This document is part of an archive of postings by John Ray on Dissecting Leftism, a blog hosted by Blogspot who are in turn owned by Google. The index to the archive is available here or here. Indexes to my other blogs can be located here or here. Archives do accompany my original postings but, given the animus towards conservative writing on Google and other internet institutions, their permanence is uncertain. These alternative archives help ensure a more permanent record of what I have written.

This is a backup copy of the original blog





31 August, 2022

Taking Mask Off Science Driving COVID-19 Responses as Schools Reopen

Despite the evidence, back to school means back to masks again for some children this year, and parents and educators still don't have evidence that mask policies keep students or teachers safe.

Rather, the experience of the past two years has taught us that teacher unions and other education interest groups, not science, are driving school responses to COVID-19.

That means political power is a bigger concern than health and student achievement.

The primary concern for parents, teachers, and policymakers today must be student learning.

Commentators and analysts on both sides of the ideological divide have called prolonged school closures "disastrous," "catastrophic," and "severe," among other epithets.

Research has uncovered significant learning losses among K-12 students over the past two years, with greater academic setbacks for children who were forced to stay out of the classroom for longer periods compared with those who returned earlier to in-person learning.

Some project that the learning losses will be greater for those students who were already falling behind before the pandemic, a forecast that should surprise no one. The learning losses do not point directly to mask mandates, but those requirements are part of a litany of policies that divert attention away from student success.

Still, school officials in Jefferson County, Kentucky, the state's largest school district, along with educators in Philadelphia are among those continuing mask mandates to start the school year. Other school administrators in Fairfax County, Virginia, and some school districts in California either started the year with a mask mandate or are considering a mandate now.

As of Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classified more than one-third of counties in the U.S. as areas with high transmission, including some of the largest school districts in the country, such as Miami's.

The CDC continues to recommend school mask mandates in those counties. Americans have reason to doubt the scientific basis for those decisions, however.

Politics have become inseparable from school health policies. In March, Republicans in Congress released a report confirming what many had long suspected: Teachers unions colluded with the White House and CDC officials to write federal guidance that kept schools closed, despite evidence demonstrating that children were the least affected by the virus.

Agency officials recently pledged to reform the CDC, saying what all Americans have recognized by now: The agency "lost its focus" and had "manifold failures" over the pandemic.

For those reasons, along with a lack of reliable evidence for certain pandemic responses, the CDC has damaged its credibility on school mask mandates. School officials are far less likely today than they were last fall to adopt the agency's recommendations.

That's a good thing for parents who will have more latitude to make their own decisions concerning their children's well-being.

Many school officials are appropriately making decisions on their own. According to Burbio, a data service that aggregates school and community data, only 1.8% of the 500 largest school districts it tracks have such mandates in place. Last fall, nearly three-quarters of those districts required students to wear masks.

School districts across the U.S. are ignoring the CDC's school masking guidance. Some of that's due to lower levels of public anxiety about COVID-19. But it also is related to the agency's failure to establish a sound basis for its recommendations.

Consider: A widely cited study published last September in the CDC's flagship journal, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, found that "school masking requirements [were] associated with lower daily case rates of pediatric COVID-19."

But a preprint accepted for publication by The Lancet, a prestigious British medical journal, replicated and extended the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report study's methodology and reached the opposite conclusion.

The Lancet study's authors looked at schools in the 565 counties included in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report study. They found that, while schools that mandated masks had lower instances of pediatric COVID-19 after three weeks, that difference disappeared after six weeks.

Extending the sample to 1,832 counties, they found no difference in pediatric case rates between schools with mask mandates and those without them.

The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report declined to publish the study, although it used the same methods as the study that the journal published last September.

Americans should remember that if school officials do not require masks, educators and students can still choose to wear face coverings. But public officials do not have the research evidence to require everyone to wear masks.

Educators do have enough research, however, to prioritize student success. So far, that's been one of sad casualties of the pandemic -- but one we can still remedy if we put children ahead of politics.

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DC Delays School Vaccine Mandate After Daily Signal Report

Fewer than 24 hours after The Daily Signal reported that the District of Columbia would not offer remote learning and planned to bar unvaccinated students, many of whom are black, from attending school in person 20 days after school started on Monday, the city abruptly announced it was delaying the policy until next year.

DCist reported that Washington, D.C., Deputy Mayor for Education Paul Kihn announced that enforcement of the COVID-19 vaccine mandate would not begin until Jan. 3, 2023.

Students 12 and up who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 will receive a notice of noncompliance on Nov. 21. If they do not comply by Jan. 3, 2023, they will no longer be able to attend school in person.

Citing “the challenges of tracking enforcement for COVID-19 vaccinations,” in a Friday letter to city education officials, Kihn wrote:

We have heard from many of you about the challenges of tracking enforcement for COVID-19 vaccinations … We hope that the Jan. 3, 2023 date for first exclusions of non-compliant students will give schools and [local education agencies] additional time to prepare and for students to get their COVID-19 vaccinations.

On Thursday, The Daily Signal questioned D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, a Democrat, on what unvaccinated students could expect when public school started on Monday.

“They can go to school on Monday,” Bowser said, “But they need to get their vaccinations … and their families will be alerted as to the dates.”

The Daily Signal then asked whether unvaccinated children would have the option to learn virtually if they didn’t get vaccinated. As of Thursday, students were told they had 20 days from the start of school to show proof of vaccination.

Bowser replied, “We’re not offering remote learning for children, and families will need to comply with what is necessary to come to school.”

The Daily Signal’s article was shared widely on Twitter, including by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.

The D.C. government’s vaccine numbers website shows 47% of the black children in the District ages 12-15 had not completed their primary vaccination series necessary to go back to school in person.

Among black teens aged 16-17, 42% are unvaccinated.

The announcement comes on the heels of D.C. Superior Court Judge Maurice A. Ross’ decision Thursday that the city’s vaccination mandate for city employees was unlawful.

Just Washington, D.C., and New Orleans currently require students to be vaccinated for COVID-19 in order to attend school in person, according to The Washington Post.

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Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

https://immigwatch.blogspot.com/ (IMMIGRATION WATCH)

https://awesternheart.blogspot.com/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

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30 August, 2022

Judge Rules COVID Vaccine Mandate for DC Government Workers Is Unconstitutional

A Washington D.C. superior court judge ruled Thursday that the city's COVID-19 vaccine mandate that was imposed on city employees is unlawful.

An order that was handed down by Judge Maurice A. Ross was a response to a lawsuit filed by the Washington D.C. Police Union and other groups that opposed Mayor Muriel Bowser's mandate. Bowser in August of last year ordered city government employees to provide proof of vaccination although some workers could seek a medical or religious exemption to the shot.

"A vaccine mandate is not an everyday exercise of power," Ross wrote in his 17-page ruling (pdf). "It is instead a significant encroachment into the life"”and health"”of an employee. It is strikingly unlike any other workplace regulations typically imposed, as it "˜cannot be undone at the end of the workday.' Thus, there is an expectation that a vaccine mandate must come from a legislative body."

Ross also argued that the legal "system does not permit the Mayor to act unlawfully even in the pursuit of desirable ends," including curbing COVID-19, adding that "the Mayor lacks legal authority to impose a vaccine mandate on Plaintiffs."

The judge rejected city lawyers' arguments that Bowser could impose a vaccine mandate in her capacity to regulate occupational and workplace hazards. The Biden administration made a similar claim to the U.S. Supreme Court last year on its vaccine mandate for private businesses before the court struck the rule down in January.

"Although COVID-19 is a risk that can occur in many workplaces, it is not an occupational hazard in most," Ross wrote in his order.

Response

It means the city can't enforce the COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Meanwhile, disciplinary actions that were taken to enforce compliance can be reversed, according to Ross's ruling.

The DC Police Union praised the decision and said it will ensure that its officers won't be terminated or forced to take the vaccine.

"Had the Mayor just engaged the Union in good faith bargaining, we would have reached a reasonable compromise that protected everyone's interests," Gregg Pemberton, the chairman of the union, said in a statement. "Now, all of our members can go back to do the necessary work of trying to protect our communities from crime and violence without unlawful threats of discipline and termination."

The office of Bowser, a Democrat, issued a statement Friday to WUSA9 in response to the ruling.

"We are reviewing the Court's ruling, and believe that the judge misunderstood the strength and diversity of the authorities we relied upon in issuing the employee vaccination mandate," the statement said, adding that "going forward, we will comply with the Court's orders as we continue encouraging our community to access life-saving vaccines."

Bowser's statement further claimed that her office believes that "COVID-19 vaccines work" and "save lives." Some recent studies, however, have suggested the opposite may be true.

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Thailand study of young adults post jab showed nearly 30% with cardiovascular injuries

A new study on cardiovascular impacts of the COVID vaccines done in Thailand is particularly troubling: 29% of the young adults experience non-trivial changes in their cardiac biomarkers.

It is amazing what you find when scientists doing a study are honest and want to know the truth.

“Why isn’t a study like this being done in the US?” asks UCSF Professor Vinay Prasad.

Heck, we don’t even know the d-dimer of people before vs. after the vax.

This is just more evidence of corruption of the medical community that nobody was calling for any of this data.

These vaccines are a disaster. Every day, the evidence gets worse and worse.

Will this new study stop the vaccines for kids? Of course not!

Look, even if the shots killed every child under 20 who takes it, they’d write off the death to something else and recommend that kids get the shot. The brainwashing is that bad. It’s stunning. Facts do not matter.

Consider this Thailand study:

18% of kids had an abnormal EKG post-vaccine?!? That has to be extremely troubling. A vaccine is not supposed to do that. Are doctors telling parents the vaccine causes serious heart issues in 18% of kids? At least let them know.

The paper noted that “Cardiovascular effects were found in 29.24% of patients, ranging from tachycardia, palpitation, and myo/pericarditis.” Wow.

Almost 30% of the cases?!?! That’s not “rare.”

Finally a 3.5% rate of myo/pericarditis (including subclinical) among males 13-18 is not rare either. We were lied to by the CDC. Big time.

Interestingly, this is consistent with the number of myocarditis rates at Monte Vista Christian School in Watsonville, CA which was in excess of 1% but they wouldn’t reveal any of the details beyond that publicly; gotta keep the school safe from lawsuits. Major credit there goes to Head of School Nikki Daniels for making sure that nobody found out that the shots they gave at the school were hurting kids. When adverse reactions started showing up, they did the right thing: they kept their mouths shut.

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The Republican Party is moving toward a true opposition party, and Biden fears it

By Bill Wilson

The time-worn tactic of the establishment Left is to always blame their opponents of their own crimes. While it may appear childish – Mom, I didn’t break the window, the other kid did it! – it works or at least it eases the minds of some of the worst human rights, anti-liberty fiends in history. Proving once again that every other day or so, Joe Biden can read from a teleprompter, he did it last week, labeling his opponents “semi-fascists.”

Last week, the “President” made a speech at a political rally where he set out the narrative of the Left for the coming mid-term elections. There are, according to Biden, good traditional Republicans and then there are MAGA Republicans. The good Republicans of course are the slithering quislings that have handed the Democrats and the radical left everything they ever wanted, playing the role of loyal opposition in order to divert patriotic citizens from anything approaching real, organized opposition. MAGA Republicans, you see, according to Biden don’t want to play that weak, pathetic treasonous role. They actually want to advance ideas!

And advancing ideas is, according to the regime, fascist. The Washington Post paid hack Dana Milbank echoed Biden and tried to add some flourish to the words of the babbler-in-chief. And of course he would. Milbank, after all, is nothing more than a corporate paid shill for the Democrat Party. He is a loyal member in good standing of leftist politics since his days at Yale, (of course). He is married to the daughter of a Democrat-operative royalty Stan Greenberg and the step daughter of one of the most radical and destructive Members of Congress, Rosa DeLauro. So, to be frank, anything this two-bit hack pens is by definition propaganda.

So, what is the crime, what have MAGA Republicans done that reducing them to mere caricatures to the regime? Well, they “encourage violence”, says Milbank. No mention of the three months of riots in 2020 that killed people and destroyed billions of dollars of property. And no mention of the use of criminals to terrorize American cities by communist District Attorneys. The use of criminal terror to cow the citizenry was a tactic of who? Oh yeah, we are not allowed to draw that comparison.

Well, what else makes half the country “semi-fascist”? According to Milbank and Biden, MAGA Republicans “reject the legitimate outcome of the last election — and are making it easier to reject the will of the voters in the next.” Oh, I see. So, when leftists rejected the Bush re-election in 2004 and attempted to undercut it, that was ok. And when people like Biden and Milbank and all of their comrades rejected the election of Trump in 2016, that was just right and fair. But, when citizens look at the mountain of evidence that the 2020 election was stolen, when they see that the FBI on purpose manipulated the news about the crimes of Hunter Biden, when they learn that the entire intelligence structure was employed to divert attention from the real national security threat that Hunter Biden poses, they should just ignore it and fall in line.

Anything else? You bet! According to Milbank, “A systemic campaign of disinformation makes their supporters feel victimized by shadowy “elites.” These are hallmarks of authoritarianism.” So, the “elites” are the victims here, right? Shadowy? You mean like conspiring with some flunky association to have parents labeled domestic terrorists for asking questions? Do they mean denying children lunches unless the local school system embraces and celebrates “transgenderism”? Maybe they mean disinformation like the lies being spread about the disaster of the sanctions on Russia, how Europeans will freeze and see food stock plumet this winter because of such mindless “empire building”?

No, I guess all of these facts are just too much for little Dana to consider. We know that Biden doesn’t have the cognitive ability to do so. At the end of the day, the cynical and disgusting ploy by Biden as echoed by his propagandist is just the latest rancid, rotting move by a dying and incompetent regime.

So, for the record Dana, the quisling Republicans your boss loves so much are gone, they are dead. The few squealing members exist only to serve the Deep State’s desire to have control of both parties. But, as Liz Cheney proved, there is no base for that putrid lie. The Republican Party is moving toward a true opposition party, a party that embraces an America First agenda. And isn’t that what you and your ilk really hate and fear? The Agenda, not the man Donald Trump or any group of advocates, right?

And what is that agenda that you fear and hate so much?

It is secure borders, saying to everyone who came to the U.S. legally and did what was asked in order to become citizens that they are valued and that respect for law means you respect the laws on entry into our country. It is trade deals that do not kill American industries and jobs. It means that globalist organizations like the WTO or the UN have no say in how we conduct our business and that working people and communities rule. It is an agenda that rejects the insanity of energy dependence. It is an agenda that does not accept the lie of man-made climate change and embraces real science as the solution to our challenges.

And, most importantly, it is an agenda that rejects the global role of the U.S. as policeman to the world. It rejects the idea that our sons and daughters should be put in harm’s way to make the world safer for Goldman Sachs. It is an agenda that values our defense forces but not the military industrial complex getting rich off their blood. It is an agenda that refuses to play the role of empire and rejects the physical and financial oppression that empire requires to be imposed on other peoples and our own citizens.

To all MAGA supporters and allies, when Biden and his kind start to hurl slurs at you, do not fall for their bait. Make them define what they want. Demand that they debate the issues that make up the MAGA agenda. Force these mindless trolls of the Deep State to defend their insults. And then continue to spread the word, organize and act like these toads do not exist. They are not real. They are in fact mere projections of a dead and rotting regime looking at itself and wanting to find someone to blame.

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Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

https://immigwatch.blogspot.com/ (IMMIGRATION WATCH)

https://awesternheart.blogspot.com/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

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29 August, 2022

A once distinguished academic journal announces its transition to a propaganda sheet

It has always been true that nearly all academic journals have a Leftist bias. This latest move is just making that bias more sweeping and more overt. I had a lot of problems getting past that bias when my research findings ran counter to a Leftist consensus and I never did get anything published that attacked Leftist theories outright. I was allowed to nibble at the margins only.

I did often try to push at the limits but without success. My list of unpublished papers includes some such efforts. You can see there that some attempts really challenged Leftist assumptions. Until the internet, those challenges remained unknown


Although the modern prestige bestowed upon science is laudable, it is not without peril. For as the ideological value of science increases, so too does the threat to its objectivity. Slogans and hashtags can quickly politicize science, and scientists can be tempted to subordinate the pursuit of the truth to moral or political ends as they become aware of their own prodigious social importance. Inconvenient data can be suppressed or hidden and inconvenient research can be quashed. This is especially true when one political tribe or faction enjoys disproportionate influence in academia—its members can disfigure science (often unconsciously) to support their own ideological preferences. This is how science becomes more like propaganda than empiricism, and academia becomes more like a partisan media organization than an impartial institution.

An editorial in Nature Human Behavior provides the most recent indication of just how bad things are becoming. It begins, like so many essays of its kind, by announcing that, “Although academic freedom is fundamental, it is not unbounded.” When the invocation of a fundamental freedom in one clause is immediately undermined in the next, we should be skeptical of whatever follows. But in this case, the authors are taking issue with a view very few people actually hold. At minimum, most academics will readily accept that scientific curiosity should be constrained by ethical concerns about research participants.

Unfortunately, the authors then announce that they also wish to apply these “well-established ethics frameworks” to “humans who do not participate directly in the research.” They are especially concerned that “people can be harmed indirectly” by research that “inadvertently … stigmatizes individuals or human groups.” Such research “may be discriminatory, racist, sexist, ableist, or homophobic” and “may provide justification for undermining the rights of specific groups, simply because of their social characteristics.” Because of these concerns, the Springer Nature community has worked up a new set of research guidelines intended to “address these potential harms,” explicitly applying ethics frameworks for research with human participations to “any academic publication.”

In plain language, this means that from now on, the journal will reject articles that might potentially harm (even “inadvertently”) those individuals or groups most vulnerable to “racism, sexism, ableism, or homophobia.” Since it is already standard practice to reject false or poorly argued work, it is safe to assume that these new guidelines have been designed to reject any article deemed to pose a threat to disadvantaged groups, irrespective of whether or not its central claims are true, or at least well-supported. Within a few sentences, we have moved from a banal statement of the obvious to draconian and censorious editorial discretion. Editors will now enjoy unprecedented power to reject articles on the basis of nebulous moral concerns and anticipated harms.

Imagine for a moment that this editorial were written, not by political progressives, but by conservative Catholics, who announced that any research promoting (even “inadvertently”) promiscuous sex, the breakdown of the nuclear family, agnosticism and atheism, or the decline of the nation state would be suppressed or rejected lest it inflict unspecified “harm” on vaguely defined groups or individuals. Many of those presently nodding along with Nature’s editors would have no difficulty identifying the subordination of science to a political agenda. One need not argue that opposing racism or promoting the nuclear family are dubious goals in order to also worry about elevating them over free inquiry and the dispassionate pursuit of understanding.

Suppose someone discovers that men are more likely than women to be represented at the tail end of the mathematical ability distribution and therefore more likely to be engineers or physics professors. Does such a finding constitute sexism, if only by implication? Does it stigmatize or help to negatively stereotype women? Are the authors of the editorial contending that journals should not publish an article that contains these data or makes such an argument? The very vagueness of these new guidelines allows—or rather requires—the political biases of editors and reviewers to intrude into the publishing process.

As the editorial proceeds, it becomes steadily more alarming and more explicitly political. “Advancing knowledge and understanding,” the authors declare, is also “a fundamental public good. In some cases, however, potential harms to the populations studied may outweigh the benefit of publication.” Such as? Any material that “undermines” the “dignity or rights of specific groups” or “assumes that a human group is superior or inferior over another simply because of a social characteristic” will be sufficient to “raise ethics concerns that may require revisions or supersede the value of publication.”

But no serious scientist or scholar contends that some groups are superior or inferior to others. Those who write candidly about sex and population differences, such as David Geary or Charles Murray, routinely preface discussion of their findings with the unambiguous declaration that empirical differences do not justify claims of superiority or inferiority. Nevertheless, the editorial is a warrant to attack, silence, and suppress research that finds differences of any social significance between sexes or populations, regardless of whether or not such differences do in fact exist. The empirical claim that “men are overrepresented vis-à-vis women at the extreme right tail of the distribution of mathematical ability” can therefore be rejected on the basis that it may be understood to imply a claim of male superiority even if no such claim is made, and even if it is explicitly disavowed.

Sensing the dangerous and censorious path they are walking, the authors pause to offer a sop to those of us who still believe in the importance of academic freedom:

"There is a fine balance between academic freedom and the protection of the dignity and rights of individuals and human groups. We commit to using this guidance cautiously and judiciously, consulting with ethics experts and advocacy groups where needed. Ensuring that ethically conducted research on individual differences and differences among human groups flourishes, and no research is discouraged simply because it may be socially or academically controversial, is as important as preventing harm"

This is not at all reassuring. Asking ethicists to assess the wisdom of publishing a journal article is as antithetical to the spirit of science as soliciting publication advice from a religious scholar. Who are these “ethics experts” and “advocacy groups” anyway? I am skeptical of ethical expertise. I am especially skeptical of ethical expertise from an academy more inclined to reward conclusions that support progressive preferences than those that emerge from empirical study and rational thought. I am more skeptical still of advocacy groups, which exist to pursue a political agenda, and are therefore, by their very nature, a good deal more interested in what is useful than what is true.

Imagine the outcry on the Left if a journal announced it would be consulting pro-life advocates before publishing an article about the effects of abortion on wellbeing. Or if it decided to consult conservative evangelicals when evaluating an article about the effects of adoption by homosexual couples. The journal is effectively announcing the employment of sensitivity readers, who it can safely be assumed, will invariably recommend the risk-averse option of suppression whenever the possibility of controversy arises.

Before they set out their new guidelines, the authors take a moment to self-flagellate, with a cookie cutter denunciation of science for its dismal history of inequality and discrimination. Still, “with this guidance, we take a step toward countering this,” they say as if it were an act of atonement. I find that I am more positive about the science of the past than the editorial’s authors, and more gloomy about the social-justice-oriented science of the future they are proposing. Yes, humans are flawed and fallible and always will be, so we must accept that science will forever be an imperfect endeavor. But the best way to correct its imperfections is not to demand the capitulation of science to ideology, but to remain alive to our biases and devise mechanisms that can compensate for them. Trying to counter past bias by replacing it with a new kind of bias is self-evidently nonsensical—like trying to conquer alcohol consumption by replacing beer with hard liquor.

Predictably, the proposed editorial guidelines focus on the needs and sensitivities of groups perceived to be marginalized and identified by race, ethnicity, class, sex, and sexual orientation, religious and political beliefs, age and disability. And naturally, the guidelines themselves are as vague and troubling as the rest of the editorial. The authors reiterate that they want to extend protections for research participants across the entire publishing process. “Harms,” they note, “can also arise indirectly, as a result of the publication of a research project or a piece of scholarly communication—for instance, stigmatization of a vulnerable human group or potential use of the results of research for unintended purposes (e.g., public policies that undermine human rights or misuse of information to threaten public health).”

Like almost everything else in the editorial, this claim is unhelpfully ambiguous and politically contentious. Furthermore, possible real-world harms (or benefits) that result from the publication of academic papers are incredibly, perhaps prohibitively, difficult to anticipate and measure. Would a paper that finds homosexual men to be more promiscuous on average than heterosexual men result in the “stigmatization of” or “harm to” a “vulnerable human group”? The answer would depend in no small part upon the respondent’s view of homosexuality and how capacious or otherwise their definitions of “stigmatization” and “harm” are.

The notion that homosexual men are more promiscuous than straight men might produce some negative stereotypes about the former. But it could also raise awareness of the disproportionate dangers posed to homosexual men’s sexual health by unprotected promiscuity, which might in turn lead to a reduction in the rate of sexually transmitted infections. We simply do not know. This is precisely why peer review should only consider the plausibility and theoretical importance of articles, not their unknowable political and moral effects.

The new guidelines state that even if a project were to be reviewed and approved by appropriate committees, editors “reserve the right to request modifications” or even “refuse publication … or retract post-publication” if it contains content that:

Is premised upon the assumption of inherent biological, social, or cultural superiority or inferiority of one human group over another based on race, ethnicity, national or social origin, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, political or other beliefs, age, disease, (dis)ability, or other socially constructed or socially relevant groupings (hereafter referred to as socially constructed or socially relevant human groupings).

Or:

Undermines—or could reasonably be perceived to undermine—the rights and dignities of an individual or human group on the basis of socially constructed or socially relevant human groupings.

Or:

Embod[ies] singular, privileged perspectives, which are exclusionary of a diversity of voices in relation to socially constructed or socially relevant human groupings, and which purport such perspectives to be generalisable and/or assumed.
No examples are adduced, of course, so it is difficult to know what kind of content would commit these retractable iniquities. Could a discussion of group differences in cognitive ability “reasonably” be perceived to undermine the “rights and dignities of an individual or human group”? Would an exploration of sex differences in homicide rates? Would an analysis of political differences in cognitive rigidity? Would a test of the association between religiosity and pro-sociality? And who is to be the judge of what is and is not “reasonable”? And what does or does not constitute “undermining”?

Ambiguity is piled upon ambiguity to expand the capricious purview of the censor. It does not require clairvoyance to predict that these criteria will not be consistently applied. It may be considered racist to point out that a disproportionate number of crimes are committed by black Americans, but it will surely not be considered misandrist to point out that a disproportionate number of crimes are committed by American males. Even those who work ardently for the triumph of progressive ideas and values should shudder. Not only will these guidelines further degrade the already embattled prestige of science, but they offer remarkable deference to the idiosyncratic moral concerns of editors and reviewers which are subject to change at short notice. As radical feminists have recently discovered, those who sit within the progressive Overton window today may find themselves thrust outside of it tomorrow—victims of a censorious system they thought they were erecting in their own interests.

The guidelines intended to combat racism begin by announcing that race and ethnicity are sociopolitical constructs. This is a contentious claim (even if we could agree on what is meant by “sociopolitical construct”), and it is one that I happen to think is unsupported by either the data or by sound philosophical argument. Even so, the section goes on to assert that:

Biomedical studies should not conflate genetic ancestry (a biological construct) and race/ethnicity (sociopolitical constructs): although race/ethnicity are important constructs for the study of disparities in health outcomes and health care, empirically established genetic ancestry is the appropriate construct for the study of the biological aetiology of diseases or differences in treatment response.
This convoluted reasoning will surely only aggravate existing double standards in discussions of race and ethnicity—those who contend that society is teeming with racism can point to disadvantages experienced by racial groups, but those who contend that disparities are caused by behavioral differences are flatly told that race does not exist. Would these standards be consistently applied to a paper that examined racial disparities in police shootings and a paper that examined racial differences in crime rates?

“Racism,” we are told, “is scientifically unfounded and ethically untenable. Editors reserve the right to request modifications to (or correct or otherwise amend post-publication), and in severe cases refuse publication of (or retract post-publication), racist content.” But since “scientifically unfounded” material can be rejected on that basis alone, there is no need to invoke potential harms to vulnerable groups as an additional justification. The authors’ implication seems to be that “racism” should be understood (unlike the “reverse” variety) to apply to some groups and not others, and that what the authors wish to oppose is research that might discredit the efficacy or justness of, say, affirmative action. But since the editorial and its guidelines provide no examples of supposedly racist content, it is difficult to know.

The section on sex, gender, and sexual orientation is similarly vague and tendentious. The authors claim, for example, that, “there is a spectrum of gender identities and expression defining how individuals identify themselves and express their gender.” Well, maybe. But this is an ideologically provocative claim—and certainly one with which many people across the political spectrum will strongly disagree. Brazenly avoiding any pretense of objectivity, the authors then itemize the usual laundry list of putative gender identities, “including, but not limited to, transgender, gender-queer, gender-fluid, non-binary, gender-variant, genderless, agender, nongender, bi-gender, trans man, trans woman, trans masculine, trans feminine and cisgender.” Gender norms, we are told, are “not fixed but evolve across time and space. As such, definitions will require frequent revisiting…” It is hard to imagine that more than five percent of conservatives would agree to this, but that is evidently of no concern to the authors. The chief purpose of this section seems to be to signal to other progressives, “We are on your side,” and to send a corresponding signal to conservatives: “You are not our people.”

The editorial closes by declaring that, “Researchers are encouraged to promote equality in their academic research,” and that editors reserve the right to retract articles that are “sexist, misogynistic, and/or anti-LGBTQ+.” Again, no examples of these retraction-worthy crimes are offered, and so familiar objections resurface. Is a paper that contends that men are physically stronger than women “misogynistic”? Is a paper that examines the correlation between trans-identity and other mental illnesses “anti-LGBTQ+”?

Science is a human activity, and like all human activities, it is influenced by human values, human biases, and human imperfections. Those will never be eliminated. The banner of science has undoubtedly been waved to justify, excuse, or otherwise rationalize appalling crimes and atrocities, from the racial pseudoscience of the Nazis to the blank slatism (and Lysenkoism) of the communists. But the correct response to these distortions is not to endorse a highly partisan vision of science that promotes a progressive worldview, alienating all those who disagree and further encouraging doubt about the objectivity of scientific endeavor. The correct response is to preserve an adversarial vision of science that promotes debate, disagreement, and free inquiry as the best way to reach the truth.

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Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

https://immigwatch.blogspot.com/ (IMMIGRATION WATCH)

https://awesternheart.blogspot.com/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

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28 August, 2022

Republicans are falling out of love with America Inc

To american executives, Rob Portman is the ideal politician. Clever, reasonable and experienced, he served as the top trade representative and budget director for George W. Bush, the Republican president from 2001 to 2009, before becoming a senator for Ohio more than a decade ago. Mr Portman has just one shortcoming: he is retiring. The party’s nominee to replace him is J.D. Vance, backed by Donald Trump, the most recent Republican commander-­in­-chief. Mr Vance calls big technology firms “enemies of Western civilisation” and casts elite managers as part of “the regime”, with interests anathema to those of America’s heartland.

The Democratic Party, with its leftier lean, remains companies’ most persistent headache—firms were caught off­-guard this month when Senate Democrats approved a rise in corporate­tax rates and new restrictions on the pricing of drugs.

But, in the words of an executive at a big financial firm, “We expect Democrats to hate us.” What is new is disdain from those on the right. There used to be a time, one lobbyist recalls with nostalgia, when “you would walk into a Republican office with a company and the question would be, ‘How can I help you?’” Those days are over. The prospect of Republicans sweeping the mid­term elections in November and recapturing the White House in 2024 no longer sends waves of relief through American boardrooms.

Executives and lobbyists interviewed by The Economist, speaking on condition of anonymity, described Republicans as becoming more hostile in both tone and, increasingly, substance. Public brawls, such as Disney’s feud with Ron Desantis, Florida’s Republican governor, over discussion of sexual orientation in classrooms, or Republicans blasting Blackrock, the world’s largest asset manager, for “woke” investments, are only its most obvious manifestations. “It used to be the axis was left to right,” says an executive at one of America’s biggest firms. “Now it is an axis from insiders to outsiders; everyone seems intent on proving they are not part of the superstructure, and that includes business.”

Long­held right-­of­-centre orthodoxies—in favour of free trade and competition, against industrial policy—are in flux. As Republicans’ stance towards big business changes, so may the contours of American commerce.

The close partnership between Republicans and business has helped shape American capitalism for decades. Companies’ profit­-seeking pursuit of free trade abroad and free enterprise at home dovetailed with Republicans’ credo of individual freedom and anti­communism. By the 1990s even Bill Clinton and other Democrats embraced new trade deals, giving American multinational firms access to new markets and cheaper labour.

