Friday, 10 April 2020

More Conspiracy Theorists

I'm not sure what David Icke's position is on the fanciful conspiracy theories promoted by Alex Salmond's  supporters, but the former footballer has gone all-in with his completely bonkers claim of a sinister link between the new 5G phone technology and the Coronavirus pandemic.  

Apparently David Icke's YouTube interview was watched by about 65,000 people as it was streamed live, with some audience members clicking an on-screen button to trigger payments in order to have their 'live chat' reactions stand out from the crowd.

So it just goes to show there are more crazy people and conspiracy theorists around than you might think - and  some of them are very keen on this crowdfunding malarkey which sounds like a great way of persuading fools to part with their money.

Coronavirus: YouTube tightens rules after David Icke 5G interview

By Leo Kelion - BBC
Image copyright - YOUTUBE Image caption - A lengthy interview with David Icke was live-streamed on YouTube on Monday

YouTube has banned all conspiracy theory videos falsely linking coronavirus symptoms to 5G networks.

The Google-owned service will now delete videos violating the policy. It had previously limited itself to reducing the frequency it recommended them in its Up Next section.

The move follows a live-streamed interview with conspiracy theorist David Icke on Monday, in which he had linked the technology to the pandemic.

YouTube said the video would be wiped.

During the interview, Mr Icke falsely claimed there "is a link between 5G and this health crisis".

And when asked for his reaction to reports of 5G masts being set on fire in England and Northern Ireland, he responded: "If 5G continues and reaches where they want to take it, human life as we know it is over... so people have to make a decision."

Several users subsequently called for further attacks on 5G towers in the comments that appeared alongside the feed.

Mr Icke also falsely claimed that a coronavirus vaccine, when one is developed, will include "nanotechnology microchips" that would allow humans to be controlled. He added that Bill Gates - who is helping fund Covid-19 vaccine research - should be jailed. His views went unchallenged for much of the two-and-a-half-hour show.

Policy violation

The interview was watched by about 65,000 people as it was streamed, some of whom clicked an on-screen button to trigger payments to make their live chat reactions stand out.

YouTube only deleted the content after the session had ended, despite being aware of the broadcast while it was ongoing.

It changed its rules after the BBC asked why it had not taken action earlier.

"We have clear policies that prohibit videos promoting medically unsubstantiated methods to prevent the coronavirus in place of seeking medical treatment, and we quickly remove videos violating these policies when flagged to us," a spokeswoman for YouTube told the BBC.

"Now any content that disputes the existence or transmission of Covid-19, as described by the WHO [World Health Organization] and local health authorities is in violation of YouTube policies.

"This includes conspiracy theories which claim that the symptoms are caused by 5G.

"For borderline content that could misinform users in harmful ways, we reduce recommendations. We'll continue to evaluate the impact of these videos on communities around the world."

Users who repeatedly break the rules now face being prevented from being able to use YouTube's Live tool.

The firm may also prevent repeat offenders from earning money, and said it would terminate channels as a last resort.
In this case, YouTube is allowing the interview's host to keep earnings generated via the Super Chats tool while the video was still online.

But it is giving its own cut of the proceeds to charity, and has put the channel involved under review.
WhatsApp restriction

YouTube's rules update coincides with new restrictions on WhatsApp.

Image copyright - REUTERS Image caption - WhatsApp is taking action to slow the spread of misinformation on its network

Facebook's app is limiting users to only being able to forward a message to one chat at a time if the same post has already been shared five or more times by the wider community. Such posts are labelled with double arrows to make their status known.

Previously, the app had limited such messages to being forwarded to five different chats at once - a limit it had first introduced in 2018 to combat the spread of disinformation in India.

"We've recently seen a significant increase in the amount of forwarding, which users have told us can feel overwhelming and can contribute to the spread of misinformation," it said, explaining the latest move.

"We believe it's important to slow the spread of these messages down to keep WhatsApp a place for personal conversation."

Unfounded theories

Conspiracy theories linking 5G signals to the coronavirus pandemic continue to spread despite there being no evidence the mobile phone signals pose a health risk.

Fact-checking charity Full Fact has linked the claims to two flawed theories.

Image copyright - REUTERS Image caption - Vodafone and Three have reported attacks on their telecoms equipment over recent days

One falsely suggests 5G suppresses the immune system, the other falsely claims the virus is somehow using the network's radio waves to communicate and pick victims, accelerating its spread.

While 5G uses different radio frequencies to its predecessors, it's important to recognise that the waveband involved is still "non-ionising", meaning it lacks enough energy to break apart chemical bonds in the DNA in our cells to cause damage.

