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The Criminal Order Beneath The ‘Chaos’ Of San Francisco’s Tenderloin

The Criminal Order Beneath The ‘Chaos’ Of San Francisco’s Tenderloin

Authored by Leighton Woodhouse via RealClearInvestigations,

The epicenter…

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The Criminal Order Beneath The 'Chaos' Of San Francisco's Tenderloin

Authored by Leighton Woodhouse via RealClearInvestigations,

The epicenter of the political earthquakes rattling San Francisco’s progressive establishment is a 30-square-block neighborhood in the center of downtown known as the Tenderloin.

Photo: Michael Shellenberger

Adjacent to some of the city’s most famous attractions, including the high-end shopping district Union Square, the old money redoubt of Nob Hill, historic Chinatown, and the city’s gold-capped City Hall, it is home to a giant, open-air drug bazaar. Tents fill the sidewalks. Addicts sit on curbs and lean against walls, nodding off to their fentanyl and heroin fixes, or wander around in meth-induced psychotic states. Drug dealers stake out their turf and sell in broad daylight, while the immigrant families in the five-story, pre-war apartment buildings shepherd their kids to school, trying to maintain as normal an existence as they can.

“If you happen to be walking through the Tenderloin and you feel unsafe, imagine what it feels like to live there,” said Joel Engardio, head of Stop Crime SF, a civilian public safety group. “The Tenderloin has one of the largest percentages of children in the city. It’s untenable, inexcusable to ask them to confront this hellscape.” 

The Tenderloin is out of control,” said Tom Ostly, a former San Francisco prosecutor who used to work there and lives nearby. “It has never been worse than it is now.”

Nancy Tung, a prosecutor who once handled drug enforcement in San Francisco, called it “ground zero for human misery.” Kathy Looper, who has run a low-income, single resident occupancy hotel in the Tenderloin for more than 45 years, said, “It feels like we’re in Gotham,” adding that she once considered putting a spotlight on her hotel roof and projecting a Batman signal into the sky.

The crime and disorder of the Tenderloin may appear to be symptoms of deep and mysterious sociological forces. Chesa Boudin, who was ousted last week as San Francisco’s district attorney because of his lenient policies, argued, “We can’t arrest and prosecute our way out of the problems that are afflicting the Tenderloin.”

But there is a fairly straightforward kind of order beneath the chaos: an illicit market economy operating in plain sight. The Tenderloin is home to two sprawling, overlapping transnational organized crime networks – one centered on drugs and the other on theft – which thrive in that neighborhood because of the near-total absence of the enforcement of laws.

The Tenderloin, an infamous attraction to some, next to some of the city's most famous attractions. Google Maps

Crowded onto its street corners and inside the tents congesting the sidewalk, countless petty criminals play their roles in a structured and symbiotic criminal enterprise. Its denizens fall into four main groups: the boosters, typically homeless and addicted, who steal from local stores; the street fences who buy the stolen merchandise; the dealers who sell them drugs for the money they make from the fences; and, at the top of the stack, the drug cartel that supplies the dealers and the wholesale fences that resell the goods acquired by street fences. Each has a role to play in keeping the machine moving, and the police know exactly how to disrupt it.

Experts say the city could, in fact, arrest and prosecute its way out of most of the problems in the Tenderloin if it chose to. It thrives, instead, as a zone of lawless sovereignty in the heart of a major American city – the criminal version of the area commanded by Seattle anarchists in the so-called Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, or CHAZ, in 2020. Where those extra-legal districts were eventually dismantled, the Tenderloin’s structure is entrenched.

The following portrait of the Tenderloin crime syndicate is based on dozens of conversations with law enforcement officers, prosecutors, recovering street addicts, parents of addicts, and community activists over many months, as well as direct observation of the area.

Everyone knows what’s going on. The cops, mayor, and D.A.,” said Tom Wolf, a recovering addict. “Everyone knows it's organized and cartel-backed. They just don't think it's worth it to stop it, because nothing’s going to change anyway. They've surrendered.”

Dealing in the Tenderloin: a low-risk business. KPIX CBS/YouTube

The Dealers

The drug pushers are easy to spot: Unlike the users, they look healthy and wear clean clothes. They’re almost universally young men, mostly Honduran (on the streets of San Francisco they’re called “Hondos”). You see them standing on street corners on every block in the Tenderloin selling pills out of prescription drug bottles and white and colored powders out of plastic sandwich bags – fentanyl, meth, heroin, cocaine.

