Friday, June 18, 2021

Antiviral drug shown to save lives of covid-19 patients in hospital

People who get seriously ill from covid-19 could be offered a new lifeline with the first antiviral drug shown to save lives in patients admitted to hospital, researchers have said.

The drug, a combination of two antibodies developed by Regeneron, reduced the risk of death when given to people with severe covid-19 who hadn’t mounted a natural antibody response of their own.

The chances of these patients needing to be put on a ventilator were also reduced, as was the duration of their hospital stay.

In the Recovery trial between 18 September 2020 and 22 May 2021, 9785 patients admitted to hospital with covid-19 in the UK were randomly allocated to receive the usual care plus the antibody combination treatment, or usual care alone.

Of these, about one-third were seronegative, meaning they had no natural antibody response of their own, and half were seropositive, meaning they had already developed natural antibodies against the virus. For one-sixth of those involved in the study, their antibody status was unknown.

Among patients who received usual care alone, mortality within 28 days of being admitted to the trial was 30 per cent in those without an antibody response, compared with 15 per cent in those who were seropositive at the start of the study.

For patients who had no antibody response, the treatment reduced the chance of them dying within 28 days by a fifth, compared with usual care alone.

For every 100 such patients treated with the antibody combination, there would be six fewer deaths, researchers say.

“This is in some ways a first,” said Martin Landray at the University of Oxford, joint chief investigator of the study. “This is an antiviral treatment that is used later on – because these patients are severe, they’ve gone into hospital – and has a demonstrated clear impact on survival, and on those other outcomes.

“So in its own right, it’s an important result because these patients are among the sickest patients, and here we now have a treatment we did not have before.”

For the seronegative patients given the treatment, the duration of hospital stay was four days shorter than the usual care group, and the proportion of patients discharged by day 28 was greater.

The treatment made no difference in patients who had mounted their own antibody response by the time the study started.

“These results are very exciting,” said Peter Horby, the other joint chief investigator, also from the University of Oxford. “The hope was that, by giving a combination of antibodies targeting the Sars-CoV-2 virus, we would be able to reduce the worst manifestations of covid-19. There was, however, great uncertainty about the value of antiviral therapies in late-stage covid-19 disease.

“It is wonderful to learn that even in advanced covid-19 disease, targeting the virus can reduce mortality in patients who have failed to mount an antibody response of their own.”

The researchers say they aren’t sure when the treatment will be approved for use in the UK. It is unlikely to be rolled out quickly as the drug isn’t particularly easy to get hold of and patients would need antibody testing on their admission to hospital – which isn’t currently in place.

The study has been published as a pre-print on medRxiv and hasn’t yet been peer-reviewed.

The treatment uses a combination of two monoclonal antibodies (casirivimab and imdevimab, known as REGEN-COV in the US) that bind specifically to two different sites on the coronavirus spike protein, neutralising the ability of the virus to infect cells.

Previous studies in people in the community showed that the treatment reduced viral load, shortened the time to resolution of symptoms and significantly reduced the risk of being admitted to hospital or death.

Stephen Powis, national medical director for NHS England, said: “These encouraging results from this trial carried out in and by the NHS suggest a new treatment option to help save the lives of some patients hospitalised with covid and are the latest example of research and innovation for patients, which the NHS has played a role in during the pandemic.

“Studies have also suggested the same treatments might help similar patients in the community avoid going to hospital in the first place, which is why yesterday the health service chief executive, Sir Simon Stevens, asked the NHS to rapidly establish a new monoclonal antibody service so we are ready to offer these drugs if backed by regulators.”


YouTube Suspends Sen. Ron Johnson From Uploading Videos Over COVID-19, Hydroxychloroquine Claims

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) was suspended by YouTube and cannot upload videos for seven days, with the Google-owned video-sharing platform accusing him of spreading misinformation about COVID-19 treatments.

“YouTube’s arrogant Covid censorship continues,” he wrote in confirming the development. “How many lives will be lost as a result? How many lives could have been saved with a free exchange of medical ideas? This suppression of speech should concern every American.”

A spokesperson for YouTube told Fox News that one of Johnson’s videos was taken down because it violated its policies and claimed that he was spreading “medical misinformation.”

“We removed the video in accordance with our COVID-19 medical misinformation policies, which don’t allow content that encourages people to use Hydroxychloroquine or Ivermectin to treat or prevent the virus,” the spokesperson said. The Epoch Times has contacted the company for comment.

But by doing so, Johnson said that YouTube’s move to censor him suggests they have “accumulated too much unaccountable power.”

