breathe in a smaller dose of it? Or does somebody infected with it breathe out more virus?

“That’s what they need to find out.

The only other way to find out if people were more susceptible to this variant was through a volunteer study where you’d “pump the virus” into a room full of people… “and that’s unethical”, he added.

“It’s very hard to prove whether something is more transmissible or less. I’m not saying it’s not possible… but I would like to see more evidence.”

The Telegraph also reports that the ‘variant’ was spotted in Brazil eight months ago, adding weight to the idea that the strain has been circulating much longer than was thought to be the case – much like the ‘original’ strain for which patients in Italy had developed antibodies as early as September 2019, months before there was an official case recorded anywhere.

It’s even possible that the increased transmissibility could be a good thing, and an inevitable step in the well-established evolutionary process by which viruses become more infectious and less deadly, as the long-standing sceptic and retired NHS Consultant Dr John Lee writes in The Daily Mail.

Mutation of this (and every other virus) is inevitable – and, in fact, it needn’t always be a bad thing.

As new strains of a virus emerge, they naturally evolve towards variants that may be more transmissible but which cause mild or no disease.

Why should this be so? Because it actually benefits the virus – it is more likely to survive, reproduce and spread to ever increasing numbers of individuals if it doesn’t kill its hosts.

Crucially for us, if the new strain isn’t as virulent, its spread among Britain’s healthy populace could even be advantageous. 

Exposure to it would stimulate the immune system to produce a response against it, so providing future protection as we move to a general level of immunity in the population.

So why don’t Johnson or Hancock publicly acknowledge this? Why do they persist instead with terrifying rhetoric of a ‘mutant’ virus spreading out of control?

Dr Lee’s piece is worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Regular Lockdown Sceptics contributor Dr Clare Craig gave a comprehensive interview to talkRADIO yesterday morning with Mark Dolan, covering topics including the new ‘variant’. Worth watching.

Stop Press 2: At the time of writing, the complete list of 42 countries which has banned travel from the UK is: Belgium, Italy, Austria, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Bulgaria, Hungary, Luxembourg, Slovakia, Poland, Romania, Switzerland, South Africa, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Croatia, France, Malta, Sweden, Turkey, Hong Kong, Canada, India, Russia, Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Jordan, El Salvador, Ireland, Czech Republic, Colombia, Morocco, Chile, Finland and Argentina.

Stop Press 3: Boris Johnson has agreed to set up testing facilities to allow stranded hauliers to enter France, conditional on a negative test.

Scientific Advisers Clamouring for New National Lockdown

Prof Chris Whitty can detect the new ‘mutant’ strain with his naked eye

The Government’s scientific advisers have been clamouring for even more restrictions – Tiers 5, 6 and 7. The Guardian has more.

Andrew Hayward, a Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at University College London and a member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), said the new variant had the potential to spread around the UK and overseas.

“I recognise that we have restricted travel from the Tier 4 areas… but this transmission is not only in those Tier 4 areas, it’s there at some level across the country,” he said. “We’re just entering a really critical phase of this pandemic, and it makes absolute sense… to act decisively I would say across the country, as many other countries have done, despite them not as far as we know being affected by this strain.”

Asked if it would be advisable to have a national lockdown, Hayward said: “Personally, I think it’s clearer to give a consistent national message because although the levels of risk are different in different parts of the country, they’re still there and they’re still substantial.”

Personally?!? Does that mean he doesn’t mean “objectively” – it’s just his opinion? Rare candour, if so.

Hayward was not the only SAGE member to do an impression of a headless chicken.

Robert West, a Professor of Health psychology at University College London’s Institute of Epidemiology and Health, who sits on the advisory group on behavioural science for SAGE, said his personal opinion was that the current system was “unlikely” to contain the spread of the virus.

He said: “We need to reset our strategy and move rapidly to a zero Covid strategy of the kind that many have been proposing. This will involve stricter but more rational social distancing rules across the country, and finally doing what we should have done from the start – to build the kind of test, travel, isolate and support programmes they have in countries in the far east.

“It sounds expensive but the alternative could well be a catastrophic collapse in confidence in the country’s ability to control the virus and the economic, human and social disaster that would follow.”

