A personal crisis of faith in the public health system

In the dramatic second episode of Survivors the engineer Greg encounters the aristocratic Anne, who has shacked up with the unfortunate Vic Thatcher. Vic has had an accident with a tractor and his legs were pinned, before Greg got him out. But that is the extent of his knowledge, as neither Anne nor Greg have any medical training. Greg tries to make splints, and Anne eventually decides to abandon crippled Vic.

Besides being one of the most compelling storylines in the original Survivors TV series, it also shows what it is like to live without the implicit assurance of a public health system, and faith in an ambulance being available. In fact, it is mostly about the moral bonds between people, as opposed to the mercenary behaviour that characters under pressure can resort to. Indeed, the callous Anne is actually a complex character: when she was alone she very much needed Vic, but once he became a liability that was it, eventually. Yet, in the TV programme, it was actually Greg that made it clear he was leaving them alone.

Anyway this is all about injuries and the expectation of others, either as family or as health professionals. While Vic broke both legs in the fictional version, in real life, two months ago, I broke both arms when falling off a bicycle. Well, strictly speaking, a fractured wrist on one side; and on the other, broken ribs and a fractured clavicle (collar bone). This is a very common form of injury in road cycling, as seen in races on TV, but professional cyclists have doctors on hand immediately and then go off to hospital. It turns out that this does not happen in the New Zealand public health system anymore.

So I had the accident on an early Sunday afternoon. A motorist had stopped and called for an ambulance. I did not hear the conversation, but I gathered that it was not serious enough to send an ambulance, especially since a hospital is some distance away, in another city. Then another stranger took me to a local medical clinic, that masquerades as the local emergency centre. Anyone who has had a broken collar bone will know how painful it is, especially to take off clothing. I was at the medical clinic all afternoon, but, while it was not busy, it took hours to get X-rays taken. By then the pills they gave me had worn off, so no morphine from this clinic. They had to cut me out of some garments, and then I had a makeshift sling for my broken collar bone arm, and a makeshift cast for my right forearm. It was actually two bits of some old packaging, or so it seemed, stuck together, and pressed close up to my fingers so that I was barely able to use my hand. I was meant to go into the hospital later the next day.

But that never happened. On the next day I was in pain early in the morning, unable to change out of my lycra shorts, and had cold feet. I tried for the ambulance again to take me to the ED in the nearest city. They did send an ambulance this time, but when they got there the paramedics refused to offer any treatment. They also wouldn’t give me any pain relief, and claimed they didn’t have any, an obvious lie. I was lectured about the need to wear loose clothing, rather than lycra, and had to beg for help to change into other clothing, and get some socks on. They then told me to get a taxi back to same clinic again.

I was actually given an appointment for an outpatients service at Kenepuru Hospital, which was 9 days after the accident. The Accident Compensation Corporation arranged for private contractors to drive me there and back; and they eventually provided 3 hours of home help per week. So it took 10 days to get help in the shower, and avoid getting my cast wet. Of course, the authorities knew that I live alone, but did not speed up the process. You may ask why my family did not help. Well, they did, a bit, but my elderly mother was already in Kenepuru hospital, where she stayed for weeks waiting for surgery. I also complained about my initial treatment, but the Health & Disability Commissioner would not accept the complaint. I now face many more months of physiotherapy, mostly in the private sector at considerable cost.

So, there we are, like so many in New Zealand I have been failed by the public health system, and instead of nine hours in an ED to get a competent cast and sling, I had to wait nine days. So I have lost faith in the system, and now rather tire of how the health professionals claim to be so conscientious, but terribly underpaid. Paramedics moan about wanting to help people, but are not getting enough money to be bothered, at least for the deserving patients, not the silly old fools who fall off bikes and ladders.

One has to ask why there is such a shortage of medical professionals around the world, when they are so pious about wanting to help people. Indeed, they are usually paid much better than the average university graduate. Yes doctors have to study for a long time, and often get into a lot of student loan debt. But it takes much longer for other students to become doctors in their specialism, given that most must get three degrees before they can begin a PhD. And medical graduates know they will have a choice of jobs, and can work anywhere they like, when some of us failures with large debts end up working for the minimum wage. And one more thing for anyone reading this in the UK. The medical clinic I talked about had a male Scottish doctor, a female Irish doctor, and a Geordie nurse on staff. As with physiotherapists working in New Zealand, many have come from the NHS in the mother country.

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Why do academics get to lie about vaccine safety to a global audience, via BBC News

Professor Peter Openshaw told the BBC’s global audience yesterday (at 10am British time) that the mRNA vaccines have not caused serious cases of myocarditis. This appeared to be in response to an earlier interview on BBC News, that only their domestic audience saw, which must have based on evidence from those with serious side effects after being injected, which is not that uncommon at all.

So from what I saw, which was at 11pm New Zealand time, Openshaw was asked to clarify the comments made about ordinary patients who had a medical event after an injection. As a so-called expert on Covid 19, Openshaw, like so many other epidemiologists, decided he had to negate the anecdotal evidence just broadcast to cast aspersions on it, which turned out to be from an English cardiologist . He did this by referring to an apparently broad-based survey found in some academic literature. Then he made a number of dubious claims based on its findings. These included: that only 7 people per million of those injected had got myocarditis; these people were all male aged between 12 and 15; and this only happened after the second dose. And, of course, he did not acknowledge that there had been any deaths.

Now, in Australia and New Zealand there is official data on Covid vaccine safety, and reports of serious disease, including myocarditis and pericarditis, as well as other serious conditions. These reports are released by health officials, even though they are trying to maintain the line that the Pfizer vaccine is still safe, despite the thousands of reports from medical practitioners, as well as members of the public. I have referred to New Zealand cases before, the most recent is in the 46th report, released in mid-December, for the period ending 30 November 2022. In fact, this may be the last report because so few people now get injected with the Pfizer vaccine, given that it is obvious it does not provide any immunity and thousands of fully vaccinated people have died in the last year.

