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Is China An Existential Threat To America?

Is China An Existential Threat To America?

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Is China An Existential Threat To America? Tyler Durden Sat, 10/31/2020 - 22:30

Authored by Gordon G. Chang via The Gatestone Institute,

This is a crucial time in the history of our republic.

UN Secretary‑General Antonio Guterres, speaking to the General Assembly on September 22, said the world must do everything to prevent a new Cold War. "We are headed in a very dangerous direction," he said.

We can agree with that dangerous-direction assessment, but we might not agree with his recommendation. Guterres recommended that the world embrace multilateral cooperation.

We can, of course, cooperate with a China that is a partner or a friend. We can even cooperate with a China that is a competitor; all nations to some degree compete. The question is this: Is China just a competitor? Can we, for instance, cooperate with a China that is an opponent or an enemy?

We have to remember that Guterres was speaking at the event marking the 75th anniversary of the formation of the United Nations. It was a rather somber event, because multilateralism, the core ideology of the UN, is failing. Countries are bypassing the UN because they realize it cannot provide security. Countries are defending themselves.

The same thing happened in the 1930s. Countries then bypassed the UN's predecessor, the League of Nations. They realized it was ineffective. Countries could not, in a multilateral setting, cooperate with that era's aggressors: Imperial Japan, Fascist Italy, and Nazi Germany.

So is China merely a competitor, or is it an enemy? To answer that, I would like to look at four things:

  1. China's spreading of disease,

  2. China's meddling in US elections,

  3. China's subversion of the United States, and

  4. China's militarism.

First, disease. The People's Republic of China has attacked us with a microbe. This attack shows how, and to what lengths, China will go to injure other societies.

Everyone talks about how Chinese generals and admirals are changing the definition of war. Unfortunately, we now have an example of how they are doing so. China's unrestricted warfare -- a term Beijing has been using for at least 21 years -- now includes biological attack.

China's leaders knew for at least five weeks, maybe as much as five months, that the coronavirus was highly contagious, but during this period they propagated the narrative they knew was false.

They were telling the world that this was not readily transmissible from one human to the next. Chinese leader Xi Jinping enlisted the World Health Organization in propagating that narrative, which by the way, senior doctors at WHO knew was false. They knew this virus was highly contagious.

That is why it was right for President Donald Trump to defund and withdraw from WHO.

To make matters worse, Xi Jinping pressured countries not to impose travel restrictions and quarantines on arrivals from China. WHO helped him in this regard.

At the same time as Xi Jinping was leaning on other countries, he was imposing those same travel restrictions and quarantines internally. That means he thought these measures were effective. That means he thought his efforts regarding other countries were going to spread the disease.

Fortunately, President Trump imposed travel restrictions and quarantines on arrivals from China quickly, on January 31. He took a lot of heat, not only from Beijing, but also somebody called Joseph Biden. Biden called the president "xenophobic" for those travel restrictions, which saved tens of thousands of lives.

Now, President Trump is making China pay. We must make China pay. We must make China pay because we need to establish deterrence. As of this morning, more than 200,000 Americans have been killed by this disease and more will be killed later on.

Worldwide, we recently passed the one million death mark. We cannot allow Beijing to think they can maliciously spread another pathogen ever again.

Trump was cruising to reelection before the disease, but this reversal of fortune -- the result of China's actions -- shows the lengths to which they will go.

Beijing is working hard to unseat President Trump. They are doing so not only with their social media feeds but also with their public pronouncements and other efforts. These efforts are much greater in scope than Russia's in 2016 or Russia's this year. It is not "Russia, Russia, Russia." It really is "China, China, China!"

As an initial matter, Chinese state media and Communist Party media have gone on a bender with unprecedented numbers of news stories, pronouncements, articles, all the rest of it. As a part of this campaign, Beijing has unleashed its trolls and its bots against Trump. The New York Times reported in March that Beijing propagated, through social media feeds and text messages, the rumor that President Trump was going to invoke the Stafford Act and lock down the entire United States. Of course, Beijing knew that was false.

Beijing has also been running operations and networks, including the one called Spamouflage Dragon, which relentlessly attacked the president. YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter have since taken down that network.

China's effort is massive. We have seen periodically American social media companies take down fake Chinese accounts. In June alone, Twitter took down 174,000 fake Chinese accounts. That is just one month, one social media platform, 174,000 accounts.

This blends into the third topic, which is subversion. TikTok, the wildly popular video sharing app, employs the world's most sophisticated commercially available artificial intelligence. It uses that artificial intelligence to pick videos to send to people.

TikTok, because of its artificial intelligence, knows what you like, so it sends you more of it. It knows what you do not like. It does not send you videos you do not want. This gives Beijing an opportunity to change American public opinion.

The Chinese Communist Party probably changed public opinion in connection with this spring's riots. Some observers think TikTok got college-attending white women to believe they were oppressed and therefore motivated them to demonstrate.

As Paul Dabrowa, an Australian national security expert told me, "Because of TikTok's artificial intelligence and because of its sophistication, it can get people to do things which could end up, for instance, triggering wars, economic collapse, insurrection."

This weaponized propaganda can turn people against one another and also ruin the credibility of their governments. Engineers working for Douyin, TikTok's sister app in China, develop the algorithms for TikTok's use. That is the reason China does not want TikTok sold to an American company: it wants to keep control of that algorithm.

The algorithm curates content and can motivate people to do things they otherwise might not do. People believe Beijing "boosted the signal" this June to help a "prank" against President Trump. Teens were using TikTok to spread videos to encourage people to reserve seats at his June rally in Tulsa but not go. That is exactly, in fact, what happened.

While on the subject of TikTok, we should talk about China's Houston consulate. The question is: Why did the State Department, in July, out of all China's five consulates in the US, pick the one in Houston to close?

The State Department said Houston was being used for espionage. I think State picked Houston -- although there are a lot of other consulates involved in espionage, especially the one in New York and the one in San Francisco -- because in Houston it was providing financial and logistical support to violent protesters in the United States.

Radio Free Asia reports that an intelligence unit of the People's Liberation Army actually based themselves in the Houston consulate. Using big data and artificial intelligence, they identified Americans who were likely to participate in Black Lives Matter and Antifa protests.

The PLA unit then created videos and sent them out through TikTok. Those videos instructed people how to riot.

There are also other indications China has been involved in these protests. For instance, on the night of May 31st, one block north of the White House on 16th Street, there were demonstrations. This was the burning, for instance, of St. John's Church.

At that time, there were Chinese demonstrators in the streets. A number of people observed that protesters were not only speaking Mandarin but also seemed to be acting in a coordinated fashion. Some of them were actually overheard talking about how the Chinese government had organized them to do this.

These reports are unconfirmed, but they mirror what people saw of Chinese protesters in Los Angeles, as well as other southern California locations. This month we have also read reports linking Chinese Communist Party front organizations with Black Lives Matters affiliated people.

Further, there have been a number of reports of suspicious activity. In late January, for example, US Customs and Border Patrol agents seized 900,000 counterfeit one‑dollar bills from China at the International Falls Port of Entry in Minnesota.

In China's total surveillance state, no one can counterfeit American currency without Beijing's knowledge, so it appears that this operation had at least the tacit support of the Chinese government. The question is, who counterfeits one‑dollar bills? People certainly do not do that for profit: the cost of counterfeiting those bills and getting them across the Pacific is higher than one dollar.

What probably happened in this case was that China was trying to support violent protesters financially. It is just a guess, but it is the only explanation that makes sense.

By the way, counterfeiting another country's currency is more than just subversion. That is an act of war. If you want another act of war, that is indeed what the PLA did at the Houston consulate.

We just covered subversion. Let us go on to the fourth topic: China's militarism. Chinese leader Xi Jinping has ambitions that span the world and are greater than we have seen since Mao Zedong or the dictators of the Axis in the 1930s and 1940s.

Xi has always believed that China should rule the world. He has also always believed he had to get the United States out of the way -- especially because Americans promote ideals that are anathema to totalitarianism.

Xi Jinping has targeted America from the beginning. This is what makes the situation so dangerous. At the same time, Xi's political position seems to be fragile. To bolster his position, Xi has looked to certain flag officers, generals and admirals, to be the core of his political support.

Many now say that, after his purge of "corrupt officers" and after his top-to-bottom reorganization of the military a half‑decade ago, Xi is in control of the military. One can say this, but one can also say Chinese military officers are now so powerful that they can effectively tell him what to do. To put it another way, maybe Xi Jinping realizes that to survive politically he has to let Chinese officers do what they want. We know that the Chinese military, the most cohesive faction in the Communist Party, and other hardliners in Beijing are now setting the tone.

