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Unfortunate timing October 14, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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I never thought I’d say this, but it is fascinating to see how much of the media just doesn’t seem to take the pandemic seriously. For example… the IT editorial for yesterday has the following:

…there are some tentatively encouraging signs. At the weekend, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly confirmed that the R-number in the capital is estimated to be at 1, which implies infections are stable. We also know that the average of reported Covid-19 cases in Dublin in the last seven days was 144.5, whereas for the previous seven days it was 188.9. Of further encouragement is the transmission ratio, a metric that captures how much transmission is taking place, which is estimated to be at equilibrium in the capital. If that trend holds, cases can be expected to fall in the coming weeks.

And:

What this suggests is that Level 3, which involved closing indoor restaurants, banning many sports fixtures and curtailing movement across county boundaries, can arrest the growth in transmission in specific areas. The coming weeks will show whether that progress can be sustained. If so, it would strengthen the Government’s case for resisting a Level 5 lockdown.

But, read the news later that day in the same paper and one will see.

The incidence of the virus in Dublin appeared to stabilise last week but since Saturday more than 200 cases a day have been recorded, according to chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan. …“We can’t conclude we have turned the corner in Dublin even if we can see the growth rate is different to what it was,” he told NPHET’s briefing on Monday. “We don’t have anything like the evidence I would like to be able to conclude the situation in Dublin is sufficiently stable.”

And:

Earlier, when briefing opposition parties along with Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Dr Holohan cautioned TDs that the figures in relation to Dublin are “not yet conclusive” and that this could cast doubt on the effectiveness of the current Level 3 measures which are in place.

Which suggests the editorial was effectively engaging in a form of wishful thinking – picking very weak evidence for change and building a thesis around it. Perhaps the situation will ameliorate – though a less rapid but still rapid increase in numbers is not quite the dawn of a new day in respect of the pandemic. But perhaps it won’t. Perhaps the situation requires treating it with the seriousness it actually deserves.

Comments»

1. pettyburgess - October 14, 2020

There’s a real tension in the Irish Times coverage. It has a barely sublimated urge to start screaming at the plebeians to stop whining and put up with a bit of dying to keep the wheels of capital accumulation spinning smoothly and make sure that the Leinster Senior Cup goes ahead without restriction. But then there’s also the colossal weight of its self regard and self image as above all the voice of sober responsibility. A harmonious synthesis can only be reached if the teachers unions get uppity, providing them with a way to responsibly and soberly scream at plebeians to shut up and get sick.

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WorldbyStorm - October 14, 2020

+1

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WorldbyStorm - October 14, 2020

I think it’s never ever been so clearly Irish middle and upper middle class in its coverage.

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sonofstan - October 14, 2020

Hard to imagine a Nell McCafferty, a Dick Walsh, even a John Healy writing for the IT now is it?

Liked by 1 person

EWI - October 14, 2020

Can also be seen in their schizophrenia around how to report on fascists on the streets of Dublin (by trying to whip up a red scare on the counter-protestors).

Liked by 2 people

2. CL - October 14, 2020

China takes it seriously.

“The Chinese port city of Qingdao plans to test some nine million people in the coming five days, after 12 locally-transmitted coronavirus cases were reported sparking concerns of a wider outbreak.”
https://www.cnn.com/2020/10/12/asia/china-qingdao-coronavirus-golden-week-intl-hnk/index.html

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dublinstick - October 14, 2020

There seems to be a concerted effort in all media to ignore China’s success against this virus, I’d imagine developing countries a paying closer attention and weighting up which super power it is best to be aligned with

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WorldbyStorm - October 14, 2020

Yeah, it’s very telling how there’s no talk of a Chinese model in all this as against a Swedish model or even New Zealand model (which in effect is very similar to the Chinese one). The idea that a state can come in hard against the virus and actually quash it in a functional way is something that clearly is not wanted to be put abroad.

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Liberius - October 14, 2020

as against a Swedish model

Something to note also is that Sweden isn’t and never has been quite as lackadaisical as as been touted, yes they didn’t lockdown and talked up herd immunity but the actual restrictions in place are more severe than many business and sports industry lobbyists would like you to believe.

Sweden will postpone plans to let more people attend sport events and concerts, the government said on Thursday, citing rising coronavirus infection numbers both within the country and around Europe.

