This document is part of an archive of postings 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

28 February, 2021

FDA Panel Recommends Johnson & Johnson's One-Dose COVID Vaccine for Approval

More good news on the coronavirus front. A panel of FDA advisors voted unanimously on Friday to recommend the agency approve drugmaker Johnson & Johnson's one-dose coronavirus vaccine in the United States. Following the recommendation by the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, the FDA is expected to approve the vaccine for emergency use in the coming days.

Johnson & Johnson's vaccine will be the third coronavirus vaccine to receive FDA approval, but the first vaccine requiring just one shot for vaccination. The drug showed a 66 percent effectiveness against moderate to severe COVID-19 infections and about an 85 percent effectiveness against the most serious illnesses. While two other FDA-approved vaccines have efficacy rates in the 90s, Johnson & Johnson's drug was shown to prevent 100 percent of hospitalizations in a clinical study of around 44,000 participants in the United States.

"This is a vaccine to prevent you from going to the hospital and dying at a level that’s certainly comparable" to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, said Dr. Paul Offit, a member of the FDA's advisory panel and vaccine expert at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Unlike the vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna, Johnson & Johnson's vaccine candidate does not to be stored in freezers and remains stable for months in refrigerated temperatures.

In the United States, over 44 million Americans have received at least one dose of the two-dose vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna, according to the AP. Nearly 20 million Americans have now received both doses.

Around 3 to 4 million doses of the new vaccine are expected to be shipped out next week if the drug receives emergency-use approval from the FDA. The company has pledged to deliver some 20 million doses by April and 100 million by late June.

Approval may come as early as this weekend.


India's coronavirus cases mysteriously fell

The government committed to inoculating 300 million people by August this year, which was touted as the largest and fastest vaccination program in the world. But it has fallen behind schedule.

The initial phase targeted healthcare and frontline workers, such as police officers, sanitation staff and soldiers, and is about to be expanded to people aged over 60 and those over 45 with health problems.

But daily injections have varied wildly between 17,000 and 650,000, which is far below the 1.5 million per day it needed to reach its goal on time.

By comparison, the United States is averaging 1.2 million vaccinations a day.

Hospitals in India were pushed to the brink last year as the country recorded close to 100,000 cases a day.

The number of daily cases has since come tumbling down to almost a tenth of the September peak, but a fresh surge has prompted restrictions to be reimposed in several states, particularly in Maharashtra and Kerala.

Delhi's mysterious drop in cases: The nation's capital, Delhi, is recording fewer than 150 cases of COVID-19 a day, far below its peak of more than 8,000 in November 2020. The city recently recorded three days of zero COVID-19 deaths, a feat not witnessed since the early months of the pandemic.

Many coronavirus wards in the capital have been shut down and converted back to normal operations. India's largest coronavirus treatment hospital, Lok Nayak Hospital, had its entire 2,500-bed capacity dedicated to treating coronavirus patients. Now, it has 300 coronavirus beds and around 30 patients.

"We were full. There was a time when a lot of deaths were occurring here," Dr Sandeep Garg said, who now manages a non-COVID ward. "Yesterday, we had seven to 10 patients."

Some health experts believe the rate of infection has dropped so significantly because the real rate of infection was so great, and the virus is now struggling to spread widely.

A recent serological survey, which tested 28,000 residents across Delhi, found more than half of the test subjects had developed antibodies, more than 60 per cent in some regions, meaning they had previously been infected with the virus.

This would put Delhi's actual rate of infection 30 times higher than the official data. The state's health minister said the city was "inching" towards herd immunity.

The exact threshold for herd immunity against COVID-19 is unknown, but some experts believe about 70 to 90 per cent of a population would need to have antibodies to stop the virus in its tracks.

A nationwide serological survey suggested a quarter of the Indian population had developed antibodies, which would not be enough to achieve herd immunity.

"Pandemics by their very nature are diseases of the crowd," said Dr Sumit Ray, who runs the not-for-profit Holy Family Hospital in Delhi. "The [serological] surveys show it has infected so many people that it is finding it difficult to transmit itself."

Health experts have warned against people letting their guard down, as the rate of mask wearing and social distancing drop significantly.

"Will a mutation happen which will change that? We don't know yet," Dr Ray said. "Will the herd immunity, the antibodies, last for how long? We don't know."

Suspicion could be a barrier to a swift vaccine rollout
India has approved two locally made vaccinations, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, known locally as Covishield, as well as Covaxin, which was developed by Indian pharmaceutical giant Bharat Biotech.

It is also considering approving the Russian Sputnik 5 vaccine. Pfizer withdrew its application for emergency approval after the government requested more data.

Covaxin was approved despite still not completing its final trials. Bharat Biotech is expected to publish its phase 3 data sometime in March.

The Indian Government has maintained earlier trials showed Covaxin is safe and effective. While the Indian Council for Medical Research said the urgent approval was necessary given the pandemic.

The vaccine is being widely used in the district of Barmer, near the Pakistan border, a region so remote that camels are needed to deliver the drug to remote villages. Bhika Ram has managed the region's vaccine depot for 35 years and has received two injections. "I have a strong feeling that I have acquired immunity," he said. "I am safe, and others are also safe from me."


‘Trump was right’: Conservatives double down on ex-president

Orlando, Florida: Even before you step inside the Conservative Political Action Conference, America’s largest annual gathering of right-wing activists, it’s clear who commands the hearts and minds of today’s Republican Party base.

A cigarette-smoking man wearing a red “Bikers for Trump” hat is circling the conference venue on an oversized tricycle. His bike is emblazoned with a sign that reads: “Trump was right about everything.” A woman, wrapped in an American flag, waves a giant flag that says: “F--- Biden and f--- you for voting for him.”

Inside four-star Hyatt hotel that is hosting the conference, the adoration for the former president is even more intense. The must-see attraction at this year’s event is a giant, glistening gold statue of Trump wearing thongs on his feet and holding a wand.

On Monday (AEDT) the conference-goers will be able to see Trump himself, when the three-day event culminates in Trump’s first speech since leaving the White House.

The artist who made the statue, Tommy Zegan, explains that it is taking a jab at former president Barack Obama, who once said of Trump’s promise to bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States: “What magic wand do you have?”

This year’s conference is taking place just over a month since Trump left the White House and Democrats took control of the US Senate. But it is accompanied by none of the soul-searching and internecine debates you might expect following such significant defeats.

That’s because many of those attending the event do not believe Trump lost the election – because of voter fraud.

In order to return to political dominance, so the thinking goes, Republicans don’t need a new candidate or to adjust their policy agenda: they must simply find a way to stop their opponents from cheating next time.

“It was rigged,” Zegan says of the November election. “There were too many anomalies.”

If Trump were to run again in 2024, Zegan says, he would definitely support him.

Anna Villalobos, who is running a stall at the conference selling MAGA (Make America Great Again) hammocks, says: “The numbers don’t add up. How could 80 million people vote for Biden but only 20 million follow him on Twitter? I 100 per cent believe they stole the election.”

Ronald Solomon, who runs the MAGA Mall, which sells pro-Trump paraphernalia, says he is already doing a roaring trade in “Trump 2024” flags and caps.

“If Trump wants the nomination, he gets it,” Solomon says.

It’s the same story on the main stage, where speaker after speaker offers the same formula for returning to power: doubling down on Trumpism.

“Let me tell you this right now: Donald J. Trump ain’t going anywhere,” Texas senator Ted Cruz tells the crowd to loud applause. “These deplorables are here to stay.”

Florida senator Rick Scott says abandoning Trump’s policies on trade, immigration and China would be like reverting to antiquated technology such as flip-phones or typewriters.

“We will not win the future by trying to go back to where the Republican Party used to be,” he says. “If we do, we will lose the working base that President Trump so animated. We’re going to lose elections across the county and, ultimately, we’re going to lose our nation.”

Democrats in Washington, Scott says, “are trying to turn this country into a communist ash heap”.

Florida congressman Matt Gaetz says: “We proudly represent the pro-Trump America First wing of the conservative movement. We’re not really a wing, we’re the whole body.”

Gaetz jokes that if Liz Cheney, the Wyoming congresswoman who voted to impeach Trump last month, had been at the conference she would have been booed off stage.

“What does that say?” he asks. “The leadership of our party is not found in Washington, D.C.”

As would be expected at such an event, there are panel sessions on abortion, gun ownership and foreign policy.

Big tech bias against conservatives is a major focus, with several speakers advocating breaking up social media giants such as Facebook and Google. It’s an interventionist position that until recently would have been well oustide the conservative mainstream.

But, by far, the dominant theme at this year’s conference is election integrity.

Seven panel sessions in total are dedicated to “protecting elections”, with speakers proposing a series of new measures to tighten voting rules.

“Democrats, not Republicans, installed ballot drop boxes on sidewalks, where nobody oversaw them,” conservative commentator Deroy Murdock says. “How many fraudulent ballots got deposited in these boxes unchecked and then got counted? Who knows.”

T.W Shannon, a former state legislator from Oklahoma, appears to justify the deadly January 6 assault on Congress by saying: “The reason that people stormed the Capitol was because they felt hopeless because of a rigged election.”

Donald Trump junior, himself seen as a possible future Republican presidential candidate, delights the crowd by using air quotes when referring to Joe Biden’s “80 million votes” and joking that the event should be renamed TPAC: the Trump Political Action Conference.

Offering a preview of his father’s upcoming address, he says: “I imagine it will not be what we call a ‘low-energy’ speech. And I assure you that it will solidify Donald Trump and all of your feelings about the MAGA movement as the future of the Republican Party.”




27 February, 2021

'Equality Act' Creates New Persecuted Class

It was expected to pass, and yesterday the House of Representatives approved what’s become known as the “Equality Act.” Also passed in 2019, yesterday’s vote was a nearly partisan 224-206, with three Republicans joining Democrats on a bill that adds “sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity” to the kinds of discrimination prohibited by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (as well as the Fair Housing Act, the Equality Credit Opportunity Act, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972). Such a thing as “transgender” was unheard of in 1964. Nevertheless, Democrats say, the word “sex” now means “identity.” The bill is accurately described by author Ryan T. Anderson as “legislative malpractice that turns equality on its head.”

Anderson, whose book on gender dysphoria was banned by Amazon recently, summed up this new legislation: “It isn’t drafted as a shield to protect vulnerable minorities from unjust discrimination, but as a sword to persecute those who do not embrace new sexual and gender ideologies.” He adds, “If you fear what Big Tech can do if you dissent from gender ideology, just wait to see what Big Government will do if the so-called Equality Act becomes law.”

Strategically, as our Mark Alexander has previously noted, this effort is all about women voters, whom Democrats consider to be emotionally incontinent dupes.

Ironically, however, opponents of the bill rightly charge that it would not only harm women’s sports by allowing men who identify as women to compete but would also remove the sanctity from other women-only spaces such as restrooms, private clubs, and prisons. In all those instances, the desires of a “transgender” man would take precedence over decades of commonsense separation of the two sexes.

“By erasing sex as a distinct legal category, the measure threatens to open up female-only spaces and opportunities designed to increase representation for girls to biological men, which can endanger the safety of women and girls,” declared Inez Stepman, a policy analyst for the Independent Women’s Forum. Keeping it in the family, her husband Jerrett describes a panel discussion held by The Daily Signal where several experts weighed in with their principled opposition.

Of deep concern to biblically faithful Christians, the bill will nullify the protections afforded to believers under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), a previous sticking point that even some Democrats have complained about in the past.

After all, one of the authors of the RFRA back in the early ‘90s was none other than then-Representative Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

Beyond the RFRA, however, is the little inconvenience called the First Amendment.

None of that mattered to the House, controlled by the ostensibly Catholic Nancy Pelosi. The chamber passed the bill, and the ostensibly Catholic President Joe Biden supports it. Since Biden’s itching to sign it, the biggest hurdle now will be getting it through the Senate since the bill will fall under a 60-vote cloture rule. The question is how many Senate Republicans will fold under the full-court press sure to be waged inside the Beltway on this one.

True to that principle, proponents are already arguing that the measure is simply an extension of the Supreme Court’s recent Bostock decision, wherein a divided Court expanded the definition of discrimination on the account of sex to cover homosexual and “transgender” persons. If HR 5 only did that, most would likely at least concede the sentiment. Even the dissenters in Bostock did that, noting that their objection was primarily based on the fact that Congress simply had not addressed the issue by passing a bill to add this language since the 1964 passage of the Civil Rights Act. Unfortunately, in this rendition, the Democrats decided to add more on the Rainbow Mafia’s wish list and eliminate the right for religious people to object.

In the old days, Republicans and Democrats in the Senate might have worked together to massage the bill into something all sides could stomach. Perhaps that would include granting additional protections outlawing discrimination against LGBT individuals in the workplace and housing — the basis for the Bostock case, among others — while protecting religious liberty and addressing scientific and fair-competition concerns about biological men competing in women’s sports.

Unfortunately, today’s radically left Democrats demand obeisance to an all-or-nothing “solution” despite the numerous laws already in place that address the subject — never mind the states that have addressed this in their own myriad ways. Fully enacted or not, the Orwellian “Equality Act” will be a divisive issue Democrats campaign on in 2022 and beyond until they’ve won yet another victory in the culture war.


Five Counties Are Trying To Leave Left Wing Oregon And Become Part Of Idaho

When you think of Oregon, you probably think of the left wing riots that have been happening in Portland for months.

It’s easy to forget that it’s a big state and not everyone who lives there is a left wing radical. Some people there are sick of it, and are trying to make parts of the state leave for Idaho. It’s happening in five counties.

The Washington Times reports:

Five Oregon counties to vote on leaving state, escaping to ‘Greater Idaho’

Five Oregon counties will ask voters in the next election whether they want to detach from the deep-blue state and join neighboring red-state Idaho.

Move Oregon’s Border, also known as Greater Idaho, confirmed Tuesday that the initiative to move swaths of largely rural eastern and southern Oregon into Idaho qualified for the May 18 special election ballot in five counties: Baker, Grant, Lake, Malheur and Sherman.

In Baker County, organizers far exceeded the 496 signatures required by submitting 746, with the clerk reporting that 630 were accepted. The county population is about 16,000.

“Oregon is a powder keg because counties that belong in a red-state like Idaho are ruled by Portlanders,” said Mike McCarter, president of Move Oregon’s Border, in a statement.

He cited the impact of Democratic Gov. Kate Brown’s novel coronavirus restrictions; ongoing Antifa unrest in Portland; a state task force’s unsuccessful effort to prioritize “Black, Indigenous and people of color” for novel coronavirus vaccines, and what he described as the state legislature’s bias in favor of Portland over rural communities.

“This state protects Antifa arsonists, not normal Oregonians, it prioritizes one race above another for vaccines and program money and in the school curriculum, and it prioritizes Willamette Valley above rural Oregon,” Mr. McCarter said.


The Supreme Court Must Now End the 'Systemic Racism' of Affirmative Action

As the nation's incipient racial reckoning following last May's killing of George Floyd morphed into the summer's riotous anarchy, the term "systemic racism" emerged as a fixture of our public discourse. What began as a somewhat arcane dialogue about purported police "militarization" and the "qualified immunity" legal doctrine soon took on a much more insidious tone. America, those like The New York Times' "1619 Project" fabulists told us, was rotten to its very core, blemished by the indelible taint of "systemic racism."

In reality, as many courageously pointed out amid unprecedented "cancel culture" headwinds seeking to stifle all dissent, there is no such thing as "systemic racism" that afflicts all of America's leading institutions. Despite the claim attaining mythological status, there is no factual basis to support it. There will, sadly, always be individual racists from all backgrounds and all walks of life, but American society in the 2020s simply does not have anything remotely resembling a legally enshrined regime under which its racial majority "systemically" oppresses its racial minorities. America in the year 2021 is not Germany in 1936; it is not South Africa in 1985; and it is not -- after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 -- the Jim Crow South. This ought to be astoundingly obvious.

But while the notion of sprawling, multi-institutional "systemic racism" is a lie, there is at least one major American institution that does suffer from legally codified racism that tarnishes the institution's integrity, sullies its legitimacy and is so widespread that it might earnestly be dubbed "systemic." I speak, of course, of affirmative action admission policies in American higher education.

Thankfully, due to the petition for a writ of certiorari that was filed before the U.S. Supreme Court just this week in the case of Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard College, the nightmarish systemic racism of affirmative action might finally end soon. (As a disclosure, I personally know Students for Fair Admissions' attorneys, one of whom is now representing me before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in unrelated litigation.)

There is at least some cause for optimism. A divided Court in 2016 upheld race-conscious university admissions policies in Fisher v. University of Texas, but the Court's composition has changed since then due to the successful Trump-era nominations of Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. What's more, affirmative action is perhaps the single issue upon which infamous Republican-nominated disappointment Chief Justice John Roberts is the most reliable. In addition to his joining Justice Samuel Alito's dissent in Fisher, it was Roberts who, in the 2007 race-conscious education case of Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle, penned perhaps his most iconic line: "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race." At a bare minimum, then, there should be four votes to grant the writ of certiorari and hear the case.

Affirmative action might have been devised as a well-intentioned effort to eradicate the vestiges of antebellum chattel slavery, but as Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in his 1995 concurrence in Adarand Constructors Inc. v. Pena, "Government sponsored racial discrimination based on benign prejudice is just as noxious as discrimination inspired by malicious prejudice."

And discriminate Harvard does. The university maintains noxious de facto racial quotas to penalize Asian Americans, redolent of the anti-Jewish Ivy League quotas of the early 20th century. Harvard's lawyers conceded at trial that Asian Americans are penalized by the admissions office's nebulous "personal rating" category -- and they are penalized simply for the fact of being Asian. The university engages in deliberate racial balancing, seeking to fill its incoming freshman classes with a largely preconceived, annually consistent racial breakdown.

Harvard's admission data are eye-opening. For high school applicants in the top academic decile of their class, whites are admitted at a rate of 15.3%; Asian Americans are admitted at a rate of 12.7%; Hispanics are admitted at a rate of 31.3%; and blacks are admitted at a rate of 56.1%. Poor refugees from Communist China and impoverished white students from Appalachia are thus placed at a "systemic" racial disadvantage relative to well-off Hispanics and blacks. In no rational universe is this a just arrangement.

Legal conservatives usually have myriad reasons for pessimism, but affirmative action could prove an exception. The justices have a real chance to deliver a grievous blow to the systemic racism that blights one of the nation's leading institutions. Let's hope they don't blow it.



Dozens of House Democrats want Biden to give up sole authority to launch nuclear weapons (Fox)

Biden rescinds Trump's apprenticeship program to placate organized labor (Daily Wire)

Biden cancels Trump's "Operation Talon" that targeted sex offenders living in the U.S. illegally (Human Events)

Steven Crowder temporarily suspended from Twitter for discovering that "people — who may not be real people — have voted from addresses that do not exist" (Daily Wire)

New analyses show Johnson & Johnson's one-dose vaccine works well (NY Times)

Black Lives Matter Foundation raked in more than $90 million last year (Daily Wire)

California bill would fine stores $1,000 for having separate boys and girls sections (PJ Media)

Ex-aide Lindsey Boylan details sexual harassment allegations against Governor Cuomo (NY Post)

U.S. bank profits fell 36.5% in 2020 — but still posted a $147.9 billion windfall (Reuters)

We now have the full landing video of NASA's Mars rover and it's EPIC (Not the Bee)

Soledad O'Brien, the Democrats' "expert" in Senate hearing on "misinformation," is a prolific conspiracy theorist (Post Millennial)

Policy: The "Equality Act" would impose transgender ideology on everyone (Daily Signal)

Policy: How the "Fight for 15" could enable a wave of youth lawlessness (City Journal)

Dominion Voting Systems files defamation suit against Mike Lindell and MyPillow (

Preposterous Biden plan would effectively abolish ICE (American Military News)

Healthcare bore brunt of cyberattacks in 2020 (Roll Call)

California approves $600 stimulus payments for 5.7 million people (Fox News)

San Francisco school board puts hold on renaming its 44 schools (KGO)

Seattle-backed homeless shelter provides heroin how-to guide and paraphernalia (PJ Media)

Daily COVID deaths fall to 1,235 — the lowest since before the holiday season (Daily Mail)

Canada laudably joins the U.S. by declaring China's treatment of Uighurs "genocide" (UPI)

States set for clash with Biden administration over transgender athletes (Examiner)




26 February, 2021

Conservatives aren't more fearful than liberals, study finds

This is a long overdue study below. At least since 1950, Leftist psychologists have been trying to show that there is something psychologically wrong with conservatives. And a favorite claim is that conservatives are more fearful. It is fear that causes conservatives to oppose the innovations that Leftists want, you see. That the changes that Leftists want are invariably half-baked and destructive cannot possibly be the explanation for conservative opposition, of course.

So bits of research have been trotted out showing that conservatives do have some fears. But fears have their place so when are fears too weak or to strong? Perhaps the degree of fear that conservatives have is just right. There is of course no metric that would enable such a judgment to be made so Leftists just ignore the issue. Whatever degree of fear that conservatives show is wrong, wrong, wrong -- with the wrongness being a mere opinion, not something inferable from the research results.

At any event, someone has now done a really good study which shows that there is no overall correlation between fear and ideology. That does not of course rule out other psychological differences between Left and Right

Are conservatives more afraid of threats than liberals? Political psychologists have long found evidence that people on the right are more sensitive to scary stuff, on average, than people on the left, a basic psychological difference thought to drive some political disagreements between the two groups.

But new research suggests that's overly simplistic.

In a new international study, conservatives and liberals both responded to threats — but they responded more strongly to different kinds of threats. And to make matters more complex, those responses don't always map nicely onto the political divide, or stay consistent from nation to nation.

"This link between threat and conservative beliefs, or conservative ideology, is just not simple," said study leader Mark Brandt, a psychology professor at Tilburg University in the Netherlands. "It depends on a lot of different things. It depends on the type of threats that we study; it depends on how we measure political beliefs and what kind of political beliefs that we measure; and it depends on the precise country that we're looking at."

Let's rewind to 2012, well before the 2016 election and the dramatic political fallout that's happened since. That year, psychologists reported that conservatives responded more strongly to scary images than liberals did on a basic biological level: They literally started sweating more. This tracked with earlier research suggesting that conservatives were more prone to disgust, on average, than liberals. Multiple studies reached similar conclusions.

It made for a neat story. People physiologically prone to fear and disgust would pay more attention to threats and thus turn to a conservative political ideology that promises safety and the status quo. But there was a lingering problem. Seventy-five percent of the research cited on the topic in one influential 2003 meta-analysis was done in the United States, and only 4% was conducted outside of Western democracies. Another problem? The definition of "threat" in most studies on the topic was usually narrow, focused on threats of violence or terrorism. Political persuasion was often defined narrowly too, without accounting for differences between social ideology and economic ideology.

"Many of the studies cited in support of this conclusion use threat measures or manipulations that exclusively tap threats emphasized by conservative elites," said Ariel Malka, a political psychologist at Yeshiva University who was not involved in the new study, referring to politicians and media figures.

This is a problem because the link between threats and politics can run both ways. For example, a recent POLITICO poll found that 70% of Republicans thought the 2020 election was marred by fraud, compared with only 10% of Democrats. Before the election, only 35% of Republicans thought the election would be fraudulent, and 52% of Democrats did. The post-election shift makes it pretty clear that people's fears of fraud are driven by party affiliation and messaging from party elites, not the other way around. If studies on threats focus on fears usually emphasized by conservatives, they're likely to find a connection between threat and conservatism.

Brandt and his colleagues wanted to broaden the scope. They turned to a dataset called the World Values Survey, which asked people from 56 different countries and territories about their perceptions of six different categories of threats, including war, violence, police violence, economics, poverty and government surveillance. Economic threats were broad-based worries about the job market and availability of education; poverty threats were more personal concerns about being able to put food on the table or pay for medical care. The survey also captured people's political beliefs in nuanced ways, ranging from whether they called themselves conservative or liberal to their individual opinions on immigration, government ownership of industry and abortion. Data on 60,378 participants was collected between 2010 and 2014.

Economic fears were slightly associated with some left-wing beliefs, but not all. For example, a fear of personal poverty was linked with more acceptance of government ownership of industry, but fears about the wider economy weren't. The fear of war or terrorism was sometimes associated with right-wing beliefs, but reporting worries about violence within one's neighborhood was associated with left-wing beliefs, as was fear of police violence.

And there were many unexpected findings. The threat of war or terrorism was linked to left-wing beliefs on government ownership, for example, and economic worries were linked to left-wing beliefs on social issues. The threat of personal poverty was associated with right-wing views on social issues and on protectionist job policies that would reserve the highest-paid jobs for men and non-immigrants. What was clear was that threats and right-wing beliefs weren't married. There were six statistically significant associations between certain threats and conservative beliefs, nine associations between other threats and liberal beliefs, and 15 potential relationships between threat and belief that didn't turn out to correlate at all.

Making matters more complicated, the relationships between ideology and threats weren't consistent from nation to nation. For example a fear of war or terrorism was associated with left-wing beliefs in Kazakhstan just as strongly as a fear of war or terrorism was associated with right-wing beliefs in the United States. Likewise, Brandt told Live Science, experiencing the threat of poverty leads to left-wing beliefs in the U.S., but in Pakistan and Egypt, the threat of poverty is linked to right-wing belief.

If you look only at the United States, the researchers report, it's true that right-wing beliefs and a fear of war or terrorism go hand-in-hand. But expanding to other threats shows an inconsistent mix of associations. In other words, even in the U.S., conservatism and a physical sensitivity to threats aren't clearly linked.

It's not clear from the study which comes first, the political belief or the focus on a threat. It's possible that experiencing a particular threat moves people to adopt a certain political belief, but it's also possible, as with voter fraud in the 2020 election, that people adopt a political identity first and focus on specific threats as a result.

The new work is likely to be influential, said Bert Bakker, a political scientist at the University of Amsterdam who studies the relationship of personality and political ideology. Bakker was not involved in the current study, but his work has shown that the difference in disgust between conservatives and liberals may also be overstated.

"I am less certain about what we know about this now than I was a couple years ago," Bakker told Live Science.

It's still possible that people gravitate toward political beliefs for deep-seated psychological reasons, Brandt said.

"It's definitely plausible that people experience some threat or some event and then adopt this attitude," he said. "But what 'this attitude' is and the best one to address that threat might be different depending on the particular context."

There may also be other psychological reasons to associate with a political group, Malka noted. People have a social need to fit in, and may adopt attitudes that help them do so. Future research should focus more on how pre-existing political affiliation leads people to focus on different threats, he told Live Science.


Poll: While Republican Voters Care About Issues, Democratic Voters' Top Concern Is Absolutely Ridiculous

The priorities of the Democratic Party have always been hard for me to understand, and a recent survey from Echelon Insights once again has me scratching my head wondering how Democrats’ priorities can be so out of wack.

What do you think the Democrats’ number one issue of concern is? Jobs? Poverty? COVID-19? The environment? Health care?

Pfft. You’re not even close. According to Kristen Soltis Anderson, the cofounder of Echelon Insights, Democrat voters’ number one issue is none of those issues. Nor is it police brutality or LGBT issues. In fact, the number one issue for Democrat voters isn’t even a public policy issue at all. Democrat voters are more concerned about “Donald Trump’s supporters” than anything else.

I kid you not. According to their survey, a stunning 82 percent of Democratic voters are Extremely/Very Concerned about “Donald Trump’s supporters.”

What does this mean? What can we assume from this?

The answer is obvious. Democrats are less concerned about policy issues than they are about people with whom they disagree politically. To them, Trump supporters are more dangerous than Islamic terrorists, a more pressing issue than gun violence, and even more important than issues that affect their various constituencies, like discrimination against LGBT Americans, sexism, student debt, alleged voter suppression, etc.

To these voters, Trump supporters are a bigger issue than all of those and more. Imagine being a store owner minding your own business and thinking that the Democrat voters around you think you are a bigger issue facing this country than anything else, even more than the issues that directly affect their own families.

What about Republican voters? Well, they are actually concerned about real issues. Their number one issue is illegal immigration, followed by a lack of support for police and high taxes.

What don’t you see on the chart? “Joe Biden’s supporters.” And why not? Because Republican voters clearly care more about real issues. Democrats, on the other hand, are still obsessed with Donald Trump and the people who voted for him. They would rather whine about Trump than actually solve the problems facing this nation. That’s why Democrats went through not one, but two bogus impeachments. The base of the Democratic Party cares more about punishing Trump and doing something about his supporters than doing the business of the American people.

“Because the question wording is consistent for the party-only issues as well as the ‘asked of everyone’ issues we can look at them together for better context,” explained Anderson. “Looking at the full range of issues asked of each side, Republicans still say illegal immigration and lack of police support are top concerns, while for Democrats concern about [the] spread of COVID is top of the list, with Donald Trump’s supporters in second.”

The fact that Democrats see Trump supporters as a bigger problem than almost everything else tells you how insane they’ve become. The Democratic Party isn’t afflicted by Trump Derangement Syndrome, they are defined by it.


Leftist Bias Has Destroyed Wikipedia

“The days of Wikipedia’s robust commitment to neutrality are long gone,” Wikipedia cofound Larry Sanger recently lamented. “Wikipedia’s ideological and religious bias is real and troubling, particularly in a resource that continues to be treated by many as an unbiased reference work.”

It is that view of the site being “an unbiased reference work” that is the real problem. Founded in 2001, Wikipedia essentially started as an experiment in public-accumulated knowledge. The site bills itself as “the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit.” As such, Sanger notes, “[Wikipedia] is not perceived as credible by librarians and academics because it lacks a formal review process and is ‘anti-elitist.’”

Worse, Sanger explained, leftist activists have moved in to gradually “take control of any influential institution not explicitly conservative … and they just work harder, and in more subtle ways, on the ones that are explicitly conservative.” It’s groupthink, too, he says: “And then when the rest of the media and tech became insanely far left, Wikipedia naturally went along with the trend.”

A glaring example of this leftist takeover of Wikipedia is noted by Fox News, which reported, “The two main pages for ‘Socialism’ and ‘Communism’ span a massive 28,000 words, and yet they contain no discussion of the genocides committed by socialist and communist regimes, in which tens of millions of people were murdered and starved.” How can you even begin to have an accurate understanding of the far Left’s bloody ideology without acknowledging its history in practice? You can’t, and that’s the point of Wikipedia’s bias.




25 February, 2021

Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose COVID vaccine ‘highly effective’

Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot coronavirus vaccine is on track for emergency authorisation due to its efficacy in preventing severe cases of COVID-19 as the EU promises a renewed jab push.

The US Food and Drug Administration has endorsed Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, a critical step in bringing a third shot to the US marketplace.

According to new documents released by the FDA on Wednesday (local time), the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine is highly effective in preventing severe COVID-19, including the South African and Brazil variants, new documents released by the US Food and Drug Administration showed on Wednesday (local time).

In large clinical trials, the vaccine efficacy against severe disease was 85.9 per cent in the United States, 81.7 per cent in South Africa, and 87.6 per cent in Brazil.

An independent panel of the Food and Drug Administration will meet to discuss its merits on Friday and an emergency use authorisation is likely to follow soon after.

That would bring a third vaccine into the fight against the outbreak in the United States, the world’s hardest-hit country where more than 500,000 people have lost their lives.

Experts see the J & J vaccine as a vital tool, even though its efficacy against moderate COVID-19 is lower than that demonstrated by the Pfizer and Moderna shots that have already received authorisation.

“The vaccine was effective in preventing COVID-19 using a less restrictive definition of the disease and for more severe disease, including COVID-19 requiring medical intervention, considering all cases starting 14 days after vaccination,” the new FDA summary said.

“Although a lower efficacy overall was observed in South Africa, where there was a predominance of B.1.3.5 lineage during the time period of this study, vaccine efficacy against severe/critical COVID-19 was similarly high across the United States, South Africa, and Brazil,” it added.

The J & J vaccine uses a common-cold causing adenovirus, which has been modified so that it can’t replicate, to carry the gene for a key protein of the coronavirus into human cells.

This makes those cells produce that protein, which in turn trains the human immune system.

The fact that it requires only one dose, and that it can be stored at fridge temperature rather than in freezers like the Pfizer and Moderna shots, gives it an operational advantage.


Oxford starts work on potential COVID-19 vaccine pill

The team behind the Oxford jab have launched research on whether the vaccine could be taken as a pill - a medical breakthrough that could make annual coronavirus inoculation programs faster, cheaper and more widespread.

Professor Sarah Gilbert, the lead developer behind the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine being rolled out around the world including in Australia, said a product delivered via nasal spray could also be a game changer in the race for “second generation” vaccine products.

“As you know all the vaccines have been given at the moment as intramuscular injections,” Gilbert said on Wednesday local-time.

“That is not necessarily the best way to provide protection against a respiratory virus infection, where we want the immune system to be active in the upper respiratory tract and then in the lower respiratory tract, which is where the virus is causing the infection.

“And we have flu vaccines that are given by nasal spray. This could be a very good approach in the future to use vaccines against coronaviruses.

“It’s also possible to consider oral vaccination where you take a tablet that will give you the immunisation, and that would have a lot of benefits for vaccine rollout if you didn’t have to use the needles and syringes for people.”

Gilbert told British MPs on Wednesday that her team had started to assess both approaches.

Avoiding labour-intensive COVID-19 vaccination programs could be a crucial factor in the world learning to live with the virus, which experts have repeatedly warned could become a seasonal disease similar to the flu.

“But they will take time to develop,” Gilbert said of the pill or nasal spray.

“They will have to be tested for safety and then for efficacy as well because the immune responses that will be generated by both of those approaches will be a little bit different to what we get from an intramuscular injection.

“But they have potentially large advantages, and so that’s where we’re going to be focusing our attention on working out if we could use different delivery rates in the future for these vaccines.”

Any new product would likely take more than a year to eventuate because it would have to be developed and then go through pre-clinical and clinical trials. Regulators would also have to review it for approval.

Small British biotech company IosBio partnered last year with United States-based ImmunityBio to develop oral coronavirus vaccines after promising tests in monkeys. Clinical trials are underway in South Africa and the US.

IosBio had been trying to develop an oral vaccine for the Zika virus - partly through UK government funding - before the pandemic began last year.

The company’s chairman, Wayne Channon, said pills or nasal sprays had the potential to overcome the global challenges of traditional vaccines, including storage temperatures.

“Oral vaccines are more cost effective to produce and can be easily stored and transported around the world,” he said last month. “They also have the potential to be self-administered, reducing health systems’ dependency on trained health professionals to run immunisation programmes and present a future where people could have vaccines delivered straight to their door.”

The former head of the UK’s vaccine taskforce, Kate Bingham, last month said the world would have to develop more efficient ways of making and distributing COVID-19 vaccines.

“Frankly, two injections delivered by health care professionals is not a good way of delivering vaccines,” she told the BBC. “We need to get vaccine formats which are much more scalable and distributable, so whether they are pills or patches or nose sprays.”

Gilbert also told Wednesday’s parliamentary hearing that clinical trials would start over the coming months on a vaccine tweaked to respond to emerging variants. The UK government has flagged a potential autumn ‘booster’ shot program.


The Return of Operation Choke Point

Nice bank ya got there. It’d be a shame if something happened to it. That’s essentially the message our nation’s worst attorney general began sending back in 2013 to certain banks that had the wrong kinds of customers. He even came up with a fittingly descriptive name for his unconstitutional anti-business program: Operation Choke Point.

