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Je Suis Samuel

Tens of thousands of demonstrators rallied in the Place de la Reublique yesterday to pay tribute to Samuel Paty, the history teacher who was brutally murdered on Friday. The Mail has more.

The French Prime Minister joined thousands of demonstrators rallying in tribute to a history teacher who was brutally beheaded at a school near Paris for showing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed to his class.

Samuel Paty, 47, was brutally stabbed to death and beheaded by Aboulakh Anzorov, 18, in a northern suburb of the French capital on Friday afternoon.

In Paris, thousands including French Prime Minister Jean Castex gathered to pay tribute to the slain teacher in a defiant show of solidarity at the Place de la Republique.

Some held placards reading ‘I am Samuel’ that echoed the ‘I am Charlie’ rallying cry after the 2015 attack on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which published caricatures of Mohammed.

A moment’s silence was observed across the square, broken by applause and a rendition of La Marseillaise, the French national anthem. Others recited: ‘Freedom of expression, freedom to teach.’

Demonstrators also gathered in major cities including Lyon, Toulouse, Strasbourg, Nantes, Marseille, Lille and Bordeaux.

Worth reading in full.

Twitter Censors Scott Atlas

Twitter capped off a week of aggressive censorship of right-of-centre publications and views by deleting tweets by Scott Atlas, a member of the White House’s scientific team battling coronavirus. The Federalist has more.

Atlas, a senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institute, not only had his tweets removed, he was banned from tweeting until he deleted the tweets that Twitter for unclear reasons objects to. Here are the tweets in question:

In an email to the Federalist, Atlas outlined the evidence behind his tweet.

In the deleted tweet, I cited the following evidence against general population masks:

1) Cases exploded even with mandates: Los Angeles County, Miami-Dade County, Hawaii, Alabama, the Philippines, Japan, the United Kingdom, Spain, France, Israel.
2) Dr. Carl Heneghan, University of Oxford, director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine and editor in chief of British Medical Journal Evidence-Based Medicine: ‘It would appear that despite two decades of pandemic preparedness, there is considerable uncertainty as to the value of wearing masks.’
(https://www.cebm.net/covid-19/masking-lack-of-evidence-with-politics/)
3) The WHO: ‘The widespread use of masks by healthy people in the community setting is not yet supported by high quality or direct scientific evidence and there are potential benefits and harms to consider’ (http://bitly.ws/afUm)
4) The CDC: ‘Our systematic review found no significant effect of face masks on transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza.’ (https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/26/5/19-0994_article).
I also cited an article giving detailed explanation of the reasons why masks might not prevent spread: https://t.co/1hRFHsxe59

Notwithstanding this evidence regarding arguably the most important and contentious debate raging in American society — the constant mandate of masks — it appears some 20-something with his pronouns in his Twitter bio just pushed a button and erased scientifically accurate information. For some reason, which hopefully Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey can explain when he is dragged before the Senate, Atlas was silenced by the tech giant.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Jordan Schachtel has more on the same story in his substack blog.

Nobel Prize-Winning Scientist No-Platformed by Lockdown Zealots

Michael Levitt, lockdown sceptic

Michael Levitt, joint winner of the 2014 Nobel Prize for Chemistry and Professor of Structural Biology at Stanford, has been no-platformed by the organisers of a conference on biosystems design and synthetic biology, even though these fields both owe a huge debt to his work. He took to Twitter yesterday to break the news.

This is an absolute disgrace. Scientists aren’t supposed to no-platform other scientists because they disagree with their scientific views. That’s completely antithetical to the spirit of scientific inquiry. The scientists who threatened to pull out if Michael Levitt was allowed to participate should be ashamed of themselves.

Sounds like a job for the Free Speech Union

Is Greater Manchester Running Out of Hospital Beds?

Cases by specimen date in Manchester – note the peak around September 30th and the steady fall since

The Guardian has splashed on a “leaked document” that supposedly reveals hospitals in Greater Manchester are set to run out of beds to treat people seriously ill with COVID-19.

It showed that by last Friday the resurgence of the disease had left hospitals in Salford, Stockport and Bolton at maximum capacity, with no spare beds to help with the growing influx. The picture it paints ratchets up the pressure on ministers to reach a deal with local leaders over the region’s planned move to the top level of coronavirus restrictions.

It suggested that Greater Manchester’s hospitals are quickly heading towards being overwhelmed by the sheer number of people with Covid needing emergency care to save their lives, in the same way that those in Liverpool have become in recent weeks. By Friday 211 of the 257 critical care beds in Greater Manchester – 82% of the total supply – were already being used for either those with Covid or people who were critically ill because of another illness.