Human and social disaster?!? If the Government is hearing this kind of hyperbolic language from its scientific advisors on a daily basis, it’s no wonder Boris is constantly being bounced into ever more hysterical policy announcements.

CDC Reports on Post-Vaccine Health Outcomes

The CDC has produced a document documenting the side effects of the mRNA Covid vaccines. Infrequent cases of anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction) have been reported already. However, a more interesting figure is to be found further down in the presentation, in a table entitled “V-Safe Active Surveillance for COVID-19 Vaccines”.

Page 6 of the CDC’s document.

Out of the 112,807 doses administered, 3,150 experienced a “Health Impact Event”, described above by the CDC as “unable to perform normal daily activities, unable to work, required care from doctor or health care professional”. That’s about 2.8% of recipients, although it does not mention the severity or duration of those events. If the UK Government’s declared target of vaccinating approximately 25 million people in “priority groups” is met, and the proportion remains stable, that could mean around 700,000 people potentially requiring some kind of medical care post-vaccination.

Isn’t mass vaccination supposed to protect the NHS?

Ferguson: Forgotten But Not Gone

Professor Neil Ferguson, who sceptics may also know better as Professor Lockdown or Professor Pantsdown

In a development we mentioned in passing yesterday, which will raise the hackles of any sceptic who has kept a close eye on developments since March, the man behind the notorious model which panicked governments into lockdowns at the beginning of the year, and stepped down from SAGE after flouting his own rules, is back in the Strangelove hot seat.

Robert Mendick in The Telegraph has more.

Professor Lockdown is back. Neil Ferguson, the epidemiologist widely credited as the architect of the first national lockdown in the spring, has emerged once again as the most influential adviser to the Government during the current coronavirus wave.

For more than six months, Prof Ferguson has remained largely in the shadows, the result of his own indiscretion that forced him to take a backseat.

He continues:

Now, it has emerged Prof Ferguson – if he did go away – wasn’t gone all that long. His name appears on the list of 15 members of NERVTAG who met for two hours on Friday December 18th – between 11am and 1pm – that concluded the new variant of COVID-19, named VUI 2020 12/01 “demonstrates a substantial increase in transmissibility compared to other variants”.

A day later, Prime Minister Boris Johnson appeared on television to perform a spectacular U-turn, effectively cancelling Christmas for millions of people across London and the South East caused by the rise in infections by the COVID-19 mutation.

The Spectator‘s gossip columnist Steerpike also picked up on the indefatigable professor’s reappearance.

In sum, it appears that far from quitting following his lockdown breach, the Professor stopped his membership of NERVTAG for fewer than two months, and became a regular advisor once again in August.

Mr S would not, of course, be in favour of anyone being driven out of public life for a single transgression. But it is worth noting that Prof Ferguson was happy to receive praise in May for quickly stepping down to protect the Government’s credibility during lockdown. If these minutes are correct, it appears that his sacrifice was rather smaller than the public were led to believe. It also calls into question the Government’s own assertions in May that Ferguson had stepped down from his NERVTAG role. The Department for Health has been contacted for comment.

Ferguson himself told MPs in June that he was still a member of the SPI-M group, which advises the Government on coronavirus modelling, but did not mention returning to NERVTAG. Ferguson added that he was only attending other meetings on an “ad hoc” basis. 

Since then, those “ad hoc” meetings appear to have morphed into full-time membership of another committee.

To Mr Steerpike at least, it looks very much like Neil Ferguson never stopped being a Government advisor, after all…

Worth reading in full.

Correction: Excess Deaths in the US

Yesterday’s item in Lockdown Sceptics about the retraction by the Johns Hopkins News-Letter of Genevieve Briand’s suggestion that Covid wasn’t causing any excess deaths in the US contained some bad sums from a commenter we quoted. Our own Will Jones took another look at the CDC Data and figured out that at the current rate there would indeed be higher mortality this year than last – and more than the 1.2% increase in mortality that typically happens year-on-year. Although, as ever, how much of that can be attributed to the disease itself is an unanswered question. There have been concerns about lockdown-induced deaths in the US for months, not least from drug overdoses as the existing opioid crisis was worsened during lockdowns.

