Microsoft co-founder turned philanthropist Bill Gates says he has been taken aback by the volume of “crazy” and “evil” conspiracy theories about him spreading on social media during the COVID-19 pandemic, but said on Wednesday he would like to explore what is behind them.
In an interview with Reuters, Gates said the millions of online posts and “crazy conspiracy theories” about him and about top U.S. infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci had likely taken hold in part because of the combination of a frightening viral pandemic and the rise of social media.
“Nobody would have predicted that I and Dr. Fauci would be so prominent in these really evil theories,” Gates said.
“I’m very surprised by that. I hope it goes away.”
Gates, a billionaire who stepped down as chairman of Microsoft Corp in 2014, has through his philanthropic Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation committed at least $1.75 billion to the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. That includes support for some makers of vaccines, diagnostics and potential treatments.
Since the pandemic began a year ago, millions of conspiracies have spread over the Internet, fuelling misinformation about the coronavirus, its origins and the motives of those working to fight it.
They include claims that Fauci and Gates created the pandemic to try and control people, that they want to profit from the virus’ spread, and that they want to use vaccines to insert trackable microchips into people.
“But do people really believe that stuff?,” Gates asked.
“We’re really going to have to get educated about this over the next year and understand .. how does it change peoples’ behaviour and how should we have minimized this?”
EXCITED ABOUT BIDEN
Gates praised Fauci and Francis Collins, head of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, as “smart” and “wonderful people”, and said he looked forward to seeing them able to work effectively and speak the truth under the new administration of President Joe Biden.
During former President Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic, Gates said, it had “sometimes felt like they were the only sane people in the U.S. government.”
“I’m excited about the team that Biden has picked” to tackle the health crisis, Gates said.
Gates said he was also pleased that under Biden, the United States has rejoined the World Health Organization, and “that he’s appointed smart people, and the fact that Dr. Fauci won’t be suppressed.”
‘Israel has the right to self-defense’ — Psaki
White House press secretary Jen Psaki has stated that “Israel has the right to self-defense” against Gaza-based Islamist terrorists who have rained down over 2,000 rockets on southern and central Israel since Monday.
She noted that Hamas is a terrorist group, but stressed that the US is focused on de-escalation.
“It’s important to remember that Hamas is a terrorist group. They don’t represent the views, the families and the Palestinian people who are suffering. There’s no excuse for the rockets,” Psaki told journalists.
Meanwhile, US Secretary for Israeli-Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr landed in Israel on Friday, as part of Washington’s efforts to defuse the most intense fight between Gaza-based Islamist terrorists and the Jewish state since 2014.
Barka da Sallah to Muslim faithfuls who don’t behave like terrorists — Kanu
Rights activist, Nnamdi Kanu, has congratulated Muslims as they celebrate Eid al-Fitr – one of the holiest occasions on the Islamic calendar.
Kanu, in a message Thursday, noted that his message and best wishes are directed to “Muslim faithfuls who don’t think and behave like the terrorists” who he said are presiding over the government in Nigeria.
“May the peace & blessings of your God Allah be and abide with you always,” said the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.
— Mazi Nnamdi Kanu (@MaziNnamdiKanu) May 13, 2021
Rocket attacks: Nigerian govt frowns, send message to Israel
Nigeria’s federal government has expressed its displeasure with the rocket attacks between Israel and the Palestinian militant group in Gaza, Hamas.
In a statement by Foreign Ministry spokesman, Ferdinand Nwonye, Nigeria’s federal government called on both sides to defuse hostilities.
“The Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs wishes to state that the Federal Government of Nigeria is watching with great concern the unfolding developments with Israel and the State of Palestine and urges both parties to see reason and de-escalate the hostilities,” said Nwonye.
“The Federal Government further urges the two parties to remain committed to the two-state solution and, in the meantime, guarantee the rights of all citizens to live in peace and dignity.”
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