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Gareth Icke Claims Bereaved Sandy Hook Father was “Getting Into Character”

In 2013 David Icke wrote and published a post entitled “Sandy Hook was a blatantly staged event with endless inconsistences and countless contradictions”. Rather than provide any evidence, he instead commended readers to a site called Intellihub, where two authors named Shepard Ambellas and Alex Thomas raised the possibility that “crisis actors might have been used”. Both posts were later removed, presumably because of the legal actions against Alex Jones.

However, Sandy Hook trutherism libelling bereaved parents remains alive within the Icke operation, and as noted by Matthew Sweet it was recently expressed by his son Gareth Icke on Icke’s “Icktonic” video-streaming site, during a segment in which he lamented the legal finding against Jones. Describing one bereaved Sandy Hook father at a press conference the day after the massacre, G. Icke says

…he’s laughing, and saying ‘are we ready to get started?’ and then he gets into character…

Icke’s co-presenter was Leilani Dowding, and his interlocutors included Dominique Samuels (who complains that Jones is being “silenced”). Dowding and Samuels will both be familiar to viewers of GB News; the latter is also a regular on ITV’s Good Morning Britain. Also part of the discussion were John Mappin, Abi Roberts and Charlotte Emma.

Daily Telegraph Alleges Scientists Suppressed Case for Covid Lab-Leak

The Daily Telegraph reports on “newly released emails from early 2020” involving authors of “The Proximal Origin of SARS-CoV-2”, a peer-reviewed correspondence item that was published in Nature Medicine in March 2020 and made the case for the coronavirus being a zoonotic spillover rather than a bio-engineered virus that had escaped from the lab in Wuhan:

The lead author of the paper, Prof Kristian Andersen, of the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, had earlier told colleagues that features of the virus looked as if they’d been engineered in a lab.

…In an email chain debating the original draft, one of the authors even admitted that the virus would look the same whether it had evolved naturally or in lab mice in a process known as “serial passaging”

However, no mention of this was made in the paper.

…The email release will add more fuel to accusations that eminent scientists effectively publicly shut down investigations into a lab leak so as not to upset China, while believing privately it was possible.

Lab-leak prononent Matt Ridley followed up with an opinion piece with the inflammatory headline “Top virologists betrayed science with their Covid lab leak cover-up”. The Telegraph has invested heavily in this particular narrative: in September last year it gave us “Scientists created false narrative over suspected Covid leak from Wuhan lab, say experts”, and in June 2020 it tried to bolster a lab-leak theory rejected by peer review by getting a former head of MI6 to give it his irrelevant imprimatur.

In the meantime, scientific research has proceeded apace, with various new articles adding to the evidence of zoonotic spillover and natural origins: these include two 2022 studies (Pekar et al. here and Worobey et al. here) involving “Proximal Origin” authors alongside others, one of which argues that “geographical clustering of the earliest known COVID-19 cases and the proximity of positive environmental samples to live-animal vendors suggest that the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan was the site of origin of the COVID-19 pandemic” (an account that also undercuts the possibility of a non-engineered virus brought from elsewhere leaking from the Wuhan lab). Writing earlier this month, one of the “Proximal Origin” authors laid out the case that “The evidence remains clear: SARS-CoV-2 emerged via the wildlife trade”.

Such studies have largely been ignored by the media, but there doesn’t seem to be much new evidence for a bio-engineered virus either. Instead, then, we have a journalistic quest for “gotchas” intended to undermine the personal integrity of scientists. In case of the new emails (also known in some reports as the “Fauci emails”, due to his involvement in the discussion), the fact that the authors gave due consideration to lab leak theories two and a half years ago is now being weaponised against them.

Fuller coverage of what the emails contain and their significance can be found on Twitter than in sensationalising media reports. In particular, there is a long thread by Angela Rasmussen here, including screenshots. There is nothing to justify the (tellingly unattributed) accusation in the Telegraph that they wanted to “shut down investigations into a lab leak so as not to upset China”. Indeed, Anthony Fauci’s initial reaction was that a group of biologists should get together “to carefully examine the data to determine if [Andersen’s] concerns are validated”, and if so then the authorities should be alerted. The authors also discussed the need for a balanced approach: in one email, from 8 February, Jeremy Farar wrote of the need “to bring a neutral, respected, scientific group together to look at the data and in a neutral, considered way provide an opinion and we hoped to focus the discussion on the science”.

What the emails do confirm, though, is that the authors were impressed by new evidence as it came in. Farrar believed the argument was made “even clearer” by “additional information on the pangolin virus, information not available even 24 hours ago”; Andersen concurred – specifically stating that while he currently didn’t have “high confidence” in anti-lab leak theories, “I am very hopeful that the viruses from pangolins will help provide the mssing pieces”.