“Big Tech and mainstream media believe they are smarter than medical doctors who have devoted their lives to science and use their skills to save lives,” Johnson said in a statement to news outlets on Friday. “They have decided there is only one medical viewpoint allowed, and it is the viewpoint dictated by government agencies. How many lives will be lost as a result? How many lives could have been saved with a free exchange of medical ideas?”

In the video that was taken down, according to The Federalist, Johnson criticized federal bureaucrats for trying to dissuade the public from taking, or preventing them from knowing about, hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19.

“It always baffled me that there was such a concerted effort to deny the American public the type of robust exploration research into early treatment early in this pandemic,” Johnson said, saying that he wanted more focus on the topic and said studies have suggested that “both hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin” are “incredibly safe” drugs.

Hydroxychloroquine, notably, was touted by President Donald Trump during COVID-19 task force briefings at the White House.

A recent study from medRxiv found that a combination of hydroxychloroquine, which is prescribed for malaria, and zinc may increase the COVID-19 survival rate by around 200 percent in some cases where a patient has a severe case and requires ventilation.

“We found that when the cumulative doses of two drugs, HCQ and AZM, were above a certain level, patients had a survival rate 2.9 times the other patients,” the study’s conclusion said.

But last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning against using hydroxychloroquine, citing potential side-effects such as “serious heart rhythm problems and other safety issues, including blood and lymph system disorders, kidney injuries, and liver problems and failure.”


Russian oil imports have set a new record in the United States despite the strained relationship between Washington and Moscow

Industry experts believe the Biden administration’s climate policies will make the country more dependent on foreign oil producers.

The United States imported record levels of crude oil from Russia in March and is expected to continue importing at high levels in coming months, according to the Western Energy Alliance, a trade association that represents 200 independent natural gas and oil producers in the United States.

Imports of crude oil and petroleum products from Russia reached 22.9 million barrels in March, the highest level since August of 2010, according to International Energy Agency (IEA). Of the total amount, crude oil imports from Russia stood at 6.1 million barrels. Russia has become the third-largest oil exporter to the United States.

High levels of oil shipment from Russia have continued since March, according to ClipperData, a commodity intelligence company that monitors cargo shipments worldwide.

“Last month we saw a record 5.75 million barrels of Russian crude discharged in the US, and we’re projecting a further record this month of 7.5mn bbls,” ClipperData analysts wrote on Twitter on June 7.

Critics argue that Biden’s climate agenda is hard on the U.S. oil industry but soft on foreign producers.

“It’s disturbing to our industry that the Biden administration goes out of its way to disadvantage the American producer while buttressing the Iranian and Russian industries,” Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance, told The Epoch Times.

The recent spike in Russian oil imports has followed the “misguided climate policies” of the administration, including ending the Keystone XL pipeline and pausing new oil and natural gas permitting on public lands and waters, according to Sgamma.

President Joe Biden has “tipped us into oil dependence on Russia just a year after complete independence,” Sgamma said, calling it “a geopolitical gift” to the Kremlin.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude surpassed the $70 mark last week, reaching the highest level in over two years. Top commodity traders now believe oil prices could see $100 per barrel due to supply constraints. Oil hasn’t traded above $100 per barrel since 2014.

“There’s been kind of a dearth of investment in fossil fuels, which is going to leave us undersupplied as we go forward,” Phil Flynn, senior energy analyst at the Price Future Group, told The Epoch Times in a recent interview.

He noted that the Biden administration’s climate policies, which will reduce the supply of oil and gas, have been a major factor in driving the prices.

“U.S. oil production has fallen by 1.715 million barrels [per day] from a year ago, so a large part of that void is being filled by Russia,” Flynn wrote in a recent op-ed on Fox Business.

“During Trump’s term, America was competing with Russia and Saudi Arabia to be the world’s dominant oil and gas producer, yet under Biden, we are retreating from that race in the name of climate change,” he wrote.

An increase in oil and gas prices will help boost Russia’s energy and political dominance, he argued, criticizing Biden’s recent move that will allow Russia to supply natural gas to Germany.

The Biden administration last month waived Trump-era sanctions against the company building the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline that links Russia and Germany.

The pipeline is expected to increase the dependence of the region on Russia for natural gas. Construction on the 764-mile pipeline that began in 2018 was a source of friction between Washington and its European allies.




Thursday, June 17, 2021

A Group Of Parents Sent Their Kids' Face Masks to A Lab for Analysis. Here's What They Found

We've been told for well over a year that widespread forced public masking should be implemented because, even if only moderately to slightly to negligibly effective at curbing the spread of COVID-19, there are ZERO drawbacks. 