So in the most recent ‘safety report’, the cases of myocarditis and pericarditis have now almost reached 1000, and the majority are considered serious. Almost all of these cases are in people older than 15, and, of course, there are women as well as men getting the heart disease. A significant number of myocarditis cases are reported after the first dose of Comirnaty, as was the case with Rory Nairn, the 26 year old who died as a result of the injection. Medsafe have now decided to refer a fourth case of myocarditis related death to the Coroner, although this is a reconsideration of an historical case, which may not be made public. That brings the total number of reported deaths from the Pfizer vaccine to 184 in New Zealand.

Now, the so-called academic experts in New Zealand are never asked about vaccine safety, and they just repeat the mantra that it is completely safely and totally effective, if you keep getting boosted. They usually don’t refer to immunity, but say that the vaccine is the ‘best protection’ against serious disease and death. Nonetheless, in the last year, and since the border has been reopened, thousands of people have died with Covid 19. The death toll was around 50 at the beginning of 2022; when it reached 2000 in the middle of the year, the health officials decided to revise the death toll, and release statistics based on people who died from the virus, not all those who had the virus when they passed. This meant that the officials were making judgments about cause of death without doing actual medical examinations; and this was inconsistent with their practice on vaccine safety, where they never accept causation until the coroner makes a decision. This makes for constant revisions, and rather unreliable statistics, but we know that thousands of older New Zealanders are dying, and most have actually been boosted twice.

Ironically perhaps, the reports of serious disease caused by the vaccine are more reliable,since they are made by doctors who are under incredible pressure to maintain that the vaccine is safe for everyone. By contrast, academics like Openshaw, and the strident vaccine evangelists that occupy the ivory towers in New Zealand, can say anything they like and claim that it has statistical backing. Indeed, it is amazing how these commentators always have a new academic study on hand to back up their opinions. In the old days scholarly research took ages to publish, because it had to be peer reviewed, and scientific theories had to be ‘falsifiable’, in other words, it had to have an empirical basis to be credible. Saying that only teenage boys get myocarditis from vaccines is empirical false, and Openshaw is a shameless liar.

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Why New Zealand’s Commission of Inquiry into Covid policy is a pointless farce

So the Prime Minister and her hapless Minister for Covid 19, Dr Verrall, have now allowed a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Covid policy responses, to begin next year. This was after Ardern stated that there was nothing to be gained by having a formal commission of inquiry. Now she has responded to the critics, but tried to circumscribe the terms of reference, and avoid examination of individual failings. This was also after legislation was passed last week in Parliament, while sitting under urgency, where Verrall was responsible for the repeal of all the specific Covid measures that were still available to use, including all mandates. This meant that there is no Covid response policy left, at all, as cases rise again.

Dr Verrall was invited onto a public radio programme, which purports to discuss current affairs, and she was asked why a Commission of Inquiry was even needed. All of the so-called news media follow the party line in New Zealand, and either still maintain the fiction that the vaccine provides immunity, or choose not to report the rising death toll. When it came to rating her policy performance Verrall stated it was an A+, at least 9 out of 10, and far better than any other country had done, at least in the first two years. This would seem like total arrogance if it were not for the fact that Verrall, with her shaky voice, is not even capable of stringing a couple of sentences together. When she introduced her legislation, two years after she was elected, she still could not speak coherently even when reading a prepared script. It was lucky that all stages of the bill were passed so quickly, and she only had to answer a few questions from non-entities in Parliament, with the Opposition agreeing that no more policy response was needed.

Now to the proposed Royal Commission of Inquiry into Covid policy, and the make up of the inquiry team, which will be chaired by an epidemiologist from Australia. Ardern has stated that this is the highest from of commission of inquiry possible, seemingly without realising that this means it has the equivalent legal status. In other words, a Royal Commission is meant to be chaired by a High Court Judge, or a Kings Counsel, because it is a court of law. Only someone as completely beholden to the ideology of the epidemiologist, and so dismissive of basic civil and legal rights, would think it possible for a Royal Commission to be chaired by an academic. This obviously means that there will be no real scrutiny of the policy advice from the academic epidemiologists: this would include their penchant for persecuting those not willing to take experimental drugs; and their general obsession with controlling who can and can’t use public space, with the systematic removal of civil rights defining the lockdowns.

Indeed, it is what is specifically left out of the terms of reference that indicate the use of a long commission of inquiry to obfuscate, if not cover up, policy failings. Firstly, it is not allowed to look at ‘vaccine efficacy’, presumably because it might be controversial, and attract the deplorable ‘anti-vaxxer’ mob. One still wonders the point of having a public health expert as the chair if the vaccine itself is completely out of bounds. Of course, it would not matter if the local experts accepted what those in Britain have, that vaccines can’t prevent ‘mild disease’, i.e. provide immunity. The official line here is that the Pfizer drug does provide immunity – it’s just that it doesn’t last very long, and has to be repeatedly ‘boosted’. Dr Verrall claimed during the debate on her bill that there was enough immunity in the community, which was partly provided by the vaccine, and also exposure to the virus. Presumably this meant that the people who caught it, and recovered thanks to the vaccine, have immunity. Alas, statistics released yesterday stated that over 9000 cases in the last week were of people who were re-infected.

One of the other no-go areas for the commission of inquiry is that nobody is allowed to refer to individual decisions by clinicians. But since the decisions by practising clinicians are private anyway, I think we can interpret this to really be about decisions made by bureaucrats, whether that be about those involved in cases of border control, or the special circumstances for citizens seeking exemptions from mandated vaccination. I also think that this applies to the specific cases of vaccine safety. After all, one had to be a brave GP or medical officer to inform Medsafe of a death caused by the vaccine. It was not just that the Ministry of Health had a pre-determined agenda whereby the Pfizer drug had to be seen as safe, and almost all referrals of death then fudged or denied. But the whole medical profession had to understand that if they did not accept this verdict, and went public over a suspected death caused by the injection, then they would be forced out of the profession. This process is still playing out, even though those guilty of anti-vaccine sentiments are long gone anyway, that particular conflict is not over.