The dealers stand in packs of eight to ten on a corner, in their jeans and hoodies, with their stashes in their backpacks. According to both drug enforcement authorities and recovering addicts, each works for a different supplier and each supplier leads back to Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel. They compete for customers, but they also look out for each other: If someone tries to rob one of them, Wolf explained, they all jump in to defend him. Dealers have their assigned corners – like Turk and Hyde, across the street from a playground, or Golden Gate and Hyde, or United Nations Plaza. They mostly live in apartments on East Oakland’s International Boulevard, according to Ostly, and take the BART train to the Civic Center station each morning with the other commuters. Both civilians and police officers have observed them splitting up bindles of drugs and divvying up cash in plain view of commuters on the BART trains.

During his tenure, Chesa Boudin resisted calls to prosecute these dealers, instead referring to them as victims of human trafficking. (Boudin, whose replacement is to be named by Mayor London Breed, did not respond to repeated requests for comment.)

There’s not a whole lot to support it,” Nancy Tung said of Boudin’s human trafficking claim. The dealers are usually smuggled into the United States by the cartel. When they arrive in San Francisco or another American city, they owe the cartel for getting them there – typically $10,000 to $15,000, which they can earn in a couple of weeks byselling the cartel’s drugs, both law enforcement and recovered addicts say. Once they repay the cartel, they’re free to do whatever they want. Usually, they stick with drug dealing, because no other job can make them that much money with so little risk. Dealers in the Tenderloin typically make about $1,000 a day for an eight- to 12-hour shift.

Under Boudin, drug dealing was a low-risk business. Lou Barberini, a retired San Francisco police officer who worked narcotics in the 1990s and 2000s in the Tenderloin, said dealers used to shield drug deals with their hands or bodies as they sold them. Wolf, the recovering addict, said that before the pandemic, they would hold their drugs in baggies concealed in their mouths and spit them out when they made a sale.

 “Now,” Barberini said, “they display what they have in their hand, and the person will select what they’re going to buy.” The worst consequence of being arrested is losing your stash, so for high volume transactions they might duck behind a car. That’s about the extent of the precautions they feel it necessary to take.

Addicts: heat-seeking missiles when they need a fix, listless as nursed babies when they get it. AP 

The Boosters

The buyers, or addicts, are usually homeless and unsheltered, and, like the Bay Area, racially diverse. They’re often gaunt if they’re not obese, hunched over, in ill-fitting clothes draped across their limbs. They’re like a heat-seeking missile when looking for their next fix, and as listless as a nursed baby after they’ve found it. They would stand out in any other neighborhood, but in the Tenderloin it’s the non-users who are conspicuous, and the users who blend into the crowd.

Finding drugs in the Tenderloin is about as hard as ordering a kebab from a food cart. On any corner, dealers holler out their inventory like hot dog vendors at a ballpark: “Green is fire! Shards! Chiva! Nickel!” (Translation: “The green pills or powder are great! I also have meth, heroin, and crack.”) Or “Fenty! Bars!” (As in: “Get your fentanyl! I got some Xanax!”) 

The addicts often suffer from schizophrenia, depression, or bipolar disorder, which is often induced by meth. They are almost always unemployable. Cash flow is thus a daily concern. 

Typically, they turn to professional shoplifting, known as “boosting.” Boosting is “basically a job” for addicts, said Lieutenant Kevin Domby of the California Highway Patrol. To fuel their addiction, boosters need to bring in up to $60 daily. Since they usually get a dollar or two per item, no matter the value of whatever they’re stealing, they have to steal as many as 60 items a day. There are roughly 6,000 homeless people in the Tenderloin and adjacent SoMa neighborhoods. (The last official, citywide count, in 2019, reported just over 8,000 homeless, and pretty much everyone says that figure has jumped in the past three years.) Tom Wolf estimated that about one in five of the homeless in the Tenderloin, or 1,200 people, are boosters. That means thousands, if not tens of thousands, of items are being stolen daily.

I still get letters from Target,” said Gina McDonald, a former addict and the mother of a Tenderloin user who’s now in rehabilitation. Her daughter started boosting years ago to feed her addiction, and her mom has been hearing from the retailers’ lawyers ever since.

Like drug use and drug dealing, shoplifting has been effectively decriminalized in San Francisco, and some chains have reduced their presence in the city. California’s Proposition 47, passed in 2014, reduced shoplifting of less than $950 in goods from felonies to misdemeanors. On top of that reduction in severity, Boudin scaled back prosecution of these crimes.

Together, Prop 47 and the DA’s non-enforcement policy have removed any incentive for police officers to make arrests for shoplifting, which, in turn, has made it far less likely that retailers will even call the police in the first place. For that reason, it’s difficult to estimate the actual scale of the problem. But you get a pretty good sense how normalized it has become.