As we wrote yesterday, the Biden administration is planning to revive Barack Obama and Eric Holder’s infamous initiative, a 2013 scheme by which the Obama Justice Department’s banking industry regulators forced certain banks to investigate the business they did with firearm and ammunition dealers and other disfavored businesses — such as pawn shops, coin dealers, and short-term loan providers — ostensibly because they were believed to be at a high risk for fraud and money laundering. Thus, through Operation Choke Point, the Obama administration was trying to deny several perfectly legal industries even basic access to the banking system.

This orchestrated denial of goods and services is the very definition of redlining, a system that was originally used to keep blacks out of certain neighborhoods in certain U.S. cities through the denial of mortgages or home improvement loans. Rather than redlining “undesirable” people, the Obama administration was redlining undesirable businesses.

And it worked. Just ask Brian Bookman, a former police officer and Army veteran. As The Daily Signal reported back in 2014, “After researching his case on the Internet, Brookman says he concluded that his banker, JP Morgan Chase, closed the account because two of his business activities — dealing in vintage coins and selling firearms — were labeled ‘high risk’ by federal bureaucrats as part of an Obama administration initiative called Operation Choke Point.”

So selling firearms and thereby facilitating access to our Constitution’s Second Amendment is now considered “high risk”?

Under President Donald Trump, however, Choke Point was rightly considered an unconstitutional infringement on these legal businesses and ended by the Justice Department in 2017. “And by the end of the former president’s term,” writes Jon Dougherty in BizPac Review, “the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency [OCC] issued a ‘Fair Access’ rule instructing large banks to provide financial services to businesses and individuals irrespective of political considerations.”

But like nearly every other good policy work from the Trump administration, Joe Biden and his hard-left handlers are undoing it. Rather than attempt to enact legitimate legislation through Congress, the Biden administration is, as our Nate Jackson put it, carpet-bombing us with executive orders. And so, eight days after taking office, Biden’s OCC announced that it was suspending the Trump administration’s Fair Access rule.

And why might it do that, except to revive Operation Choke Point, even if by another less suspicious name?

All this is part of a larger strategy: the Left’s politicization of the economy. As Kelsey Bolar writes in The Federalist, “For all intents and purposes, Operation Choke Point is happening every day on a massive scale, [including] a stranglehold on information, speech, and the broader marketplace of ideas. Concerningly, the government is now playing an active role. As exemplified by Parler and the recent Twitter purge, Big Tech is choking conservatives off their social media platforms while Democrats cheer it on.”

So much for the promise our 46th president made in his inaugural speech to “work as hard for those who didn’t vote for me as those who did.” But that’s Joe Biden. Promises made, promises broken.



Senate Republican leader unloads on "radical and underqualified" HHS nominee Xavier Becerra (Daily Wire)

Senate confirms Linda Thomas-Greenfield as UN ambassador, despite her calling Chinese intervention in Africa a "win-win-win situation" in 2019 (Fox)

Senate confirms former Tom Vilsack for return engagement as agriculture secretary (Des Moines Register)

Good move: Federal judge indefinitely blocks 100-day deportation moratorium (Forbes)

$1 billion class-action lawsuit filed against Texas electric company after "catastrophic" bills (Forbes)

Five ERCOT board members who live outside of the state are resigning (Texas Tribune)

Virginia lawmakers vote to abolish the death penalty (AP)

Grand jury votes not to indict Rochester officers in Daniel Prude case (NPR)

Democrats write a bill to start a racism racist center at the CDC (National Pulse)

Americans identifying as LGBTQ more than ever thanks to indoctrination of our youth (NBC)

Identity wars: Campground for homosexuals takes heat for prohibiting women who identify as men (Disrn)

Washington Football Team to spend one more year fumbling for a new name (Disrn)

Nearly 100 Confederate monuments removed in 2020 (NPR)

Biden to visit Texas on Friday following deadly winter storm (CNBC)

Trump appeals Facebook's decision to indefinitely suspend him (

MSNBC contributor who encouraged ISIS to bomb Trump Tower will testify on domestic terrorism (Federalist)

Policy: The Cotton-Romney plan to raise the minimum wage without killing jobs (National Review)

Policy: The tax benefits of parenthood: A history and analysis of current proposals (AEI)




24 February, 2021

As Trump Predicted, Under Biden China Owns the United States
What that means for America’s patriotic movement

On February 11, Joe Biden announced sanctions on Burma for a recent coup in that nation, also known as Myanmar. “The military must relinquish power they’ve seized and demonstrate respect for the will of the people of Burma as expressed in their November 8 election,” Biden said. For the current occupant of the White House, first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972, that was something of a departure.

During a political career of nearly 50 years, it’s hard to find the Delaware Democrat urging China’s ruling Communist Party to respect the will of the people and hold free elections. As they made clear at Tiananmen square in 1989, the people of China want freedom, democracy, and human rights. The Communist regime deployed massive military force against the people, but for Joe Biden that proved no object to China’s admission to the World Trade Organization.

As the Black Book of Communism and other studies confirm, China’s Communist regime has murdered scores of millions, but American politicians demanded no accounting, or punishment of those responsible, as a condition of WTO admission and trade privileges. Neither did they require free multi-party elections, or self-determination for Tibet, as a condition of joining the WTO.

Access to the American market was supposed to make China more peaceful, but the regime became more repressive and expansionist. On the other hand, American politicians made plenty of money. Prominent among them is Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a regular guest of the PRC since the 1970s and a staunch advocate for China’s most favored nation status.

As Glenn Bunting of the Los Angeles Times reported in 1997, Feinstein’s husband Richard Blum “has expanded his private business interests in China – to the point that his firm is now a prominent investor inside the communist nation.” In 1995, Dianne Feinstein became a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “giving her a prominent platform for her efforts to support China’s trade privileges.”

As Ben Weingarten noted in the Federalist in 2018, Feinstein’s husband has “profited handsomely from the greatly expanded China trade she supported.” The senator also “served as a key intermediary between China and the U.S. government, while serving on committees whose work would be of keen interest to the PRC.”

For 20 years, through three election cycles, Feinstein maintained on her staff a Chinese spy who would even attend consular functions for the California Democrat. One wonders what the FBI knew, when they knew it, and what they did about it, if anything.

Other politicians with China business connections include Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi, whose husband has conducted a series of deals in the Communist nation. Recall that Speaker Pelosi kept Eric Swalwell on the House Intelligence Committee even after his “PoonFang” liaisons with a Chinese spy.

The PRC’s biggest American asset is surely Joe Biden. He acquired the China beat in 2012 on the recommendation of National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, a failed Fannie Mae lobbyist and behind-the-scenes operator for the “composite character” David Garrow described in Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama.

Biden routed the China trade through son Hunter, a frequent flyer on Air Force Two. Hunter’s laptop was the equivalent of Hillary Clinton’s private server, enabling the vice president to avoid scrutiny. The FBI had Hunter’s laptop but by all indications FBI bosses believed that, as Comey said of Hillary Clinton, no reasonable prosecutor would bring charges against Joe Biden’s son, especially with the “Big Guy” running for president. The New York Post broke the story, but the Democrat-media-tech axis promptly banned the October surprise.

Joe Biden is also on record that the Chinese Communists are “not bad folks,” and “not competition for us.” So no surprise that Biden turns a blind eye to China’s repressions and beats up on Burma, a nation that poses no threat to the United States. In effect, Joe Biden serves as governor general of Americachukuo, China’s North American economic zone.

With Biden in the White House, President Trump predicted, China would “own the United States.” There’s also something to Trump’s charge that the Bidens are an “organized crime family.”

In December, Joe Biden claimed nobody in his family would be involved in any business that even appears in conflict with the presidency and the government. As Miranda Devine of the New York Post reports, it turns out that Hunter Biden still holds a 10 percent share of the Chinese firm BHR partners and is thus “still in business with the Chinese Communist Party.”

The performance of Joe “America Last” Biden and China-compliant Democrats brings clarity to the patriotic movement now in place and growing. At least 74 million patriots are part of an independence movement that seeks to preserve rights under the U.S. Constitution.

Those rights are now at risk, as the Democrat demolition squad seeks to erase the nation’s history. To adapt Milan Kundera, the struggle of the patriotic movement against the America-Last regime is the struggle of memory against forgetting.


Supreme Court’s Decision Not to Hear Elections Cases Could Have Serious Repercussions

With the U.S. Supreme Court’s “baffling” refusal on Monday to grant review of the Pennsylvania election cases that had been appealed to the justices, the majority of the court is—to quote Justice Clarence Thomas’ dissent—“leav[ing] election law hidden beneath a shroud of doubt” and “invit[ing] further confusion and erosion of public confidence” in our elections.

Who can forget the chaos of this past election season? Attempts to change election rules and procedures began before any ballots had even been cast.

In some cases, state executive branch officials changed the rules; in others, judges made the changes. But under the U.S. Constitution, neither had the authority to do so.

As Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote late last year, “[t]he Constitution provides that state legislatures—not federal judges, not state judges, not state governors, not other state officials—bear primary responsibility for setting election rules … [a]nd the Constitution provides a second layer of protection, too. If state rules need revision, Congress is free to alter them.”

Notable instances during and after the 2020 election where this procedure wasn’t followed occurred in Pennsylvania. There, the state’s Supreme Court ordered election officials to accept late-arriving mail-in ballots up to three days after Election Day and to count them even if they didn’t have a postmark showing they had been mailed by Election Day.

What’s particularly problematic about the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision is that the Pennsylvania Legislature had explicitly decided not to extend the ballot-receipt deadline past Election Day.

The authority the Pennsylvania court cited for overriding state law was what Thomas called a “vague clause” in the state’s constitution providing that elections “shall be free and equal.”

Apparently, requiring absentee ballots to be received by Election Day is somehow not a “free and equal” election, but allowing ballots to come in three days after Election Day is a “free and equal” election.

That was the ludicrous justification used by the state court.

The U.S. Supreme Court was asked to enjoin (or stop) the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s ruling from taking effect, but the justices deadlocked 4-4 because Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died and Justice Amy Coney Barrett had not yet joined the court. Thus, the decision remained in place.

Later, the state Republican Party and others asked the high court to hear the cases on the merits, but to do so on an expedited basis. Again, the court declined—meaning, the cases proceeded according to the court’s normal procedures, which has now led to it declining to review the case at all.

That prompted blistering dissents from Thomas and Justice Samuel Alito, with Gorsuch joining Alito’s dissent.

Disappointingly, neither Justice Brett Kavanaugh nor Barrett joined them in getting the court to accept a very important case on a fundamental issue, as described by Alito, that could affect all future federal elections and has divided the lower courts; namely, “whether the Elections or Electors Clause of the United States Constitution … are violated when a state court holds that a state constitutional provision overrides a state statute governing the manner in which a federal election is to be conducted.”

They did not, of course, explain why. Should the issue arise again, as seems likely, perhaps Kavanaugh and Barrett will be less reticent to take up the issue then. One can only hope.

The election may be over, but Thomas pointed out that the court now had even more reason to hear this case because the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had reached the opposite result from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and had enjoined the Minnesota secretary of state from extending the ballot-receipt deadline that state’s Legislature had set.

Thomas made the commonsense point: “Unclear rules threaten to undermine [the electoral system]. They sow confusion and ultimately dampen confidence in the integrity and fairness of elections.”

That shouldn’t be controversial, but apparently it is.

Thomas went on to say:

An election system lacks clear rules when, as here, different officials dispute who has authority to set or change those rules. This kind of dispute brews confusion because voters may not know which rules to follow.

Even worse, with more than one system of rules in place, competing candidates might each declare victory under different sets of rules.

According to Thomas, the country was “fortunate that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision to change the receipt deadline for mail-in ballots does not appear to have changed the outcome in any federal election. … But we may not be so lucky next time.”

In fact, he pointed out that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision to change another rule did make a difference in a state election.

The state Supreme Court “nullified” a state law requiring a voter to write the date on his mail-in ballot. One candidate for a state Senate seat was the winner under the applicable state law, but her opponent was declared the winner under the “contrary rule—that violated state law—announced by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.”

As Thomas said in his spirited dissent, “If state officials have the authority they have claimed, we need to make it clear. If not, we need to put an end to this practice now before the consequences become catastrophic.”

We agree.

We also agree with Thomas that “[b]ecause the judicial system is not well suited to address these kinds of questions in the short time period available immediately after an election, [the court] ought to use available cases outside that truncated context to address these admittedly important questions.”

Alito agreed, saying that now that “the election is over,” there was “no reason for refusing to decide the important questions that these cases pose.”

These cases seemed to provide the perfect opportunity for the court to do so. Yet, it inexplicably declined the opportunity.

Thomas ended with a sharp rejoinder to his colleagues:

One wonders what this Court waits for. We failed to settle this dispute before the election, and thus provide clear rules. Now we again fail to provide clear rules for future elections.

The decision to leave election law hidden beneath a shroud of doubt is baffling. By doing nothing, we invite further confusion and erosion of voter confidence.

Our fellow citizens deserve better and expect more of us. I respectfully dissent.

While we all hope Thomas’ words don’t prove to be prophetic, they may well be. By refusing to take these cases, the Supreme Court is—for the time being anyway—giving state government officials free rein to make unauthorized changes in election rules and to override election laws set by state legislatures.

Even if states set clear rules well in advance of their next elections by enacting commonsense reforms to protect the integrity of their electoral processes, those rules may be voided by partisan officials with no respect for the Constitution and the rule of law.




23 February, 2021

UK Covid vaccination programme ‘cutting risk of hospital admissions by up to 94%’

The Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines were shown to reduce the risk by up to 85% and 94% respectively

Experts hailed the “brilliant” first findings of the effect of a single dose of either the Pfizer or Oxford jabs, from a study of more than 1.1 million people in Scotland.

Today’s results are the first to show how the vaccines are working in the “real world” by preventing serious illness across an entire UK nation – raising hopes about the lockdown lifting.

The effectiveness of vaccines in reducing hospitalisations and deaths is one of Boris Johnson’s four key measures for easing restrictions.

Dr Josie Murray, Public Health Scotland lead for the EAVE-II project, said: “The brilliant news is that the vaccine delivery programme in its current format… is working. The other fantastic news is that we are potentially protecting our NHS hospitals.”

The results, which have yet to be peer-reviewed, found that four weeks after receiving the first dose the Pfizer/BNionTech jab reduced the risk of ending up in hospital with Covid by up to 85 per cent.

The Oxford/AstraZeneca jab, which was given to more people over 65, reduced the risk by 94 per cent.

The results were based on the 1.14m first doses given in Scotland between December 8 and February 15, covering 21 per cent of the country’s population. The Pfizer vaccine was received by 650,000 people and the Oxford jab by 490,000.

Lead researcher Professor Aziz Sheikh, of Edinburgh university, said: “These results are very encouraging and have given us great reasons to be optimistic for the future. “Roll-out of the first vaccine dose now needs to be accelerated globally to help overcome this terrible disease.”

Professor Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England, said: “This research provides encouraging early data on the impact of vaccination on reducing hospitalisations.”

Across the UK, more than 17.5m have received a first jab. In London, 1,727,781 first doses have been given, including a further 40,000 on Saturday. The capital has given the second lowest number of jabs of all seven NHS regions in England.

Today one of the capital’s most senior council leaders warned that black and Asian Londoners were up to three times more likely to refuse or be hesitant about having a Covid jab.


Israel is giving the world a glimpse into a post-vaccine future. But not everyone is happy

As Israel's vaccine campaign inches closer to completion, the world is watching closely for a glimpse into what life could be like after the coronavirus pandemic.

So far the data from the world's fastest vaccination program is promising, but questions remain, chief among them: What will a post-vaccine society look like?

Israel has now eased restrictions across the country, but additional perks are being made available to those who have been vaccinated and can prove it using a government app known as "green badge".

The result is Israel is becoming a sort of global experiment, one in which the rules of post-vaccine society and the effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine under real-world conditions are being put to the test.

"We are now finally in the moment where we need to think how we return to the new normal," Nadav Davidovitch, a public health physician from Ben Gurion University, said.

It is estimated about half of Israelis have received the first dose of Pfizer's two-shot regime. A third of people have received both shots.

Those who have been given the two doses are allowed back into gyms, movie theatres and swimming pools, while their non-vaccinated counterparts will have to wait.

On the streets of Jerusalem, Israel's biggest city, the mood was palpable as restrictions were eased.


'Cancel Trump' Culture Is Toxic, Juvenile, and Dangerous

I wrote a post yesterday about Bill de Blasio gleefully shutting down ice rinks in New York a month early simply because the Trump Organization runs them and Hizzoner wants to score some political points while employing the familiar Democratic tactic of using kids as pawns. Never forget that Democrats hate your kids. They probably hate their own kids, too.

The pettiness shown by de Blasio and the way he handled it were beyond embarrassing:

At a time when Americans have been cooped up for a year and in desperate need of any kind of outdoor activity with fresh air, Bill de Blasio and his administration have decided that it’s more important to fill their diapers, stomp their feet, and have a loud ORANGE MAN BAD fit.

Worse yet, they announced it like a drunk college kid trying to dunk on someone on social media. A de Blasio spokesman said, “Trump has been impeached from operating the ice rink,” and he no doubt felt like the most clever boy in kindergarten after that.

The kids who are getting to spend time outdoors to keep from going crazy while not being in school are completely screwed now but, hey, Mayor Bill got to cheat Trump out of a few bucks for a month.

When President Biden signed his executive order for a review and update to ICE enforcement procedures, he also put Operation Talon on hold. Operation Talon is a nationwide ICE operation that arrests and removes convicted sex offenders illegally in the United States. The effects of this order have been immediate, with the cancellation of a joint operation to arrest at-large sex offenders:

All this is being done to appease the woke open borders lobby that’s been working in tandem with Big Green to control Grandpa Gropes’ brain during his first four weeks in office. “ICE” is a trigger word for the already unstable Left and the mere mention of the agency plunges them further into madness. Sometimes the madness makes them do stupid things. As Stacey notes, this time it’s making them do dangerous things:

As Biden has essentially thrown open the border to migrant caravans and the cartels that traffic human beings over the border, reducing the enforcement in this area is appalling. His executive order halted most immigration enforcement, with “aggravated felons” being the notable exceptions—but only if their aggravated felony occurred in the last ten years

The Democrats are in control of the federal government right now and they have no clear vision for the United States of America other than hating Donald Trump. That would be myopic and stupid in the best of times. With the pandemic still upon us and the economy in dire need of a comeback, it’s a recipe for long-term disaster.

And they don’t care. The tantrum is the priority and it shows no signs of letting up.



Supreme Court declines to shield President Trump's tax returns from Manhattan DA's witch hunt (The Hill)

Senator Joe Manchin rightly announces he will oppose provocateur Neera Tanden, likely defeating her Office of Management and Budget nomination (Disrn)

"It doesn't always have to be a yes or no answer": Press Secretary Jen Psaki dodges questions about Governor Cuomo's nursing home failures (Post Millennial)

Friendly fire: AOC calls for "full investigation" into nursing home scandal (Daily Caller)

Biden admin urges passage of "Equality Act" to conflate gender identity with sexual orientation (Post Millennial)

Democrats planning revival of congressional earmarks following GOP's 10-year ban (Just the News)

Prominent Democrat fundraiser sentenced to 12 years in prison for foreign money campaign schemes (Disrn)

Donald Trump will speak at CPAC in first post-White House appearance (Fox News)

Support for Biden's handling of the pandemic falls by 5% (Blaze Media)

Making "a bad situation worse": Study finds Andrew Cuomo's reckless nursing home directive may have led to 1,000 more COVID deaths (Washington Times)

Lockdown upshot: Flu activity is "unusually low" this year (Disrn)

An epidemic of loneliness is overspreading America — and lockdowns sure haven't helped (FEE)

Six more Oath Keepers associates charged in Capitol riots conspiracy case (USA Today)

Iran refuses to change "terms" of nuclear deal as U.S. says "the ball is in their court" (Examiner)

President Biden approves Texas disaster declaration (

Texas storm may cost insurers record first-quarter losses (Reuters)

Some Texans now face huge variable-rate electricity bills to the tune of thousands of dollars (NPR)

Biden administration announces reforms to PPP to assist small businesses (Fox Business)

Bronx teacher fired for refusing to make "Black Panther" salute (Examiner)

Amazon drops Ryan T. Anderson's When Harry Became Sally book without explanation (Disrn)

Coca-Cola holds "anti-racist" training that instructs employees to "be less white" (Not the Bee)

Planned Parenthood committed 354,871 abortions in the past year and was given $618 million in taxpayer money (Not the Bee)

Racism at Smith College: Whistleblower reveals institution's psychological abuse of white employees (Disrn)

"We want to acknowledge its harmful impact": Disney slaps ridiculous "offensive content" label on "The Muppet Show" (Daily Wire)

The celebs who say you're killing the planet with minivans are using private jets at record pace (Not the Bee)

A gas leak led this Tennessee family to discover a family of bears living under their house (Not the Bee)

Apollo 16 lunar rover footage upscaled to a mesmerizing 4k 60fps (Not the Bee)

Policy: The Biden-made border crisis (Daily Signal)

Policy: How Congress can prevent Big Tech from becoming the speech police (The Hill)




22 February, 2021

COVID Cases Drop by 77 Percent. Politicians and Public Health Bureaucrats Hardest Hit

Over the last six weeks, new cases of infection of the coronavirus have dropped an astonishing 77 percent. Dr. Marty Makary, a professor at Johns Hopkins, wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal and observes: “If a medication slashed cases by 77%, we’d call it a miracle pill.”

Has the number of infections really dropped by 77 percent in 6 weeks?

According to the CDC COVID Data Tracker, there were 283,640 new cases on January 2, 2021. As of February 17, there were 69,165 cases. That represents a drop of 75.05 percent in six weeks — for all you fact-checkers out there.

But Makary points out that the vaccine hasn’t been totally responsible for the drop. He makes a strong case that “natural immunity from prior infection is far more common than can be measured by testing.”

Testing has been capturing only from 10% to 25% of infections, depending on when during the pandemic someone got the virus. Applying a time-weighted case capture average of 1 in 6.5 to the cumulative 28 million confirmed cases would mean about 55% of Americans have natural immunity.

Now add people getting vaccinated. As of this week, 15% of Americans have received the vaccine, and the figure is rising fast. Former Food and Drug Commissioner Scott Gottlieb estimates 250 million doses will have been delivered to some 150 million people by the end of March.

Makary is predicting “herd immunity” by April. He realizes that herd immunity is a loaded political phrase, but he’s got the evidence to back it up.

Many experts, along with politicians and journalists, are afraid to talk about herd immunity. The term has political overtones because some suggested the U.S. simply let Covid rip to achieve herd immunity. That was a reckless idea. But herd immunity is the inevitable result of viral spread and vaccination. When the chain of virus transmission has been broken in multiple places, it’s harder for it to spread—and that includes the new strains.

Herd immunity has been well-documented in the Brazilian city of Manaus, where researchers in the Lancet reported the prevalence of prior Covid-19 infection to be 76%, resulting in a significant slowing of the infection. Doctors are watching a new strain that threatens to evade prior immunity. But countries where new variants have emerged, such as the U.K., South Africa and Brazil, are also seeing significant declines in daily new cases.

Herd immunity was an impractical idea, both morally and politically. But when lockdowns proved not to be the answer to controlling the pandemic, they should have been abandoned for some other, less damaging solution. With 20 million Americans still unemployed and the fallout from the lockdowns yet to work its way through the economy, certainly, there could have been less catastrophic solutions.

More good news on the vaccine front as it appears that the Pfizer vaccine is 93 percent effective after only one dose. Not only that, but both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines can be stored in ordinary refrigerators with no loss in potency.


"Meanwhile, studies of both the Pfizer and Moderna jabs are saying the vaccines are working significantly better than expected, so much so that they’re suggesting ditching the two-dose regimen in order to get more people vaccinated faster. Pfizer, for instance, says the vaccine is 93 percent effective in one dose but only 94 percent effective if taken twice. If this holds up, it’s a massive game-changer that effectively doubles vaccine availability. Also, the J&J vaccine is expected to be approved shortly after a February 26 FDA meeting to discuss the data it has generated."

All this good news and politicians are still acting as if this is a crisis that demands immediate action and compliance with all restrictions. Is Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus bill still necessary? Should schools still be closed? Should restaurants and bars be allowed to open without limits?

Politicians and bureaucrats love crises because people get scared enough to hand them the keys to the kingdom. And if we leave it to them to determine when the crisis is over, they will find some excuse to keep the hammer down.

It’s time we start demanding an end to lockdowns, restrictions, and the thousands of rules and regulations issued for our “guidance” during the crisis. It seems a little peaceful civil disobedience is in order.


Biden's Made in America order – here's what part of America he's talking about

It's another way to hit conservative business owners

On those rare occasions in 2020 when candidate Joe Biden emerged from his basement to stumble through a campaign stump speech, a common theme was that his administration would do more to use the vast spending powers of the federal government to help American businesses.

The political advantages of Biden’s "Made in America" commitments were obvious. No president in modern U.S. history has done more than Donald Trump to make "America First" the standard upon which all policies should be judged.

By emphasizing "Made in America," Biden attempted to out-MAGA the man who captured the White House in 2016 by focusing on the forgotten blue-collar men and women of economically depressed parts of America’s Heartland.

In an effort to expand support among that key demographic, Biden recently issued a "Made in America" executive order that will require federal agencies to spend a greater proportion of their budgets on goods and services offered by U.S. companies.

At first glance, the order seems relatively uncontroversial to many on the ideological left and right. According to the White House, the federal government spends more than $600 billion on federal contracts alone. It is more than reasonable to expect that those taxpayer dollars be paid to American businesses rather than sent overseas, whenever possible.

A closer look at Biden’s executive order, however, reveals there is much more to the White House’s Made in America policy than meets the eye.

Biden’s plan requires the creation of a Made in America Office, the apparent acronym of which is, quite incredibly, "MAO." MAO, which will be housed in the Office of Management and Budget, will work as the Biden administration’s Made in America hall monitor, ensuring that the behemoth federal bureaucracy in Washington, D.C., spends its vast resources on American products and services and issuing exemptions to the policy, when appropriate.

But MAO will not merely require other federal agencies to buy from American businesses. The Biden administration has signaled it will also mandate that the federal government buy from U.S. businesses that pursue certain left-wing goals.

According to an official statement of the White House, Biden’s Made in America executive order "is deeply intertwined with the President’s commitment to invest in American manufacturing, including clean energy and critical supply chains, grow good-paying, union jobs, and advance racial equity."

And there is no telling what other criteria might be fabricated in the months and years ahead by the Biden administration to help push left-wing goals.

Additionally, the wording of the executive order is so vague, MAO could interpret its directive as a justification to exclude just about any business it wants from gaining a federal contract, presumably even if that business is offering the government the best service at the lowest cost.

The order’s "policy" section states, "The United States Government should, whenever possible, procure goods, products, materials, and services from sources that will help American businesses compete in strategic industries and help America’s workers thrive."

Thanks to the White House’s statement, we now know that at the very least, the "strategic industries" mentioned in the executive order include costly, inefficient "green" companies linked to wind and solar energy, and it seems apparent the mandate to "help America’s workers thrive" includes union jobs and promoting "racial equity."

When applied to the everyday workings of the gargantuan federal government, these policies could have a large effect on how countless businesses and industries in the United States operate.

Under Biden’s Made in America order, it appears, for example, a paper company seeking a federal contract to supply its products to a government agency might have its offer rejected because the business employs "too few" workers of one or more racial groups. And, of course, the formula for making such a determination would almost certainly be placed in the hands of MAO, or some other federal office.

Similarly, a business with poorer-quality products or services but a greater proportion of union workers or a greater reliance on electric cars might have an edge over a more efficient business that has not been unionized or that utilizes gasoline-powered vehicles.

And there is no telling what other criteria might be fabricated in the months and years ahead by the Biden administration to help push left-wing goals. After all, nearly any social justice cause could fit into Biden’s "help workers thrive" box.

Requiring the federal government to "buy American" is arguably a noble cause, but forcing businesses to adopt leftist principles and still-unclear social justice mandates is, at best, an extremely worrisome expansion of the federal government’s power over the marketplace.

And the problem is only likely to get worse as the national government spends increasingly more money in the years ahead – a promise the Biden administration seems intent on keeping.



Unity! Democrats introduce "No Glory for Hate Act" to deprive Trump of post-death memorials (PJ Media)

Democrats debut sweeping immigration reform bill featuring eight-year path to citizenship (Examiner). Color us skeptical that it represents an "earned roadmap," as it's being advertised.

Incredibly, the Wuhan Institute of Virology is still eligible to receive U.S. taxpayer funding through 2024, NIH confirms (Daily Caller)

U.S. will erroneously pay $200 million in overdue and current dues to WHO (Roll Call)

White House says Biden supports study of slavery reparations (Reuters)

For the record, every Patriot Post staff member now identifies as black. And you can too!

Entertainment as indoctrination: TV shows push gun control myths (RCP)

FDA: Thankfully, no evidence COVID spreads through food or food packaging (UPI)

White House announces $4 billion in funding for global vaccine effort (Washington Post)

CDC classroom guidance would wrongly keep 90% of schools at least partially closed (CNBC)

NASA Mars rover survives "seven minutes of terror," successfully lands on Red Planet (U.S. News)

Biden marginalizes ICE: New rules limit who agents target for arrest (NPR)

Capitol Police suspends six officers with pay, investigating 29 others over January 6 riot (Fox News)

Biden ready to restore disastrous Iran nuclear deal (Examiner)

Regression: In 2021, U.S. will import more oil than it exports under Biden (

Weekly jobless claims rise to 861,000 as layoffs stay high (AP)

Red states trounce blue states economically (Power Line)

Total amount of global debt reached $281 trillion by the end of 2020 (Newsweek)

Chicago to review 41 statues for potential demolition, including ones of Washington, Lincoln, and Grant (Disrn)

South Carolina governor signs "heartbeat" abortion ban into law as legal challenge looms (The State)

Massachusetts high school football coach fired for privately questioning BLM curricula (Daily Wire)

Cartoon Network pushes "anti-racism," lecturing kids to "see color" in new PSA (Disrn)




21 February, 2021

The False and Exaggerated Claims Still Being Spread About the Capitol Riot

What took place at the Capitol on January 6 was undoubtedly a politically motivated riot. As such, it should not be controversial to regard it as a dangerous episode. Any time force or violence is introduced into what ought to be the peaceful resolution of political conflicts, it should be lamented and condemned.

But none of that justifies lying about what happened that day, especially by the news media. Condemning that riot does not allow, let alone require, echoing false claims in order to render the event more menacing and serious than it actually was. There is no circumstance or motive that justifies the dissemination of false claims by journalists. The more consequential the event, the less justified, and more harmful, serial journalistic falsehoods are.

Yet this is exactly what has happened, and continues to happen, since that riot almost seven weeks ago. And anyone who tries to correct these falsehoods is instantly attacked with the cynical accusation that if you want only truthful reporting about what happened, then you’re trying to “minimize” what happened and are likely an apologist for if not a full-fledged supporter of the protesters themselves.

One of the most significant of these falsehoods was the tale — endorsed over and over without any caveats by the media for more than a month — that Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick was murdered by the pro-Trump mob when they beat him to death with a fire extinguisher. That claim was first published by The New York Times on January 8 in an article headlined “Capitol Police Officer Dies From Injuries in Pro-Trump Rampage.” It cited “two [anonymous] law enforcement officials” to claim that Sicknick died “with the mob rampaging through the halls of Congress” and after he “was struck with a fire extinguisher.”

A second New York Times article from later that day — bearing the more dramatic headline: “He Dreamed of Being a Police Officer, Then Was Killed by a Pro-Trump Mob” — elaborated on that story

The problem with this story is that it is false in all respects. From the start, there was almost no evidence to substantiate it. The only basis were the two original New York Times articles asserting that this happened based on the claim of anonymous law enforcement officials.

Despite this alleged brutal murder taking place in one of the most surveilled buildings on the planet, filled that day with hundreds of cellphones taping the events, nobody saw video of it. No photographs depicted it. To this day, no autopsy report has been released. No details from any official source have been provided.

Not only was there no reason to believe this happened from the start, the little that was known should have caused doubt. On the same day the Times published its two articles with the “fire extinguisher” story, ProPublica published one that should have raised serious doubts about it.

The outlet interviewed Sicknick’s brother, who said that “Sicknick had texted [the family] Wednesday night to say that while he had been pepper-sprayed, he was in good spirits.” That obviously conflicted with the Times’ story that the mob “overpowered Sicknick” and “struck him in the head with a fire extinguisher,” after which, “with a bloody gash in his head, Mr. Sicknick was rushed to the hospital and placed on life support.”

But no matter. The fire extinguisher story was now a matter of lore. Nobody could question it. And nobody did: until after a February 2 CNN article that asked why nobody has been arrested for what clearly was the most serious crime committed that day: the brutal murder of Officer Sicknick with a fire extinguisher. Though the headline gave no hint of this, the middle of the article provided evidence which essentially declared the original New York Times story false:

In Sicknick's case, it's still not known publicly what caused him to collapse the night of the insurrection. Findings from a medical examiner's review have not yet been released and authorities have not made any announcements about that ongoing process.

According to one law enforcement official, medical examiners did not find signs that the officer sustained any blunt force trauma, so investigators believe that early reports that he was fatally struck by a fire extinguisher are not true.

The CNN story speculates that perhaps Sicknick inhaled “bear spray,” but like the ProPublica interview with his brother who said he inhaled pepper spray, does not say whether it came from the police or protesters. It is also just a theory. CNN noted that investigators are “vexed by a lack of evidence that could prove someone caused his death as he defended the Capitol during last month's insurrection.” Beyond that, “to date, little information has been shared publicly about the circumstances of the death of the 13-year veteran of the police force, including any findings from an autopsy that was conducted by DC's medical examiner.”

Few noticed this remarkable admission buried in this article. None of this was seriously questioned until a relatively new outlet called Revolver News on February 9 compiled and analyzed all the contradictions and lack of evidence in the prevailing story, after which Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, citing that article, devoted the first eight minutes of his February 10 program to examining these massive evidentiary holes.

That caused right-wing media outlets to begin questioning what happened, but mainstream liberal outlets — those who spread the story aggressively in the first place — largely and predictably ignored it all.

This week, the paper that first published the false story — in lieu of a retraction or an explanation of how and why it got the story wrong — simply went back to the first two articles, more than five weeks later, and quietly posted what it called an “update” at the top of both five-week-old articles:

They did not expressly retract or even “correct” the story. Worse, there is at least one article of theirs, the January 11 one that purports to describe how the five people died that day, which continues to include the false “fire extinguisher” story with no correction or update.

The fire extinguisher tale was far from the only false or dubious claim that the media caused to circulate about the events that day. In some cases, they continue to circulate them.

In the days after the protest, numerous viral tweets pointed to a photograph of Eric Munchel with zip-ties. The photo was used continually to suggest that he took those zip-ties into the Capitol because of a premeditated plot to detain lawmakers and hold them hostage. Politico described Munchel as “the man who allegedly entered the Senate chamber during the Capitol riot while carrying a taser and zip-tie handcuffs.”

The Washington Post used the images to refer to “chatters in far-right forums explicitly discussing how to storm the building, handcuff lawmakers with zip ties.” That the zip-tie photo of Munchel made the Capitol riot far more than a mere riot carried out by a band of disorganized misfits, but rather a nefarious and well-coordinated plot to kidnap members of Congress, became almost as widespread as the fire extinguisher story. Yet again, it was The New York Times that led the way in consecrating maximalist claims. “FBI Arrests Man Who Carried Zip Ties Into Capitol,” blared the paper’s headline on January 10, featuring the now-iconic photo of Munchel at the top.

