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Reporting out of proportion

The Financial Times reports that «in many countries, these excess deaths exceed reported numbers of Covid-19 deaths by large margins» and shows graphs with peaks ways above the normal. However, putting this in proper context, changes the picture entirely.

I checked the data for Switzerland where FT states that the excess mortality is 27% above normal.

Screenshot from 2020-05-13 11-30-12

Screenshot of Financial Times graph depicting excess deaths of COVID-19

To put this data in perspective, we look at the graphs from the Federal Statistical Office depicting total deaths for the years 2020 and 2015.

2020.swiss.death

 

gr-d-14.03.04wr_2015-computed_thumbnail

An overlay using GIMP gives us this graph.

diff.swiss.deaths

  • Mortality in the COVID year 2020 was lower than in 2015 (1054 vs, 1322).
  • Only one short peak with more than 1600 dead exceeds the year 2015
  • We do have excess deaths compared to the average.
  • We do not have an excess compared to regular 5-year peaks.
  • We do only have a few % of excess mortality over the entire year (if it stays)

In other words: we have a classical peak that occurs during a strong influenza wave. Such peaks are a normal phenomenon every few years:

EX4z3mwWkAALu5D

The regularity of the «excesses». Every few years a peak.

Conclusion

Using weekly excess mortality instead of the excess mortality over the entire year is misleading. Every few years there are «excesses» as we can see in the graph above.  This is a normal pattern. For a single week, we can measure an excess of 27%, 61% or even 451% above average but just a few weeks later the numbers come down. Over the year there will only be a marginal increase of a few percentages, e.g. in 2015 the total number of deaths was only 5.4% higher than in 2014 or 4.4% higher than in 2016. In a graph, the change in mortality rate is hardly visible.

Media reporting is in the full sense of the word out of proportion.

 

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On my way to North Korea

What a horrible country!

Every year the people celebrate their bloody uprising that replaced the ruling class but left thousands dead. With this revolution a reign of terror was unleashed. In trials that can only be described as mocking justice within a year more than 17’000 people had been executed.

But people are brainwashed and do not want to question the official doctrine. They identify with and believe that the event was their liberation and brought them an equal society. It is difficult to comprehend that such a doctrine is accepted by the masses when the privileged have everything but the poor do not know how to make ends meet.

Of course, there is a part of society that can be labeled middle class but the ideals that the state worships as credo is by far not met. Some few do have plenty and a growing underclass is simply poor. That does not reflect the promoted doctrine.

About 50 years a demonstration of a minority group was brutally shattered with hundreds (!) killed. The river of the capital is said to have been filled with corpses on that day. But the public is not aware of such incidents. What does not fit the grid of idealistic superiority is overlooked, suppressed, ignored. And so is its partially aggressive foreign policy and agitation in other counties with serious human rights violations mostly unknown.

Freedom of speech has its limitation, too. Dissident opinion became more and more difficult in recent years with teenagers being arrested for posting ironic comments on a social media platforms! Freedom of expression is just granted when it does not conflict with state-doctrine.

Uff. I reach Paris Charles-de-Gaulle airport where I will take my plane to North Korea leaving France behind me. I really hope people will become aware of their history and that liberté, égalité, fraternité will be put into practice at all the levels of this society …

Notes:

  • From the beginning of 1793 to the Thermidorean Reaction, 17,000 people were sentenced and beheaded by some form of revolutionary court in France (in Paris or in the provinces), in addition to some 25,000 others who were summarily executed in the September Massacres, retributions in the War in the Vendée and elsewhere. The Paris Revolutionary Tribunal was responsible for 16% of all death sentences. [wiki]

 

 

  • The Paris massacre of 1961 was a massacre in Paris on 17 October 1961, during the Algerian War (1954–62). Under orders from the head of the Parisian police, Maurice Papon, the French National Police attacked a forbidden demonstration of some 30,000 pro-National Liberation Front (FLN) Algerians

 

 

  • It may sound like an ironic joke, but it isn’t. Less than a week after the massive rallies in defense of “free expression,” following the murders of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, French authorities have jailed a youth for irony.