Then we are left with the Orwellian rhetorical structure created by the so-called experts, and articulated by the media-savvy politicians like Ardern. A world where a perpetual state of fear is constructed, and a sense of crisis is manipulated, when basic civil rights can be entirely swept away overnight. Where one person has the power, or lack of constitutional constraint, to decide that one kind of person is a threat to the majority, and must be systematically punished, whether that be through losing their job or not being allowed to have a haircut. Where the threat of the hospital system being overrun with Covid patients justifies the most draconian policies ever seen in peacetime. But also someone with the power, when the hospitals have become overrun, to rely on the news media not to report the rationing of health care, and the exponential rise in the death toll. It was to be Dr Verrall who would claim in Parliament that New Zealand still had a low death toll, in comparison to other countries; and without ever mentioning this exponential rise in the death toll, the deceased people who were told the vaccine would be the best possible protection. Don’t expect this Royal Commission of Inquiry to establish exactly how many vaccinated people have died in 2022.

What we actually need is an inquiry into the Ministry of Health and its manipulation of the statistics, both of the deaths of those contracting the virus, and from the heart diseases caused by the vaccine.

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Christine McVie: the Saviour of Fleetwood Mac

Danny Kirwan, John McVie, Bob Welch, Mick Fleetwood and Christine McVie

The photo above is actually of Fleetwood Mac, but not as we know it, this was the 1972 line-up, in the Bare Trees era.

It was a great shock yesterday to wake up to the news of Christine McVie’s death. What a great writer, vocalist, keyboardist, and the ultimate team player. No doubt there are a thousand tribute posts on blogs out there. It just so happens that the 1972 line-up above is my favourite, unlike everybody else who associates Fleetwood Mac with Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham. Danny Kirwan, the last link to the Peter Green style of playing was on his way out, unable to handle being de facto group leader and main songwriter. But he was a great melodist, and when the American Bob Welch was asked to join the band, the results were excellent. Bob Welch came up with the title track for their first album together, with Christine a full time member, and she had two tracks on Future Games. ‘Morning Rain’ might not be her best, but the ballad at the end of the album, ‘Show Me A Smile’, is the first of her great songs in my view.

I particularly like the follow up, Bare Trees, for a personal reason. In 1989, as some of us finished university for the year, or for good, we had a bit of tour around the southern half of the North Island in New Zealand. My friend had a cassette of Bare Trees, and it provided the theme songs for the trip. It was the right time of year, late November, but in the southern hemisphere it is the start of summer, whereas the cover of the album has a very wintry set of bare trees in the fog. Danny Kirwan wrote most of the songs, and it’s quite guitar heavy; Bob Welch contributed ‘The Ghost’ and the more well known ‘Sentimental Lady’; and Christine McVie wrote ‘Homeward Bound’ and ‘Spare Me A Little Of Your Love’. This is the first Fleetwood Mac LP with three good songwriters on top form, and it flows well. But Kirwan then left, and Bob Welch took up the band leadership role, or so it seems, while Christine also contributed in her own style, and collaborated with Bob on his more challenging material for the Mystery to Me LP. As Welch left after the follow up in 1974, the rocky ride continued, but Christine had come into her own by then as the main songwriter. I don’t much like the L.A. soap opera period of Fleetwood Mac, but the formula of three songwriters obviously worked, and it seems that Christine was the glue in the band.

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Does it matter who has created the ‘misinformation’, and where is the harm in publishing it?

Below is a graphic published above an article on the censure of a nurse for spreading Covid misinformation. The article, on the Stuff website, referred to comments made by the nurse which it did not repeat because of the harm it apparently might cause. What followed was a completely one-sided, unbalanced article, summarising the case for the prosecution, when the defendant was not even at the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal hearing on Monday 21 November. Or should I say Kangaroo Court. The caption on the graphic stated that she still had name suppression, but the article repeated her name a number of times, even though it had no by-line on it, which I claimed was an act of cowardice. Of course, the reason that the name suppression phrase was not changed isn’t because it was just a simple error, it also reflects the contempt with which the media treat any ‘anti-vaxxer’, especially a medical traitor.

I actually got a substantive reply from a manager at Stuff. Perhaps he thought I was making an official complaint, but there is no point in making complaints because the media in New Zealand aren’t required to show any kind of ‘balance’ any more, not where Covid vaccination is concerned, nor observe journalistic practice. Here is the first of the two relevant paragraphs in the manager’s response to me:

“Your assertion that Stuff’s decision not to repeat misinformation is a “joke”, is rejected. I’m comfortable with the editorial decision made on the grounds it represents responsible reporting, with clear public interest grounds. Your analogy of “even criminals who have been convicted get to have their defence reported” is flawed because criminals’ defences don’t stand to undermine a national health response and affect the wellbeing of the wider community, as repeating this sort of misinformation in this case could.”

My first point in response is: who says that the media have the ‘public interest’ in mind with regard to their reporting. If they believe that this nurse’s statement, made in June 2021, is so subversive that it has to be censored one can only call it a joke. More likely her concerns were vindicated, as it became clear by late 2021 that the Pfizer vaccine was causing serious heart disease. Stuff and other media confirmed as much when they reported the case of Rory Nairn, and the later coronial investigation into his death, which confirmed it was caused by myocarditis after his first injection with Comirnaty. It seemed to be in the public interest to report the Coroner’s interim finding, and suggest that warnings be made about the danger of the vaccination to all people. It was sheer hypocrisy of Stuff to publish it, but they did anyway because they knew other media would too. It is difficult to see how one nurse’s comments in 2021 could have done more damage, but she was obviously punished because of her influence in her community.

