Monday, 21st June 2021
Cry Freedom – and Ditch the Masks
By Toby Young
There follows a guest post by Edward Chancellor, a financial journalist and the author of Devil Take the Hindmost: A History of Financial Speculation (1998).
“Freedom Day” on 21st June was supposed to be the day when Covid restrictions on the people of England came to an end. Predictably the release from wearing facemasks, social distancing, etc., has been postponed in the face of the ‘Delta’ variant. One member of the government’s scientific advisory group, Susan Michie suggests that we should continue wearing masks “forever”.
Professor Michie must be aware that all the evidence points to the fact that face masks offer little or no protection against the spread of respiratory diseases. The behaviour of the political leaders at the recent G7 meeting in Cornwall – donning masks for photo-ops but later partying together without masks or social distancing – suggests they too understand that masks are unnecessary. Nevertheless, many people, vaccinated or otherwise at no personal risk from COVID-19, continue to wear masks. They do so for no reason other than they are following government orders or are simply imitating the behaviour of their peers.
In his notorious Daily Telegraph article of August 5th 2018, Boris Johnson argued that the burkha was “oppressive” and that it was “weird and bullying” to expect women to cover their faces. He claimed that “human beings must be able to see each other’s faces and read their expressions. It’s how we work.” I agree with those sentiments. Nevertheless, until now I have gone along with the mask mandate in the misplaced hope that Boris would be true to his word and end the restrictions on June 21st.
It should now be clear that if we are to return to normality we must take back control of our destiny. The first and most obvious step is to stop wearing masks in public. In the “war on coronavirus” the mask-refuseniks can be seen not as reckless endangerers of other people’s lives but as conscientious objectors who set an example for the rest of the society to follow. We, the maskless, can show our fellow citizens that we refuse to live in fear and will not be ruled by arbitrary pseudo-scientific diktat. Boris cannot postpone Freedom Day if we have already ditched his oppressive, weird and bullying rules.
“Great Hope” We Could Unlock on July 5th, Says Vaccine Expert – But Will Boris Follow the Data?
When delaying the easing of lockdown restrictions in England last Monday, the Prime Minister signalled that the extension was far more likely to last for four weeks (at least) than two. But Brendan Wren, Professor of Vaccinology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, says the data shows there is “great hope” that “Freedom Day” could occur on July 5th rather than a fortnight later.
He pins this hope to the successful vaccine roll-out, noting also that mass testing probably gives a false impression of the number of actual Covid carriers in the country – and, of course, of the number of people in hospital because of the virus. Sky News has more.
[Professor] Wren… said that having more than 81% of the adult population with a first coronavirus jab, and 59% with both doses is “very encouraging”.
Asked whether the success of the vaccine programme means England will not need to wait until July 19th to fully open up, he said: “We’d still need to be vigilant – but vigilance and vaccination are the two words.
“So, I think if the numbers continue to be promising then I think there’s great hope we could open up on July 5th.” …
Official figures show the U.K. has recorded more than 10,000 daily Covid cases for three consecutive days.
But Professor Wren explained that the rise in cases seems to be “flattening off”, saying: “If you are testing and tracing more, then you are going to find more cases… but if you look at the population as a general cross-section, then the actual numbers – proportion-wise – might be less.”
The expert said the number of people in hospital with Covid and “certainly the severe cases” have “not crept up in line” with the number of infections.
“There’s clear evidence here that the vaccinations – certainly in the older populations – are working,” he added.
“Although the number of cases may increase, the number of hospitalisations, or deaths, or expected deaths, is not increasing in line with the previous waves.”
And asked whether the U.K. is experiencing a third wave of the pandemic, Professor Wren said: “I don’t think particularly. We expected that there would be an increase as we gradually opened up but I wouldn’t call this a third wave.”
Worth reading in full.
Stop Press: Others, including those who are closer to the Government, are more pessimistic. SAGE member Professor Calum Semple says we should expect a fourth wave in the winter due to the easing of lockdown restrictions.
Stop Press 2: A reader spotted a good letter in the Sunday Telegraph.
SIR – What is going on?
On June 23 last year the average number of daily Covid-19 deaths in the previous week was 59, with 353 hospital admissions. On that day the Government announced that restrictions on our freedoms would be eased on July 4.
