Friday, September 25, 2020


Brisbane woman’s push to be infected with COVID pays off

The UK government has given the green light to controversial tests that could see Brisbane researcher Sophie Rose deliberately infected with coronavirus, which could also speed up the search for a vaccine by six months.

A coronavirus vaccine could be available six months earlier after a groundbreaking study proposed by a Brisbane public health student was approved.

Sophie Rose, a Brisbane Girls Grammar graduate, was behind a campaign to have volunteers deliberately infected with coronavirus to fast-track the testing of vaccines.

Now the British government has given it the green light.

Ms Rose was a key figure in the push for the trials as founder of campaign group 1DaySooner, which found 37,000 volunteers for trials and lobbied governments across the globe.

“I’m really excited. Given what’s at stake we need to keep testing vaccines until we find the best vaccine that we can have,” she said. “It’s really exciting, I’m really pleased and proud of all our team.”

The epidemiologist, who is studying at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, has helped organised a coalition of public health heavyweights from across the world.

The trials will be conducted on a range of vaccines, which will help move them along the testing pathways, speeding up approvals by up to six months.

The Oxford vaccine, the world’s front runner, was not involved in the challenge trials. It is already in stage three trials with results likely to come back before Christmas.

However, there are dozens of other vaccines at various stages of testing, including the University of Queensland’s candidate, that could benefit from the challenge studies.

And while a vaccine such as the Oxford candidate may be approved, the studies will be able to check which other vaccines would be more effective, Ms Rose said.

The challenge trials were also important as lockdowns reduced the amount of virus circulating in a community.

That success makes it harder for scientists to work out if people were not infected because the vaccine worked or simply because they did not come into contact with a virus carrier.

“Say for example the Moderna vaccine works, we can only produce so many doses of that at a time,” she said. “And the more people we have vaccinated then the less vaccine testing we can do because people have already been exposed to the virus.”

Oxford researchers had to test in the United States, Brazil and South Africa to find a wider pool of the virus because, until recently, lockdowns had limited the spread of COVID-19 in Britain.

1 Day Sooner said in a statement that it welcomed the British government move. “These trials will help make COVID-19 vaccines equally accessible to everyone around the world, regardless of race or nationality by quickly narrowing the field of promising vaccine candidates,” the group said.

“We are glad to have had the opportunity to provide input into the preparations. We hope and expect that volunteer voices will be further incorporated into publicly available protocols for these studies.”

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency in the UK will sign off on the start of any trials. Doses of the live virus will be prepared by December, paving the way for the trials.

SOURCE

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American pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson has announced it has begun its phase three trial in testing its potential coronavirus vaccine, sparking new hope for a COVID cure

It is the fourth pharmaceutical company backed by the Trump administration’s COVID-19 vaccine program Operation Warp Speed to enter late-stage testing. The others are Moderna, Pfizer and AstraZeneca.

The trial will enrol up to 60,000 adult volunteers across 215 locations in the US and other countries, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Participants will be randomly selected to receive a dose of the potential vaccine or a placebo, according to details of the trial, which will determine whether the vaccine is safe and effective.

“Four COVID-19 vaccine candidates are in Phase 3 clinical testing in the United States just over eight months after SARS-CoV-2 was identified,” Dr Anthony Fauci said in a statement.

With the move, Johnson & Johnson becomes the 10th maker globally to conduct a Phase 3 trial against COVID-19, and the fourth in the US.

SOURCE

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Right and Left have very different ideas for the nation’s direction

Well, here we are. We have regrettably arrived at America’s constitutional crossroads. Two hundred thirty-three years ago, our Constitution was signed by the Founders, and the United States began its journey of individual freedom, republican government, free enterprise, and respect for spiritual norms. The Founders had achieved agreement that the new Constitution would be the bedrock for future limited government across all the states and their peoples.

With the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, it is clear that battle lines (ideological and perhaps, God forbid, physical) are being drawn at the crossroads between those who cherish our longstanding constitutional government and those who would move the United States to a socialist or even Marxist regime. The friction is enormous, and the rhetoric is sizzling.

It appears that the appointment and confirmation of the next Supreme Court justice — a single human being — will offer an epic turning point. If a proven conservative jurist is confirmed, the Supreme Court will have a solid constitutional majority. One can expect that the laws and rulings that come before it will be interpreted against the actual words of the Constitution and the Founders’ intent for governance.

If a more liberal jurist is confirmed, the country can expect a majority of justices who desire to interpret the Constitution in terms of today’s societal meanderings, and thus the Court will surely approve many laws and directives that will rapidly move the nation to socialism or beyond.

Standing at the center of this epic moment is President Donald Trump. He will decide who and when to nominate, then turn that name over to the Senate for confirmation or rejection. But it is Trump who has become the lynchpin for the future of America.

And already, the saber-rattling is loud, with threats of violence and carnage should Trump dare nominate a new justice this close to an election. From what we have seen over the last six months, these are likely not idle threats. If Trump moves on a nomination, we’re told those threats could lead to civil unrest, strife, and even — again, God forbid — armed conflict. Armed conflict means we could face another civil war on America’s homeland.

Many will contend that Trump should acquiesce on behalf of more peaceful and so-called stable outcomes. Just let the next Supreme Court justice be nominated by the next president and confirmed by the next Senate, many argue. If Trump just acquiesces, much blood and treasure will be spared, they say. In all this they hope that at the polls they can secure either the presidency, the Senate, or both. They will use any tactic, legal or illegal, to ensure at least one of these three outcomes. With the presidency or the Senate or both secured, they will never allow a conservative jurist to become a Supreme Court justice. Thus, socialism will accelerate its march across the land — just as they desire.

Trump’s decision lies before him. Nominate now and face potential civil strife, or, worse, surrender and don’t nominate during this term. Allow the future of the United States to be tossed to the election and all its clear and looming frailties imposed by leftists.

So, what will he do?

One must look at the man. What has happened to him personally since he decided to run for and ultimately was elected president? The list, of course, is long, but there have been three keystone events that will surely underpin his decision on what to do now.

First, on the day he announced his bid to run for president, the “deep state,” which is very real — I’ve seen it up close and personal — began a horrendous and unconstitutional campaign to remove him from office should he be elected. The result was Robert Mueller’s investigation, and although it found no instance of collusion with the Russians by Trump or his team, the process had to deeply impact Trump’s soul. His worst instincts about the deep state had been confirmed. Strike one.

Second, he was impeached on the flimsiest of charges by the House of Representatives. Thank God, the Senate trial found him fully innocent of all charges. But to the president, this was surely strike two for his opponents.

Third, accepting the speaker of the House’s invitation to deliver his State of the Union Address to Congress and the American people on February 4, 2020, President Trump made his address only to have Speaker Pelosi literally shred the officially presented document behind his back but in front of national cameras. This was a clear signal by the speaker that the constitutional processes of separation of power and civility in governance were now terminated as long as Trump was president. Strike three for his opposition.

President Donald J. Trump has been savagely attacked by his political opposition arguably more than any president in our history. In the big three attacks against him personally, he has survived and, in many respects, even prospered. He is still standing, now with a full understanding of the evils of current governance surrounding him. His wounds from the ghastly attacks may be open, bleeding, and festering, yet he is still standing strong and steeled from battle. He is ready for the task at hand.

The Democrats have struck out in their attempts to depose and eliminate the president of the United States. President Trump must now take his turn at bat. Within one week from today he should and must nominate a conservative American who has a proven record of interpreting case law in accordance with the written words of the Constitution as signed by the Founders. I served and fought for 39 years in defense of those words. I cherish them. Our president must also insist that the Senate consider the nomination expeditiously and vote to approve the nomination before the election.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell must drive this process relentlessly and purposefully.

