Lifting Masks = Back to Getting Down With The Sickness

XsjadoBlayde

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"Evelyn Burnham first called police on the same day her son killed Reynolds and again the following day when he shot to death the Robinettes, according to the Baltimore Sun. Charging documents do not indicate what the Cumberland Police did in response to those calls."

Probably said something like "Eh, he's a deranged white man with a gun. I'm sure everything will sort itself out just fine."
Yeah the police really have failed again there. Though, am sure remembering they won some lawsuit in recent history by claiming they don't have any obligation to protect civilians, so we can only assume there is no more incentive to bother even pretending to try and improve anymore I guess.
 

XsjadoBlayde

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Ivermectin has been called a Covid "miracle" drug, championed by vaccine opponents, and recommended by health authorities in some countries. But the BBC can reveal there are serious errors in a number of key studies that the drug's promoters rely on.

For some years ivermectin has been a vital anti-parasitic medicine used to treat humans and animals.

But during the pandemic there has been a clamour from some proponents for using the drug for something else - to fight Covid and prevent deaths.

The health authorities in the US, UK and EU have found there is insufficient evidence for using the drug against Covid, but thousands of supporters, many of them anti-vaccine activists, have continued to vigorously campaign for its use.


Members of social media groups swap tips on getting hold of the drug, even advocating the versions used for animals.

The hype around ivermectin - based on the strength of belief in the research - has driven large numbers of people around the world to use it.

Campaigners for the drug point to a number of scientific studies and often claim this evidence is being ignored or covered up. But a review by a group of independent scientists has cast serious doubt on that body of research.

The BBC can reveal that more than a third of 26 major trials of the drug for use on Covid have serious errors or signs of potential fraud. None of the rest show convincing evidence of ivermectin's effectiveness.

Dr Kyle Sheldrick, one of the group investigating the studies, said they had not found "a single clinical trial" claiming to show that ivermectin prevented Covid deaths that did not contain "either obvious signs of fabrication or errors so critical they invalidate the study".

Major problems included:

  • The same patient data being used multiple times for supposedly different people
  • Evidence that selection of patients for test groups was not random
  • Numbers unlikely to occur naturally
  • Percentages calculated incorrectly
  • Local health bodies unaware of the studies
The scientists in the group - Dr Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz, Dr James Heathers, Dr Nick Brown and Dr Sheldrick - each have a track record of exposing dodgy science. They've been working together remotely on an informal and voluntary basis during the pandemic.

They formed a group looking deeper into ivermectin studies after biomedical student Jack Lawrence spotted problems with an influential study from Egypt. Among other issues, it contained patients who turned out to have died before the trial started. It has now been retracted by the journal that published it.

The group of independent scientists examined virtually every randomised controlled trial (RCT) on ivermectin and Covid - in theory the highest quality evidence - including all the key studies regularly cited by the drug's promoters.

RCTs involve people being randomly chosen to receive either the drug which is being tested or a placebo - a dummy drug with no active properties.


The team also looked at six particularly influential observational trials. This type of trial looks at what happens to people who are taking the drug anyway, so can be biased by the types of people who choose to take the treatment.

Out of a total of 26 studies examined, there was evidence in five that the data may have been faked - for example they contained virtually impossible numbers or rows of identical patients copied and pasted.

In a further five there were major red flags - for example, numbers didn't add up, percentages were calculated incorrectly or local health bodies weren't aware they had taken place.

On top of these flawed trials, there were 14 authors of studies who failed to send data back. The independent scientists have flagged this as a possible indicator of fraud.

The sample of research papers examined by the independent group also contains some high-quality studies from around the world. But the major problems were all in the studies making big claims for ivermectin - in fact, the bigger the claim in terms of lives saved or infections prevented, the greater the concerns suggesting it might be faked or invalid, the researchers discovered.

While it's extremely difficult to rule out human error in these trials, Dr Sheldrick, a medical doctor and researcher at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, believes it is highly likely at least some of them may have been knowingly manipulated.

A recent study in Lebanon was found to have blocks of details of 11 patients that had been copied and pasted repeatedly - suggesting many of the trial's apparent patients didn't really exist.

The study's authors told the BBC that the "original set of data was rigged, sabotaged or mistakenly entered in the final file" and that they have submitted a retraction to the scientific journal which published it.


Another study from Iran seemed to show that ivermectin prevented people dying from Covid.

But the scientists who investigated it found issues. The records of how much iron was in patients' blood contained numbers in a sequence that was unlikely to come up naturally.

And the patients given the placebo turned out to have had much lower levels of oxygen in their blood before the trial started than those given ivermectin. So they were already sicker and statistically more likely to die.

But this pattern was repeated across a wide range of different measurements. The people with "bad" measurements ended up in the placebo group, the ones with "good" measurements in the ivermectin group.

The likelihood of this happening randomly across all these different measurements was vanishingly small, Dr Sheldrick said.

Dr Morteza Niaee, who led the Iran study, defended the results and the methodology and disagreed with problems pointed out to him, adding that it was "very normal to see such randomisation" when lots of different factors were considered and not all of them had any bearing on participants' Covid risk.

But the Lebanon and Iran trials were excluded from a paper for Cochrane - the international experts in reviewing scientific evidence - because they were "such poorly reported studies". The review concluded there was no evidence of benefit for ivermectin when it comes to Covid.

The largest and highest quality ivermectin study published so far is the Together trial at the McMaster University in Canada. It found no benefit for the drug when it comes to Covid.


Ivermectin is generally considered a safe drug, though there have been some reports of side effects.

Calls over suspected ivermectin poisonings in the US have increased a lot but from a very small base (435 to 1,143 this year) and most of these cases were not serious. Patients have had vomiting, diarrhoea, hallucinations, confusion, drowsiness and tremors.

But indirect harm can come from giving people a false sense of security, especially if they choose ivermectin instead of seeking hospital treatment for Covid, or getting vaccinated in the first place.

Dr Patricia Garcia, a public health expert in Peru, said at one stage she estimated that 14 out of every 15 patients she saw in hospital had been taking ivermectin and by the time they came in they were "really, really sick".

Large pro-ivermectin Facebook groups have turned into forums for people to find advice on where to buy it, including preparations meant for animals.

Some groups regularly contain posts about conspiracy theories of ivermectin cover-ups, as well as pushing anti-vaccine sentiment or encouraging patients to leave hospital if they aren't getting the drug.

The groups often provide a gateway to more fringe communities on the encrypted app Telegram.

Facebook post complains that a hospital won't treat a very ill patient with ivermectin despite the drug being safe and effective and the patient asking for it.

These channels have co-ordinated harassment of doctors who fail to prescribe ivermectin and abuse has been aimed at scientists. Prof Andrew Hill, from the University of Liverpool, wrote an influential positive review of ivermectin, originally saying the world should "get prepared, get supplies, get ready to approve [the drug]".

Now he says the studies don't stand up to scrutiny - but after he changed his view, based on new evidence emerging, he received vicious abuse.

A small number of qualified doctors have had an exaggerated influence on the ivermectin debate. Noted proponent Dr Pierre Kory's views have not changed despite the major questions over the trials. He criticised "superficial interpretations of emerging trials data".

Dr Tess Lawrie - a medical doctor who specialises in pregnancy and childbirth - founded the British Ivermectin Recommendation Development (Bird) Group.

