The Economist Disappears “Advertisement Feature” Paid for by Chinese Communist Party

Paid content from Chinese state-backed newspaper Beijing Review included an article attacking western news outlets and defending China’s botched response to the coronavirus outbreak.

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In April, I bylined a story in BuzzFeed News about how during the pandemic, British newspaper The Daily Telegraph continued to sell advertising space on its site to the People’s Daily Online, the official newspaper and mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), enabling it to publish state propaganda and medical disinformation aimed at a British audience.

As reported in another story I co-bylined with Jim Waterson for The Guardian later that month, The Daily Telegraph subsequently cut ties with the People’s Daily Online and another China-backed newspaper, China Daily, which for more than a decade reportedly paid the Telegraph £750,000 annually to carry a supplement called China Watch.

Now it appears that The Economist, the international weekly newspaper, has disappeared an “advertisement feature” on its site paid for by the CCP-backed Beijing Review.

The section, dubbed “China Focus,” included titles such as “Western Take on Coronavirus: Schadenfreude, Xenophobia and Racism” by Beijing Review associate executive editor Liu Yunyun. Her article claimed that “Accusations [by western news and media outlets] of the [Chinese] government hiding the scope of the disease” are based on “Rumors, misinformation and fears,” and that “Global readers are largely kept in the dark” about how “China is sacrificing its own economy to keep the world safe.”

That article, and others like it, were previously available via the subdomain, chinafocus.economist.com. But now when you click on that link, you’re directed to an HTTP 503 error page, which occurs whenever a server is “unable to handle the request due to a temporary overloading or maintenance of the server,” according to the World Wide Web Consortium, founded in 1994 by Tim Berners-Lee.

Site information for chinafocus.economist.com states that its security certificate expired on July 26. A message reads: “This certificate has expired or is not yet valid.”

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The 503 error page went up shortly after I emailed The Economist’s global communications SVP Lauren Hackett on April 16 asking her to comment on a petition by British non-profit advocacy group Free Tibet, calling on western media outlets to “STOP SPREADING CCP PROPAGANDA.”

Here’s her April 17 reply email:

Dear Dean – Thank you for reaching out on this. I’ll have to look into it. Can you let me know who you are writing for and the focus of your story. Kind regards, Lauren

Hackett and The Economist did not reply to multiple follow-up emails I sent asking the paper to clarify whether it had cut ties with the Beijing Review. But here’s what Free Tibet’s campaign manager John Jones sent me when I asked him for comment:

We have been following China Watch and its presence in papers like The Telegraph for a couple of years now with a mixture of despair and grim fascination. Some of the articles last year on “60 years of democracy in Tibet” were particularly appalling, with articles titled “Tibet marks 60th anniversary of democratic reform” and “Memorial Hall built to commemorate freed Tibetan slaves” appearing in The Telegraph. This anniversary and alleged freeing of slaves is actually a reference to what Tibetans know as the Tibetan Uprising, when thousands of Tibetans in the capital, Lhasa, gave their lives to protest against the Chinese occupation of their country. Since then, occupied Tibet has become an increasingly repressive place. Freedom House, a think tank that compares the openness of different societies around the world, has for the past five years ranked Tibet as the second worst place in the world for political freedoms and civil rights, ahead of only Syria (some of their analysis is here in their latest report: https://freedomhouse.org/country/tibet/freedom-world/2020). For media outlets in free societies to be running material praising the dire state of affairs in Tibet is truly shocking.

Our hope for this new campaign action is that the editors of The Economist and Wall Street Journal drop content that is nothing more or less than Chinese government backed propaganda from their publications. It does seem that the coronavirus and some of the nonsense reporting on it by Chinese state media has sent a signal to several newspaper editors that these puff pieces can be dangerous in the falsehoods that they spread, not just for the billion people under CCP rule but also for their own readers. There is a backlash against disinformation around the pandemic and neither of these newspapers will want to be associated with that in any way. We hope that this will have set off alarms in their minds that it really is not ethical to run features that ultimately are the product of a dictatorial government and that what we need at the moment is scrutiny of the CCP – scrutiny of their handling of the pandemic and their silencing of whistleblowers, but also scrutiny of their treatment of the Uyghurs and scrutiny of their repressive rule in Tibet. If the readers of The Economist and The Wall Street Journal make it clear that they do not want to see this content then there is a great chance that these two outlets could follow in the footsteps of The Telegraph, The New York Times and The Washington Post and scrap these propaganda sections.

It’s unclear whether the print edition of The Economist is still carrying the Beijing Review material, as U.S. news site the Washington Free Beacon reported in March. To anyone who knows the answer, please get in touch by leaving a comment below, or by clicking here.

New Action Film “Shugalei” is Propaganda for Putin’s Cook

The film credits election-meddling Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin as copyright holder. Yet the film’s co-financier, Alexander Malkevich, claims he was “not aware Prigozhin took any part in the creation of the film.”

