Friday, July 17, 2020

Hebrew U. scientist: Drug could eradicate COVID-19 from lungs in days

New research by Hebrew University Prof. Ya’acov Nahmias and Sinai’s Dr. Benjamin tenOever revealed that the FDA-approved drug Fenofibrate (Tricor) could reduce SARS-CoV-2’s ability to reproduce or even make it disappear.

SARS-CoV-2 is the scientific name for the novel coronavirus.
“Viruses are parasites,” Nahmias explained to The Jerusalem Post. “They cannot replicate themselves. They cannot make new viruses. They have to get inside a human cell and then hijack that cell.”

As such, Nahmias and tenOever spent the last three months studying what SARS-CoV-2 is doing to human lung cells. What they found is that the novel coronavirus prevents the routine burning of carbohydrates, which results in large amounts of fat accumulating inside lung cells – a condition the virus needs to reproduce.

“By understanding how the SARS-CoV-2 controls our metabolism, we can wrestle back control from the virus and deprive it from the very resources it needs to survive,” Nahmias said, noting that it also may help explain why patients with high blood sugar and cholesterol levels are often at a particularly high risk to develop COVID-19.

The team then reviewed a panel of eight already-approved drugs that could possibly interfere with the virus’s ability to reproduce. Tricor caused the cells to start burning fat, Nahmias said. The result was that the virus almost completely disappeared within only five days of treatment.

The experiment was done in lab studies both in Israel and New York and was replicated several times with different lung samples. Nahmias said there is a strong indication that the experiment is highly repeatable in other labs.

The team is advancing to animal studies in New York and hoping to fast-track clinical studies in both Israel and the US within the next couple of weeks, since the drug is already proven safe.

The study is being published in this week’s Cell Press’s Sneak Peak. The work is being funded by the European Research Council, the Nikoh Foundation and the Sam and Rina Frankel Foundation.



Why Have Blue States Been Hit Hardest by COVID-19?

In March, data guru Nate Silver wrote about the different ways blue states and red states were experiencing the COVID-19 epidemic, noting that “states Clinton won do have considerably more total reported cases.”

COVID-19 was not just a blue state problem though. Silver pointed out that cases in red states were increasing far more rapidly.

“Nine of the 10 states that have seen the most rapid increase in coronavirus from Monday to Thursday are states that voted for Trump in 2016,” Silver wrote.

Days later, The Atlantic published an article titled “The Coronavirus’s Unique Threat to the South.”

The article saw similar ominous signs for red states, particularly a “four-state arc of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia.”

Months later we have a more complete picture of the data, which shows blue states have borne the brunt of the COVID devastation.

Eleven of the 12 states (including the District of Columbia) with the highest COVID-19 fatality rates are traditional blue states. Leading the way, unsurprisingly, is New York, which posted the highest deaths, total (31,346) and per capita (1,611 per 1M).* New Jersey is not far behind New York, however (1,478/1M). These states are followed by Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia. Just one red state—Louisiana, seventh highest with 680/1M—cracked the top twelve.

The question is, why?

After all, blue states tended to have the most stringent lockdowns. Indeed, eight red states—Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming—declined to issue stay-at-home orders at all (though some took less severe measures).

None of these states were among the states hardest hit by COVID-19.

The data could lend support to epidemiologists—John Ioannidis. Anders Tegnell, and others—who have expressed skepticism on the efficacy of lockdowns.

“Blind lockdown of entire populations has questionable added benefits,” Ioannidis, the C.F. Rehnborg Chair in Disease Prevention at Stanford University, recently wrote in the medical journal BMJ.

A second reason could stem from other policy decisions. Several states hardest hit by the coronavirus were among those that passed controversial policies that prohibited nursing homes from refusing to admit patients released from hospitals because they had the coronavirus.

Public health experts and trade association leaders had questioned the policies, noting older populations were the most at-risk and most nursing homes lack the resources to effectively quarantine COVID carriers. One 31-year-old health care worker told The New York Times the policy was “a sentence of death for all the older patients.”

The policy could explain why several states—New York, New Jersey, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, among them—experienced higher rates of fatality.

“The policy of sending recovering Covid patients back to nursing homes is the only policy of which I’m aware that seems unambiguously relevant for explaining differences we’ve observed between states with outlier death rates and the rest of the country,” Jeffrey Clemens, a Harvard trained economist and associate professor at the University of California-San Diego, told me in an email interview.

Following public outcry of the policy, many states shifted course. Politico recently reported that many states, including Massachusetts and Michigan, are now prodding eldercare facilities to admit COVID carrying residents by offering financial incentives, “raising the risks of spreading infections and substandard care for seriously ill patients.”

A third possibility is that blue states tend to have higher urban density, which in theory could make spreading of the virus easier. Eight of the states hardest hit by the coronavirus—New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts. Connecticut, Maryland, Delaware, New York and Pennsylvania—are also among the ten densest states in the US.

While urban density might seem like an obvious link to the spread of COVID-19, a recent World Bank report analyzing data from China suggested this was not actually the case.

“On the contrary, cities with the highest coronavirus infection rates were those with relatively low population densities, in the range between 5,000 to 10,000 people per square kilometer,” the authors found.

Dr. Mary T. Bassett, director of the Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard, agreed, saying it’s a mistake to blame population density for the spread of COVID-19, noting population density is not the same as overcrowding.

“Everything we know so far about the coronavirus tells us that blaming density for disease is misguided,” Bassett wrote in The New York Times.

The truth is we don’t yet know with any degree of certainty why blue states have suffered more throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s safe to say numerous variables—health care system quality and access, underlying health and age of the population, policy decisions, habits of hygiene, etc.—all play a role.

It also must be noted that we’re still not through the pandemic. Cases continue to climb—in part due to increased transmission, and in part through expanded testing, which increased from 345,000 tests per day in May to 478,000 in June—and red states could yet see similar results.

For now, however, the record is clear: blue states have experienced far worse devastation from COVID-19.

*All numbers current as of June 24, 2020.




"The underlying reasons for the split are pretty self-evident": Andrew Sullivan, who (rationally) believes in genetic differences between races, to leave New York Magazine (The Hill)

The media don't just overpraise Democrat governors; they overpraise the wrong ones! (National Review)

Despite escalating Taliban-government violence, U.S. closes five military bases in southern and eastern Afghanistan as part of peace deal (Fox News)

"We've never seen everything go perfectly": Is too much hope being put into a coronavirus vaccine? (Yahoo News)

Moderna Phase 1 results show coronavirus vaccine safe, induces immune response (Reuters)

Travel from New York City seeded the nationwide crisis, research shows (Washington Examiner)

More collusion: Wuhan lab that researches COVID-19 won't be visited by WHO investigators looking into origin of virus (Independent)

Seattle just passed a new tax on jobs in the middle of an economic crisis — but exempted government workers (Foundation for Economic Education)

Apple wins major tax battle against EU; second-highest court invalidates $14.8 billion tax bill (Fox Business)

An already outrageous prosecution in Atlanta turns scandalous: Embattled District Attorney Paul Howard is suspected of issuing fraudulent grand jury subpoenas (Power Line)

Media blackout notwithstanding, black leaders rally to save Washington, DC's, Emancipation Memorial (The Daily Signal)

New York City black activists call on de Blasio and city council to "take your handcuffs off of the police" (Washington Examiner)

Federal judge rejects Harvey Weinstein's inadequate $19 million settlement with alleged victims (NPR)

In Tennessee, court halts "arguably the most conservative, pro-life piece of legislation in the country" 45 minutes after it was signed (Forbes)

Federal judge permanently voids Georgia "heartbeat" abortion restriction; governor to appeal (WRCB)

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art curator resigns after he is accused of racism for saying he would still collect art from white men (Reason)

Wave of violence overwhelms NYC: Contrary to what Bill de Blasio and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez suggest, criminal behavior is not an economic phenomenon (City Journal)