"What's the harm?" they ask.

"It's only a minor inconvenience," they bleat.

"If it saves ONE LIFE, it's worth it!" they implore.

Meanwhile, we on Team Reality have not only continued to point to real-world data that shows masking to be entirely ineffective, we've also maintained that forced public masking, especially long-term, has negative societal and even health ramifications that the powers-that-be are all-too-happy to ignore in subservience to their newfound face mask god. 

It only stands to reason that one of those health ramifications would be the fact that millions of people, particularly children, have been forced to wear and carry around pieces of cloth they've continually breathed through for hours on end. What lurking pathogens might be found on these disgusting contraptions being incessantly handled, stuck in pockets, and mindlessly tossed on books, tables, and desks? Well, one group of Florida parents sent a batch of masks worn by their children to a lab to find out. And yeah, you'll probably need to make sure you aren't eating dinner anytime soon before you digest THESE results. 

Via press release:

Gainesville, FL (June 16, 2021) – A group of parents in Gainesville, FL, concerned about potential harms from masks, submitted six face masks to a lab for analysis. The resulting report found that five masks were contaminated with bacteria, parasites, and fungi, including three with dangerous pathogenic and pneumonia-causing bacteria. No viruses were detected on the masks, although the test is capable of detecting viruses.

The analysis detected the following 11 alarmingly dangerous pathogens on the masks:

* Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumonia) 

* Mycobacterium tuberculosis (tuberculosis) 

* Neisseria meningitidis (meningitis, sepsis) 

* Acanthamoeba polyphaga (keratitis and granulomatous amebic encephalitis) 

* Acinetobacter baumanni (pneumonia, blood stream infections, meningitis, UTIs— resistant to antibiotics) 

* Escherichia coli (food poisoning)

* Borrelia burgdorferi (causes Lyme disease)

* Corynebacterium diphtheriae (diphtheria)

* Legionella pneumophila (Legionnaires' disease) 

* Staphylococcus pyogenes serotype M3 (severe infections—high morbidity rates) 

* Staphylococcus aureus (meningitis, sepsis)

Half of the masks were contaminated with one or more strains of pneumonia-causing bacteria. One-third were contaminated with one or more strains of meningitis-causing bacteria. One-third were contaminated with dangerous, antibiotic-resistant bacterial pathogens. In addition, less dangerous pathogens were identified, including pathogens that can cause fever, ulcers, acne, yeast infections, strep throat, periodontal disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and more.

The face masks studied were new or freshly-laundered before wearing and had been worn for 5 to 8 hours, most during in-person schooling by children aged 6 through 11. One was worn by an adult. A t-shirt worn by one of the children at school and unworn masks were tested as controls. No pathogens were found on the controls. Proteins found on the t-shirt, for example, are not pathogenic to humans and are commonly found in hair, skin, and soil.

A parent who participated in the study, Ms. Amanda Donoho, commented that this small sample points to a need for more research: “We need to know what we are putting on the faces of our children each day. Masks provide a warm, moist environment for bacteria to grow.”

These local parents contracted with the lab because they were concerned about the potential of contaminants on masks that their children were forced to wear all day at school, taking them on and off, setting them on various surfaces, wearing them in the bathroom, etc. This prompted them to send the masks to the University of Florida’s Mass Spectrometry Research and Education Center for analysis.

Appetizing, eh? Of course, nothing above, or anything else, will deter the extremists in the masking cult, some of whom now want to see masking in schools forever.


Florida Appeals Court Just Dealt A Devastating Blow To Forced Masking

A Florida appellate court delivered a devastating blow to government-induced forced public masking in the state on Friday with a narrow 2-1 decision that finally took into account citizen privacy rights that have often been ignored throughout the pandemic.

In overturning and sending back for reconsideration the decision of a circuit judge in favor of Alachua County's mask requirement, the 1st District Court of Appeal panel cited the state Supreme Court's interpretation of privacy rights "so broad as to include the complete freedom of a person to control his own body," Fox13 reported.

A panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal, in a 2-1 decision, said Alachua County Circuit Judge Donna Keim did not properly consider the privacy rights of plaintiff Justin Green before she rejected a request for a temporary injunction against the mask requirement.

"The trial court simply looked at the right asserted by Green too narrowly, relying on the wrong privacy jurisprudence," said the 13-page majority opinion, written by Judge Adam Tanenbaum and joined by Judge Robert Long. "The right to be let alone by government does exist in Florida, as part of a right of privacy that our (Florida) Supreme Court has declared to be fundamental. 