Bloodied and injured yet victorious through years of political battle, President Trump stands at the crossroads of American history. May God give him the courage and perseverance to do what is right for America as envisioned by our nation’s Founders, just as they came out of a Revolutionary War and secured freedom’s first great victory. Our Founders are at today’s crossroads standing firmly with our president. Regardless of what the future may bring, even strife or internal conflict, may President Trump take the right turn at the crossroads as our Founders cheer perhaps the greatest American victory of all time.

SOURCE

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IN BRIEF

“The Obama administration ignored the glaring warning signs”: GOP-led committees release interim report on Hunter Biden-Burisma probe (Fox News)

Burisma bribed officials to shut down investigation seven months after Hunter joined board (The Federalist)

Hunter’s Chinese payments raise criminal concerns, extend to James Biden (The Federalist)

Jill Biden’s ex-husband says Joe — whom Democrats put on a pedestal — lied about marriage to cover up infidelity (The Washington Free Beacon)

Cindy McCain endorses Biden, citing debunked hit piece on Trump’s disparagement of troops (The New York Times)

House approves spending bill, sends legislation to Senate just days before government set to shut down (USA Today)

GOP senators introduce bill to prohibit schools from allowing biological men to compete in women’s sports (Washington Examiner)

Free college, guaranteed income: State and local officials steer coronavirus aid money toward leftist priorities (Fox News)

Seattle’s woke city council overrides mayor’s veto of police cuts (Fox News)

Florida advocates rally to raise money, pay legal obligations, register felons to vote (Washington Examiner)

Ruth Bader Ginsburg enabled an atrocity equal to slavery, and Andrew Cuomo wants to build her a statue (The Federalist)

Iran says it is ready to swap all prisoners with U.S. (Reuters)

Election watchdog finds 350,000 dead registrants on voter rolls in 42 states (The Washington Free Beacon)

“Defund the police” activist Alyssa Milano sparks massive police presence after calling 911 (Daily Mail)

Tucker Carlson airs never-before-seen footage from Kyle Rittenhouse shooting in Kenosha (The Daily Wire)

Policy: To counter China, we must strengthen ties with Europe (American Enterprise Institute)

Policy: What’s needed for healthcare reform: Personalized care that puts you and your doctor in charge (The Daily Signal)

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For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Personal). My annual picture page is here. Home page supplement

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Thursday, September 24, 2020


Has Sweden beaten coronavirus? Expert claims by refusing to shut the country down the Swedes now have ‘herd immunity’ and have avoided a second wave

Sweden has beaten coronavirus by refusing to shut the country down and achieving herd immunity, according to an expert.

The Scandinavian nation was the only country in Europe not to introduce strict lockdown measures at the start of the pandemic.

But scientists believe that this may have helped it avoid a second wave of Covid-19 as it continues to record its lowest number of cases since March – with just 28 infections per 100,000 people.

This figure is less than half of the UK’s own infection rate of 69 per 100,000 people.

Professor Kim Sneppen, an expert in the spread of coronavirus at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, said that Sweden might have beaten the pandemic.

He told Denmark’s Politiken newspaper: ‘There is some evidence that the Swedes have built up a degree of immunity to the virus which, along with what else they are doing to stop the spread, is enough to control the disease. ‘Perhaps, the epidemic is over there.’

He said that the virus may now have run out of steam. He added: ‘That is what they have said.

‘On the positive side, they may now be finished with the epidemic.’

Sweden was initially criticised at the start of the outbreak after recording a spike in its mortality rates which was five times that of Denmark and ten times that of Norway and Finland.

Number of deaths per 24 hours peaked in April at 115 with more than half in care homes. But its seven-day average for coronavirus-related deaths is now zero.

Sweden’s state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell, who has become the face of the no-lockdown strategy, said in a recent interview that voluntary hygiene measures had been ‘just as effective’ as complete shutdowns.

Sweden kept open schools for children under 16, banned gatherings of more than 50 people and told over-70s and vulnerable groups to self-isolate.

Shops, bars and restaurants stayed open throughout the pandemic and the wearing of masks has not been advised by the government.

‘The rapidly declining cases we see in Sweden right now is another indication that you can get the number of cases down quite a lot in a country without having a complete lockdown,’ he previously told Unherd.

Tegnell added that ‘deaths are not so closely connected to the amount of cases you have in a country’, saying the death rate was more closely linked to whether older people are being infected and how well the health system can cope. ‘Those things will influence mortality a lot more, I think, than the actual spread of the disease,’ he said.

Swedish economic activity has also started to pick up with the effects of the downturn looking less severe than previously feared. The economy had shrunk by nine per cent but this too was less than the 20 per cent dip seen in the UK.

It is thought that because many younger people have already had coronavirus in Sweden it now has less chance to spread through the population.

Recent studies suggested that an infection rate of 43 per cent may be enough to achieve herd immunity – a figure much lower than the 60 per cent previously cited.

SOURCE

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Lindsey Graham to Dems: We Have the Votes…And We’re Filling Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Seat Before the Election

Romney has now said he will not oppose a nomination

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) pretty much told Democrats to shove it regarding their whining and tantrums over the Ruth Bader Ginsburg vacancy fight. The associate justice passed away last Friday at the age of 87. We have a seat to fill during what could be one of the most contentious elections in recent memory, maybe even more so than 2016. And then this atom bomb is dropped.

Despite what Democrats say, we’re filling the seat. I mean, we’re going to do that. We have a chance to have an ironclad conservative majority on the Court. You don’t pass that up because RBG wanted the next president to select her successor. That has no bearing on this process, and it can be ignored.

Democrats have threatened to impeach Trump over this. And they want to gut the legislative filibuster and pack the court, so now it’s definitely time to get this done. Trump won the 2016 election and the GOP expanded its Senate majority in the 2018 midterms. We have the right to do it. So, please, Democrats—shut up and get out of the way.

And Graham just delivered the kill shot to the Democrats’ hopes that this process could be stalled last night on Sean Hannity’s show. We have the votes. Yes, Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski are “no” votes, but Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) is onboard and Mitt Romney is still AWOL. Even if we lose him, we’re still good. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) is also onboard.

We just need 50 votes to get this done. Yes, losing three Republicans because they’re insufferable members of the squish squad who don’t see the prize in front of them are the usual suspects. The only person who gets a pass is Collins because Maine is a weird state—but Murkowski once again shows she’s a weak piece of trash and Romney really has no reason to oppose. If he does, well, then we should do everything we can to ensure his defeat when he’s due for re-election.

SOURCE

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Even If Masks Work In Theory, They Aren’t Working In Practice

Our family’s visit to a Virginia restaurant the other day wasn’t particularly unusual in the coronavirus era, although that state’s requirements are more stringent than most. The staff were all wearing masks and, in this case, plastic gloves as well. The iced tea bin was behind the counter where customers couldn’t touch it, and Virginia restaurants are apparently required to give customers a new plastic cup for every refill. (Somehow, the left went from banning plastic straws to probably tripling the amount of plastic waste generated by restaurants but hey, there could be a .000001% less chance of someone possibly catching the WORSTEST VIRUS EVER, so screw the environment, right?)

Anyway, I won’t name the restaurant, but it was one of those places where you walk in, place your order, get your drinks, pay, then sit down and wait for your food to come up at the counter, at which point they call your order number. Of course, you had to shout through the giant plexiglass screen, then bend your head just to hear the muffled voice of the cashier, who was asking questions and punching buttons with one ungloved finger on an otherwise gloved hand. From the stains as well as the home-cut finger opening (so he could push the buttons), it was obvious he hadn’t changed his gloves in quite some time, and certainly not for the two customers in line before us.

Even more disturbingly, as he spoke to us the cashier adjusted his obviously moist, stained mask with his gloved hand at least five times, at one point putting his thumb and forefinger across his entire mouth and moving the mask farther up the bridge of his nose. Thank God we were ‘spared’ any potential ‘droplets’ from his nose (because we all know how those nose droplets barrel through plexiglass), but it did come at the cost of spreading whatever nastiness was on his mask to pretty much everything else he touched.

