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Medic behind BBC coronavirus ‘conspiracy’ complaint says: we must stay vigilant

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Medic behind BBC coronavirus 'conspiracy' complaint says: we must stay vigilant

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A consultant at Antrim Hospital who complained to the BBC after a contributor referred to the coronavirus as a “conspiracy” has warned the public not to let their guard down.

BC NI apologised for airing the clip on Thursday’s Newsline after the contributor was not challenged over his claim and quickly removed it from later bulletins.

Dr Aidan O’Neill (35) from Magherafelt, an acute consultant physician, made the official complaint and welcomed the BBC’s response.

“I was sitting watching the TV during dinner and thought it was very strange that they allowed that to go out on BBC Newsline.

“I’ve never made an official complaint before but I am pretty pleased with how quickly they acted to take the clip down,” he said.

“I’m fine with people saying things like that as long as they’re properly challenged on it.”

Dr O’Neill added that downplaying the dangers of the pandemic carried huge risks.

“I think the first point is that we’re at a moment now when things are starting to open up and people are perhaps starting to let their guard down in some ways.

“I suppose when you hear flippant comments from people you do worry it will encourage people to be less cautious.

“The second thing is that plenty of people have been directly affected by coronavirus. People will have loved ones that have been sick or passed away, so for them to hear it dismissed on the evening news like that isn’t nice for them to hear.

“So it was insensitive but the important thing is that they acknowledged the error.”

As with all healthcare workers in Northern Ireland, working to protect vulnerable patients from the pandemic has become part of Dr O’Neill’s daily life in recent months.

“I work in acute medicine so would often be the first port of call after people are admitted from A&E,” he said.

“I’m also in rheumatology so I have had issues there as lots of patients will be on steroids and immunosuppressive medication.

“They will have had a tricky time over the last few months with shielding. So it’s fair to say I’ve been thinking (about coronavirus) a lot in the last few months.”

He said yesterday was “a big day with face coverings becoming mandatory in shops so it will be interesting to see how well people adapt to that”.

A BBC spokesperson said last week: “The inclusion of this clip was an error of judgment and it was removed from later bulletins and from the BBC Newsline Facebook page.

“The BBC is a platform for engagement and debate, but ideas which fall outside the scientific mainstream should be scrutinised and challenged, which did not happen in this instance.”

In recent weeks a number of high profile figures, including Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton, have been criticised for appearing to support Covid-19 conspiracy theories.

Mr Hamilton backtracked after sharing a post on Instagram about Bill Gates, with the post suggesting the billionaire lied about vaccine safety or claims vaccines would be used to microchip people.

The sports star has since apologised and said that he hadn’t read the post properly, and was not against the use of any potential vaccine.

Belfast Telegraph

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Sanders and Schumer call on McConnell to hold hearings to fight election conspiracy theories – KTVZ

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Sanders and Schumer call on McConnell to hold hearings to fight election conspiracy theories - KTVZ

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Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York are calling on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to create a new bipartisan committee focused on election integrity and schedule hearings to reassure Americans over a process President Donald Trump has repeatedly sought to undermine.

There is growing anxiety among Democrats, and some Republicans, that Trump will not only continue to sow doubt over the legitimacy of the coming election but throw the subsequent count into chaos by declaring victory before all the votes can be tallied, including the millions that will arrive by mail.

In a letter to McConnell, Sanders and Schumer quote back the Kentucky senator’s own words, in which he attested to the reliability of mail-in voting by citing its successes in Oregon, Washington and Colorado, which have been using the system for years.

Trump has repeatedly questioned the validity of mail-in voting, promoted conspiracy theories questioning election security, called on supporters to act as unsanctioned “poll watchers,” and suggested that the absence of a clear result by the evening of November 3 would in some way cast doubt on the eventual outcome. Key allies in powerful positions, like Attorney General Bill Barr, have followed suit. Barr has persisted in puffing up a debunked claim that ballots received by mail would somehow strip the sender of their privacy — ignoring well-established safeguards.

By escalating the matter now, Sanders and Schumer are responding to growing concern, in partisan and nonpartisan spaces, that Americans are not adequately prepared for the potential of a longer-than-usual wait for results or Trump’s willingness to short-circuit the democratic process if he smells defeat.

“Democrats and Republicans in Congress must come together to ensure that we have a free and fair election where every vote is cast and counted without intimidation,” Sanders told CNN, “where no one has to put his or her health in danger to cast a ballot, and where we have full confidence in the results.”

The proposed hearings would invite a cross-section of election officials from across the country to testify to the security and reliability of mail-in, early- and in-person voting — subjects on which Sanders and Schumer, again, referenced McConnell’s own words.

“Despite the clear security of our vote-by-mail system, some have continued to undermine it with unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud,” they wrote. “As you have correctly said, people ‘can vote early, you can vote on Election Day, or you can drop it in the mail,’ and that voters should ‘not worry about your vote not counting.’”

The minority leader and Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, also want more detailed discussion about the fraught hours, or days, after the polls close and a real-time watch of the election horse race potentially swings from one candidate to another.

“We know a number of states may well be counting ballots for a period of time after Election Day, and that those votes may be determinative in this election,” the senators wrote to McConnell. “To avoid disinformation, conspiracy theories, and suspicion about results, we must understand the likely timeline for this process.”

The letter goes on to reference the recent war games-style preparations conducted by a group called the Transition Integrity Project, a bipartisan gathering of operatives and academics that made headlines when some of the outcomes of their exercises — including “both street-level violence and political impasse” — were reported on in late July.

“A bipartisan group of experts and officials have studied multiple scenarios where the outcome of the election was not immediately known. Some of these scenarios resulted in unrest and even violence,” Sanders and Schumer wrote, suggesting the Senate should elevate similar discussions and familiarize the public with the uncertainties ahead. “We would like to hear from the most knowledgeable people in the country as to how we can do everything possible to make sure that the election and the period afterward is secure and peaceful.”

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HHS official sorry for conspiracy theory video

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HHS official sorry for conspiracy theory video

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HHS supported Caputo, with a statement that called him a critical, integral part of the presidents coronavirus response, leading on public messaging as Americans need public health information to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic.

There was no immediate statement from the White House.

Attempts to reach Caputo were unsuccessful.

On Capitol Hill, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., called on Azar to fire Caputo, accusing the spokesman of trying to interfere with CDC reports to the medical and scientific community, as well as the public at large. And Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called on Azar himself to resign, citing interference with the CDC as one example of what he termed the administration’s failures.

Officials at CDC have privately complained of recent efforts by political appointees at main HHS to try to edit or press for changes in the agency’s weekly MMWR publications, a go-to resource for public health professionals.

MMWR articles are technical, but they reveal telling details. One published earlier this year noted that while Trump’s travel restrictions dramatically reduced travel from China in February, nothing was being done at that time to restrict travel from Italy and Europe, where the coronavirus was spreading widely and rapidly. Analysis of virus samples from hard-hit New York in March suggested it was introduced there from Europe and other parts of the U.S., the CDC article reported.

Caputo is an unswerving Trump loyalist. His recent book, The Ukraine Hoax, claims the presidents phony impeachment was rooted in a vast conspiracy.

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unwinona:This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS…

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unwinona:This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS...

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My RSS Feedunwinona:

This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS and Polio narrative (among others), only we’re seeing it escalated to weeks and months instead of years or decades.

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