Monday, March 30, 2020

COVID-19 - Countering the Current Narrative

During the current pandemic, the mainstream media, government and experts all seem to be reading from the same script.  Hundreds of millions/billions are going to be infected by COVID-19 and a relatively high proportion of those are going to die.  The only thing that will "flatten the infection curve" is to lock yourself indoors, have no contact with any one outside your household, self-quarantine if you travel anywhere and report anyone who you suspect is not obeying the law.  You would never know from the current media coverage of the outbreak that there are dissenting voices.

Since I have always been one to "swim against the current", let's look at comments by a few experts and see how they feel about how this pandemic is being handled by governments:

1.) Dr. Joel Kettner - Associate Professor at University of Manitoba (has a Masters of Science in Epidemiology) and former Chief Provincial Public Health Officer in Manitoba.  Here are excerpts from a telephone call with Dr. Kettner on March 15, 2020 with Canada's public broadcaster, CBC:

"First, I want to say that in 30 years of public health medicine I have never seen anything like this, anything anywhere near like this. I’m not talking about the pandemic, because I’ve seen 30 of them, one every year. It is called influenza. And other respiratory illness viruses, we don’t always know what they are. But I’ve never seen this reaction, and I’m trying to understand why. I have to say that I really feel for my colleagues that are in public health practice. it is easy for me to sit in the armchair of my office and look at this and observe it, and be critical and have ideas. But I really feel for them for three reasons.

One is that the data they are getting is incomplete to really make sense of the size of the threat. We are getting very crude numbers of cases and deaths, very little information about testing rates, contagious analysis, severity rates, who is being hospitalised, who is in intensive care, who is dying, what are the definitions to decide if someone died of the coronavirus or just died with the coronavirus.

There is so much important data that is very hard to get to guide the decisions on how serious a threat this is.

The other part is we actually do not have that much good evidence for the social distancing methods. It was just a couple of reviews in the CDC emerging infectious disease journal, which showed that although some of them might work, we really don’t know to what degree and the evidence is pretty weak.

The third part is the pressure that is being put on public health doctors and public health leaders. And that pressure is coming from various places. The first place it came from was the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) when he said “This is a grave threat and a public enemy number one”, I have never heard a Director-General of WHO use terms like that.

I worry about the consequences of social distancing. I worry about people who are losing their jobs. I worry about interruptions with the healthcare system itself. There are many doctors in Manitoba in quarantine right now, because they have returned from other countries. I worry about the message to the public, about the fear of coming into contact with people, being in the same space as people, shaking their hands, having meetings with people. I worry about many, many consequences related to that.

If you look at the data for what we are actually dealing with, I want to give this example. In Hubei, in the province of Hubei, where there has been the most cases and deaths by far, the actual number of cases reported is 1 per 1000 people and the actual rate of deaths reported is 1 per 20,000. So maybe that would help to put things into perspective, as to the actual rate and risks of this condition, because it is a lot lower in any other part of the world, including Italy, and certainly in Canada and the United States." (my bolds)

2.) Dr. Yoram Lass - An Israeli physician and Israel's former Ministry of Health Director-General.  Here are some quotes from an interview with Dr. Lass on the Globes Israeli business website from March 22, 2020:

"Italy is known for its enormous morbidity in respiratory problems, more than three times any other European country. In the US about 40,000 people die in a regular flu season and so far 40-50 people have died of the coronavirus, most of them in a nursing home in Kirkland, Washington."

The characteristics in every country are different. In Italy the median age of those dying of the coronavirus is 81 and the population is very old and frail and smokes more and among the dead are more men. In Korea, in contrast, more young women and non-smokers have been infected. In every country, more people die from regular flu compared with those who die from the coronavirus.

… there is a very good example that we all forget: the swine flu in 2009. That was a virus that reached the world from Mexico. But what? At that time there was no Facebook or there maybe was but it was still in its infancy. The coronavirus in contrast is a virus with public relations….