Here is the second paragraph,

“The other assertion you make in regard to there being no byline on the reporting is also rejected. For your background (and after two years), journalists continue to be subjected to unwarranted and completely unacceptable abuse, simply for covering Covid-19 in a factual and responsible manner. I’m committed to the safety and wellbeing of my colleagues and in some rare cases – where there is a strong likelihood a story could subject staff to further unacceptable abuse, simply for doing their job, a generic byline may be necessary. Again, I see this as responsible publishing, responsible management and I’m comfortable with it.”

What a shame that the media have been targeted, but he actually admitted in the first paragraph that his organisation puts their perception of support for the Covid vaccination before journalistic balance. So it is not factual reporting at all, and it is obviously biased. Most of the media are actually competing to be the biggest cheerleaders for vaccination, if not for Ardern as leader, and supported the most systematic discrimination and persecution of citizens we have ever seen. Having backed the Pfizer vaccination all the way, the media know to ignore inconvenient facts: such as the 177 cases referred by doctors where a death has been apparently caused by the Pfizer injection; and the death total climbing by over 2000 this year, with most of these victims being ‘fully vaccinated’ people who were boosted; and also despite the Ministry of Health changing the official criteria for a Covid death so as to reduce the overall total. The facts actually point to the total failure of the vaccine to provide immunity and prevent transmission.

Speaking of misinformation and hate speech directed at minorities, we also hear today that our old friend Michael Baker is to receive yet another award for saving so many lives during the ‘elimination strategy’ stage of the Covid pandemic. The New Zealand Herald report that Baker is tonight receiving the Royal Society Callaghan Medal for science communication. Described as a pandemic “evidence-broker”, lets actually look at some of Baker’s greatest hits when advocating for the Pfizer vaccine:

  1. He joined in the call for “No jab, no job”. Admittedly this was mainly attributable to Rod Jackson of Auckland University, who had the T-shirt to match, but Baker was an enthusiastic supporter.
  2. He stated on Newshub Nation that all employers should ensure that the unvaccinated be removed from their premises. This was shot on what looked like a cold morning in Brooklyn, a very chilling effect.
  3. Moving on to an afternoon stroll in Lyall Bay, Baker told Newshub News that all the unvaccinated should no longer be able to “participate in society”, and presumably lose their citizenship completely.
  4. Then on RNZ’s Midday Report he stated that “it’s now recognised that the unvaccinated should be removed from interior space.” Recognised by whom, and what exactly is ‘interior space’? The presenter, who is the fiancée of a Labour cabinet minister, did not seek clarity but obviously it would require force.
  5. Then Baker capped off 2021 by stating that the unvaccinated should be prevented from going to any Christmas parties, including with their own extended families. Strangely, he has not repeated this advice, according to the Herald article, and now just suggests getting tested beforehand, and having the new anti-viral tablets ready for after the parties. Oh and having yet another Comirnaty injection, as one of these times you could just get immunity, you never know if the fifth one just might do the trick.

The really interesting part of the article on Baker, however, was that he stated that he has actually given 5000 interviews on Covid 19, and published 40 articles. What a busy boy he’s been, he makes other academics look lazy, but then, they probably have to teach something to students. Baker obviously has a 7-day a week media outfit running from his home, though he doesn’t appear much in the international media anymore. Also interesting that the article also appears on the RNZ website, the public broadcaster which is not subject to the Official Information Act, or the Archives Act. Indeed, when I made an O.I.A. request, to see if they knew how often Baker had appeared on their programmes, they eventually claimed that they had no records of him ever appearing. When the Office of the Ombudmen became involved, upon my request as a citizen, they had to claim that they didn’t keep any records of who appears on their programmes. Just as well all that advocacy for persecuting the unvaccinated has been erased. We wouldn’t want anyone in the future to think that it might be hate speech or misinformation.

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A Short Guide to New Zealand’s Feminist Authoritarian

OK, so there is not a lot to celebrate in New Zealand politics anymore, as the Covid pandemic remains, the hospitals and schools are in chaos, and the Ardern ministry can’t even help poor people who are about to lose their teeth. There is, however, always a photo opportunity for Ardern to show off her beaming smiles, or goofy grins, and display her perfect teeth. In the photo above, Ardern is joined by all the women in the current parliament, from all parties, who are now in the majority. Nirvana has arrived.

And of course, I’m a white bloke, over 50, and automatically sexist. Indeed, I borrowed the photo from a blog called Against the Current, and a post called ‘Trickle down Feminism’. The point being that just having more female parliamentarians does not necessarily improve decision-making in general, nor the plight of particularly poor women. The point of that blog was that the poverty still remains because the overall agenda hasn’t changed. Indeed, since Jacinda Ardern got a majority for her party in 2020, and had an opportunity to change things, she has chosen not to. She made a big deal of becoming the Minister for Child Poverty Reduction, but, as another blogger has discovered, she has spent all of 14 hours on that portfolio. Others criticise her views on free speech, I have focused on her flawed personal judgment, and the fact that she is not left wing in any sense, while becoming an international celebrity.

So very briefly, how did we get here. Ardern is a protégé of Helen Clark, the previous female Labour Party leader. Clark also came from the prosperous Waikato region, and was the daughter of farmers, who were actually members of the conservative National Party. Then she left the Waikato to attend the University of Auckland, where she studied Politics and History, and became a lecturer in the former subject while trying to complete a PhD. She did not complete the PhD, but became active in Labour Party politics, in what was known as the Princes Street branch. Guided by activist academics, she was able to pursue a career in Parliament, when elected in 1981, initially as an ally of the Labour Party president Jim Anderton (who became an MP in 1984). Auckland MPs came to dominate the Labour Party in the 1980s: most embraced what is now called ‘Neoliberalism’; Anderton formed a breakaway party, with left wing fringe dwellers, in 1989.