But on January 21, the “zip-tie man’s” own prosecutors admitted none of that was true. He did not take zip-ties with him from home or carry them into the Capitol. Instead, he found them on a table, and took them to prevent their use by the police:

Eric Munchel, a pro-Trump rioter who stormed the Capitol building while holding plastic handcuffs, took the restraints from a table inside the Capitol building, prosecutors said in a court filing Wednesday.

Munchel, who broke into the building with his mom, was labeled "zip-tie guy" after he was photographed barreling down the Senate chamber holding the restraints. His appearance raised questions about whether the insurrectionists who sought to stop Congress from counting Electoral College votes on January 6 also intended to take lawmakers hostage.

But according to the new filing, Munchel and his mother took the handcuffs from within the Capitol building - apparently to ensure the Capitol Police couldn't use them on the insurrectionists - rather than bring them in when they initially breached the building.

(A second man whose photo with zip-ties later surfaced similarly told Ronan Farrow that he found them on the floor, and the FBI has acknowledged it has no evidence to the contrary).

Why does this matter? For the same reason media outlets so excitedly seized on this claim. If Munchel had brought zip-ties with him, that would be suggestive of a premeditated plot to detain people: quite terrorizing, as it suggests malicious and well-planned intent. But he instead just found them on a table by happenstance and, according to his own prosecutors, grabbed them with benign intent.

Then, perhaps most importantly, is the ongoing insistence on calling the Capitol riot an armed insurrection. Under the law, an insurrection is one of the most serious crises that can arise. It allows virtually unlimited presidential powers — which is why there was so much angst when Tom Cotton proposed it in his New York Times op-ed over the summer, publication of which resulted in the departure of two editors. Insurrection even allows for the suspension by the president of habeas corpus: the right to be heard in court if you are detained.

So it matters a great deal legally, but also politically, if the U.S. really did suffer an armed insurrection and continues to face one. Though there is no controlling, clear definition, that term usually connotes not a three-hour riot but an ongoing, serious plot by a faction of the citizenry to overthrow or otherwise subvert the government.

Just today, PolitiFact purported to “fact-check” a statement from Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) made on Monday. Sen. Johnson told a local radio station:

"The fact of the matter is this didn’t seem like an armed insurrection to me. I mean armed, when you hear armed, don’t you think of firearms? Here’s the questions I would have liked to ask. How many firearms were confiscated? How many shots were fired? I’m only aware of one, and I’ll defend that law enforcement officer for taking that shot.

The fact-checking site assigned the Senator its “Pants on Fire” designation for that statement, calling it “ridiculous revisionist history.” But the “fact-checkers” cannot refute a single claim he made. At least from what is known publicly, there is no evidence of a single protester wielding let alone using a firearm inside the Capitol on that day. As indicated, the only person to have been shot was a pro-Trump protester killed by a Capitol police officer, and the only person said to have been killed by the protesters, Officer Sicknick, died under circumstances that are still completely unclear.

That protesters were found before and after the riot with weapons does not mean they intended to use them as part of the protest. For better or worse, the U.S. is a country where firearm possession is common and legal. And what we know for certain is that there is no evidence of anyone brandishing a gun in that building. That fact makes a pretty large dent in the attempt to characterize this as an “armed insurrection” rather than a riot.

Indeed, the most dramatic claims spread by the media to raise fear levels as high as possible and depict this as a violent insurrection have turned out to be unfounded or were affirmatively disproven.

On January 15, Reuters published an article about the arrest of the “Q-Shaman,” Jacob Chansley, headlined “U.S. says Capitol rioters meant to 'capture and assassinate' officials.” It claimed that “federal prosecutors offered an ominous new assessment of last week’s siege of the U.S. Capitol by President Donald Trump’s supporters on Thursday, saying in a court filing that rioters intended ‘to capture and assassinate elected officials.’” Predictably, that caused viral social media postings from mainstream reporters and prominent pundits, such as Harvard Law’s Laurence Tribe, manifesting in the most ominous tones possible:

Some of the individuals who breached the Capitol intended to "capture and assassinate elected officials," federal prosecutors wrote in this new court filing

Shortly thereafter, however, a DOJ “official walked back a federal claim that Capitol rioters ‘intended capture and assassinate elected officials.’" Specifically, “Washington's acting U.S. Attorney, Michael Sherwin, said in a telephone briefing, ‘There is no direct evidence at this point of kill-capture teams and assassination.’"

Over and over, no evidence has emerged for the most melodramatic media claims — torn out Panic Buttons and plots to kill Vice President Mike Pence or Mitt Romney. What we know for certain, as The Washington Post noted this week, is that “Despite warnings of violent plots around Inauguration Day, only a smattering of right-wing protesters appeared at the nation’s statehouses.” That does not sound like an ongoing insurrection, to put it mildly.

One can — and should — condemn the January 6 riot without inflating the threat it posed. And one can — and should — insist on both factual accuracy and sober restraint without standing accused of sympathy for the rioters.



Double standards: WaPo and CNN "fact-checkers" silent as Kamala Harris falsely claims Biden is "starting from scratch" on vaccine rollout (Fox News)

Parler finally resumes social media app after being jettisoned by Big Tech (Just the News)

Israeli study finds 94% drop in symptomatic cases with Pfizer vaccine (Reuters)

WHO approves AstraZeneca's vaccine for emergency use (AP)

Thirty-two million government-provided rapid tests have gone unused, with some close to expiration (Examiner)

Antifa cowards piled snow in front of a Seattle police precinct to keep them from responding to emergency calls (Not the Bee)

Healing! Trump impeachment lawyer's home vandalized (ABC News)

Max Lucado shamefully kowtows, apologizes for hurting LGBT community amid outrage following sermon at National Cathedral (Daily Wire)

"Family-friendly" Hallmark Channel promises more LGBT bunk (Disrn)
Bluefield College suspends entire team for kneeling during anthem, forcing them to forfeit (Disrn)

Policy: The WHO's probe into Wuhan needs a dose of common sense (AEI)

Policy: Biden is set to revive Obama's devastating Middle East foreign policy (The Federalist)




20 February, 2021

A Doctor’s View About the New mRNA Vaccines

By Thomas Siler

I’ve practiced for 35 years. I am always honest with my patients, even if conversations are difficult or confrontational. I will also be honest about saying “I don’t know.” This happens when a diagnosis is not readily apparent or when there are limits to the help I can give. With the passage of time, I’ve learned that what we don’t know about medicine outweighs what we do know.

I’ve always been a proponent of older, more established vaccines. However, they are imperfect and, like all medical treatments, can have side effects. Unfortunately, in the conversation about the new COVID-19 vaccines, the tenets of honesty and a willingness to admit ignorance are being compromised.

Operation Warp Speed was remarkable, but it leaves an uncomfortable question: Is it a good thing to rush a vaccine (or medicine) to the public without the usual safeguards? Operation Warp Speed might be a great business objective or military goal, but is it great for a medical treatment?

The pharmaceutical industry, government health authorities, and the media insist the new vaccines are safe and effective. While the initial results are promising, this is not the whole truth. Both honesty and acknowledging ignorance require answering a few questions.

What do we know about the new TYPE of vaccine being given?

Pfizer and Moderna were the first COVID-19 vaccines to be approved. Both use a new technology called mRNA vaccine, which has never been broadly given to a human population to prevent any disease.

Let that sink in for a moment.

All previous vaccines take a weakened virus or a piece of the virus and inject it into humans to induce an immune response sufficient to prevent a disease. Pfizer’s and Moderna’s vaccines inject mRNA, which is a protein code that instructs the body to make a part of COVID-19’s spike protein that will then induce an immune response.

Our bodies daily use our own mRNA to carry instructions from DNA to make various proteins the body uses. While this new vaccine science sounds intriguing, it has never been tried in humans in this scope. It may be a breathtaking scientific advancement heralding a new path for all vaccines. It may also be less effective or have currently unknown side effects.

Is the mRNA vaccine for COVID-19 safe?

So far, the limited study of the vaccines approved for emergency use (one major study for each vaccine approved) has shown some short-term side effects. The vaccine is a two-shot series and side effects were prominent after the second shot. Side effects were more common if the recipient was younger than 65 years old.

Pain at the injection site has usually gone away in 4-5 days. The other side effects resolve, on average, in 2-3 days.

Early reports after giving the vaccine have also included allergic reactions ranging from mild to a few cases of anaphylaxis (serious allergic reaction). Allergy may be to mRNA itself or the lipid nanoparticles/PEG vehicle it is housed in. The long-term side effects are not currently known, as the main study length and follow up have only been four months.

Is the mRNA vaccine effective?

In the main study from Pfizer’s vaccine, 8/17,000 patients got symptomatic COVID-19 in the treatment group during the short follow up. In the placebo group, 162/17,000 patients got symptomatic COVID-19 during the study time. There was also a trend towards those getting the vaccine having a less severe disease and needing less hospitalization.

The Moderna study had 30,000 patients split into treatment and placebo arms. In the vaccine group, 11/15,000 patients came down with COVID-19. In the placebo group, 185/15,000 patients came down with COVID-19.

It was hard to ascertain death avoidance in these small studies. However, the two initial studies are favorable and show a 95% efficacy. Now that more information about the studies is known, Peter Doshi, associate editor of the British Medical Journal, wrote an editorial that the true efficacy may be much lower because the study excluded people with COVID-19 symptoms but a negative test and other factors.

How long does immunity last?

This is unknown. Injected mRNA goes away in days, but it is thought that the immune response will be long lasting. Whether patients will need boosters at some point is not known.

What about mutations in the COVID-19 virus? Will the vaccine still work?

Viruses always mutate and scientists following COVID-19 estimate it mutates, on average, twice a month. Most of these mutations are minor and will likely not change the vaccine effectiveness. These mutations also usually do not make the virus more deadly.

What is antibody dependent enhancement?

COVID-19 is in the family of Coronavirus that causes the common cold. The pharmaceutical industry has been trying without success for the last two decades to make a vaccine against the common cold. A safe vaccine against the common cold would make some company a lot of money!

One problem in the animal studies on coronavirus family vaccines was “antibody dependent enhancement.” When animals were inoculated, they developed a robust immune response, which is a good result.

However, when the animals were later exposed to the coronavirus against which they were vaccinated, their immune system went into overdrive, and they developed an overwhelming, fatal immune response called a “cytokine storm.” Fatal cytokine storms also happened to some COVID-19 patients when their infection was severe.

Human responses do not always correlate to animal responses. So far, there have been no signs that humans have a cytokine storm when exposed to COVID-19 after receiving the vaccine. Obviously, this would be catastrophic for any vaccine.

Should we be concerned about other long term side effects from mRNA vaccines?

A concern that deserves mention is the possibility that a cross-reaction and immunity to other parts of the spike protein could cause auto-immune disease or other problems.

A former Pfizer VP, Dr. Michael Yeadon, who has over 30 years of experience in immunology and drug research, filed a Stay of Action petition with the European Medicine Agency (like our FDA) to halt the trials of mRNA vaccines over concerns it might affect sterility in women.

Yeadon is worried that the mRNA vaccine was coded for a region of the spike protein that was similar to Syncytin-1, which is a protein that is essential for the development of the placenta. If a woman’s body makes antibodies to this protein, she could become sterile when vaccinated for COVID-19. This is a theory, not a proven fact, and no one has studied it. Yeadon’s insistence on more studies to make sure this will not happen seems reasonable.

What to make of all these concerns?

Medicine is always about a risk/benefit analysis, subject to the first maxim of “do no harm.” Usually, new medicines or new vaccines are used only after multiple studies show over long periods of time (for vaccines, at least five years) prove they’re safe and better than the older treatments.

While the new mRNA vaccines have good initial results and may be a breakthrough, they should be viewed as experimental and would best be used in high-risk patients (older patients or those with health conditions raising COVID-19 mortality) until we know more. Patients should receive extensive informed consent to understand the risks and benefits. Patients also need to know that if they have a serious complication, Congress already protected the pharmaceutical companies from litigation around emergency vaccines.

The mantra of “safe and effective” is not only incomplete, but it also ignores other pathways out of the pandemic. For healthy people, early outpatient treatments are being developed to treat COVID-19. These would be a safer option than taking an experimental vaccine. Young people (<60 years old) who have very low mortality from COVID-19 should approach getting the new vaccine as if they were consenting to be in an experimental trial of a new vaccine.

Our history shows there are good reasons why new medicines and vaccines are not rushed into widespread use until we have multiple studies and time to assess the safety and efficacy of the new treatments. If the death rate from COVID-19 were much higher, it might make the risks acceptable to try an experimental vaccine. Given that the COVID-19 death rate is a little higher than a bad flu, my opinion is that younger and healthier people need a more rigorous risk/benefit analysis before taking the mRNA vaccines.


Furious Leftist hatred of Trump still burning

These are seriously disturbed people

Democrat lawmakers in the House of Representatives introduced a new bill on Thursday that would ban only former President Donald Trump from being buried in Arlington National Cemetery or having federal funds going to buildings bearing his names.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA), applies all its prohibitions to “any former President that has been twice impeached by the House of Representatives on or before the date of enactment of this Act.” The bill would specifically target Trump, who is the only U.S. president to have been impeached twice by the House of Representatives.

The bill states its ban on property named after a twice impeached president includes “any highway, park, subway, Federal building, military installation, street, or other Federal property.”

In a statement announcing the bill, Sanchez said the bill, barring federal funds to any other building bearing Trump’s name, could also prevent public schools from being named after him.

“I can’t imagine sending students in Southern California — or anywhere in America — to a school named in honor of a traitorous president,” she said.

Sanchez said federal funding would not go to a single thing bearing Trump’s name, “Not a building, statue, or even a park bench.”

By targetting only presidents impeached twice before the bill’s enactment, the bill would allow Democratic President Bill Clinton to retain typical burial and honors given to U.S. presidents despite having also been impeached. Clinton was impeached in 1998 on one charge of perjury and one charge of obstruction of justice.

The bill could also affect the management of a Trump presidential library. According to the National Archives, while presidential libraries are constructed with non-federal funds, the libraries are typically transferred to the National Archives, which then staffs and operates them. The National Archives is a federal agency.

Additionally, the bill would also aim to strip Trump of other benefits of his presidency.

The Former President’s Act of 1958 describes a number of lifetime benefits for former presidents who have not been removed from office. The act provides retirement, clerical assistants and free mailing privileges to former presidents. Referring to the 1958 act, Sanchez’ bill states, “Notwithstanding any provision of the Act . . . any former President that has been twice impeached by the House of Representatives on or before the date of enactment of this Act or has been convicted of a State or Federal crime relating to actions taken in an official capacity as President of the United States is not entitled to receive any benefit, other than Secret Service protection, under such Act.”


German phyicist says he is '99.9 per cent sure' that coronavirus leaked from Wuhan lab

Dr Roland Wiesendanger, a physicist from the University of Hamburg, has published a 100-page paper laying out what he claims is evidence pointing to a leak at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, in the city where the pandemic began.

The professor says the fact that no animal host has been found, safety concerns about the lab, and the fact that researchers were involved in controversial 'gain-of-function' research to make viruses more infectious to humans all confirm his view.

But others have slammed his 'research' - saying it is unscientific, relies on newspaper reports and YouTube videos as sources, and point out that he is not a virus expert.

His paper was published just 10 days after WHO scientists probing the origins of Covid in Wuhan urged scientists to dismiss lab leak theories, saying the possibility is 'extremely unlikely'.

Dr Wiesendanger openly admitted to German media that he has no 'scientific basis' for believing the virus escaped from the Wuhan lab. But he insisted that there is plenty of 'circumstantial evidence' that suggests a lab leak is the most likely explanation.

'I am 99.9 percent certain that the coronavirus came from the laboratory,' he told German newspaper ZDF.

Among the evidence that Dr Wiesendanger puts forward is the fact that, despite China's insistence that thorough searches have been carried out, no natural host for the virus has yet been found.

The closest relative of Covid to be found in nature is a coronavirus found in bats living in a mine in Mojiang in 2012 - labelled RaTG13 by researchers.

Dr Wiesendanger points out that these bats live some 1,200 miles from Wuhan, meaning it is unlikely they carried the virus to the city.

WHO scientists also pointed out in their own report that contact between citizens of Wuhan and bats is uncommon.




19 February, 2021

World watches as Israel’s fast-tracked vaccination program delivers promising results

It paid a sky-high price to access one of the best coronavirus vaccines in the world and also agreed to share data on the accelerated rollout – but Israel’s expensive gamble seems to have paid off.

The small country in the Middle East was late joining the line for the Pfizer vaccine behind the US, Canada and Japan, according to The Times of Israel, but it still managed to gain fast-tracked access to millions of doses.

This was partly due to Israel paying a lot more for the vaccine – as much as double what the United States and United Kingdom signed up for per dose – but also because it agreed to share data on the results of the rollout with Pfizer.

“We didn’t quibble about the price,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters in January.

Mr Netanyahu also acknowledged that one of the selling points for Pfizer was that Israel “could serve as a world laboratory for herd immunity or something approaching herd immunity very quickly”.

Israel “can serve as a global test case” on the coronavirus vaccine and on reopening the economy, he said.

Two months since the vaccine began to be rolled out, experts are now watching closely to understand its effectiveness in the real world.

The program has been so successful that on Monday Mr Netanyahu’s government announced the reopening of some businesses.

“We’ll be the first in the world to get out [of COVID],” Mr Netanyahu told Israel’s Channel 12.

He encouraged 570,000 people aged over 50 who had not yet been vaccinated to get the jab, saying they would decide whether the current lockdown will be Israel’s last.

Israel has already provided the first of two jabs to more than four million people in just two months.

This has provided coverage to more than 40 per cent of its population of nine million. Of these, more than 2.6 million have also received their second jab.

Although the number of vaccinations is not as high as other countries, Israel’s smaller population makes it easier to assess the impact of widespread vaccination because a higher proportion of the population is potentially protected.

So what is the data saying?

So far there isn’t a clear answer on whether vaccinated people can still infect others but there is promising data suggesting vaccinations reduce viral load and this means people are less likely to infect others.

Analysis from DNA scientist Yaniv Erlich, who is MyHeritage’s chief science officer, and his colleague Ella Petter, found vaccinated people who still got sick with coronavirus had a viral load 1.5 times to 20 times lower than those who weren’t vaccinated.

This means they are less likely to pass on the virus to others even if they do get infected and provides some hope that herd immunity can be achieved.

“Whoever gets vaccinated not only protects himself but also his family, his neighbours, and his community. Therefore, it is important to get vaccinated,” Dr Erlich wrote in a Facebook post on February 8.

Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser to US President Joe Biden, also spruiked the vaccine’s ability to reduce people’s viral load, seen in studies from Israel and Spain.

“The vaccine is important not only for the health of the individual to protect them against infection and disease, including the variants … but it also has very important implications from a public health standpoint, for interfering and diminishing the dynamics of the outbreak,” he said on Wednesday.

With any new vaccine there’s a risk that results seen in the trials won’t be replicated in the real world. This can happen for many reasons including the fact that people who sign up for trials tend to be healthier, more educated and open to new technology.

But so far the Pfizer’s results appear to be mirroring those experienced in the trial and it is protecting people from getting sick.

Israel has now announced a “green badge” system to re-open certain venues to those who have received both of their jabs.

From Sunday, those who have the badge, which will also be given to those who have recovered from the virus, will be allowed into gyms, cultural events, houses of worship and hotels.

“We are moving ahead with the responsible reopening on the principle of ‘you’re vaccinated – you’re in’,” Defence Minister Benny Gantz said on Monday.

Other facilities, like malls and museums, will open to all citizens, with or without a green badge, under a so-called “purple code”, with crowd size limits and other restrictions that have applied through much of the pandemic.

Hagai Levine, a public health professor and researcher at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, stressed Israel’s vaccination-dependent reopening plan required a “delicate balance” between public health needs and individual freedoms.

There is also “a right not to be vaccinated,” he told AFP.

“I think people should do it, but you cannot force them,” he added, noting that those who opt out inevitably risk being denied certain services.


UK: No, patriotism doesn’t alienate ethnic minorities

The battle for the Labour Party’s soul is now in full flow. This once great party has been on the opposition benches for over a decade, and is now on the verge of being plunged into an internal culture war over matters of patriotism and tradition.

According to progressive activists, taking pride in the Union flag, respecting those who have served in the armed forces and being smartly dressed is pandering to extreme right-wing nativism.

But what is an especially questionable charge, made by the likes of Aditya Chakrabortty in the Guardian, is that embracing expressions of British patriotism would alienate ethnic minorities. According to this view, the imagined ‘BAME community’ has little to no sense of national pride or appreciation of British life. This assumption is both misguided and divisive.

The 2010 Ethnic Minority British Election Study, which remains the only full-scale survey on British ethnic-minority attitudes to date, showed that non-white people are far more likely to express satisfaction with the British democratic system than white Brits. This should come as no surprise. A notable section of Britain’s non-white population moved directly to the UK from unstable parts of the world with dysfunctional political systems and substandard public infrastructure.

Part of the reason my Bangladeshi-origin parents decided to set up their stall in Britain was because of the stable nature of British democratic society and the great educational opportunities on offer for their children. This feeds into a naturally positive orientation towards Britain – a country that provided them with an opportunity to start afresh and prosper.

The progressive-activist brigade, which lectures Labour on how to engage with Britain’s ethnic-minority people, fails to understand that patriotic sentiments and culturally traditional values run deep in many British non-white communities. Arguing that Labour should steer clear of expressions of patriotism and national civic pride, on the baseless grounds that it would alienate swathes of ‘BAME’ people, is nonsense-on-stilts.

It also amounts to the crass exploitation of non-white people, who are being used to stop Labour embracing patriotism and tradition. This is an attempt to ensure the party continues to indulge racial identity politics, and continues to support the kind of cultural liberalism that runs counter to traditional family-oriented values – values which often characterise South Asian and black communities across the home nations.

Britain’s progressive activists – who span various spheres of British life, from politics to academia to the media and entertainment – are far from ideologically in-sync with mainstream ethnic-minority public opinion.

While these progressive activists squirm at the mildest expressions of patriotism, a comfortable majority of non-white people attach importance to their British national identity. Following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union and the Conservative Party’s handsome victory in the 2019 UK General Election, some Labourites have grown increasingly dissatisfied with the outcomes produced by the UK’s recent democratic exercises. But many of Britain’s non-white people – who can trace their ancestral origins back to countries with autocratic regimes and rampant political oppression – simply do not share in this domestic progressive-liberal discontent. And while progressive activists look to ‘protect’ an imaginary BAME community from the forces of oppression, they fail to acknowledge that non-white people tend to be more satisfied with their life in the UK.

Progressive activists are either unaware of the culturally conservative attitudes in non-white communities or, worse still, they are fully aware of them but would still rather exploit ethnic minorities to promote their identitarian agenda. This tribe of left-wingers – instinctively hostile to expressions of patriotism, dissatisfied with the democratic system, and always keen to interpret a range of social issues through the prism of race – threatens to lock Labour in a position of neverending electoral misery.

If such people continue to wield considerable influence on the British left, Labour will only be left with offering a miserable form of grievance politics, which is likely to prove very costly at the ballot box. The lessons of the 2019 UK General Election are clearly still not being learned.



Joe Biden takes a sledgehammer to Trump immigration agenda by pulling 65 pending EOs (Free Beacon)

Soon-to-be President Kamala Harris is now taking Biden's head of state calls (Disrn)

Christian actor Kevin Sorbo gets deleted by Facebook (Disrn)

William Shakespeare ditched by more and more woke teachers over "misogyny" and "racism" (Fox News)

New York school encourages parents to become "white traitors," "white abolitionists" (Daily Wire)

Dumb and dumber: San Francisco school board delays talk of reopening classrooms — but keeps working on changing "racist" school names (Daily Mail)

National Guard mission in DC to finally conclude by mid-March, Pentagon claims (Examiner)

Iraq rocket attack kills contractor, wounds U.S. service member; it was the most deadly attack to hit U.S.-led forces for almost a year in Iraq, where tensions have escalated (NBC News)

Wharton School analysts concludes that Biden's proposed spending binge would actually lead to a smaller economy in 2022 (FEE)

We're shocked — shocked! Venezuela turns to privatization after being bankrupted by socialism (FEE)

It didn't start on January 6: A brief history of terrorist violence at the Capitol (Heritage Foundation)

Endangered bears being released into the wild start charging their rescuers because that's what bears do (Not the Bee)

Chick-fil-A worker wins car in company raffle, gives it to coworker who was biking to work (Not the Bee)

Policy: Biden should keep U.S. troops in Europe (Heritage Foundation)

Joe Biden rightly disappoints hard leftists on minimum wage hike and student loan forgiveness (Examiner)

Hypocritical Twitter allows grotesque hashtags to trend following Limbaugh's death (Daily Wire)

The U.S. is now administering average of 1.7 million vaccine doses per day (Disrn)

U.S. life expectancy drops a year in pandemic — the most since WWII (Fox News)

Government seizes over 10 million phony N95 masks in COVID probe (AP)

Three North Korean military hackers indicted in wide-ranging scheme (

U.S. retail sales rebounded sharply in January — up a seasonally adjusted 5.3% (Reuters)

Google and News Corp strike a deal: Google will start paying for the use of News Corp's journalism in the U.S., UK, and Australia (NBC News)

Baltimore activist suggests paying killers not to kill (Fox News)

Security camera catches LA County health inspector breaking into dance like a psycho moments after ordering bar to shut down (Not the Bee)

Karma: At least 30 Taliban terrorists blow themselves up during bomb-making class (Disrn)

Porch pirate attempts to steal a package and is met with a loaded rifle (Not the Bee)

Policy: Technology alone won't end poverty. We need savings first. (Mises Institute)




18 February, 2021

Why did COVID fail to take off in India and has now collapsed? Mystery plunge in coronavirus

Scientists are trying to work out why coronavirus cases in India are falling when at one point it looked like the country might overtake the US as the worst-hit nation.

In September the country was reporting some 100,00 new cases per day, but that went into decline in October and is now sitting at around 10,000 per day - leaving experts struggling to explain why.

While the Indian government has been keen to put the apparent success down to its mask-wearing and social distancing laws, few believe these measures alone are responsible for the dip.

Instead, experts believe it may be down to the fact that India's largest cities have reached herd immunity, meaning the virus has moved to rural areas where it spreads slower and where cases and deaths are far less likely to be tested and logged.

A recent survey found 56 per cent of people in Delhi - the country's most-populous city - have Covid antibodies, which is likely to be an under-estimate with 70 per cent required for herd immunity.

Only around 20 per cent of deaths in India are medically certified - meaning 80 per cent do not have an official cause of death - with analysts warning the country may be under-counting its Covid fatalities by two or three times.

India also tests far less than developed nations, with medical experts warnings some states are relying on rapid lateral flow tests that give false-negative results.

The country also has a far younger population than many western nations - with an average age under 30 - and has far lower rates of obesity, which are both major factors in serious Covid infections and deaths.

Antibody surveys carried out in Mumbai, India's second-largest city, and Pune also showed antibodies in around 50 per cent of the population, The Times reported.

'The most densely-populated areas are already saturated and reaching the threshold of herd immunity, Giridhar Babu, an epidemiologist at the Public Health Foundation of India, told the paper.

'The virus has now spread to rural areas, but they are not so dense.'

Having a less-dense population means the virus spreads slower, which will naturally bring down daily case figures.

But with access to healthcare in rural India often lacking, it may also mean that many cases and deaths are going undetected.

Testing data for India shows that just 0.5 people per 1000 are swabbed each day - one of the lowest rates among countries that report such data.

More data released in September last year showed that people in rural areas are less-likely to be swabbed than those in cities - meaning that as the disease moves away from urban centres, the number of positive tests appears to decline.

The average number of tests carried out per day has also been falling across the whole of India since mid-December, which could also help to explain why positive test results have fallen.

And even those who are swabbed may be returning false-negative results, with doctors warning in September last year that many states are over-reliant on rapid lateral flow tests, which are unreliable.

Rijo John, a public health policy analyst, also warned that some states are failing to report which kind of tests are being used, further muddying the picture.

'More and more states are moving towards rapid antigen detection tests, which are known to have a high percentage of false negatives and not utilising the gold standard RT-PCR tests to full capacity,' he said.

'It should be made mandatory for all states to report the break[down] of different test types as well as the positives from these.'

Data also shows 80 per cent of Indians die at home, with no national requirement for a cause of death to be given before a body can be cremated or buried.

That has led experts to warn of a 'substantial' under-counting of deaths, with Dr Babu warning the true toll could be two or three times higher than the official count.

But others point to easing pressure on the country's hospitals as evidence that something other than an under-counting of cases and deaths in going on.

Some point to India's young population and relatively low rates of obesity as possible explanations.

The country has an average age of less than 30 with just 15 per cent of adults being overweight and 5 per cent obese, according to 2015 data.

By comparison, the US - which has been hardest-hit by Covid - has an average age of 38 with 32 per cent of adults overweight and 36 per cent obese.

Age and obesity are known to be two of the biggest factors increasing the likelihood that someone will fall seriously ill or die from Covid.

Other theories include that India has been dealing with less-virulent strains of the virus than those found in Europe, the US and parts of Africa.

India suspended all commercial flights in March last year, and while it has been operating 'travel corridors' since July, it has been quick to cut off routes to countries where dangerous new variants have emerged such as the UK.

That could have stopped the country suffering from spikes in infections like that seen in Britain after the so-called Kent Variant emerged, epidemiologists suggest.

Others believe that Indians, many of whom live in unsanitary conditions and suffer repeated waves of infections, have naturally resilient immune systems.

Jacob John, a prominent virologist at Christian Medical College in Tamil Nadu state, said: '[India suffers] dengue, chikungunya, malaria, typhoid, cholera, dysenteries, influenza, so the "innate immune system" is trained to be on high alert.'

The success cannot be attributed to vaccinations since India only began administering jabs in January, with just seven million out of the country's 1.3billion population jabbed so far.

Experts have cautioned that even if herd immunity in some places is partially responsible for the decline, the population as a whole remains vulnerable - and must continue to take precautions.

This is especially true because new research suggests that people who got sick with one form of the virus may be able to get infected again with a new version.

A recent survey in Manaus, Brazil, that estimated that over 75% of people there had antibodies for the virus in October - before cases surged again in January.


Did the CDC Really Say We Need to Wear 2 Masks? Here’s What You Need to Know About Double-Masking

Throughout the course of this pandemic, there has been widespread confusion, misunderstanding, and anxiety about COVID-19—how it is transmitted, how dangerous it is, and how to protect yourself from it.

Now, the latest topic of debate is whether or not the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend double-masking, and like other COVID-19 debates, misconceptions abound.

The use of masks as a simple infection control measure has become a controversial and polarizing issue. Now, a new push to wear not one, but two masks at once threatens to make it even worse. But does it even make sense?

Protective masks are a lightweight and easy tool for reducing the chances of spreading respiratory pathogens from one person to another. Illnesses (such as COVID-19) are caused by respiratory viruses and are transmitted by our breaths.

Thus, it makes sense that placing a filtering barrier in front of our respiratory orifices would reduce the spread of respiratory viruses.

Nearly every locality in the United States now mandates wearing masks in situations where you are exposed to other members of the public, and 96% of the population is willing to wear a mask when they leave the house or come into contact with other people, according to a survey taken in December 2020.

Despite this, the rate of known cases, hospitalizations, and deaths due to COVID-19 reached unprecedented levels this past fall. The rate of hospitalizations alone eclipsed the summer spike by a twofold factor.

The conclusion to draw from this is that masks may indeed help in certain situations, but on their own they simply were insufficient to stem the spread of the virus in the past few months.

We seem to be on the downward slope of the present spike, as cases and hospitalizations have been on a sustained decline since January, and deaths have begun trending downward more recently, but it likely has little to do with masks, since they have been so broadly accepted or already mandated in so many places since before the fall spike.

So if one mask isn’t working very well, why not wear two?

That is the conclusion many are drawing from the recent CDC study. To unpack this study correctly, we must first understand that the CDC was testing different ways of wearing masks to improve their performance—it was not simply testing the efficacy of double-masking exclusively.

Here’s what the CDC found. Unsurprisingly, when a mask is better fitted to a person’s face, fewer aerosols and particulates escape past it.

In a trial where a source (a person coughing or breathing) and a receiver (the person from which aerosols were measured) wore two masks (a cloth mask worn over a medical procedure mask) the receiver was exposed to 96.4% less aerosol.

On its own, this is an interesting finding, but is impossible to be generalized to a policy on how we ought to comport ourselves during the present pandemic.

One problem is that this study only tested one type of procedure mask and one type of cloth mask. Procedure masks are fairly standard (although there are different strap types), but the market for cloth masks includes an endless variety of fabrics and forms.

Outside of the ideal conditions of a laboratory, someone who opts to wear a cloth mask on top of a procedure mask would lose all the benefits of improved filtration if, for example, the cloth mask was poorly fitted to the face.

If, for instance, a cloth mask has poor fitment, it would do nothing to improve filtration, and the purpose of the double mask would be negated.

Another problem is that the aerosols in the experiment are not an exact representation of viral particles, but of a person’s respirations. How infectious a person’s respirations are would depend on his or her viral load.

Thus, a reduction in exposure, as measured in the study, does not necessarily mean the same reduction in infectiousness.

The study authors themselves recognize that these findings are not to be interpreted “as being representative of the effectiveness of these masks when worn in real-world settings.”

Indeed, to reduce the point of the study as to simply a trial of the effects of double-masking would be far too narrow an interpretation—in reality, the results only speak to the effectiveness of the particular masks used.

As every person has a unique face, masking, double-masking, or other modified mask-wearing could all work to varying degrees. The only true conclusion from this study is not that we should all wear two masks, but that better fitting masks filter our breaths better.

To that end, wearing a properly fitted N95 respirator would do just as well as double-masking, or rather, better.

The greatest potential utility of masks is when people who are possibly exposed find themselves in situations where physical distancing from strangers is impossible—for instance, while walking past others in a grocery store aisle.

But masks were only ever meant to be part of a broad mitigation strategy. They were never meant to seal us off from the dangers of the world.

If people want to wear two masks, they should certainly do so, but everyone must remember that masks only make up one part of a broader mitigation strategy, which includes assessing risks, social distancing, testing, and importantly now, vaccinating. Policymakers should remember this, rather than rely on masks and make them even more unappetizing to use.

And policymakers should explore additional options—like widespread rapid self-testing, which is an even more promising way to battle the pandemic.

It has been over a year now since SARS-CoV-2 first arrived on our shores, and Americans have been asked to avoid buying masks, to wear masks, and, now, to wear two masks.

We’ve learned many things over the course of 2020, but at no point did we learn that masks would be anything other than an adjunct to better, more effective measures.

Doubling up on masks, at this point, would be doubling down on one of the least effective measures we now have.




17 February, 2021

Leftist Hypocrisy on Authoritarianism

Republicans are “radicalizing against democracy” because they rely on our constitutional process when governing. This is the essence of Chris Hayes’ recent Atlantic piece contending that the GOP is descending into authoritarianism.

The MSNBC host notes, without any suggestion of self-awareness, that “the Constitution puts a wind at the backs of Republicans and makes them more competitive than they would be otherwise.”

What does “otherwise” mean here, exactly? A return to the British Empire? Or does it mean functioning as the centralized direct democracy that progressives covet, but that’s never existed in this country? There is no “otherwise.”

The idea that the Constitution allows “minoritarian control” might be popular in certain quarters, but it remains a faulty way of looking at our system.

The American republic is democratic, yes; but it also protects the rights of the individual, the power of the states, and the dignity of the minority, and it does so openly and deliberately.

