Friday, February 25, 2022

Russia has the West by the short and curlies

By controlling Ukrainian resources in addition to its own resources, Russia will call the tune on the supply of major commodities. Oil and gas are just the start. "Punishing" Russia is a joke. It is Russia that is in the position to do some punishing. Vladimir Vladimirovich knew that all along. It may have been his principal motive for the move into Ukraine

In a matter of hours, the world order has turned drastically less favourable for the Western democracies.

Vladimir Putin’s seizure of Ukraine elevates Russia into a full-spectrum commodity superpower, adding critical market leverage over global grain supply to existing strategic depth in energy and metals.

We wake up to the sobering reality that Russia is too pivotal for the international trading system to punish in any meaningful way. It influences or determines everything from bread in the shops, to petrol for Europe’s homes and power plants, to supply chains for aerospace and car plants, or soon will do if Kyiv falls.

Who knew that almost 90 per cent of Europe’s imports of rapeseed oil comes from Ukraine, or Spain’s jamon iberico depends on grain feed from the black earth belt of the Ukrainian steppe? Ukraine turns Putin’s neo-Tsarist empire into the Saudi Arabia of food, controlling 30 per cent of global wheat exports and 20 per cent of corn exports.

It is not just Brent crude oil that has spiked violently, hitting an eight-year high of $US102. Aluminium smashed all records this morning. Chicago wheat futures have hit $US9.32 a bushel, the highest since the hunger riots before the Arab Spring.

Do not confuse this with inflation. Rocketing commodity prices are a transfer of wealth to exporters of raw materials. For Europeans at the sharp end, it acts like a tax, leaving less to spend elsewhere. It is deflationary for most of the economy. If it continues for long, we will slide into recession.

So while there is brave and condign talk of crippling sanctions against Russia, it is the West’s pain threshold that is about to be tested. My presumption is that Fortress Russia will endure this contest of self-reliance more stoically than Europe’s skittish elites.

Sanctions are of course imperative as a political statement. The West would be complicit if it did nothing. But the measures currently on the table do not change the equation.

The debate in British parliament over whether to hit a few more oligarchs or restrict London access for more Russian banks has bordered on parody: Brits talking to Brits in a surreal misunderstanding of raw geopolitics, as if Putin was going to give up his unrepeatable chance to snatch back Kyivan Rus and shatter the post-Cold War dispensation of Europe because David Lammy is vexed by golden visas.

Nor does the temporary German suspension of Nord Stream 2 change anything. The pipeline was never going to supply extra gas this decade. The Kremlin’s purpose was to reroute the same Siberian gas, switching it from the Ukrainian corridor to the Baltic, depriving Kyiv of self-defence leverage. Once Putin controls Ukraine, Nord Stream 2 instantly becomes irrelevant.

The cardinal error was made in June 2015 when Germany went ahead with the bilateral pipeline just a year after the annexation of Crimea, signalling that the first anschluss of 21st century Europe would go unpunished, or worse, that it would be rewarded with a strategic prize. If you want to date the death of a sovereign democratic Ukraine, it was that merkantilist decision. Royal Dutch Shell was an abettor. Putin got our measure.

The 36 per cent fall in the Moex index in Moscow means that Western investors with a Russian portfolio through pension funds or ETFs have lost money. It does not mean that Russia is being forced to its knees, as some would have it.

Nor does the modest decline in the rouble imply unmanageable economic stress. Russia’s exchange rate mechanism is designed to let the currency take the strain, cushioning the internal budget against shocks.

Russia is sitting on $US635 billion ($887 billion) of foreign exchange reserves. It has a national debt of 18 per cent of GDP, one of the lowest in the world. It has a fiscal surplus and does not rely heavily on foreign investors to finance the state. This renders US sanctions against new issuance of sovereign bonds a mere nuisance.

The Kremlin is enjoying a windfall gain from commodities. Benchmark gas futures contracts (TTF) for March have hit extreme levels of €120 MWh. Russia is earning $US700 million a day from sales of oil to Europe and to the US, which needs heavy Urals crude to replace sulphurous Venezuelan barrels for its refineries.

The harsh truth is that Europe would spiral into crisis within weeks if flows of Russian gas were cut off - by either side. The short-term loss of revenue for the Kremlin would be a small fraction of Russian gold, euro, and dollar reserves. There is no symmetry in this. Whatever the rhetoric, energy business as usual will proceed.

The US and Europe can and will enforce a technology blockade, restricting Russia’s access to advanced semiconductor chips, acting in tandem with Taiwan’s TSMC and Korea’s Samsung. This will hurt but it will take time. Russia has stockpiles. It has its own producers able to make mid-level chips down to 28 nanometres.

China may be irritated by how far Putin has gone in Ukraine but it will not join Western sanctions. Nor will it stop Chinese companies supplying chips to Russia through deniable middlemen and plugging some gaps in technology. Putin can reasonably calculate that Western zeal for sustaining this hi-tech embargo will wane before it does irreversible damage to Russia.

Now we face a reconstituted Russian empire in tooth claw, as far West as the Carpathians, with a stranglehold on the raw materials of our existence. None of this was inevitable. It is the result of systematic policy failure.

Europe has vetoed expulsion of Russia from the Swift nexus of global payments for fear of the systemic blowback into its own banks, and because it would have made it hard to pay for Putin’s oil, gas, metals and grains - leaving aside the risk that Russia might go all the way up the retaliation ladder.

The US itself is ambivalent over shutting down Swift because it would accelerate the de-dollarisation of global finance. If the US plays its trump card, it risks losing the card. China and Russia already have their own payment systems that could be linked for bilateral trade.

So one watches the Western pantomime over sanctions with a jaundiced eye, knowing that almost everything being discussed is largely beside the point, and that only military strength matters when push comes to a 200,000-man military shove.

The errors that led to this lie in years of European disarmament, the result of both wishful thinking by a complacent elite and because of fiscal austerity imposed by EU commissars during the eurozone crisis, with no regard for the larger strategic picture.

It is the fruit of periodic “resets” in relations with the Putin regime, invariably forgiving his sins, and dressing up commercial self-interest as if it were an attempt to lure him away from a Chinese axis of autocracies. The final trigger was Joe Biden’s decision last July to override congressional sanctions against Nord Stream 2, selling out Ukraine in a deal with Angela Merkel.

President Biden thought he could “park” Russia on one side and focus on China. He appointed a known Russophile as a key adviser on Russia. He neglected to appoint a US ambassador in Kyiv, long leaving matters in the hands of a junior with a taste for the quiet life, to the point of toning down cables to the White House that might have raised alarm. Putin drew the conclusion that this was his moment to strike.

We can only pray for brave Ukrainians fighting without air cover against crushing military might. More Stinger and Javelin missiles would have helped enormously a few months ago but it is almost certainly too late now to change the outcome by shipping out weapons.

The West must fall back to the next line of defence, the Nato line from Estonia to Romania, and face the long arduous task of military rearmament.

It would have been easier and wiser to stiffen a democratic Ukraine while we could. Now we face a reconstituted Russian empire in tooth claw, as far West as the Carpathians, with a stranglehold on the raw materials of our existence. None of this was inevitable. It is the result of systematic policy failure.


Officials hide behind damned lies and Covid statistics

The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has finally admitted that it is hiding data that it has collected about the efficacy of vaccines. There are no prizes for guessing why. If the data showed that the vaccines worked magnificently it would be splashed all over the front page of the New York Times. Instead, the Times was only able to prise the admission out of a spokeswoman that for more than a year the CDC has collected data on hospitalisations for Covid and broken it down by age, race and vaccination status but refused to publish almost all of it.

Why? Because, as the spokeswoman put it, ‘basically, at the end of the day, it’s not yet ready for prime time’. Prime time? Sounds dramatic. No doubt it is. Then the spokeswoman added that the agency was, in the words of the Times, ‘reluctant to make those figures public because they might be misinterpreted as the vaccines being ineffective’. Presumably, because it was impossible to spin the data in any way other than ineffective.

The Times reporter was disappointed. As she pointed out, when the CDC published the first data on the effectiveness of boosters in adults younger than 65, only two weeks ago, it left out data for 18-49-year-olds which would have helped healthy adults know whether they really needed the shots.