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As Libya’s U.N.-backed Government of National Accord wrests back control of Tripoli from Khalifa Haftar, the renegade leader of the Libyan National Army, a bizarre new propaganda-feature film is claiming to tell “the harrowing yet true story” of two Russian prisoners said to be at the center of it all.

Via “How Two Russians Got Caught Up in Libya’s War, Now an Action Movie” by Andrew Higgins and Declan Walsh, The New York Times, June 18, 2020:

[Maxim Shugalei and Samer Hassan Ali Seifan’s] Libyan misadventure began in March last year with what their Russian employer described as a “research project,” which quickly landed them in a notorious jail on charges of visa violations and meddling in Libyan politics. [Note: A third Russian, Alexander Prokofiev, accompanied the two men to Libya, but managed to return home unscathed.]

As part of a campaign to get the Russians freed, their employer, a shadowy private Russian foundation [the Foundation for National Values Protection] helped finance a feature-length movie [titled Shugalei] that premiered on Russian state television last month.

The Times’ story notes that “Shugalei’s trip appeared to be part of a push for influence by a St. Petersburg businessman, Yevgeny Prigozhin,” who spearheaded Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and has been sending mercenaries from his private militia in Russia, the Wagner Group, to support Haftar in his failed campaign to gain control of Tripoli.

What the story doesn’t mention is that the copyright to the film belongs to Aurum LLC, a wholesale manufacturing company founded by Prigozhin in 2017. There is little information available about Aurum online, and the company’s business address leads to a random apartment building in St. Petersburg.

Aurum’s involvement appears to contradict statements given to the Times by “Shugalei’s employer, [Alexander Malkevich, who] said his foundation had no ties to Mr. Prigozhin.”

Malkevich rose to prominence in mid-2018, when he attempted to organize a flash mob at the White House to celebrate the launch of USA Really, a clumsy Russian propaganda site aimed at an American audience. That December, he was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department for “attempted election interference” in connection with Prigozhin’s infamous troll farm.

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Last week, I e-mailed Malkevich to ask him about his involvement in the film and whether he’d met with Prigozhin. He told me that despite consulting with the film’s writers and director, he was “not aware that Yevgeny Prigozhin took any part in the creation of the film.”

I also asked him about allegations by Libyan prosecutors that his employees helped plan the election campaign of Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, the fugitive son of the deposed dictator Muammar Gadhafi, as part of a Kremlin-backed plot that included helping Russia to secure a military base in Libya, as Bloomberg reports.

Here’s what he sent me:

I have not seen the official charges. As far as I know, no one at all has seen them. All the charges are still only in words and have not been converted into a legal document 13 months after. All the so-called charges are replicated in the press, appearing primarily in the US, but maybe they know better. In answer to your question, Seifan was hired as a translator on the eve of the trip by the Foundation for National Values Protection. Shugaley was also approved for the project. So they both worked for the Foundation. About Gaddafi: what kind of election campaign could we be talking about if no election was scheduled, there is no Constitution and as a result, no electoral law?! And as you know, one of our sociologists left a few days before the kidnapping of Maxim and Samer who were supposed to leave 2 hours after him. No long-term work of any kind was planned.

GUARD A MILITARY BASE??? The two of us? Does Russia have a military base in Libya? and I want to remind you that Samer is diabetic, and Maxim has suffered a stroke. What kind of security of a military base are you talking about? are they hobbits from Middle-earth? Have the eagles flown Prokofiev out of Libya yet? Let’s have a serious conversation. Election campaign without the election, protection of a military base without the military base (!!!) by people with health problems.

We conducted a sociological study, a complete one, not hiding from anyone. It had questionnaires, focus groups and expert interviews. Nothing more was planned or discussed.

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The film’s storyline corresponds closely with Malkevich’s version of events, depicting Shugalei and Seifan as intrepid sociologists who uncover “explosive evidence” that threatens to undermine Libya’s “puppet” government, for which they are imprisoned and sadistically tortured.

Throughout it all, the devil-may-care film version of Shugalei, played by 51-year-old Russian character actor Kiril Polukhin (doing his best Bruce Willis impersonation), spouts witty dialogue, drinks whiskey straight from the bottle, and, above all, “[does] not lose a sense of humor despite the challenging times.”

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Although not the main focus of the film, Haftar plays a key role, mounting a daring but entirely fictional rescue that undermines the film’s claim of documentary-level accuracy. Meanwhile, Prigozhin, a central figure of the real story, is never mentioned.

The film is “a very powerful propaganda tool,” said Khadeja Ramali, a Libyan disinformation expert. She said that in addition to whitewashing the allegations against Shugalei and Seifan, the film feeds into an already existing narrative that most Libyans preferred living under Gadhafi’s dictatorial regime and view the 2011 revolution as a curse.

