Here’s one to go with Let’s rely on anecdotes instead!
Something I picked up on Facebook
Here’s one to go with Let’s rely on anecdotes instead!
Something I picked up on Facebook
Declan Waugh seems a bit of a late developer. He has only just got around to finding those papers that anti-fluoride propagandists like to cite as evidence that oral health does not decline when community water fluoridation is stopped. Of course, he cherry-picks the appropriate papers and is then careful not to give the full evidence.
But he has whipped up a Letter to the Editor promoting his new “discovery” – and encourages his fans to use the same information for their own letters to the editor.
Here’s Waugh’s claim in his letter to the editor (which he encourages his fan’s to duplicate).
In recent decades in four seperate countries notably Finland, the Netherlands, Germany and Cuba dental health professionals warned of the grave dangers to public health from discontinuation of water fluoridation. Yet ironically peer reviewed published scientific research demonstrated that dental health significantly improved among children when fluoridation of water ended. Scientific evidence proved in every case that the views and opinions of profluoridationalists among dental health professionals were misguided and errorneous. So why are we still listening to them?
- Seppa L, Karkkainen S, Hausen H. Caries frequency in permanent teeth before and after discontinuation of water fluoridation in Kuopio, Finland. Commuity Dent Oral Epidemiol 1998;26:256 – 262.
- Seppa L, Karkkainen S, Hausen H. Caries trends 1992 – 1998 in two low-fluoride Finnish towns formerly with and without fluoridation. Caries Res 2000;346:462 – 468.
- Künzel W, Fischer T. Caries prevalence after cessation of water fluoridation in La Salud, Cuba. Caries Res. 2000 Jan-Feb;341:20-5.
- Künzel W, Fischer T, Lorenz R, Brühmann S. Decline of caries prevalence after the cessation of water fluoridation in the former East Germany. Community Dent Oral Epidemiol. 2000 Oct;285:382-9.
- Kalsbeek H, Kwant GW, Groeneveld A, Dirks OB, van Eck AA, Theuns HM. Caries experience of 15-year-old children in The Netherlands after discontinuation of water fluoridation. Caries Res. 1993;273:201-5
I refered to this little myth in my article What happens when fluoridation is stopped? and will briefly repeat the information these propagandists always omit here.
L. Seppä, S. Kärkkäinen, and H. Hausen, “Caries Trends 1992–1998 in Two Low-Fluoride Finnish Towns Formerly with and without Fluoridation.” Caries Research 34, no. 6 (2000): 462–68. The abstract for this paper concluded:
“The fact that no increase in caries was found in Kuopio despite discontinuation of water fluoridation and decrease in preventive procedures suggests that not all of these measures were necessary for each child.”
The authors commented further on this research in Seppa et al (2002). They found their “longitudinal approach did not reveal a lower caries occurrence in the fluoridated than in the low-fluoride reference community.” But commented:
“The main reason for the modest effect of water fluoridation in Finnish circumstances is probably the widespread use of other measures for caries prevention. The children have been exposed to such intense efforts to increase tooth resistance that the effect of water fluoridation does not show up any more. The results must not be extrapolated to countries with less intensive preventive dental care.”
W. Künzel and T. Fischer, “Caries Prevalence after Cessation of Water Fluoridation in La Salud, Cuba. Caries Research 34, no. 1 (2000): 20–25. Again this study found no increase in caries after stopping fluoridation but the authors suggested why:
“A possible explanation for this unexpected finding and for the good oral health status of the children in La Salud is the effect of the school mouthrinsing programme, which has involved fortnightly mouthrinses with 0.2% NaF solutions (i.e. 15 times/year) since 1990.”
W. Künzel, T. Fischer, R. Lorenz, and S. Brühmann, “Decline of caries prevalence after the cessation of water fluoridation in the former East Germany Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology 28, no. 5 (2000): 382–89. These authors found no increase of caries in two German cities after fluoridation of water was stopped. But again the authors suggest why:
“The causes for the changed caries trend were seen on the one hand in improvements in attitudes towards oral health behaviour and, on the other hand, to the broader availability and application of preventive measures (F-salt, F-toothpastes, fissure sealants etc.).”