Federalism, far from representing a modern plot, has existed from the start as a means by which to diffuse power and prevent the subordination of smaller states—read: communities—by bigger ones.

There is nothing preventing California from passing whatever laws it wishes at the state level. There are provisions making it hard for California to pass whatever laws it wishes in West Virginia. That’s not a bug; it’s the point.

To bolster the claim of this minoritarian autocracy, Hayes is impelled to create the impression that the overriding national consensus is being thwarted. “Democrats have established a narrow but surprisingly durable electoral majority, holding control of the House, winning back the Senate, and taking the presidency by 7 million votes,” he argues.

This is wishful thinking. Voters are fickle and mercurial, and the fleeting vagaries of public sentiment are constantly changing.

Four years ago, Republicans controlled everything, too. What has changed? Not much, really.

Even in the midst of a once-in-a-century pandemic and subsequent economic downturn; even with Donald Trump’s boorishness and self-destructive behavior; even with a sloppy election that showered paper ballots on nearly everyone in the country—even then, Republicans came somewhere within 45,000 to 90,000 votes of controlling all of Washington’s institutions once again.

There is a good chance that the GOP will take back the House in 2022; the Senate is tied; and nobody has a clue what will happen in the presidential election of 2024. 1932 this was not.

Perhaps the most dangerous thing about anti-constitutionalists such as Hayes is their inability to comprehend their own authoritarianism. Hayes asserts that, in the future, the national fight will revolve around “whether the United States will live up to the promise of democracy.”

“On that crucial question,” he suggests, “we’ve rarely been so divided.” But he doesn’t really mean “democracy” so much as he means “things I personally like.”

Rest assured, Hayes wasn’t a fan of majoritarian “democracy” when the vast majority of Americans opposed gay marriage. He’s not really a fan of catchall “democracy” when it doesn’t serve his philosophical interests.

As for “authoritarianism”—well, that also seems to depend upon whose ox is being gored. One can only imagine the kind of raging screeds we’d be subjected to if Republicans were talking about a national domestic-terror act—a Patriot Act for Americans—that was explicitly designed to weed out the left-wing extremists that burned their way through last summer.

And how many Hayes-approved protesters do we think would hit the streets if the Biden administration had instructed the military to stand down so it could ferret out thought crimes?

Forget the hypotheticals: Where are Hayes’ passionate objections to President Joe Biden’s having signed a slew of acutely undemocratic executive orders—including international agreements—without the consent of the legislative branch?

How loud has he been in criticism of Sen. Chuck Schumer’s imploring the executive to strip Congress of its power?

Where was he when the Obama administration went after the conscience rights of nuns?

Clearly, for many left-wingers—and, no, it is no longer accurate to call them “liberals”—“democracy” and “authoritarianism” are wholly situational ideas. I won’t be lectured by them any longer.

To believe the “Biden era of American politics is shaping up as a contest between the growing ideological hegemony of liberalism and the intensifying opposition of a political minority that has proved willing to engage in violence in order to hold on to power,” one has to ignore reality—starting with the endless supply of leftist riots that broke out across the country last summer to unfailingly rave reviews—and, in concert, to pretend that the Capitol rioters were not only magically “different,” but represented the core of the conservative argument.

Well, I won’t do either. I’m for the rule of law—as it actually exists, not how others would like it to exist. I am for the Constitution. I am for both houses of Congress. I am for the states. I am for the Bill of Rights. I’m for all those things because I reject authoritarianism.


An Emerging and Tragic Side Effect of COVID Has Hit San Francisco

As lazy teachers and their unions continue to fight going back to school in an effort to extend their summer vacation, kids are dying. They’re committing suicide at alarming rates due to the lack of in-person learning, social interaction, after-school activities, and sports. It's causing kids to become depressed at exponential rates. They’re also not learning.

I think parents have known this for months, but now there’s solid data to reinforce this commonsense point. Little kids cannot sit still in front of a computer screen. Also, not everyone has Internet access. To liberal America and the elites, you know this undercuts your "stay at home, we’re all in this together" war cry, right?

I think this was already happening in the red states, but dead kids from Republican states don’t matter in their eyes. It only matters when it started to creep into the blue states, which has happened. In Clark County, Nevada, its school district is rushing to reopen schools as soon as humanly possible due to a spike in student suicides. And now, in San Francisco, they’re seeing the same tragedies, which prompted the city to yank its own school board into court in an effort to get kids back in the classroom. These schools have been closed for over a year (via NY Post):

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera announced last week he was taking the dramatic step of suing the city’s own school district, which has kept its classrooms closed nearly a year. In the motion filed Thursday in San Francisco Superior Court, Herrera included alarming testimony from hospitals in the San Francisco Bay Area, doctors and parents on the emotional and mental harms of extended distance learning.

One mother, Allison Arieff, said she had recently found her 15-year-old daughter “curled up in a fetal position, crying, next to her laptop at 11 am” Arieff said her daughter often cries in the middle of the day out of frustration and “is losing faith not just in SFUSD but in the world.”

Another mother, Lindsay Sink, has seen a “major regression” in her 7-year-old son who has “uncontrollable meltdowns that turn (the) whole house upside down.” Sink’s 10-year-old daughter is experiencing “depression and anger” and she fears her daughter’s “mental health will continue to suffer” until in-person learning resumes.

UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital has seen a 66 percent increase in the number of suicidal children in the emergency room and a 75 percent increase in youth who required hospitalization for mental health services, the lawsuit said, quoting pediatricians, child psychiatrists and emergency room doctors.

As long as teachers’ unions drag their feet and deny the science behind schools in the COVID era, which is that it's been safe to reopen them for quite some time, nothing will happen. The unions are too big an ally for the Democratic Party to anger. They will need their help in the 2022 midterms. Don’t expect much movement. I would be happy to see a seismic shift occur, but don’t bet the mortgage.


Australian churches on collision course with the government over AstraZeneca vaccine

Major churches are at odds with authorities over the AstraZeneca vaccine, with religious leaders telling parishioners they are entitled to request a different jab but the federal government saying most people won’t have a choice.

Religious concerns about the AstraZeneca vaccine arise from its use of decades-old aborted fetal cells in the development process, which is common scientific practice that some Christians find objectionable.

The stoush could frustrate or delay attempts to inoculate the country against further COVID-19 outbreaks and lockdowns as authorities prepare to start the vaccine rollout later this month.

While Australia will import 20 million Pfizer doses for high-risk populations, most Australians will be offered the AstraZeneca jab, with 50 million doses to be made locally and expected to begin in late March. A third vaccine, Novavax, should be available later in the year pending clinical trials and regulatory approval.

Catholic and Anglican archbishops told The Sun-Herald and The Sunday Age that while it was ethical for people with concerns to take the AstraZeneca vaccine if necessary, they should be entitled to request a different jab.

On Friday a spokesman for Catholic Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher said he was a strong advocate of vaccinations but “like any medicine they must be safe and ethically obtained”. “Fortunately, the Novavax and Pfizer vaccines will be made available in Australia, they seem if anything to have higher success rates, and they are morally uncompromised,” he said.

“Anyone who is concerned about the ethics of the AstraZeneca vaccine should be confident in requesting an alternative, but also be confident that it is not unethical to use the AstraZeneca vaccine if there is no alternative reasonably available.”

A spokeswoman for the Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne Peter Comensoli said the church would clarify its ethical position on the vaccines next week, but in the meantime referred to his remarks in a letter to the faithful last year.

“Where there is a choice, we encourage people to use a vaccine that has not been developed using human fetal cells deriving from abortion,” he wrote at the time. “The bishops accept that the use of an ethically compromised vaccine is acceptable if no other option is available.”

Sydney Anglican Archbishop Glenn Davies was among the religious leaders who signed a letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison last year complaining the AstraZeneca vaccine “makes use of a cell line cultured from an electively aborted human fetus”.

“I was one of the church leaders who urged the Prime Minister to give Australians a choice, in order to assure the highest vaccination rate possible,” Archbishop Davies said on Friday.

“I welcome the fact that the Pfizer vaccine has been approved for distribution in Australia since this vaccine is free from ethical concerns in its production. This is a matter of individual choice for each Australian but I want to encourage widespread vaccination in our population throughout 2021.”

Asked about the archbishops’ comments, the federal health department referred The Sun-Herald and The Sunday Age to remarks by secretary and former chief medical officer Brendan Murphy on February 4 in which he said most people would not have a choice of vaccines. “In the main, there won’t be a choice, and I think both vaccines are extremely good, and I would be very happy to have either of them,” Professor Murphy said.

About 70 per cent of Australians report some kind of religious affiliation in the census, including about 50 per cent who identify as Christian, though not all would hold concerns about abortion or the use of an aborted fetus in vaccine production.

A spokesperson for Australian Christian Churches, which has more than 375,000 Pentecostal followers, said the ACC “does not hold an official ethical position on the use of vaccines and encourages individuals to make a decision based on personal conscience”.

Church newsletters have also contained commentary raising concerns about the AstraZeneca vaccine. For example, in the December issue of the Sydney Anglican magazine Southern Cross, Bishop Chris Edwards warned of “problems” with the vaccine due to its use of the aborted cells. “The ethical issues around this are very complex,” he wrote.




16 February, 2021

Understanding Singapore’s Covid miracle

How did a nation that locked down so late become the success story of the pandemic?

Something close to a miracle occurred in Singapore in 2020. At the time of writing, Singapore has recorded 59,602 cases of Covid with just 29 deaths. At just over 10,000 cases per million, the cases are well below those of the US (80,232 cases per million), the UK (57,198) and France (50,710). Moreover, the vast majority of Singapore’s cases are concentrated in the foreign worker dorms, while community cases have been limited to just over 6,000.

Moreover, Singapore’s Covid-related death toll is staggeringly low, with its infection-fatality rate standing at just 0.05 per cent. Little wonder many have noted that Singapore has controlled the outbreak of Covid remarkably well. Yet very few have noted how unlikely an outcome that was. Even David Chan, a professor of psychology at Singapore Management University, in his hurriedly written book on the Singapore outbreak, Combating a Crisis, misses how spectacular an outlier Singapore is.

Several reasons for Singapore’s outlier status have been proposed, including: mask wearing, tight border controls, lockdown measures, and contact tracing with the associated app, TraceTogether. As implied by the extended title of Chan’s book – The Psychology of Singapore’s Response to Covid-19 – he claims that the success of Singapore’s Covid response was, at least in part, due to good psychological management of ‘negative emotions’, and ‘building psychological capital’ and trust via, for example, campaigns to maintain personal hygiene and to safe-distance, and clear government communication and assurance.

However, the ultimate reason why Singapore has suffered so minimally from the Covid outbreak is mysterious, and may ever remain so. Out of all the possibilities put forward, good contact tracing is likely the most important in stemming community spread of Covid, although, as we will see, the TraceTogether app played no role in that. The other vitally important measure that Singapore took was to protect care homes, something that has not been widely commented on and that Chan does not mention anywhere in Combating a Crisis.

Government communication in Singapore has been less chaotic than it has been elsewhere, notably in the UK and the US. It was not, however, entirely smooth, and communication regarding face masks was notably mixed. Indeed, face masks were a rare sight before January 2020, and at that time the official advice to residents was not to wear a mask. At the end of January, Singapore’s prime minister Lee Hsien Loong advised Singaporeans not to wear a mask unless they were currently sick. That advice was supported by a national information campaign from the National University of Singapore School of Medicine (see the cartoon below). Mask sales surged (despite government instruction) in late January, and then eased again until the advice was reversed in early April. Mask wearing was rare before January 2020 and then patchy until it was enforced on 14 April, and so widespread mask-wearing before the outbreak cannot explain Singapore’s extreme outlier status.

Singapore is a major travel hub and welcomes close to 20million overseas visitors every year. Between October 2019 and March 2020, close to 7.5million visitors entered Singapore from overseas, with roughly 20 per cent of them coming from mainland China. Singapore did not close its border to tourists until 24 March, one week after Rome closed its main terminal. Thus, as for other major international travel destinations, including Rome, London and New York, Singapore will have received guests who moved freely throughout the city with Covid for at least three to four months (and many of them not wearing masks). Temperature screening set up at the end of January at Singapore’s airport might have made some difference, but it would not have detected asymptomatic cases. Tight border control cannot explain Singapore’s extreme outlier status.

Singapore is also densely populated; people live and socialise in close proximity. Few people cook at home because eating out is so cheap, and the weather is conducive to being outdoors. I took the picture below on 25 March in a popular night spot known as Holland Village. Note the density, the close proximity of tables and the lack of mask wearing. The national lockdown, known here as a circuit breaker, did not come into effect until 7 April, almost a month after Italy, and about two weeks after New York City and the UK. A widespread tendency to distance or an early lockdown cannot explain Singapore’s extreme outlier status.

Singapore’s highly effective track-and-trace systems provides a more promising explanation. Singapore learned several lessons from the SARS outbreak in 2003, including: that the transfer within hospitals was a central problem (UK, take note); and that temperature monitoring and isolating those with a fever, along with their contacts, was the best way to prevent community transmission.

Beginning in January, temperature screening became more common, and by early February daily screening was mandatory at most workplaces and for entry to most shopping centres, bars, restaurants and other crowded areas. Anyone with a fever was required to isolate for two weeks. Most public places also required patrons to declare their entry using their mobile phones to register via a SafeEntry QR code. Anyone diagnosed with Covid was interviewed regarding their whereabouts and their SafeEntry records were inspected. Close contacts were identified and quarantined. The hotspots identified by SafeEntry were also reported and people were advised to self-isolate if they had been in those areas during certain periods.

Singapore launched its own contact-tracing mobile app known as TraceTogether on 21 March. TraceTogether works via Bluetooth to record other phones using TraceTogether in close proximity. In the event of a user being diagnosed with Covid, the records can be downloaded by government officials and those who were in proximity can be alerted to either isolate or be tested.

Chan notes that utilisation of the TraceTogether app was far below what was needed in order for the app to be useful. There were several initial problems with the app, including the general difficulty for older people in navigating their smartphones, and some did not own one. The app was also incompatible with some phones, especially the iPhone. And it also had a tendency to drain phones’ batteries. The government addressed those problems by introducing a wearable app for people to carry around with them.

Nevertheless, take-up of the app (and wearable device) remained at around 25 per cent in March, far below the 75 per cent needed to make it useful. Human-interview contact tracing might have contributed to Singapore’s extreme outlier status, but smartphone tracing did not.

The major barrier to use of TraceTogether was a concern about privacy. As Chan notes:

‘The news on developing the wearable device and the updated TraceTogether app to collect users’ personal identification numbers evoked considerable negative feedback on social media, including an online petition which garnered more than 40,000 signatures within a short span of only a few days.’

People were concerned about the government having access to their location and who they were with. Chan considers that concern misguided because the government will only obtain the data where a person has been in close contact with a case. And besides, who wouldn’t want potentially life-saving intervention to protect them from Covid?

Well, the person having a secret affair, or moonlighting on their boss, or not working entirely legally or being with other people not working entirely legally. Even in Singapore, people can step outside the rules either on purpose or by accident, and Singapore is not known for leniency when it comes to those who don’t follow the rules, whatever the reasons might be. Governments globally have also breached privacy accidentally through the misplacing of records, or deliberately to counter crime or terrorism. Given all this, people’s reluctance to download a tool of state surveillance on to their phones is hardly a surprise.

Regardless of the reluctance to use TraceTogether, it is clear that Singapore implemented strong techniques to prevent Covid transmission. The worker dorms, however, were not included in the efforts. There are over 300,000 foreign workers residing in worker dorms in Singapore. Workers come from Malaysia, Bangladesh, India, Thailand, Burma, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and China and largely perform construction and other manual labour jobs that employers claim Singaporeans are unwilling to do – at least for the wages they offer.

The worker dorms provide, as Chan described, ‘crowded communal living… A typical dormitory has between 12 and 16 workers living together in a room with beds spaced less than one metre apart.’ Such crowding is perfect for spreading an infectious virus like Covid, and it spread impressively. Based on PCR and serology testing, just under half the workers were infected. Of those infected, just over a third showed symptoms, 25 were admitted to ICU, and two tragically died.

So, overlooking the threat of infection in the worker dorms was an error on the Singapore government’s part. But it was one that had relatively minimal health impact because the workers were young and healthy. Errors that allowed Covid to spread through care-home populations, notably in the UK, Sweden, and elsewhere, were vastly more destructive.

Around 12,000 Singaporean citizens live in care homes, compared with around 418,000 UK citizens. That equates to about 0.3 per cent of Singapore’s population (citizens only) and about 0.6 per cent of the UK’s. Outbreaks of Covid in care homes in the UK and elsewhere have had a devastating impact, but that has clearly been avoided in Singapore.

Indeed, shortly after the first case of Covid was detected in a care home on 31 March, Singapore’s Ministry of Health moved around 3,000 nursing home employees into hotels to isolate them from the wider community, and tested all 9,000 nursing-home staff. Positive tests were followed by contact tracing and quarantine. Those measures were in addition to a month-long ban on visitation, safe-distancing in all homes, and zoning. Singapore has reported only three Covid-related care-home deaths, compared with estimates of 25,000 Covid-related deaths in the UK.

In summary, then, Singapore implemented an effective track-and-trace system with associated quarantine. That system did not rely on the TraceTogether app. An app might be cheaper and easier to implement than manual track-and-trace, but that is still to be proven and the privacy concerns remain.

Early adoption of masks and lockdown were not a feature of Singapore’s response to Covid, and so early mask adoption and early lockdown did not make the difference. Whether the later adoption of masks has helped prevent any further spread, and whether the lockdown was necessary to prevent a wider community spread, will be answered by further scientific and historical enquiry. Strong protection of care-home staff and residents, however, clearly contributed to the remarkably low death rate.

Chan’s broad suggestion that psychology played a special role in Singapore is only true in a narrow sense. Adoption of the TraceTogether app is rising, nudged along by the government making further relaxation of the Covid rules dependent on more people adopting the app and by linking the app to the SafeEntry procedure. Soon it will not be possible to shop, go to a restaurant, or enter most public buildings and places unless the app is activated and running. It doesn’t require much psychological knowledge to understand why people conform with measures that are required for many everyday activities. As Chan explains, the authorities have been prepared to ‘explicate, elaborate, educate, engage, and enforce’ (my emphasis). So, although Singapore’s success in dealing with Covid is impressive, it has relied on compliance with strict laws that might not transplant across borders. Attempting to reproduce Singaporean approaches to Covid in London, Rome or New York could generate a considerable amount of what Chan calls ‘negative emotion’.


How two states with opposite COVID strategies BOTH 'bent the curve': Cases, deaths and hospitalizations plummet by 30% in a month in lockdown-loving California AND open-all-hours Florida

Since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, no two states have been more different in their approaches than California and Florida.

In early March, California Gov Gavin Newsom limited gatherings, closed bars and indoor dining at restaurants, implemented mask mandates and implored residents to stay at home.

Comparatively, Florida Gov Ron DeSantis has enacted few measures, lifting an ordinance that prevented people from operating businesses and restaurants as well as lifting COVID-19 related fines and penalties in September.

Looser restrictions mean schools have not been shut down statewide and mask mandates have never been imposed.

In November, he even criticized states like California with harsher restrictions and said he trusted his residents to 'use common sense.'

In an interview on Fox News Business on Sunday, DeSantis argued that Florida 'focused on lifting people up' during the pandemic but 'lockdown states' are 'putting people out of business.'

'There's a whole bunch of things we've been doing for COVID, but at the same time, we've lifted our state up, we've saved our economy and I think we're going to be first out of gate once we are able to put COVID behind the country,' he told Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo.

Despite these different approaches, both states ended up with roughly the same outcome. A analysis shows that, over the last two months, the states have each seen cases, deaths and hospitalizations fall by about one-third.

So were lockdowns necessary and did they work? The answer is a complicated one, but researchers say that they were beneficial in the early months due to our lack of knowledge about how COVID-19 spread and how to treat it.

Studies have shown that stay-at-home orders and restrictions saved numerous lives, but that they might be less useful now as more of the population gains natural immunity through infection or immunity via vaccination - but that social distancing and masks are still necessary to continue driving down case and death rates.

CALIFORNIA: Historically California has had a rate of about 8,499 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents

FLORIDA: Similarly to California, Florida has an overall rate of about 8,306 cases oper 100,000 people




15 February, 2021

Young people’s despair over coronavirus deepens as crisis drags on

London: Life seemed promising last year to Philaé Lachaux, a 22-year-old business student in France who dreamed of striking out on her own in the live music industry. But the onset of the pandemic, leading to the loss of her part-time job as a waitress, sent her back to live at her family home.

Now, struggling to envision a future after months of restrictions, Lachaux says that loneliness and despair seep in at night. “I look at the ceiling, I feel a lump in my throat,” she said. “I’ve never had so many suicidal thoughts.”

“The pandemic feels like a big stop in our lives,” she added. “One that puts us so low that I wonder, ‘What’s the point?‘”

With curfews, closures and lockdowns in European countries set to drag into the northern spring or even the summer, mental health professionals are growing increasingly alarmed about the deteriorating mental state of young people, who they say have been among the most badly affected by a world with a foreshortened sense of the future.

Last in line for vaccines and with schools and universities shuttered, young people have borne much of the burden of the sacrifices being made largely to protect older people, who are more at risk from severe infections. But the resilience of youth may be overestimated, mental health professionals say.

Faced with a restricted social life and added uncertainty at an already precarious moment in their lives, many young people are suffering from a gnawing sense that they are losing precious time in their prime years.

Across the world, they have lost economic opportunities, missed traditional milestones and forfeited relationships at a pivotal time for forming identity.

“Many feel they’re paying the price not of the pandemic, but of the measures taken against the pandemic,” said Dr Nicolas Franck, the head of a psychiatric network in Lyon, France.

In a survey of 30,000 people that he conducted last spring, young people ranked the lowest in psychological well-being, he said.

In Italy and in the Netherlands, some youth psychiatry wards have filled to record capacity. In France, where the pandemic’s toll on mental health has made headlines, professionals have urged authorities to consider reopening schools to fight loneliness. And in Britain, some therapists said that they had counselled patients to break lockdown guidelines to cope.

In the United States, a quarter of 18- to 24-year-olds said they had seriously considered suicide, one report said. In Latin America and the Caribbean, a survey conducted by UNICEF of 8000 young people found that more than a quarter had experienced anxiety and 15 per cent depression.

And a study conducted last year by the International Labor Organisation in 112 countries found that two-thirds of 18- to 29-year-olds could be subject to anxiety and depression.

The lasting effects on suicide rates, depression and anxiety are still being measured, but in interviews, a dozen mental health experts in Europe painted a grim picture of a crisis that they say should be treated as seriously as containing the virus.

“We are in the midst of a mental health pandemic, and I don’t think it’s treated with near enough respect,” said Arkadius Kyllendahl, a psychotherapist in London who has seen the number of younger clients double in recent months.

A sense of limbo

Many European countries went into northern autumn with the illusion that they had curbed virus outbreaks, only to face an even larger wave of infections this winter. That led to mistaken expectations, young people said, that harsh restrictions would soon end.

Lockdowns have offered some a respite from the stresses of school or work, which have made them more resilient, psychologists say. But for others, especially those who already struggled with mental health conditions or limited access to care, their fragility has been exacerbated.

“Not being in control of something like this is anxiety inducing,” said Dalia Al-Dujaili, 21, a student at the University of Edinburgh. As the pandemic has dragged on, so has the sense of limbo, she said, and she tried online therapy for the first time last year.

“What am I doing? Why am I getting a degree, if there’s not going to be any jobs?” she asked.

One blessing, she said, is that younger people are more open to discussing their struggles. “Everybody talks about their therapists and their meds,” she noted.

That has not stopped some from feeling guilty, however, given that the pandemic has affected everyone.

“There are people with bigger struggles: people who have lost their jobs, or a relative to the disease,” said Marcelo Andreguetti, a Brazilian graphic designer who studies in Cologne, Germany.

He said he began taking antidepressants after he was told he had depression and obsessive compulsive disorder this year.

‘Loneliness brings them into despair’

Winter has worsened the situation, according to therapists and psychiatrists, who say they have seen young people manifesting more severe symptoms of anxiety, depression, eating disorders and addictions.

In the Netherlands, Dr Robert Vermeiren, a professor of child psychiatry at Leiden University Medical Centre, said the acute ward he manages has been full for weeks — something he had never experienced.

The situation was so serious, he said, that his team did not send children home for Christmas, as it usually would. Isolation has also disrupted the usual teenage transition, when young people move from belonging to their family to belonging to their peers, Vermeiren added.

In Italy, calls doubled last year to the main hotline for young people who have considered or attempted harming themselves. Beds in a child neuropsychiatry unit at the Bambino Gesù Children’s Hospital in Rome have been full since October, said Dr Stefano Vicari, director of the unit.

Hospitalisations of young Italians who harmed themselves or attempted suicide have increased 30 per cent in the second wave of cases, he added.

“To those who say that, after all, these are challenges young people have to go through, that they will come out stronger, this is only true for some, those who have more resources,” Vicari said.

Catherine Seymour, head of research at the Mental Health Foundation, a Britain-based charity, said that young people living in poorer households were more likely to experience anxiety and depression, according to a study conducted among nearly 2400 teenagers.

“It may be that those in poorer households are more likely to lack enough space and internet access to help with schoolwork and communication with their friends,” Seymour said. “They may also be affected by their parents’ financial worries and stress.”

Studies from the first lockdowns suggest that they may have already left an indelible mark.

In France, a survey of nearly 70,000 students found that 10 per cent had experienced suicidal thoughts during the first months of the pandemic, and more than a quarter had suffered from depression.

In Spain, one of the world’s toughest lockdowns last spring had a profound impact, especially for young girls, who were more likely to experience stress, anxiety and depression, according to a survey of 523 people by the University of Valencia.

Konstanze Schoeps, one of the study’s authors, said, “They were developing their own freedom and space, and during lockdown they lost what they had just started to experience.” “It amounted to a process of grieving,” she added.

A search for remedies

The situation has become so dire that students and mental health advocates have asked authorities to moderate some measures, including by reopening schools and universities, even as officials worry that a premature easing of regulations will worsen the spread of new variants.

“Building social relationships is at the centre of our lives, and that is gone,” said Heïdi Soupault, 19, who urged President Emmanuel Macron of France to reopen universities in an open letter that spread quickly on the internet last month.

Starting this month, students in France can return to universities one day a week. They can also get three free therapy sessions.

In Britain, where mental health organisations and experts have urged the government to divert funding to help address the issue in schools, officials have said that they will consider mental health support as part of plans to lift restrictions. In the Netherlands, the central government has pressed regional authorities to invest more in youth mental health.

Dr Silvia Schneider, a child and adolescent psychologist in Bochum, Germany, said that governments should share clear messages on television and social media.

“We need to give very easy accessible information on how to handle the feeling that they are not alone with these challenges,” Schneider said about young people. “And that there are some things that can help them.”

To combat symptoms of anxiety and depression, some therapists, like Kyllendahl in London, are telling their clients to go outside as much possible — even if it involves breaking restrictions.

Still, some young people see a silver lining. “At least the pandemic has given us the right to be sad,” said Lachaux, the French student. “We don’t have to show all the time how strong we are.”


Leftists have a new and hateful label for anyone who supported Donald Trump: Terrorist

Vengeance-seeking American leftists, in total coordination with Big Tech, corporate media collaborators, and the wholly unaccountable bureaucracy known as the deep state, have made it their mission to convince the nation that anyone who supported Donald Trump is a potential domestic terrorist.

How fanatical are the perpetrators of this narrative? CNN anchor Jake Tapper called on Republicans “to stop these insane lies [about the election results] that have taken root in their party” lest there be no end to “MAGA terrorism.” That Tapper and his network spent three years blatantly lying about Russian collusion reveals that genuinely insane lies that serve the progressive agenda are perfectly acceptable.

MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace not only likened Trump supporters to domestic terrorists, but noted that former President Barack Obama authorized drone strikes killing American citizens “for the crime of inciting violence, inciting terrorism.” She further insisted that Mitch McConnell, who was in the Senate at the time, knows the way you “root out terrorism” is to “kill those who incite it.”

Again, what constitutes incitement is highly selective. Here’s a small sampling of quotes from elected Democrats immune from such a designation:

“Let’s make sure we show up wherever we have to show up. And if you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. And you push back on them. And you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.” —Maxine Waters

“We’re going to impeach the motherf—r!” —Rashida Tlaib

“We take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic. And sadly, the domestic enemies to our voting system and honoring our Constitution are right at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with their allies in the Congress of the United States.” —Nancy Pelosi

“We will probably need a supplemental for more security for members when the enemy is within the House of Representatives.” —Pelosi again

“I want to tell you, Gorsuch, I want to tell you, Kavanaugh, you have released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price. You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.” —Chuck Schumer, “addressing” a mob on the steps of the Supreme Court — while a case was being heard

Is Schumer’s “you won’t know what hit you” less inciting than Trump’s “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard”? And what about the sitting speaker of the House labeling her political opponents enemies?



Pelosi says officers who protected Capitol will get Congressional Gold Medal (The Hill)

Remember back in January when Biden said the Capitol Police were racist?

Cuomo aide admits they hid nursing home data so feds wouldn't find out (New York Post)

Schumer leaves door open to 14th Amendment measure to bar Trump from office (Fox News)

New "gun trafficking" bill could cripple legal firearms market (Bearing Arms)

Pelosi banned congresswoman's military officer son from attending her swearing-in (Daily Caller)

Lincoln Project faces fierce backlash as more abuse evidence emerges (Fox News)

Well, except from CNN, which avoids the topic altogether.

AG Barr quashed plea deal by fired Officer Derek Chauvin in George Floyd death (NBC)

Biden administration finalizes deal for 200 million vaccine doses from Pfizer, Moderna (NBC)

Biden says U.S. will have enough vaccine for 300 million people by end of July (Washington Post)

Doctor destroyed for vaccinating patients (Power Line)

White House considering domestic travel bans to stop coronavirus mutations surge (Washington Times)

Gas prices are up 18% since Biden took office (Not the Bee)
Cancel Culture

China bans BBC after harrowing report on atrocities against Uyghurs (Fox News)

Berkeley dorms guarded by cops who only let students out to eat, use the bathroom, or get a COVID-19 test (Reason)

France sees foreign threat: "out-of-control woke leftism of American campuses" (Legal Insurrection)

Policy: Unemployment, inflation, and automation: The truth about the $15 minimum wage (Daily Wire)

Policy: Call transportation bailouts what they are: More welfare for labor unions (Heritage Foundation)




14 February, 2021

The traitors

They were all RINOs, particularly the contemptible Mitt Romney, who never got over his defeat by Obama. And both they and McConnell wanted to distance them from Trump knowing how vengeful the Donks are. They wanted to be seen as good guys during the Biden regime. There have already been a lot of rats deserting the sinking ship and these were just the latest.

Former US President Donald Trump was acquitted Saturday in the Senate on the impeachment charge of inciting the January 6 Capitol riot despite seven Republican senators siding with Democrats to convict.

Senators Richard Burr of North Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania all voted against their former party leader.

The Republicans issued statements explaining their votes as Mr Trump’s historic second impeachment trial came to a close.

“Our Constitution and our country is more important than any one person. I voted to convict President Trump because he is guilty,” Senator Cassidy said.

“After careful consideration of the respective counsels’ arguments, I have concluded that President Trump is guilty of the charge made by the House of Representatives,” said Senator Romney, who also voted to convict Trump on a separate charge a year ago during the Ukraine impeachment.

"I do not make this decision lightly, but I believe it is necessary," Burr said. "By what he did and by what he did not do, President Trump violated his oath of office to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States."

A majority of senators found Trump guilty on Saturday in a 57-43 vote, but the number fell short of the supermajority needed to convict the president. Had Trump been convicted, the Senate would have moved to bar the 45th president from holding federal office ever again.


What’s next for Donald Trump? Some speculations

Trump has a lot of troubles. But the loyalty and enthusiasm of his followers aren’t among them.

“Now that he has been stripped of the title ‘commander-in-chief,’ he could find a different army, within the United States, to command and control,” surmise a group of analysts at the Brookings Institute policy think-tank.

It’s a notion the US armed forces takes seriously. This week, senior Pentagon officers addressed their troops on the dangers of extremism and their vow to uphold the constitution and defend “the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic”.

But the seditious movement remains strong among US militia, white extremists, fringe Christian and conspiracy communities.

The QAnon movement is whipping itself up towards another crescendo. It insists Trump is still president. That he’s just biding his time. That all his enemies are about to be arrested. That he will return to the White House in triumph on March 4.

But the near-religious fervour of such supporters presents an opportunity: “Trump could well become so desperate that he opts to continue to stoke violent flames of tension,” the Brookings analysts write.

“The state party leaders are the activists, not the elite,” notes former Republican senate strategist Liam Donovan. “The rank and file are hardcore Republicans, and hardcore Republicans are hardcore Trump people. He has absolutely converted them.”

“The 2020 election put to rest the comforting fable that Trump’s election was a fluke. Trump is the United States — or at least a very large part of it,” writes Professor of political science Jonathan Kirshner.

“One cannot paint a picture of the American polity and the country’s future foreign policy without including the significant possibility of a large role for Trumpism, with or without Trump himself in the Oval Office”.

Trump’s followers are loyal to Trump. Not the Republican party. Just how large – and powerful – that cohort is yet to be seen. The first tests will come as the Republicans select candidates for the next round of elections. Who Republicans vote for during the 2022 midterm elections will clinch it.

Trump’s ultimate goal: swaying the 2024 presidential primaries. Will he make a political comeback? Or will he seek to have one of his favourites installed?

Not all senior Republicans are enthralled by Trump. A few key figures have openly rejected the bombastic former president’s behaviour as dangerous and subversive.

Congresswoman and House Republican leader Liz Cheney voted to impeach him. He’s now preparing candidates to oust her from the preselection for her seat.

Former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell baulked at Trump’s demands at the last moment, saying he’d been “fed lies”. He’s now the target of intense internal pressure.

“Trump’s most ardent supporters not only offer allegiance to him but are deeply sceptical of any Republican who does not do the same,” the Brookings analysts say.

This may allow Trump to “go rogue” and splinter from the Republican Party. He’s already voiced the idea.

But any such move would be handing the Democrats an enormous advantage. He’s not likely to steal many of their votes. And any division of existing Republican ballots would be less likely to propel a candidate over the finishing line.

Then there’s the gulf between words and actions. In an anonymous vote, Cheney retained her position as House Republican leader 145 in favour to 61 against.

“There are plenty of foot-soldiers (quite literally), affiliated political staffers, and streams of grassroots funding to get such an effort off the ground,” the analysts write. “But Republican politicos know that while the Trump wing of the party is not large enough to be successful, it’s large enough to be devastating to their election chances.”

“Trump could look at the media landscape, see a significant prospective audience and launch new ways to communicate with the world. This could include establishing his own news channel.”

Social media may also be in his sights. And he has a ready and willing audience waiting in the wings.

Trump’s show business skillset was in full play as president. A personal social media and television stage would give him a new voice. He’ll have the adoration of fans. He’ll have a platform for his opinions. He can perform to the crowd.

Whatever the outcome, Brookings argues Trump has already paved the way for a successor seeking to ride on his coat-tails. “His supporters will still remember him fondly, but will have moved on to a new, shiny, race-baiting candidate like Josh Hawley or Marjorie Taylor Greene.”

The state of Georgia has opened a criminal investigation into Trump’s efforts to influence its election results.

“Trump’s legal problems could place him before state and federal judges who are unwilling to let his celebrity and claims of wealth supersede sentencing guidelines,” the Brookings analysts surmise. “It’s unlikely but possible that the former president could find himself in a place none of his predecessors found themselves: an orange jumpsuit.”

