TBR News April 21, 2020

Apr 21 2020

The Voice of the White House Washington, D.C. April 21, 2020: Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.
When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.
I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.
He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.
He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.
It is becoming more and more evident to even the least intelligent American voter that Trump is vicious, corrupt and amoral. He has stated often that even if he loses the
election in 2020, he will not leave the White House. I have news for Donald but this is not the place to discuss it.
Comment for April 21, 2020: I have wondered just exactly what Trump’s problems were. He is a most unpleasant, egotistical and unbalanced person and yesterday, someone directed me to Google and I discovered a number of articles on narcissim. Working in the White House, I have been closer to Trump than the average American and once I read several reliable medical articles, the often bizarre conduct of out beloved Pesident leapt out at me. I have taken two very professional articles down from the Internet,complete with links, for others to contemplate.”

Trump aches from his head to his toes
His sphincters have gone where who knows
And his love life has ended
By a paunch so distended
That all he can use is his nose.

The Table of Contents
• Narcissistic personality disorder I
• Narcissistic Personality Disorder II
• Explainer: What is a negative crude future and does it mean anything for consumers?
• Here’s when all 50 states plan to reopen after coronavirus restrictions
• From Gestapo Chief to senior CIA official
• The Encyclopedia of American Loons
• Anti-vaccine movement: the epidemic of stupid

Narcissistic personality disorder I
Symptoms & causes
Diagnosis & treatment
The Mayo Clinic
Narcissistic personality disorder — one of several types of personality disorders — is a mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of extreme confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.
A narcissistic personality disorder causes problems in many areas of life, such as relationships, work, school or financial affairs. People with narcissistic personality disorder may be generally unhappy and disappointed when they’re not given the special favors or admiration they believe they deserve. They may find their relationships unfulfilling, and others may not enjoy being around them.
Treatment for narcissistic personality disorder centers around talk therapy (psychotherapy).
Signs and symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder and the severity of symptoms vary. People with the disorder can:
• Have an exaggerated sense of self-importance
• Have a sense of entitlement and require constant, excessive admiration
• Expect to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
• Exaggerate achievements and talents
• Be preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate
• Believe they are superior and can only associate with equally special people
• Monopolize conversations and belittle or look down on people they perceive as inferior
• Expect special favors and unquestioning compliance with their expectations
• Take advantage of others to get what they want
• Have an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
• Be envious of others and believe others envy them
• Behave in an arrogant or haughty manner, coming across as conceited, boastful and pretentious
• Insist on having the best of everything — for instance, the best car or office
At the same time, people with narcissistic personality disorder have trouble handling anything they perceive as criticism, and they can:
• Become impatient or angry when they don’t receive special treatment
• Have significant interpersonal problems and easily feel slighted
• React with rage or contempt and try to belittle the other person to make themselves appear superior
• Have difficulty regulating emotions and behavior
• Experience major problems dealing with stress and adapting to change
• Feel depressed and moody because they fall short of perfection
• Have secret feelings of insecurity, shame, vulnerability and humiliation
When to see a doctor
People with narcissistic personality disorder may not want to think that anything could be wrong, so they may be unlikely to seek treatment. If they do seek treatment, it’s more likely to be for symptoms of depression, drug or alcohol use, or another mental health problem. But perceived insults to self-esteem may make it difficult to accept and follow through with treatment.
If you recognize aspects of your personality that are common to narcissistic personality disorder or you’re feeling overwhelmed by sadness, consider reaching out to a trusted doctor or mental health provider. Getting the right treatment can help make your life more rewarding and enjoyable.
It’s not known what causes narcissistic personality disorder. As with personality development and with other mental health disorders, the cause of narcissistic personality disorder is likely complex. Narcissistic personality disorder may be linked to:
Environment ― mismatches in parent-child relationships with either excessive adoration or excessive criticism that is poorly attuned to the child’s experience
Genetics ― inherited characteristics
Neurobiology — the connection between the brain and behavior and thinking
Risk factors
Narcissistic personality disorder affects more males than females, and it often begins in the teens or early adulthood. Keep in mind that, although some children may show traits of narcissism, this may simply be typical of their age and doesn’t mean they’ll go on to develop narcissistic personality disorder.
Although the cause of narcissistic personality disorder isn’t known, some researchers think that in biologically vulnerable children, parenting styles that are overprotective or neglectful may have an impact. Genetics and neurobiology also may play a role in development of narcissistic personality disorder.
Complications of narcissistic personality disorder, and other conditions that can occur along with it, can include:
• Relationship difficulties
• Problems at work or school
• Depression and anxiety
• Physical health problems
• Drug or alcohol misuse
• Suicidal thoughts or behavior
• Because the cause of narcissistic personality disorder is unknown, there’s no known way to prevent the condition. However, it may help to:
• Get treatment as soon as possible for childhood mental health problems
• Participate in family therapy to learn healthy ways to communicate or to cope with conflicts or emotional distress
• Attend parenting classes and seek guidance from therapists or social workers if needed

Narcissistic Personality Disorder II
Psychology Today

The hallmarks of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) are grandiosity, a lack of empathy for other people, and a need for admiration. People with this condition are frequently described as arrogant, self-centered, manipulative, and demanding. They may also have grandiose fantasies and may be convinced that they deserve special treatment. These characteristics typically begin in early adulthood and must be consistently evident in multiple contexts, such as at work and in relationships.
People with NPD often try to associate with other people they believe are unique or gifted in some way, which can enhance their own self-esteem. They tend to seek excessive admiration and attention and have difficulty tolerating criticism or defeat.
• Self-Obsessed and Out-Doing Everyone
• The Epistemology of Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Individuals with narcissistic personality disorder, according to the DSM-5, exhibit five or more of the following, which are present by early adulthood and across contexts:
• A grandiose sense of self-importance
• Preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
• Belief that one is special and can only be understood by or associate with special people or institutions
• A need for excessive admiration
• A sense of entitlement (to special treatment)
• Exploitation of others
• A lack of empathy
• Envy of others or the belief that one is the object of envy
• Arrogant, haughty behavior or attitudes
Individuals with NPD can be easily stung by criticism or defeat and may react with disdain or anger—but social withdrawal or the false appearance of humility may also follow according to the DSM-5.
A sense of entitlement, disregard for other people, and other aspects of NPD can damage relationships. While a person with NPD may be a high-achiever, the personality disorder can also have a negative impact on performance (due to, for instance, one’s sensitivity to criticism).
Researchers have reported associations between NPD and high rates of substance abuse, mood, and anxiety disorders. These may be attributable to characteristics such as impulsivity and the increased experience of shame in people with NPD.
The presence of narcissistic traits in adolescence does not necessarily imply that a person will have NPD as an adult.
Causes of narcissistic personality disorder are not yet well-understood. Genetic and biological factors as well as environment and early life experiences are all thought to play a role in the development of this condition.
Treatment for narcissistic personality disorder can be challenging because people with this condition present with a great deal of grandiosity and defensiveness, which makes it difficult for them to acknowledge problems and vulnerabilities. Psychotherapy may be useful in helping people with narcissistic personality disorder relate to others in a healthier and more compassionate way.
• Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition
• U.S. National Library of Medicine
• Caligor, E., Levy, K. N., & Yeomans, F. E. (2015). Narcissistic personality disorder: diagnostic and clinical challenges. American Journal of Psychiatry, 172(5), 415-422.
• Kacel, E. L., Ennis, N., & Pereira, D. B. (2017). Narcissistic Personality Disorder in Clinical Health Psychology Practice: Case Studies of Comorbid Psychological Distress and Life-Limiting Illness. Behavioral Medicine, 43(3), 156-164