“The movie pushes a lot of points I’ve seen online in Arab media — that revolutions lead to chaos, that terrorism and violence follow,” Ramali told me. “It tries to paint Tripoli as this place overrun by militias (which it is) but in a way that fits in with [Haftar’s] narrative.”

It’s not the first time Malkevich has sought to manipulate the narrative around Libya’s civil conflict to his own advantage. In January, he placed an advertorial on The Washington Post’s site — seemingly in violation of U.S. government sanctions — pleading his employees’ innocence and calling on Libyan prime minister Fayez al-Sarraj to set them free.

Asked if he feels any guilt over his employees’ current situation, Malkevich said he is “certainly concerned for both of our colleagues, Maxim and Samer” but that “it is not my fault” and that “all the blame lies with the so-called Government of National Accord, as well as with Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj personally.”

al-Sarraj’s office did not return a request for comment.

Shugalei is currently available to watch on two separate YouTube channels run by Russian state-funded news network, Russia Today. As of publication, the film has been viewed nearly 700,000 times.

 

Roger Stone’s Style Blog is Now a Spammy Marketing Site

StoneOnStyle.com was a fashion and politics blog run by Trump’s flamboyant campaign trickster. Now it’s used to promote hair loss treatments and online gambling.

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In the midst of an ill-judged media blitz last year after being charged in Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, it appears that Trump’s former campaign trickster Roger Stone either sold off or forgot to update his fashion and politics blog, Stone On Style.

Launched in 2013 with help from “Manhattan Madam” Kristin Davis, the blog was an unapologetic self-tribute to Stone’s swankiness, complete with an annual “Best and Worst Dressed” list, readers advice column, hard-hitting posts like “Turtlenecks – The Cold Hard Truth,” and several photos of Stone dressed as Sean Connery’s James Bond.

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But if you visit the site today, you’ll find noticeably unswanky content like “Shampoo Ingredients to avoid hair loss” and “Truth or Dares I Asked My Teenage Daughter That Got Her Thinking Hard.”

Last June, the site was taken offline. According to online records, it was then purchased by an unknown buyer for $450 and relaunched with the site’s original branding and bio.

All but five of Stone’s original posts have been scrubbed from the site. The rest appear to be thinly disguised ads for dubious hair loss treatments and online gambling, among other posts written in Indonesian.

“To one loosing hair is like having a crushed image and maximum suffers it in silence,” reads one post. “If you are tired of all the unwanted hair on your body, then you can go for the hair removal laser treatment without any risk factor,” reads another.

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Buying once-popular domains for marketing purposes is a known SEO strategy. For example, in 2018 former women’s site The Frisky was bought by a Serbian music producer, who currently sells backlinks on the site from his Fiverr account.

Stone — currently facing a 40-month prison sentence for lying to Congress — did not return a request for comment.

Update, June 10, 2020: According to domain records, Stone’s site was re-registered on this date by Finixio Limited, a London, UK-based “Personal Finance Comparison Network.” The site has been returned to its original glory and its old content has been archived.

David “Avocado” Wolfe is Hawking Unproven Coronavirus Cures

The NutriBullet spokesman and flat-earth conspiracist is selling colloidal silver, medicinal mushrooms, charcoal, and an air purification system.

Wolfe is known for making out-there claims. For example, he claims salt prevents the oceans from levitating off the earth, and gravity is a toxin that can be combated by hanging upside down (as a cure for arthritis). Here he is ranting about flat earth on the conspiracy-friendly YouTube channel, London Real.

Now Wolfe is hawking unproven cures for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Products include: $137 bottles of colloidal silver, his “#1 recommendation against the corona virus”; $44 tubs of “SuperMushroom” tinctures, purportedly “the most effective way to utilize medicinal mushrooms against corona viruses”; $32 packets of “SuperConcentrate” charcoal fullerenes, which purportedly “neutralize viruses”; and the Air Doctor, a $629 non-FDA-approved Japanese product he claims can “clean our homes and workspaces of airborne viruses like COVID-19.”

All of the above-mentioned products, except the Air Doctor — which he’s helping sell at discount as an affiliate of AIRDOCTOR, LLC, according to a link in an Apr. 18 email newsletter — are currently available to buy from Wolfe’s online shop.

Wolfe made the claims about his products’ healing properties in his newsletter and 15-page “Nourish Your Immunity” protocol, currently available online by joining his free-to-view Immunity Summit, a series of video interviews between Wolfe and various alternative medicine proponents. Interviewees include Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai, an outspoken Donald J. Trump supporter and Massachusetts Senate hopeful who claims that Anthony Fauci, the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is a deep state agent. (If you have two hours to spare and a strong tolerance for pseudoscience, you can view the full Ayyadurai interview by clicking here.)

