offguardian

And How are the Children?
Christine E Black, OffGuardian, May 14 2021

Casserian Engeri?” translated from the Swahili means, “And how are the children?” This is a traditional greeting among a Masai tribe in Africa. One hoped to hear “Sepati Ingera!” which means, “The children are well.” A good indicator of the health of a society is the health of its children. Sadly, in the US now, with the former CDC Director Robert Redfield saying publicly in Jul 2020 that deaths from suicides and drug overdoses among high school students far outweighed their deaths from Covid and failures among school children, especially high school students, is at epidemic levels, the answer to this question would have to be, “No. The children are not well. Not well at all.” And I am astounded by the lack of outcry among most of our public officials. For more than a year now, children and teens have been robbed of most of what gives their lives value and meaning: seeing their friends at school, club meetings, church groups, camps, family gatherings, singing groups, playing with school bands and orchestras. Some schools have continued sports programs, but many have not, sometimes with heartbreaking consequences, such as the death by suicide of Dylan Buckner, age 18, as reported in the Apri 21 edition of The Epoch Times. Dylan’s father, Chris, said he is certain that his state, Illinois’, school closures and extended stay-at-home orders worsened his son’s mental health and contributed to his death. Dylan had a 4.7 grade point average, loved playing football, which his father said helped him keep a structured routine, according to the article, “The Cost of Lockdowns.” He was on his way to college with football scholarships. And yet this year, the school system cancelled the football program because of fears of Covid. Dylan attempted suicide in September 2020 and succeeded in ending his life in Jan 2021.

For more than a year, fearful adults and misguided politicians have discouraged children and teens from getting together with friends and from living their lives normally. Child development experts agree that peer relationships are among the most important to teens’ mental and emotional health. How could we have done this to a nation of children? For a virus that even former CDC Director James Redfield said poses almost no risk to them. He has said that the flu is 5 to 10 times more dangerous to children and that they have a 1 in a million chance of dying from Covid. Early death projections from the virus have been shown to be overstated and terribly wrong. Yet, most politicians have not publicly issued retractions and corrections to calm fears and help people, especially children, resume normal lives. Instead, they let the fear-mongering and harm remain. In Mar 2020, at the start of the pandemic, politicians and bureaucrats stated publicly that children could infect their parents or grandparents with Covid, even if the child had no symptoms. Members of the Coronavirus Task Force, said that children, teens, and young people, just by living their normal lives, socializing with friends, playing sports, attending school events and parties, could unknowingly catch and then carry the virus to older family members and possibly cause death, even if the young person was not sick, even if they did not have so much as a sniffle. This was called “asymptomatic spread,” one of the many bizarre terms we have been forced to learn and think about for more than a year now.

Politicians and bureaucrats stood at the US White House podium at the start of this crisis and said that after infecting an older family member and perhaps causing sickness leading to death, a child would “have to live with that.” What a devastating, harmful, and irresponsible thing to say within hearing of children, teens, and young adults: that they could be a danger to others merely by breathing, by being, by living their normal lives. What an especially horrible and harmful thing to say when we were not even sure it was true. It sounded unbelievable from the start. And it turns out that it was not true. Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, head of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, said at a Jun 7 2020 press conference that from the known research, “asymptomatic spread was very rare.” A more recent Chinese study of 10 million people, published in Nature magazine found that asymptomatic spread was not only rare but almost non-existent. On Nov 22 2020, Jeffrey A Tucker published a comprehensive article on the American Institute for Economic Research website, tracing information on asymptomatic spread over the past year. When I read Tucker’s article and then the study published in Nature magazine, I wondered: where are our elected officials now? Where are those same high-paid politicians, bureaucrats, and public health authorities who had touted these terrible and alarming messages that had so comprehensively devastated the lives of young people for more than a year? Why were they not retracting these statements about asymptomatic spread, reassuring children, teens, and young adults that it is simply is not a worry? That they, just by living their lives and being themselves, are not and never were “super spreaders,” are not automatic disease carriers. Why were officials not issuing calming and strengthening messages to young people, after more and different information on this virus has emerged? Where was the outcry to protect the mental and emotional health and academic lives of young people, especially teenagers?