Those interested in establishing the efficacy of vaccines had to look overseas. Public Health Scotland provided data on hospitalisation until about a week ago. Then they decided that they were worried that the data would be ‘misrepresented’, and they would no longer publish it. An anonymous official justified this censorship saying, ‘The case rates, hospitalisation rates, the death rates are very simple statistics, whereas for the vaccine effectiveness studies… we compare people who have tested negative to those who have tested positive and match them on their underlying co-morbidities’.

Goodness! Wouldn’t it have been nice to have used studies that matched peoples’ underlying co-morbidities when we were repeatedly told that the vaccines were safe, effective, and necessary for everyone regardless of their age, sex, weight, ethnicity, and health status?

Instead, millions of people in the US, Canada, Europe, the UK, Australia and New Zealand have been demonised, punished, excluded from civil society, and even face the prospect of forced vaccination in Austria and Italy based on ‘very simple statistics’ that were meant to show that the world was facing ‘a pandemic of the unvaccinated’.

It was always a lie, starting with the very definition of who was unvaccinated. Most people assume that an unvaccinated person is someone who has not been vaccinated. Wrong. A person who has the first jab of a vaccine and tests positive for Covid 13 days later is classified as an unvaccinated case of Covid, in most of the world, because a person is considered ‘unvaccinated’ for the first 14 days after their first shot. In New South Wales, a person counts as ‘unvaccinated’ for even longer, for the first three weeks after their jab.

Did it matter? Absolutely. Norman Fenton, Professor of Risk Information Management at Queen Mary University of London, and a Director of Agena, a company that specialises in risk management for critical systems analysed the UK Covid vaccination data. What it showed was a massive peak in ‘unvaccinated’ deaths in each age group, just at the time that the vaccine rollout began for that age group.

Fenton explained that his study shows that those who die within one week of being vaccinated get shifted from the vaccinated to the unvaccinated group. This explains the spike in ‘unvaccinated’ deaths that is seen all over the world when vaccines are rolled out, and the quicker the rollout, the steeper the spike.

Do many people die in the first two or three weeks after vaccination? In the US, the database of adverse events shows that more than 20 per cent of deaths following Covid vaccination occur within the first 24 hours, more than 25 per cent occur in the first 48 hours and more than 60 per cent occur in people who experienced symptom onset with 48 hours of vaccination. How many people? In the US, more than 10,000 deaths have been reported to the adverse events database since the vaccines were rolled out and another 14,000 deaths were reported by the foreign affiliates of US manufacturers. Worse, it is estimated that under-reporting means there may be as many as 40 times more injuries and deaths.

In addition to systematic miscategorisation, Fenton says there was delayed or non-reporting of vaccinations, systematic underestimation of the proportion of the unvaccinated and incorrect population selection for Covid deaths. When all of this was considered, Fenton concluded that Covid vaccines do not reduce all-cause mortality, they produce spikes in all-cause mortality shortly after vaccination.

This tallies with the updated mortality data for the Pfizer trial quietly released by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in August when it granted full authorisation for the Pfizer vaccine. It showed that all-cause mortality was 23.5 per cent higher in the vaccine group than in the placebo group with the commonest cause of death cardiac arrest and the commonest disease category cardiovascular diseases.

Unsurprisingly, Pfizer claimed that the deaths were unrelated to the vaccine, but the FDA said that reports since the vaccines were rolled out had led the FDA and CDC to identify ‘serious risks for myocarditis and pericarditis’ following administration of the Pfizer vaccine, with the risk factor higher in males under 40, particularly for boys aged 12 to 17.

How has that panned out in the real world? The US adverse events database has received 12,314 reports of heart attacks and 33,590 reports of myocarditis/pericarditis including in little children. World renowned cardiologist Dr Peter McCullough said this week, ‘I can tell you there’s heart damage occurring now in children below the age of puberty. We’ve never seen this before’.

An eminent group of professors, scientists and doctors wrote for a second time to the UK health minister in mid-February urgently requesting that the vaccination of children be paused until the frightening increase in excess deaths in teenage boys had been investigated and a proper risk-benefit analysis has been completed. At present, they estimate that two teenage boys are dying each week because of the continuing vaccine rollout, with many more being injured.

Yet nothing yet seems to be able to stop those determined to hide the data that must eventually reveal the true cost of vaccination.




Thursday, February 24, 2022

How long covid weakens the body

A common approach to viral infections follows the aphorism “What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.” This is only somewhat accurate. In plenty of cases, if you get sick and then recover, your body goes back to its usual functions with the added bonus of natural immunity. But experts and patients have known for a while that some viruses, bacteria, and parasites take a heavier toll: Damage to organs and tissues leaves the body weaker long after the microbial invader is gone, creating chronic conditions.

Now, two years into a devastating pandemic, COVID-19 is bringing this message home in a big way.

Estimates for the number of people who develop long COVID—a suite of lingering symptoms—range from 10 percent to as high as 50 percent of cases. That means tens of millions of people around the world continue to wrestle with the viral aftermath. The conditions range from frustrating to downright debilitating. People are reporting damage to not only smell and taste, but to all five senses. Others have long-lasting heart issues, fatigue, shortness of breath, and brain fog. Early research suggests that COVID-19 infection can cause more serious neurological damage akin to dementia. Worryingly, long COVID affects people who had only mild reactions to the virus, including many kids.

Men and women are experiencing problems with reproductive health. As Sharon Guynup reports, the latest NIH research shows that pregnant people who got COVID-19 are 40 percent more likely than the uninfected to have serious complications, including miscarriages and stillbirths. Thousands of other women are reporting severe disruptions to their menstrual cycles. (Pictured above, a woman giving birth at home in December rather than risking infection in a hospital; below, a birthing center moved outside for patient safety.)

The long-term mental health consequences of isolation and grief also bear considering, but as more people venture back into the world, it’s all the more important to understand the risks involved and keep mitigation measures in the mix: wear a mask, get vaccinated, pay attention to ventilation.

“There's just no way to predict which version of COVID that you'll get,” says long COVID patient Lisa O’Brien. “You might not die, but you might not go back to living the life that you planned to live.”


Vaccine Cronyism

Covid-19 vaccines first became available to the US public in late November of 2020. But they are still the object of considerable controversy almost a year and a half later. Two events in particular are making headlines across the country.

Pfizer recently asked the Food and Drug Administration to authorize its vaccine for children younger than five to increase vaccination efforts. Later, Novavax requested the FDA issue an emergency use authorization for its Covid-19 vaccine. Many expect the FDA to authorize Pfizer’s request, making Covid-19 vaccines available to children as young as six months old. Novavax faces a tedious and complex road, however, to becoming the fourth authorized Covid-19 vaccine in the US.

But Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine failed to generate an immune response when tested on children during its initial clinical trials. The company is now conducting clinical trials with three doses because trials that administered two doses performed poorly. On the other hand, Novavax proved 90 percent effective in its Phase III trial and has been provisionally approved for use in 10 other countries. The Novavax vaccine is also easier to transport than other Covid-19 vaccines because it can be stored in standard refrigerated temperatures.

However, Novavax’s vaccine is not an mRNA vaccine, subjecting it to further scrutiny to be authorized by the FDA. The agency had similar hesitancy with the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, which is not an mRNA vaccine. The AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine is used in 170 other countries, but was never approved in the US.

What explains this? I fear the answer might be cronyism—a troubling and harmful alliance between a handful of drug producers and the federal government. And it stems from an agreement made nearly a year and a half ago.

Well before Covid-19 mutated into its Delta and Omicron variants, US policymakers feared the only ways to end the Covid-19 pandemic were by mass vaccination or through herd immunity. Hoping to avoid more hospitalizations and deaths stemming from herd immunity, the federal government launched Operation Warp Speed (OWS)- a private/public partnership between five drug producers and several federal agencies to develop a Covid-19 vaccine in unprecedented time.

OWS provided its selected vaccine developers with testing materials, laboratories, an expedited clinical trial process, and a “blank check” in funds for R&D and purchasing agreements for when the vaccines were authorized. However, OWS’s finalists were selected because they utilized mRNA technologies, which provided a faster but less reliable way to develop a vaccine. The financial and approval arrangements between the government and the vaccine developers also largely remained unopen to the public.