So Helen Clark managed to maintain a path through the toxic masculine, right wing politics of the 1980s, while the apparent ideological extremes of the time took flight, either setting up a purist right wing party, or following Anderton’s crusade to save the social democratic base of Labourism as it was understood in New Zealand. Of course, enormous amounts have been written about it, without offering any great insight into who set the agenda. It is often assumed that Clark was still in the latter tradition, but had just fallen out with Anderton over the strategy to combat the right wing takeover of the Labour Party. Indeed, when they had formed a rapprochement, once Clark became Prime Minister in 1999, and Anderton was her deputy, there did not seem to be a need for an alternative left wing party anymore.

More could be written on that, the effect of the Anderton/Clark split, and later alliance, which then resulted in a rather timid, though stable, government for nine years. Clark may be a competent person, with good political judgment, but she is not a left winger. When asked in an interview why she had not restored the swingeing welfare benefit cuts from the early 1990s, she replied that there was not enough money to do it; the truth was that there massive fiscal surpluses in the 2000s decade. For the sake of this piece it is far more important to state that Clark remained a feminist, first and foremost, and the goal of her faction was to put as many women into power as possible. Clark herself went on to a major role in the United Nations’ organisation, but missed out on the top job, which went to another European man.

So here we are in the year 2022, and the majority of journalists in the parliamentary press gallery are women, and they also have a slim majority in the House. Most of the journalists are openly cheerleaders for Ardern, and some obviously believe that it is her destiny to follow Clark’s path, but go one better and become U.N Secretary-General. One former political ‘editor’, named Tova O’Brien, based an entire interview with Ardern on this premise, and Ardern put on her beaming smile throughout. All was on track then. But now it has become clear that Ardern does not believe in free speech, thinks nothing of removing basic civil rights from women as punishment for not taking vaccinations, and has allowed poverty and homelessness to stay entrenched. The only mystery is why her mentor, Helen Clark, has not intervened, and suggest she spend less time on photo opportunities and more on poverty reduction. Maybe she already has, and was perhaps ignored, possibly because Ardern is already the bigger celebrity and doesn’t really need her party faction’s help anymore.

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Keir Starmer and the internecine warfare in the Labour Party

Sir Keir Starmer: his factional warriors have defeated the Labour left but the scars remain

Taking a break from the Covid catastrophe in New Zealand, I have been catching up with British politics, and the major parties conferences. The Conservative Party is having a train wreck as I write, whereas the Labour Party had a good showcase, with no obvious dissension in the ranks. Polling puts Labour miles ahead, enough to create a landslide win like no other under the First Past the Post electoral system. Paradoxically perhaps, Labour Party members seem to want to change the electoral system. New Zealand of course changed its FPTP system to proportional representation the the mid 1990s.

But before writing on the downside of that, I have to comment on the revelations about the British Labour Party during the Corbyn era, as seen in the Al Jazeera documentaries. The programme, called the ‘Labour Files’, is based on a large leak of internal party documents which showed how the Labour Party head office staff white-anted Jeremy Corbyn as a leader, and used accusations of anti-Semitism to remove branch level office holders who supported Corbyn. Some of this was already well known, and was seen as part of factional warfare. But the Labour Files also shows the reaction of former members when shown documents they were unaware of. This indicates both the kind of denunciations made by other party members, and who was supporting this in the Labour hierarchy.

Obviously there is an agenda behind the Al Jazeera reporting, but it is not simply anti-Israeli sentiment and bias. A lot of the journalists working for the Qatar-based network are of European origin, and a significant number are New Zealanders, in fact almost the cream of the crop have gone there in recent times (previously they would have worked for the BBC). Also relevant is an earlier documentary from Al Jazeera, which showed how an operative from the Israeli embassy in London liaised with various players in the Labour Party, including MPs and party members. I recall seeing how a then London-based MP, Joan Ryan, would engage other members in heated debates at a conference, and then accuse them of using ‘anti-Semitic tropes’. Ryan may have gone but similar tactics remain in the factional playbook.

Part 1 of the Labour Files highlights what happened to pro-Corbyn members in Labour strongholds in Merseyside and Brighton (and Hove). In the Wallasey electorate, local members were accused of abuse against the sitting MP, Angela Eagle, based on sexual orientation. Eagle was trying to challenge Corbyn, and the right wing press seized on this example to attack Corbyn with. All the local members appearing on the programme denied it had happened, and claimed that Eagle hadn’t even been at the meeting in question. In Liverpool, Anna Rothery was on the shortlist as a mayoral candidate, at least she thought she was. The Labour head office called off the selection meeting, and wanted an entirely new list for the position, without Rothery on it. During the making of the documentary Rothery is shown a letter from a Labour councillor which is a lengthy denunciation and character assassination, which formed part of the action to halt her selection. Except, when she took the Labour Party to court they did not disclose it to her, and she lost case and had to pay them significant costs.

Even more blatant smears and denunciations occurred after a left wing slate ran in a Brighton area annual general meeting, and in which office holders would all be Corbyn supporters. The files show that Labour Party officials immediately moved to overturn the AGM result, firstly through making false accusations, and then finding legal justifications for it after the fact; and then followed the personal denigration of individuals. A lot of this denigration was through social media, especially Twitter, and included the accusation of anti-Semitism. One particular young Labour activist from London took this to extremes, and created dossiers of abuse and bile on specific targets. One left member in Brighton, a young lawyer, had a dossier accusing him of anti-Semitism sent to his employer, and to his parents. On camera he claims that the dossier had a terrible impact on them, and his step-father died soon after.