Explainer: What is a negative crude future and does it mean anything for consumers?
April 20, 2020
by Laila Kearney
The price of a barrel of benchmark U.S. oil plunged below $0 a barrel on Monday for the first time in history, a troubling sign of an unprecedented global energy glut as the coronavirus pandemic halts travel and curbs economic activity.
The contract for West Texas intermediate crude, or WTI, is the benchmark for U.S. crude oil prices.
Here is an explanation of what negative crude prices mean in the real world:
The price of a barrel of crude varies based on factors such as supply, demand and quality. Supply of fuel has been far above demand since the coronavirus forced billions of people to stop traveling.
Because of oversupply, storage tanks for WTI are becoming so full it is difficult to find space. The U.S. Energy Information Administration said last week that storage at Cushing, Oklahoma, the heart of the U.S. pipeline network, was about 72% full as of April 10.
“There’s no available storage anymore so the price of the commodity is effectively worthless,” said Bob Yawger, director of futures at Mizuho in New York. “So when it’s minus a dollar, they’ll pay you a dollar to get it out of there.”
The price plunge was partly due to the way oil is traded. A futures contract is for 1,000 barrels of crude, delivered into Cushing, where energy companies own storage tanks with roughly 76 million barrels of capacity.
Each contract trades for a month, with the May contract due to expire on Tuesday. Investors holding May contracts didn’t want to take delivery of the oil and incur storage costs, and in the end had to pay people to take it off their hands.
The June contract, with delivery a month away, is still trading at above $20 a barrel, but the price crash indicates that most storage space has been gobbled up.
The crash in crude futures prices at Cushing won’t necessarily translate into a crash in prices at the gas pump, said Tom Kloza, a veteran analyst with Oil Price Information Services.
“I think it’s more inside baseball,” Kloza said. “We’ll continue to see gasoline prices, diesel prices and jet fuel prices drift lower into May but one shouldn’t conclude that we’re going to see fuel given away or that we’re going to match these incredible, unprecedented drops we saw in crude oil today,” Kloza said.
With recent lower oil prices, the typical American family is probably going to save about $150 to $175 this month on their fuel purchases, he said.
For cash-strapped airlines, the decline in crude prices will make it cheaper to operate flights that are already nearly empty as people remain homebound due to the coronavirus.
The plunge in crude futures also indicates that the market does not expect airlines to add back many flights to their slimmed down networks any time soon, said Raymond James analyst Savanthi Syth.
While investors and analysts wade through the technicalities of the oil markets that contributed to the crash, others are trying to glean what it might say about the economy. As much as 30 million barrels per day – what used to be 30% of global demand – has been pumped into storage worldwide in the past two or three months.
Even if demand were to return to pre-virus levels, it would take a long time to burn off all that stored crude.
“What the energy market is telling you is that demand isn’t coming back any time soon, and there’s a supply glut,” says Kevin Flanagan, head of fixed income strategy for Wisdomtree Asset Management, in New York.
The price of June crude contracts also dropped sharply on Monday, falling by 18.4% to $20.43 a barrel. That’s a more reliable view of how traders are thinking about consumer demand for energy in the immediate future. It isn’t below zero, but it is falling rapidly.
Reporting by Laila Kearney; additional reporting by Tracy Rucinski; editing by Leela de Kretser and Richard Pullin