She has called for a pause to the Covid-19 vaccination programme and has made unsubstantiated claims implying the Covid vaccine had led to a large number of deaths based on a common misreading of safety data.


When asked during an online panel what evidence might persuade her ivermectin didn't work she replied: "Ivermectin works. There's nothing that will persuade me." She told the BBC: "The only issues with the evidence base are the relentless efforts to undermine it."

Around the world it was originally not opposition to vaccines but a lack of them that led people to ivermectin.

The drug has at various points been approved, recommended or prescribed for Covid in India, South Africa, Peru and much of the rest of Latin America, as well as in Slovakia.

Health authorities in Peru and India have stopped recommending ivermectin in treatment guidelines.

In February, Merck - one of the companies that makes the drug - said there was "no scientific basis for a potential therapeutic effect against Covid-19".

In South Africa, the drug has become a battleground - doctors point out the lack of evidence but many patients desperately want access as the vaccine rollout has been patchy and problematic. One GP in the country described a relative, a registered nurse, who didn't book a coronavirus vaccine she was eligible for and then caught the virus.

"When she started getting worse, instead of getting proper assessment and treatment, she treated herself with ivermectin," she said.

"Instead of consulting a doctor, she continued with the ivermectin and got home oxygen. By the time I heard how low her oxygen saturation levels were (66%), I begged her daughter to take her to casualty.

"At first they were reluctant, but I convinced them to go. She passed away a few hours later."
 
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Buyetyen

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You know what else has been proven ineffective in treating covid and you can get real easy, remdesivir, it'll only cost you a few thousand to do nothing. Wanna try opioids? Doctors were handing those out like candy, they must not be bad if doctors are giving it to you, right?
Leave the jokes to people who know what they're doing.
 

Silvanus

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If something doesn't work, I'm sure there's proof of it not working, right? Why can't you admit that you don't know if ivermectin works?
If horse excrement doesn't cure diabetes, I'm sure there's proof of it not doing so, right? And without such proof, we can regard the matter as unsolved and devote resources to the research.
 
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MrCalavera

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"YOU'VE BEEN GIVEN DATA. YOU JUST IGNORE IT OR SELECTIVELY INTERPRET IT IN FAVOUR OF WHAT YOU WANT TO BELIEVE."

Funny how you ignore the fact that the under 50 group in the Bangladesh study showed masks of any kind did nothing. You just sweep that under the rug. I don't know how you consider yourself a professional person of science and can't say there's no convincing data that masks actually do anything.

A medical professional whose job it is to analyze data:

"These kind of [mask] studies are very similar to the studies that we dismiss for ivermectin, for hydroxychloroquine, these are really confounded observational studies."

---

That's your outdoor evidence?!?! What I posted had far more data and tracked far more infections. Nobody believes outdoor transmission of covid happens in any significant manner. And the very 1st paper cited of the 12 papers is the Chinese study (that I posted like a year ago) that showed only 2 cases in over 7,000 came from outdoors. I'm not trying to prove you can't get covid outdoors but it's so low that you'd be ridiculous to worry about it. That 2 in 7324 cases outdoors is right in line with the Irish data showing less than 0.1% of infections occurred outdoors.


And Zelenko probably said zinc in his scientific paper because that's what he said in the video. Saying HCQ has antiviral mechanism when used WITH zinc mean HCQ alone has an antiviral mechanism? Any zinc ionophore has the same mechanism and thus HCQ doesn't need to be used. Does a study giving steroids for early treatment prove steroids don't work? No. Does a study only looking at only HCQ without zinc disprove someone that says HCQ + zinc helps? Nope. And you're all-cause mortality BS paper that you posted several times includes giving people HCQ in the ICU. Just like giving steroids early will yield poor results so will giving HCQ late. Do we not give steroids at all then? Nope.


Yet one very underwhelming drug with a worse safety profile is given out willy-nilly and one with a much much better safety profile isn't. Double standards.


Everything I found on the hypotension side effect is something that happens when you overdose. The safety profile on ivermectin shows it's extremely safe. You still think taking what's consider now "normal" amounts of vitamin d is toxic. There's a Coimbra Protocol that gives people 1,000 IUs/day per kg of weight so if you weigh 100kgs, that's 100,000 IUs a day.


Where's the evidence of all these people getting sick due to ivermectin? Surely that would be a thing, right?


Doctors are being stopped from giving it to their patients, that's the problem. I think doctors handing out ivermectin like candy would have far far far far less bad effects than them prescribing opioids. Doctors caused the opioid epidemic.



You know what else has been proven ineffective in treating covid and you can get real easy, remdesivir, it'll only cost you a few thousand to do nothing. Wanna try opioids? Doctors were handing those out like candy, they must not be bad if doctors are giving it to you, right?
I heard about this new miracle cure for Covid, the Big Pharma doesn't want you to know about. It's called Copium.
 
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Avnger

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If horse excrement doesn't cure diabetes, I'm sure there's proof of it not doing so, right? And without such proof, we can regard the matter as unsolved and devote resources to the research.
And in the meantime, we must not tell people not to inject horse excrement straight into their veins until that research occurs.
 

Agema

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"YOU'VE BEEN GIVEN DATA. YOU JUST IGNORE IT OR SELECTIVELY INTERPRET IT IN FAVOUR OF WHAT YOU WANT TO BELIEVE."

Funny how you ignore the fact that the under 50 group in the Bangladesh study showed masks of any kind did nothing. You just sweep that under the rug. I don't know how you consider yourself a professional person of science and can't say there's no convincing data that masks actually do anything.
You do realise, don't you, that you're doing exactly what I accused you of, right there? The study provides evidence of mask effectiveness, and all you've done is mine it (twice now) for angles to argue otherwise!

A medical professional whose job it is to analyze data:
I love the way you say that as if it isn't somehow every scientist's job to analyze data.

That's your outdoor evidence?!?!
"Wah wah wah, systematic review says something I don't like so I'm going to bluster a whole load of waffle to fob it off"

And Zelenko probably said zinc in his scientific paper because that's what he said in the video.
"Probably"... because you haven't read it, which is precisely the sort of thing I'm pointing out. Which is also pretty amazing, because I literally quoted the paper in a reply to you months ago. Here it is again, just for you to ignore or instantly forget again:

"The antiviral effects of HCQ are well documented. It is also known that chloroquine, and probably HCQ, have zinc ionophore characteristics, increasing intracellular zinc concentrations... It has been hypothesised that zinc may enhance the efficacy of HCQ in treating COVID-19 patients"

Note the phrasing of the last sentence: zinc enhances the antiviral effect of HCQ, not that HCQ enhances the effectiveness of zinc.

Saying HCQ has antiviral mechanism when used WITH zinc mean HCQ alone has an antiviral mechanism?
Yes! This is what prior studies have demonstrated, as Derwand et al (2020) cite above, which you'd know if only you'd read the science properly in the first place!

There's a Coimbra Protocol...
Holy shit dude. Why would you really think introducing more unscientific crankery is helping your case?

Where's the evidence of all these people getting sick due to ivermectin? Surely that would be a thing, right?
How do you think they came up with the side effect list for ivermectin?

Doctors are being stopped from giving it to their patients, that's the problem.
You mean a doctor who had not seen a patient prescribed ivermectin for that patient, and the hospital which was actually treating that patient declined to give it to them.