Most "dreamers" broke U.S. law on purpose to get ahead in the citizenship line (The Federalist)

Former VA health worker pleads guilty to murdering seven veterans with insulin poisoning (Military Times)

Record numbers of Americans try to buy guns (Fox Business)

At least 17 people shot in NYC on Monday as lawlessness soars (New York Post)

Washington state police officer killed, another injured by assailant (Fox News)

Wise decision: UK reneges, will purge Huawei from 5G by 2027 (Reuters)

China begins "mass production" of new stealth fighter jet in effort to dominate airspace (Washington Examiner)

Iran's nuclear facilities are "mysteriously" under attack (we have a pretty good idea of the perpetrator) (Fox News)

For first time ever, U.S. officially rejects China's "unlawful" South China Sea claims (American Military News)

The cost of China's intellectual-property theft (National Review)

Using face masks is still a good idea. Mandating them isn't. (The Heritage Foundation)

Governor Newsom orders closure of indoor activities across California (Fox News)

The WHO, which suppressed early information, sounds alarm as coronavirus cases rise by one million in five days (Reuters)

CDC's "best estimate" is 40% of infections are asymptomatic (Fox News)

Out-of-touch Beltway dweller Dr. Anthony Fauci says U.S. coronavirus cases are surging because nation didn't totally shut down (CNBC)

Asia ramps up coronavirus curbs as new clusters erupt (Reuters)


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL 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.

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Thursday, July 16, 2020

Eugenics: An embarrassed silence and a hidden history

Eugenics was one of the great enthusiasms of the prewar Left.  In the 1920s and 1930's, Socialists everywhere embraced it, including National Socialists in Germany

The abiding mark of socialists is that they want to change the world -- change it into what they think will be a better place. And eugenics fitted that perfectly.  If they removed the "weeds" from the human race, that would make a greatly improved world.  And Leftist legislatures worldwide passed eugenic laws of varying severity: Sweden, Germany and the United States being prominent examples

The man who took it furthest was however Adolf Hitler. He killed "useless eaters" in droves.  So the military defeat of Hitler led to him and all his works being discredited: So suddenly there were no longer any differences between races and eugenics was immoral.  Hitler had been a such a great menace and ended up such an abject failure that any similarities with him had to be denied.

Leftists everywhere dropped eugenics like a sizzling potato.  They no longer advocated it. More significant, however was that they succeeded in casting a cloak of silence over it.  They succeeded in blanking out all memory  of their association with eugenics. Hardly anyone now knows what a great enthusiasm eugenics once was for the Left.  Were it well known, their great enthusiasms of the present -- such as global warming and transgenderism -- might also be viewed skeptically

Eugenics and scientific racism in the United States emerged in the second half of the nineteenth century and lasted through the 1930s. It claimed that heredity was the fundamental determinant of an individual’s ability to contribute to society. Eugenics claimed the scientific ability to classify individuals and groups as “fit” or “unfit.” The unfit were defined by race, mental and physical disabilities, country of origin, and poverty. Eugenics was widely accepted by academics, politicians, intellectuals, government, the U.S. Supreme Court, and especially progressives, who supported eugenics-inspired policies as policy instruments to be utilized by an interventionist administrative state to establish a healthy and productive society. Those who questioned the “settled science” of eugenics were dismissed as “deniers,” much like those who question the “settled science” of climate change are today dismissed as “deniers.”

Eugenics and slavery share much common ground in their inherent racist view of blacks; however, the inherent racist perspective of eugenics was broader in that the set of those considered unfit included individuals and groups beyond those who were black. Eugenics provided the scientific foundation for involuntary sterilization policies in thirty-two states, supported the racist immigration policies in the first part of the twentieth century, and supported a variety of de jure and de facto policies designed to limit those defined as “unfit” to less than full-citizenship status. More troubling, eugenics and eugenics-inspired policies in the United States were admired by Adolf Hitler. American and German eugenicists interacted and exchanged views up to the late 1930s, and sterilization laws, immigration restrictions based on race or ethnicity, and efforts to prevent full citizenship to the unfit in the United States became the model for the Nuremburg Laws of 1935. Stefan Kühl (1994) was the first to document in detail the American–German eugenics connection. In Hitler’s American Model (2017), James Whitman extended this research to illustrate how U.S. policies influenced Nazi race law in the 1930s and the Nuremberg Laws in particular. The Big Lie: Exposing the Nazi Roots of the American Left (2017) by Dinesh D’Souza is the most recent effort to bring public attention to eugenics and the American–German connection.

The widespread acceptance of eugenics in the United States, especially by progressives, is a troubling part of U.S. history unknown to many Americans, and the role model America provided for Nazi race law is even more troubling. The conventional wisdom in the United States places blame for scientific racism on Germany, but the opposite is an inconvenient truth that continues to receive little public attention. The fall of the Third Reich revealed the logical outcome of eugenics. Eugenics disappeared almost overnight from public discourse and became an embarrassment to many who had supported it and its policy implications.

I have covered eugenics and related topics in my lectures on the history of economic ideas for many years and have been surprised at two reactions from students: first, many students find eugenics and related topics the most interesting part of the course, and, second, with only a few exceptions the students have never heard of eugenics in the United States and, especially, its relationship to Nazi Germany. This lack of awareness suggests a question and the catalyst for this paper: To what degree are high school students exposed to the history of eugenics?

One would expect that with the current political focus on discrimination and racism, eugenics would be an important topic in U.S. history and related courses at the high school level. Unfortunately, this is not the case. As I show in this paper, high school history textbooks essentially ignore the topic. Although our high school textbooks are impressive in presentation, length, and number of topics covered, eugenics and its influence on public policy in the United States and its relationship to Nazi Germany are ignored and when mentioned are presented as an incidental part of U.S. history.

I first discuss how eugenics emerged from a combination of the political economy of population growth initiated by Thomas Malthus (1798) and subsequent developments in human biology in the second half of the nineteenth century. Next I discuss how the United States became the center of eugenic research and policy, the relationship between eugenics and the progressive movement, and the degree to which eugenics in the United States influenced Germany and the Nuremburg Laws of 1935. Then I look in particular at nine high school textbooks and other textbook materials to determine the degree to which eugenics is covered in high school. In the concluding section, I offer conjectures to account for the omission and the missed opportunities to educate students resulting from the omission.



Biden’s enthusiasm gap versus Trump may prove to be Democrats’ undoing in 2020

President Donald Trump has two major advantages politically in 2020 presidential election over former Vice President Joe Biden: incumbency and enthusiasm.

The first is easy enough to understand. As the incumbent, President Trump has all the trappings of the head of state. He can do press conferences in the Rose Garden or the White House briefing room, meet with foreign leaders and dignitaries and address the nation in front of Congress or from the Oval Office. And after more than three years in office, the American people have a certain level of comfort with him.

Historically, incumbency has proven to be a major advantage in terms of electoral outcomes. The question for first term presidents like Trump is whether or not voters think it is time for a change.

Which brings us to Trump’s second advantage in 2020: enthusiasm. In a June poll by Economist/YouGov, 68 percent of Trump supporters say they are enthusiastic about voting for him versus only 31 percent of Biden supporters who say they are enthusiastic.

49 percent of Biden voters say they merely satisfied but not enthusiastic, 15 percent say dissatisfied but not upset and 3 percent say they are upset. Whereas, with Trump, just 26 say they are satisfied but not enthusiastic, 5 percent say dissatisfied but not upset and 2 percent say they are upset.

In the same poll, among Biden supporters, only 35 percent say they are voting for Biden, whereas 62 percent say they are voting against Trump. For Trump supporters, 81 percent say they are voting for Trump, and just 18 percent say they are voting against Biden.



The rise of the White British Saviour

Middle-class white people need to stop hectoring poorer white people about privilege.