As revealed through various documents well after OWS, we know the agreements limit vaccine developers not selected for OWS from expedited clinical trials and a transparent process for authorization. Consequently, non-OWS vaccine developers compete on different margins with additional barriers than developers chosen for political reasons.

We still don’t know much about the agreements made between the government and OWS vaccine producers, and it could be decades before we do. But we do know from basic Public Choice economics that alliances between special interests and political interests create benefits for a few and costs for the vast majority. I fear this is one of many forthcoming examples.


Covid and government in Australia: illogical panic

Numbers weren’t meant to be complicated. We use them daily, yet when it comes to Covid and our health they often appear mired in confusing technical terms. This article seeks to demystify the situation using over a million positive test results published by NSW Health this year whilst remaining relevant across our great country.

It is evident from the graphs that we have passed the natural peek of cases and are experiencing a normalising trend. Countries including England, Denmark, and Norway have removed limitations, even though it is winter in the northern hemisphere. It makes me wonder why our government seems quick to impose but slow to remove restrictions.

Around 13 per cent of the NSW population have tested positive to Covid thus far. We have a total vaccination of 84 per cent which is higher than the national average of 81 per cent. Across the population, the chance of surviving Covid is 99.90 per cent.

Former Deputy Chief Health Officer Dr. Nick Coatsworth recently said Omicron is clearly no more dangerous than influenza for those who are young and healthy.

According to the Department of Health surveillance report, the chances of death from Influenza is around 0.2 per cent (five year average 2014-19), which supports his conclusion.

Government and health experts have repeatedly portrayed the influence of Covid in an overly dramatic manner – choosing to generate fear over hope. I have discussed this further in another article. According to the data, however, an average person below 70 – or someone in good health – has little more to fear from Omicron than they have from seasonal influenza.

Prior to the pandemic, experts were saying that the two major groups affected by severe Covid viruses were the elderly and obese with related illnesses. Everyone ages, but we can try to improve our health.

Rather than leading the country and encouraging us to join in on dropping some weight whilst doing some exercise in keeping with the old ‘Life be In It’ ads, governments restricted our movement and made us fearful to go outside. We joke about the extra ‘Covid Kilos’ but it has made us more vulnerable to disease. Just some of the ways policies have compromised our health include:

Vitamin D deficiency
Increased body fat
Increased alcohol consumption
Increase in sedentary lifestyle
Increased Cortisol levels

Cortisol is part of our ‘fight or flight mechanism’ induced during high-stress events and designed for short bursts. The problem is our bodies have been experiencing long and sustained periods of stress due to constant fear-inducing messaging, policies, and health orders. The Mayo clinic attributes overexposure to Cortisol in response to prolonged stress to an increased risk of heart disease, heart attack, high blood pressure, stroke, and weight gain – all increasing chances of an adverse reaction to Covid and other diseases (Mayo Clinic, 2022).

Contracting Covid and being obese has a multiplier effect of three for hospitalisation according to the CDC (CDC, 2020) and between 1.5 and 9.48 of fatality according to multiple studies. An Australian study by Bette Liu, Paula Spokes, Wenqiang He & John Kaldor found that obesity, in the presence of diabetes and chronic lung disease, increased the risk of ICU or death by a factor of 5.34 and concluded by recommended targeted prevention strategies.

We are individually responsibility for our health decisions, but governments have intervened with our ability to make such choices freely and hence have a proportional responsibility for the outcomes.

I was critical in 2021 when the NSW CHO Kerry Chant said that Covid was her sole focus. As the peak health bureaucrat her responsibility is for all aspects of health. What about cancer, depression, obesity, diabetes, and other diseases? What if the focus on one aspect created a larger burden on our overall health and hence became counterproductive?

Are the Covid vaccines beneficial?

According to this data, the benefit of vaccination is a multiplier effect of 1.5. So if you are 55 your chance of dying increases from around 0.028 per cent to 0.042 per cent – still well below that of influenza. Along with this benefit also comes risks of adverse reactions, unknown long-term effects, and some ethical questions about their development.

There also appears to be more benefit in eating healthy and regular exercise – particularly outdoors. So, why have the lines to the local KFC been the longest I have ever seen? Why haven’t our leaders and experts been promoting being healthy? Is it because they find it too complicated to motivate us? Or is it that the fear generated has made us more malleable for compliance? A favourite word of our premiers in 2021.

Perhaps we would do well to remember Senator Rennick’s speech to the Federal Senate on November 21, 2021:

‘The government overreach of the state premiers in destroying our civil liberties has gone too far. This is no longer about health but is rather about politicians wielding power for the sake of power instead of doing what they should be doing and protecting the people.’

I cannot find compelling evidence supporting the government intrusion and mandates into our lives. If it is there, it has been well hidden behind secretive health orders. Encourage vaccine uptake to vulnerable groups but, more importantly, encourage a healthy life balance and in doing so maybe we can turn a national weakness into a strength.




Wednesday, February 23, 2022

A more contagious version of the Omicron variant has been spreading in US: ‘We’re all on the edge of our seats’

Scientists are keeping close watch on the BA.2 strain of the Omicron variant that has quietly spread throughout the United States.

BA.2 has now been detected in more than 30 states, makes up around 3.9 per cent of new infections, and appears to be doubling quickly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s data tracker.

“If it doubles again to 8 per cent, that means we’re into the exponential growth phase and we may be staring at another wave of Covid-19 coming in the US,” Samuel Scarpino, the manager director of pathogen surveillance at the Rockefeller Foundation, told NPR.

“And that’s of course the one we’re really worried about. We’re all on the edge of our seats,” Mr Scarpino said.

BA.2 is believed to be far more contagious than the earlier Omicron strain, and was blamed for a fresh surge in Denmark.

Yet fears of another Omicron wave in the United States may be averted given vaccination and immunity rates from previous infections.

Nathan Grubaugh, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health, told NPR it would more likely lead to a long tail rather than a fresh surge.

“A lot of us were assuming that it was going to quickly take off in the United States just like it was doing in Europe and become the new dominant variant,” Mr Grubaugh said.

Other scientists warn that removing mask mandates will allow the new strain to spread.

The fresh strain also appears to be better at avoiding the immune system’s defences than the original Omicron variant was.

BA.2 is considered a “stealthier” version of Omicron because particular genetic traits make it somewhat harder to detect.

Danish scientists reported this week that preliminary information suggests it may be 1.5 times more contagious than the original variant.

The US is still recording around 100,000 new cases and 2,000 deaths per day from the Omicron surge, according to the CDC’s Covid tracker.


How Vitamin D Affects Omicron Symptoms, According to New Research and Expert Analysis

A new study has reignited a debate over the role of vitamin D in mitigating severe COVID-19 symptoms as researchers suggest those with a deficiency may be more likely to develop serious illness.

Leading infectious disease experts say that more in-depth research is needed to confirm whether vitamin D is directly associated with COVID-19 severity.

Vitamin D cannot prevent COVID-19 transmission all on its own, and experts say its crucial to speak to a doctor before seeking out supplements, as large doses can be harmful to your health.

In the report below, you'll learn: Is vitamin D actually beneficial against infections? And can Vitamin D alone prevent COVID-19?

Vitamin D's role in the prevention of the spread of COVID-19 has been long contested by many experts since the pandemic began, fueled by early chatter of alternative treatment methods back in 2020. But a new piece of research has once again reignited the public's interest in these supplements, as scientists highlight a possible association between vitamin D levels and the immune system's ability to fend off severe COVID-19 symptoms, particularly associated with the Omicron variant.

The small-scale study, which was organized by researchers in Israel and is based on data collected between April 2020 and February 2021, was recently published in PLOS ONE and presents a case that researchers say is "equally relevant" for Omicron spread as well. The data was collected from 253 people who were admitted to hospitals for treatment (at a time before vaccines were available) and was used to conclude that those who had a vitamin D deficiency were more likely to develop a severe or critical case of COVID-19, as compared to patients who had sufficient vitamin D levels within blood samples taken at the time of hospitalization. About half of those in the study were deficient in the vitamin.

