This Week in Corona Scams, a snowstorm messed with Texas, and all of America must now assess the frozen fallout.
Also: Who’s really telling the truth about the COVID-19 vaccines? What’s the deal with “Long COVID”? And where might MLM’s go next to hunt for new downlines?
WARNING: Due to the continuing “Info-demic” of false rumors going viral across the internet, I’m really pissed off, so we’re using a bit of adult language today. Reader discretion is advised.
Is Alex Jones onto something regarding the Texas blizzard? (Spoiler alert: Hell no!)
Ever since the Texas blizzard first hit, it’s wreaked a whole lot of havoc beyond Texas, including COVID-19 vaccine distribution. That has had the entire country asking: How did Texas mess this up? Of course, being that Texas Republicans once loved to preach “the gospel of personal responsibility”, they’ve rushed to blame everyone else for a system that they themselves designed to their own ideological likings.
As always, far-right conspiracy king Alex Jones has led the charge in spreading wild conspiracy theories about the Texas snowstorm and the subsequent power outages. Those conspiracy theories include allegations that President Joe Biden and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) are cutting off Texas’ power supply, allegations that wind turbines and solar panels are less reliable sources of electricity, and allegations that this is somehow part of Bill Gates’ secret plan to depopulate the planet. Needless to say, none of these conspiracy theories are rooted in any truth, and it’s nothing short of shameful that such a high number of GOP politicians in Texas and beyond are parroting Alex Jones and other far-right agents of chaos by endorsing any of these false allegations.
The vast majority of Texas is actually covered by its own internal and isolated power grid, and that power grid is operated by a private nonprofit organization called the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT. Neither Joe Biden nor Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez nor Bill Gates has forced ERCOT to do anything – rather, the Texas Legislature and Texas state regulatory agencies pushed for a deregulated power grid and empowered utility companies to largely do whatever they wanted. And since 80% of Texas’ electricity comes from fossil fuels, Texas’ faulty natural gas infrastructure likely played a much greater role in the power outages and gas shortages than any small collection of frozen wind turbines.
California was initially seen as an “innovator in energy deregulation” in the late 1990’s, but the early 2000’s energy crisis eventually forced the Golden State to abandon extreme deregulation in favor of a more balanced regulatory system. States like Maryland and Pennsylvania have since been much more careful in pursuing “energy choice”, and voters right here in Nevada got icy cold feet over Question 3 in 2018 on questions of how the Nevada Legislature would restructure our own energy market. It’s easy for “free market fundamentalists” to blame everyone else for the Texas power outages. It’s not so sexy for them to examine why their own ideal system failed to prepare for inclement weather and properly maintain the power grid.
Is Alex Jones onto something regarding the COVID-19 vaccines? (Again: Hell no!)
When Alex Jones hasn’t been encouraging Texas Republican politicians to blame everyone but themselves for the power outages, and when he hasn’t been pretending that he had nothing to do with the January 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol, he’s been spreading (even more) conspiracy theories about COVID-19 vaccines killing people. And as per usual, Alex Jones, QAnon extremists, and other far-right “internet influencers” are really just repackaging the same old anti-vaccine fear-mongering that disgraced quacks like Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Kevin Trudeau, and Joe Mercola were using long before COVID-19 began to spread around the world.
As always, the scary stories that anti-vaxxers have used to scare people away from the COVID-19 vaccines are either exaggerated or completely fabricated. Just like the Plandemic videos, these newer and “deadlier” anti-vaccine rumors include accusations against Bill Gates that have already been debunked. The COVID-19 vaccines do not include “DNA altering technology”, RFID tracking devices, or any kind of “secret sauce” that causes autism and/or cancer. Even though swollen lymph nodes are one potential side effect of the COVID-19 vaccines, that does not mean these vaccines cause breast cancer or any other cancer.
And for goodness sake, all the “Vaccines have toxins!” rhetoric is itself quite toxic! The fact of the matter is that anti-vaxxers have no actual science and no other factual evidence to back up their claims, so they’re just making shit up and expecting you to believe whatever they say. No matter what anti-vaxxers say about Bill Gates, Dr. Anthony Fauci, or anyone else they try to turn into some cartoon villain, the science remains quite clear about these vaccines working in preventing severe illness and slowing further spread of COVID-19.
Is Gwyneth Paltrow onto something regarding “Long COVID”? (Probably not.)