You know what else has been proven ineffective in treating covid and you can get real easy, remdesivir, it'll only cost you a few thousand to do nothing. Wanna try opioids? Doctors were handing those out like candy, they must not be bad if doctors are giving it to you, right?
This fundamentally reveals the chronic incoherence of your arguments. Doctors should be able to doctor! Those goddamn doctors caused havoc when they were left to doctor! The only difference, it appears, is whether you favour the treatment based on whichever YouTube vids you've been watching. It is certainly true that US doctors wildly overprescribed opioids. We surely all agree that was a bad thing. This should therefore act as a warning about doctors handing out drugs without due care and attention, not a justification that because they did it once, they may as well do it again for a drug you happen to like.

The other factor you miss here is that one of the big differences between opioids (for analgesia) and ivermectin (for covid) is that opioids have a truly magnificent evidence base - going back centuries, no less - to demonstrate that they work. Despite the harm caused, no-one can doubt that they had a therapeutic value for the relevant problem.
 
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XsjadoBlayde

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So glad Clapton was never an inspiration or an influence during guitar learning days


Cambel McLaughlin thought he was being punked. An unapologetic opponent of lockdowns and Covid-19 vaccine skeptic — he is, as he puts it, “pro-medical choice”— the 27-year-old Brit is founder of Jam for Freedom, a group of U.K. musicians that plays for free in public spaces, spreading the anti-lockdown word and sometimes singing songs with lyrics like “You can stick your poison vaccine up your arse.” For their efforts, Jam for Freedom are often hassled by police, and McLaughlin himself says he was arrested for what he calls “breach of Covid regulations” during one show.

This past spring, the car the group used to transport its gear was rendered nearly unusable after an accident, so McLaughlin started a GoFundMe page to help pay for transportation, gas, and legal fees. And one day this past spring, he was shocked to see a £1,000 donation on the site from Eric Clapton.

“I’m, like, this could be fake,” McLaughlin recalls. But when McLaughlin emailed the account listed with the donation, he received a text from the 76-year-old British guitar hero himself. “It was something complimentary, along the lines of, ‘Hey, it’s Eric — great work you’re doing,’ ” McLaughlin says. The two later talked by phone, and before McLaughlin knew it, Clapton offered his family’s white, six-person VW Transporter van as a temporary replacement for Jam for Freedom’s wheels. He also gave them a chunk of money (McLaughlin declines to say how much) to buy a new van — and said he might even sit in with the group at some point. Thanks to Clapton’s assistance, Jam for Freedom are now free to spread their message all over the U.K.

In the past, Clapton has been reluctant to voice his political views. As he told Rolling Stone in 1968, “What I’m doing now is just my way of thinking, but if it gets into a paper somewhere, people will say that what I’m saying is the way they ought to think. Which is wrong, because I’m only a musician. If they dig my music, that’s great, but they don’t have to know what’s going on in my head.”

But in recent months Clapton has himself become a leading vaccine skeptic, part of a community that Dr. Anthony Fauci has said is “part of the problem — because you’re allowing yourself to be a vehicle for the virus to be spreading to someone else.” And while never explicitly condemning the lockdown, he’s said “live music might never recover” and joined Van Morrison for three songs that amount to lockdown protest anthems. By way of a friend’s social media account, he’s also detailed what he called his “disastrous” experience after receiving two AstraZeneca shots (“propaganda said the vaccine was safe for everyone,” he wrote)

Clapton recently embarked on a U.S. tour booked in red states despite surging transmission numbers and death rates — and at venues that largely don’t require proof of vaccination. In the process, this Sixties icon, who embraced the sex, drugs, and rock & roll lifestyle as much as anyone in his generation, has drawn praise from conservative pundits. In Austin, he posed for backstage photos with Texas’ anti-vax-mandate Gov. Greg Abbott, known for his attacks on abortion and voting rights. The sight of Clapton in backstage photos with the notorious governor amounted to a deal killer for some: “I just deleted all my Clapton songs,” went one comment on Abbott’s Twitter feed, along with, “A Kid Rock type with better guitar skills. Done with him.”

In what may be among the final acts of his career, Clapton risked his reputation and part of his devoted fan base when he doubled down on his views. “If he had a bad reaction, that’s bad,” says Bill Oakes, who ran RSO, Clapton’s label, in the 1970s. “Obviously most people haven’t. It’s a shame that this is the way that a lot of young Rolling Stone readers are going to read about him for the first time. He is one of the greats, and this is how he makes the headlines in his dotage.” (Through a representative, Clapton declined to comment for this article.)

Even people who haven’t thought much about Clapton lately are now wondering: What is he thinking? His fellow musicians don’t know what to make of it all: Queen’s Brian May referred to vaccine skeptics like Clapton as “fruitcakes.” Longtime Clapton collaborators and friends in the music business declined to comment about his current beliefs to Rolling Stone. As the manager of one prominent peer put it, “I wouldn’t want him to touch this.”

For the longest time, anyone asked to rattle off Clapton’s accomplishments would cite the vital role he played in bringing blues and reggae into mainstream culture and his prodigious guitar playing. (There was a reason someone spray-painted “Clapton Is God” on a London subway wall in the mid-Sixties.) Others couldn’t help but remember the horrific tragedy of his four-year-old son’s death and the emotional catharsis of “Tears in Heaven.” But the current controversy is prompting a fresh examination of Clapton’s past behavior, which includes jarringly racist statements he made in the early part of his career. How did we get from admiration and empathy to bewilderment and even a feeling of betrayal?

What changed — or did anything?

In the summer of 1976, Dave Wakeling thought he knew Clapton, too. Wakeling, who’d go on to found the English Beat, one of the U.K.’s pioneering ska bands, was 20 that year, and such a big Clapton fan that he’d once hitchhiked from his Birmingham home to London to see Clapton’s band Blind Faith in Hyde Park.

But when he saw Clapton at the Odeon theater in Birmingham in August 1976, Wakeling was gob-smacked. A clearly inebriated Clapton, who unlike most of his rock brethren hadn’t weighed in on topics like the Vietnam War, began grousing about immigration. The concert was neither filmed nor recorded, but based on published accounts at the time (and Wakeling’s recollection), Clapton began making vile, racist comments from the stage. In remarks he has never denied, he talked about how the influx of immigrants in the U.K. would result in the country “being a colony within 10 years.” He also went on an extended jag about how “foreigners” should leave Great Britain: “Get the wogs out . . . get the coons out.” (Wog, shorthand for golliwog, was a slur against dark-skinned nonwhites.)

“As it went on, it was like, ‘Is this a joke?’ ” Wakeling recalls. “And then it became obvious that it wasn’t. . . . It started to form a sort of murmur throughout the crowd. He kept talking, and the murmurings started to get louder: ‘What did he fucking say again?’ . . . We all got into the foyer after the concert, and it was as loud as the concert: ‘What is he fucking doing? What a ****!’ ”

When Clapton voiced support onstage for the conservative British flamethrower and fascist Enoch Powell, a prominent anti-immigration politician who had given his polarizing “rivers of blood” speech on the topic in Birmingham in 1968, Wakeling was particularly offended. Thanks to white and black workers toiling together in its factories, Wakeling had sensed that Birmingham had become more integrated in recent years.