The Black Lives Matter movement seems to have hastened the importation of divisive US culture-war politics into the UK. This has led to a number of absurd claims being made which are completely irrelevant to the British context. This includes framing police brutality as a shared UK-US problem, and arguing that the UK’s race relations are as bitter as those across the pond. As a consequence we also seem to be developing our own version of the White Saviour figure: those middle-class white people who lecture other white people on racial issues.

Britain is witnessing the rise of a youthful white middle-class convinced that it represents the height of enlightened thought. This was exemplified by a BBC Sounds segment posted on Twitter yesterday, featuring University of Southampton academic Dr Charlotte Lydia Riley and journalist Amelia Dimoldenberg. Dripping with condescension, the pair proceeded to insult supposedly unrefined and loutish ‘Karens’, those women in need of education on matters of white privilege and socially acceptable behaviour.

Overwhelmed by ‘white guilt’, members of this new tribe strive to spread out culpability for racism among the rest of the white population. Often it is insufficiently woke working-class people who they have in their sights. According to these White British Saviours, even those in deprived coastal towns and former industrial areas, places which have been starved of meaningful public investment for decades, including communities which have witnessed the large-scale abuse of white working-class girls, must be lectured about their supposed privilege.

These people paint an incredibly skewed yet undoubtedly powerful picture of British society. They frame our society as some sort of sinister, white-supremacist superstructure. We should not underestimate how enticing this kind of grievance politics is to many people. But this view of British society is extremely misplaced and unwarranted.

The UK government recently offered a pathway to citizenship for millions of people in Hong Kong, in light of China’s clampdown on freedom there. Moreover, the most recent Crime Survey for England and Wales shows that the vast majority of ethnic-minority people have confidence in their local police force – with a number of non-white groups having even a higher level of confidence than white Brits. In the British workforce, the two highest-earning ethnic groups, by hourly pay, are workers of Chinese and Indian origin.

Contrary to much of the divisive left-wing rhetoric in the media, Britain is one of the most tolerant, anti-racist, anti-discriminatory places on Earth. While Brexit has been portrayed by some as a case of a xenophobic country detaching itself from an oasis of tolerance and open-mindedness in the shape of the EU, the reality is, in many ways, the other way around. A study by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights has found that people of black African descent faced ‘widespread and entrenched prejudice and exclusion’ across the EU. But the UK had one of the lowest levels of reported race-related harassment and violence in the 12-country study.

The co-author of a study published by Frontiers in Sociology, Professor Mariah Evans, concludes that ‘prejudice against immigrant workers or minority or religious groups is rare in the UK, perhaps even slightly rarer than in equivalently developed EU countries’. Using a well-established symptom (or consequence) of prejudice – aversion to ‘outgroupers’ being neighbours – that study revealed that prejudice against immigrants, people of other races, and religious groups such as Muslims, Jews and Hindus, is relatively low in the UK.

Of course, none of this is of interest to the White British Saviour. In fact, these findings are treated as an inconvenience. This is because the members of this ever-growing ‘Brahmin class’ of pseudo-intellectuals are ultimately more concerned with gaining brownie points from fellow snobbish peers, on social media and among their friendship groups, than they are with the facts.

They also frame BAME communities as an oppressed mass, and so ignore, or even scorn, those from minority populations who think differently to them. This is where their neocolonial mindset is laid bare – they believe that non-white people who ‘resist’ identity politics have been duped into sustaining the structures of ‘white supremacy’, as opposed to being independent-minded individuals with agency.

The White British Saviour represents one of the most socially divisive forces in British society today. The flawed identitarian narratives and smug elitism of these people must be robustly challenged. A failure to do so will mean that their influence becomes more entrenched in various spheres of British life.



NBC, ABC gloss over details in coverage of armed St. Louis couple confronting protesters

“A Missouri couple went viral Sunday for brandishing guns in the front yard of their home as protesters passed — but anyone who relies on NBC or ABC’s evening newscasts for information wouldn’t know all the details, according to the Media Research Center. The couple told police the group broke a gate to get onto the private street in St. Louis, and the pair say they only retrieved their firearms when they spotted ‘multiple’ people who were already armed, department records show. Al Watkins, an attorney for Mark McCloskey, 63, and his 61-year-old wife, Patricia, said the protest was largely peaceful and the pair did not bring their guns outside of the home until two men in particular, both of whom were white, started menacing them.”



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL 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 hereHome page supplement


Wednesday, July 15, 2020

HCQ Helps Contain COVID-19 Cases: Impressive results from India

Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) — the controversial COVID-19 treatment touted by President Donald Trump — might be gaining new traction in the fight against the Wuhan coronavirus.

The latest positive results come from Vadodara, India, where city officials have conducted a major study involving more than 300,000 people, including “health workers and other frontline staff.”

The Indian Express reports:

The administration has analysed a sample of over 1 lakh [lakh = 100,000] residents, who were mostly close contacts of positive persons and the effect of HCQ in containing the transmission of the virus. According to the analysis, of the 48,873 close contacts of positive patients who took one dose of HCQ, 102 turned Covid-19 positive and 12 succumbed to the infection whereas 48 of the 17,776 close contacts of positive patients who took two doses of HCQ turned positive and only one died. The study also states that of the 33,563 close contacts of patients who took three HCQ doses, 43 tested positive and one died.

Local health official Dr. Devesh Patel told the paper, “It has shown positive results. We have the numbers and not one person has complained of complications. The only side effect reported is mild gastritis, which is common with administering heavy medicines and can be effectively handled.”

In other words, anyone who has taken the much more common azithromycin antibiotic for a simple sinus infection has probably suffered about the same distress — all gastric — as a subject of the Vadodara study.

Dr. Mohammad Hussain, who runs Vadodara’s Faith Hospital, told the Express, “There are conflicting studies about the use of HCQ. While initially the US studies rejected it and cited side-effects, European countries backed its prophylactic use. In Vadodara, it has shown positive results. We have been able to restrict cases in clusters. Nagarwada no longer has a huge number of cases.”

Hussain reiterated that no serious side effects were reported.



Why experts think the MMR jab may save adults from Covid: Childhood vaccine at heart of dramatic new trial

Think of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) jab and one image might spring to mind — a mother cradling an infant as a nurse injects the potentially life-saving vaccine into their arm.

It could soon be the mother receiving the vaccine too — to protect against Covid-19.

Some evidence suggests the triple jab, given to millions of British children since its introduction in the UK in 1988, could be a powerful weapon in the battle against coronavirus, either by protecting adults against infection, or reducing symptoms.

That was certainly the thinking behind the decision by Dr Martin Scurr, the Mail's GP columnist, to have the MMR jab — to 'ginger up' his immunity, as he explained in Good Health last week.

The protective potential of MMR hit the headlines when the crew of the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt was struck by a Covid-19 outbreak.

More than 1,100 sailors on board tested positive, yet just one needed hospital treatment, (and later died) according to a report published last month in the journal mBio.

Even allowing for the likelihood that many were young and fit, researchers calculated it would still be expected that about 14 per cent (over 150 in this case) would need to be hospitalised.

But the sailors all had one thing in common; as new recruits mostly in their late teens or 20s, each had been given the MMR vaccine, in line with U.S. military policy.

Some scientists think the jab may have protected many crew members against serious illness and could also explain why so few children develop symptoms from Covid-19. In the UK, children make up less than two per cent of confirmed cases.

Between 80 and 90 per cent of all UK children, teenagers and young adults have had the MMR jab, their first dose aged one, and a booster, at three years.

Now the idea that the readily available and relatively cheap vaccine (it costs about £50 privately) could be used to protect millions of adults against Covid-19 is attracting wider interest.

Last month, doctors at the Kasr El Aini Hospital in Cairo, Egypt, began recruiting up to 200 doctors, nurses and carers on the coronavirus frontline to see if giving them the MMR vaccine protects them against severe coronavirus symptoms. The trial — which will run until October — is the first of its kind.

But how might a vaccine against common childhood illnesses tackle the virus?