Even so I say that the numbers do not match the panic. That's because in China they stopped the virus and because of natural immunity, which they've forgotten to talk about. What stopped the swine flu pandemic and what generally stops viruses? Whoever thinks that the government ends viruses is completely wrong. What really happens? The virus, which nobody can stop, spreads throughout the population and then the population, not those at risk, are exposed to the virus and simultaneously the body creates antibodies to shut down and prevent the disease." (my bolds)

3.) Dr. Sucharit Bhakdi - Head of the Institute for Medical Microbiology at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz.  In an interview on March 18, 2020, he states the following:

"When patients concurrently have other illnesses, an infectious agent must not be held solely responsible for a lethal outcome. This happens for COVID- 19 but such a conclusion is false and gives rise to the danger that other important factors are overlooked. Different mortality rates may well be due to different local situations. For example, what does Northern Italy have in common with China? Answer:

Horrific air pollution, the highest in the world. Northern Italy is the China of Europe. The lungs of inhabitants there have been chronically injured over decades. And for this simple reason the situation may not be comparable to elsewhere….

To avoid COVID-19 entering the scene instead of the other Corona viruses, extreme measures are installed…. We are afraid that 1 million infections with the new virus will lead to 30 deaths per day over the next 100 days. But we do not realise that 20, 30, 40 or 100 patients positive for normal coronaviruses are already dying every day…they (the measures) are grotesque, absurd and very dangerous.

Our elderly citizens have every right to make efforts not to belong to the 2200 who daily embark on their last journey. Social contacts and social events, theatre and music, travel and holiday recreation, sports and hobbies , etc, etc, all help to prolong their stay on earth.

The life expectancy of millions is being shortened.  The horrifying impact on world economy threatens the existence of countless people. The consequences on medical care are profound. Already services to patients who are in need are reduced, operations cancelled, practices empty, hospital personnel dwindling.  All this will impact profoundly on our whole society.

I can only say that all these measures are leading to self-destruction and collective suicide because of nothing but a spook."

Here is the interview on YouTube with English subtitles (use the CC button in the lower right of the YouTube screen to see the translation):

I believe that is enough to digest for today.  If you are interested, here are some additional experts who believe that the COVID-19 panic is not warranted (you may have to use Google Translate to read the comments in English):

Professor Hendrik Streek - his comments are found here.

Dr. Peter Goetzsche - his comments are found here.

Professor Michael Osterholm - his comments are found here.

Dr. Frank Ulrich Montgomery - his comments are found here.

As Dr. Yoram Lass explained, COVID-19 is the only coronavirus with its own public relations team.  The world's politicians and media are not presenting us with a balanced viewpoint of the seriousness of the current pandemic, voicing only the narrative that the 2019 - 2020 version of the novel coronavirus is unprecedented and extremely deadly.  Instead of balance, they are rushing into decisions and implementing policies that may be more dangerous than the virus itself.  As I have said before, I feel like I am caught in the world's most extensive social and monetary experiment.  One thing that we do know for certain is that the world will not look the same once we exit from this nightmare.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Fauci's Folly - An Inconsistent COVID-19 Narrative

Let's open this posting with a January 21, 2020 Newsmax TV interview with Greg Kelly and the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes for Health (NIH), Dr. Anthony Fauci, and member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force

Remember that, "this is not a major threat to the people of the United States".

Now, let's move forward in time.  Here is what Dr. Fauci had to say during a March 11, 2020 House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing when asked to compare COVID-19 to other health situations like SARS and H1N1:

"Well, SARS was also a coronavirus in 2002. It infected 8,000 people, and it killed about 775. It had a mortality of about 9 to 10%. That's only 8,000 people in about a year. In the two and a half months that we've had this coronavirus, as you know we now have multiple multiples of that. So it clearly is not as lethal. And I'll get to the lethality in a moment, but it certainly spreads better. Probably for the practical understanding of the American people, the seasonal flu we deal with every year has a mortality of 0.1%. The stated mortality overall of this when you look at all the data, including China, is about 3%, it first started off as 2 and now 3. I think if you count all the cases of minimally symptomatic or asymptomatic, that probably brings the mortality down to around 1%. Which means this is ten times more lethal than the seasonal flu. I think that's something that people can get their arms around and understand."

Ten times more lethal than the seasonal influenza!  We are all going to die!

Now, let's look at what Dr. Fauci had to say in an editorial in which he was lead author entitled "COVID-19 - Navigating the Uncharted" that appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) on March 26th, 2020:

"On the basis of a case definition requiring a diagnosis of pneumonia, the currently reported case fatality rate is approximately 2%. In another article in the Journal, Guan et al report mortality of 1.4% among 1099 patients with laboratory-confirmed Covid-19; these patients had a wide spectrum of disease severity. If one assumes that the number of asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic cases is several times as high as the number of reported cases, the case fatality rate may be considerably less than 1%. This suggests that the overall clinical consequences of Covid-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%) or a pandemic influenza (similar to those in 1957 and 1968) rather than a disease similar to SARS or MERS, which have had case fatality rates of 9 to 10% and 36%, respectively."

