The Asian Age – Fake news being spread in US by conspiracy theorists claiming COVID-19 is a hoax

Group called “QAnon” believes Trump is on a secret campaign against the “deep state” and “Satan-worshiping Democrats who prey on children”

New York – State of New York – USA, 18 April 2020. The video lasts just 13 seconds and shows nothing more than the view from a car quietly driving past a hospital entrance. But the person who posted it on Twitter used the footage to sarcastically question reports of “apocalyptic conditions” at Mount Sinai Queens in New York City.

That video and dozens of others like it have been spreading on social media through the #FilmYourHospital hashtag. The people taking and posting videos of quiet scenes outside hospitals are promoting a right-wing conspiracy theory that fear-mongering media outlets and Democrats are intentionally exaggerating COVID-19’s deadly toll.

The clip from Queens racked up more than 227,000 views in less than three weeks.

“It’s very sad because I’m working with a team of thousands of people who are putting their lives at risk. They are struggling every day to provide the best care they can in horrendous conditions,” said Dr David Reich, president of Mount Sinai Queens and Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan.

The Mount Sinai system has treated thousands of corona-virus patients.

Hospitals aren’t the only targets of the far-right fringe during the pandemic. The corona-virus has breathed fresh life into old conspiracy theories and inspired a mishmash of new ones, with a cast of villains that includes Bill Gates, 5 G wireless technology, the United Nations and President Donald Trump’s political foes.

New York is also the setting for one of the wildest virus-related conspiracy theories circulating on social media that the pandemic is masking a military operation to rescue thousands of deformed “mole children” from the clutches of sex traffickers in underground tunnels beneath medical tents recently erected in Central Park.

Many of the social media accounts driving that baseless story and the #FilmYourHospital campaign belong to followers of “QAnon,” a far-right, apocalyptic conspiracy theory that believes Trump is waging a secret campaign against “deep state” enemies and Satan-worshiping Democrats who prey on children.

The Twitter user who posted the March 29 video of Mount Sinai Queens has a profile that includes the QAnon slogan “WWG1WGA,” which stands for “Where we go one, we go all.”

Alex Friedfeld, an investigative researcher for the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, said quarantine conditions are ripe for conspiracy theories to mutate and quickly spread. The purveyors are scared and cooped up inside their homes with abundant free time to spend on the internet.

“We are in a time of crisis, so people are frightened,” he said. “They are looking for explanations. Conspiracy theories can be comforting because they basically place order on chaos. A lot of them give you somebody to blame, and that can be comforting to people at an uncertain time.”

Friedfeld said the virus has become fodder for old tropes like “Agenda 21,” a conspiracy theory that a network of global elites are using a United Nations resolution adopted in 1992 to control citizens and depopulate the earth.

Other new conspiracy theories being fueled by the virus include one that claims maps show a link between 5G networks and corona-virus outbreaks. Another holds that Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates intends to use a COVID-19 vaccine to track and control the world’s population.

Fox News host Laura Ingraham amplified the narrative with an 07 April tweet that said, “Digitally tracking Americans’ every move has been a dream of the globalists for years.”

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned Tuesday that COVID-19 misinformation is a poisonous threat to the world and urged social media organizations to do more to counter it. Social media platforms say they are trying to stop the spread of corona-virus hoaxes and connect users with reliable information.

Facebook is removing content related to the “#FilmYourHospital” hashtag when it violates the social network’s policies, according to company spokesman Andy Stone. The company says it removes coronavirus-related misinformation from Facebook and Instagram that could contribute to “imminent physical harm.”

Twitter says it is removing COVID-19 content “when it has a call to action that could potentially cause harm.” One of the first and most popular tweets promoting #FilmYourHospital remains on the platform.

DeAnna Lorraine, a California Republican who unsuccessfully challenged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, posted a video taken outside a Los Angeles-area hospital and urged her followers to get the hashtag trending. The video she tweeted on March 29 has 1.4 million views.

A copycat video posted on Twitter showed an empty parking lot and vacant tents outside University Medical Center Tucson in Arizona. “We should be picketing in protest of this hoax!” the user tweeted.

A hospital official said the exterior appears quiet because the medical center is not allowing visitors, has furloughed nonessential employees, canceled elective procedures and stopped using the tents to test outpatients with mild virus symptoms.

Dr. Christian Bime, medical director of the intensive care unit at the Tucson hospital, said he has treated approximately 20 COVID-19 patients, some of whom have died.