Here’s when all 50 states plan to reopen after coronavirus restrictions
April 20, 2020
by Alicia Cohn
The Hill
Governors are beginning to announce timelines for relaxing strict measures taken to mitigate the coronavirus. Many states are dropping stay-at-home orders beginning May 1, while several states have not yet announced an end to restrictions.
At the federal level, President Trump last week issued guidelines “that will allow governors to take a phased and deliberate approach to reopening their individual states.”
“Governors will be empowered to tailor an approach that meets the diverse circumstances of their own states,” Trump said. “And some states will be able to open up sooner than others.”
Health officials are warning states not to reopen businesses or allow large gatherings too quickly, for fear of a resurgence of COVID-19 cases. But governors are under pressure to stimulate local economies that have been hit hard by closures. Many states plan a phased approach to reopening in an effort to balance priorities.
Here are the reopening timelines announced so far by all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Alabama’s stay-at-home order expires April 30. Gov. Kay Ivey (R) plans to follow state task force recommendations, which include first allowing small retailers, restaurants and other businesses to reopen with protective measures in place.
Schools are closed for the rest of the school year.
Alaska’s stay-at-home order is set to expire April 21. Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) announced April 15 that nonessential medical procedures could restart May 4.
K-12 schools are closed for the rest of the school year.
Arizona’s stay-at-home order expires April 30. Gov. Doug Ducey (R) says he’s “working with industry and business leaders on a plan for economic recovery.” K-12 schools are closed for the rest of the school year.
Arkansas does not have a stay-at-home order. On April 18, Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) launched an economic recovery task force and said he hopes to begin to ease restrictions in the state on May 4.
Public schools are closed in the state for the rest of the school year.
There is no set end date for California’s stay-at-home order. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has joined a multistate task force, along with Oregon and Washington, to discuss reopening. He warned that some restrictions, such as masks in restaurants and bans against large gatherings, will stay in place through the summer. Schools are closed through the rest of the school year.
The state’s stay-at-home order is set to expire April 26. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) has said social distancing measures will remain in place until “scientists are able to deliver a truly effective clinical treatment” for COVID-19. Business and school closures are set to expire April 30.
Today I discussed the key indicators that are guiding our process for ongoing updates to social distancing policies in Colorado & outlined the three stages for the state’s response to COVID-19.
Connecticut’s stay-at-home order expires May 20. Gov. Ned Lamont (D) has set up an advisory board to decide how to reopen the state. Connecticut is allied with Delaware, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island in a multistate effort to coordinate reopening.
Delaware’s stay-at-home order lasts until May 15. Gov. John Carney (D) has said the state is far from ready to reopen for business. Schools will be closed through the rest of the school year.
“But the overall message that we’re opening up as if it’s tomorrow for me is the wrong message here in Delaware,’’ Carney told local public radio station WHYY. “I’m still saying, stay at home. Stay safe. We’re still not out of this. We still have not peaked and we will do everything we can to open when the conditions are right.”
District of Columbia
The city’s stay-at-home order expires May 15. Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) extended school closures for the remainder of the school year.
Florida’s stay-at-home order is set to expire April 30. Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is assembling a task force to discuss safely reopening the state. Beaches reopened for “essential activities” in parts of the state on April 17.
After saying he might reopen schools before the end of the school year, DeSantis said April 18 that K-12 schools would be closed for the rest of the school year.
Georgia’s stay-at-home order is set to expire April 30. Gov. Brian Kemp (R) announced Monday he would allow some businesses, including gyms and hair salons, to reopen and elective surgeries to resume beginning April 24. Schools are closed in the state through the rest of the school year.
Hawaii’s stay-at-home order is set to expire April 30. Gov. David Ige (D) has said he’s taking a “phased-in” approach to reopening the state for business. Schools are closed through the rest of the school year.
Idaho’s stay-at-home order is set to expire April 30. Gov. Brad Little (R) extended the order despite opposition within his own party. He has said some nonessential businesses can reopen on May 1, so long as they “prepare operational plans” that include limits on the number of people in a business at a time.
Illinois’s stay-at-home order is set to expire April 30. Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) is coordinating reopening the state with the governors of Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. Schools are closed for the rest of the school year.
Indiana’s stay-at-home order expires April 30. Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) has warned not all restrictions will be dropped on May 1 but said that “we are thinking early May” for starting to ease some rules. Schools are closed through the rest of the school year.
Iowa has the “equivalent” of a stay-at-home order until April 30. Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) has mandated through a State Public Health Emergency Declaration that all nonessential businesses remain closed until then. Schools are closed through the rest of the school year.
Kansas’s stay-at-home order is set to expire May 3. Gov. Laura Kelly (D) said she’s working on a plan to reopen the state. Schools are closed through the rest of the school year.
Kentucky’s “Healthy at Home” order has no set end date. Gov. Andy Beshear (D) said he plans to follow federal benchmarks for reopening.
Louisiana’s stay-at-home order is set to expire April 30. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) said April 17 that the state is “not where we need to be” to reopen, but he expects to be closer by May 1. Schools are closed for the rest of the school year.
Maine’s stay-at-home order is set to expire April 30. Gov. Janet Mills (D) said she is planning a “phased-in” reopening, “tailored to the demographics and various economic sectors of our state.”
Maryland does not have an end date for its stay-at-home order or its executive order to wear face coverings in any retail business or on public transportation. Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has promised a “gradual rollout” of any plan to reopen. Schools are closed until May 15.
Massachusetts is under a stay-at-home order until May 4. Schools are also closed until then.
Michigan’s stay-at-home order expires April 30. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) has said she hopes to take some “steps forward” to reopen the state starting May 1.
“I do hope to have some relaxing come May 1, but it’s two weeks away and the information and the data and our ability to test is changing so rapidly it’s hard to tell precisely where we’ll be in a week from now much less two,” Whitmer told “Good Morning America” on April 17.
She also warned that large group protests of her stay-at-home order could lead to extending her order. Michigan and several other states over the weekend saw small groups protesting that stay-at-home orders infringe on personal rights.
Schools are closed through the rest of the school year.
Minnesota’s stay-at-home order expires May 4. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz(D) allowed some recreational activities, including golfing, boating, fishing, hunting and hiking, to restart on April 18. The state’s public schools are also closed until May 4.
Mississippi’s stay-at-home order expires April 27. Gov. Tate Reeves (R) indicated he plans to begin allowing businesses to reopen on that date. However, schools are closed through the rest of the school year.