But it’s a scenario full of risk. He could well become a martyr to the Trumpism cause. With supporters ranging from extreme evangelicals to QAnon, the Proud Boys to neo-Nazis, from the Oath Keepers militia to white supremacists – the odds of such an outcome are high.

“Trump presided over dozens of ethical scandals, egregious procedural lapses, and startling indiscretions, most of which would have ended the political career of any other national political figure of the past half-century. But the trampling of norms barely registered with most of the American public,” says Professor Kirshner.


Is this finally proof the vaccine is working in Britain? Covid deaths among over-85s plummet by 41% - almost twice as fast as un-vaccinated people over-65s

The number of Covid deaths in over-85s is falling twice as fast it is in younger Brits, raising hopes that the UK's vaccine drive is clicking into gear, with just one per cent of the population refusing jabs.

The Government's target of administering 15 million doses is set to be hit this weekend, amid a backdrop of falling cases and deaths, with pressure growing on Boris Johnson to present his 'roadmap' out of lockdown.

The supreme efforts of volunteers over recent weeks now appears to be paying dividends, with the number of fatalities among the oldest age group now falling on average by some 41 per cent a week.

By contrast, the number of weekly deaths is falling by 22 per cent for those aged under 65.

Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter, a risk expert from the University of Cambridge, told the Sun: 'There is a statistically significant difference between the age groups. A substantial amount of this difference will be vaccines.

'And, by the end of the month, it's going to be quite dramatic. It is quite tricky to spot as deaths are falling everywhere — it's just that in older groups the drop is much faster than others.'

Meanwhile, data from the Office for National Statistics reveals just one in every 100 people offered a Covid jab have turned it down.

The Prime Minister said today he is 'optimistic' he will be able to begin announcing the easing of restrictions when he sets out his 'roadmap' out of lockdown in England on February 22.

Speaking during a visit to the Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies plant in Billingham, Teesside, where the new Novavax vaccine will be manufactured, Mr Johnson said: 'I'm optimistic, I won't hide it from you. I'm optimistic, but we have to be cautious.'

He said his first priority remained opening schools in England on March 8 to be followed by other sectors. 'Our children's education is our number one priority, but then working forward, getting non-essential retail open as well and then, in due course as and when we can prudently, cautiously, of course we want to be opening hospitality as well,' he said.

'I will be trying to set out as much as I possibly can in as much detail as I can, always understanding that we have to be wary of the pattern of disease. We don't want to be forced into any kind of retreat or reverse ferret.'

It comes as:

The so-called R-rate is now below one in every region and stands at between 0.7 and 0.9 for the whole of the UK, which is the lowest level since summer;

It was revealed illegal migrants were getting the Covid jab in plush quarantine hotels in Heathrow;

Matt Hancock said he hopes Covid will become a 'treatable' virus and a disease we can 'live with' after all adults are offered a vaccine by September;

It was reported that Cabinet ministers have backed the use of vaccine certificates for travellers wanting to head abroad this year;

There were 15,144 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the seven-day average down 26.3 per cent on the previous week;
There were an additional 758 deaths, with the seven-day total down by 27.1 per cent.

There is variation in uptake between age groups, however, with five per cent of those offered the vaccine aged 30-49 deciding not to receive it, compared to two per cent for the 50-69s and less than one per cent for the over-70s.

Furthermore, Professor Anthony Harnden, the deputy chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), has said the uptake of the coronavirus jab among care home staff remains 'far too low'.

Prof Harnden said that nationally only 66% of care home staff had taken up the offer of a first dose.

'If they are to stop potentially transmitting to those vulnerable people who they look after and care for deeply, they need to take the immunisation up. The message needs to come across loud and clear,' he told the BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

However, he rejected suggestions that the vaccine could be made compulsory among staff if they wanted to carry on working in care homes. 'I would much prefer to be able to persuade by the power of argument than to force people or to make people lose their jobs because they didn't take up the vaccine.'

His comments come as the Government launches a fresh drive to encourage people to accept a vaccine amid continuing reluctance among some groups.

Ministers are confident they will achieve their UK-wide target of getting an offer of a vaccine to those most at risk from the virus - including all over 70s - by Monday's deadline.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he hoped a combination of vaccines and new treatments will mean Covid-19 could be a 'treatable disease' by the end of the year.

However, there is concern in Government at the rate of vaccine uptake among some communities - including some ethnic minorities.

NHS England said the top four priority groups in England - people aged 70 and over, care home residents and staff, health and care workers and clinically extremely vulnerable patients - 'have now been offered the opportunity to be vaccinated', while Wales said those groups had been reached.

NHS England said people aged 65 to 69 can now get a vaccine if GPs have supplies, while Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford said they had already begun contacting some over 50s.

13 February, 2021

Russia's Sputnik coronavirus vaccine is a shot in the arm for the Kremlin

It has been a long time since the Kremlin could claim a true soft-power victory: but in the development of its coronavirus vaccine, it appears to have finally found one.

The Sputnik V, which was last week revealed to be 92 per cent effective by the latest trial data, was named after the satellite that Moscow sent into orbit in a world-first in 1957.

The vaccine’s rushed registration last August was met with deep scepticism. But now the cheap, easy-to-transport jab is drawing envious glances from around the world, winning new friends in poorer countries and breaking ice with geopolitical rivals.

Even after Moscow began a rollout to its citizens last year, there was widespread doubt about the value of the Sputnik V. Full trial data had not been released, many Russians noted, while the Kremlin’s announcement that it was slightly more effective than the Moderna and Pfizer jabs was taken in the West as mere propaganda.

That changed with the release of Sputnik V’s late-stage trial data, showing in a publication in the highly respected Lancet that the vaccine did indeed rival the efforts of Western science.

The Gamaleya Institute in Moscow has a proud scientific history dating back to the 19th century and in recent years developed clinically approved vaccines for Ebola and MERS, but the institute’s statement early last year that its staff self-administered the Sputnik V vaccine before the official start of clinical trials drew strong criticism in the scientific community.

The Sputnik V's first takers were found in developing nations that struggled to get their hands on Western vaccines had so plumped for Russia’s $10-a-jab offering - and that trickle has become a rush with the emergence of verified positive results.

By Friday, 26 countries including the United Arab Emirates, Hungary and Pakistan have approved Russia’s vaccine, with new countries signing on almost daily.

Iran, which has seen the worst outbreak in the Middle East, earlier this week launched its inoculation campaign with the Russian jab by putting the son of the country’s health minister on live TV to receive the first dose.

On the other side of the world, Argentina, which has now recorded two million confirmed cases of Covid-19, led the way in Latin America by inoculating thousands of healthcare workers with Sputnik V at the end of December.

“The reputational baggage of this country is so bad that no one was expecting anything good from the vaccine,” Alexander Gabuev, senior fellow at the Carnegie Moscow Centre told the Telegraph.

Initially focusing on getting the vaccine out to poor countries was sensible, he added, as they came to resent the vaccine-hogging of Western powers.

“It’s a very clever move from the point of view of diplomacy targeting the countries that are struggling to get the vaccines from richer nations,” Mr Gabuev said.

“(The Kremlin) is counting on strengthening Russia’s image in developing countries, and it’s also about business: Russia has been selling the vaccine, and it is hoping to convert this into business deals including oil and gas further down the line.”

The big prize, of course, would be securing approval from the EU - even as the bloc issues almost daily condemnations of the Kremlin over the poisoning and imprisonment of Alexei Navalny. And victory appears within reach.

The European Medicines Agency said on Wednesday that it was in talks with the Gamaleya Institute to map out the next steps after it applied for approval.

Hungary will on Friday become the first EU nation to start using Sputnik V, the country's chief medical officer said.

Hungary broke ranks with the EU last month by becoming the first bloc member to approve the Russian jab, ordering two million doses to be delivered over three months, enough to vaccinate one million people.

"Today we are beginning to vaccinate with the Sputnik V vaccine, this is taking place in the designated vaccination stations," Cecilia Muller told a press briefing on Friday.

Family doctors in Budapest could choose five persons each to send for the jab at four hospitals in the capital, Ms Muller said, as part of an initial round of inoculations using the first batch of 2,800 doses sent from Russia.

Andrej Babis, the Czech prime minister, last week said that Prague would consider using Sputnik V even without the European regulatory approval.

He said on Wednesday that the Czech Republic, which has been badly hit by the pandemic, could buy the vaccine and have it ready in storage as soon as the EU approves it.

Saddled with growing anger over a slow rollout in the home country of the Pfizer jab, German authorities have offered support and possible production sites for Sputnik V.

Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor who was one of President Putin’s staunchest critics over the poisoning of Mr Navalny who was convalescing in a Berlin hospital, has reached out to the Russian president to talk about possible cooperation, saying that “every vaccine is welcome” in the EU.

The Sputnik V’s developers hope that an upcoming trial in Azerbaijan of using their vaccine alongside the AstraZeneca jab could lead to potential registration in Britain.

Already, the Kremlin has seized proudly on the news that the EU has given its diplomats the green light to take it themselves.


Moral Narcissism and the Show Trial of Donald Trump

Discussing the Democrats’ impeachment trial in legal terms is a ludicrous waste of time. Anyone literate in the English language can see that the concept of impeaching a former president is entirely absent from the U.S. Constitution.

Removing someone from office who is no longer in office in the first place is a serio-comic oxymoron straight out of the Theater of the Absurd.

What is actually going on is Trump Derangement Syndrome taken from a neurosis to some kind of bizarre psychosis with overtones of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

The level at which this “trial” is worth examining, therefore, has a psychoanalytic, not a legal, tilt. It raises, once again, the question of why the Democrats and their media cohorts despise former President Donald Trump so much.

Yes, I know they fear his political comeback above all things and wish to extinguish it, but what is it, on a deeper level, that makes them believe this man to be such a monster that they are going full Stalinist in conducting what Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) aptly called a “show trial”?

Allow me to be a tad self-referential because I think, at least to some degree, the answer can be found in my 2016 book—actually written before Trump won the nomination and with few specific references to him—“I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic If It Hasn’t Already.”

The narcissism I was referring to was not the traditional kind based on the Greek youth Narcissus’s fascination with his own image, but a narcissism of ideas, of “moral” self-description.

I explained it this way: What you proclaim, what you say you believe, is what makes you good, what makes you important—not the actual results of those beliefs, which are irrelevant.

Biden’s recent cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline could be described as a purely morally narcissistic act—proclaimed as something significant for the environment when, in reality, all it does is put people out of work and give comfort to our enemies as America becomes more energy-dependent. (Ironically, it also has negative environmental repercussions, forcing the oil to be transported by more risky means, such as by rail.)

John Kerry, the White House climate czar, is a moral narcissist par excellence, jetting around endlessly in his carbon-belching private plane to save us all from climate change.

Moral narcissism fits today’s liberals and progressives to a “T,” living millionaire and billionaire lives that make hypocrisy the understatement of all time while disdaining the working class, as well as their needs and values to a degree that would embarrass Marie Antoinette.

Trump undermined all that. He makes and made plenty of proclamations and certainly loves his private plane(s), but he’s all about results.

In fact, he makes a point of delivering on his promises, the exact antithesis of standard operating procedure in Washington, where politicians send us endless emails and texts (almost always asking for money) about what they say they believe or are planning, but almost never about what they have accomplished, as if we don’t and shouldn’t care about that.

It’s the way the game has been played in D.C. for ages, quite comfortable and insular when you think about it, and self-replicating. No wonder Trump is loathed.

(He also made things such as improving the economy seem remarkably easy and quick—just remove excessive regulations and lower taxes—actually common sense, when it was supposed to be so complicated and arcane that only wise politicians and economists could do it over years.)

Although nearly pervasive in the Democratic Party, moral narcissism isn’t exclusive to it. A number of Republicans fit the description as well and you can almost be certain they will be among those voting to convict Trump in the show trial.

These politicians (both sides) and the media are particularly angry because, as narcissists, moral or otherwise, they have a great need of fans—people to admire them constantly and make them feel alive.

Trump ruined that to a great extent by unmasking them as phonies. Rage and vengeance were and are the natural responses.

In a less-overtly psychological realm, it’s not inconsequential that he made his money before coming to Washington; they usually make theirs during and after.

Trump even had the temerity actually to lose half his fortune while serving, at the same time donating his salary to various federal agencies.

How “off-message” is that! Imagine if that became pro forma for our public servants.

So, it’s a “twofer” … or even a “threefer” … or is it a quinella when it comes to hating Trump? ?



Impeachment managers hype emotion with unseen footage of Capitol rioters (National Review)

Team Biden erects tent city in Texas to handle massive influx of illegal immigrants welcomed by his policies (Fox News)

Gun control advocates 'confident' on executive action from Biden after White House meeting (Washington Times)

Americans reporting vote fraud say claims repeatedly dismissed by FBI (Washington Times)

COVID spending spree has deficit at $736 billion in first third of year (The Hill)

House Democrats propose multibillion-dollar COVID-19 relief health package (The Hill)

Biden Justice Department asks Supreme Court to save ObamaCare (Washington Free Beacon)

Dozens of math-challenged former Republican officials in talks to form anti-Trump third party (Reuters)

Why stop with two? CDC recommends double masks to help protect against COVID (CBS)

Pharmacies say they could handle a massive ramp-up in COVID-19 vaccination distribution but lack supply (Washington Examiner)

CDC: Fully vaccinated people don't need to quarantine if exposed to COVID (NBC)

Hope 'n' change is busted: Biden's new target for reopened schools is behind where U.S. is now (Fox News)

Biden brings up China's human rights abuses, "unfair" economic practices in first call with Xi Jinping (Forbes)

Fed Chair Powell says rates will stay low for a while, citing bleak jobs picture (CNBC)

NBA says all teams must play national anthem after Dallas Mavericks stop playing it (NBC)

YouTube completely bans LifeSiteNews, removes all videos (Blaze)

Facebook says new algorithm will "reduce political content" on news feeds (Just the News)

Policy: Texas governor warns $15 minimum wage would "put a boot on the neck" of small businesses (FEE)




12 February, 2021

The Decline of Intelligence in the West

The article below by Canadian essayist David Solway is a dazzling display of cultural awareness but lacks sober consideration of any of the issues he addresses. So let me fill in some of the gaps.

Why the decline in average IQ? There does seem to be such a decline but it is no mystery. For around 50 years, effective contraception has enabled women to enjoy sex and male company generally without childbirth resulting. So many women have opted out of childbearing. And, sadly, highly intelligent women are more likely to do that. And that means that they do not pass on their genes for intelligence. So present-day mothers have a lower average IQ. And that can only mean a population with a lower average IQ.

So what are the implications of a population with a lower IQ? We do of course already have some such populations: Africans and Arabs, for instance. And both those have created societies where it is not inviting to live. But such societies have many differences from ours so the dysfunction could be due to other factors than IQ.

A much more hopeful observation is that all societies are only superficially democratic. It is the smart fraction that rules the roost. So Israel is run by the Ashkenazim, Brazil and Mexico are run by whites and the 7% of Britons who get a private school education run almost everything in that country. And such elites trend to be self-perpetuating. Private school boys tend to marry the sisters of their classmates and black/white marriages are rather rare. And Sephardi/Ashkenazi marriages are the exception rather than the rule.

So what will happen is that as long as the smart fraction intermarry, their societies will tend to be run much as before. A large dumb majority will not matter much

But one needs to be cautious in attributing everything to IQ. There are other influences which have produced the dumb behaviour that Solway documents. An obvious one is the decline in American education. American education is now decisively in the hands of the Left and producing well-informed citizens does not seem to be one of their priorities. They want to produce "woke" people above all. And being woke is rather inimical to real knowledge.

And woke attitudes are now society-wide, with few on the Left being immune to them. Most conservatives have no time for wokery but they too sometimes make obeisances to it for the sake of peace. So the deterioration in the national discourse can largely be traced to the ideological needs of the Left

Recent studies have reported a worrisome decline in IQ scores in Western nations over the last decades, a reversal of the once-hopeful Flynn Effect (named after the late philosopher and psychologist James R. Flynn) which posited a growth in cognitive abilities for much of the 20th Century. Now the Flynn Effect seems to have reversed, leading to predictions of a general dumbing down of selective populations. Other studies report that IQ erosion is not confined to this century but that IQ has dropped by an average of 14.1 percent over the last century. As Evan Horowitz writes for NBC News, “A range of studies using a variety of well-established IQ tests and metrics have found declining scores across Scandinavia, Britain, Germany, France and Australia.”

Horowitz argues that the plummet in cognitive abilities “could not only mean 15 more seasons of the Kardashians, but also… fewer scientific breakthroughs, stagnant economies and a general dimming of our collective future.” Flynn himself, who did the original research on the eponymous effect, has stated that “The IQ gains of the 20th century have faltered.” Flynn’s more optimistic Are We Getting Smarter: Rising IQ in the Twenty-First Century was published in 2012; his subsequent findings led in an opposite direction.*

The brainchild of French psychologist Alfred Binet, the IQ construct is a controversial issue with many different interpretations and applications. Charles Spearman proposed the variable notion of a g factor, or general intelligence measure, responsible for overall performance on various mental ability tests such as memory retention, spatial processing, and quantitative reasoning. The g factor has been compared to general athletic ability which allows a person to excel in different fields and activities. There has been vigorous debate over the strict equivalency between IQ scores and intelligence, but there is broad agreement on a general waning of intelligence or, from a clinical perspective, an ebbing of IQ scores. Of course, smart people can sometimes do poorly on IQ tests and obtuse people can sometimes rank high on aspectual tiers of these tests. But the consensus appears to be that the correlation approximately holds while allowing for scalene anomalies. In effect, the g factor is eroding.

One recalls MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, the architect of Obamacare, who referred to “the stupidity of the American voter” as helping him to pass the controversial law. One wonders if Gruber ever heard of Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget’s test results purporting to show that “the rot starts at the top.” This would implicate Gruber and his cohort in the experience of what Piaget calls horizontal décalage, which stymies the application of cognitive functions and logical operations to extended tasks. In other words, Gruber et al. are also stupid, gradually destroying the very society that enabled them to flourish. But the rot can also start at the bottom, as a combination of generalized mental vacancy and low-to-no-information voters furthers cultural and social degeneration. As Morris Berman remarks in The Twilight of American Culture, “A society cannot function if nearly everyone in it is stupid.”

Why should we be surprised that an American president should pronounce “corpsman” as “corpseman”? Or that a Canadian prime minister says “peoplekind” in lieu of “mankind”? Or that a Washington, D.C., mayor and his staff should have objected to a perfectly good word like “niggardly”? Or that a Methodist pastor and Congressman should follow the exclamation “Amen” with “a-woman,” when an ordained minister should surely know that “Amen” is an acronym for the Hebrew ??? ?????? ??????? (El melech neeman: “Lord and faithful King”)—or, as some scholars think, a calque for the Aramaic “so be it”? One can multiply these gaffes, misnomers, and malapropisms indefinitely among those who should know better—and that is merely scratching the surface. The dumbing down phenomenon is virtually encyclopedic in heft and extent.

One sees the same intelligence deficit in the names chosen for some of our major social media networks. “YouTube” is cringe-worthy—just say it dispassionately to yourself. “Facebook” is a ridiculous moniker, as well as a dubious platform: as Niall Ferguson quips in The Great Degeneration, Facebook is “a vast tool enabling like-minded people to exchange like-minded opinions about, well, what they like.” Then there’s “Twitter.” A conversation between human beings is compared to birds twittering on a digital branch—the implicit message is that communicants are bird-brained. (Contrast to such infelicity a beleaguered platform like “Parler” with its French connotation of real speech and an analogy to a living room where people gather to converse amicably and share ideas.) The Apple logo—an apple with a bite taken out of it—is the fruit of pure bathos and corporate stupidity, inadvertently reminding us of the primal sin in the Garden of Eden and warning us about the perilous quest for knowledge that tantalizes on another digital tree. “Think different” is thus contra-indicated, an original sin. Apple, seriously?

Top or bottom doesn’t seem to matter. In his spy thriller Early Warning, Michael Walsh comments about government officials who, presumably “the best minds of the Republic,” are merely a “collection of hacks, time-servers, and affirmative-action appointees” whose advancement depends heavily on nepotism. “It was really pathetic, when you thought about it: that more than two centuries of American history had come to this.” Believe it. An American congressman fears the island of Guam will capsize. So-called “ambush journalist” Jesse Watters in Watters World interviews young university students; the level of ignorance, functional illiteracy, and smug self-esteem he uncovers is enough to turn the specter of our cultural practices, general knowledge, and university system into a cosmic joke.

And so it goes. A London community activist, asked about removing a Churchill statue during the summer of BLM love, admits she hasn’t “personally met” Winston Churchill. A swarm of Twitter users condemns Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Tom Brady as “racist” for defeating half-black Kansas City Chiefs’ QB Patrick Mahomes on Super Bowl LV during Black History Month—the fact that the great majority of Brady’s teammates are black and are clearly Brady enthusiasts seems to have escaped their attention. Major economic and energy policies seem planned not by cerebral giants but by weed-addled pubescents. Bill Gates, for example, wants to pepper the sky with aerosols to reflect sunlight out of the atmosphere and initiate global cooling—the risks are incommensurable and likely irreversible. Gates has what we might call “sector-intelligence” and might do well on segments of the Stanford-Binet IQ test, but I wouldn’t bet on his g score. The travesty of intelligence, prudence, and wisdom is beyond calculation, and it is only getting worse as IQ continues to slip down the great chain of thinking. This is the world that the classic film Idiocracy extravagantly punctures.

Why this should be is anybody’s guess. No one really knows. Various theories have been proposed to account for accelerating neural descent, ranging from the Dewey-inspired “progressive education” agenda working its leveling passage from the turn of the 20th century to the decrepit public schools and failed universities of the present day; to the softening effect of prolonged affluence and ease on a culture; to the debilitating influence of “smart” technology that performs our cognitive functions for us; to the assumption that women of higher intelligence are having fewer children, implying that women of lower intelligence are driving population growth; to the effects of increased media exposure and the consequent lessening of reading; to the emergence of the vices of envy and resentment owing to radical egalitarianism and the rancor of the under-performing against the skilled, hard-working, and successful, a dynamic cogently analyzed by Dinesh D’Souza in Stealing America; or to the merely inescapable fact of decay: as Robert Frost wrote, “Nothing gold can stay.” One thinks, too, of poet Gerard Manley Hopkins’ remark in his Journal: “From much, much more; from little, not much; and from nothing, nothing.” Whatever the cause or causes may be, intellectual deterioration seems to be the case.

What, then, is to be done? We need to go to literature to contemplate possibilities for restoration. The problem, says Barry Lopez in Arctic Dreams, is that “The good minds still do not find each other often enough.” In his reflections on culture In Bluebeard’s Castle, George Steiner imagined a future of small, eremitic clusters of intellectual light dotting an arid landscape, recycling Max Weber’s notion of frail enclaves of enlightenment as the last resort of a civilization sinking into darkness. Walter M. Miller Jr.’s classic A Canticle for Leibowitz portrayed an obscure abbey in the Utah desert where historical knowledge is kept alive and preserved from the “Simpletons,” even if it’s only a sacred shopping list or a mysterious blueprint for circuit design. “Let us change the icons,” wrote Will Durant in The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time, “and light the candles.”

Berman calls this the “monastic option,” but he does not regard it as an assembly of cenobites residing in a physical plant somewhere in the outback. Instead, it consists of a disparate collection of individuals, “cultural nomads,” who may not know one another but are dedicated to a life of private decency, “the disinterested pursuit of truth, the cultivation of art [and] the commitment to critical thinking.” The “new monks” derive from and support “traditions of craftsmanship, care, and integrity, preservation of canons of scholarship, critical thinking, individual achievements and independent thought.” Their purpose is “to transmit a memory trace of what a culture can be about.”

It’s a daunting task. The number of people incapable of lucid argument and civil debate, whether Internet trolls, social media vulgarians, angry progressivists, media ignoramuses and intellectually challenged political leaders, is legion. It is therefore by no means astonishing that the greatest civilization the world has ever known, the Judeo-Christian West, is subsiding into a state of cognitive expiry, prone to fantasies and delusions, unable to confront and parse the reality of the world, oblivious to the symbiosis of man, history and nature, distracted by pseudo-scientific baubles, bereft of spiritual substance, and foreign to the very idea of truth.

In Social and Cultural Dynamics, Pitirim Sorokin, one of the great thinkers of our time, distinguished between “ideational” cultures, which are knowledge-and-spiritually focused, and “sensate” cultures, which are primarily informational and materialistic, the latter eventually devolving into a condition in which coercion, fraud, debasement of the creative impulse, family breakdown, and the encroachment of “untruth” into the human conscience (read: political correctness, fake news, electoral debauchery) are paramount. The latter is our present cultural home, lacking reflective capacity and experiencing a downtrend in clarity of thought and general percipience, shaving off IQ points as clarity and percipience drop. The concept of intelligence is complex and multifactorial, but if by “intelligence” we mean something like the ability to see the world as it is, to understand context, and to act in ways proven to be beneficial over time, then, according to Sorokin, intelligence is likely to decline in the latter stages of a “sensate” age.

The decline of intelligence—moral rectitude and creative exuberance are collateral casualties—is now in full throttle. The exceptions to the debacle—monks, nomads, people of integrity, people capable of common sense, the classically educated—represent the only viable hope for a new “ideational” age to arise out of the rubble of a “sensate” disaster. It may take another century to bring about what Sorokin called “the turn,” the slow ascent up the IQ ladder, which is cold comfort indeed. But I suspect it’s the only real comfort we have


Sens. Grassley and Tillis Unload on Biden Order Allowing Violent, Criminal Illegals to Go Free

In the opening days of the Biden presidency, the administration issued an array of executive actions, including a 100-day moratorium on deportations for illegal aliens.

Led by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Thom Tillis (R-NC), Republican lawmakers took note of the order, which holds no exception for violent criminals who are also in the country illegally. The pair wrote to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Tae Johnson, pointing out that the memorandum “constitutes a wholescale abandonment of law enforcement,” as well as the “will of Congress.” They note that during his confirmation, Mayorkas vowed to respect the rule of law, but this moratorium does not.

“With respect to the 100-day deportation moratorium, we noted with alarm that there is no general exception to the moratorium for criminal aliens. Under the terms of the memorandum, unless the ICE Director determines that the law requires a specific criminal alien be removed, most criminal aliens with final removal orders will be untouchable as long as the deportation moratorium is in place. Given that 92% of ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations’ (ERO) interior removals from the United States in FY2020 had criminal convictions or pending criminal charges,1the failure to exempt all criminal aliens from the deportation moratorium seems particularly egregious,” Grassley and Tillis wrote on Wednesday. “This deportation moratorium constitutes a wholescale abandonment of law enforcement and a frustration of the will of Congress, written into the law, that aliens with final removal orders actually be removed from the country. It also does not signal the sort of respect for the rule of law that Secretary Mayorkas professed repeatedly at his confirmation hearing on January 19."

The letter was also signed by GOP Sens. John Cornyn (TX), Ron Johnson (WI), Marsha Blackburn (TN), Mike Lee (UT), Josh Hawley (MO), Joni Ernst (IA), Ted Cruz (TX), Tom Cotton (AR), James Lankford (OK), and Ben Sasse (NE). The GOP lawmakers warned the Biden administration officials that the moratorium as written not only sidesteps the rule of law, but also has potential to establish an influx of "sanctuary cities."

"The Department’s January 21 memorandum creates, in our view, an unacceptable threat to public safety; constitutes a disregard for the rule of law and the will of Congress; and undercuts the integrity of the immigration enforcement regime. While some local jurisdictions have in recent years taken steps to establish themselves as 'sanctuary cities,' at grave peril to their residents, the interim enforcement priorities and the deportation moratorium described in the January 21 memorandum are a big step towards converting the entire United States into a sanctuary nation. This is illogical and unacceptable."

While promising “unity” and a return to normalcy, the moratorium issued by the Biden administration would allow violent criminals, who are illegally present in the first place, to return to the streets.




11 February, 2021

Australian expert claims coronavirus likely started in China following WHO investigation

An Australian virus expert who recently travelled to China to investigate the coronavirus pandemic is convinced it originated there.

NSW Health infectious diseases expert Professor Dominic Dwyer was part of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) 14-strong virus investigation team which visited Wuhan for two weeks to study the outbreak’s source.

While the investigation did not definitively declare China as the source, Prof Dwyer, who is now in quarantine following his return to Australia, told Nine he believed COVID-19 “started in China”.

“I think the evidence for it starting elsewhere in the world is actually very limited. There is some evidence but it’s not really very good,” he said.

The WHO team visited a number of placed linked to the initial outbreak, including the Huanan Seafood Market, the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the Hubei Province Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Hubei Provincial Hospital.

Prof Dwyer also added bats were the “most likely” source of the virus but that it had been active in the community for “weeks’ before the outbreak connected to the wet market in late 2019.


The Left's 'Insurrection' Hypocrisy

They demand that rioters and inciters be held accountable. Unless they're on the Left.

It’s telling, isn’t it, how Democrats supported a summer’s worth of deadly and costly rioting all across our nation’s inner cities and yet squealed like stuck pigs when a single short-lived eruption came too close for their Capitol Hill comfort.

In an all-too-predictable display of liberal privilege, they trotted out endless encouragement of and justification for the former, and nonstop denunciations of the latter; a Nobel Peace Prize nomination for the former, and a presidential impeachment for the latter.

“They’re not going to stop. They’re not going to stop,” said then-presidential candidate Kamala Harris. “This is a movement, I’m telling you. They’re not gonna stop. And everyone beware because they’re not gonna stop. They’re not gonna stop before Election Day and they’re not going to stop after Election Day. And everyone should take note of that. They’re not gonna let up and they should not.”

And they should not.

How is such overt sanctioning of mob violence not a disqualifying act? After uttering those remarks, Harris shouldn’t have been able to run for dog catcher, much less vice president of the United States. But she’s a leftist, so she’s immune from accountability.

“To the media,” as Pat Buchanan writes, “the long hot summer of rioting, looting and arson that followed the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis was driven by ‘racial justice’ protests against a ‘systemic racism’ that permeates society. … Joe Biden and his party have responded by setting as a goal the replacement of ‘equality of rights’ with ‘equity,’ an equality of results, where gaps in test scores, incarcerations, incomes and wealth between white and black are to be closed by government action.”

Ah, equity — that sweet-sounding word with the sourest of meanings. As we wrote last month, “Equality and equity aren’t the same things. Not even close. The root of the former word is one of the self-evident truths embedded in our Declaration of Independence. It refers to the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, and opportunities. The latter word, however, refers to systems and institutions that are ‘fair’ and ‘just.’”

Consider, for example, the hard-left and wholly disreputable money-grubbers at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which recently decided to give certain racists a pass based on the color of their skin. “In the name of equity,” writes Daniel Greenfield at FrontPageMag, “the SPLC announced that it’s shutting down its black nationalist hate groups category like the Nation of Islam. After ‘doing the internal work of anti-racism,’ the SPLC will no longer list black racist hate groups because ‘the hate is not equal.’”

When is “hate” not really hate? When it comes from the Left.

Or consider the Bellingham insurrection. What’s that? You haven’t heard about the Bellingham, Washington insurrection two weeks ago — the one in which antifa tangled with police, stormed city hall, and forced the city’s mayor to be evacuated? Imagine that. “It is impossible to describe how evil these Antifa terrorists are,” writes Power Line’s John Hinderaker. “You really have to watch videos of them in action — this is just one of thousands — to get the picture. Which is why, I suppose, such videos are absent from the nightly news: Democrats want to protect their shock troops.”

Indeed, it’s almost as if Big Media only denounced certain kinds of political violence and insurrection. As for the January 6 riot at the Capitol, “That was an act of insurrection,” writes Buchanan of leftist opinion, “a treasonous attempt to overturn a democratic election and overthrow a democratic government. Of all the riots in 2020 and 2021, that was the unforgivable one. The proper response to that riot is not to heed its angry voices but to impeach the president on whose behalf they acted, to strip him of any right to serve again in public office, and to write new laws to deal with the horrific ‘domestic terrorism’ we witnessed at the Capitol.”

If it weren’t for double standards, the Left wouldn’t have any at all.


The oligarchy’s chosen method of “reopening” after the pandemic shows that it intends to attempt to validate the harm it did over the previous year. Will it work?

Riding fear of COVID-19, our oligarchs persuaded millions of Americans to join in masked pantomime, to deliver themselves to something like house arrest, and to blame Donald Trump for their troubles. But as much as the oligarchs enjoyed COVID powers and dreamt of segueing them into a “new normal,” they knew that America could not be locked down forever.

They especially knew, were they to unseat Trump and become responsible for the country, their charges that he had failed to stop the pandemic would come back to haunt them. “Why can’t you stop it?” would be the natural question they would have to face as the virus did what airborne viruses do: spread. Hence, after January 20, dismounting the COVID tiger, albeit gingerly, became the order of the day.

And so it happened, on January 22, Joe Biden spoke the truth: nothing that anyone could do can alter the trajectory of the virus’ spread.

A few grumbles notwithstanding, there was silence from very same media and “experts” who had accused Trump of responsibility for hundreds of thousands of deaths because he had not implemented a nationwide test-trace-and-quarantine system. The futility of such measures in preventing an infectious disease from running its course once it has entered a population was as obvious in 2020 as in 2021. But then, denying it served the oligarchy’s prosecution. Affirming it now serves its defense.

Already on January 16, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that his state could not wait to reopen until herd immunity had been reached naturally or through a vaccine, because “If we wait, there will be nothing left to open.”

Across the country, some of the Democratic mayors and governors who had most vigorously imposed COVID-19 restrictions hastened to remove them, even though the number of “cases” is higher than it was in April. By the third week of January, California Governor Gavin Newsom revoked his December stay-at-home order along with a 10 p.m.-5 a.m. curfew he had imposed in the face of rising case numbers. One reason for Newsom’s move may be the fact that just over 1 million Californians have signed a petition to force a recall election.

But there is a larger reason why the ruling class seems intent on distancing itself from responsibility for the COVID restrictions. The oligarchs and their press agents had argued the COVID troubles were 100 percent Trump’s fault, and defeating him would alleviate them. Preserving the lockdowns is unsustainable politically. But lifting the restrictions in the apparent face of rising cases risks uncovering the fact that COVID was less a plague than a political ploy. To repeat President Biden’s true statement of how little government can do with regard to COVID is an indictment of the entire oligarchy’s conduct since March. It exposes that conduct as political predation with deadly consequences for millions. Hence, dismounting the COVID tiger in a way that preserves the powers it gained for the oligarchy requires some prestidigitation.

Fortunately for the oligarchy, there is a way of making sure that each lightening of restrictions dovetails nicely with a drop in the number of “cases.” How is that? Because vaccines notwithstanding, the “softness,” the very plasticity of the number by which the oligarchy scared the hell out of America in 2020, makes it possible, presto magico, gradually to ease the fear.

In April, I explained in these pages how changing definitions of the term “case” made it possible to substitute the oligarchy’s agenda for COVID’s reality in the minds of Americans. The same dishonest process can be used in reverse.

The reality is that we do not know how many people have been infected with COVID-19, and the standard PRC test only muddies the waters. On Inauguration Day, the World Health Organization, after consultation with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, issued a two-part directive intended to reduce the number of what it calls “false positive” COVID cases that clarifies only the corrupt political nature of everything surrounding the pandemic.