As Glenn Hubbard, former dean of Columbia Business School and an economic adviser to Mr Bush, puts it, “Social support for the system was a given and you could argue over the parameters.” The 2012 presidential battle between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney “felt like a big deal at the time”, says Rawi Abdelal of Harvard Business School. “But in terms of the business stakes, it wouldn’t have mattered at all.”

Four years later Republicans were still attracting about two­-thirds of spending by corporate political­-action committees (pacs), which give money to candidates in federal elections, and a big corporate-­tax cut in 2017 went on to be the main legislative achievement of Mr Trump’s term. Yet Mr Trump had campaigned on the feeling of ordinary Americans that they were being left behind. Executives hoping that his fiery campaign rhetoric would be doused by presidential restraint had to contend in­ stead with his trade war with China, curbs on immigration and contentious positions on climate change and race. Bosses felt compelled to speak out against his policies, which appalled many of their employees and customers. In the eyes of Trump supporters, such pronouncements cast the ceos as members of the progressive elite bent on undermining their champion.

After Mr Trump’s defeat by Mr Biden, companies wondered if their old alliance with Republicans might be restored. In July 17 Republican senators voted in favour of a bill that provides, among other things, $52bn in subsidies to compete with China by manufacturing more semiconductors in America—which chipmakers such as Intel naturally applauded. This month nearly all Republicans opposed the Democrats’ $700bn climate and health­care bill, known as the Inflation Reduction Act (ira), which raises taxes on large companies and enables the government to haggle with drugmakers over the price of some prescription medicines.

This apparent business-­friendliness-­as-­usual conceals a deeper shift, however. The Republican Party has attracted more working-­class voters—an evolution accelerated by Mr Trump’s willingness, on paper if not always in practice, to put the interests of the American worker ahead of those of the American multinational.

For most of the past 50 years more Republicans had a lot of confidence in big business than had little or no confidence in it, often by double­-digit margins, according to Gallup polls. Last year the mistrustful outnumbered the trusting by a record 17 percentage points, worse than at the height of the global financial crisis of 2007­09 (see chart 1). Republican election war­chests are increasingly filled either by small donors or the extremely rich. Both these groups are likelier to favour ideologues over pragmatists, notes Sarah Bryner of Open-secrets, an ngo which tracks campaign finance and lobbying.

The result of all this is growing Republican support for policies that are hostile to America Inc. Josh Hawley, a senator from Missouri, wants companies with more than $1bn in annual revenue to pay their staff at least $15 an hour. His colleague from Florida, Marco Rubio, has backed the formation of workers’ councils at companies, an alternative to unions. In March Tom Cotton of Arkansas called for Americans to “reject the ideology of globalism” by curbing immigration, banning some American investments in China and suggesting Congress should “punish offshoring to China”. Republicans in Congress have co­sponsored several bills with Democrats to rein in big tech. Mr Vance, who has a good shot at joining them after the mid­terms, has proposed raising taxes on companies that move jobs abroad. Mr Trump himself repeatedly promised to lower drug prices.

The fact that Republicans opposed the ira—and other business­-wary Democratic initiatives—may mean simply that they loathe Democrats more than they dislike big business. Many bosses fret that the Republican Party will enact punitive policies once it is back in power. “There is no person who says, ‘Don’t worry’,” sighs one pharmaceutical executive. “You ignore what a politician says publicly at your peril,” warns another business bigwig.

That is already evident at the state level, where Republicans often control all levers of government and are therefore free to enact their agenda in a way that is impossible in gridlocked Washington. After Disney spoke out against a law in Florida that restricts discussion of gender and sexual orientation in schools, Mr Desantis revoked the company’s special tax status. Texas has a new law that restricts the state’s business with firms that “discriminate against firearm and ammunition industries”. Kentucky, Texas and West Virginia have passed similar laws barring business with banks and other firms that boycott fossil­-fuel producers; about a dozen other Republi­can­-controlled states are considering doing the same.

Such laws present a problem for companies. In July West Virginia’s treasurer said that the anti-fossil­-fuel policies of some of America’s biggest financial firms—Blackrock, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo—made them ineligible for state contracts. The definition of what counts as discriminating or boycotting is hazy. JPMorgan Chase, which does not lend to firms that sell military­-style weapons to consumers, first said that the Texan law prevented it from underwriting municipal-bond deals in that state, then bid for a contract (unsuccessfully). In Texas, Republican lawmakers are threatening to prosecute firms that pay for staff to travel out of state for abortions, which the Texan legislature has severely restricted.

Right­wing culture­-warriors have always been part of the Republican Party, but the line between them and their pro-­busi­ness country­-club colleagues has collapsed. These days, worries a business grandee, both parties see it as “acceptable to use state power to get private entities to conform to their viewpoints”. “esg is a four­-letter word in some Republican offices,” says Heather Podesta of Invariant, a lobbying firm, referring to the practice, championed by Blackrock among others, of considering environmental, social and governance factors, not just returns, in investment decisions. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas has blamed Larry Fink, Blackrock’s boss, for high petrol prices. “Every time you fill up your tank,” he growled in May, “you can thank Larry for the massive and inappropriate esg pressure.”

Companies are adjusting to this new, more volatile political reality. Some are creating formal processes for reviewing the risks of speaking out on social issues that may provoke a political backlash, including from Republicans. The way firms describe their strategies to politicians is changing, too. Lobbying is no longer confined to the parties’ leaders in the two houses of Congress. Because politicians in both parties are increasingly willing to defy the leadership, says an executive, “you have to go member by member”. Neil Bradley, policy chief of the us Chamber of Commerce, which represents American big business, says that his organisation has had to redouble efforts to “find people who have interest in governing”.

Sometimes that means supporting more Democrats. In 2020 the chamber endorsed more vulnerable freshman Democratic incumbents, who were mostly moderates, than in previous years. That prompted Kevin Mccarthy, the leading Republican in the House of Representatives, to say he didn’t want the organisation’s endorsement “because they have sold out”. So far this year corporate pacs have funnelled 54% of their campaign donations to Republicans, down from 63% in 2012. Firms’ employees have beaten an even hastier retreat, with just 46% donating to Republican candid-ates, compared with 58% ten years ago, according to Opensecrets (see chart 2 on previous page).

If the upshot is divided government, that would suit American business just fine. As one executive remarks, “We might not have improvements, but we won’t get more cataclysmic policies.”

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Covid skepticism on the rise

James Allan

The tide has turned. Finally. Recently that organ of pro-lockdown orthodoxy, the New York Times, ran an editorial to the effect that during the Covid pandemic no schools should ever have been closed. And that it would take decades to recover from this public policy fiasco. Sure, the NYT buried this editorial in a Saturday edition. But it’s a start. Especially for those of us who doubted the imposition of lockdowns from day one, publicly and in print, and were faced with a barrage of unhinged abuse about being ‘grandmother killers’ or ‘denying the science’ or having some talking head suffering from a toxic overdose of his own supposed virtue ramble on about ‘not on my watch’ as regards adopting the Swedish approach.

Last week the front page of the London Telegraph (far more sane through the pandemic, by the way, than the Australian) published a front page piece with a headline ‘lockdown effects feared to be killing more people than Covid’. In fact, the article by the paper’s science editor Sarah Knapton cites excess deaths data from Britain’s Office for National Statistics that make it plain this will happen. Knapton says that ‘over the past two months, the number of excess deaths not from Covid dwarfs the number linked to the virus’. Even some doctors’ organisations, who were all too willing to try to suppress and cancel lockdown dissenters for over two years, are doing about faces – not least the British Heart Foundation. Others, like the man who goes by the moniker ‘The Naked Emperor’ (for obvious reasons) on Substack, have taken this data and drilled down further. For instance, for the week ending 5 August there were 1,350 excess deaths in England and Wales.

Guess what? That is 14.4 per cent higher than the 5-year average. And you’re seeing those noticeably higher excess deaths in Australia too. But the Naked Emperor makes a point the science editor of the London Telegraph still shies away from, a point related to wide-open, honest debate: ‘There is no doubt that lockdowns are one of the major causes [of these really high excess deaths numbers] but it would be stupid to not even consider vaccines. Investigate whether they have contributed to these excess deaths in any way, present the evidence and then say no they haven’t. But don’t just dogmatically say they are safe and not look into it.’

That sums up the view of this twice-vaccinated, no-boosters, writer. I have so little trust in the expert class (including the medicos) after the last two years I am taking nada, nothing, zero on trust from these people. Many of them spent the last two-plus years stifling dissent; or keeping their heads down and being too cowardly to voice honestly held doubts; or revelling in a heavy-handed ‘we are the incarnation of science and we’re not prepared to brook any dissent’ form of modern-day aristocracy. And this in the context of Anders Tegnell’s Swedish approach (the same as the one recommended by the Great Barrington Declaration) looking better and better with each passing day – on every axis of concern and on every criterion. Not just as regards kids’ schooling outcomes. Not just all the economic outcomes from debt to small business closures to ruined CBDs to incredible asset inflation. Not just the invidious massive transfers of wealth from the young to the old and from the poor to the rich that lockdowns (and the money printing and massive spending needed to support those lockdowns, triggering the above-mentioned asset inflation, now price inflation and a hammered private sector) brought about.

No, even on straight-up ‘which policy choice will have the fewest excess deaths’ criterion, lockdowns were a mistake. The right choice, the one that was WHO and British policy in October of 2019 based on a century of data, was to protect the vulnerable and leave everyone else alone to make their own calls while definitely not locking down, not closing schools, not weaponising the police as the enforcement arm of two-bit public health bureaucrats. It was right even if the only axis you cared about, the only one, was how many deaths your response to Covid would lead to.

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Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

https://immigwatch.blogspot.com/ (IMMIGRATION WATCH)

https://awesternheart.blogspot.com/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

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26 August, 2022

I'm astounded

I have had a lot of good news lately but "wait, there is more". According to ResearchGate, a publication which tracks such matters, my academic publications are getting a lot of attention from other academics. They say that "Your Research Interest Score is higher than 95% of ResearchGate members". The score is mainly made up of citations.

Why is that surprising? Because I last published something in the academic journals back in the '90s. The general view of academic publications is that if it is more than 10 years old it no longer exists. But the advent of the internet means that someone researching a topic will usually do an internet search at some point and that will turn up something relevant regardless of date. So as long as your writings are online they are readily accessible. Most of my publications were written before the internet existed but I have made sure to put them online retrospectively. ResearchGate has them all. Being really old means that I can look a long way back.

And the fact that I have had so many papers published (250+) of course increases the likelihood that I will hit on something of interest to others.

But I mustn't get a big head about it all. I have kept some track of my citations and they mostly come from places like Pakistan and Poland -- not great sources of cutting edge academic endeavour

Another reason for humility is that my papers that other people cite are rarely the ones which I think are most significant or important. Instead people cite papers that are more technical or utilitarian. Still, it is nice to be still ahead of the pack even after 30 years. I did after all devote 20 years of my life -- from 1970 to 1990 -- to doing all that research and writing.

I have also now spent 20 years blogging -- from 2002 to 2022.

In all my writing I have aimed to say things that are informative or helpful to others and I think I have achieved that to a small degree. I do get "thank you" messages occasionally, which I appreciate.

JR

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Australia: Covid and miscarriage

‘No evidence Covid-19 vaccines cause miscarriage, despite Queensland doctor claim’, trumpeted the ABCFact Check and RMIT FactLab CheckMate. Unfortunately, that is not true.

The Queensland doctor is Luke McLindon, one of Australia’s leading fertility specialists. He has been collecting data on miscarriages in high-risk patients that he treats for infertility and recurrent miscarriage. Historically, the miscarriage rate has been 12 to 15 per cent. But comparing the period before and after the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists recommended Covid vaccinations for women at any stage during pregnancy, the miscarriage rate among his patients has more than doubled to almost 50 per cent. Disgracefully, Dr McLindon will not be able to continue his research because he declined a Covid vaccination and as a result his accreditation has been withdrawn, but he is not the only specialist who has identified a problem.

There is an ‘avalanche of data’ showing the Covid injections are not safe according to Dr James Thorp, an obstetrician gynaecologist and specialist in maternal foetal medicine in Florida. He wrote to the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynaecology about a study he completed documenting severe adverse outcomes in women of reproductive age and in pregnancy associated with the Covid injections including: an increase in menstrual irregularities, spontaneous abortion, and abnormalities in the foetus including malformations, cardiac arrest and death which he says occur in VAERS in statistically significant numbers and are corroborated by over 20 plus other independent sources.

Data is emerging elsewhere. The Lancet has just published a study of 5,936 pregnant Canadian women, which showed that only 7 out 339 (2.1 per cent) unvaccinated women had miscarriages compared with 258 out of 5,597 (4.6 per cent) vaccinated women. That’s an increase of 119 per cent in the rate of miscarriage in vaccinated women compared with unvaccinated women, just in the period up to 10 days after the second dose. Incredibly, this was obscured by the researchers who only statistically analysed the 83 miscarriages or stillbirths that occurred within seven days of the first jab. There were ‘an additional 175 individuals who reported experiencing miscarriage or stillbirth between the first Covid-19 vaccine dose and completion of the second survey (up to 10 days after dose two)’, more than twice as many as in the week after the first jab, but these miscarriages were left out of the statistical analysis, with no explanation as to why. In addition, only 3.2 per cent of unvaccinated women experienced a new or worsening health event, whereas 12.1 per cent experienced one after a second jab of Moderna. Why would the researchers fail to highlight the increased risk of vaccination during pregnancy, particularly with the Moderna vaccine? Perhaps because the lead author has been an investigator on projects funded by Pfizer, Moderna and other major pharmaceutical companies as have five of the other authors out of a total of 14.

A study of excess mortality in Germany by Christof Kubandner and Matthias Reitzner shows that in 2020, the observed number of deaths was close to the expected number but from April 2021, the observed number of deaths was two empirical standard deviations above the expected number in deaths in the age groups between 15 and 79 and a similar mortality pattern was observed for stillbirths, with an increase of about 11 per cent in the second quarter of the year 2021.

Lt. Col. Theresa Long, one of the US Army’s top flight surgeons and an expert on public health testified that in addition to strokes, clots, cancers and myocarditis, she has seen a number of adverse reactions related to reproductive health including testicular pain, menstrual irregularity, miscarriages and infertility.

What could be causing this? Dr Deirdre Little worked with the Brighton Collaboration on Vaccine Safety, a member of the WHO-led Vaccine Safety Net. She is concerned that rat studies published in May 2021 which supposedly demonstrate the safety of the Pfizer vaccine with regard to fertility did not include the histology reports of the rat gonads. Dr Little has been battling the Australian regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), for more than 12 months to see those reports but the TGA has repeatedly refused her request as has Pfizer. Both claim however that the reports show only that the vaccine is safe.

It’s hardly convincing. If the reports back up the claims of safety why not provide them? A report released by the TGA under Freedom of Information showed that the vaccine accumulated in rat ovaries at 48 hours post dose at more than ten times the concentration in other organs, with the exception of liver, spleen and adrenals. Does a similar phenomenon occur in the ovaries of females? Could it affect ovarian function? It is impossible to say without further research, starting with an examination of what happened in the ovaries of rats.

Dr Little highlights a disturbing report from 1993 which found that injected polysorbate 80, one of the mRNA vaccine excipients, has a proven association with ovarian toxicity in rats and its effects resemble those of diethylstilboestrol (DES), a drug used in pregnancy that was eventually linked to miscarriage, stillbirth, and breast, cervical and vaginal cancers.

Dr Little writes that what this means is that vaccines have been mandated which have been only provisionally approved, have been shown to concentrate in the mammalian ovary, have a statistically established safety signal for abnormal menses following vaccination, are also associated with post-menopausal bleeding, and contain a product similar to polysorbate 80, whose delayed effect resembles diethylstilboestrol toxicity to the ovaries and uterine lining when injected into rats, yet the TGA and Pfizer refuse to release the histology reports.

So is the ABC correct that there is no evidence that vaccines increase the risk of miscarriages? Certainly, if there is evidence, the regulator, the pharmaceutical company and the medical establishment is doing everything that it can to prevent it emerging. And yet in multiple places there are worrying signs for those willing to look.

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Conservatives Shouldn’t Apologize for Healthy Skepticism of Big Government

“Conservatives need to get over their allergy to government action.”

That was the headline on an opinion column by Henry Olsen last week in The Washington Post. Olsen is not alone among conservatives in thinking so.

Across much of the right today, there’s more openness to having government do more in the economy. Olsen observes that there are significant constituencies in America, especially blue-collar America, who appear supportive of a conservative agenda that would involve more state intervention, whether in the form of industrial policy, tariffs, or more expansive entitlement programs.

The right, Olsen wrote, cannot ignore those trends if it wants to stay electorally relevant. That necessitates moving away from what he labels “market fundamentalism.”

Winning elections is very important. But to embrace a bigger economic role for government amounts to conservatives endorsing policies that would push the United States even further in social democratic directions that would undermine America’s long-term economic and political well-being.

Here’s the fact often omitted by contemporary conservatives friendly to more government economic intervention: The American economy is already awash with interventionist policies—so much so that, according to The Heritage Foundation’s 2022 Index of Economic Freedom, overall economic liberty in America has been in decline since 2008. (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)

The index ranked America as the world’s 25th-freest economy. Many of the countries listed ahead of it are European nations with strong social democratic traditions. Moreover, the index adds:

Government spending [in America] has amounted to 38.9 percent of total output (GDP) over the past three years, and budget deficits have averaged 9.0 percent of GDP. Public debt is equivalent to 127.1 percent of GDP.

That doesn’t sound like small government to me.

In fact, even with the extra state spending induced by the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government has been spending like a drunken sailor for quite some time—and using debt to do so.

Leaving aside the ruinous expenditure levels and notorious inefficiencies associated with interventionist policies, there are serious political problems associated with conservatives adopting more economically interventionist stances.

“There’s a middle ground,” Olsen asserts, “between government directing everything or nothing.” Alas, if there’s anything that 20th-century economic history shows, it is that once the state’s economic role moves beyond securing certain public goods—the rule of law, property rights, national security, public works, etc. (none of which are small endeavors)—the genie is hard to put back in the bottle.

The middle ground thus ends up not being an essentially market economy operating within a framework of the rule of law and intertwined in a robust civil society. Instead, it becomes a type of social democracy in which excessive state power is omnipresent throughout the economy.

That doesn’t mean that you eventually get a Soviet-style command economy. But you do find yourself encumbered with the rampant cronyism that infects so much of D.C. politics, and, more insidiously, what the great political philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville described in his classic “Democracy in America” as “soft despotism.”

Soft despotism is a Faustian bargain between the political class and the public. It involves “an immense protective power,” Tocqueville wrote, in assuming prime responsibility for everyone’s happiness—provided that power remains “sole agent and judge of it.”

That power would, Tocqueville added, “resemble parental authority” and attempt to keep people “in perpetual childhood” by relieving them “from all the trouble of thinking and all the cares of living.”

That’s the deal that progressives have proposed to Americans for more than a century. And it has saddled America with social and economic disasters like President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, which, as the economic historian Amity Shlaes illustrates in her book “Great Society,” wreaked havoc upon black America and the white working class.

In that light, there’s no reason to think that conservatives can devise an interventionist agenda that somehow avoids all of the problems—the one-size-fits-all mentality approach, the unintended consequences, the inability to address the non-material causes often central to social dysfunctionality, et al.— inseparable from such policies.

Faith in state intervention to effect positive economic and political change has also encumbered America with a vast administrative state. It’s no secret that these federal government departments, administrative bodies, and regulatory agencies are dominated by people ranging from indifferent to hostile to conservative ideas. Why would American conservatives want to affirm (let alone augment) the administrative state’s power by adopting economically interventionist programs?

Americans deserve better than having to choose between soft and hard versions of social democracy at election time. Nor should they have to put up with economic debates being reduced to who is willing to spend more.

If anything, American conservatives need to be more allergic to government economic intervention—not less.

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Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

https://immigwatch.blogspot.com/ (IMMIGRATION WATCH)

https://awesternheart.blogspot.com/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

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25 August, 2022

Fauci's lockdown legacy: Increases in cancer and drug overdose deaths, a mental health crisis, financial devastation and disruptions to education that left millions of kids behind

Dr Antony Fauci will step down from his post in December, and will leave behind the legacy of his support for COVID-19 lockdowns responsible for thousands of preventable deaths, disruptions to every day life that caused a nationwide mental health crisis, financial devastation for millions and stoppages in education that will impact the next generation for the remainder of their lives.

America's most recognizable public health official announced plans to step down from his post as director of the National Institutes of Allergies and Infectious Disease (NIAID) in December. The end of his near-40 year reign as the nation's top infectious disease expert was largely met with praise, but some experts say his legacy will be the devastation caused by the COVID-19 lockdowns he fervently supported throughout the pandemic.

Dr Marty Makary, a public health expert at Johns Hopkins University, wrote for Common Sense that the 'draconian policies' supported by Fauci - who served as chief medical officer for both President Trump and Biden - have left millions of Americans worse for wear.

When COVID-19 first erupted around the United States in March 2020, the novel virus caught officials on their backfoot. Little was known about the new threat and news of the devastation it had caused across China and much of Europe terrified millions stateside.

In a panic, many officials instituted lockdowns, closing schools, restaurants and all kinds of businesses.

As more was learned about the virus, it was realized that Covid was far less deadly than initially believed. A DailyMail.com analysis of data from the CDC and Johns Hopkins found that the mortality rate of the virus had dropped as low as 2.8 percent in the United States by September 1, 2020.

It also became clear that while particular groups were at risk, the average person without significant comorbidities should worry about it as much as they do the common flu.

While some red states chose to reopen — and even blue states eventually came along by late-2020 - Fauci remained a fervent supporter for closures, capacity limits and mask orders around America — with little regard for the ancillary issues that arose as a result of these orders.

'To COVID-19 he brought a monomaniacal focus on vanquishing a single virus, whatever the cost — neglecting the damage that can follow when public health loses sight of the public's health,' Makary wrote.

'...What were the impact of those policies on millions of Americans? And what would the country look like now had our public health experts taken a different approach?'

Lockdowns and the fear of the virus perpetuated by officials led to thousands skipping out on routine medical treatments. As a result, the nation suffered a stark increase in deaths from cancer, Alzheimer's and other conditions — much of which could have been prevented.

Disruptions to every day social life led to a surge in mental health issues that has left the nation — which is already facing a massive shortage in therapists — in a lurch. Social isolation has also been named one of the leading drivers in the surge in drug overdose deaths recorded during the pandemic's first year — eclipsing 100,000 for the first time ever.

The closure of businesses caused a surge in employment, leaving Americans waiting in hours-long lines for food pantries. Policies enacted to keep families afloat during lockdowns are now in part to blame for the nation's staggering inflation.

Children may have suffered the most. Experts fear closing in-person education for virtual classes led to massive 'learning loss,' leaving them worse off for the rest of their academic careers. It also harmed the social development of millions, whose interactions with their peers went from the playgrounds to their phone screens.

The 'Covid deaths' left uncounted

Fear of COVID-19 led to many Americans refusing to seek out medical attention for certain issues, or to cancel treatments that were already underway.

In February, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report on excess deaths from all conditions during the first year of the pandemic from March 2020 to 2021.

Generally, death figures within a country will stay the same year-over-year, with small miniscule changes due to population growth. The same ratio of people that die of cancer in one country in one year than did the year previous, for example.

While Covid was the leading cause of excess deaths, large increases in deaths caused by heart disease and dementia, among other causes, were also recorded during the pandemic.

The CDC report found stark increases in deaths from heart disease, high blood pressure, Alzheimer's, cancer and diabetes.

These increases are directly attributable to reduced access to medical care. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) reports that cancer screening was significantly reduced if not outright paused during the pandemic.

As a result, studies have found that while cancer diagnosis have decreased since the pandemic began the ones that are being found are more serious. This indicates that there are many more cases out there than being recorded, but only people suffering severe late-stage symptoms are coming in to be screened.

Cancer deaths in America rose by three percent in 2020, up to 686,054, according to official figures. The NCI fears that the many undiagnosed cases from 2020 will cause this number to increase further — especially for breast and colorectal cancers.

Lockdowns also caused disruptions in care for dementia, Alzheimer's and other cognitive issues.

The Alzheimer's Society warned in June 2020 — a few months into lockdown — that patients were experiencing 'shocking' declines in their condition and 'rapidly losing memory, speech, and ability to dress and feed themselves' as many could no longer receive treatment.

The Alzheimer's Association reports that deaths from the condition increased by 16 percent in 2021.

Disruptions to life left many isolated and turning to drugs

Covid lockdowns led to millions missing important family gatherings like birthdays and weddings, an entire graduation class never got to walk across the stage, and smaller weekly meetups that allowed people to see their loved ones were halted for months-on-end.

This had a disastrous impact on Americans' mental health.

A report published last year by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) found that the number of American adults reporting anxiety or depression symptoms surged from 11 percent in 2019 to 41 percent in 2021.

The younger a person is, the harder they seem to have been hit as well. More than half — 56 percent — of those between the ages of 18 to 24 reported feeling anxiety or depression, with 48 percent of 25 to 49-year-olds saying the same.

A CDC survey found that 19.9 percent of high schoolers — typically between ages 14 and 18 — had contemplated suicide in 2021, with nine percent even attempting the act.

This has led to a surge in Americans seeking out mental health care, leaving a nation already facing a massive shortage in mental health professionals facing a crisis.

'I can't refer people to other people because everybody is full. Nobody's taking new patients ... So I've never been as busy in my life, during the pandemic, and ever in my career,' Valentine Raiteri, a New York City-based psychiatrist told CNBC in February.

Experts fear the damage caused by the pandemic — and the lack of access to treatments — will last a generation. Millions who were afflicted by mental health issues during lockdown will never shake their symptoms.

In the most devastating examples, social isolation caused by the the virus led to substance abuse, with many dying as a result.

America suffered a record 99,098 drug overdose deaths during the first year of the pandemic — a figure that has since been smashed by the 107,622 in 2021 as a whole.

'Factors related to the pandemic, such as social isolation, stress, and decreased access to substance use disorder treatment and emergency services made [America's drug overdose] problem worse,' the Senate Republican Committee wrote in March.

Millions plunged into financial uncertainty — and a cost-of-living crisis

Lockdowns and business closures left business owners big and small scrambling, suddenly unable to stay afloat. There were layoffs en masse, leading to a surge in unemployment — with the national rate reaching 15 percent at one point in April 2020.

Job losses plunged millions into economic uncertainty. Staggering pictures of Americans lining up by the hundreds at food pantries and soup kitchens around the country made headlines.

To prevent full collapse as a result of the Fauci-supported lockdowns, the federal government reduced down interest rates, boosted unemployment payments and handed out stimulus checks to millions.

These policies sparked an inflationary crisis the nation is still reeling from. At its peak in June, Americans faced a 9.1 percent year-over-year inflation rate in June. A DailyMail.com analysis from last month revealed that — at the time — American families were paying an average of $5,915 more per year on household items.

Inflation slightly contracted in July, falling to 8.5 percent but still a margin many American families cannot afford.

The analytics firm InMarket found that from October 2021 to June 2022 the amount of groceries being purchased at dollar stores had jumped 71 percent, a signal that Americans are willing to downgrade quality of food to make their dollars go longer.

John Micklitsch, Chief Investment Officer at Cleveland-based wealth management firm Ancora explained to Forbes how the lockdowns impacted inflation: 'It's largely due to a perfect storm of supply chain disruption from Covid, government spending to fill the economic void and a synchronized global recovery driven by vaccine rollout and economies re-opening.

'The pandemic is probably just the event that exposed over a decade of underinvestment in the global commodity supply chain and the vulnerability of "just-in-time" inventories to this sort of supply shock.'

Steven Saunders, an advisory with Round Table Wealth Management said: 'Prices are increasing simply due to a mismatch in the supply and demand of goods.

'Over the last 16 months or so, pandemic restrictions closed many factories and shipping routes around the globe, resulting in less availability of products.'

The children who were left behind

Weeks into the pandemic it became apparent that certain groups suffered little to no risk from the virus. For children in particular, infection was little more than a simple cold.

'Very early on in this pandemic, we knew that there was an extremely stratified risk from Covid,' Makary wrote.

'The elderly and those with co-morbidities were especially vulnerable, while children were extremely unlikely to get dangerously ill.'

Despite this, many schools remained closed to finish the 2019-2020 school year, and some even began the following fall semester remotely. Schools that did return often forced young children to remain masked all day.

Virtual learning is not as instructive as an in-person education. A study published in April found that students who attended school virtually lost one-fifth of a school year's worth of knowledge. Children who come from less-educated families struggled the most.

Fauci remained inconsistent on school closures throughout the pandemic's first year, first supporting them before vaguely waffling about needing to do so safely with masks and testing requirements.

A study published in January — using data from the U.S. and across the world — found that the closures led to increases in mental health issues, child abuse, substantial increases in screen time, jumps in childhood obesity and an overall drop in the well-being of children.

'There are strong theoretical reasons to suggest that school closures may have contributed to a considerable proportion of the harms identified here, particularly mental health harms, through reduction in social contacts with peers and teachers,' researchers wrote.

'Schooling occupies the greater part of students’ awake time during the week, and social mixing studies show that social contacts are higher during the week than on weekdays, most social contacts of children and adolescents are with same-age peers with a smaller degree with family, and that social mixing is reduced during school holidays.'

The isolation caused by these closures also helped fuel the mental health crisis striking Americans.

Schools requiring masks to reopen, which was found to have done little to prevent transmission of the virus, harmed children as well.

Around 40 percent of parents reported that their child suffered emotionally or mentally from having to wear a face-covering in class each day, according to a March study.

Despite this evidence, Fauci told Fox News this week: 'I don’t think it’s forever irreparably damaged anyone.'

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Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

https://immigwatch.blogspot.com/ (IMMIGRATION WATCH)

https://awesternheart.blogspot.com/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

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August 24, 2022

Virtually no patients infected with either the BA.1 or BA.2 sublineages experienced symptoms or disease

Academic journal article below

COVID-19 Disease Severity in Persons Infected With Omicron BA.1 and BA.2 Sublineages and Association With Vaccination Status

Adeel A. Butt et al.

Infection with the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant is associated with less severe disease compared with the Delta variant.1-3 Two main Omicron sublineages—BA.1 and BA.2—have variable geographic distribution. In Qatar, BA.1 was initially predominant but was quickly replaced by BA.2 as the predominant sublineage. This study sought to determine and compare the severity of SARS-CoV-2 infection among persons infected with these sublineages.

Methods

The study was approved by the institutional review boards of the Hamad Medical Corporation, Weill Cornell Medicine−Qatar, and Qatar University. A waiver of informed consent was granted because of the retrospective nature of the data retrieval. This retrospective cohort study followed Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) reporting guideline.

Using the national COVID-19 database in Qatar, we identified all COVID-19 infections diagnosed between December 19, 2021, and February 6, 2022, in adults (≥18 years). We matched each patient with BA.1 infection with a patient with BA.2 infection, including by age, sex, nationality, comorbidities, and vaccination status. Additional analyses were conducted after excluding all persons with a prior documented infection and all vaccinated persons. The primary outcome was COVID-19 case severity, criticality, and fatality using the World Health Organization guidelines4,5 as assessed by trained medical personnel who reviewed the patients’ medical charts.