Wolfe has also been hawking his products and spreading debunked 5G and Bill Gates conspiracy theories to his thousands of followers on Telegram, the Russian social media platform.

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Federal Trade Commission recently issued warning letters to seven companies for selling fraudulent COVID-19 products, including colloidal silver and tinctures. According to the FDA’s site, “consumers and health care professionals can help by reporting suspected fraud to the FDA’s Health Fraud Program or the Office of Criminal Investigations.”

Daily Telegraph Stops Publishing Propaganda From China Following BuzzFeed News Story

The British broadsheet had been publishing material from People’s Daily and China Daily, propaganda arms of the Chinese Communist Party. ICYMI, here’s my latest in BuzzFeed News and The Guardian.

Via “A British Newspaper Has Given Chinese Coronavirus Propaganda a Direct Line to the UK” by Dean Sterling Jones, BuzzFeed News, April 1, 2020:

BuzzFeed News April 1 2020

When medical authorities in China claimed they’d cured more than 750 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, using pseudoscience, one major British newspaper made sure there was space for China’s party line on the story.

“Traditional Chinese medicine ‘helps fight coronavirus,’” declared the March 3 headline, in the online version of the Daily Telegraph […] The article was published in a section of the Telegraph’s site called People’s Daily Online, a self-contained “advertisement feature” promising “all the latest stories about contemporary China’s dynamic development, diverse culture and world-leading infrastructure,” complete with a home page and sections for news, opinion, business, and sports, among other topics. But beyond a boilerplate disclaimer waiving responsibility, nowhere does the site disclose any information about its sponsor.

People’s Daily is the official newspaper and mouthpiece of the Communist Party of China. Its “advertisement feature” on the Telegraph’s site is part of a global propaganda campaign that positions the country as a leader in fighting the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has now killed more than 44,000 people worldwide.

Click here to read the full story.

Via “Daily Telegraph Stops Publishing Section Paid for by China” by Jim Waterson and Dean Sterling Jones, The Guardian, April 14, 2020:

The Daily Telegraph has stopped publishing paid-for propaganda on behalf of Chinese state media, amid growing scrutiny of how Beijing is using the pandemic to grow its influence in English-language media aimed at western audiences.

The long-running China Watch section, funded by the government-controlled China Daily news outlet, has appeared in the Telegraph for more than a decade. The content, written by Chinese state journalists, presents relentlessly upbeat views on China’s standing in the world in both print supplements and on a branded section of the Telegraph’s website.

However, in recent days the dedicated content has been wiped from the Telegraph’s website along with another section that reproduced material from China’s People’s Daily Online – the official outlet of the country’s ruling communist party.

Click here to read the full story.

Free Tibet, a charity based in London, has started an online petition calling on the Wall Street Journal and The Economist to cut ties with China Daily and Beijing Review.

Via “Free Tibet Launches Petition Calling for the Economist and Wall Street Journal to Drop Chinese Government Material,” FreeTibet.org, April 16, 2020:

Free Tibet has launched a petition calling for The Economist and Wall Street Journal (WSJ) to drop paid-for propaganda sections published on behalf of Chinese state media which have appeared in both publications.

The petition comes two days after The Guardian reported The Daily Telegraph has stopped publishing its China Watch advertising, which consists of content created by Chinese Communist Party media organisation China Daily and is designed to promote the CCP’s image abroad.

Free Tibet’s petition invites the public to send a message to the editors of The Economist and WSJ asking them to follow The Telegraph and confirm they will both stop publishing the material.

Click here for the petition.

Gwyneth Paltrow’s Medical Mentor: “God Bless Every Covid Virus”

Goop contributor Dr. Habib Sadeghi is making bizarre coronavirus-themed content.

During a podcast interview last month, Gwyneth Paltrow’s longtime medical mentor and Goop regular Dr. Habib Sadeghi attributed every pandemic from the last 150 years to the “electrification of earth.” Since then, he’s been making increasingly bizarre coronavirus-themed content in a seeming attempt to get people to join his Patreon.

In one video posted on Instagram last Friday, “COVID-19: The Toxin Is The Remedy,” an analysis of the 2012 Ang Lee film Life of Pi, Sadeghi addresses viewers while sitting barefoot at the top of a staircase.

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“God bless every covid virus,” he says in the video, describing the pandemic as an “opportunity to really use this […] instead of really doing the same thing you’ve been doing most of your life, blaming others, attacking others, making them wrong.”

He continues: “I give you my word that that will be the blessing for you because that psychic immunity, that psychological immunity, that psycho-spiritual robustness that you developed for yourself, no one can take away from you. No one. And this is really what you want to gift to your children […] They’ll get it because these understandings literally will bleed through genetically or epigenetically, physically or energetically, to the next generation. You have an opportunity, you’re not couped up, your school is in session.”