That is a huge and very significant difference from Dr. Fauci's testimony on March 11, 2020 and this comments back in January 2020.  Talk about disinformation!  To help you put Dr. Fauci's claim that the clinical consequences of COVID-19 will be "akin" to severe seasonal influenza, in 2017, 59,120 Americans died from influenza/pneumonia, a rate of 14.9 per 100,000 people.

I am providing you with a screen capture of the entire editorial with the pertinent section highlighted just in case it disappears from "the tubes that make up the internet":

As though this storyline weren't complicated enough, on March 29th, Dr. Fauci claimed that between 100,000 and 200,000 Americans could die from COVID-19 as shown here:

Using the roughly 60,000 deaths from influenza/pneumonia that I quoted from Mdlinx, now Dr. Fauci is claiming that COVID-19 will result in between two and four times the number of annual deaths from seasonal influenza, a sharp rise from his most recent estimation but far short of his "ten times" number from his testimony before Congress.

Why is Dr. Fauci being so inconsistent?  I wonder if it have anything to do with this:

Notice that the sponsor of the ModernaTX clinical trial of its messengerRNA or mRNA-based vaccine which will be used to vaccinate against COVID-19 is sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) which is headed by the very same Dr. Fauci.  Perhaps this is driving his agenda, after all, should this vaccine work, it would certainly be a feather in his professional cap.  A healthy volunteer has already been vaccinated with this experimental drug which was approved for human trials without first going through animal testing, the normal route taken when a new drug is approved, as quoted here:

It is also important to note that one of the backers of the vaccine is none other than the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations or CEPI which receives funding from the strongly pro-vaccination Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as shown here:

The biggest problem that we all face, including medical researchers, is that there is an incomplete data set when it comes to prognosticating the ultimate impact of COVID-19.  Until the pandemic has run its course, any estimation of transmissibility and lethality are mere guesses.  In the case of Dr. Fauci, we have very clear evidence that even the most highly trained and influential physicians have no real idea about the ultimate outcome of the current coronavirus pandemic and have their own agendas.

The one thing that we can have all learned from the COVID-19 panic is that governments love to use fear to control the masses.  Without the coercive use of fear, governments wouldn't last 24 hours.

Let's close with this quote from the final speech of former President Dwight Eisenhower:

"Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite."

Saturday, March 28, 2020

The Greatest Weapon of Government

I wrote this posting way back in 2014 as a commentary on how governments were manipulating the masses into a heightened state of fear of terrorism.  This posting is even more pertinent today as hundreds of millions of people around the world find themselves either locked down or quarantined because of the latest "bogeyman"; the 2019 - 2020 coronavirus pandemic.  Let's look at what I wrote nearly six years ago under a reality that is far different than what we are experiencing today.

An interesting research article on the Independent Institute's website looks at the role of fear in the government's arsenal of ways that they control the masses.  This is particularly pertinent in this time of the seemingly endless global war against terror which continues, despite governments' assurances that they have the situation under control. 

In case you weren't aware of it, The Independent Institute is a non-profit, non-partisan scholarly research and educational organization that sponsors in-depth studies of critical social and economic issues.  The organization seeks to advance peaceful, prosperous and free societies that are not grounded in partisan interests.  Dr. Robert Higgs, the author of "Fear: The Foundation of Every Government's Power", has a degree in economics from John Hopkins University and has been a visiting scholar at Oxford University and Stanford University and a fellow for the Hoover Institution and the National Science Foundation.

Dr. Higgs begins by noting that all animals experience fear and that some level of fear is essential to survival.  Fear alerts us to dangers.  That said, governments understand this basic instinct of humans and both exploit and cultivate it to secure submission, compliance and co-operation with the government and its dictates.  Without fear, governments would not survive.

There is a long history of fear and government.  The earliest governments used warfare and conquest to advance their empires, what we might call the warrior element.  The losers in a battle were destined to live their lives as subjects of the dominant group, fearing for their lives.  Often the losing side was forced to hand over their material wealth to preserve their lives.  This handing over of one's material possessions evolved into taxation.  Conquered people naturally resent the imposition of government and taxation and, throughout history, there are many examples of a subjugated populace overthrowing their masters.  Even if outright rebellion doesn't take place, the masses take action to avoid the laws imposed by their political masters or do what they can to sabotage their ruler's government.

