Saturday, January 09, 2021

Pfizer study suggests vaccine works against COVID-19 mutation

New research suggests that Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine can protect against a mutation found in the two more contagious variants of the coronavirus that have erupted in Britain and South Africa.

The study was preliminary and did not look at the two other major vaccines being used in the West – Moderna’s and AstraZeneca’s. But it was reassuring, given questions of whether the virus could mutate to defeat the shots on which the world has pinned its hopes.

The mutated version spreading in Britain has also been detected in Australia, the US and numerous other countries.

The variants that are causing global concern carry multiple mutations but share one in common that's believed to be the reason they are more contagious. Called N501Y, it is a slight alteration on one spot of the spike protein that coats the virus. Most of the vaccines being rolled out around the world train the body to recognise that spike protein and fight it.

Pfizer teamed with researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston for laboratory tests to see if the mutation affected its vaccine's ability to do so.

They used blood samples from 20 people who received the vaccine, made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, during a large study of the shots. Antibodies from those vaccine recipients successfully fended off the virus in lab dishes, according to the study posted on Friday AEDT on an online site for researchers.

The study has not yet been reviewed by experts, a key step for medical research. But “it was a very reassuring finding that at least this mutation, which was one of the ones people are most concerned about, does not seem to be a problem” for the vaccine, said Pfizer chief scientific officer Dr Philip Dormitzer.

A similar vaccine by Moderna is being rolled out in the US and Europe, and on Friday was cleared in Britain. Moderna is doing similar testing to tell if its shot also works against the variants, as are makers of other types of COVID-19 vaccines.

But Dr Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease expert, said this week that vaccines are designed to recognise multiple parts of the spike protein, making it unlikely a single mutation could be enough to block them. Still, testing is needed to be sure.

Viruses constantly undergo minor changes as they spread from person to person. Scientists have used these slight modifications to track how the coronavirus has moved around the globe since it was first detected in China about a year ago.

British scientists have said the variant found in the UK – which has become the dominant type in parts of England – still seemed to be susceptible to vaccines.

But the variant first discovered in South Africa has an additional mutation that has scientists on edge, one named E484K. The Pfizer study found that the vaccine appeared to work against 15 additional possible virus mutations, but E484K wasn’t among those tested. Dormitzer said it is next on the list.

If the virus eventually mutates enough that the vaccine needs adjusting – much like flu shots are adjusted most years – that tweaking the recipe wouldn’t be difficult for his company's shot and similar ones. Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are made with a piece of the virus genetic code, simple to switch, although it’s not clear what kind of additional testing regulators would require to make such a change.

Dormitzer said this was only the beginning “of ongoing monitoring of virus changes to see if any of them might impact on vaccine coverage”.


Did the Capitol Police 'Let In' the Protesters?

One of the most pervasive story lines following the Capitol protest that turned violent is that the Capitol Police let in protesters.

Though some still doubt it, it’s beginning to appear that some of the protesters were, in fact, allowed onto the grounds and into the building, which explains why there were those who entered and stayed within the velvet guide ropes, taking selfies, and staying peaceful. And those who were not peaceful.

There are several people who talked to The Washington Examiner’s congressional reporter, Susan Ferrechio, who claimed that police let them into the Capitol Building.

One small group of men said they walked into the Capitol without resistance through the House side door and were allowed to enter by the police but told to stay away from certain areas. “They were not blocking people from coming into the building,” Nick from St. Louis said.

Nick and his group sat on benches in the Rotunda for about 15 minutes “until a cop comes up with an AR-15 strapped to him and says, ‘You guys got to get up. You can’t sit there.’” The officer did not make them leave the building but rather told them to remain in the center of the Rotunda.

Jeff from Illinois told the Washington Examiner he blamed the violence “on the young kids” and said the vast majority of the protesters were peaceful, even though they entered the Capitol against the wishes of the police.

Some of the protesters “were breaking windows and kicking doors,” Jeff said, adding that he and a friend blocked a protester from breaking into one room outside the Senate.

The Federalist’s Sean Davis says he spoke with multiple people who said that police let them in.

But clearly things went south in a hurry. Windows were bashed in and cops were pushed around.

Ashli Babbitt, a 35-year-old Air Force veteran from San Diego, reportedly climbed through a broken window and was shot and killed by Capitol Police.

Video by Elijah Schaffer shows what he claims is the “exact moment the siege of the Capitol began as the two men in front ripped down a preliminary barrier and rushed officers.”

Police didn’t “let them in.” They were rushed.

Others posted video to show that police let in the protesters onto the Capitol building grounds.

Another woman, who identified herself as Elizabeth from Tennessee, was pepper-sprayed by police as she attempted to step into the building. As she wiped her eyes, she told a reporter what she was doing.

“We’re storming the capitol. It’s a revolution.”

Democrat Congressman Jim Cooper complained to WUSA TV that Capitol Police appeared to be working with the protesters.

“Some people are worried today that some police were complicit with the protesters,” Cooper said. “It’s one thing to be friendly and to de-escalate the violence. But it’s one thing to take selfies with them (rioters) and let them go through the lines.”

Cooper said he did not see these actions by Capitol Police himself, but said he’s “never seen a crowd less afraid of the police than this one.”

“At best they were overwhelmed and did not anticipate what they had been warned of by (President) Trump, even as of this morning when he said he would join the protests at the Capitol. … At worst, they let this protest proceed unlike any other.”

If police did let them in, it’s understandable. Trump supporters have been peaceful in the country. To the extent there has been violence, the Leftist mob started it with few, if any, exceptions.

How soon we forget that Washington, D.C. was on fire last summer by antifa and BLM rioters.

The same scene was played out in several cities throughout the country.

It’s also understandable that these protesters would believe that nothing would happen to them even if they got inside the Capitol. After all, nothing much has happened to BLM and antifa for burning churches, looting stores, trying to kill cops, and attempting to burn them alive at police stations all over the country and inside the nation’s capital.


Ignoring the concerns of Trump supporters will destroy America

JASON WHITLOCK (who is black)

Wednesday afternoon, angry, unarmed, mostly peaceful protesters stormed the Capitol. They caused hundreds of dollars in damages to "The People's House," the taxpayer-funded building where elected lawmakers work.

They took pictures seated at Nancy Pelosi's desk. They shoved furniture out of place. They pushed their way past unprepared and overwhelmed law enforcement. They shattered a window or two.

If not for police shooting and killing an unarmed, female 14-year Air Force veteran, the protest staged by Trump supporters would have more in common with a 1950s fraternity panty raid than political riot.

Here, I guess, I should apologize for not joining the rest of the media in feigning outrage and calling for the trespassers to be tried for treason. But I'm neither outraged nor feeling vengeful because of their act of civil disobedience.

I understand it. It was an inevitable repercussion from 2020 and what we've all witnessed the last decade. It was Sir Isaac Newton's third law come to life. "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction."

For four years now, the billionaire and millionaire elites who control academia, the mainstream media, politics, popular culture, and the sports world have framed Trump supporters as racist deplorables worthy of elimination from society.

These same elites spent the past decade elevating Michael Brown, George Floyd, Jacob Blake, Rayshard Brooks, Eric Garner, and other resisting criminal suspects to icon status while simultaneously raising bail money for protesters willing to riot, loot, burn, and vandalize in the name of racial justice.

This blatant hypocrisy will not go unchallenged. You cannot ignore the desires, concerns and feelings of 74 million citizens. You cannot write them off as Nazis and answer all their complaints with allegations of racism or sexism. That's fascism.

At this point, the Deplorables should be commended for their restraint. Antifa and Black Lives Matter search, burn, and destroy well into the wee hours. The Deplorables returned to their hotel rooms by nightfall and watched our lawmakers return to work inside the Capitol by 8 p.m.

The critics say President Trump provoked Wednesday's political "violence." His refusal to concede a corrupt election baited his followers to overrun the Capitol with flags, put Ashli Babbitt in harm's way, and do enough property damage to delay the Electoral College confirmation three or four hours.

Fine. Guilty as charged.

But our president for the next two weeks was not Lee Harvey Oswald, a lone provocateur. He had plenty of collaborators. They work on all the major and cable news and sports networks. They play in the NFL and NBA. They represent both political parties, hold high positions in Hollywood, at Netflix, Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The people wagging their fingers the hardest at Trump and the Deplorables sanctioned, financed, and promoted political violence throughout all of 2020 and for much of the past decade.

Ashli Babbitt's blood is on the hands of Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg as much as, if not more than, on President Trump's. That's why Dorsey and Zuckerberg rushed to silence Trump on their respective platforms, Twitter and Facebook.

Political tension and violence are fomented, planned, and monetized on Silicon Valley's social media platforms. Wednesday's "violence" hit the wrong target. The Capitol is where global elites exchange cash for influence and privilege. It's where $150,000-a-year politicians become multimillionaires building cozy relationships with Big Tech lobbyists and American corporations looking to curry favor with China.

There are two different American realities. There's the false reality world created by and for elites and their groupies. In this world, progressive elites feign concern for poor black people by championing the cause of a tiny handful of black resisting criminal suspects harmed by white police officers tasked with subduing them. The elites have no interest in the thousands of black men and boys killed annually due to random gang, street, and drug violence. Those black lives do not matter. Progressive elites live inside a social media matrix where they call the Crips and the Bloods to protect them from the police.

The rest of America lives in an alternate universe driven, at least partially, by reality, facts, and common sense. We don't see the norms of Western Civilization as the root of all evil. We have no interest in disrupting the nuclear family. We don't think the storming of the Capitol is analogous to the months of looting, arson, shooting, rioting, and anarchy we watched throughout 2020.

Trump supporters will not go away quietly or peacefully. It's their country, too. Their concerns are legitimate. The lawmakers they chased to the basement of the Capitol sold out the American working-class man and woman.

Skin color does not explain the Trump phenomenon, the passion of his followers. Trumpism is rooted in a rejection of the elitism, idolatry, and secularism pervasive in modern American culture.

Trumpism is the cry of American citizens uninterested in adopting the cultures and customs of France, China, Italy, Cuba, Venezuela, Canada, or any of the other places global elites romanticize. Trumpism is the cry of the working class who believe the Big Tech billionaires are building an America that cuts them out of the American Dream. Trumpism is the cry of Americans who value authenticity over the fraudulence of political correctness.

The price of ignoring their cries will be war, a civil war.



Friday, January 08, 2021

Was it really an “attempted coup” in Washington last night?

Was it really an “attempted coup” in Washington last night?
Watching the highly disturbing footage from Washington DC, last night, my mind kept going back to the autumn of 2018.

On October 4th, of that year, the US Senate was engaged in a confirmation hearing for now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh of the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh had been accused, you’ll recall, of sexually assaulting a high school classmate, as a teenager. At the height of the #metoo movement, many people on the left found the mere existence of the accusation – devoid of any particular evidence – sufficient enough to disqualify him from service on the court. There were mass protests.

And then, on that day, October 4th, anti-Kavanaugh protestors invaded, and occupied, the US Senate’s Hart Office building:

US Senators were cornered, and shouted at, by protestors. Senators Jeff Flake, and Orrin Hatch, for example, were accosted in an elevator. The US media, and, indeed, the Irish media, did not regard the occupation of parliamentary offices as a coup. Indeed, on MSNBC, over footage of protestors roaming the halls of the US Senate, a reporter described the events as “a large and well organised protest”:

You’ll note that the reporter seems quite nonchalant about the prospect that the invasion of the US Senate’s office complex might be intimidating for politicians: “Just in terms of the optics of this, if you will, this is all definitely audible to Joe Manchin, or Joe Manchin’s staff, and Lisa Murkowski’s staff, who are also in this building”

Manchin and Murkowski, at the time, were two of the US Senators whose votes could have blocked Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation. MSNBC had no qualms about the subtext then: These Senators can hear these angry people, and maybe it will change their votes.

What’s interesting, of course, is that nobody called it an attempted coup.

Last night, there was, of course, an attempted coup. The intent of the Trump protestors, in breaching the US Capitol, was to force the US Congress to change its mind when it came to counting the votes for President, and to use some mechanism (which one is unclear) to win a second term for President Trump. That the attempt never had any chance of succeeding is irrelevant – when it comes to coups, intent is all that matters.

But what’s the difference between these two events, exactly? One of them was covered as a heroic, normal, protest, even though the intent was to invade and intimidate congress into changing its mind on a vote. The other is being covered as an unprecedented attack on democracy, even though the intent was to invade and intimidate congress into changing its mind on a vote. What’s the difference, and what explains the difference in coverage?

The simple answer, whether people like it or not, is that journalists, and other opinion formers, really didn’t like Brett Kavanaugh, and sympathised with the efforts to prevent his confirmation. And those same journalists and opinion formers have considerable antipathy for President Trump, and therefore strongly oppose any effort to prevent Biden’s ratification. Thus, one event is a protest, the other is an attempted coup, or insurrection, as CNN called it last night.

This double standard does nobody any good. It is true that the scenes from Washington last night were disgraceful. It is also indisputably true that President Trump bears almost all of the blame for them: He summoned these people to Washington. He told them explicitly to go to the Capitol. He told them an election was being stolen. Now, a woman, one of his own supporters, lies dead, and his own allies in the US congress are abandoning him in disgust.

But the outrage, to many of us, comes across as both selective, and fake. Throughout the summer, when US Cities burned, the media shied away from talk of insurrections, and coups. Black Lives Matter protestors, who burned cities to the ground, and attacked peoples businesses, were described as protestors. Trump supporters, who smashed some windows in Congress, are described as traitors.

The truth is that when it comes to this kind of thing, people are no longer judged on what they actually do. They’re judged solely on why they did it. Thus, if you burn out a business in Kenosha, Wisconsin, because you are angry at a police shooting, you are a protestor. But if you sit in Nancy Pelosi’s chair for five minutes after occupying congress, because you are angry at an election, you are a domestic terrorist.

If you occupy the US Senate to stop a right wing Judge, you are a peaceful protestor. If you occupy the US Congress to stop a left wing politician, you are an insurrectionist thug.

None of this makes much sense, and yet, it makes perfect sense. There is, and has been for some time, one set of rules for the political left, and another set of rules for the rest of us. And it’s not just in the United States.

In Ireland, if you breach social distancing to protest lockdown restrictions, you are an irresponsible person who is risking the lives of the elderly. But if you breach social distancing to protest a police shooting, you are a group of angry and passionate young people trying bravely to change the world. Though your actions are identical in both instances, you are judged only on what your political views are.

This, it goes without saying, cannot last. People see the double standard. They see the completely different rules. And they stop listening, or caring, what you say about them.


Democrats Were For Riots Before They Were Against Them

In 2018, the media was writing up glowing stories about the hundreds of Women’s March members who were engaging in "direct action” to disrupt the Senate’s Kavanaugh hearings.

Hundreds of members from the radical leftist group had invaded the hearings and were arrested. Their travel expenses and bail for the disruptions were covered by the Women’s March. Radicals from the March and other leftist groups blocked hallways, shouted down Senate members, and draped protest banners from balconies. Democrats cheered them on.

When a leftist mob assailed the Supreme Court, pounding on the doors, MSNBC called it an “extraordinary moment” and praised the crowd, “besieging the Supreme Court” and “confronting senators”.

"If you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. And you push back on them," Rep. Maxine Waters had urged earlier that year.

Later, the Democrat House member told MSNBC, "They’re going to absolutely harass them".

In 2020, Black Lives Matter rioters vandalized the Lincoln Memorial and the WW2 Memorial, along with statues of Gandhi, General Kosciuszko, and Andrew Jackson. The racist thugs marched through the city starting fires, including at a historic church, and tried to besiege the White House. Attempts by federal law enforcement to fight BLM terrorism were falsely denounced as a brutal attack on “peaceful protesters”, and as “militarism” and “fascism”.

Democrat House members took to proposing bills to protect the racist mobs from law enforcement. Meanwhile the BLM mob besieged the White House and battled Secret Service personnel, allegedly forcing the evacuation of President Trump and his family to a bunker.

This was the new normal enthusiastically supported by Democrats and the media.

A bail fund backed by Senator Kamala Harris and Biden campaign staffers focused on helping the rioters and looters get out of prison. Along with any other criminals along for the ride.

Violent protests, including those targeting public officials and legislative bodies, had been championed and normalized by Democrats and their media over the last four years. That included the harassment of officials, property destruction, and assaulting law enforcement.

Now, as the Democrats expect to take power, they suddenly decided that rioting is bad.

Before the Save America protest even began, the same Washington D.C. authorities who had championed and protected the Black Lives Matter riots, prepared for a crackdown.

“We want the military, we want troops from out of state out of Washington, D.C.,” Mayor Muriel Bowser had ranted when BLM was attacking national memorials and the White House.

“We will not allow people to incite violence, intimidate our residents or cause destruction in our city,” Bowser now insisted, demanding that the National Guard come out to stop the protests.

Unless they're Democrats, she failed to mention.

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine had responded to the Black Lives Matter assault by condemning law enforcement. He had issued a statement falsely accusing President Trump of "responding to nonviolent demonstration with war-like tactics".

"We —the Mayor, the Council, OAG, and MPD—must commit to standing in between our community and the boot of tyranny. And we must act on this commitment. We must start by promising to defend our residents from harm while they engage in peaceful, nonviolent protest.”

"My level of anxiety is high. My preparation is even more intense than that," Racine was telling the media before the pro-Trump Save America rally now.

The double standard was obvious and blatant. The Democrats and media had cheered Black Lives Matter violent protests. They had colluded in previous invasions of Congress and the harassment of elected officials. But now they wanted a violent riot they could condemn.

And such a riot would helpfully put to bed any further questions about a rigged election.

After a massive peaceful rally by Save America protesters, who had been addressed by President Trump, a smaller group marched on Congress. The MPD however reacted very differently than it had to previous Black Lives Matter and four years of leftist rallies.

In the resulting confrontation, a number of fringe elements, Neo-Nazis, Groypers, Boogaloo Bois, a leftist-libertarian anarchist group that collaborates with Antifa and Black Lives Matter, took the opportunity to cause damage and stage photo-ops for the media. Unfortunately some legitimate conservative protesters who had entered the building were caught in the violence.

But the media stars of the confrontation were not conservatives and were anti-Trump.

One photo showed Nick Fuentes, the alt-right Groyper leader whose antisemitic group had previously shut down a Turning Point USA event by booing Donald Trump Jr. off the stage, and Tim ‘Baked Alaska’ Gionet, a former Black Lives Matter supporter and BuzzFeed employee, who has a history of going back and forth between the alt-right and the Left.

Another appeared to show Matthew Heimbach, formerly with the National Socialist Movement, an alleged Neo-Nazi leader, who had previously argued in court that his actions were President Trump’s fault and that Trump should be held legally liable.

Much as in Charlottesville, marginal figures who were hostile to President Trump, to Republicans, and to conservatives, had taken center stage at the behest of the media.

The purpose of the entire circus was to provide a propaganda opportunity for the Left.

The outrage over the protests is a farce coming from a political movement that advocated terrorizing Republican elected officials, that aided invasions of Congress, and that supported the Black Lives Matter riots which, aside from terrorizing D.C., also wrecked much of the country.

Why is broken glass on Capitol Hill so much more precious than the broken glass that ended the dreams of store owners in Kenosha? Where was all the outrage, the tears wept for our country when Black Lives Matter thugs were prying open shops around the country, looting them, and assaulting their owners on a scale so vast it racked up $2 billion in damages?

“Please, show me where it says protesters are supposed to be polite and peaceful,” CNN’s Chris Cuomo had barked while his news network showed rioting and looting in New York.

Riots are obviously wrong. Except that Democrats and the media decided that wasn’t true.

Martin Luther King's infamous quote, "a riot is the language of the unheard", popped up in Time, USA Today, and on CNN. “Violence was critical to the success of the 1960s civil rights movement,” a Washington Post op-ed argued. The AP urged reporters to use "uprising" instead of "riot" to describe the violence, while suggesting that protests can be violent and that reporting should not focus on the "property destruction”, but instead on the “underlying grievance".

A subsidiary of one of the big 5 publishers put out a book titled, "In Defense of Looting."

You can’t normalize political violence and then expect it to be a one-sided affair. After months in which BLM mobs attacked a federal courthouse in Portland, throwing fireworks and shining lasers in the eyes of law enforcement personnel, toppled statues across the country, and injured hundreds of police officers, the Democrats and their media are suddenly outraged.

How, in the midst of all this rioting, could anyone get the idea that rioting is okay?

Laws only work when they apply to everyone. When violence is okay for some, but not for others, then a violent struggle ensues until a totalitarian monopoly on violence is achieved.

Or until we come to our senses.

There’s little question as to which side of the political spectrum has championed and mainstreamed violence for over a century. The very different fate of Kluxers and the Weathermen, trailer parks for the former and academic careers for the latter, show which side finds political violence not only acceptable, but praiseworthy. And this is no different.

Contrary to the media’s spin, Republicans have never normalized violence. And Republican political power doesn’t depend on political terror and violence. Leftist power invariably does.

The Left began a new age of political violence in 2016. It can turn it off anytime it wants to.

The problem is that it won’t, and an illiberal partisan media and accompanying cultural establishment will never dare to suggest that maybe there should be fewer riots and threats.



Thursday, January 07, 2021

How Virus Bureaucracy Killed Hundreds of Thousands of Americans

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the media have spilled barrels of ink over mistakes by the federal government. We've heard endlessly about the failure to quickly ramp up testing, the confusion over mask-wearing and the debates over proper lockdown policy. But when the history of this time is written, the fundamental mistake made by the United States government won't be rhetorical excesses by the president or conflicting public health advice. It will be the same mistake the government always makes: trusting the bureaucracy.

We now know that the miraculous Moderna vaccine for COVID-19 had been designed by Jan. 13, 2020. That was just two days after the sequencing of the virus had been made public. As David Wallace-Wells writes for New York magazine, "the Moderna vaccine design took all of one weekend. ... By the time the first American death was announced a month later, the vaccine had already been manufactured and shipped to the National Institutes of Health for the beginning of its Phase I clinical trial." Meanwhile, for six weeks, Dr. Anthony Fauci assured Americans that there was little to worry about with COVID-19.

Fast-forward to the end of 2020. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have died. Tens of thousands of Americans continue to die every week. The Food and Drug Administration has still not cleared the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which costs a fraction of the other vaccines (about $4 per dose, as opposed to $15 to $25 per dose for Moderna's vaccine or $20 per dose for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine). The FDA approval process cost us critical months, with thousands of Americans dying each day. As Dr. Marty Makary of Johns Hopkins University told me this week, "Safety is their eternal excuse. They are entirely a broken federal bureaucracy...Why did we not have a combined Phase I-Phase II clinical trial for these vaccines?"

This is an excellent question, of course. Phase I trials involve small numbers of participants, who are then monitored. Phase II trials involve larger numbers. Huge numbers of Americans would have volunteered for a combined Phase I-Phase II trial. And even after we knew the vaccines were effective, the FDA delayed. Data was collected by late October that suggested Phase II/III trials had been successful. The FDA quickly requested more results, which it did not receive until November. It then took until Dec. 11 for the FDA to issue emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine. The Moderna vaccine wasn't cleared until Dec. 18, nearly a year after it had first been produced.

The disgrace continues. The government continues to hold back secondary doses of the vaccine, despite the fact that the first doses provide a significant effect. As Makary says, "We're in a war. The first dose gives immunity that may be as high as 80 to 90 percent protection, and we can probably give half the dose, as Dr. Moncef Slaoui suggested ... We can quadruple our supply overnight."

Meanwhile, states continue to be confused by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance on how to tranche out the vaccines. It took until nine days after the FDA authorized the Pfizer vaccine for the CDC to release its recommendations. Those recommendations were still complex and confusing and often rife with self-defeating standards -- even though it was perfectly obvious from the start that the solution ought to be based on age.

Americans have relied on the government -- a government supposedly comprised of well-meaning experts -- to get us through a pandemic. The government not only failed with conflicting information and incoherent lockdown policy but also actively obstructed the chief mechanism for ending the pandemic thanks to bureaucratic bloat. If Americans' takeaway from the COVID-19 pandemic is that centralized government is the all-purpose solution, they're taking precisely the lesson most likely to end in mass death in the future.


Left media can’t admit Donald Trump was likely right on COVID lab creation

Comment from Australia

A Chinese virologist whistleblower who fled the country after leaving her job at a Hong Kong university claims coronavirus was “man-made” in a lab – and the communist nation released the virus “intentionally”.

Wait a second, this wasn’t supposed to happen. We were all supposed to believe that the COVID-19 pandemic just sort of happened when someone slaughtered the wrong ­animal too close to some other animal in Wuhan’s notoriously gruesome “wet markets”.

The idea that it may have been cooked up in a lab, even for legitimate purposes? The stuff of internet ­loonies, we were told.

Yet how things change.

Evidence is now building that in fact the coronavirus was cooked up in the Wuhan Institute of Virology, with the idea now being endorsed by US deputy national security adviser ­Michael Pottinger saying that there was “a growing body of evidence that the lab is likely the most credible source of the virus” — and that in ­Beijing, “even establishment figures … have openly dismissed the wet market story”.

This lends credence to the theory that the virus may have been created at the lab as part of legitimate scientific research that aims to cut up and recombine viruses in what are known as “gain of function” experiments ­designed to predict how viruses might evolve — and thus better counter their threat should that occur.

But it’s dangerous work. In 2014 a paper by scientists at Johns Hopkins University in the US called for a moratorium on such experiments, saying that “research that aims to create new potential pandemic pathogens … poses extraordinary potential risks to the public.”

You don’t say.

Now, like the credibility of doctors who used to advertise cigarettes, the preferred media narrative that no way could the coronavirus have slipped through the gates at the Wuhan ­Institute of Virology is falling apart.

And it hasn’t been helped by China’s response, blocking a World Health Organisation team from landing in Wuhan to investigate the pandemic’s origins.

As the possibility that the pandemic is China’s own Chernobyl, it’s worthwhile looking back at just how this theory of COVID-19’s origins has been dealt with in the leftist media.

After all, the idea that the virus ­escaped some lab where these things were being tinkered with, for whatever purpose, was popular with Trump and his supporters, making it automatically suspect.

Recall that before the latest round of trade sanctions and social media attacks, hawkishness on China was seen as a thing for the sabre-rattling right.

For the respectable left, it was far better to treat the coronavirus as the natural but unfortunate outcome of Wuhan’s exotic local food scene and make anyone who said otherwise out to be a war-hawk or a pariah.

To blame the communist state which, after all, was supposed to make us all wealthy while providing a counterbalance to a blustering America was unthinkable.

The [Austraian] ABC, naturally, led the charge to depict those who thought something fishy (or even batty, pardon the pun) was going on at the Wuhan ­Institute of Virology as a swivel-eyed lunatic or, even worse, a Trump supporter. “Coronavirus may have come from a Chinese lab, if you believe ­Donald Trump — but experts disagree”, sneered the headline on a piece by reporter Alan Weedon on April 18 of last year.

Ah yes, where would we be without “experts”?

A month later, after Sharri Mark­son reported for the The Daily Telegraph that a US State Department dossier suggested links between the coronavirus outbreak and the Chinese facility, the ABC again swept into action to shoot the story down.

“The document contained no new evidence linking the laboratory to the outbreak and instead relied on publicly available news and scientific journal papers,” the ABC’s Dylan Welch wrote.

Not to be outdone, the ABC’s Media Watch did not one but two hit pieces, one week apart, slamming the story as a “conspiracy theory” and ­citing condemnations of the reporting by everyone from Gareth Evans to Bob Carr.

The same pattern was repeated in leftward-listing newsrooms around the world where for the past four years Donald Trump has been Enemy Number One.

The Los Angeles Times told readers in May that “Like the virus whose origin it purports to explain, the following conjecture refuses to die: The novel coronavirus was cooked up in a Chinese lab.”

A Washington Post “fact check” (yes, really) that same month looked at the question “Was the Wuhan coronavirus accidentally released from a Wuhan lab?” and came up with the answer “It’s doubtful”.

This, as they say, is not journalism. It’s activism in plain sight, stemming from the simple equation that has governed so much of the news cycle for the past four years: If Trump says X, then not only must that X be false, it also must be driven into the ground and the earth above it salted so that nothing ever grows there again.

And it is pretty rich to see the ABC of all outlets getting all high and mighty about “conspiracy theories”.

Recall that the billion-dollar broadcaster spent wheelbarrows of cash pushing the greatest conspiracy theory of all (still taken as an article of faith by many on the left), namely, that Donald Trump was somehow an agent of Moscow.

This saw taxpayers fork out for everything from the “Russia, Are You Listening?” podcast to special three-part Four Corners humbly titled, “The Story of the Century”.

The great irony, of course, is that those on the left love to pride themselves on listening to facts and ­experts and what is pretentiously known as “the science”, while at the same time judging every piece of information’s worth by whether or not it serves their narrative.

There is nothing political about a lab accident; they might happen anywhere scientists are working with these sorts of viruses.

But there something deeply political, to say nothing of incredibly dangerous, about dismissing that possibility simply because it might vindicate the US president



Well-deserved Medal of Freedom goes to Devin Nunes for "courageous" efforts to stop "plot" against Trump (Washington Times)

British prime minister imposes another national lockdown on England (CNBC)

Nearly one million excess deaths expected over next 15 years from pandemic rise in unemployment (Washington Examiner)

Google workers form union in latest show of discontent with evil tech giant (CBS News)

DC mayor calls in National Guard for Trump supporters but refused to during BLM/antifa riots (Post Millennial)

This just in: Trans women retain athletic edge after a year of hormone therapy, study finds (NBC News)

Nothing to see here... Hunter Biden email associate is on DOJ transition team (Washington Times)

Census Bureau misses year-end deadline for delivering numbers for House seats (NPR)

U.S. votes against UN budget over anti-Israel measure, lack of Iran action (Fox News)

Pelosi just proposed banning gendered terms like "father, mother, son, daughter" in the House. Yet she has "mother" and "grandmother" in her Twitter bio. (Not the Bee)

Novavax starts late-stage trial of vaccine in United States (Reuters) | UK authorizes Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine (NY Times)

New Mexico fines two churches $10,000 each for Christmas Eve services (Disrn)

ICE deports more than 185,000 illegal aliens and 4,200 gang members in 2020 (Breitbart) | ICE says arrestees had average of four criminal convictions or charges each (Fox News)

Mom and pop landlords struggle through eviction freeze (Washington Examiner)

Britain's trade agreement with the European Union enters legal force (UPI)

Portland mayor, antifa enabler now asks for federal and state help against "radical Antifa" (Disrn)

Emancipation Memorial honoring freed slaves in Boston officially removed (Disrn)

New York City shootings doubled in 2020 (Washington Examiner)

Chicago ends 2020 with 769 homicides (AP)

Massachusetts allows abortions without parental consent, codifies Roe v. Wade (Disrn) | Meanwhile, Ohio governor signs bill requiring cremation or burial of aborted babies (Disrn)



Wednesday, January 06, 2021

FDA Admits PCR Tests Give False Results, Prepares Ground For Biden To "Crush" Casedemic

Tyler Durden points out that most Covid "positive" test results are false positives

The FDA today joined The WHO and Dr.Fauci in admitting there is a notable risk of false results from the standard PCR-Test used to define whether an individual is a COVID "Case" or not.

This matters significantly as it fits perfectly with the 'fake rescue' plan we have previously described would occur once the Biden admin took office. But before we get to that 'conspiracy', we need a little background on how the world got here...

We have detailed the controversy surrounding America's COVID "casedemic" and the misleading results of the PCR test and its amplification procedure in great detail over the past few months.

As a reminder, "cycle thresholds" (Ct) are the level at which widely used polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test can detect a sample of the COVID-19 virus. The higher the number of cycles, the lower the amount of viral load in the sample; the lower the cycles, the more prevalent the virus was in the original sample.

Numerous epidemiological experts have argued that cycle thresholds are an important metric by which patients, the public, and policymakers can make more informed decisions about how infectious and/or sick an individual with a positive COVID-19 test might be. However, as JustTheNews reports, health departments across the country are failing to collect that data.

Here are a few headlines from those experts and scientific studies:

1. Experts compiled three datasets with officials from the states of Massachusetts, New York and Nevada that conclude:“Up to 90% of the people who tested positive did not carry a virus."

2. The Wadworth Center, a New York State laboratory, analyzed the results of its July tests at the request of the NYT: 794 positive tests with a Ct of 40: “With a Ct threshold of 35, approximately half of these PCR tests would no longer be considered positive,” said the NYT. “And about 70% would no longer be considered positive with a Ct of 30! “

3. An appeals court in Portugal has ruled that the PCR process is not a reliable test for Sars-Cov-2, and therefore any enforced quarantine based on those test results is unlawful.

4. A new study from the Infectious Diseases Society of America, found that at 25 cycles of amplification, 70% of PCR test "positives" are not "cases" since the virus cannot be cultured, it's dead. And by 35: 97% of the positives are non-clinical.

5. PCR is not testing for disease, it's testing for a specific RNA pattern and this is the key pivot. When you crank it up to 25, 70% of the positive results are not really "positives" in any clinical sense, since it cannot make you or anyone else sick

So, in summary, with regard to our current "casedemic", positive tests as they are counted today do not indicate a “case” of anything. They indicate that viral RNA was found in a nasal swab. It may be enough to make you sick, but according to the New York Times and their experts, probably won’t. And certainly not sufficient replication of the virus to make anyone else sick. But you will be sent home for ten days anyway, even if you never have a sniffle. And this is the number the media breathlessly reports... and is used to fearmonger mask mandates and lockdowns nationwide...

In October we first exposed how PCR Tests have misled officials worldwide into insanely authoritative reactions.

As PJMedia's Stacey Lennox wrote, the “casedemic" is the elevated number of cases we see nationwide because of a flaw in the PCR test. The number of times the sample is amplified, also called the cycle threshold (Ct), is too high.

It identifies people who do not have a viral load capable of making them ill or transmitting the disease to someone else as positive for COVID-19.

The New York Times reported this flaw on August 29 and said that in the samples they reviewed from three states where labs use a Ct of 37-40, up to 90% of tests are essentially false positives. The experts in that article said a Ct of around 30 would be more appropriate for indicating that someone could be contagious - those for whom contact tracing would make sense.

Just a few days earlier, the CDC had updated its guidelines to discourage testing for asymptomatic individuals. It can only be assumed that the rationale for this was that some honest bureaucrat figured out the testing was needlessly sensitive. He or she has probably been demoted.

This change was preceded by a July update that discouraged retesting for recovered patients. The rationale for the update was that viral debris could be detected using the PCR test for 90 days after recovery. The same would be true for some period of time if an individual had an effective immune response and never got sick. Existing immunity from exposure to other coronaviruses has been well documented. These are many of your “asymptomatic” cases.

However, due to political pressure and corporate media tantrums, the new guidance on testing was scrapped, and testing for asymptomatic individuals is now recommended again. Doctors do not receive the Ct information from the labs to make a diagnostic judgment. Neither the CDC nor the FDA has put out guidelines for an accurate Ct to diagnose a contagious illness accurately.

Hence, our current “casedemic.” Positive tests as they are counted today do not indicate a “case” of anything. They indicate that viral RNA was found in a nasal swab. It may be enough to make you sick, but according to the New York Times and their experts, probably won’t. And certainly not sufficient replication of the virus to make anyone else sick. But you will be sent home for ten days anyway, even if you never have a sniffle. And this is the number the media breathlessly reports.

A month later, Dr. Pascal Sacré, explained in great detail how all current propaganda on the COVID-19 pandemic is based on an assumption that is considered obvious, true and no longer questioned: Positive RT-PCR test means being sick with COVID.

This assumption is misleading. Very few people, including doctors, understand how a PCR test works.

In mid-November, none other than he who should not be questioned - Dr. Anthony Fauci - admitted that the PCR Test's high Ct is misleading:

“What is now sort of evolving into a bit of a standard,” Fauci said, is that “if you get a cycle threshold of 35 or more … the chances of it being replication-confident are minuscule.”

“It’s very frustrating for the patients as well as for the physicians,” he continued, when “somebody comes in, and they repeat their PCR, and it’s like [a] 37 cycle threshold, but you almost never can culture virus from a 37 threshold cycle.”

So, I think if somebody does come in with 37, 38, even 36, you got to say, you know, it’s just dead nucleotides, period.”

So, if anyone raises this discussion as a "conspiracy", refer them to Dr.Fauci.

In response to this and the actual "science", Florida's Department of Health (and signed off on by Florida's Republican Governor Ron deSantis), decided that for the first time in the history of the pandemic, a state will require that all labs in the state report the critical “cycle threshold” level of every COVID-19 test they perform.

All of which leads us to today's announcement from The FDA...
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is alerting patients and health care providers of the risk of false results... with the Curative SARS-Cov-2 test.

And why does this matter?
Well it's simple - this is how the establishment can show Joe Biden's plan is miraculously rescue the world.

We explained the "fake rescue" plan in October.

The Fake Rescue

Biden will issue national standards, like the plexiglass barriers in restaurants he spoke about during the debate, and pressure governors to implement mask mandates using the federal government’s financial leverage (NOTE: his 100-day mask-wearing 'mandate' is already in play).

Some hack at the CDC or FDA will issue new guidance lowering the Ct the labs use, and cases will magically start to fall.

In reality, the change will only eliminate false positives, but most Americans won’t know that.

Good old Uncle Joe will be the hero, even though it is Deep-State actors in the health bureaucracies who won’t solve a problem with testing they have been aware of for months. TDS is a heck of a drug.

So, there you have it folks... First Fauci, then WHO, now FDA all admit there is malarkey in the PCR Tests, but have - until now, done nothing about it... allowing the daily fearmongering of soaring "cases" to enable their most twisted 1984-esque controls.

All that's needed now is for one of these estemeed groups to decide to cut the Ct for a "positive" PCR Test to say 15x or 20x and suddenly, we are rescued from the "Dark Winter" as Biden's plan slashes the positive case count dramatically... we are saved.

As an aside, this also clearly explains the disappearance of the "flu" during this season as the plethora of high Ct PCR Tests supposedly pointing to a surge in COVID are nothing of the sort.


I Now Better Understand the 'Good German'


As my listeners and readers can hopefully attest, I have been on a lifelong quest to understand human nature and human behavior. I am sad to report that I have learned more in the last few years, particularly in 2020, than in any equivalent period of time.

One of the biggest revelations concerns a question that has always plagued me: How does one explain the “good German,” the term used to describe the average, presumably decent German, who did nothing to hurt Jews but also did nothing to help them and did nothing to undermine the Nazi regime? The same question could be asked about the average Frenchman during the Vichy era, the average Russian under Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Leonid Brezhnev and their successors, and the millions of others who did nothing to help their fellow citizens under oppressive dictatorships.

These past few years have taught me not to so quickly judge the quiet German, Russian, etc. Of course, I still judge Germans who helped the Nazis and Germans who in any way hurt Jews. But the Germans who did nothing? Not so fast.

What has changed my thinking has been watching what is happening in America (and Canada and Australia and elsewhere, for that matter).
The ease with which tens of millions of Americans have accepted irrational, unconstitutional and unprecedented police state-type restrictions on their freedoms, including even the freedom to make a living, has been, to understate the case, sobering.

The same holds true for the acceptance by most Americans of the rampant censorship on Twitter and all other major social media platforms. Even physicians and other scientists are deprived of freedom of speech if, for example, they offer scientific support for hydroxychloroquine along with zinc to treat COVID-19 in the early stages. Board-certified physician Dr. Vladimir Zelenko, who has saved hundreds of COVID-19 patients from suffering and/or death, has been banned from Twitter for publicizing his lifesaving hydroxychloroquine and zinc protocol.

Half of America, the nonleft half, is afraid to speak their minds at virtually every university, movie studio and large corporation — indeed, at virtually every place of work. Professors who say anything that offends the left fear being ostracized if they have tenure and being fired if they do not. People are socially ostracized, publicly shamed and/or fired for differing with Black Lives Matter, as America-hating and white-hating a group as has ever existed. And few Americans speak up. On the contrary, when BLM protestors demand that diners outside of restaurants raise their fists to show their support of BLM, nearly every diner does.

So, then, who are we to condemn the average German who faced the Gestapo if he didn’t salute Hitler or the average Russian who faced the NKVD (the secret police and intelligence agency that preceded the KGB) if he didn’t demonstrate sufficient enthusiasm for Stalin? Americans face the left’s cancel culture, but not left-wing secret police or reeducation camps. (At least not yet — I have little doubt the left would send outspoken conservatives to reeducation camps if they could.)

I have come to understand the average German living under Nazism and the average Russian living under communism for another reason: the power of the media to brainwash.

As a student of totalitarianism since my graduate studies at the Russian Institute of Columbia University’s School of International Affairs (as it was then known), I have always believed that only in a dictatorship could a society be brainwashed. I was wrong. I now understand that mass brainwashing can take place in a nominally free society. The incessant left-wing drumbeat of The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and almost every other major newspaper, plus The Atlantic, The New Yorker, CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, NPR, all of Hollywood and almost every school from kindergarten through graduate school, has brainwashed at least half of America every bit as effectively as the German, Soviet and Chinese communist press did (and in the latter case, still does). That thousands of schools will teach the lie that is the New York Times’ “1619 Project” is one of countless examples.

Prior to the lockdowns, I flew almost every week of the year, so I was approached by people who recognized me on a regular basis. Increasingly, I noticed that people would look around to see if anyone was within earshot and then tell me in almost a whisper: “I support Trump” or, “I’m a conservative.” The last time people looked around and whispered things to me was when I used to visit the Soviet Union.

In Quebec this past weekend, as one can see on a viral video, a family was fined and members arrested because six — yes, six — people gathered to celebrate the new year. A neighbor snitched on them, and the celebrants were duly arrested. The Quebec government lauded the snitches and asked for more public “collaboration.”

Snitches are likewise lauded and encouraged in some Democrat-run states and cities in America (Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in March: “Snitches get rewards”) and by left-wing governments in Australia. Plenty of Americans, Canadians and Australians are only too happy to snitch on people who refuse to lock down their lives.

All this is taking place without concentration camps, without a Gestapo, without a KGB and without Maoist reeducation camps.
That’s why I no longer judge the average German as easily as I used to. Apathy in the face of tyranny turns out not to be a German or Russian characteristic. I just never thought it could happen in America.



Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Mask Mandates Aren’t Working As Promised

SUMMARY A surge in COVID-19 cases in the United States and Europe has prompted calls for a national mask mandate here in America. Advocates of government edicts have asserted that these would bring the pandemic “under control” in a matter of weeks. The authors of this Backgrounder found that 97 of the 100 counties with the most confirmed cases had mask mandates. Nor did a national mask mandate prevent a surge in Italy. These findings do not deny the efficacy of mask-wearing, nor should they discourage the practice. Instead, they point to the inadequacy of public health strategies that rely too heavily on lockdowns and mask mandates. Governments should undertake more effective interventions, such as specifically protecting nursing home residents, enabling nationwide screening through use of rapid self-tests, and establishing voluntary isolation centers where infected people can recover, rather than exposing their families to infection.


A surge in COVID-19 cases in the United States and Europe has prompted calls for a national mask mandate here in America. Advocates of government edicts have asserted that these would bring the pandemic “under control” in a matter of weeks.

Public health officials here and throughout most of the world believe that mask-wearing has some value in reducing the rate at which the pandemic spreads. Accepting this premise, however, does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that government mask mandates will bring the contagion under control.

This Backgrounder examines the effects of mask mandates in the U.S. and Italy. While there is no national mask mandate in the U.S., many states and counties have imposed them. We (the authors) find that, of the 25 counties reporting the highest numbers of new cases during this latest surge, 21 had mask mandates in place since at least July.

Italy does have a national mask mandate that is backed by fines of up to 1,000 euros for non-compliance. We find that the mandate did not prevent a surge in cases in Italy that began in October, peaked in mid-November, and had not yet subsided in mid-December.

These findings do not deny the efficacy of mask-wearing per se. Nor should they discourage the practice.

Instead, they point to the inadequacy of public health strategies that rely predominantly on lockdowns and mask mandates. Governments should undertake more effective interventions. These include adopting better measures to protect nursing home residents, enabling nationwide screening through the widespread use of rapid self-tests, and establishing voluntary isolation centers where infected people can recover, rather than exposing their families to infection.

The Value of Masks

Mask-wearing has become a highly politicized practice in the U.S. Some detractors consider it an emblem of social submission. Others, such as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield, see masks as the best way to get the pandemic under control: “I think if we could get everybody to wear a mask now,” Redfield said in July, “I think in four, six, eight weeks, we could bring this epidemic under control.

Mask-wearing has thus inspired both enthusiasm and revulsion that likely exaggerates its significance.

The CDC in general is a bit more tempered about mask-wearing than its Director. While the CDC has changed its guidance on masks numerous times throughout the pandemic, the agency’s recommendation (as of November 20) endorses mask-wearing both to reduce the risk of infecting others and to protect uninfected people from the contagion.

The discussion of CDC guidance on mask-wearing represents claims that the agency made as of November 20, 2020. As noted, the agency changes its views frequently, and likely will continue to do so.

The CDC and other public health authorities in the U.S. and abroad have been trying to determine the relative efficacy of mask-wearing for two different, though related, purposes. The first is “source control”—meaning the extent to which wearing a mask prevents an infected individual from spreading the virus. The second is “protection”—meaning the extent to which wearing a mask protects an uninfected individual from contracting the virus.

The CDC has, for many months, believed that masks have “source control” value. More specifically, it advises that “multi-layer cloth masks block release of exhaled respiratory particles into the environment.”

According to this theory, by reducing the speed and volume of droplets that an infected person releases into the environment, masks help to protect the uninfected from the infected.

Since November 20, 2020, the CDC has also asserted that masks provide some protection for uninfected people who wear them: “Cloth mask materials can also reduce wearers’ exposure to infectious droplets through filtration.”

The CDC bases its mask guidance on “experimental and epidemiological data,” rather than controlled studies

Experimental data is collected, for example, by squirting an aerosol through a cloth mask and measuring how far particles travel. Epidemiological studies or, as the CDC calls them, “real world” data, generally involve case studies of transmission.

In perhaps the most famous of these, two St. Louis hairstylists who had COVID-19 wore masks while they continued to service customers. They saw 139 clients over eight days. Of those, 67 consented to follow-up testing. None of those 67 tested positive for COVID-19.7

The CDC assigns great weight to this study.

One drawback of these studies is that they lack a control group. Danish researchers recently published the only controlled study of mask-wearing. It tests the hypothesis that wearing a mask protects uninfected people.

The researchers conducted the study, in which 6,000 Danes participated, in spring 2020, before Denmark instituted a mask mandate. The control group followed existing social distancing guidelines but did not wear masks. Researchers provided the experimental group with high-quality surgical masks with a filtration rate of 98 percent and instructed participants to wear them outside their homes.

Those who completed the study underwent COVID-19 tests one month later. Researchers found that 1.8 percent of those in the mask-wearing group tested positive, while 2.1 percent of the control group did. The results were not statistically significant. The researchers concluded that mask-wearing is compatible with a range of outcomes—from a 46 percent reduction in infections to a 23 percent increase.

Although the Annals of Internal Medicine published the study on November 18, the CDC did not cite it in its November 20 revised mask guidance. The Danish study casts doubt on the CDC’s advice about the protective value of masks.

In sum, some studies support the source control value of masks, though none of those studies are controlled. Source control benefits also align with common sense: A face-covering will reduce the speed and distance that an infected person’s droplets travel. The prevention value of masks is less well attested, and the only controlled study of the hypothesis contradicts it.

Much more here:


The Media Is Lying About Trump's Call with Georgia Secretary of State

Over the past couple of days, media headlines have tried to convey the impression that a leaked phone call between President Trump and top Georgia officials shows Trump pressuring Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to fraudulently “find” enough votes for him to win the state.

“Trump pressures Georgia’s Raffensperger to overturn his defeat in extraordinary call” read the headline from the Washington Post.

CNN called the leaked audio “astonishing new evidence of a desperate President Donald Trump” trying to “steal the election,” claiming Trump “tried to bully” Raffensperger “into finding votes” for him.

But a review of the transcript of the call shows no such thing. The Washington Post claimed that Trump “repeatedly urged [Raffensperger] to alter the outcome of the presidential vote in the state,” but that isn’t what happened.

Throughout the conversation, Trump lays out the evidence that there was voter fraud in the state, and demands an honest accounting of the ballots, which he believes would give him more than 11,000 votes needed to win the state. “I just want to find 11,780 votes,” is the key quote cited by the media, but there’s more to the quote.

“So look. All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state,” is what Trump said, in context. He also insisted that “there’s no way I lost Georgia. There’s no way. We won by hundreds of thousands of votes.”

During the conversation, Trump laid out the evidence, explaining how there “4,502 voters who voted but who weren’t on the voter registration list,” and “18,325 vacant address voters” whose votes should not have been counted. He even mentioned 904 votes linked to post office boxes, which is also not allowed. Trump also mentioned the State Farm videotape that corresponds to a late-night vote dump of at least 18,000 votes which were counted after Republican poll watchers were told to leave. Trump brought up nearly 5,000 out-of-state votes, 2,326 absentee ballots sent to vacant addresses, and roughly 5,000 votes from dead people. Then there are the suspicious military ballots that went all for Biden.

“So there were many infractions, and the bottom line is, many, many times the 11,779 margin that they said we lost by — we had vast, I mean the state is in turmoil over this,” Trump said on the call.

Raffensperger disputed Trump’s claims, saying that only two dead people voted, that the State Farm video didn’t actually show fraud. Raffensperger also claimed that an audit showed that there weren’t any ballots that were scanned three times.

While it’s true that not all of these allegations by Trump’s team may pan out or be proven, the allegations are linked to many thousands of votes and should be investigated properly. Yes, Trump did acknowledge that he’d only need roughly 12,000 votes to change the result, but that margin is smaller than the number of disputed ballots. “Look, Brad. I got to get . . . I have to find 12,000 votes, and I have them times a lot. And therefore, I won the state. That’s before we go to the next step, which is in the process of right now. You know, and I watched you this morning, and you said, well, there was no criminality.”

Trump very clearly believes that he legitimately won Georgia, and wasn’t asking Raffensperger to fraudulently “find” enough ballots to make up that margin. Trump discussed at length the examples of fraud, which are backed up by video evidence, affidavits, and statistical analyses.

Like the transcript with Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky that Democrats impeached him over, this phone call is yet another nothingburger that has the media and the left crying foul. There’s already a Wikipedia page for the “Trump-Raffensperger scandal.” Democrats are reportedly looking to censure Trump and have asked FBI Director Wray to open a criminal probe. But Trump quite clearly presented evidence that there was fraud, and made the case that the number of disputed ballots is larger than his deficit in the certified results. A proper investigation would resolve these outstanding questions about these disputed ballots.


The Worst Argument Ever

Rob Jenkins

As a professional rhetorician and teacher of rhetoric—the art of persuasion—for over 35 years, I have seen a lot of bad arguments. And not all of them have come from my college students. Not by a long shot.

But in all that time, the worst argument I have ever heard, by far, is this one: “If it only saves one life….”

It’s a line big-government types love to trot out whenever they want good-hearted, well-meaning people to accept some sketchy, illogical, oppressive measure because, you know, it just might save one person’s life. An example is socialized medicine, which would make health care worse for far more people than it helped.

Unfortunately, even many conservatives fall for this line, because they’re generally good-hearted, well-meaning people. Yet in almost every case, it is a bad argument, even a ridiculous argument, for several reasons.

First, it is completely irrational, based solely on emotion. It says nothing about the actual merits of the policy or proposition being put forward. It merely attempts to tug at people’s heartstrings — no one wants to see anybody die, right? — while making those who would oppose the idea on moral or logical grounds appear cruel.

Basically, it’s a form of ad hominem attack, a way to make your opponent look bad without actually addressing what they’re saying—probably because you can’t argue the point logically.

Along with that, the “if it only saves one life” argument is also self-righteous and condescending. It’s not only a way of making your opponent look (and hopefully feel) bad, it’s a way of making yourself look better — as if you, and only you, really care about people. Anyone who disagrees with your (cockamamie) idea obviously just wants people to die.

But mostly it’s a bad argument because it’s disingenuous, at the very least, if not downright hypocritical. For example, those who want to ban “assault rifles” because doing so “might save one life” wouldn’t dream of banning alcohol, even though alcohol kills far more people than AR-15s. So do knives. So do falls, for that matter.

Here’s an idea: Let’s just ban ladders. No? Why not? After all, if it just saves one life, it’s worth it, right? What are you, heartless?



Sunday, January 03, 2021

New Approaches Besides Lockdowns Show Promise in Fighting COVID

New knowledge in the treatment and prevention of COVID-19 is renewing hope that the public will no longer have to endure drastic mitigation efforts such as lockdowns, government-enforced social distancing, and mask mandates.

Within months, with huge incentives under the Trump administration’s “Operation Warp Speed,” two U.S. drugmakers announced successful trials of their vaccines. The first, announced by Pfizer and BioNTech, was found to be more than 90 percent effective in preventing COVID-19. Moderna announced on November 16 an analysis showing its vaccine is 94.5 percent effective. On November 23, U.K. drugmaker AstraZeneca should results of a study indicating its vaccine has an average efficacy of 70 percent.

On the treatment side, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration this fall approved two drugs that must be administered in the hospital. Remdesivir is an antiviral therapy infused into patients, and bamlaanivimab is a monoclonal antibody treatment.

Researchers are also learning much from studies on how cocktails of existing drugs, antivirals, antibiotics, steroids, zinc, and vitamins are keeping COVID patients out of the hospital altogether. The FDA and National Institutes of Health have yet to approve an early outpatient approach using the drug hydroxychloroquine.

Vaccine Development Hurdles

In the early stages of the pandemic, public health authorities were at a loss as to how to respond to the threat. Mitigation efforts such as social distancing and mask use were easy, inexpensive go-to measures that showed a low risk of adverse results while helping keep the public safe.

Other mitigation measures had much more drastic consequences. Numerous states shut down schools and businesses and limited the size of public gatherings. Several states ordered citizens to wear masks in public.

A vaccine eliminating the need for such protection seemed like the ideal solution, but development is rife with challenges.

Vaccines go through a strenuous, three-stage clinical trial process before they are sent to regulatory agencies for final approval. Vaccines have to be not only effective but also safe.

Manufacturing and distribution is another big challenge. All vaccines currently under development appear to require two doses. To get to a level where the virus is no longer a public health threat, so-called herd immunity, billions of people would have to receive a vaccine, twice each. Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine must be stored at minus-94 degrees Fahrenheit, requiring special storage equipment and transportation which will make it very difficult for some countries to distribute.

Trust, Distrust, Mandates

Another significant challenge is public trust. In May, a survey of more than 1,000 people conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found 51 percent had not decided or were unsure about whether they would take a COVID-19 vaccine. Many respondents cited concerns about possible side effects and the speed at which the vaccine was produced possibly affecting its quality.