“We can’t wait until there’s a cure to this,” Reeves told Fox News on April 19. “We can’t wait until every single person can get tested every single day to open up our economy. We have serious mental health issues going on in this country right now. And we also have a serious economic crisis going on in this country right now.”
Missouri’s stay-at-home order is set to expire May 3. Gov. Mike Parson (R) has said Missouri’s “reopening efforts will be careful, deliberate, and done in phases,” and that some local municipalities may leave restrictions in place longer than those at the state level. Schools are closed through the rest of the school year.
Montana’s stay-at-home order expires April 24. Gov. Steve Bullock (D) has also extended school closures until that date. He plans a “phased reopening.”
Nebraska does not have a stay-at-home order. Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) has said social distancing measures and closures of restaurants and other businesses will remain in place through April. Schools are closed through the rest of the school year.
Nevada’s stay-at-home order ends April 30. Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) has said he will announce a plan to reopen the state “soon.”
Today, I had a briefing with my team of medical and emergency response experts. We’re reviewing the recommendations from the White House and making considerations for our state-specific re-opening plan. I look forward to presenting these updates to Nevadans soon. pic.twitter.com/N7LnFR6gEJ
— Governor Sisolak (@GovSisolak) April 18, 2020
New Hampshire
New Hampshire’s stay-at-home order expires May 4. Gov. Chris Sununu (R) has said the state is “not anywhere near” fully reopening. Schools are closed in the state for the rest of the school year.
New Jersey
New Jersey’s stay-at-home order does not have an end date. Gov. Phil Murphy (D) has said “there will be blood on our hands” if the order is lifted too soon. Schools in the state are closed until May 15.
New Mexico
New Mexico’s stay-at-home order ends April 30. Schools are closed for the rest of the school year. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) has called for “a thoughtful, staged and flexible reopening” of the state.
New York
New York’s stay-at-home order lasts until May 15. Schools are also closed until then. Gov. Andrew Cuomo
(D) has said it’s time to “start opening the valve slowly and carefully” and that upstate New York may reopen more quickly than New York City. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) has closed schools through the rest of the school year and cancelled nonessential events through June.
North Carolina
North Carolina’s stay-at-home order expires April 29. Gov. Roy Cooper (D) has said he does not plan “to lift the restrictions all at once.” Schools are closed until May 15.
North Dakota
North Dakota does not have a stay-at-home order. However, nonessential businesses are closed in the state through April 30. Gov. Doug Burgum (R) plans to partially reopen the state on May 1. Schools are closed “until further notice” but school facilities are allowed to reopen for some activities in May.
Ohio’s stay-at-home order will expire May 1. Gov. Mike DeWine (R) says the state will begin to “open back up” on that date with a “phased-in” approach. As of Monday, schools are closed through the rest of the academic year.
I am an optimist and am confident that Ohioans will also live up to the challenge of doing things differently as we open back up beginning on May 1st.
— Governor Mike DeWine (@GovMikeDeWine) April 16, 2020
Oklahoma has a “safer-at-home” order, which recommends people over age 65 stay home, until May 6. Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) indicated he hopes the state can begin reopening May 1 if the “downward” trend in cases continues. He allowed previously suspended elective surgeries to resume as of April 24. Schools are closed for the rest of the academic year.
Oregon’s stay-at-home order does not have an end date yet. Many businesses are also closed indefinitely. Gov. Kate Brown (D) plans a “smart and deliberate” reopening for the state. Schools are closed for the rest of the school year.
Pennsylvania’s stay-at-home order expires May 8. Gov. Tom Wolf (D) has said he plans to ease restrictions starting then on construction, curbside alcohol pickup and vehicle sales.
“I want to caution that we will not be resuming operations as they were in February,” Wolf said April 20. “We’re going to continue to take precautions that limit our physical contact with others, and we will closely monitor this to see if it can be done safely.”
Schools are closed the rest of the school year.
Rhode Island
Rhode Island’s stay-at-home order expires May 8. Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) plans to reopen “industry by industry in phases.” Schools are closed until the end of April.
South Carolina
South Carolina’s “state of emergency” order closing all nonessential businesses expires April 27. All South Carolina public schools are closed through April 30. However, Gov. Henry McMaster (R) is allowing some public beaches and retail stores, including department stores and bookstores, to reopen starting April 20. Public schools are closed through April 30.
South Dakota
South Dakota does not have a stay-at-home order. Gov. Kristi Noem(R) says social distancing efforts have worked to “flatten the curve” in the state, saying the one “hot spot” was the Smithfield Foods plant in Sioux Falls. Schools are closed in the state through the rest of the year.
Tennessee’s stay-at-home order expires until April 30. Gov. Bill Lee (R) has established an economic recovery group to discuss reopening the state to business, emphasizing that more testing is needed first. He has asked that all public schools remain closed for the rest of the school year, although each individual district has to adopt his recommendation.
This morning, I spoke with @VP and our nation’s governors regarding expanded testing capacity & Tennessee’s aggressive push to test outside of traditional COVID-19 symptoms. Ramping up our testing & health care capacity is a critical step to get Tennesseans back to work safely.
— Gov. Bill Lee (@GovBillLee) April 20, 2020
Texas’s stay-at-home order ends April 30. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced on April 17 that state parks would reopen on April 20 and some stores could start offering “retail to go” starting April 24. He said face coverings would still be required.
State schools will remain closed for the rest of the school year.
Utah’s equivalent of a stay-at-home order expires May 1. Gov. Gary Herbert (R) has said he hopes to reopen the state in three phases starting at the beginning of May. He said he hopes to reopen sit-down dining and gyms and allow elective surgeries starting on May 1. Herbert’s phased plan indicates some “stabilization” efforts that will likely include some ongoing social distancing continuing through September. Schools are closed through the rest of the school year.
We first started meeting on this issue on March 2, says @GovHerbert.
We are still in an urgent phase of response, which has meant social distancing, increased testing, and public health orders limiting certain activities.
But good things are happening. pic.twitter.com/b1iDWRN4Qg
— Utah COVID-19 Community Task Force (@UtahCoronavirus) April 17, 2020
Vermont’s stay-at-home order ends May 15. Schools are closed through the rest of the academic year.
Gov. Phil Scott (R) announced April 17 that some “low contact” businesses would be allowed to begin reopening with a two-person staff beginning April 20.
Virginia’s stay-at-home order expires June 10. All K-12 schools are closed through the rest of the school year. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) extended his order closing essential businesses through May 8.
Washington’s stay-at-home order expires May 4. Gov. Jay Inslee (D) has said he may extend it. He has said the state is “not close” to reopening.
Washington schools are closed for the rest of the school year.
West Virginia
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) has not indicated an end date for his stay-at-home order. Schools and businesses remain closed until at least April 30. He said April 15 that he has begun conversations about “transitioning into the next phase” of the state’s fight against the coronavirus.
Wisconsin’s stay-at-home order expires May 26. Gov. Tony Evers (D) has closed K-12 schools for the rest of the school year.
Wyoming does not have a stay-at-home order. However, Gov. Mark Gordon (R) has used orders to prohibit gatherings of 10 or more people and close schools and businesses like restaurants. Those orders end April 30.