… (The Supreme Court) has construed this fundamental right to be so broad as to include the complete freedom of a person to control his own body. Under this construction, a person reasonably can expect not to be forced by the government to put something on his own face against his will. Florida’s constitutional right to privacy, then, necessarily is implicated by the nature of the county’s mask mandate."

The majority stopped short of declaring the Alachua County requirement unconstitutional but sent the case back to the lower court for reconsideration.

Judge Joseph Lewis' 15-page dissent predictably appealed to forced masking as a "temporary and de minimus interference with a person’s public interactions in response to a global pandemic," but Tanenbaum and Long - both appointed to the bench by Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis - carried the day.

While Lewis also tried to argue that the case was moot because DeSantis' executive order in May preventing local governments from requiring masks, the majority pointed out that counties could always reissue orders at a future time.

"Because of the nature of the various emergency orders that we have seen and the county’s continued commitment to public mask wearing, we are not convinced that this is the last that we will see of this issue," Tanenbaum wrote in a footnote.

Later in the opinion, however, the majority appeared to acknowledge that the circuit judge might not have a case to reconsider.

"We remand for a new proceeding that presumes the unconstitutionality of the mask mandate, in the event there still is some mask mandate that remains to be litigated," the opinion said.

... Green, who operates a nursery business, took the lawsuit to the Tallahassee-based appeals court after Keim refused to grant a temporary injunction in May 2020.

Interestingly, Fox13 reported that the decision from Tanenbaum and Long "relied heavily on a 2017 Florida Supreme Court decision blocking a law that sought to require women to wait 24 hours before having abortions."

Hey, my body my choice, right? Except, in this case, nobody is actually getting killed because masks have never done squat to stop or even slightly curb the spread of COVID-19 or any other respiratory virus.

Florida state representative Anthony Sabatini called the decision a "huge legal win" for liberty.

This is how it's done, folks. The people trying to force you to cover your face with a disgusting bacteria collector in the name of 'public health' - with absolutely zero science or data on their side to support their claims - have always been the aggressors here, and using the courts everywhere possible to push back is definitely the right move.

It's hard to predict what will eventually happen with this case, but the decision does underscore just how important judicial appointments are, even at the state level. DeSantis appointed both of these judges, and he also has appointed three of the seven judges on Florida's Supreme Court.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

What the Rich Don’t Admit About the Poor

The above heading occurs above a recent NYT article by Ezra Klein.

Klein is a smart young Jewish writer who writes persuasively in favour of Leftist causes. Like just about all leftist writers, Klein's persuasiveness depends on him leaving out half of the argument concerning his topic. The article concerned is a case in point The conservative side of his argument is glided over.

What he says (rightly) is that America still depends heavily on manual labour and that such labour is normally poorly paid. He regards that as outrageous.

So what is his solution? You will never guess: more government spending financed by big tax rises.How unoriginal can you get? Concern over income disparities goes back a very long way. The Soviets never solved it and a very wise Jewish teacher once told us: The poor ye always have with you

How does Klein deal with such facts? He doesn't. Klein just conveys outrage, not any kind of fully reasoned argument.


Inflation Is a Middle Class Tax Hike

Rapidly rising prices for all manner of goods and services are hitting us all hard.

It seems like just last month that we were expressing concern over rising inflation. Oh, right — it was. The Consumer Price Index (CP) jumped 4.2% in April. May said, “Hold my beer,” and saw a spike of 5% year over year.

CNBC crunches the numbers and right up top emphasizes the bad news:

fastest pace since August 2008

higher than Wall Street expectations

The 3.8% rise in the core inflation rate, which excludes food and energy prices, was the sharpest increase in nearly three decades.

There’s not much sugar coating here — the economic news is not good. Supply chains are broken. Companies can’t find enough workers, and the ones they can find are commanding higher wages. Inflated prices are largely a symptom of these underlying ailments.

Heather Boushey, a member of the White House Counsel of Economic Advisors, shrugged off the report as good news: “Today’s data on inflation is the latest indicator that things are both moving in the right direction and that we have supply-chain hiccups.”

“Hiccups”? We realize that having to wait a few months for a recliner or a bicycle is truly a First World Problem. But this is also not the America Joe Biden promised us, and it’s a far cry from the roaring American economy Donald Trump was fueling before the pandemic.

The Federal Reserve’s response? Apathy. “Though the inflation readings are well above anything seen since the 2008-09 financial crisis, the Federal Reserve has been largely dismissive of the numbers,” says CNBC. “Central bank officials believe the current rise is due to temporary factors that will abate as the year goes on and look higher because of comparisons to the year-ago period, when much of the economic activity remained restricted due to pandemic precautions.”