Most of the 100 or so Covid-19 vaccine trials under way worldwide focus on specific targets unique to the virus itself, and are made either with traces of the 'spike' protein found on the surface of the virus, or fragments of its genetic material. The idea is the immune system recognises the virus material in the vaccines as foreign and creates infection-fighting cells (antibodies and T cells) should it then encounter Covid-19.

In other words, they are designed to work against Covid-19 and nothing else.

The same applies to most infectious disease vaccines. But a small group of vaccines, including the MMR, the BCG jab given to protect against tuberculosis (TB) and the oral version of the polio vaccine, are different.

These are made with 'live' but massively weakened versions of the viruses or bacteria (in the case of the BCG) themselves.

As well as priming the immune system to produce disease-fighting cells that target the infectious organism, live vaccines pep up the whole immune system so it's more alert to any invading organisms. It's thought this is because the presence of any live virus or bacterium is enough to put the whole immune system on alert.

'It's a bit like an army putting all its snipers on duty, ready to take out anything that is a potential threat,' explains Eleanor Riley, a professor of immunology and infectious diseases at Edinburgh University.

As we reported in March, there are several trials under way globally to see if the BCG jab can soften the blow of Covid-19.

Last week a study found that the BCG vaccine, that was given to teenagers in this country from 1953 until 2005 to protect against TB, may protect against coronavirus. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy Of Sciences, compared the jab's popularity in a country with their rate of infection and death.

The vaccine has previously been found to combat infectious diseases other than TB. A study, published in The BMJ in 2016, found that babies given the BCG jab were 30 per cent less likely to die of any infectious disease in their first year.

News that the jab might also protect people against coronavirus has led to shortages in some parts of the world. Doctors in Japan said they were running out of BCG as so many adults were paying privately to be immunised as protection against Covid-19. But when it comes to MMR, there could be another reason why the vaccine buffers the effects of Covid-19, say University of Cambridge scientists.

They studied blood samples of British patients treated in the early stages of the pandemic —the antibodies made by their immune system were similar in structure to antibodies produced in response to rubella (German measles), one of three viruses targeted by the MMR vaccine.

The Cambridge team believes the rubella antibodies triggered by the vaccine may be seeing off the coronavirus before it does too much damage.

In a paper online (but not yet published in a peer-reviewed journal), the scientists wrote: 'If there is a link, we propose that vaccination of 'at risk' age groups with an MMR vaccination should be considered. 'To create a Covid-19 vaccine will be arduous and may require time which we cannot afford.'

But some UK experts warn against giving the MMR jab without stronger evidence.

There is 'a good chance' this effect on the immune system is short-lived in some people — days, rather than weeks, months or years, says Professor Riley.

'It's also likely that if as an adult or even as a child your immune system has ever come into contact with measles, mumps or rubella in the past, it will not respond as vigorously to another vaccine. There is no good reason for anyone to pay for a private MMR or indeed BCG vaccine in the hope of avoiding Covid-19.'



The Authoritarian Left Fears a Level Playing Field
New York Times columnist Tom Friedman’s proposal that Joe Biden shouldn’t debate President Donald Trump unless “a real-time fact-checking team” is part of the mix is an ironic illustration of the closed-mindedness of the left.

Why would Friedman want a candidate who is eager to contrast his views with Trump’s to impose conditions that would make a debate less likely, unless, of course, Friedman realizes that the failing Biden would be particularly disastrous in a debate?

That seems to be the case here, as Friedman’s other condition — that Trump agree to release his tax returns for 2016 through 2018 — is just as unrealistic but not for the reason Democrats would have you believe. It’s not that they think Trump is concealing some sinister criminality but that the returns would be a gold mine for ginning up class resentment against the mega-wealthy Trump and fodder to smear him with innuendo.

Friedman recommends the fact-checkers be approved by both candidates “and that 10 minutes before the scheduled conclusion of the debate this team report on any misleading statements, phony numbers or outright lies either candidate had uttered. That way no one in that massive television audience can go away easily misled.”

He arrogantly implies that his candidate — Biden — would automatically win in a truth contest. But why should anyone assume the confessed plagiarist and policy chameleon would have an advantage here?

The answer is that Friedman knows, perhaps subconsciously, that any such process would be rigged. Like so many terms in the liberal lexicon, “fact-checker” doesn’t mean what progressives want you to think it means.

Invariably, fact-checkers are adjuncts of the liberal media who depict opinions as facts, such as a conservative’s assertion (or progressive’s denial) that we have a crisis on the southern border. At one point, the network-news broadcasts were pregnant with panting anchors apoplectic over the claim and dubbed it an outright lie. As conditions at the border steadily deteriorated to undeniable crisis levels, we heard no retraction from Democrats, much less from the opinion-checkers.

We shouldn’t ignore Friedman’s ludicrous proposal simply because it will never be adopted, as it provides a window into the progressive mind. Many progressives are frighteningly narrow-minded, intellectually cloistered and authoritarian. They tend to believe their opinions are facts (or so morally superior that they ought to be treated as such) and so are justified in censoring opposing views as inarguably false, immoral, offensive or politically incorrect.

In institutions they dominate, such as academia and Hollywood (or bar associations), they get to define what is offensive and then ban it – by diktat. For example, Cambridge University rescinded a speaking invitation for psychologist Jordan Peterson because of his skepticism about white privilege and climate change. Compounding foolishness with absurdity, the censors claimed they disinvited him to promote an “inclusive environment.”

Similarly, some state bar associations now require, as part of the continuing legal education lawyers must imbibe to retain their licenses, a course in diversity, inclusion and anti-bias. Attorneys must sit through the propaganda, during which certain debatable assumptions are treated as fact and the progressive agenda is advanced. One presenter admonished his captive audience to consider the possibility of bias in every aspect of their law practice — that they should always be mindful of it as they tackle any legal problem, presumably even those that couldn’t remotely touch on the subject. How’s that for thought control?

One takeaway from these examples and hundreds more is that the left, at its core, lacks confidence that its views could prevail in the marketplace of ideas, and so it manipulates the playing field. We see this in its support for the destruction of monuments and erasing our history because it wants to control not only the current narrative but also the historical one.

Friedman’s fearlessness of fact-checkers doesn’t mean he’s confident that Trump’s dishonesty and Biden’s truthfulness will be exposed but that today’s" fact-checkers" will almost always come down on the side of progressives. Progressives are so used to controlling the narrative that they’re confident their subjective ideas will be presented as factual. Perhaps even scarier is that they think their opinions are objectively true.

Why must they control people and their thoughts? Why can’t they allow people to draw their own lessons from history instead of purging it? Why are they afraid of debate viewers deciding for themselves whether Trump’s or Biden’s ideas are more compelling and truthful?

How often do conservatives propose that we erase evidence of our history? That we ban certain speech because they find it offensive? Do conservative business owners ever send employees to sensitivity training because their views aren’t conservative enough?

Tom Friedman’s laughable idea is no laughing matter because he represents the authoritarian progressive mindset. That many such progressives sincerely believe their ideas are superior isn’t the problem. The problem is that they want to limit your freedom to oppose them.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL 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 hereHome page supplement


Tuesday, July 14, 2020

A New York paradox

It would appear that a lot of New Yorkers broke the rules.  Avoiding one another in New York would be pretty difficult

At the beginning of March, a lively debate took place about whether Britain should pursue a strategy of "herd immunity" – allowing coronavirus to spread until so many people had developed antibodies that it no longer posed a threat to public health – or place the entire country under lockdown. As is well-known, Boris Johnson initially embraced the former, saying the public needed to take the virus "on the chin", then performed a U-turn and imposed a full lockdown on March 23.

But recent data coming out of New York reveals that this was a false dichotomy. Sixty-eight per cent of people who took antibody tests at a clinic in the corona neighbourhood of Queens received positive results, suggesting that, in this area at least, the population is already close to achieving "herd immunity". This is in spite of the fact that New York imposed one of the strictest lockdowns in the United States.