Based on national surveillance data, infections between December 19, 2021, and February 6, 2022, were classified as Omicron infections. The BA.1 sublineage infection was proxied as S-gene target failure (SGTF) using the TaqPath COVID-19 Combo Kit (Thermo-Fisher Scientific) while BA.2 sublineage was proxied as a non−SGTF.

Results

From 24 301 total cases of BA.1 and 125 687 of BA.2, we were able to form 20 812 matched pairs of patients (median age [IQR], 35.0 [28.0-44.0] years; 47.9% women; 85.5% with no comorbidities). Of this final sample, 18.7% of patients were unvaccinated and 8.8% had received a booster dose in each group. Severe, critical, or fatal outcomes were recorded in 33 (0.2%) of patients with BA.1 and 36 (0.2%) of those with BA.2 (P = .25; Table 1). All patients with BA.1 and 35 of 36 (97.2%) with BA.2 were among those who had not received a booster dose (Table 1). In conditional logistic regression analyses accounting for exact matching, vaccination with 2 vaccine doses more than 3 months prior to infection (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 0.22; 95% CI, 0.13-0.36) or with a booster dose (aOR, 0.02; 95% CI, 0.00-0.14) were associated with a significantly lower risk of any composite severe, critical, or fatal outcomes. Prior natural infection was not associated with a lower risk of these outcomes (aOR, 0.29; 95% CI, 0.04-2.14; Table 2); stratification by the sublineage yielded similar results.

We repeated the analyses after excluding those with prior documented SARS-CoV-2 infection and those who were vaccinated. The results mirrored our primary analyses, with a lower risk among the vaccinated, particularly among patients who had received a booster dose.

Discussion

The findings of this study provide reassurances at multiple levels. First, 99.8% to 99.9% of patients infected with either the BA.1 or BA.2 sublineages experienced no symptoms or mild disease. Second, there was no difference in the severity of illness between BA.1 and BA.2 sublineages infections. Among individuals who had received a booster vaccine dose, only 1 person experienced any severe, critical, or fatal outcome.

This study’s data set was derived from the Qatar National COVID-19 database with complete polymerase chain reaction testing and vaccination records. Outcomes were obtained from individual medical charts by trained independent reviewers. However, BA.1 and BA.2 sublineage ascertainment was based on proxy criteria—presence or absence of SGTF using the TaqPath Kit.6 Some Omicron infections may have been misclassified as Delta infections, but this is unlikely because Delta incidence was low during the study.

In conclusion, SARS-CoV-2 infection with the Omicron variant sublineages BA.1 and BA.2 was rarely associated with severe, critical, or fatal disease. There is no discernable difference in severity of BA.1 vs BA.2 infections. Risk of severity is further mitigated by vaccination, particularly the receipt of a booster dose.

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Fauci, a flawed figurehead

So farewell, Anthony Fauci, the unfortunate face of America’s pandemic response. Well, not so unfortunate – the doctor is stepping down as head of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases this December, riding off into the sunset with a reported $350,000 per year golden parachute, the largest pension in US federal history.

Fauci has developed something of a reputation for baffling the public – whether it be for contradictory advice on the efficacy of masks or herd immunity or vaccines. Even his resignation announcement was confusing:

I will be leaving these positions in December of this year to pursue the next chapter of my career… While I am moving on from my current positions, I am not retiring.

Fauci will be 82 in December. America’s gerontocracy just refuses to budge. In fairness, Fauciwasa pretty good doctor in his prime. Republicans tried to attack him over his handling of Aids, but his record on that public health crisis stacks up pretty well.

During the Covid pandemic, however, Fauci made the mistake a lot of experts made: he equated himself with the entire concept of science as a way of giving his pronouncements an aura of infallibility. ‘Irepresent science,’ he said, as a response to criticism after he repeatedly said his institute didn’t fund ‘gain of function’ virology research in Wuhan, when in fact it did.

Of course Fauci wasn’t the evil mastermind that so many deranged cynics say he was – even if he did dismiss the idea that Covid originated in a lab as a mad conspiracy theory when private emails suggested he may well have known otherwise. Maybe Fauci was just a lot like Donald Trump or Joe Biden: old, faltering, and heavily influenced by the people around him – someone who craved public approval above all. The boring truth about him probably isn’t that he is involved in any sinister conspiracy, it’s that he ignored evidence that didn’t help him and got swept along by a wider zeitgeist instead.

Much like Biden, Fauci perfectly represents that stubborn generation of Americans who have been running their country for decades. As their competence and faculties fade, their grip on power only tightens.He became head of NIAID at just 43, then held the role for almost 40 years.

Fauci appeared to enjoy being the main character of this pandemic rather too much. Commentators fawned over him when he looked so conspicuously uncomfortable next to Trump in those now infamous press conferences when the President rambled wildly about the virus.

Fauci fandom quickly reached cultish levels. The Mayor of Washington, DC said his birthday should renamed ‘Dr. Anthony S. Fauci Day’. He appeared on the cover of Time magazine twice. He also appeared on the cover of magazines such People, InStyle and others. But, like health experts almost everywhere else, Fauci simply pinballed from one official narrative to another. Often there was little to no change in the actual science, just a war-time sense that the public must be scared or reassured for their own good.

In February 2020, he warned that 20 per cent of Covid cases would require hospitalisation, a blunder (shared by many) that did more than anything to fuel the mass lockdowns of spring 2020. In March, Fauci criticised masks for the – accurate, it turns out – reason that face coverings don’t really do much other than make people ‘feel’ safer. He then said his real priority was saving masks for health workers. By summer, however, he had become a big masking fan. In May 2020, he said ‘I want to make it be a symbol for people to see that that’s the kind of thing you should be doing,’ By 2021, Fauci said that the bizarre practice of double masking was ‘common sense’.

At times, Fauci almost admitted that he was essentially making up health advice to manipulate the public into doing what he decided was best. For instance, when it came to herd immunity, Fauci said: ‘When polls said only about half of all Americans would take a vaccine, I was saying herd immunity would take 70 to 75 per cent… Then, when newer surveys said 60 per cent or more would take it, I thought, “I can nudge this up a bit,” so I went to 80, 85.

But Fauci’s biggest blunder probably wasn’t anything specific he said about masks, or infection rates, or vaccines. It was his broader failure to speak scientific sense when he had the visibility and credibility to at least try. He could have pointed out that cyclical lockdowns for years on end were ineffective and unworkable, but he never really did. He could have called out the hypocritical idea that the Black Lives Matter protests or riots ought somehow to be exempt from social distancing regulations because they were politically fashionable. But he didn’t.

Angry right-wingers now babble about arresting Fauci or suggest that his retirement is an attempt to dodge Congressional testimony after the midterms. Democrats, meanwhile, write mad children’s books about him. His fans and his enemies give him too much credit. In the end, Fauci didn’t actually create mask guidelines or impose lockdowns. He wasn’t doing any substantial work on creating or testing a vaccine. He just became the mascot for a kind of Covid mania. And he loved every second.

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Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

https://immigwatch.blogspot.com/ (IMMIGRATION WATCH)

https://awesternheart.blogspot.com/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

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23 August, 2022

Ron DeSantis will save conservatism

Trump again with DeSantis as veep would be an unstoppable force

There is an inevitability to Ron DeSantis’ rise to power that terrifies Democrat leaders. He is not an unstable political storm, loitering off the coast in fits of distant thunder and light. There are plenty of populist noise-makers whose swift media rise whittles to nothing within the year. They either lack the political fortitude to survive or are set upon by well-organised mobs of censorial algorithms and aggressive media outlets that see ‘clicks’ in the demise of White House hopefuls.

DeSantis is the tide, waiting for the political forces to align in his favour. Challenging Trump would be as damaging as William usurping the Queen and so, unlike the raucous of his ‘never-Trump’ peers, DeSantis busies himself with the State of Florida. His patience is marked by victories in an ongoing culture war against malign progressive thinking. He has proven, beyond question, that strength of character and an abandonment of ‘polite’ acquiescence is key to protecting the nation’s children from predatory ideologies.

While limp conservative parties in Europe, the UK, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia paint themselves green and pick up the cross of Marxist ‘struggle’, DeSantis rests on the premise that fighting for traditional values is right – presently, historically, and for the future.

He rejects, outright, the notion of handing children over to the medical profession to be sliced and set on a permanent course of medical intervention. He refuses to follow Democrat Governors in allowing the State and education system to assume authority over the mental health of other people’s children – or to use children as an infant cheer squad to ‘affirm’ the feelings of activist adults who treat the school system as their personal therapy session.

Florida’s don’t say ‘gay’ bill – now law – caused all manner of uproar. In reality, all it did was reset the education system to the same state of normality that we grew up with where teachers were not allowed to indoctrinate children, either subtly or directly, into the adult ideas of gender and sexual orientation at primary grade levels.

Why would a responsible adult teacher wish to do this when there was never any need to?

A cursory look at the teacher Tik Tok culture reveals that in many cases, it is more about how the teacher ‘feels’ when their class parrots activist terms rather than the future mental health of those children.

Children under the care of activists frequently end up wrongly confused during an age where it is not uncommon for them to believe they are animals and superheroes. Imagination without maturity makes children naturally delusional – which is perfectly healthy so long as they are surrounded by responsible adults who allow ‘play’ within the boundaries of reason. They must and will grow out of the belief that they are ‘literally Batman’.

The Guardian writes:

"It [the Bill] was designed to do one thing and one thing only: terrorise LGBTQ+ people. Like Texas’s abortion bounty law, the don’t say gay bill gives parents the power to levy lawsuits against teachers or schools they believe contravene the deliberately broad law. The threat of being hit with a costly lawsuit means that it’s likely underfunded school districts will err on the side of caution and ask teachers to avoid saying or doing anything that could be possibly be construed as queer. Indeed, lawyers have already told teachers in Orange county public schools that they should be careful not to wear rainbows; avoid mentioning same-sex spouses or displaying any pictures of them; and ensure they remove safe-space stickers from their classroom doors".

To which parents in Florida would argue that their children have been wrongly terrorised by the previous inappropriate behaviour of teachers who felt it necessary to bring their personal lives and activism into the classroom where it wasn’t wanted, needed, or appropriate.

Under such attacks from the press, an Australian conservative party would have folded immediately, fooled by the emotive language, and been swiftly herded into reverse until they were not only agreeing with progressive demands but promising to ‘go further’.

No matter how much the activist class complain, it is Ron DeSantis who receives standing ovations and the support of fed-up parents. His Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees Bill cleverly acronymed to Stop WOKE has infuriated Marxists because it prevents them from telling children they are ‘victims’ or ‘oppressors’ based on their skin colour, or inherently ‘sexist’ because they are boys.

It outlaws teachers suggesting that people are:

‘Inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously; that people are privileged or oppressed based on race, gender, or national origin; or that a person “bears personal responsibility for and must feel guilt, anguish, or other forms of psychological distress” over actions committed in the past by members of the same race, gender, or national origin. The law defines such training as discrimination.’

Well, it’s about bloody time someone cut out the racist, sexist, Marxist garbage that indulges in the horrific folly of ‘original sin’ and sets in motion a perpetual tribal culture of struggle based on things that never happened to today’s people. In other words, the Marxists are furious that they cannot instil their personal grudges in the minds of innocent children and use them as child soldiers for the ‘revolution’ against capitalism that they desperately want despite showing no desire to go and live in one of the many communist countries on offer.

Instead of complaining about the law, the Left should have sat themselves down and asked why the hell they wanted to corrupt the minds of kids and destroy the peace of innocence to sate their old-fashioned collectivist politics that destroyed Europe last century.

Oh, the irony that the World Socialist Web Site calls this return to common sense ‘fascism’ when the shadow of fascism is exactly what the Left propose. Racial power movements like Black Lives Matter that practice racial supremacy under the raised fist of Marxism and have no place in any school, let alone a civilised society.

Bewilderingly, the courts are fighting to uphold racial discrimination by insisting that workplaces should be allowed to teach about ‘white male privilege’. Hopefully, they lose and racism is thrown out for good.

DeSantis has shown conservatives around the world that while their voter base may be too timid to oppose the fists, censorship, and bullying of progressive social warriors – they do not agree with what has happened to society. When they are given a choice to follow a true leader who has the courage to challenge the destruction of Western Civilisation, conservative voters line up, ready to vote.

Eventually, DeSantis will appear as an unstoppable red wave.

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Are Conservatives Dumber Than Liberals?

This article goes back a few years but is still very relevant

It depends on how you define "conservative." The research shows classical liberals/libertarians are smartest of all.

Conservatives exhibit less cognitive ability than liberals do. Or that's what it says in the social science literature, anyway. A 2010 study using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, for example, found that the IQs of young adults who described themselves as "very liberal" averaged 106.42, whereas the mean of those who identified as "very conservative" was 94.82. Similarly, when a 2009 study correlated cognitive capacity with political beliefs among 1,254 community college students and 1,600 foreign students seeking entry to U.S. universities, it found that conservatism is "related to low performance on cognitive ability tests." In 2012, a paper reported that people endorse more conservative views when drunk or under cognitive pressure; it concluded that "political conservatism may be a process consequence of low-effort thought."

So have social scientists really proved that conservatives are dumber than liberals? It depends crucially on how you define "conservative."

For an inkling of what some social scientists think conservatives believe, parse a 2008 study by the University of Nevada at Reno sociologist Markus Kemmelmeier. To probe the political and social beliefs of nearly 7,000 undergraduates at an elite university, Kemmelmeier devised a set of six questions asking whether abortion, same-sex marriage, and gay sex should be legal, whether handguns and racist/sexist speech on campus should be banned, and whether higher taxes should be imposed on the wealthy. The first three were supposed to measure the students' views of "conservative gender roles," and the second set was supposed to gauge their "anti-regulation" beliefs. Kemmelmeier clearly thought that "liberals" would tend to be OK with legal abortion, same-sex marriage, and gay sex, and would opt to ban handguns and offensive speech and to tax the rich. Conservatives would supposedly hold the opposite views.

Savvy readers may recognize a problem with using these questions to sort people into just two ideological categories. And sure enough, Kemmelmeier got some results that puzzled him. He found that students who held more traditional views on gender and sex roles averaged lower on their verbal SAT and Achievement Test scores. "Surprisingly," he continued, this was not true of students with anti-regulation attitudes. With them, "all else being equal, more conservative respondents scored higher than more liberal respondents." Kemmelmeier ruefully notes that "this result was not anticipated" and "diametrically contradicts" the hypothesis that conservatism is linked to lower cognitive ability. Kemmelmeier is so evidently lost in the intellectual fog of contemporary progressivism that he does not realize that his questionnaire is impeccably designed to identify classical liberals, a.k.a. libertarians, who endorse liberty in both the social and economic realms.

So how smart are libertarians compared to liberals and conservatives? In a May 2014 study in the journal Intelligence, the Oxford sociologist Noah Carl attempts to answer to that question. Because research has "consistently shown that intelligence is positively correlated with socially liberal beliefs and negatively correlated with religious beliefs," Carl suggests that in the American political context, social scientists would expect Republicans to be less intelligent than Democrats. Instead, Republicans have slightly higher verbal intelligence scores (2–5 IQ points) than Democrats. How could that be?

Carl begins by pointing out that there is data suggesting that a segment of the American population holding classical liberal beliefs tends to vote Republican. Classical liberals, Carl notes, believe that an individual should be free to make his own lifestyle choices and to enjoy the profits derived from voluntary transactions with others. He proposes that intelligence actually correlates with classically liberal beliefs.

To test this hypothesis, Carl uses data on political attitudes and intelligence derived from the General Social Survey, which has been administered to representative samples of American adults every couple of years since 1972. Using GSS data, respondents are classified on a continuum ranging from strong Republican through independent to strong Democrat. Carl then creates a measure of socially liberal beliefs based on respondents' attitudes toward homosexuality, marijuana consumption, abortion, and free speech for communists, racists, and advocates for military dictatorship. He similarly probes liberal economic views, with an assessment of attitudes toward government provision of jobs, industry subsidies, income redistribution, price controls, labor unions, and military spending. Verbal Intelligence is evaluated using the GSS WORDSUM test results.

Comparing strong Republicans with strong Democrats, Carl finds that Republicans have a 5.48 IQ point advantage over Democrats. Broadening party affiliation to include moderate to merely leaning respondents still results in a Republican advantage of 3.47 IQ points and 2.47 IQ points respectively. Carl reconciles his findings with the social science literature that reports that liberals are more intelligent than conservatives by proposing that Americans with classically liberal beliefs are even smarter. Carl further reports that those who endorse both social conservatism and economic statism also have lower verbal IQ scores.

"Overall, my findings suggest that higher intelligence among classically liberal Republicans compensates for lower intelligence among socially conservative Republicans," concludes Carl. If the dumb, I mean socially conservative, Republicans keep disrespecting us classical liberals, we'll take our IQ points and go home.

As gratifying as Carl's research findings are, it is still a deep puzzle to me why it apparently takes high intelligence to understand that the government should stay out of both the bedroom and the boardroom.

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Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

https://immigwatch.blogspot.com/ (IMMIGRATION WATCH)

https://awesternheart.blogspot.com/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

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22 August, 2022

Lawsuits Coming for Entities That Don’t Change COVID Mandates After CDC Update: Lawyer

Entities with COVID-19 vaccine mandates that don’t pay heed to the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance will face lawsuits, a civil liberties lawyer says.

“We don’t have a new lawsuit in the works yet. But if we see that colleges and universities and public employers are not responding to the new CDC guidance the way that they should be, then we would certainly tee up a new lawsuit,” Mark Chenoweth, president and general counsel at the New Civil Liberties Alliance, told The Epoch Times.

The response to the updated guidance should be, at a minimum, a lifting of mandates for people who have recovered from COVID-19, he added.

Such people have a high level of protection against severe illness and death, according to a number of studies. Many studies indicate the protection is higher than that of the COVID-19 vaccines—including one study funded by the CDC.

The CDC issued updated guidance on Aug. 11, stating in part that risk for illness from COVID-19 “is considerably reduced by immunity derived from vaccination, previous infection, or both” and that “persons who have had COVID-19 but are not vaccinated have some degree of protection against severe illness from their previous infection.”

The public health agency rolled back quarantine recommendations for people, regardless of vaccination status, citing the high amount of immunity in the U.S. population from vaccination, prior infection, or both.

Since virtually all entities that have imposed mandates have cited CDC guidance, the entities won’t be able to argue they aren’t aware of the updated guidance, according to Chenoweth.

That means any institution that doesn’t alter or rescind its mandate in light of the update “is ripe for a lawsuit,” he said.

“Because the thing that the judges have said so far is that it was rational for these employers to follow CDC guidance, but now the CDC guidance is different. And if they’re now going forward with these mandates for example, against people who have natural immunity in the teeth of the CDC guidance on that question, then I think it’s going to be much harder for them to win even a rational basis challenge to their policies.”

Suits

The New Civil Liberties Alliance has brought lawsuits against Michigan State University (MSU), the U.S. government, Fairfax County Public Schools, George Mason University, and Rhode Island officials over mandates that the legal group says are illegal.

They have focused on how entities aren’t granting exemptions to people with proof that they’ve recovered from COVID-19.

While one of the cases won the plaintiff an exemption from the mandate, judges have ruled against many others, often tracing the mandates to CDC guidance.

“Plaintiffs have the burden of negating every rational basis that supports the MSU vaccine mandate, and the Court finds that they have failed to do so,” U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney, a George W. Bush appointee, wrote in February as he dismissed the suit.

“CDC guidance is clear: ‘[V]accination remains the safest and primary strategy to prevent SARS-CoV2 infections,'” he added. “In achieving MSU’s stated legitimate goal of protecting its students and staff from COVID-19, it was plainly rational, in July 2021 when MSU established the policy, for MSU to rely on CDC guidance and require its students and staff to receive the COVID vaccination.”

The CDC has long maintained that vaccination is superior to natural immunity, and urged people with natural immunity to get vaccinated, even though many studies show that natural immunity provides better protection than vaccination and some suggest that people who recovered from COVID-19 are at higher risk of side effects if they do get a vaccine.

Moreover, some experts say getting vaccinated after recovery doesn’t make sense because the increase in protection is negligible, though others say the increase is worth the risk.

Could Have Changed in 2021

Chenoweth said the CDC should have updated its guidance in 2021. “I think it’s remarkable that it’s taken the CDC this long to come around to admitting the science on this topic. The science was there at least a year ago when we started litigating the issue of whether or not folks with natural immunity should be subjected to vaccine mandates,” he said.

A CDC spokeswoman told The Epoch Times in an email that the update was based on having more tools such as treatments than were available in 2020 and “the reality that nearly the entire U.S. adult population now has some level of immunity, either due to vaccination, past infection, or both.”

“We also have a better understanding of who is at higher risk for getting very sick with COVID-19 and ways we can help protect them from severe disease. With more tools to protect ourselves and our communities from severe illness from COVID-19—like vaccination, boosters, and treatments—we have increased protection and flexibility for the future. CDC’s commitment to addressing COVID-19 is strong and as a nation, we continue to respond to evolving challenges and identify best practices related to COVID-19,” she added.

The spokesperson didn’t respond when asked why the guidance wasn’t updated in 2021.

Chenoweth said courts would be made aware of the new guidance, including the appeals court weighing the appeal in the MSU case. In another case, for Dr. Stephen Skoly Jr., a surgeon in Rhode Island, the update will be incorporated into an amended complaint

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Approved versions of vaccines now Available for 1st Time in United States

A small number of Comirnaty and Spikevax COVID-19 vaccine doses have become available in the United States in recent weeks, according to court filings and U.S. health departments.

Vials of vaccines labeled Comirnaty started being available to members of the U.S. military in May and tens of thousands of the vials have since been ordered, according to military officials. Dozens of vials were spotted at a clinic in Alaska in June, according to a Coast Guard officer.

Several states, meanwhile, confirmed to The Epoch Times that providers are now able to order the vials.

Comirnaty is the approved version of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. Spikevax is the approved version of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine. Approval means drug regulators granted a biologics license application (BLA). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2021 approved Comirnaty for adults 16 and older, and in January approved Spikevax for individuals 18 and up. Before that, the vaccines were available under emergency use authorization (EUA).

The differences matter due to federal law. A biologics license requires a higher threshold of evidence, and certain aspects of emergency clearance don’t apply to approved products.

Even after the approvals were issued, no approved versions were available in the United States, according to the vaccine makers and federal and state officials.

Military members, among others, have cited the unavailability of Comirnaty and Spikevax in legal actions against COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

One lawsuit, for instance, said that “the only currently available COVID-19 vaccines are authorized under EUA only, and therefore cannot be mandated.”

Thousands of Doses

U.S. regulators and health officials say the approved versions of the vaccines have the same formulations as the older versions, and that the versions are interchangeable. At the same time, the versions “are legally distinct with certain differences,” according to the letters of approval.

The FDA has declined to explain what that means, while a Pfizer spokesperson told The Epoch Times previously that it refers to the differences in manufacturing information included in the submissions for authorization and approval.

Military officials have defended the COVID-19 vaccine mandate despite Comirnaty and, later, Spikevax not being available by claiming that the older versions can be treated as if they’re the licensed versions, a claim challenged in legal cases.

They’re maintaining that position, but also asserting that objections to the mandate centered on the vaccines’ availability are no longer relevant.

“While it is the Defendants’ position that all EUA-authorized Pfizer-BioNTech doses for adults are interchangeable for the purposes of the mandate to vaccine, in order to address Plaintiffs’ assertions they were unable to obtain a Comirnaty or BLA-manufactured doses, I wanted to confirm in writing that any of the Plaintiffs still subject to the mandate may receive the Comirnaty-labeled vaccine,” Amy Elizabeth Powell, a government lawyer, said in an email in June to lawyers for service members challenging the mandate.

At the time, over 35,000 doses had been obtained by the military, with 3,300 available at specific bases.

The disclosures that Comirnaty has become available were made in the case Coker et al v. Austin et al.

States have also recently been able to start ordering vials of Comirnaty and Spikevax for the first time.

The Delaware Department of Health has ordered 300 doses of Comirnaty, but has not administered any due to lack of demand, a spokesperson for the department told The Epoch Times in an email.

South Carolina received over 38,000 doses of Comirnaty and nearly 53,000 doses of Spikevax, and has enabled health care providers to order them from the state, a spokesperson for the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control told The Epoch Times in an email.

Providers in Arizona can also order the doses from the Arizona Department of Health Services, a spokesperson for the agency told The Epoch Times in an email, and some providers have already ordered some.

“There is supply to meet the demand. Because these vaccines are identical to the EUA-branded presentations, and because there are still large stocks available in the state, very few Spikevax/Comirnaty doses have been ordered,” the spokesperson said.

States order vaccines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which makes them available for no cost.

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Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

https://immigwatch.blogspot.com/ (IMMIGRATION WATCH)

https://awesternheart.blogspot.com/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

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21 August, 2022

Effects of lockdown could be causing more deaths than Covid

The effects of lockdown could be causing more deaths than Covid as nearly 10,000 more deaths than the five-year average are recorded, ONS data has found.

Released on Tuesday, the Office for National Statistics' figures for excess deaths in the UK has revealed that about 1,000 more people than usual are dying each week from illnesses and conditions other than Covid.

This makes the rate for excess deaths 14.4 per cent higher than the five-year average, meaning 1,350 more people have died than usual in the week ending 5 August.

Covid-related deaths made up for 469 of them, but the remaining 881 have 'not been explained'. Since the start of June, nearly 10,000 more deaths unrelated to Covid have been recorded than the five-year average, making up around 1,089 per week.

This figure is over three times the number of people who died from Covid, 2,811, over the same period.

ONS analysis takes into consideration the ageing population changes, yet still found a 'substantial ongoing excess'.

The Telegraph has reported that the Department of Health may have ordered an investigation into the concerning numbers as there is potential for them to be linked to the delays in medical treatment as a result of the ongoing strain on the NHS.

Lockdowns pushed back treatment for conditions including cancer, diabetes and heart disease, with the British Heart Foundation telling the publication it was 'deeply concerned' by the findings.

The Stroke Association said it had been anticipating the rise in deaths for some time.

Noting a 'disturbing' number of mental health conditions, undetected cancers and cardiac problems, chief executive of private GP service Doctorcall Dr Charles Levinson said: 'Hundreds and hundreds of people dying every week, what's going on?

'Delays in seeking and receiving healthcare are no doubt the driving force, in my view. Daily Covid statistics demanded the nation's attention, yet these terrifying figures barely get a look in. A full and urgent government investigation is required immediately,' he told the Telegraph.

Only last week England-wide statistics showed that emergency care standards in hospitals hit an all-time low, with over 20,000 patients facing a 12+ hour wait for medical treatment.

People with mild Covid are likely to be infectious for an average of five days, a new study estimates.

Only one in five people in the study were infectious before symptoms started, it was suggested.

According to the research, two-thirds of cases were still infectious five days after symptoms began, with a quarter still infectious at seven days.

The study, led by Imperial College London and published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine journal, is the first to reveal how long infectiousness lasts after coronavirus infection in the community.

Detailed daily tests were conducted from when people were exposed to the virus to look at how much virus they were shedding throughout their infection.

The findings indicate that lateral flow tests do not reliably detect the start of infectiousness, but can be used to safely shorten self-isolation.

The researchers recommend people with Covid-19 isolate for five days after symptoms begin and do lateral flow tests from the sixth day.

If tests are negative two days in a row, it is safe to leave isolation, they say. However, if someone continues to test positive, they should isolate while testing positive but may leave isolation 10 days after their symptoms began.

Current NHS guidance suggests that people should try to stay at home and avoid contact with others for just five days.

Study author, Professor Ajit Lalvani, director of the NIHR Health Protection Research Unit in Respiratory Infections at Imperial, said: 'Before this study we were missing half of the picture about infectiousness, because it's hard to know when people are first exposed to SARS-CoV-2 and when they first become infectious.

'By using special daily tests to measure infectious virus (not just PCR) and daily symptom records, we were able to define the window in which people are infectious.

'This is fundamental to controlling any pandemic and has not been previously defined for any respiratory infection in the community.'

He added: 'Combining our results with what we know about the dynamics of Omicron infections, we believe that the duration of infectiousness we've observed is broadly generalisable to current SARS-CoV-2 variants, though their infectious window may be a bit shorter.

'Our evidence can be used to inform infection control policies and self-isolation guidance to help reduce the transmission of SARS-CoV-2.'

The new study followed people who were exposed to someone with PCR-confirmed Covid in their home between September 2020 and March 2021 and May-October 2021, including some who were vaccinated and others who were not.

Samples from a total of 57 people were used, but the duration of infectiousness was only measured in 42 people. There were 38 people with a confirmed date of when their symptoms started and three were asymptomatic.

Professor Lalvani said: 'Self-isolation is not necessary by law, but people who want to isolate need clear guidance on what to do.

'The NHS currently advises that if you test positive for Covid-19 you should try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for five days, but our data suggest that under a crude five-day self-isolation period two-thirds of cases released into the community would still be infectious - though their level of infectiousness would have substantially reduced compared to earlier in the course of their infection.'

He continued: 'Our study finds that infectiousness usually begins soon after you develop Covid-19 symptoms.

'We recommend that anyone who has been exposed to the virus and has symptoms isolates for five days, then uses daily lateral flow tests to safely leave isolation when two consecutive daily tests are negative.'

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Vaccine mandates no longer justified

For almost three years, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) stubbornly refused to admit that infection with Sars-CoV-2 provides robust immunity which is broader and more enduring than vaccine-acquired immunity, even though this had been demonstrated in numerous studies.

It meant that people who had infection-acquired immunity – often healthcare workers – were still forced to get vaccinated or lose their jobs. Sometimes the consequences were disastrous. Bobby Bolin who had recovered from Covid was on a list for a double-lung transplant but was forced to be double vaccinated, and developed a pulmonary embolism and atrial fibrillation after his second Moderna shot which killed him.

On 11 August, with no explanation or apology, the CDC quietly made the long-overdue reversal and also belatedly recognised that vaccines do not prevent infection or transmission, saying that in its recommendations, it would no longer distinguish between vaccinated and unvaccinated people. Combined these policy changes should spell the immediate end of vaccine mandates.

It was clear in 2020 that Covid is primarily a serious disease for the sick and the elderly. Data from NSW Health which, between 28 May and 30 July, was the first jurisdiction in Australia to provide some deaths by age, vaccination, and health status showed that only three people out of the 1,108 who died (0.3 per cent) over the nine week period were aged under 65 and healthy, and only 11 people who died (1 per cent) were aged under 65 and unvaccinated (all almost certainly seriously ill).

Hardly the pandemic of the unvaccinated that Gladys Berejiklian conjured up to scare the impressionable into getting vaccinated. As for being a burden and overwhelming the health system, only 11 out of 6,481 people hospitalised (0.17 per cent) and only eight of 591 people in ICU (1.3 per cent) were unvaccinated.

With such a tiny fraction of healthy, unvaccinated people of working age dying of Covid in Australia’s most populous state, during the worst three months of the pandemic, how is it possible that vaccine mandates are still in force in so many workplaces? Former Australian deputy chief health officer Dr Nick Coatsworth wrote in mid-July that there is ‘no longer a public health rationale for businesses terminating employees for failing to be vaccinated’. Yet some of the nation’s biggest employers –Coles, Woolworths, Qantas, Virgin Australia, Telstra, the Commonwealth Bank and SPC – are still forcing workers to get vaccinated or boosted.