Further links found within the new study suggest that those who were lacking vitamin D were 14 times more likely to experience severe COVID-19 complications, which the National Institutes of Health (NIH) define as someone likely needing a respirator to breathe — and in severe cases, those who experience respiratory failure, septic shock or multiple organ dysfunction. Those with a vitamin D deficiency were significantly more likely to die due to infections, the study found; 25.6% mortality rate versus just 2.3% for those who weren't lacking vitamin D.

Some may come to the conclusion that making sure you get sufficient levels of vitamin D can help keep your immune system in top shape, but other experts are keen to point out that this study doesn't prove that vitamin D alone can save you from severe infection. Paul Spearman, M.D., director of the division of infectious diseases at Cincinnati Children's Hospital, tells Good Housekeeping that more research is needed to confirm whether vitamin D levels will be an indicator of how severe symptoms will be for someone impacted by COVID-19.

"We have to remember that an association doesn't mean causation — meaning, that other things going on in [those people] with low vitamin D levels may cause severe disease, and not the low vitamin D itself," he explains, adding that a randomized, controlled, double-blind study of vitamin D supplementation before COVID-19 infection would be needed for concrete proof. "This type of study is hard to do and requires enrolling a large number of patients."

Dr. Spearman adds that this isn't the first time that vitamin D has been considered in limited meta-analysis research to determine the role this nutrient plays in COVID-19 infections. Conflicting research suggests that low vitamin D levels don't "aggravate" COVID-19 risk or death, nor that upping vitamin D supplements in any given routine improves patients' health as they recover in the hospital, he says. A 2021 Nutrition Journal study concluded there wasn't an association between COVID-19 severity and vitamin D levels and a preprint of a study out of the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil suggests vitamin D supplements administered to hospitalized patients also didn't provide any recovery benefits.

But vitamin D is far from useless, and while its role in preventing or stemming the severity of a COVID-19 infection is still uncertain, Dr. Spearman adds that there are theoretical reasons behind why immune systems may be impacted if someone isn't sufficiently getting enough vitamin D.

Is Vitamin D beneficial against infections?

Nutrition experts have long established that vitamin D is essential for optimal bone health (as it helps absorb calcium) and that the nutrient aids muscle function in addition to being linked to a few other key bodily functions. Vitamin D levels are influenced by nutrition, certainly, as it can be partially sourced from food — things like fatty salmon, beef liver, egg yolks and Swiss cheese all contain ample vitamin D — but is often sourced naturally just by being outside. "The most well-known way to get your dose of vitamin D is exposing yourself to sunlight," says Stefani Sassos, MS, RD, CDN, a registered dietitian in the Good Housekeeping Institute, in an interview touting potential benefits of the supplement.

But evidence for vitamin D's role in boosting immunity overall isn't as clear, Dr. Spearman explains. "Vitamin D has been evaluated to help fight other respiratory infections — unfortunately, we don't have a clear answer here either, except that giving a single large dose isn't helpful at all," he says. "Meta-analyses of this question have been inconclusive."

This new study may add more weight to burgeoning evidence that there may be an association of low vitamin D levels correlated with severe disease, COVID-19 included. But if there is an immune-boosting benefit to be had, "it is with standard, low doses and not large doses," Dr. Spearman clarifies.

Experts from across fields of study, including Spearman and Sassos, agree that vitamin D supplements should be a consideration primarily if your doctor has detected you have low vitamin D levels in treatment. If news of this study has you curious about your own vitamin D intake, make it a point to discuss it with your doctor — but you're likely to have sufficient vitamin D coursing through your veins. Only 5% of Americans suffer from a severe vitamin D deficiency, per the NIH, and 18% have been noted to have "inadequate" levels which may or may not cause issues associated with aches, cramps, or muscle development, Sassos adds.

"If someone is detected by their doctor as having low vitamin D levels, they should receive supplementation with medical guidance," Dr. Spearman advises. "We should keep in mind that taking large doses of vitamin D is dangerous, and self-medicating can cause problems — including high blood calcium and kidney failure."

"Whereas excess of water-soluble vitamins are rapidly excreted through urine, fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin D are stored in the body for long periods of time and can pose a higher risk for toxicity if consumed in excess," Sassos adds.

Can taking Vitamin D prevent COVID-19?

Taking this study and conflicting research into account, and everything we know about how SARS-CoV-2 impacts both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, it's clear that vitamin D supplements alone cannot prevent COVID-19 transmission. Experts are continuing to examine how vitamin D may play a small role in lowering the risk of someone experiencing a severe sickness or dying after being infected. "For a normal, healthy person, the role of a low-dose, ongoing supplement in preventing severe COVID-19 is not yet certain," Dr. Spearman says.

The debate over vitamin D's role in helping bring an end to the pandemic is likely going to continue to be a topic of discussion, as experts are now conducting appropriately prospective, randomized and controlled studies of vitamin D supplementation. "We hope to have a more definitive answer from these trials, which can provide a higher level of evidence," he adds.

Experts are agreed that the only role vitamin D may play in ending the pandemic may be partial and preventative in nature, versus an active solution after someone has become sick. "Supplementing vitamin D may play a role in treating patients, but the data is relatively weak at this time," Stuart Cohen, M.D., chief of infectious diseases at UC Davis Health, shared in a recent communications report. "It surely is not a way to treat COVID-19 in and of itself."

Talking to your doctor about vitamin D can be an effective way to make sure you're supporting your immune system with optimal nutrients across the board. It may also help you to consider that, in spite of discussion of alternative forms of prevention, current vaccines have demonstrated their effectiveness at preventing hospitalization and death stemming from COVID-19 infections.

The bottom line:

Getting enough vitamin D is a valid concern you should discuss with your doctor, especially if you are someone who may be disposed to inadequate or deficient levels of this essential nutrient.

Your healthcare provider can order a blood test to examine your vitamin D levels, Sassos adds, and can help you figure out which supplements work best for you at the appropriate dosage.

"Taking vitamin D under medical supervision for those who have measured vitamin D deficiencies is warranted," Dr. Spearman adds. "[But] the best prevention of severe COVID-19 is certainly earned through vaccines, and the evidence here is undeniable."




Tuesday, February 22, 2022

OECD general-secretary Mathias Cormann has said there needs to be an “evidence-based assessment” of the effectiveness of lockdowns during the Covid-19 pandemic and their impact on domestic violence, mental health and alcohol consumption

Mr Cormann, Australia’s former finance minister, told a Sydney Dialogue forum on Monday night that pandemic preparedness in developed nations was “generally insufficient”, despite the emergence of a pandemic being “entirely predictable”.

He said tax cuts were not typically as well targeted as spending measures, although countries took lessons from the global ­financial crisis and deployed “significant measures to support self-employed workers”.

Mr Cormann said there needed to be further analysis of how nations could better perform in the next pandemic.

“First, there is insufficient ­evidence on critical sectors’ ­preparedness for pandemics, whereas early evaluations suggested that they were critically important to an effective crisis response,” Mr Cormann said.

“Second, the effectiveness of lockdowns and other severe restriction measures does require further sober, evidence-based assessment, given their severe impacts on individual liberties.”


Trudeau's monumentally misguided emergency measures are an insult to Canadians

When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in his sophomoric musings on the nature of Canada some years back, famously declared that Canada has “no core identity,” most of us thought he was stating his opinion, however ridiculous, of the country as he saw it at the time.

We were wrong, ever so wrong. He was stating an ambition. He was declaring a goal.

After six years of the most amateur government this country has ever suffered, with the invocation of the most crushing legislation any government can call upon, the Emergencies Act, to attack and subdue a group of ordinary Canadian workers, he’s well on the way to achieving his “post-national” ambitions.

That’s one core value out the window: the right to peaceful protest. The invocation of wartime-like emergency powers by the national government to deal with a workers’ protest is grotesquely overwrought, something very close to lunatic.

If I were to seek out the one word that, more than any other, would characterize this dangerous and needless assumption of the state’s greatest powers, I’d come down on “insult.” It is an insult to the nature of the country, to the character of its citizens and to its cherished status as a democracy, for which so many of its citizens were wounded or died in two world wars to preserve.

The Emergencies Act could only have been brought in at this time by a leader and a government that have forgotten, or never knew, what Canada is and represents; that does not fully appreciate how its citizens, when they are in disagreement, eventually meet and work their way calmly to agreement.