China's military officers are making their "military diplomacy" the diplomacy of the country. We now know that in Beijing, only hostile answers are considered to be politically acceptable.

Xi Jinping is under pressure, things are not going his way. Chinese leaders, civilians and perhaps military officers as well -- know that there is a closing window of opportunity. This became clear in January when the Xinhua News Agency, the official media outlet, ran a story titled: "Xi Stresses Racing Against Time to Reach Chinese Dream."

This is a clear indication that senior Beijing leaders know they are running out of time. It is really no mystery why they may feel this way. China's demography is in the initial stages of accelerated decline. We know that China's environment is exhausted. Think scarcity of water, despite all the flooding. Also, China's people are restive. China is losing support around the world. The Chinese economy is in distress. That was true even before COVID‑19.

The reason this is important is because, up to now, the primary basis of legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party has been the continual delivery of prosperity. Without the assurance of prosperity, the only remaining basis of legitimacy is nationalism. Nationalism, as a practical matter, means military misadventure abroad.

To understand military misadventure abroad, think what is going on in India and what China is doing to threaten Taiwan at this moment -- and not just India and Taiwan. The whole periphery of China has now become a danger zone.

Let's put this hostility in the context of what is occurring inside Beijing. Xi Jinping, since he became general secretary of the Communist Party at the end of 2012, has accumulated almost unprecedented power -- and with it, unprecedented accountability. Unfortunately for him, there is no one else to blame.

At the same time, Xi Jinping has raised the cost of political failure in Communist Party circles. This means Xi knows that should he fail, he could lose everything. He could lose not just power. He could lose assets, his freedom, maybe even his life.

China's ruler right now has a low threshold of risk, meaning there is very little stopping him from engaging in especially dangerous conduct. The concern, of course, is if he thinks he is going to lose everything, he may believe that one way out of his problems is to cause history's next great conflict.

We may think that Xi Jinping should be cautious. Unfortunately, he now has incentives to cause a crisis -- one that for us would be unimaginable.

Question & Answer

Question: On the economic front, here was a deficit primer report from Bloomberg News indicating that Chinese ownership of US Treasuries is down to a little over a trillion dollars. In the Obama years, Chinese ownership was approaching three trillion when total debt was a fraction of what it is today. This suggests the Chinese now have no more power to disrupt the Treasury than a fly on an elephant unless, of course, that fly is carrying the Wuhan flu. Where has China spent or invested that money? There is not another government debt market that could have absorbed two trillion dollars without raising a lot of noise. If it has gone to the Bridges, Roads, and Ports Initiative, isn't that going to end up as one of the worst economic decisions ever?

Chang: First of all, we do not know exactly the full extent of China's Treasury holdings. We have not known that for a very long time. The reason is that China holds a number of its Treasuries through nominees, especially in London.

Those numbers seem roughly correct, especially the one about one trillion dollars now. I am not exactly sure what the number was in the Obama years. Obviously, it was a big number. The reasons there was a fall in their Treasury holdings... two come to mind.

First, since the middle of 2014, China has actually dumped about a trillion dollars or so of Treasuries. They have done that to defend their currency, the renminbi, because the fall in their own currency's value is, perhaps, the most critical problem they face. They have got to defend their currency. They use Treasuries to do that. They use the dollars they receive when they sell Treasuries to buy their own currency, thereby supporting their own currency's value.

The other reason is because Xi Jinping, as we know, has announced his Belt and Road Initiative: a huge infrastructure development plan spanning the world. They spend a lot of money on that.

This spending has resulted in a decrease in their foreign reserves.

These reserves, by the way, although they put out a number every month, that number is probably inflated. China is counting assets that do not meet the definition -- the IMF's definition -- of what may be counted as a reserve asset.

China actually may not have as much money as it says it does. All of this is critically important because of the question of the sustainability of China's initiatives. We may be seeing some very interesting developments. Their Belt and Road investments were may be the worst ever because a number of countries around the world are not paying back China on their loans. These loans were extended under terms that were onerous. Countries nevertheless accepted them.

The point is, these projects are not economically viable. China's ability to achieve its ambitions is very much dependent on the amount of money it has, specifically the amount of Treasuries.

Even China does not have enough to affect markets, at least for more than a month or so. The reason is the world is awash with liquid assets. It still is.

Although China's holdings are big, they probably cannot use them to permanently to undermine the ability of the US Treasury to borrow. The US should not borrow as it is doing, but if it wants to, it does not need China's permission.

Xi Jinping, as mentioned, had two separate initiatives. One was the Belt. The other was the Road, the road being the sea routes between China and Europe, the Belt through central Asia. Basically railroads and highways.

The idea was to be able to get Chinese goods from its east coast over to Europe. These two initiatives have now been amalgamated into the Belt and Road and now span the world. There's a Polar Belt and Road, a Latin American Belt and Road, a Caribbean Belt and Road, and so on. China wants countries to build infrastructure. This is infrastructure generally the private sector would not build. These projects, in general, are not economic. The loans that China extended actually have high interest rates.

The reason leaders in countries accepted these loans was because China just bribed them. Countries took on very high interest loans, and countries cannot now pay them back, including, maybe most importantly, Pakistan, where China's Belt and Road Initiative contemplates something like $60 billion in loans.

Pakistan has now gone to the IMF to get relief on a portion of its indebtedness.

What we are seeing right now is a number of countries, including African countries, that are not able to pay back. People ask, "Why is China's only military base in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa?"

One reason is that Djibouti owed China a lot of money and could not pay back. So, China was able to get a concession on a former US military base and now has turned it into China's first offshore base for the People's Liberation Army.

If we want to understand why this is important to us, it is because a Chinese enterprise is now pouring about three billion dollars into Freeport in the Bahamas, 87 miles east of Palm Beach. That container port in Freeport never made economic sense, but it certainly does not make economic sense now that we have COVID‑19 and global trade volumes are declining.

I think that we are going to see, unless the US stops it, the People's Liberation Army with a naval base 87 miles east of Palm Beach.

Question: Dr. Li-Meng Yan has said the COVID-19 virus was released intentionally. Have you please any information on that? [Dr. Yan escaped to the US, but her mother, who had nothing to do with the virus, was arrested in China on October 3. Ed.]

Chang: Dr. Yan released a non‑peer reviewed paper, which looks at this strain and analyzes the splicing of protein into it. When we first heard of the outbreak of the coronavirus in Wuhan, my wife said to me, "All diseases in China come from southern China, either Guangdong or Yunan. How come this outbreak is in central China, in Wuhan? There's something suspicious about this."

Of course, China's only P‑4 biosafety lab, that is the highest level of biosafety, is located in Wuhan, about 20 miles away from the seafood market that everyone originally suspected was the origin of the disease. There is certainly a lot of reason to be suspicious.

Also, we know that the State Department sent a team to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, this P‑4 lab, in 2018. They reported a shocking disregard of safety protocols there.

Indeed, China Daily, an official newspaper for China, actually published photos on their website trying to convince the world how safe this lab was, but people who looked at the photos noticed that the seals on refrigerators where vials of coronavirus were being stored were broken.

There is another reason to be concerned. The Chinese themselves have admitted they stored more than 1,500 strains of coronavirus at the Wuhan Institute.

Also, they have, in Nature in November 2015, published a paper about gain-of-function experiments. In other words, artificial manipulation of coronaviruses to make them more deadly.

You put all of these things together and you have to be suspicious. There is also some physical evidence that something went on in that lab in October.

We have been monitoring their cell phone traffic. All of a sudden, there is a big two‑week period where there are no cell phone transmissions from the lab. Something may well have gone on there in October or maybe earlier.

Also, in late January, China sent its top bioweapons expert, General Chen Wei, to the Wuhan Institute. She was possibly sent to clean up the lab.

The question is, why did they send their bioweapons expert to head the lab after the outbreak?

I do not have any proof that Dr. Yan is correct in her assertion, but it does not matter how this started because we know what Xi Jinping did after it crippled his country. He took steps he knew or had to know would lead to the spread of the disease beyond his borders. This is a deliberate spread. That is why this is mass murder. There is no other way to term it. China deliberately spread this disease, causing infections and deaths around the world. One million deaths and counting.

Question: Do you think Xi might try any aggression before November 3rd to derail the presidential election and derail Trump?

Chang: Xi Jinping does not want President Donald J. Trump to be reelected. Whether Xi would do anything or not, I do not know. With a president who is behind in the polls, Xi may decide he doesn't want to disrupt anything. If you listen to what domestic political experts are saying, Xi Jinping looks as if he is going to get the result he wants.

Question: What is going on in the other consulates? What should the US do with China? Decouple? If so, partially? Totally?

