Thursday, July 29, 2021

Will Anti-Maskers Kill Halloween?

 Here's a letter to the editor in the Anchorage Daily News today.

For sight impaired, see letter written out below

I have to admit he packs a lot into such a short letter.  

Personal liberty:  He's trying to curtail other people's personal choice to wear masks.  Wonder how he feels about tattoos.  

  • What about people who have made or purchased attractive masks and now enjoy them as a fashion statement?  
  • What about people who have relished the ability to hide a disfigurement on their face or just something they don't like about how they look during this time when many others wear masks?
  • What about people with low immunity who need a mask for more than just COVID?
  • What about scuba divers and snorkelers?
  • I was going to say 'what about' here too, but we already know that these people never liked face coverings that some Muslim women wear.  
  • What about White Nationalist protesters who want to hide their identity from surveillance?

Halloween:  His 'No Masks ever" is pretty broad.  Is this also part of some religious group  that thinks Halloween violates sacred beliefs?  Will they still be yelling 'no masks ever' three months from now?

Ideological Symbolism - People who are so emotionally upset by masks, it seems to me, see masks as rebukes to their belief systems.  Every mask, to them, must seem like someone saying, "You're wrong."  I'd note that many of these same people also get irate about people of color complaining about racist language.  They tell them to not be so 'sensitive.'  

Willful Ignorance - Who is guilty of mask stupidity?  It seems to me it's the anti-maskers.  [Does anyone else think it's bizarre that we even have that word?] In answer to the question in the letter - vaccinations protect about 90-95% of the vaccinated from getting COVID.  But we don't know who that 5-10 out of 100 are.  It appears - the scientists are studying this as it happens and evolves so most conclusions are tentative - that for most vaccinated people who do get infected, there will be mild or no symptoms.  However, they can infect others. So the masks both protect the person wearing it and other people.  But people like the letter writer do not seem to care about other people, at least those who disagree with their world view, so it's hard for them to understand such feelings as empathy or caring.  

Ultimately anyone has the right to wear a mask for any reason, except those committing crimes with a mask to hide their identity.  I'm actually hoping that masks will become a fashion.  At least with masks, unlike with tattoos, you can change them or just leave them off.  

[Technology that reads the internet for those with sight problems can read text and make it into audio, but cannot read text in images, so it helps to write out such text.]

The Letter:

"No Masks

Stop this mask stupidity.  If you're vaccinated and it works, why wear a mask?  This ridiculous nonsense must stop.  No masks ever.

-Nicholas Danger, Anchorage"

8.2 Earthquake - Didn't Feel It In Anchorage

 Not sure if others in Anchorage felt it.  We did not.  

Right now there are tsunami warnings but haven't seen any reports of actual waves.

I can't imagine and 8.2.  The 7.1 quake we had November 30, 2018 was more earthquake than I ever want to experience again.  8.2, if I understand my Richter scale right is 10 times stronger than 7.2!

I put up the map because the location of the quake won't mean anything to most people outside of Alaska.  

Click to Enlarge And Focus - Source

My sympathy goes out to those who were effected and my hope is that no tsunamis develop.  If there are tsunamis they could impact far more than Alaska.  

Looks like tsunamis will be under 1 foot in Alaska areas.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Made It To Kamphaengphet Saturday In My Summer Anchorage Biking Trek

Back in May I described my itinerary - Chiangmai to Bangkok - 745 kilometers.  I'm doing this on the bike trails of Anchorage.  The original post gives a bit of background to this  way of giving me a reason  - beyond the sheer joy of being on a bike whizzing through the woods - for this technique.  Knowing how many kilometers I have to cover gets me out on days my body would rather not.  But once my feet are pushing pedals, I'm glad I'm out riding.  There's also a map showing the distances between key points.  

Kamphaengphet is kilometer 445, so I'm over half way.  That's good, because biking season  is also half over.   ( I have an old bike with studded tires for winter, but I don't do long bike rides when there is snow and ice)

This stop is particularly special because I spent two years in Kamphaengphet teaching English as a Peace Corps volunteer in the late 1960s.  Below are some pictures from that time - a world much more closely connected to the past than it's connected to the present.  

These are from an album I put together while I was there.  Black and white photos I could get developed at the local photographer shop. The place where people could get portraits done.  But Kodak and Fuji slides had to be sent to Hong Kong or Australia to be developed.  That was minimally a two week process.  I think of my grandkids who probably don't even know about film and are used to seeing the picture the instant it's taken.  (I checked with my oldest and she did not know.)