There is some truth to that, but it’s far from the full picture. As it turns out, you cannot shut down much of the economy and then have the government flood the economy with $6 trillion in “magic money” and not have prices increase because of the havoc that wreaks on supply and demand.

The same experts who totally underestimated the inflation rate are telling us this is no big deal and prices will recede before long. That’s no doubt true of some things like lumber and houses, but it’s certainly not guaranteed, and it’s perhaps even unlikely for most goods and services. Higher prices will be the new floor.

“Chipotle executives announced this week the fast-casual chain will be raising prices by about 4 percent to offset some of the costs of the tighter labor market. Procter & Gamble warned customers earlier this year to expect mid- to high-single-digit percentage point price increases on staples like diapers and tampons,” reports The Dispatch. In fact, “The May 2021 NFIB Small Business Economic Trends survey found 48 percent of small businesses reported raising their prices, compared with just 5 percent that reported lowering them.”

Given that generous unemployment benefits have raised expectations for wages — just about at Democrats’ preferred $15 an hour, as it so happens — companies are going to be paying more for labor over the long term. And the supply disruptions show no sign of abating, which only exacerbates price problems.

That’s a middle class tax hike if we ever saw one.

But there’s also the national picture, which political analyst Kevin Williamson elucidates:

The worrisome, if not quite worst-case, scenario is this: We start to suffer genuinely problematic inflation, the Fed jacks up interest rates to stabilize prices, the cost of borrowing for the U.S. government goes up substantially, the cost of financing the debt rises from 8 percent of the budget to 12 percent of the budget and then appears set to keep on marching up from there, the economy goes into recession, and Washington has a choice — it can cut back spending during a recession, thereby almost certainly deepening that recession, or it can go even more deeply into debt at a time when the cost of debt service already is climbing, thereby making both the total debt and the cost of financing it that much worse.

“This,” he concludes, “is where fiscal crises and sovereign-debt crises come from.”




Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Donald Trump has reeled off the times he was blasted for spreading lies and conspiracy theories - only to later be proven right.

Speaking via satellite link from his Bedminster, New Jersey golf course at the Frank Speech Rally in New Richmond, Wisconsin the former president recalled how he'd been blasted for saying hydroxychloroquine was a treatment for COVID, that the virus leaked from a Wuhan virus lab, and that Hunter Biden's laptop was real. 

He said: 'We were right! Listen to this: Hydroxychloroquine works. The virus came from a Chinese lab - it just came out. Hunter Biden’s laptop was real. They tried to say it was made by Russia. Russia. Russia. Russia,' he started.

‘Lafayette Square was not cleared for a photo op. That just came out and I want to thank the Inspector General for having the courage to come out with the truth. The ‘Russian Bounties’ story was fake. Remember that? We produce vaccines before the end of 2020 in record time.'

Trump touted hydroxy - previously used as an anti-malaria drug, throughout last spring, and even took it as a precaution. He was condemned for doing so, with medics saying there was no evidence the treatment helped COVID.

But preliminary research released earlier this week showed hydroxychloroquine can increase survival rates in seriously-ill COVID patients by 200 per cent.

Trump has long claimed COVID may have leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. He was dismissed as a quack over that theory throughout much of 2020. It is now being taken far more seriously, although no definitive proof of where COVID came from has been established. 

He has repeatedly attacked liberal-leaning media outlets for failing to cover the damaging contents of Hunter Biden's laptop, and was cleared earlier this week of claims he'd cleared protesters from outside the White House to stage a photo opportunity amid George Floyd protests last year.

Trump also reminded the crowd of how he'd been shot down when claiming COVID vaccines would be ready by the end of 2020 - only to later be proven spectacularly right. The first approved vaccines were administered in the United States on December 15 2020. 

He said: 'The vaccines are saving the country and frankly the world. This would have been another 1917 situation where you lost a 100 million people like in the Spanish flu. Everybody said it would take 3,4,5 years. Don’t even do it because it’s going to take so long. I got it done in less than nine months. All of the people that have been able to get their shots. Nobody would have been able to get it yet. But remember, it’s also about freedom, so it’s your choice.'

The former president also discussed the fraudulent 2020 election which he continues to claim he won, before rallying the gathered crowd with his MAGA  message and the ongoing movement. 

Trump made his remarks during a rally organized by conspiracy theorist MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, a staunch supporter of the former president. 

Trump together with Lindell promoted conspiracy theories about the 2020 election with Trump saying that it was 'rigged' by President Joe Biden and the Democrats, while bemoaning the fact he was no longer allowed on social media. 