We placed our order, paid with a credit card, then then watched the cashier grab our cups from the stack and proceed to put his gloved fingers inside (INSIDE, I kid you not) three of them at once as he made his way to the ice maker and tea bin to get our drinks (COVID restrictions in Virginia apparently do not allow us to get our own tea … you know, for ‘safety’).

Now the last thing I’m trying to do is bash hard-working restaurant employees. I’ve been one myself and I know how hard and thankless the work is. I won’t go into any more detail on the incident above, but suffice it to say I wouldn’t have dreamed of being rude to him. What I am trying to point out, however, is how supposedly well-meaning COVID restrictions – and even restaurants trying to ‘help’ by going above and beyond, as the gloves seemed to be – have turned our reality into a place where the ‘letter of the law’ (or mandate) is more important than common sense or actual results.

Indeed, if you had told me in 2019 that there would come a day when virtually the entire world would seriously believe there are absolutely no negatives to wearing a moist, bacteria-laden germ-collector on one’s face and breathing through it all day, I wouldn’t have believed it. Yet, here we are, where even the esteemed head of the Center for Disease Control is telling people with a straight face that masks – yes masks – are MORE protective than a vaccine. At this point, face burqas have become more than simply a talisman to encourage the public to venture out and engage the economy – they have become a religious cult. Dare to question it in any way, and they’ll shut you down – or attempt to – and they typically won’t even bother to try to respond to any of the points you make.

Take last week, for example, when I attempted to post that amazing mask article by Daniel Horowitz I mentioned in last week’s post on my own humble personal Facebook page. (I typically don’t plug this page, but lately I’ve gotten in the habit of posting some great clips and COVID-related news items there, so you’re welcome to visit and follow it if you like.) After a few days, the “fact-checker” bot discovered and flagged the post as “partly false information.” Why, you ask? Because Big Tech has apparently deemed fit to decide that this is “settled science,” or something. “Masks work,” don’t you know, and that’s all there is to it. To ‘refute’ the post, Facebook oddly linked to an article written by healthfeedback.org in May responding to an entirely different anti-mask post. It goes through the usual ridiculous model-based “studies” to ‘prove’ that mask-wearing ‘works,’ but then it also notably says this:

“The post is correct in stating that improper handling of face masks or cloth coverings creates a risk for infection, as infectious droplets may potentially contaminate the external and internal surfaces. However, this is far from an insurmountable obstacle, as this risk can be minimized by exercising caution when removing the mask. The CDC has advised that individuals should wash their hands and avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth after removing their mask, and that cloth masks should be regularly washed.”

Now let’s put aside the other arguments, many if not most of which I have covered in past posts, and just get real for a second with some gold old-fashioned common sense. Does anyone sincerely think that most of the public, who are non-medical professionals, handle masks correctly? Just take a look at the masks on most restaurant employees or even people you pass in the street. People are constantly touching them and they’re often visibly dirty, which suggests they aren’t being laundered daily or even regularly. Most people I know carry them around in their cars, in and out of their pockets, and leave them lying around wherever with little regard for the biohazards they are. Instead of potentially dangerous droplets falling to the ground where they’ve fallen for the entirety of human history, we’ve chosen to catch them in one ‘convenient’ place so they can then be distributed to surfaces humans touch on a regular basis.

In other words, even IF correctly used masking worked to stop the spread of coronavirus in theory – a goal I’m not even sure we should have in the first place (as long as hospitals aren’t overwhelmed) – the practice and subsequent real-world results are an entirely different thing. This could be why in place after place that has instituted mandatory masking, from California to Israel to Peru to Columbia to India to countless others, the virus continues to spread unabated and seemingly even faster than in non-masked places, only finishing when it runs its course at 15 to 25 percent seroprevalence.

Please consider staying informed with the latest and BEST COVID-19-related information by joining the over 2,100 people already following my brand-new COVID ‘Team Reality’ list. It’s a great first step in the long-haul fight against corona fascism!

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IN BRIEF

Biden on radical idea of packing the Supreme Court: “I’m not going to answer that question” (The Daily Wire)

Ruth Bader Ginsburg to lie in state in U.S. Capitol on Friday — the first woman to hold that honor (The Daily Caller)

CNN’s Don Lemon suggests blowing up “entire system” (Fox News)

Second wounded Los Angeles deputy released from hospital after ambush attack (Fox News)

“State of emergency” declared by Louisville police ahead of Breonna Taylor decision (LEX 18)

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis proposes new felony charges for violent protesters, harsh penalties for cities that defund police (The Daily Wire)

Federal judge orders Wisconsin absentee ballots postmarked by November 3 to be counted in 2020 election (Fox News)

Pennsylvania mail-in ballot ruling could cause 100,000 ballots to be rejected (Forbes)

Congressional Budget Office: Federal debt nears “unsustainable” levels (The Washington Times)

U.S. household net worth spikes, surpassing pre-pandemic peak (National Review)

Anyone notice that the Trump recovery is doing much better than expected? (Issues & Insights)

CIA whistleblower Edward Snowden agrees to forfeit more than $5 million from book proceeds to the U.S. government (Daily Mail)

New York City, Portland, and Seattle deemed by DOJ as “anarchist jurisdiction” (WABC)

Sweeping new sanctions hit Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs (The Washington Free Beacon)

Mike Pompeo threatens China with sanctions over Iran arms deals (Washington Examiner)

House Foreign Affairs Committee report says China tried to cover up scope of COVID-19, could have prevented pandemic (The Daily Wire)

Trump administration invests more than $100 million to fight human trafficking (Disrn)

Beta becomes 9th landfall storm of 2020 in a record-shattering season (NBC News)

Even with lockdowns, the woke Emmys post lowest ratings ever (The Daily Wire)

More than half of all Supreme Court justices were confirmed in 45 days or less (The Federalist)

California wants me to vote, even though I haven’t lived there for over eight years (The Daily Signal)

Policy: Too much centralization is turning everything into a political crisis (Mises Institute)

Policy: America needs a plan to bring key manufacturing home (Issues & Insights)

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For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Personal). My annual picture page is here. Home page supplement

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Wednesday, September 23, 2020


Covid tests the merits of different modes of capitalism

Political economy is a discipline in which rigorous empirical testing is difficult. Scholars are rarely presented with the kind of naturally occurring experiments which crop up in other fields of economic inquiry, such as when one state increases its minimum wage while its neighbours do not. Covid-19 is different. Though it is quite the cloud, for political economists the silver lining is that it provides an opportunity to look, in real time, at how different models of governance react to a simultaneous shock.

Various taxonomies are used to categorise models of capitalism. A prominent one was set out in 2001 in “Varieties of Capitalism”, a book edited by Peter Hall, a political scientist, and David Soskice, an economist. It distinguished between liberal market economies (LMEs) such as America, Britain and Canada, and co-ordinated market economies (CMEs) such as Germany, the Nordic countries, Austria and the Netherlands. LMEs’ capitalism is redblooded, relying on market mechanisms to allocate resources and determine wages, and on financial markets to allocate capital. CMEs, though still capitalist, are fonder of social organisations such as trade unions, and of bank finance. Western economies tend to sit on a continuum between these two models. In recent years scholars have also tried to account for the authoritarian, state-driven capitalism found in China and some other countries. Branko Milanovic of the City University of New York calls this model “political capitalism”.

These frameworks are surprisingly good at parsing countries’ responses to the pandemic. Consider innovation. Scholars distinguish between incremental innovation, the continuous process of making marginal improvements to products and processes, and radical innovation, which may involve the launch of entirely new goods and services. Whereas CMEs, with their emphasis on specific skills and long-term thinking, should be better at incremental innovation, they are at a disadvantage when it comes to radical innovation. They are constrained by the structures they have erected to steer the economy, which are slow to adapt to wholesale change.