Shock Poll Shows Trump on Track to Win Reelection

A new poll conducted by the Washington based Democracy Institute for the Sunday Express shows President Trump tied with his rival Joe Biden at 47 percent, but surpassing him in the electoral college 309 to 229.

These positive results for Trump come amid a constant drumbeat of negative media coverage in recent weeks that paints his electoral chances in November as virtually nil.

According to the shock poll, Trump is “on course to win the crucial swing states including Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin where he outpolls Vice President Biden by 48 percent to 44 percent.”

According to David Maddox, the political editor of the Sunday Express, the poll indicates that the Black Lives Matter riots have created a backlash that is helping Trump.

The poll was conducted Jul 1–3, before the president went to the Mount Rushmore to make a speech that was very well received by most Americans, but furiously derided by Democrats and their allies in the corporate media.



A who’s who of conservative luminaries has unleashed a decidedly unwoke message for police-slamming, statue-toppling, history-canceling leftist protesters: “You will not prevail.”

This is a start but action rather than words is what is needed.  If State governors won't unleash their police on the vandals, Federal officers should be sent in

The six-minute video posted by the Media Research Center offered a “conservative answer to the mob,” featuring 15 leading figures on the right and Republican lawmakers responding to the “protesters, hoodlums and rioters out in force these last several weeks.”

“You will not prevail. America will prevail,” said MRC President Brent Bozell in the “We Hold These Truths: Our Answer to the Mob” video posted Tuesday. “Today, tomorrow and by the grace of God, forever.”

The speakers, working from a script by National Review’s Rich Lowry, praised Founding Fathers George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, whose statues have recently come under attack, as well as the military, first responders, free speech, free markets and American values.

“This is the greatest country the world has ever known,” said David Bozell, president of ForAmerica. “A beacon of liberty, an engine of wealth.”

The video also features one of the last appearances by country singer Charlie Daniels, who died Monday at age 83. “You will not redefine America or frighten good, honest Americans into submission,” Mr. Daniels said in the video.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee Republican, cheered “America’s real heroes,” including the military, medical workers and law enforcement. Sen. Mike Lee, Utah Republican, warned that police were needed to “protect the vulnerable and to keep dangerous communities from descending into chaos.”

“Are there bad players? Of course,” said Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin. “But don’t lie about the police. Don’t smear them as racist. Don’t dismiss that they have to put their lives on the line every single day with lowlifes who harass and threaten them.”

Indeed, there was plenty of red meat for the base, including blasts at the “ignorant mob,” “your vandalism and cancellations,” and “the hateful rot of an ideology that you champion.”

“Who suffers the most from lawlessness?” asked syndicated radio host Dana Loesch. “It’s unquestionably the innocents in inner cities caught in the crossfire of thugs, gangs and rioting mobs.”

Said political commentator Deneen Borelli: “How dare you intimidate and beat people with whom you disagree.”

“We live in the last best home of mankind,” said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. “And we’re not about to lose it to a bunch of fanatics aided and abetted by a complicit media and cowardly corporations.”



Economic Lockdowns DON'T Save Lives – But They Kill Jobs and Wages

We now have three months of data from the 50 states which show unequivocally that economic lockdowns did not save lives, they are associated with much HIGHER death rates.

The death rates in the strict lockdown states were about FOUR TIMES higher than in states that didn’t lockdown at all or had minimal restrictions. Amazingly, there is a linear relationship here between lockdowns and deaths, but in the opposite direction, that shutdown advocates would expect.

One could argue that the northeast had the most exposure to coronavirus in the first place (true), and that by locking down, they lowered death rates from going even higher (false).

Strict lockdowns failed because they were put into effect AFTER the infection had spread. New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Illinois and Michigan had catastrophically high death rates because their governors were almost criminally negligent in protecting seniors in nursing homes. If Andrew Cuomo, Phil Murphy and JB Pritzker had kept seniors and those with pre-existing conditions safe, they could have saved far more lives than shutting down barber shops, stores, schools, and office buildings.

By the way, liberal states with strict lockdown orders have by far the highest unemployment rates today. So the blue states succeeded in blowing up their economies AND still suffered the highest death rates. Congratulations.



COVID Panic Piece on Churches

The new COVID cases. It’s all the media can talk about—and it means nothing. Who cares about new cases? Is the death rate spiking? No. In fact, it’s low. Very low. Low enough that half of the country remains on their charted paths to reopening or they have reopened. And notice that it’s always the cases that are highlighted. Memo to the media, new cases don’t mean new deaths no matter how much you want it to be. You want another lockdown. You want more job losses. You want more economic despair. And you especially want more people to die. Sorry, but that’s not going to happen. For starters, the credibility behind the lockdowns met a quick death when y’all decided to just stop reporting on COVID for two-to-three weeks to give George Floyd rioters positive coverage. Don’t go outside, unless you’re going to protest…or riot, right?

The flip-flop from you and the equally shameless “medical experts” on this exposed this whole circus act. It’s not a big deal, is it? Because it certainly cannot be apocalyptic, which is what we’ve been told. Also, does this virus have a non-transmittable phase? If so, why did it only occur when the lefty mob was rioting? These “medical experts” are no better than the clowns we see on CNN bashing Trump. And when propaganda blows up, people simply do not care. It’s time to get back to living our lives, folks. Keep reopening and keep bringing those jobs back.

Speaking of propaganda, let’s take a look at this New York Times piece on places of worship. We cannot go back to church. It’s a bed of infection, right? Well, with the new cases, the NYT decided to create a panic, noting a spike in cases—the publication went after churches for spreading the virus:

Weeks after President Trump demanded that America’s shuttered houses of worship be allowed to reopen, new outbreaks of the coronavirus are surging through churches across the country where services have resumed.

The virus has infiltrated Sunday sermons, meetings of ministers and Christian youth camps in Colorado and Missouri. It has struck churches that reopened cautiously with face masks and social distancing in the pews, as well as some that defied lockdowns and refused to heed new limits on numbers of worshipers.

Pastors and their families have tested positive, as have church ushers, front-door greeters and hundreds of churchgoers. In Texas, about 50 people contracted the virus after a pastor told congregants they could once again hug one another. In Florida, a teenage girl died last month after attending a youth party at her church.

More than 650 coronavirus cases have been linked to nearly 40 churches and religious events across the United States since the beginning of the pandemic, with many of them erupting over the last month as Americans resumed their pre-pandemic activities, according to a New York Times database.

Yeah, so what? As some noted on Twitter, “that’s fewer than half the cases Florida alone has linked directly to travel from New York to Florida.”

Can you contract the virus in a church or place of worship? Sure. Is it a site for the supposed massive spread? No. It’s not. It’s yet another attempt by the Acela Media to scare you and to pivot away from the fact that New York is the mecca for COVID infections and deaths. It still is a total mess and their order to force nursing homes to accept COVID patients led to thousands of deaths. Forty-three percent of all COVID deaths in the U.S. come from nursing homes. Want to guess the party affiliation of the governors who said that had to happen? New York is the epicenter of the US-based outbreak, and it’s still a mess. It’s now dealing with the Big Apple suffering the fallout from the Floyd riots.

The media is doing all they can to keep us in fear. By their standard, no one should ever go outside again. That’s not going to happen. And we’re not going to stay inside until there’s a vaccine, of which I’m sure a good chunk of this nation wouldn’t even consider getting vaccinated due to the debate with that subject. Make it compulsory? Oh, well, talk about opening another can of worms.