The former president has yet to share any definitive proof that last year's election was rigged, despite employing a large team of lawyers to do so.  

'We do press releases now because we were banned from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. They want to silence us because of the election. Cancel culture, call it what you will, but the reason is because of the election,' Trump said. 'They know the results. They know what really happened. That’s why if you go to any place, and you will see the Democrats don’t want recounts. They don’t want audits.    

During his Saturday remarks, Trump insisted the 2020 election was 'totally rigged.' 

'The election was rigged like never before. We got 'em by surprise four years ago and then we got 12 million more votes. Think about it, we got 63 million votes and we won, and then we got 75 million votes and they say we lost. But we didn't lose. If you win Miami, if you win Florida, and Ohio and add Iowa. Nobody won those states and lost. We were supposed to lose 25 seats and we gained 16 in the House of Representatives.

'If it wasn't for me, right now the Senate would be 60-40 against,' Trump argued during the event.

He claimed that Democrats would have 10 more seats than they currently have in the evenly split legislative chamber of Congress. 'Because I made teleconference calls—they call them town hall calls—speaking to tens of thousands of people, for congressional candidates and senators,' the former president said.

'And we would be at 60-40 against instead of 50-50,' Trump added, before attacking the GOP Senate minority leader. 'And unfortunately Mitch McConnell, with what he was doing, hurt us very, very badly in Georgia. We lost those two seats. We should have never lost those two seats.'

Trump has repeatedly criticized and attacked McConnell, after the Kentucky Republican condemned his actions leading up to the January 6 riots targeting the U.S. Capitol. 

Although McConnell did not join seven GOP senators in voting to convict Trump for inciting the violence, he refused to defend Trump and blamed him directly for the assault. 

Dozens of election challenge lawsuits filed by Trump and his allies have all been dismissed in both state and federal courts. Even judges appointed by Trump and others have rejected the allegations. 

Election audits and recounts in key battleground states, including in places where the election was overseen by Republicans, have all reaffirmed Biden's win.

In the video message live-streamed during Lindell's MAGA Frank Free Speech rally at the River's Edge Apple River concert venue in New Richmond Trump proceeded to reel off a list of things insisting that he was ‘right about everything’. 

'Blue state lockdowns didn’t work. They were a disaster. You look at California, you look at New York, you look at Illinois run by governors of a certain party called the Democrat party, they didn’t work, they were a disaster, and then you look at Texas and Florida they’ve done such a fine job.

'The schools have to be reopened. We’ve been saying that for a year. Open up the schools. And our border security program were vitally important and unprecedentedly successful. All Biden had to do was to leave it alone. So we went from the most safest border in the history of our country to the worst and most dangerous. Drugs are flowing in at a level we’ve never seen before. There is human trafficking. Nobody has ever seen numbers like this,' Trump stated.

‘I just saw a report where Sweden is doing very bad on crime. Germany is doing very bad on crime. These used to be the safest countries in Europe and now they’re becoming very unsafe. You know why? They’re letting in people into their country that are causing disruption. Well, we are letting people into our country at a level Sweden couldn’t even imagine. So people are just flowing across our borders. We built almost 500 miles of border wall and it would have been finished in just four weeks, and then Biden decided to stop it. 

On coronavirus Trump again demanded China pay reparations to the United States, but said his earlier figure of $10 trillion wouldn't be enough.

It comes as China continues to face increasing international scrutiny over its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, with U.S. intelligence services investigating whether the novel coronavirus leaked from a lab in Wuhan, where the outbreak first emerged at the end of 2019.

'China and the China virus—they have to pay reparations. We've been hurt so badly in terms of death, human life,' Trump said.

'And in terms of monetarily, to a level that they have to pay us. And frankly, if they paid us $10 trillion that wouldn't cover it. But they really have to pay the world because this started in the world—the entire world has been, not only disrupted, but it's almost been destroyed and we're doing well because we created such a great economic foundation.'

Monday, June 14, 2021

How the Government Makes Corporations Woke

When corporations promote left-wingery, free-market conservatives are met with a taunt: “You want companies to have freedom of speech, and you want the free market to decide, so what are you complaining about? This is what you wanted.”

Of course, private, free-market de­cisions are never immune to private criticism. But “woke capitalism” is also not purely the result of private, free-market decisions. Behind the invisible hand of the market is the mailed fist of the government, pushing companies to the left in ways direct and indirect, in areas ranging from climate policy to workplace and hiring rules.

There are four major capacities in which government pressures companies to go woke: government as corporate shareholder, government as customer, government as capital-market regulator, and government as workplace regulator.