In Ceduna, up to fifteen teachers at the Crossways Lutheran school are prepared to strike rather than get a booster or wear a mask all day and be tested daily. They want to know why they are being pressured to be triple-vaccinated when protection from boosters lasts only 20 weeks, you can still catch and transmit Covid, and vaccine injuries can be permanent or fatal. Who will compensate them or their families if they are injured or die, they ask.

It’s a good question. In Hobart, a police officer who was incapacitated with myocarditis after his Pfizer booster in November is fighting for compensation because the Department of Police, Fire and Emergency Management claims it isn’t liable even though it told staff they should get vaccinated, claimed the vaccines were safe, and made vaccination mandatory a month after the officer was injured.

With the CDC no longer distinguishing between vaccinated and unvaccinated, why are service members still being kicked out for not taking an ‘ineffective and dangerous experimental jab,’ tweeted Lt. Col. Dr Theresa Long this week, one of the top flight surgeons in the US Armed Forces. Dr Long is one of three military doctors who testified under oath that there was a massive increase in vaccine injuries in the Defence Medical Epidemiology Database (DMED) in 2021 showing, for example, a 269 per cent increase in myocardial infarction and a 467 per cent increase in pulmonary embolisms.

If Dr Long’s conclusions are correct, they would explain why excess mortality is so high in Australia and other highly vaccinated countries. In the first four months of 2022, there was an increase in excess mortality of between 6,800 deaths (13 per cent) according to the AI and 8,500 deaths (17 per cent) , according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Either way it’s alarming. Excess deaths for the whole of 2021 were 3,400, yet just for the first third of 2022 excess deaths have increased by up to 150 per cent .

It’s going to get worse. More people died of Covid in July than at any point in the pandemic yet Covid deaths represent only somewhere between 43 per cent and 53 per cent of excess deaths in the first four months of 2022. What is causing the other deaths? Here’s a clue. Deaths from heart disease are up 11 per cent (1,400) and have been above the predicted baseline almost every week since March 2021, a week after the vaccine rollout started on 22 February. Deaths from other unspecified diseases are up by 11 per cent (1,390), continuing a trend observed since April 2021, a month after the vaccine rollout. There was also an increase of 10 per cent in coroner-referred deaths (+680) as well as increases of between five and 11 per cent in diabetes, dementia, and cerebrovascular disease.

A disturbing rise in excess mortality is occurring in many heavily vaccinated countries such as Portugal, experiencing its highest excess mortality in 100 years, Chile, and the US. Up to now doctors in Australia could not criticise any aspect of government management of the pandemic without putting their careers on the line. But in mid-July the left-leaning Victorian Branch of the Australian Medical Association called for a Royal Commission into the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency and its muzzling of medical freedom of speech. This week the centre-right Australian Medical Professionals’ Society also called for medical free speech, consideration of scientific data in relation to vaccine mandates and legislative reform to protect the practitioner-patient relationship. With voices across the political spectrum calling for change perhaps an end to the tyranny of bureaucrats is at last in sight.

https://spectator.com.au/2022/08/tyranny-of-bureaucrats/ .

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Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

https://immigwatch.blogspot.com/ (IMMIGRATION WATCH)

https://awesternheart.blogspot.com/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

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19 August, 2022

Report: 44 Percent of Pregnant Women in Pfizer Trial Lost Their Babies; FDA and CDC Recommended Jabs For Expectant Mothers Anyway

By Debra Heine

More than 40 percent of pregnant women who participated in Pfizer’s mRNA COVID vaccine trial suffered miscarriages, according internal Pfizer documents, recently released under court order. Despite this, Pfizer, and the Biden administration insisted that the vaccines were safe for pregnant women. Out of 50 pregnant women, 22 of them lost their babies, according to an analysis of the documents.

In a January court ruling, U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman of the Northern District of Texas, ordered the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to release around 12,000 documents immediately, and then 55,000 pages a month until all documents were released, totaling more than 300,000 pages.

The nonprofit group, Public Health and Medical Professionals for Transparency, sued the FDA last September, after the agency denied its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to expedite the release of mRNA vaccine review documents. In a November 2021 joint status report, the FDA proposed releasing only 500 pages of the documents a month, which would have taken up to 75 years.

Trial documents released in April revealed that Pfizer had to hire 1,800 additional full-time employees in the first half of 2021 to deal with “the large increase” of adverse reactions to its COVID vaccine.

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine was made available under the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) on Dec. 11, 2020. By February of 2021, the company was seeing so many safety signals, including in pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, it had to immediately hire 600 employees to process the data.

A batch of documents released in late July showed that 44 percent of women who were pregnant during the trial suffered miscarriages, feminist author and journalist Dr. Naomi Wolf revealed on Steve Bannon’s War Room podcast. Wolf has been spearheading research and analysis of the Pfizer documents through her website Daily Clout.

In the past, only 10 to 15 percent of known pregnancies ended in miscarriage.

“Pfizer took those deaths of babies—those spontaneous abortions and miscarriages—and recategorized them as recovered/resolved adverse effects,” Wolf told Bannon. “In other words, if you lost your baby, it was categorized by Pfizer as a resolved adverse event, like a headache that got better,” she added.

Wolf said adverse event cutoff report showing the miscarriages was March 13, 2021, and the FDA received the report on April 1, 2021.

Therefore, the FDA had this data nearly a year and a half ago, and instead raising an alarm, they, along with the CDC, went ahead and recommended the experimental injections for expectant mothers anyway.

“Over a year ago, the FDA received this report that out of 50 pregnant women, 22 of them lost their babies, and they did not say anything,” Wolf said, choking back tears. “Thus the FDA was aware of the horrifying rate of fetal death by the start of April 2021 and were silent.”

The CDC, as recently as last month, still recommended the experimental mRNA vaccines for pregnant and breastfeeding “people.”

“COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for all people 6 months and older. This includes people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future,” the CDC claims in a July 2022 post on its website. “CDC also recommends COVID-19 vaccines for infants 6 months and older who’s mother was vaccinated or had a COVID infection before or while pregnant.”

The FDA and CDC could conceivably claim they were unaware of high rate of miscarriages in the trial because Pfizer attempted to obscure the data.

“Pfizer notes the miscarriages as serious adverse events with moderate or severe toxicity ratings,” Wolf explained. “However, all of them were recategorized, by Pfizer, in the internal documents under the category of adverse events that were ‘recovered’ or ‘resolved.'”

Wolf noted that the Pfizer trial data correlates with the massive increase in miscarriages seen worldwide since the vaccine rollouts.

“If you extrapolate, globally, to all the pregnant women who are injected, it could explain what we’re seeing now of a baby die-off. 200 percent rise in neonatal deaths or spontaneous abortions and miscarriages in Scotland,” she said, adding, “86 babies died in Ontario when they usually have five or six [per quarter], and in Israel, a 34 percent rise of spontaneous abortions and miscarriages to vaccine.”

Back in January, three military doctors who had access to vaccination data in the DoD’s Defense Medical Epidemiology Database (DMED) disclosed that miscarriages and cancers among members of the US military had increased by about 300 percent in 2021 over the five year average.

These alarming safety signals were among several others brought to light by Thomas Renz, a member of America’s Frontline Doctors’ legal team, during a panel discussion convened by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) in January.

The CDC, however, still maintains on its website that “evidence continues to build showing that: COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy is safe and effective.”

The agency also claimed “there is currently no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems in women or men,” despite recent studies showing otherwise.

Dr. James Thorp, an physician MD board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology, as well as maternal-fetal medicine, said in a recent interview that he has seen a massive spike in fetal death and adverse pregnancy outcomes after the mass vaccination campaign began.

Dr. Thorp told Epoch Times he has practiced obstetrics for over 42 years and sees 6,000–7,000 high-risk OB patients a year.

The obstetrician declared that the use of the experimental COVID vaccines on expectant mothers “broke all the rules.”

“We have always been guided by that principle, that longstanding, six millennia principle—the golden rule of pregnancy—you never, ever use an investigational drug, a new substance, a new drug, a new vaccine—even if there’s a potential benefit,” he said. “You don’t ever use a new substance in pregnancy.”

Thorp said that in his practice, he’s seen a “significant increase” in problems, including “extraordinarily abnormal menstrual periods” before pregnancy.

“The vaccine I’m very concerned about and I do believe that in pregnancy, it’s contraindicated,” he said.

He said that his attempts to disclose these adverse events have been hampered by the imposition of gag orders on physicians and nurses that were imposed in September 2021.

In September of 2021, the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ABOG) put out a statement in support of the Federation of State Medical Boards’ (FSMB) contention that “providing misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine contradicts physicians’ ethical and professional responsibilities.” The ABOG said physicians disseminating “misinformation” would be subject to “disciplinary actions, including suspension or revocation of their medical license.”

The ACOG, like the CDC, recommends the experimental injections for “pregnant people.”

“The fact that ABOG would recommend this “vaccine” in pregnancy is an abomination and may well be the greatest disaster in the history of obstetrics,” Thorp wrote in an article in the Gazette of Medical Sciences (GMS), titled: Patient Betrayal: The Corruption of Healthcare, Informed Consent and the Physician-Patient Relationship.

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More than half of people infected with omicron may not know it

“Having most people with covid-19 being unaware of their infection status, especially while actively transmissible, makes it likely a major driver of the ongoing pandemic,” says Susan Cheng at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in California.

Cheng and her colleagues took blood samples from 2479 people who worked at or were registered at a medical centre in Los Angeles. At least two samples were taken per participant. The first was drawn before 15 December 2021, shortly before the area experienced a surge in covid-19 infections driven by the omicron variant.

Subsequent samples were taken between 15 December 2021 and 4 May 2022, during which time omicron became the dominant variant and several subvariants, such as BA.4 and BA.5, emerged.

Of the participants, 210 were found to have had covid-19 between the first time their blood was taken and subsequent samples, based on levels of coronavirus-specific antibodies in their blood.

To ensure this antibody response wasn’t induced via vaccination – 94 per cent of the 210 participants had received at least one vaccine dose – the researchers specifically looked at the participants’ IgG-N levels. IgG-N is an antibody to a structural protein on SARS-CoV-2 that becomes elevated when someone is naturally exposed to the coronavirus, but stays low post-vaccination.

At the time the participants’ blood was sampled for a second or subsequent time, more than half (56 per cent) of the 210 participants who had recently caught covid-19 – based on their IgG-N levels – were unaware they had been infected.

Of the participants who didn’t know they had omicron, one in 10 (10 per cent) said they had experienced mild symptoms but attributed them to other infections, such as the common cold.

Cheng says the findings highlight the importance of each individual working to reduce the likelihood of them transmitting the coronavirus, even if they think they aren’t infected.

“Being thoughtful with self-testing and taking precautions especially after being knowingly exposed to covid or developing even mild symptoms that one might assume are not likely due to covid… these are actions that everyone can be empowered to take on and can make a difference in curbing spread of the virus,” she says.

More work is needed to establish whether these findings apply beyond the single centre studied in Los Angeles.

“It would be helpful to see if other centres, especially in other parts of the world, with ideally larger numbers, could look at similar data and see if they might find similar or different results,” says Cheng.

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Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

https://immigwatch.blogspot.com/ (IMMIGRATION WATCH)

https://awesternheart.blogspot.com/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

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18 August, 2022

Why Did it Take So Long for the US to Get the Novavax Vaccine?

Even as Covid-19 infections and deaths decrease globally, the World Health Organization warns that “the pandemic is not over.” The Biden Administration seems to feel the same. Earlier this month, the federal government extended the Covid-19 public health emergency again.

Why the concern? As WHO Director Tedros Ghebreyesus stated, “A new and even more dangerous variant can emerge any time and vast numbers of people remain unprotected.” Covid’s BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants could be an example.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, BA. 5 currently composes 80 percent of new Covid-19 cases in the US. Although most research on these variants is preliminary, both the WHO and CDC consider BA. 5 a “variant of concern.” A fearful CNN article labeled BA. 5 the “worst variant.”

Whether these concerns are justified or not, Covid-19’s future variants pose a risk to public health as long as the disease is with us. As more variants emerge, they will likely become more infectious and able to evade past immunity developed from previous infections, vaccinations, or boosters. Although challenging, this means our best hope to minimize the harm of future outbreaks is to develop new treatments to tackle current variants.

Fortunately, a newly authorized Covid-19 vaccine provides hope.

Recently granted an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration, the Novavax Covid-19 vaccine effectively protects against severe Covid-19 infection. Unlike other available Covid-19 vaccines in the US, Novavax is protein-based (instead of mRNA developed). It can also be stored at higher temperatures, making it easier to transport to rural communities.

Most importantly, Novavax seems to provide better protection against BA. 5. As a BioRxiv article finds, two or three injections of the Novavax vaccine triggered strong immune responses to the omicron variant and all its subvariants. While receiving two or three injections of almost anything is unappealing, this is a considerable improvement from receiving nearly double the number of injections from mRNA-based boosters, which provide less protection.

While a welcomed addition to Covid-19 vaccines in the US, Novavax is hardly new. Other countries started using it in November 2021. By January 2022, Novavax was available in 170 countries. So why did it take so long for the US to authorize the Novavax vaccine?

Ironically, the answer boils down to a government partnership to quickly give us Covid-19 vaccines.

On May 15th, 2020, President Trump launched Operation Warp Speed. The project partnered private vaccine developers with federal agencies to bring a Covid-19 vaccine to the public in record time. Providing an expedited approval process, laboratories, and a “blank check” of funding seemed to work. By late October 2020, the Food and Drug Administration authorized the first Covid-19 vaccine for patient use. Two more Covid-19 vaccine authorizations followed in the next few months.

But the program’s quick approval of the first set of Covid-19 vaccines came at the expense of current developments. Because mRNA technologies provided the chance for quicker (but less likely to succeed) vaccine development, Operation Warp Speed only selected vaccines using this technology to receive the program’s benefits. Vaccines using older but more reliable technologies were not selected. Consequently, they could not utilize an expedited authorization process to reach patients. Sadly, Novavax’s vaccine is an example.

Operation Warp Speed brought the US three Covid-19 vaccines (although I have argued before it may not have been necessary). But it was still a government program designed to pick winners and losers for a vital medical good.

In the case of Novavax, our government picked wrong—and it has been a costly mistake.

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Health Care Company Denied Religious Exemptions for COVID Vax, Now It's Going to Have to Pay Workers Millions

In a landmark lawsuit regarding a COVID-19 vaccine mandate, about 500 health care workers will be receiving $10 million worth of payouts after challenging a hospital’s vaccine mandate.

Hundreds of workers at NorthShore University HealthSystem in Illinois filed a lawsuit in October 2021, claiming that the health care organization was not granting religious exemptions for the mandated vaccine, the Washington Examiner reported.

In July a settlement was reached, and 473 current and former health care employees will be compensated.

Liberty Counsel was the group to represent the original 13 plaintiffs.

Horatio Mihet, the vice president of legal affairs at Liberty Counsel, made a statement that this lawsuit and subsequent settlement should “serve as a strong warning to employers across the nation that they cannot refuse to accommodate those with sincere religious objections to forced vaccination mandates.”

There are gradations of payouts and compensation for the workers and plaintiffs depending on circumstances.

Worker who lost their job because of an inability to comply with the vaccine mandate will receive $25,000.

Any of the original 13 plaintiffs are also eligible for another $20,000, according to Liberty Counsel’s founder and chairman Mat Staver.

Other health care workers who got the vaccine, despite religious objections, can be eligible for about $3,000 in compensation.

Anyone who was fired because of a refusal to be vaccinated based on religious belief will also be considered eligible for reemployment, the Examiner reported.

Along with these payouts, the settlement also allowed another $2 million for attorneys fees.

“This classwide settlement providing compensation and the opportunity to return to work is the first of its kind in the nation involving COVID shot mandates. This settlement should be a wake-up call to every employer that did not accommodate or exempt employees who opposed the COVID shots for religious reasons,” Staver said in a statement released by Liberty Counsel.

“Let this case be a warning to employers that violated Title VII. It is especially significant and gratifying that this first classwide COVID settlement protects health care workers. Health care workers are heroes who daily give their lives to protect and treat their patients. They are needed now more than ever,” he added.

The judge who ruled in the case was John Kness, appointed by former President Donald Trump.

The Examiner reported that Kness sided with Liberty Counsel’s claims that the NorthShore University HealthSystem had violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act by denying religious exemptions to its vaccine mandate.

This is the first major case settled concerning the health care industry and COVID vaccine mandates.

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Fertility matters. What’s going on with birth rates?

There is a significant drop in live birth rates occurring in some developed nations. Germany’s Federal Bureau of Statistics documented a reduction of over 12 per cent and similar falls have been reported in Switzerland, Sweden, Taiwan, the UK, Slovenia, and some US states. In other countries – the Netherlands, Belgium, and Portugal – this is not the case but given the temporal association with the Covid pandemic we should investigate the matter seriously.

Start with the basics. A reduction in population fertility may be due to fewer pregnancies, or increased pregnancy failures and both could be caused by viral infection, societal adaptation, or adverse effects of medical interventions.

Looking at viral infections, several micro-organisms can damage the unborn at different phases of intrauterine life. Rubella, for example, causes abortions, stillbirths, and malformations. So, a viral pandemic could reduce live birth rates. This is unlikely with Covid as intrauterine infection appears to be rare and a direct effect should already be evident. Still, here’s a research question:

Are Covid cases and hospital admissions associated with a reduction in live births six to eight months later?

Societal adaptation to the pandemic – more stress, less sex, less IVF, more terminations – could cause a decline in fertility. It’s happened before. After Chernobyl there were hundreds of thousands of additional terminations in Europe, but weren’t people more stressed in 2020 than in 2021? If so, it should have led to a drop in live births between late 2020 and mid 2021. So, here’s another research question:

Was there an increase in pregnancy terminations and/or fewer fertility treatment associated with a reduction in live births 6-9 months later?

The third possibility is that a fall in fertility could be an adverse effect of a medical intervention. There are precedents. Thalidomide was launched in 1956. At the time, it was known that medications might affect the unborn, but there was no mandatory testing for such effects. The principles of reproductive toxicology were only defined in 1959: depending on gestational age at exposure there might be a miscarriage or stillbirth, malformations, intrauterine growth retardation or functional disturbances only apparent in childhood or beyond.

Thalidomide resulted in about 10,000 cases of limb malformations. Once Widukind Lenz in Germany and William McBride in Sydney sounded the alarm in November 1961, the drug was no longer given to pregnant women. Thalidomide studies in animals form the basis of modern reproductive toxicology. Increasingly, agencies were tasked with regulating the clinical testing of new drugs. Since 1990 there have been international standards, but scandals still happen. Merck’s drug Vioxx caused up to 140,000 heart attacks prior to withdrawal.

Testing drugs on pregnant animals is mandatory and drug trials almost always exclude pregnant women to minimise risks. With most Covid vaccine trials, pregnant women were excluded. Pregnant women are now being encouraged to be immunised in what amounts to a real-life experiment. It led to a joke. One lab rat asks another, ‘Been immunised yet?’ ‘No,’ the rat replies, ‘They’re still testing it on humans.’ Make that pregnant humans.

Could immunisation impact live birth rates? Biodistribution studies of injected nanoparticles show that they do not remain in the deltoid muscle, accumulating in several sites, including the ovaries. This may influence ovarian function, and menstrual disturbances are a well-documented adverse effect. Sperm production may also be affected. Even if a pregnancy starts, the result may be implantation failure, a subclinical miscarriage or a clinically overt first trimester miscarriage. These normally occur in 12 to 15 per cent of confirmed pregnancies. Second-trimester miscarriages and stillbirths are much rarer. That doesn’t mean later immunisation is harmless but to date there is only anecdotal information. Toxic effects in the first trimester are most likely at four to eight weeks and could increase miscarriages and reduce live births seven to eight months later. This would be a temporary effect (as was the effect of Thalidomide). There is some evidence in publicly available data that this might be occuring following the mass vaccination of women of reproductive age in 2021-22, potentially affecting live birth rates from early 2022. So, here’s a research question:

Is there a temporal association between vaccination campaigns, first trimester miscarriages and live birth rates seven to eight months later?

There are other issues. Documented menstrual irregularities suggest a disturbance of ovarian or uterine function. A possible consequence would be an increase in premature menopause. Other consequences may take longer to manifest. Given that conditions such as myocarditis and blood clots are recognised adverse effects of some Covid vaccines, are there similar effects in the unborn? There is a precedent. It took over 30 years for the effects of stilbestrol – an estrogen treatment used in pregnancy – to become evident; it caused cancer in the offspring of patients.

Academic physicians don’t normally publish anonymously but regulators, health ministries and professional organisations refuse to ask, let alone try to answer, the questions posed here and wage smear campaigns against those who do. Papers published in reputable journals are at times indistinguishable from propaganda.

In the face of widespread systemic failure, the principles ‘My body, my choice’ and ‘First do no harm’ should put an immediate end to Covid vaccination of women of reproductive age. And then let’s hope the blind hysteria of postmodern media, politics and medicine has not caused the worst medical disaster in human history.

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Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

https://immigwatch.blogspot.com/ (IMMIGRATION WATCH)

https://awesternheart.blogspot.com/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

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17 August, 2022

State Power Doesn’t Settle Science

In his book Sway, Ori Brafman tells a story of sitting in an MBA class taught by Professor Roberto Fernandez. Fernandez showed the class a film of a 1950s open heart surgery to make a point about how people ignore information. The film showed the surgeon pouring a white powder over the patient’s heart; the powder was asbestos. “Unsurprisingly, the patients administered the asbestos started dying off,” but the hospital continued with its surgical protocol.

In the 1950s, vested interests resisted the bad news about asbestos. Yet, no one had the power to stop discovery by proclaiming “the science is settled.” No one claimed airing opposing views would kill people. So scientific discovery continued, and relatively safe open-heart surgery developed in a reasonably short time. Importantly, for people wanting an alternative to surgery, doctors such as Dean Ornish and Caldwell Esselstyn were free to develop radical dietary protocols as effective lifestyle alternatives.

Imagine an alternative history of medical science in which those who openly opposed the use of asbestos were subjected to penalties. Medical research would have been misdirected and hindered, progress would have been difficult, and hospitals might still be poisoning their patients.

Today, California is on the verge of enshrining bad medicine and blocking scientific progress. The California Assembly has passed AB 2098, which “would designate the dissemination or promotion of misinformation or disinformation [by physicians and surgeons] related to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, or ‘COVID-19,’ as unprofessional conduct,” subjecting doctors to disciplinary action, including the loss of license. The bill defines misinformation as “false information that is contradicted by contemporary scientific consensus.”

The bill doesn’t explain how “contemporary scientific consensus” will be achieved; the bill does point to the determination by the FDA and CDC of the “safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines.”

Currently, the FDA is ignoring doctors who oppose COVID vaccines for children. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) claims, “If your child is 6 months or older, you can now help protect them from severe COVID illness by getting them a COVID vaccine.” Dr. Vinay Prasad, famous for his work in evidence-based medicine, says in response: “Just a lie. There are no randomized data, nor even a single observational study that has shown a reduction in severe disease in this age group. 6mo-4yo.” Many are unaware of mounting criticism of the FDA for its unscientific approval of the COVID vaccine for children.

The claim that a state-proclaimed consensus settles science has resulted in many losing their jobs. In 2021, Dr. Aaron Kheriaty was fired from the University of California, Irvine. Kheriaty was a professor at their School of Medicine and director of their Medical Ethics Program. He was fired for being unvaccinated and for believing natural immunity was superior to the COVID vaccine.

Dr. Kheriaty delivered his testimony against the California bill that would ban the expression of opposing opinions: “Advances in science and medicine typically occur when doctors and scientists challenge conventional thinking or settled opinion. Fixating any current medical consensus as ‘unassailable’ by physicians will stifle medical and scientific progress.”

Kheriaty explained how repressing alternative views creates a false consensus driven by politics and crony interests. Government cures drive out real cures.

He added, “Good science is characterized by conjecture and refutation, lively deliberation, often fierce debate, and always openness to new data.” This is why, for example, surgeons no longer use asbestos during open-heart surgery.

When bad medicine is not backed by state power, its destructive force is limited. The worst scientists in the world can advance their ideas and yet cause little harm if others are free to reject those ideas and experiment with other pathways. As Kheriaty and others such as Karl Popper pointed out, errors are corrected by “conjecture and refutation.” Human beings can be vicious in defending their position, and when the vicious and incompetent deploy the power of government, errors are compounded with deadly consequences.

History is clear about the terrible consequences when state power decides science; millions of lives have been lost. Sam Kean reports on deadly science under Stalin. The science of genetics was dismissed as contrary to Marxist doctrine; Stalin preferred the theories of Trofim Lysenko.

Trofim Lysenko was a Soviet-era “biologist,” a crackpot, and one of the biggest mass-murderers in history. Kean relates, “Lysenko promoted the Marxist idea that the environment alone shapes plants and animals. Put them in the proper setting and expose them to the right stimuli, he declared, and you can remake them to an almost infinite degree.” Lysenko was sure he could grow orange trees in Siberia.

Kean describes Lysenko’s method: “Lysenko began to ‘educate’ Soviet crops to sprout at different times of the year by soaking them in freezing water, among other practices. He then claimed that future generations of crops would remember these environmental cues and, even without being treated themselves, would inherit the beneficial traits.”

Sounds insane? Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, in The Gulag Archipelago, Vol 1, gives an example of Lysenko at work:

In 1934 Pskov agronomists sowed flax on the snow—exactly as Lysenko had ordered. The seeds swelled up, grew moldy, and died. The big fields lay empty for a year. Lysenko could not say that the snow was a kulak or that he himself was an ass. He accused the agronomists of being kulaks and of distorting his technology. And the agronomists went off to Siberia.

If Lysenko had been born in America, few people would have even heard his insane theories. But Lysenko had the power of Stalin behind him. Stalin was looking for an answer to famines caused by his collectivization policies. Kean writes:

In the late 1920s and early 1930s Joseph Stalin—with Lysenko’s backing—had instituted a catastrophic scheme to “modernize” Soviet agriculture, forcing millions of people to join collective, state-run farms. Widespread crop failure and famine resulted. Stalin refused to change course, however, and ordered Lysenko to remedy the disaster with methods based on his radical new ideas. Lysenko forced farmers to plant seeds very close together, for instance, since according to his “law of the life of species,” plants from the same “class” never compete with one another. He also forbade all use of fertilizers and pesticides.

In the novel Everything Flows, the great Soviet-era novelist Vasily Grossman sarcastically refers to Lysenko as “the famous agronomist” who resorted to “police methods.” Kean explains the consequences of these police methods:

Unable to silence Western critics, Lysenko still tried to eliminate all dissent within the Soviet Union. Scientists who refused to renounce genetics found themselves at the mercy of the secret police. The lucky ones simply got dismissed from their posts and were left destitute. Hundreds if not thousands of others were rounded up and dumped into prisons or psychiatric hospitals. Several got sentenced to death as enemies of the state or, fittingly, starved in their jail cells (most notably the botanist Nikolai Vavilov). Before the 1930s, the Soviet Union had arguably the best genetics community in the world. Lysenko gutted it, and by some accounts set Russian biology back a half-century.

You would be wrong if you think sanity was restored quickly after Stalin died. In her biography of Grossman, Vasily Grossman and the Soviet Century, Alexandra Popoff writes, “In fact, many of the opportunists and denouncers who drove talented people out of the sciences and other spheres of life maintained their key position in the post-Stalinist era.”

You will miss the point if you think the horrors of Lysenkoism are merely due to the wrong people being in power. The horrors of science dictated by central planners are not, as Friedrich Hayek writes in The Road to Serfdom, “mere accidental by-products which have nothing to do with the essential character of a planned or totalitarian system.”

Better people in charge won’t prevent the worst. Hayek explains, “Once science has to serve, not truth, but the interests of a class, a community, or a state, the sole task of argument and discussion is to vindicate and to spread still further the beliefs by which the whole life of the community is directed.”

Dr. Prasad asks, “Why has this administration made so many [public health] errors?” Prasad says the “answer is simple. They have chosen to surround themselves with bad experts. People who subscribe to groupthink, and political tribalism.”

Fauci and Lysenko are similar in mindset. Both demonstrated intolerance to challenges to their ideas and eagerly deployed government coercion. The significant difference between these two is that Fauci operates in a system with more checks on his power.

Intellectual intolerance of challenging ideas is not a recent phenomenon. The Road to Serfdom was published in 1944, and already intellectuals espousing collectivist ideas were enabling the burning of ideas in “free” societies:

Perhaps the most alarming fact is that contempt for intellectual liberty is not a thing which arises only once the totalitarian system is established but one which can be found everywhere among intellectuals who have embraced a collectivist faith and who are acclaimed as intellectual leaders even in countries still under a liberal regime. Not only is even the worst oppression condoned if it is committed in the name of socialism, and the creation of a totalitarian system openly advocated by people who pretend to speak for the scientists of liberal countries; intolerance, too, is openly extolled.

“Truth,” Hayek explains, is redefined by the intolerant. No longer “something to be found,” truth “becomes something to be laid down by authority, something which has to be believed in the interest of the unity of the organized effort and which may have to be altered as the exigencies of this organized effort require it.”

“Complete cynicism” crowds out “the spirit of independent inquiry and of the belief in the power of rational conviction.” Abandoned is the principle that “individual conscience as the sole arbiter of whether in any particular instance the evidence (or the standing of those proclaiming it) warrants a belief.”

Like Lysenkoism, Faucism, CDC science, FDA science, and HHS science display the characteristics of totalitarianism that Hayek warns of. The odds are vanishingly small that any of today’s totalitarian “scientists” or those supporting AB 2098 have ever read The Road to Serfdom, but Hayek anticipated their playbook (numbers added):

“The whole apparatus for spreading knowledge— the schools and the press, radio and motion picture—will be used exclusively to spread those views which, whether true or false, will strengthen the belief in the rightness of the decisions taken by the authority; and all information that might cause doubt or hesitation will be withheld.

The probable effect on the people’s loyalty to the system becomes the only criterion for deciding whether a particular piece of information is to be published or suppressed.
Everything which might cause doubt about the wisdom of the government or create discontent will be kept from the people.

The basis of unfavorable comparisons with conditions elsewhere, the knowledge of possible alternatives to the course actually taken, information which might suggest failure on the part of the government to live up to its promises or to take advantage of opportunities to improve conditions—all will be suppressed.”

During the pandemic, the United States has been going further down the road to serfdom. Here is the question that should haunt us all: Why are there so few doctors like Kheriaty and Prasad?

Recently, Johns Hopkins medical professor Marty Makary and Dr. Tracy Beth Høeg reported on “relentless” calls they receive from “doctors and scientists at the top levels of the NIH, FDA and CDC.” These professionals “are variously frustrated, exasperated and alarmed about the direction of the agencies to which they have devoted their careers.”

One senior FDA official said, “It’s like a horror movie I’m being forced to watch and I can’t close my eyes. People are getting bad advice and we can’t say anything.”

The official was referring to the authorization, without clinical evidence, of “Covid vaccines for infants and toddlers” and “booster shots for young children.”

No official would go on record, yet they are haunted by the impact of political decisions on vaccines, school closures, and masks, especially on children.

One official put it his way: “I can’t tell you how many people at the FDA have told me, ‘I don’t like any of this, but I just need to make it to my retirement.’”

