Saturday, March 27, 2021

So much for the cue cards, Joe: Press conference fact check finds Biden made false claims about the border, sending back most migrants, and that Trump's tax cuts mainly benefited the 'top 1%'

The interesting thing about the report below is that it is from the mainstream media. So Biden is gradually losing some of them, it appears. His protective shield is developing holes

President Joe Biden misstated the reality at the U.S.-Mexico border and offered a misleading account of who's getting the most benefits from the Donald Trump tax cuts in his first presidential press conference.

Biden took questions for nearly an hour Thursday, answering multiple queries from the Associated Press, PBS, The Washington Post, ABC News, Wall Street Journal, NBC News, CBS News, CNN, Bloomberg and Univision.

He was grilled on a number of topics, including the situation at the border, the Senate filibuster, working with Republicans, his 2024 re-election plans and Afghanistan - but received no questions on the coronavirus pandemic or on relations with Russia amid rising tensions with the Kremlin or his stumbles as he climbed the Air Force One stairs. fact-checked Biden's claims and found many weren't entirely accurate.


BIDEN'S CLAIM: 'Nothing has changed' in the numbers of children coming to the United States since his predecessor, Donald Trump, was in office.

'As many people came - 28 per cent increase in children to the border in my administration; 31 per cent in the last year in 2019, before the pandemic - in the Trump administration,' Biden told reporters Thursday.

'It happens every single solitary year. There is a significant increase in the number of people coming to the border in the winter months of January, February, March. It happens every year.'

THE FACTS: The president erred. Unaccompanied immigrant children have come to the border at a higher percentage than what he said.

According to statistics published by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, authorities encountered 9,457 children without a parent in February, a 61 per cent increase from January, not 28 per cent. The numbers of unaccompanied children did rise 31 per cent between January 2019 and February 2019.

In response, the Homeland Security Department pointed to figures for all border crossings, including adults and families traveling together. There was a 28 per cent rise in all encounters with migrants between January and last month, compared with 31 per cent between the same months in 2019. But Biden specifically noted a rise 'in children.'

Biden correctly noted seasonal trends in migration and a tendency in many years for more border crossings before hot summer months. But while he tried to play down his inauguration as a reason many children and teenagers have decided to migrate to the U.S., people interviewed by The AP have expressed hope that the country would be more permissive to migrants under Biden than under Trump.

BIDEN'S CLAIM: His administration has been sending back the 'majority' of migrant families trying to cross into the US.

'We're sending back the vast majority of families that are coming. We're trying to work out now with Mexico their willingness to take those families back. That's what's happening. They're not getting across the border,' he said.

THE FACTS: Not true, at least not according to last month's figures, CNN reported.

The data shows only 41 per cent of immigrant families were turned away under Title 42, which allows the US Border Patrol to immediately expel any migrant to prevent the spread of COVID-19, in February.

It is true, however, that the majority of single adults, or 79 per cent, were sent back last month.

BIDEN'S CLAIM: That Donald Trump cut a $700 million bipartisan plan to address the root causes of why people are leaving their home countries. Biden said: 'What did Trump do? He eliminated that funding. He didn't use it. He didn't do it.'

THE FACTS: This is partially true, NBC News found. Trump did announce $700 million in aid cuts to Central American countries in 2019, but the State Department later restored the majority of that funding.


BIDEN'S CLAIM: Republicans who contend his pandemic relief package is too expensive passed a tax cut favoring the top 1 per cent.

'Do you hear them complain when they passed (a) close to $2trillion Trump tax cut, with 83 per cent going to the top 1 per cent? Do you hear them talk about that at all?' Biden said.

THE FACTS: Biden's comments are misleading. The tax cuts disproportionately favor the top 1 per cent, but not nearly as much as Biden and many Democrats claim.

Biden can cite his figure because many of the Trump tax cuts for families and individuals will expire, unless Congress extends them. If they expire as scheduled, 83 per cent of the tax cuts that remain in place will go to the top 1 per cent of earners in 2027, according to an analysis by the Tax Policy Center.

But's it's not the case that the highest 1 per cent of income earners are getting 83 per cent of the benefits now or over the next several years. Biden is expected to propose a corporate tax increase that would undo a lot of what Trump achieved in his 2017 overhaul.


BIDEN'S CLAIM: There were five times as many motions to break the filibuster in 2020 than there were between 1917 and 1971.

'Between 1917 and 1971, the filibuster existed, there were a total of 58 motions to break a filibuster. That whole time. Last year alone there were five times that many,' the president said.

THE FACTS: Biden's figures are misleading. In 2020, the number of motions filed to end a Senate debate - a proxy measure for the use of the filibuster - was about double, not five times, the number from 1917 to 1971, CNN found.

According to official Senate data, there were 58 cloture motions filed from 1917 through 1970 and 13 filed in 1971. If Biden was referring to the number of cloture motions filed from 1917 through 1970, he'd be right when he said there were a total of 58 but if the 1971 figures are added in the total number of cloture motions would be 71.

While Biden exaggerated the number of cloture motions filed in the past year, he was accurate on his general point that the number of filibusters has increased. There were 118 cloture motions filed in 2020 alone, closer to double the amount filed between 1917 and 1971.

U.S. Border Patrol agents question asylum seekers after their group of immigrants crossed the Rio Grande into Texas +7
U.S. Border Patrol agents question asylum seekers after their group of immigrants crossed the Rio Grande into Texas


BIDEN'S CLAIM: He said that 'no other country in the world has even come close, not even close to what we are doing' on getting COVID vaccines into people's arms.

THE FACTS: The United States has vaccinated more total people than any other country in the world but there are smaller nations that have vaccinated a larger proportion of their total population.

The US has administered vaccines to more than 130 million people but 16 countries - including Chile, Israel and the United Kingdom - have administered vaccines to more people per capita.


BIDEN'S CLAIM: That since his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan was signed passed a 'majority of forecasters have significantly increased their projections. Now projecting it will exceed 6%, a 6% growth in GDP.'

THE FACTS: It's true that many economists upgraded their 2021 gross domestic product forecasts north of 6% either just before or after the package was passed by Congress, CNN found, but it's hard to say whether a majority did without a survey of all economists.

As it was apparent the COVID relief plan would become law, several economists upgraded their forecasts of 2021 US GDP growth.

RSM chief economist Joe Brusuelas said the legislation would boost GDP by 3 points and is predicting 7.2% growth in 2021.

In March, Goldman Sachs increased its 2021 US GDP growth projection to 7% and Morgan Stanley is now predicting 7.3% growth.


BIDEN'S CLAIM: The president claimed support from Republican voters for his plan even as he didn't garner a single GOP vote in Congress. He said that even if Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell says that 'the last thing I did, this last piece of legislation, is so far left, well, then he ought to take a look at his party. Over 50% of them must be over that edge as well. Because they support what I did.'

THE FACTS: While polls have shown Republicans support the American Rescue Plan multiple surveys have shown that level of support is below the majority level.

A CNN poll in March found 26% of Republican supported the plan while 73% opposed. A Monmouth University poll found Republican support at 33%.


Additionally, images taken at the news conference showed Biden using cheat sheets to help him with the questioning.

The 78-year-old is seen holding one sheet that showed the headshots of journalists that he planned to call on.

Another cheat card listed stats about infrastructure, but Biden was still forced to correct himself after mistakenly saying the US ranked 85th in the world in infrastructure.

The bullet point on one of his notes read: 'The United States now ranks 13th globally in infrastructure quality, down from 5th place in 2002.'

The performance has been blasted by former President Donald Trump and a host of media commentators, including Sean Hannity who called it 'embarrassing' and said: 'We really need to ask who is running the show at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?'

Tripping up the stairs and forgetting his Pentagon chief's name: Biden's record of gaffes


Video last week showed Biden tripping up the stairs as he boarded Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews.

Biden grabbed the hand railing to catch his balance, but lost his footing twice more and fell to his knees.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre later told reporters that Biden was '100 per cent fine', adding that it was 'pretty windy'.


Just a day earlier, Biden accidentally referred to Vice President Kamala Harris as 'President Harris.'

'Now when President Harris and I took a virtual tour of a vaccination center in Arizona not long ago, one of the nurses on that, on that tour injecting people, giving vaccinations, said that each shot was like administering a dose of hope,' Biden said.

Later that day, when the White House released the transcript of his speech, Harris's proper title was inserted with brackets.


In a speech on March 9, Biden seemed to forget the name of his Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin.

'I want to thank Sec - the former general - I keep calling him "General,"' Biden said.

'My - the guy who runs that outfit over there. I want to make sure we thank the Secretary for all he's done to try to implement what we've just talked about, and for recommending these two women for promotion.'


During an Election Day speech in Philadelphia, Biden trailed off as he told the crowd: 'I want to introduce you to two of my granddaughters...this is my son, Beau Biden who a lot of you helped elect to the Senate in Delaware.'

The then-candidate had meant to introduce the crowd to Natalie, Beau's daughter. But he had also mixed up his granddaughters - having put his arm around Finnegan Biden, Hunter's daughter.

Beau Biden passed away in 2015 after a months-long battle with glioblastoma, one of the deadliest types of brain cancer.