This is in accordance with the public record. As reported in the New York Times in March 2021, the authors originally saw “bits of genetic material that looked like they might have been put there through genetic engineering” but then changed their minds in the light of further information (H/T @flodebarre):

Soon afterward, Dr. Holmes helped researchers at the University of Hong Kong analyze a coronavirus, found in a pangolin, that was closely related to SARS-CoV-2. The virus looked especially similar in its surface protein, called spike, which the virus uses to enter cells.

Finding such a distinct biological signature in a virus from a wild animal strengthened Dr. Holmes’s confidence that SARS-CoV-2 was not the product of genetic engineering. “Suddenly what looks odd is clearly natural,” Dr. Holmes said.

Matt Ridley argues that the pangolin evidence “was a red herring”, being “too distantly related, lacking a furin cleavage site, only 2 infected animals, not in Wuhan”. However, as a biologist named Flo Débarre points out, this does not reflect how the pangolin evidence was actually used: the sequences cited were the receptor-binding domains (RBDs). As quoted from “Proximal Origin”:

Although the RaTG13 bat virus remains the closest to SARS-CoV-2 across the genome, some pangolin coronaviruses exhibit strong similarity to SARS-CoV-2 in the RBD, including all six key RBD residues…. This clearly shows that the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein optimized for binding to human-like ACE2 is the result of natural selection.

Now, I’m not a scientist, and so I can only appreciate scientific discussion through a glass darkly. However, I can recognise media and activist framings and narrative strategies, and these are why “lab-leak” claims (and wilder “bio-weapon” conspiracy theories) have been so prominent. This aspect is the subject of a Twitter thread by a science blogger named Philipp Markolin here.

Conspiracists Back “Not Our Future” Pledge

The latest bit of networking for (mostly) British conspiracists:

Not Our Future exists purely to fight for the survival of our way of life as we know it.

The organisation was founded by David Fleming, who also founded the Covid19 Assembly and the Together Declaration. David departed the Together Declaration at the end of 2021 but still oversees the Covid19 Assembly, which has a few ongoing long-term projects.

Visitors to the website are encouraged to sign a pledge saying that they “reject the future that is being forced upon us”, starting with measures against the spread of Covid but then extrapolating into a wider list of grievances:  “Rampant inflation and unsustainable debt caused by uncontrolled money printing”; “belligerently supporting war instead of negotiating for peace” (i.e. support for Ukraine); “Unaffordable food and energy prices exacerbated by war” (i.e. Ukraine again); “De-industrialisation caused by the NetZero energy crisis”; corporate censorship of “news and facts” and legislation “to curtail freedom of speech”; “identity politics”; “Looming food shortages resulting from forced buy-out of productive farmland”; “Attempting to grant the World Health Organisation power to direct worldwide pandemic management policies”; amd “Digital IDs and programmable Central Bank Digital Currencies”. The masterplan is explained as “United Nations Agendas 21 & 30 and the Sustainable Development Goals”.

There is also a short video statement from 1990s novelty pop duo Right Said Fred, and a list, with headshots, of prominent signatories. A useful guide to many of these has been posted to Twitter by John Bye, which I here quote more or less in full for the record:

Many HART members signed up to stop this apocalyptic conspiracy theorist’s vision of the future, including Clare Craig (“seeding the thought vaccines cause covid”), Gary Sidley (anti-mask campaigner), Michael Yeadon (“depopulation agenda”) and Patrick Fagan (Cambridge Analytica). Other HART members on the founding signatories list include Tess Lawrie (also of BIRD, World Council for Health etc) and Bob Moran (an ex Telegraph cartoonist who accused a prominent scientist of “promoting the idea of ritualistic child sacrifice”). [1]

PANDA founder Nick Hudson (who recently said the lives of people involved in lockdowns should be destroyed) and PANDA executive committee member Piers Robinson (who defends dictators accused of chemical weapon attacks) are also founding signatories. Even further out on the fringe are funeral director John O’Looney (who claims there were no excess deaths in 2020), Dolores Cahill (international fugitive), Reiner Fuellmich (accused by his own group of embezzling their funds) and Robin Monotti (Putin apologist and Yeadon’s BFF).

Other signatories include veteran anti-vaxxer Del Bigtree (who produced Andrew Wakefield’s film about the MMR vaccine), Vernon Coleman (AIDS denier), Robert Malone (who claims to have invented mRNA vaccines) and long time New World Order conspiracy theorist Patrick Wood. Then there’s a host of journos who amplified Yeadon’s paranoid claims: Neil Oliver (GB News’ lead conspiracy theorist), Maajid NawazKathy Gyngell (of conspiracy rag Conservative Woman) and James Delingpole (ex Breitbart London). And last and least, the hangers on: out of work actors Laurence Fox (Reclaim UK) and John Bowe (who setup a vaccine injury “helpline” that refers people to homeopaths), ex-footballer Matt Le Tissier (fired by Sky Sports) and Right Said Fred (novelty pop act turned anti-vaxxers).

