Friday, May 20, 2022

Concerns grow that COVID-19 may ‘rebound’ after taking antiviral Paxlovid

Pfizer’s COVID-19 antiviral drug Paxlovid has been hailed as a breakthrough in the fight against the disease, promising fast, convenient and dramatic protection from severe illness in older adults and others at higher risk from the virus.

But in recent weeks, there have been growing concerns that some people who finish the five-day course of prescription pills are becoming ill and testing positive again soon after. Among them this week was Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine, an expert often featured on national news broadcasts.

“We all thought COVID was over,” Hotez tweeted Tuesday, reporting that five days after completing his Paxlovid course, he had a runny nose, sore throat and “antigen test screaming +” for COVID-19. “We’ll eventually figure this out, but still a puzzle.”

UC San Francisco medical department chair Dr. Bob Wachter, who shared his wife’s journey through COVID-19 illness and Paxlovid treatment on social media with her permission, added Wednesday that they were concerned enough about the odds of a “rebound infection” that they watched TV together wearing masks — with their windows open.

Is the virus, whose mutated variants have partly evaded vaccine protection and prompted calls for multiple rounds of boosters, also finding ways to defeat the latest miracle treatment, authorized for emergency use only five months ago? Is Paxlovid still worth taking?

Medical experts say they don’t know for sure why some people who beat back a COVID-19 infection with the help of Paxlovid test positive for the virus and feel crummy again shortly after completing the medication. But they say it’s well worth taking the antiviral therapy, regardless.

White House officials reported Wednesday that the drug has become an increasingly important weapon in the fight against coronavirus, with 20,000 prescriptions a day being written across the country. They too urged people not to overreact to reports of rebound infections.

“My worry about this whole conversation is that people will lose the forest for the trees, and lose the benefit of Paxlovid,” said Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, a professor of medicine and infectious disease specialist at UCSF. “It seems to be the exception rather than rule, and so far most people get better on Paxlovid, and faster.”

Chin-Hong and others have described Paxlovid and another antiviral, Merck’s molnupiravir authorized around the same time, as game-changers in the COVID-19 fight, offering a safe, effective and convenient way to reduce risk of an infected person becoming severely ill or dying.

The antivirals are authorized for people 12 and older who are considered at higher risk from COVID-19, either due to health conditions such as obesity or diabetes, or simply because they are older.

At a time when vaccine protection is waning against new variants and monoclonal antibodies requiring intravenous infusion are losing their effectiveness, antivirals prescribed at the onset of symptoms and taken at home can help beat back infection. Pfizer’s drug blocks an enzyme the virus needs to reproduce, and was found to cut risk of hospitalization or death in high-risk adults by 89%. The Merck drug’s effectiveness is 30%.

The Bay Area and the rest of the country are seeing cases rise anew. Federal and state officials continue to urge Americans to get booster shots and wear face masks in crowded settings.

“It’s nothing to be alarmed at, at this moment,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said of the rising case counts as he received his second Moderna booster shot Wednesday in Bakersfield.

“This waning immunity is a thing of — I don’t want to say of concern — but something we need to monitor,” Newsom said. “The best protection against serious illness and hospitalization is getting vaccinated and boosted.”

Both Pfizer and the Food and Drug Administration have noted that during clinical trials, around 1-2% of patients who completed the five-day Paxlovid treatment tested positive again after initially testing negative, or showed increased levels of virus. But they said the same thing happened at similar rates among those given a placebo instead of the drug. And none of the reported rebounds led to serious illness.

“So it is unclear at this point that this is related to drug treatment,” Dr. John Farley, director of the FDA’s Office of Infectious Diseases, said in guidance to health providers posted online. “Most importantly, there was no increased occurrence of hospitalization or death or development of drug resistance.”

Chin-Hong said the rebound phenomenon isn’t new, and has been seen in other viral infections. But why it’s occurring with COVID-19 and Paxlovid is a mystery, he said.

“So many people have had such a great experience with it,” Chin-Hong said. “In my experience, maybe one person had a rebound, and they did fine, and it was milder.”

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Wachter said it was “absolutely” worth it for his wife to take Paxlovid — they are in their 60s — despite the chance of a rebound. Would taking the pills longer reduce that chance? “I wouldn’t take another course of Paxlovid, until we see real data to support it,” he said in a Twitter thread.

Pfizer spokesman Kit Longley said that “while further evaluation is needed,” and the company is monitoring data from ongoing clinical trials and safety surveillance. “We remain very confident in its clinical effectiveness at preventing severe outcomes from COVID-19 in high-risk patients.”