In 2008, after Biden had been named Barack Obama's running mate, he attended a campaign rally in Missouri. It was there that he called on Missouri state senator Chuck Graham, who passed away last year, to stand up for the crowd.

'I'm told Chuck Graham, state senator, is here. Stand up Chuck, let 'em see you,' Biden said - before realizing Graham was in a wheelchair due to muscular dystrophy.

'Oh, God love you. What am I talking about. I'll tell you what, you're making everybody else stand up, though, pal,' Biden corrected himself.

'I still think the majority of the American people don't like the fact that we are now ranked what, 85th in the world in infrastructure. I mean, look,' he said, before later circling back and clarifying: 'We rank 13th globally in infrastructure.'

Despite the cheat sheets, Biden at several points in the press conference appeared to lose his train of thought.

After speaking for four minutes about the surge of migrants at the border, he remarked, 'And the other thing we're doing, I might add...' before cutting himself off to ask, 'Am I giving you too long of an answer? Because if you don't want the detail …'

'I don't know how much detail you want about immigration,' he continued. 'Maybe I'll stop there.'

At another point, Biden was speaking at length about the Senate filibuster when he lost his train of thought again.

'I've never been particularly poor at calculating how to get things done in the United States Senate. So the best way to get something done, if you hold near and dear to you that you like to be able to…' he said, trailing off.

'Anyway, we're ready to get a lot done,' he then continued.

At another point in the press conference, things turned downright bizarre when Biden made a reference to 'Jim Eagle' when accusing Republicans of trying to restrict voting rights to disenfranchise black voters.

'So I'm convinced that we'll be able to stop this because it is the most pernicious thing. This makes Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle,' he said of voting restrictions.

Observers all seemed to agree that Biden was trying to make the point that restrictions such as voter ID laws are 'worse than Jim Crow' -- but the exact role of Jim Eagle in the analogy was lost on many.

Jim Crow refers to laws that enforced racial segregation in schools, public places, transportation and all aspect of public life in many U.S. states from the 1870s to the 1950s.

Biden's Jim Eagle remarks predictably drew mockery from conservative critics.

'Duh. It's an analogy. Crow, eagle. They're both birds, but an eagle is much bigger than a crow,' said Fox News host Tucker Carlson. 'That means that asking people to show a driver's license when they vote is much more racist than segregation and lynchings.'

'Segregation and lynchings were Jim Crow, voter ID laws are Jim Eagle -- way worse,' he added sarcastically.

Thursday's conversation was his first since he took office on January 20. It was also limited to 25 reporters.

At the one-hour press conference on Thursday, Biden called on just 10 reporters to ask questions, and many of them focused on the migrant crisis at the southern border, leaving little time for other subjects.

Though Biden addressed relations with China at length, he faced no questions about the ongoing investigation of the origins of COVID-19 -- or any other question about his pandemic response and vaccine rollout.

There were no questions about potential tax hikes to fund Biden's reported $3 trillion green infrastructure plan, and relations with Russia were left unmentioned despite recent tensions after Biden labeled Vladimir Putin a 'killer'.

Biden was also not asked to weigh in on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, his fellow Democrat who faces twin scandals over his handling of nursing homes in the pandemic, and allegations of sexual harassment and bullying. This week, reports emerged he had also prioritized COVID-19 testing for family, including his CNN anchor brother Chris, and friends at the height of the pandemic when ordinary New Yorkers struggled to get access.

Parents desperate to get their children back in the classroom also did not get the chance to hear Biden's plan to reopen schools in the coronavirus pandemic.

Also unmentioned at the presser was a recent report from Politico detailing a 2018 incident in which the Secret Service intervened after president's daughter-in-law Hallie discarded a gun belonging to Hunter Biden in a trash can.




Friday, March 26, 2021

Coronavirus: How the common cold can boot out Covid

The virus that causes the common cold can effectively boot the Covid virus out of the body's cells, say researchers.

Some viruses are known to compete in order to be the one that causes an infection. And University of Glasgow scientists say it appears cold-causing rhinovirus trumps coronavirus.

The benefits might be short-lived but rhinovirus is so widespread, they add, it could still help to suppress Covid.

Think of the cells in your nose, throat and lungs as being like a row of houses. Once a virus gets inside, it can either hold the door open to let in other viruses, or it can nail the door shut and keep its new home to itself.

Influenza is one of the most selfish viruses around, and nearly always infects alone. Others, such as adenoviruses, seem to be more up for a houseshare.

There has been much speculation about how the virus that causes Covid, known as Sars-CoV-2, would fit into the mysterious world of "virus-virus interactions".

The challenge for scientists is that a year of social distancing has slowed the spread of all viruses and made it much harder to study.

The team at the Centre for Virus Research in Glasgow used a replica of the lining of our airways, made out of the same types of cells, and infected it with Sars-CoV-2 and rhinovirus, which is one of the most widespread infections in people, and a cause of the common cold.

If rhinovirus and Sars-CoV-2 were released at the same time, only rhinovirus is successful. If rhinovirus had a 24-hour head start then Sars-CoV-2 does not get a look in. And even when Sars-CoV-2 had 24-hours to get started, rhinovirus boots it out.

"Sars-CoV-2 never takes off, it is heavily inhibited by rhinovirus," Dr Pablo Murcia told BBC News.

He added: "This is absolutely exciting because if you have a high prevalence of rhinovirus, it could stop new Sars-CoV-2 infections."

Similar effects have been seen before. A large rhinovirus outbreak may have delayed the 2009 swine flu pandemic in parts of Europe.

Further experiments showed rhinovirus was triggering an immune response inside the infected cells, which blocked the ability of Sars-CoV-2 to make copies of itself.

When scientists blocked the immune response, then levels of the Covid virus were the same as if rhinovirus was not there.

'Hard winter' ahead
However, Covid would be able to cause an infection again once the cold had passed and the immune response calmed down.

Dr Murcia said: "Vaccination, plus hygiene measures, plus the interactions between viruses could lower the incidence of Sars-CoV-2 heavily, but the maximum effect will come from vaccination."

Prof Lawrence Young, of Warwick Medical School, said human rhinoviruses, the most frequent cause of the common cold, were "highly transmissible".

He added that this study suggests "that this common infection could impact the burden of Covid-19 and influence the spread of SarsCoV2, particularly over the autumn and winter months when seasonal colds are more frequent".

Exactly how all this settles down in future winters is still unknown. Coronavirus is likely to still be around, and all the other infections that have been suppressed during the pandemic could bounce back as immunity to them wanes.

Dr Susan Hopkins, from Public Health England, has already warned of a "hard winter" as a result.

"We could see surges in flu. We could see surges in other respiratory viruses and other respiratory pathogens," she said,

The results have been published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.


Pfizer and Moderna are safe and effective in pregnant women, provide antibodies to newborns

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are safe and effective in pregnant and lactating women and those women are able to pass protective antibodies to their newborns, according to a new study.

To come to that conclusion, researchers studied a group of 131 reproductive-age women who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, including 84 pregnant, 31 lactating and 16 non-pregnant women and found antibody levels were similar in all three groups.

"That's a very important piece of information to our patients," said Dr. Andrea Edlow, co-author on the study which was published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology on Thursday. "We know that this vaccine works for you."

Another common concern among pregnant patients is vaccine side effects. The study found no significant difference in vaccine side effects between pregnant and non-pregnant study participants.

Compared to pregnant women who had recovered from COVID, pregnant women who received the vaccine had "strikingly higher" antibody levels. Interestingly, women who received the Moderna version had greater antibody levels than those who received the Pfizer. Vaccine-generated antibodies were present in all of the umbilical cord and breast milk samples that were tested, which suggests that pregnant and lactating women pass COVID-19 protection to their fetuses or newborns.

"That is the most comforting piece of information that's out there," said Galit Alter, study author and professor of medicine at the Ragon Institute.

The antibodies that researchers found in the mother's blood were what's known as neutralizing, meaning they have the ability to kill SARS-CoV-2 in laboratory tests, but more research needs to be done to determine whether infants have robust immunity after receiving antibodies from their vaccinated mothers. Future research could also help women decide when the ideal time in pregnancy to get a vaccine is for maximum protective benefits and determine whether other vaccines, like Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, perform similarly to the two in the study.

The study had some limitations. It was small and participants were primarily white health care workers from a single city. On the other hand, it's the largest study of a group that was left out of initial vaccine trials. Leaving pregnant women out of drug trials is a common practice because of safety concerns, but in the case of COVID-19, exclusion left many pregnant women confused about whether it was safe to get vaccinated.

"They're among the most vulnerable and they weren't included," Edlow said of the first vaccine trials.

Pregnancy is considered to be a risk factor for severe COVID-19, including increased risk for hospitalization and death from the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As of March 22, more than 80,500 pregnant women in the United States had been infected with the virus and 88 had died, the CDC found.

Edlow, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital, described trying to counsel pregnant patients during the pandemic without data.

"On a daily basis we're taking care of patients who want to know if the vaccine is effective in pregnancy and what the risks are," Edlow said. "Having real scientific data to counsel people on goes a long way toward relieving vaccine hesitancy," she added.

Both researchers hope that examples like their study encourage pharmaceutical companies to offer pregnant women the opportunity to participate in future vaccine studies, even beyond COVID-19.