Today, in San Francisco, you can walk into a Walgreens, a Safeway, a Target or a CVS, take hundreds of dollars of products off the shelf in front of customers and employees, walk out the door, and then come back a few hours later and do it all over again. “We’ll see the same folks go into multiple retailers, multiple times a day,” said Ben Dugan of the Coalition of Law Enforcement and Retail. “The stores are their ATMs.”

The Fences

But stolen goods aren’t money, so the boosters take their goods to the fences. They’re often middle-aged Latino men or elderly Chinese men and women. Fences sometimes roam around the Tenderloin or United Nations Plaza looking for boosters, or they might work out of a nondescript storefront. Some sell the stolen goods out of their own stores in the Tenderloin or in Chinatown, while others source for larger wholesale fencing organizations that launder the goods through online retailers on Amazon, EBay, or Facebook Marketplace.

Often, Domby says, fences will text the boosters on WhatsApp or Snapchat or on a private Instagram page and tell them what products they’re in the market for: Tide Pods or cold medicines with long expiration dates or makeup or razor blades. Then, the boosters fill those orders, stealing as much as they need to get their next fix. “Boosters will go into a pharmacy with a shopping list,” Dugan told me.

The fences and the dealers work in a kind of synergy with each other – so much so that they sometimes collaborate directly. “The dealers will post up where the fences are,” Dugan said. “Fences will direct the thief to the drug dealers.”

The fences, like the boosters they buy from, are the lowest rung on a towering totem pole. Most are middlemen. Some buy stuff not just from boosters but also from burglars and muggers. (In 2019, the San Francisco Police Department and then-District Attorney George Gascón retrieved more than $2 million in personal and commercial property from a couple that ran their fencing operation out of their Tenderloin camera repair shop.)

Some fences sell the stolen goods directly to the public, laying boosted deodorant and frozen shrimp – so freshly stolen it hasn’t yet thawed – out on a blanket on the street in UN Plaza, or at the flea market in Berkeley. But more typically, they sell to a bigger fence, who can move a high volume of product out of the Tenderloin quickly and efficiently. Ostly compared street-level boosters and fences to street walkers in the prostitution business. A tier above the street addicts is a more specialized, entrepreneurial tier of boosters – the equivalent of escorts, per Ostly’s analogy. 

Part of the cops' haul from a fencing operation out of a Tenderloin camera repair shop. Twitter

The Larceny Industry

There are at least two or three levels of fences above the street-level fences. At the top are the wholesale fences. They buy from the mid-tier fences who buy from the street-level fences who buy directly from the boosters, who use their paltry profits to buy drugs from the dealers.

San Francisco’s addiction crisis provides the larceny industry with a permanent low-wage workforce. Drug addicts there and in other cities are, in effect, the exploited sweatshop workers of an international organized retail theft network that operates on an industrial scale.

The fences at the wholesale level amass $100,000 to $200,000 worth of merchandise each day, which they sell to a “diverter.” The diverter repackages the stolen goods in counterfeit packaging and sells the products online. Nationally, just five diverters dominate the trade in stolen merchandise from the national drug store chains. Those five companies sell more than $20 million in product a year.

Wholesale fences also sell their goods to fences overseas. Consumer electronics are often shipped to Vietnam or China to be sold in black markets there. Luxury accessories are sent to Russia.

In 2020, a major multi-agency bust called Operation Proof of Purchase took down a $50 million fencing operation centered in the Tenderloin. When the police seized the warehouse in the North Bay, it took about 40 officers to photograph and box all the inventory, and numerous semi trucks and box trucks to move it all. Officers recovered more than $1.6 million in razor blades alone.

The operation wasn’t just large, it was meticulous. “Just a terrifically organized operation for distribution,” said Lieutenant Domby, who assisted in the operation. “If a box was marked 400 boxes of pills for aspirin, there would be 400 boxes inside.”

“The fences have better inventory control and logistics than the retailers they're stealing from,” Ostly said.

Wolf told me that the way the organized retail theft business operates is “common knowledge” on the street. “Even the street addicts know how this works,” he said. 

Whether Boudin is to blame now or not, the Tenderloin's problems are longstanding: sex worker, 2010. AP 

'Nothing Has Been Done'

Taken together, the dealers, boosters, and fences comprise a vast illicit industry that generates the cash that pays a Mexican drug cartel to import narcotics into San Francisco’s streets. Those drugs kill two people a day directly. The organized robberies and thefts they spawn create thousands more victims, from targets of muggings, burglaries, and home invasions to working class, elderly San Franciscans whose local pharmacies keep shutting down or reducing hours, to retail employees who are laid off as those stores are closed.