Government as shareholder: Who owns corporations? The shareholders. In theory, corporations work equally for the financial benefit of all the shareholders. But not all shareholders have an equal voice. Those with large holdings and organizations get more attention. In today’s America, many of the largest and most active investors are state and local public-pension funds that manage enormous pots of money, such as the colossal California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and the New York State and Local Retirement System (NYSLRS). These are, in theory, merely investment fiduciaries, seeking the best returns to support the retirement benefits paid out to each state’s retired government employees. In practice, many of the pension funds are shot through with left-wing activists who see a government-controlled stake in public companies as a lever with which to move the world.

For example, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) is the second-largest pension fund in the U.S., with approximately $275 billion in assets. It owns $300 million of Exxon­­Mobil stock. It could reap the profits of owning ExxonMobil for the benefit of California teachers, or it could sell the stock if it felt morally obligated to divest. Instead, it is the largest share­holder involved in a “Reenergize Exxon” campaign that recently in­stalled three dissident directors on the board with the aim of moving America’s largest oil company away from carbon-based fuels.

In a March 2021 blog post on the Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance, the head of sustainable investment and stewardship strategies at CalSTRS, along with a member of her staff and an Oxford professor, wrote that “CalSTRS is working on develop­ing its model so that it can be sub­stantially scaled in order to address the many environmental (e.g., global warm­ing, loss of biodiversity, and plastics in the oceans) and social (e.g., racial, gender, and income inequality)” issues it wishes to address through its share­holdings. She described the anti-ExxonMobil campaign as a “pilot” for strategies to storm the “Corporate Castle” of companies that decline to follow the activists’ directives. That model includes an “army of investors (could be few but mighty) who will support attacking the castle walls,” “NGOs and other stakeholder repre­sentatives who can be marshalled to apply pressure,” “executive search firm(s) for identifying the slate of new executives and directors” to be installed, and “appropriate media outlets who can amplify the message.”

This pressure campaign goes beyond environmental issues, which are just one of the three corners of the “ESG” formula of environmental, social, and governance topics on which government shareholders are active. CalPERS has been investing in private as well as public companies and then using its stake to pressure the companies to meet racial and other “diversity” quotas. In 2018, CalSTRS announced that it would use its financial heft to pressure retailers anywhere in the country to stop selling guns that are banned in California — overriding the laws of other states. It signed on to a collective effort of state pension funds declaring “Principles for a Responsible Civilian Firearms Industry,” with a roster that also included CalPERS and the pension funds of Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Oregon, and San Francisco. These are all arms of government, seeking to own the means of production in order to dictate what may be produced and sold.

As discussed by Patrick Pizzella elsewhere in this issue, the Trump administration promulgated a rule re­focusing shareholder fiduciaries on pursuing the economic interests of their beneficiaries over their own political causes. The Biden administration blocked the rule from going into effect.

Public-shareholder activism is not limited to American government entities. Pension funds and sovereign-wealth funds of foreign states have their own lists of demands and priorities. Norway’s trillion-dollar sovereign-wealth fund, whose revenue comes from taxes and fees on the country’s oil industry, is the largest single owner in the world’s stock markets. Taking its marching orders from the Norwegian parliament, it sets “clear expectations” that “the companies in our portfolio should address global challenges in their corporate govern­ance” that “largely coincide with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”

Government as customer: Government doesn’t just invest, it also buys and spends. Collectively, government con­tracts can provide a large share of a business’s income. In some industries, such as military contractors or health providers, it is effectively impossible to survive solely by selling to private customers. Federal, state, and local governments are especially aggressive about requiring contractors to sign on to their environmental and racial agendas. This phenomenon, too, is global in scope. A 2016 OECD paper observes that “public procurement expenditures amount to 13% of OECD countries’ gross domestic products” and urged that this large governmental footprint be used as leverage to promote “ambitious low-carbon innovation strategies.”

Contracts do not involve just the government spending its own money; governments also control access to public facilities. Chick-fil-A, for example, was banned from operating in airports in multiple cities — San Antonio, Buffalo, San Jose — by government officials angered at the company for the political views of one of its executives on same-sex marriage.

Government as capital-market regu­la­tor: It’s not possible to access American capital markets without getting past the gatekeepers. These include the Securities and Exchange Commission, which sets disclosure rules, the markets (the New York Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ), the ratings agencies, and the accounting firms. The SEC is the government; the markets exercise directly delegated governmental authority, which in some circumstances can even preempt state law; the others live in that vague space where compliance is effectively compelled by the need to keep government happy. Then there are the central banks, which have been quite insistent in imposing their own woke visions on lenders, with the aim of raising the cost of capital for disfavored businesses and industries.