Earlier this year, scientists at the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection completed a major study of related research into the topic.

While it recommended slightly tighter limits on the transmitting capabilities of handsets themselves to minimise any chance of damage caused by human tissue being heated, its key finding was that there was no evidence that either 5G networks or earlier systems could cause cancer or other kinds of illness.

The second theory appears to be based on the work of a Nobel Prize-winning biologist who suggested bacteria could generate radio waves.

But this remains a controversial idea and well outside mainstream scientific thought.

There's another major flaw with both these theories. Coronavirus is spreading in UK cities where 5G has yet to be deployed, and in countries like Japan and Iran that have yet to adopt the technology.

Salmond Supporters and Conspiracy Theorists (07/04/20)

The Daily Record exposes the SNP activist who has been threatening to reveal the identities of the nine women complainers in the Alex Salmond trial.

I'd love to know which Members of the Scottish Parliament  this chap Mark Hirst worked for and what these MSPs have to say about his bizarre behaviour and ludicrous conspiracy theories.

If you ask me, the SNP is in real danger of becoming a laughing stock on this issue.

Alex Salmond supporter blasted by rape crisis charity over "threatening" comments about female witnesses

Mark Hirst said he suspected the "precious anonymity" of Salmond's accusers would "not be continued".

By Paul Hutcheon - Daily Record

YouTuber Mark Hirst made some 'threatening' comment - Image Daily Record 

A rape charity has blasted an ally of Alex Salmond for “threatening” the anonymity of the women who accused him of sexual assault.

Mark Hirst, a former SNP candidate, also said there is “going to be a bit of a reckoning” when the Coronavirus pandemic is over.

Sandy Brindley of Rape Crisis Scotland said: “These comments are sinister, threatening and to identify the women would be illegal.

“This behaviour should be condemned in the strongest possible terms by all parties — it serves no-one and damages an already fractured and fraught public conversation.”

Salmond was acquitted at Edinburgh High Court after nine women accused him of sexual assault.

After the trial, the females released a statement expressing their “devastation” at the verdict.

A court order issued by trial judge Lady Dorrian means it is a criminal offence for anyone to publish the identities of the women.

Former  First Minister Alex Salmond leaves the Hight Court in Edinburgh - Image PA

However, in a YouTube video, Hirst said: “I suspect very strongly that as this rumbles on, that precious anonymity that they’ve sought will not be continued.

“Because these women, and not just these women, some of the people involved in this, are senior members of the Scottish Government, senior members of the SNP.”

He continued: “And they’ve been involved in this active collusion to try and destroy Alex Salmond’s reputation and there’s not a cat’s chance in hell that they’re going to get away with that.

“So they’re going to reap a whirlwind, no question about it.

“As soon as this virus emergency is out the way, then there’s going to be a bit of reckoning takes place. We’ll clear out the soft independence supporters which are currently leading the party, that’s why we’ve seen no movement in nearly six years.”

Hirst has worked for several SNP MSPs over the years and worked for Russian state news agency Sputnik. He also contributed to programmes for The Alex Salmond Show, broadcast by Russian state broadcaster RT.

Salmond’s supporters say the allegations against the former First Minister were part of an internal SNP conspiracy.

After being acquitted, Salmond said “certain evidence” would be revealed once the coronavirus crisis is over.

Alex Salmond and Conspiracy Theorists (05/04/20) 

One of Alex Salmond's biggest cheerleaders on social media is a chap called Craig Murray who seems to have taken a leaf out of his hero's book with a new crowdfunding initiative - in Craig's case to fund his blog.

But the Daily Record's Paul Hutcheon can spot a good story when he sees one and in the piece below Paul explains that while Craig has put out the 'begging bowl' to finance his seemingly endless conspiracy theories - the former UK diplomat bought a nine-bedroomed mansion just two years ago without the need for a mortgage.

Blogger who believes state tried to frame Alex Salmond asking for donations after buying £600k mansion

Craig Murray, a former UK diplomat, splashed out on the nine-bedroom pad in Edinburgh two years ago.

By Paul Hutcheon - Daily Record

A notorious blogger who is asking punters for donations bought a £600,000 gated mansion without needing a mortgage.  

Craig Murray, who believes the state tried to frame Alex Salmond, splashed out on the nine-bedroom pad in Edinburgh two years ago. 

However, the 61-year-old is now asking readers for £100 a month to keep his “conspiracy” blog going.  

Labour MSP Neil Findlay said: “There are people in the wackier reaches of the Nationalist movement who see the footsoldiers as folk who can fund their hare-brained conspiracy theories.  