Also in the crowd was author Caryl Phillips, then a high school student and admirer of Clapton’s work, especially his immersion in reggae and blues. “Clapton was to me somebody who represented the kind of crossover figure who was kind of like me in the other direction – me being a Black kid who actually liked white music, and he a white guy who actually liked Black music,” Phillips says. But like so many at the Odeon, Phillips was taken aback at Clapton’s tirades. “He said a few things about they should go back to where they came from and so on, then he’d play a couple of songs,” he recalls. “He was like a drunk who would remember that he’d been talking about something and then pick it up again a couple of songs later. He was one of the last people you expected to stand up there and speak in this way. It hung like a toxic cloud over the whole evening.” As one of the few Black people in the crowd, Phillips says he also felt “all eyes were kind of upon me, and then swiveled way from me.”


Clapton’s comments shocked his bandmates, too. “What Eric said was a total surprise,” recalls George Terry, a member of Clapton’s band at the time, “as he never mentioned he would be saying something at the concert to me or other members of the band that I knew of.”

Until then, Clapton’s association with the blues — and Black culture — had largely been seen as positive. Growing up in Surrey, raised by a grandmother, he’d begun practicing blues licks on a guitar as a teenager. With the Yardbirds, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, and Cream, his playing reflected lessons picked up from listening to Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, and other blues guitar masters. Unlike some of his other peers, Clapton gave proper credit to the music’s founding fathers. A Clapton cover of a song by Waters (or Bob Marley) would pad their bank accounts as well as his own. “The man can play,” says Buddy Guy, the Chicago blues legend who first met Clapton in the Sixties and has jammed with him numerous times since. “If somebody’s good, I don’t call you big, fat, or tall. He just bent those strings, and I guess he bent them right on time. The British exploded the blues and put it in places we didn’t put it. I wish I could have had the popularity he got. Maybe I wouldn’t have to work so damn hard.”

Clapton was also in awe of Jimi Hendrix’s skills and is said to have been devastated when Hendrix died. But in an 1968 interview with Rolling Stone, Clapton referred to Hendrix with a derogatory term that was also hipster slang at the time. But maybe even more troubling was how he displayed a predilection for some racial stereotypes: “When he first came to England, you know English people have a very big thing towards a spade. They really love that magic thing, the sexual thing. They all fall for that sort of thing. Everybody and his brother in England still sort of think that spades have big dicks. And Jimi came over and exploited that to the limit, the fucking T. Everybody fell for it. I fell for it. Shit.”

Clapton’s epic struggles, from his comeback from heroin and alcohol addiction to his opening a treatment center in Antigua to the loss of his son in 1991, have made him a largely sympathetic figure in the press, including Rolling Stone. The magazine has put Clapton on its cover eight times since 1968; as recently as 2015, he was ranked second on Rolling Stone‘s list of the 100 greatest guitarists. Of the Powell-Birmingham incident, one British writer at the time called it “just another reminder of Clapton’s vulnerable honesty.”

But those who heard of his Birmingham comments had a much different view of Clapton. “I was completely shocked,” says agitprop writer and performer Red Saunders, who was shown a copy of a published report of Clapton’s comments shortly after the concert. “You’ve got to understand the kind of totem-head figure that Enoch Powell is in this country. He’s on the same level as Governor Wallace of Alabama — a high-level conservative, real old tub-thumping British imperialist of the old order.” Powell’s “rivers of blood” speech had spawned a white nationalist movement. Clapton’s embrace of Powell’s rhetoric prompted Saunders to write a letter to New Musical Express: “What’s going on, Eric? You’ve got a touch of brain damage. . . . Own up, half your music is black. You’re rock music’s biggest colonist. You’re a good musician but where would you be without the blues and R&B?”

Saunders’ letter led to the founding of Rock Against Racism, which for about five years put on concerts in Europe and the U.S. in reaction to comments like Clapton’s. “He actually changed the world in the opposite direction, which was very decent of him, really,” says Wakeling (the English Beat played at one of the RAR shows as well). Saunders recalls that Pete Townshend said he might bring Clapton along when he played one of the Rock Against Racism shows in the summer of 1979. But Saunders says he insisted Clapton apologize first. For reasons that were never specified to Saunders, Clapton never showed up.

Some who knew and worked with Clapton at the time (and haven’t seen him much since) argue his Birmingham rant didn’t reflect his true feelings. “The idea that he was sort of somehow speaking his true mind there is misplaced,” Oakes says. “It was the booze. He was in a truculent mode then, and I don’t think he realized at all the effect of what he was saying. I don’t think it was one of those things where people say, ‘Well, if you’re drunk, it doesn’t matter — if you said it, you meant it.’ I don’t think he meant it.” Speaking to Rolling Stone in 2017, “I just have to face the guy that I became when I was fueled on drugs and alcohol,” Clapton said. “It’s incomprehensible to me, in a way, that I got so far out. And there was no one to challenge me.” He may have had a point about the latter: As a privileged member of rock’s ruling class, he has long shown a tendency to do what he wants when he wants to do it, with seemingly little regard for consequences.


What remains galling for people like Wakeling and Saunders is not only the racist remarks, but the way Clapton handled his response to them. After his onstage tirade was reported in the U.K. press, Clapton sent a handwritten letter to the British music newspaper Sounds, apologizing “to all the foreigners in Birm. . . . It’s just that (as usual) I’d had a few before I went on and one foreigner had pinched my missuss’ bum and I proceeded to lose my bottle.” (He claimed, in part, that a rich Saudi had leered at his then-partner Pattie Boyd.) But he also added, in what seemed like an endorsement of a white supremacist, “I think that Enoch is the only politician mad enough to run this country.” In an interview with that same publication, he downplayed the Birmingham rant yet again: “I thought it was quite funny actually,” comparing the incident to a Monty Python skit. (Phillips disagrees: “This wasn’t some stumbling buffoon in the tradition of Monty Python. This was incendiary stuff he was saying.”)

In his 2007 memoir, Clapton addressed the controversy anew, writing that his onstage comments in Birmingham were “never meant to be a racial statement. It was more of an attack against the then-government policies on cheap labor, and the cultural confusion and overcrowding that resulted from what was clearly a greed-based policy.” To Saunders and others in the Rock Against Racism community, the explanation was “ridiculous,” and indeed, derogatory comments about “wogs” didn’t exactly leave much room for interpretation.

The Birmingham incident, which went largely unreported in the U.S. at the time, also resurfaced in Eric Clapton: Life in 12 Bars, a 2017 authorized Clapton documentary that, with his eventual approval, recounted that career low point. In the film and in interviews to promote it, Clapton again denied racist insensitivity, citing friendships with Black people, and again blamed the moment on his massive alcohol intake of the time. “I did really offensive things,” he told one outlet. “I was a nasty person,” adding, in a striking admission, that his Birmingham rant was “full-tilt” racist. “I’m not excusing myself. It was an awful thing to do,” he said, again, adding, “I think it’s funny, actually.”

“I didn’t pay attention to what people were saying back then,” says Guy, who claims he hadn’t heard about the incident until recently. “You had white people saying this, Black people saying that. Whatever somebody wants to say or feel, that’s OK with me.”

But then as now, Clapton’s explanations ring hollow for those who were in Birmingham that night or who heard accounts of it at the time. Wakeling says that with the exception of two Cream songs he loves (“Badge” and “White Room”), he hasn’t listened to Clapton’s music since; Phillips likewise has not returned to his old Clapton LPs. “We know that the drink doesn’t make you make up sophisticated lies,” Wakeling says. “It just makes you tell the truth too loud at the wrong time to the wrong people.”