WASHINGTON—The Social Security Administration announced today that Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients will automatically receive their Economic Impact Payments directly to their bank accounts through direct deposit, Direct Express debit card, or by paper check, just as they would normally receive their SSI benefits. Treasury anticipates SSI recipients will receive these automatic payments no later than early May.

From Gestapo Chief to senior CIA official
Aprill 20, 2020
by Christian Jürs

On May 22, 1945, a German Wehrmacht General, Reinhard Gehlen, the former head of the German Army High Command’s Foreign Armies East, surrendered along with his key staff members to the United States military at Fischhausen in southern Germany.
Gehlen’s unit was responsible for gathering and analyzing military intelligence on the Soviet Union,. His staff accomplished this by interrogating prisoners in army POW camps—captured Soviet military personnel and, in their headquarters—Soviet defectors. They also studied battlefield intelligence from captured Soviet documents, maps and code books. Further material was obtained by signals intelligence which listened to Soviet non-coded, low-level combat unit radio traffic. These methods of gathering combat intelligence are standard procedures still used by all armies.
During the war, Gehlen did not have intelligence agents in the Soviet Union. The General was not accustomed to gathering and analyzing Soviet political data. Unlike ‘Gestapo’ Müller, whose radio playback section had direct contact with very high-level Soviet intelligence agents inside Russia, Gehlen dealt strictly with combat intelligence.
On August 26, 1945, Gehlen and four of his closest assistants were flown to Washington for substantive talks with U.S. authorities. Gehlen was the subject of an inter-agency struggle when Allen Dulles of the OSS, once their station chief in Switzerland during the war, and General William Donovan, commander of the agency, attempted to secure Gehlen and his files for themselves. Dulles eventually won and his assistant Frank Wisner was appointed to oversee the former head of Foreign Armies East.
The Gehlen team was based at Fort Hunt, near Washington. Gehlen began his new career by preparing a series of reports which were well received. In July of 1946, Gehlen returned to Germany, and set up shop at Pullach, a former housing project for elite Nazi officials such as Martin Bormann. Gehlen was instructed to build an intelligence agency capable of conducting the highest level surveillance of the Soviets. His microfilmed files were sold to U.S. intelligence for $5 million.
Considering that these files only contained material on Soviet military units that had long been disbanded or were no longer combat ready, Gehlen was very well paid for very cold coffee.
Since Gehlen had no experience with internal Soviet intelligence or with their foreign intelligence, he was hard-pressed to use his former army staff officers to supply the United Stateswith relevant material. In 1946, Gehlen hired Willi Krichbaum, formerly the deputy chief of the Gestapo, as his senior agent recruiter.
While Gehlen had no experience with Soviet spies, the Gestapo certainly did, and Krichbaum immediately sought out to hire many of his old associates.
At the same time, Krichbaum contacted his former chief, Heinrich Müller, formerly head of the Gestapo who was now a resident in Switzerland, and a respected and wealthy citizen.
Müller was, by no means, inactive in his enforced retirement and was in contact with Krichbaum almost from the beginning of his exile. Lengthy handwritten reports from Krichbaum to Müller spanning nearly three years exist and, while Müller’s correspondence to Krichbaum is not in his files, the Krichbaum correspondence indicates without a doubt, that “Gestapo” Müller was supplying his former deputy with reams of information on prospective employees for the new Gehlen organization, as well as a flood of concise directives on the structure necessary to implement the needs of the US intelligence.
In 1946, Gehlen began the construction of his new agency, while the Soviet military machine in the East Zone of Germany was in the process of downsizing. The Second World War had proven to be a terrible economic disaster to Stalin. His troops were in the process of dismantling German factories which were still intact, ripping up the railroad system, and sending their spoils back to Russia.
The American armed forces were also being sharply reduced, since the war in the Pacific had ended in 1945. Military units were disbanded and their soldiers returned to civilian life as quickly as possible. On the economic front, businesses that had enjoyed lucrative government military contracts found themselves with empty assembly lines and tens of thousands of laid off workers.
It has been said that there never was a good war nor a bad peace. While the latter was certainly beneficial to the Soviets and permitted them to rebuild their economy, it certainly was not beneficial for either the rapidly-shrinking military or business communities in the United States.
This situation permitted the development of the Gehlen organization and secured its position as a vital American political resource. The U.S. had virtually no military intelligence knowledge of the Soviet Union. But the Germans, who had fought against them for four years, had. Gehlen and his military staff only had knowledge of wartime Soviet military units which were either reduced to cadre or entirely disbanded. However, this was of no interest to the senior officials of U.S. intelligence. Gehlen was to become a brilliant intelligence specialist with an incredible grasp of Soviet abilities and intentions. This preeminence was almost entirely fictional. It was designed to elevate Gehlen in the eyes of American politicians including President Truman and members of Congress, and to lend well-orchestrated weight to the former General’s interpretation of his employer’s needs.
In 1948, Stalin sent troops into Czechoslovakia after a minority but efficient communist coup that overthrew the Western-oriented government. This act, in February of 1948, combined with the blockade of West Berlin, then occupied by the British, French and Americans in June of the same year, gave a group of senior American military leaders a heaven-sent opportunity to identify a new and dangerous military enemy—an enemy which could and would attack Western Europe and the United States in the immediate future.
To facilitate the acceptance of this theory, Gehlen was requested to produce intelligence material that would bolster it in as authoritative a manner as possible. This Gehlen did and to set the parameters of this report, Gehlen, General Stephen Chamberlain, Chief of Intelligence of the U.S. Army General Staff, and General Lucius D. Clay, U.S. commander in occupied Germany met in Berlin in February of 1948, immediately after the Czech occupation but before the blockade.
After this meeting, Gehlen drew up a lengthy and detailed intelligence report categorically stating that 135 fully-equipped Soviet divisions, many armored, were poised to attack. General Clay forwarded this alarming example of creative writing to Washington and followed up with frantic messages indicating his fear that the Soviets were about to launch an all-out land war on the United States.
Although the sequence of events might indicate that Clay was involved in an attempt to mislead U.S’ leaders, in actuality, he was misled by Chamberlain and Gehlen. They managed to thoroughly frighten General Clay and used him as a conduit to Washington. He was not the last to fall victim to the machinations of the war party.
The Gehlen papers were deliberately leaked to Congress and the President. This resulted in the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States. This was not a historical first by any means.
Elements in England at the beginning of the 20th century, alarmed at the growing economic threat of a united Germany, commenced a long public campaign designed to frighten the British public and their leaders into adopting a bellicose re-armament program based on a fictional German military threat.
Gehlen and his organization were considered vital to U.S. interests. As long as the General was able to feed the re-armament frenzy in Washington with supportive, inflammatory secret reports, then his success was assured.
The only drawback to this deadly farce was that the General did not have knowledge of current Soviet situations in the military or political fields. He could only bluff his way for a short time. To enhance his military staffs, Gehlen developed the use of former SS Sicherheitsdienst (SD) and Gestapo people, brought to him by Krichbaum, his chief recruiter.
At the same time, Krichbaum contacted his former chief, Heinrich Müller, former head of the Gestapo, who was now a resident in Switzerland, and a respected and wealthy citizen. Müller was, by no means, inactive in his enforced retirement and was in contact with Krichbaum almost from the beginning of his exile.
Lengthy handwritten reports from Krichbaum to Müller spanning nearly three years exist and, while Müller’s correspondence to Krichbaum is not in his files, the Krichbaum correspondence indicates without a doubt, that “Gestapo” Müller was supplying his former deputy with reams of information on prospective employees for the new Gehlen organization, as well as a flood of concise directives on the structure necessary to implement the needs of the US intelligence.
At the same time, a joint British-American project called “Operation Applepie” was launched with the sole purpose of locating and employing as many of the former Gestapo and SD types now being employed by Gehlen.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, after all
In 1973, West German authorities issued a warrant for the arrest of Heinrich Müller, formerly head of the Gestapo, having good reason to believe that he did not die in Berlin in 1945.
That Heinrich Müller was hired by the CIA as an expert on Soviet intelligence is obviously not a subject the CIA wishes to have made public, their clumsy attempts to silence public comment on this is understandable.
Correspondence, in U.S. files, between German legal agencies and their U.S. counterparts indicates unhappiness, frustration and growing displeasure on the part of the Germans and classic stonewalling on the part of the Americans.
Portions of Müller’s U.S. CIC files now in Ft. Meade, Md, have been censored. None of the documents once refused to researchers deal with immediate postwar searches for Müller but cover a much later period. The reasons given for continued classification is that their release would adversely affect U.S. national security.
The extensive files of Heinrich Müller represent a treasure trove of historical material. The natural repository for such a collection should rightfully be an archive or institution where the entire body of documentation would be available to anyone wishing to conduct research. They are also a source of intense embarrassment for the CIA .
But the Müller papers and CIA secret documents, in private hands, are now being prepared for general publication and will be available to all and sundry, and the general attitude of senior archivists and CIA and BND officials is now one of dismay and fury.