Document Release Shows Pfizer Anticipated Vaccine Adverse Events

A court-ordered FOIA document release reveals Pfizer hired 600 additional full-time employees to prepare for reports of adverse events of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Within the 10,000 pages filed with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that were released on April 1 under the Freedom of Information Act, Pfizer disclosed to the agency that not only had it hired 600 additional full-time employees to process adverse event reports in the three months following the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for its mRNA Covid-19 vaccine, it anticipated the need for an additional 1,800 of staff workers by the end of June 2021. The documents did not reveal how many Pfizer workers had been assigned to this task at the time the EUA was issued.

One document dated April 30, 2021, titled, “Cumulative Analysis of Post-Authorization Adverse Event Reports” and marked “confidential,” states “Pfizer has also taken multiple actions [sic] to help alleviate the large increase of adverse event reports. This includes significant technology enhancements, and process and workflow solutions, as well as increasing the number of data entry and case processing colleagues.”


On January 7, 2022, U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman of the Northern District of Texas, an appointee of President Trump in 2019, ordered the documents to be released in a FOIA request brought by a group of doctors and scientists. The plaintiffs had been seeking 450,000 pages of material about the vaccine and the process by which it was authorized,

Pfizer had insisted that it could produce no more than 500 pages per month, which would have meant some 75 years would have been required to satisfy the FOIA request. The judge instead ordered Pfizer to release the documents at a rate of 55,000 pages per month. The hiring disclosures were included in the first cache released on April 1.

Other Significant Disclosures

The FOIA document release also revealed that Pfizer disclosed that within the initial three months of the vaccine’s use, a total of 158,893 adverse events had been logged from approximately 126,212,580 doses shipped. That means that the adverse event reporting rate was approximately one for every 800 doses.

The running tally of adverse events related to Covid-19 vaccines reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) between Dec. 14, 2020, and March 25, 2022, totaling 1,205,755, now easily surpasses the 930,952 total adverse events previously reported on all other vaccines in the 32-year history of the database.


Pfizer’s attempt to forestall disclosure of the documents included in the FOIA document release request beyond the lifespan of many or most persons having received its vaccine appears to be part of a pattern of nondisclosure with respect to its brand-name, non-EUA Covid vaccine called Comrinaty.

Pfizer appeared to enjoy insulation from the usual ethical requirements of disclosure, according to Barbara Loe Fisher, the co-founder, and president of the National Vaccine Information Center.

“Pfizer’s published clinical trial data did not provide evidence for the safety or efficacy of administering Comrinaty vaccine simultaneously with other vaccines, but the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), and medical trade associations like the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) are recommending the vaccine be given at the same time as other vaccines to children and adults,” said Fisher.

“There are almost no CDC or Pfizer approved contraindications to receiving Comrinaty vaccine, even though clinical trial data demonstrate that the majority of clinical adult and child trial participants experienced one or more adverse events, especially after the second dose,” said Fisher. “It has long been recognized that strong reactions to pharmaceutical products can be a reason to exercise caution, especially with repeat doses.”

Experimental and Control Group

President and co-founder of Citizens Council for Health Freedom, Twila Brase says the documents raise red flags.

“Clearly Pfizer didn’t want the data to come out,” said Brase. “It could have shut down the vaccination effort, caused courts to stand up for human rights, put egg on the face of their FDA collaborator, and caused their stockholders to flee. But the way they tried to prevent public access showed they had something to hide. Thankfully, the court refused to let them leave the public in the dark about the facts.”

The FOIA document release reveals there was a disconnect between what the company and the federal health agencies were saying about the vaccines and what they knew behind the closed doors, says Brase.

“Given the overwhelming narrative that the vaccines are safe, the right thing to do would have been to stand up and tell the truth. Having a single statement, notifying the patient that the product has not been approved, in a two-to-four-page document at the time of injection is insufficient warning about the realities and possible side effects,” said Brase.

“The people of the world have become subjects in the largest experiment ever, and it’s not just an experiment on Covid, it’s an experiment on mRNA. It’s a genetic trial. Those who refused to take the shot are the controls. Those who got the shots are yet to find out what, if any, impacts they may experience now and in the coming years, or whether it will impact their yet-to-be-born children.”




Thursday, May 19, 2022

Higher COVID-19 Infection Rates Among Vaccinated Children Than Unvaccinated, CDC Data Show

According to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), higher COVID-19 case rates have been recorded among fully vaccinated children than unvaccinated in the age group 5-11 since February.

On Feb. 12, CDC reported a weekly case rate of 250.02 per 100,000 population in fully vaccinated children aged 5-11, compared to 245.82 for unvaccinated children in the same age group.