But how accurate is this “leaked document”? Not very, judging from the assessment of Prof Carl Heneghan and his colleagues in the Sunday Telegraph. Readers will recall that they point out the number of daily cases in the Manchester area are falling.

They peaked on the September 30th with 596 cases and a seven-day average of 461. As of October 9th, the seven-day average has fallen from the peak by nearly 20% to an average of 374.

More importantly, the data for respiratory condition admissions shows that they’re below the four year average.

Looking at all respiratory episodes at Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust we see that until week 15 the 2020 admissions matched closely with the four year average for the corresponding week: average monthly activity was 96% of the four year average.

However, this began to diverge significantly after week 16, when the monthly activity became only 57% of the four year average. Looking at emergency episodes alone shows a similar pattern: from week 17 they were at 60% of the four year average.

As for the Guardian‘s breathless revelation that 82% of critical care beds in Greater Manchester are occupied, so what? That sounds about normal for this time of year, possibly even below average.

It’s a non-story. The document was probably leaked by a member of the Government trying to increase pressure on Andy Burnham.

Stop Press: I was right about 82% being normal for this time of year. Occupancy of adult critical care beds in Greater Manchester at the end of October 2019 was 83.6%. Data here.

Scotland’s Dodgy Data

An academic at Edinburgh University has got in touch to point out there’s some jiggery pokery going on with the daily case data north of the border.

You should take a look at the Scottish Covid daily update for an example of how the authorities are abusing statistics for presumably political ends.

Their daily update always includes a top statement along the lines that “1,167 new cases of COVID-19 reported; this is 17.6%* of newly tested individuals” (numbers for October 18th).

Scary indeed, given the percentage of positive tests in the UK as a whole is currently between 5 to 7%. However, the asterisk leads to an explanation of how this is calculated. In short, they have counted the positive tests out of 15,089 performed (this figure is given further down the page), and then divided it by a totally unrelated number – the number of people who have never been tested before (calculating back, around 6,630 people). The actual percentage of positive tests is 7.7%; still high, but much less alarming.

The metric is said to be “under review”, but has been so for at least a week. It is hard to imagine how they decided to use it in the first place, let alone continue to do so.

Local Lockdown Protests

Some elderly residents stage a protest outside their care home

A reader has written in to tell us about his experience organising a local lockdown protest in Croydon. Sounds like it was quite successful.

I staged, with some success, I think, a very small-scale anti-lockdown event in Croydon earlier today. I consider it to have been reasonably successful and I have written the following report in the belief that it may be of interest to your readers.

Through the Lockdown Sceptics and Keep Britain Free forums, I have managed to create a small but expanding network of sceptics across Surrey. Many of us want to play a part in swaying public opinion towards Covid dissent, but not everyone feels comfortable with the way the big protests are conducted and, for my own part, work commitments prevent me from making it to London.

Accordingly, we have started to organise very small-scale gatherings in our local town centres, the first of which took place this Sunday. We had one group in Guildford, while I and another member set ourselves up in Croydon for a couple of hours. Since neither of us had ever attempted anything of the sort before, we were somewhat self-conscious at first and I couldn’t help feeling like I was in the Tooting Popular Front. Still, several other groups and individuals had set themselves up in the town centre with different axes to grind, and compared to them we looked positively discreet.

We didn’t have any tables and chairs set up, so we had to promote ourselves a bit by speaking to passers-by. Nerves had to be overcome, but it all seemed to go very well. Some members of the public were interested in what we were doing. My honourable comrade diverted his attentions towards unmasked people on the basis that they were more likely to be receptive to us, while I approached masked people whom I supposed might only be wearing masks under duress. My comrade’s approach seemed to be more successful.

Rather than trying to drag people into conversation, we just asked them if they’d like to take a leaflet asking people such questions as “What do you think the psychological effects of masks and social distancing are on children?” and “How would you feel if you or a relative had a treatable illness which became terminal because you were refused access to the NHS?” We also pointed out a few inconvenient truths, such as the average age of Covid deaths and the rate of false positives. I cannot take full credit for the leaflet as I merely modified a template which had been prepared by another member (thanks, Comrade TW). I added a list of useful websites such as Lockdown Sceptics (crawl, grovel, &c.) in case people should be interested in looking further into Covid scepticism. We started with 30 leaflets and managed to give away around half of them.

While 15 leaflets distributed over two hours doesn’t sound hugely impressive, since it was the first time either of us had attempted such a stunt, I’m inclined to regard it as successful. I had begun with some considerable apprehension that public reception would be hostile or someone in a hi-vis would try to move us on, but I’m pleased to say those fears did not come to anything. Moreover, my conscience is quite satisfied that I have done my bit to overturn the present chaos.