Ostly, who was fired by Boudin the day after he took office, believes the rampant criminality in the Tenderloin is “ninety percent because of Boudin.” Tung, who ran unsuccessfully in 2019 against Boudin, said, “San Francisco has completely lost the deterrent effect of prosecution. You have to have some reason for people not to commit crime. People are weighing what’s going to happen, and in San Francisco, nothing is going to happen to you—not if you sell drugs, even if you mix them lethally, not if you break into cars, stores, homes.” 

Randy Shaw, who runs the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, which operates many of the low-income, single-room occupancy hotels in the area, isn’t a fan of Boudin, but he says the city’s mayor and police department are largely responsible for the area’s problems. “Police have been blaming DAs since the 1980s; this is nothing new,” he said. “Chesa has done a great job taking the flack off the SFPD because all of the recall movement people want to make sure he’s blamed for everything,” he said before the June 7 recall vote. He said that after Mayor Breed invoked a “State of Emergency” in the Tenderloin last year (which has now lapsed), “there literally has been no increase in police at all. None. The crackdown she’s getting credit for in the national media has never happened. Nothing has been done.” Shaw wants to see the drug dealers arrested, prosecuted, and imprisoned. Breed’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Joel Engardio of Stop Crime SF is also dismayed at what he sees as the human tragedy that city officials are allowing to unfold. “If you’re not going to arrest and prosecute the dealers, people are going to continue to die,” he said. “I don’t believe we should prosecute users. Users need help and treatment. But dealers are committing manslaughter every time they sell fentanyl.”

Leighton Akira Woodhouse is a freelance reporter and documentary filmmaker. He writes at leightonwoodhouse.substack.com.

Tyler Durden Sun, 06/19/2022 - 23:30

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International

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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Tyler Durden Wed, 02/01/2023 - 23:25

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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.

*  *  *

For 16.4 cents/day (annual) or 19.7 cents/day (monthly), you can help Margaret fight tyranny while enjoying access to premium content like Memes by Themes“rolling” interviewspodcastsBehind the Scenes, and other bonus content:

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

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Massive Peer-Reviewed Mask Study Shows ‘Little To No Difference’ In Preventing COVID, Flu Infection

Massive Peer-Reviewed Mask Study Shows ‘Little To No Difference’ In Preventing COVID, Flu Infection

A massive international research collaboration…

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Massive Peer-Reviewed Mask Study Shows 'Little To No Difference' In Preventing COVID, Flu Infection

A massive international research collaboration that analyzed several dozen rigorous studies focusing on "physical interventions" against COVID-19 and influenza found that they provide little to no protection against infection or illness rates.

The study, published in the peer-reviewed Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, is the strongest science to date refuting the basis for mask mandates worldwide.

And of course, the CDC still recommends masking in areas with "high" rates of transmission (fewer than 4% of US counties, as Just the News notes), along with indoor masking in areas with "medium" rates of transmission (27%).

Masks are still required in educational institutions in Democratic strongholds such as New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Washington and California, according to the Daily Mail. Boston Public Schools denied its "temporary masking protocol" in early January was a "mandate," following a public letter against the policy by student Enrique Abud Evereteze.

South Korea is still requiring masks on public transport and in medical facilities after dropping COVID mandates in most indoor settings, including gyms, Monday, Reuters reported. -Just the News

According to the Cochrane study, which included the work of researchers at institutions in the  U.K., Canada, Australia, Italy and Saudi Arabia, a total of 78 studies were analyzed. Most recent additions to the meta-analysis were 11 new randomized controlled trials.

As unlisted study author Carl Heneghan - who directs the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at the University of Oxford noted on Twitter: "Wearing masks in the community probably makes little or no difference to the outcome of influenza‐like illness (ILI)/COVID‐19 like illness compared to not wearing masks."

The Danish study had trouble finding a major journal willing to publish its controversial findings that wearing surgical masks had no statistically significant effect on infection rates, even among those who claimed to wear them "exactly as instructed." 

Mainstream media overlooked red flags in the Bangladeshi mask study, which found no effect for surgical masks under age 50 and a difference of only 20 infections between control and treatment groups among 342,000 adults. -JTN

Bottom line, mask wearing "probably makes little to no difference," when it comes to influenza-like or COVID-like illnesses, regardless of type of mask used.

We're sure the cult of Fauci will now start insisting peer-reviewed meta-analyses aren't 'the science.'

Tyler Durden Wed, 02/01/2023 - 17:45

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