This year the average number of daily Covid-19 deaths in the first week of June was seven, with 144 hospital admissions.
In contrast to last year, those at high risk have been vaccinated. Yet at the beginning of the week, the Government announced its intention to continue restricting our freedom for at least another five weeks.
Where is the logic? Will restrictions ever end? This disease is endemic. We should stop testing asymptomatic people, accept that “zero Covid” is not achievable and get on with our lives.
Dr Geoffrey Maidment
Farnham Royal, Buckinghamshire
“You Can’t Ever Say Mission Accomplished”: Minister Doesn’t Rule Out Winter Lockdowns
Whether it takes place on July 5th (unlikely!), July 19th or later, “Freedom Day” is supposed to be irreversible. So why is a senior health official saying we may need to lock down again this winter and why is a Cabinet Minister unable to deny it?
Dr Susan Hopkins, the Director for Covid at Public Health England, says “we may have to do further lockdowns this winter” – a claim which Justice Secretary Robert Buckland has refused to deny. So will this ever end?
The Independent has more.
Dr Hopkins… said Britain needed to move to a situation where we can “live with this” in the longer term.
She told the Andrew Marr Show: “I think that means that we wouldn’t normally put people into lockdown for severe cases of influenza.
“We may have to do further lockdowns this winter, I can’t predict the future – it really depends on whether the hospitals start to become overwhelmed at some point.
“But I think we will have alternative ways to manage this through vaccination, through antivirals, through drugs, through testing, that we didn’t have last winter, and all of those things allow us different approaches, rather than restrictions on lives and restrictions on livelihoods, that will move us forward into the next phase of learning to live with this as an endemic, as something that happens as part of the respiratory viruses.”
Asked about her comments, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland declined to rule out more restrictions, telling Times Radio: “The essence of the virus is you can’t ever say mission accomplished.”
Worth reading in full.
Ministers Dithering Over Decision on Whether to Vaccinate Children against Covid
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has “reached some conclusions” on whether to recommend the vaccination children against Covid, with previous reports suggesting that it will advise against this move until there is more safety data. But while JCVI members say they are “perplexed” by the Government stalling on this matter, a Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) spokesman says ministers are waiting for a “formal recommendation” before moving any further. The Telegraph has more.
Senior JCVI members have previously publicly questioned the ethics of vaccinating a population that faces only a tiny risk of serious illness from Covid.
However, Professor Chris Whitty, England’s Chief Medical Officer, last week suggested the Government was sympathetic to the idea when he said there was a “wider question” about disruption to schooling.
On Sunday night, a source said: “It is about reconciling the view of the Committee – which of course is evolving over time anyway – and what the politicians are minded to do. I guess that process is taking longer than usual.”
JCVI members were “perplexed” by the delay, the source added, saying: “We’ve deliberated and we’ve reached some conclusions, but the position we’re in is that we’re waiting for a joint communique from DHSC, from Matt Hancock and the whole team.”
On Sunday night, the Department of Health denied that ministers had yet received JCVI’s advice…
JCVI members – most of whom are independent scientists who offer their expertise to the committee – are known to be seeking the assurance of real-world safety data from mass roll-outs in other countries…
A key issue of concern is understanding whether mRNA vaccines such as the Pfizer jab increase the risk of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control said there have been more than 300 cases reported among the millions of teens and young adults who have received an mRNA vaccine, but that in the “vast majority” of cases the inflammation went away…
A DHSC spokesman said: “Following a robust review of the evidence, the MHRA concluded the Pfizer Covid vaccine meets the high standards of safety, effectiveness and quality required and has authorised its use for people aged 12 and above.
“Ministers have not received JCVI advice and no decisions have been made on whether people aged 12 to 17 should be routinely offered Covid vaccines. The Government will continue to be guided by the advice of the JCVI and has asked for its formal recommendation. We will update in due course.”
Worth reading in full.
Thousands of Women Suffering Period Problems Following Covid Vaccination
Britain’s medicines regulator has received reports from almost 4,000 women, mostly aged between 30 and 49, who have suffered period problems after taking a Covid vaccine. Reports were gathered until the middle of May – before the vaccine rollout opened for the whole adult population – so more up-to-date figures could show a much lower age range for period problems. The Sunday Times has the story.