When you are tempted to sit in judgment of the decisions made by others who acquiesce to totalitarian forces, consider this universal story told by David Whyte in his book The Heart Aroused:

A man I know finds himself in a meeting room at the very edge of speech; he is approaching his moment of reckoning, he is looking for support from his fellow executives around the table … the CEO is pacing up and down on the slate gray carpet. He has asked, in no uncertain terms, for their opinion of the plan he wants to put through. “I want to know what you all think about this,” he demands, “on a scale of one to ten.”

Whyte explains the CEO is testy and has made it plain by his behavior that he wants to hear “ten.” Whyte’s friend thinks the plan is terrible and has heard that other executives in the room think so too. As the CEO goes around the room, Whyte’s friend hears his fellow executives say “ten.” When it is his turn, “against everything he believes, (Whyte’s friend) hears a mouselike, faraway voice, his own, saying ‘ten’.”

Solzhenitsyn observed, “Every man always has handy a dozen glib little reasons why he is right not to sacrifice himself.” The courage to say “one” is cultivated through sustained practice. There are consequences, to yourself and others, of saying “ten.”

California, once again, is showing the way toward a dystopian medical-political dictatorship that will cost lives, block medical progress, and erode freedom.

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Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

https://immigwatch.blogspot.com/ (IMMIGRATION WATCH)

https://awesternheart.blogspot.com/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

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16 August, 2022

The CDC Discovers Natural Immunity

And just like that, new guidelines treat vaccinated and unvaccinated alike.

Kids are already back to school in some areas of the country, and the rest are right around the corner. So it’s interesting that the CDC just released new guidelines for COVID that greatly affect schools. The teachers unions previously “helped” write those guidelines. We can only wonder what role they played in some drastic changes this time. The guidelines are more than interesting, however — in a way, they’re infuriating. More on that in a minute.

Many of us have largely ignored the CDC’s COVID guidelines for a long time already because they’ve been so thoroughly politicized and distant from believable science. The real protocol? Get sick, stay home. Wash your hands. Don’t cough on people. Wear a mask or get vaccinated if you choose to do so; don’t if you choose not to. Basic stuff in a free country.

Of course, there are many for whom extra caution is necessary due to various medical considerations and risks. From the beginning, COVID policy should have been geared toward protecting these people, not hammering everyone with a one-size-fits-all policy of shutdowns and mandates.

And then there are the true believers. Will that last group ease up now that the CDC has reduced a lot of restrictions? Don’t hold your breath.

The CDC dropped quarantine recommendations for exposure, as well as social distancing at six feet. Significantly for schools, the CDC ended recommendations known as “test to stay” — the practice that students exposed to COVID should keep testing negative in order to remain at school instead of quarantining.

But the change that really jumped out to us was that there’s no longer any distinction between vaccinated and unvaccinated.

Read that again.

The novel vaccine was an exciting achievement and it brought hope of ending the pandemic. That did not, of course, actually happen. First, it wasn’t as effective at preventing infection or transmission as advertised. Second, the Left not only wholeheartedly leapt on the bandwagon but lectured, harassed, condemned, mandated, censored, and fired anyone who disagreed. It was an appalling descent into tyranny capped by Joe Biden’s mandates and firings.

Now the CDC tells us there’s no difference? Oops, we were wrong all along, the CDC now says. Where do the unvaccinated folks who lost their jobs go for recompense? Where do kids go to get those lost years of education? Where do all of us go to get back the money and sanity lost to economic devastation caused by shutdowns and government-induced inflation?

“We know that COVID-19 is here to stay,” said CDC epidemiologist Greta Massetti Thursday. The new guidelines she authored are possible because “high levels of population immunity due to vaccination and previous infection, and the many tools that we have available to protect people from severe illness and death, have put us in a different place” [emphasis added].

She ought to be censored on social media for such dangerous right-wing misinformation.

The Associated Press reports, “An estimated 95% of Americans 16 and older have acquired some level of immunity, either from being vaccinated or infected” [emphasis added].

And just like that, we’re all immune to COVID.

According to Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, “While COVID continues to evolve, so has our understanding of the science.” He’s right, but man is this whole Leftmedia-labeled “strategic shift” convenient for Democrats just ahead of the 2022 midterms. A little humility would have gone a long way in 2020, but Democrats had a Bad Orange Man to defeat. It would have gone a long way in 2021 also, but Democrats had just taken the White House and they couldn’t let up when there was more power to seize.

Now that Joe Biden has survived a double case of COVID — which he caught despite having every available booster after promising “you’re not going to get COVID if you have these vaccinations” — it appears that he finally kept his pledge to “shut down the virus.” After all, Democrats need voters to think they’ve achieved this progress, which means we can work toward normal again. Politics is as politics does.

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New CDC COVID-19 Guidance Is Agency ‘Admitting It Was Wrong’: Epidemiologist

The new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 guidance is the agency acknowledging it was wrong in the past to downplay natural immunity and promote unprecedented policies like asymptomatic testing, a California epidemiologist says.

The new guidance, released on Aug. 11, rescinds and alters a number of key recommendations, including treating unvaccinated and vaccinated people differently for many purposes, explicitly stating that people with previous infection have protection against severe illness, and removing six-foot social distancing advice.

“The CDC is admitting it was wrong here, although they won’t put it in those words,” Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, professor of medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine, told The Epoch Times.

“What they’ll say is that, well, ‘the population is more immunized now, has more natural immunity now, and now is the time—the science has changed.'”

But a large percentage of the U.S. population has had natural immunity, or protection from prior infection, Bhattacharya noted, while over 80 percent of the elderly population had protection from severe disease from COVID-19 vaccines, previous infection, or both, since 2021.

“This is two years too late, but it’s a good step,” Bhattacharya added.

CDC Statement

The CDC, which did not respond to a request for comment, portrayed the change as streamlining previous guidance, with the adjustments stemming from more people being vaccinated and more COVID-19 treatments available.

“We’re in a stronger place today as a nation, with more tools—like vaccination, boosters, and treatments—to protect ourselves, and our communities, from severe illness from COVID-19,” Greta Massetti, the CDC author of the new guidance, said in a statement. “We also have a better understanding of how to protect people from being exposed to the virus, like wearing high-quality masks, testing, and improved ventilation. This guidance acknowledges that the pandemic is not over, but also helps us move to a point where COVID-19 no longer severely disrupts our daily lives.”

Dr. Jerome Adams, the surgeon general during the Trump administration, echoed the line of thinking.

“The fact that @CDCgov is changing guidance shouldn’t be taken as proof that they were necessarily ‘wrong,’ on a particular issue. The virus has changed, our tools and immunity have changed, and our knowledge has changed. So too must our guidance. That’s how science works,” Adams wrote on Twitter.

Vaccination numbers have fallen off in recent months, with little change among adults and little update among children, even after the vaccines were authorized and recommended for kids as young as 6 months old.

No new treatments have been authorized since December 2021, and a number of the treatments have been shown as less effective against newer strains of the virus that causes COVID-19, as have the vaccines and, in some cases, natural immunity.

Nearly half of the 20 papers and briefs cited by the CDC in support of the adjusted guidance were published in 2020 or 2021, while a number of others were released in early 2022.

No Mandates Rescinded Yet

Among the most significant changes in the guidance: a rollback of recommendations for asymptomatic testing for individuals exposed to COVID-19, loosening guidance related to tracing contacts of COVID-19 cases, and ending quarantine recommendations for people exposed to a positive case.

Some rules are stricter for high-risk settings such as nursing homes.

Masking is also recommended for 10 days for people who were exposed to COVID-19, including when a person is at home around others.

Bhattacharya, who co-authored the Great Barrington Declaration in 2020, a document that called for focused protection on the elderly and fewer restrictions on others, said that the guidance is closely aligned with the principles outlined in the declaration.

Based on the new guidance, the CDC should immediately rescind the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for foreign travelers entering The United States, a policy imposed in November 2021, the professor added.

The CDC’s webpage describing the mandate says that the agency “is reviewing this page to align with updated guidance.” The U.S. government has not adjusted or rescinded any of its vaccine mandates since the guidance was changed.

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Nurses Who Left the Health Care System to Focus on Early Treatment Describe ‘Brutal’ COVID-19 Treatment Protocols

Nurses who witnessed “brutal” hospital COVID-19 treatment protocols kill patients paint a bleak picture of what is taking place in state and federally funded health care systems.

“They’re horrific, and they’re all in lockstep,” Staci Kay, a nurse practitioner with the North Carolina Physicians for Freedom who left the hospital system to start her own early treatment private practice, told The Epoch Times. “They will not consider protocols outside of what’s given to them by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and the NIH (National Institute of Health). And nobody is asking why.”

Fueled by cognitive dissonance amid an array of red flags, Kay said hospital staff is ignoring blatantly problematic treatments that performed poorly in clinical trials, such as remdesivir, and protocols such as keeping the patient isolated, just to adhere to the federal canon.

“I’ve seen people die with their family watching via iPad on Facetime,” Kay said. “It was brutal.”

As a former nurse in intensive care, Kay said she had seen her share of tragedy, but how she saw COVID patients being treated “had me waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat with chest pains.”

“I hated my job,” Kay said. “I hated going to work. I was stressed in a way I’ve never been before in my entire life.”

Keeping families isolated was especially difficult, she said, because people couldn’t come to say goodbye to their loved ones.

‘We Can Do Better’

Kay was looking for other options when she found an inpatient protocol designed Dr. Paul Marik, founding member of Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance, which purported to have a 94 percent success rate.

However, after Kay pitched it to the head of the pulmonary critical care department, she was dismissed, and the physician boasted that the hospital had a 66 percent survival rate at the time.

“I told him, ‘I feel like we can do better,’ but I was very quickly shut down,” Kay said. “I became very angry because I’m watching people die and I knew we could have been doing better.”

It was as if formerly smart people had become brainwashed, “and then just dumb,” Kay said, lacking the mental wherewithal to discern true from false.

This led Kay to begin treating patients in the outpatient setting to prevent their admission into the hospital system, which is now her full-time job after being fired for not submitting to what she described as illogical testing requirements for those who weren’t vaccinated.

At her telemedicine business, Kay said she’s seeing multiple cases of people suffering from COVID-19 vaccine injuries.

“I saw things on the inpatient side, too, that I suspected were vaccine injuries that went unacknowledged by our physicians,” Kay said. “I saw brain bleeds, seizures out of nowhere, cancer that just spread like wildfire, ischemic strokes, and I saw one person die horrifically from myocarditis.”

On the outpatient side, she said she’s seen conditions resulting from the COVID-19 vaccine such as brain fog, cognitive decline, joint pain, gastrointestinal dysfunctions, and neuropathy, which is numbness and tingling in hands, feet, and extremities.

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Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

https://immigwatch.blogspot.com/ (IMMIGRATION WATCH)

https://awesternheart.blogspot.com/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

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15 August, 2022

A Surprising Risk Factor of Coronary Heart Disease. And no, it's not smoking or high blood pressure

BY DR. YUHONG DONG AND BETH GIUFFRE

I am afraid that I am rather amused by the article by or about Dr Dong that I have reproduced in part below. It is a very long and rather repetetitious article so I have reproduced only the beginning of it. But I think the excerpt is sufficient to give a good idea of the whole

Put simply, Dr Dong clearly has only a glancing familiarity with the research literature on his subject. His mention of the A-B personality concept as a predictor of coronary heart disease is particularly regrettable. Its customary measure was a scale called the JAS, which was really woeful from a psychometric point of view. It was a confused jumble of many ideas and already by the 1980s had been repeatedly shown NOT to predict CHD. Any mention of the claims concerning it at this juncture is quite simply embarrassing from a scholarly viewpoint.

I summarize here some of the research literature pointing to the irrelevance of A-B -- including in passing some of my own research on the subject


How many times have we heard the “smoking, drinking, and being overweight” warning in relation to heart disease? Yet, one of the longest-running studies contradicts this.
A much bigger risk factor is stress—particularly the kind of stress found in a specific personality type that processes anger in a particular way.

The Framingham project is the quintessential epidemiological population study, of more than 14,000 people across three generations. And a key piece of lifestyle advice is hidden in the 1980 analysis of the final cohort.

Do you feel guilty if you use free time to relax? Ask yourself these “Type A” identifier questions, and check whether you also process stress in these same ways—this stress management protocol is a key driver of coronary heart disease.

Physically, anger leads to catecholamine release, which has a host of cardiovascular repercussions. In “fight mode,” the liver synthesizes triglycerides in a boost of energy, which in turn contributes to lipid disorders.

If this is you, there’s still no need to be fatalistic. These are behavior patterns that we can train and change, and changes start small. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. One in five Americans died from heart disease in 2020, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Worldwide, cardiovascular disease is also the leading cause of death year after year.

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the most common type of heart disease, killing nearly 383,000 Americans in 2020. Scientists and the medical community are investing much time and money into the study of what keeps the heart healthy and what can stop it from beating.

Many risk factors have been suggested for CHD. Among these, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and smoking have been assumed to be leading causes. Doctors wear themselves out by repeating the same warnings that CHD could be much reduced if people would reduce their bad cholesterol levels by eating healthy food and becoming active. People need to quit dangerous habits that further raise blood pressure such as the three best-known ones: smoking, being overweight, and drinking too much alcohol.

Stress on the heart is terribly bad for you, but it rarely makes the headlines. We all know stress remains unhealthy for both our body and mind, but do we listen? More importantly, do we take action to prevent stress from causing disease in our bodies?

Despite decades of studies, we like to point fingers at the usual subjects. Smoking has the worst reputation of all. How many times have you tried to convince a loved one that smoking may take their life one day? They tell you they do it to calm their nerves, right? You beg them to take a walk instead; you suggest exercise classes and fishing at the lake. You may have printed out studies to show them what those commercially-made cigarettes and nightly booze binges will do to them. Maybe you are helping them avoid the dreaded black lungs we’ve seen in health class photos.

Yet, hold on. We’re talking about heart disease here.

Smoking is bad for your health, and often times fatal in terms of lung disease. But one of the longest running studies on heart disease contradicts what we all assumed about smoking and CHD. In the study, smokers developed fewer cases of CHD than non-smokers.

A much bigger risk factor is not smoking, but stress—the kind of stress found in a particular personality type—and when left unchecked, the manifestation of it can be worse on the heart than smoking.

According to Dr. Yuhong Dong, medical doctor and Ph.D. in infectious diseases, there are many biological and energetic mechanisms occurring concurrently in CHD, but the Type A personality’s unhealthy expression of anger is what makes a larger imprint on our hearts and minds.

A Surprising Risk Factor of Coronary Heart Diseases (CHD)

A counterintuitive twist on smoking’s effect on CHD brings to mind the story of Batuli Lamichhane, one of the oldest women in the world, who told news reporters on her 112th birthday that the secret to a long life is smoking, as she had puffed away on 30 cigarettes a day since she was 17 years old. If her story was just an isolated story that would be one thing, but it’s not. There are stories about many of the oldest people in the world who smoke, drink, and eat to their hearts’ content.

The Framingham project, which began in 1948, is the quintessential epidemiological and largest population study of more than 14,000 people across three generations. The project ultimately found evidence that formed the textbook warning we hear at doctor visits: high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol are major risk factors for CHD. However, we have learned something else from the well-known Framingham Heart Study.

The key lifestyle advice is hidden in the 1980s analysis of the final cohort.

When researchers looked at the long-term patterns in the cardiovascular health of more than 5,000 male and female smokers and non-smokers, consisting of 2,282 men and 2,845 women aged 29 through 62 years (and free from CHD at the initial examination), they found little evidence that smoking is a risk factor for coronary heart disease (CHD).

“In these monumental studies and analysis, smokers and non-smokers showed no differences at all,” said Dr. Dong. “CHD is the product of many risk factors acting synergistically. There is no doubt that smoking is one of many risk factors, but its effects, acting by itself, have been exaggerated.”

Dong said there may be even more to the Framingham Study. Evidence now shows that psychosocial factors, including having a stressed-wired personality, or Type A personality, are more predictive for heart disease than smoking. Even more predictive of CHD is how the Type A personality copes with stress. If Type A’s constantly cope with stress in angry, aggressive, and hostile ways, their odds for getting CHD increase exponentially.

Do You Have Traits of a Type A personality?

Do you feel guilty if you use free time to relax? Do you need to win in order to enjoy games and sports? Do you eat, walk, and move rapidly? Do you try to do more than one thing at a time? Have your loved ones and co-workers told you more than a few times that you need to calm down, mellow out, or take it easy?

You may be a “Type A” personality, or have a Type A behavior pattern (TABP). As much as you get things done and people can count on you to work hard, your health might suffer if you take your high achievement, competitiveness, and impatience too far. Some people can take on multiple projects and carry the weight of the world with grace, but most Type A’s do not.

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The FBI Has Become Dangerous to Americans

Victor Davis Hanson

The FBI is dissolving before our eyes into a rogue security service akin to those in Eastern Europe during the Cold War.

Take the FBI’s deliberately asymmetrical application of the law. This week the bureau surprise-raided the home of former President Donald Trump—an historical first.

A massive phalanx of FBI agents swooped into the Trump residence while he was not home, to confiscate his personal property, safe, and records. All of this was over an archival dispute of presidential papers common to many former presidents. Agents swarmed the entire house, including the wardrobe closet of the former first lady.

Note we are less than 90 days out from a midterm election, and this was not just a raid, but a political act.

The Democratic Party is anticipated to suffer historical losses. Trump was on the verge of announcing his 2024 presidential candidacy. In many polls, he remains the Republican front-runner for the nomination—and well ahead of incumbent President Joe Biden in a putative 2024 rematch.

In 2016, then-FBI Director James Comey announced that candidate Hillary Clinton was guilty of destroying subpoenaed emails—a likely felony pertaining to her tenure as secretary of state. Yet he all but pledged that she would not be prosecuted given her status as a presidential candidate.

As far as targeting presidential candidates, Trump was impeached in 2020 ostensibly for delaying military aid to Ukraine by asking Ukrainian officials to investigate more fully the clearly corrupt Biden family—given Joe Biden at the time was a likely possible presidential opponent in 2020.

The FBI has devolved into a personal retrieval service for the incorrigible Biden family. It suppressed, for political purposes, information surrounding Hunter Biden’s missing laptop on the eve of the 2020 election.

Previously, the FBI never pursued Hunter’s fraudulently registered firearm, his mysterious foreign income, his felonious crack cocaine use, or his regular employment of foreign prostitutes.

Yet in a pre-dawn raid just before the 2020 election, the FBI targeted the home of journalist James O’Keefe on grounds that someone had passed to him the lost and lurid diary of Ashley Biden, Biden’s wayward daughter.

At various times, in Stasi-style the FBI has publicly shackled Trump economic adviser Peter Navarro, swarmed the office of Trump legal counsel Rudy Giuliani, and sent a SWAT team to surround the house of Trump ally Roger Stone. Meanwhile, terrorists and cartels walk with impunity across an open border.

FBI Director Christopher Wray last week cut short his evasive testimony before Congress. He claimed he had to leave for a critical appointment—only to use his FBI Gulfstream luxury jet to fly to his favorite vacation spot in the Adirondacks.

Wray took over from disgraced interim FBI Director Andrew McCabe. The latter admitted lying repeatedly to federal investigators and signed off on a fraudulent FBI FISA application. He faced zero legal consequences.

McCabe, remember, was also the point man in the softball Hillary Clinton email investigation—while his wife was a political candidate and recipient of thousands of dollars from a political action committee with close ties to the Clinton family.

McCabe took over from disgraced FBI Director James Comey. On 245 occasions, Comey claimed under oath before the House Intelligence Committee that he had no memory or knowledge of key questions concerning his tenure. With impunity, he leaked confidential FBI memos to the media.

Comey took over from Director Robert Mueller. Implausibly, Mueller swore under oath that he had no knowledge either of the Steele dossier or of Fusion GPS, the firm that commissioned Christopher Steele to compile the dossier. But those were the very twin catalysts that had prompted his entire special investigation into the Russian collusion hoax.

FBI legal counsel Kevin Clinesmith was convicted of a felony for altering an FBI warrant request to spy on an innocent Carter Page.

The FBI, by Comey’s own public boasts, bragged how it caught national security adviser-designate Gen. Michael Flynn in its Crossfire Hurricane Russian collusion hoax.

As special counsel, Mueller then fired two of his top investigators—Lisa Page and Peter Strzok—for improper personal and professional behavior. He then staggered their releases to mask their collaborative wrongdoing.

Mueller’s team deleted critical cellphone evidence under subpoena that might well have revealed systemic FBI-related bias.

The FBI interferes with and warps national elections. It hires complete frauds as informants who are far worse than its targets. It humiliates or exempts government and elected officials based on their politics. It violates the civil liberties of individual American citizens.

The FBI’s highest officials now routinely mislead Congress. They have erased or altered court and subpoenaed evidence. They illegally leak confidential material to the media. And they have lied under oath to federal investigators.

The agency has become dangerous to Americans and an existential threat to their democracy and rule of law. The FBI should be dispersing its investigatory responsibilities to other government investigative agencies that have not yet lost the public’s trust.

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Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

https://immigwatch.blogspot.com/ (IMMIGRATION WATCH)

https://awesternheart.blogspot.com/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

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14 August, 2022

29 Percent of Young Pfizer COVID Vaccine Recipients Suffered Heart Effects: Study

Nearly three in 10 children who received Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine experienced heart effects afterwards, according to a new study.

Researchers studied 301 students across two schools in Thailand. The students were aged 13 to 18 and had received a dose of Pfizer’s vaccine without a serious adverse event. Most had no underlying disease, while 44 had conditions such as asthma and allergic rhinitis.

Researchers conducted laboratory tests to establish a baseline and followed up at three days, seven days, and 14 days after the students received a second dose of the vaccine.

Researchers found that 29 percent of the youth experienced cardiovascular effects, including heart palpitations, chest pain, and shortness of breath. Fifty-four had abnormal electrocardiogram results. Six experienced mitral valve prolapse, which the Mayo Clinic describes as a heart valve disease; six had high blood pressure, and seven were diagnosed with heart inflammation.

Two of the children were hospitalized, with one being admitted to intensive care.

Limitations of the study, published ahead of peer review and funded by Mahidol University, included requiring parental permission for blood testing, which could have impacted participation.

Nearly 100 percent of the vaccine recipients recovered within two weeks, researchers said. Still, due to the detection of heart effects, young people receiving any of the vaccines based on messenger RNA technology—both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are—”should be monitored for side effects,” the authors said.

Pfizer did not respond to a request for comment.

Reaction

Several cardiologists, after reviewing the new paper, said it adds to the body of evidence that the risks of the vaccines may outweigh the benefits, especially for young people.

“Any form of heart damage in young persons is concerning since the long-term risks of heart failure and sudden death with exercise are unknown,” Dr. Peter McCullough, the chief medical adviser for the Truth for Health Foundation, told The Epoch Times in an email.

“This is one of ~200 published papers demonstrating the risks of COVID-19 vaccination far outweigh any theoretical benefit,” he added.

U.S. authorities have acknowledged a link between the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and heart inflammation, but maintain that the benefits of the shots outweigh the risks for all age groups beyond six months old. According to reports to the U.S. Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System through May 26, males aged 5 to 49, and females aged 12 to 29, had higher-than-background rates of myocarditis following a second Pfizer dose. The highest rate was 76 per million within seven days of a second dose among males 16 or 17 years old.

Dr. Anish Koka, a cardiologist in Philadelphia, said the new study results “are not reassuring.” While the study authors said most patients recovered, some of the conditions they experienced are far from mild, Koka wrote in a blog post.

“The Thai study helps fill in some of the data void so parents and their doctors can be better informed when discussing the risks and benefits of the vaccines,” he said.

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Game-changing new test and treatment for Long Covid

Australian scientists are a step closer to a test and treatment for long Covid, after determining it causes the same biological impairments as chronic fatigue syndrome.

The ground breaking findings, by Griffith University researchers, could significantly help the 500,000 Australians estimated to be battling the condition.

Long Covid is a collection of symptoms including extreme fatigue (tiredness), shortness of breath, heart palpitations, chest pain or tightness that continue more than 12 weeks after a Covid infection, and can be severe enough to prevent a person working or living normal life.

Professor Sonya Marshall-Gradisnik, who is behind the research which will be published the Journal of Molecular Medicine on Thursday, has already developed a diagnostic test for chronic fatigue syndrome and identified potential treatments.

“The receptors that we have identified previously as being faulty or dysfunctional in ME/CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome) patients have the same dysfunction in those long Covid patients we’ve examined,” she said.

“Patients with long Covid report neurocognitive, immunologic, gastrointestinal, and cardiovascular manifestations, which are also symptoms of ME/CFS,” Professor Marshall-Gradisnik said.

Her research team has been working on chronic fatigue syndrome for more than a decade and has identified a family of receptors that are dysfunctional in patients suffering ME/CFS.

They found patients with the syndrome had lower levels of calcium coming into their cells, and that their cells stored less calcium, and this was the basis of their illness.

“These channels allow ions such as calcium to flow in and out of cells, and thereby control many different biological processes,” she said.

“Patients can experience different symptoms depending on which cells in the body are affected – from brain fog and muscle fatigue to possible organ failure.”

Blood tests performed in Professor Marshall-Gradisnik’s laboratory show people with long Covid have the same damage to these receptors as patients with ME/CFS.

“Calcium is like the Goldilocks molecule. It is like the most important molecule you can have. It causes muscle contraction and causes brain activity. It’s very much critical in all cell functions,” she said.

A significant proportion of people who develop ME/CFS do so following a virus so it is thought these receptors are activated by viruses and, of course, patients that have long Covid had a viral assault, Professor Marshall-Gradisnik said.

Her team has already developed a diagnostic blood test for the ME/CFS that also has the potential to be used in long Covid patients. It is being refined so it can be done in hours, not days.

The team is also testing a range of available medical treatments that worked on calcium channels to see if they may be a possible treatment.

They found the drug Naltrexone at a very low dose of 0.5 milligrams to five milligrams stopped the obstruction of the opioid receptor on the calcium channel, allowing it to function again.

Professor Marshall-Gradisnik said taking calcium supplements was not of any use.

“It’s not what you ingest, it is how calcium gets processed and gets into the cell that matters,” she said.

There have been more than 9.5 million cases of Covid reported in Australia and five per cent, or around 475,000, of these patients are expected to be left with long-term illness.

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CDC Admits It Gave False Information About COVID-19 Vaccine Surveillance

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is admitting it gave false information about COVID-19 vaccine surveillance, including inaccurately saying it conducted a certain type of analysis over one year before it actually did.

The false information was conveyed in responses to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for the results of surveillance, and after the CDC claimed COVID-19 vaccines are being monitored “by the most intense safety monitoring efforts in U.S. history.”

“CDC has revisited several FOIA requests and as a result of its review CDC is issuing corrections for the following information,” a CDC spokeswoman told The Epoch Times in an email.

No CDC employees intentionally provided false information and none of the false responses were given to avoid FOIA reporting requirements, the spokeswoman said.

Heart Inflammation

The Epoch Times in July submitted a FOIA, or a request for non-public information, to the CDC for all reports from a team that was formed to study post-vaccination heart inflammation by analyzing reports submitted to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), a system run by the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The CDC not only said that the team did not conduct any abstractions or reports through October 2021, but that “an association between myocarditis and mRNA COVID-19 vaccination was not known at that time.”

That statement was false.

Clinical trials of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines detected neither myocarditis nor pericarditis, two types of heart inflammation. But by April 2021, the U.S. military was raising the alarm about post-vaccination heart inflammation, and by June 2021, the CDC was publicly acknowledging a link.

The CDC previously corrected the false statement but did not say whether its teams had ever analyzed VAERS reports.

“In reference to myocarditis abstraction from VAERS reports—this process began in May 2021 and continues to this date,” the CDC spokeswoman said in an email.

The CDC has still not released the results of analyses.

Data Mining

The CDC promised in January 2021 that it would perform a specific type of data mining analysis on VAERS reports called Proportional Reporting Ratio (PRR). But when Children’s Health Defense, a nonprofit, asked for the results, the CDC said that “no PRRs were conducted by the CDC” and that data mining “is outside of th[e] agency’s purview.”

Asked for clarification, Dr. John Su, who heads the CDC’s VAERS team, told The Epoch Times in an email that the CDC started performing PRRs in February 2021, “and continues to do so to date.”

The CDC is now saying that both the original response and Su’s statement were false.

The agency didn’t start performing PRRs until March 25, 2022, the CDC spokeswoman said. The agency stopped performing them on July 31, 2022.

The spokeswoman said it “misinterpreted” both Children’s Health Defense and The Epoch Times.

Children’s Health Defense had asked for the PRRs the CDC had performed from Feb. 1, 2021, through Sept. 30, 2021. The Epoch Times asked if the response to the request was correct.

The spokeswoman said the CDC thought “data mining” referred only to Empirical Bayesian (EB) data mining, a different type of analysis that the Food and Drug Administration has promised to perform on VAERS data.

“The notion that the CDC did not realize we were asking about PRRs but only data mining in general is simply not credible, since our FOIA request specifically mentioned PRRs and their response also mentioned that they did not do PRRs. They did not say ‘data mining in general,'” Josh Guetzkow, a senior lecturer at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem who has been working with Children’s Health Defense, told The Epoch Times via email.

“There is also no credible reason why they waited until March 25, 2022, to calculate PRRs, unless it was in response to our initial FOIA filed in December 2021, which was rejected on March 25, 2022—shortly after they say they began their calculations. It means the CDC was not analyzing VAERS for early warning safety signals for well over a year after the vaccination campaign began—which still counts as a significant failure,” he added.

The CDC has also not released the results of the PRRs. “PRR results were generally consistent with EB data mining, revealing no additional unexpected safety signals. Given it is a more robust data mining technique, CDC will continue relying upon EB data mining at this time,” the agency spokeswoman said.

The FDA has told The Epoch Times it conducted EB data mining but the agency has declined to share the results.

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Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

https://immigwatch.blogspot.com/ (IMMIGRATION WATCH)

https://awesternheart.blogspot.com/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

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Friday, August 12, 2022


The Corruption of Medicine by political correctness

The post-George Floyd racial reckoning has hit the field of medicine like an earthquake. Medical education, medical research, and standards of competence have been upended by two related hypotheses: that systemic racism is responsible both for racial disparities in the demographics of the medical profession and for racial disparities in health outcomes. Questioning those hypotheses is professionally suicidal. Vast sums of public and private research funding are being redirected from basic science to political projects aimed at dismantling white supremacy. The result will be declining quality of medical care and a curtailment of scientific progress.

Virtually every major medical organization-from the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) to the American Association of Pediatrics-has embraced the idea that medicine is an inequity-producing enterprise. The AMA's 2021 Organizational Strategic Plan to Embed Racial Justice and Advance Health Equity is virtually indistinguishable from a black studies department's mission statement. The plan's anonymous authors seem aware of how radically its rhetoric differs from medicine's traditional concerns. The preamble notes that "just as the general parlance of a business document varies from that of a physics document, so too is the case for an equity document." (Such shaky command of usage and grammar characterizes the entire 86-page tome, making the preamble's boast that "the field of equity has developed a parlance which conveys both [sic] authenticity, precision, and meaning" particularly ironic.)