There’s no evidence that parents can genetically transfer thoughts to their children.

In another video posted Sunday, “How To Metabolize A Crisis,” Sadeghi eats from a plate of food while watching the 1981 Louis Malle film, My Dinner with André.

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“It’s a movie that’s very rich, just like the food we eat,” Sadeghi says in the video. “If you sit down, bring your attention, and you watch it, slowly, and you hear what it’s telling you, at the end of it, you have found a new friend within yourself. You have found, and moved into, that what we refer to as evolution of consciousness.”

He ends the video by encouraging viewers to “use this time that we have, during this period of self-quarantining, or self-care-cocooning, as a way of learning to metabolise […] our thoughts, feelings, and emotions,” which are “far more important than what we metabolise in our digestive systems.”

Both videos lead with trippy visuals and shrieking horror movie music, followed by a message about “Entelechy Medicine,” a trademarked “evolutionary movement” that appears to draw on the discredited theories of the late Ryke Geerd Hamer, a disgraced German doctor who was stripped of his medical license after allegedly killing his patients.

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According to Sadeghi’s Patreon page, Entelechy Medicine “holds the key to your deeper healing” and “recognizes that the body is the theater of our consciousness.” For $9.99 per month, patrons can access such dubious-sounding content as “Surgical Scarring and Blocked Meridians: The Hidden Implications of Scar Tissue.”

The page also links to a Sadeghi’s “conscious lifestyle brand and health publishing imprint,” BeingClarity.com, where customers can purchase his 2017 Goop press book, “The Clarity Cleanse.” The book includes a glowing foreword by Goop founder Gwyneth Paltrow.

Another Goop Contributor is Spreading Discredited Coronavirus Conspiracies

Dr. Habib Sadeghi, an LA-based integrative medicine practitioner and personal mentor to Goop founder Gwyneth Paltrow, has linked the virus to the “electrification of earth.”

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Last month, I wrote for The Daily Beast about Goop contributor/holistic psychiatrist Kelly Brogan’s coronavirus conspiracy theories. Now another high-profile Goop contributor is spreading similar theories linking the virus to 5G wireless technology.

Dr. Habib Sadeghi, who frequently writes for Goop’s site, has featured in Goop’s videos online, and, according to Goop founder Gwyneth Paltrow, is a “mentor in many capacities to me,” shared his theories last Monday on the What Matters Most podcast (he’s also been sharing his theories on Instagram).

Here’s what Sadeghi had to say about wireless technology:

In 2003, that’s when the 3G technology was introduced, and shortly after, in 2003, that’s when we got SARS. And so, when we look at some of the various things that we’ve been exposed to, and the technologies that they were introduced — like you look at 2009, that’s when we had the 4G introduced to the world, and that’s when we had the, same year, 2009, we had the swine flu outbreak. So it’s not a far-fetched idea that here we are in 2020, where 5G was introduced to the world, and we’re sitting scratching our head, and we’re saying, what are we going to do with the coronavirus?

According to various experts, fact-checkers, news outlets, and other trusted sources, there is no evidence that wireless technology is responsible for the coronavirus or any other virus.

He went on to link every major outbreak from the last 150 years to the “electrification of earth.” For example, he claimed that the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic may have been caused by the “introduction of radio waves around the world” (radio waves are a naturally occurring phenomenon), that an unidentified pandemic from around the time of WW2 may have been caused by “the introduction of radar equipment all over the earth,” and that the 1968 Hong Kong flu may have been caused by orbiting “satellites emitting radioactive frequencies.”

Like Brogan, it appears Sadeghi doesn’t believe in the widely accepted germ theory of disease, claiming that its originator, French microbiologist Louis Pasteur, renounced the theory on his deathbed — a claim for which there is “no evidence,” according to a 2007 blog post by American oncologist David Gorski.

Also like Brogan, Sadeghi appears to be a follower of the late Ryke Geerd Hamer, a disgraced German doctor who had his medical license permanently revoked in Germany after several patients in his care died. On his site, Be Hive of Healing, Sadeghi says he treats “chronic illnesses such as cancer and auto-immune disease” using a “multi-disciplinary approach” including German New Medicine, Hamer’s discredited pseudoscientific theory positing that all illness and disease are caused by psychological trauma.

I’ve asked Goop for comment.

The Daily Beast: Goop-Approved Doctor Pushing Coronavirus Conspiracies

Goop contributor/psychiatrist Kelly Brogan has been spreading junk scientific claims and conspiracy theories about the coronavirus. Here’s my latest for The Daily Beast.