Throughout 2020, doctors and hospitals had been encouraged—if not pressured—to label as COVID any set of symptoms that looked remotely like it (explaining why cases of influenza almost disappeared from the United States last year). Now the WHO asked them to make sure that in order for a case to be labeled COVID, symptoms must also match positive results of the standard PCR test.

Simultaneously, the WHO strongly suggested that those who administer the PCR test reduce the number of cycles through which samples are processed. Through 2020, most jurisdictions in America had run samples through 40 cycles. Running that many cycles radically increases the chances of a positive result. This not only inflated the number of “cases,” but it also attributed hospitalizations to COVID-19 rather than to other causes. It led to patients being treated as if they had COVID rather than for what really ailed them, and attributing deaths to COVID that in fact were not.

The new guidance guarantees that, in the coming months, the number of “cases” will drop. The oligarchy will credit the reduction to its wise management. Loosening its grip gradually, it will claim benevolence and prudence. By thus dismounting the COVID tiger, it will try to validate the harm it did over the previous year.

There being nothing especially artful about this stratagem, and most Americans not being utterly stupid, its success depends exclusively on the media’s near-unanimous complicity in it. That unanimity, however, may be getting harder to maintain. Not only is the binding objective—getting rid of Trump—no longer there, documents are surfacing that show the material complicity between Anthony Fauci, the oligarchy’s fountain of authority in all matters COVID-19, and the development of the virus itself. Covering for that level of professional incompetence and corruption may be a bridge too far, even for today’s media.



Biden has now signed 52 executive orders and actions in first 20 days (Daily Wire)

U.S. sees a steady and significant drop in coronavirus cases, but media drumbeat continues (NBC)

Cuomo asks court to overturn his own COVID restrictions on houses of worship (National Review)

CVS, Walgreens to begin delivering COVID-19 vaccines Friday (USA Today)

Americans are saving more during the pandemic (NBC)

U.S. consumer prices up 0.3% in January, led by energy spike ... caused by Biden's bad executive orders (AP)

TikTok sale to Oracle, Walmart shelved as Biden reviews security (Fox Business)

Woke NFL's Super Bowl LV attracts 96.4M viewers, fewest since 2007 (Disrn)

Woke NBA's Dallas Mavericks won't play national anthem at home games (The Hill)

Woke syrup: The brand formerly known as Aunt Jemima to be called Pearl Milling Company (NBC)

Policy: Biden's weak case for returning to the UN Human Rights Council (National Review)

Policy: Africans plead with Joe Biden to stop paying their countries to kill children (The Federalist)

U.S. to reengage with the farcical UN Human Rights Council (

Senator Richard Shelby is fourth Republican to not seek reelection in 2022 (

Minimum wage increase would kill 1.4 million jobs, CBO finds (Daily Caller)

Biden press secretary says illegal immigrants convicted of crimes will not be prioritized for deportation (Post Millennial)

Biden administration considers COVID tests for domestic flights (Roll Call)

Hacker attempted to poison water supply in Florida city near Super Bowl in Tampa (Examiner)

Tom Brady called "racist" on social media for winning Super Bowl during Black History Month (PJ Media)




10 February, 2021

AstraZeneca vaccine: why Australia is forging ahead as South Africa tackles Covid variant

Medical experts say the jab is effective against severe infection, as researchers work to adapt vaccines against variants and experiment with mixing inoculations

Australian health authorities have moved to calm concerns about
the effectiveness of the AstraZeneca vaccine, after a small-scale study suggested its efficacy against mild to moderate infections from the the South African variant of the virus could be as low as 10%.

AstraZeneca is going through the Therapeutic Goods Administration approval process now and is slated to be rolled out from April. This is what experts are saying.

You should still get the AstraZeneca vaccine

That’s the advice of Australia’s chief medical officer, Prof Paul Kelly. He has urged people not to put too much stock in the results of the South African study, which he stressed was both limited in scope and had not yet been peer-reviewed.

Kelly told reporters on Tuesday that people should be wary of “taking small amounts of information quickly, without looking at it carefully, and making conclusions”.

“At the moment, I can absolutely say – and this may change in future, and we will be nimble in the way we look at that information and putting that into our planning – but at the moment, there’s no evidence anywhere in the world that AstraZeneca effectiveness against severe infection is affected by any of these variants of concern. And that is the fact.”

His comments were echoed by Prof Mary-Louise McLaws, an Australian epidemiologist and advisor to the World Health Organisation on Covid-19.

“I commend your readers to get any vaccine that is offered to them, because it will reduce severity,” McLaws told Guardian Australia. “Any vaccine is better than no vaccine. If you do get the virus it will improve your outcomes, your response, and you may not get severe Covid.”

There is also evidence from another unpublished study in Israel on the Pfizer vaccine, which suggested that people who are not protected by the vaccine nevertheless had a reduced viral load. So even if a vaccine had a reduced efficacy, there is evidence to suggest it will reduce the extent to which a person spreads the disease, McLaws said.

AstraZeneca, unsurprisingly, also played down the study on the South African variant, saying it was a small phase one or two trial, which showed limited efficacy against mild disease from the variant.

“While we have not been able to properly ascertain its effect against severe disease and hospitalisation given that subjects were predominantly young, healthy adults, we do believe our vaccine will still protect against severe disease for the B1351 variant, particularly when the dosing interval is optimised to 8-12 weeks,” AstraZeneca said.

What the South African study actually showed

The study was a small-scale trial of 2,000 people aged 31 which showed the AstraZeneca vaccine had as little as 10% efficacy in preventing mild to moderate infection against the South African variant of Covid-19, B1351. However the researchers expressed hope the vaccine would still offer significant protection against more serious infection, which is the goal of the global vaccine program.

The study is yet to be peer-reviewed or published. The South African government has paused its planned rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine in response.

It is not the only vaccine to show reduced efficacy against the South African variant. Trials of the Novavax vaccine also showed 60% efficacy against the South African variant, compared with an 89% efficacy overall – 95.6% against the original coronavirus and 85.6% against the UK variant.

Kelly said Australian authorities will be looking very closely at all information which comes out about the efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine, but said there was to date no information to suggest it did not protect against severe infections from the South African variant.

He said Australian authorities will be talking closely with the UK, where AstraZeneca has already been widely distributed.

“This is a very good vaccine, very safe, and once it goes through those processes, of safety, quality and efficacy, we will be able to look to roll out that vaccine as well – as always, subject to the TGA advice,” he said.

Yes, but it will take time. AstraZeneca said it has already started adapting its vaccine against the South African variant, “and will advance rapidly through clinical development so that it is ready should it be needed”.

Novavax responded to the lower results in South Africa by saying it would immediately start developing a new vaccine aimed specifically at the South African variant.

AstraZeneca is a viral vector vaccine, which relies on the use of an RNA molecule – the same part of the virus as used in the mRNA Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Novavax is a more traditional protein-based vaccine, and they take longer to modify.

Kelly said mRNA and viral vector vaccines can be adapted more quickly than protein vaccines, but even if they are able to be adapted,” it is another issue to make nine billion of them”.

“If we’re going to vaccinate the whole world, it’s going to take time,” he said.

Why don’t we just all take the Pfizer vaccine?

That would be a great option, says McLaws. Except we don’t have enough, and there is significant pressure on the global supply. Australia recently secured an additional 10m doses of the Pfizer vaccine, taking the total contracted amount to 20m doses by the end of the year.

That’s enough to administer the required two doses to 10 million people, or just under 40% of Australia’s population. The first 80,000 doses of the Pfizer are still on track to arrive in Australia by the end of February, Kelly says, and authorities are hoping for weekly deliveries thereafter. People in the highest-risk cohort – frontline medical staff, hotel quarantine workers, aged and disability care home residents and staff – will get that vaccine.

The balance of the population is likely to receive either AstraZeneca, which is manufacturing 50m doses in Melbourne that are expected to be administered from March, pending TGA approval, or the Novavax vaccine, which is several months away.

What are the other options?

Well, we could mix vaccines. That concept is being trialled in the UK – they called for volunteers just last week – and will involve giving 820 unvaccinated people over the age of 50 a first dose of either the AstraZeneca or the Pfizer vaccine. Half the group will have their vaccine switched for the second dose, and the other half will get the same again.

It is an option worth considering, McLaws said. Without it, the risk is that people vaccinated with AstraZeneca – largely the 20- to 39-year-old cohort – may not be fully protected against Covid-19. That’s a problem because that age group, while not at highest risk of serious disease or death, made up half of all people who contracted Covid-19 in Australia last year. They are highly mobile and more likely to be underemployed and working multiple part-time jobs, which increases their risk of exposure.

Even without considering new variants, AstraZeneca has a lower reported efficacy than Pfizer and Novavax, the other options in Australia’s stable. It sought regulatory approval in the UK on the basis that it has about 70% efficacy.

“The risk is that if our 20- to 39-year-olds are vaccinated with AstraZeneca, we have at least a 30% risk of them not eliciting an immune response without the additional problem of a variant,” McLaws said. “This is an opportunity to look at how we protect the unknown 30-odd percent. And that may be to mix up the second dose with something that doesn’t have such low efficacy for the South African strain and the Brazilian strain.”

What does this mean for borders and other restrictions?

To date there have been no reported cases of the South African variant in the Australian community.

But the risk remains. Since Friday there have been 87 samples of B117, the UK variant, detected in hotel quarantine in Australia and 18 of B1351, the South African variant.

But the vaccine results solidify what epidemiologists have warned for some time: that life will not instantly go back to normal once the majority of the population has been vaccinated


Big business is not your friend

Sparked by the Black Lives Matter movement, cities across the United States went up in flames last year, beset with looters, agitators, and killers. As leaves, and ashes, fell softly last autumn, homicide rates began to soar nationwide as $1 billion-plus in claims registered on the insurance industry’s books, making these riots the most destructive in American history.

Even so, last week, Norwegian Member of Parliament Petter Eide nominated Black Lives Matter for the Nobel peace prize.

The most peculiar thing about the mayhem last summer was not the media coverage, the bipartisan kowtowing to the demands of agitators, or even the magnitude of the destruction. Instead, it was the universal embrace of the movement behind the madness by the managers of industry.

A week after a gunman shot and killed federal officer Patrick Underwood while a Black Lives Matter protest roared on nearby, as riots were gaining momentum across the country, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey encouraged his followers to “Download Signal,” an encrypted messaging app. Signal served as an organizing tool for BLM activists to conspire away from prying eyes.

Three days after Dorsey tweeted that thoughtful tip, looters killed a retired African American police captain named David Dorn as he tried to protect a friend’s pawn shop in St. Louis, Missouri.

A Not-So-Free Market

Dorsey is not alone. The number of corporations that backed the cause—and continue to support it—is dizzying. IBM, Microsoft, Amazon, Target, Walmart, Home Depot, T-Mobile, Uber, Facebook, Apple, Intel, the list goes on and on. PayPal announced it would earmark $530 million to “provide immediate financial relief, sustained support and long-term investment to expand economic opportunity for Black and underrepresented minority businesses and communities.” Citigroup published a study that put the “cost of black inequality” in the United States at $16 trillion.

Many of these same corporations have aligned themselves against right-wing populism specifically and Middle Americans in general. A single, solitary riot on January 6 by Trump supporters provoked their purge from the internet, the financial strangulation of allied lawmakers, the denial of services to both, the shuttering of bank accounts, and more. All, ironically, under the pretense of combating extremism—a justification the industry managers most recently used to quell an online populist revolt.

Retail traders using the Robinhood broker-dealer app managed to kneecap Wall Street hedge funds that attempted to short sell GameStop, a brick-and-mortar video game retailer. So far, populist short squeezers have cost Wall Street short-sellers $20 billion. Corporations and their allies in the media reacted by reminding Americans that the free market isn’t free at all.

Discord and Facebook moved to restrict groups used by retail traders to communicate and organize, both under the pretense of terms of service violations unrelated to trading. Robinhood itself has alternated between imposing bans and restrictions on trading, enraging users who accused the company of caving to pressure from Wall Street.

Laura Unger, the former commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission, compared retail traders’ actions to the riot Trump supporters staged on January 6 at the Capitol. While the events at the Capitol caused “personal, bodily harm,” retail traders did “financial harm,” she told CNBC. The media has drawn connections between these traders and Trump voters, which is true insofar as both revolted against the elites—but the implicit and more critical point she wishes to make is that these people are unwashed, backward, and probably racist.

The Best Activism Corporate Money Can Buy

While the scale of all this is unprecedented, the fundamentals are not new. Corporations support and court social upheavals because that is a far more effective way than force to neutralize them. Agitators and their movements, as Canadian philosopher George Grant wrote in a critique of the Left, “are taken into the system and trivialized. They are made to serve the interest of the system they are supposed to be attacking, by showing that free speech is allowed.”

If so many leftists did not hate everyday Americans more than they hated that system, they would not be so often and easily appeased. Black Lives Matter ultimately strengthened the hand of the system tenfold, allowing it to rehabilitate its image while increasing its power and reach.

Virtually every issue that reduces American life to scrapping over spoils follows this pattern.

The “dirty secret of affirmative action politics,” Richard Kahlenberg noted in 1996, “is that corporate America actually supports affirmative action,” whether it is based on race or sex or nationality. A culture of affirmative action, in reality, has little to do with merit and equality or justice, and more with an ever-expanding base of consumers and producers who keep wages down and demand high. Many conservatives who spend their days decrying the march of the Left have internalized this scheme.

“Despite the third-wave feminist tendency to conflate the ephemeral patriarchy with capitalism, the two couldn’t be more incompatible,” writes conservative journalist Tiana Lowe in “Capitalism Crushed the Patriarchy.” Free markets, she concludes, “have revolutionized the quality of human life for everyone, but perhaps for none more than women.” In other words, she unwittingly agrees with Karl Marx that capitalism, not socialism, dissolved the bonds of tradition, of the family, and encouraged women to abandon the crib for the cubicle—it’s just that she insists this is a reason to celebrate.

“Differences of age and sex have no longer any distinctive social validity for the working class,” Marx wrote in 1848 on the corrosive consequences of capitalism. “All are instruments of labour, more or less expensive to use, according to their age and sex.” Contemporary conservatives make the same observations just as approvingly as Marx, they just aren’t honest or smart enough to realize that fact.

More to the point, corporations support affirmative action for the same reason they support the politics of mass immigration and are willing to pay off agitators: profit and power and an expanded consumer base that is essentially a morally unmoored, deracinated proletariat enslaved to debt. In other words, people who cannot govern themselves will do, and buy, what they are told.

More Easily Managed People

This system praises diversity, but its end is homogeneity. Just a handful of billionaires own America’s newspapers, for example, while six corporations control virtually all media outlets. When ordinary conservatives decry socialism, what they are really railing against is centralized planning in the hands of a few—but this is already a fact of American life. The American economy is defined by consolidated corporate power that effectively does just that.

“Crony capitalism” is, therefore, a misnomer because it suggests what we are witnessing is an exception to an otherwise good rule when it is the rule itself—managerialism—that fuses industry and government. The active heads of government bureaus, wrote James Burnham, “are the managers-in-government, the same, or nearly the same, in training functions, skills, habits of thought as the managers-in-industry.”

None of this can be said aloud, so a cosmopolitan myth of universalism is woven, with liberty, equality, and opportunity as its tenets. All the claims of particularism, such as family, sex, religion, human nature, and nation-state become artificial at best; oppressive if white, heterosexual, male, Christian, and Western.

The traditions, symbols, and heroes of historic America naturally come under attack because they are representations of differentiation; thus, barriers to creating a homogenized mass society fit for mass consumption and production. Indeed, corporations have spearheaded the deconstruction of American civilization and the creation of a new, more easily “managed” one.

Thus, the myth of democratic capitalism, in reality, is an expression of the personal and group interests of an oligarchy that casts itself and its actions as serving the public interest. But the mask slips every time not-so-thinly veiled force or fraud is employed to protect and consolidate its power, interests, and ideology—whether openly engaging in market manipulation to protect Wall Street or removing entire social media networks from the web to silence dissent.

The truth is that the political economy of the United States is no longer capitalism but managerialism, which slit capitalism’s throat sometime in the 20th century following the Great Depression and two world wars, replacing the bourgeois elite of yesteryear with managers presiding over a system that separates ownership and control.

Whatever its theoretical merits, to defend what people are pleased to call “American capitalism” today is to garland the ideological chains of a ruling class that is hostile to private property, genuine small business, and traditional institutions because all these are impediments to the growth and control of the managerial class.

The movement that emerges from the ashes of the present must disabuse itself of a myth that serves no purpose other than to deceive Americans into docility for fear of disturbing the not-so-invisible hand around their throats deluding them into believing that the apogee of human experience is the other side of materialism. There is nothing to lose but the chains.




9 February, 2021

AstraZeneca is working on Covid vaccine booster 'that will be ready by autumn' to beat South African strain after research showed its current version had 'minimal' effect on stopping it

Yesterday South Africa said it was suspending use of the AstraZeneca vaccine while scientists advise on the best way to proceed.

Professor Sarah Gilbert, lead researcher in the Oxford team, said current vaccines 'have a reduction in efficacy against some of the variant viruses'.

But she added: 'What that is looking like is that we may not be reducing the total number of cases but there's still protection in that case against deaths, hospitalisations and severe disease.

'That's really important for healthcare systems, even if we are having mild and asymptomatic infections, to prevent people going into hospital with Covid would have a major effect.'

However, vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi says the vaccines being used in Britain 'work well against the Covid-19 variants currently dominant in the UK'.

Writing in the Telegraph, he said 'we can take confidence from the current roll out and the protection it will provide all of us against this terrible disease'.

He added: 'We need to be aware that even where a vaccine has reduced efficacy in preventing infection there may still be good efficacy against severe disease, hospitalisation, and death. This is vitally important for protecting the healthcare system.'

Professor Gilbert earlier told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show that her team currently has 'a version with the South African spike sequence in the works' with hopes it will be ready to administer by the autumn.

'It's not quite ready to vaccinate people with yet, but, as all of the developers are using platform technologies, these are ways of making a vaccine that are very quick to adapt,' she added.

The study that found the Oxford jab had a 'minimal effect' in protecting against mild disease caused by the variant involved 2,000 volunteers, most of whom were young and healthy with an average age of 31.

The study also appeared to show that the South African mutations will allow for ongoing transmission of the virus in vaccinated populations.

Out of 865 people vaccinated with two doses of the Oxford vaccine, 19 contracted the new variant, and out of 884 in the group given a placebo, 23 contracted the disease. Two thirds of the cases were of mild illness, and one third moderate. There were no severe cases.

The researchers also found that previous infection with 'original' coronavirus did not protect against contracting the South African variant.

Oxford University said the study did not assess levels of protection against moderate to severe disease, hospital admission or death because the target population was at such low risk.

A spokesman for AstraZeneca said: 'We do believe our vaccine will still protect against severe disease, as neutralising antibody activity is equivalent to other Covid-19 vaccines that have demonstrated activity against more severe disease, particularly when the dosing interval is optimised to eight to 12 weeks.'

The spokesman added that other immune responses, such as T-cell responses, may have a role in protecting against disease, and initial data suggests these may stay the same with the variant.

Professor Robin Shattock, who is leading Covid-19 vaccine research at Imperial College London, urged caution about the study's findings.

'It's a very small study with just over 2,000 people,' he told BBC Breakfast. 'But it is concerning to some extent that we're seeing that it's not effective against mild or moderate disease.'

Professor Andrew Pollard, chief investigator on the Oxford trial, said: 'This study confirms that the coronavirus will find ways to continue to spread in vaccinated populations, as expected.

'But, taken with the promising results from other studies in South Africa, vaccines may continue to ease the toll on healthcare systems by preventing severe disease.'

On Saturday, AstraZeneca said its vaccine provided good protection against the variant first discovered in Kent, which is now dominant in the UK. Early results suggest the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine protects against the new variants.

Early results from Moderna suggest its vaccine is still effective against the South Africa variant.


Another war-mongering Democrat

President Joe Biden is deploying four Air Force B-1 bombers to Norway to express to Russia's Vladimir Putin that the U.S. will defend allies if Russia shows aggression in the Arctic.

CNN reported the move Monday, saying that bombers and approximately 200 Americans stationed at Dyess Air Force base in Texas will be deployed to Orland Air Base in Norway.

Within three weeks, missions will begin in the Arctic Circle and in international airspace off of Russia's northwest coast, the network said.

Previously, American military missions over the Arctic originated from the United Kingdom. The move to Norway signals the U.S. is more prepared to tackle Russian aggression in the area.

Bomber missions take weeks to plan, CNN reported, so the Norway deployment has been in the works for awhile.

Biden has made it clear he plans to take a much harder stand against Russia than his predecessor, President Donald Trump.

He spoke with Putin six days into his presidency. And while he agreed to extend the START treaty between the U.S. and Russia for five years, Biden said in a speech Thursday at the State Department that he wasn't so agreeable with Putin in other areas.

'At the same time, I made it clear to President Putin, in a manner very different from my predecessor, that the days of the United States rolling over in the face of Russia's aggressive actions interfering with our elections, cyber attacks, poisoning its citizens, are over,' Biden said.

The new president said he would not hesitate to 'raise the cost on Russia' if need be.

CNN reported that the Defense Department has been concerned about Russia's moves in the Arctic, as the country could try to shut off access to maritime passageways and natural resources, with 25 per cent of Russia's gross domestic product tied to hydrocarbons found north of the Arctic Circle.

Almost entitrely on Russian territory!


The Great Reset — to Global Totalitarianism

Global elites, including the Biden administration, are exploiting coronavirus for massive upheaval.

As of this writing, more than 104 million people have contracted coronavirus worldwide, and nearly 2.5 million have died. In the United States, more than 450,000 deaths have been attributed to the Wuhan Flu. In a better world, the Chinese communist thugs who lied about both the origins and the severity of the pandemic would be treated as the international pariahs they have proven themselves to be. In this one, an equally contemptible bunch of multinational corporatist thugs with oligarchic ambitions will not only continue doing business as usual with China but will rely on Beijing as an ally in their pursuit of what they call The Great Reset. In short, never let a crisis — or a worldwide, society-altering catastrophe — go to waste.

“To achieve a better outcome, the world must act jointly and swiftly to revamp all aspects of our societies and economies, from education to social contracts and working conditions,” insists World Economic Forum (WEF) CEO Klaus Schwab, a German octogenarian orchestrating this elitist power grab. “Every country, from the United States to China, must participate, and every industry, from oil and gas to tech, must be transformed. In short, we need a ‘Great Reset’ of capitalism.”

Capitalism? A WEF-created video posted on Facebook reveals Schwab is a bald-faced liar. Of the eight “predictions” the globalists wish to impose on the world by 2030, the very first one gives the entire game away. It shows the smiling face of a young man with the following caption underneath:

“You’ll own nothing. And you’ll be happy.”

People who own nothing can be many things. A capitalist in control of one’s own destiny isn’t any of them. And in case the message still isn’t clear, the second “prediction” is equally telling:

“Whatever you want you’ll rent. And it will be delivered by drone.”

Rent? From whom, if nobody owns anything? The answer is simple. While millions of people have been locked down, and while their jobs and futures have been eviscerated, America’s billionaire class increased its own wealth by a staggering $434 billion since the stock market began its recovery in March. While ordinary Americans stood in food banks and waited desperately for stimulus checks, the stock market soared. And when, for the briefest of moments, the bounties of that stock market accrued to the interests of smaller traders at the expense of those billionaires, the rules of the game were altered by those for whom the Rule of Law no longer applies.

Lawlessness — of the in-your-face variety — is the essence of The Great Reset. And capitalism has nothing to do with any of it. “When Americans went to buy cars, or even light bulbs and shower nozzles, they found their choices limited by deals between government, industry, and insurance companies,” explains columnist Angelo Codevilla. “These entities regarded each other as ‘stakeholders’ in an oligarchic system. But they had ever less need to take account of mere citizens in what was becoming a republic in name only. As the 20th century was drawing to a close, wherever citizens looked, they saw a government and government-empowered entities over which they had ever less say, which ruled ever more unaccountably, and whose attitude toward them was ever less friendly.”

The 21st century has seen an exponential increase in that dynamic. For all intents and purposes, there is no separation between the Ruling Class elites in both political parties and their allies in Big Tech, academia, Hollywood, and virtue-signaling corporations, all of whom have made it clear that any dissent from their agenda will inevitably lead to one being “un-personed,” in all its Orwellian permutations. Continued resistance may earn one a designation as a “domestic terrorist,” even as the elites’ corporate mouthpiece, more familiarly known as the mainstream media, has tirelessly endeavored to tie the entire bloc of 74 million Americans who voted for Donald Trump to the handful of people who rioted at the Capitol.

The elites’ targets include sitting Republican senators who dared to question the integrity of the 2020 election. Senators who will now be judged by what amounts to a Star Chamber of secret deliberations, conducted by the Senate Ethics Committee.

In the meantime, the same Democrats who called President Trump a “dictator” when he issued a handful of executive orders and actions are completely sanguine with a President Joe Biden issuing 40 of them in his first 10 days in office. When and if they actually legislate, Democrats will attempt to use the power of the purse to effectively — and unconstitutionally — nationalize elections to ensure the permanence of their power.

And while coronavirus has kept Americans distracted, the real transition to global governance with be engendered by climate change. “It might be a good idea for President Biden to call a climate emergency,” contends Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who apparently has no problem making the legislative branch of government increasingly irrelevant in pursuit of unassailable power. He is joined by Climate Czar John Kerry who, despite his own predilection for private jets, insists, “[The Great Reset] will happen with greater speed and with greater intensity than a lot of people might imagine. In effect, the citizens of the United States have just done a Great Reset. We’ve done a Great Reset. And it was a record level of voting.”

One suspects a duplicitous hack like John Kerry knows full well Americans didn’t vote for serfdom. But if he and his party’s ambitions are realized, voting will become a largely symbolic exercise whose chief purpose will be to maintain the illusion that people have choices — and that the nation-state he and his fellow globalists so clearly despise still exists.

And despite Schwab’s assertions, those who attended the WEF virtual Davos Agenda summit made it clear that the primary impediment to their agenda is capitalism. “We will get out of this pandemic only with an economy that thinks more about fighting inequalities,” asserted French President Emmanuel Macron. German Chancellor Angela Merkel insisted the coronavirus shows “how much we are interlinked, how globally interdependent” the world is, and that “trying to isolate yourself fails.”

The dead giveaway behind the utter hollowness of such “high-minded” assertions? Despite the worldwide havoc engendered by his regime, the honor of being the summit’s keynote speaker was bestowed upon Chinese President Xi Jinping, who urged the G-20 nations and the European Union to serve as the “main forum for global economic governance.”

In China, that economic governance includes the use of forced labor by Uyghurs, who produce goods for many of the same multinational corporations that promote their “wokeness” with regard to human rights.

It’s hardly different in America. “As the elite has grown ever richer and less and less attached to the idea of the United States as an independent nation-state its goals and ambitions have become less and less attached to the welfare of the average man or woman,” warns columnist Charles Faddis. “Increasingly, what the elite wants is in direct opposition to what the average American wants.”

Kerry characterizes that increasingly orchestrated disconnect as “the the dawn of an extremely exciting time.” Totalitarianism — on steroids — is more like it.




8 February, 2021

Experimental cancer drug could help hospitalised coronavirus patients recover within five days, Israeli trial claims

Israeli academics today claimed 29 of 30 patients with moderate to severe case of Covid treated with EXO-CD24 made a full recovery within five days.

Further human trials are now needed to prove that the inhaled drug - designed as a medication to fight ovarian cancer - actually works.

The study did not compare the drug to a placebo, meaning scientists cannot say for certain that the medicine was behind the patients' speedy recovery.

However, data shows the average coronavirus patient needing hospital treatment spends up to three weeks in a bed.

Scientists gave 30 patients with serious or moderate Covid infections a dose of the drug.

It is not clear how old the patients were but data shows younger patients are much less likely to die from coronavirus and recover quicker.

Twenty-nine showed significant improvement within three to five days. It is not clear whether the patients were also receiving other drugs or treatment.

EXO-CD24 is an experimental cancer drug initially developed to treat ovarian cancer. It is breathed in as a gas and performs locally on the lungs.

The drug uses tiny carrier sacs called exosomes that shuttle materials between cells to deliver a protein called CD24. This protein helps regulate the body's immune response, reducing the number of cytokines released.

Cytokines are produced by the body to fight off infection, but too many can result in deadly hyperinflammation, which occurs in the worst cases of coronavirus.

Professor Nadir Arber of Ichilov's Integrated Cancer Prevention Center told the Times of Israel: 'The preparation is inhaled once a day for a few minutes, for five days.

'The preparation is directed straight to the heart of the storm — the lungs — so unlike other formulas… which selectively restrain a certain cytokine, or operate widely but cause many serious side effects, EXO-CD24 is administered locally, works broadly and without side effects.'

The thirtieth patient's symptoms also got better but outside of the five-day window, Israeli media claimed.

The trial's sample size was also too low to draw any note-worthy conclusions about the drug's efficacy. The data was not published in a journal.

Professor Nadir Arber, of Ichilov's Integrated Cancer Prevention Center, spent years developing the drug for ovarian cancer before trialling it on coronavirus patients.

EXO-CD24 is taken once every five days and is relatively inexpensive, according to Professor Arber, but he did not reveal exactly how much it costs.

It works by reducing the immune system's overreaction to the virus.

Coronavirus can trigger a brutal immune response that shuts down the body's main organs known as a cytokine storm.

Researcher Shiran Shapira told the Times of Israel: 'This protein is located on the surface of cells and has a well known and important role in regulating the immune system.'

Professor Arber told Israeli news site Arutz Sheva: 'Even if the vaccines do their job, and even if there aren't any new mutations, one way or another, the coronavirus will be staying with us.

'That's why we developed this special medication: EXO-CD24. This is unprecedented. 'It's been about half a year from the time the idea was hatched and the technologies created, to the first human trials conducted and phase one of testing completed.'

The researchers are planning to carry out studies of the drug on hundreds of patients and compare the results to a placebo.

Israel announced today it will ease lockdown measures but keep its international airport and land borders closed following a slight fall in the spread of coronavirus cases.

'The government has accepted a proposal from the prime minister and the health minister to ease lockdown measures from 7am on Sunday,' their offices said in a joint statement.

Despite what has been termed the world's fastest vaccination campaign per capita, Israel has still been registering a daily average of 6,500 new Covid-19 cases, down from around 7,000 last week, official figures show.

A strict nationwide lockdown in force since December 27 has been extended four times to combat the infection rate, but January was the deadliest month with more than 1,000 Covid fatalities.

According to latest figures from the health ministry, Israel has registered a total of more than 675,000 cases of Covid-19, including 5,019 deaths.


American Elites Seek to Rig the Game

In the aftermath of the disgraceful Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, the American ruling class has flexed its muscles like never before.

Big Tech oligarchs moved in unison to kneecap upstart Parler, a would-be Twitter competitor, and ban former President Donald Trump and scores of other conservatives. Simon & Schuster, one of the nation's most reputable book publishers, canceled a book deal that it had commissioned with the conservative Sen. Josh Hawley. President Joe Biden, in direct defiance of his campaign-season vows to unify the country, oversaw a deeply divisive and ideological first week in office. And just this week, popular retail brokerage Robinhood took severe measures to restrict trading of GameStop's stock after a populist Reddit-induced stock-buying frenzy dramatically spiked the firm's share price and wreaked havoc for short-selling hedge funds.

One harkens back to that most paradigmatic of progressive mantras, once uttered by former Obama White House Chief of Staff and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel: "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste."

Emanuel's rank opportunism is highly revealing. But the American ruling class seeks more than mere political opportunism. Instead, the ruling class seeks uniform control over defining the contours of permissible opinion and tolerable belief, and it is willing to wield all available levers at its disposal in order to do so.

But in order to achieve this goal, the ruling class -- which, in the United States in the year 2021, is effectively coterminous with elected political left and left-adjacent, quasi-"private" appendages such as "woke capital" corporatists -- needs some extra assistance. The ruling class needs more tools in its arsenal than simple gatekeeping based on requisite diplomas and proper partisan affiliation.

The ruling class's tool of choice is to rig the game. Across all of American society, the left increasingly plays the game by one set of rules, and the "deplorable" right plays by a different set of rules. While such discriminatory tactics were, for a while, devised in subtler fashion, promulgated behind closed doors and concealed beneath euphemistic public-facing language, this concerted effort increasingly plays out before our eyes in broad daylight.

Consider how, in every presidential election since 2000 won by a Republican, Democratic congressmen and/or senators objected to at least some portion of the Electoral College result. Yet in 2020, when some Republicans in both the House and Senate did much the same, following a midpandemic election that saw the unprecedented proliferation of inherently destabilizing mail-in balloting and myriad mid-election season changes to states' election laws, those involved are tarred as "insurrectionists" and "seditionists" because of the unrelated lawless actions of an impassioned mob. And those same Republicans lose donors, book deals and even event-space availability for fundraisers, to boot.

Consider also how, for four years during the Trump presidency, Democrats endlessly bleated and promoted the wholly implausible "Russiagate" narrative, wherein Vladimir Putin and vague "Russian bots" somehow colluded to steal the presidency for Trump. Hillary Clinton has still, to this day, never fully reconciled herself to her defeat -- nor, for that matter, has Stacey Abrams ever formally conceded the 2018 gubernatorial race. But for continuing to raise questions about an election decided by a smaller margin of voters than the previous one -- roughly 43,000 votes spread out across three states in 2020, compared with roughly 79,000 votes spread out across three states in 2016 -- Silicon Valley oligarchs banned from social media everyone from the leader of the free world, Trump himself, to the founder and CEO of MyPillow.

Finally, consider how stock exchanges and trading brokerages this week halted trading -- and, as appears to be the case, sometimes induced forcible stock selling against retail investors' will -- of GameStop's stock in a barely concealed attempt to protect favored short-selling hedge funds and undercut mom-and-pop investors spurred on by the "WallStreetBets" subreddit. As everyone from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Sen. Ted Cruz pointed out, such actions reek of cronyism and illicit market manipulation. It is difficult to recall the last time the stock market has been so clearly revealed as a pawn of the ruling class, under which high-frequency traders and individual 401(k) savers so clearly play by different sets of rules.

The great irony of our current politics is that the very populism so decried by the ruling class is only buttressed by that very ruling class's censoriousness and attempts to rig the game in its own favor. It is not yet too late for elites to look in the mirror, take some deep breaths and stop before it is too late.


Equality vs Equity: Unraveling the allure of socialism

Placing equity over equality when it comes to our economy will not ensure that everyone ends up a millionaire, only that nobody will get the opportunity to rise through the ranks and achieve that success in the future.

By Brett Kimball

Equality and equity are two concepts which are often mistaken for one another; however they could not be more different. Equality of opportunity is essential in order for any free society to thrive; it ensures that everyone has the same opportunity to succeed. Radical left socialist democrats have posited the theory that all inequalities of outcome in society can be attributed to a rigged system which discriminates based on secondary characteristics such as race, sex, gender, etc. Therefore, we must strive to create a more “equitable” system in order to ensure that those inequalities of outcome which can be observed are eliminated. This idea is patently un-American and unfair to its core.

A system based on the principles of equality is one which provides each individual with the same level of opportunity to attain success. A system built on the principles of equity is one which attempts to ensure an equal outcome for each individual. The former being an inherently moral system and the latter being an inherently immoral system.

This distinction often becomes lost in the fray of debate however, becoming overshadowed by the alluring concept of “free stuff,” whether it’s college, healthcare, etc. It’s important to remember that we all as Americans share the same privilege of having been born in the freest society in the world, one which does provide endless potential for upward mobility. To sacrifice this freedom in the pursuit of a more rigid economic structure meant to ensure some socialistic utopian concept of equality of outcome over opportunity would be reckless and dangerous.