"Otherwise this population sits at home cowering because they have no idea what to do," Alter said.


The real anti-vaxxers

The clots in Brussels, Berlin and Paris have done far more to cast doubt on the vaccines than any internet troll.

‘Disinformation in times of the coronavirus can kill. We have a duty to protect our citizens by making them aware of false information, and expose the actors responsible for engaging in such practices.’ So said Josep Borell, high representative of the European Union, in June 2020.

Of course, the agents of disinformation this EU luminary had in mind were the kind of people the great and the good want to kick off social media and have beaten up or arrested when they gather in public. But over the past few months, the greatest source of Covid crankery has come, not from a fringe of anti-vaxxers, but from the clots that run Europe from Brussels, Berlin and Paris.

Europe’s leaders have been running a vicious smear campaign against the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine. President Macron – Europe’s Karen-in-chief – infamously pronounced the jab ‘quasi-ineffective’ in the elderly, even though it is 100 per cent effective at preventing severe disease from the virus. Similarly, the German government, via a leak to the financial paper Handelsblatt, tried to portray the AstraZeneca vaccine as just six per cent effective on the elderly. Its health agency banned use of the vaccine on anyone above the age of 65. This led the German chancellor Angela Merkel, aged 66, to announce she would not take the jab. She has, only this week, clarified that she would take it.

And in the past few weeks, European governments have hyped up the appearance of blood clots in some recipients of the jab. Despite the repeated insistence of even the European Medicines Agency – the EU health regulator – that the AstraZeneca vaccine is effective and safe, member state after member state suspended their use of the vaccine, supposedly following the ‘precautionary principle’. An Italian health official let the cat out of the bag, however, when he admitted that his own country’s suspension was ‘political’ rather than scientific – Italy was going along with decisions made in France and Germany. The Polish prime minister’s chief of staff went further, warning of a ‘planned disinformation campaign’ against the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The catastrophic consequences of this ‘disinformation campaign’ are now impossible to ignore. Europeans’ confidence in the AstraZeneca vaccine has plummeted in the past few weeks. A shocking 61 per cent of French people believe it is unsafe – up by 18 percentage points since the beginning of March. Majorities in Germany and Spain also – groundlessly – believe the vaccine is unsafe.

The EU’s vaccine rollout has been so badly botched that, according to Germany’s health minister, there aren’t enough doses to avoid a deadly ‘third wave’ of the virus (even as much of the continent remains in, or is returning to, strict lockdown). And yet, stockpiles of unused AstraZeneca vaccines are piling up. Some reports suggest that less than half of the doses in EU countries have actually been put to use, as Europeans cancel their appointments as soon as they learn they could be given the AstraZeneca jab. That compares to 70 per cent of available Pfizer doses which have ended up in Europeans’ arms. Germany currently has 1.4million unused AstraZeneca doses and France has 1.3million. Other EU countries have hundreds of thousands, or tens of thousands, of unused jabs. There is no question that Europe’s leaders have made a bad situation worse.

In an overly cautious Europe, a slower vaccine rollout means longer lockdowns. Longer lockdowns mean yet more economic pain for Europe’s beleaguered citizens. Goldman Sachs, Barclays, ING and Berenberg have all cut their growth forecasts for the eurozone’s economy. Another summer tourist season – vital for southern Europe in particular – could be lost to lockdown. Civil unrest will continue.

To distract from this catastrophe, EU leaders are threatening to block exports of certain ingredients needed for the AstraZeneca vaccine to the UK. Ursula von der Leyen has explicitly taken aim at ‘countries that have higher vaccination rates than us’ — ie, Brexit Britain. Expert analysis for the Guardian suggests that an EU export ban will delay the UK’s rollout by two months, but speed up the EU’s by just one week. Besides, the vaccine von der Leyen and others are desperate to seize is the same one they have been publicly trashing as useless and dangerous.

It’s not just Europe that will pay the price for the EU’s psychotic anti-vaccination crusade. Africa is far more dependent on the AstraZeneca jab than anywhere else in the world. Given its low cost ($3 per dose compared to $6.75 for a Pfizer dose and $10 for a Janssen dose), as well as the ease with which it can be stored and transported, the AstraZeneca jab is the obvious choice for vaccinating the world. As the New Statesman points out, Africa could be where European disinformation does the most damage. Not only does Africa have a great deal of vaccine hesitancy to overcome in some countries, but the African Union also relies on AstraZeneca for three-quarters of its vaccine doses (compared to just one quarter for the EU and the UK).

Africa has already suffered disproportionately during the pandemic, even though the coronavirus itself has killed far fewer people than in rich and middle-income countries. Lockdowns have caused health crises which are orders of magnitude worse than Covid-19. For instance, they have set back the fight against tuberculosis by 12 years. Progress against malaria and HIV has also been disrupted. Thanks to the economic carnage – partly local, partly global – an additional 59million Africans are predicted to fall below the extreme poverty line this year, if the Covid pandemic is not contained. And yet European leaders have recklessly sabotaged the only effective weapon against the pandemic in the developing world.

EU propagandists like to portray their favourite institution as enlightened, open and rational – a defender of science and stability. In reality, the EU has become more deranged and dangerous than any basement-dwelling conspiracy theorist or internet troll.




Thursday, March 25, 2021

Australian company signs deal to sell COVID nose spray in Britain

Australian biotech Starpharma is taking its COVID-fighting antiviral nasal spray to the world, signing a deal with UK chemist chain LloydsPharmacy to sell the product in Britain as the country emerges from lockdown.

The Melbourne-based company announced a deal on Thursday morning that will see its Viraleze virus-fighting product sold online in the UK starting next week. It will also be stocked in Lloyds’ 1400-strong pharmacy network.

Chief executive Jackie Fairley declined to comment on the value of the deal, but said the successful launch of the product overseas would pave the way for its long-term use beyond the pandemic. She said the company was also planning to register Viraleze in Australia, but would focus on COVID-ravaged Europe in the first instance.

“It’s been a pretty frenetic 12 months, and we’re delighted to have gotten to this point,” she said. “Clearly this market [Britain] is a very large market - this is a broad spectrum antiviral and it’s a product that has applications more broadly. The UK is currently locked down and will be emerging in a couple of weeks. This [deal] achieves a very high level of distribution through that market rapidly.”

The move makes Starpharma the first ASX-listed biotech to bring a COVID-19 preventative product to a global retail market. It comes after a year in which almost every drug developer around the world has tried to pivot its treatments towards the virus.

Starpharma’s shares opened up 3.5 per cent to $2.10 on the news, before dropping 1 per cent by 11am AEDT.

Starpharma started work on Viraleze around a year ago, convinced that SPL7013, the active antiviral compound that it already uses in registered antiviral condoms and sexual health products, could prove useful in stopping SARS-CoV-2 in its tracks.

Unlike vaccines for coronavirus, Viraleze has not gone through large-scale human trials and instead has been tested in the laboratory for its effectiveness. The company has been able to launch the product quickly because the active ingredients have already been reviewed and registered for use in Europe.

The company says the product is a “broad spectrum antiviral” spray that has been shown to inactivate 99.99 per cent of the virus that causes COVID-19 in lab studies.

The product is intended to be used alongside vaccines and other preventative measures as an extra level of protection against the virus and other viruses including influenza for candidates such as healthcare workers.

Dr Fairley said Viraleze was designed to be used in the overall battle against COVID alongside masks and vaccines.

“We’re not making a claim that [it] is the same as vaccines,” she said.


The Desperate Attempts to Separate Trump from Conservatism

The harder the left goes after someone on the right, the more squishy people on the right desert that person. Instead of circling the wagons and supporting our own, RINOs and moderates leave some of our top shining stars high and dry. We’ve seen this pattern happen for years, it’s nothing new. The more successful a conservative leader is, the more likely they are to become a target, so this is a real ongoing problem. Unfortunately, there are a lot of self-righteous people in our party who care more about donations for reelection from powerful special interests than promoting real conservative values, so when they see someone like former President Trump getting beat up in the MSM, they use the ruse that he’s not conservative to desert him.

Now that Trump is no longer in office, the revisionists are coming out in full force. There is currently a split on the right between those who think Trump defines Republicans now, versus those who think he is toxic and must be deserted. The latter derogatorily refers to anything he does and those who approve of him as “Trumpism,” as if it’s a cancer that must be purged from the party.

One of the most popular accusations is that Trump is a populist, not a conservative. What is the definition of a populist? Someone who cares about the little people, who is concerned about their interests and rights being exploited by a privileged elite. This sounds merely like a tenet of conservatism, not a completely different philosophy. The left and MSM always pretend that Republicans are the party of the wealthy, but that’s not true. Republicans are about treating everyone the same and giving everyone the same opportunities, no matter how poor. Regardless, while Trump seemed to care a bit more about the average Joe than the previous two Republican presidents, there wasn’t a huge divergence in policy implications.

Another popular criticism is that Trump approved of large spending increases. If this was the criteria for being a conservative, then what about Ronald Reagan? Under Reagan, spending increased by 2.7 percent, higher than under George H.W. Bush and even Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

A third criticism is that Trump doesn’t have a deeply held ideology. Then why did he come down on the conservative side of issues consistently for four years? These critics would have you ignore his actions and instead tell you what they say he is thinking. The truth is, Trump pursued a very conservative agenda. All of the main tenets of modern day conservatism were there in his record as president: Second Amendment, pro-life, religious freedom, individual rights, lower taxes, decreasing regulations, strong military, opposition to authoritarian government, rejection of globalism, etc.

Some quibble that his rejection of globalism was not conservative — but the antithesis of that would subvert U.S. patriotism for values like the Paris Agreement on climate change, or condone rights abusing countries on the U.N.’s Human Rights Council who denounce the U.S. Trump has been critical of so-called free trade agreements like NAFTA because they aren’t purely free trade, they subvert U.S. sovereignty to foreign interests in ways that must be addressed. He rightly saw that we don’t want our environmental, labor and consumer protection laws dictated by authoritarian countries. Ultimately, Trump kept almost all of NAFTA in place, renaming it as the USMCA.

Trump’s patriotism merely harkens back to the Founding Fathers. But the RINOs attack even that, claiming that Trump’s patriotism is a form of nationalism, a word they have cleverly pounced upon because it can mean not just patriotism but also fascism or National Socialism. It’s nothing more than clever word plays.

Many of those on the right accusing Trump of not being a conservative aren’t very conservative themselves. They generally fit into one of two categories: 1) RINOs who caved in to obtain special interest money a long time ago and so want to pretend those positions are the status quo for Republicans, or 2) RINOs who enjoy the fawning attention from the left and MSM for attacking real conservatives. Many of the latter refer to themselves as intellectual conservatives, and fool people because they write for elitist news sources, some ostensibly on the right.

But the real intellectual conservatives, like the late William F. Buckley Jr., acquired this title because they thoroughly understood conservative principles, wrote about them intelligently and could trounce the left in debates. The snooty wannabe intellectual conservatives point to one derogatory remark Buckley made in 2000. Buckley called Trump a narcissist. But they fail to point out that Trump was not a Republican at the time, he was registered with the Independence Party and had no conservative record, so of course Buckley was going to criticize him.

Critics of Trump in this area even try to have it both ways. On the one hand, they say he is too liberal to be a conservative, cherry picking things he’s said in the past before he aligned with the right to run for president. On the other hand, they say he’s gone too far to the right, such as by demanding that Mexico pay for a border wall. So which is it? You can’t have it both ways. It shows the shallowness and desperateness of their criticism.

The reality is, Trump brought a coalition of those on the right together, uniting the party like we haven’t seen since the Reagan coalition of the 1980s. He brought in minorities including conservative gays, demographics which had been ignored for years as unattainable. His fans are both blue collar workers and the wealthy, also not easy to do. The Republican establishment couldn’t stand it because Trump can’t be bought; he wasn’t dependent on contributions from special interest groups like they are, which exposed them. Let’s hope they aren’t able to throw away all the accomplishments he’s made by replacing him with what they really want, an updated version of John McCain.


Democrats Now Party of Leftist Elites, GOP of Working Class

The shift in voter support between the two parties is becoming more significant.

Pundits and talkingheads gleefully predicted the collapse of the Republican Party, claiming “demography is destiny” and noting the white percentage of the electorate was shrinking while the non-white percentage, which overwhelmingly tended to vote Democrat, was increasing.

Yet in 2010, Republicans won a historic number of races and retook the House, and in 2014 they retook the Senate.

Over the last decade, Democrats have made a conscious decision to abandon the white, working class vote, choosing instead to assemble a coalition of black, Hispanic, LGBT, and liberal white, college-educated voters.

In the process, the Democrat Party has plowed right through the political center line, not only without hitting the brakes, but with their gas pedal slammed through the floor and the steering wheel pointing to economic socialism and cultural Marxism.

Today, the Democrat Party is full-blown radical, openly embracing socialism (or is it fascism?), nationalized healthcare, higher taxes, globalism, the economically destructive Green New Deal, and the small business-crushing $15/hour minimum wage. Democrats are canceling Dr. Seuss while pushing Drag Queen Story Hour, canceling Aunt Jemima while glorifying the pornographic Cardi B, and unapologetically attacking traditional American values, principles, and religion — “Most Religious President” Joe Biden notwithstanding.

For decades the Democrats have successfully sold themselves as the party of the “little guy.”

Yet Barack Obama raked in more Wall Street cash than any candidate in U.S. history and then filled his Cabinet with executives and lobbyists (more than 70) from the likes of Goldman Sachs.

Since then, the federal government has grown at an exponential rate, and federal employees have grown quite fat at the taxpayer trough.

It’s no coincidence five of the top six richest counties in America, and 11 of the top 20, are located in the Virginia and Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC, inhabited by members of the ever-growing, handsomely paid federal bureaucracy. Nor is it coincidence these wealthy counties vote overwhelmingly Democrat. In Loudon County, Virginia, the median household income of $117,876 is nearly double the national average of $68,703.

In fact, according to recent data from the Census Bureau, a staggering 26 of the 27 richest congressional districts in America are represented by Democrats, and these districts are overwhelmingly white.

In 1980 and 1984, Republican Ronald Reagan won landslide victories with the help of the “Reagan Democrats,” the largely white, working class voters of the industrial Midwest who saw Democrats shipping their jobs overseas.

Fast-forward four decades or so and we are seeing a similar phenomenon, except the shift is not just with working class white voters but with black and Hispanic voters as well.

While “woke” white liberals — college educated and affluent — dominate the leadership of the Democrat Party, they seem oblivious to the fact that their relentless attacks on religion, their uncompromising support for abortion on demand (even until birth), their cheering for the thugs and criminals who are burning down American cities (including black and Hispanic businesses) in the name of “social justice,” their refusal to enforce immigration law even as waves of illegal aliens, sex traffickers, drug cartels, and common criminals swarm over the border and bring crime to American communities, and their hatred of fundamental American values are turning away members of the very coalition on whose backs they rode to power.

This is especially true when it comes to the religion that is under constant assault by Democrats. According to a recent Pew survey, the number of blacks (75%) and Hispanics (59%) who said that religion is “very important” in their lives was significantly higher than for whites (49%).

One can’t help but wonder how black and Hispanic voters, who say religion is very important in their lives, react to Democrat leaders who now call them intolerant, homophobic, judgmental bigots. One can’t help but wonder what they think as they watch the Democrat Party they overwhelmingly supported for decades openly declare war on the traditional family and religion.

Actually, we know.

Despite President Donald Trump being ceaselessly portrayed by Democrats as racist, bigoted, and anti-LGBT, he actually expanded his percentage of black, Hispanic, and even LGBT voters.

That may be because they watched as President Trump spent four years defending religious liberty, cutting taxes, slashing regulations, and renegotiating trade deals, which led to record low black and Hispanic unemployment and a dramatic rise in their family incomes.

Now, Joe Biden and the Democrats are increasing regulations, scheming to hike taxes, and sacrificing American jobs and income to the altar of globalism while attacking religion.

Meanwhile, Republicans are working to reopen the state economies and the public schools from the Democrat lockdowns, provide relief for working class families, raise wages, protect energy sector jobs, and stop Democrats from shipping jobs to China while catering to corporate behemoths like Amazon.

In other words, the Democrats are now owned lock, stock, and barrel by the “woke,” predominantly white, rich elitists, and the Republican Party is opening its arms to religious, hard-working Americans of every color or creed. It is becoming a more God-fearing, America-loving, working class party.

As it should be.




Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Should the world be more open to Russia's Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine?

Russia has granted emergency approval for two locally-made vaccines, EpiVacCorona and CoviVac. However, Russia’s 'Sputnik V' is by far the most promising.

The vaccine was widely criticised during its development for a rushed rollout and "questionable" early data. However, Sputnik V is proving to be a success.

Now, as European nations scramble to secure enough vaccines, some of Russia's staunchest critics are considering using Sputnik V as well.

The name Sputnik V invokes memories of the space race during which Russia was pitted against the West. Sputnik was the name of a Russian satellite — the first launched by any nation into orbit.

The pace with which Russia approached the COVID-19 vaccination race triggered alarms bell around the world.

When Mr Putin announced the vaccine had been approved in August, before stage three human trials had been completed, he was accused of recklessness by many scientists. The news that the president's daughter had been given a jab did little to alleviate their concerns.

Ian Jones, a professor of virology at the University of Reading, said the scientific community's early scepticism was understandable. "The early suspicions about the development of the vaccine were that they were too fast and that there wasn't enough data," Professor Jones told the ABC.

By November, Russia had started vaccinating thousands of troops before the results of large-scale trials had been published. "It suggested that there was some sort of dodging going on," Professor Jones said.

However, he said the results of stage three trials tell a different story. "This is clearly not the case," he said.

"Whatever they chose to do beforehand is now swept away by the actual data from the phase three trial."

Sputnik V boasts 92 per cent efficacy

The results of stage three human trials published in the Lancet, demonstrate efficacy of 92 per cent percent.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine boats 95 per cent and the Oxford-AstraZeneca team reported 70 per cent efficacy based on pooled data.

A US trial of the AstraZeneca vaccine, published this week, suggested efficacy of 79 per cent and total protection against severe disease. However, US health officials later suggested outdated information may have been used.

Professor Jones said that while he'd already received an AstraZeneca jab, he would have no reservations about getting the Sputnik V vaccine. "I would certainly take it," he said.

The Sputnik V vaccine works in a similar way to the AstraZeneca product. It uses a modified version of a common cold-like virus as a "vector" to harmlessly introduce part of the coronavirus's genetic code to the body.

This allows the immune system to recognise and fight the coronavirus, even without a previous infection.

However, Sputnik V uses different versions of these vectors in the first and second doses, which are given 21 days apart.

Professor Jones said it might give the vaccine a slight advantage. "What this is supposed to rule out, is the fact that the first shot can raise immunity that might stop the second shot," he said.

"It's a theoretical concern more than a real concern, but it's the only vaccine that does that." "The others use the same thing again and again."

However, it requires two different versions to be produced which may complicate the rollout, he said.

The Russian government says more than 6 million people have received at least one dose of a vaccine, but a recent poll suggested 60 per cent of Russians don't want the Sputnik V.

According to figures compiled by Our World in Data, Russia has administered six doses for every 100 people.

Germany has administered 13 doses per 100 people, the UK 45 per 100 and Australia just 1.4 per 100.

European nations turn to Russia

The Sputnik V is already being used in dozens of countries across the Middle East, Africa, Asia and South America.

However, its growing acceptance in the European Union is exposing divisions and threatening the bloc's coordinated approach to vaccine procurement, which has struggled to secure enough doses for member states.

Slovakia and Hungary have already taken deliveries of Sputnik V, bypassing the European Medicines Agency which has placed the vaccine under a "rolling review". Austria and the Czech Republic have also expressed an interest in using it.

And there are plans to start producing the vaccine in Italy later this year.

"Despite the deliberate discrediting of our vaccine, more and more countries are showing interest in it," Mr Putin said this week.

Relations between the EU and Russia are at low point due to disputes over aggression in Ukraine, cyberattacks on European institutions and the poisoning of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny.

Earlier this month, EU Council President Charles Michel publicly questioned Russia's motives, accusing it of running "highly limited by widely publicised" foreign vaccination campaigns which he said amounted to "propaganda".

But the Kremlin said on Monday that Mr Michel and Mr Putin spoke about the possibility of using Russian vaccines in Europe.

Even Germany – an outspoken critic of Russia – says it would be prepared to purchase the Sputnik V. "I am actually very much in favour of us doing it nationally if the European Union does not do something," German health minister Jens Spahn said last week.

However, the EU's Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton dismissed suggestions Europe needed Russia's assistance. "We have absolutely no need for Sputnik V," he told French television station TF1.

"It's a strange statement," Vladimir Putin replied. "We're not imposing anything on anyone."


Gunman in latest mass shooting is Muslim immigrant who family says is mentally ill

Every time a Jihadi strikes the authorities say he was mentally ill. Is Islam a mental illness?

The gunman who killed 10 people in a Colorado supermarket has been revealed as an anti-Donald Trump Syrian immigrant whose family believed he was mentally ill.

Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa was named as US authorities were grappling with a new surge in mass shootings that coincided with the country reopening from COVID restrictions.

President Joe Biden called on the Senate to pass two gun control measures, including an assault weapons ban and expanded background checks, as he expressed his sympathy for the victims.

Meanwhile, Boulder police said the 21-year-old shooter would soon be transferred from hospital to jail after he was shot in the leg during his rampage on Monday afternoon, local time.

He will face 10 murder charges after opening fire with an AR 15 into a crowd that included people lining up for COVID vaccinations.

His brother described him as a loner who was mentally disturbed, telling The Daily Beast he was paranoid.

He also had a criminal record that included an assault at his former high school, according to the Denver Post.

There was no clear motive for the shooting.

The site reported that Alissa’s now deleted Facebook page said he was born in Syria and “came to the USA in 2002”.

He also appeared to be concerned someone had targeted his phone because they were anti-Muslim.

“Yeah if these racist islamophobic people would stop hacking my phone and let me have a normal life I probably could,” he posted in July 2019.

Following the 2019 Christchurch massacre he also shared a Facebook post from another user that read, “The Muslims at the #christchurch mosque were not the victims of a single shooter. They were the victims of the entire Islamophobia industry that vilified them.”



Foolish DHS chief faces call to resign over border situation (Washington Times)

AOC staged photo-ops outside migrant facilities under Trump, but not anymore (Fox News)

FBI releases videos showing "most egregious" attacks on Capitol Police officers (Daily Wire)

Indiana AG warns Amazon about banning Ryan T. Anderson book on "transgenderism" (PJ Media)

Wheaton College to reword plaque honoring missionary martyrs James Elliot and Ed McCully because the word "savage" is used (Disrn)

Exactly what the world needs right now: Marvel unveils first LGBT Captain America (Disrn)

Child court judge, ex-head of LGBT group that promoted Drag Queen Story Hour, arrested on child porn charges (Daily Wire)

World Health Organization reportedly granted its puppeteer, China, authority to veto scientists on Wuhan mission (Daily Caller)

California trade group asks theme parks to mitigate screaming on rides to curb COVID spread (Disrn)

What could possible go wrong? Facebook planning to create version of Instagram for children under 13 (The Hill)

Communist China, which runs concentration camps and commits genocide, "furious and sad" about violence against Asian Americans in U.S. (The Hill)

Policy: Recover the moral imperative of law and order (City Journal)

Policy: The destructive power of Keynesian spending plans (Mises Institute)

Democrats' House immigration bills will hit snag in the Senate (Examiner)

Climate pseudo-scientist Michael Mann's lawsuit against National Review finally dismissed after nearly nine years (Power Line)

Heartland GOP governors rally in response to ant-meat attack by Colorado Governor Jared Polis (Free Beacon)

Double standards: CNN and MSNBC erupted over Trump's ramp walk — but virtually ignore Biden's embarrassing staircase stumble (Fox News)

"It's going to completely redefine the game": Trump to return to social media with new platform (Post Millennial)

Almost half of all healthcare workers in U.S. haven't had COVID vaccine (CBS News)

California caves on AR-15 registration fight, will reopen bungled registration system and pause prosecutions (Free Beacon)

"Principled," or just a charlatan? South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem neuters bill protecting women's sports (PJ Media)

Europeans protest in the streets over unscientific lockdowns (Disrn)

Swimming upstream: International spectators will be barred from Olympics in Japan (Reuters)

China is restricting use of Tesla cars by its military and government workers (Business Insider)

Policy: The Equality Act is a push for ideological submission, not civil rights (National Review)

Policy: Colleges need a reality check on cancel culture (Minding the Campus)




Tuesday, March 23, 2021

AstraZeneca Vaccine 100% Effective In Preventing Severe Disease And Hospitalizations, U.S. Trials Show

No blood clots

The AstraZeneca-Oxford Covid-19 vaccine was 79% effective against symptomatic Covid disease and 100% effective in preventing severe disease and hospitalizations in its U.S. Phase III trial, the drug maker said in a press release on Monday, highlighting the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine amid suspension of its use in some countries over safety concerns.

Citing independent safety monitoring of the trials, AstraZeneca said it found no increased risk of blood clots among the 21,583 participants who received at least one dose of the vaccine and no instances of cerebral blood clots were recorded in the trial.

The drug maker noted that the vaccine’s effectiveness was consistent across age groups and showed 80% efficacy in participants aged 65-years and older.

The large-scale Phase-III U.S. trials featured 32,449 participants, mostly from America but also included some participants from Chile and Peru.

Participants who received the vaccine were given two doses at a four week interval, however, AstraZeneca noted an extended interval of 12 weeks between shots has demonstrated even greater efficacy in previous trials.

Around 20% of the participants were older than 65 and 60% had comorbidities—such as diabetes, severe obesity or cardiac disease—which increase the risk of severe disease.

AstraZeneca will prepare for the primary analysis of the trial to be submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Emergency Use Authorization in the coming weeks.


4 million. That’s the total number of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine the Biden administration plans to send to neighbors Mexico and Canada, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said last week. Although the U.S. has not yet approved the vaccine for emergency use, AstraZeneca plans to have 30 million shots ready in the country at the beginning of April.


It remains to be seen if the U.S. will approve the AstraZeneca shot after raising concerns about the botched global trials in November. A manufacturing error had led to the use of two separate dosing regimens of the vaccine in the global trials last year. However, the new trial data presents more robust evidence of efficacy and safety with standardized doses and this may allow the vaccine to be finally approved for use in the U.S.


Oxford Professor Sarah Gilbert, who co-designed the vaccine, told BBC News: “In many different countries and across age groups, the vaccine is providing a high level of protection against Covid-19 and we hope this will lead to even more widespread use of the vaccine in the global attempts to bring the pandemic to an end.”


The AstraZeneca vaccine has been at the center of controversy over the past two weeks as several European countries temporarily suspended the use of the shot over concerns that it was causing cerebral blood clots. On Thursday, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) ruled out a broad link to blood clotting but said it was unable to definitively rule out an association with extremely rare clotting events. After the EMA’s review several countries like Germany, Italy and France restarted the use of the shot while others like Norway and Denmark have continued to pause the rollout. The flip-flop over the vaccine has eroded confidence about the shot among people in Europe, many of whom are now avoiding the vaccine and waiting for a substitute. The AstraZeneca vaccine is viewed as being critical for global immunization due to it being cheaper, easier to manufacture and easier to handle than the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna.


Trump trade policies have become the new wisdom

Washington: For decades, the principle of “free trade” inspired a kind of religious reverence among most American politicians. Lawmakers, diplomats and presidents justified their policies through the pursuit of freer trade, which, like the spread of democracy and market capitalism, was presumed to be a universal and worthy goal.

But as the Biden administration establishes itself in Washington, that longstanding gospel is no longer the prevailing view.

Political parties on both the right and left have shifted away from the conventional view that the primary goal of trade policy should be speeding flows of goods and services to lift economic growth. Instead, more politicians have zeroed in on the downsides of past trade deals, which greatly benefited some American workers but stripped others of their jobs.

President Donald Trump embraced this rethinking on trade by threatening to scrap old deals that he said had sent jobs overseas and renegotiate new ones. His signature pacts, including with Canada, Mexico and China, ended up raising some barriers to trade rather than lowering them, including leaving hefty tariffs in place on Chinese products and more restrictions on auto imports into North America.

The Biden administration appears poised to adopt a similar approach, with top officials like Katherine Tai, the nominee to run the Office of the US Trade Representative, promising to focus more on ensuring that trade deals protect the rights and interests of American workers, rather than exporters or consumers.

Tai, who speaks fluent Chinese, has received broad support from former colleagues in Congress, both Democrats and Republicans and on Wednesday she was confirmed by the Senate with a vote of 98-0.

President Joe Biden and his advisers have promised to review the impact that past trade policies have had on economic and racial inequality, and put negotiating new trade deals on the back burner while they focus on improving the domestic economy.

And they have not yet made any moves to scale back Trump’s hefty tariffs on foreign products, saying that they are reviewing them, but that tariffs are a legitimate trade policy tool.

In her hearing before the Senate Finance Committee on February 25, Tai emphasised that she would help usher in a break with past policies that would “pit one of our segments of our workers and our economy against another.”

While Tai reassured senators that she would work with them to promote exports from their districts, she called for a policy that would focus more on how trade affects Americans as workers and wage earners.

When asked by Senator Patrick Toomey, a Republican, a noted free trader, whether the goal of a trade agreement between two modern, developed economies should be the elimination of tariffs and trade barriers, Tai declined to agree, saying she would want to consider such agreements on a case-by-case basis.

“Maybe if you’d asked me this question five or 10 years ago, I would have been inclined to say yes,” Tai responded. But after the events of the past few years — including the pandemic, the Trump administration’s trade wars and a failed effort by the Obama administration to negotiate a Pacific trade deal —“I think that our trade policies need to be nuanced, and need to take into account all the lessons that we have learned, many of them very painful, from our most recent history,” she said.

In his first major foreign policy speech on March 3, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken also said that the calculus on free trade had changed.

“Some of us previously argued for free trade agreements because we believed Americans would broadly share in the economic gains,” he said. “But we didn’t do enough to understand who would be negatively affected and what would be needed to adequately offset their pain.”

“Our approach now will be different,” Blinken said.

Clyde Prestowitz, a US negotiator in the Reagan administration, called the administration’s statements on trade “a revolution.” While Robert E. Lighthizer, Trump’s trade representative, also parted with the conventional wisdom on trade, he was seen as an exception, a former steel industry lawyer steeped in protectionism, Prestowitz said.

“Now here is Ms Tai, with a mostly government official career behind her, talking without making any of the formerly necessary gestures toward the sanctity and multitudinous bounties of free trade,” Prestowitz said. “The conventional wisdom on trade no longer has an iron grip on policymakers and thinkers.”

Like Tai and Lighthizer, many past presidents and trade officials emphasised fair trade and the idea of holding foreign countries accountable for breaking trade rules. But many also paid homage to the conventional wisdom that free trade itself was a worthy goal because it could help lift the economic fortunes of all countries and enhance global stability by linking economies.

That idea reached the height of its popularity under the presidencies of George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, where the United States negotiated the North American Free Trade Agreement, led the talks that gave the World Trade Organisation its modern format, granted China permanent normal trading relations, and sealed a series of trade agreements with countries in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East.

President Barack Obama initially put less emphasis on free trade deals, instead focusing on the financial crisis and the Affordable Care Act. But in his second term, his administration pushed to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which came under criticism from progressive Democrats for exposing American workers to foreign competition. The deal never won sufficient support in Congress.

For Democrats, the downfall of that deal was a turning point, propelling them toward their new consensus on trade. Some, like Dani Rodrik, a professor of political economy at Harvard, argue that recent trade deals have largely not been about cutting tariffs or trade barriers at all, and instead were focused on locking in advantages for pharmaceutical companies and international banks.

David Autor, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said that economic theory had never claimed that trade makes everybody better off — it had said that trade would raise overall economic output, but lead to gains and losses for different groups.

But economists and politicians alike underestimated how jarring some of those losses could be. Autor’s influential research shows that expanded trade with China led to the loss of 2.4 million American jobs between 1999 and 2011. China’s growing dominance of a variety of global industries, often accomplished through hefty government subsidies, also weakened the argument that the United States could succeed through free markets alone.

Today, “people are much more sensitive to the idea that trade can have very, very disruptive effects,” Autor said. “There’s no amount of everyday low prices at Walmart that is going to make up for unemployment.”

But Autor said that while the old consensus was “simplistic and harmful,” turning away from the ideal of free trade held dangers too. “Once you open this terrain, lots of terrible policies and expensive subsidies can all march in under the banner of the protection of the American worker,” he said.

Some have argued that the approach could forgo important economic gains.

William Reinsch, the Scholl Chair in International Business at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, wrote that Americans had come to understand that the argument that “a rising tide would lift all boats” is not always correct.

“A rising tide does not lift all boats; it only lifts some boats, and for a long time, workers’ boats have been stuck in the muck while the owners’ yachts flow free,” he wrote. However, Reinsch added, “no tide lifts no boats. In economic terms, if we forgo the expansion of trade, we do not get the benefits trade provides, and there is nothing to distribute.”

It remains to be seen how much the Biden administration will adhere to the Trump administration’s more protectionist policies — like keeping the tariffs on foreign metals and products from China.

While the Biden administration has tried to distance its trade policy from that of the previous administration, many former Trump administration officials say the direction appears remarkably similar.

In an interview in January, Lighthizer said that the Trump administration had reoriented trade policy away from the interests of multinational businesses and the Chamber of Commerce and toward working-class people and manufacturing, goals that Democrats also support. He said the Biden administration would try to make trade policy look like their own, but ultimately “stay pretty close.”

“The goal is creating communities and families of working people, rather than promoting corporate profits,” Lighthizer said.

“I think the outlines of what we’ve done will stay. They will try to Biden-ise it, make it their own, which they should do, but I’d be surprised if they back away from the great outline of what we’ve done and how we’ve changed the policy.”

Tai has acknowledged some similarities between the Biden and Trump administration’s goals, but emphasised the difference in their tactics.

In her confirmation hearing, she said that she shared the Trump administration’s goal of bringing supply chains back to America, but that the prior administration’s policies had created “a lot of disruption and consternation.”

“I’d want to accomplish similar goals in a more effective, process-driven manner,” she said




Monday, March 22, 2021

Reality catches up with Biden

The article below is a mass media report so the media have now given up on hiding Biden's border mess. They can only play it down

Joe Biden's Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas sent a clear message to migrants on Sunday: The U.S. border is closed. 'Our message has been straightforward and simple, and it's true – The border is closed. We are expelling families. We are expelling single adults,' Mayorkas told NBC's 'Meet the Press' on Sunday morning.

'I think we are executing on our plans and, quite frankly, when we are finished doing so, the American public will look back on this and say we secured our border and we upheld our values and our principles as a nation,' he added.

The DHS chief deflected blame from the current administration, claiming President Joe Biden 'inherited' a broken system from former President Donald Trump.

Longtime Trump aide Stephen Miller told Fox News' 'Sunday Morning Futures' host Maria Bartiromo: 'I was stunned by the dishonesty of Mayorkas' presentation. He looked at the camera and he lied. He blatantly lied. And there's just no polite way to put that.'

Miller added: 'And so, when Mayorkas says, as he did today, that the border is closed, he is lying.'

He then detailed unaccompanied minors arriving at the border are resettled in the U.S. and that family units or adults are either released totally or released into 'alternative to detention' (ATD).

'That is not a closed border,' he said, adding that ATD is 'a fancy way of saying: 'You're going free'.' 'So, we have an open border right now in this country,' Miller asserted.

Mayorkas also said during his interviews – while appearing on several networks Sunday – that the administration is committed to not turning away unaccompanied minors who arrive at the U.S. border.

'We've made a decision that we will not expel young, vulnerable children,' Mayorkas told NBC host Chuck Todd.

His comments come as the number of unaccompanied migrant children in U.S. custody has surpassed 15,000 as of Saturday.

'Are you concerned that the word will go out, and you'll get unaccompanied minors from all over the world trying to come to our southern border?' Todd asked the DHS head.

'We are safely processing the children who do come to our border,' Mayorkas said, warning: 'We strongly urge, and the message is clear, not to do so now. I cannot overstate the perils of the journey that they take.'

'Regrettably, I am all too aware of the tragedies that have occurred and continued to occur along that journey,' he said of children who arrive – or attempt to arrive – at the border alone.

Mayorkas did the rounds Sunday morning, appearing on five different shows to do damage control on the growing southern border crisis – even as the administration refuses to call the situation a 'crisis.'

Biden promised during his candidacy that all those seeking asylum in the U.S. would be granted, which led to a surge of caravans heading from Central American to the U.S.-Mexico border.

But Mayorkas continued to deflect blame for the immigration crisis on former President Donald Trump. 'Please remember something – that President Trump dismantled the orderly, humane and efficient way of allowing children to make their claims under United States law in their home countries,' he said.

Miller continued to push back on these claims Sunday. 'First of all, he inherited from the Trump administration the most secure border we have had in this country,' he said of the Biden administration.

'You never had a better system for humanely returning illegal immigrants back to their home country,' Miller said to Fox News. 'We have a crisis, a spiraling, massive, growing, surging crisis, for one very simple reason. The Biden administration terminated all of that, to adopt a policy of catch and release.'

Customs and Border Protection is now considering a plan to release migrants who crossed the border illegally without first giving them a court date to reappear.

A senior CBP source told Fox News that Border Patrol agents in the Rio Grande Valley Sector are considering releasing migrants into the United States without an official Notice to Appear, a process that normally takes hours for each individual or family.

The move means migrants who crossed the border illegally would be released from custody into the United States - and it would place the responsibility of returning for an asylum hearing on the migrants themselves, through Immigration and Customs Enforcement or legal assistance, Fox News reported.

As this information came to light and the press continued to be blocked from gaining access to detention facilities, reports emerged that Border Patrol agents were issued a gag order on what they can share with the media.

Mayorkas claims these reports are not rooted in reality.

'Right now, we have no access to or photos of the conditions in the facilities. There have been no ride-alongs with agents. All inquiries are routed through Washington. There have been strict controls on sharing data. Local Border Patrol folks feel like they can't even talk to our folks down there. Is there a gag order?' Todd pressed on Sunday.

He insisted: 'There is not.'

'That is unequivocally false,' Mayorkas added. 'And let's be clear here – We are in the midst of a pandemic. We are, because of the extraordinary leadership of the president, climbing out of it more rapidly than ever before. But we are still in the midst of the pandemic. There is CDC controls in place. And Border Patrol agents are focused on operations, on securing the border, on addressing the needs of vulnerable children. We are not focused on ride-alongs right now.'

Previously, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said there would be organized trips for press to gain access to detention facilities. Later, she walked back on those comments, but promised photos to show conditions.

Then on Thursday, Psaki said the White House would not be releasing to the media photos that advisors shared with President Joe Biden to brief him on conditions on facilities housing childhood migrants on the border.

Psaki had kept open the idea of sharing them at a press briefing a day earlier after she revealed that advisors to Biden who had been to the border spoke to him 'with photos' about the facilities where unaccompanied children were being housed.

The possible change in immigration procedure, detailed by a CBP agent to Fox, comes as asylum seekers are flooding to the southern border: CBP apprehended nearly 100,000 migrants at the border in February, compared to just 16,182 in April 2020 when migration slowed drastically in the wake of the coronavirus, according to Pew data.

'[It has] become so dire that [Border Patrol] has no choice but to release people nearly immediately after apprehension because there is no space to hold people even to do necessary NTA paperwork,' the source told Fox News.

This process of skipping the scheduling paperwork would not apply to unaccompanied migrant children if it goes into effect, according to the outlet.

Migrants that are released from Border Patrol custody in the Rio Grande Valley Sector are normally transition to a housing facility, the Catholic Humanitarian Respite Center.

The center's Sister Norma Pimentel told Fox News that she is 'coordinating her response' to news that the migrants might face a quicker release from Border Patrol custody.

The Biden administration is also considering flying migrants to states near the Canadian border for processing, The Washington Post reported on Friday.

President Joe Biden is now disappointed in his officials for not being able to adequately shelter and process the massive increase of migrants at the southern border, CNN reported.

A senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Biden thinks his officials are not moving fast enough in setting up better conditions for migrants stuck in jail-like facilities for longer than the 72 hours allowed by law.

'He was disappointed that we hadn't gotten answers from other agencies faster or that [the facilities] wouldn't be ready for children faster,' the official said.

'He made it pretty clear that there were times when he didn't think we were moving fast enough.'

Biden officials claim Trump officials did not fully cooperate with his transition team, hindering their ability get a realistic view of potential migration, and that Trump deconstructed the immigration and asylum system - which they then inherited.

One official told CNN that Trump prevented Biden's team from getting 'under the hood in the time frame that other administrations would have been able to.'

'Were we prepared? Yes,' the official said.

'Everyone wants to be like 'crisis, crisis, crisis, crisis' - but it's like, you know what, actually, things are going really well. Yes, we brought in FEMA, but you know what? That was the responsible thing to do.'

Julie Chavez Rodriguez, the director of the White House's office of intergovernmental affairs, told CNN that the Biden administration knew it was inheriting 'an absolute mess.'

'As we were coming into the administration, we knew we were inheriting an absolute mess from the previous administration,' she said.

'There were aspects of our legal immigration system that had been gutted and a department that lacked the personnel to administer our laws.'

Another administration official said: 'When we came into office, like, it was a disaster. I mean, really. The staffing wasn't in place, the structures weren't in place.'

Republicans have argued that the border crisis is Biden's own doing after the president issued sweeping executive actions in his first week in office that undid Trump's immigration policies.

The Democrat controlled Congress has also worked to pass legislation to address immigration.

'The gulf between what the Trump administration did in enforced cruelty and where the Biden administration wanted to be was so great that I don't really think there was a clearer example that needed to be made in how the government and the administration was going to change,' one senior administration official said.

The official added: 'The previous administration had so radically changed what we did on migration that, I think, the President felt very strongly that we had to act really quickly and really decisively to demonstrate that it wasn't going to be the same.'

Last month, Trump's immigration architect Stephen Miller blasted an immigration plan from Biden as the 'most radical' bill ever written.

Miller, a former White House adviser, spoke for nearly five minutes lambasting the bill while appearing in an interview with Fox News' Laura Ingraham.

'It is the most radical immigration bill ever written, ever drafted, ever submitted in the history of this country. It is breathtaking,' Miller said.

Miller said that 'the most insane thing' in the bill is that it would order Secretary of State Antony Blinken to develop an application process to allow illegal aliens deported by the Trump administration to reapply for citizenship.

'In the bill, it says anyone who has lived in the country for at least three years and was deported by Donald Trump can reapply,' he said.

'And, it orders the Secretary of State to develop a process to mail those applications out to the 200 countries in the world to where illegal aliens are deported.'

Miller called the bill a 'full-scale attack on the very idea of nationhood.'

'If you were trying to write a bill to eliminate the concept of having a nation, this is the bill you would write,' he said.

On Saturday, the U.S. government was housing roughly 15,500 unaccompanied migrant minors, CBS News reported.

That number includes 5,000 teenagers and children being housed in Border Patrol facilities not designed for long-term custody beyond the 72 hours they are legally allowed to be held.

Under existing law, the government already cannot keep migrant children in holding facilities for more than 72 hours, the outlet reported. Migrant children must be transferred to a shelter or released.

The 1997 Flores v. Reno court agreement set nationwide policy that requires the government to release children from immigration detention without unnecessary delay to their adult relatives and while receiving a certain quality of life, CNN reported.

The government also cannot detain kids in any facility for more than 20 days, under the Flores agreement.

Government records reviewed by CBS News show that unaccompanied children are spending an average of 136 hours in CBP custody.

More than 5,000 unaccompanied minors were being held in a CBP tent as of Saturday morning, according to the outlet.

The Department of Health and Human Services was also housing nearly 10,500 unaccompanied children in emergency housing facilities and shelters, department spokesperson Mark Weber told CBS News on Saturday.




Sunday, March 21, 2021

When it comes to vaccines, suddenly “from vs with” matters again

The media’s attitude to possible vaccine-related injuries highlights how INSANE the “Covid deaths” count always was

Kit Knightly

In the last few weeks the media has demonstrated one of the clearest, most concise displays of true-life doublethink I’ve ever seen. It truly is the perfect exemplar.

The dichotomy is in “covid deaths” vs “vaccine related injuries”.

As we all know by now, countries all around the world define “Covid deaths” as “people who die, of any cause, within 30 days of a positive test result” (the number of days changes by country, it’s usually between 28 and 60). This trend was started in Italy last spring, and spread all around the world.

Globally, with a few notable exceptions, a “covid death” is a death “from any cause” following a positive test.

And when they say “any cause”, they mean it. Up to, and including, shooting yourself in the head.

In one blackly hilarious case, a man “died of coronavirus” after being shot by the police, with his 7 gunshot wounds being listed as “complications”.

That’s how loosely defined “covid death” has become, it is more or less meaningless. However, Covid “vaccines”, and possible related injuries or deaths, are a very different matter.

The establishment is going out of its way to make sure everyone understands that anybody who gets ill, or dies, after being vaccinated, is absolutely NOT a “vaccine death”.

What’s hilarious is those same journalists and “experts” preaching against “Covid denial”, are now literally employing our own arguments against us in the name of defending the vaccines.

Check out this article from ABC a few weeks ago, quoting one doctor:

We have to be very careful about causality. There are going to be spurious relationships, especially as the vaccine is targeting elderly or those with chronic conditions. Just because these events happen in proximity to the vaccine does not mean the vaccine caused these events. Nursing home centers and hospices are of particular concern, because they are homes to incredibly frail populations, and you have to look at the background rate of these events within those populations.”

You see, it’s important not take deaths out of context. After all, many of the people who die after being vaccinated are old and frail and already seriously ill. We need to be “careful about causation”, just because event B happened after event A, does not mean A caused B to happen.

In other words: There is a difference between with and from.

Hmmm. Does that argument sound familiar to anyone else?

The article continues:

In fact, an average of 8,000 people die each day in the United States. Some of them may have just received a coronavirus vaccine.

Fascinating. Apparently 8000 people die each and every day in the United States – translating to roughly 3 million people per year – and falsely attributing natural human mortality to a potentially totally unconnected event might cause panic.

I really feel like I might have read a similar sentiment somewhere else, too. Don’t you?

The Reuters “fact check” on vaccine injury says exactly the same thing:

Reports of death following vaccination do not necessarily mean the vaccine caused the death,”

The sheer desperation of the PR in the press is apparent in all the headlines. Such as:

Pfizer Covid vaccine probably didn’t kill woman, 78, who died shortly after having it


Woman dies from brain haemorrhage in Japan days after vaccine, but link uncertain


Macomb County man, 90, dies after COVID-19 vaccine — but doctors say shots are safe

Essentially, if you die within two months of testing positive for Sars-Cov-2, you’re a “Covid death”, and if you die within two minutes of getting the vaccine, you’re a coincidence.

Now, that’s not to say the vaccine definitely did kill those unfortunate people, I don’t know the details of the cases. The point is the equivocation. The soft use of language which is totally at odds with the apocalyptic prose discussing “Covid deaths”.

No where is this contradiction more apparent than in the UK right now, following the AstraZeneca situation.

A quick recap, for those who haven’t heard: Recently, the Norwegian government suspended use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, following it being linked to increased risk of blood clots. Several other countries soon followed suit.

This has prompted a UK-wide defence of the AstraZeneca jab. Including this piece from David Spiegelhalter, in the Guardian just today, in which he uses the same exact argument as the ABC article, almost word for word:

It’s human nature to spot patterns in data. But we should be careful about finding causal links where none may exist

After 12 months of ignoring the conversation on “with” vs “from”, suddenly all the vaccine pushers have rediscovered the difference. None of them seem in any way aware of their self-contradiction.

But this ludicrous double standard doesn’t just apply to death, but also the concept of acceptable risk.

Appearing on Good Morning Britain today, UK Dr Nighat Arif encouraged the continued use of the AstraZeneca shot, by explaining that technically there’s always small chance you’ll get a blood clot, but you can’t let that stop you doing what needs to be done:

As a GP I see clots a lot, unfortunately our background risk of getting a clot is about 1/1000 people. If you’re on a flight, your risk of clot increases. If women are on the contraceptive pill, their risk of clot increases. People going to hospital for surgery. However, we don’t stop doing any of those things.

The doctor is actually arguing that refusing to live your life based on a 0.1% risk of death is foolish, and that nobody should be expected to do that.

It is, literally, word for word a “Covid sceptic” argument, reproduced in the mainstream, without even the tiniest hint of irony or self-awareness. The very attitude they are taking towards “vaccine injury” is the same one they have condemned in “covid deniers” for over a year. By their hypocrisy they prove their own mendacity.

If they want to define a “Covid death” as dying within 60 days of a positive test, fine. But then anyone who dies within two months of getting vaccinated is a “vaccine death”. And they should have those two big red numbers counting up, right next to each other, on the front page of every news website in the world.

And if they don’t do that – which they obviously won’t – then you have a deliberately employed double standard, and that is a tacit admission of intentional deception.

It really is just that simple.


China Declares a Vaccine War on the World

China will allow foreigners to enter the country, but it has directed embassies around the world to only issue a visa if the traveler has gotten a COVID-19 vaccine that was made in China.

“It’s very much at the sharp end of vaccine diplomacy,” Nicholas Thomas, an associate professor in health security at the City University of Hong Kong, told CNN. “(It’s) essentially saying if you want to visit us, you need to take our vaccine.”

There has been no Chinese-made vaccine approved for human use in America, nor is there likely to be one anytime soon. China has created 5 different vaccines but none have been approved by the WHO. This is probably due to the fact that the Chinese government refuses to release the results of Stage 3 trials — a crucial requirement for vaccine approval in the U.S. and other western countries.

China’s main entry in the vaccine race — Sinovac — has an announced effectiveness of 78 percent against COVID. But Brazil actually conducted a Stage 3 trial and found it only 50.38 percent effective — far less effective than any other vaccine on the market.

Where does that leave the U.S., the UK, and other nations that have not approved a Chinese vaccine for use?


That means China can’t claim its preference for homegrown vaccines is due to them being superior to other vaccines. Instead, Thomas sees China’s new visa rules as a “power move,” which will pressure people to take one of China’s vaccines.

Sarah Chan, a reader in bioethics at the University of Edinburgh’s College of Medicine, says if someone’s livelihood depends on traveling to China for work, that could push them to take the vaccines, despite their lack of data. Scott Rosenstein, director of the global health programme at Eurasia Group, said it could also pressure countries to authorize the Chinese vaccines.

China has been extremely aggressive in its vaccine diplomacy, selling millions of doses of its vaccines to third-world countries. But last week, the Quad — a partnership between the U.S., India, Japan and Australia — decided to manufacture a billion doses of U.S. vaccines by the end of 2022 and distribute them in Asia. The visa move from China is seen as a counter to that plan.

China denies practicing “vaccine nationalism,” despite the fact that it’s exactly what the country is doing.

Despite China’s new visa rules placing an incentive on travelers to take the Chinese vaccines, Zhao Lijian, spokesperson of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, rejected the idea of “vaccine nationalism.”

“Regardless of where a vaccine is made, it is a good vaccine so long as it is safe and effective,” he said in a press conference Monday. “China stands ready to advance mutual recognition of vaccination with other countries.”

That raises the question of “immunity passports” and whose vaccine can be used to claim immunity. One option is to leave it in the hands of the WHO, which approves vaccines for emergency use in many countries. So far, the WHO has approved 4 vaccines — none of them Chinese. One can imagine asking an agency in China’s hip pocket to be fair in approving vaccines.

The second idea is even more ludicrous: allowing the 194 member states in the WHO to vote on which vaccines should be included in an immunity passport. It would be a glorious opportunity for China to flex its global muscle using subtle threats like the visa gambit.

The best option would be for individual nations to make their own immunity rules — or not make any at all. Better that than international travel being held hostage by China.

China has declared a vaccine war on the world — whether its vaccines work or not. If people are allowed a choice, my guess would be they’d forgo taking the Chinese shot for almost anyone else’s.


Jobs going back overseas under Biden

It's not like we didn’t warn you, folks. Our loyal Townhall readers knew a Biden presidency would mean higher taxes, fewer jobs, and less economic opportunity. The nixing of the Keystone Pipeline and the border wall hurled thousands into the unemployment line. These were also union jobs. He said he was going to do this; don’t act shocked. With a proposed massive hike in the corporate tax rate, are we shocked that American businesses have begun to shop their jobs overseas? No. But apparently, a lot of folks seemed puzzled that this Democratic administration is screwing over American workers at every turn. Forget passing a $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill that does next to nothing to help struggling families—we have President Depends creating a job creation climate that’s so bad—companies don’t even want to risk it here. This is the exact opposite of what happened under Trump.

Biden’s bad agenda is now impacting auto workers, who just discovered that Ford plans to shift car production back to plants in Mexico (via WSJ):

The United Auto Workers union is taking aim at Ford Motor Co. over plans for a factory in Ohio, criticizing the car company for moving vehicle production intended for the facility to Mexico.

UAW Vice President Gerald Kariem in a letter to members Friday said the company told the union it was relocating manufacturing of a next-generation vehicle to Mexico without a clear explanation. Mr. Kariem said in making this move, Ford is failing to live up to a commitment it made to the factory during the last round of contract talks. A copy of the letter was provided to The Wall Street Journal Wednesday.

During labor negotiations in 2019, Ford pledged to spend $900 million on the factory, in part to retool for a new model that it would start building in 2023.

“We expect the company to honor its contractual commitments to this membership and when it fails to do so we will take action,” Mr. Kariem wrote in the letter of Ford.

Trump’s agenda allowed for tax cuts, fewer regulations, job creation, repatriation of overseas cash, American companies reinvesting here, and bonuses galore for workers. Biden has done any of that. He’s too weak.

At the same time, you get what you vote for fellas. I don’t know what else to say.