Via “The Gwyneth Paltrow-Approved Doctor Pushing Wacky Coronavirus Conspiracies” by Dean Sterling Jones, The Daily Beast, March 24, 2020:

Last week, Gwyneth Paltrow’s “modern lifestyle brand” Goop announced it was closing stores in the U.S. and U.K. to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus currently sweeping the globe. Meanwhile, Paltrow’s psychiatrist-associate Kelly Brogan, a high-profile Goop contributor, has racked up tens of thousands of views on social media spreading discredited pseudoscientific claims that the coronavirus might not even exist, and that symptoms attributed to the virus are likely being caused by widespread fear…

Click here to read the full story.

The story was subsequently picked up by the New York Post, The Independent, The Evening Standard Insider, Yahoo Style, Los Angeles Magazine, and The A.V. Club, among others.

Via “Goop-approved shrink says there’s ‘no such thing’ as coronavirus” by Melissa Malamut, New York Post, March 24, 2020:

Just when you thought telling women to stick stone eggs up their vaginas was the worst medical advice she could give, a once-Manhattan-based psychiatrist, anti-vaxxer and Goop-approved pusher is going viral again. But this time, it’s for her dangerous social-media posts that call COVID-19 a hoax.

Kelly Brogan (who has an MD from Cornell University and a master’s from MIT, according to her website) said in a video posted on Facebook last week that there is “potentially no such thing as the coronavirus” and that the reported deaths from the virus are “likely being accelerated by fear itself.” Further, she “personally [doesn’t] believe in germ-based contagion…”

[Brogan] has doubled down on her words, calling her message “personal empowerment,” and suggesting that people subscribe to her newsletter if they’d like to hear more of her views. She also then posted a screenshot of the Daily Beast article and a link to the video that is now available on Vimeo.

Via “Goop Expert Says Coronavirus Doesn’t Exist: ‘There is Potentially no Such Thing'” by Chelsea Ritschel, The Independent, March 24, 2020:

…According to The Daily Beast, Facebook and Instagram removed Brogan’s videos after determining that they “violate our policies”.

In a recent post to Instagram, Brogan acknowledged the removal and encouraged her followers to subscribe to her newsletter “rather than just following me here, because, well, you know…”

“Because censorship is real and underway,” she continued in the caption. “Two posts removed and one blocked in the past week. What a purification process this is!”

Via “Goop contributor Kelly Brogan peddles ‘nonsense’ conspiracy theories about coronavirus, cites 5G and vaccine companies as real causes” by Megan C. Hills, Evening Standard Insider, March 25, 2020:

…There is no scientific basis for any of Brogan’s claims. Speaking to the Daily Beast, British pharmacologist David Colquhoun said, “She’s a very, very dangerous fantasist. I wonder whether she takes antibiotics if she gets a bacterial infection?”

The deputy editor of Skeptical Inquirer, a publication that critically examines fringe science claims similar to those that Brogan made, also weighed in. Benjamin Radford told the Daily Beast, “There’s always been this sort of populist appeal by people who reject science, and that’s exactly what’s going on here.”

“Unfortunately, outbreaks like this are exactly the wrong time to bring these things up because…they divert people from legitimate evidence-based treatments,” he continued.

Via “‘Very, very dangerous’ Goop ‘expert’ slammed for bizarre coronavirus video” by Elizabeth Di Filippo, Yahoo Canada Style, March 25, 2020:

…To Brogan, this was a form of censorship, which she said could potentially be part of a future government agenda to enact control. She cites the alternative narratives regarding current affairs as the remedy to her fear.

“This level of totalitarian government control that is not unlike the divide and conquer, dehumanization agendas that preceded the Holocaust,” she said. “This is where my mind can go. That is extremely fear inducing for me and probably as fear inducing as those that are washing their hands dry.”

Goop representatives have declined to comment on the video, however they did release a statement.

“We would suggest reaching out to Dr. Brogan directly as she didn’t make those comments on Goop’s platform,” they said.

Via “Please, for the love of god, don’t get your coronavirus advice from the Goop people” by Reid McCarter, The A.V. Club, March 24, 2020:

…The video keeps going and going, becoming more deranged as it rumbles on, but these points are probably enough to sum up why Brogan—an “expert” featured on Goop’s website and at its events—shouldn’t be listened to at all. If you want the total run-down of why Brogan and, by extension Goop, are dangerous horseshit, read the rest of the Daily Beast article.

This Goop Author is Spreading Discredited Pseudoscientific Theories About the Coronavirus

Kelly Brogan, M.D., a New York Times bestselling author/psychiatrist who writes for Gwyneth Paltrow’s alt-med Goop newsletter, has accrued over 30,000 views on Instagram by claiming the coronavirus likely doesn’t exist. [UPDATE: Click here for my follow-up to this story in The Daily Beast.]

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Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop is a self-proclaimed “lifestyle brand” and online newsletter aimed at “start[ing] hard conversations, crack[ing] open taboos, and look[ing] for connection and resonance everywhere we can find it.”