Kalsbeek, H., Kwant, G. W., Groeneveld, A., Dirks, B., van Eck, A. A. M. J., & Theuns, H. M. (1993). “Caries Experience of 15-Year-Old Children in The Netherlands after Discontinuation of Water Fluoridation.“ Caries Research, 27(3), 201–205. Tooth decay continued to decline after discontinutation of fluoridation in both the areas previously not fluoridated and fluoridated. But the authors say:
“The question as to whether water fluoridation would have had an additional effect if it had been continued (presuming the application of existing preventive measures) cannot be answered, as there are no remaining communities with fluoridated water in The Netherlands.”
Tooth decay is complex because it involves several factors. Improvements in public health, especially dental health availability, and alternative fluoridation options have produced a general improvement irrespective of the availability of community water fluoridation (CWF). However, where comparisons are made between fluoridated and unfluoridated areas in the absence of other differences the benefits are seen.
Of course there are other studies which Declan Waugh and his anti-fluoride mates will refuse to cite because they do not support their claims. In Fluoride debate: Ken Perrott’s closing response to Paul Connett? I discussed a paper which did show an increase in tooth decay – Attwood and Blinkhorn (1991), “Dental health in schoolchildren 5 years after water fluoridation ceased in South-west Scotland.” They measured dmft and DMFT – decayed, missing and filled teeth in primary and permanent teeth respectively.
The figures below illustrate the data from this paper which compared changes in oral health of two Scottish towns in both 1980 and 1988. One town, Annan, had never had fluoridated water while the other, Stranraer, had it until 1983. This enabled the effects of both cessation of fluoridation and the generally observed improvement in oral health due to other factors to be compared and considered. The graphics show the results for 5 year old and 10 year old children.
Decayed missing and filled deciduous teeth for 5 year olds. Stranraer fluoridated until 1983. Annan not fluoridated.
Decayed missing and filled teeth for 10 year olds. Stranraer fluoridated until 1983. Annan not fluoridated.
The plots indicate aspects of the complexity of these sort of studies. Because 2 neighbouring towns were compared it was possible to measure the decline in oral health after discontinuation of fluoridation against a background of the general improvement in oral health, even in a non-fluoridated situation.
The moral here is don’t accept at face value the claims made by anti-fluoridation propagandists – even if they, like Declan Waugh, carry a self-endorsement of “scientist and fluoride researcher.”
A new study finds cognitive function defects, like IQ, in children are not significantly related to fluoride in drinking water. But they are associated with medium and severe dental fluorosis.
This interests me for two reasons:
The new report is:
Choi, A. L., Zhang, Y., Sun, G., Bellinger, D., Wang, K., Yang, X. J., … Grandjean, P. (2014). Association of lifetime exposure to fluoride and cognitive functions in Chinese children: A pilot study. Neurotoxicology and Teratology.
Firstly – this is only a pilot study and has several acknowledged weaknesses – the small number of children studied (51) being the most obvious. However, this is what was found:
“Sixty percent of the subjects examined had moderate or severe fluorosis. These children were exposed to elevated fluoride concentrations in drinking water. Children with normal or questionable Dean Index were all from households with a water fluoride concentration of 1 mg/L and had urinary fluoride excretion levels below 1 mg/L.”
The children were placed in 3 groups according to their degree of dental fluorosis:
The high proportion of children with moderate/sever dental fluorosis indicates the study involved an area of endemic fluorosis.
And the results of neuropsychological tests:
“Results of multiple regression models show that moderate and severe fluorosis was significantly associated with lower total and backward digit span scores when compared to the reference combined categories of normal and questionable fluorosis (Table 4). Although the associations between fluoride in urine and in drinking water with digit span were not significant, they were in the anticipated direction. Motor coordination and dexterity were not significantly associated with fluoride in drinking water and fluorosis although higher levels were associated with poorer scores as well. Other outcomes did not reveal any association with the fluoride exposure.”
The authors used a number of neuropsychological tests. The digit span test results suggest a “deficit in working memory” for the children with moderate and severe dental fluorosis. None of the other tests used show any signficant relationship with indices for fluoride exposure.