This picture seems appropriate - me on a bike on the road in front of the school with the temple ruins and the water buffaloes in the background.  My house was on the school grounds, up on stilts, with two other 'apartments'  for teachers in the same building. The soccer field was between my house and this road.  So I had a view of the old temple chedis.  Here's a great link that explains the names of the different parts of Thai temples. My bike was my main form of transportation, though my colleagues had motorcycles too.  Peace Corps didn't let us have motorcycles but at that time the current ban on even riding on the back of a cycle didn't exist.  Peace Corps says the ban came after they figured out that most Peace Corps deaths came from motorcycle accidents.  My experience would have been significantly different had I not been able to ride on the back of motorcycles.  (Sorry for the blur, I didn't take this picture.)

This was one of my students.  Soccer was a big part of school life and since the best soccer field was directly in front of my house, a big part of my life.  It was out on this field that I set up the portable record player/radio that I'd bought when we stopped in Hong Kong on the way and played records in the moonlight when my trunk finally arrived.  I also played soccer there and started my love of jogging running around the field.  And the chedi was always there in the background.  At that time you could walk over and climb up on it and sit and contemplate the world.  Now it's part of a National Historic Park and has a fence and admission fee.

A short distance from the school in the forest were several more impressive temples.  I used to walk or bike over to be alone with these ancient structures - about 600 or 700 years old.  The Buddha on the left was part of a temple called The Temple of the Four Positions.  This was the sitting position.  There was a standing Buddha, a reclining Buddha, and a less common walking Buddha.

The elephants surrounded to top of another temple more in the hidden in the woods, up on a bluff overlooking the River Bing. [Mae Nam literally means mother water, or river and usually proceeds the name of the river.  So sometimes you see names like Mae Nam Bing River.  Which is sort of redundant.]  I'm not sure how many elephants there were all around the temple (It was called something like Temple With Elephant Around it) but there were a lot.  The English book we used had stories in every lesson - stories from British history, US history, and Thai history, so I learned about Thai heroes of various wars against Burma, Laos, and Cambodia.  This temple looked out toward the mountains over which the Burmese army would have had to come.  

There was no television reception in my town.  So 'commercials' were live.  Here's the medicine salesman gathering a crowd with his microphone and cobra.  When enough people showed up, he'd get the mongoose out of the box and have a battle between the leashed mongoose and the well drugged cobra. And then he'd sell all sorts of medicine.  

And this is why I was here.  To teach English to MS 3 students at the boys' school.  MS 3 translates to about 8th grade.  They were fantastic students and we generally had a great time.  Our teacher training back in DeKalb, Illinois had been excellent.  We had 50 minute lessons for each chapter.  Each class would start with about five minutes of pronunciation drills.  There are lots of sounds in English that don't exist in Thai.  There are only about nine final consonant sounds in Thai.  Most English consonant clusters are real challenges for Thais because they don't exist in Thai.   Steve became Sateeb. (There's no v sound in Thai, let alone a final v.  The closest Thai has is a final b.  Other v's become w.)  Then ten minutes of vocabulary - lots of creative activities to get across the meanings without using Thai.  Then we had grammar drills, ideally using the sounds from the pronunciation drills and the vocabulary from that drill.  Then we'd read from the story and ask questions about the story.  Everything in English.  Thai not allowed.  Some of the things they learned best were classroom instructions that got used every day.  Stand up.  Sit down.  Louder please.  Stop talking.  Who wants to read first?   Open your books.  Repeat after me. 

About the kid with the bare feet.  No, it wasn't that he didn't have shoes.  Thais just take their shoes off before they go inside.  So outside the classroom would be lots of shoes.  

This is the old Burmese stupa and temple across the river.  On Buddha's birthday everyone went there and in the full moon, carried candles around the stupa.  It was a connection they had to their ancestors who had done the same thing for hundreds of years.  

So it was exciting Saturday knowing that I'd made it to Kamphaengphet on my summer biking adventure.  While I rode through cool birch and spruce forests in Anchorage, I was imagining the dusty roads, the wonderful people and their smiles, the delicious food, and the temples as they were back in 1967-69.  