Joe Biden and Sanders release leftist "unity platform" for Democrat Party (U.S. News & World Report)

If Biden follows platform compromises from task forces, he'll be "most progressive president since FDR," Sanders says (Breitbart)

Biden says he would restore pre-Hobby Lobby contraceptive mandate in wake of Little Sisters ruling (Fox News)

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, key figure in the impeachment charade, announces his retirement in scathing statement (AP)

Trump meets Mexican president at White House despite Democratic objections; it's Trump and Lopez Obrador's first face-to-face meeting (Fox News)

Surge in virus hospitalizations strains hospitals in several states (The Washington Post)

CDC weighs early vaccine access for minorities and others at risk (The New York Times)

Atlanta mayor defies the governor, orders masks to be worn in public spaces (NPR)

Ivy League rules out playing all sports this fall due to pandemic (ESPN)

One-third of American families missed their July rent and housing payments and 10% fear they could lose their homes in the next six months (UK Daily Mail)

New Yorkers look to the suburbs and beyond. Other city dwellers may be next. (NPR)

New York City councilwoman freaks out over white man holding black child: "It hurts people" (The Federalist)

Andrew Jackson statue to be removed from City Hall in namesake Mississippi capital (The Daily Caller)

Seattle held segregated training session for white staff aimed at "undoing their whiteness" and told them "not to take undeserved promotions" to be better allies for racial justice (UK Daily Mail)

Communist China's leash on Hong Kong tightens, choking an accountability broadcaster (The New York Times)

Trump has 91% chance of winning reelection, political science professor calculates (Mediaite)

Policy: How we will ward off 21st-century adversaries (Senator Rick Scott)

Anti-Rule of Law protagonist Nancy Pelosi shrugs off mob destruction in Baltimore: "People will do what they do" (The Washington Free Beacon)

Joe Biden maneuvers to steal Trump's thunder with economic nationalism plan (NPR)

Congress wants to narrow future aid after big businesses raked in millions in the first round (Washington Examiner)

It may take weeks to know the presidential election winner (Washington Examiner)

MSNBC appoints radical leftist Joy Reid as Chris Matthews's replacement (Time)


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL 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 hereHome page supplement


Monday, July 13, 2020

COVID-19:  Why are we not talking about Taiwan?

The international comparisons of Wuhan virus impact are fascinating.  Some things jump out at you. Canada and Australia are very similar in many ways but their virus story is very different.  Canada 95,269 cases; 7,717 deaths.  Australia 7,251 cases; 102 deaths.  Australia has a markedly conservative government and has had for some time.  Canada we all know about.

But with 443 cases and 7 deaths, Taiwan is the real standout. So why are we ignoring that?  Taiwan is politically contentious so that is clearly the reason but it does mean that information about it is sparse.

With a population of 24 million people (similar to Australia) it is not insignificant among nations.  I give below what Time magazine says about it:

Taiwan has managed a truly admirable response in less-than-ideal circumstances, despite being next door to China. Rather than shuttering its economy for weeks on end in an attempt to slow the virus, the self-governing island went another way—after quickly closing its borders and banning exports of surgical masks, the government used contact tracing and mobile SIM tracking to ensure those in quarantine were actually abiding by the rules. Taiwan has a single-payer health care system. Medical officials held briefings for the public daily, and businesses were kept open with aggressive precautionary measures like taking temperatures and providing sanitizer before patrons could enter. Taiwan’s response ranks among the world’s best.

With no lockdowns they had a LOW death rate.  That adds to an increasing body of evidence that lockdowns are a mistake that should have been abandoned long ago.  Other measures should have been used



Sweden's coronavirus death rate is now falling FASTER than the UK's despite never having a lockdown

Sweden's coronavirus death rate is now falling faster than the UK's even though the country avoided having a lockdown.

Sweden registered 1.6 deaths per million people on Thursday which was higher overall than the 1.4 deaths registered in the UK. But the country's death rate has fallen by 2.51 deaths per million since June 9, when it was the highest in Europe at 4.12.

In the same time period the UK's death rate fell by just 1.88 deaths per million, with the figure largely stalling since mid-June as Britain attempts to exit a lockdown that has devastated the economy.

The only European countries which now have higher death rates than the UK and Sweden are Macedonia, at 3.4 deaths per million, and Kosovo, at 2.1, the European Center for Disease Control says.

By comparison Belgium, which for a time had the highest death rate anywhere in the world, registered just 0.27 deaths per million on Wednesday. Italy, where the pandemic first took hold in Europe, had 0.31.

Sweden's state epidemiologist Ander Tegnell has repeatedly argued against lockdowns, saying they 'fly in the face' of the science around epidemics and pointing to the UK's high death rate as evidence that they don't work. He has argued that the measures merely delay the inevitable and - over the long-term - all countries will end up in the same position.

Because of that, he argues that lockdowns are not worth the economic price-tag they carry. However, he has been forced to admit that Sweden's death toll is too high, and that harsher measures should have been taken to protect the vulnerable, particularly in care homes.

Sweden has so-far registered 73,858 cases of the virus and 5,482 deaths, far higher than its Nordic neighbours which did bring in lockdowns.

Norway has just 8,950 cases of the virus and 251 deaths after going into lockdown early, while Finland has 7,273 cases and 329 deaths. Denmark has 12,900 cases of the virus and 609 deaths.

The United States, which avoided full lockdowns of the kind seen in Europe, currently has a death rate similar to Sweden - at 1.76 per million on Wednesday.

South American countries which have found themselves at the epicentre of the pandemic currently have some of the highest death rates in the world. Brazil, where President Jair Bolsonaro has recently tested positive for the virus, has a current death rate of 4.8 per million people. Chile has one of the highest rates in the world at 5.58, narrowly followed by Peru with 5.52.

While deaths have also been increasing they have failed to keep pace with the number of cases, leading some to claim that the virus is getting weaker. Others tout improved treatments and hospital capacity



The vast reach of insane Leftism

It was another night of mayhem in Washington, D.C. Left-wing nutjobs descended upon Lafayette Park in an effort to destroy the statue of Andrew Jackson. The Left-wing mob has scalped The New York Times and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

"Eskimo pie" is now problematic. Uncle Ben's Rice and Aunt Jemima pancake syrup are now undergoing rebranding. Even Gushers has decided to take preventative measures in order to avoid being turned into sashimi by these progressives. The Confederate flag has been banned at NASCAR. Some are calling for the Masters Tournament to be renamed.

In the beginning, this was about tearing down Confederate statues. It was never about that. It was about the Left's hatred of America. Oh, and they're tearing down those statues, along with Thomas Jefferson, Christopher Columbus, George Washington, Ulysses S. Grant, and now Theodore Roosevelt. This is a cultural revolution we're witnessing. These people are organized, violent, and devoted to burning America to the ground. They want to remake it, rewrite it, through a "woke" lens. It's an absurdity on a grand scale. This is what Tyler Durden would support and want if he were political and leaned way to the left.

"I am Jack's smirking revenge."

The desecration of statues, these leftists seizing portions of Seattle, and the general lawlessness that has plagued our cities is intolerable. And yet, it's all part of the far-Left's multifront war against us. I know I've said this, but these clowns that were made famous by us on various websites for their liberal antics have all graduated. They're now in publishing, media, the sciences, and now cooking.

Yes, Bon Appetit, the food publication that was engulfed in a brownface scandal recently that saw its editor-in-chief being jettisoned, will not be, get this, vetting recipes. No, I'm not kidding. You will get a political lecture with a side of penne. Is this real life? The Left has f**ked food, everyone. I mean, it's a tad funny, but also shows the reach the left mob has right now. Bon Appétit magazine, a publication that should be miles upon miles away from this political correctness nonsense, is now going to be ensuring food isn't racist anymore. Wait...what?! (via BA):

This newsletter has historically been Bon Appétit’s Letter from the Editor. Until we have a new editor in chief, the BA and Epicurious staff will use this platform to update you on the work we’re doing to address racism and biases at the brands, both internally and in our editorial coverage. This week, BA’s research director Joey Hernandez talks about how we’re auditing our existing recipes to add cultural context and address appropriation and tokenization.....