That’s the first time CDC recorded a higher case rate among fully vaccinated young children since data was first collected in December 2021. It remains for the following weeks till the third week of March, the latest week with available data.

Children aged 5–11 years became eligible for COVID-19 vaccination on Nov. 2, 2021. There are about 28 million children in this age group in the nation.

Currently, about 28.8 percent of children in this age group have been fully vaccinated, according to Mayo Clinic.

CDC’s data also show the gap in rates of cases between fully vaccinated and unvaccinated has become increasingly smaller among other age groups. The death rates show the same trend between fully vaccinated and unvaccinated for people above 50. For people under 50 years old, the death rates have not much difference since the rollout of the vaccine.

The data show that the COVID-19 vaccines have a “negligible effect” on people, said Dr. Peter McCullough, a renowned cardiologist and epidemiologist.

“With these results in hand, it is clear the vaccines are having a negligible effect in populations,” McCullough told The Epoch Times via email. “Given the overall poor safety profile and lack of any assurances on long-term safety, Americans should be cautious in considering additional injections of these products.”

CDC responded that several factors contribute to this phenomenon in the age group 5-11.

“Several factors likely affect crude case rates by vaccination and booster dose status, making interpretation of recent trends difficult,” Jasmine Reed, a CDC spokesperson, told The Epoch Times via email.

“Limitations include higher prevalence of previous infection among the unvaccinated and un-boosted groups; difficulty in accounting for time since vaccination and waning protection; and possible differences in testing practices (such as at-home tests) and prevention behaviors by age and vaccination status. These limitations appear to have less impact on the death rates presented here.”

Reed also directed The Epoch Times to a study published by CDC in March, showing Pfizer’s vaccine reduced the Omicron infection among children and adolescents aged 5-15.

Pfizer’s vaccine is the only COVID-19 vaccine that can be administered to the age group 5-17. Pfizer hasn’t responded to a request for comment.

“CDC is assessing whether to continue using these case rate data to provide preliminary information on vaccine impact,” Reed added.

On May 13, a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine turned negatively effective after five months.

The protection also waned considerably against hospitalization over time, the study found. The authors said one way to combat the negative effectiveness was to get a booster dose.

McCullough said most non-randomized studies attempting to estimate vaccine efficacy (VE) had some “common flaws”, including no accounting for baseline prior COVID-19 infection; no reporting for currently boostered within a 6-month time window; and no adjudication of hospitalization or death due to COVID-19 or other conditions.

“As a result, most studies of COVID-19 VE have biases towards overestimating any clinical benefit of vaccination,” said McCullough.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to authorize a booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine for children 5-11 as early as Tuesday, The New York Times reported.

Last month, Moderna requested an emergency use authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine for children 6 months to 6 years of age. As the FDA postponed its decision in February on whether to authorize its COVID-19 vaccine for children six months to four years old, Pfizer is now working on data for a three-dose regimen.


Cost benefit analysis of Australia's Covid response shows low benefit and big costs

Australia’s Covid policy response has been driven entirely by primal fear and hysteria, with reason playing no role. Until today, no Australian state or federal governments have commissioned a CBA.

In mid-2020, Professor Gigi Foster of the University of New South Wales, had prepared on her own CBA for Victoria. Last year, she decided to update it and broaden it to cover the whole of Australia. I have assisted her over the past 8-9 months on this project. She has published a PDF of the Executive Summary of the CBA.

Its highlights are:

The government has lied about the magnitude of the Covid pandemic, which is 50-500 times less lethal than the Spanish flu. Once we consider the fact that Covid kills mainly the elderly, its effective lethality is even less.
Lockdowns have prevented a maximum of around 10,000 Covid deaths during 2020-21 in Australia, not the 40,000 lives Mr Morrison claims to have saved.

There were at least 7,940 additional non-Covid deaths from lockdowns in the first two years of the pandemic (in fact, there were more: ABS data shows over 3,000 excess cancer deaths just in 2021 of people so terrorised by the lockdowns and hysteria in 2020 that they did not get their cancer identified and treated in time).

Every policy-driven harm that reduces our lifespan or earning power, every harm to our children, and every harm through reduced capacity of the government to buy wellbeing is added up in the CBA. Gigi Foster estimates that the harms from lockdowns exceed any benefits by at least thirty-six times.
This CBA’s estimate is not an outlier. It is consistent with innumerable CBAs that have by now been published across the world which show similar (or even greater) orders of magnitude of harm from lockdowns.

While the full CBA will perhaps be published later in a book form, its Executive Summary is sufficient to destroy the innumerable falsehoods we have been told over the past two years.