Also:

Mike Stock is one third of Stock Aitken Waterman, the 1980s pop factory behind Kylie Minogue’s early hits... He joins Right Said Fred and DJ Danny Rampling, who ironically founded a “carbon neutral DJ campaign” .. but has now signed a pledge against Net Zero.

Simon Elmer co-founded Architects for Social Housing, and went from campaigning for council houses to writing a book “Road to Fascism: A Critique of the Global Biosecurity State”…. Frank Furedi co-founded the Revolutionary Communist Party, and writes about a “culture of fear”.

David Charalambous runs Reaching People, a “coalition partner” of Tess Lawrie’s World Council for Health, apparently giving advice on how covid contrarians can get through to us normies. Tom Woods is a libertarian author from America, who was a founding member of the League of the South .. a neo-Confederate group! His colleagues there included the AIER’s Jeffrey Tucker, who was behind the Great Barrington Declaration and the Brownstone Institute.

As for Fleming himself, Bye explains that he’s “responsible for a long line of companies that were struck off without ever filing accounts. Most recently the Covid-19 Assembly. He claims he just set it up wrong, but it conveniently lets him dodge filing accounts for yet another year.”

Note

1. Bob Moran was recently at a Carlton Club dinner party hosted by British QAnon (and Putin) enthusiast and millionaire hotelier John Mappin. Other guests included Nigel Farage, Eva Vlaardingerbroek, Charlie Kirk and Lois Perry (along with the lesser-known Amanda Eliasch and Andrew M Fox). Mappin also Tweeted that he wished that Kim Dotcom had been present, and that he had been “much discussed”. Presumably Kirk was taking the photos posted by Mappin, as he does not appear in them – Mappin helped Kirk with setting up Turning Point UK, although TPUK is now keen to downplay the association.

The “Died Suddenly” Alarmism

One of the best episodes from the first series of Frasier is “Death Becomes Him“, in which Frasier Crane becomes so disturbed by the sudden death of a physician from a heart attack that he gatecrashes the doctor’s funeral reception in a futile attempt to discover an underlying cause. To his dismay, the doctor’s relatives tell him that the deceased had no history of heart disease, high blood pressure or high cholesterol; that he was a “total health fanatic” who avoided fattening desserts; and that he regularly attended a gym and played basketball four times a week:

Gail: Gary was in phenomenal shape.
Bobbie: He didn’t smoke, never touched caffeine…
Allen: Did you know he had less than 10 percent body fat on him?
Frasier: My goodness. Has anybody checked to see if he’s really dead?

The show satirises a natural human instinct to seek out existential reassurance in the face of the knowledge that, despite however we live our lives, death may still come like a thief in the night. Surely, that victim of illness or sudden death must have done something that I can avoid or that doesn’t apply to me?

This tendency is now being ruthlessly exploited by anti-vaxxers and vaccine alarmists, who appear now to attribute any unexpected natural death to Covid vaccination. In the UK, for instance, Aseem Malhotra now claims that Covid vaccination likely explains “all unexplained heart attacks, strokes, cardiac arrhythmias, & heart failure since 2021”. On Twitter, he amplifies and endorses any anecdotal claim that he believes supports this assertion. Meanwhile, GB News has run a sarcastically titled segment called “Nothing to See Here”, in which Mark Steyn cited a random selection of sudden deaths. News of any celebrity death on social media attracts comments either speculating or asserting that Covid vaccination was the cause.

In the USA, meanwhile, we have “Died Suddenly”. As noted in the Guardian:

One phrase that is picking up steam in the anti-vax world is “died suddenly”, which may be used in official media reports to talk about any sudden death, making it harder to moderate automatically.

A Died Suddenly Twitter account, which was verified through the paid Twitter Blue program, plans to release a documentary on Monday that promotes vaccine misinformation.

In a trailer for the film, 12 people are shown fainting or seizing, with the implication that they died from vaccines. In fact, at least four of the people shown did not die, and there were no links to the vaccines in their fainting episodes.

The trailer also shows footage of Megyn Kelly, a SiriusXM host, talking about her sister’s heart attack. But the trailer doesn’t show Kelly’s discussion of their family history of heart attacks.

A detailed debunking of the trailer was posted to Twitter by “The Real Truther” at the end of October: clips the trailer uses include the on-court (and non-fatal) collapse of basketball star Keyontae Johnson in December 2020, before vaccines were even available; a woman who fainted at a train station in Argentina (actually due to low blood pressure); a royal guard fainting while standing vigil at Queen Elizabeth’s coffin (a well-known phenonmenon caused by standing still for long periods); and comedian Heather McDonald fainting on stage (due to not eating and drinking). (1)

The trailer describes the documentary as a “Stew Peters Network EXCLUSIVE”, and it follows his earlier efforts Watch the Waters and These Little Ones. The former apparently claims that “the coronavirus is not a virus, but a synthetic version of snake venom that evil forces are spreading through remdesivir, the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines and drinking water to “make you a hybrid of Satan”, while the latter is concerned with how “millions of children vanish each year”.