This is just the tiniest peeks at my three years living with Thais.  Three years that dramatically rewired my brain.  The temple pictures are here because Buddhism wasn't really a religion, it was a way of life and permeated everything.  A good Buddhist doesn't even kill a mosquito.  And there was a tolerance for everyone.  There were, of course, economic differences among people, but even the king prostrated himself before the great Buddha statues.  I'm using the past tense here because I'm writing about that Thailand back then.  I've been able to spend time in Thailand since then and while the basics are still the same, the gap between the US and Thailand technologically has gotten very small.  Back in the 60s, Thailand was a different world, a different time, from the US.  No longer.  

Today I did another 16.5 km so I'm on my way to Nakorn Sawan.  This is the longer between stops and I remember the dusty red dirt road in the last three hours of my trips back from Bangkok.  Lots of rice and mountains that looked like growths on the mostly flat landscape.  I'd note that all these roads have long since been paved.  

Monday, July 26, 2021

Saturday Trip To Portage


Our first stop was Bird Point, to get a little beach time.  The weather was cooperative and I found I nice big flat rock to get a short nap in.


View from my rock.

Some lichen friends were enjoying the sun too on a nearby rock.

And the trail was full of pink clover and white yarrow.

There's a trail that goes along much of the road going to Portage Glacier. Here's the map.

The trail has different kinds of vegetation along the way.

Where we started, we were on the edge of a lake and there was a hanging glacier up on the rocks.  This used to be a key view point before they put the trail in fairly recently.

Here's a quiet stream with a rock garden above it.  The plant world just needs water to get a foothold, even on this vertical rock wall.

And this part of the trail has spruce trees hanging with moss.

A picnic table along the trail.

A faster running creek with mossy edges.

While I am a graffiti fan, this is not a place where human efforts add to the beauty.  

The angle of these grass seeds far outshines the paint on the rock.

Then we drove the little bit more to see what Portage Lake looked like that day.  

When we got to Alaska nearly 50 years ago, the glacier extended well into the lake and there were always house sized icebergs floating in the lake.  But it's been quite a few years since the glacier retreated out of the lake and back up into the mountain.  

But there was a 'tiny' iceberg floating on the other side of the lake.  I say tiny because way over there it doesn't look that big.  And compared to the old icebergs we used to see, it's pretty small.  But you can also gauge it against the snow poles on the road in the background.  They're there to help drivers see the road when the snow gets really deep.  I'm guessing they're about 15 feet high and the iceberg appears to be longer than the poles.  

Any day you get out of the house and leave your screens behind for the natural treats of Alaska is a great day, and it was.  

Friday, July 23, 2021

Good Time To Visit Anchorage Botanical Garden

 There's a great display of rhododendrons right now at the garden.  The early ones have big seed pods.  It's just past the fire station off Campbell Airstrip Road.  Same parking lot as the Save High School.

And then there are the ones that are in full bloom.   

Someone had a camera set up to take time-lapse photos these.  

Rhododendrons play a huge role in traditional Chinese art.  Next time you see a Chinese scroll look at the flowers carefully.  

And, of course, there are plenty of other things blooming as well.  I try to stop by at least once a week on one of my bike rides so I can check out the every changing selection of plants to buy.  

I think this is a globe flower, not quite in bloom yet.

And below are Martagon Lilies.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Anchorage Assembly Have Mid-Day Work Session on Homeless Issues

 I went to the Assembly Homeless Public Hearing today.  There were about 40 people in the audience and about 25% were wearing masks most of the time.  

Let me  highlight what I took away from the meeting.  These were the three issues that seemed to be problems that were raised for the Assembly to try to resolve or at least understand.

  • Measurement - HMIS (Homeless Management Information System)  - They've come a long way since I took the Olé 8 week homeless class.  To plan for the future they have to count the homeless.  They have to be able to identify the different kinds of homeless - those who have lost a job or had overwhelming medical expenses;  those who are working but don't earn enough; those who are chronically homeless, perhaps addicted or mentally ill or badly physically disabled.  Several people mentioned a man with no hands who is homeless.
Click on Image to Enlarge
Then there is the issue of tracking these individuals.  This chart tells us that most of the agencies dealing with the homeless are now inputing information.  But COVID meant HUD required additional data and the work of inputting it all is becoming a problem and all that additional info is making the system harder to use.  But they also said that Anchorage has been cited as the location with the most complete data base tracking of homeless.  