Official data, obtained by the Sunday Times, show that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) received 2,734 reports of period problems linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine, 1,158 related to the Pfizer jab, and 66 linked to the Moderna vaccine up to May 17th.
The issue, typically involving “heavier than usual” bleeding, could have affected many more women who would not have thought to report their experience. The majority of issues were reported in women aged between 30 and 49.
Asked why the problems had not been added to the official list of possible side effects of the Covid vaccines, the MHRA said a review with experts had found that there was no need to do so. The “current evidence” did not suggest an “increased risk” of period problems after the jab, it said, but it had published information on reports of menstrual disorders in its weekly report on adverse reactions.
Victoria Male, a Reproductive Immunologist at Imperial College London, said more women were likely to have been affected than the number of case reports. “It’s definitely true that not everyone will be reporting any menstrual changes they have noticed to Yellow Card [the MHRA’s scheme for people to report suspected side effects] simply because not everyone knows that it exists and that they can file a report,” she said.
Although a clear link between the Covid jab and menstrual disorders had not been established, “lots of people have contacted me to tell me about changes that they have noticed in their periods following vaccination”, Male said. “The kinds of things they are telling me about, mostly periods that are heavier or later than usual, are very similar to the reports we are seeing in Yellow Card.”
Angharad Planells, 34, from Cheltenham, said her period had been 11 days late after her second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine. “My whole life I’ve been pretty regular and I track my period on an app. It was super late,” she said. “When it did start, it was one of – if not the – most painful periods I’ve ever had, to the point where I felt a bit nauseous.”
Planells, who reported the suspected adverse reaction to the MHRA, added: “I would still have the vaccine again. I have had family members die from Covid. It’s just the lack of information out there.”
Worth reading in full.
Scientists Find Most PCR Test Results Do Not Indicate Infectious Virus, Question Test’s Status as “Gold Standard”
By Will Jones
How often do we hear that the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test is the “gold standard” for detecting COVID-19 infection and thus for controlling and containing a COVID-19 epidemic? To question the accuracy of this test is supposedly part of the “misinformation” sceptics spread, which Ofcom, being guided by biased, Big Tech-funded, activist organisation Full Fact, aims to suppress.
Since early 2020, there have been concerns that defining a “case” of COVID-19 merely in terms of a positive PCR test – with no consideration of clinical symptoms or the cycle threshold (Ct) of the test, which indicates the viral load of the patient – debases the concept of a clinical case and exaggerates the prevalence of the disease, fuelling alarm.
The issue was raised by Harvard epidemiologist Michael Mina and colleagues in the Lancet in February 2021, where they concluded that the cycle thresholds in reported test data were such that only a quarter to a half of positive PCR tests were likely to indicate the presence of infectious COVID-19. The rest, they argued, were detecting post-infectious viral particles, meaning relying on PCR testing was overstating the number of infectious cases of COVID-19 by a factor of between two and four.
This conclusion has now been underlined in a research letter in the Journal of Infection by seven scientists from the Universities of Münster and Essen. After analysing the test results from a large laboratory in Münster that amounted to 80% of all Covid PCR tests in the Münster region during March to November 2020, they found that “more than half of individuals with positive PCR test results are unlikely to have been infectious”. They thus conclude: “RT-PCR test positivity should not be taken as an accurate measure of infectious SARS-CoV-2 incidence.”
They also note that asymptomatic positives have higher average Ct values than symptomatic positives, meaning lower viral load and so less likely to be infectious.
Asymptomatic individuals with positive RT-PCR test results have higher Ct values and a lower probability of being infectious than symptomatic individuals with positive results.
This isn’t to say that PCR tests are of no use in diagnosing COVID-19. PCR amplifies tiny amounts of genetic material until it can be detected, and can certainly be used to detect the presence of SARS-CoV-2. However, some doubt the validity of the PCR test protocols for COVID-19 and so question whether it is even detecting a real virus. However, since a large proportion of samples are currently being genetically sequenced to determine which variant they are, there can be no serious doubt that a real virus with known genetic structure is being detected in the tests.