More information about vaccine side effects will be known after Phase 4 trials, which begin after a drug has been approved and is on the market.

Talks of mandating the COVID-19 vaccine have continued to circulate as states begin to prepare for vaccine distribution, with some considering laws that would allow employers to fire employees who choose not to get vaccinated.

Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) took to Twitter to speak out against possible vaccine mandates, stating, “Americans should have the freedom to take the COVID vaccine. Americans should also have the freedom to decline the vaccine.”

Early Treatment Alternatives

A successful vaccine is not the only way out of the pandemic. Medical providers around the globe have been successfully treating COVID-19 with low doses of existing drugs and vitamins during the early stages of infection.

One treatment that has garnered particular attention is hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), a drug used for decades to treat malaria and even autoimmune disorders such as lupus. The NIH and FDA have singled out this drug for particular condemnation, stating they discourage the use of hydroxychloroquine in treating COVID-19. On June 15, the FDA revoked the emergency use authorization for donated and stockpiled HCQ to be used on hospitalized patients with COVID-19 outside of clinical treatment trials

As a result, numerous states have limited, restricted, or banned off-label use of HCQ in outpatient settings during the early stages of infection.

Data on the drug from trials around the globe proves the restrictions are unwise, says Steven Hatfill, M.D., a virologist and adjunct assistant professor at the George Washington University Medical Center.

“There are now 53 studies that show positive results of hydroxychloroquine in COVID infections,” Hatfill wrote on August 4 in Real Clear Politics. “There are 14 global studies that show neutral or negative results—and 10 of them were of patients in very late stages of COVID-19, where no antiviral drug can be expected to have much effect.”


Swedish Covid-19 data exposes our fatal lockdown hysteria

Economist SANJEEV SABHLOK comments from Australia:

Three months ago I resigned as an economist in the Victorian ­Department of Treasury and ­Finance to protest against disproportionate public health measures by Daniel Andrews that had led to a police state. Information has since become available that makes these policies even less ­justified.

As I have written previously, this pandemic is not the Spanish flu. Data is now telling us that it is not even in the league of the Hong Kong flu.

In May, modellers had said Sweden would experience more than 100,000 additional deaths from COVID this year, with 96,000 additional deaths by July if lockdowns were not imposed.

Fortunately for the Swedes, their policy is led by arguably the world’s best epidemiologist, ­Anders Tegnell. He followed the standard approach found in all ­official pandemic plans, including in Australia. Tegnell did not impose coercive lockdowns or close borders. And no masks, no quarantines. He tried to shield the elderly while flattening the curve by slowing the spread of the virus.

Since Sweden is almost the only country in which the coronavirus was allowed “to let rip”, this pandemic’s true magnitude will be conclusively known from its annual mortality statistics.

Official Swedish mortality data as at December 18 is available at . After controlling for recent under-reporting, I estimate Sweden will end up with about 97,000 deaths this year. Long-term trends suggest Sweden would have had about 92,500 deaths this year, so there will be about 4500 additional deaths this year, a far cry from the models.

Note that these 4500 excess deaths are well below the 8300 ­officially reported COVID deaths to date. And these 4500 additional deaths are not all COVID deaths. Sweden’s Public Health Agency noted in October that “the 2019-2020 influenza season was mild”. As a result, 3419 fewer people died in Sweden last year than in 2018. Many of the frail among these 3419 survivors last year would have died this year anyway. Of its own accord, therefore, COVID has caused a much smaller number of deaths than these 4500 additional deaths. Sweden’s average two-year death rate in 2020 will be around 0.92 per cent, the second lowest in the past 10 years.

One struggles from this analysis to identify a serious pandemic in Sweden: just a bad flu, milder than the Hong Kong flu.

When I outlined this to an international panel on December 10, British MP Andrew Percy demurred and said the UK had experienced proportionately many more excess deaths than Sweden. It has, but analysis for nations other than Sweden needs to account for the additional deaths caused by the hysteria drummed up by governments and their coercive lockdowns.

As I have explained in my book, The Great Hysteria and the Broken State, and in my 68,000-word complaint to the International Criminal Court, lockdowns have likely killed two million people and shortened the lives of hundreds of millions.

Lockdowns kill in many ways, including by causing additional COVID deaths. For instance, the Victorian government spent most of its effort during the lockdowns in restricting the movement of the young, who were never at risk, while ignoring aged-care homes. This led to hundreds of avoidable COVID deaths. Australia’s governments went “all in” on a hunch in March on the basis of models, all of which turned out to be wrong — as they have always been in the past.

Our governments also shut their eyes to the data, which has been telling us a different story since mid-April, ending up in perhaps the biggest policy blunder in Australia’s ­history.

Moreover, I have discovered during my research that community-wide cordons have been used only once in the past 500 years: for Ebola in 2014 in Africa. But only “very small-scale cordons” — comparable to quarantines — were found to be effective by an evaluation, not the larger-scale lockdowns. When lockdowns are rejected by the science even for a lethal virus such as Ebola, the idea of lockdowns being applied for a flu-like virus does not arise. That is why lockdowns were never part of any official pandemic plan, nor were indefinite international border closures.

Scott Morrison wants to keep Australia’s borders closed and freeze the virus at a level of zero until everyone is vaccinated. But such a policy is preposterous, apart from being unlawful. Section 5 of the Biosecurity Act 2015 states the “appropriate level of protection for Australia is a high level of sanitary and phytosanitary protection aimed at reducing biosecurity risks to a very low level, but not to zero”.

In 2013, British epidemiologist Sunetra Gupta had shown that major pandemics are behind us because international cross-mingling boosts immunity. Minor vir­uses, however, cannot be avoided.

Are we going to close Australia for every bad flu in the future? We must get back the spunk we lost during this Great Hysteria and resume our normal life as a proudly rational, thinking Western nation. We must reassert our faith in freedom and reason, and end our embrace of the cowardly, totalitarian, zombie ways of the communist Chinese government.

Since 80 per cent of COVID deaths in Sweden have occurred among those over 75, people in this age group should continue to be sheltered and offered the vaccine. To mandate it for others would be yet another ­display of intellectual and spiritual cowardice.


Democrats Have Objected to Electoral Vote Certification for the Last Three GOP Presidents

Democrats are outraged that Republicans are planning on objecting to the certification of electoral votes. It’s “conspiracy and fantasy,” says Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

“The effort by the sitting president of the United States to overturn the results is patently undemocratic,” the New York Democrat said. “The effort by others to amplify and burnish his ludicrous claims of fraud is equally revolting.”

There’s only one problem with Chucky’s “argument based on fact and reason.” Democrats have been challenging the electoral vote certification for two decades.

The last three times a Republican has been elected president — Trump in 2016 and George W. Bush in both 2000 and 2004 — Democrats in the House have brought objections to the electoral votes in states the GOP nominee won. In early 2005 specifically, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., along with Rep. Stephanie Tubbs, D-Ohio, objected to Bush’s 2004 electoral votes in Ohio.

Illinois Senator Dick Durbin appears to be even more incensed at Senator Josh Hawley’s plan to object to the Electoral College vote. “The political equivalent of barking at the moon,” Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said of Hawley joining the challenge to electoral slates. “This won’t be taken seriously, nor should it be. The American people made a decision on Nov. 3rd and that decision must and will be honored and protected by the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.”

Brave Sir Dick seems to forget he was singing a different tune in 2005. Then, it was Democrats questioning the results of the Ohio vote, which went narrowly for George Bush.

Durbin had words of praise for Boxer then:

“Some may criticize our colleague from California for bringing us here for this brief debate,” Durbin said on the Senate floor following Boxer’s objection, while noting that he would vote to certify the Ohio electoral votes for Bush. “I thank her for doing that because it gives members an opportunity once again on a bipartisan basis to look at a challenge that we face not just in the last election in one State but in many States.”

In fact, the Ohio electoral vote challenge was only the beginning. Rumors and conspiracy theories swirled around the outcome on election night that saw Bush winning Ohio by a close, but the surprisingly comfortable margin of 120,000 votes. So why are so many of these headlines familiar to us today?