In both the past and present, rulers have augmented their powers with religion using what we might call the religious element; in an ancient example, Egyptian Pharaohs were thought to be gods and in a modern times, the Emperor of Japan was deemed to be descended from the gods and the current Supreme Leader of North Korea is third in his family's line of god-like figures who are believed capable of controlling the weather and who have no need to urinate or defecate.  In the evangelical Christian world, one verse in the New Testament is often quoted as found in Romans 13:1 "Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God."  That verse has long been used by the church to force Christians to subject themselves to the whims of government, no matter how evil or unfair that government may be.

Through the use of both the warrior and religious elements, people are in fear for both their lives and for their eternal souls.  It is this combined fear that has propped up governments around the world for the past few thousand years.

Governments have refined their use of fear, fostering an ideology that emphasizes our vulnerability to both external and internal dangers and that only the government can provide us with protection from these threats.  Government leads us to believe that only it can protect us from both internal dissent and external threats.  Sometimes bad governments actually do protect their people for a time; the Nationalist Socialist Party (NSDAP) of 1930's Germany is an example.  The NSDAP helped the German people by returning Germany to a place of prominence in the world after the humiliating defeat of World War I and brought the German economy back to its feet after a period of crippling hyperinflation.  Much of this "Thousand Year Empire" was built on the fear of both insiders and outsiders, including Jews and the Slavic population.   On the other hand, when defeat at the hands of the Allies looked to be certain in early 1945, the Nazis thought nothing of sacrificing hundreds of thousands of its own people in a desperate attempt to win what was clearly a lost cause.  The author notes that when governments fail to protect their own people, they often blame scapegoats, a current example would be unpredictable Muslim terrorists whose actions cannot be discovered in advance.

Modern-day governments, particularly in the developed world, have convinced us that only government can protect us from all sorts of fear-inducing threats including unemployment, hunger, illness, lack of income in old age, toxins in food, contaminated water and, most pertinent to 2020, disease.  This has led to the formation of the "welfare" or "nanny" state.  It is the fear of all of these and other "threats" that has allowed government to control us.

While fear is a popular motivator, governments have often learned the hard way that fear has a shelf life.  Successive doses of fear-mongering propagated by governments result in lowered levels levels of actual fear.  Like the boy who cried "wolf", the populace grows weary of constantly being on guard for their lives.  We need look no further that the United States Department of Homeland Security and its multi-stage, colour-coded threat level assessment that looked like this:

It has now evolved to the National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS), a sample of which looks like this:

...and bulletins that look like this:

The Department of Homeland Security is even so kind as to supply webmasters with a Terror Alert widget that looks like this:

How many of us now even pay any attention to these "terror alerts"?  Even Tom Ridge, former Homeland Security czar admitted that fear is a depreciating asset as shown in this article:

"The Bush administration periodically put the USA on high alert for terrorist attacks even though then-Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge argued there was only flimsy evidence to justify raising the threat level, Ridge now says.

Ridge, who resigned Feb. 1, said Tuesday that he often disagreed with administration officials who wanted to elevate the threat level to orange, or "high" risk of terrorist attack, but was overruled.

His comments at a Washington forum describe spirited debates over terrorist intelligence and provide rare insight into the inner workings of the nation's homeland security apparatus.

Ridge said he wanted to "debunk the myth" that his agency was responsible for repeatedly raising the alert under a color-coded system he unveiled in 2002.

"More often than not we were the least inclined to raise it," Ridge told reporters. "Sometimes we disagreed with the intelligence assessment. Sometimes we thought even if the intelligence was good, you don't necessarily put the country on (alert). There were times when some people were really aggressive about raising it, and we said, 'For that?' 

"You have to use that tool of communication very sparingly," Ridge said at the forum, which was attended by seven other former department leaders.” (my bold)

War is the great friend of governments around the world.  Bureaucracy builds on itself as the war apparatus takes shape.  Governments know that they can get away with raising the tax burden, rationing goods, borrowing huge amounts of money (think of the trillions spent on the War on Terror since 2001), enacting the draft and other measures that they would never be able to undertake under peaceful conditions.  Few people would dare to complain publicly during wartime  for fear of being branded "traitorous".  During war, people are willing to surrender their wealth, privacy and liberty to governments far more readily than they might otherwise be inclined.  We see prime examples of this since 2001; the revelations of Edward Snowden have made us realize that, in this time of the War on Terror, our privacy means absolutely nothing to governments around the world.  Since September 11th, 2001, there has been a marked resurgence in the "Warfare State".  We have been pulled into two wars and now possibly a third that is a direct offspring of the mishandling of the war in Iraq because of the fear mongering about a remote possibility of a domestic attack by an ISIS-related terrorist.