When viral incidence is low or declining, that’s when the PCR test becomes much less reliable and tends greatly to overstate the prevalence of the disease (by two to four times, according to Michael Mina) and misdiagnoses people as being sick or infectious. When levels are surging and there is more infectious virus around it is much more likely to be accurate, at least in terms of indicating infectiousness, though questions about the proper use of the term “case” where no or mild symptoms are present remain.
- “Lockdown lifting ‘cannot be accelerated to July 5th’” – The Telegraph understands from senior Government sources that the country is “probably not in the place” to unlock at the two-week review stage
- “All kids aged 16 and 17 to be offered Covid jab before school starts in September” – People aged 16 and 17 are set to be offered a vaccine before they head back to school in September, according to the Sun, subject to the approval of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation
- “We are injecting funds to restore Britain’s status as a scientific superpower” – “I cannot think of a time in the last 100 years when the entire population of this country has been so deeply and so obviously indebted to science – and to scientists,” says Boris Johnson in the Telegraph, heralding the launch of a new outfit, to be headed by Sir Patrick Vallance, which will boost investment in the scientific sector
- “Pensions raid to pay for Covid pandemic” – The Treasury is considering ways to claw back cash from pensioners to help pay for the ruinous lockdowns, the Telegraph says
- “Government ordered to hand over plans on how NHS would cope if overwhelmed by pandemic” – The Information Commissioner’s Office has ordered the Department of Health and Social Care to hand over “pandemic influenza briefing papers”, the Telegraph reports, in a move likely to raise questions about whether Britain was sufficiently prepared for COVID-19
- “Andy Burnham rages at ‘hypocrite’ Nicola Sturgeon over travel ban” – Andy Burnham branded the SNP leader a “hypocrite” and demanded compensation for holidaymakers and businesses affected by her ban on travellers from Manchester to Scotland, MailOnline reports
- “Asthma inhalers can speed up Covid recovery by three days” – MPs have been told that doctors prescribing inhalers have seen the recovery time cut by as much as three days, according to MailOnline
- “Ministers say PM had ‘up to date’ data before delaying Freedom Day” – MailOnline reports that Justice Secretary Robert Buckland has dismissed claims that Matt Hancock failed to disclose crucial data in the run up to the decision to delay unlocking
- “Head of Independent Sage to launch international climate change group” – Sir David King is to be the head of a new Climate Crisis Advisory Group, according to the Guardian. He hopes to replicate the success of Independent Sage
- “Our freedoms are at the mercy of gloomy modellers” – “It is shocking that decisions affecting thousands of jobs and millions of lives were taken on the basis of dubious, incomplete evidence,” says Ross Clark in the Telegraph
- “Soldiers of faith, take a sword to the Covid rulebook” – “If all the faiths banded together and as one declared that they would ignore the Covid regulations that threaten to destroy them, they would form a mighty army which could, as in the past, move mountains,” says Liz Hodgkinson in the Conservative Woman
- “Revolt!” – Writing for the Conservative Woman, Henry Getley tells the story of the Peasants’ Revolt
- “What I know (and don’t know) about SARS-CoV-2” – An overview from Edward Curtin at Off-Guardian
- “Lockdown, Lib Dems and Leaks” – In the latest episode of the Week in Review, Bournbrook contributors S.D. Wickett and Luke Perry and guest contributor Peter Tutykhin discuss the delay to reopening and Dominic Cummings’s most recent leaks
- “Robin Monotti: A Conversation with Eric Clapton” – Italian architect Robin Monotti talks to Eric Clapton about the musician’s experiences over the past 18 months
- “Meet the secret nomads whose bosses don’t know they’re working abroad” – A Euronews travel feature on people who, having been told to work from home, have chosen to work abroad instead, without telling their employer
- “Delta variant fuels spike in coronavirus cases in Lisbon” – Portuguese authorities have confirmed that it is the Delta variant which is causing cases to rise in Lisbon, Euronews reports
- “Vaccinated tourists, children 0-6, to be allowed into Israel from July 1st” – Israel’s Minister for the Interior has announced that vaccinated tourists, and children up to the age of six will be permitted to enter the country from July 1st, the Jerusalem Post reports. Specifics as to which countries they may come from and which vaccines will be accepted are to follow
- “Ben-Gurion let 2,832 people into Israel without COVID-19 tests on Friday” – Some 2,832 people entered Israel through Ben Gurion International Airport without taking the coronavirus test, according to the Jerusalem Post, due to congestion in the system