These aren't problems unique to this data base.  Competing interests for which data to include, how to integrate the data, and usefulness to end users are always problematic.  And the more you add the slower it all gets and harder to use.  

Again, click to enlarge

  • Obstacles Homeless People Face Getting Service 
    • One speaker mentioned that people get to her agency with complaints of not being helped by other agencies.  An Assembly members asked why the others couldn't help.  The answer was:  Different agencies have different grants which often restrict who they can serve - maybe women with children, youth, long term homeless, disabled.  Or they are funded to provide a specific service.  
    • The data base is supposed to help coordinate these kinds of problems, but, as I understood it, it's easier to find programs than to track individuals as they use services of different programs
  • Problems Getting Appropriated Funding To Service Providers
    • The Assembly has appropriated monies for different agencies, but the process of actually getting the money to them is slowed down by federal requirements.  The slide below was put up in part response to this question, but I don't see that it addresses the issue in detail

A number of agency heads or high level employees answered questions from the Assembly.  

Jasmine Boyle is the Executive Director of the Anchorage Homeless Coalition.  When I took the homeless class we heard her name often and she was scheduled to talk to the class several times, but there were always crises that came up and I never got to see her before today.  

Lisa  Sauder is the Executive Director of Bean's Cafe.

[Sorry, I was sitting on the left and got only profiles.]

There were slides that showed numbers of homeless in recent years in summer and winter.  There were predictions of the numbers of beds needed this winter.  Most of the slides about how many homeless at the meeting are at this url.

But I left sort of scratching my head.  What was the goal of this meeting?  Was it for the Assembly to get information?  Most of this they should already have.  Was it a public education meeting?  There wasn't much public there.  (Maybe it was televised, I didn't check.)  For me the three bullet points above seemed to be the things the Assembly members found most helpful - the measurement issues, the obstacles to getting service, and the hold up of the appropriated money getting to the service agencies.  

But the critical issues - what's going to happen when the federal funds to keep Sullivan Arena open as a homeless shelter end in August? - well I didn't see much progress toward answering that question.  

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

GAMERS ALERT: Free Online Redistricting Mapping Software Let's You Help Shape Alaska's House And Senate Districts [Updated]

An email [it's copied below] for Alaska Redistricting Board update subscribers today says that they have worked out an agreement with Tufts University for maps making tools for the public to use.  [You can subscribe to the Board's updates here.]

The 2020 detailed census data are not out yet, but people can start practicing with the 2010 data now. Below is the email with a link to the software and two example maps.  

I haven't tried this yet because I wanted to get it out to people immediately.  For anyone interested in mapmaking or in politics, this is a must.  It's a good opportunity to get non-political tech people paired up with non-tech political people.  

I hope gamers see this as a real life game and that they can keep the Redistricting Board accountable by showing them that better maps (maps that meet all the Federal and State requirements more efficiently and equitably) can be made.  When there were challenges to the Redistricting Board's maps in the 2010 round, maps were submitted to the courts to show that better maps could be made.

As I looked at the example maps below I realized there are some requirements for valid districts that mappers need to know. Here's an early post from the 2010 Redistricting round that details some of the Federal and State requirements.  For instance, 

The Federal Constitutional Redistricting Principles are, briefly:
  • A.  "One Person, One Vote". . ."legislative seats must be apportioned exclusively on the basis of population and the populations of the respective districts must be substantially equal."
  • B.  "Districts of as nearly as equal size as practicable.  Maximum overall deviation of the no more than 10%, (i.e. plus or minus 5%)  Deviation is the measure of how much a district or plan varies from the ideal.  Good faith efforts to make deviations as small as practicable must be made. 

There are forty House seats.  Each has to be as close to equal as possible.  

The official 2020 total Alaska population which is  733,391 divided by 40 = 18,334.775.  

But it's impossible to have a fraction of people in every district, so it's necessary to have some deviance.  .  Ideally, each district deviates from 18,335 by less than 1% (That would be 183 people). 

But while mappers have to get all the districts equal, they also have requirements for compactness and for "relatively socio-economically integrated areas"   That's why some districts can deviate up to 10%, though that is discouraged.  Urban districts with lots of population should be under 1% deviation if possible.

So here's an enlargement of the first map below.  It's pointing to "percentage of deviation from the ideal"  That should make sense to you now, but let me repeat the details again.