The Encyclopedia of American Loons

Erick Stakelbeck

Yet another rightwing commentator whose only recognizable qualifications are anger and paranoia, Erick Stakelbeck is a former sports reporter who has become recognized by some wingnuts (e.g. Pat Robertson) as a “terror expert” because he says stupid things they happen to agree with. Stakelbeck has no credentials or expertise in anything resembling such fields, but you won’t find anyone who does who are also willing to say the stuff Stakelbeck says, so there you are. So, according to Stakelbeck, Obama was a “revolutionary Marxist” trying to destroy “Judeo-Christian western civilization.” He seems to have no clear idea what any of those words mean.
Probably the main threat to the US at present, as Stakelbeck sees things, is anyways the Left. And Islam. Which are more or less the same – according to Stakelbeck the “Left sees Islam as an ally and Western Civilization and the Judeo-Christian tradition is the enemy” because they “have a shared hatred for this country.” Apparently gays are in cahoots with radical Islam/the Left as well, and they hate not only America but Jesus himself, too. Stakelbeck is pretty adamant that facts don’t matter here.
In his capacity as a terrorism expert, Stakelbeck has also offered “expert analysis” of the Syrian civil war, complete with biblical prophecy. On Marcus and Joni Lamb’s show Celebration in 2012 he revealed that the war will end with the destruction of Damascus because “the Bible says it’s going to happen, and it’s going to happen.” He also claimed that Islamic terrorists have infiltrated cities all over the United States (though the media doesn’t cover it because of political correctness), including Dearborn, Michigan, which is a “radical Islamic enclave” – he called it “Dearbornistan” – presumably to the surprise of the people of Dearborn, only a minority of whom are Muslim. Apparently Brooklyn and Chicago are other examples of radical Islamist enclaves. At least he answered any concerns with respect to his claims to expertise that might have arisen from realizing his complete lack of credentials: while he was in Israel God spoke to him and told him to defend Israel; therefore, Stakelbeck, said, “I know why I’m here on this earth.” After all, how could expertise gained from reading, carefully analyzing and understanding compete with the word of God?
But the Muslims are everywhere. Stakelbeck has pointed out for instance that Grover Norquist, Huma Abedin and André Carson are all part of the Muslim Brotherhood’s “fox in the henhouse strategy” to perpetrate “stealth jihad” hidden behind “suits and ties,” “fluent English,” and “eloquent tones, at least in public.” And with fellow conspiracy theorist Rick Wiles, Stakelbeck wondered why John McCain and Lindsey Graham have “sided” with the Muslim Brotherhood. Worst of all, perhaps, is Obama (of course), or “Imam Obama”, as Stakelbeck calls him, who is “empowering and emboldening the Muslim Brotherhood;” and don’t you forget Benghazi.
Stakelbeck is of course vehemently opposed to the First Amendment, at least when it is used to allow people he doesn’t like to say or do things he disagrees with.
Diagnosis: Moron. He has no credentials, no expertise, no understanding of anything. But he does say what other morons want to hear, and has therefore achieved a position of authority in certain groups.

Mike Stahl

Pastor Mike Stahl of the Living Water internet church is one of many raging fundies polluting the Internet. Stahl has apparently “been seriously considering forming a ( Christian ) grassroots type of organization to be named ‘The Christian National Registry of Atheists’ or something similar.” After all, there are “already National Registrys for convicted sex offenders, ex-convicts, terrorist cells, hate groups like the KKK, skinheads, radical Islamists, etc. [there actually isn’t],” so why not a similar registry for atheists? The registry, he rushes to affirm, “would merely be for information purposes. To inform the public of KNOWN (i.e., self-admitted) atheists” and not contain personal information or the person’s physical address (“though, perhaps a photo could be”). Now, why would we need such a registry? Well, “[d]uhhh, Mr. Atheist, for the same purpose many States put the names and photos of convicted sex offenders and other ex-felons on the I-Net – to INFORM the public!” Who wouldn’t see the obviousness of that comparison? And a list like that would give Stahl and likeminded people the opportunity to “begin to witness to them and warn them of the dangers of atheism. Or perhaps they are radical atheists, whose hearts are as hard as Pharaoh’s, in that case, if they are business owners, we would encourage all our Christian friends, as well as the various churches and their congregations NOT to patronize them as we would only be ‘feeding’ Satan”. In his wisdom, Stahl cannot even see “why anyone would oppose this idea – including the atheists themselves (unless of course, they’re actually ashamed of their atheist religion, and would prefer to stay in the ‘closet’”). Presumably being lectured to and told about the dangers of atheism is something any atheist would desire.
After receiving some attention for his suggestion, Stahl promptly made his blog private. It was surely not because he didn’t enjoy the public exposure, was it? (A year later he apparently still thought the registry was a good idea).
Diagnosis: Genuinely stupid. (Unless he is evil. The options are not mutually exclusive.)