SEC disclosure requirements, and rules for what proposals can be raised by dissident shareholders, have been a hotly contested field for political activism. Joe Biden’s presidential campaign called for “requiring public companies to disclose climate risks and the greenhouse gas emissions in their operations and supply chains.”

Government pressure can be indirect, too. Climate envoy John Kerry spent this spring pressuring Wall Street banks to commit to “climate-friendly finance” that aims to redirect lending and investment towards “zero emissions” targets — with the understanding that collective refusals to do business made at the prodding of government may be less vulnerable to challenge under the antitrust laws.

Government as workplace regulator: Finally, the government’s rules shape the workplace. Civil-rights laws were originally written to guarantee equal opportunity under the law, even in private workplaces. But, in practice, many diversity-related corporate initia­tives have gone far beyond equality. They have instead created sinecures in human-resources depart­ments for left-wing activists who use the implicit threat of lawsuits to persuade corporate management to give them a free hand in leftist indoctrination. Maybe the most na├»ve joke among conservatives in recent years is to ask what kind of job you could get with, say, a gender-studies major. The answer is that you can get a job in a big corporation that puts you in a position to decide who gets all the other jobs. That power structure would not exist without substantial coercive govern­ment pressure.

If we want corporations to get back to the business of business, and out of politics, the first step is to get government out of their business.


TX Gov. Abbott says Texas will build its own Mexican border barrier

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced on Thursday that he has immediate plans to build border barriers along the state’s border with Mexico in an effort to assist law enforcement apprehensions of immigrants attempting to cross into the United States illegally.

“President Biden’s open-border policies have led to a humanitarian crisis at our southern border as record levels of illegal immigrants, drugs, and contraband pour into Texas,” Abbott said. “While securing the border is the federal government’s responsibility, Texas will not sit idly by as this crisis grows.”

Abbott said the state will immediately begin construction on barriers in easily accessible and unsecured areas like Del Rio.

“The influx across the border is out of control, and the Biden Administration has shown that is not going to step up and do its job,” Abbott told Breitbart exclusively prior to a border summit on Thursday. “And amidst reports of even more people coming in across the border, we know we have to step up and do more.”

Customs and Border Patrol statistics revealed that the Del Rio Sector saw 27,890 illegal immigrant apprehensions in May this year, a 1,118 percent increase from the same period last year.

“The reason why we are here (Del Rio) is because of the massive increase,” Abbott stated, noting that unlawful border crossings were once “concentrated in the Rio Grande Valley. “Now, you know we’re upstream from the Rio Grande Valley in the Del Rio Sector and the Del Rio sector is suffering from some of the largest increases.”

Abbott said local residents are reporting “a lot of very bad dangerous people” coming into Texas illegally.

“They’re seeing a lot of very bad dangerous people come across the border,” Abbott said. “People that they are afraid of encountering, people who are causing damage to their fences, their livestock, their crops, their neighborhoods, and their homes.”

“Bad things are happening around here, and so they need help from the state to help them address this exploding crisis,” he continued.

Abbott said the Biden administration seems to be “welcoming these people into the United States,” but that Texas won’t send the same message. He said Texas will use it authority under a State of Emergency to ramp up enforcement of laws along the border.

“If you come to Texas, you’re subject to being arrested. You’re not going to have a pathway to roam the country,” Abbott said. “You’re going to have a pathway directly into a jail cell.”

“We want to be very aggressive in working with local officials and begin making mass arrests,” he continued. “In working in collaboration with a large number of counties — that means we’re going to be arresting a lot more people.”

Abbott acknowledged the increase in apprehensions will necessitate additional jail space, and he has partnered with Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey to seek assistance from governors nationwide with the crisis.

“With your help, we can apprehend more of these perpetrators of state and federal crimes before they can cause problems in your state,” the governors said. “Texas and Arizona have stepped up to secure the border in the federal government’s absence, and now, the Emergency Management Assistance Compact gives your State a chance to stand strong with us.”

Abbott said he predicts a “high level of participation,” adding, “The immigration issue and the border issue is not just the number one issue of Texas, it’s the number one issue in America. And so all of these other governors, they hear the same concerns that we hear about in Texas.”

Abbott said Texas is going to do whatever it can to secure the border, but “in the end, only the federal government and Congress can fix this.”

“…but as it stands right now, the state of Texas is going to step up and we’re going to start making arrests — sending a message to anybody thinking about coming here, you’re not going to get a free pass to the U.S. They’re getting a straight pass to a jail cell,” he concluded.