- “Three countries ask Israel for Covid vaccines if Palestinians nix deal, source says” – Should the Palestinians decide they don’t want the one million vaccines offered by Israel, Haaretz says that there are three other countries who will happily take them
- “Google And USAID Funded Wuhan Collaborator Peter Daszak’s Virus Experiments For Over A Decade.” – The National Pulse has spotted that Google’s charitable arm and the United States Agency for International Aid also funded gain of function research
- “New Harvard Data (Accidentally) Reveal How Lockdowns Crushed the Working Class While Leaving Elites Unscathed” – In an item for the Foundation for Economic Education, Brad Polumbo highlights a new data analysis from Harvard University, Brown University, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which indicates that lockdowns “devastated workers at the bottom of the financial food chain but left the upper-tier actually better off”
- “Atlanta mayor blames city’s rising violence on lifting of lockdown restrictions” – The Democratic Mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, is claiming that the spike in the city’s crime rate should be blamed on the early easing of COVID-19 restrictions in Georgia by the statehouse GOP, the Post Millennial reports
- “The Soviet Union once denied a deadly anthrax lab leak. American scientists backed up the story” – In Yekaterinburg, Russia in 1979, Patients with unexplained pneumonia started showing up in hospitals. U.S. spies picked up clues about a lab leak, but local officials suggested the source was contaminated meat, according to this account published in Nation World News
- “Cuba encouraged by early efficacy results of homegrown COVID-19 vaccine” – Cuba’s Soberana 2 vaccine candidate has shown 62% efficacy with just two of its three doses, according to Reuters
- “Shenzhen airport tightens COVID-19 measures as China logs 30 new cases” – Anyone flying into Shenzhen airport must produce a negative test result that’s no more than 48 hours old, Reuters reports, following the outbreak of new cases in southern China
- “Wuhan Institute of Virology listed as candidate for Outstanding Science and Technology Achievement Prize” – The Chinese Academy of Sciences has listed the Wuhan lab as a candidate for the 2021 Outstanding Science and Technology Achievement Prize, according to the Global Times, and selected “bat woman” Shi Zhengli and director Yuan Zhiming as outstanding contributors
- “State takes testing to ‘a new level’ in fight against Delta COVID-19 strain” – Thousands of people who visited one of Sydney’s biggest shopping centres have been asked to get a COVID-19 test regardless of symptoms, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, as authorities attempt to “flush out” undetected cases of the Delta variant
- “Border worker sacked for refusing COVID-19 vaccination challenges dismissal” – A New Zealand border worker who was fired for refusing the vaccine has taken the case to the Employment Relations Community, Stuff reports, but it has been rejected
- “Melburnians ‘prefer to live elsewhere’, poll finds” – Rita Panahi of Sky News Australia responds to a new poll which shows that a third of Melbourne residents want to escape from Dan Andrews’ tyrannical regime
- “MP Derek Sloan raises concerns about censorship of doctors and scientists” – Canadian politician Derek Sloan uses a press conference on Parliament Hill to provide censored doctors and scientists with a voice. He is joined by Professor Byram Bridle, Dr. Patrick Phillips and Professor Don Welsh
- “People don’t realise the crisis that’s coming” – Phones 4U founder John Caudwell tells Dan Wootton about the economic crisis he sees coming as a result of empty offices and shops
Eight today: “Carousel” by Melanie Martinez, “Don’t Stop Believin” by Journey, “Escape” by Journey, “The Past” by Ray Parker, “Forget To Remember” by Mudvayne, “Behind The Mask” by Eric Clapton, “Gotta Get Thru This” by DWIN and “Let’s Face the Music and Dance” by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
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 as well as post comments below the line, but that should just be a one-time thing. Any problems, email Lockdown Sceptics here.
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We’ve decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook. Today, it is the turn of the Law Society. To celebrate Pride Month, the Society drew everyone’s attention to a page from its HR guidance about the correct use of pronouns in the workplace. It makes clear that an individual’s name and appearance is not always an accurate guide to what their pronouns might be. It is therefore “good practice” to “normalise sharing our pronouns rather than relying on people to assume them correctly” and the guidance goes on to suggest methods for so doing.