Chang: Just a couple of days ago, a former CIA director of Counterintelligence, James Olson, said there are more than a hundred Chinese spies in the City of New York and that many of them report and get directions from the New York consulate.

The remaining ones probably get direction from China's UN mission. Some of them must be directly monitored from China itself. We do not know.

This was brought to light because of the Tibetan who was a NYPD Community Outreach Officer and who is alleged now to be a spy for Beijing. This highlighted China's intelligence operations in Manhattan. Beijing has basically overwhelmed the city with spies.

We can also say the same thing about San Francisco. About two months ago, a Chinese researcher at the University of California Davis failed to disclose her relationship with the People's Liberation Army on her visa application and was questioned by the FBI.

She immediately ran to the San Francisco consulate, where she held up for about two weeks or so while trying to evade capture by the United States. Eventually, China surrendered her.

It is not just a question of the consulates. It is also the embassy itself. China's ambassador, Cui Tiankai, was revealed in FBI transcripts to have been trying to recruit a US scientist in Connecticut as a spy for China. By the way, Ambassador Cui did that in connection with somebody from the New York consulate.

One other thing that happens out of the New York consulate, and happens out of the other consulates, as well. That is, China monitors universities in the United States. A good friend at the City University of New York talks about being visited by Chinese consular officials whenever he gets in their face. He is very much a pro‑democracy guy. He gets sat on by the Chinese consulate.

They are very much involved in trying to manipulate American public opinion and engage in activities that are inconsistent with their status as diplomats.

In terms of what to do about it? I think these consulates should be closed when we find they've been involved in inappropriate activities. I think we should also close much of the embassy because there is so much inappropriate activity.

I would leave the Chinese ambassador in place because we need someone to talk to, but I would expel the current ambassador because of his attempt to recruit a spy. I would tell China, "Look, we would be happy if you want to send a replacement, but in the Chinese embassy itself the only people that will be allowed are the ambassador, his family, a secretary or two, and a bodyguard."

To maintain diplomatic relations with China, the only thing that we need is a phone. Unfortunately, we may get to that point because we cannot afford to have these consulates not only engaging in espionage but also trying to bring down the government of the United States.

I know people are going to say, "We close their consulates. They close our consulates in China." People are going to make the reasonable argument that because China's a closed society, we need our consulates there more than China needs consulates in the United States.

That is a perfectly reasonable argument. It has a lot of validity, but because what China's doing is so dangerous, we have to make a political point to China that we are willing to take a hit to stop their attempts to bring down our government.

No one really wants to do this, everyone wants to maintain friendly relations with every country, but we cannot maintain friendly relations with a country that is trying to subvert us in the way China's been doing.

Question: What changes in China's behavior do you expect, based on your analysis, if there is a new administration?

Chang: Beijing will always test a new American president. And so, for instance, George W. Bush was tested with the Hainan incident on April 1st, 2001, when a Chinese jet clipped the wing of a US Navy EP‑3 reconnaissance plane. The Bush administration was certainly found wanting as it allowed China to strip the plane. The administration even offered China a ransom to get our aviators out of China -- a low point in American history.

We know what they did to Obama. After Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that human rights was not important -- in February 2009, the second month of the Obama administration -- the following month, China interfered with the operation of two US Navy vessels, the Impeccable and the Victorious.

The interference with the Impeccable was so serious that it actually constituted an attack on the United States. The US let it slide.

Ultimately the issue of Biden's China policy is not so much a question of what Biden thinks or what his advisors think. It is a question of what Beijing will force America to do. No one know what that will be.

We know one thing. Every new president will give China a grace period. President Trump did that for about 15 months to try to develop cooperative relationships with Beijing, to see if they could work something out. We know that Xi Jinping did not reciprocate Trump's generous overtures. That is why Trump, starting around the spring of 2018, actually started to impose severe costs on China.

The problem right now with a new president -- this is not just Biden himself, what he thinks -- is that we cannot afford to lose any time giving grace periods to a regime that is relentlessly attacking us. We have to be concerned that an incoming president will do what every president has tried to do. That is the impossible: to attempt to develop cooperative relations with a militant Chinese state.

Question: Would you think that one of the key lessons companies have learned from having their supply chain in China, that replacing that manufacturing capacity outside China may potentially reduce employment and create greater security for those very companies?

If the US encouraged companies to replace Chinese labor in Central America, for example, would that take care of enhancing employment there and reduce the pressure of people wanting to enter the US?

Chang: I think the Trump administration clearly wants to decouple. It wants to reduce American vulnerability to China. We have seen that, of course, in the coronavirus epidemic where China actually nationalized an American factory making N95 masks and also turned around ships on the high seas because they were taking to the US personal protective equipment that China felt it needed for itself.

Companies are reluctant to move out of China because they do not set US foreign policy. They do not consider issues of national vulnerability. They go where they think they can make the biggest profit. That is business.

It is up to the President of the United States to change companies' incentives. He can do that with the use of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977.

Trump used that on TikTok. A US federal judge in the District of Columbia overturned, or at least stayed, his order, which means President Trump needs, first of all, to start thinking about not only the '77 act but also the 1917 act, which is the "Trading with the Enemy Act," because judges would have less scope for overturning a designation of that sort.

On the question of Central America, that is important. These societies started to experience real problems after China's accession to the World Trade Organization in 2001 because factories not only left the United States but they also left Central America. That shift destabilized those societies.

It's important to bring manufacturing back, not only to the United States but also to our neighbors to the south because with employment, with factories, with prosperity, that would stabilize those societies. That would mean much less pressure on our southern border.

We Americans -- this goes back, president after president after president -- just ignore our own hemisphere when it comes to security. It is important for us to refocus.

Trump has made some initiatives in this regard. They are good ones. Not only with regard to Mexico, the USMCA, the replacement for NAFTA, but also with his Caribbean initiative. We need to do much more because China is not going to let us alone in our own hemisphere.

Question: Do you think we should treat China as we are treating Iran: imposing sanctions and cutting off countries that do business with China? Also, have thoughts on China's attempt at overtaking globalization of communications with 5G?

Chang: On 5G, go back to the beginning of this year. It looked as if Huawei Technologies, the Chinese telecom equipment manufacturer, was going to take over the world's 5G networks.

The Trump administration -- and this is a triumph -- Huawei is dependent on American chips, semiconductors. President Trump, through various actions, has restricted and cut off the sale of chips to China and to Huawei.

That means Huawei may not have a future. You have to see how dramatic this is. Huawei is the world's number one supplier of telecom networking equipment. As of the last quarter, it is also the world's number one maker of smartphones.

Now, Huawei's future is in doubt. If Trump's policies in this regard are continued, we are probably not going to see Huawei as a challenger.

There are other developments that I think will undercut Huawei, as it will undercut Ericsson and Nokia, the other two suppliers of 5G equipment. We are going to go away from these one-company telecom networks. We are going to go to a diversified plug-and-play model where many companies supply 5G equipment and software for a network. This is what happened in the computer industry, for instance.

That model has certainly created a lot more innovation and lowered costs. The Lego model, as it is sometimes called, is certainly going to help the US because we have the companies that can actually compete. This model will undercut China's position.

Other countries have made it clear that they are cutting off Huawei, as well. Perhaps the best example is India. Because China killed 20 Indian soldiers on June 15, India has gone in a good direction, cutting off Huawei, cutting off TikTok, cutting off Chinese companies.

I believe we need to do the same thing. You've got to remember, China declared a "people's war" on the United States in May of last year. They told us we're the enemy, so we might as well take them at their word and start defending ourselves with the vigor that is needed.

There is a lot that we can do. I know the president wants to do that. Right now is not a time for him to do that, of course, because of the sensitivity of the election.

If he is not reelected, others, I hope, will work to make sure that the new president does the same things as Trump would do.

We have a lot to learn from India. China is trying to dismember that country. That has been clear from the writings of Chinese security analysts and goes back to the first decade of this century.

China has been increasing its territorial claims on India and would break the country apart because it has claims not only on Ladakh, which is the area of the fighting since the first week in May, but it also wants the entire state of Arunachal Pradesh.

There would not be much left of India if China gets its way. That is why India, right now, has a very resolute stance. We have seen some extremely important developments.

The first week of May, China invaded India, essentially, in Ladakh, in the Himalayas. The Chinese, in a premeditated act, killed 20 Indian soldiers on June 15. India actually responded. They counterattacked. They took back territory that the Chinese grabbed from them.

What we have found is really interesting: That is China's Ground Force, which is the army portion of the People's Liberation Army, has been incapable of fighting Indians in an area where they had initial success.

In addition to India actually engaging in successful military operations against the Chinese, more importantly, India banned TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps, which was a crippling blow. It also has cut off Chinese contracts in India. It is also, as mentioned, going after Huawei. If India can do it, the question is why can't the United States?

Question: What are the places near the United States besides Freeport is China trying to encircle?

Chang: In the Atlantic, there are two other places that China would like military bases. One of them is Walvis Bay in Namibia, and the other is Terceira, in the Azores. Terceira is home to the Lajes US Air Force base. The US Air Force has redeployed, basically making it, as they say, a ghost base.

China has been eyeing Lajes. Lajes is actually not far from Washington, DC. From there, China could control the mouth of the Mediterranean, control the North Atlantic, put Washington, DC and New York at risk.

I think it's up to the US Air Force to start putting people in Lajes, so the Chinese realize that they cannot take over the airfield. Its runway is almost 11,000 feet long. It can accommodate any aircraft and can threaten the United States. The Atlantic, which we have seen as a preserve, could very well become a Chinese lake.

Question: There is talk that China owns the presidential challenger because of $1.5 billion that China paid his son. Have you thoughts on that?

Chang: Most China analysts believe Beijing favors Trump. I don't buy it -- for two reasons. First, in the Democratic primaries, Chinese propaganda favored Biden over Sanders. Then we have seen Communist Party media, Chinese state, government media, overwhelmingly done its best to tar President Trump.

Chinese media has also said some nice things about Biden recently, so I think that's a real indication of where Beijing is going.

Also, if you look at their troll activities, their bots and things, we do not know the full extent of it, at least people who do not have security clearances. What we have seen, however, is that this underground Chinese social media activity is overwhelmingly directed against President Trump.

This is different than Russia. Russia in 2016 was going after everyone. They were just totally trying to create chaos. China has been much more thoughtful in the way it has been doing it. It is directing its activities against the president. That is an indication of what it wants.

Further, Biden's son, Hunter, has had unusual business dealings with China. Now, there are a lot of Americans who have been entrusted with a billion, $2 billion in Chinese money to invest. If Hunter Biden got a billion and a half, that by itself does not say anything.

What says a lot, however, is that Hunter Biden did not have experience as a fund manager. He still got a billion and a half to manage. This is extremely suspicious, along with all the other facts that are now out in the public. It is evidence of a bargain that certainly looks corrupt.

Question: Should the US ban TikTok if China keeps the algorithm?

Chang: I think we should ban TikTok this very moment. I would not wait. If I were President Trump, I would do everything possible, including the designation under the 1917 Act. I would say that TikTok's operations in the US are over.

Part of the reason the district judge overturned President Trump's 1977 act designation to stop downloads is because it looks like an attempt to permit a US company to buy, to grab TikTok. Now, I think there is nothing wrong with that, but it does not look good.

The president would be on stronger legal grounds if he just said, "Look, we're banning all of TikTok's operations this very moment, and then we will let the chips fall where they may." This would mean that Oracle could still buy it.

The terms of the deal that we know about, Oracle/Walmart, on one hand, and ByteDance, the owner of TikTok on the other, are completely unacceptable. They leave the algorithm in the hands of China.

Oracle with its cloud-providing services could deal with the issue of China using TikTok to surveil Americans. China has been using TikTok to get metadata from Americans, and then use it to power their artificial intelligence back home.

They have also been inserting malicious software on the devices of users that allows China to spy. They have been doing some other stuff like grabbing the data of minors, which is illegal. All of those things could be taken care of if Oracle hosts the data. That is not the problem. What is the problem is the control of the algorithm because that allows China to manipulate US public opinion.

The Radio Free Asia report shows how dangerous this can be. This is an act of war. I do not see why we allow a company that has committed an act of war against the United States to continue to operate here.

Question: If China purposefully released or spread the virus as an act of war, do you think they predicted the economic damage lockdowns would do to the Western economies? And would they continue to propagate data supporting lockdowns to do further damage? Would they release an additional pathogen, or intensify support of domestic groups like Black Lives Matter destabilizing US society?

Chang: I guess all of the above. The thing about what their next step would be, well, we know they are propagating the narrative that China's response to the coronavirus was superior to that of the United States and superior response shows China's form of government is superior to America's.

They had been continually attacking democracy before the coronavirus, but they are especially doing that now. They are going to use their vaccine, which I think will be out first. It might not be reliable, it might even be dangerous, but it will be out first, and they will tout that.

They are going to tout their vaccine in a massive public relations campaign against the United States. In terms of the initial part of the question, whether there might be another biological attack or not, you have to remember that China has been sending seeds, unsolicited, to Americans, to people in Britain, to people in Taiwan. That could very well be an attempt to cause havoc in the United States.

All of these things indicate a real maliciousness. In going back to that earlier question of what we can do about it, we first need to talk about these things in a realistic, blunt way. These go to the core of China's attack on the United States.

Question: Why wouldn't Trump or Pompeo get on the media and announce this, since our media refuses to report on it? Also, didn't we know about this virus in 2016 from the CDC. If not, why was our CDC not prepared?

Chang: The CDC was not prepared. Not only did China lie about the disease, not only did it pressure countries to accept arrivals from China, thereby spreading the pathogen around the world, China did something else. China, on January 20, finally admitted the coronavirus was contagious. On January 21, one day after that, they started a campaign to convince the world that the coronavirus was no big deal. Their line was that the coronavirus would be no more deadly than SARS, which is the 2002, 2003 epidemic that infected, according to the WHO, 8,400 people worldwide, killed 810.

Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House Task Force Coordinator on Coronavirus, at her March 31 press briefing actually said, when she looked at the data from China, she thought this was not going to be a big deal. She first thought this was going to be another SARS‑like event. She also said it was only after she saw the devastation in Italy and Spain did she realize that the Chinese had misled her. Because they misled her, we did not take precautions that we otherwise would have adopted. By the way, Dr. Anthony Fauci has also publicly talked about being deceived by China.

That is probably one of the reasons the response in the US was not as fast as it could have been. Remember, President Trump acted on his gut on January 31, really fast, cutting off arrivals from China. The administration then became lax on this. The Democrats say it is because of the failure of Trump's governance.

A large reason why, if that is true, is because China told the Trump administration, "Don't worry about this."

Question: Would it not be best for Trump to create an alliance to contain China? He has not, it seems, made efforts to create a multiple-country front. Had China not killed the Indian soldiers, India would also not be pushing China back. Do you think there could be an alliance of more countries to counter China?

Chang:: Actually, this is one criticism that a lot of people make about the Trump administration, that it does not work well with allies. I think that is wrong. For instance, here are two examples from recent headlines. One, of course, is the Bahrain, UAE deal with Israel, which is going to be expanded when perhaps Sudan joins, and maybe even Morocco.

You are going to see a Sunni Arab coalition in the Middle East -- a really important development. It is historic. It is important from so many different aspects, and part of it is, it is the real beginning of a US‑led initiative in the region. We have been working with the Gulf States and Israel. They have been happy on their own, to cooperate below the surface. The Trump administration brought this out into the light and is sheparding really important developments.

Of course, the other thing is the Quad: India, Japan, Australia, and the United States. The Quad is actually becoming an effective grouping, and we are going to see other countries join that as well.

US relationships in Asia are actually stronger now than they were under Obama, with the exception of South Korea.

South Korea is not Trump's fault. That is because the South has a communist as a president. Moon Jae‑in is very happy with what China is doing, and very happy with North Korea, and he wants to merge South Korea out of existence.

That is not Trump's fault. As a matter of fact, Trump's South Korea diplomacy has actually been the best under the circumstances.

The administration has worked hard with other countries around the world. The question is, could Trump have done more? One always could do more, but also, let us give the president a lot of credit for some really historic accomplishments that will be remembered, not just during his administration, not just next year, not just next decade. We will be talking about his accomplishments for a very long time.

Question: If after November 3rd, there is no definitive result for a month, would China risk attacking Taiwan with US leadership unknown?

Chang: Yes, I think so. I think that if Trump looked as if he was going to win the election, they might even attack before then. Now, the attack very well may not be a full‑on military attack. They might grab some of the outlying islands, which are just one or two miles away from the Chinese coast.

They could also do something to destabilize Taiwan, which could have consequences that would lead to a full‑on military conflict.

China right now knows the US eventually could win a full‑scale war, so they are reluctant to start one. The point, however, is that China is engaging in conduct that risks accidental military encounters, which could spiral down into history's next great conflict.

We cannot control these things. Especially with Chinese generals and admirals out of control, anything can happen.

So we have to be concerned about China provoking an incident. China has regularly been sending its planes into Taiwan's Air Defense Identification Zone. They have also been initiating especially provocative island-encirclement missions with their nuclear‑capable H‑6 bombers. They have been doing a lot of stuff.