 

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recommended: Jonathan Cook about the true colour of the Guardian

The Guardian’s Vilification of Julian Assange

https://consortiumnews.com/2018/12/03/the-guardians-vilification-of-julian-assange/

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McCarthyim on steroids or the ferocious aggressiveness of Anti-Assad-Propagandists

RT brought a story about a new entry on medium.com called International Assadists References Directory” listing alleged ‘Assadist’, i.e. people that whitewashed or defended Bashar Al-Assads regime or actions in any way.

Apart from the fact that the page contained factual errors, the page labels anyone an ‘Assadist’ that dares to say that the Syrian conflict is not black and white and sees faults and responsibility for the conflict not only by Assad alone.

I came in contact with Kester Radcliff, the creator of the article, about two years ago. We were friends on facebook where he spilled his propaganda blaming Assad and Assad alone for the situation in Syria. When I pointed out that the reality was not so black&white as he portrayed it and posted a link to an article by Robert Fisk, he got wild. After a few exchanges of arguments – if I can call his answers arguments – he blocked me from his fb page and cancelled the friendship. No more dialogue.

Kester Radcliff is a good example of what I would call Anti-Assad-Propagandist (AAP). The characteristics of how these AAP behave and ‘argue’ is as follows:

  1. put all the blame on Assad
  2. propagate that view emotionally (i.e. use expressions like “the worst mass murderer of the last 65 years”, “genocide”, etc.
  3. don’t tolerate other views. If someone disagrees, get as much angry as possible and discredit the person for even thinking outside of the above parameter.
  4. do not argue on an intellectual level. Just use emotions to discredit the other. “You want to defend the worst mass murderer …”, “how dare you to say … when 500’00 people have been massacred.”,
  5. do not accept the standpoint ‘neutral’

As it was rather difficult to get trustworthy information about Syria and the Western media – as usual – favoured the NATO view, contradicting someone that and calls himself a “human rights activist”, holds a seemingly rock-solid opinion and passionately defends it, is not so easy. Especially when you are part of the “volunteering family” you will not want to loose your community. I guess many agree therefore or at least do not oppose the view as they want to save the friendship and not end up as an “outcast”.neurality

Kester Radcliff is not the only one. There were other people I met on facebook behaving similarly. A woman deleted all posts critical to her original posts that tried to whitewash the “White helmets”. First she retorted in short phrases like “Educate yourself before you comment please”, then she had to enter the discussion as the poster showed that he was educated. But a day later only the reaffirming posts remained on the page. See the page before and after. (At least she had a discussion even when deleting it after.)

The question is not about political opinion. The question is that a some people are trying to suppress any meaningful discussion before it even starts and demand loyalty. By bullying people into adopting an emotion-based opinion that is entirely black&white and refusing to acknowledge the existence of – fact-based – other perspectives is not at all in accordance with the alleged ideals of liberal Western democracies this people claim to represent. On the contrary, their behaviour resembles – in essence – much more those authoritarian dictatorships where censorship is standard and deviation from doctrine is forbidden. A free society where plurality of opinion is honoured and welcomed would neither bully nor censor. Welcome to Western hypocrisy.

Kester Radcliff’s list that can be described as McCarthyim on steroids” would be laughable had it not so many followers that praise it.

But anyhow, as Eva Barlett wrote:

“In fact, instead of successfully smearing us, Kester has compiled a go-to list of people to follow for original and truthful content on important international issues today, particularly Syria, Palestine, and Yemen,”

So, Kester, put me on that list, too. I would be an honour!

***


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Russia hysteria as Anti-Sanders campaign

The whole Russia hysteria that storms through the Western world (Swiss newspapers are full of Anti-Russia rhetoric)  is at the bottom line a big Anti-Sanders campaign. The Democrats to not want to acknowledge the epic failure of their neo-liberal candidate Hillary Clinton so they do everything to invent and pad out Trump as a “Manchurian candidate” that was voted in by fraud and manipulation by a foreign power. This focus on Russia’s alleged interference will allow to keep Trump’s neo-liberal achievements and continue on that path but present an illusion of change to the public — especially to the liberal-left — when Trump is gone. The Russia hype is a (desperate) smoke screen to hide the failures of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic party on one side and prevent focusing on Trump’s real sins: dismantling of environmental regulatory bodies, tax cuts for the rich, increased military spending … i.e. the full spectrum of Trump’s hard-core neo-liberal policies. Focusing on real issues would demand that the Democrats would reverse such decisions once in power.

Hillary Clinton’s loss against one of the weakest opponents in history and Sanders popularity in addition clearly demands that the Democrats nominate Sanders in 2020—or at least correct their party program massively to the left. Such a step would be the most logical conclusion. But the Democrats showed soon signs that a correction of the neo-liberal path was not a goal. Favouring Tom Perez over Keith Ellison was a clear indicator that the Dems did not have any aspiration to change the elite-run party to more grass-root participation. In other words, the «consultant-ocracy»*, making sure that the interests of the 0.1% of society always come first, was not challenged.

With the Russia frenzy occupying the minds of the public the Democrats have a useful alibi to not take steps to move the party line to the left and address real issues like environment, climate change, demilitarisation, education, poverty and all other topics that demand a clear rejection of neo-liberalism.

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One sidedness in anti-Assad posts in fb

I repost here a text that was posted on fb.  After commenting it briefly, I was – as expected – blocked by the other original poster. Those who reduce the crisis to Assad only, do not tolerate different opinions.

The Post

1. Assad continues to commit genocide, bombing his people daily. He has murdered half a million people. If you’ve ever wondered what you would’ve done during the Holocaust, you’re doing it now.

The term genocide is not appropriate even with all the war crimes committed by the Al-Assad regime. It is a civil war fuelled and prolonged by outside powers. Those that supported militant groups have at least the same responsibility. The US funded, trained and armed militant groups with $ 7 billion.

2. The world together agreed that using chemical weapons is one of the most heinous acts you can commit. It is strictly outlawed internationally. Assad is responsible for 214 chemical attacks (SNHR).
These are not unverified or false flags. Aside from our timelines filled with endless videos of children frothing at the mouth and dying the most agonising death imaginable, independent bodies like WHO confirm these attacks are without question.

It is without question true that chemical weapon attacks are one of most heinous crimes and that chemical weapons are banned. But it is a very different question to proof who used it. The situation is not as clear. Further, the only body that is entitled to decide about military actions in case of violations against the ban of chemical weapons is the UN. Unilateral strikes are forbidden (a war crime) and undermine the authority of the UN.

3. Strikes from the UK, USA and France isn’t ‘war’. It isn’t ‘bombing’ as the term is usually used either. Technology has moved on a great deal. Taking out Assad’s chemical and airforce capacity is the only way to stop his daily attacks.

Such statements should hardly be necessary to comment. To say our bombs are not bombs but love is sheer cynicism. These strikes were not legalized by the UN and are therefore a clear act of aggression. Such actions undermine the authority of the UN and weaken international law in future.

4. In this type of action a few people might get hurt. But tens of thousands more may be rescued. There are no reported casualties from the night before last.

History shows that acts like those committed by US/GB/FR hardly save people. It increases aggression and leads to more victims. The strike is therefore counterproductive.

5. There is no evidence that this action would escalate into war, just as it didn’t several times recently.

First, this action does not escalate INTO war it IS an act of war. Secondly, there is evidence in history that Russia was wise enough to save the world and de-escalate situations in the past like during the 1963 Cuba crisis when Kennedy risked the lives of 600 million people. We can only hope that Russia does not strike back. The provocation was surely there.

6. What is being proposed is vastly different to what happened with Iraq, Libya and so on. It’s pointless to compare this situation with those. Avoid ‘whataboutery’.

Ignoring history is a decent way to obscure likely outcomes and push people into emotional decisions without reflections about the consequences. In other words: stop thinking, let’s follow emotions … That is propaganda, pure and simple!

7. Yes, Trump and May no doubt have many other horrible reasons for this action. Yes they ignore Syrian refugees. Yes we sell arms. Yes we ignore other similar situations elsewhere. But in the face of a cowardly world, this action is all we currently have.

No, we have plenty more. Refugees can be given asylum and cared for. Turkey and Saudi-Arabia pressured not to support militant groups; diplomacy on a realistic level can be resumed. But it means that the US has to stop aiming at regime change. As long as the main objective is the weakening or removal of Assad, there is no change of truce and peace.

8. Assad has blocked all other types of diplomacy. Again and again and again. Russia vetoed peace talks eight times. The situation has continued for many years. This is a last resort, not a reactive impulse.

This is propaganda. The diplomacy of the US always intended to make Russia cast a veto. Preconditions like Assads removal were made clearly anticipating a rejection and failure of the talks so war could be sold as the ‘last resort’.

9. The current actions won’t end Assad’s regime or the war, nor are they intended to.

What is the intention then? Only the UN has the legal position and the authority to call for a military strike to punish an actor that used chemical weapons. A «punishment» by the US/GB/FR is just a provocation that will most likely lead to heaver conventional bombing. The people will pay the price.

Articles like this seem to have to only goal of fomenting hatred against Assad and reduce the crisis to a single cause. Simple problem – simple solution. The removal of a dictator, however, does hardly change a country into democracy – Libya and Iraq the recent examples.

If the militant, Islamist groups win, Syria will deteriorate into chaos were competing war lords will be fighting for power leading to a second Libya or Afghanistan in the 1990.

If the US enters with troops on the ground (unlikely), we can expected an Iraqi scenario.

If the Syrian government recaptures Syria, the chance for a lasting truce is real. Fighting and bloodshed will end.

Over a period of 20 years a transition to democracy might then be possible.

 

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Sarin lie exposed – Seymour Hersh’s new article

It should be the headlines of all major newspaper but the news is only found on usual suspects: Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Seymour Hersh published a new article – arguably his potentially most explosive[1]about the alleged Sarin Gas attack in Khan Sheikhoun last April and US President Donald Trump’s military air strike following it in the German newspaper Die Welt.

Must read! Die Trump’s Read Line.

Hersh convincingly explains that the incident was most likely the result of a weapons depot and storage room hit by aerial bombing as “range of symptoms [are] consistent with the release of a mixture of chemicals […] which can cause neurotoxic effects similar to those of sarin”. But the article also points out that President Trump is “risking triggering a World War III with Russia based upon his own rash decision, over the objections and to the dismay of his own military and intelligence advisers”[2].

Apart that the “Salafists and jihadists got everything they wanted out of their hyped-up Syrian nerve gas ploy”[3], the question remains if the attack – that was praised in all major newspapers – was part of a larger anti-Russian campaign as it portrayed Russian complicity: “How many more children have to die before Russia cares?”[4], asked Ambassador Nikki Haley at the UN a day after the incident and New York Times run an article headlined “White House Accuses Russia of Cover-Up in Syria Chemical Attack”[5].

If Trump was just responding to disturbing emotions ignoring fact-based intelligence reports[6]or if he was blackmailed by some power group that wanted Syria bombed for whatever reason, is one thing. Fact is that the US is acting irresponsible or with a hidden agenda – an agenda most likely not aimed at the benefit of the people in the region.

The alleged world policeman is rather an unpredictable world gangster that should not be trusted.

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

5 Ibid.

6 Even if you are deeply moved by dead children and feel an urge to retaliate, no sane person would ignore expert opinion about the perpetrator and just aim bombs at someone that was not responsible. If you want to punish the guilty, you don’t bomb a third-party – not even Trump. The explanation that Trump sent missiles because of some dead children is of little credibility.

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