I grew up eating the Technicolor Filipino shaved ice dessert, a confection studded with sweetened beans, jellied fruits, flan, lychee, tapioca. It defined so much of my childhood of hazy California summers spent with my brothers sitting on our curb, scarfing down the haphazard assemblage with abandon. And here was one of my favorite treats in Bon Appétit, except with gummy bears, berries, and popcorn

It was jarring, to say the least. Was a Filipino person consulted on this? Did the writer do the first bit of research? Like many people who had seen a beloved recipe “riffed on” in a major publication, I had so many questions.

Halo-halo was hardly the only offender: BA’s recipes for Vietnamese pho, mumbo sauce, flaky bread, and white-guy kimchi all erased these recipes’ origins or, worse, lampooned them. Every time, promises to “do better” came quick and easy, but these mistakes are not one-offs. As San Francisco Chronicle restaurant critic Soleil Ho recently wrote, “The power of mainstream media is in what it normalizes. And in the case of today’s food media, what it normalizes is a white culture that sees everything foreign to it as a spectacle, something to be tamed and translated for an audience that can’t understand it.”

In all these cases and more, BA has been called out for appropriation, for decontextualizing recipes from non-white cultures, and for knighting ”experts” without considering if that person should, in fact, claim mastery of a cuisine that isn’t theirs.

In my role as research director, I’m working with the Test Kitchen editors of BA and Epicurious to address many of these problems of authorship, appropriation, the white gaze, and erasure. The events of recent weeks are indicative of larger problems, but correcting the record is a big part of our work of making BA a more inclusive publication.

To that end, our team will be auditing previously published recipes and articles that may not have been thoroughly fact-checked or read for cultural sensitivity when originally authored.

The Left will make you care. Whatever issue is out there, they will find a way to pervert it and turn it into another cultural battleground. Every time you eat something, remember, you might be aiding racism because the person who cooked it was a white person or something. Is it shocking? Probably not. When Portland went absolutely insane over two white women selling burritos, I guess the writing was on the wall.

This is our long war, folks. This will take generations to correct. It won't end if Donald Trump is re-elected. It won't end in elections after that. These are deeply entrenched bastions of liberal cultural power that must be destroyed. Hollywood, the news media, television, literature, the arts, academia, and now cooking publications are all infested with the stench of progressivism peddling illiberal agenda items. There is no discussion anymore. It's now "submit before Zod" or be destroyed. These are not people with differing views. These are intellectual terrorists who must be confronted. It's not going to be pretty, and I don't think the Right has the unity or the stomach to pull it off.




Despicable vandals cut down 9/11 Memorial flagpole in New York village (Fox News)

Tennessee's State Capitol Commission approves moving Nathan Bedford Forrest bust to Tennessee State Museum (Tennessean)

DC Council votes to end police involvement in public-school security (The Washington Free Beacon)

DC mayor: Police budget cuts make the district "less safe" (CNS News)

The Internet is changing drastically and dreadfully for Hong Kong's citizens (MIT Technology Review)

Australia ends Hong Kong extradition treaty, extends visas (AP)

Tropical Storm Fay bears down on mid-Atlantic, New England (Fox News)

Concealed carrier stops man who was strangling a woman in a Tennessee restaurant parking lot (The Truth About Guns)

Joe Biden supports two regulations that would destroy entire industries (Foundation for Economic Education)

Thousands of North Carolina voters double-voted, watchdog group finds (The Daily Signal)

After Trump took office, judicial-nominee obstruction skyrocketed from 3% to 75% (The Federalist)

Policy: After the U.S. leaves the WHO, should the UN be next? (Issues & Insights)

Despite the recent coronavirus surge in southern states, three states — New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts — account for about 42 percent of COVID-19 deaths in America. Why?

Jobless claims at better-than-expected 1.3 million, total getting benefits falls to 18 million (CNBC)

Pandemic accelerates the death of malls (Washington Examiner)

Big Ten moving to conference-only model for all sports this fall (ESPN)

Madison Avenue business sues Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio for riots, estimates $100 million in damages (PJ Media)

NYC Black Lives Matter marches can continue despite large-event ban, Bill de Blasio says (Fox News)

"Who the hell wants to stay on this job?" NYPD retirement filings surge by 400%, forcing department to limit applications

Plasma therapy successes stoke high hopes (Washington Examiner)

Wearing a mask cuts own risk of novel coronavirus by 65%, research shows (Fox News)

U.S. Treasury sanctions Chinese entities, officials using Magnitsky Human Rights Act (The National Pulse)

China vows to retaliate against U.S. sanctions (CNBC)

Army investigates handout suggesting Trump campaign slogan constitutes "covert white supremacy" (Military Times)

Arrests along Mexico border jumped 40% last month (The Washington Post)


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL 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 hereHome page supplement


Sunday, July 12, 2020

It’s not Trump but America the left hates

Donald Trump’s speech at Mount Rushmore on the eve of the Fourth of July was the most important and riveting of his presidency. It was mostly a soaring celebration of America, though with a presidential election just five months away, there were a few partisan jabs at his opponents.

By the standards of contemporary debate it was civil throughout. By Trump’s own normal standards it was positively decorous.

Reaction to it was all but deranged and demonstrates the profound cultural crisis through which the West is passing.

A piece in Foreign Policy, a semi-official journal of liberal internationalism, in all seriousness described the speech as fascist. Fascist!

This bizarre reaction was sadly pretty widespread.

Time magazine said “Trump pushes racial division”. Annie Karni in The New York Times was typical, indeed relatively mild, of much of NYT reaction saying that Trump had delivered a “dark and divisive speech”. Esquire magazine called it “terrifyingly bonkers”. An Associated Press headline said the speech was all about advancing racial division.

Perhaps the most magnificent bit of nonsense of all came in the increasingly deranged Washington Post. It ran a piece saying the speech demonstrated Trump’s “unyielding push to preserve Confederate symbols and the legacy of white dominion”.

That piece deserves a special Leon Trotsky award for ideological madness because Trump didn’t mention, extol or support any Confederate figure at all. Instead he sang paeans of praise to Abraham Lincoln for abolishing the evil of slavery and constantly affirmed America’s civic universalism.

It goes without saying Trump brings some of the misinterpretation on himself. He has said so many intemperate, foolish, offensive and just plain wrong things that it’s what people have come to expect. At the personal level, Trump is an appalling figure to embody the defence of Western civilisation.

The Room Where It Happened, by Trump’s former National Security Adviser, John Bolton, is a brilliant read, but sobering and even disturbing in its depiction of Trump. Bolton is a lifelong hardline right-wing Republican, a natural America First type but from inside the system. You can discount part of his tone as self serving, though Bolton seems pretty self aware. But you cannot really argue he makes up the incidents where Trump is abusive and foul, or where he simply has no idea what he’s talking about (constantly confusing the president of Afghanistan with his predecessor, thinking Finland is a part of Russia, not knowing Britain is a nuclear power). Most presidencies look ragged from the inside, but this is pretty weird.

However, as well as many foolish things, Trump has said and done brave and even wise things. It is also the case that there is no serious evidence that Trump is a racist. Nonetheless, even if you believe the very worst of Trump, a sensible reaction to the Mount Rushmore speech might have been to argue that while Trump expressed noble and traditional American sentiments in this speech, he frequently doesn’t live up to those sentiments, that he was a hypocrite.

But I suspect we are dealing with something much more troubling than merely the normal Trump Derangement Syndrome. Many of the speech’s critics hate it partly because it expresses traditional American liberalism on issues of race and history. It is the turn away from that liberalism, towards a wholly destructive hatred of the Western project and of all Western history, combined with a profoundly illiberal desire to re-racialise society, that is disturbing in the reaction to Trump’s speech.

The Economist magazine addresses this a bit in this week’s issue. It is important for a moment to situate the Economist culturally and ideologically. The Economist was once an intelligently conservative magazine. It would be wrong to characterise it that way now. It is a strong proponent of markets, and mixed-economy capitalism, and of free trade, but on all social issues it has moved to the progressive side. Nothing wrong with that. Magazines, like people, are entitled to change their minds, change their outlooks. They go through different stages, adopt different identities.