Here is the closing paragraph of Dr. Higgs' commentary:

"Were we ever to stop being afraid of the government itself and to cast off the phoney fears it has fostered, the government would shrivel and die, and the host would disappear for the tens of millions of parasites in the United States—not to speak of the vast number of others in the rest of the world—who now feed directly and indirectly off the public’s wealth and energies. On that glorious day, everyone who had been living at public expense would have to get an honest job, and the rest of us, recognizing government as the false god it has always been, could set about assuaging our remaining fears in more productive and morally defensible ways."  

Now, let's look at the current pandemic crisis.  Here are some examples of fear-mongering and the drafting of random rules by governments:

1.) thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions will die from this virus.

2.) 80 percent of the world will be infected by this virus.

3.) people 70 years of age are at higher risk (true) and must remain in their residences at all times (not necessary).  Only one person in a 70 year plus home can leave the house at a time. (idiotic)

4.) cruise ships with capacities greater than 500 people are banned from docking.

5.) theatres with capacities of less than 250 people may remain open, all others must close.

6.) groups of no more than two/five/ten/twenty/fifty may gather.

What should be concerning us all is the future.  If this current coronavirus-based pandemic turns out to be far less severe than the "experts" are telling us, we will never know.  Any "flattening of the curve" in new cases and deaths allegedly resulting from the 2019 - 2020 novel coronavirus will be attributed to the extreme and freedom-reducing measures that were taken by government authorities under emergency law.  Those who we elect will come to the realization that citizens of planet earth are easily manipulated and will cow to their every edict.

Fear is an extremely powerful coercive force.  Governments have used it for millennia to subjugate their citizens.  When we allow our fears to control us, we surrender to governments which makes it far easier for governments to control us and foist their agendas, good or bad, on our lives.

Friday, March 27, 2020

America's Overwhelmed Hospitals

I'm just going to do a very brief posting this morning.  Here is a screen capture of a headline from Time magazine that I found which is frightening given this time of COVID-19 virus panic:

This is really no surprise given the dire predictions of up to 80 percent of Americans being infected by the current iteration of the novel coronavirus.

Let's look at a quote from the Time article:

"The...epidemic is sending people to hospitals and urgent-care centers in every state, and medical centers are responding with extraordinary measures: asking staff to work overtime, setting up triage tents, restricting friends and family visits and canceling elective surgeries, to name a few.

“We are pretty much at capacity, and the volume is certainly different from previous flu seasons,” says Dr. Alfred Tallia, professor and chair of family medicine at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical Center in New Brunswick, New Jersey. “I’ve been in practice for 30 years, and it’s been a good 15 or 20 years since I’ve seen a flu-related illness scenario like we’ve had this year.”

Tallia says his hospital is “managing, but just barely,” at keeping up with the increased number of sick patients in the last three weeks. The hospital’s urgent-care centers have also been inundated, and its outpatient clinics have no appointments available....

In California, which has been particularly hard hit..., several hospitals have set up large “surge tents” outside their emergency departments to accommodate and treat flu patients. Even then, the LA Times reported this week, emergency departments had standing-room only, and some patients had to be treated in hallways." (all bolds are mine)

The sky is falling!  The sky is falling!

Wait a minute.  What you may find interesting is the date on this news item:

That's right - January 18, 2018.

During the 2017 - 2018 influenza season, the "especially severe" H3N2 virus strain resulted in the deaths of 188 children (by mid-April 2018) as shown on this graphic:

...and, according to media reports, was killing young and healthy adults.  According to a the transcript of a press conference from the CDC from January 2018, the H3 version of influenza viruses tended to be particularly hard on children and people aged 65 and older:

"So far this season, influenza A, H3N2, has been the most common form of influenza. These viruses are often linked to more severe illness, especially among children and people age 65 and older. When H3 viruses are predominant, we tend to have a worse flu season with more hospitalizations and more deaths."

Here is a graphic showing the rates of hospitalizations per 100,000 people for the 2017 - 2018 influenza season compared to the 2018 - 2019 season:

The 2017 - 2018 season hospitalization rate was the highest ever recorded by the CDC during an influenza season.