Here Are the Nutcases Who Believe in 'Replacement'

Ann Coulter

The "Great Replacement Theory" (GRT) has taken the media by storm! It seems that the white racist who shot up a grocery store full of black people last weekend cited GRT in his 180-page "manifesto."

First of all, journalists need to understand that GRT is only a theory taught in advanced law school seminars. It is not something designed for indoctrination of mass audiences of young people.

So what is GRT? The New York Times describes it thus:

"[T]he notion that Western elites, sometimes manipulated by Jews, want to 'replace' and disempower white Americans." (You want a conspiracy theory about a secretive cabal of Jews? Check out the Times' series of articles on "neoconservatives" back in the early 2000s.)

But then -- just as every argument about abortion suddenly becomes an argument about contraception -- a few paragraphs later, the crackpot theory jumps from a Jewish cabal replacing whites with blacks ... to the idea that Democrats are using immigration "for electoral gains."

Wow, that is nuts! Where'd anybody get that idea?

Oh yeah -- from liberals. Here's Democratic consultant Patrick Reddy in 1998:

"The 1965 Immigration Reform Act promoted by President Kennedy, drafted by Attorney General Robert Kennedy, and pushed through the Senate by Ted Kennedy has resulted in a wave of immigration from the Third World that should shift the nation in a more liberal direction within a generation. It will go down as the Kennedy family's greatest gift to the Democratic Party."

(Well, sure, if you want to totally overlook skirt-chasing and pill-popping.)

Then in 2002, Democrats Ruy Teixeira and John Judis wrote "The Emerging Democratic Majority," arguing that demographic changes, mostly by immigration, were putting Democrats on a glide path to an insuperable majority. After Obama's reelection in 2012, Teixeira crowed in The Atlantic (which was then a magazine that people read, as opposed to a billionaire widow's charity) that "ten years farther down this road," Obama lost the white vote outright, but won the election with the minority vote -- African-Americans (93-6), Hispanics (71-27) and Asian-Americans (73-26).

A year later, the National Journal's Ron Brownstein began touting the "Coalition of the Ascendant," gloating that Democrats didn't need blue-collar whites anymore. Woo hoo! Obama "lost more than three-fifths of noncollege whites and whites older than 45." But who cares? He crushed with "minorities (a combined 80%)."

"Adios, Reagan Democrats," he says gleefully.

Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg's 2019 book, "RIP GOP," explains the coming death of the Republican Party as a result of ... sucking up to Wall Street? Pushing pointless wars? Endlessly cutting taxes? NO! The GOP's demise would come from the fact that "our country is hurtling toward a New America that is ever more racially and culturally diverse ... more immigrant and foreign born."

And these were the genteel, nonthreatening descriptions of how immigration was consigning white voters to the Aztec graveyard of history.

On MSNBC, they're constantly sneering about "old white men" and celebrating the "browning of America." A group called Battleground Texas boasts about flipping that deep red state to the Democrats -- simply by getting more Hispanics to vote. Blogs are giddily titled, "The Irrelevant South" ("the traditional white South -- socially and economically conservative -- is no longer relevant in national politics"). MSNBC's Joy Ann Reid tweets that she is "giddy" watching "all the bitter old white guys" as Ketanji Brown Jackson "makes history."

This week, the media's leading expert on the crazies who believe in replacement theory is Tim Wise, popping up on both MSNBC and CNN to psychoanalyze the white "racists." He's been quoted, cited or praised dozens of times in The New York Times. This isn't some fringe character, despite appearances.

In 2010, Wise wrote an "Open Letter to the White Right" that began: "For all y'all rich folks, enjoy that champagne, or whatever fancy ass Scotch you drink. "And for y'all a bit lower on the economic scale, enjoy your Pabst Blue Ribbon, or whatever shitty ass beer you favor ...

"Because your time is limited. "Real damned limited."

Guess why! Wise explained: "It is math."

Wait, isn't math racist? But moving on ...

"Because you're on the endangered list. "And unlike, say, the bald eagle or some exotic species of muskrat, you are not worth saving.

"In 40 years or so, maybe fewer, there won't be any more white people around who actually remember that Leave It to Beaver ..."

Have you ever noticed how obsessed liberals are with "Leave It to Beaver"?

"It's OK. Because in about 40 years, half the country will be black or brown. And there is nothing you can do about it. "Nothing, Senor Tancredo."

After several more paragraphs of mocking white people, Wise ended with this stirring conclusion: "We just have to be patient. "And wait for you to pass into that good night, first politically, and then, well ...

"Do you hear it? "The sound of your empire dying? Your nation, as you knew it, ending, permanently? "Because I do, and the sound of its demise is beautiful."

To Wise, the best way to kill the antisemitic trope of Jewish elites waging war against whites is to be a Jewish elite waging war against whites.

I don't know about the Jewish cabal version of GRT, but as for liberals using immigration to bring in more Democratic voters, as Maya Angelou said, "When people show you who they are, believe them."

Speaking of theories involving Jewish cabals ... The New York Times on neoconservatives, Aug. 4, 2003:

"For the past few weeks, U.S. President George W. Bush has been surrounded by a secretive circle of advisers and public relations experts, giving rise to all kinds of conspiracy theories and debates. It's been said that the group's idol is German Jewish philosopher Leo Strauss."




Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Bank of England governor warns of ‘apocalyptic’ impact of global food prices

I think the man is spot-on. A very large number of Britons and others are soon going to find that they cannot always buy basics anymore. What are they going to do when their shopping money just will not stretch to cover basics? Will they have to live on noodles? Many Britons already live from payday to payday with nothing saved. It will be grim for them. I can foresee riots in response.

And there will of course be people similarly affected in the USA and Australia. Food shopping in those countries is normally a small part of total expenditure so not as many will be badly affected but some will

As far as I can see, it is time to ease up on Russian sanctions. Let Russian agricultural products flow freely Westward. The Ukrainians seem to be doing a pretty good job of defending themselves so sanctions are probably not needed now.

Britain faces the “major concern” of “apocalyptic” global food-price rises sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Bank of England’s governor has told MPs.

Andrew Bailey warned of a “very big income shock” to households, and admitted feeling “helpless” in the face of surging inflation.

His comments came as veteran Tory MP Michael Fabricant called on the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, to raise benefits in line with inflation, and as concerns were raised over plans by the energy regulator to revise the price cap on bills every three months instead of every six.

Mr Bailey defended the Bank’s monetary policy and said there could be a further rise in food costs if Ukraine, a major exporter of agricultural products, is unable to ship wheat and cooking oil from its warehouses because of a Russian blockade.

“Sorry for being apocalyptic for a moment, but that’s a major concern,” Mr Bailey said on Monday, noting that wheat prices alone had risen by just under 25 per cent in the past six weeks.

Britain is already in a “bad situation” with inflation, Mr Bailey said. The cost of living has been driven up by a host of global factors, which could not have been foreseen by rate setters at the bank, he insisted.

These include the war in Ukraine and the latest response by China’s government to a wave of Covid infections in the country, which has included stringent, economically damaging lockdowns. The result has been a sharp and sudden uptick in energy global prices, forcing up the cost of living in the UK.

“I do not feel at all happy about this; this is a bad situation to be in,” Mr Bailey said, noting that inflation is expected to top 10 per cent later this year.

He was responding to questions from Treasury select committee chair Mel Stride MP on whether he had been “asleep at the wheel” when it came to rising interest-rate pressures.


Pfizer’s COVID Vaccine Protection Against Omicron Fades After a Few Weeks: Study

The protection afforded against the Omicron coronavirus variant fades quickly after a second and third dose of Pfizer–BioNtech’s COVID-19 vaccine, according to a peer-reviewed study published in the JAMA Network.

A Danish study published in the JAMA Network on May 13 found that there was a rapid decline in Omicron-specific serum neutralizing antibodies only a few weeks after the administration of the second and third doses of the vaccine.

The study evaluated 128 adults who were vaccinated, and of that number, 73 people received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine, and 55 people received three doses between January 2021 and October 2021 or were previously infected before February 2021, and then vaccinated.

“Our study found a rapid decline in Omicron-specific serum neutralizing antibody titers only a few weeks after the second and third doses,” an abstract of the study reads. “The observed decrease in population neutralizing antibody titers corresponds to the decrease in vaccine efficacy against polymerase chain reaction–confirmed Omicron infection in Denmark and symptomatic Omicron infection in the United Kingdom.”

The antibody levels, which are associated with protection against future infections, dropped within a few weeks of getting the vaccine doses. They were also much lower than the antibodies specific to the Delta and original COVID-19 strains, according to the study.

The proportion of Omicron-specific antibodies fell to 53 percent between the eighth and tenth week from 76 percent four weeks after the second dose. At weeks 12 to 14, these levels dropped even more to only 19 percent, according to the study.

Those antibodies increased with a third dose, increasing 21-fold three weeks after the dose before dropping to eightfold at week four. But with the third dose, antibody levels dropped as early as three weeks, falling 5.4-fold between the third and eighth week, the researchers said.

They concluded that it may be needed to provide additional booster doses to combat the Omicron variant, which emerged last fall, primarily among older individuals.

However, a study from Israeli researchers published in early April in the New England Journal of Medicine found that a fourth dose, or a second booster, of the Pfizer vaccine, doesn’t offer strong protection.

“Overall, these analyses provided evidence for the effectiveness of a fourth vaccine dose against severe illness caused by the omicron variant, as compared with a third dose administered more than 4 months earlier,” the study’s authors wrote at the time, after analyzing data from the Israeli Ministry of Health. “For confirmed infection, a fourth dose appeared to provide only short-term protection and a modest absolute benefit.”


The truth is struggling to survive in the modern West

You may have missed the news that at the end of April the US Department of Homeland Security announced the establishment of a Disinformation Governance Board. You probably, however, heard the news of Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter.

Musk is a free speech absolutist and, seeing Twitter as the ‘digital public square’, wants to restore its political neutrality. This has caused something of a moral panic among those sufferers of, as Musk put it, the ‘woke mind virus’. On 5 May, the New York Times published a smear piece under the banner ‘In Musk’s Past, a South Africa Rife with Misinformation and White Privilege’.

The announcement of the Disinformation Governance Board followed the announcement of Musk’s takeover by a few days, and I found myself wondering if there is any connection. But then I checked myself, fearing that I have become a conspiracy theorist –like the people who got booted off Twitter last year for propagating the Hunter Biden laptop story, the lab-leak theory about Covid 19, or the idea that vaccinated people could infect unvaccinated people with the virus (I mean Covid, not the woke mind one – sadly, there is no known vaccination against that as yet). If I do not stop my errant thoughts, I might end up on the DGB’s watchlist! After all, as Orwell’s 1984 said, if you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.

Anyway, what could possibly go wrong with a government department deciding what is and isn’t correct information? I trust governments to do this, because they are powerful and omniscient, act for the greater good and always tell the truth.

There is scant detail about the DGB and its powers. We do know it will be targetting disinformation from human traffickers and Russia, which sounds reasonable. However, it will be headed up by ‘disinformation researcher’ Nina Jankowitz, who said of Musk’s Twitter bid: ‘I shudder to think about if free speech absolutists were taking over more platforms’, called the Hunter Biden laptop story a ‘Trump campaign product’ and asserted that ‘critical race theory has become one of those hot button issues that the Republicans and other disinfomers…have seized on’. Totally impartisan!

Since Trump’s reign, and further impelled by the pandemic, there has been a burgeoning of self-appointed conspiracy theory and disinformation activists like Jankowitz. These people may do good work. But there are problems.

The soldiers of this new army tend to have a worldview that imbues them with the moral certitude that they are the sole arbiters of truth and acceptable thinking. While insisting that science is racist (but the public health response to the pandemic requires you to follow it anyway) and men can get pregnant (but commenting on abortion is not a man’s right), they believe that their dissenters must be hapless victims of disinformation and conspiracy theories who cannot be trusted to come to the correct conclusion. And woe betide the heretics, for the army of believers will unleash their pile-on powers with a fury that would make the God of Sodom and Gomorrah blush.

Another problem is that, not only do the thought vigilantes not confront the conspiracies in their own cohort, some of them partake in them. British-Lebanese conflict journalist Oz Katerji has noted that, through an anti-imperialism under which progressives see the West as the root of all evil, ‘Conspiracism and war crimes denial has now deeply embedded itself in the Western Left’. As examples, he cites Noam Chomsky and John Pilger, hugely influential figures on the left who have both denied the Bosnian genocide at Sebrenica and that Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons against his own people, despite incontrovertible evidence. Journalist George Monbiot has said, ‘Part of the problem is that a kind of cult has developed around Noam Chomsky and John Pilger, which cannot believe they could ever be wrong, and produces ever more elaborate conspiracy theories to justify their mistakes.’

In her recent article, Izabella Tabarovsky explores ‘the ideological roots of Soviet-style conspiracist anti-Zionist rhetoric that is taking over the American liberal mainstream’, being the ‘deadly tropes of the anti-Semitic theories of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Nazi theory’. Starting in 1967, a global USSR propaganda campaign infused into the hard-Left what Steve Cohen, the British author, called ‘transcendental’ anti-Zionism – an anti-Zionism that ‘has no necessary relationship to anything a real Zionist, or real Jew is doing. It exists in the air quite apart from material reality – except for the reality it creates for itself.’