The point here is, we have to be prepared for anything. We need to make a clear declaration in public that the United States will defend Taiwan because Taiwan is crucial to maintaining our western defense perimeter.

Since the end of the 19th century, we Americans have drawn our western defense perimeter off the coast of East Asia. Taiwan is at the center of that crucial line. It is where the East China Sea and South China Sea meet.

Taiwan is absolutely critical because it protects us from a surging Chinese air force and Chinese navy, trying to get to Hawaii. We need to be very clear about this. If we are not clear, China may try to do something that leads to tragedy.

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Plan will put everyone in England within 15 minutes of green space – but what matters is justice not distance

The UK government wants every household in England to be within 15 minutes walk of a park, woodland or water.

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GIOIA PHOTO / shutterstock

How long does it take you to walk to your nearest park, woodland, lake or river? If it takes more than 15 minutes, according to the UK government’s new environmental improvement plan for England, something needs to be done about it. It says 38% people in England don’t have a green or blue space within a 15-minute walk of their home.

The plan promises a “new and ambitious commitment to work across government and beyond” to provide access to local green and blue spaces. It recognises the importance of connecting with nature, and that time spent outdoors is good for physical and mental health.

That’s a message researchers have been underlining for years, as a recent evidence review shows, and it has been amplified by COVID-19, which showed the importance of local green and blue spaces for wellbeing.

But the plan’s laudable ambitions overlook the ways our experiences of the outdoors are shaped by privileges of wealth and health.

If you live in a disadvantaged area, your local green space may be further away from your home, or you might have to share it with more people. As the campaign group Fields in Trust pointed out in a 2022 report, this is a question of justice.

However, there’s more to justice than the amount of space you have to share with others, or how long it takes you to get there. It’s also about how you feel and what you can do when you get there.

My own research highlights some key questions we need to ask if we’re to protect and improve our green spaces for future generations. Questions such as “Do I feel welcome here?” “Does this space meet my needs?” or “Do I get a say in how it is looked after?” highlight the fact that access is a matter of equality and democracy.

Some green spaces are greener than others

There are three key aspects of green and blue spaces that should be considered, and invested in, if the environmental improvement plan is to be more than wishful thinking.

People playing football
Some green spaces aren’t for everyone. 1000 Words / shutterstock

First, not all green and blue spaces are the same or provide the same benefits. The qualities of a football pitch are very different from those provided by a woodland walk along a stream.

Lumping them all together as “green and blue spaces” overlooks the need for a variety of spaces within easy reach to meet local people’s needs for physical and mental wellbeing.

Second, not all spaces are equally well looked after. Spaces that are fly-tipped or associated with antisocial activities can feel intimidating, especially after dark.

Green and blue spaces in disadvantaged areas need more care, and that requires time and money. As Public Health England noted, access to good quality green spaces is worse in more disadvantaged areas.

Third, simply being in a space won’t necessarily bring you all the benefits a space can offer. For people suffering from anxiety or depression, for example, more structured activities might be more helpful.

This could include time spent on rivers or allotments as part of the government’s pilot plan to tackle mental ill health by prescribing time in nature.

Be like Birmingham

In Birmingham, the local authority isn’t content with trumpeting the merits of its 600 parks. Instead, the city has developed a city of nature plan (I was part of a team that evaluated it).

At the heart of its approach is the idea of environmental justice, which it defines as “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, colour, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies”.

Map of city highlighting parks
Birmingham’s 600 parks and open spaces are shared between 1.1 million residents of the city proper. Intrepix / shutterstock

To apply environmental justice to the city’s green spaces, Birmingham Council has assessed each of its 69 electoral ward in terms of access to green space of two hectares (about three football pitches) or more within 1,000 metres, as well as flood risk, urban heat island effects, health inequalities and deprivation.

Through this work, it has identified 13 of its 69 wards which are most in need of investment to reach a new “fair parks standard”. These mainly central areas have less accessible green space, are more at risk of flooding and urban heating, and are more deprived.

Starting with a pilot programme in Bordesley & Highgate Ward (setting for the BBC series Peaky Blinders), the plan is then to invest in a further five priority areas in central and east Birmingham: Balsall Heath West, Nechells, Gravelly Hill, Pype Hayes and Castle Vale.

This is the kind of approach that could guide investment in many other cities. It links funding with equalities and brings together climate change, public health and community issues. It shows that quality and equity can’t just be boiled down to the distance between your home and the nearest park.

The challenge now is to learn from Birmingham’s pioneering approach and apply similar principles elsewhere. At its best, this work can be used to highlight the challenges not only of applying resources equitably, but of ensuring the resources are there in the first place, an issue the environmental impact plan rather predictably glosses over.

Julian Dobson and colleagues were funded by the National Trust and National Lottery Heritage Fund to evaluate the Future Parks Accelerator programme. The views expressed here are the author's own.

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UN Initiative Targets And Doxxes Doctors And Nurses Who Don’t Follow COVID-19 Narrative

UN Initiative Targets And Doxxes Doctors And Nurses Who Don’t Follow COVID-19 Narrative

Authored by Katie Spence via The Epoch Times (emphasis…

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UN Initiative Targets And Doxxes Doctors And Nurses Who Don't Follow COVID-19 Narrative

Authored by Katie Spence via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Nicole Sirotek is a registered nurse in Nevada with over a decade of experience working in some of the harshest conditions. When a hurricane devastated Puerto Rico, Sirotek and the organization she founded, American Frontline Nurses (AFLN), were there and gave out over 500 pounds of medical equipment and supplies.

National flags in front of the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. A group started as part of the United Nations Verified initiative has targeted nurses and doctors who don't follow the official narrative on COVID-19. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP)

She hasn’t hesitated to be the first in when an emergency hits and medical professionals are needed. She’s lost count of the number of times she’s woken up on a cot in the middle of nowhere, boots still strapped to her feet, and ready to go.

But in tears during an interview with The Epoch Times, she detailed her ordeal with harassment and doxing over the past year and how she’s contemplated suicide due to crippling anxiety and depression.

It took such a toll on my mental health. I wasn’t sleeping and wasn’t eating,” Sirotek said.

To regain her mental health, she decided to step back from the group she started. But even that decision brought pain.

I said after I left New York, I’d do everything that I can to make sure it didn’t happen again,” Sirotek said, recalling the death she witnessed when she volunteered in New York as a nurse at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. “I mean, for me to step back and take a break just makes me feel like I failed!”

A mobile station in New York on Dec. 29, 2021. (Richard Moore/The Epoch Times)

Sirotek is the victim of ongoing harassment. She’s received pictures of her children posed in slaughterhouses and hanging from a noose, drive-by photos of her house, and letters with white powder that exploded upon opening.

The Nevada State Board of Nursing was inundated with calls for Sirotek’s professional demise and flooded with anonymous complaints.

These complaints trace back to Team Halo, a social media influencer campaign formed as part of the United Nations Verified initiative and the Vaccine Confidence Project.

In response, Sirotek filed a police report. Her lawyer sent a cease-and-desist letter. The Epoch Times reviewed the documents.

The reply from the cease-and-desist letter? The client was acting within his First Amendment rights.

The Harassment Begins

In February 2022, Sirotek, as the face of AFLN, a patient advocacy network that boasts 22,000 nurses, appeared before Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and testified about the harm patients were experiencing when they sought treatment for COVID-19.

She said she didn’t witness patients dying from the novel virus when she volunteered to work the front lines in New York at the start of the pandemic.

Instead, in her opinion, as a medical professional with multiple master’s degrees, patients were dying from “negligence” and “medical malfeasance.

Sirotek detailed the withholding by higher-ups of steroids and Ibuprofen and the prescribing of remdesivir. Additionally, there was zero willingness to consider possible early intervention treatments like ivermectin.

As the pandemic continued, such practices only escalated, Sirotek said.

Sirotek’s testimony resulted in cheers, widespread attention, and a target on her back.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) (C) speaks during a panel discussion titled COVID-19: A Second Opinion in Washington DC Jan. 24, 2022. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

[The harassment] all started the day we got back from DC,” Sirotek said.

At first, the attacks started with the typical “you’re transphobic, you’re anti-LGBTQ. I mean, they even called me racist,” Sirotek, who is Hispanic, recalled.

And as more patients sought AFLN’s help, the attacks increased in frequency and force.

At first, Sirotek said the attacks appeared to come from random people. But as the attacks continued, the terms “Project Halo,” “Team Halo,” and “#TeamHalo” continually cropped up. Especially on TikTok and from two accounts, “@jesss2019” and “@thatsassynp.”