Using the data available here, Will concluded that the increase in total deaths this year compared to last year would be about 12.6%.

However, a reader who wrote in to prompt us about our maths slip-up also pointed out that the figures contain evidence of the so-called ‘Dry Tinder’ effect since the percentage increases for 2018 and 2019 (0.91% and 0.56% respectively) were low compared to previous years, suggesting mild flu seasons.

In case you’re not familiar with the ‘Dry Tinder’ effect, this article in the AIER discusses it in relation to Sweden and the Nordics and Ivor Cummins’ has produced several videos on the topic.

Bob Moran Gets It

One of Bob’s recent sketches

Our favourite political cartoonist Bob Moran composed a reassuring tweet thread about the realistic risks of Christmas gatherings (though they could equally apply to any social occasion). Unfortunately, Twitter’s thought-police decided to delete the first tweet on the grounds that it “violated their rules”, though the meaning is still clear. Reproduced in full here, minus the offending first tweet:

First of all, given that you have no symptoms, what are the chances that you are infected with SARS-CoV-2? The ONS estimates this to be 1 in 115, or 0.87%.

Now, imagining you are infected, but you don’t have any symptoms, what is the probability that you will infect somebody else with SARS-CoV-2? Recent studies show this is around 0.7%.

If we multiply the probability of these two events, we can calculate the likelihood of you a) being infected & b) passing that infection on without symptoms. This gives a figure of 0.006%.

To put that figure in context, it’s roughly the same as your chance of dying in a car crash over the course of any given year.

But if you infect someone, this doesn’t mean that they are going to end up dying of Covid pneumonia. Far from it, in fact. There is a lot of debate regarding the IFR of SARS-CoV-2, but the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine puts it at roughly 0.5%.

Now, if we multiply the chance of infecting another person (without symptoms) by the fatality rate, we can estimate that the risk of “killing” one of your relatives is roughly 0.00003%, or 1 in 3 million.

Obviously there are a lot of caveats. If one of your relatives is very old and very ill, then the IFR is going to be higher. If they are relatively healthy, it’s going to be lower.

But there’s another caveat. PCR tests. The first number we used (the number of infected individuals in the UK) is based on positive PCR results. It is possible that only 3% of these positive results are accurate.

Which means that the risk of a person “killing” a relative without any discernible coronavirus symptoms may well be as low as 1 in 30 million – the same sort of likelihood of you winning the National Lottery.

Clearly, it is for individuals to assess risks for themselves and make decisions accordingly. But they should do so in the knowledge of how big those risks actually are. And nobody should be calling others “irresponsible” for taking a risk this minuscule.

Finally, this risk isn’t just the justification for ‘cancelling Christmas’, it’s the justification for all of it. Lockdowns, masks, school closures, undiagnosed cancers, suicides, stillbirths, unemployment. All done because we were told this specific risk was just too high.

Hear, hear, Bob.

Statisticians Ask Questions of Government

Stats experts’ new report

Quantitative Analyst Joel Smalley and Statistician Marie Oldfield have produced a new document containing a series of clincher questions for the UK Government. Smalley commented, upon its publication:

Updated report on England COVID. Focused on clinical data and classical surveillance systems. It’s pretty conclusive that the epidemic was over in Spring, probably made worse by interventions, and most of Autumn COVID is wrongly attributed. Can the Government disprove any of this?

One page of the compendium of inconvenient data.

It is 19 pages long, replete with graphs of official data, and might even be worth sending to your MP. The full document can be found here.

How to Defeat Cancel Culture

Check out Toby’s conversation with Angelo Isidorou of The Post-Millennial on cancel culture and how to defeat it. Toby talks about being on the receiving end of the social media mob, as well as the efforts of the Free Speech Union to protect other people who find themselves in the same predicament.

Worth watching.

Stop Press: Listen to Toby and James Delingpole have their usual argument about whether the Covid crisis is cock up or conspiracy in the latest episode of London Calling.

Round-up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Four today: “Driving Home for Christmas” by Chris Rea, “On the Border” by Al Stewart, “I‘ll Be Home for Christmas” by Bing Crosby, and “Trust Me I’m a Doctor” by The Blizzards.