So, this pilot study did not show any association of neuropsychological tests with fluoride concentration in drinking water but it did find an association with medium and severe dental fluorosis. This is consistent with my speculation in Confirmation blindness on the fluoride-IQ issue that “a physical defect like dental and skeletal fluorosis could lead to decreasing IQ.”
I argued that:
“minor physical anomalies are known to be associated with learning difficulties and emotional illness in children (seeHilsheimer & Kurko 1979). It seems entirely reasonable that a physical anomaly like severe dental fluorosis could lead to learning difficulties in children which could be seen as lower IQ values.”
There are many problems with the studies anti-fluoride activists promote relating IQ to fluoride in drinking water. But it could be that any real effect seen with the higher fluoride concentrations could simply be explained by effects of the physical anomaly of medium and severe dental fluorosis common at these higher concentrations.
Unfortunately the authors of this study still do not consider this possibility. I guess it could be that someone with a hammer only sees nails, and chemical toxicologists are only capable of considering brain damage caused by toxic chemicals. The effects of physical anomalies on learning difficulties are probably quite outside their training and experience.
Their confirmation bias and mental blockage on this meant they were considering dental fluorosis as just another indicator of dietary fluoride intake. However, even that assumption has its problems because genetic differences are also known to be involved in dental fluorosis.
I think this must be why they ended with a conclusion that could well be quite unfounded:
“This pilot study in a community with stable lifetime fluoride exposures supports the notion that fluoride in drinking water may produce developmental neurotoxicity”
Fluorosis is endemic in many parts of China and the high prevalence of medium/severe dental fluorosis (60%) among the children in the Choi et al (2014) pilot study shows their situation is not at all similar to that in areas of New Zealand and USA using community water fluoridation (CWF).
The figures below give some context.
Here are examples of the different degrees of dental fluorosis.
The graph below shows the situation reported for New Zealand in the 2009 New Zealand Oral health Survey (see Our Oral Health). No severe and only 2% moderate dental fluorosis reported.
This figure (taken from Fluorosis Facts: A Guide for Health Professionals) shows the amount of moderate and severe dental fluorosis in the US is also very small.
Perhaps we can now contrast the situation here, in areas where CWF is common, with the situation in China in areas with endemic fluorosis where these studies were undertaken. The figure below is a slide from a presentation by Xiang (2014) to Paul Connett’s recent anti-fluoride “get-together” (Xiang 2014). This is not the very mild dental fluorosis attributed to CWF.
(Anti-fluoride people also often single out the study of Xiang, et al (2003). Effect of fluoride in drinking water on children’s intelligence. Fluoride, 36(2), 84–94, because unlike the others it is more detailed. Xiang’s team has studied areas where fluorosis is endemic.)
Anti-fluoride activists often promote the meta-review of Choi et al (2012) in their arguments against CWF. However, there are many problems with these studies including the fact reported IQ effects were associated with much higher drinking water fluoride concentrations than occurs with CWF.
The new study of Choi et al (2014) did not confirm any association of neuropsychiatric measurements with drinking water fluoride concentration. However, it did show association of negative neuropsychological effects with medium/severe dental fluorosis.
This is consistent with the physical anomaly of severe dental fluorosis being the real cause of IQ effects and not any direct chemical toxic effect.
MH17 recovery team finally start work at crash site. Credit: RIA Novosti. Alexey Kudenko
The Dutch team investigating the MH17 Malaysian Airline crash in eastern Ukraine report it has problems collecting debris from the crash site in eastern Ukraine. But aren’t these problems largely of their own making? And isn’t this just one glaring example of the Catch-22 situation presented by problems of recognition in Ukraine?
On the one hand the investigation team has problems organising recovery of material – but on the other hand they refuse to negotiate with the authorities controlling the crash zone! Isn’t the solution obvious? - Talk to the local authorities. Don’t try to pretend they don’t exist and attempt to do everything through intermediaries like the OCSE.
The issue is just too important to allow such distraction by childish political games.
This impasse has gone on long enough. Four months since the crash and there has been no recovery of any of the crashed plane parts. This could have been done months ago. People are getting impatient – they want answers and the Dutch investigators are now criticised for dragging their feet. The situation has became more urgent because of the impending winter and the possibilities of destruction of evidence by shelling of the remains.