Thus forewarned, the reader plunges into a thicket of social-justice maxims: physicians must "confront inequities and dismantle white supremacy, racism, and other forms of exclusion and structured oppression, as well as embed racial justice and advance equity within and across all aspects of health systems." The country needs to pivot "from euphemisms to explicit conversations about power, racism, gender and class oppression, forms of discrimination and exclusion." (The reader may puzzle over how much more "explicit" current "conversations" about racism can be.) We need to discard "America's stronghold of false notions of hierarchy of value based on gender, skin color, religion, ability and country of origin, as well as other forms of privilege."

A key solution to this alleged oppression is identity-based preferences throughout the medical profession. The AMA strategic plan calls for the "just representation of Black, Indigenous and Latinx people in medical school admissions as well as . . . leadership ranks." The lack of "just representation," according to the AMA, is due to deliberate "exclusion," which will end only when we have "prioritize[d] and integrate[d] the voices and ideas of people and communities experiencing great injustice and historically excluded, exploited, and deprived of needed resources such as people of color, women, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+, and those in rural and urban communities alike."

According to medical and STEM leaders, to be white is to be per se racist; apologies and reparations for that offending trait are now de rigueur. In June 2020, Nature identified itself as one of the culpably "white institutions that is responsible for bias in research and scholarship." In January 2021, the editor-in-chief of Health Affairs lamented that "our own staff and leadership are overwhelmingly white." The AMA's strategic plan blames "white male lawmakers" for America's systemic racism.

And so medical schools and medical societies are discarding traditional standards of merit in order to alter the demographic characteristics of their profession. That demolition of standards rests on an a priori truth: that there is no academic skills gap between whites and Asians, on the one hand, and blacks and Hispanics, on the other. No proof is needed for this proposition; it is the starting point for any discussion of racial disparities in medical personnel. Therefore, any test or evaluation on which blacks and Hispanics score worse than whites and Asians is biased and should be eliminated.

The U.S. Medical Licensing Exam is a prime offender. At the end of their second year of medical school, students take Step One of the USMLE, which measures knowledge of the body's anatomical parts, their functioning, and their malfunctioning; topics include biochemistry, physiology, cell biology, pharmacology, and the cardiovascular system. High scores on Step One predict success in a residency; highly sought-after residency programs, such as neurosurgery and radiology, use Step One scores to help select applicants.

Black students are not admitted into competitive residencies at the same rate as whites because their average Step One test scores are a standard deviation below those of whites. Step One has already been modified to try to shrink that gap; it now includes nonscience components such as "communication and interpersonal skills." But the standard deviation in scores has persisted. In the world of antiracism, that persistence means only one thing: the test is to blame. It is Step One that, in the language of antiracism, "disadvantages" underrepresented minorities, not any lesser degree of medical knowledge.

The Step One exam has a further mark against it. The pressure to score well inhibits minority students from what has become a core component of medical education: antiracism advocacy. A fourth-year Yale medical student describes how the specter of Step One affected his priorities. In his first two years of medical school, the student had "immersed" himself, as he describes it, in a student-led committee focused on diversity, inclusion, and social justice. The student ran a podcast about health disparities. All that political work was made possible by Yale's pass-fail grading system, which meant that he didn't feel compelled to put studying ahead of diversity concerns. Then, as he tells it, Step One "reared its ugly head." Getting an actual grade on an exam might prove to "whoever might have thought it before that I didn't deserve a seat at Yale as a Black medical student," the student worried.

The solution to such academic pressure was obvious: abolish Step One grades. Since January 2022, Step One has been graded on a pass-fail basis. The fourth-year Yale student can now go back to his diversity activism, without worrying about what a graded exam might reveal. Whether his future patients will appreciate his chosen focus is unclear.

Every other measure of academic mastery has a disparate impact on blacks and thus is in the crosshairs.

In the third year of medical school, professors grade students on their clinical knowledge in what is known as a Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE). The MSPE uses qualitative categories like Outstanding, Excellent, Very Good, and Good. White students at the University of Washington School of Medicine received higher MSPE ratings than underrepresented minority students from 2010 to 2015, according to a 2019 analysis. The disparity in MSPEs tracked the disparity in Step One scores.

The parallel between MSPE and Step One evaluations might suggest that what is being measured in both cases is real. But the a priori truth holds that no academic skills gap exists. Accordingly, the researchers proposed a national study of medical school grades to identify the actual causes of that racial disparity. The conclusion is foregone: faculty bias. As a Harvard medical student put it in Stat News: "biases are baked into the evaluations of students from marginalized backgrounds."

A 2022 study of clinical performance scores anticipated that foregone conclusion. Professors from Emory University, Massachusetts General Hospital, and the University of California at San Francisco, among other institutions, analyzed faculty evaluations of internal medicine residents in such areas as medical knowledge and professionalism. On every assessment, black and Hispanic residents were rated lower than white and Asian residents. The researchers hypothesized three possible explanations: bias in faculty assessment, effects of a noninclusive learning environment, or structural inequities in assessment. University of Pennsylvania professor of medicine Stanley Goldfarb tweeted out a fourth possibility: "Could it be [that the minority students] were just less good at being residents?"

Goldfarb had violated the a priori truth. Punishment was immediate. Predictable tweets called him, inter alia, possibly "the most garbage human being I've seen with my own eyes," and Michael S. Parmacek, chair of the University of Pennsylvania's Department of Medicine, sent a schoolwide e-mail addressing Goldfarb's "racist statements." Those statements had evoked "deep pain and anger," Parmacek wrote. Accordingly, the school would be making its "entire leadership team" available to "support you," he said. Parmacek took the occasion to reaffirm that doctors must acknowledge "structural racism."

That same day, the executive vice president of the University of Pennsylvania for the Health System and the senior vice dean for medical education at the University of Pennsylvania medical school reassured faculty, staff, and students via e-mail that Goldfarb was no longer an active faculty member but rather emeritus. The EVP and the SVD affirmed Penn's efforts to "foster an anti-racist curriculum" and to promote "inclusive excellence."

Despite the allegations of faculty racism, disparities in academic performance are the predictable outcome of admissions preferences. In 2021, the average score for white applicants on the Medical College Admission Test was in the 71st percentile, meaning that it was equal to or better than 71 percent of all average scores. The average score for black applicants was in the 35th percentile-a full standard deviation below the average white score. The MCATs have already been redesigned to try to reduce this gap; a quarter of the questions now focus on social issues and psychology.

Yet the gap persists. So medical schools use wildly different standards for admitting black and white applicants. From 2013 to 2016, only 8 percent of white college seniors with below-average undergraduate GPAs and below-average MCAT scores were offered a seat in medical school; less than 6 percent of Asian college seniors with those qualifications were offered a seat, according to an analysis by economist Mark Perry. Medical schools regarded those below-average scores as all but disqualifying-except when presented by blacks and Hispanics. Over 56 percent of black college seniors with below-average undergraduate GPAs and below-average MCATs and 31 percent of Hispanic students with those scores were admitted, making a black student in that range more than seven times as likely as a similarly situated white college senior to be admitted to medical school and more than nine times as likely to be admitted as a similarly situated Asian senior.

Such disparate rates of admission hold in every combination and range of GPA and MCAT scores. Contrary to the AMA's Organizational Strategic Plan to Embed Racial Justice and Advance Health Equity, blacks are not being "excluded" from medical training; they are being catapulted ahead of their less valued white and Asian peers.

Though mediocre MCAT scores keep out few black students, some activists seek to eliminate the MCATs entirely. Admitting less-qualified students to Ph.D. programs in the life sciences will lower the caliber of future researchers and slow scientific advances. But the stakes are higher in medical training, where insufficient knowledge can endanger a life in the here and now.

More here:

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Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

https://immigwatch.blogspot.com/ (IMMIGRATION WATCH)

https://awesternheart.blogspot.com/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

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Thursday, August 11, 2022


The authoritarian impulse

Anthony Fauci has regrets.

In an interview Monday, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said that if he could go back and change anything about the government's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, it would be to press for "much, much more stringent restrictions" than the ones that were imposed in the spring of 2020.

More stringent. More than the abrupt shutdown of the US economy, which destroyed 21 million jobs in a matter of weeks and drove the unemployment rate to nearly 15 percent. More than the unprecedented closure of every public school in the country, which inflicted a staggering degree of learning loss and emotional turmoil on American children. More than the sweeping shelter-in-place limitations, which did little to reduce the spread of COVID but severely exacerbated harms ranging from domestic violence to mental health to untreated medical conditions. More than the top-down orders - issued with no chance for public or legislative input - that unilaterally prevented Americans from traveling, attending church, holding weddings, or comforting the dying.

The response to the pandemic was an extraordinary diminution of Americans' freedom to make choices for themselves and a corresponding enlargement of the power of government officials to rule by decree. And Fauci is chagrined that it didn't go far enough.

To be fair, he is hardly alone in thinking this way. When it comes to COVID or almost any other significant public concern, the authoritarian impulse - a preference for achieving policy goals through coercion rather than the untidy give-and-take of democratic negotiation - now seems to be the default.

As a candidate in 2020, Joe Biden rightly insisted that political legitimacy is acquired through compromise and patience. He rebuked progressives who wanted him to enact their wish list singlehandedly. "You can't [govern] by executive order unless you're a dictator," he said before the election. "We're a democracy; we need consensus."

Yet once in the White House, Biden began issuing edicts with record-busting frequency. He signed more executive decrees on his first day as president than Donald Trump, Barack Obama, and George W. Bush did on their first days - combined. Within a week of his inauguration, even The New York Times editorial board was imploring him to "Ease Up on the Executive Actions, Joe." Yet since then he has been generating such orders at a faster clip than any of his six immediate predecessors.

No longer does Biden stress the importance of working through the legislative branch. "Since Congress is not acting on the climate emergency, I will," he tweeted recently. "In the coming weeks my Administration will begin to announce executive actions to combat this emergency."

Far from bristling at the president's encroachment into the purview of the legislative branch, Democrats in Congress are encouraging it. "It's very important for the executive to act if we cannot get legislative action immediately," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in March. The Congressional Progressive Caucus, which comprises 98 House members, prepared a list of executive order recommendations, urging Biden to unilaterally lower health costs, overhaul policing, and cancel all federal student loan debt, among other actions. Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina, the majority whip, noted that the Emancipation Proclamation was an executive order and pressed Biden to be more like Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln? Seriously?

There is a vast difference between orders issued by a president who is performing his role as commander-in-chief of the nation's armed forces and those issued by a president seeking an end run around Congress. The Constitution expects presidents to act decisively on matters of war, peace, and diplomacy and grants them the widest possible latitude in the conduct of foreign and military affairs. The Constitution also specifies that presidents "shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed," which gives the White House considerable scope for direct action in areas where the law is clear but is not being upheld or where Congress has explicitly authorized the president to act.

A classic example is President Eisenhower's executive order to federalize the Arkansas National Guard and enforce desegregation in Little Rock. Another was President Johnson's 1965 order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating "on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin." Executive orders have been appropriately issued for numerous purposes - to recognize foreign governments, to bring (or waive) criminal indictments, to deploy or withdraw troops, to grant pardons, to designate federal lands as national monuments, to proclaim national holidays, or to set tariffs.

But the Constitution does not permit presidents to unilaterally order a policy change that neither the Constitution nor Congress has sanctioned. A notorious instance was President Truman's 1952 order nationalizing the US steel industry - a dictatorial act for which there was absolutely no legal basis. Another was FDR's executive order to relocate 100,000 Japanese Americans to government-run internment camps. More recent was Biden's nationwide moratorium on evictions, an order he issued even after acknowledging that it had no legal basis.

Sometimes the courts shoot down unlawful executive orders (as with Truman's steel takeover and Biden's moratorium); sometimes they fail to do so (as with FDR's internment camps). Either way, the illiberal desire to formulate public policies through authoritarian means keeps growing stronger. More than ever, it needs resisting.

This is hardly a problem only among Democrats. The Trump White House repeatedly resorted to executive orders to bypass or undermine Capitol Hill. In 2019, for example, after Congress refused to fund a massive wall on the Mexican border, Trump declared that a national emergency empowered him to spend the money and build one regardless. "We're going to confront the national security crisis on our southern border, and we're going to do it one way or the other," he announced.

And while many on the progressive left have embraced a by-any-means-necessary approach to getting their way on climate change, abortion, or the pandemic, a growing movement on the right is equally enamored of top-down control. Would-be authoritarians promoting what they describe as "common-good conservatism" want to use the power of government to advance their right-wing vision. In a widely noted Atlantic essay in 2020, Harvard Law professor Adrian Vermeule called for a "robust" legal approach based on the belief that government must "direct persons, associations, and society generally toward the common good, and that strong rule in the interest of attaining the common good is entirely legitimate."

The authoritarian impulse exists in every society. There are always those who would rather resort to autocratic means to accomplish desired ends. Today, fewer and fewer leaders champion the necessity of debate, persuasion, and finding common ground. More and more find coercion more appealing than cooperation. When Benjamin Franklin was asked in 1787 what the delegates in Independence Hall had concocted, he memorably replied: "A republic, if you can keep it." We have managed to keep it for two and a quarter centuries, but the prognosis isn't encouraging.

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10 Percent of Americans Regret Taking COVID Vaccine, 15 Percent Have a New Medical Condition After It: Poll

Ten percent of Americans who received the COVID-19 vaccine regret having done so, according to a recent poll.

In addition, 15 percent of the 1,038 adults that took the survey said that they have been diagnosed with a new condition by a medical practitioner, weeks or months after taking the vaccine.

Children's Health Defense (CHD) commissioned the poll two years after the inception of Operation Warp Speed in order to find out about people's position on the COVID vaccines and their health.

The poll, conducted by Zogby Analytics, states that the margin of error is +/- 3.1 percentage points.

"The fact that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports more than 232 million Americans ages 18-65 have taken at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 15 percent of those surveyed report a newly diagnosed condition is concerning and needs further study," said Laura Bono, CHD's executive director.

"The mRNA vaccine technology is new and clinical trials naturally have no long-term data. CHD believes this survey points to the need for further study."

Sixty-seven percent of the respondents got one or more shots, while the rest were unvaccinated.

Among those who took the COVID vaccines, 6 percent took one dose, while the rest took 2-4 shots.

Of the newly diagnosed medical conditions, the most common ones were blood clots (21 percent), heart attack (19 percent), liver damage (18 percent), leg and lung clots (17 percent), and stroke (15 percent).

Sixty-seven percent of participants said that getting the vaccine was a good decision, while 24 percent were neutral.

Another poll conducted at the same time surveyed 829 American adults ages 18-49, and the results show that 22 percent of them reported a new condition within weeks or months after getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

The top conditions were autoimmune problems, blood clots, stroke/lung clots, liver damage/leg clots/heart attack, and disrupted menstrual cycle. Ten percent of these conditions were severe.

Fourteen percent of the participants regretted taking the vaccine, while 58 percent thought it was a good decision, and the rest were neutral.

Previous Reports

In May, a cardiologist told The Epoch Times that he has seen a spike in cases of heart inflammation. Although the media has given more attention to COVID vaccine blood clot issues, there have been many more cases of myocarditis, according to his observation.

Some doctors have also observed menstrual irregularities associated with the COVID-19 vaccines, something that Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said is an issue that needs to be studied more.

Also in May, The Epoch Times reported that a pediatric cardiologist had to stop working and was punished by his board for not wanting to recommend a vaccine to a young patient who had contracted COVID previously.

A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel on June 15 unanimously recommended the FDA give emergency authorization to the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines for children as young as 6 months of age.

The U.S. drug regulators on March 29 announced they had granted emergency authorization allowing a fourth dose of the jabs to be given to all Americans aged 50 and above.

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Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

https://immigwatch.blogspot.com/ (IMMIGRATION WATCH)

https://awesternheart.blogspot.com/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

2 Years In, Science Still Shows Masks Useless



I pointed out the large holes in the Bangladesh study nearly a year ago

Masks are back in San Diego, California, where the school board has just decreed that students must cover their faces or be barred from setting foot inside a classroom. Never mind that, per CDC statistics and Census Bureau population figures, more than 99.99 percent of children in California (where governor Gavin Newsom has regularly imposed mask mandates) and more than 99.99 percent of children in Florida (where Governor Ron DeSantis has let kids live mask-free) have not died of Covid—either because they haven’t gotten it, or because they’ve gotten it and survived it. Never mind that more than 99.99 percent of kids nationally have not died of Covid, either. And never mind that, again, based on CDC statistics, those over age 85 have had more than 2,000 times the chance of dying of Covid as those under age 18; that even those in their thirties have had 25 times the chance of dying of Covid as those under 18; and that, out of every 40 school-age kids (ages 5-17) who have died during the Covid era, only one of those deaths has involved Covid. Regardless, school officials have decided that everyone must mask up.

Nor are schools alone in returning to mask mandates. The military has been one of the most mask-happy of all institutions. Right on cue, the Navy announced that everyone, whether uniformed or not, must wear masks indoors on its bases in the San Diego area. Up the coast, Bay Area Rapid Transit has reimposed a mask mandate. Meantime, many colleges across the country have announced that they will be requiring masks this fall.

Such decrees ignore the facts that masks are physically uncomfortable, make it harder to breathe, and profoundly compromise human social interaction. But none of that matters to the mask zealots, who are convinced that benefits far outweigh any potential costs. So, where is the proof?

The nature of the public-health establishment’s embrace of masks is nicely captured in an article published last spring and currently posted on the website of the National Institutes of Health. The article, by Seán M. Muller, speaks of “the failure of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to provide supportive evidence” that masks work to reduce viral transmission—a matter I discussed at length last summer.

Muller deserves credit for being more honest than most mask advocates. He notes that the World Health Organization said in March 2020 that “there is no evidence” that masks work, and he adds that “it was the absence of significant positive effects from RCTs prior to the pandemic that informed the WHO’s initial [anti-mask] stance.” Yet Muller laments the reliance on RCTs as opposed to “mechanism-based reasoning.” This is a fancy term for applying one’s own reasoning faculties. Muller’s reasoning leads him to be convinced that masks must work. But that, of course, is why we have RCTs: to test people’s notions about what works and what doesn’t.

Muller recognizes that people “may transfer infectious material by touching their faces with unsanitized hands to place and remove a mask,” but this important realization doesn’t seem to affect his conclusions. Instead, he writes, “Mechanism-based reasoning provides a justification for the stance ultimately advocated by the WHO and adopted by many countries.” He admits that the “logic” entailed in such reasoning “relies only on a fairly simple germ theory of disease.” Yet—incredibly—he then asserts that such reasoning “places the burden of proof on those who would argue against recommending masks.” So, even if RCTs provide no evidence for the claim that masks work, even if they continually suggest, on the contrary, that masks don’t work, then health officials should still recommend masks—and probably mandate them—because the claim that they work seems logical to some.

This is fundamentally anti-scientific. Yet it effectively captures the thinking that has animated mask mandates for more than two years now. This kind of thinking continues even though (as John Tierney has detailed) the remarkable similarity in Covid results between mask-mandate and mask-free states, and between mask-mandate and mask-free countries, strongly suggests that masks don’t work—just as RCTs have indicated they don’t.

The lone, slender scientific reed onto which mask advocates can grasp, at least in terms of RCTs, is a recent study from Bangladesh. Released well over a year after the CDC and others had already embraced masks wholeheartedly, the study claimed to find statistically significant benefits from surgical masks. The first author listed on that study, Yale economics professor Jason Abaluck, weighed in publicly on the mask debate before the study ever went into the field. In the early days of Covid, he opined that both the federal government and state governments should give out free masks and perhaps levy fines on those who refused to wear them. Unfortunately for mask advocates, the very small differences that the study found, and the questionable methodology on which those findings were based, provide little more scientific support for mask-wearing than does mechanism-based reasoning.

The Bangladesh RCT found that 1,086 people in the study’s mask group, and 1,106 people in the study’s non-mask control group, got Covid. Amazingly, these numbers did not come from the study’s authors—even though they provide the answer to the main question the study was addressing. Rather, Ben Recht, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of California, Berkeley, computed these numbers from those that the authors did release, and Abaluck subsequently confirmed Recht’s calculation of a 20-person difference between the two groups.

This 20-person difference (out of more than 300,000 participants) meant that about 1 out of 132 people got Covid in the control group, versus 1 out of 147 in the mask group. That equates to 0.76 percent of people in the control group and 0.68 percent of people in the mask group catching Covid—a difference of 0.08 percentage points—which the study’s authors prefer to describe as a 9 percent reduction. Abaluck and company also describe their study as having provided “clear evidence” that surgical masks work—even though those masks’ alleged benefit registered as statistically significant only after the researchers “adjusted” the ratio of how many people got Covid in each group by providing “baseline controls,” which they do not transparently describe. (That adjustment, however—and its necessity for achieving statistical significance—is plainly indicated.)

This reported difference of 0.08 percentage points tested as statistically significant only because of the massive sample size that the authors claimed, which allowed tiny differences to test as significant rather than being attributable to random chance. It is not at all clear, however, that this study could really produce such precision.

Imagine if researchers randomly divided 340,000 individuals, regardless of where they lived, into a mask group (170,000 people) or a non-mask control group (the other 170,000). One would assume that this random division would result in the two groups being very similar. That’s part of the essence of an RCT—that if you randomly assign enough people to one group or another, the two groups will end up being essentially alike simply by chance. It would be a very different thing, however, to assign two whole cities of 170,000 people into two groups, with each member of a given city going into the same group. In that case, it wouldn’t be clear whether any potential differences in outcomes would be due to the intervention (in this case, masks) or to the differences between the cities (in rates of virus exposure, cultural norms, and so on).

The Bangladesh study’s approach falls somewhere between these two scenarios. Its researchers randomly assigned 300 villages to its mask group (in which it encouraged mask-wearing) and 300 villages with similar characteristics to its non-mask control group (in which it didn’t encourage mask-wearing). Every member of a given village was assigned to the same group. As a result, Recht writes, “Though the sample size looked enormous (340,000 individuals), the effective number of samples was only 600 because the treatment was applied to individual villages.”

However, the researchers didn’t analyze the findings at the level of villages. Instead, they did so as if they had randomly assigned 340,000 individuals to either the mask group or the control group. Recht writes that because “the individual outcomes are not independent” and “outcomes inside a village are correlated,” analyzing the study in this manner is “certainly wrong.” Put another way, when individuals are randomly assigned to one group or another in an RCT, one person’s outcome isn’t supposed to affect another’s—but this is hardly the case when analyzing the effects of a highly contagious virus among people living in the same village, all of whom were assigned to the same group. In layman’s terms, each roll of the dice should be independent and shouldn’t affect subsequent rolls. But in the Bangladesh study, each roll of the dice did affect subsequent rolls.

Recht cites a previous RCT on masks (which I discussed in my 2021 essay) that adjusted for such correlation—that is, adjusted for the fact that one person’s outcome could influence another’s. Even though that earlier RCT randomly assigned families rather than villages to a particular group, it still assumed correlation and adjusted for it. The Bangladesh study, which had far greater correlation, assumed none. Adjusting for correlation, Recht found that the Bangladesh study showed no statistically significant benefits from masks.

The danger in pretending to have randomly assigned 340,000 individuals is that huge sample sizes—which suggest great accuracy—allow small differences to test as statistically significant, since there is less likelihood that they merely reflect random events. This is fine if a test is really that accurate, but not if it’s inflating its sample size by a factor of more than 500 (600 versus 340,000)—or even by a factor of five. Such a scenario risks producing “statistically significant” results that are really just a product of random chance. This is exactly what seems to have happened in the Bangladesh study.

The mainstream press heralded this study as confirming that surgical masks work and suggesting that cloth masks (which, overall, didn’t show a statistically significant benefit) should perhaps be shelved. But the study’s actual findings were more interesting. It found no statistically significant evidence that masks work for people under the age of 40. For people in their forties, however, it found statistically significant evidence that cloth masks work but no corresponding evidence to support the use of surgical masks. For people in their fifties (or older), it found statistically significant evidence that surgical masks work, but no corresponding evidence to support the use of cloth masks. Further complicating matters, the researchers distributed both red cloth masks and purple ones. Recht, citing data from the study that the authors didn’t include in their write-up or tables, writes that, based on the study’s method of analysis, “cloth purple masks did nothing, but the red masks ‘work.’” He adds, “Indeed, red masks were more effective than surgical masks!” When a study starts producing findings like these, its results start to look like random noise.

Moreover, since there were just 20 fewer Covid cases in the mask group than in the non-mask control group, most of the difference between the 0.68 percent Covid rate in the former and the 0.76 percent rate in the latter was because of differences in the sizes of what were supposed to be two equally sized groups. The researchers omitted from their analysis thousands of people—disproportionately from the control group—whom they didn’t successfully contact. The University of Pittsburgh’s Maria Chikina, Carnegie Mellon’s Wesley Pegden, and Recht found that the study’s “unblinded staff”—who knew which participants were assigned to which group—“approached” those in the mask group at a “significantly” higher rate than those in the control group. Indeed, Chikina, Pegden, and Recht write that the “main significant difference” that led to an “imbalance” between the two groups was “the behavior of the study staff.”

Under the “intention-to-treat” principle, everyone who was originally randomly assigned to either group should have been included in the analysis, whether or not the staff had contacted them. Eric McCoy, an M.D. at the University of California, Irvine, explains that intention-to-treat analysis “preserves the benefits of randomization, which cannot be assumed when using other methods of analysis.” Recht, agreeing with McCoy, writes, “For the medical statistics experts, the intention to treat principle says that the individuals who are unreachable or who refuse to be surveyed must be counted in the study. Omitting them invalidates the study.” Yet that’s exactly what the authors of the Bangladesh study did. When Chikina, Pegden, and Recht analyzed the study’s finding using intention-to-treat analysis, they found no statistically significant difference between the number of people who got Covid in the mask group and the number who got it in the control group.

Thus, in order to show a statistically significant benefit from masks, the Bangladesh study both had to depart from intention-to-treat analysis and treat 340,000 people who were not randomly assigned to a group on an individual basis as if they had been. Doing just one or the other would have failed to produce a statistically significant result.

In addition, the study made no real secret that it was pro-mask, launching an all-out campaign to convince people in half of the villages to wear them. The researchers found that physical distancing was 21 percent greater in the mask villages than in the control villages, muddying efforts to distinguish between the effects of masks and distancing. The study also provided monetary incentives to some people, opening up the possibility that, given that participants and staff both knew what group people were in, some participants might have desired to give responses that pleased the researchers (and only those who reported Covid-like symptoms got tested for antibodies). Finally, the study didn’t test how many people had Covid antibodies beforehand, even though its principal findings about masks were based on how many people had Covid antibodies afterward. This is like determining whether a family bought butter during their most recent grocery trip by seeing if there’s butter in the refrigerator.

To sum up, the Bangladesh study’s findings show tiny differences in how many people got Covid in the mask and (non-mask) control groups, and these tiny differences register as statistically significant only because of myriad questionable methodological choices. The study’s researchers conducted their analysis as if they had randomly divided 340,000 individuals into either the mask group or the control group, when in fact they had just randomly divided 600 villages. They also deviated from intention-to-treat analysis, without which they would not have shown statistical significance even on the basis of this inflated sample size. They adjusted the ratio of Covid cases between the mask and control groups by adding baseline controls that were not well-explained—without which surgical masks would not have tested as providing statistically significant benefits. And they based their primary findings on whether people had acquired Covid antibodies by the end of the study, without having tested whether they had already acquired them before the start of the study.

Nevertheless, the CDC favorably references this study and calls it “well-designed.” And even before the effort had been peer-reviewed or published as an official study, Abaluck proclaimed, “I think this should basically end any scientific debate about whether masks can be effective.”

Keep in mind that there are no real grounds for cherry-picking results from the Bangladesh study. If the study persuades people that masks work, then it should also persuade them that those in their forties should wear cloth masks (red ones, not purple!) and then switch to surgical masks once they turn 50. All those statistically significant findings resulted from the same abandonment of intention-to-treat analysis and the same determination to analyze 340,000 people as if they had been randomly assigned to a group on an individual basis, when instead they had been lumped in with the rest of their village. To put it in layman’s terms: garbage in, garbage out.

More here:

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Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

https://immigwatch.blogspot.com/ (IMMIGRATION WATCH)

https://awesternheart.blogspot.com/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

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Tuesday, August 09, 2022

Deborah Birx's Guide to Destroying America

Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator under President Donald Trump, was one of the "trifecta" of three leading public officials who successfully pushed COVID lockdowns in the United States. Virtually every page of Birx's new book, Silent Invasion: The Untold Story of the Trump Administration, Covid-19, and Preventing the Next Pandemic Before It's Too Late, reads like a how-to guide from the front lines of subverting a democratic superpower from within. It bears repeating, from the outset, that lockdowns were never part of any democratic country's pandemic preparedness plan prior to Xi Jinping's lockdown of Wuhan, China.

The lockdowns that Xi pioneered and Birx so zealously advocated for reportedly led to over 170,000 non-COVID excess deaths among young Americans while failing to meaningfully slow the spread of COVID anywhere they were tried. It would have been impossible for an enemy agent armed with anything less than nuclear weapons to have inflicted so much damage on America's economy, social fabric, and historical freedoms in such a short period of time.

Notably, though Birx's memoir has earned relatively few reviews from human readers on Amazon, it's earned rave reviews from Chinese state media, a feat not shared even by the far more popular pro-lockdown books of professional genuflectors to power like Lawrence Wright.

The glowing response from Chinese state media should come as no surprise. Nearly every sentence of Birx's book faithfully parrots the Chinese Communist Party's foreign and domestic propaganda, which helped facilitate Xi's weaponization of the COVID response to eliminate the independence of the CCP's private sector rivals.

Chapter 1 opens with what Birx claims was her first impression of the virus:

I can still see the words splashed across my computer screen in the early morning hours of January 3. Though we were barely into 2020, I was stuck in an old routine, waking well before dawn and scanning news headlines online. On the BBC's site, one caught my attention: "China Pneumonia Outbreak: Mystery Virus Probed in Wuhan."
Indeed, that BBC article, which was posted at approximately 9:00 a.m. EST on Jan. 3, 2020, was the first in a Western news organization to discuss the outbreak of a new virus in Wuhan. Apparently, Birx was scanning British news headlines just as it appeared. Birx then tells us where she got her philosophy of disease mitigation, recalling how she immediately believed Chinese citizens "knew what had worked" against SARS-1: masks and distancing:

Government officials and citizens across Asia knew both the pervasive fear and the personal response that had worked before to mitigate the loss of life and the economic damage wrought by SARS and MERS. They wore masks. They decreased the frequency and size of social gatherings. Crucially, based on their recent experience, the entire citizenry and local doctors were ringing alarm bells loudly and early. Lives were on the line-lots of them. They knew what had worked before, and they would do it again.
Birx spends several pages tut-tutting the CCP for its "cover-up" of the virus (which Chinese state media pointedly didn't mind), then tells us:

On January 3, the same day the BBC piece ran, the Chinese government officially notified the United States of the outbreak. Bob Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was contacted by his Chinese counterpart, George F. Gao.
Note that Jan. 3 was also the same day that heroic Chinese whistleblower Li Wenliang was reportedly admonished by Chinese authorities for sending a WeChat message about a "cover-up" of the outbreak. In other words, on the same day Li was "admonished," the head of China's CDC personally called U.S. CDC Director Robert Redfield to share the same information Li supposedly shared. Some cover-up.