Population Balance refers to the fact that every House district has to be as close to 1/40 (there are 40 house districts) of the official 2020 total Alaska population which is  733,391 divided by 40 = 18,335.  

I'm confused by the numbers in the red circle.  It says percentage, and 8.860 percent is under 10%.  But I don't know why it has a comma instead of a period.  I have an email into the Board to clarify that.  It could just be the way that software handles percentages.  I'll update this when I hear back. [UPDATE July 22, 2021:  Yes these are numbers and if I had read the note more carefully, I would have realized you need to hove the cursor over the numbers to get the percentage of deviation.]

Now, here's the email:
"Good morning subscribers,

Thanks for your continued interest in Alaska’s redistricting process. Census data for 2020 is expected in late August and the Board is looking forward to getting to work.  Drawing maps will be challenging and public feedback is an essential part of the process. 
One of the ways you can provide input is by sending the Board your map ideas. To facilitate this the Board is working with The Redistricting Lab at Tufts University to deploy a customized, web-based, publicly available map drawing tool.  This platform is available now for your beta testing at: 

REMINDER: the data and blocks shown are from the 2010 Census; the 2020 data will be uploaded in late August – we’ll send out a notice at that time. Any maps you create until then will be based on 2010 population data and so are not appropriate for formal submission to the Board.

The web mapping tool uses a "paint brush" concept (for coloring) to shade in areas you wish to assign to a district, which are denoted by 40 individual colors.  This customized version allows painting at the Census block level, the most precise level of geography available and the same one which the Board will use to draw new legislative districts.

As you "paint" a district, the population will be dynamically totaled under the Population tab.  To assist you, under the Data Layers tab you'll find tools to overlay the state with existing legislative district boundaries, incorporated city limits, borough boundaries and school districts.

If you would like to view population distribution you may make selections to shade Census blocks with population density under Data Layers -> Demographics -> Population.

The system supports undo/redo, and allows you to "lock already drawn districts". This enables drawing perfectly adjoining districts by respecting blocks you have already colored into a previous district.

Use the Save/Update button to save your work, share plans with others (copy and send the URL) or submit directly through the website for Board consideration (once we have gone live with 2020 data, expected at the end of August).

Please take a little time to experiment with the tool so we can identify any bugs prior to our public launch. Your feedback would be appreciated; simply reply to this email.


Peter Torkelson
Executive Director
Alaska Redistricting Board 

P.S.  Here are a few tool tips to get you started:"   [Below are the two example maps that were at the end of the email.  You can enlarge them considerably by clicking on them.]


Monday, July 19, 2021

Little UN at Muldoon Farmers' Market In Anchorage

 Finally made it to the Muldoon Farmers' Market Saturday.  It's a little smaller and has fewer venders than when I was here last in 2019.  Maybe there will be more venders as the summer crops ripen.  

Still, I got to buy veggies from Cherry, who's from Myanmar.  

She spent something like ten or twelve years in refugee camps - first and longest, in Thailand.  And then in Malaysia.  She was in the refugee camp near Maesot, Thailand which I passed on the way to and from Umphang where one of my former students is the headmaster of the local school.  He tried to take us into that huge camp, which sprawls across a mountainside, but the officials he knew there were away that day.  Here's a picture I took from a post back in 2007.  They said 25,000 refugees from Myanmar were kept there.

This booth was set up by Vonnie whose company is Arts by Vonnie.  She has her own unique Alaska cards that she designs.  Vonnie's got cards with a number of different styles as well as stand alone prints.  The website reveals a lot of interesting pieces and also a woman who's involved in important social issues, like projects at Hiland Correctional Center and the Let Us Dream project - for which she did clever portraits of the various participants.  I recognized EJR David as soon as I opened that page.  

The vendor at this booth sold us some great kale and some baked goods.  She's from Somalia and ok'd a photo of the table, but not of herself.  

Another vendor was from Bhutan and I got a jar of rhubarb-raspberry jelly from an Alaska Native woman.  

Here are some  posts from 2018 and2019 that feature the market.  And yes, by September there are a lot more fresh vegetables for sale.  

There's also a great playground here for the kids.  

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Freedom To Kill With Speech - Top 12 Anti-Vaxxers

[Overview:  basically there's

1.  And introduction about how perilous the times are

2.  A list of the Dirty Dozen

3.  Comments here and there about the need to adapt our legal thinking about Free Speech and the internet to be able to stop clear, dangerous, disinformation

4.  Some links to sites that offer suggestions for how to do this - though I can't say that I found anything that has anything close to a magic bullet.  At least you can get the sense that people are working on this.]