“[@thatsassynp] just kept on saying how I was spreading misinformation, [that] ivermectin doesn’t work,” Sirotek said. “He kept targeting the Nevada State Board of Nursing because I was on the Practice Act Committee, and he did not feel like that was acceptable.”

Craig Perry, a lawyer representing nurses, including Sirotek, before the Nevada State Board of Nursing, confirmed Sirotek’s account. The executive director of the Nevada State Board of Nursing, Cathy Dinauer, declined to provide details on complaints or investigations, stating to The Epoch Times via email that they are “confidential.”

Sirotek said the complaints overwhelmed her ability to defend her nursing license.

“Untimely, they were filing so many complaints against me that [the Nevada State Board of Nursing] had to start filtering them as to what was applicable and not applicable. And [the complaints] just buried my nursing license to the point that we couldn’t even defend it,” Sirotek said.

Attacks Transition to Threats

Whenever Sirotek, or AFLN, tried to set up a community outreach webinar, hateful comments flooded their videos.

Julia McCabe, a registered nurse and the director of advocacy services for AFLN, told The Epoch Times that initially, they tried kicking the trolls out of the outreach videos. But they couldn’t keep up with the overwhelming numbers and had to shut the videos down, usually after only 10 minutes, she said.

To address the swarms, as McCabe labeled them, AFLN started charging an entrance fee for their webinars. But, McCabe said, they’d send out an email with a free access code to all of their subscribers before the webinar started. It helped, but not enough. The swarms kept coming. And the attacks escalated.

On June 5, 2022, @thatsassynp posted a video on TikTok calling for a “serious public uprising,” because the Nevada State Board of Nursing and other regulatory agencies weren’t disciplining nurses for spreading “disinformation.”

It became one of many such videos in the ensuing days. In the comments of one, he stated, “Also, stay tuned as [@jesss2019] will be addressing this as well. We are teaming up (as per usual) to raise awareness and demand action on this issue.” @jesss2019 responded, “Yes!!!! We will get this taken care of.”

Jess and Tyler Kuhk of @thatsassynp have “teamed up” on several occasions, targeting healthcare workers who question the COVID-19 narrative. Team Halo doesn’t officially list Kuhk on its site, but Kuhk posts with the #teamhalo.

In another video, he states, “If you’re new to this series, PLEASE watch the videos in my playlist ‘Nevada board of nursing.’ This started in Feb of this year.” His video has almost 35,000 “loves.”

On June 7, 2022, @jesss2019 posted a video on TikTok accusing Sirotek of spreading misinformation. It included a link to @thatsassynp, and his complaints about Sirotek to the Nevada State Board of Nursing and calls to remove her from the Practice Act Committee. She implored TikTok to boost the message. It, too, became one of many videos attacking Sirotek.

Specifically, @jesss2019 and @thatsassynp took issue with videos and posts from Sirotek, and AFLN, advocating for ivermectin and highlighting possible issues with remdesivir and the COVID-19 vaccines.

@jess2019 removed all of the above videos after The Epoch Times sought comment. The Epoch Times retains copies.

Sirotek says she received the first death threat against herself and her children around the same time, in June 2022.

“They cut off the pictures of my children’s faces from our family photos, where we take them every year on our front porch—we’ve got 11 years of those photos—and they cut them out and put them on the bodies of those little boys that have been sexually abused. And that’s what would get sent to my house. And I gave the police that,” Sirotek said.

In response to a request for comment from The Epoch Times, Sen. Johnson defended Sirotek.

“The COVID Cartel continues to frighten and silence those who tell the truth and challenge their failed response to COVID,” Johnson said. “It is simply wrong for Ms. Sirotek to be smeared and attacked like so many others who have had the courage and compassion to successfully treat COVID patients.”

As the threats continued and escalated, Sirotek also asked Perry to send a cease-and-desist letter to Tyler Kuhk on Aug. 1, 2022.

Kuhk, a nurse practitioner, is the person posting on TikTok under the pseudonym @thatsassynp.

The TikTok logo is pictured outside the company’s U.S. head office in Culver City, California, on Sept. 15, 2020. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

The letter sent to Kuhk alleges that on at least 10 different occasions, @thatsassynp encouraged a “public uprising” against Sirotek. It also details that his videos attacking Sirotek garnered over 400,000 views.

In response, McLetchie Law, a “boutique law firm serving prominent and emerging … media entities” responded to Perry by stating in a letter dated Aug. 16, 2022, “Both Nevada law and the First Amendment provide robust protections for our client’s (and others’) rights to criticize Ms. Sirotek’s dangerous views and practices—and to advocate for her removal from the Nursing Practice Advisory Committee of the Nevada State Board of Nursing.”

It also warned that any attempt to deter Kuhk from his chosen path would “backfire” and could result in a “negative financial impact.” Neither Kuhk nor McLetchie Law responded to The Epoch Times’ request for comment.

Unable to confirm the real name behind the TikTok account @jesss2019, and thus, unable to send her a legal letter, Sirotek posted some of the threats she’d received on Facebook, pleading for @jesss2019 to cease targeting her, and recognize the possible real-world harm.

In desperation, Sirotek asked Perry to file a legal name change, which he did on Sep. 15, 2022, hoping that would thwart people’s ability to look up Sirotek’s information. Perry told The Epoch Times, “Usually, when you do a name change, it’s a public record. But under extenuating circumstances, you can have that sealed.”

In Sirotek’s case, the court recognized the threat to her and her family’s safety, waived the publication requirement, granted the change, and sealed her record on Oct. 4, 2022.

Sirotek, at the behest of Perry, filed a police report detailing the harassment on Oct. 17, 2022.

In December 2022, @jesss2019 posted a video to TikTok doxing Sirotek by revealing her name change. The Epoch Times sought comment from @jesss2019 but has not received a response. After the request for comment, the user removed the video.

Team Halo and Social Media

On Dec. 17, 2020, Theo Bertram, a director at TikTok; Iain Bundred, the head of public policy at YouTube; and Rebecca Stimson, the UK head of public policy for Facebook, appeared before the UK’s House of Commons to explain what their social media sites were doing to combat “anti-vaccination disinformation.”

All three stated their companies employed a “two-pronged approach.” Specifically, “tackle disinformation and promote trusted content.”

Bundred stated that from the beginning of the year to November 2020, YouTube had removed 750,000 videos that promoted “Covid disinformation.”

The logos of Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat on mobile devices in a combination of 2017–2022 photos. (AP Photo)

Stimson stated that between March and October 2020, “12 million pieces of content were removed from [Facebook],” and it had labeled 167 million pieces with a warning.

Bertram stated that for the first six months of 2020, TikTok removed 1,500 accounts for “Covid violation” and had recently increased that activity. “In the last two months, we took action against 1,380 accounts, so you can see the level of action is increasing,” Bertram said.

“In October, we began work with Team Halo,” Bertram added. “I do not know if you are familiar with Team Halo. It is run by the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and is about getting reliable, trusted scientists and doctors on to social media to spread trusted information.”

Team Halo’s Origins

On Sep. 20, 2022, Melissa Fleming, the under-secretary-general for global communications at the United Nations, appeared at the World Economic Forum to discuss how the United Nations was “Tackling Disinformation” regarding “health guidance” as well as the “safety and efficacy of the vaccine” for COVID-19.

A key strategy that we had was to deploy influencers,” Fleming stated. “Influencers who were really keen, who had huge followings, but really keen to help carry messages that were going to serve their communities.”

Fleming also explained that the United Nations knew its messaging wouldn’t resonate as well as influencers, so they developed Team Halo.

“We had another trusted messenger project, which was called Team Halo, where we trained scientists around the world, and some doctors, on TikTok. We had TikTok working with us,” Fleming said. “It was a layered deployment of ideas and tactics.”

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Government

Why Is There A COVID Vaccine Mandate For Students?

Why Is There A COVID Vaccine Mandate For Students?

Authored by Margaret Anna Alice via ‘Through The Looking Glass’ Substack,

Letter to the…

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Why Is There A COVID Vaccine Mandate For Students?

Authored by Margaret Anna Alice via 'Through The Looking Glass' Substack,

Letter to the Stanford Daily: Why Is There a COVID Vaccine Mandate for Students?

“Not to know is bad. Not to wish to know is worse.”

—African proverb

I can’t figure out why Stanford is mandating the COVID vaccine for students.

  1. Is it to protect students from the virus, hospitalization, or death?

  2. Is it to protect them from other students?

  3. Is it to protect the Stanford community members from the students? 

If it’s to protect the students from catching COVID, that doesn’t make sense because the CDC says it “no longer differentiate[s] based on a person’s vaccination status because breakthrough infections occur.”