During the pandemic, CMEs such as Germany have generally had a more coherent strategy for containing the spread of the virus. Lockdowns may not seem like incremental change, but reducing working hours to limit social contact, apportioning the costs across society and gaining public consent for restrictive measures are all easier when there are already institutions in place which allow collective action. Success may be generated more by unity and consistency than by the strength of the intervention that is chosen. For instance, Sweden was able to muster high levels of public support for its unorthodox—but incrementally innovative—strategy of avoiding lockdowns entirely and relying on voluntary social distancing. Co-ordinated economies are well equipped to handle co-ordination problems, such as promoting public health.

By contrast, America’s and Britain’s virus-containment strategies can seem disjointed and occasionally chaotic. As swashbuckling LMEs, however, they are more likely to be the source of the most transformative innovations in the pandemic: treatments and vaccines.

Of 34 vaccine candidates tracked by the World Health Organisation, only four are in CMEs; LMEs have 13 (Astrazeneca, an Anglo- Swedish drugmaker working with Oxford University, straddles both categories). It was British researchers who discovered the effectiveness of dexamethasone, a cheap drug, in treating covid-19 patients who are admitted to hospital. The other leading candidate for effective drug treatment, remdesivir, is American. In a provocative Bloomberg column earlier this year Tyler Cowen, an economist at George Mason University, argued that Britain, despite its high death count, had done more than any other country to stop the spread of the virus.

What about China? Mr Milanovic argues that a key feature of political capitalism is the “zone of lawlessness” that allows the state to suppress and ignore private-sector interest groups. This is reflected in the extreme lockdowns China implemented to suppress the virus. China is also innovative. It has ten different vaccines at varying stages of development. However, political capitalism suffers from endemic corruption, self-dealing and lack of trustworthiness. There might have been no pandemic at all had local officials in China not at first tried to cover up the original outbreak in Wuhan. It also seems doubtful that outsiders would take China’s word that a vaccine it had produced was safe and effective, especially given how much of a propaganda coup it would be for the Communist Party to claim that it had saved the world.

Vaxx factor

The differences between models of capitalism are also apparent in economic trends. To the extent that the pandemic brings about permanent structural change, LMEs seem better placed to adapt. Anglo-Saxon firms have embraced a move towards more home working; France and Germany seem more resistant (see Briefing). The shift to online retail has been faster in liberal economies, too. And while both LMEs and CMEs have taken action to prop up household incomes, China has shown that under political capitalism the state’s lack of accountability to the public can lead to a disregard for individual welfare in the short term. Its stimulus has been focused on promoting investment and construction; poor households have been mostly left to fend for themselves, especially the migrant workers who often slip through local safety-nets.

After the pandemic, it is likely that every system will have some basis on which to claim victory. CMEs are on course to have lower death counts. China is enjoying a rapid economic rebound. But it is likely to be an LME behind the ultimate defeat of the virus. Life under the liberal model of capitalism can be risky and scary; its failures no doubt cause suffering. But the rewards when things go well can be immense.

SOURCE

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Another 1 million leave unemployment in a week as Trump’s predicted rapid recovery continues

By Robert Romano

Another 1 million Americans left continued unemployment claims the week of Sept. 5 on an unadjusted basis, the latest data from the Department of Labor shows.

That brings the number collecting unemployment from its 13.8 million Aug. 29 level, and from its 22.8 million May 9 level, down to its current 12.3 million, an overall decrease of 10.5 million from its peak.

The biggest state gains the week of Sept. 5 were in California, with more than 256,000 coming off of continued claims, 115,000 in New York, 57,000 in Texas, 55,000 in Florida, 55,000 in Illinois and 51,000 in Ohio.

Meaning, when the September jobs numbers are reported the first week of October, the last monthly survey reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics before the election, it promises to be another huge number of jobs recovered — it might be a couple million more — as the rapid economic recovery almost nobody but President Donald Trump predicted continues.

On March 25, the President promised, “I don’t think it’s going to end up being such a rough patch. I think it’s going to, when we open — especially, if we can open it — the sooner, the better — it’s going to open up like a rocket ship. I think it’s going to go very good and very quickly.”

Turns out, President Trump was right.

The 1 million who came off unemployment will surely build on the record 13.8 million jobs recovered in the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ household survey in just four short months after labor markets bottomed in April with 25 million jobs lost — with millions more expected in the coming months as coronavirus daily new cases continue to stabilize.

In comparison, it took the Obama-Biden economy almost 5 years to recover the 8 million jobs lost in the financial crisis and the Great Recession after labor markets bottomed in Dec. 2009.

That’s a real contrast, and one the American people would do well to remember.

Just think, we were at a 50-year low in unemployment at just 3.5 percent, and the latest Census data shows household median income increased by $4,400 in 2019 to a record of $68,700.

Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning reacted to the favorable economic news, saying, “2019 demonstrated that capitalism, cutting unnecessary regulations, lower taxes and honest trade deals work together to decrease income inequality … While the impact of the China virus has set our economy back, there can be no doubt that President Trump has the right prescription for continuing the record rebound we are currently experiencing.”

Now, President Trump is promising to get the economy back quickly, whereas former Vice President Joe Biden is told ABC News’ David Muir that “I would shut it down” again to deal with the Chinese coronavirus.

On Aug. 24 tweet, President Trump responded to Biden’s call to shut down the country again, writing, “Joe Biden has said he would lock down the Country again. That’s crazy! We’re having record job growth and a booming stock market, but Joe would end it all and close it all down. Ridiculous!”

One item to keep your eyes on is pending phase four legislation in Congress, a continuation of the CARES Act. The payroll protection plan supported 5.2 million small businesses — which President Trump credits with saving 50 million jobs during the state-led lockdowns.

Now, Senate Republicans have offered legislation that would continue that program, as well as to send more checks to taxpayers, extend the current unemployment benefits while removing perverse incentives for some workers to get paid more than they did at their jobs, and to cut down on potential fraud in the pandemic unemployment assistance by compelling beneficiaries to document that they had a job, mirroring existing federal disaster unemployment assistance standards.

So far, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has blocked new legislation, but after a series of Trump executive orders to provide more financial support for the American people, vulnerable Democratic members in the House have prevailed on Pelosi to get something done for fear of being viewed as obstructing the economic recovery — and getting no credit for what was already done.

U.S. Rep. Max Rose (D-N.Y.) said he sent a direct message to Pelosi, telling Fox News, “To the leadership, we said this very simple message: It’s time for you to stop playing games. Let’s stop the charade. Let’s stop this stupidity. Let’s put the country first.”

That tells you that many Americans are still hurting from the lockdowns — and time could be running out for Pelosi to preserve her House majority.

When most Americans were afraid about what the pandemic might mean, and Democrats were urging an economic shutdown, President Trump was taking aggressive action to save as many lives as possible and to plan ahead to enable the economy to safely reopen, with millions of jobs recovered.

At the end of the day, as the American people evaluate an incumbent administration they tend to be pocketbook-minded, and this happens to be one area President Trump does indeed have a great story to tell to voters. Stay tuned.

SOURCE

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IN BRIEF

Election fraud? Four voters claiming NPR as residence turn up in search of California voting records (The Daily Signal)

Judge blocks Postal Service changes that slowed mail delivery (Fox News)

“The questions … sound as if they were written by Biden’s campaign”: CNN panned for softball Joe Biden town hall (Fox News)

Trump fielding roughly five times more reporter questions than Biden since July (New York Post)

Leaked 2016 phone call to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko reveals that hypocrite Joe Biden — who suggested using the Logan Act against Michael Flynn — risked national security to sabotage Trump (The Federalist)

Birds of a feather: Twitter public policy director decamps for Biden transition team (Politico)

DOJ considered bringing charges against Portland officials over unbridled rioting (New York Post)

Seventeen-year-old arrested for shooting at troopers in Arizona; third attack on police officers in a week (Daily Mail)

Louisville city council votes “no confidence” in mayor for handling of media-distorted Breonna Taylor case (NBC News)

New California Rainbow Mafia law increases the risk of child sexual abuse (The Daily Signal)

Not just Chicago: New York City murder rate soars by 27% and gang violence rises 52% in 2020 (Daily Mail)

New Jersey to hike taxes on state’s millionaires (Fox Business)

FBI Director Chris Wray: “Antifa is a real thing”; FBI has cases against people identifying with movement (Fox News)

U.S. pushes arms sales surge to Taiwan, needling the ChiComs (Reuters)

Planned Parenthood whistleblower David Daleiden sues abortion mill for defamation (The Federalist)

Woman with concealed carry permit holds supermarket murder suspect at gunpoint until cops arrive (New York Post)

Pandemic restrictions reintroduced across Europe under threat of a second wave (Washington Examiner)

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For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Personal). My annual picture page is here. Home page supplement

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Tuesday, September 22, 2020


US election: Australian Data guru Bela Stantic reveals Donald Trump is on track to win again

But can he allow for the huge voting frauds that seem likely this time?