I hope to be able to repeat these events in the near future in more locations around Surrey. If anyone wants to stage a similar event of their own accord I would heartily encourage it. As not everyone here feels comfortable with the tune of the larger events, this local approach allows you to protest entirely on your own terms, and without the inconvenience of having to go all the way into London. All the same, I would advise trying to do it at least in pairs. Even though today’s event was entirely peaceful, people may be vulnerable on their own.

For more on the Surrey group, see ‘Meet Fellow Sceptics’ in the LS forums.

Stop Press: Dr Kevin Corbett, a former nurse and anti-lockdown activist, has written to tell me of a very successful rally in Hull on Saturday.

I think the Wake Up Hull rally went very well. I stayed for the whole rally, and also the march, which proceeded in a very orderly fashion, gaining lots of interest and support from shopkeepers and shoppers. It was a superbly well organised event by Wake Up Hull who had an effective sound system and had posted volunteers to help protect attendees and speakers. The success of this Saturday’s rally was truly a testament to the forward planning and level headedness of those organising, who are working to help local people and businesses survive and thrive. The range of speakers (and topics) covered on Saturday were diverse, and included Professor Roger Watson, Mark Steele, Kate Shemirani (via link) plus myself and several other less known speakers notable for their own health and spiritual knowledge, expertise and local links. The Hull police assisted the organisers and took out several masked troublemakers who were spoiling for a fight. As you can imagine this police action was hugely applauded by the rally goers as was the calm demeanor of the police throughout. It also made those of us who’d personally witnessed the atrocious behaviour of the Metropolitan Police at similar events to note how relatively better the Hull police seemed at doing their job without hurting people (unlike their London colleagues). Overall, it was an incredible event attended by four hundred rally goers. The police acted as though they knew that this year’s government COVID-19 ‘diktats’ were just that. Common sense prevailed and because of the tenor of the rally due to the organisers, and their successful police liaison, it really felt for all of us involved, as though we were now living in a democracy once more. People felt hopeful and optimistic for the future and it showed in their actions and behaviour. So well done all at Wake Up Hull for showing the UK exactly how to do it.

Postcard From Bulgaria

Unmasked shoppers at a vegetable market in Sofia

A reader has sent us a “Postcard From Bulgaria” that we’ve added to the postcard roster on the right-hand side. Sounds like a good place to visit (although it’s not currently in the UK travel corridor).

The early morning mini-bus from Yambol trundles into the village, and drinking a coffee outside the bar the village mayor from a few years back calls out jovially to those of us waiting to board: “Mask!” Unaffronted (you’ll see why in a moment), the majority of us pull from our pocket a crumpled, grubby-ish scrap of ear-looped linen and don it, at least until we reach our seat. “Losho!” laughs the ex-mayor, rocking merrily back and forth on his seat (maybe it was a rakia he was drinking, not coffee), and nobody disagrees. ‘Losho’ can mean anything from ‘bad’ to ‘useless’ to ‘barmy’ which I would say is the majority view now in Bulgaria with regard to mask-wearing.

Worth reading in full.

Round-Up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Special Andy Burnham edition today: “North South Divide” by Tim Patterson, “North vs South” by El Axel and “Divided Nation” by Manic Depression.

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. The answer used to be to first click on “Latest News”, then click on the links that came up beside the headline of each story. But we’ve changed that so the link now comes up beside the headline whether you’ve clicked on “Latest News” or you’re just on the Lockdown Sceptics home page. Please do share the stories with your friends and on social media.

Woke Gobbledegook

We’ve decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook. Today it’s the turn of the San Diego School District which has decided to abolish grading on the grounds that awarding grades to students is racist. Libby Emmons from the Post Millennial has more.

California’s second largest school district has decided that since minority students cannot make the grade, grades should be dispensed with altogether.

“This is part of our honest reckoning as a school district,” San Diego’s schools VP Richard Barerra said. “If we’re actually going to be an anti-racist school district, we have to confront practices like this that have gone on for years and years.”

Those practices, apparently, include expectations and assessments as to how well students are meeting those expectations. Using an outcome based assessment approach, it was determined that teachers are failing minority students by grading them not based on their academic achievement, but on their skin colour.

This determination was made based on data which revealed that minority students received 30% of all failing or near failing grades.

Kids who are English learners, or have disabilities, had lower grades, as did Native Americans, Hispanics, and black American students. Only seven percent of failing marks were distributed to white students. The San Diego school district believes that this is because teachers are racist, otherwise why would they seek to address grading rather than underlying issues?