But now on social issues The Economist is a journalistic expression of corporate wokeness. Partly one suspects to emphasise the devoutness of its adherence to the new religions, The Economist is seldom outdone in its detestation of Trump and all his works.

Yet this week, remarkably, The Economist finally finds in itself the wit to denounce the left-wing extremism of aspects of the Black Lives Matter movement and its recent efflorescence in protests. After running through its normal liturgical denunciation of Trump, The Economist actually made an interesting point. The cancel culture and extremists in the racial justice and social justice movements are actually attacking liberalism.

It said: “... a dangerous rival approach has emerged from America’s universities. It rejects the liberal notion of progress. It defines everyone by their race, and every action as racist or anti-racist... it is spreading out of the academy and into everyday life. If it supplants liberal values, then intimidation will chill open debate and sow division to the disadvantage of all, black and white.”

That looks like The Economist has been mugged by reality. It’s the first recognition for a long time in that august journal that the threat to liberalism comes from the activist left, the race-centred, history-hating, which nonsensically sees West as the enemy of humanity.

It is just this illiberal spirit that The Economist derides which I suspect animates so much of the denunciation of the Mount Rushmore speech. That is, the Trump haters have not assumed that Trump said something worse than he did and reacted against this. They actually heard what Trump said but have moved to a position where they now denounce the great liberal ideal of abolishing race as a constraint in civic identity, and building on the strengths of our liberal and conservative heritage, while of course always recognising the many times Western societies have failed to live up to their ideals.

I recommend people read Trump’s speech. Mount Rushmore is the site of carved likenesses of four great presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt. Each of these men had their faults of course, they were, after all, human beings. And each was a creature of their time, no-one can really escape that either. But on any rational assessment each was a friend and enlarger of liberty and each contributed magnificently to the American dream and the American achievement.

Trump partly uses the four men as the frame for his speech, which was certainly crafted by expert speech writers. Consider some of its key passages. Repeatedly, in this speech Trump denounces the evil of slavery and its contradiction of American ideals. He says of Lincoln: “He rose to high office from obscurity, based on a force and clarity of his anti-slavery convictions... Lincoln won the Civil War; he issued the Emancipation Proclamation, he led the passage of the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery for all time, and ultimately, his determination to preserve our nation and our union cost him his every ounce of strength that he had to ensure that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, did not perish from the Earth.” Trump cites and praises many African-American heroes.

Frequently, repeatedly, joyfully, Trump cites and celebrates the universalism of the American promise, that the American dream is open to every citizen of every background. He says: “We believe in equal opportunity, equal justice and equal treatment for citizens of every race, background, religion and creed. Every child of every colour – born and unborn – is made in the holy image of God.”

That is not fascism, but traditional liberalism, in this case, if you like, Christian liberalism.

Trump cites Martin Luther King, whose vision he supports.

King did not denounce the American dream. He did not denounce America’s core documents. Rather, in his famous I Have a Dream speech, he asked America to live up to those documents fully. Indeed he began that speech with a heartfelt tribute to Lincoln: “... a great American in whose symbolic shadow we stand, (who) signed the Emancipation Declaration. This momentous decree is a great beacon of hope...”

In a powerful formulation, King said he and his followers had come to Washington “to cash a check. When the architects of our Republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.”

It’s pretty clear isn’t it that if King were saying things like that today he would be denounced as a racist, a stooge for colonialism, as someone who refused to acknowledge the structural racism of America and its institutions, as someone who did not understand that, as The New York Times ridiculous 1619 Project has it, the central purpose of America was slavery. King would surely be denounced as threatening the safety of students who might have to listen to such shocking sentiments and he would be subject to the cancel culture.

King was also, like Trump, strongly, vigorously, stridently opposed to violence in demonstrations.

In his famous speech, King instructed: “In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for justice by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must not allow our creative protests to degenerate into physical violence.”

None of this, of course, is remotely to equate the heroic moral leadership of Martin Luther King, which has inspired millions of people across the generations, including me, with the often odious personality of Trump. However, those who style themselves as King’s heirs have become too often progenitors of ideological extremism he would hate.

In attacking Trump for his Mount Rushmore speech they are not just displaying an irrational hatred of a particular political leader, they are actually attacking Trump for espousing the same positions as King himself espoused.

Of course there were some contemporary, partisan, sharp edges to the Trump speech, but nothing remotely racist, or even race specific, nothing remotely offensive.

In his speech, Trump promises that the nation’s monuments to its founders will be protected. He promises that the police will “arrest the rioters”. He does not say protesters should be arrested. This is a vital distinction and one which Trump’s enemies never acknowledge. Barack Obama himself called violent protesters “thugs” and said they discredited the movements they claimed to support.

Republican senator Tom Cotton caused a firestorm by writing an oped in The New York Times in which he argued that violent protesters whom city police forces could not control justified the deployment of active service US military. That was probably a mistaken call at the time, though by no means extreme. But the real moral of the story is that when the newspaper staff revolted and the paper’s leadership went into craven surrender, and then full jihad denunciation of Cotton, they routinely claimed he had called for troops to be used against demonstrators.

These constant elidings and misrepresentations cannot really be seen any longer as accidental. The crime the ultra woke militants of illiberal liberal conformity want to punish is actually failing to support the new civic religion which involves hatred of Western civilisation and hatred of the societies this civilisation has created.

Trump at Mount Rushmore also had some shorter passages condemning the contemporary cancel culture and the left-wing indoctrination of students with hostility to America. In the attacks which claimed Trump was a fascist they claimed Trump was making this up, that no such thing really existed.

Are they kidding?

The West is under profound challenge internally and externally today. The irrational hatred of the West, within the West, is one symptom of a deep malaise. Trump was right to call it out.



Century-old BCG vaccine used to eradicate tuberculosis DOES 'reduce the chance of death from Covid-19', study confirms

The BCG vaccine given to every British teenager between 1953 and 2005 to protect against tuberculosis could offer protection against Covid-19, a new study has found. 

Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) was first mass produced in 1924, and widespread vaccination for secondary school children was only halted in the UK when TB was effectively eradicated.

Academics in the US compared the BCG jab's popularity in several countries with each nation's coronavirus outbreak — including both infections and deaths — and found a clear link between the vaccine and a lower mortality rate from Covid-19.

When differences in social, economic, and demographics were taken into account, scientists found that where there was a 10 per cent greater prevalence of the BCG vaccine there was also a 10.4 per cent reduction in COVID-19 mortality.

This suggests that in the UK, adults aged between 30 and 80 who were given the jab at school may have a greater level of protection. 

Children in the UK were required to have the injection by the age of 14, making the last cohort to receive the immune-boosting jab around 29 to 30 now.

BCG is still widely used in some countries around the world where there is a higher risk of TB, but in the UK only at-risk individuals, such as babies living with infected relatives and children in some BAME groups, receive the jab.

Professor Keith Neal, Emeritus Professor of the Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases at the University of Nottingham who was not involved in the research, said: 'Within the UK, most people over 30 and under 80 will have had BCG in the schools programme.

'Many children in the BAME groups will have continued to be vaccinated at birth, although people born outside the UK may not have been vaccinated. 'There are also many different BCGs around the world.'

The latest study, from academics at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and the National Institutes of Health, has been peer-reviewed and published in the journal PNAS.

The BCG vaccine was invented a century ago and gives immunity to tuberculosis (TB) — a bacterial infection — but it is known to have other benefits. 

Previous trials discovered people who receive the jab, which costs as little as £30, have improved immune systems and are able to protect themselves from infection.

For example, in a trial among Native Americans, BCG vaccination in childhood was able to offer protection against TB up to 60 years after vaccination.

These so-called off-target effects include enhanced protection against respiratory diseases, and have been recognised by the World Health Organization (WHO).



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