The Center for Countering Digital Hate posted a study March 24, 2021 called The Disinformation Dozen.   The first point in the executive summary is:

"1. The Disinformation Dozen are twelve anti-vaxxers who play leading roles in spreading digital misinformation about Covid vaccines. They were selected because they have large numbers of followers, produce high volumes of anti-vaccine content or have seen rapid growth of their social media accounts in the last two months."

I'm a firm believer in the First Amendment protections for free speech.  But there comes a point when people say things that do significant damage.  We have libel and slander laws.  We have hate speech laws. All put limits on speech.  

Perilous Times

Right now we are in a battle.  On one side is democracy and the rule of law and knowledge and action based on science. On the other side we have  the rule of power - based on personal opinion, misinformation, religion, playing on people's emotional weak points. 

 The Senate did not impeach Trump after the insurrection. Half the Senators still won't publicly acknowledge that Trump lost the election.  The GOP refuses to take action against treason.  Their  personal power and wealth is more important than the survival of democracy.  Plus the Monied Right have given us a Supreme Court now that may well support moving to an autocratic theocracy.  

US citizens tend to believe their democracy is immortal.  It's not.  It's being severely tested now. What happens in the next few years will change the world for better or worse.  There's no guarantee those on the side of freedom and equality will be the victors in this new civil war.

We must adapt our laws to deal with threats that the internet enables.  I don't have the answers, but I do have the questions.  

 From what I can tell, money is a factor in all of these cases.  Tat a minimum they have lots of followers on social media, so ad revenue is an issue.  And for a number (if not all) of these folks, there are side hustles - video tapes, alternative medicines, etc. - that bring in a lot of money.  Probably speaking engagements add up too.  

I'm guessing that for some, the money is the main draw.  I don't know how many of these people believe what they are saying.  We know that outrageousness generates clicks.  But I'm sure a few of these despicable people have convinced themselves they are speaking the truth.

The spreading of disinformation is a key weapon in the arsenal of autocracy.  

The List

These are the 12 (really 13) people they Center for Digital Hate identified.   The report also has examples of the kinds of post they distribute.  

[All these profiles are from  Center for Countering Digital Hate  a study The Disinformation Dozen. [The pics of the perps didn't transfer over to here and it's more work than I want to do to redo them all, so for the pics I recommend visiting the original source linked two lines up. It also includes examples of their dirty work.]] 

1 Joseph Mercola

Facebook: Active

Twitter: Active


Joseph Mercola is a successful anti-vaccine entrepreneur, peddling dietary supplementsand false cures as alternatives to vaccines. Mercola’s combined personal social mediaaccounts have around 3.6 million followers.

2 Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Facebook: Active

Twitter: Active

Instagram: Part Removed

Kennedy is a long-standing anti-vaxxer, and his Children’s Health Defense (CHD) hosts a range of anti-vaccine articles.

Kennedy’s account was banned from Instagram on 8 February, yet his Facebook Page remains active, as does the CHD’s Instagram page.

Kennedy and Children’s Health Defense released a film in mid-March targeting members of the Black and Latino communities with tailored anti-vaccine messages. Facebook and Twitter continue to allow him a platform to promote these false claims.

3 Ty & Charlene Bollinger

Facebook: Active

Twitter: Active

Instagram: Active

Ty and Charlene Bollinger are anti-vax entrepreneurs who run a network of accounts that market books and DVDs about vaccines, cancer and COVID-19. In 2020 they launched the United Medical Freedom Super PAC ahead of last year’s United States elections.

The Bollingers have promoted the conspiracy theory that Bill Gates plans to inject everyone with microchips as part of a vaccination program.

From AP:

“You’re going to love owning the platinum package,” Charlene Bollinger tells viewers, as a picture of a DVD set, booklets and other products flashes on screen. Her husband, Ty, promises a “director’s cut edition,” and over 100 hours of additional footage.

Click the orange button, his wife says, “to join in the fight for health freedom” — or more specifically, to pay $199 to $499 for the Bollingers’ video series, “The Truth About Vaccines 2020.”

The Bollingers are part of an ecosystem of for-profit companies, nonprofit groups, YouTube channels and other social media accounts that stoke fear and distrust of COVID-19 vaccines, resorting to what medical experts say is often misleading and false information.