Canada has no “core identity”? Well, maybe it seems that way to a prime minister who appears to view Canada’s history as a sequence of horrors for which he must personally apologize. Pride in our history, another core Canadian value, has also been severely diminished.

Canada has no “core identity”? Well, it might appear that way to a politician who, in the full vesture of the office of the prime minister, bewails this welcoming and flourishing multicultural country as systemically racist, while himself getting caught up in a blackface scandal. The dignity of the highest Canadian office, another core value, has been put under severe strain.

Canada has no “core identity”? Well, maybe to a leader who so loves to puffily pontificate about his progressive ideology on the international stage with the world’s leading virtuecrats, and promotes a global agenda over the real needs of his own country — saving the economies of the western provinces and having some respect for the dignity of their citizens.

Maybe to that person, Canada does not, in fact, have any “core identity.” Commitment above all else to unity in Confederation is another value that is being put to the test.

To another point, central to the present moment: what would it have taken to forestall this embarrassing — the word is far too timid, but let that be — flight into legislative overkill that we saw this week?

The answer: a smidgen of courage, and an ounce of humility — not to go off stage, not to hide, not to remove himself from the country’s leadership while a difficult, but not crisis-level, situation was in play.

Here’s the mother of all questions for Trudeau and it is one that he cannot, and will never, answer: what was so difficult about having a talk with the leaders of a group of Canadians who found some of the government’s COVID regulations to be a grievous burden?

When Black Lives Matter flooded the streets, Trudeau not only met with them, he went into the streets and joined in on the their American-inspired protest. He gave them a knee and bowed his head. But he would not meet with the truckers. He would not talk to their representatives. There was certainly no kneeling.

He rhetorically abused the citizens in the protest. He suggested they were racists and misogynists and that they hold “unacceptable views.” Which was a deliberate tactic to isolate them, to marginalize them, to mark them as somehow unCanadian.

The most egregious, polarizing agent in this entire protest has been the leader of the country. Two hours of talking, a little respect, a touch of democratic process and the whole affair could have been washed away. And we would not now have half the world asking: what in God’s name is going on in Canada?


New sub-variant of the Omicron coronavirus may spread faster, and be deadlier, causing more severe infectious disease

The emerging BA. 2 form of the Omicron coronavirus variant does not seem to be any more severe than the original BA. 1 form, an official of the World Health Organisation said on Tuesday.

Eric Feigl-Ding, a Harvard-trained epidemiologist wrote that the subvariant — BA. 2 — is “seriously bad news”. [Eric is a chronic alarmist. Should be known as Eric Ding Dong]

“Even the World Health Organisation is getting very concerned about BA. 2 variant outcompeting and displacing old Omicron,” he wrote on Twitter.

Based on the rising cases from Denmark, where the sub-variant represents 90 per cent of all new cases, he said it is leading to more spikes in cases.

“Here is what is happening in the country with the most BA. 2 variant so far. (Denmark) has been BA. 2 dominant for weeks and have now almost no mitigations either … now their excess deaths are spiking again,” he said.

Researchers have been bracing for the same thing to happen in America.

“A lot of us were assuming that it was going to quickly take off in the United States just like it was doing in Europe and become the new dominant variant,” Nathan Grubaugh, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health said.

BA.2 has accounts for an estimated 3.9 per cent all new infections in the US, according to the US Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and appears to be doubling fast.

Their comments come after the World Health Organisation’s Technical Lead on Covid-19 Maria Van Kerkhove said it just shows how Covid-19 continues to be “dangerous”.

“We already know that Omicron has a growth advantage … compared to other variants of concern. But we know that BA. 2 has a growth advantage even over BA. 1,” she said,

“This virus continues to be dangerous. This virus transmits very efficiently between people but there’s a lot that you can do.

“We need to drive transmission down. Because if we don’t, we will not only see more cases, more hospitalisations, more deaths, but we will see more people suffering from Long Covid and we will see more opportunities for new variants to emerge. “So it’s a very dangerous situation that we’re in, three years in.”

Their observations come after lab research from Japan on Sunday on the prepublication bioRxiv open server, showed BA. 2 may have features that make it as capable of causing serious illness as the Delta variant.

BA. 2 is also resistant to some treatments, including sotrovimab, the monoclonal antibody that’s now being used against Omicron.

The findings, which have not been peer reviewed yet, also state: “It might be, from a human’s perspective, a worse virus than BA. 1 and might be able to transmit better and cause worse disease,” according to Dr Daniel Rhoads, section head of microbiology at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.

Dr Rhoads reviewed the study but was not part of the initial data collection and study.

But the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention’s director Dr Rochelle Walensky said: “There is no evidence that the BA. 2 lineage is more severe than the BA. 1 lineage. CDC continues to monitor variants that are circulating both domestically and internationally.

“We will continue to monitor emerging data on disease severity in humans and findings from papers like this conducted in laboratory settings.”


New Report of Feb 22 Exposes How Florida Was Right All Along About COVID Restrictions

Since COVID popped up almost two years ago, there have been serious debates across the board on how this virus must be handled. Of course, the left has the solution of locking everyone down, controlling what people do, and lambasting anyone who doesn’t agree. Then there are conservative leaders who believe that people should have a right to decide what avenue is best for their families when dealing with the virus.

Blue states across the nation have shut down under the guise of “safety” but then there are the red states that have chosen different paths much to the left’s chagrin.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is one of those leaders who has bucked the entire COVID narrative and has opened his state up with no restrictions.

The left cried that there would be massive deaths in the state based on DeSantis’s stance, but that has not happened at all.

Instead of the nation seeing mass casualties in the Sunshine State the exact opposite has happened which has Dr. Fauci and his tyrannical cohorts fuming mad.

Here is more from The Gateway Pundit:

According to the most recent data that was published by the CDC, Florida now owns the LOWEST rate of new Covid-19 cases in the nation on a per capita basis. The state checks in well below several other democrat havens, including ones that employ the most restrictive mandates (California, New York), and also the states with the highest vaccination rates in the country (Vermont, Rhode Island).

The latest numbers are just more proof that the Democrats’ dystopian policies to combat Covid do nothing other than crush people’s freedoms.

Florida is now averaging just 60.6 new cases per 100,000 residents a day, which blows several other blue states’ numbers out of the water. In comparison, New York’s case rate is more than DOUBLE, at 129.8, and Joe Biden’s home state of Delaware is approaching FOUR TIMES as bad, checking in at 211.1 new daily cases per capita.

Keep in mind, Florida was kept open for business almost the entire time, and thanks to that, is also pacing the country with its economic success as Democrats continue to push crippling lockdowns and abhorrent vaccine mandates on businesses across America.

Throughout the ‘pandemic’ Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has stood firmly against the calls to impose draconian Covid restrictions and mandates on the citizens of the sunshine state. His resistance to the Left’s sweeping power grab that’s being masqueraded around under the guise of public health had created an intense backlash from the ‘experts’ in the Biden administration and the hacks in the politicized media that dutifully carry water for them.

For months, scathing pieces were published in ‘news’ outlets across the country, characterizing the governor as some sort of crazed conspiracy theorist that was intentionally leading the citizens of Florida to their certain deaths. One of the best examples of this ridiculous gaslighting was from the Guardian’s piece titled: “The Pied Piper Leading Us Off a Cliff: Florida Governor Condemned as Covid Surges.”




Monday, February 21, 2022

‘Worst Experience of My Life’: Early Vaccine Adopters Suffer Injuries, Struggle to Get Proper Care

I personally had no noticeable effects from my two AstraZeneca injections, so the reports below are a little surprising to me.  They do however reinforce my view that vaccine side-effect are frequent enough and serious enough for rational people to avoid them.  That being so, mandating exposure to them is abhorrent and Fascistic -- JR

Dr. Danice Hertz remembers vividly the day she got a COVID-19 vaccine. Hertz, a retired gastroenterologist, received Pfizer’s shot on Dec. 23, 2020, less than two weeks after U.S. regulators granted it emergency use authorization.

Thirty minutes went by before an adverse reaction started.  “My face started burning and tingling and my eyes got blurry,” Hertz told The Epoch Times. She also felt faint.