What are pronouns and why is it important to know?
We all use pronouns as part of everyday conversation.
Gender pronouns (such as ‘he/him/his’ or ‘she/her/hers’) are the way that we constantly refer to one another’s gender identity – except we often do not think a whole lot about them.
We frequently, and likely subconsciously, interpret or “read” a person’s gender based on their outward appearance and expression, and “assign” a pronoun.
However, our inference as to that person’s gender identity may not be correct.
Everyone deserves to have their chosen name and pronouns respected in the workplace. Some employees may opt to use gender expansive pronouns such as “they, them and theirs” instead of, or as well as, “he, him and his” or “she, her and hers”.
In addition, some people may prefer the honorific “Mx” instead of “Ms” or “Mr”.
There are various ways people can make their pronouns known.
Communicating your pronouns
Although you may feel it personally unnecessary to do so, and it may even make you feel a little uncomfortable at first, sharing your pronouns helps raise awareness and acceptance of different, including non-binary, gender identities.
As with anything new, practice makes perfect. It will take time for this to become a habitual part of your communications.
Do not be afraid of making mistakes: they are inevitable, but be aware of them, learn from them and, most importantly, keep trying.
Indicating your own pronouns is ultimately a personal choice. However, if someone has indicated their pronouns to you, make sure you use them correctly.
Ideas for getting pronouns right
Try to get into the habit of using “they/them” until you know someone’s pronouns, for example: “There is someone here to see you. I will ask them to take a seat”
When you introduce someone use their pronouns so that others know what pronouns to adopt, for example: “This is Jen, they work in finance. This is Fred, he works in marketing”
Listen to how people speak about themselves and follow suit
Pronouns may be detailed underneath their email signature if you have received an email from them, alternatively, they may also be available on their LinkedIn or other social media profiles
If you’re unsure, discreetly ask people what their pronouns are, for example: “Sorry, I didn’t catch your pronouns.”
Include personal pronouns in your email signature lines, in letter correspondence and your LinkedIn (and other social media) profile(s).
Update your profile for contacts, work referrers and prospective clients with personal pronouns once you know them.
Request your pronouns are included on your name badge.
Stop Press: In Spiked, Frank Furedi has written about the Hungarian football fans who marched against the taking the knee. They are weary, he says, of being “continually lectured by the Western media” and they are “not having it anymore”.
I have been going to football games all my life. But this was the most intense and uplifting experience I have ever had at a game.
The game is in Budapest. It is Hungary vs France. But it is more than just another Euro 2020 match. As I arrive at the fans’ zone, I see a bunch of guys holding a banner challenging the gesture of taking the knee. The banner has an image of someone taking the knee with a cross through it – a clear statement of rejection of this practice of abasement.
I talk to Gergely and Sanyi, two of the guys milling around the banner. They tell me why they think it’s right to take a stand against the Anglo-American gesture of taking the knee. Sanyi tells me, “We are not like them, we are a proud people who refuse to bend ourselves to anyone.” Standing near us is Orsolya, who says the ritual of taking the knee has nothing to do with being against racism. “It is a new form of piety. It makes us sick.”
Almost everyone I talk to tells me that we Hungarians have decided to take a stand against all this crap. They are still angry that when they booed the Irish for taking the knee in a recent game, the Western press denounced them as racist. They feel that they are continually lectured by the Western media as if they are colonial subjects. And they are not having it anymore.
Talking to these supporters was like being enveloped in common sense sanity. Their buzz was infectious. I got a really strong feeling that freedom was in the air.
Worth reading in full.
Stop Press 2: On GB News, Inaya Folarin Iman, a former Director of the Free Speech Union, asked how, in a free and liberal society, the Batley Grammar School teacher who showed cartoons of the prophet Mohammed to a religious education class, and who has been cleared of any wrongdoing by his employer, is still in hiding.
We’ve created a one-stop shop down here for people who want to obtain a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card – because wearing a mask causes them “severe distress”, for instance. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and the Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. And 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.
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. Available free of charge.
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 and Prof Carl Heneghan and Dr Tom Jefferson’s Spectator article about the Danish mask study here.
Stop Press: Because today was meant to be “Freedom Day”, Julia Hartley-Brewer has decided she’s not going to wear a mask anymore and has linked to Government guidance on how to claim you’re exempt.