For anyone who’s read Clapton’s memoir closely, his recent turn may not be all that jarring. He wrote that “it was my normal thing when I was angry to contest authority” and admitted to a tendency toward “conspiracy phobia in all things of this nature, including politics.”

Clapton does appear to have a credulous side: In the book, he detailed the bizarre incident in the Eighties when “a lady with a strong European accent” called him at home, told him she knew all about his difficulties with Pattie Boyd (his wife by then), and persuaded him to try all sorts of odd rituals — like “cut my finger to draw blood, smear it onto a cross with Pattie’s and my name written on it, and read weird incantations at night.” (At her suggestion, he also flew to New York and slept with her before realizing that none of that madness would bring Boyd back.)

Clapton’s current public views are a hot mess of those tendencies churned up by a global pandemic, fake news, and his own health issues. In the past few years, Clapton’s health — his hands in particular — have made more headlines than his most recent albums. In 2016, he confessed to Rolling Stone that he was having “a neurological thing that is tricky, that affects my hands.” The following year, he told the magazine he was having “eczema from head to foot. The palms of my hand were coming off.” He also was dealing with peripheral neuropathy — damage to a person’s peripheral nerves, leading to burning or aching pain in the arms and legs.

Last year, Clapton began watching videos by Ivor Cummins, a chemical engineer and author who has questioned the British government’s handling of the pandemic. “I was trying to keep my mouth shut, but I was following the channel avidly,” Clapton confessed. Clapton made his own feelings first known by joining with Morrison for “Stand and Deliver,” a single that connected the lockdown to individual freedom: “Do you want to be a free man/Or do you want to be a slave?” Clapton issued a statement about the collaboration, “We must stand up and be counted because we need to find a way out of this mess. The alternative is not worth thinking about.” (In a strange coincidence, Morrison was a special guest star at Clapton’s Birmingham show in 1976.)

When he began receiving flak for his comments, Clapton doubled down. He posted comments by way of the social media account of his friend, architect and fellow vaccine skeptic Robin Monotti. He told Oracle Films — a website that claims to “fight for open debate and freedom of information in the face of global government encroachment and big-tech censorship” — that after a second dose, his hands “didn’t really work,” and that it accelerated his condition. “I expected it to be something that would gradually grow worse as I got older, into my eighties or whatever,” he said. “This . . . ramped up, on a scale of 10, from three to eight or nine: agony, chronic pain. . . . It took my immune system and shook it around again.” Clapton said he lost the use of his hands for three weeks. To Oracle Films, Clapton remarked that he could “feel the alienation” from his peers and even family members over the past year.

According to Dr. Matthew Fink, chairman of the Department of Neurology at Weill Cornell Medical College, such a reaction is plausible with patients dealing with Clapton’s neurological condition. “As long as there have been vaccines around, there have always been some cases of what we call post-vaccine or post-infectious inflammatory disorders that can affect the peripheral nerves,” says Fink, adding that the AstraZeneca vaccine in particular has been linked to rare cases of neurological disorder. “It can affect your hands and feet quite severely, so I can understand as a guitarist, it could really affect him.”

And yet Fink, who says he loves Clapton’s work with Cream, is concerned about the message as much as the messenger. “You’re not going to condemn all vaccines because of that, because the reality is that the vaccines are such lifesaving treatments for the vast majority of people that get them,” he says. “The benefits so far outweigh any of the risks. I would never tell someone we should stop giving vaccines.” Thanks in part to vaccine skeptics, only 56 percent of the U.S. population is currently fully vaccinated.

After Clapton offered to lend Jam for Freedom his family van, McLaughlin met with Clapton, casually dressed in a blue sweater and moccasins, at his recording studio in London. McLaughlin is wary of Covid vaccines. “Well, it’s not a vaccine, but I haven’t had it,” he says. “Unless I was getting paid a lot of money, I wouldn’t put myself on the trial for a new technology. We’re just saying, ‘let people choose what they want to put in their bodies. Don’t force them.’ It’s kind of suspicious when you have so many people shouting at you to do something. It just rings alarm bells for a lot of people.”

McLaughlin says Clapton was still feeling the aftereffects of his shots, telling McLaughlin he hadn’t been able to play guitar for months. “We did want to have a jam, but because of his condition at the time, it was tough for him to play — and to play outside when his fingers are cold because of the side effects,” says McLaughlin. “You can imagine that that would stress him out.” Clapton posed for a photo next to the van with McLaughlin, which the group later shared on its social media channels.

But as with his fumbled responses to his 1976 rant, Clapton couldn’t seem to leave well enough alone. He declared in a statement that he wouldn’t play for “discriminated audiences,” meaning he would only play venues that did not require proof of vaccination.

Shortly before the first show on his American tour in September, he rolled out a new song, “This Has Gotta Stop,” seemingly a protest against his own vaccination: “I knew that something was going on wrong/When you started laying down the law/I can’t move my hands, I break out in sweat/I wanna cry, can’t take it anymore.” To further his point, the video’s animation depicted citizens as manipulated puppets. (Weeks later, he unveiled a new version of that song — complete with a sax solo and new verse by, you guessed it, Morrison.)

“It sounds like he’s having another Enoch Powell moment,” says Oakes. “That’s the last time I can think of when he actually confronted any world issues, because he’s basically someone who’s kept to himself quite well. That was obviously a long time ago and triggered by massive amounts of alcohol. He hasn’t got the excuse this time.”

In his interview with Oracle Films, Clapton complained that after he expressed his views, “I was labeled as a Trump supporter.” But his old-world streak reaches back to at least 2007, when Clapton — along with Bryan Ferry and Steve Winwood — played a benefit at a castle in Berkshire, England, for the Countryside Alliance, a U.K. group devoted to promoting “food, farming, and country sports.” Those sports include the barbaric tradition of fox hunting — unleashing hunting hounds on foxes, which the British government had banned due to both the animal cruelty as well as the class disparities it represents.

At the time, a Clapton representative confirmed that he supported the Alliance but didn’t “hunt himself.” That association still rankles some of his peers. “I love Eric Clapton, he’s my hero, but he has very different views from me in many ways,” Brian May told The Independent. “He’s a person who thinks it’s OK to shoot animals for fun, so we have our disagreements.” But Clapton’s stance — based around his support for what a spokesperson called “people’s private pursuits” — got another group on his side: Thanks to that concert, the National Rifle Association trumpeted “Eric Clapton Supports Fox Hunting” on its site.

For vaccine skeptics, the idea of playing red states, and indoor arenas at that, felt like an act of defiance. Conservative young-gun pundit Michael Knowles — who once filled in for Rush Limbaugh and “wrote” Reasons to Vote for Democrats: A Comprehensive Guide, a bestselling novelty book that consisted entirely of blank pages — tweeted, “Eric Clapton is a much more credible person than Dr. Fauci.” Speaking to RS, Knowles stands by that assessment. “Clapton isn’t pontificating about matters of science or health — he’s discussing his own experience with this vaccine,” he says. “I think in many ways Eric Clapton does have more credibility on this question and many others than Dr. Fauci does.”