Since we already read Alex Jones to proper filth, let’s check up on that other (in)famous peddler of overpriced vitamins. But first, let’s take a look at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) launching a new study on Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC), or “Long COVID”. During yesterday’s White House COVID-19 Briefing, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Chief Medical Advisor to President Joe Biden, acknowledged the growing likelihood of long-term health complications after the initial COVID-19 infection, and he admitted that federal health authorities need to learn more about “Long COVID” in order to figure out which are the most effective treatments.
As Fauci noted yesterday, “It’s very difficult to treat something when you don’t know what the target is.” He then added, “Once we get that, we can design therapeutic approaches, hopefully involving medications we already have. We just need to learn how to use them [for PASC].”
Now contrast these statements from an actual public health professional with those of “Goop Guru” Gwyneth Paltrow. As she was describing her own struggle with “Long COVID” on her Goop blog, Paltrow endorsed the treatment regimen for “Long COVID” that Paltrow’s “functional medicine practitioner” gave her: an “intuitive fasting healing regime”, a “keto[genic] and plant-based” diet with no sugar or alcohol, infrared saunas, and (of course!) Goop’s own Madame Ovary supplement and Seedlip, “the incredible herbal nonalcoholic cocktails”. While Paltrow may be pleased with how this regimen works for her, this is not evidence indicating that any of this is any kind of scientifically proven COVID-19 medicine.
British health authorities have already warned the U.K. general public against treating Paltrow’s personal recommendations as actual medical advice, and here in the U.S. Fauci clearly stated that the NIH needs more time to study “Long COVID” in order to determine what kind of science-based medicine ultimately serves as the most effective treatment. As much as we want more effective COVID-19 treatments more quickly, and as terrible as the “Long COVID” experience must be for Gwyneth Paltrow, just because she experiences it herself and just so happens to run her own “wellness and lifestyle company” does not mean that Gwyneth Paltrow is in any position to prescribe any kind of COVID-19 treatment.
Finally, some good news for a change: MLM’s on the ropes
As we’ve frequently warned over the last year, these conspiracy theorists who argue against science-based medicine typically want to upsell you into their own snake oil sales funnel. And as we’ve been warning for quite some time, at least some of those snake oil sales funnels are also pyramid schemes. We were tracking multi-level marketing (MLM) salespeople using social media to recruit long before TikTok announced its ban on MLM recruiting on its platform last December, and we’re returning to the harrowing cyberworld of MLM scheming now that some MLM recruiters are trying to use the new Clubhouse app to entice new downlines.
Just as we were tracking last year, MLM companies sought to take full advantage of COVID-19 and the recession by directing their recruiters to Facebook, Instagram, and elsewhere to bring in new downlines. Even now, we continue to see people begging their friends and family online to join Arbonne, Color Street, Herbalife, ItWorks!, Young Living, and other MLM’s. And yes, over 99% of MLM participants continue to experience net losses while working in MLM’s.
Fortunately, one factor that limited their ability to recruit has been the growth of the online Anti-MLM community. As more and more Americans begin to learn more about the ugly reality of MLM life behind the glossy Instagram filters of “abundance and success!”, we’re seeing the most significant public pushback to MLM’s since the Federal Trade Commission’s 1979 decision to mostly allow Amway to continue operating under its MLM model.
Unfortunately some drama involving a supposedly Anti-MLM YouTube content creator who recently joined the hair care MLM Monat has resulted in some friction in certain corners of the Anti-MLM community, but there’s clearly far more at stake than merely one content creator’s decision to flip-flop on MLM’s. The clothing MLM LuLaRoe agreed to a $4.75 million settlement with Washington State in a lawsuit filed by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson (D), and this is the first time that Washington State has enforced its own law forbidding pyramid schemes. There’s clearly much more work for activists to do, but for the first time in over four decades we’re finally starting to see momentum break in favor of curbing predatory “business models”. It’s always important to keep things like this in proper perspective.
If you have further questions about COVID-19 and your health, check Nevada Health Response on testing in your area, check Immunize Nevada for more information on vaccine availability in your area, and check Nevada 211 for more health care resources. If you’re in need of additional aid, check the Nevada Current’s and Battle Born Progress’ resource guides. If you can afford proper treatment and you are fortunate enough to help others in need, please donate to larger operations like Direct Relief and Mutual Aid Disaster Relief, and to local groups like Three Square. And for goodness sake, please wear your masks and maintain social distancing from people outside your household.