Her husband called paramedics, who came and found Hertz’s blood pressure was sky-high. They recommended she call a doctor.

Hertz became so sick she feared she would die. She experienced symptoms including severe facial pain, chest constriction, tremors, twitching limbs, and tinnitus. “I felt like someone was pouring acid on me,” Hertz, of Los Angeles, California, said.

Hertz survived but still suffers. She has been to numerous specialists. Multiple experts found indications the vaccine triggered the reaction, according to medical records reviewed by The Epoch Times.

Hertz is one of millions of Americans who chose to get one of the COVID-19 vaccines soon after the government cleared them.

Since then, hundreds of millions of doses have been administered. Many recipients have been fine, if less protected than they were initially promised. But a growing number have endured severe reactions and have struggled to obtain treatments for their ailments.

Brianne Dressen suffered so badly after getting AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine on Nov. 4, 2020, that she would often sit in silence in a room in complete darkness.

“My little girl, she sings all the time. And I couldn’t have her around me at all because sound was so unbearable. And my little boy, my skin was sensitive, so anything that touched my skin was painful, so my little boy, he’d come and try to comfort me and hold my hand, and even that was painful. My teeth were too sensitive; I couldn’t brush my teeth. So it’s like all of my sensory facets just overloaded,” Dressen, a preschool teacher who lives in Saratoga Springs, Utah, told The Epoch Times.

“It was the worst experience of my life.”


Reactions to COVID-19 vaccines often happen soon after administration—one of the reasons health care providers are told to monitor patients for at least 15 minutes after a dose is given.

For most recipients, problems are small, like a headache, and soon go away. For others, the pain has still not subsided.

“Right now, all I do is work. That’s all I can do,” Erin Sullivan, a speech pathologist in Connecticut who received Moderna’s jab on Jan. 6, 2021, told The Epoch Times. “Everyone around me, like family, are doing everything else. I’m not cooking, I’m not cleaning, I’m not doing laundry. I’m not taking the kids anywhere. I basically work and then I go to bed.”

Sullivan, who later got a second dose of Pfizer’s jab on the recommendation of an immunologist, has suffered from tingling in her limbs, severe fatigue, and other symptoms for over a year.

Sullivan was diagnosed with an adverse reaction to the vaccine, according to medical records reviewed by The Epoch Times. She “never had similar symptoms prior to COVID-19 vaccination,” one doctor wrote.

Dressen has dealt with incontinence, limb weakness, and nausea, among other symptoms.

“My reaction started within an hour. Ended up with pins and needles down my arm, had double vision that night, sensitivity that night. And over the next 2 1/2 weeks, my symptoms progressed to the point where I had extreme tachycardia, blood pressure fluctuations, temperature fluctuations. My sound sensitivity and light sensitivity became so severe I had to be confined to my bedroom 24/7,” Dressen said.

Dressen was diagnosed by a doctor at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with post-vaccine neuropathy, or nerve damage, according to medical records reviewed by The Epoch Times. Dressen was showing “persistent neurological symptoms following SARS-CoV-2 vaccine,” one note penned by an NIH doctor said. 

Maddie de Garay’s life was thrown into turmoil after receiving her second Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine shot on Jan. 20, 2021. The litany of issues included paresthesia, back pain, and abdominal pain.

“My back hurt, my stomach hurt, my head hurt. I had a fever of like 101-something,” Maddie, 13, told The Epoch Times. “My toes were numb and they were ice cold and they were white, and same for my fingertips.”

The girl’s symptoms have persisted. She uses a wheelchair because it’s become impossible to walk. She’s lost feeling in the lower half of her body. Other parts often aggrieve her.

In a visit to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, one of the Pfizer trial sites, the day after the vaccination, Maddie was diagnosed with “adverse effect of vaccine,” according to medical records reviewed by The Epoch Times. The following month, another doctor wrote that Maddie was suffering from “many prolonged and significant post COVID vaccine symptoms.”

But references to the vaccine began to disappear in later visits, and Dr. Robert Frenck, the principal investigator for Pfizer’s trials at the hospital, told Maddie’s parents in a phone call in May 2021 that “the doctors that have seen her so far have not found something where they thought it was research-related, is what they all were telling me.”

“One of the first ones says, it was related to the vaccine trial,” Patrick de Garay, Maddie’s father, responded.

All the doctors who treated patients in this story declined to speak to The Epoch Times, did not respond to inquiries, or could not be reached.

Many of the vaccine-injured experience improvement at one time or another, but some who spoke to The Epoch Times described regular relapses.

Hertz reported an improvement in late 2021, which she attributed primarily to time passing since receiving the vaccine. “Unfortunately, I have taken a turn for the worse a month or two ago,” she told The Epoch Times via email on Feb. 17.

Hertz was diagnosed with “presumed post COVID reaction” in early 2021, according to medical records. After visiting other specialists, she eventually received a diagnosis of mast cell activation syndrome triggered by the vaccine. Symptoms of the syndrome include trouble breathing and low blood pressure.

Among the First
Dressen and Maddie both participated in vaccine clinical trials. Like them, other vaccine-injured were among the first to get one of the shots.

On Dec. 11, 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted emergency use authorization to the vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech. A week later, the agency cleared Moderna’s jab.

The authorization letters acknowledged the vaccines were “investigational” but said reviews of clinical trials identified no safety concerns and pointed to it being “reasonable to believe” that the vaccines “may be effective” to prevent infection from the virus that causes COVID-19.

Hope soared that the vaccines would be the tool to crush the CCP virus. Herd immunity was the goal, with vaccine-conferred immunity the primary piece, according to top U.S. officials like Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Early adopters thought getting vaccinated would contribute to ending the COVID-19 pandemic. Many had family members who, due to underlying medical conditions or age, were among the most vulnerable to COVID-19. Some were high-risk themselves.

“I had lost really close loved ones to COVID, and this was my saving grace to help contribute to ending this pandemic,” Angelia Desselle told The Epoch Times.

Desselle received Pfizer’s vaccine on Jan. 5, 2021. As manager of an outpatient surgery center in Louisiana, she stayed on top of updates regarding the vaccines, including declarations by health authorities that they were both safe and effective. She trusted them. She went to get vaccinated during her lunch break.

Other people who got the vaccine early also put their faith in the U.S. government, vaccine makers, and the health care community.

Hertz, a longtime doctor, jumped on an early opportunity to get vaccinated. Though she had recently retired, she thought she might need to go back to work in the future. And, she says, she “completely trusted our system and believed the FDA was honest and decent.”

Andrea Rositas was in a medical program when she got Moderna’s vaccine on Jan. 31, 2021, at Southwestern College, a community college in Chula Vista, California.

Nurses ahead of her in the program said Rositas should get vaccinated. They said it was safe.

Stephanie de Garay told The Epoch Times that she believed that if anything went wrong, trial participants would “be in the best hands.”

“If you’re going to have anything happen, the best time would be in a trial, because they would do everything they could to get you better, and to figure out why. Because that’s the whole point of a trial,” she said. “That’s not what happened.”

Epoch Times Photo
In this combination photograph, Erin Sullivan is seen before and after getting a COVID-19 vaccine. (Courtesy of Erin Sullivan)
A dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is prepared in Orange, Calif., in a file image. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
Dressen said she enrolled in the AstraZeneca trial because “I trusted what the doctors said, and I wanted this pandemic to be over.”

“And the way that it was presented to the world was, ‘This vaccine’s going to end the pandemic.’ I mean, my kids are stuck at home, they can’t leave, we’re wearing masks. I work in a school. I see how it’s affecting elementary-aged kids,” she said. “I trusted the government and I trusted the doctors. I don’t anymore.”

The vaccine-injured have repeatedly contacted federal officials and the vaccine companies about their afflictions. They feel neither the government nor the companies have done enough to address vaccine injuries.

AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Moderna did not respond to requests for comment for this article.

Some government researchers have suggested in emails reviewed by The Epoch Times that they think vaccines caused the side effects, in addition to the diagnosis of Dressen by NIH doctors.

A spokesperson for the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, part of the NIH, told The Epoch Times via email that data from a study that featured NIH scientists examining some of the people with problems following vaccination yielded “no data showing the vaccines caused the symptoms in these patients.”