I can’t help thinking that even this military action, violating UN resolutions on the tragedy, could have been stopped if the Dutch investigators had manned up and applied more pressure on the Kiev government. After all, it is not the rebels who are shelling this area.
I understand the wish not to imply recognition of the rebels. But the Malaysian government negotiated with the local authorities right at the beginning and quickly obtained the recovered black boxes and began the task of recovering the passenger bodies. No recognition was implied by the contact – simply the willingness to discuss the practicalities with the people in the area. Why cannot the Dutch investigation team do the same?
The Dutch investigators claim it is because the government in Kiev does not want them to. But that did not stop the Malaysians. Nor should that be a real consideration considering that elements of the Kiev regime are possible suspects in the shooting down of the plane.
Ukraine’s attitude towards Malaysia did cool because of those direct negotiations. But the Kiev regime itself is caught in its own Catch-22 with its unwillingness to imply any recognition of the rebel regimes in the Donbass.
Right from the beginning, the day before the coup in Kiev (see Agreement on the Settlement of Crisis in Ukraine), agreements on Ukraine have referred to the need for constitutional reform in the country, and the need to involve all parts of the country in negotiating a new constitution. Neither the junta resulting from the coup or the subsequent elected president and government have shown any willingness to honour that aspect of agreements. They have negotiated with themselves and the oligarchs – but never with the real authorities in power in eastern Ukraine – or the people who support them.
Even the Trilateral Contact group on Ukraine which produced the recent cease-fire agreements did not have proper representation from the Kiev regime because they refused to negotiate with the representatives from Donetsk and Luhansk. Instead the Kiev government worked through the Second President of Ukraine, L.D. Kuchma.
Again, there is the wish not to imply recognition. Interestingly Kiev been on the receiving end of that dilemma as the government of the Russian Federation did not recognise any presidential authority in a regime that had come to power via an armed coup after evicting a democratically elected president. That was eventually resolved when new presidential elections brought Poroshenko to power – and in the interim other forms of contact were used. I think this shows that non-recognition does not mean that contact and negotiation is impossible. Nor does negotiation imply recognition.
Since the February coup there have been presidential and parliamentary elections in Ukraine and a referendum plus parliamentary and government elections in the Donbass. One can easily find fault with all these elections and the referendum but the important thing is that they have given a degree of legitimacy to the governments in Kiev and the Donbass. This means their officials have increased authority in any negotiations – which surely makes possible better progress in stopping hostilities, carrying out constitutional reform and settling the degree of autonomy granted to the Donbass region.
Instead, the Kiev government is using the increased legitimacy in the Donbass as further reason not to negotiate. The Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk wants to abandon the Minsk talks altogether and go back to the Geneva negotiations format which did not include representatives of the rebel forces.
“Sitting [down] with them for bilateral negotiations is useless,” Yatsenyuk said. “One of the most efficient and real formats is the Geneva format, which included the participation of the US, the EU, Ukraine and our geographically northern neighbor.”
Yet, surely, negotiation between both sides in this civil war is the only way to reach the peaceful settlement which most Ukrainian’s want. Does this imply the Kiev government refuses to try to reach a peaceful settlement?
How can Yatsenyuk claim such negotiations are useless when he has consistently refused to even try them?
Whatever – his approach does not seem politically mature. Negotiations should never be seen as a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of strength which comes with a willingness to deal with realities on the ground.
Image credit: Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.
This satirical piece from The Shovel highlights an unfortunate way many politicians (mainly US and Australian) and internet propagandists approach scientific matters – relying on anecdotes and not evidence. It is also true of many blog commenters.
Australia’s scientific research programs will be cut back and replaced by a recent experience the guy down the shops had, it was revealed today. A government spokesperson said it was a move to a more common-sense approach to research and development. “Roger, who I bumped into just the other day, told a pretty pertinent story about how he’d seen first hand just how powerful anecdotes can be,” the spokesperson said. “I think it would be unwise and, frankly, disrespectful, to dismiss his opinion out of hand”.The spokesperson said the Coalition wanted to avoid the dangerous precedent set by previous Governments whereby science was left to professionals and experts. “Scientists have a right to an opinion too. But let’s not forget the various other equally valid views and opinions in the community”.