A data guru who correctly predicted the 2016 US election, Scott Morrison’s win last year and the Brexit vote says history is repeating.

A data scientist who correctly predicted Donald Trump’s shock victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016 says the US President is currently on track to win again.

Professor Bela Stantic is the founder and director of Griffith University’s Big Data and Smart Analytics Lab, where he analyses social media data and sentiment to predict voters’ behaviour.

In the past, those predictions have been extraordinarily accurate.

Four years ago, Prof Stantic successfully picked the winner in 49 of the 50 American states. His lab also nailed the result of both the 2016 Brexit referendum and our own federal election last year.

In all three cases, public opinion polling pointed to the opposite result.

At the moment, the polls show Mr Trump trailing his opponent, Joe Biden, by an average of 6.2 per cent at the national level. They’re a bit closer in the key battleground states, where Mr Biden leads by 3.9 per cent.

It looks like a comfortable lead for the Democratic Party’s nominee. But, just like Ms Clinton’s lead four years ago, it could be a mirage.

Prof Stantic recently conducted a preliminary, draft analysis of the upcoming US election. His lab’s complete analysis, along with a final prediction of the result, will come closer to polling day on November 3.

“It is obvious again that Trump will lose the popular vote,” he told news.com.au.

“However, he’s tracking really well in the crucial states. Florida is a coin toss, but he’s slightly ahead for me. And Minnesota and Pennsylvania as well. And then Texas, he will win easily.

“So then that gives him an edge to get about 270, 280 electoral votes.

“It is maybe early, but I can tell you that the trend we identified in advance last time is holding.”

In other words, the race is close – pretty much neck-and-neck – but Mr Trump is once again on course to lose the popular vote while winning the decisive electoral vote.

About 2.9 million more Americans cast ballots for Ms Clinton than for Mr Trump in 2016. However, the President’s support was distributed more efficiently.

While the Democrat racked up huge margins in populous but uncompetitive states like California and New York, Mr Trump managed to scrape to relatively narrow victories in the states that actually mattered, such as Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

That gave him a 304-227 edge in the Electoral College, comfortably above the winning threshold of 270.

Prof Stantic said the 2020 election was, broadly speaking, the same sort of race. “It’s really a coin toss. I think Florida, at the moment, is a coin toss, but Trump is just ahead,” he said.

But his draft analysis dug up one particularly important – and perhaps surprising – difference between 2016 and 2020.

“I find that this time it is more polarised than last time,” Prof Stantic said. He reached that conclusion by analysing the comments on Mr Biden’s social media posts.

“People reacted so harshly against Biden. It was 30,000-something comments, and all strongly against him,” he said. “They are saying that he cannot be trusted, that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. ‘At least Trump, what he says, he thinks.’ Comments along these lines. “There was not much support for Biden.”

This is an interesting wrinkle, because the conventional wisdom you often hear from political experts – and occasionally, from self-important journalists – is that Ms Clinton was a more polarising figure than Mr Biden is.

Four years ago, Mr Trump and Ms Clinton both had unusually high disapproval ratings in the polls. This time, Mr Biden’s favourability rating is pretty much split down the middle.

Prof Stantic’s method is not infallible. It did, for instance, get the result of Australia’s same-sex marriage plebiscite wrong, for reasons he explained in detail afterwards.

But he says his lab’s analysis is more reliable than opinion polling, because it involves a significantly larger sample size.

“I think the polls are volatile because their sample size is very small. They have a thousand people, and it depends on who you interview,” he said. “I’m talking about millions of posts. Last month, I think I had 800,000 posts in one day. “It’s not just about these 800,000, but it’s also that some posts have 20,000-30,000 likes.”

People also tend to be more honest when expressing their opinions on social media than when a pollster quizzes them.

And the peculiar nature of America’s system, which hinges on the candidates winning states (rather than, say, seats like in Australia), helps make Prof Stantic’s job simpler, because the data allows him to pinpoint exactly which state people will be voting in.

“Australia, it’s a bit hard because of seats and their locations. The US election, it’s easier to predict,” he said.

SOURCE

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Support for Black Lives Matter has dropped among Americans since unrest flared after George Floyd’s death, new poll finds

Fewer white and Hispanic Americans are supporting Black Lives Matter while African American backing for the movement remains virtually unchanged, according to a new poll.

A majority of Americans – 55 per cent – express at least some support for the movement, which is down from 67 per cent in June, a new survey by Pew Research Center shows.

The number of American adults who say they strongly support the movement has also dropped from 38 per cent in June to 29 per cent.

The previous survey was taken in the days and weeks following the May 25 police-involved death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Pew’s latest findings were taken in the aftermath of the police shooting of 29-year-old black man Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Among African Americans, support for BLM remains strong. In June, 87 per cent of black people said they backed the movement.

The latest survey puts the figure at 86 per cent.

Notably, the poll found a drop of African American adults who say they strongly support BLM. In June, 71 per cent said they strongly supported it, though now 62 per cent say the same.

Pew found that it is among whites and Hispanics that backing for BLM has wavered.

Among white adults, 60 per cent said they supported BLM back in June. That number has now dropped to less than half – 45 per cent.

In June, 77 per cent of Hispanic adults said they supported BLM. The latest findings show that number has slipped to 66 per cent today.

Among Asian Americans, backing for BLM has dropped slightly from 75 per cent to 69 per cent.

Support for BLM also brings down sharply along partisan lines. Just 19 per cent of Republicans said they somewhat supported the movement.

Meanwhile, 88 per cent of Democrats said the same.

Broken down into race, 88 per cent of white Democrats expressed at least some support for BLM while just 16 per cent of white Republicans say the same.

A little more than half – 51 per cent – of white Democrats said they strongly support BLM, while just 2 per cent of white Republicans said the same.

SOURCE

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American Catholics Moving to Support Trump

The Catholic vote in America used to be a monolith, with up to 80 percent of Catholics supporting the Democratic candidate for president. Those days are gone, but the Catholic vote — especially in the northeast and upper midwest — is crucial. Catholics have voted for the presidential winner in 8 of the last 9 elections. They make up about 22 percent of the electorate.

But Catholics are riven by divisions between those who say they mostly follow the Church’s teachings and those who don’t. More conservative Catholics have been trending Republican in recent elections and that trend is expected to accelerate when Catholics go to the polls in November and vote for Trump.

Trump has been called the most pro-life president in history. That, along with his appeals to faith, family, and patriotism are very attractive to more devout Catholics.

Washington Times:

About 18% of Catholics say they accept all the church’s teachings, versus 38% who say they accept most of them, and 29% who say they do not accept some key teachings, according to a February EWTN News/RealClearOpinion poll.

“Among Catholics who do practice the faith in a substantive way, yes, there’s been a dramatic shift over the last several decades away from the Democratic Party and into the Republican Party, and I think it’s been especially pronounced under President Trump,” [Catholic Vote President Brian] Burch said.