This context might suggest a marginal effort unlikely to be embraced by the wider community of Covid vaccination alarmists – indeed, Robert Malone (who had previously been on Peters’ show) denounced Watch the Waters, leading Peters to allege that Malone is working for the CIA. However, Peters is sponsored by Mike Lindell of MyPillow and election truther fame, and Lindell’s support of anti-vaxxers was noted a few days ago by Business Insider:

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell recently became a sponsor for the prominent anti-vaxxer Dr Sherri Tenpenny, an example of Lindell’s growing penchant for funding fringe media figures.

…In June, Slate [sic – actually Salondescribed Tenpenny as an “adviser” to the pillow salesman, without specifying any details of the arrangement.

…Lindell and Tenpenny met, she said, at sessions of the “ReAwaken America” tour, which as The Guardian reported showed a growing alliance between conservative Christians, Trump supporters and anti-vaccine activists.

More on ReAwaken America here.

UPDATE: Within the vaccine alarmist movement,  Died Suddenly has come under fire from a sociologist named Josh Guetzkow. On his Substack blog, Guetzkow describes it as “trash”, and his post has been reposted by Toby Young on his Daily Sceptic website. Guetzkow’s view has also been endorsed by Aseem Malhotra and Clare Craig. Craig speculates that the documentary may be “an intent to muddy the waters”.

Note

1. A similar collage, called “Until Proven Otherwise” was uploaded to Twitter earlier this month by “Texas Kate” and endorsed by Malhotra. The first example given is Charlbi Dean, an actress who died aged 32 of a lung infection and who previously had had her spleen removed. Also in the video is a 15-year-old girl named Jorja Halliday, who died on the day she was due to receive her Covid vaccination; in this case there was a misleading headline (“15-year-old girl died suddenly from Covid complication on day of her vaccine”) which was later amended to “15-year-old girl died suddenly from Covid complication on day her vaccine was due”.

Graham Hancock’s Half Hours on Netflix

In 1991, Michael Palin crossed the border from Sudan into Ethiopia as part of his Pole to Pole BBC travel series. As he writes in his account of the journey:

It all looks unfamiliar and potentially threatening but to our enormous relief our Ethiopian contacts — Graham Hancock, a journalist and Santha Faiia, a Malaysian photographer who has lived a long time in the country — are there to meet us… Graham has a well-researched theory that the Ark of the Covenant is held in a chapel not far from here, and he has just completed a book on his findings.

Palin of course had no way of knowing that Hancock’s book, The Sign and the Seal, would be a popular bestseller and launch Hancock’s career as a celebrity pseudo-historian. Publishers packaged it to look like an earlier “crypto-history” sensation, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, while the title of his 1995 follow-up, Fingerprints of the Gods, recalled Erich von Däniken’s Chariots of the Gods. Hancock is now identified with extravagant claims about the existence of a global pre-Ice Age civilisation, evidence for which can supposedly be discerned in various archaeological remains, but which professional archaeologists have either failed to notice or refuse to accept.

As well as the books themselves, there have been lucrative Daily Mail serialisations and documentaries on British television. Now, there is a series (produced by ITN Productions) on Netflix, where his son is a senior manager. The title, Ancient Apocalyse, echoes Ancient Aliens, although as recently quoted in the Telegraph Hancock says that he’s “so pissed at the f—ing ancient-aliens lobby. They’ve turned this entire field into a laughing stock”.

The series of eight half-hour episodes also features Hancock’s collaborator Randall Carlson; the two men appeared on Joe Rogan’s podcast in 2017, in debate with Michael Shermer, and Rogan is an interviewee in the Netflix series. These associations show how Hancock here serves as a gateway into the wider conspiracy milieu – Rogan is infamous for Covid misinformation, while Carlson’s YouTube output includes “They’re Lying to Us About Global Warming” and “Why Aren’t COVID Vaccines Working?”

As for the documentary series itself, a professional archaeologist named Flint Dibble has an overview:

Hancock argues that viewers should “not rely on the so-called experts”, implying they should rely on his narrative instead. His attacks against “mainstream archaeologists”, the “so-called experts” who “practice censorship” are strident and frequent. After all, as he puts in in episode six, “archaeologists have been wrong before and they could be wrong again”.

One particular problem with Hancock’s theories is the idea that sophisticated ancient remains cannot have arisen out of the ancient civilisations themselves:

Scholars and journalists have pointed out that Hancock’s ideas recycle the long since discredited conclusions drawn by American congressman Ignatius Donnelly in his book Atlantis: The Antediluvian World, published in 1882.

…Like many forms of pseudo archaeology, these claims act to reinforce white supremacist ideas, stripping Indigenous people of their rich heritage and instead giving credit to aliens or white people.

Further criticisms have been expressed in Twitter threads by (among others) Ella Al-Shamahi, Jonathan Jarry, Jens Notroff, John Hoopes and Holly Walters.

Robert Kiyosaki: Troofer Dad, Poor Dad

Election denialism in the USA is alive and well, despite a more muted response to the midterm results than we saw in 2020. Case in point: “wealth guru” Robert Kiyosaki, on Twitter:

STALIN said: “It’s not who votes that counts. It is who counts the votes that counts.” America is dying. Our votes no longer count. Speak out. Fight back. Demand recounts now, not next election. Democracy is at stake and worth fighting for. Don’t let Communists steal our freedom.

Kiyosaki is a leading figure the “wealth guru” subculture. His Rich Dad, Poor Dad books have sold millions, and thousands have paid to attend his seminars in various countries. Repeated predictions of an imminent financial crash have kept him in the news for years.

Kiyosaki has also long been associated with Donald Trump; in 2007 the two men co-authored Why We Want You Be Rich, publicity material for which also featured Trump’s prosperity gospel evangelist Paula White (1). Presumably, Kiyosaki’s investment in election conspiracy rhetoric is an example of the debasing influence that holds sway over all those who embrace Trump’s movement.

Ahead of the midterms, Kiyosaki endorsed election conspiracy theorist Kari Lake in Arizona and appeared on stage with her; his most recent Tweets denounce the “Clinton and Obama Crime Families”, and perhaps inevitably he has also jumped on the World Economic Forum conspiracy theory bandwagon. He also commends Jordan Peterson’s “words of wisdom” to his 2.2 million followers.

Despite formerly promoting real estate investment, he now says that “Marxist took over the US in the 2020” and will raise property taxes; instead, “I recommend gold, silver, Bitcoin”. His latest book, Capitalist Manifesto (2), is a boilerplate rant if the blurb is anything to go by:

Marx’s ideology was spreading through America via the education system. In 2020, protestors are parents, protesting mandatory vaccines for their children, wearing of masks, and the teaching of Critical Race Theory, gender identity, and Post-Modernist Education… all Marxist in heritage.

His view of the Covid-19 pandemic and vaccination is that both are “fishy” and a way for Bill Gates to make money.

In 2010 a journalistic investigation into Kiyosaki’s seminars in Canada found “aggressive sales tactics… where participants are urged to increase their credit card limits after being pressured to spend tens of thousands of dollars on advanced courses”. In 2012 one of his companies declared bankruptcy following a legal dispute.

Note

1. In terms of religion, Kiyosaki describes God as “the best business partner that I’ve ever had”, and he recommends tithing 10% to “charitable organizations”. However, he doesn’t appear to be affiliated with Christianity and one of his books, Rich Brother Rich Sister: Two Different Paths to God, Money and Happiness, was co-authored with his sister Tenzin (Emi) Kiyosaki, a former Buddhist nun who was ordained by the Dalai Lama.

2. According to some listings, the full title is Capitalist Manifesto: Money for Nothing – Gold, Silver and Bitcoin for Free. However, that absurd and self-parodying subtitle does not appear on the cover and it’s possible there’s been some automated confusion somewhere.

Some Notes on the FTX Ukraine Conspiracy Theory

From Coindesk:

Last week, a theory spread on Twitter and right-wing websites suggesting the U.S. government’s massive aid to the besieged nation rebounded to the U.S. Democratic party via the failed FTX crypto exchange, which was an official partner of Ukrainian government for the crypto fundraising campaign.

…Neither Ukrainian government nor FTX ever announced an investment event of any sorts. Such a move would have been extravagant for a nation fielding a full-scale military invasion from Russia using military and financial aid from the U.S., E.U., U.K. and other countries, observers have been quick to point out.

The false claim of an “investment” is a wild extrapolation from old news that Ukraine had “partnered with FTX in March to cash out crypto donations and turn them into ammunition and humanitarian aid”. As Alex Bornyakov, Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Digital Transformation, now writes:

A fundraising crypto foundation @_AidForUkraine used @FTX_Official to convert crypto donations into fiat in March. Ukraine’s gov never invested any funds into FTX. The whole narrative that Ukraine allegedly invested in FTX, who donated money to Democrats is nonsense, frankly 🤦‍♂️

This is also confirmed by someone involved with Aid for Ukraine:

The funds were converted to fiat, then transferred immediately to the government account in the National Bank of Ukraine and spent. 54 Million+ of those was spent this summer – you can check the monthly reports at https://aid-for-ukraine.io.

Despite the lack of evidence for any “investment”, the inherent inplausiblity of the claim, and the obvious way the allegation has been concocted by twisting the story from March, the false narrative is currently dominating social media.

Its rise via Zerohedge and Gateway Pundit is charted on a blog called Did Nothing Wrong, written by Jay McKenzie, who also provides a detailed critique and an explanation for its popularity:

This narrative is an excuse for the poor Republican performance in the midterms. It’s an attack line against Joe Biden by tying him and the Democratic Party to “corruption in Ukraine”—with the search for this supposed corruption still a MAGA open wound that led to Donald Trump’s first impeachment. It also gives further justification for ending aid to Ukraine, as increasing numbers of politicians and voters on the right are pushing for. The usual reasons for astroturfed disinformation campaigns also apply. This is about sowing doubt and confusion. It’s an opportunity for junk news purveyors to convince more people to click on a link and provide them with ad revenue.

In the UK, the conspiracy theory has been promoted with trademark smugness by James Melville, a frequent commentator on GB News and Talk TV whose public profile is based purely on self-promotion rather than expertise in anything. Melville’s engagement is typically superficial: seeing an extravagant claim makes him feel clever, and amplifying it to his 360,000 followers creates a mutual appreciation feedback loop that disincentivises due diligence, caution or common sense. In this case, he further argues that the story shows that the term “conspiracy theory” has been used to suppress true information.

Also on board is another GB News regular: Calvin Robinson, who now appears on the channel wearing a cassock and dog collar after having been ordained into a fringe breakaway Anglican denomination. The reverend suggests that Ukraine “was a money laundering operation all along”, claiming that “the West donated billions to the ‘war effort'” and that “Zelensky invested that money into FTX”. In a follow up, he clarifies “no evidence of Zelenskyy investing in FTX” (followed by an enigmatic asterisk), before linking FTX to Covid conspiricism: “FTX backed the research that found ivermectin to be ‘ineffective’. FTX donated $39m to Dems, but also donated $ to Republicans who were ‘prepared for next pandemic'”.

Another part of the FTX conspiracy theory is the detail that FTX used to be listed as a “partner” on the website of the World Economic Forum, but the WEF has now deleted its webpage announcing this. The New York Post has reported this under the headline “How World Economic Forum, others are hiding their past ties with FTX”; this implies something underhand, although one wonders what the WEF ought to have done instead. According to the article itself:

“FTX was a World Economic Forum partner. In light of last week’s events, their partnership was suspended and they were removed from the Partners section of our website,” a spokesman for the Geneva-based organization headed by Klaus Schwab told The Post on Monday.

According to one WEF insider, Bankman-Fried likely landed on the group’s site because he donated cash to the group, in addition to his upcoming speaking gig.

The former partnership is seen by conspiricists as further evidence of the WEF’s supposed control over world events, rather than as an example of how it has has a tendency to latch onto anything big in order to promote itself and in this instance has been embarrassed.

Covid Vaccine Safety Debated in UK Parliament

From The Times:

A Conservative MP was applauded by a group of antivaxers that included Piers Corbyn, brother of the former Labour leader, as he questioned the safety of coronavirus vaccinations during a Commons debate.

Sir Christopher Chope, the MP for Christchurch, claimed that the vaccines were “not perfectly safe” and that there was a question about “whether they are effective”.

…Chope, who was criticised by the UK Statistics Authority in June for making baseless claims in parliament about the safety of coronavirus vaccines, used his speech to encourage those present to watch a film he took part in produced by Oracle Films, an antivax conspiracy group that had their account suspended by Paypal last year after claiming that vaccines could alter DNA.

The debate (which occured on 24 October) was triggered by a petition, which the paper noted had been promoted online by GB News’ Bev Turner and Richard Fairbrass of the pop-duo Right Said Fred.

The full debate can be read here; it came in the wake of the launch of Chope’s “All-Party Parliamentary Group on Covid-19 Vaccine Damage” a few days before, and is the latest publicity stunt by which false and misleading claims are gaining currency in the UK despite failing to achieve genuine scientific recognition.

Along with Chope’s buffoonery, the familiar tropes of vaccine alarmism were aired by Danny “Dunning” Kruger and, inevitably, Andrew Bridgen. Kruger, parroting a recent claim by Dutch MEP Rob Roos, complained that Pfizer had not tested for whether the vaccine prevented transmission (dealt with here), and repeated Aseem Malhotra’s misleading claim about the risk reduction of Covid vaccination (dealt with here). Bridgen also commended Malhotra, and cited Florida Department of Health – an example of how the baleful influence of Joseph Ladapo (dealt with here) has an international dimension.

It was perhaps inevitable that The Times would lead with Chope’s sensationalist claims, but it is a shame that the paper of record barely noted how some other MPs present – primarily Elliot Colburn, Andrew Gwynne and Caroline Johnson, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care – answered claims about safety and effectiveness in some detail.

Bridgen’s involvement has also now itself sparked a conspiracy theory: for some months he has been under investigation by Parliament’s Standards Committee over failing to declare an interest, and compounded matters by suggesting that the Commissioner, Kathryn Stone, had targeted him at the behest of Boris Johnson in return for a peerage. The Committee has now finished its work and recommended that Bridgen be suspended from Parliament.

The conspiracy milieu has interpreted this outcome as Bridgen being punished for participating in the debate: a Tweet by Turner (RTed by GB News’ Neil Oliver) asked “WHO is shutting everyone down?!”, the capitalised “WHO” seemingly implying the World Health Organization; while blowhard Maajid Nawaz’s opinion is that “there are no coincidences in war” and that we must “RESIST”.