“This is not a hoax. This is real. These are real patients who have real families,” Bime said.

A Mount Sinai spokeswoman says the lobby inside its Queen hospital appeared empty in the video because it also barred visitors. Another Twitter user posted a copycat video outside Mount Sinai’s Manhattan hospital, which normally has about 970 patients but had approximately 1,250 on Wednesday.

Around 700 were COVID-19 patients, including roughly 150 on ventilators, according to Reich. He called it “the worst crisis of our lifetimes.”

“There is so much obvious evidence that this is real. It almost defies imagination that anybody would have to try to prove it,” Reich said. – World leaders greet Sikhs on Vaisakhi but generate angry response from internet trolls

Sikh24 Editors

New York – State of New York – USA, 16 April 2020. A number of world leaders and renowned personalities greeted the Sikh Nation on Vaisakhi. Where this message was appreciated by the Sikh community worldwide, a number of internet trolls did not spare any time in promoting their own agenda, claiming that the celebrations hold no importance to the Sikhs.

Canadian Prime Minister became a special target of these pro-India trolls after his Vaisakhi message delivered in thaith (pure) Gurfateh. Justine Trudeau started his Vaisakhi message with “Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh!” and appreciated the Sikh community’s contributions towards Canada during the difficult times due to COVID-19.

He said, “I wish we could be celebrating together at a Nagar Kirtan or a Gurdwara,” in a message shared on Twitter.

In response to Trudeau, Vir Sanghvi, an Indian journalist with a following of 4 million asked why so much attention was being given to the Sikh community while there are so many Hindus who also live in Canada and celebrate Vaisakhi.

Another Twitter user posted that Vaisakhi is a festival of harvest and has no historical significance to the Sikh community.

United Nations Under-Secretary-General, Adama Dieng also wished the Sikh community. “Today we should reflect on the contributions of the Sikh community in all areas of the world.”

US House of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) posted, “Vaisakhi diyan vadhaiyan! Happy Vaisakhi to everyone celebrating today.” AOC appreciated all the hard work of the Sikh community. “In this trying and uncertain times, it’s more important for all of us to apply the Sikh values of hope, universality and selfless service.”

A number of leaders from the UK political and royal affiliation also wished the Sikh community on Vaisakhi. This included the office of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn, Keir Starmer, Sadiq Khan, Prince Charles, and others.

SGPC president Gobind Singh Longowal appreciated the message by the leaders of various countries for praising the Sikh community in their greeting messages on the eve of the Khalsa Sajna Diwas. Longowal said that these messages hold special importance for the Sikhs and we are so few in numbers, but get respect from major leaders across the world.

World Leaders Greet Sikhs on Vaisakhi But Generate Angry Response From Internet Trolls

Dawn – ‘Dialogue can start only when India reverses its illegal annexation of Kashmir,’ writes PM Imran in New York Times

The premier, in an op-ed for The New York Times, says international community should think beyond trade, business advantages. “Dialogue can start only when India reverses its illegal annexation of Kashmir, ends the curfew and lockdown, and withdraws its troops to the barracks,” wrote Prime Minister Imran Khan, in his opinion piece for The New York Times.

The article, titled ‘The world can’t ignore Kashmir. We are all in danger’, was published on Friday, coinciding with the government’s call to observe Kashmir Hour across the country to show solidarity with Kashmiris in India-occupied Kashmir, whose rights were stripped by the Indian government earlier this month.

New York – State of New York – USA, 30 August 2019. Cities came to a standstill as tens of thousands of people poured onto the streets while the national anthems of Pakistan and Kashmir played across television and radio.

Traffic came to a standstill, traffic lights were switched off and trains stopped briefly as part of the premier’s campaign to draw global attention to the plight of the Kashmiris.

“We are with them in their testing times. The message that goes out of here today is that as long as Kashmiris don’t get freedom, we will stand with them,” Prime Minister Imran told thousands of demonstrators in the capital.

In the article, which was published shortly after his address, the premier reiterated the importance of dialogue.

“With the nuclear shadow hovering over South Asia, we realise that Pakistan and India have to move out of a zero-sum mind-set to begin dialogue on Kashmir, various strategic matters and trade. On Kashmir, the dialogue must include all stakeholders, especially the Kashmiris,” he wrote.

“We have already prepared multiple options that can be worked on while honoring the right to self-determination the Kashmiris were promised by the Security Council resolutions and India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.