Now we could name the aggressive young activist here, but the point of the documentary was to show who was behind him. Obviously when left leaning members complained to the Party about the abuse the abuser was suspended, and an investigation took place. The Labour Files shows that sitting MPs provided character references for him, although it only named the Harrow West MP, Gareth Thomas. But the programme also had a document which indicated that a member of the Labour party’s administrative body (the National Executive Committee), Luke Akehurst, had also helped the young activist with his own case for avoiding expulsion. It also showed a photo of Akehurst with his protege. Akehurst is the main player in the anti-Corbyn faction, and openly states that purging the left of the party is essential to making Labour ‘electable’ again. Anyway, it seems Akehurst could not save his personal factional warrior from a formal expulsion, but that ruling was never actually executed.

Now, after the screening of the Labour files some of the left wing Corbynistas were due to appear on a little talk show, which is posted on YouTube, called Not the Andrew Marr Show. This is hosted by someone called Crispin Flintoff, who appears in an amusing hat and bright suit jacket – in other words it has a satirical edge. But when introducing the show on the Al Jazeera documentary, Crispin first had to mention that he already had received a pre-emptive ‘cease and desist’ letter, warning against defaming the Akehurst protege, sent by a big London law firm called Mishcon de Reya (MDR). Indeed, MDR is an international law firm, with an office in Singapore, and a 24-hour help desk. Why would a leading city law firm like MDR want to represent a bully boy activist from London without a job? Indeed, how would a yobbo like him afford to instruct a Kings Counsel to act on his behalf in a political matter.

Well the answer is obvious if you put Mishcon de Reya into Google, and then add the name Keir Starmer. Many legal publication in 2014 ran articles on how the brilliant former Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Keir Starmer, had joined MDR, to consult in its business crime unit. He had in fact followed his former understudy at DPP, Andrea Levitt KC, who had become a partner at MDR (and still is). Interestingly, MDR received a large six figure fine for not complying with anti-money laundering regulations in 2017, but that was after Sir Keir had left the firm to stand for the Labour Party in the Holborn & St Pancras electorate. But he was still linked with MDR after his election in 2015, and earned a pretty penny as a consultant for Levitt through until 2016, according to an article in The Guardian, when questions were asked about his moonlighting. Starmer appears to have severed the link to MDR when he was put on Labour’s front bench in 2016 (obviously this was a mistake by Corbyn).

Anyway, the point of this careful reconstruction of the issues is firstly, to avoid legal action by MDR, and secondly to suggest that Sir Keir Starmer cannot disassociate himself from the tactics of his right wing faction. He must know how Akehurst and friends operate, with the smears, denunciations by fellow party members, and their fabrication of evidence. There is still a question over how the legal defence of the right faction is funded: one would assume that Al Jazeera believe that the Israelis are involved; but Starmer must know, given his close links with the law firm MDR. And, as the journalist Peter Oborne states in the Labour Files programme, the legal issues that emerge from the documents call into question Starmer’s judgment and how he would operate as a Prime Minister (which he is set to become at the next election).

Now back to proportional representation and the New Zealand experience. In New Zealand we still have electorate seats, but about half the MPs are selected by a nation-wide party vote. This requires that political parties select a nation-wide party list; although in other proportional representation systems there can be regional party lists. Anyway, to cut a long story short, if there is already friction in a party over candidate selection for individual constituencies, then the conflict would really break out in a contest for winnable places on a party list. And controlling the party list gives enormous power to the party leadership and its administrators. Indeed, party list candidates are mostly just lobby fodder: if they don’t tow the line, and vote on party lines, they tend to be forced out, and the next person on the list just takes their place. Even if rogue MPs try to stay on in Parliament, they know they won’t get re-elected.

So we then find that proportional representation would create its own additional problems for the British Labour Party. As things stand, Starmer’s faction would no doubt get most, if not all, of the plum party list places. If he did this he would effectively push the left faction out completely, and they would have to compete as a separate party, meaning that Labour would not get the majority government it so desperately wants. But Starmer’s faction has already pushed the Corbyn faction so far that, if Corbyn himself is not allowed to stand at the next election, a split could cost them yet another electoral loss. The contents of the Labour Files are so disgraceful one would have to say they don’t deserve to win anyway.

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It’s all over with Covid, bar the legal investigations

Immunologist Graham le Gros: when asked by a media outlet to respond to reports that the Coroner had found that Pfizer’s Comirnaty drug caused the death of a healthy young man, he confirmed that the drug was still ‘safe’

As of Tuesday last week New Zealand was given the ‘all clear’. Covid is apparently over; or, at least, the official response to it is. Dr Aysha Verrall stated that the mask mandate was gone totally, except in health care settings, and the vaccine mandates were about to go too. Even though the recalcitrant unvaccinated public servants would not be getting their jobs back, despite staff shortages everywhere.

Meantime, the Coroner has released her interim findings in the case of Rory Nairn, the young man from Dunedi who died in the weeks following his injection with Pfizer’s Comirnaty drug. So the Coroner has confirmed the findings of the specialist, who, after many tests, stated that Comirnaty had caused Myocarditis in Mr Nairn, and this had eventually killed him. These are interim findings, and the investigation into the safety warnings, or lack of them, are still to come. Even though the official policy framework for Covid managemnet has gone, the State is still pushing vaccination (without warnings).

And the news media felt obliged to report the Coroner’s findings, despite contradicting every other report on vaccination which reinforced the experts view, that it is completely safe and totally effective. Contradictions and oxymorons abound here, but most of the academic experts never comment on safety. Except for Professor Graham le Gros, who runs his own institute, and was approached for comment by public radio. Yet again he wanted to stress that the Pfizer drug was completely safe, except for when it wasn’t in an otherwise healthy person, Mr Nairn. Any normal person would surely have some doubts about safety when someone dies like this, but le Gros thinks there should be be a warning nonetheless.