It’s also a major proponent of pseudoscientific claims and such questionable products as the Jade Egg, an egg-shaped gemstone that purportedly “harness[es] the power of energy work, crystal healing, and a Kegel-like physical practice” when inserted in the vagina. (In 2018, Goop was fined $145,000 in civil penalties for falsely claiming that the $66 egg was able to “balance hormones, regulate menstrual cycles, prevent uterine prolapse, and increase bladder control.”)

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Now one of Goop’s high-profile contributors is spreading false claims that the novel coronavirus currently sweeping the globe, and which has caused over 20,000 deaths worldwide, potentially does not exist.

Kelly Brogan, M.D. — a Manhattan-based holistic psychiatrist and co-author of New York Times bestselling book, A Mind of Your Own: The Truth About Depression and How Women Can Heal Their Bodies to Reclaim Their Lives — made the claim in a March 16 video she originally shared with subscribers of her online “health reclamation” programme, Vital Life Project, then subsequently reposted on her personal site and social media accounts.

In the video, “A Message to Help Dispel Fear,” Brogan claimed that “there is potentially no such thing as the coronavirus” because “it’s not possible to prove that any given pathogen has induced death,” and that the rising death toll is “likely being accelerated by the fear [of the virus] itself.”

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As of publication, the video has accrued approximately 30,000 views on Brogan’s Instagram account, and has been shared hundreds of times on Facebook. (Brogan has also twice uploaded a version of the video — “by popular request!” — with Spanish subtitles).

Brogan attributed her claims to the late Ryke Geerd Hamer, a German doctor and virulent anti-Semite whose discredited theory of disease, German New Medicine, has resulted in dozens of patient deaths in Europe, the youngest being 12-year-old Susanne Rehklau, who “suffered a painful death” in 2010 after Hamer gave her the all-clear.

According to Hamer, illness and disease are caused by unresolved psychological trauma, with specific traumatic experiences said to correlate with specific physical symptoms. For example, a child who is forced to live under the conservative – or “inflexible” – rule of an overbearing parent might develop rigid joints. A recently-divorced woman might, in the absence of intimate physical touch, develop a skin condition. And so on.

To self-heal, Hamer claimed, patients must disavow conventional western medicine (which he believed was an elaborate Jewish conspiracy involving “death chips”), and learn to overcome their unresolved trauma using non-pharmacological — or “natural” — treatment methods, including talking therapy.

Ryke Geerd Hamer (source)

Medical authorities have widely denounced Hamer’s theories as lacking “any scientific or empirical justification,” and in 1986 he had his medical license permanently revoked in Germany after a number of patients in his care died. He was later convicted and imprisoned multiple times for illegally continuing to put his theories into practice.

In her video, Brogan took a more positive view of Hamer’s contributions to science and medicine.

“German New Medicine has really given me a lot of material to work with around identifying potential emotional conflicts that […] have a method of explaining cancer and contagion that have nothing to do with pathogens,” she said. “Could it be that so-called viruses and bacteria are bystanders […] blamed for being at the scene of the crime, which has another origin that is more complex?”

She also hinted at a global conspiracy orchestrated by an unnamed pro-vaccination group, suggested that viewers should not believe mainstream news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, encouraged them to seek alternative theories in order to “feel that you can live in a story that eases your fear and stablises your nervous system,” and offered her own unfounded fears for the future, as follows:

Because I believe any story other than the one we’re being fed, I can also find myself in a place where I begin to look at future government plans to link our passports with our vaccination records and restriction of travel, and that this being a new normal of this level of totalitarian governmental control that is not unlike the divide-and-conquer dehumanization agendas that preceded the Holocaust. This is where my mind can go, and that is extremely fear-inducing for me. Right? And probably as fear-inducing as those who are washing their hands dry.

Comments on posts of the video show that many viewers accepted Brogan’s interpretation of Hamer’s theories.

“MIND BLOWN I needed this message more than I could ever say in words,” read one comment.

“Wondering what you recommend to help start transitioning thought patterns,” read another. “I’d love to look back and say, ‘Oh, that old Steph – bless her, but she believed in infections.'”

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Brogan isn’t the only high-profile Goop contributor who advocates GNM. Habib Sadeghi — a California-based alternative medicine practitioner and author of “Clarity Cleanse: 12 Steps to Finding Renewed Energy, Spiritual Fulfillment, and Emotional Healing” (foreword by Paltrow), and whose fans include Hollywood actors Anne Hathaway, Emily Blunt, and Tim Robbins — on his site says that he uses GNM to treat patients with chronic illness, including cancer sufferers.