Stop Press 2: Belgian Public Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke has suggested that mask mandates should remain in place for the foreseeable future, the Brussels Times reports, because they might prevent people catching flu.
Face masks are unlikely to disappear from the public view in a hurry, according to Public Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke (Vooruit).
Speaking on Sunday on the VRT’s weekly De Zevende Dag programme, Minister Vandenbroucke said the protective masks would need to remain compulsory for some time in certain places, such as stores since everything depends on the percentage of the population that is vaccinated against the novel Coronavirus.
In the long term, it could be a good thing to maintain the habit of wearing face masks in public transport vehicles, which are often packed, the minister noted, adding that this could be beneficial during the ’flu season, for example.
Stop Press 3: According to the Times of Israel, the country’s Health Ministry is considering brining back the indoor mask mandate in response to fresh outbreaks.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz are weighing a range of fresh COVID-19 measures, including returning the indoor mask mandate, to beat back a series of outbreaks at schools.
The Health Ministry is considering returning the mask mandate for schools, Ben-Gurion International Airport, and potentially all public indoor spaces, according to multiple Hebrew media reports on Sunday. The new government is also expected to re-establish the coronavirus cabinet that existed under the previous government, as concerns about the extra-contagious Delta variant, which was first discovered in India, have continued to grow in Israel.
Over the past few days, Israel has experienced a small uptick in new COVID-19 cases, due to two outbreaks in schools in Binyamina and Modi’in, where dozens of unvaccinated children tested positive for the coronavirus. Both outbreaks are believed to stem from individuals returning from abroad, and the Health Ministry on Sunday reinstituted the mask mandate in schools in the two towns.
Worth reading in full.
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. In February, Facebook deleted the GBD’s page because it “goes against our community standards”. 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 GBD 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 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.
Covid19 Assembly has announced that it is setting up a national audit with the goal of investigating every official UK Covid death. The audit will be overseen by pathologist Dr Clare Craig. The initiative has been launched in the wake of increasing reports from family members of their loved ones’ deaths being recorded as due to Covid when they hadn’t tested positive, had no symptoms or had a terminal illness.
With the Coronavirus Act sidelining inquests, testing inefficiencies and pressure on medical staff – as well as the Government’s policy of counting any death as a Covid death if it occurred within 28 days of a positive test – people have raised concerns that the official Covid death toll of over 120,000 could be incorrect.
The issue hit the headlines recently when the Daily Mail’s Bel Mooney wrote about the death of her father, prompting many others to speak out. The Covid19 Assembly’s team will comprise experienced health professionals, researchers, data analysts and legal experts. They will be collecting and analysing evidence with the aim of ascertaining to what extent (if any) official figures have been skewed.
Bereaved family members, medical professionals, registrars, funeral directors and anyone else who has information which may be relevant are invited to get in touch in confidence via the organization’s website at www.covid19assembly.org/covid-deaths-audit. Since launching, the Audit has proven popular with the public. A large amount of information and many personal stories have poured in and Twitter users around the world have called for similar schemes to be launched as far afield as Ireland, Canada and the USA.
Covid19 Assembly was founded in September 2020 to provide accurate data to the public and to serve as a centrepoint for groups requiring neutral, evidence-based information on a wide range of matters concerning the Covid crisis. The Assembly’s advisors include Dr Craig, Harvard Professor of Medicine Dr. Martin Kulldorff, barrister Francis Hoar, and Lockdown Sceptics’ editor Toby Young. Any Lockdown Sceptics readers and BTL commenters are welcome to volunteer to help. Please contact them via their website.
Update: Barrister Francis Hoar has launched the Covid19 Assembly’s whistleblower service which offers professional legal advice, free of charge, to support whistleblowers with information about the Government’s response to COVID-19. More information here.
There are now so many legal cases being brought against the Government and its ministers we thought we’d include them all in one place down here.
The Simon Dolan case has now reached the end of the road, and it looks as though the Robin Tilbrook case has too. Neither claimant was granted permission for a judicial review against the Government, unfortunately, although Tilbrook says he’s going to appeal.