The government said in August it intended to raise the limit for some events to 500 from the current 50. However, with case numbers clearly rising within Sweden, the government said it would have to postpone the move…

…In March, Sweden limited public gatherings to 50 people to halt the spread of the virus, effectively preventing theatres, soccer clubs and concerts from being able to bring in revenues from the public.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-sweden-idUSKBN26T280

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WorldbyStorm - October 15, 2020

Absolutely agree. The ‘Swedish model’ is really a fiction, or an exaggeration – one that is very expedient for those who are willing to place human life secondary to economic activity. But as you say it has always been more constrained than its boosters would allow for. Which raises an interesting question, why would the health authorities in Sweden downplay that aspect of their approach?

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Liberius - October 15, 2020

To a degree they have tried to push back against that perception, though obviously this is hamstrung by the fact that even if the approach has been exaggerated it is still outside the mainstream compared to what other health authorities and epidemiologists are advising. The entire FT article linked below is an interesting insight into Tegnell incidentally.

I suggest to Tegnell that an alien landing in Sweden would have difficulty knowing there is a pandemic whereas in England or France, with face masks prevalent, they would realise immediately. He argues that while that might be true on the surface, especially with masks — which Sweden is one of the few countries not to recommend wearing in public — the differences elsewhere are exaggerated. Swedes have stopped travelling just as much as neighbours; hotels and restaurants may not have closed but have been severely affected…

…“These types of restrictions don’t exist almost anywhere else than in Sweden. We have really tried to focus on places that we have known are going to be really dangerous, while going into a record shop and buying a record will not cause hundreds of people to get infected,” he says, adding: “It is there, but I think, as an alien, you need to be here a bit longer to see it.”

https://www.ft.com/content/5cc92d45-fbdb-43b7-9c66-26501693a371

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Colm B - October 15, 2020

Li Wenliang

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WorldbyStorm - October 15, 2020

Absolutely, and don’t want to give the PRC anything like a blank cheque on the political level at all. Hence my point it was functionally similar (albeit on a larger scale) to the NZ approach. But it is worth noting that the general success of that approach in both those places on the medical level is completely brushed aside.

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Colm B - October 15, 2020

The problem is that we can’t be sure about the success or otherwise of the Chinese regimes policies because of the manipulation of stats, constant dissimulation, propaganda etc. Im guessing that their policies have been more successful but that question mark always remains.

However, its also a true, if uncomfortable, fact that a half competent authoritarian gov (China, Vietnam etc.) can sometimes deal with emergencies or crises like this in a more timely manner because there’s no real accountability, no worries about electoral consequences and no scrutiny by the media etc.
So in a way, the same powers that allow them to lock up thousands of Uighur Muslims also allows them to act in a more decisive way in a pandemic, once they’ve accepted that they can’t just suppress the news and wish it away. This is not an argument for authoritarianism just an observation about a by-product. Ironically, an incompetent authoritarian gov has the opposite effect as seen in Trump and Putin’s disastrous denialist policies.

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WorldbyStorm - October 15, 2020

Absolutely, and everything has to come couched in caveats. But it seems the process – that is clear lockdowns followed by track and trace – is incontrovertible as a means of allowing states foward.

Taiwan is another place that seems to have done pretty well.

V true re competent and incompetent authoritarians. Look at Brazil.

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Joe - October 15, 2020

“a half competent authoritarian gov (China, Vietnam etc.)”. I’ve never been to China but I spent a fortnight in Vietnam a couple of years ago. A week in Hanoi an another in Hoi An. Have to say I found the people very nice and the atmosphere not one of repression, let’s say. So I hope the govt in Vietnam isn’t as repressive as the govt in China. Not perfect of course.
Anyone any links that might make me consider taking down the poster I have in the hall of Ho in his garden?

Liked by 1 person

Colm B - October 15, 2020
Joe - October 15, 2020

I dunno Colm. Lord make me pure but not yet. Sure Vietnam isn’t perfect. But, you know, they beat the capitalist imperialists. Then they rebuilt their country and they’re doing the best they can for now there. There wasn’t any feel of living under totalitarian terror when I was there. I’d take it ahead of Saudi Arabia and loads of other places including, e.g. the US, anytime (ah feck, here comes yc).

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Colm B - October 15, 2020

Afraid we’re replaying the same match Seo, but is it being purist to demand that workers should be able to freely organise that unions, that citizens have at least some influence on political decisions and that you don’t get chucked into prison for saying something critical nanout the gov on the internet? Seems like pretty fundamental stuff to me.

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Joe - October 15, 2020

It was the lumping in of Vietnam with China that sparked me to throw the ball in, Colm. I don’t think it’s restarting an old game. More starting a different one. Nothing I know about Vietnam (then again what do I know?) compares with what’s alleged against the Chinese govt wrt the Uighur minority and human rights abuses against the general population.
Tbh I think you can be too purist.