It was as a result of these numbers that the San Diego school board decided to dispense with grading standards. Kids are now permitted to turn in the work at any time that appeals to them, and still have it graded as though they’d turned it on deadline. Teachers will not be permitted to use testing to determine grades, but are meant to grade per a “mastery of the material”, although it’s unclear as to how a teacher is meant to figure out a student’s “mastery”.

Classroom behaviour doesn’t count either, so probably no more points for participation. It’s only a student’s working knowledge, apparently, that will affect how they do in school. Although again, it’s unclear as to how that presence of that knowledge will be determined.

Junior at University City High School and Student School Board Member Zachary Patterson said: “I know students all across the school district are really happy with the idea that these other accountability measures are no longer going to be defining their understanding of knowledge.”

It was Patterson who brought up concerns that some students might be unfairly penalized for cheating. The school board intends, this week, to review their zero-tolerance policy on cheating, with perhaps an eye toward allowing cheating, since to not do so might be racist.

Surely, isn’t it a little bit racist to say you’re no longer going to penalise kids for not doing their homework on time, being naughty or cheating because that’s not fair on minority students? Wouldn’t it be fairer to have the same high expectations of all students, regardless of their skin colour?

“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.

And here’s a round-up of the scientific evidence on the effectiveness of mask (threadbare at best).

Stop Press: Readers will recall that a large, randomised control trial to test the efficacy of masks was carried out in Denmark earlier this year – the only large RCT that’s ever been done on masks. So why haven’t the results been published yet? According to one of the lead investigators on the study, it will be published “as soon as a journal is brave enough”. Which suggests the results are not what the pro-maskers want to hear. Alex Berenson has been tweeting about it.

The Great Barrington Declaration

Professor Sunetra Gupta, Professor Martin Kulldorff and Professor Jay Bhattacharya – actual scientists, unlike Devi Sridhar

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 last week and the lockdown zealots have been doing their best to discredit it. If you Google it, the top hits you get are two smear pieces from the obscure Leftist conspiracy website Byline Times, and one from the Guardian headlined: “Herd immunity letter signed by fake experts including ‘Dr Johnny Bananas’.” (Freddie Sayers at UnHerd warned us about this hit job the day before it appeared.) On the bright side, Google UK has stopped shadow banning it, so the actual Declaration now shows up in the search results – and my Spectator piece about the attempt to suppress it is the top hit – 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 half-a-million signatures.

Stop Press: Lockdown Sceptics contributor Omar S. Khan has written a blog post defending the GBD from its critics.

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.

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 awarding 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’. You can read about that and make a donation here.

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.

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.)

Special thanks to graphic designer and Lockdown Sceptics reader Claire Whitten for designing our new logo. We think it’s ace. Find her work here.

And Finally…

In my latest column for Spectator US, I’ve written about the migration of the paranoid style in politics from the right to the left.

It is widely accepted as fact in contemporary politics that all the biggest conspiracy theories originate on the far right, whether it’s QAnon, birtherism or the belief that Sandy Hook was staged by actors. The notion was popularized by the political scientist Richard Hofstadter in his famous essay ‘The Paranoid Style in American Politics’. Hofstadter saw a golden thread linking the scapegoating of Jews and Catholics by 19th-century populists to the fever dreams of Joseph McCarthy, who believed a fifth column had embedded itself in America’s most powerful institutions. According to Hofstadter, these theories appeal to the white working class because they feel marginalized and dispossessed. ‘America has been largely taken away from them and their kind, though they are determined to try to repossess it and to prevent the final destructive act of subversion,’ he wrote.

It is this piece of conventional wisdom — that conspiracy theories are inextricably bound up with a toxic white nationalism and can, if they’re allowed to run wild, lead to the eruption of racial violence — that has persuaded the custodians of social media that they have a public duty to ban their proponents from spreading them.

But the reality is that conspiracy theories are now more ubiquitous on the left than they are on the right. We saw this after Trump’s victory in 2016, with numerous pundits in the mainstream media blaming it on the insidious influence of Russian bots and troll farms, as well as Steve Bannon’s fiendish use of Facebook to worm his way into the heads of blue-collar voters.

It was now the turn of America’s bicoastal overlords to feel that their country had been taken away from them and, like Hofstadter’s paranoid losers, they convinced themselves that a malignant, invisible group of subversives was responsible and it was their duty to expose them.

A British journalist called Carole Cadwalladr, who saw Trump’s victory as just one facet of a vast right-wing conspiracy that encompassed Boris Johnson, Brexit and Cambridge Analytica, was even shortlisted for the 2019 Pulitzer Prize.

Worth reading in full.