Edward Sopcak

CanCell, also known as Entelev or Cantron, is one of many utterly useless purported cancer cures. Ostensibly CanCell is “an assembly of synthetic chemicals” – they are secret, though the assembly has apparently also changed over the years – that react with the body “electrically” rather than “chemically”, and the fact that it doesn’t work doesn’t prevent people with poor moral compasses and/or poor critical thinking skills from promoting it. Indeed, in addition to cancer, CanCell is promoted for a variety of diseases, including AIDS, cystic fibrosis, MS, emphysema, Parkinson’s disease, hemophilia, and mental illness (except schizophrenia). Its inventor, James Sheridan, claimed that the formula was revealed to him by God in a dream in 1936, and that he therefore cannot charge people for using it, but instead established the Eden Foundation, a nonprofit corporation, through which people could pay him instead. Edward Sopcak, another promoter, was less worried about personal gain, and continued to promote the “remedy” at least until 1992, when the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan found him to be in contempt of a January 1990 decree to stop manufacturing and distributing the product. (Two associates, Diane Petrosky and Bonnie Sue Miller, were also warned to cease their violative activities.) Sopcak had then been promoting CanCell as a cure for a range of diseases, claiming for instance that all symptoms of AIDS disappear will in 28 days with CanCell. They would, needless to say, not.
According to Sopcak (here he departs from Sheridan’s teachings) there is only one type of cancer, which is caused by a mutated anaerobic cell: an improper diet will cause electrical and chemical damage and open the way for the microbe Progenitor cryptocides (an imaginary cancer-causing germ invented by the late Virginia Livingston-Wheeler), and CanCell ostensibly acts by changing the vibrational frequency and energy of cancer cells, thereby “reducing their voltage,” until they reach the “primitive” state described by Sheridan. Sopcak also claims to “tune” the liquid to correct vibrational frequency in some secret fashion. He seems, in other words, to have tried to be careful to avoid phrases that are actually medically meaningful, which would be required for saying anything demonstrably false and therefore legally actionable. Evidence? Well, according to promoters, human and animal studies have in fact been done proving CanCell’s efficacy – the FDA did a “secret and illegal” study resulting in 80–85% cure rates, for instance – but you won’t find any trace of those studies since they have been suppressed by “the establishment”. In other words: none. So it goes.
Sopcak has also claimed that he believes all medicine in the future will ultimately be practiced by adjusting vibrational frequencies, and has even made forays into homeopathy, with a homeopathic version of CanCell called … “CanCell”, no less. Which could potentially be a source of confusion. Fortunately, the homeopathic version is probably no less efficacious than the standard version, and probably less prone to cause harm.
The product has certainly not gone away – woo rarely does, given that it was never a matter of evidence anyways – but is sold in bottles claiming that “Cantron® is an amazing bio-electrical wellness formulation [a meaningless phrase, and thus potentially not legally actionable]. It provides astonishing health benefits like no other substance on Earth. It is the world’s most potent antioxidant [it isn’t, and it wouldn’t necessarily be a good thing if it were, but “antioxidant” sounds like “health” to the intended target audience] and scavenger of abnormal proteins [nonsense] which accumulate in the blood, tissues, organs and joints. Cantron is known to dramatically aid the body’s own natural defenses [yes: it “boosts the immune system”]. Since 1984, it has received rave reviews from those who have taken it. One customer summed it up perfectly on an Internet chat site when she emphatically stated: ‘How blessed we are to know about Cantron.’” There is an informative article on the product here.
Diagnosis: Admittedly, we haven’t heard from Sopcak for a while, and aren’t completely sure he’s still around. But the product certainly is, and deserves to be covered, and since we do entries by name, Sopcak’s seemed as good as any. A real threat to health and well-being.