Why do so many young people fall victim to the unrealistic and damaging proposals put forth by the radical left? The simplest answer is this, these promises sound good on paper. Upon even the slightest bit of further review however, they start to fall apart.

For example, a fifteen dollar minimum wage sounds great, but those who advocate for this are missing a few key factors. For starters, a minimum wage that high would force businesses, especially smaller and family-owned establishments, into mass layoffs of thousands of entry-level employees. This would be a problem under normal circumstances but would certainly be exacerbated by the toll the Covid lockdowns have already taken on struggling businesses. Businesses simply cannot afford to pay entry-level employees that type of money, when their jobs could just as easily be cut or replaced by technology. McDonald’s implementation of touchscreen kiosks for in-store ordering is one clear example of where we are headed if a higher minimum wage becomes mainstream.

A recent study by the Congressional Budget Office found that while the plan for a fifteen-dollar minimum wage would predictably increase wages for around 17 million workers who would otherwise be earning less, such benefits would be offset by the nearly 1.3 million jobs which would be lost due to the increased cost of labor. This fluctuation would be more than enough to put many under the poverty line.

The increased wages of those able to keep their jobs would also inevitably lead to an increase in the cost of goods provided by those businesses to account for the higher wages businesses would be forced to pay their remaining employees.

Another socialist pipe-dream worth dissecting is the idea of “free college for all.” This one has gained momentum and popularity over the last few years, and could perhaps be the most damaging of all. The word “free” as it’s used by democrats like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or Ilhan Omar has lost all meaning. What they really mean when they say “free college tuition” is “government funded” and thereby “taxpayer funded.” All it means is that you won’t be footing the bill for your degree, everyone else will.

Considering the rampant fiscal irresponsibility on display regularly by our elected officials in the House and Senate, the only way to accomplish such a feat would be to raise taxes on all Americans, but with a “progressive” tax plan which would bleed the 1% dry. Many young people who get drawn in by the idea of socialism and the concept of an oppressive billionaire ruling class tend to forget how free-market capitalism actually works. The category known as the 1% is not a static, fixed group of people hoarding the county’s wealth for themselves. In actuality it’s fluid and ever changing, with people drifting in and out of the top tax bracket constantly. The 1%, in most cases, employs the “99%” as well. They create and run the businesses and corporations which employ millions of people all over the country. Hitting them with ridiculous tax rates out of a false sense of fairness or equity, would hurt workers across the economic spectrum and severely stunt any ability for growth in an economic system originally designed to provide such opportunities.

When people like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren suggest that “billionaires should not exist,” they may think they are advocating for the downfall of today’s billionaires who they deem greedy and oppressive. What they don’t realize is that they are also advocating for the downfall of the billionaires of tomorrow; those who will rise up through the system with ingenuity and entrepreneurship to usher in the new era of innovation on the horizon in our country.

Placing equity over equality when it comes to our economy will not ensure that everyone ends up a millionaire, only that nobody will get the opportunity to rise through the ranks and achieve that success in the future.

Preserving our ability to thrive and protecting our core values as a country are of paramount importance for the next generation of great entrepreneurs. Equity is a perversion of justice which will only greatly undermine the next generation’s ability to succeed.




7 February, 2021

Oxford Covid vaccine is less effective against South African mutant strain, claim scientists: Small study of just 2,000 patients found some patients got mild or moderate symptoms - but NONE died or were hospitalised

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is less effective against the South African variant, early data showed last night in a blow to global inoculation efforts.

A small trial of just 2,026 people found the jab had 'limited efficacy' in protecting against mild and moderate disease caused by the mutant strain.

The pharmaceutical giant said scientists will now start adapting the vaccine to kill the new variant, with hopes it will be ready by autumn.

Nobody died or was hopitalised during the study by South Africa's University of the Witwatersrand and Oxford University, which has not yet been published but has been seen by the Financial Times.

An AstraZeneca spokesman said: 'In this small phase I/II trial, early data has shown limited efficacy against mild disease primarily due to the B.1.351 South African variant.

'However, we have not been able to properly ascertain its effect against severe disease and hospitalisation given that subjects were predominantly young healthy adults.'

The average age of the trial's participants was 31, an age at which one is very unlikely to fall seriously ill with Covid-19.

Coronavirus has mutated thousands of times during the course of the pandemic which is normal behaviour for a virus.

But scientists are concerned in particular about three variants which evidence suggests are highly transmissible; the ones first detected in Kent, South Africa and Brazil.

The South African variant, which has been detected across the world including in the UK, appears to be proving the most immune to vaccines.

American pharmaceutical firms Johnson and Johnson and Novavax have both reported their shots are less effective against the strain.

Similarly, Moderna is manufacturing a booster shot to its vaccine regimen to tackle the variant, while the Pfizer-BioNTech jab was also reportedly less effective.

Britain has bought 100million doses of the home-grown Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and is currently rolling it out to millions.

At the same time a testing blitz is underway in parts of the country after 11 cases of the variant were identified in people who had no links to travel - suggesting it may be spreading in communities.

Worcestershire become the latest area to start surge testing after the South African coronavirus variant was detected locally. Worcestershire County Council has set up surge testing in the WR3 postcode after cases of the variant with no links to international travel were identified.

A mobile testing unit has been set up at The White Hart pub in Fernhill Heath, near Worcester, for adults with no symptoms living within walking distance. A drive-through testing site is planned to open in the coming days, and door-to-door testing will also be made available.

Worcestershire County Council said: 'Working in partnership with NHS Test and Trace, every person over the age of 18, living in the WR3 postcode and some WR9 postcodes, is strongly encouraged to take a Covid-19 test this week, even if they are not showing symptoms.'

Dr Kathryn Cobain, director for public health in the county, said: 'I urge everyone offered a test to take it up to help us to monitor the virus in our communities and to help suppress and control the spread of this variant.'

Door-to-door and mobile testing began at the start of the month as part of urgent efforts to swab 80,000 people.

Testing of around 10,000 people in Maidstone, Kent, was completed on Thursday night.

In Surrey, testing in Woking was expected to finish on Friday with door-to-door deliveries in Egham and Thorpe due to begin on Saturday.

Sefton Council said efforts to identify the variant in the Norwood area of Southport in Merseyside would continue into the weekend.

Testing in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, is being rolled out for another week until February 12, the council said.

Around 10,300 people in Walsall have been tested so far and some 560 tests had been conducted in the affected areas in Birmingham, the West Midlands Combined Authority was told.

Mobile testing units and home testing kits were also deployed this week to Hanwell, west London and Mitcham, south London.

Testing will also continue into next week in Tottenham, north London


The 'magic' has started: early data shows Israel's vaccination campaign is working

It took longer than expected but there is now 'real world' evidence to show the Pfizer jab is both saving lives and reducing infections

A new study published on Friday suggested for the first time Israel’s vaccination campaign was proving effective at preventing infection and serious illness in vaccinated individuals.

It adds to an analysis published earlier in the week which shows the Pfizer vaccine starting to change the dynamics of the outbreak in Israel where nearly 40 per cent of the population has now received at least one jab.

The latest study published by Professor Dvir Aran, a biologist at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, suggests the vaccine is between 66-85 per cent effective at preventing infection and 87-96 per cent effective for preventing severe disease.

The results are not quite as strong as Pfizer’s own phase three trial results but not far off.

“Our sensitivity analysis provides an estimate for the effectiveness of the vaccine in reducing positive and severe cases”, said the authors. “While this estimate is lower than the efficacy of the [Pfizer trial] it is still substantive and provides reassurance for the vaccine efficacy”.

The degree to which the Pfizer vaccine appears to block infection is the perhaps the strongest signal yet that it may block transmission of the virus - the key to eventually reaching herd immunity.

However, the results also suggest the first dose of the vaccine may not be “very effective” in reducing cases. This raises a possible concern over the UK strategy of leaving 12 weeks between shots, rather than the three weeks recommended by Pfizer.

“We see that immediately after the second dose the effectiveness jumps”, said Prof Aran on Twitter, adding that this could be explained by either the immediate impact of the second dose or the first dose coincidentally becoming effective on the three-week mark. “We will have to wait and see numbers from the UK”, he said.

A second Israeli study shows the vaccination campaign appears to have had a marked impact on case numbers, hospitalisations and serious illness among those over 60 - the first group to be vaccinated.

Among this group, there was a 35 per cent drop in cases, a 30 per cent drop in hospitalisations and a 20 per cent fall in those critically ill over the two weeks to February 1

Announcing the findings on Monday, the study’s lead author Professor Eran Segal, a computer scientist at the Weizmann Institute, said: “We say with caution, the magic has started”.

Prof Segal said that by comparing their results with other age groups and the trends seen in the first wave of the pandemic, they could be “reasonably certain” that the vaccine was working.

He added that Israel had initially expected to see the impact of the vaccine earlier but a number of possible factors may have caused it to be delayed.

“The [older] people who came forward to get vaccinated first are probably the ones that are more cautious, so vaccinating them is going to have less of an impact”, he said.

“The UK variant is also the dominant one here now and if the reports are correct, this does not only spread faster, but it also causes more severe disease. This may have been another factor that off-set the [early] impact of the vaccine”.

Prof Segal and his colleague, Uri Shalit, warned that while the vaccine rollout in Israel had started out at an unprecedented pace, take-up was now slowing and getting to the final 10-15 per cent of high-risk groups was proving difficult.

“The worry is that among the high-risk population, we still have certain sectors like the Israeli Arabs and the ultra orthodox, where much lower percentages of people who are eligible to get vaccinated actually went to get vaccinated”, said Prof Segal.

Professor Shalit added: “If we don’t get to these groups, the modelling shows it can have a huge impact on mortality and critically ill patients in hospital”.

The biggest and most powerful Israeli vaccine study is expected to come from the country’s largest health care provider Clalit Health in the next few weeks. Clalit covers some 4.7 million people - more than half the country’s population.

Professor Ran Balicer, founding director of the Clalit Research Institute, said he was optimistic the vaccine was having a positive impact but that detailed efficacy data would take time to emerge.

“But what we could say, I think with good confidence from the Ministry of Health data, is... we finally have been witnessing a difference in the rate of decline of the daily severe illness between the over 60 and the under 60 age groups”, he said.

“That could have two potential explanations. One is that somehow the over 60s have become much more careful about their daily conduct, and are very careful not to get infected, or that vaccines on the population level begin to show their effects”.

“I would strongly agree that these ecologic data are quite reassuring and are quite promising. I would have been exceedingly worried had we not seen on a population level already such a picture.”

The mood is lifting at a political level too. Israel’s cabinet voted on Thursday to begin gradually reopening parts of the economy next week. Starting on February 7, restrictions on movement will be lifted while certain businesses will be able to reopen.



Unity! Senate Dems pass budget resolution for partisan vote on COVID bill; Kamala Harris breaks tie (NPR)

Democrats to introduce a regressive and immoral resolution to "cancel" (read: burden taxpayers with) $50,000 in student loan debt (Disrn)

Trump will not testify in sham impeachment trial (Fox News)

Judge in Michael Flynn case takes senior status, giving Biden 11th judicial pick since inauguration (Examiner)

U.S. cuts off involvement in Yemen's Houthi-instigated and Iran-backed civil war (Forbes)

Biden signs order to ramp up refugee admissions to 125,000 (CBS News)

Eleven Iranians arrested in Arizona after jumping U.S.-Mexico border (Washington Times)

Perfect storm forcing Border Patrol to release apprehended migrant families directly into the U.S. (Examiner)

With 49,000 increase, payrolls barely grow to start 2021 even as the unemployment rate fell to 6.3% (CNBC)

Gun sales continue to soar as Democrats take control (Disrn)

Bank of America allegedly collected data off consumers who might have been at DC riot (Examiner)

Another "climate-friendly" high-speed rail project from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur bites the dust (Watts Up With That?)

Johnson & Johnson requests emergency authorization for COVID vaccine (CNBC)

Well ... bye: CNN President Jeff Zucker stepping down at year's end (Post Millennial)

Mike Pence to join Heritage Foundation, write column for Daily Signal (Daily Signal)

Canadian Olympic Committee warns athletes not to criticize China ahead of 2022 winter games in Beijing (Free Beacon)

Policy: The Romney child allowance proposal is a move in the wrong direction (AEI)

Policy: Biden's empty environmentalism: Shutting down the Keystone XL pipeline shows the new president's preference for symbolism over substance (City Journal)

Humor: Snopes rates AOC's account of capitol attack as "factually inaccurate but morally true" (Babylon Bee)




6 February, 2021

AstraZeneca expects latest results to show that shot DOES work against UK 'super-covid' AND reduces transmission

AstraZeneca expects results from the US clinical trial of its COVID-19 vaccine in the next four to six weeks, the firm's research chief Mene Pangalos said on Friday.

The US has a contract for 300 million doses of the Oxford University-designed shot, expected to be delivered this year.

Oxford and AstraZeneca's vaccine is already approved in the UK, but was delayed in the US amid regulators' criticisms that the trial data contained errors, such as an accidental dosing regimen.

But encouraging findings about the 70 percent effective shot continue to roll in. Oxford also announced Friday that preliminary tests suggest that its vaccine is about as effective against the UK's B117 variant as it is against earlier circulating forms.

And UK officials said Friday that additional data from AstraZeneca's trials suggest the shot is effective in people over 65, after the first data review suggested the shot's potency dropped off in the elderly.

But the US has been insistent upon basing its vaccine authorizations on trials conducted domestically, and thoroughly reviewed by its Food and Drug Administration (FDA). With final data at least a month away, it could be March or April by the time AstraZeneca's vaccine is added to the American arsenal.

Asked about when the U.S. trial results would be ready, given high transmission rates during the trial, Pangalos said that they had been high during 'the latter period of the trial.'

'I think we're getting very close to getting data. I would say in the next four to six weeks we should have the results for that study reading out,' he told reporters.

Some experts had expected the data sooner than that, given the high infection rates in the United States during the period of testing.

AstraZeneca's shot has already been rolled out in the UK, where the 70 percent more infectious B117 variant is now dominant and triggered a massive surge of infections and the strictest lockdowns the country has seen.

That lockdown came as Britain started rolling out the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Over 10 million people have received a first dose of either AstraZeneca or Pfizer's shot. Moderna's is approved in the UK, but has not yet been rolled out because the country did not turn in its dose order soon enough.

Britain had said that it believed the vaccines were effective against variants that are circulating in the UK.

'Data from our trials of the ChAdOx1 vaccine in the United Kingdom indicate that the vaccine not only protects against the original pandemic virus, but also protects against the novel variant, B117, which caused the surge in disease from the end of 2020 across the UK,' said Andrew Pollard, Chief Investigator on the Oxford vaccine trial.

Oxford and AstaZeneca have continued to test trial participants for COVID-19 in ongoing UK trials.

Between October 2020 and January 14, the investigators sequenced the genomes found in samples taken from 323 covid-positive people who had received either Oxford's shot or a placebo, according to a pre-print study that has not yet been peer-reviewed.

Those who got the real vaccine had lower viral loads and remained positive for a shorter period of time - despite the fact that the level of neutralizing antibodies was about nine-fold lower.

However, the vaccine was about equally good at preventing people from developing symptomatic COVID-19 from B117 as it has been against older types of the virus.

Other recent data also suggests that Oxford's vaccine reduces transmission - an important function no other vaccine has proven to play (although they likely do have some effect on the ability of the virus to spread).

Still, Sarah Gilbert, co-developer of the vaccine, said that, although the vaccine had efficacy against the UK variant, it might need to be adapted for a future variant.

'We are working with AstraZeneca to optimize the pipeline required for a strain change should one become necessary,' Gilbert said.

The mounting positive findings about Oxford's jab has raised questions about the FDA's reluctance to at least begin reviewing international data from its trials, even if it is a little messy.

AstraZeneca CEO Pangalos said in a Wednesday press briefing that he doesn't think that completing the US trial will be necessary 'in terms of getting an approval.'

But there hasn't been any evident activity from the FDA so far, despite the agency's decision to expedite review of data from US-based Novavax's ongoing trials.

Waiting for 'cleaner data' from the completion of AstraZeneca's US trials would be 'a reasonable decision under normal circumstance,' Dr Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, told The Hill.

But, 'there's a reasonable question to ask: are these normal circumstances?' he added.


Oxford/AstraZeneca's Covid vaccine IS effective for over 65s, say experts privy to new data

More evidence is emerging that the Oxford Covid vaccine works in older people, according to vaccine experts in the UK.

Sir Munir Pirmohamed, boss of the Commission on Human Medicines, today said regulators had received extra information from Oxford University and AstraZeneca scientists to prove their jab was safe and effective for over-65s.

The data, which is not yet publicly available, is coming now from same clinical trials in the UK and around the world that got it approved in the first place. They enrolled thousands more older people after the jab was green-lighted.

European leaders have ruffled the vaccine-maker's feathers in recent weeks by claiming the vaccine doesn't work on older people and refusing to use it.

In the same week that politicians were slinging mud at AstraZeneca for scaling back its deliveries, many European countries openly criticised the vaccine, with France's President Macron calling it 'quasi-ineffective'.

Oxford scientists hit back against the claims, with Professor Andrew Pollard saying he didn't understand what Mr Macron's comment meant. And the team behind the ground-breaking vaccine said the idea that it didn't work had 'no basis'.

Numerous countries including Spain, Germany, France, Hungary, Sweden and Norway have suggested they won't give the jab to anyone over 65.

Scientists admit there is a lack of data definitively proving the vaccine works for elderly people but the data they do have suggests it doesn't affect them any less than it does younger people, in whom it is proven to prevent Covid-19.

Oxford and AstraZeneca chiefs said this week that they expect data on effectiveness in over-65s - who were in the same study as other age groups but a couple of months behind - in the next few weeks.

It comes as another study published today by Oxford found that the vaccine works just as well against the fast-spreading Kent variant B.1.1.7 which is now dominant in the UK.

Sir Munir said in a briefing today: 'There was no evidence that those people over 65 were not getting evidence of efficacy.

'Since then we've seen more data coming through from AstraZeneca as more people are completing the trial, which highlights again that efficacy in the elderly is seen, and there's no evidence of lack of efficacy.'

The data Sir Munir refers to is not yet publicly available and has been sent directly to the MHRA, the UK's vaccines regulator.

He added that elderly people were generating strong immune responses and said the most important thing was that both AstraZeneca's vaccine and a jab developed by Pfizer and BioNTech were preventing serious disease and deaths.

Asked about the suggestion that Britain had compromised on safety and efficacy standards, MHRA chief executive, Dr June Raine, defended the regulator's standards.

'I think our position is very clear in terms of the rigorous science that MHRA pursues in the interests of public confidence, public safety, and the effectiveness of these important vaccines,' she said.

Professor Andrew Pollard, the Oxford professor who is running the clinical trials of the jab, added: 'It's really for each country to take their own scientific advice... but it is authorised everywhere [in the European Union].'

He said: 'The point about efficacy depends very much on how you cut the data. 'You can cut it in different ways and get different data. That would be true of all vaccines in development.

'But [these results] show it has a high efficacy in disease and we are not seeing a high accumulation of hospitalised cases in those who have been vaccinated.'

Boris Johnson previously said he was not concerned by the European countries' move, adding the UK's world-leading regulator had 'made it clear' the shot was 'very good and efficacious'.

The issue that European countries have taken with the study is that the vaccine was only trialled on 660 people over the age of 65 in results that have been published so far.

The data is the same that was used by the UK Government to approve the jab, and regulators in Britain admitted there was not enough data to give a percentage estimate of its efficacy – while the Germans attempted to do it anyway.

But they were satisfied by the fact that the vaccine was well-tolerated and safe in the older people who did receive it, and the fact that their immune response appeared in lab tests to be the same as those in younger people, who featured more heavily in the trial.

In short, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said they would not expect the vaccine to work any differently in older people than in other age groups.

They said: 'Efficacy and safety data are currently limited in individuals ?65 years of age. No dosage adjustment is required.'

The study has enrolled more older people since it first reported results and continues to gather data on how the vaccine functions in that group.

The jab appears to be between 62 and 90 per cent effective in the adult population in general, according to Oxford University researchers.

A breakdown of the report showed that one out of 341 people who got the jab later tested positive for coronavirus. Meanwhile one in 319 people who got a fake jab, called a placebo, tested positive.

The whole point of a clinical trial is to compare the number of positive cases in the vaccine group to the number of positives in the non-vaccine group, to work out how well the jab works.

With the exact same number of cases in both groups and an almost identical number of participants, this is impossible to do.

A German analysis of the clinical trial of the vaccine, published on Twitter by a Berlin correspondent for The Times, showed that officials there estimated the efficacy of the vaccine to be just 6.3 per cent in over-65s.

To illustrate how unreliable the 6.3 per cent estimate is, experts in one German analysis of the study - which was shared on Twitter - included their confidence interval, which is a range of numbers they are almost certain the true number falls within.

The confidence interval suggests that scientists thought the true effectiveness of the vaccine in over-65s was somewhere between -1,405 per cent and 94.5 per cent. This means the estimate is wildly unreliable and a true figure cannot be calculated.

The jab appears to be between 62 and 90 per cent effective in the adult population in general, according to Oxford University researchers.

There are still concerns over the South African strain - with some studies showing jabs are less effective against it - and the Brazilian strain.

The Oxford group say they are currently testing their jab in South Africa on the variant, and are reviewing data to see whether they have any cases of the Brazilian variant from trials carried out in the country.




5 February, 2021

Vaccines alone not enough

Comment from Prof. Robert Clancy in Australia

Let me state clearly from the outset: vaccines are critical; they will save lives; we should all get behind them.

Vaccines, however, do have limitations. They need to be paired with effective, safe drug treatment. I believe two candidates are safe, cheap, available and effective. They are ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine. Australian health authorities, however, say there is not enough evidence to support their use in the treatment of COVID-19. I disagree with them.

Since my name was aired in this matter, I’ve received calls from people offering truly crackpot opinions, some telling me I am right – without knowing what I think – while others have suggested I should leave it to the “experts”.

Concerned by the controversy, the University of Newcastle, where I am an emeritus professor in the School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy, has issued a statement stressing that I am not speaking on its behalf and saying it does not consider me a COVID-19 expert.

These opinions are indeed my own. I am not speaking for the university (although over the years it has often wanted me to). As an immunologist, I am, however, an expert and I believe my opinions need some clear air.

COVID-19, like influenza, infects the airways mucosal compartment. There are useful lessons from influenza, for which vaccines give partial immunity, of short duration, and with a poor response in the elderly. Early evidence suggests similar outcomes are probable with COVID-19 vaccines.

Herd immunity is unlikely. If it occurs it will likely be of short duration, requiring annual vaccination for continued immunity. Vaccines will be at the core of community management, but they are not enough on their own.

Ivermectin (IVM) and hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) have been used as antimicrobials for half a century with impeccable safety records. They prevent virus assemblage within infected cells and inhibit the inflammatory response. COVID-19 is a two phase disease, with the initial “viral phase” followed by severe life-threatening inflammatory disease requiring hospitalisation. Antivirals only work on the early viral phase (as with shingles, influenza and herpes infections).

Poorly constructed studies of the anti-viral HCQ on hospitalised COVID-19 patients mistakenly led to the drug being categorised as a “failed” therapy. That misunderstanding continues to dominate many official sites, despite there being at least 27 clinical studies in early disease – 10 of which were randomised clinical trials – showing a composite level of 63 per cent protection against admission to hospital and/or death. Similar data supported use in prevention of infection (as it did for malaria).

IVM came later, and avoided much of the political noise, but again was missed by many authorities. More than 30 studies have led to impressive meta-analyses, most recently by Therese Lawrie, an epidemiologist. Data from 17 studies showing a reduction of death by 83 per cent was so dramatic that she concluded it was now unethical to include untreated patients as controls.

Both drugs are used extensively in many countries, with dramatic reductions in COVID-19 deaths.

All studies have faults, but we are faced with an horrific pandemic, with few options for early treatment.


Will a Hard-Left Turn Lead to Pushback?


The corruption of the Renaissance Church prompted the Reformation, which in turn sparked a Counter-Reformation of reformist, and more zealous, Catholics.

The cultural excesses and economic recklessness of the Roaring ’20s were followed by the bleak, dour and impoverished years of the Great Depression.

The 1960s counterculture led to Richard Nixon’s landslide victory in 1972, as “carefree hippies” turned into careerist “yuppies.”

So social, cultural, economic and political extremism prompts reactions — and sometimes counterreactions.

The Bush-Clinton-Obama continuum of 24 years cemented the bipartisan fusion administrative state. Trump and his “Make America Great Again” agenda were its pushback.

The counterreaction to the populism of the Trump reset — or Trump himself — is as of yet unsure.

Joe Biden’s tenure may mark a return to business as usual of the Bush-Clinton years. Or, more likely, it will accelerate the current hard-left trajectory.

Either way, it seems that Biden is intent on provoking just such a pushback by his record number of early and often radical executive orders — a tactic candidate Biden condemned.

On almost every issue — open borders, blanket amnesties, canceling the Keystone XL pipeline, promoting the Green New Deal, and hard-left appointees — Biden is touting positions that likely do not earn 50 percent public support.

When Biden made a Faustian bargain with his party’s hard-left wing of Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to win the election, he took on the commitment to absorb some of their agenda and to appoint their ideologues.

But he also soon became either unwilling or unable to stand up to them.

Now they — and the country — are in a revolutionary frenzy. The San Francisco Board of Education has voted to rename more than 40 schools honoring the nation’s best — Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln — largely on racist grounds that they are dead, mostly white males.

Statues continue to fall. Names change.

The iconic dates, origins and nature of America itself continue to be attacked to meet leftist demands. And still, it is not enough for the new McCarthyites.

Social media are banning tens of thousands. Silicon Valley and Wall Street monopolies go after smaller upstart opponents.

A wrong word destroys a lifelong career. Formerly sane pundits now call for curtailing the First Amendment. Thousands of federal troops blanket a now-militarized Washington, D.C.

If Trump’s pushback tried to return to traditions ignored during the Obama years, Biden’s reset promises to become far more radical than Obama’s entire eight years.

Trump likely lost his second pushback term for two reasons — neither of which had anything to do with his reset agenda.

First, the sudden 2020 pandemic, quarantine, recession, summer-long demonstrations and riots, and radical changes in voting laws all ensured that 100 million ballots were not cast on Election Day, derailed a booming economy, and finally wore the people out.

Second, Trump underestimated the multitrillion-dollar power and furor of Silicon Valley, Wall Street, the media, Hollywood and the progressive rich. Those forces all coalesced against him and swamped his outspent and outmanned campaign.

With 24/7 blanket ads, news coverage, endorsements and social media messaging, Trump sometimes was easily caricatured as a twittering disrupter. The inert and mute Biden in his basement was reinvented as the sober and judicious Washington “wise man” antidote to Trump’s unpredictability.

Had Biden continued his moderate campaign veneer, the current left-wing radicalism might not have prompted a counterreaction.

Instead, Biden is now unapologetically leading the most radical left-wing movement in the nation’s history.

Pundits thought Biden’s prior hints of a single four-year term would make him a weak lame duck. Instead, the idea of just one term has liberated the 78-year-old Biden. We forget that septuagenarians can be as reckless as 20-year-olds. Some old guys can feel their careers only have a few remaining years and might as well go out with a bang — and a legacy.

For now, Biden enjoys a congressional majority for the next 24 months. He has no plans to run for reelection. He sees both realities as a liberating blank check to accomplish what the much more heralded rock star Barack Obama never could.

Experts assured voters that Biden would work on a bipartisan consensus and bring back “normality.” He would “unite” the country.

That will not happen. How ironic that Biden will not just be pushed and pressured by the radicals whom he brought to power, but he may be leading them forward to cement an even harder-left legacy.

Will there be a reaction to this extremism?

The left is assured that radical changes in voting laws and demography, the fears of COVID-19, the antifa-Black Lives Matter uprising and anger at Trump over the Jan. 6 Capitol riot have all permanently changed the electorate — and pushed it further leftward.

If they are wrong, they have instead alienated and insulted the American people, and will reap the whirlwind in 2022 of the wind they are now sowing.



Unity! Democrats pass budget resolutions needed to bypass GOP on big COVID spending package (Examiner)

Healing! Biden's Social Justice Department sends message that some racism is okay with dropped Yale lawsuit (PJ Media)

Obama center in Chicago, estimated at half a billion dollars ($174 million of which will be footed by taxpayers), to break ground this year despite complaints (Fox News)

"I've met constant resistance to my product vision": Parler board terminates CEO John Matze (Fox News)

Major gun-rights group Virginia Citizens Defense League banned from Facebook without explanation (Disrn)

New COVID infections have fallen 45% in the U.S., but vaccines are not the main driver (Daily Mail)

McKinsey reaches $573 million settlement with states for its role in marketing opioids (Forbes)

Russian cheating notwithstanding, U.S. signs five-year New START nuclear arms treaty renewal (UPI)

Europe troop withdrawal plans "on hold," top general says (Politico)

Biden administration to reopen immigrant "overflow facilities" once politically dubbed "kids in cages" (Disrn)

Defense secretary arbitrarily calls for 60-day assessment of extremism within military (Examiner)

Another 779,000 Americans filed for unemployment last week (Forbes)

Tragic shooting in Oklahoma kills one adult, five young children (Disrn)

Texas temporarily blocked from kicking abortion mill Planned Parenthood out of Medicaid (UPI)

Texas Department of Public Safety mistakenly sends Amber Alert featuring "Chucky" doll (Fox News)

Policy: A private fix for public health (City Journal)

Impeachment case absurdly argues Trump was "singularly responsible" for Capitol riot (NY Times)

"He holds no public office from which he can be removed": Lawyers offer Trump's constitutional answer to impeachment article (Daily Wire)

Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell strike deal on Senate power-sharing agreement (Fox News)

Unity! House starts work on coronavirus relief after press secretary warns Biden won't "slow down" for Republicans (Fox News)

Senate confirms Pete "Pothole Problem" Buttigieg as transportation secretary (The Hill)

Critical roadblock: Joe Manchin says he doesn't support raising minimum wage to $15 per hour (The Hill)

Can't live without Trump: CNN prime-time ratings crash 44% in first week of Biden era (Hot Air)

People with COVID antibodies may only need one vaccine dose (Daily Mail)

White House confirms Space Force will continue under Biden administration (Examiner)

Texas lawmakers introduce bills to protect the dignity of women's sports (Examiner)

Local Kroger stores close as Long Beach, California, "hero pay" ordinance backfires (FEE)

Double Standards: John Kerry took private jet to Iceland for environmental award, called it "only choice for somebody like me" (Fox News)

Leftists aim to restore net neutrality rules — and go much further (Examiner)

Policy: How to strike back against Big Tech censorship (Power Line)

Friendly fire: Some of Biden's top economic advisers are pushing back on his stimulus package (Daily Caller)

Totally trustworthy: Pennsylvania secretary of state at the center of Trump election concerns resigns for failing to comply with an unrelated state election law (NY Post)

Bail fund praised by Kamala Harris has twice freed the same rioter. He was just charged again. (Daily Wire)

Stacey Abrams (in addition to BLM) nominated for Nobel Peace Prize (The Hill)

Governor Andrew Cuomo loses nine top health officials after downplaying experts (Fox News)

Who'd a thunk it? Top epidemiologist says double-masking increases infection risk (Disrn)

CBO sees rapid growth recovery, labor force returning to pre-pandemic level by 2022 (CNBC)

Landlords are struggling to make ends meet as CDC extends eviction ban (FEE)

"They are playing with our lives": Locals lash out at Biden canceling Keystone XL (Daily Wire)

Dodge warns that regulations are killing the V8 engine (Auto Blog)

This woman disembowels the pervasive brainwashing of Critical Race Theory in under 60 seconds (Not the Bee)

Biden threatens sanctions against Burma following military coup (Daily Caller)

Seventy-four percent of American teens and young adults embrace moral relativism (Disrn)

SpaceX announces first space flight manned solely by civilians (Examiner)

Anti-vaxxers won't stop harassing a Chattanooga nurse they're convinced is dead (Daily Beast)




4 February, 2021

‘New studies are needed’: Switzerland refuses to authorise AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

Swiss regulators have said that data submitted by AstraZeneca was not sufficient for it to authorise use of the Anglo-Swedish firm’s COVID-19 vaccine and “new studies” were needed.

The Swissmedic regulatory authority said it had been examining information from AstraZeneca but that was “not yet sufficient to permit authorisation”. “To obtain more information about safety, efficacy and quality, additional data from new studies are needed,” it said in a statement.

Switzerland has so far given the green light to COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. It had been expected to authorise the AstraZeneca jab soon, after the neighbouring European Union last week gave the vaccine the go ahead.

But while the EU granted approval for use in all people over the age of 18, several European countries have advised against giving the jabs to people over 65, citing lack of evidence that it was effective among the elderly.

Swissmedic said a meeting of its external advisory body on Tuesday had confirmed its interim assessment of the AstraZeneca vaccine data. “The data currently available do not point to a positive decision regarding benefits and risks,” it said.

“To obtain a conclusive assessment, the applicant will among other things have to submit additional efficacy data from a Phase 3 trial under way in North and South America, and these will have to be analysed. “As soon as the results have been received, a temporary authorisation according to the rolling procedure could be issued at very short notice,” it added.

Although the European Medicines Agency recommended the AstraZeneca jab for adults of all ages last week, several countries have advised against administering it to older people.

Germany has said it will not advise over 65s to get it, Italy also recommended alternatives for people aged over 55 and Poland has authorised its use for under-60s only.

In France, where President Emmanuel Macron said last week that the AstraZeneca jab was “quasi-ineffective,” a lab will start producing a rival vaccine by US firm Moderna.

And another French lab will begin making the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in April, said Industry Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher.

French pride has also taken a hit after its pharma giant Sanofi said its COVID vaccine would not be ready until later this year.

Further adding to global supply, China said it plans to provide 10 million doses of COVID-19 jabs to the WHO-backed international vaccine distribution program Covax.

AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine works better if there is a three month time lag between the first and second doses the latest trial results show. The original human clinical trials found the vaccine was 62 per cent effective when the second dose was given 28 days after the first. The new research shows efficacy climbs to 91.7 per cent when there is a three month time lag between doses.

And, it found just a single dose of the vaccine offered considerable protection.


A cheap, blood-thinning drug could kill off COVID-19

Australian researchers have turned a cheap 100 year blood thinning drug into a nasal spray that could block COVID-19, stop it spreading and treat the illness.

The team of Melbourne scientists, which includes Victoria’s chief health officer Brett Sutton, is seeking funding to test the product, containing the blood thinning medication heparin, on people in hotel quarantine — to see if it works.

It comes as human trials begin to gauge whether AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 injection also works as a nasal spray.

Australia’s leading science research body, the CSIRO, had tested the vaccine as a nasal spray in ferrets — ahead of the human trials — and was waiting for the publication of promising results showing its impact on stopping infection spread.

“We’re confident. We have preclinical studies which are impressive at the moment,” CSIRO’s Rob Grenfell told News Corp.

“We also understand that our colleagues in the UK are conducting various ways of administering, in particular the AstraZeneca vaccine to demonstrate … whether or not it can actually cause what we call nasal neutralisation,” he said.

Another COVID-19 busting nasal spray being developed by Australian company ENA was also in preclinical trials.

And, Melbourne-based pharmaceutical company Starpharma hoped to roll out a nasal spray in Europe next month that is 99.99 per cent effective against COVID-19 when applied before or after exposure.

Nasal spray formulations would work as an accompaniment to COVID-19 vaccinations.