While disinformation and conspiracy theories are nothing new (an early use of the printing press was a publication about witches that incited thousands of murders), undoubtedly social media has supercharged this phenomenon. Something does need to be done about it. But increasing censorship only risks exacerbating the problems it purports to fix, which is to ensure the truth prevails. As writer Jonathan Rauch notes, objectivity is ‘a function of viewpoint multiplicity and diversity’ by which we challenge our biases; without it ‘fact and faith become indistinguishable’.

If the aim is indeed getting to the truth and not narrative domination, there are much better solutions – such as making algorithms open source and introducing user authentication to get rid of bots, measures that Musk has championed to increase transparency and decrease manipulation. Beyond the architecture of social media, teaching children digital literacy and critical thinking is crucial.

But these remedies will not suffice. Because fundamentally, the ailment is a symptom of an increasingly polarised, fragmented West where trust in institutions has atrophied, there is no meta-narrative, and people are increasingly disaffected and disconnected. Enlightenment principles that prize objective knowledge, science, reason, free speech and universal truth have eroded. In their place, a post-modernist ideology has seeped out from academia and been mainstreamed, holding that objective knowledge is impossible, and knowledge is a construct of power and intrinsically political. There is no truth, only a ‘hegemonic discourse’. That is why people struggle to know what to believe, and don’t trust those who claim the authority to tell us.

As Hannah Arendt wrote: ‘The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (ie., the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (ie., the standards of thought) no longer exist.’




Tuesday, May 17, 2022

The Buffalo shooter was a Leftist

Both sides of politics are claiming Peyton Gendron for the other side. And he has confused people somewhat. He claims to be a Leftist but is also clearly a real-life white supremacist. Leftists say that his racism makes him a man of the right so therefore he cannot really be a Leftist

But that is nonsense, Ever since Karl Marx, the chief source of racial awareness has been Leftists. Hitler was a socialist (check his election manifesto if you doubt it: "All citizens shall have equal rights and duties") and there are rumblings of antisemitism among Democrats to this day. They usually call it "anti-Zionism" these days but Jews are targeted whatever you call it.

Antisemitism was so common among the pre-war Left that the founder (August Bebel) of Germany's mainstream socialist party (The Social Democrats, who now once again run Germany) referred with some asperity to antisemitism as the "Sozialismus des blöden Mannes" (the socialism of fools). So Gendron was in fact a traditional Leftist

Quotes from Buffalo Shooter Payton Gendron’s Manifesto

When talking about his political affiliation in his manifesto Peyton Gendron wrote:

“When I was 12 I was deep into communist ideology, talk to anyone from my old high school and ask about me and you will hear that. From age 15 to 18 however, I consistently moved farther to the right. On the political compass I fall in the mildmoderate authoritarian left category, and I would prefer to be called a populist.”

When discussing the type of people he supports he wrote:

“I support many of those that take a stand against ethnic and cultural genocide. Brenton Tarrant, Patrick Crusius, John Earnest, Robert Bowers, Phillip Manshaus, Luca Traini, Anders Breivik, Dylann Roof, Anton Lundin Pettersson, Darren Osbourne etc. I have never had any connections with other confirmed partisans though”.

When discussing if he was expecting to be alive in prison he said:

“Yes, I do wish to see how the world plays out after all. If I become old in the same prison. I would only assume that we have passed the point of no return and will die out, and that I have failed. If we do rise up against the replacers, I expect that I will be let out and honored amongst my people”.

Further comment: What is abundantly clear about Glendron is that he is a psychopath, so his ideology is secondary to that. There are however grounds for saying that entrenched Leftism is psychopathic so Glendron's Leftism is what we might have expected of a psychopath


Two new Omicron variants are spreading. Will they drive a new U.S. surge?

New versions of Omicron are again causing a surge of COVID-19 cases in South Africa, and studies show that these new subvariants are so different from the original version of Omicron that immunity generated from a previous infection may not provide much protection.

Dubbed BA.4 and BA.5, the new subvariants are nearly identical to each other, and both are more transmissible than the Omicron BA.2 subvariant. In South Africa, they replaced the BA.2 strain in less than a month. They are now responsible for a spike in South Africa’s COVID-19 cases, which have tripled since mid-April.

“If you were unvaccinated, what you got is almost no immunity to BA.4 and BA.5,” says Alex Sigal, a virologist at the Africa Health Research Institute and at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. “There might be some immunity that may be enough to protect against severe disease, but not sufficient to protect against symptomatic infection.”

South Africa is the worst hit country on the continent, with more than 100,523 official deaths from COVID-19—and that’s likely a gross underestimate according to a recent study in The Lancet. With BA.4 and BA.5 now on the rise, the death toll is likely to grow, as only a third of the South African population has received a COVID-19 vaccine; the rate of vaccination is even lower in the rest of Africa.