From here, it gets worse. One page later, Birx tells us how traumatized she still is from having watched videos of Wuhan residents collapsing and falling dead in January 2020, and praises the "courageous doctor" who shared them online:

The video showed a hallway crowded with patients slumped in chairs. Some of the masked people leaned against the wall for support. The camera didn't pan so much as zigzag while the Chinese doctor maneuvered her smartphone up the narrow corridor. My eye was drawn to two bodies wrapped in sheets lying on the floor amid the cluster of patients and staff. The doctor's colleagues, their face shields and other personal protective equipment in place, barely glanced at the lens as she captured the scene. They looked past her, as if at a harrowing future they could all see and hoped to survive. I tried to increase the volume, but there was no sound. My mind seamlessly filled that void, inserting the sounds from my past, sounds from other wards, other places of great sorrow. I had been here before. I had witnessed scenes like this across the globe, in HIV ravaged communities-when hospitals were full of people dying of AIDS before we had treatment or before we ensured treatment to those who needed it. I had lived this, and it was etched permanently in my brain: the unimaginable, devastating loss of mothers, fathers, children, grandparents, brothers, sisters.

Staring at my computer screen, I was horrified by the images from Wuhan, the suffering they portrayed, but also because they confirmed what I'd suspected for the last three weeks: Not only was the Chinese government underreporting the real numbers of the infected and dying in Wuhan and elsewhere, but the situation was definitely far more dire than most people outside that city realized. Up until now, I'd been only reading or hearing about the virus. Now it had been made visible by a courageous doctor sharing this video online.
Birx's book was published in April 2022. The early videos she recounts as the source of her trauma were exposed as fake by the Associated Press and other outlets in February of 2020.

In the next paragraph, Birx tells us how she grew even more determined after seeing that the Chinese had built a hospital in 10 days to fight the virus:

Dotting it were various pieces of earth-moving equipment, enough of them in various shapes and sizes that I briefly wondered if the photograph was of a manufacturing plant where the newly assembled machines were on display. Quickly, I learned that the machines were in Wuhan and that they were handling the first phase of preparatory work for the construction of a one-thousand-bed hospital to be completed in just ten days' time . The Chinese may not have been giving accurate data about the numbers of cases and deaths, but the rapid spread of this disease could be counted in other ways-including in how many Chinese workers were being employed to build new facilities to relieve the pressure on the existing, and impressive, Wuhan health service centers. You build a thousand-bed hospital in ten days only if you are experiencing unrelenting community spread of a highly contagious virus that has eluded your containment measures and is now causing serious illness on a massive scale.
BuzzFeed had proved that images of rapid hospital construction in China were faked on Jan. 27, 2020.

To recap, Deborah Birx-the woman who did more than almost any other person in the United States to promote and prolong COVID lockdowns, and attempted, with the support of mainstream media outlets, to silence anyone who disagreed with her-tells us in 2022 that she'd been inspired in her work by images that were widely known to have been faked (as if the real images of old age homes in Italy and elsewhere weren't bad enough) before the lockdowns even started.

That's Chapter 1.

Birx then spends hundreds of pages recounting what appears to be political maneuvering to intentionally deceive as many Americans as possible into willingly locking down for as long as possible, without making it seem like a "lockdown":

At this point, I wasn't about to use the words lockdown or shutdown. If I had uttered either of those in early March, after being at the White House only one week, the political, nonmedical members of the task force would have dismissed me as too alarmist, too doom-and-gloom, too reliant on feelings and not facts. They would have campaigned to lock me down and shut me up.
Birx recalls using "flatten-the-curve guidance" to manipulate the "political, nonmedical members" of the government into consenting to lockdowns that were stricter than they realized:

On Monday and Tuesday, while sorting through the CDC data issues, we worked simultaneously to develop the flatten-the-curve guidance I hoped to present to the vice president at week's end. Getting buy-in on the simple mitigation measures every American could take was just the first step leading to longer and more aggressive interventions. We had to make these palatable to the administration by avoiding the obvious appearance of a full Italian lockdown. At the same time, we needed the measures to be effective at slowing the spread, which meant matching as closely as possible what Italy had done-a tall order. We were playing a game of chess in which the success of each move was predicated on the one before it.
She also admits that her guidance regarding the maximum allowable size of social gatherings-10 people-was arbitrary, because her real goal was zero-no social contact of any kind, anywhere:

I had settled on ten knowing that even that was too many, but I figured that ten would at least be palatable for most Americans-high enough to allow for most gatherings of immediate family but not enough for large dinner parties and, critically, large weddings, birthday parties, and other mass social events. . Similarly, if I pushed for zero (which was actually what I wanted and what was required), this would have been interpreted as a "lockdown"-the perception we were all working so hard to avoid.
Birx then divulges her strategy of using federal advisories to give cover to state governors to impose mandates and restrictions:

The White House would "encourage," but the states could "recommend" or, if needed, "mandate." In short, we were handing governors and their public health officials a template, a state-level permission slip they could use to enact a specific response that was appropriate for the people under their jurisdiction. The fact that the guidelines would be coming from a Republican White House gave political cover to any Republican governors skeptical of federal overreach.
The White House advisor recalls with relish that her strategy led states to shut down one by one, destroying the livelihoods of millions of Americans and devastating the country's elementary and high school education systems without any public health benefit to show for it:

[T]he recommendations served as the basis for governors to mandate the flattening-the-curve shutdowns. The White House had handed down guidance, and the governors took that ball and ran with it . With the White House's "this is serious" message, governors now had "permission" to mount a proportionate response and, one by one, other states followed suit. California was first, doing so on March 18. New York followed on March 20. Illinois, which had declared its own state of emergency on March 9, issued shelter-in-place orders on March 21. Louisiana did so on the twenty-second. In relatively short order by the end of March and the first week of April, there were few holdouts. The circuit-breaking, flattening-the-curve shutdown had begun.
Cue the maniacal laughter.

In what may be her most damning remark about the entire U.S. response to COVID, Birx tells us that she'd always known "two weeks to slow the spread" was a lie and knew in advance that she wanted the timeframe extended, despite having no data to support why such a step was scientifically sensible:

No sooner had we convinced the Trump administration to implement our version of a two-week shutdown than I was trying to figure out how to extend it. Fifteen Days to Slow the Spread was a start, but I knew it would be just that. I didn't have the numbers in front of me yet to make the case for extending it longer, but I had two weeks to get them. However hard it had been to get the fifteen-day shutdown approved, getting another one would be more difficult by many orders of magnitude.
This is one of several quotes in which Birx refers to "our version" of a lockdown, though she never makes it clear what the original "version" of a lockdown was (read: China's). In fact, though Birx spends hundreds of pages boasting about her crusade for lockdowns across America, she never once explains why she wanted them or why she felt they were a good idea, other than the aforementioned brief asides about China's supposed success using social distancing to combat SARS-1.

Birx then says that she had a regular system for surreptitiously revising and hiding information from her bosses (whom she calls "gatekeepers") after they reviewed her guidance to the states, in order to keep lockdown measures in place for as long as possible against the wishes of the White House:

After the heavily edited documents were returned to me, I'd reinsert what they had objected to, but place it in those different locations. I'd also reorder and restructure the bullet points so the most salient-the points the administration objected to most-no longer fell at the start of the bullet points. I shared these strategies with the three members of the data team also writing these reports. Our Saturday and Sunday report-writing routine soon became: write, submit, revise, hide, resubmit.
Fortunately, this strategic sleight-of-hand worked. That they never seemed to catch this subterfuge left me to conclude that, either they read the finished reports too quickly or they neglected to do the word search that would have revealed the language to which they objected. In slipping these changes past the gatekeepers and continuing to inform the governors of the need for the big-three mitigations-masks, sentinel testing, and limits on indoor social gatherings-I felt confident I was giving the states permission to escalate public health mitigation with the fall and winter coming.
Birx's plans seem to be going quite well for her until she meets the book's leading antagonist: Scott Atlas, the former Stanford University neuroradiology professor serving as an adviser to the Task Force. To Birx's disgust, Atlas took a strong stand against school closures, treating children as unique vectors of disease, and other heresies.

More here:

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Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

https://immigwatch.blogspot.com/ (IMMIGRATION WATCH)

https://awesternheart.blogspot.com/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

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Monday, August 08, 2022


Education Is in a Shambles

The single most bizarre aspect of the pandemic policy response was the shutting of schools, public and private. One country never did that-Sweden-and the results were fabulous: zero deaths and zero educational losses. That this was the right choice should have been obvious from the beginning. COVID was never a serious threat to kids, mercifully.

In those fateful days, fully 55 million U.S. kids were suddenly sent home, and their parents' lives were massively disrupted to care for them and oversee their education. That happened for those lucky enough to be able to homeschool-a practice once nearly illegal and then suddenly mandatory-but for millions of kids, they simply slipped through the cracks, some losing as much as two years of education.

When the kids finally went back, they faced a coronaphobic environment with mandatory masking, plus a general message that they and their friends are disease vectors and they had better comply. They were hit with rolling lockdowns in the name of track-and-trace along with the pathological futility of somehow forever slowing the spread.

The result is a mental health crisis coupled with a dramatic decline in reading and math scores. We really are talking here about a lifetime trauma, far worse than a natural disaster. It was entirely man-made. It should raise fundamental doubts about the wisdom of our overlords.

So why did the shutdown happen?

So far as I can tell, such an egregious policy response has been baked into the modeling since 2006. The non-medically minded computer programmers who put together the whole idea of disease avoidance through "social distancing" developed an obsession with stopping schools, particularly ending school buses. In their view, kids are uncontrollable disease spreaders, so the only option is to put a stop to the whole enterprise.

An earlier modeling exercise for lockdowns written by Neil M. Ferguson of Imperial College London and published in Nature just assumed that school closures would reduce "attack rates" of a virus by 40 percent. This was echoed in 2006 by Robert Glass and his top two acolytes, Richard Hatchett and Carter Mecher, both of whom were pushing hard for school closures throughout February 2020 and somehow managed to get their way.

"Just watch kids with runny noses and coughing and sneezing and touching one another (especially the younger ones)," VA consultant Mecher wrote in March 2020 to public health officials all over the country. "You couldn't design a better system to spread disease. Schools and daycare centers are clearly amplifiers of disease transmission .. We can guarantee that if the US does not close schools now, they will eventually close all the schools and universities out of desperation." As for the downside, forget about it: "We don't need to exhaust ourselves searching for perfect solutions to address all these challenges associated with the 2nd and 3rd order consequences of school closure."

Strange how Dr. Mecher otherwise stayed out of the public eye for the duration of the pandemic.

In the big picture of things, the school shutdowns made absolutely no sense either epidemiologically or politically. The public school system in this country has for more than 100 years been considered the crown jewel of Progressive achievements. They began in this country in the 1880s at the state level as an effort to Americanize immigrant communities. They gradually became part of the normal function of government at all levels.

One might have supposed that the ruling class establishment would protect the schools above all else, not shut them down for fear of a virus that poses a near-zero risk to the kids. The flu pandemics of 1969 and 1958 did not cause this, and not even the polio scares of the 1940s were enough to force school closures. That it all happened in 2020 is a measure of just how bonkers the world became nearly overnight.

Now there is a real crisis at work in even finding teachers, many of whom have been massively demoralized not only from the closures but also the vaccine mandates. The Washington Post reports that "rural school districts in Texas are switching to four-day weeks this fall due to lack of staff. Florida is asking veterans with no teaching background to enter classrooms. Arizona is allowing college students to step in and instruct children. The teacher shortage in America has hit crisis levels - and school officials everywhere are scrambling to ensure that, as students return to classrooms, someone will be there to educate them."

This problem is coupled with the huge demographic upheaval of parents with young families fleeing the blue states for red ones, in search of a better place to raise the ones they love the most.

This might also be a tremendous opportunity for reform, dramatic reform. The education question should not actually be too difficult for any society that considers itself free. Parents want their kids to be educated and many institutions and people are thrilled to be part of the project. It might be heresy to say it, but consider that the entire industry would be better off without any government involvement at any level.

There is no reason why the entire sector should be treated like something uniquely requiring government intervention to make possible. We know now that government cannot be trusted in this realm. In fact, this trust may never return. Already public schooling was entering a crisis phase with curricula ever more detached from parents' wishes and kids treated inhumanely in an increasingly mechanized and bureaucratized system heavy with administrative expense.

The issue of homeschooling should at least be fully settled by now. Anyone who wishes to do so should be free to do so. But what about myriad hybrid schools that combine family, community, religious institutions, and civic associations? Most states have far too many regulations-including teacher certifications and curriculum requirements plus laws on compulsory attendance-that make the formation and development of more complex solutions too difficult.

If the Republicans are looking for solutions here, they should start with getting the federal government entirely out of the picture, starting with the immediate abolition of the Department of Education, which has done nothing to improve educational systems and much to inhibit innovative solutions at the local level.

It's also time to revisit the issue of so-called "child labor" laws (imposed only in 1938) that stop hybrid school/work solutions and end up conscripting kids into an inhumane environment for 12 years. It's pointless. Even now, kids on family farms (and also child actors!) are free to enjoy employment while also pursuing school studies. This right needs to be extended to everyone. It's preposterous that a 13-year old cannot legally serve a sandwich in a local shop and get paid to do so.

Beyond that, deregulation of the entire educational sector should be the main theme here. And the system of funding needs dramatic change too. Right now, it is tied to property taxes which in turn are linked to the system of school districts, which profoundly affects housing prices and ends up making most schools "public" in name only. A just system would link payments made to services provided, just as with private schools.

The system we have now is in the midst of an unsustainable crisis that is crying out for dramatic change. The incredible irony is that American educational institutions were massively disrupted and even wrecked by the very same crowd that built them in the first place. Even the New York Times is publishing writers who now say they never should have closed.

Indeed, but for all the catastrophic results, at least it has created a giant opportunity for massive reform that rejects the top-down, property-tax-funded, bureaucratically controlled model rooted in control, coercion, and compulsion, in favor of a system better suited to a free people. The way to prevent school lockdowns from ever happening again is to create a giant wall between government and education, and then let millions of flowers bloom.

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Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

https://immigwatch.blogspot.com/ (IMMIGRATION WATCH)

https://awesternheart.blogspot.com/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

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Sunday, August 07, 2022

Hidden side-effects of Covid


The third world is full of silent victims. Impoverished nations ruled by dictators, or those left to fend for themselves beneath the smoke of proxy wars, are often targeted by drug companies looking for a lawless testing environment.

Rarely, they get caught, and when it happens the story is usually printed in some sort of World magazine as a four-page human interest piece to momentarily entertain a Westerner on their way to work – flicked over and forgotten by the next train station.

Pfizer may have a shiny halo in the Covid era, but in the 90s eleven Nigerian children died during the trial of Trovan while others were rendered blind or brain damaged sparking a court case from the Nigerian government over ‘informed consent’. Informed consent is a topic the CDC, WHO, and NIH also struggled with when the notorious AZT trials began in Zimbabwe where 1,000 children contracted HIV/AIDS despite an effective treatment existing.

Carl Elliott, author of White Coat, Black Hat: Adventures on the Dark Side of Medicine said of similar controversies for small private trials in the West:

‘Many of these trials – especially Phase I clinical trials, which are early-stage studies done primarily to determine whether a drug is safe – exploit impoverished, vulnerable people, especially the mentally ill. Few people realise how little oversight the [US] federal government provides for the protection of subjects in privately sponsored studies.’

There’s a reason large drug trials aren’t done on the rich. In the third world – loose change is used as bait and the consequences for failure are limited to the mourning of a local family. Without global communication, victims cannot alert the world to their situation.

In 2020, the status quo flipped. Wealthy, highly educated Western nations found themselves as the testing ground for mRNA vaccines while the third world remained largely untouched. These trials were conducted without compensation, under duress, and often participation was mandated by governments either through coercive vaccine passport systems, direct fines, or by ‘locking citizens out of the vaccine economy’. This was called ‘an emergency rollout’ but in a strictly technical sense, it was a trial.

It doesn’t take an expert to correctly guess that there would be a range of terrible – and in some cases fatal – side effects from a new vaccine technology with 12.4 billion doses in two years.

Preparations were made by governments and pharmaceutical companies to protect themselves from the legal ramifications of angry citizens seeking a hell of a lot more than an apology and the odd human interest story. Early on in the rollout, it was this panicky level of preemptive legal work that worried the vaccine-hesitant. They were right to worry. While authorities repeated the mantra ‘safe and effective’ in the absence of long-term data, the statistical reality began to mount that Covid vaccines were returning the highest level of adverse effects seen in current use. 

The situation is likely worse than recorded, given how difficult some countries like Australia make it to record vaccine injuries. The safety profile of Covid vaccines do not compare to childhood vaccines, whose side effects look like a pebble next to Everest. Ordinarily, they would have been pulled off the shelf after the first death and sent back for further testing.

This situation is only a problem for governments and drug companies if the wider community is made aware. Hushing up the press or advising governments and their medical bureaucrats to walk the line of silence for ‘the greater good’ is not only possible – it was laid out in some of the leaked contracts. Nations like Argentina and Brazil were forced to go even further after being asked to back a pharmaceutical company’s legal protection with sovereign assets.

Social media is the weak link – the crack through which tales of adverse reactions leak.

It becomes difficult to keep chanting ‘safe and effective’ when hundreds – if not thousands – of stories make it onto social media detailing the horror that some people and their families have faced as a consequence of the vaccine trial. No matter how strong the contracts were between governments and pharmaceutical companies, there is a tipping point in public outrage where the desire for justice in the courts becomes unstoppable. Dare we call it, ‘social justice’. And it only takes one victory to set a precedent.

The natural reaction of those with something to lose (be it money or political power) is to immediately censor victims trying to share their stories. Australia is lagging a year behind the rest of the world thanks to a period in our history that will forever be known as ‘the hermit kingdom’, so we must look to the UK for a glimpse of our future.

While the BBC used public money to make a documentary attempting to shame the unvaccinated out of their decision, Mark Steyn of GB News gave those who were harmed by government vaccine directives the voice they were denied by Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.

Aside from the injuries and deaths inflicted on otherwise healthy young people who had a near-zero risk from a Covid infection, the most striking part of the discussion was the behaviour of Silicon Valley, which routinely suspended and banned accounts belonging to victims.

The empty space created by their deletion sits as a scar on social media.

Many fully-vaccinated individuals in the media scoff or cheer at the censorship these people face, slurring them as ‘anti-vaxxers’ (despite the contradiction that it was their vaccination that harmed them). Others do not want to listen to first-hand evidence that a vaccine most people have taken might result in lifelong complications, especially if they have already given it to their children.

‘If you watch other TV stations, if you listen to other radio stations, if you go on social media, the people in this room with me tonight do not exist. In fact, as you can see they’re real, they’re flesh and blood, and they are your fellow citizens. They represent hundreds of thousands of other people in every corner of these islands [UK] and millions more around the globe. Yet if they post on Twitter, if they post on Facebook, they are labelled as misleading – as disinformation – and as fake news. These people are not in the least bit fake. They are victims of the Covid vaccine,’ said Mark Steyn.

It has escaped mainstream media’s notice that we live in an age where social media giants erase victims of the pharmaceutical industry and government edicts.

At what other point in modern history has it been acceptable for the personal recollections of victims to be deemed ‘misleading’ or ‘harmful’?

How can the likes of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram claim to be acting in the interest of ‘the greater good’ and ‘public health’ by hiding stories of adverse reactions, or the death of loved ones, from public view?

The truth is in the public interest, even if it is harmful to public health policy or the profits of Big Pharma. Informed consent requires an accurate assessment of risk. Would any publication turn a blind eye if Twitter deleted cancer sufferers complaining about Big Tobacco? What about if Facebook banned users who complained about mistreatment from police over concerns it would ‘erode trust in authority’?

If a new medical treatment is dangerous, even to a minority of healthy people, the public needs to know.

Silicon Valley does not only remove people who deviate from the ‘safe and effective’ narrative on vaccines. The community guidelines of some sites have expanded to cover ‘Climate Change’, gender, and sexuality in what appears to be an attempt to manipulate the direction of social ethics.

This is a system of political censorship more commonly seen in collectivist dictatorships. Perhaps this is the direction Western society is headed.

Surely, say the supporters of global gag orders, social media is a private entity. Unethical or not, it can do what it likes…

Although social media is perceived to be a public forum, that is not its legal status. However, those who claim that ‘private companies can do what they like’ are also incorrect. Setting aside the realty that all private companies are bound by various laws, Twitter, Facebook, and others are platforms. Platforms exist as a strange legal entity that arose in the early years of the internet where third parties began publishing content directly to the public via a company like Twitter.

These online sites look a bit like ‘publishers’ – who are legally responsible for every word set to print – but a publishing model is impossible to uphold in a live-post scenario where a billion people are chatting with each other. Instead, ‘platforms’ were given special legal exemption from liability toward their content. This protection came with a caveat. Because platforms are not publishers, they are not allowed to engage in editorial behaviour.

In other words, the community guidelines laid out by social media companies are being misused to censor political speech in direct violation of their legal structure.

The only ‘editorial’ behaviour platforms are permitted to engage in relates to the Good Samaritan Clause tagged onto Section 230 Immunity that essentially covers clear-cut cases of bullying, threats, intimidation, stalking, or otherwise illegal activity such as sex trafficking. It does not include scope for ‘hurt feelings’ or ‘the protection of Big Pharma from product failures’.

There is no need to tangle social media up in new legislation. The rules that were written to cover platforms were clear, simple, and sufficient. Instead, the problem sits in America’s political class who refuse to bring social media companies to court over abuses of power because they are using Silicon Valley censorship to advance their political careers, manipulate social trends, and protect their financial interests.

Where is the moral outrage from human rights lawyers about this cabal of elite entities working together to silence victims of billion-dollar corporations?

Worse, why are so many Australians occupying positions of privilege in the media happy to go along with the erasure of victims and the silencing of their suffering?

You can make the case that keeping the side effects of vaccines quiet will ‘serve the greater good’ by ensuring more people get vaccinated, but that ignores the ethical reality that human beings deserve to know the extent of true risk and make an informed decision for themselves. It is not up to strangers to judge what is ‘in the best interest’ for others.

Nor is it right to describe those who see excessive risk in Covid vaccines as ‘anti-vaxxers’. The percentage of people who reject the concept of vaccination (which is a valid position if we continue to support body autonomy) has not changed during the Covid years. What we are seeing instead is hesitation about a particular drug – a drug that has never been on the market before and was previously held back due to safety concerns that were estimated to take ‘a decade’ to resolve. Yet here they are, rolled out to the entire population of the world a year later.

Regardless of your opinion on Covid vaccination itself, deleting victims from the conversation is at best, immoral and at worst – criminal.

https://spectator.com.au/2022/08/empty-space-silicon-valleys-war-against-victims

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Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

<a href="https://edwatch.blogspot.com">http://edwatch.blogspot.com</a> (EDUCATION WATCH)

<a href="https://antigreen.blogspot.com">http://antigreen.blogspot.com</a> (GREENIE WATCH)

<a href="https://pcwatch.blogspot.com">http://pcwatch.blogspot.com</a> (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

<a href="https://australian-politics.blogspot.com/">http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/</a> (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

<a href="https://snorphty.blogspot.com/">http://snorphty.blogspot.com/</a> (TONGUE-TIED)

<a href="https://immigwatch.blogspot.com/">https://immigwatch.blogspot.com/</a> <b>(IMMIGRATION WATCH)</b>

<a href="https://awesternheart.blogspot.com/">https://awesternheart.blogspot.com/</a> (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

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Friday, August 05, 2022

‘Resist, Wake Up, Stop Obeying’: Holocaust Survivor Draws Parallels in Current Society to Nazi Germany


Vera Sharav was only 3 years old when her world collapsed. She and her family were chased out of Romania and herded into a concentration camp in Ukraine during World War II, where they were left to wait, and starve.

“The cloud of death was always there,” Sharav told The Epoch Times. Weekly, a list determined who would be sent where; whether it be a death or slave labor camp, she said.

While at the camp, she said her father died of typhus when she was 5, which had been widespread throughout the camps because of the cold and malnutrition.

After three years at the camp, she was rescued in 1944, she said. “My mother got wind that a few orphans would be transported out of the camp, so she lied and said I was an orphan to save my life, and that’s how I wound up leaving,” Sharav said.

This began what she called her odyssey as a child without parents, left to her own intuition and keen critical assessment of others’ intentions. “I had to assess who I could trust to take care of me,” she said.

While on a train to the Port of Constanta, Romania, where there were three boats awaiting to take groups of people to Palestine, she befriended a family. However, upon arrival, she found herself assigned a boat with other orphan children that would separate her from the family with whom she felt she could trust. So she rebelled.  “No matter what, I could not be convinced to get on that boat,” she said. “Miraculously, in the end, they gave in to me.”

Seasick, she fell asleep that night, only to wake up to find that the boat with the orphans had been torpedoed by who she said she found out decades later to have been the Russians.

Though she carried guilt for having survived, she was grateful she resisted because that resistance kept her alive, she said.

“I do not obey authority, and it saved my life.”

Weaponized Medicine

These memories returned in 2020 during the web of COVID-19 restrictions that spun out of control with the help of media propaganda, she said.

“So now, when people are obeying authority mindlessly, giving up their rights to make decisions about their own lives and what goes into their own bodies, I think back to that time,” she said.

Today, Sharav is a medical activist and founder of the Alliance for Human Research Protection, a network of lay people and professionals who work to uphold humanitarian values and ethical standards established in the Hippocratic Oath, the Nuremberg Code, and the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights.

Both Sharav and Schara discussed with The Epoch Times what they saw as parallels between the National Socialist regime in Germany and the current medical directives being carried out in the United States through government funding.

Since the death of his 19-year-old daughter Grace in a hospital in 2021, after having been injected with a combination of drugs that he found out later was part of a federal hospital protocol, Schara called what was happening “genocide.” He has been crusading to tell his daughter’s story and network with others who have had a similar experience while bringing attention to the protocols that he believes amounted to the murder of his daughter, who had Down syndrome.

Under the Nazi regime, Sharav said, medicine was weaponized, as it has been today.

Though the Jews were the primary target, she said, the first medically murdered victims were disabled German infants and children under the age of 3. This later expanded the operation—titled T4 for the street address of the program’s central office in Berlin—to the disabled of all ages, including the mentally ill and senior citizens, Sharav said.

“The Nazis called them worthless eaters,” she said. “T4 was a concerted effort to be rid of what their propaganda called the ‘economic burden.’”

“Thirty-nine percent of that federal budget goes to those two groups right now, which is $2.2 trillion a year,” Schara said.

“The sooner solutions are enacted, the more flexible and gradual they can be,” the report states.

For Schara, the implication, while not overtly stated, suggests a call for eugenics that was supported by academic elites early in U.S. history, and later adopted by Nazi Germany.

Ten years after he took power, Adolph Hitler launched his genocide program that had been introduced in incremental steps with the help of propaganda portraying the regime as heroes, Sharav said.

“What happened to Grace, and what happened to many disabled and elderly in Western Europe, Australia, Canada, and the United States in March and April of 2020 was medical murder,” Sharav said.

‘Built on a Lie’

Genocide isn’t new to the United States, Sharav said, as it was Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Oliver Wendell Holmes who voted in favor of the 8-1 majority opinion in the 1921 case Buck v. Bell, which upheld the Virginia Sterilization Act of 1924 and the forced sterilization of Carrie Buck, who was alleged to be mentally defective.

Holmes said it would be better to prevent the mentally disabled from being born than to allow them to “sap the strength of the state” or “let them starve for their imbecility.”

“The principle that sustains compulsory vaccinations is broad enough to cover cutting Fallopian tubes,” the justice wrote in his opinion. “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.”

Carrie Buck, however, was never actually mentally disabled, Sharav said.

“Arguments for eugenics are always built on a lie,” Sharav said. “But it’s an ideology that continues to poison public health policies.” And he blames this type of thinking for the medical decisions that ultimately contributed to Grace’s death.

‘The Banality of Evil’

As he continues to try to wrap his mind around what happened to his daughter, Schara says he gained some insight from the writings of Holocaust survivor Hannah Arendt and her concept of the “banality of evil.” “It opened up a whole different view of the world for me,” Schara said.

Sharav’s experience made her familiar with the concept. The banality of evil is the normalization of mass murder by making it a bureaucratic routine that is handed down as orders through the chain of command to the person who pulls the switch, gives the injection, or turns on the gas, she said.

“No one called it murder,” Sharav said. “The Nazis were very adept at propaganda and language. The Jews were called ‘spreaders of disease,’ not unlike the epithets thrown at those who didn’t take the jab.”

Throughout 2021, the spread of COVID-19 was blamed on “the pandemic of the unvaccinated,” a phrase that was used by President Joe Biden and governors such as North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper. “The whole language of it is dehumanizing,” Sharav said.

‘A Slippery Slope’

Schara applies the concept to the fact that 67 percent of Down syndrome children are aborted in the United States, he said.

“Doctors encourage the mother to get an amnio (amniocentesis) test, and if the test shows Down syndrome or another disability that would complicate the parent’s life, he encourages an abortion,” Schara said.

What Sharav said she’s seen in an unholy union when medicine gets into bed with the government. “The Hippocratic Oath goes out the window,” she said.

The pledge to “do no harm” got replaced with allegiance to “the greater good,” Sharav said.

The question then remains, who has the authority to decide what’s best for the greater good, Sharav challenged.

What supports the greater good is having respect for the individual, Sharav said, and to pursue policies that advocate for the many over the individual is to open the door to medical practices that will cause harm.

“Look at what Big Pharma is doing now to children, aggressively pursuing them to be jabbed when they aren’t at risk at all from COVID-19,” she said.

It’s a slippery slope that—with the help of advanced technology—society is sliding down rapidly compared to the snail’s pace that it took for Hitler to implement his “Final Solution,” Schara said.

“We’re headed there exceptionally fast,” Schara said. “Today, the ‘Final Solution’ is the reduction of the entire human population under the ‘Sustainable Agenda’ of Agenda 2030.”

Unlike the physical camps that required ink tattoos for identification and guards to manage the prisoners, the new prisons are digital, Sharav said, managed remotely by surveillance through smartphones and cities. “With smart technology, you can manage billions all at once,” she said. “It’s chilling.”

It’s hard for many to fathom that an elite few would conspire to cause widespread harm, Sharav said.

“People will say, ‘They made a mistake; it was an accident.’ But no, the elite, just like the Nazis, have this arrogance in which they believe they are superior and therefore entitled to rule the rest of us because they think we are inferior,” Sharav said.

 Control vs. Faith

Schara said his concern is with an elite ruling class that is godless, believing only in what is measurable and controllable.

He emphasizes his faith in God as a powerful weapon to combat the dark agendas that have escalated beyond the comprehension of the average person, working 60 hours a week just to make ends meet.

“We should not fall trap to the false light that Satan will eventually ride in on to steal more souls. God’s true light protects those who believe,” he said.

“We the People” can reclaim sovereignty by learning to trust in intuition, experience, and the ability to assess lies from truth, Sharav said.

“Stop watching mainstream media,” Sharav said. “They’re all reading from the same script. They have bombarded people with fearmongering, which is exactly the same thing that the Nazis did. That’s how they controlled the population: through fear.”