Government reviews of surveillance systems have identified health problems “potentially associated” with the COVID-19 vaccines, including the neurological disorder called Guillain Barré syndrome (GBS), an FDA spokeswoman told The Epoch Times in an email. “Decisions on whether there is some basis to believe there is a causal relationship are a matter of medical and scientific judgment and are based on factors such as: the frequency of reporting, biological plausibility, the timing of the event relative to the time of vaccination, and whether the adverse event is known to be caused by related vaccines,” she added.

A spokeswoman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told The Epoch Times in an email, “To date, CDC has detected no unusual or unexpected patterns of miscarriages, cancer, or neurological conditions following immunization that would indicate COVID-19 vaccines are causing or contributing to these conditions. CDC continues to recommend that everyone who is eligible should get vaccinated.”

Later, the spokeswoman said she forgot about GBS. Based on data from Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, a U.S. passive reporting system, the rate of GBS was found within the 21 days following Johnson & Johnson vaccination to be 21 times higher than among Pfizer or Moderna recipients. Analysis of the data “found no increased risk of GBS after Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna” she said.

As of Feb. 11, more reports of GBS were made to VAERS following Moderna or Pfizer vaccination than Johnson & Johnson vaccination, an Epoch Times review found. At the same time, many more shots of the former vaccines have been administered in the United States.


Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

<a href=""></a> (EDUCATION WATCH)

<a href=""></a> (GREENIE WATCH)


<a href=""></a> (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

<a href=""></a> (TONGUE-TIED)


Sunday, February 20, 2022

Trudeau ignores REAL violent terrorism: 20 eco-terrorists armed with axes surround Gaslink pipeline workers, shoot flare guns at them and cut fuel lines in British Columbia - causing MILLIONS of dollars in damage

Ax-wielding eco-terrorists attacked a British Columbia gas pipeline Thursday, shooting flare guns at frightened workers and causing millions in damage, but the focus of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau still seems to be on the Freedom Convoy truckers in Ottawa.

About 20 attackers, wearing camouflage and masks, surrounded Costal Gaslink workers in the early morning hours of February 17 in what the company called a 'highly planned and dangerous unprovoked assault.'

No injuries were reported, but Gaslink reported that the eco-warriors came from several directions and threatened the lives of several workers.

'In one of the most concerning acts, an attempt was made to set a vehicle on fire while workers were inside,' the company said in a statement. 'The attackers also wielded axes, swinging them at vehicles and through a truck's window. Flare guns were also fired at workers. Workers fled the site for their own safety and remain shaken by this violent incident.'

Meanwhile, Trudeau remains focused on the peaceful Freedom Convoy in Ottawa and used extraordinary powers under the Emergencies Act to clear the protester who have paralyzed the city for three weekss. Hundreds of officers have descended on the capital city to forcefully remove them from what is now a no-go zone.

Parliament was also suspended on Friday due to the massive police operation and MPs have been urged not to go into work for their own safety. No property has been damaged in Ottawa during the Freedom Convoy protests, although police have arrested 70 protesters as they use Trudeau's Emergency Act to crack down on demonstrations.

In contrast, photos of Thursday's attack in British Columbia show smashed windows and overturned heavy earth-moving equipment. Trees were downed to block roads and a gaping hole was hacked into the side of a mobile office trailer.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police responded to the scene, but the attackers fled into the forest and no arrests were made. Smoke bombs and torches were thrown at police as they tried to make their way past fires set in the road way. One officers was injured, according to the Toronto Sun.

'This was a calculated and organized violent attack that left its victims shaken and a multimillion dollar path of destruction,' RCMP Chief Superintendent Warren Brown said.

In the capital, Trudeau remains focused on the Canadian truckers.

Police have descended on the Freedom Convoy in Ottawa, making arrests and towing away big rigs that have formed a three-week blockade protesting the country's vaccine mandates.

Using his extraordinary powers under the Emergencies Act, Trudeau bid police to establish a 'no-go' zone around the demonstration in Ottawa's core, and on Friday morning a massive force of cops and a fleet of tow truck drivers descended to clear out the Convoy's final stronghold.

Citing the 'exceptional circumstances' of the police action, Canada's Parliament suspended Friday's debate on Trudeau's emergency powers, sparing the Liberal leader another day of uncomfortable speeches from MPs who fiercely oppose his use of the Emergencies Act.

As dawn broke on Friday, cops carrying automatic weapons and wearing tactical unit uniforms were seen going door to door along a line of trucks, campers and other vehicles parked on Ottawa's snow-covered streets.

Tow truck operators wore neon-green ski masks with their companies' decals taped over on their trucks to conceal their identities from protesters. They arrived under police escort and set to work removing the big rigs, campers and other vehicles parked bumper to bumper in the Parliament Hill blockade.

As the sweep unfolded, Ottawa Police Services threatened in a statement to arrest any journalists 'found within areas undergoing enforcement,' alarming advocates for press freedom.


Canadian Premier Drops Truth Bomb on Trudeau’s Covid Dictatorship

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is losing allies left and right over his extreme motion to invoke the Emergencies Act to suppress the Freedom Convoy protest that is disrupting his plans for a perpetual Covid dictatorship.

Enter Ontario Premier Doug Ford. No fan of the Freedom Convoy protest, Ford has repeatedly denied that any of Ontario’s recent concessions on Covid mandates had anything to do with the disgruntled truckers.

“As of March 1, the province of Ontario will no longer require people show proof of vaccination to enter any indoor spaces, the premier, Doug Ford, announced on Monday morning,” the New York Times reported on Monday.

“Let me be very clear: We’re moving in this direction because it’s safe to do so,’’ Ford said. “Today’s announcement is not because of what’s happening in Ottawa, or Windsor, but despite it.”

But that is not what it looks like based on Ford’s recent presser, which drops so many ‘truth bombs’ on Trudeau’s rationale for effectively declaring martial law, it might as well have been written by the Freedom Convoy itself. Watch:

“You know, you can go to Costco, you can go to Walmart, you can go shopping,” Ford said. “You know, you don’t know if the person has a shot beside or not, but we also know that it doesn’t matter if you have one shot or 10 shots, you can catch COVID.”

“See, the prime ministry has triple shots,” he continued, referring to Trudeau’s recent alleged bout with Covid. “And I know hundreds of people, three shots that caught COVID. We just have to be careful. We gotta always make sure we wash our hands and, and move forward.”

“We can’t stay in this position forever,” he added. “We gotta learn to live with this and get on with our lives. I bet if I ask every single person in this room, do you want these damned masks? Or do you want ’em off? They want ’em off. They want to get back to normal. They want to be able to go for dinner with their families.”

“And there’s every single person, including myself, knows people that are unvaccinated, you know?” he added. “Sure. There’s, there’s the rabble-rousers. And then there’s just hardworking people that just don’t believe in it. And, and that’s their choice.”

“This is about, again, a democracy and freedoms and liberties,” he continued. “And I hate as a government telling anyone what to do.”

“We just gotta get moving forward and, and get out of this and protect the jobs,” he went on. “You know… I think a lot of people call ’em, probably yourself too. Everyone’s done with this. Like we are done with it. Let’s let’s start moving on and cautiously and you know, we’ve followed the rules, all of us, 90% of us for over two years, the world’s done with it. So let’s just move forward.”

Hear, hear.

Meanwhile, Trudeau is getting shouted down in the parliament, and at least five provinces have moved forward with plans to roll back vaccine passports and other Covid mandates.

It took nearly two years to get to this point, but it’s finally truth-telling time when it comes to Covid: People everywhere have had enough.


Progressivism has become a religion with a passionately proclaimed creed

I live in a blue city in a blue state, meaning I can’t so much as walk to the CVS without seeing a certain sign in half a dozen front yards. You know the one: “IN THIS HOUSE, WE BELIEVE: BLACK LIVES MATTER, SCIENCE IS REAL, WAR IS PEACE, MY LIFE FOR AIUR” and whatever the hell else they’re on about these days.

The sign has become so commonplace, so utterly oblivious to its own irony, that it feels less like a show of defiance than a profession of faith. Think of it as the left’s very own Nicene Creed, the statement of belief that Catholics recite every time they go to mass. One imagines a congregation of the pink-haired standing in pews: “I believe in Science, and in xis only son Dr. Fauci, creator of BIPOCs and TERFs…”

Then again Fauci has said he is the science, so we may have some issues of Christology to work through here.