Wikipedia says he's a former body builder with no medical training.  

4 Sherri Tenpenny

Facebook:Part Active

Twitter: Active

Instagram: Active

Sherri Tenpenny is an osteopath physician who spreads anti-vaccine sentiment and false claims about the safety and efficacy of masks via her social media channels. While her Facebook account has been removed, her Twitter and Instagram are still intact.

 From Wikipedia:

"Since 2017, Tenpenny and her business partner, Matthew Hunt, have taught a six-week, $623 course titled "Mastering Vaccine Info Boot Camp" designed to "sow seeds of doubt" regarding public health information. During the course, Tenpenny explains her views on the immune system and vaccines, and Hunt instructs participants on how best to use persuasion tactics in conversation to communicate the information.[9]

Tenpenny promotes anti-vaccination videos sold by Ty and Charlene Bollinger and receives a commission whenever her referrals result in a sale,[10] a practice known as affiliate marketing.[11]"

5 Rizza Islam

Facebook: Removed

Twitter: Active

Instagram: Active

Rizza Islam’s anti-vaccine posts aim to spread vaccine hesitancy amongst African Americans. While Facebook removed Rizza Islam’s Facebook Page in February, he continues to post anti-vaccine messages from his Instagram and Twitter accounts. 

From Wikipedia entry on the World Literacy Program of which Rizza Islam was Executive Director.

World Literacy Crusade (WLC) is a non-profit organisation formed in 1992 by the Rev. Alfreddie Johnson to fight illiteracy, and supported by the Church of Scientology.[1][2] The group uses "study technologies" and "drug rehabilitation technologies" developed by L. Ron Hubbard, the Church's founder.[3][4] It has been characterized as a "Scientology front group",[5][6] and has been promoted by celebrity Scientologists such as Isaac Hayes and Anne Archer.[1]

Legal issues

The LA Times reported in 2008 that about 100 protestors gathered outside of the World Literacy Crusade offices after being sold fake low cost housing vouchers for as much as $1500. Officials at WLC admitted to selling the free vouchers, but stated they did not know they were fake.[7] The Compton, Californian offices of the WLC housed a drug detox program using “dry heat sweat therapy”.[8] In 2015 the executive director of WLC, Hanan Islam, Ronnie Steven Islam (AKA Rizza Islam) and her adult children were arrested for Medi-Cal fraud and insurance fraud for billing for this detox program.[9][10]

The Anti-Defamation League cites his anti-Semitic and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric. 

6 Rashid Buttar

Facebook: Active

Twitter: Active

Instagram: Active

Rashid Buttar is an osteopath physician and conspiracy theorist known for videos posted to his YouTube channel.

From Wikipedia:  

Rashid Buttar

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Rashid Buttar

Nationality American

Education Des Moines University

Occupation Physician

Known for Conspiracy theories, 

Anti-vaccine views

Rashid Ali Buttar (born January 20, 1966) is an American osteopathic physician from Charlotte, North Carolina, also known as a conspiracy theory and vaccine hesitancy proponent.[1] He is known for his controversial use of chelation therapy for numerous conditions, including autism and cancer.[2] He has twice been reprimanded by the North Carolina Board of Medical Examiners for unprofessional conduct[3][4] and cited by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for illegal marketing of unapproved and adulterated drugs.[5][6][7]

7 Erin Elizabeth

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Erin Elizabeth, partner to Joseph Mercola, runs Health Nut News, a prominent ‘alternative health’ website with affiliated newsletter and social media accounts.

8 Sayer Ji

Facebook: Active

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Instagram: Part Removed

Sayer Ji runs a popular alternative health website,, and affiliated social media accounts that promote pseudoscience and anti-vaccine misinformation. Despite his GreenMedInfo accounts being removed by Twitter and Instagram, it is still available on Facebook.

An article on falsely claimed that "The FDA knows that rushed-to- market COVID-19 vaccines may cause a wide range of life-threatening side effects, including death."