Through dialogue and negotiations, the stakeholders can arrive at a viable solution to end the decades of suffering of the Kashmiri people and move toward a stable and just peace in the region.

“But dialogue can start only when India reverses its illegal annexation of Kashmir, ends the curfew and lockdown, and withdraws its troops to the barracks,” said the premier, referring to the lockdown and communications clampdown in occupied Kashmir since 05 August.

“It is imperative that the international community think beyond trade and business advantages. World War II happened because of appeasement at Munich. A similar threat looms over the world again, but this time under the nuclear shadow,” warned the premier.

A blood bath is feared in Kashmir when the curfew is lifted – PM Imran Khan

“On July 26, 2018, in my first televised address to Pakistan after winning the elections, I stated we wanted peace with India and if it took one step forward, we would take two steps. After that, a meeting between our two foreign ministers was arranged on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session in September 2018, but India canceled the meeting.

That September I also wrote my first of three letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi calling for dialogue and peace.

“Unfortunately, all my efforts to start a dialogue for peace were rebuffed by India. Initially, we assumed that Mr Modi’s increasingly hard-line positions and his rhetoric against Pakistan were aimed to whip up a nationalist frenzy among the Indian voters with an eye on the Indian elections in May.

“On 14 February a few months before those elections, a young Kashmiri man carried out a suicide attack against Indian troops in Indian-occupied Kashmir. The Indian government promptly blamed Pakistan.

“We asked for evidence, but Mr Modi sent Indian Air Force fighter planes across the border to Pakistan. Our Air Force brought down an Indian plane and captured the pilot. We struck back to signal we could defend ourselves but chose not to strike a target that would cause loss of life.

I made a conscious decision to show that Pakistan had no intent of aggravating the conflict between two nuclear-armed states. We returned the captured Indian pilot, with no preconditions.

Evidently Mr Modi had mistaken our desire for peace in a nuclear neighborhood as appeasement – PM Imran Khan

“On 23 May, after Mr Modi’s re-election, I congratulated him and hoped we could work for “peace, progress and prosperity in South Asia.” In June, I sent another letter to Mr Modi offering dialogue to work toward peace. Again, India chose not to respond.

And we found out that while I was making peace overtures, India had been lobbying to get Pakistan placed on the “blacklist” at the intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force, which could lead to severe economic sanctions and push us toward bankruptcy.

“Evidently Mr Modi had mistaken our desire for peace in a nuclear neighborhood as appeasement. We were not simply up against a hostile government. We were up against a “New India,” which is governed by leaders and a party that are the products of the Hindu supremacist mother ship, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or the RSS.

“On 05 Aug 2019, in its most brazen and egregious move, Mr Modi’s government altered the status of Indian-occupied Kashmir through the revocation of Article 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution.

The move is illegal under the Constitution of India, but more important, it is a violation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions on Kashmir and the Shimla Agreement between India and Pakistan.

“And Mr Modi’s “New India” chose to do this by imposing a military curfew in Kashmir, imprisoning its population in their homes and cutting off their phone, internet and television connections, rendering them without news of the world or their loved ones. The siege was followed by a purge: Thousands of Kashmiris have been arrested and thrown into prisons across India.

“A blood bath is feared in Kashmir when the curfew is lifted,” wrote the premier, drawing attention to the fact that “Kashmiris coming out in defiance of the curfew are being shot and killed”.

The Tribune – Today’s food is too sweet: Study

New York – State of New York – USA, 25 June 2019. Customers find foods in today’s marketplace to be too sweet, researchers that analysed nearly four lakh food reviews said.

“This is the first study of this scale to study food choice beyond the artificial constraints of the laboratory. Sweet was the most frequently mentioned taste quality and the reviewers told us that human food is over-sweetened,” said study lead author Danielle Reed from Monell Chemical Senses Center in the USA.

Published in the journal of Physiology and Behavior, the study examined 393,568 unique food reviews of 67,553 products posted by 256,043 customers over a 10 year period to gain real-world insight into the food choices that people make.

To identify words related to taste, texture, odour, spiciness, cost, health and customer service, the researchers used statistical modelling programme and computed the number of reviews that mentioned each of these categories.

The focus on product over-sweetness was striking as almost one per cent of product reviews, regardless of food type, used the phrase “too sweet”.

When looking at reviews that referred to sweet taste, the researchers found that over-sweetness was mentioned 25 times more than under-sweetness.

The researchers found that sweet taste was mentioned in 11 per cent of product reviews, almost three times more often than bitter.