Anti-vaccine movement: the epidemic of stupid
Diggit Magazine
Social networking platforms have contributed to a specific form of the epidemic of stupid: the anti-vaccine movement. These networking platforms are revolutionary inventions, creating a community beyond our traditional borders, that allows information to be passed along, with many people listening, engaging, and building relationships. The essence of serviceability provided by these platforms is abused and used to spread misleading information about vaccines. Anti-vaccine movements are not new, but due to social networking platforms this information can be spread on a larger scale. In turn, this contributes to the comeback of outdated diseases like measles in Europe and the USA.
The anti-vaccine movement and the comeback of a ‘Dark Ages disease’
Measles has made a comeback, not only in the USA but also in Europe. Some experts blame this on widespread misinformation about vaccinations. These misleading sources are spread via social media platforms, but also via product platforms like Bol.com whose algorithms seem to promote anti-vaccination books.
Anti-vaccine advocates attempt, for example, to convince people that vaccines against measles can cause autism. Following this claim, many parents have made the decision to not vaccinate their child in fear of the child developing autism. This conspiracy theory, therefor, can have serious and devastating effects.
In 2019, there have been 372 outbreaks of measles in 2018 and already 206 cases since 28th February 2019 in the USA, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In Europe, too, the amount of measles cases has tripled, according to a news report of Science on 12th February 2019. That translates as 83,000 reported cases of measles by the World Health Organization (WHO) in Europe.
The rather bizarre but also strangely ironic note in this, is that both reports have found one common leading issue that contributes to this problem: measles has made a comeback because of anti-vaccine sentiments. This means that there are an increasing amount of parents who judge that it is best to not vaccinate their child because there is a ‘unknown percentage’ of risk for a child to develop autism due to this vaccine. Instead of vaccinating a child these parents would rather let the child suffer from – and possibly die from – measles. What is more, measles is a highly contagious, infectious disease. Merely being in a room that somebody who has measles has left hours before, could already result in an infection.
The other thing that seems to be contagious is the misleading information spread by anti-vaccine movements. This has caused such an immense problem that the WHO has called the anti-vaccine movement a major threat to public health. They have labeled this epidemic ‘vaccine hesitance’. As the cause is complex, the WHO argues that the problem cannot be entirely blamed on anti-vaccine movements alone. Nevertheless, particularly Western countries increase in measles cases had been used as proof and warning that this might be due to the spread of misleading information.
In another report, Katrina Kretsinger, a lead measles expert, has said that ‘the root cause of the measles outbreaks […] is a failure to adequately vaccinate’. This would explain the 30% increase in the spread of measles around the globe.
What is really the difference?
Most news reports see that the increase of measles cases is due to the fact that anti-vaccine movements have spread misleading information on social media platforms, which makes concerned parents to adopt the drastic measure of not vaccinating their child. According to the New York Times ‘flu vaccination rates and infant immunization levels have largely remained stable in recent years’. However, the link that was used by the New York Times to prove that vaccines remain stable is from 2017, whereas the aforementioned increase of measles cases happened in 2018 and 2019.
The New York Times claims that the anti-vaccine movement has been around since the 18th century, hence, ‘fears and resistance to vaccination are not new’.
The report acknowledges the link between anti-vaxxers and the increase in measles cases, but does not address to what extent social networking platforms have contributed to this influential relationship, even though many others have found compelling evidence of a connection between the two phenomena.
That is to say, the outbreak of measles in recent cases has been blamed upon anti-vaxxers being able to spread misleading information on social networking platforms. Therefore, what follows offers a discussion on how social networking platforms influence and contribute to the measles epidemic.
Social networking platforms in connection to anti-vaxxers
None other than the ‘preciously-alluring’ platform kings of the internet – Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and Amazon – play the leading roles in this epidemic. However, instead of blaming these platforms themselves, we need to consider the usage of them. The internet is a great space for movements such as for the anti-vaxxers. This is due to the fact that the internet offers a space in which anyone can spread any type of information. This offers members of anti-vaccine movements to read and spread misleading information that is not scientifically supported.
If one types ‘vaccine’ into the Facebook search engine, the first results that show up are anti-vaccination content.
Pages such as ‘Stop Mandatory Vaccination’ have 129K likes. According to the WELT, clicking ‘like’ on any of these pages, will immediately redirect you to many other pages that promote anti-vaccination. Particularly in the USA this has inspired discussions that force Facebook to take preventive measures against this dynamic.
YouTube, too, took action against channels that promoted anti-vaccination videos. According to BuzzFeed News, YouTube’s ‘Up next’ algorithm recommended users anti-vaccination videos after watching a pro-vaccine video. They had tested the website by searching for ‘immunization’ without any previous recorded personal data or watch history. The first video offered for this search was from the pro-vaccination channel Rehealthify. The following suggested video, however, was an anti-vaccination clip titled ‘Mom Researches Vaccines, Discovers Vaccination Horrors and Goes Vaccine Free’. This clip came from a channel owned by Larry Cook, who is the owner of the popular anti-vaccination website ‘StopMandatoryVaccination.com’, which had already been scrutinized by Facebook.
BuzzFeed News elaborated on the fact that YouTube is not only affected by conspiracies theory of anti-vaxxers but also by the ‘steady stream of videos of crying parents who genuinely believe vaccines harmed their children that keeps the movement boosted’. It was still unclear at that moment how YouTube would take measures against this, but as of now, YouTube had promised to demonetize channels promoting anti-vaccines.
Another platform that was involved in this turmoil is Pinterest. Their search engine had also recommended many anti-vaccine facts. The platform was forced to block vaccination searches that had contradicting medical guidelines and images that cautioned against vaccinations. Similar decisions were made at Amazon. At the beginning of March, California Congressman Adam Schiff was wrote a personal letter to Amazon boss Jeff Bezos regarding the anti-Vaccine information accessible on their website. Shiff was concerned about the ‘surfacing and recommending products and content that discourage parents from vaccinating their children’, describing it as a ‘direct threat to public health’. He added that this spread was causing a ‘reversing progress made in tackling vaccine-preventable diseases.’ Amazon then removed anti-vaccination documentaries from their search results for Prime videos, stated Buzzfeed News.
In 2018, 35 deaths caused by measles have been reported in the EU countries that had previously eradicated or interrupted the endemic of the transmissions of measles. As of yet, in 2019, the highest numbers of outbreak cases had been documented in Romania, Italy, Poland, and France. The European Centre for Diseases Prevention and Control (ECDC) states that there have been 881 cases reported around 19 countries, but 10 of these did not report any outbreaks. For example, Germany ‘did not report measles data for 2019’, states ECDC, even though there had been 546 reported cases between December 2017 and November 2018.
The WELT found examples of links on German Facebook pages that resemble the American cases: promoting ‘anti-vaccine propaganda’ instead of providing scientifically supported evidence. The newspaper also carried out a similar test to that of BuzzFeed News, by typing ‘Impfen’ (‘vaccinate’) into the search engine and found hits relating to the same anti-vaccine nonsense as in the American case. Included in the first five results were the pages ‘Impfen Pro &Contra’ [Vaccinate Pros&Cons], ‘Maßvoll Impfen’ [moderate Vaccination] and ‘Nicht impfen- was dann’ [No vaccination – what now]. The WELT applied same test to YouTube and found a less concerning outcome. Nevertheless, in the top ten results there where two anti-vaccine Titles; ‘Wir impfen nicht’ [We do not vaccinate] and ‘Impfen macht erst krank’ [Vaccines above all triggers sickness].
The growing concern on the measles outbreaks corroborates with the spread of radical anti-vaccine information on different internet platforms. It would be expected that this would induce a political intervention in Europe to stop the misconception, as has happened in the US.
What can we do for today and tomorrow?
The Washington Post has suggested that the contemporary anti-vaccine movement should be labeled as ‘the modern anti-vaxxer movement,’ because it is gaining momentum even though there is no evidence that proves that vaccines can cause autism at all. There is a need to take immediate action. This was brought to the attention of the Senate through a hearing on ‘Vaccines Save Lives: What is Driving Preventable Disease Outbreaks’, in which an 18-year-old boy called Ethan Lindenberger demanded for attention.
Lindenberger had received vaccinations even though his mother, who is a firm believer in the anti-vaccination movement, had forbidden him to do so. He is set to testify in front of the Senate committee. He urges to ‘combat preventable-disease outbreaks, information […]’, and says that the leading source of this issue is social media, claiming that his mother ‘would turn to anti-vaccine groups online and on social media, looking for her evidence in defense […]’.
This is just one case out of many more. In another case, an unvaccinated boy was infected with tetanus and it cost his parents $800,000 to save his life. Even after this procedure his parents refused their son to be vaccinated, because of their fears fueled by anti-vaccine information. This CDC report was published and aimed at a corroborated ‘growing anti-vaccination movement bolstered by the spread of misleading content social media platforms’, claims BuzzFeed News.
Nonetheless, children are usually forced to listen to their parents because their parents possess full legal custody over their children. Which makes sense: a parent should have full responsibility for their underaged children. But what happens if this legally responsible parent believes in anti-vaccine information that has no base in scientific evidence and causes their child or others to receive measles as a result of not vaccinated their child? When can we say that ‘enough is enough’? How many kids have to suffer, before somebody steps in? Or will we forever have to encounter the new Joshua Nerius – the 30-year-old son of anti-vaxxers diagnosed with measles?
The solution: vaccinate
It is undeniable that this situation needs to receive special attention. It has impacted society on a global level, because people travel more frequently than ever before. Therefore, it becomes more likely that unvaccinated individuals come into contact with people in environments were vaccinations are not as affordable as e.g. in most Western countries. Let us not take advantage of our privilege and realize that we do not need to be looking for a new answer, for we have already got one.
On social media, the same places that allow anti-vaxxers to spread their misinformation have also become the places where the movement is challenged by pro-vaxxers. The pro-vaxxers use the internet to spread ‘images from the darkly humorous to the occasionally brutal as well as the informational’, that are targeted at anti-vaccine audiences. These pro-vaxxers felt the need to step in, because ‘social media companies have been slow to act’. The members of the pro-vaccine movement prefer to stay anonymous because they have been harassed multiple times by anti-vaxxers. One of the pro-vaxxers remarks that their mission is to ensure that ‘people to find the very idea of being or becoming anti-vax laughable’ and to create the feeling ‘that no reasonable person would ever want to be perceived as being [one of them]’.
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