Another article by Micha Gartz for the American Institute for Economic Research reminds us that the median age for death from this virus is 80 years old. Most people who contract the virus never get symptoms at all. Most people who get symptoms become only mildly ill, and even the majority of those who become severely ill recover. Harm to communities from widespread lockdowns has been very real, however. The Crisis Text Line, a non-profit organization that provides free mental health texting to people in crisis, received 180k texts in Nov 2020, their largest number ever, Gartz notes in her article More “Covid Suicides” than Covid Deaths in Kids. Even strong students, who have historically earned good grades, have been failing classes at alarming levels during school this past year’s school shutdowns and predominantly online classes, according to published studies, including one from Fairfax County Public Schools, one of the largest school districts in the US. Parents, who had previously heeded advice from groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics’ to limit children and teen’s screen time, for their health, to a maximum of two hours of quality content per day, have now succumbed to allowing their children to spend several hours per day on computers while missing friends, failing classes, and losing hope. Too much computer time can be a health hazard to young people, especially those who may be vulnerable to addiction. In 2019, the WHO listed computer gaming addiction as a disease, one that harms children, teens and young adults mostly.

How are the children? Not well at all. Lockdowns, massive fear, and school shutdowns have had a devastating effect on children and teens’ health. A national independent non-profit organization called Fair Health that studies health care costs, reported in Marc 2021 a 333% increase in intentional self-harm claims among young people ages 12–18 from the period Aug 2019 to Aug 2020. The study, The Impact of COVID-19 on Pediatric Mental Health: A Study of Private Health-care Claims, analyzed 32b private health-care claims. Claims have also increased dramatically for overdoses, obsessive-compulsive disorders, depression, and anxiety among children 12–18, according to the study. The CDC reported over the summer of 2020 that 25% of young adults, ages 18–25, had seriously considered suicide. Many experts have said publicly that lockdowns, including school closures, have been a disastrous and unnecessary mitigation strategy, causing immeasurable harms and countless deaths. Dr Jay Battacharya, Professor at Stanford University Medical School, called the lockdowns “the biggest public health mistake we’ve ever made” in a Mar 2021 Newsweek article. Battacharya is one of the authors of a petition called The Great Barrington Declaration, published in Oct 2020, which calls for safety strategies for older people while calling for an end to lockdowns of whole societies, stating that lockdowns cause far more harm than benefit. “Keeping children out of school is a grave injustice,” states the declaration, which has been signed by 14k medical and public health scientists, 43k medical practitioners, and almost 800k citizens. Dr Martin Kulldorff, Professor of Medicine at Harvard University and Dr Sunetra Gupta, Professor at Oxford University are also authors of the petition.

Many studies now published show that states that remained open for the past year fared no worse, and some better, than states that had the most restrictive closures and shutdowns. Further, there have been treatments for this virus, all along, such as Hydroxychloroquine and Ivermectin that, if given early, could have saved tens of thousands of lives, according to many sources. Dr Peter McCollough spoke before Congress on early treatment and on the criminal silencing of doctors, including preventing doctors from treating Covid patients with drugs that work. These drugs were instead politicized with doctors barred from prescribing them. With more courage and independent thinking, fear and harm could have been contained; instead many simply stood by and watched the light go out in children’s eyes, month after month for more than a year. Children in sports have been made to wear masks though masks deplete oxygen and may impede focus and cause more accidents, some parents have complained, while professional athletes on TV do not have to wear them. While many schools have reopened to in-person classes, government-created school re-opening documents, with the repressive six-feet apart, sanitizing, and mask mandates, read almost like manuals for operating a concentration camp.

I have taught in a prison, and these public school re-opening plans read and feel more repressive than conditions inside a prison. I have seen children in school this past year eating, spaced six feet from one another, only allowed to remove the mask to eat and not being permitted to eat with their friends. I can hardly keep from crying seeing them this way. School rooms and cafeterias these days look more like rooms where children are sent to serve detention. Students look like they are being punished when they have done nothing wrong. How can this be? How can we remain silent? Some students may feel so depressed with these conditions that they do not even want to attend school. It can be almost overwhelmingly sad to not see human faces and smiles for extended periods. For years, teachers have studied and promoted the importance of children’s social and emotional learning, and now we expect children to attend schools that look and feel like prison camps. Or worse. How can we treat our children this way? We want to believe that the information we receive about this virus is unbiased and nonpartisan, especially if government mandates have affected children and young adults so severely. Surely the measures must have been neutral and necessary.  But sadly, information we receive is not unbiased; we have to keep questioning, reading, listening and thinking.

Writer and researcher Dr Naomi Wolf notes that the CDC created a foundation to receive money from big pharmaceutical companies, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and from technology companies that profit from online education. While some politicians and high-paid bureaucrats still promote fear, panic, and paranoia, others have begun speaking up on failed lockdown policies. In an Apr 21 Epoch Times article, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said that elected officials, establishment media, and Big Tech have been to blame for perpetuating fears and selectively censoring one side of the mitigation debate. Why? Because they have made money off the fear, panic, and paranoia. DeSantis said:

Media and big tech giants benefitted from lockdowns as people stayed home and consumed their products. Google removed videos of DeSantis talking to doctors who criticized failed lockdown policies. Google and YouTube have been throughout this crisis censors in service of the ruling elite.

While millions of people lost their businesses or jobs, and school children, teens, and young people struggled with despair, loneliness, and school failures, 614 US billionaires increased their wealth by $931b, according to a Dec 1 2020 USA Today article. For the health of our communities and our children, we have to keep rising above fear, confusion, paranoia, and even shame and guilt for getting the virus response so wrong. We have to keep returning to the question, “And how are the children?” And if the children are not well, we must change course to stop harming them while working diligently to mitigate the harms that have already been done.

Anthony Fauci “has no clue and no authority to lecture on what is good for India”
Colin Todhunter, OffGuardian, May 14 2021

In light of the current COVID-related situation in India, Dr Anthony Fauci, the top US adviser on COVID, has called for India to implement a hard lockdown and for the mass roll-out of vaccines. However, Fauci “has no clue and no authority to lecture on what is good for India.” That is the view of journalist Ratna Chakraborty. Writing on the Empire Diaries website, she argues that the US is a rich nation, prints the world’s reserve currency, has robust financial coverage for the jobless and its population is spread out. On the other hand, India is finance-strained, has a brittle economy that lives on the brink of disaster, does not have any financial coverage for the jobless, is densely populated and its people mostly live in congested clusters. Given the government’s incompetence and the callousness demonstrated towards poorer sections of Indian society the first time around, Chakraborty says any new lockdown would again result in disaster. She adds that nothing has been learnt, with no attempt to upgrade the healthcare set-up nationwide. It is worth recalling what renowned academic and activist Noam Chomsky said about India’s first lockdown. During an interview with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! back in May 2020, Chomsky said:

You can almost describe it as genocidal. Modi gave, I think, a four-hour warning before a total lockdown. That’s (affected) over a billion people. Some of them have nowhere to go. People in the informal economy, which is a huge number of people, are just cast out. Go walk back to your village, which may be a thousand miles away. Die on the roadside. This is a huge catastrophe in the making.

During the first lockdown in India, rural affairs commentator P Sainath painted a dreary picture of the impacts, not least the desperate plight of migrant workers, a shortage of cash to buy food and a potential shortage of food as farmers were unable to complete their harvests. Sainath also reported the views of Dr Sundararaman, a former executive director of the National Health Systems Resources Centre, who argued:

There is a desperate need to identify and act on the reverse migrations problem and the loss of livelihoods. Failing that, deaths from diseases that have long tormented mostly poor Indians could outstrip those brought about by the corona virus.

Regardless of the destructive impact of the first lockdown in India and the questionable efficacy of lockdowns in terms of what they are supposed to achieve, another one would further push hundreds of millions towards poverty and hunger. It would merely fuel and accelerate the impoverishment caused by the first lockdown. A new report prepared by the Centre for Sustainable Employment at Azim Premji University (APU) has highlighted how employment and income had not recovered to pre-pandemic levels even by late 2020. The report, State of Working India 2021 – One year of Covid-19, highlights how almost half of formal salaried workers moved into the informal sector and that 230 million people fell below the national minimum wage poverty line. Even before COVID, India was experiencing its longest economic slowdown since 1991 with weak employment generation, uneven development and a largely informal economy. A recent article by the Research Unit for Political Economy highlights the structural weaknesses of the economy and the often desperate plight of ordinary people. The study also found that there was a loss in monthly earnings for all types of workers: 13% for casual workers, 18% for the self-employed, 17% for those with temporary salaries, 5% for the permanent salaried and 17% overall. The poorest 25% of households borrowed 3.8 times their median income, as against 1.4 times for the top 25%. The study noted the implications for debt traps. Six months later, it was also noted that food intake was still at lockdown levels for 20% of vulnerable households.

Given this impact, before listening to prominent individuals with apparent conflicts of interest related to vaccine roll-outs (see the editorial in the British Medical Journal ‘Covid-19, Politicisation, Corruption, and Suppression of Science’), the current COVID-related situation in India must be contextualised. The sensationalism needs to be put to one side. According to Yohan Tengra, a Mumbai-based political analyst and healthcare specialist, the true number of infection rates can only be known by testing symptomatic people who have tested positive with either a virus culture test or PCR test that uses 24 cycles or less. The PCR test has been used as the gold standard for COVID cases around the world. But it has been sharply criticised for being inaccurate, inappropriate, for using cycles in excess of 40 (thereby inflating the numbers) and for producing ‘false positives.’ It seems that even the Swedish Ministry of Health now thinks that it is not fit for purpose:

The PCR technology used in tests to detect viruses cannot distinguish between viruses capable of infecting cells and viruses that have been neutralised by the immune system and therefore these tests cannot be used to determine whether someone is contagious or not. RNA from viruses can often be detected for weeks (sometimes months) after the illness but does not mean that you are still contagious.

We also need to be reminded what the US CDC stated about the PCR in Dec 2020. It is especially important to focus on PCR testing because these tests are the entire basis for restrictions and lockdowns (and vaccination); even when deaths were within normal annual ranges, ‘case’ levels were high and restrictions and ‘tiered lockdowns’ were still being imposed in places like the UK. The following extract can be found on page 39 of the report from the CDC 2010-Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Real-Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel:

Detection of viral RNA may not indicate the presence of infectious virus or that 2019-nCoV is the causative agent for clinical symptoms. This test cannot rule out diseases caused by other bacterial or viral pathogens.

Perfectly healthy people are being tested and small often insignificant fragments of flu, common cold or some other virus can be detected. People are then labelled as a COVID ‘case.’ But that is not all. In their recent article ‘The Nuremberg Doctors Trial and Modern Medicine’s Panic Promotion of the FDA’s Experimental and Unapproved COVID-19 mRNA Vaccines,’ Dr Gary G Kohls and Professor Michel Chossudovsky state with regard to the so-called ‘emergency use authorization’ (EUA) of COVID-19 vaccines, it is now established and confirmed by the WHO (Jan 20 2021) that the entire data base pertaining to tabulation of confirmed positive cases (RT-PCR test) (since early Feb 2020 in 193 member states of the UN) is invalid. he two authors note that this flawed methodology cannot be used to confirm the existence of an emergency situation. EUA criterion is therefore not only invalid but illegal.

Furthermore, there is currently decent scientific evidence to indicate asymptomatic transmission may not be significant. According to Tengra, the case numbers being reported in India are mainly asymptomatic cases. The directors of the All India Institute of Medical Science and the India Council of Medical Research both say that there are many more asymptomatic cases this time than in the so-called ‘first wave.’ As these ‘cases’ comprise most of India’s case numbers, we should therefore be questioning the data as well as the PCR tests being used to detect the virus. Tengra says the case fatality rate for COVID-19 in India was over 3% last year but has now dropped to below 1.5%. The infection fatality rate is even lower, with serosurvey results showing them to be between 0.05% to 0.1%. As has occurred in many other countries, Tengra notes the way that death certificate guidelines are structured in India makes it easy for someone to be labelled as a COVID death just based on a positive PCR test or general symptoms. It is therefore often difficult to say who has died from the virus and who has been misdiagnosed. We should also bear in mind that respiratory diseases like TB and respiratory tract infections such as bronchitis leading to pneumonia are major killers in India. These conditions are severely aggravated by air pollution and often require oxygen which can be in short supply during air pollution crises in places like Delhi at this time of the year. Therefore, the current harrowing scenes we see in the media might not necessarily be due to the lethality of the virus but by the numbers who are ending up in hospital.

If the pandemic narrative has been constructed on the house of (statistical) cards outlined thus far, then we should be questioning the need for a mass vaccination campaign, which could actually lead to aggravating the current situation. This is not lost on Dr Geert Vanden Bossche, a virologist who has held positions at several vaccine companies, carrying out vaccine research and development. He has also been involved with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and has worked with the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI). Not an ‘anti-vaxxer’ in any sense of the term. He offers insight into why it is quite possible that mass vaccine rollouts will actually lead to very disturbing levels of deaths directly related to COVID-19. Far from reducing the numbers and facilitating immunity, he anticipates ‘vaccine assisted immune escape.’ Vanden Bossche warns that mass infection prevention and mass vaccination with Covid-19 vaccines in the midst of the pandemic can only breed highly infectious variants. He offers a truly worrying scenario. Of course, not everyone might agree with his analysis but it is certainly a cause for concern. There is also the entire issue regarding the necessity, efficacy and safety of the vaccines now being rolled out. The group ‘Doctors for COVID Ethics’ has recently raised serious doubts in all of these areas (its concerns have been published on the UK-based OffGuardian website). In finishing, there are two questions we should ask. Can we have confidence in science and evidence-based health and social policy where COVID-19 is concerned? And can we just assume, as governments and the media imply we should, that Anthony Fauci and the pharmaceutical corporations have ordinary people’s interests at heart? In response to the first question, not much. In response to the second, certain interests have been riding and fuelling a wave of sensationalism and duplicity throughout.

Canada to follow USA down postal-ballot rabbit hole
Kit Knightly, OffGuardian, May 14 2021

The government of Canada is getting ready to amend its election laws to allow the counting of mail-in ballots after the polls have closed, and massively increase the country’s reliance on postal ballots. According to a report from RebelNews.com, Canada is expecting to issue over 5m postal votes during the upcoming election, an increase of over 5000% from the ~50k issued in the last election. They are also pushing Bill C-19 through parliament which would “temporarily” change election laws to, among other things, allow votes to be counted after polling day. This was the same exact system that effectively allowed the most obviously rigged US election since 2000 to take place last November. The covid “pandemic” maybe being used as the reason to change election laws, but it’s not the mechanism by which the votes themselves become much easier to fix. That title belongs to mail-in ballots. Mail-in or postal ballots have long been the key to electoral fraud in the Western world, with experts warning for decades that they are incredibly vulnerable to fraud. Per Vote by Mail Doesn’t Deliver, Teresa James & Michael Slater:

Vote by mail is more susceptible to corruption than voting at polling places [and] is amenable to manipulation by election officials.

In fact, the last UK general election, which pre-dated the “pandemic” by a few weeks, was noteworthy for having a surprisingly lop-sided result, accompanied by an unexpected focus on postal ballots and obvious corruption and irregularities in the postal ballot system. I wrote about this at length last year, when it became supremely obvious that the US election was going to be rigged using postal votes (spoiler alert: it was). The same exact dynamic which was used to give Creepy Uncle Joe over 80 million votes in November is now being prepped in Canada. Regional elections in the country have already been subject to weeks of delays and court battles thanks to the influx of postal voting. This chaos mirrors exactly the fall-out of Biden’s “victory” in the US, and is obviously an important part of this new breed of “democracy”. Unreliable ballots, huge delays in reporting results all in the name of creating confusion and doubt and putting a final nail in the coffin of Western democracy. “The new normal” for elections, if you will.

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