Love in the Time of Covid

We have created some Lockdown Sceptics Forums, including a dating forum called “Love in a Covid Climate” that has attracted a bit of attention. 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.

Sharing Stories

Some of you have asked how to link to particular stories on Lockdown Sceptics so you can share it. To do that, click on the headline of a particular story and a link symbol will appear on the right-hand side of the headline. Click on the link and the URL of your page will switch to the URL of that particular story. You can then copy that URL and either email it to your friends or post it on social media. Please do share the stories.

Social Media Accounts

You can follow Lockdown Sceptics on our social media accounts which are updated throughout the day. To follow us on Facebook, click here; to follow us on Twitter, click here; to follow us on Instagram, click here; to follow us on Parler, click here; and to follow us on MeWe, click here.

Woke Gobbledegook

We’ve decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook. Today, we bring you the heartwarming news that singer Sam Smith has announced that they wants [sic] to “be a mummy” by the age of 35. The Mirror has more.

Broody Sam Smith “wants to be a mummy” and have children by the age of 35.

The music superstar has opened up about their desire to become a parent in the years ahead.

Sam is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns – and can’t wait to start a family.

The 28-year-old, though, admits the struggle to find a boyfriend is real – and joked that that special someone is nowhere to be found in London.

Time is on Sam’s side of course and they said in an interview with Apple Music’s Zane Lowe that kids are a must in the future.

Sam said: “I want kids. I want all of it. I want all of it. I want to have kids.”

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

We’ve created a one-stop shop 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 (takes a while to arrive). 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 £1.99 from Etsy here. And, finally, if you feel obliged to wear a mask but want to signal your disapproval of having to do so, you can get a “sexy world” mask with the Swedish flag on it here.

Don’t forget to sign the petition on the UK Government’s petitions website calling for an end to mandatory face masks in shops here.

A reader has started a website that contains some useful guidance about how you can claim legal exemption. Another reader has created an Android app which displays “I am exempt from wearing a face mask” on your phone. Only 99p, and he’s even said he’ll donate half the money to Lockdown Sceptics, so everyone wins.

If you’re a shop owner and you want to let your customers know you will not be insisting on face masks or asking them what their reasons for exemption are, you can download a friendly sign to stick in your window here.

And here’s an excellent piece about the ineffectiveness of masks by a Roger W. Koops, who has a doctorate in organic chemistry. See also the Swiss Doctor’s thorough review of the scientific evidence here.

The Great Barrington Declaration

Professor Martin Kulldorff, Professor Sunetra Gupta and Professor Jay Bhattacharya

The Great Barrington Declaration, a petition started by Professor Martin Kulldorff, Professor Sunetra Gupta and Professor Jay Bhattacharya calling for a strategy of “Focused Protection” (protect the elderly and the vulnerable and let everyone else get on with life), was launched in October and the lockdown zealots have been doing their best to discredit it ever since. If you googled it a week after launch, the top hits were three smear pieces from the Guardian, including: “Herd immunity letter signed by fake experts including ‘Dr Johnny Bananas’.” (Freddie Sayers at UnHerd warned us about this the day before it appeared.) On the bright side, Google UK has stopped shadow banning it, so the actual Declaration now tops the search results – and Toby’s Spectator piece about the attempt to suppress it is among the top hits – although discussion of it has been censored by Reddit. The reason the zealots hate it, of course, is that it gives the lie to their claim that “the science” only supports their strategy. These three scientists are every bit as eminent – more eminent – than the pro-lockdown fanatics so expect no let up in the attacks. (Wikipedia has also done a smear job.)

You can find it here. Please sign it. Now over three quarters of a million signatures.

Update: The authors of the GDB have expanded the FAQs to deal with some of the arguments and smears that have been made against their proposal. Worth reading in full.

Update 2: Many of the signatories of the Great Barrington Declaration are involved with new UK anti-lockdown campaign Recovery. Find out more and join here.

Update 3: You can watch Sunetra Gupta set out the case for “Focused Protection” here and Jay Bhattacharya make it here.

Update 4: The three GBD authors plus Prof Carl Heneghan of CEBM have launched a new website collateralglobal.org, “a global repository for research into the collateral effects of the COVID-19 lockdown measures”. Follow Collateral Global on Twitter here.

