Fight the flu: Posters and blog buttons

September 12, 2009

Cover your nose with a tissue when you sneeze or cough. Visit www.cdc.gov/h1n1 for more information.Click on the graphic for more information.

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No, WHO is not taking over the world with swine flu scares

August 9, 2009

Turn up the craziness that is opposition to health care reform, and you get genuine, full-blown “hot zone” conspiracy wholly ungrounded in reality.

Like coathangers, hoaxes multiply in the closet!  Put ’em in the dark, they’ll invent stuff beyond your wildest imagination.  It’s a perfect storm of voodoo science, voodoo history, paranoia and just plain hysteria.

TinFoilHatArea sign

But they’ll swear it’s true.

A new hoax claims the World Health Organization (WHO) got a secret law passed to allow them to take over the world just as soon as they can get a few more people to catch swine flu.  No, really.

Under special pandemic plans enacted around the world including the USA, in 2005, national governments are to be dissolved in the event of a pandemic emergency and replaced by special crisis committees, which take charge of the health and security infrastructure of a country, and which are answerable to the WHO and EU in Europe and to the WHO and UN in North America.

If the Model Emergency Health Powers Act is implemented on the instructions of WHI, it will be a criminal offence for Americans to refuse the vaccine. Police are allowed to use deadly force against “criminal” suspects.

Through their control of these special pandemic crisis committees with the power to enact legislation to be set up most countries, the WHO, UN and EU become the de facto government of a large part of the world.

Mass murder and death will also bring economic collapse and disruption, starvation and wars – and these events will lead to a further population reduction.

Absolutely false.  WHO has no such plans.  Check with your health professionals, they’ll tell you swine flu is a real concern (even though it looks like swift action has prevented a lot of trouble so far, and may prevent a lot of ill health later).

If you made up this sort of stuff for a movie, they’d tell you “Dr. Strangelove” pushed the envelope as far as parody would go, and you should give up writing comedy, even dark comedy.

Did you notice the typographical error there in the second paragraph, where “WHO” turns into “WHI?”

That’s a DNA-style marker for this hoax.  Watch for it as it shows up at other sites where tinfoil-hat bedorned people mindlessly copy this chunk of fiction and pass it along as if it were just news about the new shopping center going in around the corner.

Much of the nuttiness appears to originate at WakeNews, from someone named Jane Bürgermeister who has grabbed .pdfs of a couple of WHO memoranda on the dangers of swine flu, and claims that instead of warnings about swine flu based on research, they are textbooks for how to use swine flu as a weapon of war against civilians.  Or it may be originating at a website she may run, Case About Birdflu (this is the url, I kid you not:  http://birdflu666.wordpress.com/) (This post, about her being fired, and with lots of “attagirls” from too-willing nutters, should be a roadmap for Prozac salesmen.)

Do not any of these people ever stop to wonder, “Hmmmm.  Curious about how this doesn’t appear on the WHO website, and how there are no links to anything that sounds even tangentially rational — I wonder if it’s true?”

Wall of Shame: Here are sites that repeated the hoax blindly, without even bothering to correct the typo (notice how few of these sites will allow you to point out an error):

Reality:  No plans to take over the world; tough plans to fight swine flu

Swine flu, more specifically the H1N1 virus, poses severe threats to real people, including you.  WHO has plans to combat the disease and its spread — laid out publicly here, for example.  There is even a Center for Strategic Health Operations (SHOC in the odd acronymical lexicon of the UN).

Preparations to fight epidemics and pandemics are part and parcel of public health operations around the world.  Almost every county in the United States has a public health office that makes plans for how to protect the local community from such diseases, and how to treat people who get the disease to help them survive.  Those who spread these hoaxes rarely know that they have people in their towns to do this work — the United Nations and WHO have no authority to intervene in these cases.

What about the Model Emergency Health Act? Proposals under that name exist — none allow people to be executed for refusing vaccinations.  As a matter of U.S. policy, almost all health legislation includes an out for religious objectors — Christian Scientists, for example, generally refuse vaccinations and much other treatment.  Jehovah Witnessses refuse transfusions.  In almost every case, those religious beliefs can be accommodated so long as the rest of us bother to protect ourselves against disease.

All of the proposals are designed to help public health officials fight disease.  Public health officials might be described as the embodiment of the name Milquetoast.  They are rarely in the forefront of your run-of-the-mill power-mad megalomaniac.  Former public health officials who rose to power in any circumstance can be counted on one hand, if there are any.  Contrast that with former religious officials, or former business executives, or former college presidents, and you begin to see reality.  WHO is not populated with people who wish to take over the world á la Pinky and the Brain.  WHO does not answer to people who resemble Pinky or the Brain in any way, either.

You may review the first (and most worrisome) draft of the Model State Emergency Health Powers Act in .pdf here.  Note carefully the strong defense of the rights of individuals recognized in the preamble to the draft bill.  The 2003 version of the Model Act can be reviewed at Alaska’s site; you can also find a section-by-section analysis and other explanatory material.