Last week we saw several local victories for science over pseudoscience. And the US mid-term elections also gave electoral victories supporting community water fluoridation in 5 out of 6 communities where it was voted on.*
Peter Griffin from New Zealand’s Science Media Centre reported on the New Zealand victories in his post Experts shine in fight against junk science.
“It was a week when climate change denial, a “miracle” ebola cure and homeopathy grabbed headlines.
But by and large it was also a week where the media laid out the evidence and featured expert commentary putting the science behind the claims in perspective.”
So, the media seemed to be “on-side” this time and scientific experts were fronting up to counter the pseudoscience.
“The pending arrival in New Zealand of Genesis II Church of Health and Healing leader James Humble to push his Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS) was front page news. Medsafe warned that the treatment acts like an industrial bleach and could cause serious harm to those who took it. Australia’s Nine News reported that four Victorians had been hospitalised after taking the MMS treatment.
Natural remedies expert Dr Shaun Holt and University of Auckland microbiologist Dr. Siouxsie Wiles made numerous media appearances to explain the pseudoscience Humble has been spreading about MMS, including that it can cure Ebola, HIV and malaria.The Herald reported today that an Auckland man who attempted to attend one of the “non-religious” Church’s seminars in the Hauraki Plains, was removed when it emerged he had not paid the US$500 registration fee, a hint perhaps at the real reason behind Humble’s Australasian tour.”
NZ Herald’s front page piece on MMS
The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change renewed the media interest in climate change.
“False balance in climate coverage
However TVNZ undermined its own climate change coverage by featuring noted climate sceptic and energy sector consultant Bryan Leyland on the Breakfast show, including presenting a graph featuring data supplied by Leyland himself.
By the end of the day the item had been pulled from TVNZ’s website after the broadcaster received numerous complaints from the public, scientists, as well as journalists.”
Then there was the response to the Green Party’s natural products spokesman Steffan Browning’s folly in signing a petition calling for homeopathic treatments to be used in the fight against Ebola. This lead to his demotion within the party and removal of his spokesman role.
“The embarrassing endorsement attracted attention in the UK and the condemnation of Browning’s own caucus.
Writing on Sciblogs, Dr Grant Jacobs applauded Browning’s demotion, but pointed out that he retained other science-related shadow portfolios.
“I’m aware of a number of people who have said they didn’t vote for the Greens because of Steffan Browning’s stance on genetic engineering and others who have said that while they voted for the Greens they don’t approve of Browning’s approach to GMOs and GE.”
Peter Griffin finishes by thanking “all the scientists who stepped up to make sense of the dubious claims journalists and the public were faced with this week.”
I think this also shows what can be achieved when good science journalism is actively promoted by groups like the Science Media Centre, and when scientists and other experts participate in the social communication media and make themselves available to journalists.
*Support for community water fluoridation in these 5 communities was pretty overwhelming:
Boyne City, Michigan – 68% support for fluoridation: http://goo.gl/BUQVev
Bronson, Michigan – 63% support for fluoridation: http://goo.gl/KogVkP
Kalama, Washington – 73% support for fluoridation: http://goo.gl/wP6xAY
Saline County, Kansas – 67% support for fluoridation: http://goo.gl/Q2IGWL
Healdsburg, California – 68% support for fluoridation: http://goo.gl/KsOCgn
These victories were probably because fluoridation supporters, families and dentists organised public campaigns. See Group wants fluoride vote to keep its teeth.
Declan Waugh is an anti-fluoride propagandist who specialises in naively distorting scientific and medical information to “prove” community water fluoridation (CWF) is dangerous. A common tactic of his is to select, really cherry-pick, medical data to show the mortality or disease prevalence is greater in the Republic of Ireland – and other countries with CWF, than the rest of the world.
Similarly, he often cherry-picks data to “prove” a sudden increase in disease or deaths in Ireland after the introduction of CWF in the late 1960s. He has recently pulled this trick with Irish data for vascular diseases. It’s a simple (and naive) recipe. He has found data in a report and selected parts of it to fit his message – ignoring everything else and specifically discussion of the trends in the data by the specialists.