Support for Hamer’s discredited theories has been steadily building in the U.S. and Canada for the past decade. Organisations and people who practice Hamer’s theories include: The International Meta-Medicine Association (IMMA), an LA-based alt-med organisation blamed for causing patient deaths in Norway; The Lifestyle Prescriptions Foundation, run by the founder of IMMA; Melissa Sell, based in California; Biologie Totale, based in Quebec; New Medicine CA/GNM Online Seminars, based in Toronto; and GNM Education, based in Vancouver.

Tommy Robinson Praises Putin, Slams “British Presstitutes” During Whirlwind Tour of Russian Media

The anti-Islam activist pandered to pro-Kremlin media, mingled with a U.S.-sanctioned propagandist, and had some choice words for the British press.

RIA FAN headline (source)

Tommy Robinson, the co-founder and former leader of the anti-Islam English Defence League (EDL), landed in St. Petersburg last week for a whirlwind tour of Russian media, during which he praised Russia’s president, obfuscated Russia’s role in the 2018 poisoning of an ex-KGB agent, mingled with a U.S.-sanctioned propagandist, floated the idea of hosting his own show on Russian TV, and slammed the British press.

Robinson is a controversial figure in Britain. In addition to co-founding the EDL, Robinson has criminal convictions for mortgage fraud, instigating a football riot, assaulting an off-duty police officer, and illegally entering the U.S. using someone else’s passport, among other offences. He also seemingly has a deep affinity for Russian President Vladimir Putin, naming him “the strongest man in the West” in an interview last Friday with Russian newspaper Evening Moscow. It’s unclear if the feeling is mutual.

Evening Moscow headline (source)

In the same interview, Robinson said that, if the opportunity arose, he would ask Putin to help him fight anti-Russian “censorship and propaganda,” and envisioned a scenario in which Putin let him host his own TV show. Robinson also denied that Russia was responsible for the 2018 poisoning of former Russian military officer Sergei Skripal and daughter Yulia, and said if Russia had wanted to “take out” the Skripals, they would have done so quietly without using chemical weapons.

Robinson’s other engagements last week included a speaking gig at a meeting of the Libertarian Party of Russia, a bumpy interview on Russian state-backed TV network Russia Today, and a press conference at the headquarters of Komsomolskaya Pravda (KP), a pro-Kremlin tabloid that once suggested that the U.S. orchestrated the 2015 Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack.

At the KP conference, Robinson gave a presentation titled “Rape of Britain,” in which he claimed that “migrants attack young girls or adopt girls and turn them into prostitutes” (possibly referring to a recent report in the Independent). That’s according to the Federal News Agency (FAN), a Russian news site that U.S. prosecutors have linked to Russia’s efforts to meddle with the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

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“This is not just about one-off crimes by individuals but about gangs of migrants raping underage British girls,” the FAN quoted Robinson as saying (translation courtesy of Byline Times). “You can’t believe the British media!” he continued. “I’ve seen their manipulations, how they make up lies about me […] That’s why I’m here! Because all these issues are relevant in Russia.”

Robinson shared the stage with, among others, Alexander Malkevich, the former editor of the FAN’s English-language subsidiary USA Really, which is responsible for such false, misleading, and purposefully offensive content as the anti-Semitic “Star of David Spotted Amidst Migrant Caravan: Who’s Behind the Invasion?” Malkevich currently chairs the Civic Chamber Commission on mass media, from which he advises the Russian government on media policy and has called for “information war” in America and Europe.

Malkevich and Robinson (source)

In December 2018, Malkevich, USA Really, and the FAN were sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department for “attempted election interference.” An accompanying statement cited USA Really’s error-ridden, politically divisive content, as well as Malkevich’s calamitous attempts to stage a flash mob at the White House on Donald Trump’s 72nd birthday (the statement mirrored information first reported by this blog). Malkevich was forced to significantly scale down the event — which originally included a symphony orchestra — after applying for the wrong permit. USA Really later blamed the error on a deep state conspiracy.

Malkevich returned to the States in November 2018 as a journalist covering the U.S. midterms for the FAN. During that trip, he gatecrashed a November 6 election night party at Washington D.C.’s National Press Club, from which he spuriously reported that he’d been accosted by security for Trump nemesis/Nike blackmail lawyer Michael Avenatti. Malkevich was later briefly detained and questioned by the FBI.

On Friday, Malkevich posted on Russian social media that he is acting as Robinson’s “producer,” and is “ready to consider offers” for Robinson to “become a host on Russian TV.” He also said that he and Robinson planned to launch the “StopTwitter international public initiative,” aimed at fighting against “Internet monopolists” (both men have been banned by various social media platforms, including Twitter). The post included a photo of the two men shaking hands at the KP event.

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Robinson didn’t return a request for comment. Instead, he posted a screenshot of tweets by me and Brendan Cox — husband of murdered British politician Jo Cox — on his recently launched Telegram account. In an accompanying comment, he called us “British Presstitutes” and denied any suggestion that he’d made money from his various engagements in Russia.

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