Bridgen’s allegation against Stone seems to reflect a worldview in which his working assumption is that people always act out of self-interest rather than according to duty or responsibility. Last year he claimed that the British Medical Association was “hand-in-glove” with PPE manufacturers, although he later backed down, claiming in the face of the plain meaning of his own words that he never intended to suggest improper influence.

Christopher Chope Brings Aseem Malhotra to Parliament

From MailOnline:

The NHS should launch specialised clinics to people who have suffered long-lasting illness after getting a Covid jab, an MP said today.

Sir Christopher Chope, Tory MP for Christchurch in Dorset, called for the health service to ‘take seriously’ the need to help the unlucky few who’ve become seriously unwell after getting the life-saving vaccines.

…Sir Christopher made the comments at the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the victims of vaccine damage, which he chairs.

The article goes on to discuss the “extremely rare side effect of AstraZeneca’s jab” that led to 45 confirmed deaths due to clotting. However, we then get the following detail:

…Sir Christopher also invited Dr Aseem Malhotra, an NHS-trained cardiologist, to give a talk on ‘curing the pandemic of misinformation on Covid through real evidence-based medicine’.

…Dr Malhotra argued that Pfizer’s Covid vaccine should be immediately suspended until all of the raw data on the vaccine’s effectiveness is made available.

There’s also a photo of Malhotra, which forms part of how the article is previewed when shared on social media.

Although Malhotra is only introduced about halfway into the article, his appearance wasn’t just some sort of appendage – originally, the launch of the APPG was supposed to have been a showcase for Malhotra’s recent review paper, but due to the launch being postponed after the Queen’s death he instead held his own press conference elsewhere.

John Bye has assembled some details about what happened at the APPG meeting – his Twitter thread can be seen here. According his account of an audio recording, “attendees who have actually been affected by adverse reactions often had to shout over MPs to be heard, while cranks from Aseem Malhotra to Mark Sexton [blogged here] had a field day”; Malhotra spoke for 45 minutes; and attendees who spoke from the audience included Tess Lawrie of HART (see below) and Mohammad Adil, who was suspended by the General Medical Council in 2020 for calling the Covid pandemic a “hoax” – Chope reportedly said that his suspension was “outrageous” (I blogged about Adil here).

According by Bye, one attendee said they felt “let down” by all this, eliciting an “indignant” response from Chope. Given this context, it is reasonable to suppose that AstraZeneca victims are being used to give spurious credibility and moral standing to Malhotra’s unrelated claims (1), and much else besides. Indeed, when a doctor named Alastair McAlpine dismissed the event on Twitter as “nonsense” and expressed unguarded satisfaction that only a few MPs had attended (“Lol”) he was immediately accused of mocking the victims and has now had to lock down his Twitter account due to a pile-on (encouraged by the anti-vax pop duo Right Said Fred).

The APPG has been variously called the “All-Party Parliamentary Group for the victims of vaccine damage” (Mail Online) and the “All-Party Parliamentary Group on Vaccine Damage” (Malhotra’s press conference blurb), although the formal name is the “All-Party Parliamentary Group on Covid-19 Vaccine Damage”. Christopher Chope is the chair; other MPs listed as officers are the Conservative MPs Edward Leigh, Desmond Swayne and Greg Knight, along with Graham Stringer from Labour. According to James Freeman Wells, who appears to be Malhotra’s impresario, Malhotra’s invitation was “supported by Sir Jeremy Wright MP, Andrew Bridgen MP, Sir Desmond Swayne MP & Danny Kruger MP”.

Another thread by Bye, from October 2021, is useful as background to how the APPG has come about, highlighting the likely involvement of the anti-Covid vaccination group HART (Health Advisory and Recovery Team). His account is pieced together from HART’s leaked chatlogs, extracts from which are included as screenshots.

As he explains, “HART’s strategy (set by founder Narice Bernard and political fixer Bernie de Haldevang) was to work as a ‘scientific partner’ to the Conservative backbench 1922 Committee and Covid Recovery Group, providing them with evidence to use to sway government policy”. Bernie de Haldevang apparently had the confidence of Andrew Rosindell MP, and he used ” Rosindell as a gateway to Liam Fox and the CRG’s Mark Harper and Steve Baker.” HART members later had a meeting “with Graham Brady, Andrew Bridgen and other MPs”. After that, the “Brady connection” was useful “when William Wragg and Christopher Chope ask questions in Parliament about post-vaccination deaths.”

Those questions were about vaccine effectiveness rather than adverse reactions, but HART’s view was that they could be pointed “in the right direction”. Brady then conveyed a letter to Chope from HART (written by Jemma Moran, who was also at the APPG meeting), and a few months later Chope put forward a “Vaccine Damage Bill” in Parliament. This new APPG is the natural follow-on from that.