So he has produced this graph:
You can see the point he is trying to drive home – but lets look at all the data in that table Waugh used from the cited “50 years of Heart Disease in Ireland“:
Perhaps we should consider the death rate – deaths/100,000 to correct for changes in total population
Another factor is changes of coding and diagnostic criteria used for reporting causes of death and details of vascular disease. The report lists a number of changes occurring in the periods 1958-1967, 1968 – 1978 and 1979 – 1999. It also refers to “the lack of specification of diagnoses during the early years covered by this review.” What this means is that some of the changes, especially the apparently sudden changes, may represent nothing more than changes in diagnostic criteria.
Waugh also simplifies the date that fluoridation commenced in Ireland – claiming 1965. The Irish “Forum on fluoridation 2002“ reported that CWF started in Dublin in 1974, in Cork in 1965 and over the next 5 years in other areas. This suggests another reason to be careful about interpreting sudden changes in data during 1964 – 1970 as due solely to introduction of CWF.
So things are nowhere as simple as Declan Waugh presents it. Of course they never are. The intelligent reader should read the report and not just rely on cherry-picked data and motivated rationalisation resulting from confirmation bias.
The report itself states that Ireland does have a high mortality rate from cardiovascular disease, particularly compared with Europe. The report says:
“One way or another, the data from the 1950’s and 1960’s point to an ongoing epidemic of heart disease in Ireland for at least half a century. This is evidenced by the fact that in 1950, 31% of all deaths were due to vascular diseases.”
“The low rates of IHD mortality in the 1950’s and 1960’s is almost certainly a reflection of difficulties encountered in accurately diagnosing cardiac conditions at that time. Thus, many IHD deaths may have been coded to the ‘catch all’ category of ‘Other Myocardial Degeneration’ (ICD 422).”
And the decline in death rates since 1985:
“is the consequence of a multifaceted approach to the problem. Specifically it has been suggested that a proportion of the decline, ranging from 25% to 50%, may be due to primary prevention. A proportion of the decline (40% to 50%) may be related to early intervention and treatment of acute cardiovascular events and a proportion is due to secondary prevention among those with established disease (13-16). Data from the WHO MONICA project in 37 countries further suggested that a proportion of the decline in mortality may be related to economic
Another complicating factor has been “changes in the demographic structure of the population.”
So there you go. One can understand these fluctuations in death rate from cardiovascular disease using the normal factors related to changes in diagnosis, diet and health care, and treatment of cardiovascular events. No need to drag in the “universal demon” of fluoride.
This is only one example of the sort of tricks Declan Waugh uses in his reports. He pretends to be a “scientist and fluoride researcher” and this, together with extensive scientific citation and dogmatic claims does fool some people. It fooled the Hamilton City Council in their consideration of CWF last year (see When politicians and bureaucrats decide the science).
He is dishonest – but his tactics are difficult to counter. It takes far less effort to present a naively “sciency” looking lie than to reasearch and communicate the facts. As they say, a lie can get half way around the world before truth can get its boots on.
And that’s what Declan Waugh relies on. That is why he does not allow peer review of any of his reports. That is why he will not engage in an exchange with critics of his reports.
He knows he has critics. Just the other day on his Facebook page he moaned:
“There are some sick people out there in twitter land who joke about the graphics I produce. . . .they will present any possible excuse to try and discredit the association while point blankly refusing to even consider the biological mechanisms by which fluoride contributes to disease.”
Well, Declan, it is part of the scientific ethos to engage with your critics. Respond to their criticisms – show where and why you think they are wrong – or acknowledge your mistakes. You refuse to do that because you “point blankly” refuse to “even consider” the discussion and evidence of the experts who write the papers and reports you cherry pick from.
Here’s a photo of the earth you don’t often see. Nor is the view of the moon familiar.
The Chinese test vehicle Change’5 took this photo as it swung around the moon before returning to earth. So we see the unfamiliar far side of the moon, with the earth in the distance.
“For just a fleeting moment I could have been convinced someone had added a photo of the planet Mercury here; the Moon’s obverse half is so strikingly different than the near side. The lack of dark maria (except for Mare Moscoviense to the upper left) makes the Moon look like every bit the alien world that it really is.”
