Principia Discordia…

August 29, 2008


Muse…Ruled By Secrecy…

August 28, 2008

Indeed, and not a bad piece of music either…enjoy….here

Original by Ben Goldacre, here

There’s not exactly a whole bunch of news going on right now. According to the Mail we are witnessing the “Invasion of the killer jellyfish” (except Portuguese men o’ war have been reported on British shores since at least 2003), the hunt for the Yeti continues, and there’s always room for another “equation for” story.

Somehow what doesn’t get into the papers is as interesting as what does. Right now I’m looking at a press release on a story which seems pretty important to me: people with serious mental illnesses are committing fewer murders than ever before, by a truly enormous margin.

Homicides in this group increased from around 40 a year in the 1950s to 100 a year in the 1970s, in line with a similar increase in the general population.

But while murders by people like you have continued to increase, and roughly trebled (0.6 per 100,000 of population in the 1950s, and almost two per 100,000 now), murders by people with serious mental illnesses, despite the hype and the fear, the public pronouncements and the headlines, have come down massively since the 1970s, to fewer than 20 a year today.

Alongside the silly season stories, this startling new analysis of several different databases worth of information was not considered newsworthy. It got coverage in New Scientist (ooh) and BBC Online only. Nobody else touched it. What a mystery.

Journalists are traditionally fascinated by mental illness after all.

Celebrities with schizophrenia or depression can expect to have their hospital admissions (and embarrassing behaviour when unwell) diligently documented by the newspapers, and murders associated with mental illness receive blanket media coverage, with extensive campaigns both in the media and at grassroots level.

When the “mental health tsar” Louis Appleby called for more effort at reducing murders by people with serious mental health problems last year (a “bloke has opinion” story if ever I saw one) it was news to every single newspaper.

Journalists also love numbers – they use them for a spurious sense of precision, and for an air of scienciness – and this story had plenty, from a proper study, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry. Journalists also routinely take stories handed to them on a plate by press releases, as a quick scan of any newspaper will rapidly reveal.

According to research commissioned by Guardian journalist Nick Davies from Cardiff University, about 80% of news coverage is rehashed from them.

There is a crowd pleasing answer here, of course, which is that society is very simply prejudiced. But there is also a more mundane explanation. In a generous mood, you wouldn’t say this was a very badly written press release, but it doesn’t give the story on a plate, at first glance, with a populist headline, a catchy narrative to hang it on, the offer of photos (with breasts) and the idea that “stigmas and deep-rooted fears are misguided” flagged up in neon lights. You had to pay attention to find the news.

And it wasn’t widely disseminated. My friend Nadia Stone writes positive stories about people with mental health problems (it’s why we’re friends).

There was one simple reason she didn’t run with it: she gets plenty of nonsense from PR companies on pills and cosmetics, but the academic journal didn’t send their press release to local papers, which often cover the very anecdotes that can wrongly calibrate peoples fears and prejudices.

“It might actually have been useful considering two men with schizophrenia escaped from a mental hospital near Exeter on Tuesday night, and everyone’s been very scared.”

We are convinced by the media that people with serious mental illnesses make a significant contribution to murders, and we formulate our approach as a society to tens of thousands of people on the basis of the actions of about 20.

Once again, the decisions we make, the attitudes we have, and the prejudices we express are all entirely rational, when analysed in terms of the flawed information we are fed, only half chewed, from the mouths of morons.

On 14 August, this World Health Organisation draft on pandemic flu preparedness was leaked on Wikileaks. [JIM HAMILTON (one more promethean)]

]This passage is perhaps most striking:

‘global influenza vaccine manufacturing capacity is insufficient to meet demand in a pandemic and […] in the absence of a multilateral system of benefit sharing, some Member States, particularly developing countries, can neither afford nor access the vaccines’

In other words, ‘there isn’t enough vaccine to go around, poorer countries will be priced out of the market, and millions will die in the event of a pandemic’. Basically, this passage amounts to the blackmailing of developing countries into accepting the WHO’s particular ‘virus sharing’ system. Indonesia has felt the need to withhold virus samples from the WHO in protest of the current system, so what does this system entail?
Well, despite the report ostensibly purporting to recognise ‘the sovereign right of States over their biological resources’ [i.e. viruses found within their national borders), it later goes on to demand that: ‘member states agree to routinely provide [to the WHO] clinical specimens or viruses from all human cases of H5N1 and other influenza viruses of human pandemic potential in a timely fashion’. Additionally, fees can not be charged for the provision to the WHO of these viruses (which in the report are euphemistically – and laughably – termed ‘pandemic influenza preparedness biological materials’).

So how will poorer UN member states get hold of the vaccine? Not to worry, the WHO will ‘provide affordable loans to developing and least-developed countries to support procurement of vaccines and associated equipment’. Hurrah, endlessly spiralling debts, on top of those already owed to the rich nations. (See John Pilger’s excellent documentary War By Other Means on the subject of debt as a political weapon). Obviously these loans, via compound interest, inevitably result in an overall transfer of wealth from debtor to creditor – how is this going to help improve health conditions in poor countries?