From Wikipedia:

"Ji obtained a BA in philosophy from Rutgers University in 1995.[2] He has previously owned an organic food market in Bonita Springs.[3][4]

He is the former editor of the defunct International Journal of Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine [5] and a member of the advisory board and a former vice-president of the National Health Federation, a lobby group opposing government regulation of alternative health practitioners and supplements retailers.[5][6][7][8]

Ji became popular promoting common alternative medicine beliefs, such as enthusiasm for ancient healing practices and the claim that the appearance of some foods is meant to indicate which organ of the human body they are meant to cure.[5] While he always invited his readers to be suspicious of governments, health authorities and pharmaceutical companies, during the COVID-19 pandemic Ji joined other proponents of alternative medicine in embracing conspiracy theories about allegedly oppressive global organizations.[1][9]

Ji denies being an anti-vaccination activist, but consistently shares false or misleading messages about vaccine safety and efficacy.[10][5][11][12] He is married to Kelly Brogan, another well-known promoter of medical misinformation.[11] He lives in Florida.[8][13]"

9 Kelly Brogan

Facebook: Removed

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Kelly Brogan is the partner of fellow alternative health entrepreneur Sayer Ji. She claimsto practice “holistic psychiatry” and sells a range of books and courses from her website.

10 Christiane Northrup

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Twitter: Active

Instagram: Active

Christiane Northrup is an obstetrics and gynecology physician who has embraced alternative medicine and anti-vaccine conspiracies. She has used her social media accounts to spread disinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine.

11 Ben Tapper

Facebook: Active

Twitter: Active

Instagram: Active

Ben Tapper is a chiropractor with a growing following on social media. He has routinely posted COVID disinformation and spoken out against masking.

Example Violations

12 Kevin Jenkins

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Twitter: Active

Instagram: Active

Kevin Jenkins is an anti-vaccine activist with a growing social media presence who has appeared at public events with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Jenkins has called vaccines a“conspiracy” to “wipe out” black people and is a co-founder of the Freedom Airway & Freedom Travel Alliance, a company founded in late 2020 to help its members travel around the world without observing any masking, quarantining, vaccination, or other pandemic control measures.

The report is pushing for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to shut down their accounts - and some of these folks have many different accounts.  

They succeed because of people like the man below.

[Note:  I've googled the text of this cartoon hoping to identify the cartoonist.  There are many places that have put this up.  But the creator's name I couldn't find.  I thank the creator and I'll add your name if you notify me who you are.  Or take it down if you prefer.]

The idea that constitutional rights can't be abridged comes up against the fact that the exercise of one person's constitutional rights can curtail the constitutional rights of others. Then we have to evaluate which right is more critical.  Letting FB cut people off is not an issue because it's the government, not private companies, that must not abridge people's rights.  Companies may set conditions which apply to all users equally - based on behavior, not inherent traits such as race and gender.  

What can you do?

I don't want to just offer bad news without giving people some ideas of what can be done about it.  People should share such information with policy makers - you can easily email your members of Congress even if you don't have the power to implement these things yourself.  Or you can join or donate to organizations that fight these problems.  Here are a few ideas just to remind you that every problem has ways to mitigate it and people who have taken on this project.  

How to fight lies, tricks,and chaos online -   There are a number of sites that offer individuals steps to prevent receiving misinformation.  This is one of the best I saw.  It also includes when to report to law enforcement.  And it recognizes that this is all complicated and no checklist is fool proof.  This is definitely worth a look.

A guide to anti-misinformation actions around the world - This offers a list, country by country, of measures to stop the spread of misinformation.  Unfortunately, many of the countries are authoritarian regimes that don't offer us much help.  But worth a look to see what other democracies are doing.


"This brief addresses how the public health sector, along with a coalition of civil servants, media workers, technology companies, and civil society organizations, can understand and respond to the problem of medical media manipulation, specifically how it spreads online. Here we present a supplementary research-and-response method in correspondence with the World Health Organization (WHO)’s already suggested framework for dealing with the infodemic, with a focus on media manipulation.2"

How to Slow the Spread of Disinformation: A Guide for Newsrooms - 

Congressional Panel On Internet And Disinformation... Includes Many Who Spread Disinformation Online - This one has a promising title, but it doesn't live up to the promise.  It demonstrates the problem of people writing about complex without really being experts themselves. (Like I'm doing here.)  This person writes very little about what was debated.  He basically pulls out stuff he disagrees with and throws up his hands.  The comments, though, offer a sense of the complexity and conflicts of goals involved in all this.  

How Data Privacy Laws Can Fight Fake News  - This post argues that by protecting personal privacy online, it would be harder for people to be targeted for mis- and disinformation.

That's enough.  People are working on this.  Find them and support them.