How did this happen? How did a leftism that once encouraged freethinking end up chiseling its own Ten Commandments? In spite of its writerly triteness, the “IN THIS HOUSE” sign was first conceived of by a librarian. The day after Donald Trump was elected, Kristin Garvey of Madison, Wisconsin, was feeling dispirited. So she decided to, as Slate reported, gather “a number of quotes she found from activists, liberal politicians, and different social justice movements and inscribed them in Sharpie on a white poster board.” A photo was then posted online where it caught the attention of a budding MS Word artiste, and the rest is (1619-approved) history.

There is an apparent power to the sign that’s lost on right-wing unbelievers like me. A writer at Mashable describes her reaction to seeing it as “a fist-pumping ‘fuck yeah’” and “oh, I gotta take a picture of that.” Amanda Hess at the New York Times sighs that she was “seduced by its chaotic jumble of typefaces, its lifestyle-blog-adjacent aesthetic, its sanctimonious final line and its curious staying power.” Having never been ravished by an Arial typeface before, I can’t possibly comment. But there’s a word for those who find transcendence in rote recitation: not liberals or scientists but believers.

The idea that progressivism has become a religion is by now so familiar as to be unremarkable. The so-called New Atheists who had hoped the decline of Christianity would usher in an age of perfect rationality have been disappointed. Instead one faith appears to have replaced another. The apocryphal old Chesterton quote hangs in the air: “When a man stops believing in God, he doesn’t believe in nothing, he believes in anything.” Emphasis on anything: racist highways, de-gendered Spanish words, you name it.

Delve deep enough into all this and you arrive at a very dark philosophical corner. Carl Schmitt was a German theorist who savagely critiqued classical liberalism and its attendant ideas like individual freedom. He also happened to be a Nazi who heaped praise on the Night of the Long Knives, a fact waved away by his legions of reactionary admirers on Twitter. Yet if Schmitt today is mostly the province of very-online creeps, he did espouse at least one interesting and challenging idea: that all politics is rooted in theology.

By this, Schmitt didn’t necessarily mean there ought to be a Christian state. He meant rather that politics is in essence religion repackaged, that the concepts of the latter lurk beneath the former. And inevitably at a time of crisis, the absolute sovereignty attributed to gods will be assumed by a more earthly manifestation, a ruler. Classical liberalism, then, is futile because it attempts to constrain this all-powerful dictatorship.

The obvious objection here is that this doesn’t have to happen, that theology and politics can be split into churches and a limited government respectively, as has happened in countless countries. Yet we also shouldn’t dismiss the idea that the political can become theological, that politics can be exalted to the level of dogmas and absolutes. A society must derive morality from somewhere, and if the old ideas of Christ and cross fall away, those of identity politics and public-health commandments might very well take their place.

This is what’s happened on the left (and on the Trumpist right to an extent, though that’s another story for another time). Hence the yard signs. In addition to their confessional tone, it’s their gray-faced literalmindedness that gives them away. Even the most devout Christian doesn’t hammer his entire litany into his front lawn; that takes a special kind of zealot.

So what does THIS HOUSE believe? First, that “BLACK LIVES MATTER,” and major points for creativity there. “WOMEN’S RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS,” though we’re still awaiting comment on unborn rights. “NO HUMAN IS ILLEGAL” — that’ll stick it to all those human-banning politicians in Washington. “SCIENCE IS REAL.” One imagines flabbergasted neighbors spewing half-chewed barbecue across the lawn: “I thought everyone in this development believed science was fake!!” “LOVE IS LOVE.” A = A. “KINDNESS IS EVERYTHING.” Now when will the police mow down those Canadian truckers?

So while progressivism might be religion, it’s stupid, hypocritical bad religion. We Catholics sometimes get tongue-tied mumbling words like “consubstantial,” but I’ll take that over a wan sloganeered imitation any day of the week.


Karma: Shark gets soft-hearted man

A diving expert killed by a monster great white shark was never able to marry the love of his life because of Covid lockdowns.

British expat Simon Nellist, 35, was engaged to Jessie Ho when he was mauled to death at Buchan Point, near Little Bay in the city's east, on Wednesday afternoon.

Heartbroken friends revealed the expat, from Cornwall in the UK, had met Ms Ho not long after he went travelling in Australia six years ago.

Mr Nellist had finished a two year stint with the Royal Air Force and quickly fell in love with the wildlife and Ms Ho during his tour around the country.

The pair were madly in love and planned to marry last year, but were forced to push back their wedding because of the pandemic.

'It's just horrendous,' one close friend told The Sun. 'We spent most of yesterday just hoping and praying it wasn't him. It's still incredibly raw.'

Friends say they were unable to see Mr Nellist because of the lockdowns and described the expat as the 'nicest, kindest human being'.

They said Mr Nellist had a massive love for the wildlife and described his mauling by the great white as a 'freak accident'.

Experts say the killer shark has likely already swam at least 100km away, and it's understood that even if it was found - it wouldn't be culled - and instead encouraged to leave the area.

Mr Nellist's social media feed was littered with photos and footage of him on his ocean adventures, which included diving expeditions and swimming with sharks.

He was also an advocate for the predators and expressed strong views about shark nets and drumlines - which are used to alert authorities about their presence - just six months ago.

The diving instructor regularly shared memories of his ocean adventures with fellow enthusiasts online.

'Lots of sharks today at Bushrangers Bay diving with the Scubathlon team. Vis wasn't too bad, a bit patchy but good at the gravel loader. We counted around 10 Grey Nurse Sharks,' he captioned footage he filmed while diving with sharks.

Shortly before Sydney was plunged into Covid-19 lockdown, Mr Nellist and his fiancée headed north to dive with sharks off Rainbow Beach near Fraser Island, an experience he highly recommended to others.

'We had a great couple of dives today. Awesome and professional crew, and a couple of lovely dives,' he wrote.

'Lots of pregnant grey nurse heaps of different schooling fish, whip ray, bull ray, puffers, snapper, crocodile needle fish chilling near the surface. We could hear the humpbacks singing and watched them on the surface interval.

'A great day out, check it out if you come up this way!'

Other posts revealed his caring nature for all marine life.

'A friend of mine saw this rather sick looking turtle at the steps, Kurnell today. I've contacted Australian seabird rescue as they also rescue turtles,' he wrote.

Since the attack, six drumlines have been put in place between Little Bay and Malabar as part of a shark incident response plan.

It's an issue Mr Nellist felt strongly about.

The experienced ocean swimmer and dive instructor knew of the potential dangers every time he did the swim, and expressed his disgust with controversial techniques used to keep sharks out of swimming areas.

'Shark nets and drumlines protect no one and kill all kinds of marine life each year,' Mr Nellist posted on Facebook six months ago.

Shark nets and drumlines are usually deployed near popular swimming beaches with the aim of reducing sharks in the vicinity.

Authorities have since revealed Little Bay Beach was scheduled to have the SMART drumline technology installed within two weeks as part of the NSW government's new shark management program.

The technology is designed to provide greater protection to swimmers by alerting authorities to a shark's presence.

The system involves a bait dangling in the ocean attached to a buoy, so that when the shark takes the bait it triggers a magnet which sets off a solar-powered beacon to alert officials on the shore.

The communication unit, attached to the drumline, sends an email and text message to researchers and contractors within minutes of a shark tripping the line.

'We're rolling SMART drum lines out in the Sydney region, around where this incident happened, in about two weeks,' DPI principal research scientist Paul Butcher told The Australian.

'Our biggest priority is getting those drumlines in the water straight away.'

Other shark enthusiasts urged people to not blame the predator as they paid tribute to Mr Nellist.

'He was an instructor, he knew how to handle sharks but you know your expertise doesn't always work on animals,' one wrote on Facebook.

'It was neither his fault nor the shark's.

'It was the fault of greed. They put drumlines so close to shore & that's the price they paid today.

'Hope they learn not to mess with the nature.'

Mr Nellist was remembered by shocked friends as a man who loved adventure and was adored by all of those around him