This document tracks state legislative actions so far — I dare anyone to find the trampling of civil rights and lunatic claims made at the websites listed above.  If you do find troubling actions, please note them in comments here. Note well that the documents in the previous three links are maintained by officials at the State of Alaska — Sarah Palin’s appointees and public health team.  It’s unlikely that Sarah Palin would be involved in a massive, international conspiracy to imprison millions of citizens just because they are not immune to influenza.  Of course, maybe you know Palin better than I do and you think she’s a megalomaniac just looking for her chance to play Mussolini in America — but I doubt it.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are deeply involved in preparations for influenza outbreaks, and swine flu is no exception.  CDC features a page showing international preparations for swine flu; note that plans to round up recalcitrant non-inoculants for execution are not in the program.  From that page you can get to the WHO page on international preparations, and there you can link to to international health regulations on the issueWHO’s “edict” so far:

Concerning public health measures, in line with the Regulations the Director-General is recommending, on the advice of the Committee, that all countries intensify surveillance for unusual outbreaks of influenza-like illness and severe pneumonia.

That’s it.

There is an Emergency Committee set up to deal with H1N1 specifically. The group has met four times; here is the report from the fourth meeting, in June:

11 June 2009

DG Statement following the meeting of the Emergency Committee

The Emergency Committee held its fourth meeting on 11th June 2009.

The Committee considered available information on transmission of New influenza A (H1N1) in a number of locations in countries in different regions of the World Health Organization, and concluded that the criteria for a pandemic have been met.

Following the advice from the Committee the WHO Director-General decided to raise the level of influenza pandemic alert from the current phase 5 to phase 6. At this early stage, the pandemic can be characterized globally as being moderate in severity.

As previously recommended by the Director-General, countries should not close borders or restrict international traffic and trade.

Countries should assess their specific situation and make a timely transition from focusing national efforts on containment to focusing on mitigation measures, including appropriate non-pharmaceutical interventions.

WHO remains in close dialogue with influenza vaccine manufacturers. It is understood that production of vaccines for seasonal influenza will be completed soon, and that full capacity will be available to ensure the largest possible supply of pandemic vaccine in the months to come.

You can see that the paranoia reflected in the sites on the Wall of Shame, is unwarranted.

Coda: You gotta love the guys who quickly see a way to make a buck on this fear.  Here’s a guy who will sell you a “smartroom” decontamination unit to retrofit any room in your home to make you safe from swine flu — just $1,899! Crazy with dollar signs in his dreams.

The SmartRoom is designed to protect you and your family from all viruses and bacteria. It can be quickly and easily installed. The SmartRoom is lightweight, compact and is totally collapsible for storage.

The SmartRoom features an Ultraviolet Biological Airlock that you attach to any room entry in your home or office. The Smartroom Tri Filter Biological Filtration Unit creates a Biological Saferoom under positive air pressure or a Quarantine Room under negative air pressure.

If it were only so easy to protect from swine flu.  If only it were so easy to protect ourselves from the conspiracy crazies.

Update, August 11, 2009:  More than 19,000 tinfoil hatters (TFH) have signed a petition against WHO’s imagined mandatory vaccine campaign.  Sign a petition against a problem that doesn’t exist!

Update, September 12, 2009: See this debunking of pseudoscience anti-vaccine claims at Respectful Insolence.


Friends don’t let friends be hoaxed:  Don’t be fooled!  Share the news.

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Get the latest flu guidance for schools.


Swine flu shuts down prisons: Let the prisoners out?

May 3, 2009

This headline from the Sacramento Bee sure caught my eye:

Swine flu case shuts down visits at all 33 state prisons

Of course, I read it too fast, and skipped over the word “visits.”  I had to click on the story to see whether they were going to tell the prisoners to stay at home for a week, like the Fort Worth, Texas, school district did.   I suppose, after a fashion, that was exactly the message.

At the Officer of the Receiver for California Prison Health Care Services, spokesman Luis Patino said Sunday that an inmate in Centinela State Prison in Imperial County was diagnosed as probable for the H1N1 virus, or swine flu.

“The inmate and his cellmate have been isolated, Patino said. “They remain at the prison.”

Whew!

Ticket sales for movies are way up in those areas where the schools are shut down — good news for the opening weekend of X-Men Origins:  Wolverine.

Maybe we’d be better off if the kids remained in school, as well as keeping the convicts in the prisons.

Is the panic over swine flu too much? If we go back to the week ending March 21, 2009, we find that there were already more than 22,000 cases of influenza in the U.S., with 35 pediatric deaths.  Has the swine flu added to either the rates of infection or the rates of death?  If the dramatic steps, the event cancellations and school closings, are appropriate for the swine flu, shouldn’t they have been appropriate for the other flu viruses, too?

Do we really need to close schools?  What do you think — tell us in comments.

See the CDC’s report on swine flu at their site:    H1N1 (Swine Flu)

Other resources:


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