Emily Lakdawalla displays this and some other photos taken by Change’5 in a recent blog article Chang’e 5 T1 rounds the lunar farside, returns lovely photo of Earth and the Moon together.
After an 8-day mission Change-5 landed safely in Siziwang Banner of China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
China is only the third nation to demonstrate lunar return technology following the former Soviet Union and the United States. The Soviet Union conducted the last lunar return mission in the 1970s.
Image Credit: A Pretty Healthy Life
PLEASE NOTE: Sitemeter is still playing up but far fewer blogs are effected. I have done a manual work around but it was still impossible to get the stats for a the blogs that I list below. Maybe more bloggers will shift to StatCounter or other counter. No stats could be found for these blogs:
|Works in progress|
|Social Media and the 2014 General Election|
|Science Behind the Curtain|
|Looking in the square|
|Save our schools NZ|
There are now over 300 blogs on the list, although I am weeding out those which are no longer active or have removed public access to sitemeters. (Let me know if I weed out yours by mistake, or get your stats wrong). Every month I get queries from people wanting their own blog included. I encourage and am happy to respond to queries but have prepared a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) people can check out. Have a look at NZ Blog Rankings FAQ. This is particularly helpful to those wondering how to set up sitemeters.
Please note, the system is automatic and relies on blogs having sitemeters which allow public access to the stats.
Here are the rankings of New Zealand blogs with publicly available statistics for October 2014. Ranking is by visit numbers. I have listed the blogs in the table below, together with monthly visits and page view numbers.
Meanwhile I am still keen to hear of any other blogs with publicly available sitemeter or visitor stats that I have missed. Contact me if you know of any or wish help adding publicly available stats to your bog. You can see data for previous months at Blog Ranks Subscribe to NZ Blog Rankings Subscribe to NZ blog rankings by Email Find out how to get Subscription & email updates Continue reading
I thought this der Spiegel interview with Fred Westerbeke about the ongoing criminal investigation of the MH17 tragedy could be of interest. Especially as I have been accused of ignoring the “official version” of the incident.
At least this investigator is relatively open-minded – although I am concerned at the time the investigation is taking and the fact that even now they are only “preparing a request for assistance” from the Russian Federation about their radar records, and “remain in contact with the United States to get satellite images.” I would have thought these would be acted on much earlier.
Fred Westerbeke, born in 1962, directs the Dutch public prosecutor, the Department for investigations of terrorism and organized crime at home and abroad. He is coordinating the criminal processing in the MH17 case. As part of a joint investigation Commission (JIT) Malaysia, Australia and the Ukraine are also involved in it.
I have relied on Google Translate so please excuse the inevitable quaintness of the result.
Der Spiegel interviews Fred Westerbeke from the Dutch Department for investigations of terrorism and organized crime at home and abroad.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Mr. Westerbeke, your job as chief prosecutor sounds hardly solvable: MH17 flight was shot down over a civil war zone, even now, three months later, your crime scene investigator for is not available. What gives you hope someday to be able to bring someone to court?
Westerbeke: The Netherlands does not determine in the case so alone. There is a very good cooperation with police and prosecutors, especially in Malaysia, Australia and the Ukraine. BTW, we can gain a lot of experience with similar cases, in connection with the genocide in Rwanda, for example, or with war crimes in Afghanistan. Also there you will find hardly any witnesses, no written documents that could be used as evidence. So As to your question: It is not easy. But we can do it.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: In what period of time?
Westerbeke: Look at Lockerbie …
SPIEGEL ONLINE: … the bombing of a Pan Am jumbo in December 1988 with 270 deaths.
Westerbeke: At that time, it took three years before you could name those responsible. I do not mean that it will take a long time just as in MH17 flight, but it takes a long breath. We will certainly need the whole next year for our work, and perhaps even longer.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: The Federal Intelligence Service BND assumes that pro-Russian separatists have shot down the machine with a surface to air missile. Recently some German parliamentarians corresponding satellite images were presented. Do you know these recordings?