Biden is very touchy about his Catholicism, bristling when questioned about his pro-choice stance being directly opposed to church teachings on abortion. He has also opposed the Trump administration to carve out exemptions for people of faith in Obamacare.

For traditional Catholics, however, Mr. Biden remains a hard sell, given his pro-choice stance on abortion and his opposition to conscience exemptions for religious organizations, business owners and medical professionals under Obamacare.

CatholicVote sought to drive home the point by unveiling Tuesday a $9.7 million campaign in six key swing states targeting “Joe Biden’s anti-Catholic record and policy agenda,” including digital ads, canvassing and direct mail.

Catholics are not only worried about Biden, but also his running mate, Kamala Harris, who apparently believes the Knights of Columbus are some kind of super-secret anti-abortion club. In 2018, she grilled a judicial nominee over his membership in the KOC.

“Since 1993, you have been a member of the Knights of Columbus, an all-male society comprised primarily of Catholic men,” said Ms. Harris during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. “Were you aware that the Knights of Columbus opposed a woman’s right to choose when you joined the organization?”

The Catholic Association described Ms. Harris, a Baptist, as “the ringleader of the anti-Catholic bullying stance adopted by the Democratic Party.”

There are still enough Catholics in key states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Minnesota to make the difference for Trump in November. Whether they come out and vote for him is another question. But with so much at stake — and now, a Supreme Court vacancy that could be filled with a Biden nominee who would make abortion on demand far easier to get — you would think that turnout would give Trump a big boost.

SOURCE

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IN BRIEF

“Go for the much higher numbers”: Trump undercuts GOP by calling for bigger COVID-19 relief package (The Hill)

Department of Health and Human Services unveils plans for vaccine distribution (Washington Examiner)

The Russian-bounties story turns out to be trash journalism (National Review)

White House press secretary excoriates media for failing to cover historic Middle East peace deals (The Post Millennial)

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow uses Obama-era photos to undermine Trump’s border policy and minority outreach (The Washington Free Beacon)

Senate Homeland Security Committee authorizes subpoenas for testimony from Obama officials as part of Russia probe (Fox News)

Robert Mueller declined invitation to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee (Washington Examiner)

Senator David Perdue cleared of wrongdoing on scrutinized stock trades (The Washington Free Beacon)

Pandering Biden criticized for playing sensual hit song “Despacito” at Hispanic Heritage Month event (Disrn)

“This is the most important election since our country was founded”: 235 retired military leaders endorse Trump in joint letter (Disrn)

BLM cofounder Alicia Garza in 2015 said capitalism must be abolished for black lives to matter (The Daily Caller)

Netflix subscription cancellations deservedly soar after “Cuties” controversy (The Daily Wire)

Minneapolis won’t let riot‐battered stores install security shutters (Cato Institute)

“There’s not a comparable year”: Homicides are up 52% in Chicago (USA Today)

Four people apprehended, facing multiple charges for intentionally starting wildfires on West Coast (Disrn)

Former Atlanta CFO — who was employed by an anti-gun administration — indicted for illegal machine gun possession (The Truth About Guns)

New York City Mayor’s Office to take weeklong furlough (WCBS 800)

Fed leaves interest rates near zero; end-of-year unemployment rate forecast is reduced considerably from previous outlook (NPR)

“The WTO is completely inadequate to stop China’s harmful technology practices”: World Trade Organization rules that some U.S. tariffs on China violate trade rules (National Review)

Nearly two-thirds of U.S. young adults unaware that six million Jews killed in the Holocaust (The Guardian)

Yoshihide Suga — facing daunting challenges — becomes Japan’s prime minister, pledging to follow Abe’s course (NPR)

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For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Personal). My annual picture page is here. Home page supplement

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Monday, September 21, 2020


What life is really like in lockdown-free Sweden

The golden spire of Stockholm’s city hall glistens in the sunset, runners sweat away the day’s stresses on the boat-lined waterfront, and a young couple wobble along a cobbled street on a single-seater bike. I’m watching the evening unfold from the 52-metre high glass-flanked rooftop bar TAK, which, like almost every popular drinking spot in the Swedish capital, has remained open throughout the pandemic.

As a dual British-Swedish citizen living in Stockholm, I’m treating myself to a glass of fizz to celebrate Sweden finally joining the UK’s quarantine-free list. For me, it brings a chance to visit family for the first time since February. But my phone’s also been pinging with British contacts curious about holidaying in Sweden following the dramatic drop in cases here over the summer and an ever-dwindling list of alternatives for those seeking an autumn break in Europe.

The first thing any would-be tourist here will notice is the lack of face masks. They’re requested at Swedish airports but aren’t compulsory on transport, in shops, hairdressers or indeed any part of public life. A recent major poll found just 6% of Swedes currently use them, despite 43% believing they could stop the spread of infection and several prominent Swedish scientists lobbying the authorities to change their approach. Anders Tegnell, the country’s state epidemiologist, has said he might reconsider things if there’s a renewed increase in cases, but he’s repeatedly argued that hand-washing and social distancing remain more effective barriers against the virus.

For now, the lack of this year’s must-have accessory means Stockholm – usually ahead of fashion trends – certainly looks and feels significantly more “normal” than most European capitals. Yet it’s a myth that life hasn’t changed in Sweden, which also stood almost alone in shunning a lockdown at the peak of the pandemic and has relied largely on voluntary recommendations. At my rooftop location, there’s table-service only – ordering at bar counters stopped in March, in an effort to stop mingling. Social distancing between groups is guided by crosses of black and yellow plastic tape between the window seats, an incongruous clash with the venue’s plush leather and velvet seating. There is a DJ, but dancing’s not allowed. Major nightclubs have temporarily closed or, like the city’s hipster concrete mega-venue, Trädgården, pivoted into restaurants and maxed out their outdoor seating capacity.

As in other parts of the world, maintaining order once the drinks start flowing is challenging in some locations, while those hell bent on partying organised illegal raves in the forest over the summer. Yet at TAK, 27-year-old customer Olena believes that after six months of consistent guidelines, many young Swedes have got used to more sedate socialising. “You can meet friends in small groups. But a night out probably ends that evening, not going into the next morning!”

What she really misses are gigs, which, alongside most sports events and theatre productions, have largely been off the table since the spring due to a ban on public gatherings of more than 50 people. The public health agency recently recommended increasing the limit to 500, although it’s unclear exactly how or when things will change.

Swedes’ working lives remain different too. They’ve been asked to do their jobs from home until at least the end of the year if they can, although there are no official figures on how many are actually following the guideline. “We think most major company buildings are still closed or they’ve put in place a rota so people can go back in once a week or so for a different quality of interaction,” says Staffan Ingvarsson, CEO of Stockholm Business Region. Telecommuting has largely been “going well”, he argues, due to high levels of trust between employers and employees, a tech-savvy population and almost 100% broadband coverage. But anecdotal evidence suggests some employees bored of working from home are increasingly hanging out in coffee shops or even paying for spots at coworking spaces. And, while figures from Stockholm’s public transport company SL indicate people are still travelling less than before the pandemic, there are concerns about overcrowding during rush hour, especially since over-16s returned to high school in August for the first time since March.

Visitors hoping to avoid subways and buses by using the capital’s bike sharing scheme will be disappointed; a break between suppliers saw all cycles and racks removed in 2018, although several e-scooter startups are plugging the gap in the market. Yet with hotels crying out for guests, it’s currently no challenge to find affordable, central accommodation from which to explore the main hotspots on foot.

“Although business is very slow, it is kind of beautiful to see the streets so quiet,” says Mats Bengtsson, who runs The Collector’s Hotels, three antique-filled boutique venues set amidst the iconic spice-hued buildings of the city’s Medieval old town. Bookings have been so low since March he’s made half his staff redundant, with the rest propped up by a government support scheme. “Places in the countryside got Swedish tourists visiting this summer, but there wasn’t much reason for Swedes to come to the city because all the events were cancelled,” he explains. “We are starting to get a few international guests now and the UK has always been a strong market for us, so I’m hopeful we will get some business back.”

Sweden’s world-famous fashion and design stores are also looking forward to more global customers. While the retail economy hasn’t taken as big a hit as in the UK, it’s still experiencing its worst year for four decades. Covid safety measures taken by shops vary considerably; I’ve seen staff at tills standing behind plastic sheets, while others have grumbled when I’ve asked why there’s no communal hand sanitiser. Many venues have introduced floor stickers designed to encourage distancing in queues, albeit with varying effects. Some clothing brands closed their changing rooms at the peak of the pandemic, but most have now reopened.

Unsurprisingly, the strictest changes to public life here are in doctor’s surgeries and hospitals, where, emergencies aside, nobody’s allowed in without an appointment. There’s a backlog of tens of thousands of operations affected by reorganisation and delays designed to prioritise patients with Covid-19. Therapists have been allowed to offer face-to-face meetings throughout the pandemic though, with reports of a recent increase in couples seeking help. Even in a country that avoided a lockdown and the pressures of homeschooling, there’s been a spike in separations.

Despite intense international criticism over the country’s high early death toll and sharpening national political debates about the government’s preparedness for the crisis, domestic support for the public health agency has remained strong. And locals are acutely aware that their country’s back in the global spotlight for avoiding the fresh spikes seen in the UK and other parts of Scandinavia.

“We can’t know for sure but a lot of people are hoping we won’t get a second wave because we have kept more of society open instead of going in and out of lockdown,” said a Swedish gym friend, after my last socially-distanced evening exercise class. “I hope we can prove we did it right.”

Scientists have varied opinions on whether Swedes have developed greater immunity to the virus, are better at social distancing, or if other factors will turn out to be more relevant to the country’s downward curve. But many agree that the consistency of the measures in Sweden has contributed to a calmer public mood here than in the UK. That might prove another incentive for British tourists seeking a respite from the new rule-of-six, just in time to see Sweden’s forests burst into their autumn colour palette. Meanwhile, I’m stocking up on masks as I prepare to fly in the other direction, and crossing my fingers I don’t touch down to a local lockdown.

SOURCE

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Ted Cruz Explains Perfectly Why RBG’s Seat Must Be Filled Before the Election



RINO Murkowski, prior to Ginsburg passing, said she 'would not vote' to confirm a nominee to Supreme Court before election

Republican Senator Ted Cruz says President Donald Trump needs to nominate a successor Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg next week, and that the Senate should confirm that choice or the country risks a constitutional crisis.

“I believe that the president should, next week, nominate a successor to the court. I think it is critical that the Senate takes up and confirms that successor before Election Day,” Senator Cruz told Sean Hannity on Fox News.

“Democrats and Joe Biden have made clear they intend to challenge this election. They intend to fight the legitimacy of the election. As you you know Hillary Clinton has told Joe Biden ‘under no circumstances should you concede, you should challenge this election.’ and we cannot have election day come and go with a 4-4 court.”

Cruz continued, “A 4-4 court that is equally divided cannot decide anything. And I think we risk a constitutional crisis if we do not have a nine-justice Supreme Court, particularly when there is such a risk of … a contested election.”

Cruz then shared his experience litigating Bush vs. Gore case and how the country didn’t know for 37 days who the president-elect was. “I think we have the responsibility to do our job. The president should nominate a principled constitutionalist with a proven record and the Senate … should do our job and protect the country from the constitutional crisis that could result otherwise.”

SOURCE

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To mask or not to mask

I certainly cannot see any point in wearing a mask if you are not infected. A rule that all infected people should wear masks should be sufficient

Public trust in the word of “experts” and public health officials over the past few months has rapidly deteriorated.

It started in April when members of the White House Wuhan coronavirus task force told the public to start wearing face masks after two months of officials screaming at Americans not to wear them.

“Seriously people- STOP BUYING MASKS! They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!” Surgeon General Jerome Adams angrily tweeted on February 9.

“Whenever you leave home, be sure to put on your mask!” Adams said on August 7.

Then after months of life-altering economic sacrifices to help slow the spread of the disease and prepare hospitals for patients, on June 5, more than 1000 health officials signed a letter approving of mass protests in the name of social justice.

“We created the letter in response to emerging narratives that seemed to malign demonstrations as risky for the public health because of Covid-19,” the letter states. “We wanted to present a narrative that prioritizes opposition to racism as vital to the public health, including the epidemic response. We believe that the way forward is not to suppress protests in the name of public health but to respond to protesters’ demands in the name of public health, thereby addressing multiple public health crises.”

Americans have been forbidden from going to church or other religious services, funerals for loved ones, major life events and more. For a period of time, crucial yet “non-essential” health issues and procedures were canceled or delayed for the sake of stopping the virus. A salon owner in Dallas was thrown in jail for defying shutdown orders so her employees could work to feed their families. And yet, these health officials threw their previous advice about large crowds out the window for a leftist movement. They did this, without shame, while continuing to advocate for devastating shutdowns on everyone else.

This trend continued in September when health “experts” published a study showing Sturgis, an annual gathering of motorcycle riders in North Dakota, was a “super spreader” event. The researchers magically did not find the same results for massive Black Lives Matter protests, where tens-of-thousands of people packed in close to one another and screamed loudly.

And now, CDC Director Robert Redfield has put another nail in the trust coffin.

During testimony this week in front of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Redfield claimed masks are more effective than a vaccine in protecting Americans from Wuhan coronavirus.

“Face masks, these face masks, are the most important, powerful public health tool we have, and I will continue to appeal for all Americans, all individuals in our country, to embrace these face coverings,” Redfield said. “I might even go so far as to say that this facemask is more guaranteed to protect me against COVID than when I take a COVID vaccine.”

For months we’ve been told masks don’t protect the person wearing them, but instead catch droplets from a sick person wearing one and prevent them from spreading to others. Redfield now appears to be arguing masks protect the person wearing them, which is the opposite of what we’ve been lectured about while officials demand Americans wear them — even to walk their dogs alone.

Further, Redfield’s current statement is the opposite of his testimony in February when he said “no” after being asked by lawmakers whether healthy people should be wearing masks.

If face masks were as protective as the CDC director claims, the entire country would be open. The experts, who also happen to be longtime Washington, D.C., bureaucrats, are either lying or they don’t know what they’re talking about. Either way, they’ve lost significant trust among the American public.

SOURCE

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For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Personal). My annual picture page is here. Home page supplement

**************************

Sunday, September 20, 2020


Coronavirus is soaring again in the UK, but the number of deaths is low. Here are the main theories why

This article seems to miss the obvious. It is known that the virus kills very few people in general so once the virus has swept through a population and killed off those susceptible, there will be very few left for it to kill. Hence the reduced numbers of deaths at the current time

That explains the Swedish experience as well. Sweden had a lot of opportunities for the virus to spread so they had a relatively high death rate. But the death rate there is now down to almost nothing. All those susceptible to it are now dead so there are few new deaths. Sweden has now got the problem all over with

After suffering one of the world’s most brutal outbreaks of COVID-19 earlier this year, the United Kingdom is bracing itself for what could be a second wave of the disease.

The UK managed to flatten its curve slightly from late June, just in time to allow people to enjoy the northern hemisphere’s summer.

The loosening of restrictions across Europe, which allowed people to enjoy rounds at the pub and beach holidays, is widely blamed for the region’s second spike.

But while the number of infections has climbed steadily for two months, something strange is happening with the UK’s COVID-19 death toll.

The number of death certificates issued which mention COVID-19 has been falling for 20 straight weeks, according to UK Government statistics.

It’s a huge achievement for Britain, which was experiencing Europe’s worst surge in deaths in June.

While experts aren’t sure exactly what’s behind the fall in COVID-19 deaths, there are a few theories.

This spike is a young spike

The UK’s first wave of COVID-19 cases was predominantly driven by people in care homes and hospitals.

It’s estimated that about 20,000 British care residents died from COVID-19 as the virus ripped through facilities for the elderly and disabled across the kingdom.

But it appears that younger Britons are behind this renewed surge of the disease.

Pubs in the UK are still open, and the city of Leeds says it’s started issuing fines after an increase in music events, house parties and illegal raves.

In the first week of September, a third of all cases in England were people aged between 20 and 29.(Reuters: Simon Dawson)
People aged 20 to 29 have the highest infection rate in England, with 46 cases per 100,000 people. That’s followed by people in their 30s, with nearly 30 cases per 100,000.

“What we think is happening is that it’s mostly infecting younger people in particular parts of the country, and it’s not so much yet moving into the older and more vulnerable population,” Peter Openshaw, who is a professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London and scientific advisor to the UK Government, told the ABC.

“So many of the people who would be very severely affected are keeping themselves in isolation still and are not behaving in a way that might put them at risk of catching it, so it hasn’t moved up the generations in the way that it would need to in order to cause deaths.”

But the UK Government fears the disease could soon spread to older generations. “Don’t kill your gran by catching coronavirus and then passing it on,” UK Health Minister Matt Hancock warned.

While younger people can die from COVID-19 complications, older patients still have a much higher risk of death from the disease.

Doctors are getting better at treating the virus

While the UK’s second surge of infections could still spread to older people, the doctors on the front lines of the crisis appear to be better equipped to cope.

At the beginning of the pandemic, health workers around the world were grappling with a novel virus.

They had never encountered COVID-19 before, and so every symptom and complication was new, every treatment something of an experiment.

Now, doctors have approval from the National Health Service (NHS) to use two drugs on critically-ill COVID-19 patients: the Ebola treatment remdesivir, and the low-cost steroid dexamethasone.

The medications are not a cure, but may be helping patients recover quicker.

The UK is testing more people

At the beginning of the pandemic, it could be quite difficult to get a COVID-19 test in the UK.

Download the ABC News app and subscribe to our range of news alerts for the latest on how the pandemic is impacting the world
Tests were mostly limited to older people and those who had been checked into hospital with respiratory problems.

Anyone else with symptoms was urged to isolate at home for seven days, and call an NHS hotline if they took a turn for the worse.

Those restrictions meant that by early April, only 7,500 people in England had been tested for COVID-19. At the same point, Germany was already testing 5,000 people a day.

The rules have since been changed by the NHS so that anyone with symptoms can get a free swab.

That meant that in the first week of September, 436,884 people were tested in England, according to UK Government statistics.

“It’s a general trend, but it’s really important to understand a large part of the graph going up is more tests, and in particular more test in areas with a high rate,” Danny Dorling, the Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography at the University of Oxford, told the ABC.

The UK’s testing system is still being criticised. As demand for tests increases, the backlog of swabs at laboratories has reportedly grown to nearly 185,000.

Professor Dorling also pointed to a random sample survey by the Office of National Statistics, which tracks people who have first tested negative to coronavirus before repeatedly following up with tests to see how many people catch it.

“That ONS one shows the increase is only among young adults so far — that only comes out every couple of weeks but is such a higher quality (than NHS testing).

“If you want to know what is happening in the population you need to look at the ONS data, because it’s a proper random sample that is not affected by fewer or more people getting tested and so-on.

“And that one is a lot less worrying than the raw figures.”

There may simply be a lag in deaths

While deaths are not rising in lockstep with new coronavirus cases, it may only be a matter of time.

There is always a lag between a spike in cases and the number of people dying from the disease.

Hospital admissions for COVID-19 patients have hit their highest levels in two months, official UK data shows.

On September 13 alone, 153 people were admitted to English hospitals with COVID-19.

In a country of 56 million, that may not sound like much, but it’s a concern to UK actuary John Roberts, who analyses the UK’s infection rate for the COVID-19 Actuaries Response Group.

If hospital admissions continue on this current trajectory, the UK could have as many people needing treatment for COVID-19 as they did in June.

“The last couple of weeks there’s been a bit of a spike, the number of deaths has gone up but it’s not a huge jump and it may be that we’re going to have to wait a bit to see the trends in infection, particularly in the vulnerable age groups, go up,” Professor Openshaw said.

“Then after a lag of two or three weeks we’ll expect to see the upwards trend in terms of the number of deaths.

“So there is an built-in delay of about three weeks between it spreading into a particular population and those infections being translated into death.”

SOURCE

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If you’ve got a runny nose you DON’T have Covid-19: Top expert says fatigue is most common symptom for children as Matt Hancock urges parents not to confuse colds with coronavirus

Children only suffering from a runny nose ‘absolutely’ do not have coronavirus, a top expert has warned amid calls for Britons to stop getting tested unnecessarily as the government’s ongoing swabbing fiasco continues.

Professor Tim Spector, of King’s College London, moved to reassure parents the symptom, alongside congestion and sneezing, is a ‘sure sign’ they have a cold and not Covid-19.

Matt Hancock has claimed parents seeking tests for children merely battling colds are contributing to the soaring demand on Britain’s creaking testing service, which has descended into chaos over the past week.

Fears are now high that schools and offices will have to shut because people with mild symptoms cannot prove they are negative. Officials say a quarter of Britons getting tested aren’t ‘eligible’.

It was claimed today that the testing fiasco has hit almost every school in the UK, with up to 25,000 teachers in England already forced to stay at home and self-isolate.

Professor Spector, who runs the Coronavirus Symptom Study app, is behind research showing the most common symptoms of Covid-19 for school-age children is fatigue (55 per cent), headaches (55 per cent) and a fever (49 per cent).

By comparison, the most common symptoms in adults are fatigue (87 per cent), headache (72 per cent) and a loss of smell (60 per cent). Neither children or adults frequently report a runny nose.

SOURCE

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IN BRIEF

Up to nine additional nations could join peace deal with Israel, including Saudi Arabia, Trump says (The Daily Wire)

Clueless Joe refers to the “Harris-Biden administration” (Washington Examiner)

Biden votes in person, wrecks the Democrats’ mail-in voting narrative (PJ Media)

House GOP releases “Commitment to America” agenda (The Resurgent)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi unpractically seeks to put pressure on GOP in COVID-19 relief battle (The Hill)

Senator Tom Cotton: The U.S. should eliminate China’s “most favored nation” trade status (The Washington Free Beacon)

Criminal probe opened into John Bolton’s book, The Room Where It Happened, which may contain classified information (Politico)

A former NRA insider paints an unflattering picture (National Review)

Three charged for harassing patrons at Pittsburgh restaurants during Labor Day BLM protest (National Review)

Judge throws the book at 13 alleged Lancaster rioters and sets $1 million bail for seven of them (Daily Mail)

Up to 95% riots are linked to Black Lives Matter (The Federalist)

Virginia police hunting for person who shot patrol car three times (Fox News)

“Evil is real”: North Carolina police officer pens heartfelt resignation letter to community amid “unprecedented” exodus from the force (The Daily Wire)

Breonna Taylor’s family reaches massive settlement with City of Louisville for $12 million (WAVE 3 News)

LA County sheriff calls out LeBron James, wants him to match reward for deputies’ shooter (The Truth About Guns)

Chinese organization with Communist Party ties funds Black Lives Matter ventures (The Federalist)

Chinese software firm that “provides intelligence to the government and military” collects data from 50,000 Americans (Daily Mail)

“Worst-case scenario”: Baltimore murder suspects protected by sanctuary laws (The Washington Times)

Trump says he favored plan to eliminate Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, but then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis opposed it (Disrn)

FTC prepares possible antitrust lawsuit against Facebook (Bloomberg)

Oil demand has collapsed, and it won’t come back any time soon (NPR)

Alan Dershowitz files multimillion-dollar defamation lawsuit against CNN (Washington Examiner)

Policy: The U.S. dollar collapse is greatly exaggerated (Mises Institute)

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