To tangent slightly. I struck up a conversation in a café in Hanoi with an American who has lived there on and off for about ten years. I’d say he sees himself as some kind of entrepreneur. He kept giving out about the Vietnamese government – how his business would be so much better if only the Vietnamese govt would do such and such and such. I mean ffs.

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Colm B - October 15, 2020

Yep, not on the same scale as China but then thats a low bar.

I guess one man’s purism is another man’s principle 😁

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Colm B - October 15, 2020

Get you’re point re Vietnam Vs China, but it’s s low bar you’re setting there.

As for purism, well I guess one man’s purism is another mans principle 😁

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Colm B - October 15, 2020

Sorry, that was CB 2.0

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yourcousin - October 16, 2020

Joe,
Just saw your comment. The reality is that I’m glad you have the choice to live anywhere you would like. If you choose Vietnam, then more power to you.

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3. terrymdunne - October 15, 2020

The east Asian exception re: covid is not just the more authoritarian states/societies, it is also Taiwan and South Korea, and while I cannot speak of the former, South Korea seems to be fairly robust when it comes to the propensity of its’ people to strike and demonstrate and so on and this has been the case since the 1980s, so it could well be more democratic, in real terms, than the West. I am not at all sure the variable in what marks off the east Asian societies from the rest of the world, in this case, is a top-down model of social control (which is not at all to say that the P.R.C. or Vietnam or other supposedly “socialist” states are anything of the sort).

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Colm B - October 15, 2020

Yes, I agree that SK and Taiwan seem to have done better and both are different from most East Asian states in being genuine bourgeois democracies with left-liberal govs and fairly robust civil society. Not my ideal but a better terrain for struggle than almost anywhere else in the region.

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Scott Millar - October 15, 2020

Colm, what do you make of North Korea being able to have a mass military parade and even hostile observers say no real Covid outbreak. Just being cheeky there but from what I’ve read of the China situation it has been as much community efforts from a willing organised populace and just very good organisation that any ‘state suppression’ that has been the key factors, of course with the mess the “West’ has made of all this we are just not going to hear about or we’ll have to hear about ‘state suppression’ – China succeeded I think that is the story here and if they have a vaccine before the Pharma companies I expect all we’ll get is propaganda about its failures.

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Colm B - October 15, 2020

What I think about NK is that it’s an obsenity that they build missiles while workers hardly have enough to eat and thousands of people languish in prison camps. What I think about NK is that it is ruled by a pampered man-boy God-King whose lavish lifestyle is built on the exploitation and suffering of millions of workers. And of course, though you didn’t ask, thats what I think of Kim’s pal, the other man-boy in the White House.

And if I wrote what I really think of people who support the anti-working class, kleptocratic, racist, scumbag ruling classes that run China and NK, it would get me barred from CLR. Since you asked, that Scott, is what I think.

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tomasoflatharta - October 15, 2020

Here is a very sobering news report on the presence of CoVid-19 Virus in Korea. It draws attention to a Trump-style maskless military parade in the North Korean capital city, Pyongyang.

“Yonhap quoted a source who is familiar with North Korean matters as saying that the North’s Ministry of Social Security set up the zone within 1 to 2 kilometers of the border area and ordered the unconditional killing of people and animals who entered the zone or approached the border.

This reiterates remarks from Robert Bruce Abrams, the commander of United States Forces Korea, who said on September 10 that the North had set up such a zone in the border area with China, according to Yonhap. At that time, he said the North dispatched special forces to tighten the border.

North Korea’s unilateral move reportedly caused a spat with China after several incidents where Chinese citizens were shot dead in the border area due to Pyongyang’s measure. Afterward, the two sides agreed to ease tension around the border areas, Seoul-based online publication Daily NK reported in September.

Pyongyang also cited the need to prevent COVID-19 when its military killed a South Korean public servant and burnt his body at sea.

This is one of the main reasons why many South Koreans were upset when they saw that the North held a maskless parade.

South Korean lawmaker Ha Tae-kyung was among the most critical about the North’s move.

“They even shot and burned a South Korean civil servant without diagnosing because of concerns over the spread of the virus by outsiders,” Ha said. “But all the participants of the military parade are not wearing a mask.”

“It’s very dangerous to take off the mask and gather like that because some people do not have symptoms even though they are infected. The virus can spread no matter how many times their body temperature is checked and no abnormality is found,” he added.

“If it is true that the order to shoot innocent South Korean civil servant was issued due to the virus, Kim Jong Un, who created the environment for mass transmission of the virus, should be punished more sternly.”