For Sharav, the mission that has been laid at the feet of people throughout the world is the same as it was for her as a child: “Resist. Wake up. Stop obeying.”

https://www.theepochtimes.com/resist-wake-up-stop-obeying-holocaust-survivor-draws-parallels-in-current-society-to-nazi-germany_4632304.html


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Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

<a href="https://edwatch.blogspot.com">http://edwatch.blogspot.com</a> (EDUCATION WATCH)

<a href="https://antigreen.blogspot.com">http://antigreen.blogspot.com</a> (GREENIE WATCH)

<a href="https://pcwatch.blogspot.com">http://pcwatch.blogspot.com</a> (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

<a href="https://australian-politics.blogspot.com/">http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/</a> (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

<a href="https://snorphty.blogspot.com/">http://snorphty.blogspot.com/</a> (TONGUE-TIED)

<a href="https://immigwatch.blogspot.com/">https://immigwatch.blogspot.com/</a> <b>(IMMIGRATION WATCH)</b>

<a href="https://awesternheart.blogspot.com/">https://awesternheart.blogspot.com/</a> (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

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Thursday, August 04, 2022


Freedom of speech for the medical profession is under threat in Australia

No one wants to believe that they have been misled by people in positions of trust.

This is especially true when politicians, health bureaucrats, and regulatory bodies have forced compliance to medical mandates rather than leaving risk as a matter of personal choice. There is growing evidence from around the world that information has been withheld from public view and that doctors have been pressured out of questioning policy and data related to the pandemic.

In 1633, the authorities tried and condemned Galileo Galilei to house arrest, until his death in 1642, for publishing evidence that the planets revolved around the sun. They tried to silence open scientific debate. Ultimately, it didn’t work but did create a lot of suffering and misery for a few brave scientists in the meantime.

This kind of behaviour by powerful bodies is not confined to the past.

The newly formed Australian Medical Professionals Society (AMPS), operating as an alternative to the Australian Medical Association (AMA), is standing up for medical transparency, to protect our patients, and ensure open scientific debate.

Our AMPS members are refusing to be silent, even under threats to our registrations. We are fighting for law reform to provide our patients with evidence-based care rather than uncritical politically driven health practice.

Does the Australian public know that the government regulator, AHPRA, has warned health professionals, including doctors and nurses, not to publicly question government public health directives, including those related to Covid – effectively gagging them? This is done by threatening their registration.

Many have been disciplined or suspended for challenging the public health messaging even if they believed that they had scientific evidence to support their professional view.

The directive states:

‘Any promotion of anti-vaccination statements or health advice which contradicts the best available scientific evidence or seeks to actively undermine the national immunisation campaign (including via social media) is not supported by National Boards and may be in breach of the codes of conduct and subject to investigation and possible regulatory action.’

Brett Simmonds, Pharmacy Board Chair and co-chair of the Forum of NRAS Chairs, said of Covid vaccination programs:

‘National Boards support the vaccination program and encourage all registered health practitioners to get vaccinated unless medically contraindicated.

‘The codes of conduct for each of the registered health professions explain the public health obligations of registered health practitioners, including participating in efforts to promote the health of the community and meeting obligations on disease prevention.

‘There is no place for anti-vaccination messages in professional health practice, and any promotion of anti-vaccination claims including on social media, and advertising may be subject to regulatory action.

‘If you’re a registered health practitioner or student, the best thing to do is to read our joint statement. It explains the National Boards’ expectations of registered health practitioners about receiving, administering, and sharing information about Covid vaccination. It’s important you understand these expectations so that patients and communities are best protected against the novel coronavirus that causes Covid.’

AHPRA chief Martin Fletcher rejected the claim, saying:

‘In essence, AHPRA and National Boards expect health practitioners to use their professional judgment and the best available evidence in practice. This includes when providing information to the public about public health issues such as Covid and vaccination.

‘Any promotion of anti-vaccination statements or health advice that contradicts the best available scientific evidence or seeks to actively undermine the national immunisation campaign (including via social media) is not supported by National Boards.

‘It may be in breach of the codes of conduct and subject to investigation and possible regulatory action.’

It is a statement that appears to confirm, not deny, the complaints of medical professionals.

Never before have government bodies demanded compliance with domestic law that we believe breaches our codes and oaths to ‘first, do no harm’ and ‘I will not use my medical knowledge to violate human rights and civil liberties, even under threat’.

Is it widely known among practitioners and the public that the government changed laws to give manufacturers 6 years to provide comprehensive clinical data on safety and efficacy for provisionally approved Covid treatments?

The comparative lack of vital long-term data (present for other vaccines and medical treatments) is lacking in Covid vaccines – making it difficult to justify statements such as proven safe and effective. ‘Assumed to the best of our knowledge’ would be more accurate.

This problem is highlighted by changing promises related to Covid vaccines, which began as ‘you won’t get sick and it will stop transmission’ but now manufacturers and medical bodies have had to admit, due to overwhelming physical evidence in patients, that Covid vaccines do not stop transmission and many people still get sick and die. These revelations call into question the validity of extraordinary measures placed on people for over two years.

In Australia, we have a serious problem. Government excesses of power created through emergency legislation have been allowed to violate our freedoms and liberties. They were justified by largely unscientific and refutable claims. Fear was wrongly employed by political leaders, who also took steps to keep health advice secret from the public by the re-classifying of National Cabinet after Freedom of Information requests were approved by the court.

Public Health Laws gave Chief Health Officers (CHO) unprecedented powers to do almost anything they thought was reasonable during a pandemic – which can be declared on opinion, not evidence – without having to justify their decisions. They are no better than the authorities in Galileo’s time.

Queensland Doctors are taking the Qld CHO to court to gain access to the scientific evidence used to justify mandates that contradict historical experience and scientific consensus. Public confidence should never be coerced through government-mandated compliance to political directives.

We believe our code of conduct requirements demand we exercise our right to political communication to respectfully debate scientific evidence, risk/benefit analysis of therapeutics, and provide informed consent. But to do so we risk losing everything.

If we are forbidden by the government to adhere to our codes and make our patients our primary concern, then this is the end of medicine and the death of science.

AMPS cannot allow such government intrusion to stand. We are fighting back against new laws recommended by the Queensland government that allow public naming and shaming of doctors under investigation.

‘New legislation introduced in Queensland, the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2022, will greatly enhance the government regulator’s powers for censoring doctors in Queensland,’ said Steven Andrews MP for Marani QLD.

Even the AMA described these new laws as ‘incoherent zealotry’. The cost for patient advocacy will be public humiliation and potentially career-ending reputational damage. With this unchecked power of AHPRA, fear-based compliance to public health directives will become the primary concern of practitioners.

AMPS has been calling for a Royal Commission into the government response to Covid, while advocating strongly for law reform needed now to allow practitioners to advocate for their patients as their primary concern. Click here for more information. We cannot stay silent while adherence to public health messaging becomes the new accepted standard of good medical practice. Our patients, not politicians, are who we serve, no matter the personal cost.

Galileo said, ‘Two truths cannot contradict one another.’ The pressure on medical professionals to hide their true opinions should be rescinded and doctors allowed to openly debate all Covid measures and be able to have all tools at their disposal to treat patients.

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Inflation Reduction Act? Drug-price controls make Dems’ bill the Lifespan Reduction Act

By Betsy McCaughey

Across the pond, Brits are demanding their next prime minister do something to reduce the United Kingdom’s notorious cancer death rates. But here in the United States, Democrats are doing the opposite.

They’re pushing for European-style price controls on drugs, which will slow cancer cures and lead to more deaths. Americans enjoy the highest cancer-survival rates in the world. But maybe not for long.

Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer and Joe Manchin call their legislation the Inflation Reduction Act. Don’t let the title fool you. The bill cripples the ability of drug companies to develop new cures. It should be called the Lifespan Reduction Act.

The bill empowers the federal government to impose price controls on top-selling brand-name drugs starting in 2026. Virtually all health experts agree these price controls will discourage innovation.

The only disagreement is how grave the impact will be. The Congressional Budget Office lowballs the number of new drugs that will never be developed and declines to predict the “effects of forgone innovation on public health.” But the Office of Health Economics, a think tank, foresees “significant losses in biopharmaceutical innovation and hence health for the U.S. and global populations over the coming decades.”

The Global Colon Cancer Association, which helps patients battling cancer, warned Tuesday that the bill will backfire, “leading to less of the medical innovation we need to finally defeat cancer.”

Amazing that Congress is ignoring these warnings. Democrats are bragging about reducing prescription-drug prices but not admitting you could be paying for that discount down the road with your life.

Democrats claim the government will “negotiate” with drug companies to reach a fair price. Untrue. The bill says government will dictate the price. Any company that refuses that price will get hit with a tax as high as 95% of revenue. That’s a gun to the head, not a negotiation. Democrats are playing word games with “negotiate,” just as with “recession.”

Medical investors look at the expected future revenue from a drug to decide how much to invest. Even non-American companies rely on selling in the US market for their profits. But the proposed price controls tell investors to put their money in some other industry, not medical innovation.

European drug developers led the world until price controls shut down innovation. Now drug development in Europe attracts only 3% of the investment capital available in the United States. It’s a warning.

Countries that promote drug development have better cancer survival rates, reports Columbia University economist Frank Lichtenberg, who compared rates in 36 countries.

The United States proves the point. Cancer death rates here have plunged in the last two decades. Research in the Journal of Medical Economics shows that from 2000 to 2016, more than 1.3 million patients were saved by new treatments for 15 different types of cancer.

Don’t expect that to continue under price controls. The University of Chicago’s Tomas Philipson and Troy Durie calculate that hundreds of potential cures will go undeveloped over the next decade, leading to a loss of life greater than what we’ve experienced from COVID. These are lives that would be saved if the current pace of innovation continued instead of being blocked by the Manchin-Schumer deal.

Is their price-control scheme even constitutional? The Congressional Research Service says forcing drug manufacturers to lower prices for all customers, not just government, might violate the “takings” clause of the Fifth Amendment. Certainly a 95% tax on revenues of companies that refuse could be considered “excessive” punishment under the Eighth Amendment.

Even so, Democrats are rushing to pass their 725-page bill, with its many varied provisions and cockeyed priorities. The bill pours hundreds of billions of public dollars into companies that install solar panels and build electric vehicles in the name of saving the planet.

But the same bill strips biotech and drug companies of the ability to attract billions in research and development funds and produce the next generation of cures. As if saving the planet is all-important and saving lives no longer matters.

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Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

https://immigwatch.blogspot.com/ (IMMIGRATION WATCH)

https://awesternheart.blogspot.com/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

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Scientists see COVID’s origin in Wuhan market

Since the emergence of COVID-19, a question has obsessed many: where did it come from?

That question – and the fact the virus was first detected in the city of Wuhan, home of the Wuhan Institute of Virology – has sparked geopolitical convulsions and a fracturing of faith in science, not to mention a thousand anonymous Twitter-sleuth accounts.

Meanwhile, a group of scientists has been working on their own parallel investigative effort. With a pair of articles published in Science last week (you can read them here and here), they say they are at the end of their search.

The virus almost-certainly jumped from wildlife into humans in the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, the papers argue. The authors have even found the most likely section of the market. They have old photos of caged raccoon dogs – known carriers of COVID-19 – being sold there.

“The siren has definitely sounded on the lab leak theory,” says Professor Edward Holmes, a world-leading viral evolution expert based at the University of Sydney and co-author on both the papers. “In terms of what we can reasonably do, with the available science and the science we’ll get in the foreseeable future, I think we’re at the end of the road frankly. There’s not a lot more to mine.”

Professor Dominic Dwyer, director of public health pathology in NSW and a member of the World Health Organisation (WHO) team that travelled to Wuhan last year to investigate the origins of the virus, agrees.

“That’s what we thought originally back when we did the first report. This is yet another brick added to the wall of information around zoonotic infection.”

Twin strains

When COVID-19 first emerged in Wuhan, two distinct viral lineages were spotted, separated by two small changes in genetic code. They were detected a week apart in late December 2019.

The team behind the Science papers used computers to simulate the most likely sequence of events that would produce two viruses circulating at the same time.

They found it is exceedingly unlikely that a single virus would jump into humans and quickly split into two distinct variants.

Far more likely, was that the virus had been circulating in animals for long enough to split into multiple variants, two of which then jumped separately into humans. Multi-virus jumps have been seen when COVID-19 jumped from minks on Dutch farms to humans, and when SARS and MERS also jumped into humans.

If the COVID-19 virus originated in a lab, as some conspiracy theories suggest, you’d expect a single introduction into humans – rather than two distinct viral lineages. And both strains were found in samples taken from Huanan market. “That, I think, is pretty good evidence,” says Dwyer.

Lab-leak advocates argue that Huanan is a perfect super-spreader site. Maybe a scientist from the Wuhan Institute of Virology shopped there and spread the bug?

The Science papers show that 155 COVID cases in December 2019 were strongly clustered in the suburbs around the market – including cases with no known link to the market.

If the virus emerged from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, wouldn’t early cases cluster around there? Wouldn’t an infected scientist have passed on the virus while walking to work? “You wouldn’t expect to find the virus around a not-very-well-visited animal market in a different part of the city,” says Holmes.

And the papers show Huanan is hardly the perfect superspreader site that some suggest.

It turns out the market is a small and relatively obscure shopping spot. By reviewing social media check-in data, the team deduced that 70 other markets in Wuhan had more visitors than Huanan. Of 430 identified possible super-spreader sites in Wuhan, such as shopping malls, supermarkets and schools, the Huanan market was among the least visited.

“It’s like going to Coles in Bendigo on a wet Wednesday afternoon. It’s not a thriving mass of humanity,” says Holmes.

Further evidence: no COVID-19 has been detected among tens of thousands of blood donations made in Wuhan between September and December 2019, nor in thousands of samples taken from people hospitalised between October and December with influenza-like illnesses.

“What are the odds that two lineages escape from the lab and both make their way into the market and both cause superspreader events? It’s ridiculous. There is no way that can happen,” says Holmes.

We know now that COVID-19 moves easily among many species of animals, including raccoon dogs – but also badgers, hares, rats and foxes, all observed being sold live at the market in 2019.

Raccoon dogs were supplied to the market by a network of farms in western Hubei province, the Science papers note. Western Hubei is known for its extensive network of caves filled with Rhinolophus bats, which carry coronaviruses similar to the one that causes COVID-19.

“Raccoon dogs are a suspect,” says Holmes, but not the only one. “I think, strongly, there are a whole bunch of animals out there who have viruses like this that we have not sampled yet.”

Compare the theories

Theory one: Two closely related versions of a virus emerge at the same time in people who live near or work in a small market selling wildlife. The market sells animals known to both carry the virus and to be farmed near bats that carry similar viruses. We detect those viruses on cages in the market’s wildlife section.

We know from past experience viruses can jump from animals to humans at wildlife markets. And we don’t have any evidence of the virus spreading anywhere else in Wuhan before it was in the market.

Compare this to the lab-leak theory. No one has ever been able to prove COVID-19 – let alone a twin strain – was ever at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. There’s no epidemiological evidence that the virus was spreading near the institute.

“There’s no emails. There’s no evidence in any of the science. There’s absolutely nothing,” says Holmes.

Lab-leak proponents have now turned to trying to find malfeasance in the articles’ peer review process, of all places. Holmes doubts the conspiracy theorists will ever be convinced. “Even if the Chinese do let us in the lab, people would say ‘aha, but they’re covering it up’,” he says.

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Sun key to vitamin D as pills prove worthless

The biggest study in the world into vitamin D supplements has found the pills do not prevent bone fractures and are unlikely to provide the same benefits as obtaining the vitamin from the sun.

About one-third of Australians are vitamin D-deficient, and many have been advised by their doctor to supplement with vitamin D pills, the biggest-selling supplement in the country.

A US study published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests it would be far better to expose the skin to some sunlight every day instead.

The large study known as Vital, which involved 26,000 mid-life men and women, found vitamin D pills provide little benefit to most people. The headline finding was that vitamin D supplements do not prevent osteoporosis and were found not to prevent bone fractures even in people who already had bone thinning.

Vitamin D in the body plays a role in helping the gut absorb calcium, which strengthens bones.

Researchers on the study also found that vitamin D supplements did not provide the benefits of vitamin D obtained from sunlight, which include the prevention of cancer, prevention of heart disease, improvements in brain function and protection of the joints and eyes.

The NEJM published an editorial along with the study findings recommending people stop taking vitamin D supplements.

The author of the editorial was Steven Cummings, who is a research scientist at the California Pacific Medical Centre Research Institute.

“Providers should stop screening for 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels or recommending vitamin D supplements and people should stop taking vitamin D supplements in order to prevent major diseases or extend life,” Dr Cummings said.

“The trials show they have no benefit, even in people with vitamin D deficiency.

“With very few exceptions, such as those in nursing homes deprived from sun and ordinary diets, everyone gets enough vitamin D to maintain the functions and balance they need.”

You can also obtain vitamin D from foods including oily fish, eggs and red meat.

University of South Australia professor Elina Hypponen, who has extensively studied Vitamin D, said the US study did not include people who were truly vitamin D-deficient, and that such people would be likely still to obtain benefit from taking the ­supplements.

“If you can get vitamin D naturally and safely from the sun without risk of sunburn, then you don’t need to think about supplements,” Professor Hypponen said.

“But in situations where people are seriously vitamin D-deficient, then vitamin D supplements are sometimes necessary.”

The Vital study was funded by the US National Institutes of Health and began after an expert group examined the health effects of vitamin D supplements and found little evidence.

The Vital study reinforces a ­series of other research projects that have cast doubt on the efficacy of vitamin D supplements.

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Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

https://immigwatch.blogspot.com/ (IMMIGRATION WATCH)

https://awesternheart.blogspot.com/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

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Tuesday, August 02, 2022



Is red meat bad for you

Below is the abstract of a journal article that has been bruited about in the popular press. The journal article appeared yesterday. It is one of a long series of attempts to discredit meat eating.

And the present article is no more conclusive than any of its many predecessors. I have been blogging on the subject for many years so I know where the skeletons are. I used to teach research methods and statistics at a major university so I know what to look for

And the present article follows a familiar methodology. I am going to put it bluntly: When there is no overall connection between the variables you are studying, you do comparisons of extremes -- as in tertiles, quartiles or quintiles. You can sometimes "save" your research that way if the extremes differ.

The present article resorts to extreme quintiles so they really had to stretch it to produce a reportable finding. The important thing to know, however, is that such anayses throw away the majority of your data so really tell you nothing. But the resort to extremes does of itself imply that there was NO overall relationship in the data. It's a common analysis but totally discreditable scientifically

The real result of the research therefore is that eating red meat had NO EFFECT on anything


Dietary Meat, Trimethylamine N-Oxide-Related Metabolites, and Incident Cardiovascular Disease Among Older Adults: The Cardiovascular Health Study

Meng Wang et al.

Abstract

Background:
Effects of animal source foods (ASF) on atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) and underlying mechanisms remain controversial. We investigated prospective associations of different ASF with incident ASCVD and potential mediation by gut microbiota-generated trimethylamine N-oxide, its L-carnitine-derived intermediates ?-butyrobetaine and crotonobetaine, and traditional ASCVD risk pathways.

Methods:

Among 3931 participants from a community-based US cohort aged 65+ years, ASF intakes and trimethylamine N-oxide-related metabolites were measured serially over time. Incident ASCVD (myocardial infarction, fatal coronary heart disease, stroke, other atherosclerotic death) was adjudicated over 12.5 years median follow-up. Cox proportional hazards models with time-varying exposures and covariates examined ASF-ASCVD associations; and additive hazard models, mediation proportions by different risk pathways.

Results:

After multivariable-adjustment, higher intakes of unprocessed red meat, total meat, and total ASF associated with higher ASCVD risk, with hazard ratios (95% CI) per interquintile range of 1.15 (1.01–1.30), 1.22 (1.07–1.39), and 1.18 (1.03–1.34), respectively. Trimethylamine N-oxide-related metabolites together significantly mediated these associations, with mediation proportions (95% CI) of 10.6% (1.0–114.5), 7.8% (1.0–32.7), and 9.2% (2.2–44.5), respectively. Processed meat intake associated with a nonsignificant trend toward higher ASCVD (1.11 [0.98–1.25]); intakes of fish, poultry, and eggs were not significantly associated. Among other risk pathways, blood glucose, insulin, and C-reactive protein, but not blood pressure or blood cholesterol, each significantly mediated the total meat-ASCVD association.

Conclusions:

In this large, community-based cohort, higher meat intake associated with incident ASCVD, partly mediated by microbiota-derived metabolites of L-carnitine, abundant in red meat. These novel findings support biochemical links between dietary meat, gut microbiome pathways, and ASCVD.

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Living with COVID: how treating masks like umbrellas could help us weather future pandemic threats

Thankfully, the UK now looks to be past the peak of both the recent heatwave and the latest COVID wave. But there will be more of both – and in future, we might think about how we protect ourselves from COVID in the same way we protect ourselves from the weather.

An umbrella is a useful analogy. If we look out the window or check the weather forecast and see rain, we would probably take an umbrella out with us. Similarly, if COVID cases are starting to rise or if a new wave is forecast, we might consider grabbing a face mask, for example.

But just as there’s no need to carry an umbrella with us when it’s sunny, we needn’t be expected to wear masks all the time. Of course, some people may choose to wear masks more consistently in certain settings, while others may forgo wearing them altogether. This is the nature of the current phase of the pandemic we’re in, a big part of which is based on personal choice and responsibility.

Thanks largely to the impact of vaccines, we no longer need the kind of rules-based approach to risk management we saw earlier in the pandemic. But the umbrella analogy can guide our behaviour and choices in a variety of areas of our response moving forward. Beyond masks, these include testing, ventilation and social distancing.

The idea is that we can pick up or step up precautions when we most need them (when COVID cases are on the rise), before relaxing them, if we want to, when infection rates and risk are lower.

What might this look like in practice?

Let’s say we start to see COVID cases rising again come autumn. This is a distinct possibility.

It then becomes even more important to take a test if we have any symptoms that might be COVID-related. This will help inform our decision of whether, and to what extent, to minimise contact with others.

Isolation is no longer a legal requirement, and I think this should remain the case. However, if possible, staying at home while we’re unwell is a sensible and considerate thing to do, particularly when COVID rates are high.

Distancing should also remain a choice. But during a wave of infections, people might wish to maintain more distance between themselves and others in shops, or may choose to avoid crowded venues.

Back on masks, when cases begin to rise, the risk of contracting and transmitting COVID also rises, so masks become a more useful and reasonable precaution. They can be particularly valuable in certain circumstances – for example, if someone is unwell but can’t isolate, when visiting people who are vulnerable, or in crowded indoor spaces.

Opening windows even a little can increase fresh air indoors and also help reduce the likelihood of transmitting the virus.

Finally, the number of people in the UK who have had a COVID booster vaccine is considerably lower than the number who received their first and second doses. We know immunity from vaccines wanes, and boosters restore vaccine effectiveness. So if we start to see rising cases, or looking ahead to future waves, it would make good sense for people who are behind on their vaccines to get up-to-date.

It’s been a year since England’s “freedom day”, when most legal COVID measures were removed. But the pandemic is far from over. Along with high numbers of daily infections, long COVID is very common, and the pressure on the NHS is still unsustainable.

In a recent article in the British Medical Journal, Professor Susan Michie and I reflected on some of the lessons we’ve learned over the past year.

Among these, the pandemic has shown us that behaviour is not purely down to an individual’s choice or motivation. People’s actions are also shaped by the opportunities and supports they’re given – or not given. For example, while some people might want to stay home if they have symptoms, they may not if neither their employer or the government provides financial support.

People should be encouraged and supported as much as possible to stay home when they’re sick, particularly when cases are high. Amidst a winter COVID wave, Australia has re-instated its pandemic leave disaster payments to enable those with COVID and without proper sick pay to stay home and not lose out financially.

Further, governments could ensure that free at-home tests are available during times when infections are likely to, or starting to, rise.

And it’s important that, to mitigate the impacts of future waves, vaccination coverage is as high as possible. Public health campaigns should target both the unvaccinated and partially vaccinated, as well as encouraging people (particularly the most vulnerable) to take up booster offers.

We also need more action to ensure adequate ventilation. In the US, billions of dollars are being made available for improving air quality in schools and other public buildings.

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Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

https://immigwatch.blogspot.com/ (IMMIGRATION WATCH)

https://awesternheart.blogspot.com/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

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Monday, August 01, 2022



The WHO’s Reckless Disregard for Truth

Public health relies on trust. Advertising relies on twisting the truth, even deceiving people, to persuade them to buy a product they may not need. Trust is maintained by telling the truth, giving others accurate information and sound advice. If inclined, you can change direction, trading on trust that you have built in order to deceive more effectively.

This works until the audience starts to understand that you have started lying. It is the worst sort of deceit. The World Health Organization (WHO) has adopted this latter course, using its former status to deceive the public in order to increase global uptake of COVID-19 vaccines.

Two weeks ago the WHO’s media office issued a press release summarizing an update to its global COVID-19 vaccination strategy. This strategy requires the highest annual budget of any single program in the WHO’s history; $10.1 billion was budgeted for 2021, about three times the previous total annual expenditure of the entire organization.

With $3 billion accrued, the WHO is seeking the shortfall and wants to expand this through 2022. This bill is mainly footed by taxpayers in the ailing economies of the West. COVID-19 remains a minor health burden in the countries on the receiving end, while malnutrition and other infectious diseases are rising. The strategy is therefore important to both sides, as it will harm both.

The Fallacy of Need

The strategy outlined in the press release calls for vaccination of 70 percent of people in low and middle income countries, “to achieve durable, broadly protective immunity.” This only makes sense if the populations on the receiving end are not already immune. To claim this, WHO must ignore its own work showing high rates of post-infection immunity in low-income countries.

A study by WHO personnel estimated a large majority of Africans had antibodies against COVID-19 by September 2021, which means actual immunity, mediated mainly by T-cells, will be much higher. This study was performed before the highly transmissible Omicron variant added to this number. India data is similar.

Post-infection (‘natural’) immunity produces clinical protection to COVID-19 at least as broad and more sustained than that produced through vaccination (Ref, Ref, Ref, Ref, Ref). The WHO is also aware that vaccination added to natural immunity adds minimal clinical benefit (well demonstrated in the CDC chart below). When the WHO states that only “28 percent of old people and 37 percent of health workers” in low-income countries have received COVID-19 vaccines, and fewer in the general population, they know that nearly all the unvaccinated also have effective immunity. The WHO wishes to spend this unprecedented budget on mass vaccination of an immune population.

False Claims on Impact

The press release claims that “In the first year of rollouts, COVID-19 vaccines are estimated to have saved 19.8 million lives.” This number makes no sense. The WHO previously published that only 14.9 million excess deaths occurred across 2 years of the COVID-19 outbreak of 2020–2021. These include deaths due to SARS-CoV-2 infection, and those due to lockdowns and other response measures. COVID-19 was endemic across all continents by the end of 2020, in the absence of vaccination. Ignoring its own data, WHO derives its ‘19.8 million saved’ from flawed Imperial College London modeling.

Lockdowns killed hundreds of thousands, probably millions of people. UNICEF estimated nearly a quarter million excess child deaths due to lockdown (not COVID-19) across just 6 South Asian countries in 2020 alone. To start to understand how many people COVID-19 really killed pre-vaccination, these excess non-COVID-19 deaths within the 14.9 million must be extrapolated to Africa, and include rising deaths from diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, and malnutrition.

Many pre-vaccination deaths were therefore likely related to the response, not the disease. The WHO wants us to believe that the vaccine saved several-fold more lives in 2021 than could possibly have died from COVID-19 when immunity was at its lowest throughout 2020. We must believe this despite most Asian and African countries only establishing significant vaccination rates in mid to late 2021, by which time most people had already been infected.

Stating implausible modeling outputs as fact when they are contradicted by the WHO’s own data is not a nuance. It constitutes deliberate misrepresentation of the program’s potential impact. It is an attempt to mislead public health authorities, the public, and the media. The WHO should explain why.

A Baseless Strategy

“Vaccinating all those most at risk is the single best way to save lives, protect health systems and keep societies and economies open.” The WHO media department states this as the basis for mass vaccination, whilst admitting that COVID-19 vaccines “have not substantially reduced transmission.”

Indeed, countries with the current highest transmission rates, such as New Zealand, are among the most vaccinated. If a vaccine does not reduce transmission, and severe COVID-19 is concentrated in a small segment of the sick and elderly (it is), then mass vaccination of already-immune people cannot have an influence on ‘keeping society open.’ This is achieved by not closing it.

In its strategy update, WHO justifies its entire mass vaccination program through its ability “… to achieve durable, broadly protective immunity, and reduce transmission.” By its own data, lasting durable protective immunity is already present, and the product it is pushing does not stop transmission. This resembles false advertising of a commodity that an advertising agency is paid to promote, rather than a reasoned explanation of a public health strategy.

Honesty Matters in Public Health
Significant WHO funders will be enriched by this program through the procurement of billions of vaccine doses, so not everyone loses. The target ‘under-vaccinated’ populations in Africa and Asia record less, not more, deaths from COVID-19. They are younger, less obese, and therefore less susceptible. They die of other diseases, and currently face collapsing food supplies and growing poverty due in large part to the lockdown policies that the WHO continues to support. The WHO needs to explain why health equity has become less important than achieving equal injection rates of the pharmaceuticals that major WHO sponsors have invested in.

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Health Care Workers Who Sued Over COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate Win $10 Million Settlement

A group of health care workers who sued their hospital over a COVID-19 vaccine mandate are slated to receive $10 million, according to a settlement agreement filed on July 29.

About a dozen workers at the NorthShore University HealthSystem in Illinois lodged the suit in October 2021, arguing that the facility was illegally not granting religious exemptions to the mandate.

After eight months of negotiations, the workers and NorthShore “have agreed to settle this case,” according to a memorandum filed in federal court.

Under the settlement’s terms, NorthShore will pay $10,337,500 into a settlement fund for workers affected by its mandate—specifically, workers who between July 1, 2021, and Jan. 1, 2022, asked for a religious accommodation and were denied and either received a vaccine to avoid termination or were fired or resigned. About 473 workers fit under that category.

NorthShore will also adjust its vaccine mandate “to enhance its accommodation procedures for individuals with approved exemptions for sincerely held religious belief.”

Workers fired because they refused to get vaccinated due to their religious beliefs are eligible to apply for re-employment.

U.S. District Judge John Kness, the Trump appointee overseeing the case, was asked to approve the proposed settlement.

Liberty Counsel, the legal group representing the platiniffs, described the settlement as a first-of-its-kind for an action against a private employer who denied hundreds of requests for religious exemptions to a COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

“The drastic policy change and substantial monetary relief required by the settlement will bring a strong measure of justice to NorthShore’s employees who were callously forced to choose between their conscience and their jobs,” Horatio Mihet, vice president of legal affairs at the group, said in a statement.

“This settlement should also serve as a strong warning to employers across the nation that they cannot refuse to accommodate those with sincere religious objections to forced vaccination mandates,” he added.

Fund

If the agreement is approved, affected workers could apply for money from the $10 million fund.

Each worker who eventually got a vaccine despite raising religious objections would be eligible for approximately $3,000 while those who were fired or resigned could get up to about $25,000, according to estimates.

The final amounts will depend on how many workers apply for money, among other factors.

In addition, the agreement sets aside $260,000 for the named plaintiffs in the case. Each would be slated to receive about $20,000, on top of the other funds.

Liberty Counsel is also asking for $2 million in attorneys fees, or about 20 percent of the total settlement.

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