The GoodLawProject and three MPs – Debbie Abrahams, Caroline Lucas and Layla Moran – brought a Judicial Review against Matt Hancock for failing to publish details of lucrative contracts awarded by his department and it was upheld. The Court ruled Hancock had acted unlawfully.
Lawyers for more than 2,000 families who lost loved ones during the pandemic are taking legal action to try to force the Prime Minister to hold an immediate public inquiry into the government’s handling of the crisis. The group, called COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice UK, is seeking permission for a Judicial Review. The group’s lawyers are arguing that the Government has a duty under human rights law to hold an urgent judge-led statutory inquiry, because there is evidence that thousands of people died needlessly as a result of decisions taken by ministers. You can read more about that group and contribute to the fundraiser here.
Then there’s John’s Campaign which is focused specifically on care homes and began a legal process to challenge guidance which recommends that care home residents who go on visits outside should isolate for 14 days upon their return. The Government’s initial response stated that this was was not a legal requirement, and that it is up to individuals care homes to determine how best to protect residents from Covid. On May 1st it was reported that the guidance was going to change to no longer recommend the period of self isolation after a visit to a garden or an outdoor space, such as a park or a beach. Read more about the case and get updates here.
Scottish Church leaders from a range of Christian denominations judicially reviewed the decision of the Scottish Government to close churches, supported by the Christian Legal Centre. The church leaders argued that it was a disproportionate step, and one which has serious implications for freedom of religion. The review was upheld, with the judge ruling on March 23rd, 2021 that that the Scottish Ministers’ decision to ban and criminalise gathered worship was unconstitutional and a disproportionate interference in worshippers Article 9 ECHR rights. Read more about the victory here.
There’s the class action lawsuit being brought by Dr Reiner Fuellmich and his team in various countries against “the manufacturers and sellers of the defective product, PCR tests”. Dr Fuellmich explains the lawsuit in this video. Dr Fuellmich has also served cease and desist papers on Professor Christian Drosten, co-author of the Corman-Drosten paper which was the first and WHO-recommended PCR protocol for detection of SARS-CoV-2. That paper, which was pivotal to the roll out of mass PCR testing, was submitted to the journal Eurosurveillance on January 21st and accepted following peer review on January 22nd. The paper has been critically reviewed here by Pieter Borger and colleagues, who also submitted a retraction request which has now been rejected. The Jerm Warfare blog has published an interview with Reiner Fuellmich about his plans to take the World Health Organisation, and others, to court for “crimes against humanity”.
Hugh Osmond, the founder of Punch Taverns and a former director of Pizza Express, and Sacha Lord, Greater Manchester’s night time economy adviser submitted a claim for a Judicial Review about the fact that indoor hospitality venues have had to remain closed for weeks longer than non-essential shops in England. Their case was initially expedited, but on May 3rd, 2021 it was dismissed on the grounds that, by then, the hearing could not take place until after May 17th, the date on which the sector would be permitted to reopen.
Law Firm PGMBM is acting on behalf of an NHS worker, a pensioner and a gig economy worker to challenge the Government’s charges for hotel quarantine for residents coming into the UK from a red list country. Read about that case, and support it, here.
Lawyers from the Law or Fiction group launched a legal challenge against a multi-academy trust in Sheffield to try and stop children having to wear masks in school, but were unsuccessful. You can read about the judge’s decision on Law or Fiction’s CrowdJustice page here.
The Law or Fiction group is also bringing a case against an employer who’s made the vaccine mandatory. It relates to Barchester Healthcare which is planning to impose a ‘No Jab, No Job’ policy on its 17,000 staff. Read more about that case and support it here.
And last but not least there was the Free Speech Union‘s challenge to Ofcom over its ‘coronavirus guidance’. A High Court judge refused permission for the FSU’s judicial review on December 9th and the FSU has decided not to appeal the decision. Check here for details.
Stop Press: Debbie Hicks, the anti-lockdown campaigner who was arrested after posting a video on Facebook of a recording she’d made of a largely empty ward at Gloucester Royal Hospital, is facing trial and has started a fundraiser to help pay for her legal defence. You can donate here.
If you are struggling to cope, please call Samaritans for free on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email firstname.lastname@example.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.
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In the latest Downfall parody, Hitler becomes Dr Fauci raging about the failure of his lieutenants to suppress the lab leak theory. Quite funny.