South Korea’s largest daily with a conservative view, Chosun Ilbo, also said in its editorial on October 12 that it is ridiculous to have tens of thousands gather and chant in one place without masks, while the country was willing to kill an unarmed South Korean citizen and burn the body, citing concern over the outbreak of the virus.” https://thediplomat.com/2020/10/north-koreas-no-mask-military-parade-angers-south-korea/

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WorldbyStorm - October 15, 2020

A key point is not that the response by the PRC (and re NK who knows, like seriously, there’s no way of knowing one way or another what happens there given the nature of the regime – organising a military parade (!) isn’t exactly difficult in a totalitarian state under any circumstances) proves the superiority of their socio-economic system, because other states with bourgeois democratic systems have managed to do as well – Taiwan, New Zealand, arguably Finland is doing okay, etc. It is that the approach employed which is absolutely nothing to do with the system but to do with the willingness of governments to intervene or not is the key determinant. And that is lockdown, slow reopening, tracking tracing and so on. Any state with the willingness to do so will arrive at the same place as Taiwan/NZ and the PRC. It’s literally that simple.

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WorldbyStorm - October 15, 2020

Btw it is to the credit of PBP, Ind Left, Joan Collins, RISE and WP etc that they at least get the broader aspects of the crisis

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terrymdunne - October 16, 2020

AFAIK Taiwan didn’t do a lockdown – they did quarantining incomers, tracking and tracing. South Korea had a limited lockdown – not on the style of what was in parts of China and Italy. Both did tons of testing. I think we are agreeing here though that it is a matter of taking the bloody thing seriously and not doing half-measures. Lack of an adequate response in the early days necessitates a more extreme response later.

As I understand it both countries have a good standard of public health system – in the case of South Korea anyways (and possibly also Taiwan) this is a recent outcome – the product of a workers’ movement which developed in the 1970s/1980s in the context of the transfer of industrial production to low-wage military dictatorships as South Korea then was. In the case of Taiwan anyways (and possibly also South Korea) it is worth bearing in mind that the place is quite integrated with the P.R.C. in terms of migration, investment and tourism so it should have been hit first and hit worse than everyone else. This is different from the P.R.C. which seems to have dis-invested from public health in the same decades as the same process was going on in the West (obviously it is also not half as wealthy a place as either South Korea or Taiwan).

The idea of a super-efficient totalitarian super-state – which either admirers or detractors of the P.R.C. can put forward – is a bit of a W.W.2./Cold War myth IMHO – obviously mainland China does ‘light touch’ regulation just as well as Ireland – otherwise we would not have this problem in the first place as Beijing would have adequately regulated the ‘wildlife’ trade in the first place!

This article here http://chuangcn.org/2020/02/social-contagion/ from the early days of SARS-2 has a interesting take on the central mainland Chinese state response –

“In other words, the full deployment of state resources actually began with a call for volunteer efforts on behalf of locals. On the one hand, such a massive disaster will strain any state’s capacity (see, for instance, hurricane response in the US). But, on the other, this repeats a common pattern in Chinese statecraft whereby the central state, lacking efficient formal and enforceable command structures that extend all the way down to the local level, must instead rely on a combination of widely-publicized calls for local officials and local citizens to mobilize and a series of after-the-fact punishments meted out to the worst responders (framed as crackdowns on corruption). The only truly efficient response is to be found in specific areas where the central state focuses the bulk of its power and attention—in this case, Hubei generally and Wuhan specifically.”

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WorldbyStorm - October 16, 2020

“I think we are agreeing here though that it is a matter of taking the bloody thing seriously and not doing half-measures. Lack of an adequate response in the early days necessitates a more extreme response later. ”
+1

And also this:

“The idea of a super-efficient totalitarian super-state – which either admirers or detractors of the P.R.C. can put forward – is a bit of a W.W.2./Cold War myth IMHO – obviously mainland China does ‘light touch’ regulation just as well as Ireland – otherwise we would not have this problem in the first place as Beijing would have adequately regulated the ‘wildlife’ trade in the first place! ”

Completely agree. One doesn’t have to tip into Trumpist ‘blame’ to find it difficult to quite take seriously arguments for the PRC’s steely determination and superiority in all this when seemingly low level regulations could potentially have averted the fix we’re all now in.