At 31, Knowles is younger than most Clapton fans and thinks the guitarist’s stance against the medical establishment is staying true to his rock roots. “It’s terrific,” Knowles says. “There’s something really authentic about a rock star speaking up against authority. That is what rock & roll used to represent. And as it aged, it simply came into conformity with the prevailing established opinions of society. . . . Eric Clapton trusts his audience to make their own medical decisions. And we used to do that more generally in this country. We don’t seem to do that very much anymore.”

Jam for Freedom’s McLaughlin sees the situation in much the same way, and his chat with Clapton confirmed it. “He said we’re essentially doing what he and his contemporaries in the Sixties did, which was embracing freedom, getting out of government control and societal control,” McLaughlin says. “He’s told us repeatedly, ‘This is like what we did.’ ”

All of this has left fans grappling with the legacy of a musician who is potentially putting people’s lives at risk. “I don’t get it — I always thought he was a liberal,” says one music-industry veteran who has worked with Clapton over the years. “I’ve met him a number of times, and he’s quite the gentleman, mature and well-spoken and measured. So I’m shocked by it. Most of his audience is shocked by it. I won’t see him [in concert] anymore. That’s it. How could anyone care about your fans and be an anti-vaxxer? He’s in the live-entertainment business.”

How do we reconcile some of his views with his music? Is it still possible to enjoy his lasting achievements — the desperate passion of Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, the relaxed grooves of 461 Ocean Boulevard, the dramatic makeover of Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads” with Cream — without thinking twice? At WPLR, a leading classic-rock station in Connecticut, Chaz, a morning-show DJ who declines to use his real name, says Clapton is “a Mount Rushmore figure.” But the DJ is wrestling with a former hero’s disorienting statements. “He’s brought a lot of happiness into the world with his music,” says Chaz. “If I’m at a family dinner and Grandpa is saying something I completely disagree with, I’ll ignore it and say ‘Pass the mash potatoes.’ That’s the way I’m feeling this.”

Of the 12,000 or so people who began streaming into the Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas, on September 13th, the first date of Clapton’s fall American tour, it was that kind of meal. “You’re getting political, and that’s not a question I feel comfortable with answering,” snapped one concertgoer when asked about Clapton’s views. At the time, Tarrant County, home to Fort Worth, had the second-highest tally of Covid cases in Texas since the start of the pandemic — 307,000 in a state with 3 million cases. But at the venue, masks were only “strongly recommended,” and few wore them inside. The Clapton fans there were in support of him or didn’t want to discuss it. “I don’t think he’s really making a political stance,” says David Hayner of Granbury, Texas, attending his first Clapton concert. “He’s speaking out about health and safety, and he’s using the platform he’s been given. It doesn’t bother me at all.” (Says Fink, “It’s a dangerous thing for all those people. And I feel bad for all the people who are going to get sick.” As of this writing, no illnesses connected to the tour have been reported.)

“Somebody said, ‘Have you seen what Eric said?’ ” says Guy. “When somebody’s as famous as he is, and when they speak, people listen. Whatever you or me might think is wrong, the rest of those people who’ve been supporting him all these years may think he’s right.”

Throughout the two-week tour, Clapton never performed his anti-lockdown songs. He stuck with the classics — “I Shot the Sheriff,” the unplugged “Layla,” “Tears in Heaven” — and a handful of blues covers. He rarely addressed the crowd or spoke about vaccines or politics. But guitar in hand, he stood — and for now remains — at the crossroads of a cultural civil war.
 

Gordon_4

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XsjadoBlayde

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Counter cultural icon is still being counter cultural. Not shocked.
conflating acute racism, support for Enoch Powell and anti-vaxx beliefs with counter culture is a poorly thought out take, all these have existed since inception and are merely symptoms of age old ignorance at best, not progressive bravery
 

The Rogue Wolf

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So glad Clapton was never an inspiration or an influence during guitar learning days

I think Clapton needs to realize that he, and the majority of his fanbase, are of an age that need all the protection from COVID that they can get.
 
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Gordon_4

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conflating acute racism, support for Enoch Powell and anti-vaxx beliefs with counter culture is a poorly thought out take, all these have existed since inception and are merely symptoms of age old ignorance at best, not progressive bravery
Didn’t say it was a good thing. Just it seems to me that if one is dedicated to being counter cultural - as some of these aging rock stars are - they will eventually sort of circle back on themselves. Like an ouroboros.

Of course the simpler explanation, as I'm sure Eric knows very well, is that cocaine's a helluva drug.
 
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Buyetyen

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Of course the simpler explanation, as I'm sure Eric knows very well, is that cocaine's a helluva drug.
No, the simpler explanation is that he's a wealthy, aging British white man. That's almost synonymous with bad takes.
 

Agema

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conflating acute racism, support for Enoch Powell and anti-vaxx beliefs with counter culture is a poorly thought out take, all these have existed since inception and are merely symptoms of age old ignorance at best, not progressive bravery
Significant elements of the further right and the countercultural left share one thing in common: a deep and abiding distrust of "the system". Except, in the former case e.g. Germany 1933-45, where they are the system. The counterculture left never become the system.

So it is that they make surprising allies in terms of vaccination and so on, because neither trust the authorities, the medical profession, "elitists", etc.
 

XsjadoBlayde

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Significant elements of the further right and the countercultural left share one thing in common: a deep and abiding distrust of "the system". Except, in the former case e.g. Germany 1933-45, where they are the system. The counterculture left never become the system.

So it is that they make surprising allies in terms of vaccination and so on, because neither trust the authorities, the medical profession, "elitists", etc.
Yeah, have observed the traits more susceptible to anti-vaxx disinformation for lefty types are more those into "holistic" medicine, spirituality, belief in the "everything natural must be automatically healthier" fallacy, UFO/alien flirtation, chakra energies etc. There's definitely a growing issue of anti-vaxx/covid denial spreading in online UK yoga groups too.

Certain ways of thinking appear to allow paths of less resistance for manipulation through misinformation, and a common justification I hear from such people can be summarised as "just keep an open mind, bro" ... wielding an irony too sharp and caustic to safely handle.
 

XsjadoBlayde

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These insufferable performative crybabies are addicted to bathing in the bloody bodies of their own supporters, when will they ever feel the weight of the harm they willingly enable? How many more must die before accountability is even slightly entertained?


SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — With the governor of Texas leading the charge, conservative Republicans in several states are moving to block or undercut President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates for private employers before the regulations are even issued.

The growing battle over what some see as overreach by the federal government is firing up a segment of the Republican Party base, even though many large employers have already decided on their own to require their workers to get the shot.

The dustup will almost certainly end up in court since GOP attorneys general in nearly half of the states have vowed to sue once the rule is unveiled.

The courts have long upheld vaccine mandates, and the Constitution gives the federal government the upper hand over the states, but with the details still unannounced and more conservative judges on the bench, the outcome isn’t entirely clear.

On Monday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order barring private companies or any other entity from requiring vaccines. It was perhaps the most direct challenge yet to Biden’s announcement a month ago that workers at private companies with more than 100 employees would have to get vaccinated or tested weekly for the coronavirus.

“No entity in Texas can compel receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine by any individual ... who objects to such vaccination,” Abbott wrote in his order.

White House officials brushed off Abbott’s order, saying the question of whether state law could supersede federal was settled 160 years ago during the Civil War. They said the Biden administration will push through the opposition and put the private workplace mandate into effect along with others it ordered for federal contractors and employees at health care facilities that receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursements. All told, those mandates could affect up to 100 million Americans.