The CDC also acknowledges natural immunity, noting that “persons who have had COVID-19 but are not vaccinated have some degree of protection against severe illness from their previous infection.”

It appears Stanford didn’t get the memo because Maxwell Meyer—a double-jabbed, COVID-recovered alum who was nearly prohibited from graduating for choosing not to get boosted—was informed by an administrator that the booster mandate is “not predicated on history of infection or physical location.”

Despite living 2,000 miles away from campus and not being enrolled in coursework for his final term, Maxwell was told Stanford was “uniformly enforc[ing]” the mandate “regardless of student location.” Does that sound like a rational policy?

Fortunately, a different administrator intervened and granted Maxwell an exemption, but few Stanford students are so lucky. Almost everyone else simply follows the rules without realizing they’ve volunteered for vaccine roulette.

Cleveland Clinic study of the bivalent vaccines involving 51,011 participants found the risk of getting COVID-19 increased “with the number of vaccine doses previously received”—much to the authors’ surprise.

They were stumped as to why “those who chose not to follow the CDC’s recommendations on remaining updated with COVID-19 vaccination” had a lower risk of catching COVID than “those who received a larger number of prior vaccine doses.”

So if the vaccines don’t keep you from getting COVID, maybe they at least protect you from hospitalization?

That doesn’t wash, either, because according to data from the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)-Associated Hospitalization Surveillance Network (COVID-NET)hospitalization rates for 18–64-year-olds have increased 11 percent since the vaccine rollout. Worse, kids under 18 have suffered a shocking 74 percent spike in hospitalizations.

An observational study conducted at Germany’s University Hospital Wuerzburg found:

“The rate of adverse reactions for the second booster dose was significantly higher among participants receiving the bivalent 84.6% (95% CI 70.3%–92.8%; 33/39) compared to the monovalent 51.4% (95% CI 35.9–66.6%; 19/37) vaccine (p=0.0028). Also, there was a trend towards an increased rate of inability to work and intake of PRN medication following bivalent vaccination.”

A new paper published in Science titled Class Switch Towards Non-Inflammatory, Spike-Specific IgG4 Antibodies after Repeated SARS-CoV-2 mRNA Vaccination even has Eric Topol concerned:

If you don’t know what that means, Dr. Syed Haider spells it out in this tweet. He explains that the shots “train your immune system to ignore the allergen by repeated exposure,” the end result being that “Your immune system is shifted to see the virus as a harmless allergen” and the “virus runs amok.”

Viral immunologist and computational virologist Dr. Jessica Rose breaks down the serious implications—including cancerfatal fibrosis, and organ destruction—of these findings.

Well, then does the vaccine at least prevent people from dying of COVID?

Nope. According to the Washington Post, “Vaccinated people now make up a majority of COVID deaths.”

At Senator Ron Johnson’s December 7, 2022, roundtable discussion on COVID-19 Vaccines, former number-one–ranked Wall Street insurance analyst Josh Stirling reported that, according to UK government data:

“The people in the UK who took the vaccine have a 26% higher mortality rate. The people who are under the age of 50 who took the vaccine now have a 49% higher mortality rate.”

Obtained by a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to KBV (the association representing physicians who receive insurance in Germany), “the most important dataset of the pandemic” shows fatalities starting to spike in 2021.

Data analyst Tom Lausen assessed the ICD-10 disease codes in this dataset, and the findings are startling. His presentation includes the following chart documenting fatalities per quarter from 2016 to 2022:

This parallels the skyrocketing fatality rates seen in VAERS:

The vaccinated are more likely to contract, become hospitalized from, and die of COVID. If the vaccine fails on all of those counts, does it at least prevent its transmission to other students and community members?

The obvious answer is no since we already know it doesn’t prevent you from getting COVID, but this CDC study drives the point home, showing that during a COVID outbreak in Barnstable County, Massachusetts, “three quarters (346; 74%) of cases occurred in fully vaccinated persons.”

Maybe Stanford can tell us why they feel the mandate is necessary. Their booster requirement reads:

Why does Stanford have a student booster shot requirement? Our booster requirement is intended to support sustained immunity against COVID-19 and is consistent with the advice of county and federal public health leaders. Booster shots enhance immunity, providing additional protection to individuals and reducing the possibility of being hospitalized for COVID. In addition, booster shots prevent infection in many individuals, thereby slowing the spread of the virus. A heavily boosted campus community reduces the possibility of widespread disruptions that could impact the student experience, especially in terms of in-person classes and activities and congregate housing.”

The claim that “booster shots enhance immunity” links to a January 2022 New York Times article. It seems Stanford has failed to keep up with the science because the very source they cite as authoritative is now reporting, “The newer variants, called BQ.1 and BQ.1.1, are spreading quickly, and boosters seem to do little to prevent infections with these viruses.”

Speaking of not keeping up, that same article says the new bivalent boosters target “the original version of the coronavirus and the Omicron variants circulating earlier this year, BA.4 and BA.5.”

It then goes on to quote Head of Beth Israel Deaconess’s Center for Virology & Vaccine Research Dan Barouch, who says, “It’s not likely that any of the vaccines or boosters, no matter how many you get, will provide substantial and sustained protection against acquisition of infection.”

In other words, Stanford’s rationale for requiring the boosters is obsolete according to the authority they cite in their justification.

If Stanford is genuinely concerned about “reduc[ing] the possibility of widespread disruptions that could impact the student experience,” then it should not only stop mandating the vaccine but advise against it.

Some nations have suspended or recommended against COVID shots for younger populations due to the considerable risks of adverse events such as pulmonary embolism and myocarditis—from Denmark (under 50) to Norway (under 45) to Australia (under 50) to the United Kingdom (seasonal boosters for under 50).

The Danish Health Authority explains why people under 50 are “not to be re-vaccinated”:

“People aged under 50 are generally not at particularly higher risk of becoming severely ill from covid-19. In addition, younger people aged under 50 are well protected against becoming severely ill from covid-19, as a very large number of them have already been vaccinated and have previously been infected with covid-19, and there is consequently good immunity among this part of the population.”

Here’s what a Norwegian physician and health official had to say:

“Especially the youngest should consider potential side effects against the benefits of taking this dose.”
—Ingrid Bjerring, Chief Doctor at Lier Municipality

“We did not find sufficient evidence to recommend that this part of the population [younger age bracket] should take a new dose now.… Each vaccine comes with the risk for side effects. Is it then responsible to offer this, when we know that the individual health benefit of a booster likely is low?”
—Are Stuwitz Berg, Department Director at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health

new Nordic cohort study of 8.9 million participants supports these concerns, finding a nearly nine-fold increase in myocarditis among males aged 12–39 within 28 days of receiving the Moderna COVID-19 booster over those who stopped after two doses.

This mirrors my own findings that myocarditis rates are up 10 times among the vaccinated according to a public healthcare worker survey.

Coauthored by MIT professor and risk management expert Retsef Levi, the Nature article Increased Emergency Cardiovascular Events Among Under-40 Population in Israel During Vaccine Rollout and Third COVID-19 Wave reveals a 25 percent increase in cardiac emergency calls for 16–39-year-olds from January to May 2021 as compared with the previous two years.

The paper cites a study by Israel’s Ministry of Health that “assesses the risk of myocarditis after receiving the 2nd vaccine dose to be between 1 in 3000 to 1 in 6000 in men of age 16–24 and 1 in 120,000 in men under 30.”

Thai study published in Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease found cardiovascular manifestations in 29.24 percent of the adolescent cohort—including myopericarditis and tachycardia.

Even Dr. Leana Wen, formerly an aggressive promoter of the COVID vaccine, admitted in a recent Washington Post op-ed:

“[W]e need to be upfront that nearly every intervention has some risk, and the coronavirus vaccine is no different. The most significant risk is myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, which is most common in young men. The CDC cites a rate of 39 myocarditis cases per 1 million second doses given in males 18 to 24. Some studies found a much higher rate; a large Canadian database reported that among men ages 18 to 29 who received the second dose of the Moderna vaccine, the rate of myocarditis was 22 for every 100,000 doses.”

All over the world, prominent physicians, scientists, politicians, and professors are asking pointed questions about illogical mandates; the safety and efficacy of the vaccines; and the dangers posed by the mRNA technology, spike protein, and lipid nanoparticles—including in the UKJapanAustraliaEurope, and the US.

Formerly pro-vaxx cardiologists such as Dr. Aseem MalhotraDr. Dean Patterson, and Dr. Ross Walker are all saying the COVID vaccines should be immediately stopped due to the significant increase in cardiac diseasesadverse events, and excess mortality observed since their rollout, noting that, “until proven otherwise, these vaccines are not safe.”