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terrymdunne - October 18, 2020

These are some interesting articles/resources on SARS-2 aka Covid –

Covid, Capitalism & Ecology: A conversation with Mike Davis and Rob Wallace

(The work of Wallace and Davis on modern epidemics is to be highly recommended, really their origins is a key issue, and that is what Wallace and Davis focus on)

Also on the U.K. re-opening and re-spread –

https://www.vox.com/2020/10/10/21508165/covid-19-uk-cases-news?utm_source=pocket-newtab-global-en-GB

On “herd immunity” –

https://www.wired.co.uk/article/great-barrington-declaration-herd-immunity-scientific-divide?utm_source=pocket-newtab-global-en-GB

A view from a Polanyian perspective –

https://economicsociology.org/2020/10/16/polanyis-prescience-covid-19-market-utopianism-and-the-reality-of-society/?fbclid=IwAR3FBc88fZojQFlkTj6F1tOFFyYidWbWUNzORDoyLgBs6qSlkGvyoZ5xQd8

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4. pettyburgess - October 15, 2020

Today the Irish Times ran a full page ad pushing the let it rip narrative.

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WorldbyStorm - October 15, 2020

An ad or an opinion piece ?

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CL - October 15, 2020

“The full page advertisement in Thursday’s paper was paid for by Dublin technology millionaire John Moore who owns Moorezey Holdings and who previously owned 3D4Medical which was sold last year for €45.9 million…..

“Surely there is another way to take care of the few who are vulnerable while letting our economy and future survive?” the advertisement asked.

It also referenced a website promoting the Great Barrington Declaration which advocates a policy of shielding vulnerable people while allowing the rest of the population to pursue herd immunity. It advocated an end to restrictions….

HSE chief clinical adviser Dr Colm Henry said; ‘“I don’t accept arguments that belittle the impact of the disease and reduce the strategy to something where older people can be siphoned off safely,” he said.

“Everybody is only one degree away from somebody who has died from it.”

He said it would be impossible to protect vulnerable populations from Covid-19 when widespread community transmission happens as a result of lifting all restrictions.

He said the results of uncontrolled transmission of the virus were seen in northern Italy when its hospital systems were completely overwhelmed by the number of cases it had to deal with despite having one of the most advanced healthcare systems in the world.”
https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/advert-advocating-lifting-of-restrictions-belittles-impact-of-covid-19-says-hse-chief-clinical-adviser-1.4382248

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CL - October 16, 2020

“Since it was published this morning, the ad has been shared hundreds of times on Facebook by pages linked to Yellow Vests Ireland, a group which claims to be apolitical but is connected to anti-government movements.

The group, a loose network of activists that developed through Facebook groups, has helped to organise a number of protests against Covid-19 restrictions and is one of several networks using the pandemic to try to recruit members.
A post repeated on a number of Yellow Vests Ireland pages claims that the ad is an article, and that it contains “truths” that those who have attended anti-Covid rallies have “tried to make known to the general population”.
https://www.thejournal.ie/factcheck-irish-times-covid-19-ad-5234373-Oct2020/

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - October 16, 2020

Fair dues to the Journal

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5. CL - October 15, 2020

‘RTÉ is feeding Covid panic by failing to give good news’
Eoghan Harris, Sunday Independent.

“A FURTHER 1,205 new cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in Ireland, the Department of Health has said this evening.

“The number of hospitalisations are increasing faster than the exponential growth modelling predicted. This indicates a rapidly deteriorating disease trajectory nationally,” Dr Holohan said.
https://www.thejournal.ie/new-cases-ireland-5233869-Oct2020/

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CL - October 18, 2020

“Last Sunday, Jon Williams, managing director RTÉ News, tweeted: “Not for first time, Eoghan Harris wrong. One day’s decline in #Covid19 not a cause to cheer or despair. About trend. Not RTÉ’s job to do either.”

Now I believe that RTÉ’s coverage of Covid is demonstrably unbalanced, creates a climate of fear and undermines the Government’s gallant attempt to strike a balance between possible deaths from Covid and the almost certainly higher number of deaths caused by lockdowns.”
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/paschals-brilliant-budget-puts-the-political-skids-under-sinn-fein-39637218.html

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Alibaba - October 18, 2020

Eoghan Harris, as ever, sails close to the wind because this gets more readers. His fixation with attacking Sinn Féin heightens the image of his beloved self and by happy chance it heightens the image of SF too. Good for them.

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sonofstan - October 18, 2020

” the almost certainly higher number of deaths”

Does EH do evidence ever?

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WorldbyStorm - October 18, 2020

Never ever.

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6. Irish Times Platforms Anti-Lockdown Fake Science – AN SIONNACH FIONN | The New York Press News Agency - October 16, 2020

[…] several commentators over at the Cedar Lounge Revolution have noted, the ideologically schizophrenic attitude of the Irish Times towards the Government’s handling of t… has become increasingly apparent in recent weeks, with both editorials and features expressing a […]

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