Hertzogate: No evidence tobacco assists patients with respiratory illness

COLUMNIST Mandy Wiener has written an opinion piece for News24 entitled: ‘The case for lifting the cigarette ban’ Her central thesis is that the ‘prohibition on smoking tobacco merely drives the practice underground’. While Wiener appears to grasp some of the health arguments being touted by the Dept of Health, she appears to be in plain denial of the consequences:

“We understand that research globally shows that those with underlying conditions are more likely to be susceptible to Covid-19.”

“The working premise is that this also applies to current smokers. It is therefore safe to assume that government has implemented the ban to stop people from smoking so it reduces their risk if they contract the virus.”

It is highly irresponsible for a columnist to be advocating a return to smoking tobacco as usual during a global respiratory disease epidemic, in other words a pandemic of respiratory illness.

Wiener then further states “According to the WHO, ‘Smokers are likely to be more vulnerable to Covid-19 as the act of smoking means that fingers (and possibly contaminated cigarettes) are in contact with lips which increases the possibility of transmission of virus from hand to mouth. Smokers may also already have lung disease or reduced lung capacity which would greatly increase risk of serious illness.”

The insinuation is that smokers simply need to stop sharing their fags. Instead of drawing rational conclusions from her observations, she casts doubt and proceeds to make an irrational case for the lifting of the ban.

For starters, it must strike readers as a tad too convenient for Wiener to assert at the beginning of her piece that she has ‘no personal investment in this matter’. The claim is rather disingenuous since it is predicated upon the supposed independence she enjoys from her publishers and the tobacco industry. Two claims which are demonstrably false.

Wiener’s column is published in a Naspers-controlled News24 media outlet, one heavily invested in by the self-same Tobacco Industry,  if not outright controlled by those with extensive tobacco-related investments.

Medialternatives has previously covered the manner in which apartheid financiers Rupert Beleggings Pty Ltd, the real  brains trust behind Naspers, and the ultimate control behind a cartel actively involved within South Africa’s media, is also involved in capture of our justice system.

Readers however may be unaware of the manner in which the Rupert dynasty rose to fame and fortune via its stake in the tobacco industry. Orchestrating the outright purchase of Rothmans International in 1953. The biography of Anton Rupert, written be Ebbe Dommisse and Willie Esterhuyse covers the meteoric rise of the ‘Rembrandt Tobacco Corporation’, devoting an entire chapter to what they term ‘the birth of a masterpiece’.

The corporation founded in 1946 initially focused on tobacco and alcohol but later became the saviour of apartheid financial institutions.

JBM Hertzog, National Party & Naspers founder

A launchpad for the careers of prominent National Party members including Chris Stals, and Nico Diederichs. Dan O’Meara’s book Volkskapitalisme asserts that the Broederbond connection was vitally important to the early development of Rembrandt, as too it was in the formation of Naspers. The Hertzog’s were instrumental in the creation of both Naspers and Rembrandt. Two corporations which rose alongside the National Party itself, and whose founder-in-chief was none other than J B M Hertzog. The book further details various intrigues involving cousins Dirk and Albert Hertzog, Owen Horward and Anton Rupert.

It may be demonstrated, that the Tobacco industry, the same industry behind second-hand smoking and apartheid, is also behind climate change denial. A fact documented by science historians Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway in their book Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. Oreskes and Conway write that a handful of politically conservative scientists, with strong ties to particular industries, have “played a disproportionate role in debates about controversial questions”. The authors write that this has resulted in “deliberate obfuscation” of the issues which has had an influence on public opinion and policy-making.

It is not all that surprising that the selfsame industry is behind science denial and censorship in the Coronovirus Pandemic.

The Tencent WeChat system for instance has been accused of censoring Coronovirus Content in China. Naspers exercises minority control of Tencent via its 73% control of subsidiary Prosus, a company which in turn owns 31% of Tencent.

Citizen Lab, an interdisciplinary laboratory based at the University of Toronto, has released an analysis, showing censorship around the coronavirus on WeChat and YY — a Chinese livestreaming app similar to Twitch. The lab found that ‘both platforms began blacklisting terms related to the virus as early as the last week of December 2019, when Chinese health officials first reported an unknown pathogen spreading through the country’s hospitals.’

The self-same supposed rational gatekeepers have previously resorted to Anti-Vax propaganda. Most recently targeting philanthropist Bill Gates in the aptly named Gatesgate in which News24 editors were forced to publish lengthy retractions.

There is no evidence Bill Gates has ever advocated vaccine trials in Africa. He has instead donated much needed drug assistance to various institutions whilst funded various philanthropic initiatives which will hopefully bring post-trial Covid-19 vaccines within the reach of consumers.

British American Tobacco (BAT) part owned by Rupert’s Reinet Investments, claims it is working on a potential Covid-19 vaccine using its biotechnology subsidiary Kentucky BioProcessing (KBP). It is claim met by a great deal of scepticism and suspicion.

There is also no evidence that Tobacco assists in recovery from Respiratory disease, quite the contrary. Tobacco has been shown to cause cancer and cardio-respiratory illness.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration this week made a second revision on its stance about the risks of Covid-19 and nicotine, saying that cigarettes also increase the chances of catching the disease.

“People who smoke cigarettes may be at increased risk of infection with the virus that causes Covid-19, and may have worse outcomes from Covid-19,”


Gatesgate: Naspers/News24 sudden flipflop on vaccine testing claims

READERS may be aware of false claims made by Naspers media group, News24 stating incorrectly that philanthropist Bill Gates would be testing a vaccine against Covid-19 on Africans. The story turned out to be fake news gleaned from twitter and has resulted in a series of embarrassing retractions and apologies by the media group.

A column by ‘public editor’ George Claasen stands alongside news editor Adriaan Basson’s open acknowledgement: “There is a massive difference between testing kits to help the government determine how many citizens are Covid-19 positive, and testing new vaccines on Africans. This should have been picked up and corrected in the editing process.”

“We messed up and for that we apologised to you, our readers, and to the Gates Foundation” says Basson.

Claasen’s narrative on the other hand, is exceedingly bizarre considering his own admission: “When I was a young cub reporter, ethical accountability by the media was a rare phenomenon. Press codes mostly did not exist and a watchdog such as the Organisation of Newsombudsmen and Standards Editors (ONO), the international body today guarding over journalism standards, did not exist and was only established in the 1980s”.

One should note here that any comparison with the activities of other media houses during the struggle period referred to by Claasen would quickly assess that neither Grassroots nor South Press for that matter, had similar lapses of judgement. Whether the same can be said of the Weekly Mail and its treatment of Winnie Mandela is another story.

Although other media players acted recklessly under various media restrictions and were perhaps, victims of embedded journalism, the old Argus Group showed more backbone than Naspers did in allowing open criticism of the regime. Criticism notably missing from papers such as Die Burger during the same period.

Both Basson and Claasen should therefore be reminded that they speak on behalf of a discredited news organisation that continues to lie about its role during apartheid, was found guilty of gross violations of human rights by the commission of inquiry into apartheid, and today stands accused of waging a campaign against the TRC and also of going so far as to corruptly influence a 2010 decision by our labour legal system, in order to avoid culpability.

The retraction this week follows the passing of Conrad Sidego, ‘the only person to have experienced discrimination’ at Naspers during apartheid, according to the company, a company which itself is a marvel of reinvention.

This follows several well-publicised scandals involving former senior Media24 journalists accused of sexually abusing boys while they held senior positions at the company,

The public retractions by News24 editors, welcome are they may be in some quarters, are thus one of the rare moments when the Naspers corporation has found pause to consider the deleterious effects of its lack of journalistic integrity.

Surely time to demand why no retraction of the many previous ‘errors of fact’ introduced by the apartheid lie factory?

Why no public acknowledgements of complicity in the dirty tricks operation waged against anti-apartheid newsrooms and following similar revelations made by Paul Erasmus during the Timol and Aggett inquests?

Could it be that in all these cases, none of the victims turned out to be billionaires?

Latest fibs by South Africa’s Jingoistic Press.

READERS who enjoy spotting lies, may entertain themselves with today’s offering of blarney from South Africa’s jingoistic “yellow-press”

First up, there’s a paid-for-by-the-nuclear-industry piece by Mathew le Courdeur, published by News24, which just proves that if you fly a group of journalists on an all-expenses paid holiday to Russia, you can get easy coverage on nuclear reactor technology. Technology which has yet to solve the problem of waste. The cost alone of dealing with nuclear waste makes the industry prohibitive.

The news site published by Media24, recently closed down its comments section, to avoid criticism of its apartheid past following a recent reversal, in which it suddenly offered a half-apology after defending corporate failure to appear before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for the past decade.

If the the rave reviews of Russia by a journalist without any credibility isn’t your cup of tea, then try a more nuanced Pro-Putin piece in the Mail & Guardian. What is surprising about the Russian reality is how images on the ground, are disconnected from the content of a news piece which ignores atrocities such as Aleppo and Ghouta. Syrians were gassed by Assad, with the full support of the Russian government.

Thus the image of a poster with the words: “Rassia (sic) is the enemy of Syrian people” published right next door to the article with the charming but misleading title: West ‘ignored Russian offer to have Assad step aside’ appears to contradict each other (evidence perhaps that you can try to lie, but your conscience might just get the better of you?)

The content of the obviously Pro-Russian propaganda piece, appears to implicate the West and not Russia for supporting Assad. The revision of history via the culture of published lies is demonstrable.

The Mail & Guardian started out as an all-white newspaper publishing propaganda for the anti-apartheid movement. It now appears to offer similar services to Oligarchs and dictators around the world.

Media Reaction: Radio jocks diss Lebo M

REACTION to the Lebo M news-story at a Cape Town radio station was predictable. Lee Downs of Heart 104.9 lead the way, roasting the producer who had apparently “caused a scene” at the Naledi awards on Tuesday. Rebuking the co-producer of the musical The Lion King, for being an uppity prima donna playing the race card, Downs sided with organisers of the event in particular Dawn Lindberg.

Downs was however merely following the lead taken by the print media, in particular The Times which as it turned out carried a front page feature with Dawn Lindberg “hitting back” at Lebo M over the alleged “disrespect” shown to him and other black theatre professionals at the Naledi Theatre Awards.

The Lion King co-producer, who won the award for best musical, “said in his acceptance speech on Monday night that he felt insulted to be seated in the back row, and that the theatre industry did not recognise black people.”