This is despite all the experts, and the politicians, stating that there have been no safety issues at all. And anyone questioning the safety of a vaccine has been labelled an ‘anti-vaxxer or a conspiracy theorist by the media. Nor have the intrepid journalists bothered to investigate the 175 other deaths that have been reported to the Medsafe Committee, presumably by registered doctors. In the most recent report, which comes 2 months after 11 new deaths were referred to, there are another 6 as of the 31 August. Now the media always try to mitigate the impact of the death of Mr Nairn with statistics fed to them by officials. They say that the out of 100 000 vaccine doses, only 3 will result in myocarditis; and they say that there are only about 95 cases of myocarditis each year, and most are mild and treatable, apparently. But the most recent report states that there have been 944 cases of pericarditis/myocarditis; as well as 99 heart attacks apparently caused by Comirnaty. How many more deaths will there be by the end of the year?

And still the misinformation goes on and the contradictions remain. Dr Verrall says that we don’t need restrictions anymore because immunity is so high due to vaccination. If immunity is so high, why have half the population, or more, contracted the virus in the past 6 months? Oh, but we have re-defined what immunity means: so, sometimes it means immunity is created by the vaccine, but wanes quite quickly; and other times we meant that, while it does provide some immunity, it’s only enough to prevent serious disease happening. But why would it need less immunity to prevent serious disease, than to actually prevent contracting it in the first place. And why do we also need anti-virals to prevent serious disease?

And why did we have to pass legislation to ensure that people had to get a second ‘booster’ shot, without Pfizer having to provide evidence of its efficacy, let alone safety? At least they have made big profits so far, and they can now release a vaccine that is actually effective against Omicron. Maybe it provides the extra immunity that was lacking in the first 4 doses. At least Pfizer have been making a killing all along.

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When are we over the Covid misinformation and obfuscation by the so-called experts

Why do so-called health experts like Dr Celine Gounder have to give false reassurances about the safety of Pfizer vaccines, which they know are not properly tested before being officially recommended for use

Since deciding not to renew the blog again I found that the domain name, which WordPress have a separate bill for, has auto-renewed. So I have had to give it another year, and the early posts are still being read so maybe it is still useful. I’d like not to have to write about Covid, but since governments and the news media are mostly not bothered about it anymore someone has to continue to focus on the official misinformation.

There was some progress on this front in New Zealand recently. But before that I have to comment on Celine Gounder, and the international media. Dr Gounder is one of the so-called experts in America who is a vaccine evangelist, and appears on CNN. Sometimes I think that CNN America forgets that it has a larger international audience who aren’t as gullible as Americans. Gounder was asked about the new generation of the Covid ‘vaccine’, which is specifically designed to combat the Omicron variant. Unusually she was asked by the CNN ‘anchor’ about its safety, since Pfizer and Moderna don’t seem to have to do any extra testing to get official approval. Gounder said it was “very safe”, without any evidence, as well as stating that the new vaccine is basically the same as the other mRNA types, just with a new ‘spike’.

I don’t follow much of the American news coverage, given that experts like Gounder and Dr Gupta spin statistics to try and make the old vaccines seem to be effective against Omicron, when they are obviously outdated, and don’t provide immunity. Even if the new vaccine was more effective against Omicron this doesn’t change the safety issue. Since the Pfizer drug is being used in New Zealand, and we know that it has caused serious diseases like Myocarditis, we have to presume that this has also happened in the USA. Maybe they do not record this evidence, or try to fudge it like New Zealand officials do, at least until Fox News decided to question Dr Fauci & co. But the vaccine is not “very safe” when even a few people have died after the first injection, and some after subsequent doses.

Now, the overseas experts seem to agree on the mantra, that the Covid vaccines do not prevent ‘mild’ disease, but are more effective in preventing ‘severe’ disease and death. Statistics from New Zealand show that many older people who have been ‘boosted’ have still got severe disease and died. But the use of the euphemism about mild disease is some kind of admission that the vaccines do not provide immunity – and on that basis should not have been called vaccines in the first place. However, in New Zealand officials and academic experts never admit that the vaccines don’t provide immunity, they use a euphemism ‘best protection’ to describe how they think the vaccine works. As I said, many older New Zealanders thought they had the ‘best protection’ available, and are now in their graves. Yet most of the media in New Zealand, especially the State-owned entities, never report Covid statistics and deaths now.

However, the media still run the official advertisements promoting the vaccines as the best protection for the individual, and their relatives, and have suggested that this involves immunity. I have previously referred to the print media advertisements, where parents are extolled to get their infant children ‘immunised’ with the Pfizer drug, and suggest that they will get lifelong immunity; whereas adults have to get injected 4 times a year to maintain their apparent immunity. It seems that some other people have found the claim of lifelong immunity for children to be false, and have complained to something called the Advertising Standard Authority. These complaints have been upheld, which is unusual, because up till now all complaints to official bodies have been stonewalled, out of deference to experts. So it is a small win against the misinformation put out by official advertisements. But there is still the larger question: if the vaccines are not recognised as providing immunity, why are they called vaccines.

The other official intervention has come from the Coroner investigating the death of Rory Nairn, a young man from Dunedin who was about to get married last year. As stated previously, he died from Myocarditis after being injected the first time with the Pfizer drug Comirnaty. The officials committee on vaccine safety stated that the death was ‘likely’ caused by the vaccine, and this was fudged by then then director-general of health. But the Coroner has accepted that the Pfizer drug was the cause, and has been holding a hearing with witnesses giving evidence, which the supplicants in the national media have decided to cover. Of course their reports are heavily qualified by statements that Myocarditis is still extremely rare, most victims recover, and there have only been 3 deaths from it in New Zealand.