Judicial Reviews Against the Government

There are now so many JRs being brought against the Government and its ministers, we thought we’d include them all in one place down here.

First, there’s the Simon Dolan case. You can see all the latest updates and contribute to that cause here. Alas, he’s now reached the end of the road, with the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear his appeal. Dolan has no regrets. “We forced SAGE to produce its minutes, got the Government to concede it had not lawfully shut schools, and lit the fire on scrutinizing data and information,” he says. “We also believe our findings and evidence, while not considered properly by the judges, will be of use in the inevitable public inquires which will follow and will help history judge the PM, Matt Hancock and their advisers in the light that they deserve.”

Then there’s the Robin Tilbrook case. You can read about that and contribute here.

Then there’s John’s Campaign which is focused specifically on care homes. Find out more about that here.

There’s the GoodLawProject’s Judicial Review of the Government’s award of lucrative PPE contracts to various private companies. You can find out more about that here and contribute to the crowdfunder here.

The Night Time Industries Association has instructed lawyers to JR any further restrictions on restaurants, pubs and bars.

And last but not least there’s the Free Speech Union‘s challenge to Ofcom over its ‘coronavirus guidance’. A High Court judge refused permission for the FSU’s judicial review in December and the FSU has decided not to appeal the decision because Ofcom has conceded most of the points it was making. Check here for details.

Samaritans

If you are struggling to cope, please call Samaritans for free on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch. Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year, providing a safe place for anyone struggling to cope, whoever they are, however they feel, whatever life has done to them.

Quotation Corner

We know they are lying. They know they are lying, They know that we know they are lying. We know that they know that we know they are lying. And still they continue to lie.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.

Mark Twain

Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.

Charles Mackay

They who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Benjamin Franklin

To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he’s doing is good, or else that it’s a well-considered act in conformity with natural law. Fortunately, it is in the nature of the human being to seek a justification for his actions…

Ideology – that is what gives the evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you never should trust experts. If you believe the doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require to have their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.

Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury

Nothing would be more fatal than for the Government of States to get into the hands of experts. Expert knowledge is limited knowledge and the unlimited ignorance of the plain man, who knows where it hurts, is a safer guide than any rigorous direction of a specialist.

Sir Winston Churchill

If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science.

Richard Feynman

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

C.S. Lewis

The welfare of humanity is always the alibi of tyrants.

Albert Camus

We’ve arranged a global civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.

Carl Sagan

Political language – and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists – is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

George Orwell

The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.

Marcus Aurelius

Necessity is the plea for every restriction of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.

William Pitt the Younger

If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.

Joseph Goebbels (attributed)

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

I have always strenuously supported the right of every man to his own opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine. He who denies to another this right, makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because he precludes himself the right of changing it.

Thomas Paine

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 hard work (although we have help from lots of people, mainly in the form of readers sending us stories and links). 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. (Don’t assume we’ll pick them up in the comments.)

And Finally…

The smells of Britain, available to purchase.

Trapped abroad or stuck in Tier 4 over Christmas? We may have found just the thing to ease your homesickness.

Bottles of fresh air from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales are being marketed as the perfect gift for homesick Britons living overseas this Christmas.‏‏ ‏‏Relocation website‏ ‏My Baggage‏ ‏is offering‏ ‏fresh air bottled from the four home nations‏ ‏for £25 each and claim the bottles are already being snapped up by families with loved ones living abroad – in a bid to remind them of home and possibly tempt them back to our shores.‏

The company is also offering special limited edition bottles featuring air captured on the London Underground and air from the inside of a busy Norfolk fish and chip shop.‏‏ ‏‏Each ‏ ‏500ml ‏of air comes with a cork stopper so the owners can open for a moment, take a breath and quickly close again, allowing many weeks or even months of use.‏‏ ‏‏My Baggage‏ is also willing to fulfil special customer requests by bottling air from any UK location, and have already fulfilled an order of air from the misty summit of Snowdonia for a homesick Welshman living down under.

Sounds made up, but it’s actually real. For £25, residents of Tier 4 areas can get an authentic blast of what it smells like to be outside the home you’re imprisoned in.

Alternatively, you could donate to Lockdown Sceptics.

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