In the case of heparin, Australians would still receive COVID-19 vaccines but the nasal spray would be used three times a day during virus outbreaks, long haul travel and by frontline health and quarantine workers to provide immediate protection by blocking the virus entering the body through the nose.

And, unlike vaccines, heparin would work to block even mutated forms of the COVID-19 virus.

The medication is off patent, so would cost just $10 per bottle to produce and likely retail for $20 a bottle.

“The concept is that the intra-nasal heparin will, in fact, prevent the virus from locking onto the ACE2 receptor (in the nasal passage), and prevent it from being internalised and replicating and be associated shedding and spreading,” Monash University pharmacy expert Professor Michelle McIntosh said.

“We’ve been able to show in a petri dish that this concept works. And we have commenced some animal studies,” she said.

The team working on the heparin spray includes researchers from the Peter Doherty Institute the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, University of Melbourne, St Vincent’s Hospital, Northern Health, Monash University and the CSIRO.

They needs $4 million for clinical studies, which would see the nasal spray tested on 100 people in hotel quarantine in Melbourne and at the Howard Springs centre near Darwin.

The trials would focus on whether the spray blocks the virus and stops infected people shedding the virus.


A Different Type of Secession Is Already Happening in the USA

Lately, there has been so much frustration with the last election and the direction of our country that some Trump supporters have been talking about “secession.” Many conservatives and libertarians are asking if it makes sense for certain states to leave the union the way South Carolina left in 1860, after the election of Abraham Lincoln as president of the United States.

Whether it makes “sense” or not, we can be assured that it will not happen. Although the South Carolina state legislature voted in November of 1860 to initiate the process of secession, no state legislature would do that today. This is because most modern state legislatures, even conservative ones, do not have many members who are angry enough at the federal government to support seceding from it.

Never forget that many individual state legislators are professional politicians. They may disagree with some of the policies that flow from Washington D.C., but they are not angry enough to vote for secession, and that is what is required to secede, anger. While an official secession will not happen, there will be a different type. In fact, it has already started in our country.

Instead of state legislatures, dominated by urban dwellers, voting for secession, Americans who live in rural and some suburban areas are executing a secession of their own. They are disassociating themselves from the lifestyles, cultural mores, laws, and self-inflicted wounds exhibited in our large cities.

Of course, rural Americans are already living in areas removed from large cities, but geography is only one of the many differences. An even more striking distinction involves political ideology and attitudes on an array of issues like criminal justice.

Citizens living outside of ultra-progressive urban areas do not accept what is going on in large cities. Surely, the thinking is, “I am not one of them. They are different from me. We do not agree on basic things, like what laws should govern human conduct.”

This mental disassociation did not exist in previous times of crisis in our country. There was much more national unity in December of 1941 or even September of 2001. At that time, rural Americans and city dwellers still had many shared values and followed the same laws. Clearly, the similarity in culture and politics between rural and urban Americans is dying, and the pace of its death march is quickening.

This same type of disassociation is also felt by many Americans living in suburban areas. They recognize their way of life is incompatible with that exhibited in large cities. This results in suburban dwellers venturing into cities less often. Once there, they feel unsafe and unwelcome. According to the FBI, crime rates in our urban areas are significantly higher than in suburban and rural areas.

More crime is not the only difference Americans notice in large cities. There are also different laws regarding decency, civility, and cleanliness. Unfortunately, manners and traditional customs are rarely, if ever, practiced.

Many horrific things can happen to you in a large city without warning. You can be struck from behind in a “Knockout Attack” or wounded by a stray bullet. You can be surrounded by violent demonstrators who scream at you and call you evil because of your wealth, race, religious views, or political beliefs. This is not a place that feels comfortable or feels like home.

Over the past few decades, millions of Americans who support traditional American values, and even some who value safety, have already left our large cities. They are disgusted with the political corruption, high taxes, racial politics, homelessness and, over the past year, the excessive Covid-19 lockdown orders.

People leaving are also those who value their second amendment rights. They do not want to be charged with a crime if they have to defend their home. Who can forget what happened to Mark and Patricia McCloskey in St. Louis?

On June 28, 2020, their neighborhood was overrun by protesters and a mob was descending on the McCloskey’s home. The couple waved firearms in front of their home to encourage the protesters to leave. No gun was ever fired at any of the trespassers. Incredibly, Mr. and Mrs. McCloskey were charged with the unlawful use of a weapon even though they feared for their lives. If convicted, they could face up to four years in prison and a fine of $10,000.

As this trend continues and cities like St. Louis, Detroit, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Washington D.C., and New York City decline even more, these areas will simultaneously become more similar. They already have much in common politically. Future cooperation will likely continue on issues such as drug legalization, the treatment of homelessness, gun control, permissive law enforcement, and providing a sanctuary and support for illegal aliens. With so much commonality, these cities will forge even closer bonds in the days ahead.

With unworkable policies and massive bureaucracies, these cities will need greater and greater subsidies from productive, tax-paying citizens living in rural and suburban America. Urban areas have been failing financially for many years, but as the policies become more progressive, the costs are escalating even higher.

In large cities, politicians spend vast sums of money on enormous municipal government systems which include inefficient departments featuring payrolls that are too large and too expensive. Other characteristics include broken infrastructure, rampant homelessness, and an overly generous municipal pension system.

How much longer will productive taxpayers living in rural and suburban communities agree to subsidize large cities? Sooner or later, these citizens will say “Enough is enough, we want out!” They will want the urban centers to form their own “United Cities of America” with their own laws and lifestyles.

Simultaneously, Americans living in non-urban areas will want to forge closer bonds of their own as similarities are recognized even more.

The secession of 1860 will not happen again, but a different kind is already taking place.


Parler fires CEO John Matze with social media platform largely offline following US Capitol riots

Parler, a social media platform favoured by US conservatives, has dismissed chief executive John Matze. Mr Matze confirmed the move to Reuters, after it was originally reported by Fox News, and said that he had not been given a settlement.

"On January 29, 2021, the Parler board controlled by Rebekah Mercer decided to immediately terminate my position as CEO of Parler. I did not participate in this decision," Mr Matze said in a memo sent to Parler staff, originally reported by Fox News.

He told Reuters that Parler now has an "executive committee" consisting of Matthew Richardson and Mark Meckler.

Ms Mercer, Mr Richardson, Mr Meckler and Parler did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Parler remains largely offline after being dropped by Seattle-based Amazon's cloud-hosting division and the app stores of Apple and Alphabet's Google following the January 6 siege of the US Capitol.

The companies cited Parler's record of policing violent content, after far-right groups spread violent rhetoric on the platform ahead of the unrest in Washington.

Founded in 2018, Parler — which claims it has over 12 million users — has styled itself as a "free speech-driven" space.

The app has largely attracted US conservatives who disagree with rules around content on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Mr Matze told Reuters on January 13 that Parler may be offline for good, but later pledged it would return stronger.




3 February, 2021

AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine will not be recommended for over-65s in France or Sweden as countries follow Germany’s lead

The Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine will not be recommended for over-65s in France or Sweden, the countries' health ministries announced today.

It comes after Germany advised against administering the jab to those over 65 and Emmanuel Macron claimed it was 'almost ineffective' for the age bracket.

Continental objections to the jab last week came amid a furious row between the Bloc and AstraZeneca over lagging supply, which has seen newly-unshackled Brexit Britain storm ahead in its immunisation roll-out.

Stockholm and Paris today agreed with Berlin that there was not enough data to show how the vaccine affects elderly patients.

Boris Johnson and UK health chiefs have insisted that the jab, made by Swedish-British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, is effective for all age groups.

But pouring fuel on the row again today, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen accused Britain of compromising on safety by giving swift approval to the jab.

Brussels last week descended into bitter attacks on Britain and AstraZeneca, which it accused of reneging on it contractual obligations to deliver the jab, with suspicions raised that the company had supplied the UK with the EU's doses.

The Commission is also in exploratory talks with Novavax (US, recombinant spike protein, efficacy unknown) for up to 200 million doses and with Valneva (French, inactivated virus vaccine, efficacy unknown) for up to 60 million doses.

Mr Johnson said on Friday that the vaccine 'is very good and efficacious' after health officials in Berlin warned that there was 'insufficient data to assess the efficacy of the vaccine for persons aged 65 years and older.'

AstraZeneca has been open about their initial tests in which only 10 per cent of the participants were 65 or older. However, there are trials ongoing throughout the world to prove its efficacy further in the older age groups.

Amid EU rancour last Friday, the European Medicines Agency, the Bloc's regulator, granted approval to the AstraZeneca vaccine for all age groups. The British Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approved the jab in December, well before its European counterparts.

As a result of the fast approval and Britain's investment in its vaccine programme, the UK - which finally quit the EU on January 1 - has taken the lead in the roll-out stakes. As of Sunday, Britain had dished out 14.42 jabs per 100 people, while Germany has only managed 2.95 and France 2.35.

The UK committed £1.67 billion to ordering doses, while the EU spent only £1.57 billion for its 27 member states. That works out to £25.00 per capita for Britain, compared to £3.51 for Europe.

Germany's medicines regulator, STIKO, did not reveal the specific data used to come to their conclusion about not recommending the jab for over-65s.

But last week as the jab war raged between London and Brussels, two prominent German media outlets claimed the efficacy for over-65s was below 10 per cent. The reports were firmly rejected by AstraZeneca as well as by the German health ministry. 'A false claim does not become true just because it is repeated,' a German health ministry spokesman said of the reports.

He noted that it is a known fact that the AstraZeneca trials involved fewer older people than other manufacturers'. But 'that the efficacy is only eight percent is incomprehensible and in our view, wrong,' he added.

STIKO said that apart from the 'limitation' in data on older people, the vaccine was 'considered appropriate' for 18 to 64-year-olds.

British regulators had said that 660 older people took part in the Oxford AstraZeneca trials, acknowledging that there were too few to derive an efficacy figure for that specific group.

The trials showed one out of 341 older vaccine recipients testing positive for Covid-19, compared to one out of 319 who received a dummy jab - making a senior-specific comparison almost pointless.

But the vaccine did generate antibodies in all the over-65s who received two doses of the jab, which AstraZeneca cited as evidence that they had 'strong immune responses to the vaccine'.

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said that older people had not been vaccinated until later in the trial because 'very ethical' Oxford scientists wanted to confirm there would be no negative side-effects. 'They're very ethical, and very academic. So they didn't want to vaccinate older people until they had accumulated a lot of safety data in the 18 to 55 group,' he said. 'They said it was not ethical to vaccinate old people until they had enough safety data in younger people.

'Other companies took this risk, went ahead and vaccinated older people faster or earlier. If you start earlier, you have more data. Essentially, because Oxford started vaccinating older people later, we don't have a huge number of older people who have been vaccinated.'

The physical roll-out of the vaccine is headquartered from an NHS office in London, with doses sent to more than 1,400 vaccine sites across the country.

It is easily the biggest vaccination drive in the history of the health service and many believe it will become an annual programme.

Britain used emergency procedures to grant market approval to the AstraZeneca vaccine, developed with Oxford University, and signed a contract three months earlier than the EU, which used a slower approval process.

The EU and many of its 27 members have faced criticism over their sluggish rollout, with fewer than 10million people getting a dose so far across the entire bloc.

Three vaccines are so far authorised for use across the EU's 27 member countries: one by German outfit BioNTech with US giant Pfizer; one by US company Moderna; and most recently one by Anglo-Swedish group AstraZeneca.

And chemicals giant Bayer announced that from 2022 it would produce a coronavirus vaccine that fellow German pharmaceuticals company CureVac is developing.

CureVac CEO Franz-Werner Haas said his company would also produce several hundred million doses of its own vaccine by the end of 2021.

CureVac's mRNA vaccine has yet to receive the green light from regulators, but German health minister Jens Spahn said it was 'on its way to approval in the coming weeks'.

French pharma group Sanofi agreed last week to help produce 125 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

And the EU was again shown to be lagging when the Novavax trial results were published last week showing 89.3 per cent efficacy.

While Britain has 60million doses ordered, the EU has only conducted 'exploratory talks' with the manufacturer, which were completed in December.

Even then, the 200million doses envisaged in an 'exploratory contract' are a smaller stockpile when adjusted for population size than Britain has ordered.

Each EU member state is responsible for its own rollout. Most are giving priority to the elderly and frontline health workers.

Almost all the vaccines require two jabs for a full vaccination. (Johnson & Johnson is aiming for a single-shot regimen, subject to trials and EMA approval.)

While the price of each vaccine has been kept secret in the European Commission's contracts, a Belgian minister's tweet in December - deleted afterwards - gave a breakdown.

The Moderna vaccine was listed as most expensive, with Brussels paying 14.70 euros a dose. The BioNTech/Pfizer one 12 euros. The AstraZeneca vaccine came in at 1.78 euros a dose.


British legislator calls for widespread vitamin D rollout following 82% reduction in COVID-19 deaths in Spain

British Member of Parliament David Davis is urging the British government to strengthen its vitamin D supplementation program for people at-risk of COVID-19 following an impressive precedent set by Andalusia in Spain.

Speaking before the House of Commons on Thursday, Davis said that Britain should follow the lead of Andalusia, which distributed calcifediol, a vitamin D supplement, to care home residents last November. Since then, the Spanish region’s COVID-19 deaths dropped by 82 percent.

Because of this, Davis is imploring the British government to increase its dosage recommendations and implement a widespread vitamin D rollout.

The state already provides free vitamin D supplies to care home residents under the Public Health England‘s advice that they get 10 micrograms (mcg) daily for protection. However, Davis said this amount is too small to have a significant effect and the program should be for all at-risk populations.

But health officials said that there’s not enough evidence just yet for them to authorize or recommend taking vitamin D for treatment. This was despite a mountain of studies showing vitamin D deficiency can predispose people to severe COVID-19.


Fauci Concedes 'There’s No Data That Indicates' Double-Masking Is Effective

Last week, Dr. Anthony claimed on NBC’s “Today” that wearing two masks “just makes common sense.”

“I mean, this is a physical covering to prevent droplets and virus to get in. So if you have a physical covering with one layer, and you put another layer on, it just makes common sense that it likely would be more effective,” Fauci said.

A week earlier, the New York Times had called the practice of double-masking a new “fashion trend” and a “sensible” and “easy way” to reduce your risk of catching COVID-19, but Fauci’s remarks really set off an intense public debate over whether Americans should start double-masking, after being told for nearly year that wearing a single mask and social distancing was adequate, which also came after Fauci told the American people in March 2020, “There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask.”

If you’re getting confused, you’re not alone, because a mere five days after saying that double-masking was “common sense,” Fauci seemed to walk back that statement.

“There are many people who feel, you know if you really wanna have an extra little bit of protection ‘maybe I should put two masks on.’ There’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s no data that indicates that that is going to make a difference. and that’s the reason why the CDC has not changed their recommendations.”

How does he go from saying double-masking is “common sense” to “there’s no data that indicates that that is going to make a difference” in five days? Shouldn’t we expect more from the highest-paid employee of the federal government? If Fauci admits there’s no data to support that double-masking will actually make a difference, why make the public believe they should be doing it in the first place? It was bad enough when the New York Times was quite literally fawning over the practice, but how many people bought into the practice because Dr. Fauci said it was common sense, despite the lack of data proving it?

Of course, Fauci is the same guy who praised Governor Cuomo and his COVID-19 response, so, as far as I’m concerned, Fauci lost all credibility last summer.


NIH Revises Treatment Guidelines for Ivermectin for the Treatment of COVID-19 Ivermectin is Now a Therapeutic Option for Doctors & Prescribers

One week after Dr. Paul Marik and Dr. Pierre Kory—founding members of the Front Line Covid-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC)— along with Dr. Andrew Hill, researcher and consultant to the World Health Organization (WHO), presented their data before the NIH Treatment Guidelines Panel, the NIH has upgraded their recommendation on ivermectin, making it an option for use in COVID-19.

This new designation upgraded the status of ivermectin from “against” to “neither for nor against”, which is the same recommendation given to monoclonal antibodies and convalescent plasma, both widely used across the nation. By no longer recommending against ivermectin use, doctors should feel more open in prescribing ivermectin as another therapeutic option for the treatment of COVID-19. This may clear its path towards FDA emergency use approval.

"Ivermectin is one of the world’s safest, cheapest and most widely available drugs,” noted Dr. Kory, President of the FLCCC Alliance. “The studies we presented to the NIH revealed high levels of statistical significance showing large magnitude benefit in transmission rates, need for hospitalization, and death. What’s more, the totality of trials data supporting ivermectin is without precedent.”

In its ivermectin recommendations update, the NIH also indicated they will continue to review additional trials as they are released.

“We are encouraged that the NIH has moved off of its August 27 recommendation against the use of ivermectin for COVID-19,” continued Kory. “That recommendation was made just as the numerous compelling studies for ivermectin were starting to roll in. New studies are still coming in, and as they are received and reviewed, it is our hope that the NIH’s recommendation for the use of ivermectin will be the strongest recommendation for its use as possible.”




2 February, 2021

Why is the South African Covid variant causing panic? And do vaccines work against it?

Health officials today began a mass coronavirus testing programme in eight areas of England to try to contain the South African variant of the virus. Eleven unrelated cases of the fast-spreading virus have already been spotted across the country, raising fears that it is out of control.

Public Health England (PHE) has confirmed 105 cases of the variant through random screening of positive test swabs, suggesting it is already widespread.

Mutations found in the virus mean it is faster to spread than older versions and it may also be able to slip past the immune systems of people who have already recovered from Covid.

Here's what we know about the South African variant so far:

Scientists first noticed in December 2020 that the variant, named B.1.351, was genetically different in a way that could change how it acts.

It was picked up through random genetic sampling of swabs submitted by people testing positive for the virus, and was first found in Nelson Mandela Bay, around Port Elizabeth.

Using a computer to analyse the genetic code of the virus – which is viewed as a sequence of letters that correspond to thousands of molecules called nucleotides – can help experts to see where the code has changed and how this affects the virus.

There are two key mutations on the South African variant that appear to give it an advantage over older versions of the virus – these are called N501Y and E484K.

Both are on the spike protein of the virus, which is a part of its outer shell that it uses to stick to cells inside the body, and which the immune system uses as a target.

They appear to make the virus spread faster and may give it the ability to slip past immune cells that have been made in response to a previous infection or a vaccine.

The South African coronavirus variant may slip past parts of the immune system in as many as half of people infected with different versions in the past, scientists fear.

Researchers say that a mutation on a specific part of the virus's outer spike protein appears to make it able to 'escape' antibodies. Antibodies are substances made by the immune system that are key to destroying viruses or marking them for destruction by white blood cells.

South African academics found that 48 per cent of blood samples from people who had been infected in the past did not show an immune response to the new variant. One researcher said it was 'clear that we have a problem'.

Professor Penny Moore, the researcher behind the project, claimed people who were sicker with coronavirus the first time and had a stronger immune response appeared less likely to get reinfected.

Antibodies are a major part of the immunity that is created by vaccines – although not the only part – so if the virus continues evolving to escape from them it could mean that vaccines have to be redesigned and given out again.

But experts so far say they have no reason to believe vaccines won't work, which may be because they produce a stronger immune response than a very mild infection, and because they produce various different types of immune cells.

Professor Moore told a scientific panel meeting in January: 'When you test the blood of people infected in the first wave and you ask "Do those antibodies in that blood recognise the new virus?" you find that in 50 per cent of cases – nearly half of cases – there's no longer any recognition of the new variant.

'In the other half of those individuals, however, there is some recognition that remains. I should add those are normally people who were incredibly ill, hospitalised and mounted a very robust response to the virus.'

The E484K mutation found on the South African variant is more concerning because it tampers with the way immune cells latch onto the virus and destroy it.

Antibodies – substances made by the immune system – appear to be less able to recognise and attack viruses with the E484K mutation if they were made in response to a version of the virus that didn't have the mutation.

Antibodies are extremely specific and can be outwitted by a virus that changes radically, even if it is essentially the same virus.

Vaccine makers, however, have tried to reassure the public that their vaccines will still work well and will only be made slightly less effective by the variant.

According to the PANGO Lineages website, the variant has been officially recorded in 31 other countries worldwide.

The UK has had the second highest number of cases after South Africa itself.

So far, Pfizer and Moderna's jabs appear only slightly less effective against the South African variant.

Researchers took blood samples from vaccinated patients and exposed them to an engineered virus with the worrying E484K mutation found on the South African variant.

They found there was a noticeable reduction in the production of antibodies, which are virus-fighting proteins made in the blood after vaccination or natural infection.

But it still made enough to hit the threshold required to kill the virus and to prevent serious illness, they believe.

There are still concerns about how effective a single dose of vaccine will be against the strain. So far Pfizer and Moderna's studies have only looked at how people given two doses react to the South African variant.

Studies into how well Oxford University/AstraZeneca's jab will work against the South African strain are still ongoing.

Johnson & Johnson actually trialled its jab in South Africa while the variant was circulating and confirmed that it blocked 57 per cent of coronavirus infections in South Africa, which meets the World Health Organization's 50 per cent efficacy threshold.


Lockdowns cause 10 times more harm than good, says peer-reviewed study

A Canadian infectious-disease specialist who initially supported the lockdowns in response to the coronavirus has changed his mind, concluding in his peer-reviewed study that the harm is 10 times worse than the benefits.

In an interview with the Toronto Sun, Dr. Ari Joffe explained that he supported the lockdowns after "initial false data" suggested the infection fatality rate was up to 2% or 3% and that more than 80% of the population would be infected.

"But emerging data showed that the median infection fatality rate is 0.23%, that the median infection fatality rate in people under 70 years old is 0.05%, and that the high-risk group is older people especially those with severe co-morbidities," he said in the interview, published Jan. 9.

Joffe's paper is titled "COVID-19: Rethinking the Lockdown Groupthink." He's a specialist in pediatric infectious diseases at the Stollery Children's Hospital in Edmonton, Alberta, and a clinical professor in the Department of Pediatrics at University of Alberta.

Explaining further to the Toronto paper why he initially supported the lockdowns, Joffe noted he's not trained to make public policy decisions.

"I was only considering the direct effects of COVID-19 and my knowledge of how to prevent these direct effects," he said. "I was not considering the immense effects of the response to COVID-19 (that is, lockdowns) on public health and wellbeing."

He listed the "staggering" amount of "collateral damage" due to the lockdowns.

Food insecurity [82-132 million more people]

Severe poverty [70 million more people]

Maternal and under age-5 mortality from interrupted healthcare [1.7 million more people]

Infectious diseases deaths from interrupted services [millions of people with tuberculosis, malaria and HIV]

School closures for children [affecting children's future earning potential and lifespan]

Interrupted vaccination campaigns for millions of children, and "intimate partner violence" for millions of women.

"In high-income countries, adverse effects also occur from delayed and interrupted healthcare, unemployment, loneliness, deteriorating mental health, increased opioid crisis deaths, and more," he told the Toronto newspaper.

False dichotomy

He pointed out that government and public health experts did not conduct a formal cost-benefit analysis of various responses to the pandemic.

A full cost-benefit analysis was the aim of his study, and early in his research he realized that "framing decisions as between saving lives versus saving the economy is a false dichotomy."

"There is a strong long-run relationship between economic recession and public health," he explained. "This makes sense, as government spending on things like health care, education, roads, sanitation, housing, nutrition, vaccines, safety, social security nets, clean energy and other services determines the population well-being and life-expectancy."

He said he also had underestimated the effects of loneliness and unemployment on public health.

"It turns out that loneliness and unemployment are known to be among the strongest risk factors for early mortality, reduced lifespan and chronic diseases," he told the Toronto paper.

He also took into consideration that "in making policy decisions there are trade-offs to consider, costs and benefits, and we have to choose between options that each have tragic outcomes in order to advocate for the least people to die as possible."

"It turned out that the costs of lockdowns are at least 10 times higher than the benefits. That is, lockdowns cause far more harm to population wellbeing than COVID-19 can," he told the Sun.

In contrast to Joffe, a top coronavirus adviser for Joe Biden was against lockdowns before he was for them. Michael T. Osterholm, a professor and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, formerly advocated the "focused protection" strategy now promoted by epidemiologists at Stanford and Oxford advising Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis: With a 99% survival rate for most, according to the Centers for Disease Control, let the healthy go about their business while protecting the vulnerable, the people over 70 with multiple life-threatening diseases.

Osterholm warned in a March 21 op-ed for the Washington Post of the high economic and social costs of "the near-draconian lockdowns" in effect at the time in China and Italy, which ultimately don't reduce the number of cases. In November, however, he advocated a national lockdown of four to six weeks.

The CDC estimates a 99.997% survival rate for those from birth to age 19 who contract COVID-19. It's 99.98% for ages 20-49, 99.5% for 50-69 and 94.6% for those over 70. Significantly, those who died of coronavirus, according to the CDC, had an average of 2.6 comorbidities, meaning more than two chronic diseases along with COVID-19. Overall, the CDC says, just 6% of the people counted as COVID-19 deaths died of COVID-19 alone.

Focused protection

Joffe said he now supports the "focused protection" approach in which "we aim to protect those truly at high-risk of COVID-19 mortality, including older people, especially those with severe co-morbidities and those in nursing homes and hospitals."

In the interview with the Toronto Sun, he discussed the "contagion of fear" that guided policymakers, based on the initial false modelling and forecasting.

"Popular media focused on absolute numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths independent of context," he said. "There has been a sheer one-sided focus on preventing infection numbers."

Joffe cited economist Paul Frijters writing that it was "all about seeming to reduce risks of infection and deaths from this one particular disease, to the exclusion of all other health risks or other life concerns."

"Fear and anxiety spread," Joffe said, "and we elevated COVID-19 above everything else that could possibly matter."

"Our cognitive biases prevented us from making optimal policy: we ignored hidden `statistical deaths' reported at the population level; we preferred immediate benefits to even larger benefits in the future, we disregarded evidence that disproved our favorite theory, and escalated our commitment in the set course of action," he said.

Joffe pointed out that in Canada in 2018, there were more than 23,000 deaths per month and more than 775 deaths per day.

On Nov. 21, for example, COVID-19 accounted for 5.23% of deaths in Canada and 3.06% of global deaths.

"Each day in non-pandemic years, over 21,000 people die from tobacco use, 3,600 from pneumonia and diarrhea in children under 5-years-old, and 4,110 from tuberculosis," he noted. "We need to consider the tragic COVID-19 numbers in context."

He called for taking an "effortful pause" to "reconsider the information available to us."

"We need to calibrate our response to the true risk, make rational cost-benefit analyses of the trade-offs, and end the lockdown groupthink," Joffe said.



1 February, 2021

‘Immunological unicorn’discovered in Australia

In a high security laboratory in Sydney, where a select group of researchers go to extreme lengths to work with samples of blood and swabs containing Covid-19, virologist Stuart Turville found a unicorn.

“A beautiful, immunological unicorn,” Turville, an associate professor with the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales, said.

“We found him when we were analysing samples from the Red Cross blood bank from people who have had Covid. And he had the most amazing Covid response I’ve ever seen.”

The unicorn is a 50-year-old father of three named Damian living on the NSW Central Coast who developed symptoms of Covid-19 in March. His symptoms were severe enough to take him to the hospital emergency department, but after being given oxygen he was sent home the same day. Bizarrely, when he was tested for the virus with the gold-standard PCR nasal swab, the lab kept returning a negative result for Covid-19.

“When they initially diagnosed him they couldn’t find virus in his nasopharyngeal area [the upper part of the throat behind the nose],” Turville told Guardian Australia.

“So they kept on swabbing him and swabbing him, but they couldn’t find it. He kept on saying to them, ‘Look, I’m sick, my son’s got it, I have to have it’. And it was only when they looked at his blood, his serum, they said; ‘Oh, yeah, you’ve had it. And you’ve got the most amazing immune response’.”

Most people who have Covid-19 develop a decent immune response.

“But this guy’s response is 100 to 1,000-fold that,” Turville said.

“His response is that good. To put it in context, we are eight or nine months out since he was infected. And he still ranks in the top 1% of responders, so what that means is if we could ever bottle a vaccine that could mimic his response, you’d want to do it. I would say that we’re going to see him responding just as well probably a year out, and maybe after about two years we might start to see some response decay.”

Usually, patients who show a particularly robust immune response to Covid-19 end up in an intensive care ward. In many of these severely unwell patients, the immune system overreacts in what is called a “cytokine storm”. Cytokines are proteins that can trigger an inflammatory response so aggressive that not only are virus cells attacked but cells in the blood vessels, urinary tract, organs and blood vessels are also destroyed, leading to organ failure and sometimes death. For some reason Damian’s response, though strong, did not bring on such an aggressive storm.

“That’s something we’re trying to get our head around,” Turville said.

Not only is Damian’s immune response lasting but it has not weakened much over time, offering strong ongoing protection against the virus, which is what makes him so unique. A Public Health England study found that while most people who have the virus are protected from reinfection for at least five months, some are reinfected, and even asymptomatic people can harbour high levels of the virus in their noses and mouths, and therefore risk passing it on to others.

After being told about his unicorn status, Damian offered himself up for medical research. Turville estimates that Damian has donated blood and plasma upwards of 15 times.

Hundreds of recovered Australians like Damian have now donated blood so their plasma, teeming with antibodies, can be separated out and used to make batches of serum through a collaboration between the Kirby Institute and manufacturer CSL. This serum is then given to severely unwell patients around the world to treat their disease.

“It also means that if the virus emerges again in Australia and takes off, we’re battle ready,” Turville said.

“Damian’s serum has contributed to many batches of these CSL products. Whenever we get a batch of serum that is particularly amazing, we say ‘OK, he’s in this batch’. That’s how impressive his response is.”

Some of the findings about Damian have been published in a pre-print paper about “high and elite responders,” which describes how “patients with high and robust Covid-19 responses were more likely male, hospitalised, and of older age”.

It is work like this that has researchers from the Kirby Institute’s containment lab – more scientifically referred to as a Physical Containment Level 3 (PC3) Laboratory – occupied at times until 3am in the morning. They also examine samples taken from returned travellers in hotel quarantine, growing the different variants in the lab to see how they behave. It is one of a handful of high-security labs around Australia where the virus is being studied.


A Plan to Make Trump and America Great Again

Wayne Allyn Root

I am the author of the bestselling book "TRUMP RULES." My book identifies the top 10 rules that made former President Donald Trump one of the greatest winners in world history in business, branding, real estate, celebrity, television, publishing and politics. Trump is the only person in world history to reach the pinnacle of all of those fields. And the only person to become both a billionaire and president of the United States. It's not a bad resume.

Many critics think Trump's winning streak ended with a presidential loss. I disagree. I know the man. I understand the man. I know what comes next. It may be Trump's greatest chapter yet.

Simply because Trump is relentless. He may be the most relentless human in world history. The secret to Trump's success is "the art of the comeback." Every time he is given up for dead, he makes the biggest comeback yet. He never gives up or gives in. He finds a way to turn lemons into lemonade. You can't beat someone like that. You can't bet against someone like that. As I always say, NBAT: Never Bet Against Trump.

Before I get to the details of the comeback, let's define "winning." Trump's critics think he just lost and, therefore, he's no longer a winner. Not true. Back in 2016, Trump won the biggest upset in political history. This time around, he added 11 million new votes. His 74 million votes were the most votes for any incumbent president in America's history. Trump also received more votes than any Republican in history.

Sorry, Trump haters, but that's called "winning" at superhuman levels.

Nonetheless, Trump lost and Joe Biden won. Democrats, RINOS (Republicans in Name Only) and the "fake news" media all believe Trump is finished. So, now it's time for the greatest comeback in history -- for Trump and America.

Here's my game plan for how Trump can make Trump and America great again.

First, Trump must become the kingmaker of the GOP. The Trump Army is 74 million strong. The Republican Party belongs to Trump. He should remake the party in his image.

In some ways, his defeat was empowering. As president, Trump couldn't get rid of RINOS and never-Trumpers, because he needed their votes. But from the outside, he can remake the party, elect allies and end the careers of the GOP traitors who stabbed him in the back. Are you listening, Rep. Liz Cheney?

Trump should recruit, endorse and campaign for Trump Republicans in each GOP primary where they're running against RINOS, never-Trumpers and backstabbers. Seventy-four million Trump voters will vote for his chosen candidates in GOP primaries. By 2022, the GOP will be 100% remade in Trump's image.

Secondly, Trump should spend the next four years fixing voter fraud at the state level. Trump should recruit his billionaire buddies to put up hundreds of millions to attack this problem. Trump's goal should be to reform election law in just the handful of states that cost him the election: Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Nevada and Arizona.

If Trump spends his time, money and focus on reforming election laws in those six states, the GOP will be back in business in 2022 and 2024.

Thirdly, Trump needs to raise billions from his billionaire backers to build TMN: Trump Media Network. That should include a national cable TV network; a national talk radio network; a new version of Drudge Report (called Trump Report); and conservative versions of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Conservatives will never again have to depend on the mainstream media or Silicon Valley to broadcast their news and opinions.

Only Trump has the money, brand and fundraising ability to change the media and social media landscape like this. And think of the amazing bonus: Not only will 74 million Trump voters have permanent places to communicate but if we all move away from mainstream media and social media, they will collapse. Trump will cripple his enemies and put many of them out of business.

Lastly, here's one more idea: Trump, run for Congress in 2022. Pick any GOP-friendly district in Florida, where you're loved, primarily one run by a RINO who stabbed you in the back. You'll win the primary by a landslide. Since it's a GOP district, you're guaranteed victory in the general election. Once in Congress, after the GOP has regained control in the midterms and most of the candidates are loyal to you, you'll be elected speaker of the House. From that platform, you can lead the impeachment of President Biden.

Let the Trump comeback begin. Seventy-four million of us can't wait.



The White House refuses to address GameStop controversy (Fox News)

Congressional committees to hold hearings on trading fallout (Examiner)

Someone's Got Some 'Splainin' to Do: Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen received nearly $810,000 from hedge fund embroiled in GameStop debacle (Examiner)

Yellen was also paid by Chinese Communist Party-linked group that even The Washington Post highlighted (National Pulse)

Nancy Pelosi's Tesla stock purchase before Biden's "Buy American" EO raises ethical and legal questions (PJ Media)

Seriously, this story reads like a courtroom drama: "The Trump case, which the board has 90 days to consider since receiving it last week, is seen as a crucial test of the panel's legitimacy. The board will begin taking public comment on it on Friday."

Biden revives international abortion funding even though 77% oppose it (World)

"The radical Democrat agenda must be stopped": Donald Trump commits to campaigning for Republicans in 2022 (Post Millennial)

Orwellian gun control bill proposed by Sheila Jackson-Lee would create public registry of all firearms (Bearing Arms)

China flexes its military muscle in Taiwan and Philippines (National Review) | Secretary of State Antony Blinken issues early warning to China after "verbal threat of war" (Examiner)

Capitol Police chief calls for "permanent fencing" around (ahem) the People's House (Examiner)

Biden Pentagon says Trump right-sized Afghanistan force, but officials won't commit to full withdrawal (Examiner)

"The Pearl family is in complete shock by the decision": Islamist convicted of beheading WSJ reporter Daniel Pearl acquitted (Reuters)

Maryland church donates $500K in reparations to "atone" for slavery (NY Post)

Godzilla is now a "gender-neutral icon" because there wasn't enough woke insanity in the world already (Not the Bee)

Novavax says its COVID vaccine is more than 89% effective (CNBC)

U.S. economy slowed sharply in fourth quarter (NPR)

Dumbest bank robber ever? Armed bandit in Chicago demands $10,000 but then hands teller his state ID upon request (Daily Mail)



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