In fact, the health department officials have never said there have been 3 deaths, because they don’t do causation, and spend their time on reported deaths which could have had another cause. Rory Nairn is the only person who has ever been identified as a victim, and which the media have covered. The narrow issue that emerged from this was about whether a warning should be given specifically about Myocarditis. The unfortunate pharmacy assistant who administered the injection, and their employer, were put on the spot in the witness stand. This individualised a problem without the policy context: no one being injected with the Pfizer drug was told about the risk of Myocarditis because every expert, politician, and GP, was saying it was safe. To provide a warning to everyone would mean there is a systematic safety issue. Of course there is a serious issue, the experts and officials know that the Pfizer drug causes Myocarditis, and other potentially fatal conditions, but they all say that it is safe when it isn’t.


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Hard to say with certainty, and Difficult to Cure: Health bureaucrats in New Zealand’s redefine Covid statistics

This is actually an LP cover, Difficult to Cure, by Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, from 1981. At least they had enough PPE.

It was announced this week that Ministry of Health was going to officially change the definition of Covid death statistics. The international standard is for anyone dying with Covid 19 within the previous 28 days to be added to the total. New Zealand started the year with a total death rate of less than 60, under the standard definition, and it is now getting close to 2000. The health bureaucrats make regular revisions, usually to add more on, but now want to change the definition to reduce the numbers overall based on people dying from Covid, rather than with it. The daily death toll was over 30 twice this week.

The main news about the health ministry has been all about Ashley Bloomfield, the outgoing Director-General, who has become a media celebrity due to Covid. The so-called news stories have been about him having to restrict his leaving party attendance and activities, as the Omicron outbreak worsens again. Even a serious news outlet like The Guardian ran the trivial story about Bloomfield’s party, although they do like puff pieces about Ardern and her hapless ministries. No one seems to have asked Bloomfield, a Pfizer vaccine evangelist, why the Covid death toll is so high. He has pushed the Pfizer drug continuously, including third and fourth doses, despite overwhelming evidence of its complete and utter failure to provide immunity. His shape-shifting academic friends and epidemiologists have another narrative, that the vaccines may not provide immunity but do prevent serious disease. Bloomfield has claimed that the Pfizer drug provides ‘protection’ for adults, and children get lifelong immunity from it.

Now that he is leaving he is trying to defend his drug advocacy in the media, despite the fact that ‘fully vaccinated’ people in their thousands contract the virus every day, and over a hundred die every week in New Zealand. Bloomfield is the master of selective information releases – and omissions – that suit his pro vaccination narrative. When unvaccinated people were the problem their deaths were always publicised on an individual basis; now that many vaccinated people are dying, their cases numbers are never released, even though it is obvious that the vaccine did not ‘protect’ them however many times they got injected. Bloomfield now states that there are no ‘excess deaths’ at the moment, though there may have been some in March. This is a cynical way of saying that the death toll is not statistically significant, i.e. the same number would have died anyway during the winter, whether it was from Covid or the flu. He even seems to suggest that the lockdowns and border control extended the lives of some people. As I said last time, this is just another way of saying that older people dying is not newsworthy.

A similar approach has applied to vaccine safety, as I have highlighted previously, the health ministry accepts reports of deaths linked to the Pfizer vaccine, but does not accept causation. Since most of the deaths seem to be among older New Zealanders it is deemed ‘unlikely’ to be caused by the vaccine, or is just a coincidence, because older people always have other medical conditions. The Medsafe committee have a pre-determined outcome because for them vaccines always have to be seen as safe and effective, even when there is evidence that they’re not. So, despite the fact that Medsafe accept reports of death and serious medical conditions caused by the Pfizer vaccine, their investigations always seem to result in an ‘unlikely’ verdict. However, they also use the excuse that the deaths and serious conditions are not in excess. As stated previously, the Medsafe committee did not provide a report last month, for the period to the end of May; perhaps they had too many staff isolating with Covid, or they just wanted to catch up a bit.

Anyway, they published a report in mid July which stated that there had been 11 more reported deaths from the vaccine, and that the new total was 176. This seems to have been revised down to 171, as they had added an extra five, but since they are not excess or actually caused by Comirnaty who cares. Nine out of the 11 new deaths are in those aged over 60. I was expecting the total reported serious conditions to go up again, including the numbers for myocarditis and pericarditis to get over 931, but as it turned out this hasn’t quite happened. The significance of the 931 figure is that this is what they claim is the background rate of hospitalisations, so anything over that would be an ‘excessive’ number. However, in the previous safety report (#43), Medsafe did an analysis of myo/pericarditis cases, based on a sample of only 443, which they claim are the ‘serious’ ones. This simply showed that most of the myocarditis cases were in younger people, aged less than 40, and most were also male. Their other table indicated that most serious myocarditis cases occurred in the first few days after the injection, despite some indications from the known cases that they were not picked up immediately. The point is that only myo/pericarditis seems to be accepted as a death caused by the vaccine, and only in a young person.

The health bureaucrats may be able to fudge the statistics, and deny that anyone significant dies from taking the vaccine, but they can’t claim that it is effective any more. There have been over a million cases of Covid this year, and their policy of testing has collapsed, so the exact number is not even estimated. The death toll has risen exponentially, and the very people who were told that a third dose would be the best protection against Omicron are the main category who are dying: senior citizens. In the new statistical sleight of hand, the bureaucrats can fudge causation just like they do for vaccine safety. Nevertheless, most of the media no longer report the Covid toll on a daily basis or question the lack of hospital care: either for serious Covid cases, or the patients who are having medical procedures postponed, or the people not being seen at all. This health disaster is Bloomfield’s legacy, along with his obsession with a vaccine programme that has totally failed. Of course, he was never big enough to admit it failed. Presumably he’s moving into lobbying work for big Pharma companies, and so continue to push vaccines that don’t provide any immunity, or ‘protect’ the most vulnerable from ‘serious’ illness.

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