All in all the poor countries lose:

  • Valuable biological commodities (i.e. viruses). Specimens of a virus are necessary in order to produce the specific vaccine for that virus – and vaccines are clearly inordinately valuable in the case of an outbreak.
  • The right to conduct their own scientific studies and/or produce their own vaccines
  • The proportion of their future GNP that must be spent repaying the loans and their compound interest.

In amongst this racketeering, powerful pharmaceutical companies are able to obtain monopolies on vaccine production, and subsequently hold the governments of poor yet sovereign nations to ransom.

In 1997, Donald Rumsfeld was appointed Chairman of the Board of Gilead Sciences, a company which a year earlier had developed ‘Tamiflu’, originally a drug for AIDS and later marketed as a vaccine for H5N1 avian flu. Upon becoming US Defence Secretary in 2001, he ordered $1 billion worth of Tamiflu to be bought and injected into US soldiers as a ‘precaution’. At the time, Rumsfeld was the principal stockholder of Gilead Sciences. Worse still, it later emerged that Tamiflu was not even effective as a H5N1 vaccine.

Another salient political point regarding the monopolisation of viruses, is of course their potential for use in ‘germ warfare’. Imagine being the leader of a developing nation, under the constant threat of an avian flu pandemic. You know that the WHO and major pharmaceutical companies are actively experimenting with and genetically modifying viruses. (The WHO report explicitly states this; indeed it is a necessary part of pre-emptively countering potential virus mutations with vaccines – the new viruses must first be created). Furthermore, the WHO is demanding that you surrender any clinical specimens found within your borders, or risk losing UN membership. If an outbreak did occur in your country, how could anyone tell the difference between a germ warfare attack and a natural outbreak?

And to those who would dismiss the potential use of chemical/biological weapons by developed nations – why did George W. Bush oppose an international Biological and Toxic Weapons Protocol in 2001? Why did the biological weaponry research watchdog The Sunshine Project report in 2003 that US Army scientists were recreating the 1918 Spanish Flu virus under laboratory conditions?

And the more suspicious of the US Army you are, the more likely you are to draw connections to things like Henry Kissinger’s 1974 ‘National Security Memorandum 200: Implications of Worldwide Population Growth For U.S. Security and Overseas Interests‘ (declassified in 1989 and now available here), which discusses uncontrolled population growth in foreign nations as being a threat to national security and the US control of foreign resources, as well as suggesting various ways in which to surreptitiously depopulate certain areas.

And on that morbid note, I’ll leave you with some informative links

  • F. William Engdahl at Global
  • Rima E. Laibow, MD at Health Freedom
  • Joseph Brewda at the Schiller Institute
  • Fathers for Life
  • Jean Guilfoyle at The Interim
  • Accounts belonging to HBOS Bank Chief Andy Hornby, 41, who earns an estimated £1m a year, were frozen after unauthorised withdrawals of at least £7,000 from his accounts.

    Awww…..Relatively speaking, that’s like most of us losing, say, 50p from our current account.

    Maybe he should consider his banks internal security policies and procedures a little more carefully.

    “Last year HBOS and Barclays were among 11 UK banks warned by the Information Commissioners Office to stop the then widespread practice of dumping documents related to customer accounts in bins outside their stores. Each of the banks signed undertakings to discontinue the behaviour.

    The ICO audited HBOS after it emerged it may have been in breach of its promise to clean up its act. The follow-up action was triggered after BBC Watchdog discovered torn up bank statements that revealed customer names and account numbers and an untorn cheque for nearly £1,700 in a bin outside a HBOS branch weeks after the ICO’s initial warning.”

    I can’t seem to find any pity for Andy anywhere.

    Oh well.

    Well, credit where it’s due – Sophos have responded to my post on the (apparent lack of robustness in) Endpoint Application Control. It would appear that this is no longer an issue in the latest release of Sophos Endpoint.

    ” I look after application control functionality within Sophos. Following your blog post, I asked our labs to have another look at the detection for spider.exe (MS Spider Solitaire) and it appears to cope okay with a simple renaming of the file i.e. the file will still be blocked if it is renamed. Can you provide more detail on the steps used to circumnavigate the blocking policy? I can get our Labs team to have another look at the problem.

    As you’d expect the Sophos application control capability is designed to handle simple file renaming. We use a mixture of file attributes such as file size, API references and version information checks to ensure the detection is robust. ”

    I will contact Sophos in the near future and discuss this further – for now it would appear that the issue has been resolved in the latest release. It would seem that renaming the application(s) only works on the previous version/s of Sophos (7 and earlier).

    ….if you are experiencing problems with (especially imaged) machines constantly dropping, reconnecting to LAN then use the updated drivers for the Intel 82566DM NIC (R162323) dated 13/04/2007 and version – I got mine from here; (I know, I don’t usually like these 3rd party d/l sites either, but could not quickly (ie google/cuil) find a link to the file hosted by Dell…feel free to comment and let me know if you find one, I will update this link ;) ) and they solved the problem across the board.