President of the International Society for Vascular Surgery Serif Sultan and Consultant Surgeon Ahmad Malik are also demanding that we #StopTheShotsNow.

And now, perhaps most notably, Dr. John Campbell has performed a 180-degree turn on his previous position and is saying it is time to pause the mass vaccination program “due to the risks associated with the vaccines”:

Rasmussen poll published on December 7, 2022, found 7 percent of vaccinated respondents have suffered major side effects—a percentage that echoes the 7.7 percent of V-Safe users who sought medical care as well as my own polling data.

Add the 34 percent who reported experiencing minor side effects, and you have nearly 72 million adults who’ve been hit with side effects from the vaccine.

Rasmussen Head Pollster Mark Mitchell explains:

“With 7% having a major side effect, that means over 12 million adults in the US have experienced a self-described major side effect that they attribute to the COVID-19 vaccine. That’s over 11 times the reported COVID death numbers. And also note that anyone who may have died from the vaccine obviously can’t tell us that in the poll.”

According to British Medical Journal Senior Editor Dr. Peter Doshi, Pfizer’s and Moderna’s own trial data found 1 in 800 vaccinated people experienced serious adverse events:

“The Pfizer and Moderna trials are both showing a clear signal of increased risk of serious adverse events among the vaccinated.…

“The trial data are indicating that we’re seeing about an elevated risk of these serious adverse events of around 1 in 800 people vaccinated.… That is much, much more common than what you see for other vaccines, where the reported rates are in the range of 1 or 2 per million vaccinees. In these trials, we’re seeing 1 in every 800. And this is a rate that in past years has had vaccines taken off the market.…

“We’re talking about randomized trials … which are widely considered the highest-quality evidence, and we’re talking about the trials that were submitted by Pfizer and Moderna that supported the regulators’ authorization.”

And this is the same Pfizer data the FDA tried to keep hidden from the public for 75 years.

Nothing to see here … except 1,223 deaths, 158,000 adverse events, and 1,291 side effects reported in the first 90 days according to the 5.3.6 Cumulative Analysis of Post-Authorization Adverse Event Reports—and those numbers are likely underreported by a factor of at least 10 (my conservative calculations show an underreporting factor (URF) of 41 for VAERS).

Stanford is asking students to risk a 1 in 800 chance of serious adverse events—meaning the kind of events that can land you in the hospitaldisable you, and kill you. And for what?

Anyone who knows how to perform a cost-benefit analysis can see this is all cost and zero benefit.

Stanford’s own Dr. John Ioannidis—professor of medicine, epidemiology & population health, statistics, and biomedical data science—demonstrated that college students are at a near-zero risk of dying from COVID-19 in his “Age-Stratified Infection Fatality Rate of COVID-19 in the Non-Elderly Population.”

One of the six most-cited scientists in the world, Ioannidis found the median IFR was 0.0003 percent for those under 20 and 0.002 percent for twenty-somethings, concluding the fatalities “are lower than pre-pandemic years when only the younger age strata are considered” and that “the IFR in non-elderly individuals was much lower than previously thought.”

And yet Ioannidis’s employer is mandating an experimental product with extensively documented risks of severe harm.

What if a Stanford student dies and the coroner determines it was caused by the vaccine? That happened with George Watts Jr., a 24-year-old college student whose cause of death Chief Deputy Coroner Timothy Cahill Jr. attributed to “COVID-19 vaccine-related myocarditis.” Cahill says, “The vaccine caused the heart to go into failure.”

Notorious for mandating a booster not yet tested on humans (just like Stanford), Ontario’s Western University dropped its mandate on November 29, 2022, stating:

“We are revoking our vaccination policy and will no longer require students, employees, and visitors to be vaccinated to come to campus.”

That was the same day this article reported that 21-year-old Western University student and TikTok influencer Megha Thakur “suddenly and unexpectedly passed away” on November 24.

The timing is interesting, don’t you think? I’m sure it’s just a coincidence—even though this Clinical Research in Cardiology paper determined vaccine-induced myocardial inflammation was the cause of death in “five persons who have died unexpectedly within seven days following anti-SARS-CoV-2-vaccination.” In that analysis, the authors “establish the histological phenotype of lethal vaccination-associated myocarditis.”

Coincidences notwithstanding, Stanford may want to revoke the mandate before anything like that happens to one of its students … if it hasn’t already.

And if that’s not incentive enough, Stanford should consider the legal ramifications of mandating an experimental product. As this JAMA article warns:

“Mandating COVID-19 vaccines under an EUA is legally and ethically problematic. The act authorizing the FDA to issue EUAs requires the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to specify whether individuals may refuse the vaccine and the consequences for refusal. Vaccine mandates are unjustified because an EUA requires less safety and efficacy data than full Biologics License Application (BLA) approval.”

Dr. Naomi Wolf delivered an impassioned speech to her alma mater, Yale, in which she called their booster mandate “a serious crime. It is deeply illegal. Certainly, it violates Title IX.” She explains:

“Title IX commits the university to not discriminate on the basis of sex or gender in getting an equal education.… I oversee a project in which 3,500 experts review the Pfizer documents released under court order by a lawsuit. In that document, there is catastrophic harm to women! And especially to young women! And especially to their reproductive health.… 72% of those with adverse events in the Pfizer documents are women!”

Other universities are currently facing lawsuits for mandating the COVID vaccine in violation of state laws, including one against Ohio University, University of Cincinnati, Bowling Green State University, and Miami University of Ohio.

Let’s recap.

Abundant evidence proves the vaccines FAIL to:

  • stop transmission

  • prevent contraction of COVID

  • lower hospitalization rates

  • reduce mortality

By the same token, this evidence shows the vaccines are ASSOCIATED with:

  • heightened transmission levels

  • greater chances of catching COVID

  • increased hospitalization rates

  • higher excess mortality

  • disproportionate injuries to women

Why is Stanford mandating these unsafe and ineffective products, again?

If logic, peer-reviewed studies, and legal concerns such as the violation of Title IX don’t convince Stanford to rescind the mandate, then what about its stated ethical commitment to upholding its Code of Conduct?

BMJ’s Journal of Medical Ethics recently published COVID-19 Vaccine Boosters for Young Adults: A Risk Benefit Assessment and Ethical Analysis of Mandate Policies at Universities. In this paper, eminent researchers from Harvard, Oxford, Johns Hopkins, and UC San Francisco (among other institutions) present five reasons university mandates are unethical.

They argue that the vaccines:

“(1) are not based on an updated (Omicron era) stratified risk-benefit assessment for this age group; (2) may result in a net harm to healthy young adults; (3) are not proportionate: expected harms are not outweighed by public health benefits given modest and transient effectiveness of vaccines against transmission; (4) violate the reciprocity principle because serious vaccine-related harms are not reliably compensated due to gaps in vaccine injury schemes; and (5) may result in wider social harms.” (emphases mine here and below)

They calculate that:

To prevent one COVID-19 hospitalisation over a 6-month period, we estimate that 31,207–42,836 young adults aged 18–29 years must receive a third mRNA vaccine.”

The authors conclude that:

“university COVID-19 vaccine mandates are likely to cause net expected harms to young healthy adults—for each hospitalisation averted we estimate approximately 18.5 SAEs and 1,430–4,626 disruptions of daily activities.… these severe infringements of individual liberty and human rights are ethically unjustifiable.”

This builds on a previously published BMJ Global Health article by some of the same authors titled, “The Unintended Consequences of COVID-19 Vaccine Policy: Why Mandates, Passports, and Restrictions May Cause More Harm Than Good.”

In this paper, the authors contend that COVID-19 vaccine mandates “have unintended harmful consequences and may not be ethical, scientifically justified, and effective” and “may prove to be both counterproductive and damaging to public health.”

Over the course of history, countless products once thought to be safe—from DDT to cigarettes to thalidomide for pregnant women to Vioxx—were eventually discovered to be dangerous and even lethal. Responsible governments, agencies, and companies pull those products from the market when the scientific data proves harm—and institutions that care about their community members certainly don’t mandate those products when evidence of risk becomes obvious, as is the case now for the experimental COVID vaccines.

Mahatma Gandhi once stated:

“An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it. Truth stands, even if there be no public support. It is self-sustained.”

The truth is clear to anyone who’s willing to look.

Will Stanford stop following the propaganda and start following the science—the real science and not the politicized science?

Will it stand up for the lives and health of its students—or will it wait until tragedy strikes another George Watts Jr. or Megha Thakur?

This is a historic opportunity for Stanford to prove its allegiance to people, scientific data, and critical thought over pharmaceutical donors, political pressures, and conformist thinking.

The stakes could not be higher.

*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Wed, 02/01/2023 - 21:25

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