Noting the nation’s COVID-19 death toll of more than 700,000, White House press secretary Jen Psaki accused the opposition of putting politics ahead of safety.

“I think it’s pretty clear when you make a choice that’s against all public health information and data out there, that it’s not based on what is in the interests of the people you are governing. It is perhaps in the interest of your own politics,” she said.

Several large companies in Texas have already implemented their own vaccine mandates, and two Texas-based airlines, Southwest and American, indicated Tuesday they would follow the order of the Biden administration, saying federal action supersedes any state mandate or law.

Elsewhere, lawmakers in Arkansas have approved a measure creating vaccine-mandate exemptions. Though the GOP governor hasn’t said whether he will sign it, it has prompted fears that businesses will be forced to choose whether to break federal or state law.


“We are tying the hands of Arkansas businesses that want to make their own decision in how best to keep their people safe,” said Randy Zook, president of the Arkansas Chamber of Commerce. Some of the state’s largest companies, including Walmart and Tyson Foods, have required some or all employees to get vaccinated.

Calls for special legislative sessions to counter vaccine mandates have been heard in states such as Wyoming, Kansas and South Dakota, where Republican Gov. Kristi Noem is so far resisting calls to immediately consider a bill that would guarantee people could opt out.

“I hear from people almost daily who are going to lose their jobs, are living in fear,” said Republican state Rep. Scott Odenbach, who has clashed with Noem on the issue. “They shouldn’t have to choose between feeding their family and their own medical freedom.”

In Tennessee, Republican lawmakers pushing GOP Gov. Bill Lee to consider further loosening COVID-19 restrictions, including vaccine requirements, could undermine a $500 million incentive deal to lure a Ford Motor Co. project, the House speaker told a local radio station.

In Indiana, Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb is also resisting a push from within his party to ban workplace vaccine mandates.

Bills are being introduced or drafted elsewhere, too, including Ohio and New Hampshire, where the Republican sponsor was elected House speaker after his predecessor died of COVID-19.

“We have made it clear that government mandates are not the path to successful vaccination rates and will only cause further division in this country,” Speaker Sherm Packard said last month.

In Utah, lawmakers have not taken action, but a crowd of over 600 people packed a legislative hearing room last week.

Rob Moore, CEO of Salt Lake City-based Big-D Construction, said he supports vaccines but has questions about the mandate rollout. He already has a worker shortage on his job sites, and he said employee surveys tell him that nearly 20% of his workers don’t want to get inoculated, so they would need to be tested weekly.

“That’s heavy on our mind right now. I don’t know if the federal government has thought through that all that well. The cost is going to be enormous,” he said.

In other sectors, vaccine requirements have gone smoothly. In Utah, the NBA’s Jazz is making its employees get vaccinated. It is also requiring fans at games to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. So far, just a few ticket refunds have been needed, and the season opener is expected to be sold out by next week, said Jazz spokesman Frank Zang.

“I think there’s understanding of what’s at stake here, in terms of having a safe environment for people to enjoy sports and concerts and shows again,” he said.

COVID-19 vaccinations have been given to more than 200 million Americans, and serious side effects have proved extremely rare. Experts say any risk from the vaccine is far lower than the danger posed by COVID-19.

Recent polling shows about half of Americans favor requiring workers in large companies to get vaccinated or tested weekly. But people are split based on their political party, with about 6 in 10 Republicans opposing the mandate for employees, according to the survey by The Associated Press and NORC-Center for Public Affairs Research.

Montana is the only state so far to pass a law banning private employers from requiring vaccines. The measure includes penalties for business owners of a $500 fine or prison. It is facing two court challenges, from the Montana Medical Association and from a law firm that says the rule interferes with businesses’ decisions about how to provide a safe working environment.

As judges weigh some of these cases, much will depend on exactly how the nationwide rule is written. It will be drafted as a temporary emergency rule by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which has broad power to regulate the workplace.

“They will have to frame it in a way that makes a case this is workplace-related and not just an attempt to raise vaccination rates in the United States more broadly,” said Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, a professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law. “I expect the main benefit to the mandate will be that it gives cover to companies that already want to do that.”
 

XsjadoBlayde

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Was not aware the "Nuremberg 2.0" waffle was already established rhetoric in far right circles as a sort of "revenge" before all this madness. Makes it all the more discomforting seeing so much of this emanate from Germany.


Lisa, a supermarket worker from Dublin, is determined not to get the coronavirus vaccine because she subscribes to the conspiracy theory that it’s a population control mechanism designed by Bill Gates.

But the 50-year-old, who says she was first introduced to conspiracy theories – or as she terms it, “what’s really happening” – through pro-life Facebook groups, has been feeling increasingly anxious since further restrictions were placed on the unvaccinated in Ireland, where about three-quarters of the population have received both jabs.

One person is giving her hope: a German lawyer called Reiner Fuellmich. “There’s just something about him, the way he speaks, that made me trust him,” Lisa, who asked not to be identified by her full name because of potential repercussions in her personal life, explained over the phone.

“I really do think he could be our knight in shining armour.”

Fuellmich isn’t a familiar name to most people. But for many of those sucked into conspiracy theories around COVID-19, he has become one of the most influential figures in the world. Thousands of people worldwide are clinging to the fantasy that he will soon be leading a major prosecution of world leaders, scientists and journalists, placing them on trial for “crimes against humanity” for their role in supposedly engineering a false pandemic.

His followers believe these trials will carry global historical significance, so much so that they’ve become known as “Nuremberg 2.0” in reference to the trials of Nazi leaders that took place after World War 2. Jan Rathje, a political scientist and researcher at German anti-extremism think tank Cemas, said the notion of a “second Nuremberg” – framed as mass trials of treacherous “elites” – was already familiar to many in the far-right before becoming synonymous with Fuellmich’s legal battle.

“The concept of a second Nuremberg trials has been present in far-right circles for a number of years, and it’s connected to ideas of revenge,” he said.

This push for a “Nuremberg 2.0” is gaining traction within the increasingly-interconnected global anti-lockdown scene. Rathje said that mentions of the term in German Telegram groups jumped from virtually zero to over 1,000 a day in April. The term trended on Twitter in the UK this summer, and in August, a man interrupted a police press conference in Sydney, Australia, shouting “Nuremberg 2.0”.

Meanwhile, on social media, Fuellmich’s followers refer to him as a hero, saviour or even, occasionally, “sent by God”. Memes are created showing him photoshopped into courtrooms with world leaders in the dock.

A Facebook group, in which Fuellmich’s supporters encourage people to contact their local police about the claims made in his videos, gained more than 17,000 members before being removed by Facebook as a result of inquiries by VICE World News. Many supporters are even donating money to make these trials happen – Lisa says she plans to start fundraising for him soon.

These people are going to end up disappointed.

“When I look at how this might stand up in court, it’s just not in touch with reality,” said a German lawyer who’s known Fuellmich for about ten years and asked not to be named due to fear of harassment from his supporters.

“It’s complete nonsense.”

Before the pandemic, Fuellmich, who runs his own law firm in Göttingen, central Germany, and also lives and works part-time in the US, was best known for his involvement in high-profile corporate fraud cases against companies including Deutsche Bank and Volkswagen.

But last year, as the pandemic swept the world, drawing vast numbers of people down conspiracy-theory rabbit holes, his career took a surprising turn. In July 2020 Fuellmich launched himself as a vlogger and founded the corona ausschuss – roughly translated as “corona committee” – to investigate “crimes against humanity” committed by governments and corporations regarding COVID-19.