UPDATE: John Bye adds:

Also attending the APPG meeting were conspiracy theorists Maajid Nawaz and Matt Le Tissier, and HART’s Ros Jones, Clare Craig, Norman Fenton, Martin Neil *and* Tony Hinton.

Meanwhile people who actually suffered adverse reactions struggled to find seats.

As evidnce for the latter, he notes a Tweet from a vaccine injury support group (CV1) stating “No one listened to us yesterday because the focus was not on us. We are very dissapointed that we all made the effort to come to a meeting where we had to fight for seats and shout to make our voices heard”.

Footnote

(1) Malhotra’s allegations have become increasingly extravagant as his media profile has grown: he now claims that Covid vaccination likely explains “all unexplained heart attacks, strokes, cardiac arrhythmias, & heart failure since 2021”; that Pfizer knew that their vaccine would cause the effects he alleges; and that the pharmaceutical industry is a “psychopathic entity” with control over governments and medical guidelines. He also uncritically endorses social media narratives alleging vaccine deaths, and he has done a right-wing media round involving GB News, Russell Brand, Fox News (Laura Ingraham) and, erm, a shock jock from Tucson named Garret Lewis. Acting as a gateway into the conspiracy milieu, he also Re-Tweets supportive comments from the likes of John Mappin (UK QAnon enthusiast) and Maajid Nawaz. Attempting to convince his professional peers, though, appears to be less of a priority.

More Notes on Aseem Malhotra and Associates

From AFP Canada:

A cardiologist from the United Kingdom says Covid-19 vaccines should be suspended because they pose a greater threat than the virus itself…. Cardiologist Aseem Malhotra appeared September 27, 2022 in a press conference with the World Council for Health — a group that has previously spread vaccine misinformation — to call for the “immediate and complete suspension of Covid-19 vaccine.”

…Following the press conference, Malhotra tweeted about his paper, titled: “Curing the pandemic of misinformation on Covid-19 mRNA vaccines through real evidence-based medicine.” Published in Insulin Resistance — an open-access journal where Malhotra serves on the editorial board — the article received thousands of interactions on social media, according to CrowdTangle, a monitoring tool.

….The findings were further amplified in articles and posts from organizations that AFP has previously found to spread vaccine misinformation, including Children’s Health Defense, The Epoch Times and the Gateway Pundit. On October 3, 2022, Malhotra appeared on an online program hosted by Del Bigtree, CEO of the anti-vaccination Informed Consent Action Network.

We can add an online appearance with Russell Brand to the list. The AFP article goes on to fact-check Malhotra’s work in some detail. I discussed the press conference and provided some links here.

As has been widely discussed, Malhotra’s paper was a review article that sifts through other studies for evidence – and despite Malhotra’s expertise being in cardiology, it makes forays into areas such as the effectiveness of Covid vaccination, based on a reassassment of statistical information already published elsewhere.

Malhotra’s supporters have made made a big deal about the fact that the paper was peer reviewed; the journal editor, Caryn Zinn, says that the process was “rigorous”, although given the number of errors and misrepresentations that have been identified since publication some have doubts have been raised. There’s nothing wrong with the fact that Malhotra is on the editorial board, but the paper contains only a token reference to insulin to fit the scope of the journal’s title, and as such it is reasonable to suppose that the journal was chosen because Malhotra had reason to believe he would get an easier ride. Malhotra and Zinn could put such speculation to rest by publishing the reviewers’ comments so that we could judge for ourselves.

Malhotra’s paper includes a reference to Zoë Harcombe, an “obesity researcher” who is involved with the anti-Covid vaccination group HART – Malhotra describes her as having “investigated” the possibility that the UK Government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation may have been “biased” due to members working for organisations that have received funding from Bill Gates. Malhotra, Harcombe and Zinn have actually been networked since before Covid – along with a high-profile sports scientist in South Africa named Tim Noakes they have advocated together against sugar and carbohydrates, and in favour of fat, and against the use of statins. In 2016, Zinn and Harcombe provided testimony in support of Noakes when he was being investigated by the Health Professionals’ Council of SA over a complaint lodged by the president of the Association for Dietetics in South Africa. The hearing found in Noakes’ favour, and Harcombe and Zinn are associated with his Noakes Foundation. Noakes has praised Malhotra’s paper as a “brilliant, brilliant article”.

In 2019 Harcombe and Malhotra featured in a story in the Mail on Sunday on “the deadly propaganda of the statin deniers”. Harcombe and a third person discussed, Dr Malcolm Kendrick, are currently suing the paper for libel. The paper’s critical perspective was perhaps unexpected, given that novelties in health and diet advice are a perennial Mail favourite – indeed, Malhotra and Harcombe have both written pieces that have been published under the Mail banner (although it’s not clear for which paper). A possible explanation is the detail that Harcombe and Malhotra had been “invited to brief deputy Labour leader Tom Watson” – this, then, was another line of attack against Watson, already under pressure due to his disastrous investment in the “VIP abuse” hoaxer Carl Beech.