Westerbeke: Unfortunately, we do not know to what images it involved concrete. The problem is that there are very many different satellite images: Some of them can be found on the Internet, others come from foreign intelligence agencies.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: High-resolution images, for example from US spy satellites could play a crucial role in the investigation of the case. Did you get those shots of the Americans?
Westerbeke: We are not sure if we already have everything, or whether there are more – material that may be even more specific. What we present is certainly not enough to draw any conclusions. We remain in contact with the United States to get satellite images.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: The shooting down of flight MH17 is the biggest criminal case in the history of your country, it says. How many investigators are currently working?
Westerbeke: In the Netherlands alone there are ten prosecutors. Three of them coordinate the investigation, two work at the international level. Two more are responsible for the care of relatives. In addition, forensic experts, also around 80 policemen. There are regular meetings with colleagues from Malaysia, Australia and the Ukraine, to divide the work.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Because being fought at the crash site again and again, was so far none of your investigators on site, about to collect debris. But that would be important only to determine the weapon system used. On which tracks you rely instead?
Westerbeke: There are metal fragments that were found in the bodies of the dead and in pieces of luggage. This could be shrapnel from a rocket-Buk, possibly also parts of the aircraft itself. We analyze this, so far there are no results. We also have some witnesses who were on the spot immediately after the crash. In the Internet we spot an immense amount of information, we also various recordings of telephone conversations before, which has recorded the Ukrainian police. Some of it is already available online, but we did get richer material.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: So far, there is no indisputable evidence?
Westerbeke: Yes. If you look in the newspapers, however, it always looks as if quite clear what happened to the aircraft and who is to blame. But if we really want to bring the perpetrators to justice or, we need evidence and more than a recorded phone call from the internet or photos of the crash site. That’s why we not only attract a scenario into consideration, but several.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: What are the scenarios?
Westerbeke: first we have drawn four possible explanations considered for the crash of Flight MH17: An accident, a terrorist attack, the shooting down by a surface to air missile or an attack by another aircraft. After the publication of the interim report by the Dutch Security OVV …
SPIEGEL ONLINE: … where the crash is attributed to a variety of fast flying objects that have riddled the outside of the machine …
Westerbeke: … fall off the accident and the terror scenario. The other two remain.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Moscow circulated for some time, the version, the passenger plane had been shot down by a Ukrainian fighter jet. Do you think it possible?
Westerbeke: Based on the available information, the launch is by a ground-to-air missile in my eyes is still the most likely scenario. But we do not close our eyes to the possibility that it might have been different.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: In the OVV report states that there were no military jets in the vicinity have been.
Westerbeke: Right. But this statement is based on information that was available at the time the OVV. The question is: Do the Russians possibly more?
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Your Prime Minister Mark Rutte has recently criticized Vladimir Putin because of his lack of support in the MH17 case. What is the role of Russia in the investigation?
Westerbeke: At the moment, no large, since it is not part of the investigation team. We are preparing a request for assistance, in which we ask Moscow to information that could be important for us. Among other things, those radar data with which the Russians wanted to prove the presence of a Ukrainian military jet near MH17 after the crash.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: If you actually draw the participation of the Ukrainian Air Force on firing of flight MH17 into consideration – is it not absurd that Ukraine is involved in the investigation?
Westerbeke: Of course that’s a problem. But we can not determine without them. I want a way to make it clear: We have no evidence that Kiev would not handle completely open with us. You give us all the information we want.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: In the eastern Ukraine, the winter is coming. Is there any chance that it still create your investigators this year at the crash site?
Westerbeke: At the moment I do not think the right thing. It is there still very dangerous. Therefore, we work with the OVV on a plan B – if we can not get to the crash site itself, we need the debris just brought here by other means.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Suppose there is actually one day to the process – where would the place?
Westerbeke: With a possible process we now deal not us. We first want to spend all resources to find those responsible for this crime. If you however ask the Netherlands, we would certainly ready to make those suspected of committing the process here.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Unknown have been entered in the case MH17 about a German private investigator $ 30 million bounty. Will you also, launch a reward?
Westerbeke: So something is done more often in complicated cases. But currently we have no intention and it will certainly never go to 30 million. Incidentally, I caution anyone from making transactions with these people: No one knows who they are and what intentions they pursue.