The committee’s “findings”, which are broadcast weekly on his website in multi-hour-long sessions, read like a glossary of every COVID conspiracy going. Hosted by Fuellmich and three other lawyers, it comes across as an official-looking enquiry – similar to what a government might set up after a national disaster.

But it’s really just a series of interviews with various figures from the international conspiracy milieu, pushing myths about COVID-19: that the pandemic was planned by secret global elites, that vaccines are a deadly form of population control. According to Rathje, the committee has been the source of viral disinformation, such as a claim that vaccines violate the Nuremberg Code established after World War 2, because they are medical experiments that people haven’t consented to. This is, of course, not true.

The videos have racked up millions of views and made Fuellmich a star of Germany’s COVID-denying Querdenken (“lateral thinkers”) movement – which is central to the country’s volatile anti-lockdown scene – and a regular speaker at rallies.

But what makes him stand out from the many other figures spouting COVID conspiracy theories are the lawsuits he has filed since last year against politicians, scientists and other prominent figures. His most recent newsletter lists pending court cases in Canada, New Zealand, New York, South Africa and elsewhere. Typically, these take months or even years to reach the point where they can be dismissed or thrown out of court – one typically bizarre lawsuit filed in British Columbia, Canada, against Queen Elizabeth and the state’s provincial health officer, Bonnie Henry, claiming that COVID-19 is just influenza, is due to be heard in March 2022.

Fuellmich is also trying to bring a class action lawsuit – in either Canada or the US, he says – against Christian Drosten, the prominent German virologist who’s been described as his country’s “corona-explainer-in-chief.” Fuellmich is accusing him of “pandemic fraud” on the supposed basis that PCR diagnostic tests, which were developed at Berlin’s Charité hospital, where Drosten is the director of the Institute of Virology, cannot actually detect COVID-19. Charité did not respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.

Fuellmich has asked followers to donate €800 euros (£680) before tax to fund this case. According to receipts seen by the German fact-checking blog Volksverpetzer, he may have raised over €1 million (about £850,000) so far. Fuellmich did not respond to VICE World News’ requests for comment.

Legal experts told VICE World News the case is fundamentally flawed. US class-action lawsuits cannot be brought by or against people in other countries. There is also plenty of evidence that PCR tests are accurate.

Despite its extremely limited prospects of success, conspiracy theorists around the world have latched on to Fuellmich’s project in droves, with thousands believed to have donated to his legal fund. German lawyer Chan-jo Jun, who has been following Fuellmich’s lawsuits, said his supporters seemed heartened by the success of a few minor cases in Germany where businesses challenged lockdown rules that were hastily and poorly written.

“However, what [these lawsuits] usually aim for is proving there is a worldwide conspiracy that corona doesn’t exist,” he said. “Obviously they have a hard time proving this in court. Most of the time they don’t even get to court.”

In spring last year, Fuellmich appeared to make deliberate moves to grow his global audience outside of Germany. He set up an English-language Telegram channel and appeared on a number of well-known podcasts, including The Delingpod, hosted by James Delingpole, the editor of Breitbart London.

In the episode, released in late May 2020 and described as “Nuremberg 2 and why those involved in the Coronavirus scare should be tried for crimes against humanity,” Fuellmich called the pandemic “worse than the Third Reich” and claimed that a number of big lawsuits will begin “over the next two or three weeks.”

The buzz around Fuellmich’s legal battle grew from this point, with supporters on social media declaring that the trials would start soon, or that the lawsuits were already succeeding. A Facebook group was created called “We the People Crimes Against Humanity,” urging people to write to their local police using Fuellmich’s videos as evidence.

The group had more than 17,000 members before Facebook removed the group for spreading misinformation, following queries from VICE World News.

“We thank VICE for bringing this to our attention,” wrote a Facebook spokesperson.

“We have removed this Group for violating our policies on COVID-19 and vaccinations. We do not allow harmful COVID-19 misinformation that has been debunked by public health experts – like fake preventive measures or claims that the virus doesn’t exist.”

A live-streamed speech by Fuellmich at the anti-lockdown “Freedom” rally in London in July added to the hype surrounding him. On QAnon-affiliated Telegram groups, users shared a website with a Zoom link to watch the trial, which it claimed would start on July the 4th, 2021. The stream on the website, which doesn’t appear to have been created by Fuellmich, didn’t work.

Experts say that while the lawsuits are almost certainly doomed to fail, that's almost beside the point. The long-running legal battles perform an important function for conspiracy movements, giving them a project to unite and mobilise around – and any losses are likely to only reinforce their beliefs.

“Even if they lose the case, it just proves there is a conspiracy reaching into the legal system,” said Jun. Plus, he added, “they are also gathering money.”

The significant donations flowing in to bankroll “Nuremberg 2.0” raise the obvious question: Does Fuellmich genuinely believe what he’s saying, or is he pulling off a massive grift on corona conspiracy theorists around the world?

According to the German lawyer who has known Fuellmich for over a decade and describes him as a friend, there’s no question that the conspiracy theorist believes what he preaches.

“Yes, he believes it – he is completely convinced of it,” the lawyer told VICE World News.

He speculated that Fuellmich’s professional background fighting corporate wrongdoing may have shaped his worldview, making him distrustful of institutions and contributing to his slide into conspiracy ideology. The friend said he’d heard Fuellmich talk about a belief in “global elites” even before the pandemic hit; in his videos, Fuellmich himself describes becoming convinced that there were people behind the scenes “pulling the strings” in his profession over the years.

After losing one court case against Deutsche Bank, he accused the judges of being in cahoots with the company. The judges then successfully sued him for libel.

“He’s not a bad man; he’s a man who is strongly driven by injustice,” the friend said. “But these things he is talking about aren’t real injustices.”

Fuellmich’s lack of progress in delivering on the hype has led some of his supporters to lose faith. In the Crimes Against Humanity Facebook group, some commentators declare they think Fuellmich is a “fraud”, just like the rest of the political and scientific establishment.

For many others, though, the lack of any meaningful progress is merely interpreted as further proof that the legal establishment is corrupt and committed to thwarting their attempts to expose the global coronavirus plot – reaffirming their belief in the conspiracy theory.

“It’s like when prophecies fail – some people will turn their backs on it, but others will keep believing,” says Rathje, the extremism researcher.

Fuellmich himself shows no sign of drifting away from the conspiracy movement in which he’s become something of a global figurehead. He’s even tried translating this support into a permanent presence on the German political landscape, standing as candidate for chancellor for the fringe conspiracy theory party Die Basis, often referred to as the Querdenken party, in last month’s federal elections.

While the party won a seemingly unimpressive 1.59 percent support, that amounted to 735,000 votes – enough to secure them potentially hundreds of thousands of euros in public funding, and a stark reminder of the size of the increasingly radicalised conspiracist fringe.

“Fuellmich will likely stay in this movement, as he’s invested so heavily in it now,” said Rathje.
 

The Rogue Wolf

Stealthy Carnivore
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However many it takes to cost them an election cycle.
I think we're already seeing that- which is why, instead of making sure more of their own survive to vote, they're doing their best to make sure "those people" can't. Because helping, even helping their own voters, just isn't a concept they can conceive of anymore.
 
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