A house purchased by Craig Murray in Edinburgh two years ago (Image: Daily Record)

Murray has claimed “corrupt” institutions conspired against the former First Minister and insists the former First Minister's female accusers lied.

He also wrote about having “definite good source information” about MI5’s involvement in the Salmond allegations - a claim that led to him being mocked.

On his website, he flagged up a “change of policy” for his blog which involves seeking donations.

He explained: “I am no longer in a position to devote my time to it without income – the need to earn a living caused the blog to go dark for almost five months last year, and the last six weeks this journalism has stopped me doing anything else to pay the rent.”

Readers have the option of subscribing to his blog, with contributions of between £2 and £100 a month accepted.

However, despite Murray’s cash plea, official documents confirm he is asset rich.

Official documents show he bought a huge house in the south of Edinburgh in 2018. No mortgage is on the property, which was purchased for £607,500.

It was described online in 2018 as an “impressive 8/9 bedroom detached house”, which has been the subject of a “substantial extension”.

Alex Salmond was cleared at the High Court in Edinburgh (Image: PA)

Four of the bedrooms were listed as en-suite and the property also boasted a gym, “gated driveway” and an “integral double garage”.

After being contacted by this newspaper, Murray said he bought the “uninhabitable” property in Edinburgh after selling a home in England.

He said his blog is his only source of current income.

He added: “I have continually stressed that I do not want anybody to subscribe if it causes them the slightest financial difficulty.

"You do not have to subscribe - the site is free to read.”

We Need To Talk About Alex 7 (01/04/20)

Paul Hutcheon, the Daily Record's political editor, takes a well-deserved swipe at the absurd conspiracy theories being promoted by Alex Salmond's supporters.   

"If SNP politicians can find time to tweet about ducks and football, it should be possible to find a few seconds to comment on the biggest crisis facing the party in decades.'

I agree, I have to say, because in my experience SNP politicians tend to keep their heads down out on controversial or divisive issues, equal pay for example, instead of standing up and speaking their minds.

Just the other day Glasgow City Council announced  plans for yet another round of redundancies which was met with complete silence by Glasgow's constituency MSPs and MPs - all of whom represent the SNP in either the Holyrood and Westminster parliaments.


Alex Salmond trial witnesses deserve better from the SNP

Daily Record Political Editor Paul Hutcheon says the lack of public support for the female complainants by SNP parliamentarians is startling

By Paul Hutcheon - Daily Record

THE statement from the nine female complainants in the Alex Salmond trial was powerful and timely. 

After he was acquitted of sexual offences charges, Salmond made a series of comments outside the High Court that were widely reported in the media. 

No such platform was realistically available to the women, who had to endure endless post-trial coverage in what would have been the worst week of their lives.

Their collective statement addressed the troubling behaviour Salmond’s defence admitted to in court, but which did not lead to a conviction.

It also repeated the view there had been no credible way of complaining at the time about a “powerful figure” like Salmond.

The press release was a reminder of how the days after the trial were portrayed through the lens of Salmond, not the women.

Public debate was dominated by SNP politicians congratulating Salmond, calling for him to be readmitted to the party, and airing the claim he had been the victim of a political conspiracy.

I, like many others in my trade, reported on these comments. SNP divisions are a legitimate story.

However, during these turbulent days I also spoke to SNP figures who were gutted for the women.

They know how hard it is to put yourself through the vagaries of the criminal justice system. They realise the anguish involved in giving evidence in a courtroom.

They are nauseated by the nature of Salmond’s defence and agree with former special adviser Alex Bell’s description of the former First Minister as a “creep”.

Yet, despite their private sympathy for the female witnesses, very few expressed public solidarity. The number of MSPs and MPs who have said anything is startlingly small.

In a lawyerly statement, Nicola Sturgeon restricted herself to saying the verdict "must be respected".

Dealing with the Coronavirus crisis is understandably the top priority, but it should not preclude commenting on other issues of vital public importance.

If SNP politicians can find time to tweet about ducks and football, it should be possible to find a few seconds to comment on the biggest crisis facing the party in decades.

Debunking the absurd notion of an internal SNP conspiracy against Salmond would be a noble place to start.

According to Salmond’s allies, some of the allegations were cooked up by SNP figures who were trying to thwart a political comeback.

This is baloney. In 2018 - when police started their investigation - Salmond was a former politician who had tarnished himself by fronting a show on the Putin-linked RT.

He was, to put it charitably, a spent political force. The chances of this damaged figure returning to Holyrood were nil.

It should also be noted that some of the complainants do not know each other’s identities. Not exactly a robust basis for a conspiracy.

If SNP politicians feel uneasy about the trial, now is the time to speak out.