The 2017 - 2018 influenza season was also a record-breaker for another reason:

"...I think the simplest way to describe it is that flu is everywhere in the U.S. right now. There’s lots of flu in lots of places. Our team that does this kind of surveillance studies has been doing this particular thing for 13 years and this is the first year we had the entire continental U.S. be the same color on the graph meaning there’s widespread activity in all of the continental U.S. at this point. It is in a lot of places and causing a lot of flu."

I hope that this helps some of my readers to put the current COVID-19 situation into perspective. 

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Big Brother and COVID-19

Lost in the intensive news coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic is a story that got relatively coverage in the mainstream Western media.  Recent moves by what remains of Benjamin Netayahu's caretaker government passed legislation that is intended to monitor that nation's COVID-19 outbreak.

Let’s start with some interesting background on how Israel has dealt with the pandemic to this point in time.  Israel has gone so far as to supply its citizens with a complete daily listing of all Israeli locations where people have tested positive as well as the dates and times that infected persons were at various locations throughout the city/town:

Here is a translation of the text at the top of the page:

List of verified patients

This list lists the places where the confirmed patients were staying. Anyone who has been in these places on dates and times is required to immediately enter a home for 14 days and report it on the Ministry of Health website.

Here is a translation of one of the examples on the listing:

Rishon Lezion (Israel's fourth largest city)

12.02.2020: 23: 30-24: Supermarket "Happened to" supermarket, 24 Etzel St. Rishon Lezion.

March 14, 20, 20: 00-20: 30, "Teva Castel" store, complex G, Tehran children 5, Rishon Lezion.

14.3.2020 20:30 - 21:30 Twenty-four seven, Cinema City, Rishon Lezion.

March 12, 2020: 23:30 - 24:00 "Osher Ad" supermarket, 24 Etzel St., Rishon Lezion.

Now, let's get to the subject matter of this posting.  Here is the news as reported by the Times of Israel:

Here is the same news as reported by Haaretz:

The decree instructs the Internal Security Agency (better known as Shin Bet), Israel's security agency, to covertly access the cellphones and credit card data of Israelis that are tested and found to be infected with the latest iteration of the coronavirus.

Here is how the Government of Israel website rather generically reported the move:

Here is how Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported the news:

It is reported that the plan was approved by cabinet members without the approval of the Knesset which was sworn in the same day, bypassing the normal oversight of a special parliamentary committee that had already been reviewing the legislation.

While the entire plan has not seen the light of day and is being withheld from public scrutiny, it appears that the data will be used for a limited period of 30 days, at least at this point in time.  Geolocation data and other metadata that is routinely collected by Israel's telecommunications companies will allow police to find people that have come into close contact with known COVID-19 virus carriers and send them text messages, ordering them to immediately go into quarantine.  Some reports suggest that the ISA will also be able to access the records showing the location data of people two weeks prior to their coronavirus positive diagnosis.

In an interview with Associated Press, Shin Bet's head Nadav Argaman stated the following:

"The other state bodies don’t have the necessary technological means to aid this effort.  I am well aware of the sensitivity of this matter and therefore have instructed that only a very limited number of agents will be handling this and the information will not be saved in the Shin Bet database.”

This precedent-setting use of private data is the "foot in the door" when it comes to government's invasive use of our personal data, allegedly for the greater good.  The use of cell phone and credit card data as tools of mass surveillance is an idea that governments around the world would love to implement as a means of control.  In fact, recent developments in Canada's largest city, Toronto, suggest that the city government is using cellphone data to help it identify locations where people have assembled in groups, assemblies that are clearly banned under Ontario's Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.  While Toronto's mayor is not currently requesting individually identifiable cellphone data, this move suggests that governments are on the slippery slope, heading downhill to George Orwell's 1984 dystopian reality.

Final thoughts.  There is, however, one very simple way of working around this additional government surveillance.  Simply leave your cellphone at home when you go out.  Those of us who lived unscathed through the pre-cellphone days know that one can survive quite nicely without being permanently attached to a smart device.


After I finished writing this posting, this news item appeared on CBC News, Canada's public broadcasting network:

Here is a further comment from Canada's Prime Minister:

"But I've said, all options are on the table to do what is necessary to keep Canadians safe in these exceptional times."

Justin Trudeau is the son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau who invoked the draconian War Measures Act during the 1970 FLQ crisis.  Here are his comments from October 13, 1970 on the presence of Canadian troops on the streets of certain cities that were tasked with protecting cabinet ministers and senior government officials in Canada to a CBC reporter, Tim Ralfe: