Sunday, April 18, 2021

Analysis: Scientific Survey Shows Voters Across the Political Spectrum Are Ideologically Deluded, with Trump voters least so

<i>Voters were twice as likely to believe certain progressive myths than conservative ones</i>

During the late 1800s when the renowned scientist Louis Pasteur was trying to overturn the medical community’s deadly belief that germs are not communicable, he wrote: “The greatest aberration of the mind is to believe a thing to be, because we desire it.” The results of a scientific survey conducted just after the 2020 presidential election show that voters from across the political spectrum have failed to heed that warning.

The survey, commissioned by Just Facts, reveals that the vast bulk of voters have embraced false and harmful dogmas that accord with their political views. This is a typical consequence of confirmation bias, the human tendency to reflexively accept anything that accords with one’s preexisting beliefs and ignore or twist everything that defies them.

While most polls measure public opinion, this annual scientific survey measures voters’ perceptions of issues that can have major impacts on their lives. This year’s survey used an entirely new set of questions that addressed the topics of Covid-19, income, poverty, racial disparities, global warming, drug overdoses, life expectancy, pollution, and the national debt.

Some illuminating examples of the misconceptions held by voters with differing political preferences include the following:

76% of Trump voters think that the average income of middle-income households fell during the Obama administration. In reality, their inflation-adjusted average income rose by $5,300 during this period.

88% of Biden voters think that police are more likely to use lethal force when arresting black people than white people. In reality, police are 42% less likely to use lethal force when arresting blacks than whites.

The survey also found that a considerable portion of Trump voters have adopted some progressive fallacies spread by the media. For instance, 38% of Trump voters (and 86% of Biden voters) think that the number of strong-to-violent tornadoes in the U.S. has generally increased since the 1950s. In reality, they have slightly decreased. 

That disconnect between fact and perception accords with numerous reports that link tornadoes and other extreme weather events to global warming, even though such events have occurred at a roughly level pace for as far back in time as reliable data extends. This suggests that progressive powerhouses like media titans, big tech corporations, and educational institutions have enough reach and influence to mislead large numbers of people who are ideologically opposed to falsehoods they propagate.

The survey was comprised of 21 questions posed to U.S. residents who regularly vote. It was conducted just after the 2020 presidential election by Triton Polling & Research, an academic research firm that applied scientific survey methods to optimize accuracy.

Results for All Voters

For each question, voters were offered a selection of two or more answers, one of which was true. Voters also had the opportunity to say they were unsure.

On average, voters gave the correct answer 38% of the time, gave an incorrect answer 51% of the time, and said they were unsure 10% of the time.

A majority of voters gave the correct answer to only 4 of the 21 questions.

Results by Ideology of Falsehood

Among questions in which the wrong answers accorded with partisan agendas, an average of 57% of answers were liberally misinformed, while 28% were conservatively misinformed. In other words, voters were twice as likely to believe certain progressive myths than conservative ones. 

For all 10 of the questions in which the electorate was most deluded, the wrong answers they gave concurred with progressive narratives propagated by the media. Moreover, the false answers they gave were often far removed from reality, not just slightly mistaken. For example, 66% of voters thought that doubling the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour would raise the average income of families in poverty by 25% or more. The real figure is about 1%.

Results by Politics, Age, and Gender

The survey also recorded voters’ ages, genders, and who they voted for in the presidential election. This allows the survey to pinpoint the segments of society that are most and least informed about specific issues. The sample size of third-party voters were too small to produce meaningful data.

The results show deep partisan and demographic divides, with different groups being more or less knowledgeable depending upon the questions.

On average, the rates at which voters gave false answers varied from 61% for Biden voters to 42% for Trump voters. From worst to best, the false answer rates for the various groups are as follows:

61% for Biden voters
56% for 18- to 34-year olds
53% for females
51% for 35- to 64-year olds
51% for 65+ year olds
49% for males
42% for Trump voters

In clinical and real world trials, China’s Sinovac underperforms

The vaccine has already been exported to 19 countries

THE LATEST results for China’s CoronaVac vaccine, developed by Sinovac Biotech, a Beijing-based pharmaceutical company, were disappointing for the aspiring scientific and technological powerhouse. Phase-three trials, which were conducted on health-care workers in Brazil, yielded an efficacy rate of just 50.7% (with a 95% confidence interval of 35.7% to 62.2%), just barely above the 50% threshold set by the World Health Organisation for covid-19 vaccines. The results of a real-world trial released a week earlier were even worse: the vaccine was estimated to be just 49.6% effective (11.3% to 71.4%) against symptomatic covid-19 cases; when asymptomatic infections were included, this figure dropped to a dismal 35.1%.

The Chinese authorities’ reaction did little to boost confidence. After news broke of the discouraging results, Gao Fu, head of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, admitted at a conference on April 10th that current vaccines “don't have very high rates of protection”, and suggested that vaccines could be mixed to improve efficacy. Mr Gao later backtracked from the comments, claiming that it was “a complete misunderstanding”.


Obnoxious racist targets royal funeral

Jeremy Vine has been blasted for turning Prince Philip's funeral into a 'race issue' by pointing out that all the guests are white.

The Channel 5 TV host, 55, asked a guest on his show whether she thought it was a 'problem' that all 30 attendees would be white at the Windsor Castle service which will be held on Saturday afternoon.

Footage of the exchange has been shared widely on social media, with some people accusing Vine of 'race baiting'.

It follows more than 100,000 complaints being made to the BBC about its amount of coverage on the Duke's death, with another 433 complaints after Andrew Marr compared him to an 'Indian bride', for which he has since apologised.

In the clip, Vine says: 'We are going to see a group of 30 people who are going to be at this very restricted funeral, and I'm imagining it will be 30 people who are white.

'I'm just trying to think whether there's anybody of colour in there and I don't think so. Do you think that's a problem?'

Social media users reacted to the interview, with one saying: 'I am genuinely staggered at this statement from Jeremy Vine. It's pure race baiting.'

Another wrote: 'Jeremy Vine is cancelled'.

A third added: 'What a ghastly thing to say'.

And a fourth posted: 'It's not a problem but let's ask the question anyway so that we can try to turn it into one. How is this not simply race baiting?'




Thursday, April 15, 2021

Now Russia wades into Covid vaccine blood clot row and says its Sputnik jab DOESN'T cause rare complication linked to AstraZeneca and J&J's single-dose shot

The country's controversial vaccine triggers an immune response in a similar way to rival jabs made by AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. 

But its manufacturer, the Gamaleya Research Institute in Moscow, today claimed its jab does not cause the same clot problems seen with those vaccines because of its 'purification technology'.

Critics accused Russian scientists of trying to undermine Britain's vaccine drive and to profit from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson's bad press by advertising its own jab as an alternative.

James Lawson, a fellow at The Adam Smith Institute think-tank, told MailOnline: 'With Russia's languishing vaccine campaign, it's clear they are in no position to lecture others. 'Their propaganda is designed to undermine other nations and should not be given any credit. 

'Evaluation must avoid degenerating into petty international politics and be led by science — the priority is maximising supplies of all effective vaccines, without giving credence to any fear-mongering directed against our existing safe vaccines.'

The Gamaleya Institute said that there were 'significant differences' in the way it had used cold viruses to develop its vaccine compared to AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.

As a result, the Russian scientists said, 'there is no reason to extrapolate safety data from one vaccine to safety data from other vaccines'.

It says a 'four-stage purification technology' used to develop Sputnik V improves the safety of the jab, citing a study that suggests 'insufficient purification' of DNA could trigger blood clots.

The latest developments come amid a string of reports suggesting that both those vaccines might raise the risk of a condition called cerebral sinous venous thrombosis (CSVT) for young adults. 

The Food & Drug Administration in the US this week dragged Johnson & Johnson's vaccine into the furore, asking medics to stop using it while it investigates one-in-a-million cases of brain blood clots in young women. 

A comprehensive analysis of adverse events during clinical trials and over the course of mass vaccinations with the Sputnik V vaccine showed that there were no cases of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST).

All vaccines based on adenoviral vector platform are different and not directly comparable. In particular, AstraZeneca’s ChAdOx1-S vaccine uses chimpanzee adenovirus to deliver the antigen, consisting of S-protein combined with leader sequence of tissue-type plasminogen activator. 

The vaccine from Johnson & Johnson uses human adenovirus serotype Ad26 and full-length S-protein stabilized by mutations. In addition, it is produced using the PER.C6 cell line (embryonic retinal cells), which is not widely represented among other registered products.

Sputnik V is a two-component vaccine in which adenovirus serotypes 5 and 26 are used. A fragment of tissue-type plasminogen activator is not used, and the antigen insert is an unmodified full-length S-protein. 

Sputnik V vaccine is produced with the HEK293 cell line, which has long been safely used for the production of biotechnological products.

Thus, all of the above vaccines based on adenoviral vectors have significant differences in their structure and production technology. 

Therefore, there is no reason and no justification to extrapolate safety data from one vaccine to safety data from other vaccines.

The quality and safety of Sputnik V are, among other things, assured by the fact that, unlike other vaccines, it uses a 4-stage purification technology that includes two stages of chromatography and two stages of tangential flow filtration. 

This purification technology helps to obtain a highly purified product that goes through mandatory control including analysis of free DNA presence. 

In addition, the volume of nucleic acid is several dozen times lower in adenoviral vectors compared to Pfizer and Moderna vaccines (1 to 2 mcg vs 50 to 100 mcg, correspondingly).

A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine on April 9, 2021, discusses that the cause of the thrombosis in some patients vaccinated with other vaccines could be insufficient purification that leads to the emergence of significant quantities of free DNA. 

Insufficient purification or use of very high doses of target DNA/RNA can result in adverse interaction of a patient’s antibodies that activate thrombocytes with elements of the vaccine itself, including free DNA and consisting of PF4 factor and heparin or nucleic acid - PF4/DNA and PF4/RNA.

European regulators are expected to decide what to do about the jab by next week, while Britain's regulator is set to approve its use and to receive 30m doses in the summer. 

Denmark today said it wouldn't use AstraZeneca's jab any more because of the clotting scare. No link has been proven, however, and there is still no evidence the vaccines directly cause the condition.

Dr Joe Grove, an infection and immunity researcher at University College London, told MailOnline: 'The bottom line is we do not know the cause of this very rare complication so it is difficult to say for sure why a vaccine may or may not cause it.

'Regarding the statement from Gamaleya it is quite well grounded in science and the citation they provide stacks up  – that paper does discuss the idea that DNA impurities may trigger this type of clotting event. 

'However, this was a just suggestion and is not yet supported by evidence that DNA impurities in the AstraZeneca or J&J vaccines cause clotting events. 

'Ultimately, it is difficult to make rational arguments as to why Sputnik V won’t cause clotting when the precise cause of the clots remains unknown. Gamaleya might be right, they might be wrong, only time will tell.

'I’m confident that all vaccine manufacturers are doing their utmost to provide safe and effective vaccines. Vaccines remain our best, and possibly only, route out of the pandemic.'

While scientists remain unsure what about the two vaccines – if anything – is causing the blood clots, the common theme is they both use adenoviruses.

Adenoviruses are common cold viruses that AstraZeneca and J&J use to transport genetic material from the coronavirus. Pfizer and Moderna, however, use synthetic bubbles to achieve the same goal, and haven't seen the same clotting concerns. 

Sputnik V also uses adenovirus technology but it's based on different viruses to the other two, the company said, and exhaustively purified.    

In a statement released by a London-based PR agency Gamelaya said: 'All of the above vaccines based on adenoviral vectors have significant differences in their structure and production technology. 'Therefore, there is no reason and no justification to extrapolate safety data from one vaccine to safety data from other vaccines.'

The company's PR blitz follows statements released by the same agency last November claiming Sputnik is safer and more effective than Pfizer's jab. Scientists questioned those claims, warning there was 'considerable uncertainty' because of a small number of infections in the trial. 

Despite all the uproar about the blood clots the risk of developing one is vanishingly rare and significantly lower than the risk of getting Covid.

Health chiefs imposing bans and restrictions on vaccines say they are acting out of an 'abundance of caution'.

They say the chances of younger adults dying from Covid was so tiny that the benefits of the British-made vaccine do not clearly outweigh the risks. 

But the risk-to-benefit ratio for older adults, who face a much greater risk of becoming seriously ill, was clearly in favour of the vaccine, the panel concluded.

Scientists and leading experts believe the complication was occurring slightly more often than expected in younger adults.

They have emphasised, however, that it is extremely rare to develop the condition after the jab — occurring in around one in 250,000 recipients, overall. The rate for under-30s is thought to be roughly one in 90,000.

UK: Cancer patients have been disastrously let down by our Covid-obsessed Government

Ministers should be focusing on the crisis in cancer care, not on the imposition of yet more intrusive regulations

Professor Karol Sikora

Throughout the Covid crisis, I have had much sympathy for politicians. Social media has given the nastiest corners of society a direct line to those governing us, and often the abuse can be beyond the pale. Mistakes have been made – we understand that – but what I find harder to forgive is the total unwillingness even to discuss the cancer crisis and other harmful consequences of lockdown policies.

Rehashing arguments about if, when, or how restrictions should be in place is pointless. What we need to do is have an open and frank discussion about their negative consequences so that we can do our best to mitigate them.

Instead, ministers have embarked on a bizarre quest to alter fundamentally how our society functions by considering the introduction of vaccine passports. We are talking about essentially dividing our country based on a person’s health status. That is an intensely private matter, and the fact we are even discussing having one pub for the unvaccinated and one for the vaccinated shows how far we’ve fallen. Hopefully, the virus will no longer be public health enemy number one by the time the Government sorts out the logistics of proof of vaccination.

There is a far more significant issue looming. In 2020, 40,000 fewer patients than we would have expected started cancer treatment, and that number will have significantly increased in the meantime. Hundreds of thousands fewer people have been urgently referred for suspected cancer, and across all types of cancers there are significant drops in the number of patients. Left untreated, cancer will kill. This is no longer a ticking time bomb, it’s happening now. At Rutherford, my cancer centre network, for months we have been seeing more patients coming forward with late-stage cancer than we would normally expect. These disruptions will sadly translate into far more severe complications further down the line.

When I describe this situation on Twitter, the responses are often that I’m wrong to frame it as a choice and that the Government should deal with all harms. Twelve months ago I would have agreed, but it’s now clear that politicians do not want to talk about this. Instead they will focus on ramming through outrageously intrusive and unethical policies like vaccine passports. I agree that there should be sufficient space to talk about both, but that has not happened.

Just talking about the cancer crisis will save lives. Forget glitzy ad campaigns or punchy slogans for now, we just need to talk about it. I wrote for the Telegraph a few weeks ago and called for a non-Covid health issue press conference, and the idea attracted much support. Since then, we’ve had several government press conferences filled with the usual back-patting. Go on any MP's Twitter account and all you will see is fancy graphics detailing how many vaccinations have been given. Quite frankly, who cares? We know that the vaccination rollout has been an enormous success – it’s now time to start talking about the equally important cancer crisis.

If anyone has a good explanation as to why a non-Covid press conference can’t happen or is a bad idea, I am all ears.

Instead, as the national conversation twists, weaves and dodges around the cancer crisis, thousands more people will miss their cancer diagnosis. I expect over the coming weeks to see the vaccine passport debate, promoted by the Government, to consume more and more oxygen, leaving no room for anything else.

My sympathy for politicians is wearing thin. They need to get their priorities straight, and they need to do it quickly.




Friday, April 09, 2021


The steady progression of my stomach cancer has left me with close to zero energy so I have no energy to blog at the moment.  I am however undergoing a form of nuclear medicine today which could fix me.  I think it will.

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Here’s what we know about AstraZeneca and that rare blood clotting disorder

The Thrombosis and Haemostasis Society Australia and New Zealand, the country’s acting chief medical officer and the medical regulator, do not believe there is hard evidence yet of a link between AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine and a rare blood clotting syndrome.

A 44-year-old man who received the AstraZeneca vaccine remains in Melbourne’s Box Hill Hospital with a probable case of the rare syndrome, termed suspected vaccine induced prothrombotic immune thrombocytopenia (VIPIT).

“We cannot say there is a causal link. That’s the bottom line,” said Associate Professor Vivien Chen, lead author of the Thrombosis and Haemostasis Society’s just-released guidance on VIPIT. “This is a new, emerging syndrome. The scientific investigations to show causality have not been done.”

However, Professor Jim Buttery, head of epidemiology and signal detection at the Victorian immunisation safety service, said he now believed there was evidence of a link.

“Although not conclusively proven yet, it is likely there is a causal link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and this rare subset of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia,” he told The Age via email.

“Based on the data available to date at the moment it appears the UK detected 30 cases from 18 million doses of vaccine, approximately 1 in 500,000 doses.”

Available evidence suggests the syndrome is extremely rare. Norway has reported a rate of 1 in every 25,000 doses, Germany has reported a rate of 1 in 100,000, while Europe’s overall figures are 1 in 210,000. Britain has recorded a much lower rate: 30 reported cases from 18.1 million AstraZeneca injections – around 1 in 500,000.

In comparison, a 65-year-old has between a 1 or 2 in 100 chance of dying if infected with COVID-19, with that risk continuing to rise with age.

The European Medicines Agency and Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration say the benefits of the vaccine continue to outweigh any risks.

Initially, much of the focus was whether AstraZeneca’s vaccine may raise the overall risk of blood clots. There is now evidence to show this is not the case. However, that concern turned out to be something of a red herring.

Our blood is filled with platelet cells, which are able to clot together when we are bleeding and clog the wound. This is why you stop bleeding soon after cutting yourself.

Cases of VIPIT are characterised by four things: low levels of platelets, high levels of blood clotting breakdown products, the formation of blood clots, and the presence of a specific antibody that over-activates platelets in the blood.

“It’s predominantly blood clots in what we would call unusual places,” said Dr Chen.

The unusual antibodies are a hallmark of the syndrome. They activate the platelets, which has the dual effect of causing blood clots to form while also removing other platelets from the bloodstream.

“There are several mechanisms by which the antibodies could develop , and as yet we don’t know the exact mechanism,” said Professor Paul Monagle, a paediatric haematologist at the University of Melbourne who is studying the syndrome.

“One possibility is it is creating antibodies, and those antibodies are recognising some sequence on the platelets, instead of the vaccine.”

Potential risk factors also remain unclear. Most of the cases reported so far were in women younger than 55.

That has led several European countries to stop giving AstraZeneca to people aged under 60. However, it could be that age and gender are not risk factors. Many European countries gave AstraZeneca to younger groups first, as well as healthcare workers – of which a large proportion are women.


Scientists reworking abandoned University of Queensland COVID-19 vaccine

University of Queensland scientists are secretly reworking their cancelled COVID vaccine after a new study revealed it could have been the world’s best weapon in the fight against the deadly virus.

The University of Queensland’s abandoned COVID vaccine could have been the world’s best weapon in the fight against the deadly virus, with a new study revealing it was effective after just one jab and could be stored at fridge temperature.

Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines, which are being relied on to protect the nation, require two doses each – a huge logistical challenge which is further complicated by Pfizer needing to be stored at -70C.

UQ’s crack vaccine team is now working behind the scenes to move the vaccine technology forward after the research, released today, showed if it was reworked and problems ironed out it could still be a boon in the fight against COVID-19 and future global novel viruses.

“We are working day to day and moving the technology forward but we are trying to stay under the radar as the focus needs to be on the AstraZeneca vaccine that is being rolled out as it is our best line of defence,” the professor said.

The local vaccination trial was unceremoniously terminated last year after some patients recorded false-positive HIV results.

This was due to the trial’s unique ‘clamp’ technology that fused two fragments of a protein found in HIV.

When the vaccine was administered these proteins prompted the production of antibodies that were picked up in HIV tests.

But the release of new “success” data shows the technology is highly effective after just one jab and is stable at fridge temperature – something the successful Pfizer vaccine doesn’t achieve.

The research Clinical & Transitional Immunology was published on behalf of the Australian and New Zealand Society for Immunology.

All of Queensland was behind the UQ team who worked night and day to fast-track their COVID-19 vaccine.

Human trials began last July with 120 volunteers in Brisbane.

Due to the race for time to find a protective vaccine, in December CSL decided to cancel further development of the vaccine.

Then Prof Young said that while his team was “devastated”, they would pick themself up and keep going.

Dr Russell Basser from Seqirus, a CSL company, said then that public confidence was a big driver in the decision to shelve development of the UQ vaccine.

“We have come to a mutual agreement with the Government. Public confidence is critical and if there were no other vaccines in the works we may have persisted. Even though the vaccine was safe “the burden to move forward was too great,” he said.

The UQ vaccine was one of four the Federal Government had committed to purchasing with plans to produce 51m doses.

The study findings were from the university’s original animal trials.


Democrats: Stupid Or Liars?

Abrams is Georgia’s Governor-in-exile. This gap-toothed hypocrite has become the go-to stercoraceous for liberal media on all things “voter suppression.” She’s also raised a small fortune for the “cause,” which is a bit like getting rich off pre-selling unicorns.

In the course of amassing that fortune, she’s had to become unburdened by reality. First, the reality that the 2018 election was stolen from her. She knows she lost fair and square, but her ego wouldn’t allow her to accept it. Now, her relevance won’t allow her to admit it. Everything she is depends on that lie continuing.

In the course of building that lie, Abrams may well have begun to believe it. You can only have so much smoke blown up where last night’s dinner resides before you begin to crave a cigarette. But that lie has now backfired.

Stacey Abrams has cost the people she hopes to lead the opportunity to honor a hero, she’s cost vendors and merchants a lot of money, and she has embarrassed the state. Nothing she has said about the new Georgia voter integrity law is true, and those who don’t know it now will eventually.

The only way she could undo the damage of chasing away the All-Star Game is to admit she’s been lying. She can’t do that. So is she more stupid or liar?

Joe Biden has slightly more of an excuse. He’s stupid, always has been. But he’s also always been a liar. Then there’s the possibility that in his diminished capacity his staff has simply lied to him. Not being very bright, he wouldn’t question the absurdity of Republicans imposing “Jim Crow 2.0” or “Jim Crow on steroids” when briefed on the law. Never a deep thinker, it wouldn’t occur to him to ask relevant questions like, “How do these minor changes to the law compare to the voting laws in my home state?” Turns out, not too favorably…for Delaware.

In reality, even a child reading the actual text of the law would see it’s much easier to vote in Georgia now than it has ever been to vote in Delaware. Easy access to absentee voting, drop boxes, and more time for early voting (by a lot) than the President’s home state. If Georgia is “oppressive,” why has he remained silent his entire life about the oppression in his home?

Because he doesn’t know, or he doesn’t care. Stupid or liar?

The liberal media, naturally, has unquestioningly parroted every Democrat talking point on the subject. MSNBC is the “Jim Crow 2.0” network. From the goons on Morning Joe to the frauds at night, they steadfastly insist having to write your driver’s license number on an absentee ballot is the modern equivalent of separate drinking fountains. Personally, I believe black people are capable of anything, particularly the simple task of easily proving you are who you say you are. But then holding anyone who would willingly marry Mika Brzezinski, especially after having failed so spectacularly in 2 previous marriages, as your standard bearer lends itself to thinking very little of the intelligence of everyone else.

As corporations cave to this unholy alliance of ignoramuses, you’d think someone would actually read the damn law and care that they’re all getting it wrong. It’s not that hard, even one fact-checker at the Washington Post was able to do it, awarding Biden their highest score on their BS-meter.

So are these people stupid or liars? And how much of each are they? There’s no wrong answer, just as there is no good answer. It just is. It’s who they are.



Bipartisan worry grows over national debt, which now totals $85,210 per person (Just the News)

We're shocked — shocked! Cities that foolishly slashed police funding inundated by spike in homicides (Washington Times)

A record-setting 19,000 unaccompanied migrant minors crossed into the U.S. in March (PM) | Border Patrol predicts more than one million migrant encounters in 2021 (Hot Air)

Some 533 million Facebook users' phone numbers and personal data have been leaked online (Insider)

USAID failed to ensure Palestinian aid dollars kept from terrorists (Free Beacon)

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis formally bans "vaccine passports" with executive order (PM)

With lockdowns easing, economy added 916,000 jobs in March as service-sector hiring booms (Fox Business)

Derek Chauvin trial enters second week, will feature testimony from Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo (UPI)

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signs law allowing permitless handgun carry (Des Moines Register)

Voter identification requirements are supported by 72% of the public (AP-NORC)

Keep your powder dry: 4.69 million gun background checks break single-month record in March (AMN)

What could possibly go wrong? U.S. grant to Wuhan lab to enhance bat-based coronaviruses was never scrutinized by HHS review board (Daily Caller)

Ukraine says Russia massing troops on border (AFP)

Policy: Four reasons gun control can't solve America's violence problem (FEE)




Monday, April 05, 2021

Unbelievable: Biden Wants to Spend $20 Billion to Destroy 'Racist' Highways with His Infrastructure Bill

President Joe Biden’s $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan is a wretched mess of bloat, giveaways and Green New Deal-style posturing. It intends to tax-and-spend our way out of the pandemic funk by raising taxes on businesses already battered by lockdowns and spending that money on liberal agenda items that make Democrats feel warm and fuzzy but do little to make America’s infrastructure better.

If you want an object lesson in just how broken this plan is, look no further than the New Orleans neighborhood of Tremé, where Biden would spend federal money to destroy a highway that’s already been built in the name of “advanc[ing] racial equity and environmental justice.”

Or look to Syracuse, New York, where the same thing would happen to a section of Interstate 81.

Or Houston, where an Interstate 45 expansion was paused recently at the behest of Biden’s Department of Transportation because some in the community deemed the expansion to be “racist.”

These are the priorities of an infrastructure plan that Biden said, in his opening pitch Wednesday, would “grow the economy, make us more competitive around the world, promote our national security interest and put us in a position to win the global competition with China in the upcoming years.”

In New Orleans, it would do this by tearing down the Claiborne Expressway. Quoth The Washington Post’s Ian Duncan, the highway, built in 1968, is “an example of a historic inequity that President Biden’s new infrastructure plan would seek to address through billions in new spending.”

Tremé resident Amy Sally has waged a campaign for years to have the expressway, which cuts through a predominately black neighborhood, removed.

Duncan said Sally “struggled to get support from local leaders. Neighbors considered the quest to be wishful thinking.”

“Nobody thinks you can get rid of a highway,” she told The Post.

They do when the president thinks a fund that apportions billions to destroy existing infrastructure in the name of equity is an example of “building back better.”

“I’m floored,” she said Wednesday. “I’m thrilled to hear President Biden would call out the Claiborne Expressway as a racist highway.”

In fact, according to E&E News, the $621 billion that the Biden administration wants to spend on infrastructure is meant to address “historic inequities and build the future of transportation infrastructure.”

“The President’s plan includes $20 billion for a new program that will reconnect neighborhoods cut off by historic investments and ensure new projects increase opportunity, advance racial equity and environmental justice, and promote affordable access,” a fact sheet from the White House read.

It name-checked two highways in particular: “Too often, past transportation investments divided communities — like the Claiborne Expressway in New Orleans or I-81 in Syracuse — or it left out the people most in need of affordable transportation options.”

In the case of I-81, color Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York thrilled.

“It is wonderful for Syracuse that President Biden listened to us and included the vital I-81 reformation as a poster child for enlightened infrastructure policy, calling for new investment to help communities pay for tearing down urban highways to reconnect and transform neighborhoods previously left behind,” Schumer said in a statement, according to

“The $2 billion plan would reroute highway traffic onto nearby Interstate 481 and rebuild part of Interstate 690 that crosses downtown,” the outlet reported.

The argument is that these highways, though intended to reduce travel times, were built through black neighborhoods.

The paradox, however, is that I-81 and the Claiborne Expressway, part of Interstate 10, were built as part of the massive Interstate Highway System project — mentioned not infrequently by Biden on Wednesday as a polestar for his new infrastructure plan.

For example, he said the initiative is “not a plan that tinkers around the edges, it’s a once-in-a-generation investment in America, unlike anything we’ve seen or done since we built the Interstate Highway System and the space race decades ago.

“In fact, it’s largest American jobs investment since World War II. It’ll create millions of jobs, good-paying jobs. It’ll grow the economy, make us more competitive around the world, promote our national security interest and put us in a position to win the global competition with China in the upcoming years.”

And it’ll do this by destroying highways to build highways. It’s Keynesian ditch-digging, all in the name of racial equity.

Not that we shouldn’t have seen this coming. In December, Pete Buttigieg, then the nominee to head the Department of Transportation, said this on social media:

“Black and brown neighborhoods have been disproportionately divided by highway projects or left isolated by the lack of adequate transit and transportation resources.

“In the Biden-Harris administration, we will make righting these wrongs an imperative.”

In early March, we saw the nascent practical effects of this when the Department of Transportation effectively put a hold on an expansion of Interstate 45 in Houston, first by sending a letter to the Texas Department of Transportation asking it to stop the project and then by sending the Federal Highway Administration to sue Texas, as Bloomberg reported.

“Basically we’ve for decades been prioritizing highways over the ability to get around. We need to be smarter about this,” Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said during a news conference, according to Bloomberg. (County judges are basically county executives in Texas.)

“The way we build should not focus on what’s easiest for cars,” Hidalgo said. “It should focus on what improves quality of life. That is not only the right thing to do but necessary to make sure our region remains competitive as the world continues to evolve and we work to retain and recruit the smartest people into our region.”

However, many of the concerns were focused around racial equity.

In a letter to the Texas DOT, Air Alliance Houston said the I-45 extension would “have a severe and disparate impact on generational Black and Hispanic/Latinx neighborhoods and Black and Hispanic/Latinx individuals.”

“Others wrote similar letters, including U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and the community organization Texas Housers,” Bloomberg reported.

“Those letters are what prompted the federal action from the highway administration, which says it will evaluate concerns raised under Title VI, the provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that forbids discrimination on ‘the ground of race, color, or national origin’ in federally funded programs or activities.”

At least the I-45 extension hasn’t been built and addressing it doesn’t necessarily appear to be a part of the Biden administration’s $20 billion bulldozer equity grab-bag — at least not yet.

However, it’s a glimpse into the mindset that will undergird one of the most misguided parts of a thoroughly injudicious infrastructure plan that deals with actual infrastructure problems (when it deals with them at all) through the lens of social engineering.

There’s another irony there, though: These highways exist because of the Robert Moses-style social engineering that went into designing projects such as the Interstate Highway System.

Back then, automobile transport was seen as the wave of the future. The engineers and bureaucrats who mapped out the system didn’t have the racial sensitivities of 2021, but they were also utopian do-gooders who believed that by breaking a few eggs, you’d get a whole lot more in return. If you had to run a highway through a neighborhood, sorry — but fast and accessible car travel makes things better for everyone else.

Such are the pitfalls of central planning and a government determined to “go big” at all costs.

The infrastructure is there, however, and it serves its purpose. Now, the new enlightened Robert Moseses of the Biden administration want to spend $20 billion to tear it down because our 21st-century utopian do-gooders have come to the conclusion that, at a time we’re bleeding money like a drunken poker player, what our nation’s infrastructure needs is less infrastructure.

Then, presumably, we’ll need more infrastructure where the old infrastructure used to be, except more equitable.

Keep in mind, this is only $20 billion of $2.25 trillion in spending that’s being proposed. The same misguided spirit permeates the entire plan — which aims to build, repair and replace infrastructure through the lens of ideology under the assumption that’ll make America competitive.

Of course, even though the plan is oft-compared to the Interstate Highway System, it’ll lead to no externalities like these “racist” highways in the Interstate Highway System that are such a blight on equity they need to be torn down.

Rest assured, our benevolent central planners know better these days. You can trust them to socially engineer with the $2.25 trillion they want — more than $6,800 for every American — with the same wisdom they plan on spending that $20 billion in places like New Orleans and Syracuse.


How To Destroy a Nation

One year has passed since restaurants, bars, places of worship, and our children’s schools were shut down by power-hungry politicians. Government officials around the nation, blatantly ignoring the Constitution and preying on the fears of Americans, imposed draconian lockdowns that changed our way of life.

It was also one year ago that millions of us began to realize how easily our most basic liberties could be taken away by our elected leaders.

Before March of last year, most of us believed we had rights enshrined in the Constitution and a free market economy.

We thought that government agencies would publish information intended to help us, rather than take away our freedoms.

We trusted schools and teachers to have our children’s best interest at heart. There was no doubt that America was the greatest nation in the world.

Unfortunately, the America we believed in was a fantasy.

The freedoms we enjoyed were an illusion, and our trust in government was misplaced. Millions of Americans quickly learned that their government could force them to stay in their homes indefinitely, mandate masks on the beach, and cancel church services.

Government officials even prevented their constituents from hosting Super Bowl parties in their own homes.

And that’s not all. Governments can hack into and track phones without a warrant, so the right to privacy is a mirage. Freedom of speech only applies if we don’t question government edicts or the prevailing media narrative--if we do, we are suppressed. Just ask Dr. Pierre Kory of the FLCCC Alliance, who advocated for the use of non-vaccine therapeutics that greatly improved outcomes for patients who contracted COVID-19. Copies of his Senate testimony last year were quickly removed from YouTube and C-SPAN.

It doesn’t end there. We thought we had a right to keep our businesses open and allow customers to assess their risk, but this was also an illusion.

Throughout the pandemic, bureaucrats have claimed total authority in deciding which businesses stay open and even in which items customers are allowed to purchase.

Some of the Americans that refused to comply with ridiculous, unscientific mandates were jailed in the name of "public safety."

Throughout our nation’s history, Americans dutifully paid taxes, voted, and drove on the right side of the street because we believed we had a contract with our government and with each other.

Over the past year, we’ve seen that this "contract" is nothing more than a collectively-held myth.

We thought that the government existed to protect our liberties, deriving its authority from the consent of the governed. But now, if our elected leaders suspend our freedom indefinitely, we’re expected to comply, no questions asked.

Many of our leaders insisted, and continue to insist, that the COVID-19 pandemic warranted an unprecedented expansion of government authority. Without this, they claimed that millions of Americans would die.

Of course, they were wrong. States that implemented the restrictions our nation’s "experts" recommended have had similar or worse COVID-19 numbers relative to states that remained open.

But it turns out that scaring millions of Americans was enough to make this power grab a reality. The words written in the Constitution, intended to constrain government and preserve individual liberty, proved to be largely meaningless. Political leaders forced us to swallow the destruction of our way of life in the name of "safety."

But as Benjamin Franklin said: "Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

A year after the first lockdowns were imposed, Americans should ask some difficult questions, the answers to which are becoming increasingly clear: Were the lockdowns justified? Did we really need to close our schools?

Were social distancing and mask mandates effective?

A sober examination of America’s response to this pandemic is needed, not just because it was used as the justification to ruin countless lives, but because it’s the only way we’ll learn the right lessons from this unprecedented event.

There is no doubt that COVID-19 has devastated America, but it’s the government’s response to this pandemic, not the virus itself, that has taught us how to destroy a nation.




Sunday, April 04, 2021

After Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx Criticized the COVID Task Force, Dr. Scott Atlas Couldn't Stay Silent

I just finished an interview with Dr. Scott Atlas. Dr. Atlas was a member of President Donald Trump's COVID task force. He's a well-known health care policy advisor, a Senior Fellow at Standford's Hoover Institution and was Chief of Neuroradiology at the Stanford University Medical Center.

He's also been an outspoken critic of the widespread lockdown strategy recommended by Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx and employed by the vast majority of American governors over the past year.

Generally, when I sit down for an interview with a figure like Dr. Atlas, my goal is to elicit some response or statement that separates this "media hit" from any other interview Dr. Atlas may have committed to. The thought process is: "If I can generate one good headline out of this interview, I've done good work."

Well, Dr. Atlas went above and beyond here. He is so candid and so direct in his observations and criticisms of his former colleagues and those now directing policy for the Biden White House I'm at a loss as to where to begin.

One good headline? How about several?


Dr. Scott Atlas: The COVID Vaccine Was NOT Fauci's Triumph

O'CONNOR: Could you lend a little bit of context to Dr. Fauci taking credit for the vaccine?

ATLAS: The vaccine development was first initiated by the president's realization that he was going to do what turned out to be a very smart thing, which was to take the risk away from the company's developing the vaccines and just paying for hundreds of millions of doses and development and production in advance of them even having the vaccine developed, and that was a smart gamble. But then after that, the point of the development and vaccine distribution and everything was done by other people.

Dr. Slaoui was in charge of the vaccine development program. General Perna and FEMA and other people were in charge of logistics and distribution planning. Alex Azar the Secretary of HHS and his team were overall in charge of Operation Warp Speed.

The name that you mentioned earlier is missing from the list of people that were involved in the vaccine.

O'CONNOR: That'd be Dr. Anthony Fauci. I just want to quote him, "When I saw what happened in New York City almost overrunning our healthcare system, that's when it became very clear: the decision we made on January 10th to go all out and develop a vaccine may have been the best decision that I've ever made with regard to intervention as a director of the institute." From your first-hand knowledge of this situation, this was not his decision?

ATLAS: For him to claim credit for that is sort of unconscionable.

Dr. Scott Atlas: CNN Did Not Invite Me for The Pandemic Doctors Speak Out Program

O'CONNOR: Several other doctors that were involved in the Trump team, they're featured on CNN... by the way, I noticed you weren't there. Did they invite you to be a part of that conversation about your first-hand experience as a doctor on the COVID-19 task force under President Trump?

ATLAS: No, but they did ask for comments, which I chose not to give because there's no point in giving comments to people who are going to lie and distort about what you said so... no point.

Dr. Scott Atlas: Birx, Fauci "Despicable People Lying to Distort History"

O'CONNOR: It sure seems like they had a whole lot of criticism about the people that they were working with in the White House that they never voiced when they actually had some level of influence and could have made a difference if they really had those problems.

ATLAS: It's more than that. It's really a completely false story that they're trying to perpetrate to the public. Dr. Birx, Dr. Fauci, the other people... their decisions, their recommendations were to do the lockdowns, the curfews, the significant restrictions on freedom, the school closures, all of these things. And those recommendations were then implemented all over the country, with some rare exceptions of a couple of states like Florida or South Dakota. Their recommendations were followed by the governors who did the implementation.

They're lying basically, they're trying to distance themselves from responsibility. This is obvious. They're trying to distance themselves from the accountability as if someone who complained or criticized the policies that they recommended were to blame for the implementation of the policies that they recommended. In other words, it's just like "Alice in Wonderland" here, except it's worse because it's really just people, despicable people lying and trying to distort history. They're rewriting history, you know. The reality is Dr. Birx was the task force coordinator, her recommendations were being given to the governors. Dr. Fauci's recommendations... they're all over the media giving the recommendations. We know what they said and what they said was done, you know. So this is the historical fact, and no matter what they say to change that, you know, I'm sorry, but the truth matters.

Dr. Scott Atlas: Florida Did Better Than Other States By Refusing Lockdowns

O'CONNOR: You mentioned Florida here as being one of the outliers with regard to not, you know, taking as Gospel and not taking this directive from Dr. Birx and the team with regard to lockdowns. They did go a different direction, and I mean, the data is in is it not?

ATLAS: This is the point. There should be no mistake here. The burden of saying "you did something good" is on the people who did these impositions of unprecedented restrictions on individuals... closing medical care, closing schools, all these things. If they cannot prove that they did something better than the people who governed in a more sensible way, they failed. Those policies failed. Florida, for instance, they opened their schools. All Florida schools, 100%, are open in-person and have been so for months. There are still options for parents if they want to do distance education. But, in terms of the policy, it's open. There are no mask mandates in Florida. The businesses are not closed like the people who recommended the lockdowns, and it turns out not only did Florida do just as well, they actually did better if you look at the excess mortality rate increase - in other words, of the deaths over and above what would have been predicted without the pandemic - and the percentage increase... Florida did better than 2/3 of the states, and the states that they did better than all did the lockdowns.

Dr. Scott Atlas: We Have a Massive Public Health Crisis Because of Lockdowns

ATLAS: We have a massive public health crisis because of the lockdown. Four hundred thousand new deaths from tuberculosis this year in the world because of diversion of medical resources. One hundred and thirty million new people in abject starvation level poverty in the world because of the diversion of lockdown resources and blockage of international economic development. We had half the people in the United States almost... had chemotherapy skipped, their chemotherapy for cancer, you know, we missed something like up to 78% of cancers that would newly be diagnosed because they didn't come in for their screening. We had one out of four people 18 to 24-years-old that thought about killing themselves. We had a 300% increase in teenage medical visits from teenagers to doctors for self-harm. I mean, this is a massively destructive policy. the question isn't even did it work or not, the question is what are we doing here? We're killing people, destroying people, particularly the low-income people and, you know, while the rich guys and the affluent people sit at home and work from their computer, and you know, "it's inconvenient" as Dr. Fauci said.

Dr. Scott Atlas: CDC Dir. Walensky Should be FIRED for "Impending Doom" Hysterics

O'CONNOR: You've said it's no longer acceptable to be able to make these decisions and claim you're just doing it out of fear. Just this week, we had our current head of the CDC, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, say that she was - these are her words - "scared" and she felt "impending doom" about where we're headed. From a public policy standpoint, and also just based on where the numbers and data are, is that kind of language helpful number one and even justified?

ATLAS: The person should be fired immediately for saying something like that. That is completely unprofessional and honestly unacceptable for a leader of public policy to say something like that. I don't even know how to express... I've had people from all over the world... world-renowned medical scientists and infectious disease and in public policy, contact me and say, "What is going on in the United States?" This kind of talk disqualifies someone from being in a position of leadership in my view, completely and totally.

Dr. Scott Atlas: Empirical Data Proves Mask Mandates Don't Work

O'CONNOR: I'd love you to comment on the state of Wisconsin. The Supreme Court just struck down a statewide mask mandate and, of course, you know, we're getting hysterical responses about this... "If you don't have a state mandate to wear masks that just means we're going to have another spread of the virus and it's going to be devastating!" At this point, your impression of the masks and how it's been implemented, and the effectiveness of a mandate. There's one thing to think that it's good to wear a mask, there's a second when the government now says you must wear a mask.

ATLAS: There are two separate issues: one is the issue of a mask themselves and another is the issue of the power of the government. If you just want to talk about the mask themselves, the mask mandates do not work. That's not even necessarily saying that masks don't work, but we know places that have mask mandates did not have an impact. There is no scientific evidence that mask mandates have stopped the spread of the disease. In fact, they did not. Empirically, this is not an opinion it's factual, it's inarguable. The second point is when we see what's going on now, if people are worried that cases are coming up in certain parts of the United States and so the response of these same people is, therefore, the states like Texas or Florida, they should never have said, "Don't have a mass mandate." Why did we not make the obvious observation here that the cases are exploding in places with the mask mandates? They are not exploding in Texas and in Florida like they are in places with the mask mandates like Michigan, for instance. Or in New York, New Jersey, have higher increases in cases right now than the places that we don't have a mask mandate. I don't understand that disconnect between fact here. There's some denial of fact going on.


Biden Now Admits His Tax Hike Could Include Those Making $200,000

When Joe Biden unveiled his $3 trillion infrastructure bill, he told the American people that no one making less than $400,000 a year would have their taxes raised. He said, “No one making under $400,000 will see their federal taxes go up, period.”

In the immortal words of Independence Day Defense Secretary Albert Nimziki, “That’s not entirely accurate.”

On Friday, the president said that a two-partner family would be impacted if their combined income crosses $400,000. He also claimed that jacking up corporate and business taxes right at the beginning of the recovery from the pandemic “will not slow the economy at all.”

Does anyone else get the feeling that Biden and his advisors are just a bit delusional?

“It is a once-in-a-generation investment in our economic future, a chance to win the future — paid for by asking big corporations, many of which do not pay any taxes at all, just to begin to pay their fair share. And it won’t raise a penny of tax on a family making less than $400,000 a year, no federal tax, no addition,” he said.

New York Post:

The president’s description of the tax hike as applying to any “family” that makes more than $400,000 per year is a significant change from his earlier remarks, and could mean families on the cusp of affluence in areas with high costs of living are impacted.


In an interview last month with ABC News, Biden said, “If you make less than $400,000, you won’t see one single penny in additional federal tax.”

The number of families with two incomes exceeding $400,000 is a lot more than single taxpayers earning that amount. And if you have two children and a house and live in an expensive real estate market, even $400K doesn’t make one “wealthy.”

But it’s the rise in business taxes that should worry us all. Despite mountains of evidence to the contrary, Biden insists that raising taxes doesn’t slow the economy. “Raising taxes, the studies show, will not slow the economy at all,” he said.

When Biden starts talking about corporations and “the wealthy” paying their “fair share” in taxes, be afraid. Be very afraid.

Biden spoke after surprisingly strong job growth figures for March that indicated nearly 916,000 new jobs were created, lowering the unemployment rate to about 6 percent.

Biden’s plan would boost the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent. It was lowered in 2017 by President Donald Trump’s tax reform law from 35 percent. The plan also would impose new taxes on overseas business profits and could include an increase on capital gains taxes on investments like stocks and real estate.

Republicans in Congress oppose tax increases, but Democrats who narrowly hold the House and Senate may attempt to ram through the bill under special budget reconciliation rules that avoid the usual 60 votes needed in the Senate.

Another problem with raising taxes is that it never generates the tax revenue promised by politicians. This has been proved over and over again in Europe when “wealth taxes” have been tried.

A growing economy would probably generate as much tax revenue as Biden’s grandiose tax-raising schemes. Maybe someday, politicians will figure that out.




Saturday, April 03, 2021


I have just been diagnosed with advanced stomach cancer. They wanted to admit me to hospital straight away but I am so far resisting that. If I am hospitalized, however, that may be the end of my blogging.


The resegregation of America

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to ignore a growing, insidious ethos overtaking America’s most powerful institutions.

Individual merit and reasoned debate are out. “Lived experience” and the hierarchy of group grievance are now what matter most.

Even truth is considered meaningless. Narratives are everything.

The concept of fundamental human equality, derived from ideas at the heart of America’s founding and famously rearticulated by civil rights champion Martin Luther King Jr. in his “I Have a Dream” speech, is now being replaced by the enforced “equity” of the woke.

The end result, ironically, is the resegregation of America.

This new woke ideology, building on critical race theory, not only rejects the concept that people should be judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character, it increasingly also embraces actual governmental race-based discrimination.

The evidence of this shift is everywhere.

To no one’s surprise, segregation is popular on modern college campuses, where these ideas originally bubbled up. Many schools, such as New York University, have been besieged with demands for racially segregated student housing, despite that being likely illegal.

Columbia University is now offering segregated graduation ceremonies for various racial and gender identity groups. Columbia, an Ivy League school, insists that these segregated ceremonies are all voluntary and in addition to the larger, integrated ceremony, but who’s to say that will continue?

By next year, would it be a surprise to see schools all over the country copy this practice?

Such ideas are coming to corporate America, too.

Proposition 16 in California, which would have officially brought back race-based affirmative action to the state, was rejected by voters. But it was widely supported by a gaggle of corporations, nonprofit groups, and well-connected billionaires.

Voters may balk at race-based discrimination, but woke corporations are seemingly happy to inject racial categories in their business models.

Open up an app for food-delivery services, such as Uber Eats, for instance, and you will likely see a section for “black-owned businesses.”

Are we now going to start choosing our dinner by racial group rather than by cuisine?

Such moves to create a more racialized society would be bad enough if they were only limited to college campuses and the practices of woke businesses, but they are disturbingly being incorporated into government policy, too.

Two Democratic senators recently said that they would no longer vote to confirm “non-diversity” nominees for federal government posts.

“I am a ‘no’ vote on the floor, on all non-diversity nominees,” said Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., “You know, I will vote for racial minorities, and I will vote for LGBTQ, but anybody else, I’m not voting for.”

Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, concurred with Duckworth.

“We’re not just calling for [Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders],” Hirono said. “This is not about pitting one diversity group against them. So, I’m happy to vote for a Hispanic or black person and LGBTQ person and AAPI person.”

So, they’d vote to confirm any nominee—as long as he wasn’t straight and white.

Duckworth and Hirono eventually backed down from that stance, but the threat was telling.

Qualifications are irrelevant. Racial discrimination is good, as long as you discriminate against the right people.

The efforts to place identity before all other considerations do not just stop at those who can serve in government.

Several senators have floated legislation to create race-based programs that would direct funding toward specific racial groups. The Biden administration is backing the creation of a commission to investigate the possibility of reparations for slavery.

Cities are experimenting with race-based laws, too.

Libby Schaaf, the mayor of Oakland, California, announced that the city will be creating a universal basic income program in partnership with a nonprofit organization that will only give money to “black, indigenous, and other people of color,” according to KPIX-TV, the CBS affiliate in the Bay Area.

The program, which will give $500 a month to 600 low-income families for 18 months, was justified by supporters as based on statistical poverty disparities among racial groups.

The money for the program will come from Blue Meridian Partners, a philanthropic organization.

That opens up a few questions, beyond just its legality.

Will American citizens now need to take a genetic test to qualify for government services?

After all, we live in an age where gender is supposedly “fluid,” but race and culture, we’re told, are absolute.

Also, what exactly does a group disparity or statistic mean to anyone living in poverty who doesn’t qualify as a “person of color”?

You won’t receive aid, but there’s good news: You’re helping the government create more equity by being poor. Congratulations!

As my colleague Mike Gonzalez wrote for City Journal, many of these proposals are likely unconstitutional and illegal violations of the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause and Titles VI and VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

That clearly won’t stop the woke from pushing them on Americans anyway.

“The woke Left understands that, as written and amended, the Constitution stands in the way of many of the things that it wants to do,” Gonzalez wrote. “This is why the Left has set about to cast the Constitution as illegitimate by, for example, purposely mischaracterizing the three-fifths compromise, pretending that the document perpetuated slavery, or calling it, as Kendi does, a ‘colorblind Constitution for a White-supremacist America.’”

That’s a reference to Ibram X. Kendi, a so-called anti-racist intellectual who has become massively popular in media and in higher-education circles.

Kendi aims to redefine racism as a collective, systemic act, rather than an individual one; denounces the concept of a colorblind society; and argues that racial discrimination can be good—as long as it’s pointed in the right direction.

Whether you’ve heard of Kendi or not, his ideas are now everywhere and are being delivered in a steady and growing dose to Americans and other people throughout the West.

America hasn’t always lived up to the promise of equality laid out in the Declaration of Independence. Slavery and segregation ran alongside our institutions and culture of liberty.

But the founding generation designed our system to bend toward justice and the truth. In time, we have built upon our cornerstone of freedom and corrected our flaws as a nation.

The intellectual vanguards of wokeness and critical race theory demand that the most fundamental aspects of self-government and preservation of individual rights be abandoned to serve the cause of destroying “systemic racism.”

Arguing to the contrary may be racist and, if Kendi gets his way, practically illegal—at least illegal for anyone in a position of power.

So, not only is America to be resegregated, but unlike in our past—when the American people were persuaded and freely chose to abandon and prohibit race-based policies—this time we will have no choice, and will simply be at the whim of woke apparatchiks.

Today, we may be debating whether our national origin is 1776 or 1619, but if our current course continues, our future will look more like 1917, the year of the communist Russian Revolution. For one group to rise, another must come down.

Race will simply replace class as the prime motivator of the revolution and eventual tyranny.

What we will end up with is misery, recriminations, and segregation now, tomorrow, and forever.



"It's everywhere": Parents group fights left-wing indoctrination in schools (Washington Times)

Meet Brian Auten, the Russiagate prober who couldn't verify anything in the Steele dossier yet said nothing for years (RealClearInvestigations)

Congressman Matt Gaetz claims sex trafficking investigation is extortion attempt (UPI)

Biden admin formalizes genocide declaration in China while also preposterously rebuking Trump's religious liberty and pro-life priorities (Washington Post)

Texas migrant child detention facility at a mind-boggling 1,600% capacity amid border surge (National Review)

Arizona sheriff says illegal border crossings may be underreported by 300% (PJ Media)

Russia suspected of stealing thousands of State Department emails (Politico)

Cancel culture: GoFundMe yanks page run by Virginia parents fighting woke curriculum (Free Beacon)

Meanwhile, legislators in neighboring state override governor's veto of school choice bill; Kentucky is now the 28th state with some form of school choice (Reason)

Sad irony: Philadelphia shooting results in death of man working on video about city's violence (Fox News)

Adding insult to injury: Man busted for attack on Asian woman was on parole for killing his mom (NY Post)

Democracy dies with communism: China sharply reduces elected seats in Hong Kong legislature (AP)

An inconvenient truth: Three million masks get tossed out every minute and it's killing wildlife everywhere. Here are some photos of the damage. (Not the Bee)

The global gender gap will take an extra 36 years to close after the COVID pandemic, report finds (Time)

Policy: In a rebuke to teachers unions, school choice is going gangbusters in the states (Daily Signal)

Policy: Washington should steer clear of tax on vehicle miles traveled (Daily Signal)

Social engineering: Military re-allowing "transgender" troops to serve openly and "transition" on the taxpayer dole (U.S. News & World Report)

Friendly fire: Biden earns "Four Pinocchios" for false claim about Georgia voting law (Fox News)

The coronavirus was the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2020 (Axios)

Pfizer says its vaccine is 100% effective in children ages 12-15 (ABC News)

Shipments of Johnson & Johnson vaccine halted after 15 million doses are ruined by human error (The Hill)

Democrat Rita Hart finally drops challenge to results of Iowa race, concedes to Marianette Miller-Meeks (Daily Caller)

Derek Chauvin trial: Key witness to invoke the 5th Amendment, refuses to testify (Fox News)

Brown University students vote in favor of reparations to "atone" for abolitionist founder (Free Beacon)

Policy: Take "SALT limit" repeal with a truckload of salt (Issues & Insights)

Policy: Restoring the Founders' original vision for our constitutional republic (Daily Signal)

Satire: Parents disguising kids as illegal immigrants so they can receive in-person teaching (Babylon Bee)




Friday, April 02, 2021

Pfizer Covid vaccine 'is 100% effective against South African variant, beats Brazilian strain' AND works for at least six months

Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine is still 91 percent effective at preventing COVID-19, offers six months of protection and does work against worrisome South African variant, new firm data reveal.

In fact, the shot was 100 percent effective in preventing illness among trial participants in South Africa, where a new variant called B1351 is dominant, although the number of those participants was relatively small at 800.

Dr Anthony Fauci called the results 'really very encouraging,' in a Thursday CBS interview.

While the new overall efficacy rate of 91.3 percent is lower than the 95 percent originally reported in November for its 44,000-person trial, a number of variants have become more prevalent around the world since then.

However, the shot was more effective in the U.S., preventing nearly 93 percent of symptomatic infections.

Pfizer previously only had data to suggest the shot's protection lasted nine months. The new data is the largest real-world test of the shot since its approval and doubles the duration of vaccine immunity.

It comes at a critical moment, when variants are taking hold in the U.S., and as the nation will look to Pfizer and Moderna to make up for ten of millions of doses of Johnson & Johnson's one-shot vaccine lost to human error.

To-date, the U.S. has given one or more vaccine doses to nearly 30 percent of Americans and more than 16 percent of people are fully vaccinated

Pfizer's Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla said the updated results, which includes data on more than 12,000 people fully inoculated for at least six months, positions the drugmakers to submit for full U.S. regulatory approval.

The vaccine is currently authorized on an emergency basis by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The trial data 'provide the first clinical results that a vaccine can effectively protect against currently circulating variants, a critical factor to reach herd immunity and end this pandemic for the global population,' Ugur Sahin, chief executive officer at BioNTech, said in a statement.

Experts fear new variants of COVID-19 from South Africa and Brazil may be resistant to existing vaccines and treatment.

More than 300 cases of the South African variant have been detected in more than 25 U.S. states and jurisdictions, according to federal data.

Pfizer and University of Birmingham researchers found that the the vaccine triggers protective antibodies against the Brazil variant.

In Pfizer's real-world study, the vaccine was 100 percent effective in preventing severe disease and death in the small South African trial, and 95.3 percent effective in preventing severe disease in the overall trials.

It was 91.3 percent effective at preventing symptomatic infection, overall.

Researchers identified 927 total cases of COVID-19 among the more than 46,000 members of the original trial.

Of those, 850 cases were in people who received a placebo shot. Just 77 infections were found among the participants who got the real vaccine.

The shot's efficacy was even higher in the U.S., where just 50 of the 697 total COVID-19 cases occurred in people who got the vaccine. The remaining cases were among participants who got the placebo shot.

Based on those results, the shot was 92.6 percent effective in the U.S.

All nine COVID-19 cases that arose among the 800 South African participants were in the placebo group.

South Africa's variant appeared in lab tests to dull the effects of antibodies triggered by vaccines in the lab, prompting alarm worldwide that the variant would render a year of frantic shot development useless.

The variant, known as B1351, is now dominant in South Africa and has spread to many other countries - including the U.S. and UK, but is not dominant in most other regions -

In fact, AstraZeneca shot performed so poorly against the South African variant that the nation gave its allocation away.

Pfizer's latest findings bring a sigh of relief that the vaccine will still work against the more infectious variant that emerged there.

And Americans who got vaccinated with Pfizer's shot in December can rest assured that they still have immunity.

Pfizer had only followed a sizable share of its trial participants for three months when its vaccine was authorized by the FDA in December.

Now, at least 12,000 of those participants have been vaccinated for six months and the shot's efficacy remains over 90 percent.

Protection likely extends well beyond that duration, too, but has yet to be proven.

That's an encouraging sign that the incoming supply of Pfizer's vaccine won't need to be used as booster shots and can be used to get more people vaccinated.

The U.S. will need that supply, especially after 15 million doses of Johnson & Johnson's vaccine were ruined by an ingredient mix-up and forced a halt on next month's supply of the one-dose shot, the New York Times reported Wednesday.

Fortunately, Pfizer is ahead of its production schedule, and Moderna will soon be able to ship 40 percent more vaccine in each of its vials, a drastic increase to the overall supply.

There were also no serious safety concerns observed in Pfizer trial participants up to six months after the second dose, the companies said.

Johnson & Johnson will meet its goal of delivering 20 million doses of its one-dose COVID-19 vaccine to the U.S. by the end of March, with a whopping 11 million doses shipping next week

They added that it was generally equally effective irrespective of age, race, gender or ethnicity, and among participants with a variety of existing medical conditions.

And earlier this month, data on health care and essential workers showed their risks of contracting symptomatic COVID-19 were reduced by 80 percent after the first dose of either Pfizer or Moderna's vaccine.

The release of Pfizer's updated results comes on the heels of separate data that showed the vaccine is safe and effective in 12- to 15-year olds, paving the way for the drugmakers to seek U.S. and European approval to use the shot in this age group within weeks.


COVID-19 is especially harsh on elderly people, and researchers think they know why

Australian researchers have been investigating why elderly people respond so poorly to COVID-19, and theorise that it's linked to their repeated exposure to other seasonal coronaviruses.

There are seven types of coronaviruses that can infect people (including SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19 disease), four of which are common causes of acute respiratory infections.

In a study published in Nature Communications, scientists looked at blood samples from 89 healthy children, 98 adults, 57 elderly individuals and 50 COVID-19 patients, comparing antibodies to a range of coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2.

Lead author Amy Chung, laboratory head at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, said researchers hypothesised that when an elderly person was first exposed to SARS-CoV-2, their immune system viewed it as a typical, seasonal coronavirus instead of a new strain.

Dr Chung said in this case the immune memory wasn't helpful because the two were very different and needed different responses to fight off infection.

She likened the immune memory response to SARS-CoV-2 to playing sport, with an older person's immune system thinking it had taken on the virus before.

"You have an opponent, and for the elderly, this is someone that in their minds is a team they have played multiple times beforehand," she said. "They know the stats, and they know the key players to target."

By comparison, children (who overall had less exposure to human coronaviruses) saw SARS-CoV-2 as a new opponent.

"They're coming in without all these preconceptions of, 'hey, these are the stats, this is how it should be played' and therefore are inducing this fresh immunity, without this preconception, and are able to target really specific responses for COVID-19," Dr Chung said.

'Fundamentally different' immune cells

Vanessa Bryant from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute said the study identified unique antibody responses in the elderly and children, and then compared these signatures to COVID-19 recovered adults.

It found a greater level of highly specialised antibodies in elderly people and more broad-functioning antibodies in children.

Dr Bryant said this difference in antibodies was not just a direct result of exposure to coronavirus.

"[But] more of an indirect relationship between an existing pool of antibodies against other coronaviruses in elderly people that can recognise SARS-CoV-2, and elderly people being more likely to have poor immune responses and develop severe COVID-19," she explained.

The theory proposed in the paper was that the pool of immune cells in elderly people and children was fundamentally different.

"Elderly people are drawing on a smaller pool of virus-naïve, or inexperienced, immune cells; instead they have a high number of coronavirus-experienced cells that may be selected because they can also recognise SARS-CoV-2," Dr Bryant said.

Selection of these already existing memory cells may skew their antibody response to antibodies that bind SARS-CoV-2 well, but are less effective at eliminating the virus, she explained.

"On the other hand, children, who have a more immature immune system, will have lots of virus-naïve cells to choose from, and perhaps this makes them more likely to find more 'perfect matches' for SARS-CoV-2 that bind strongly and can attack the virus effectively in multiple ways," Dr Bryant said.

University of Queensland professor of medicine Paul Griffin described the study as "incredibly interesting", but noted the small sample size used by researchers.

"Given the numbers in the study, all of the outcomes being reported are fairly preliminary and need to be validated by larger studies," he said.

Professor Griffin said this was especially the case in the number of COVID-19 patients examined, with only 50 people in the study itself.

People over the age of 70 are at a higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19, whereas research shows children don't tend to get as sick as older adults. This is unusual, because children often play a key role in the transmission and development of respiratory-type illnesses.

Dr Chung said researchers went into the project aiming to understand why elderly people were more susceptible to COVID-19, especially in comparison to children.

Prior to launching the study, Dr Chung said the team theorised that because kids regularly had respiratory-type illnesses caused by seasonal coronaviruses, this induced immune responses in children protected them from COVID-19.

"Our study actually showed the complete opposite," she said. "It showed that the elderly, due to their long lives, were repeatedly being exposed to seasonal coronaviruses."

Dr Bryant said experts had some data, and lots of ideas, about why children had a better response to COVID-19 to older adults.

One reason, she explained, could be the type of immune response in children versus adults.

"Another is that children have fewer ACE2 receptors on the cells lining their respiratory tract and lung," she said.

"SARS-CoV-2 hijacks this receptor as an entry point to infect cells. … fewer ACE2 receptors means less opportunity for the virus to infect cells and make millions of viral copies, a lower viral load also gives the immune system a fighting advantage."

Professor Griffin said while some of the paper's findings could explain why elderly patients were so susceptible to COVID-19 disease, it was likely to form part of the puzzle — not the whole picture.

"I think it's more complex, I don't think it will be explained solely by the differences outlined in this paper," he said.

Dr Bryant also said elderly people could also be immunocompromised, which led to a weaker immune response.

"There are lots of reasons for this. An elderly person may have more underlying conditions or undiagnosed health issues that dampen their ability to make a strong response," she said.

Dr Chung said there was "something really unique" about children's different response to SARS-CoV-2. "Kids had this ability to activate surrounding white blood cells … to come and clear the virus away," Dr Chung explained.

This was a significant finding, she said, because it was an understudied research area.

Dr Bryant said research had previously uncovered how important other immune cells could be fighting COVID-19 disease.

"A recent Australian study looked at immune responses in children and adults with mild disease from the same household," she explained.

"In particular, children made a robust response in one particular type of innate cell, neutrophils, and in some children, this response was so effective that the viral load was below detectable levels."