For now, the subvariant known as BA.2.12.1 remains dominant in the U.S., causing new hospitalizations to spike in the last week by more than 17 percent nationally and by as much as 28 percent in the Great Lakes area, and Washington D.C. and the surrounding region. But the new subvariants have spread to more than 20 countries across North America, Asia, and Europe, and already 19 cases of BA.4 and six cases of BA.5 have been identified in the U.S.

How are BA.4 and BA.5 different from other Omicron variants?

South Africa has become a bright spot within Africa for sequencing samples of SARS-CoV-2. This swift sequencing was critical in alerting the world in December 2021 to the discovery and surge of the original Omicron strain, called BA.1. Now the same team has discovered BA.4 and BA.5.

“The BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants were identified because South Africa is still doing the vital genetic sequencing that many other countries have stopped doing,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director General of the World Health Organization, at a press conference on May 4. “In many countries we’re essentially blind to how the virus is mutating. We don’t know what’s coming next.”

That sequencing has revealed that for both BA.4 and BA.5, the spike protein is similar to the one in BA.2, except for six mutations. The spike protein is the part of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that anchors to receptors on human respiratory cells and allows the virus to infect the cell.

“The three modifications present in the spike of BA.4 and BA.5, compared to BA.2, are most likely associated to antibody escape and improved viral fitness and binding to the ACE2 receptor,” says Olivier Schwartz, head of the Virus and Immunity Unit at Institut Pasteur in France.

Two of the changes on the spike can make these viruses more infectious, says Ravindra Gupta, an immunologist and infectious diseases specialist at the University of Cambridge in the U.K. as shown by his previous research. The upside is that these same mutations make it easy for researchers to rapidly distinguish the new subvariants from BA.2 in a standard PCR test.

Another mutation present in BA.4 and BA.5 is also found in other variants of concern, including Delta, Kappa, and Epsilon. It increases infectivity and weakens immunity from existing antibodies, according to a preliminary study from China.

The Chinese study also shows that a rare change seen before only 54 times among 10 million viral sequences helps BA.4 and BA.5 to evade BA.1-specific antibodies. This same mutation also enabled SARS-CoV-2 to infect mink and ferrets during April 2020 outbreaks in mink farms.

In addition to these spike protein mutations, BA.4 and BA.5 also have small changes in viral proteins whose exact function are not well known.

Where did BA.4 and BA.5 evolve?

A preliminary genetic analysis estimates that the new subvariants may have originated in South Africa at around the same time as other Omicron variants, in mid-December 2021 and early January 2022, respectively. But scientists don’t yet know their origin for sure.

“BA.4 and BA.5 may well have originated from the same kind of common source as BA.1, BA.2, and BA.3, but it's not certain,” says Richard Lessells, an infectious diseases doctor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa. He is part of the nation’s sequencing team that discovered all of these Omicron variants.

Possible routes of evolution may have been an animal host, such as a mouse; or it may have gestated in some immunocompromised patients, as has been shown to occur through accumulation of mutations during a chronic infection by Gupta.

“The alternative is that BA.4 and BA.5 may have evolved from BA.2,” says Lessells.

BA.4 and BA.5 dodge previous immunity

In the first study of BA4 and BA.5 on immunity, which has not yet been peer reviewed, scientists led by Sigal, of the Africa Health Research Institute, isolated live viruses from nasal swabs. The scientists then ran tests to see whether antibodies from unvaccinated and vaccinated people who had been infected with the original Omicron BA.1 strain just a few months ago were able to neutralize these new variants. Sigal’s team discovered that these antibodies weren’t able to protect against symptomatic infection.

That’s concerning, because in low- and middle-income countries less than one in six people have yet received a single dose of any COVID-19 vaccine. Even in the United States, nearly 23 percent of the population remains unvaccinated.

“BA.4/5 data are interesting and somewhat surprising,” says Gupta, referring to the sharp decline in immunity seen in studies so far. “It is greater than I would have predicted,” he says. “It may be that [the] biology of this virus has completely changed in terms of how quickly it's able to evolve.”

The South African study does have some good news for vaccinated people: “We found that you get a lot of protection from vaccines, even if you got infected with Omicron despite being vaccinated—a lot more protection than if you weren't vaccinated going forward,” says Sigal.

Sigal’s study also suggests that BA.4 and BA.5 may cause less severe disease, especially among vaccinated people, compared to previous Omicron variants. This may explain why fewer people seem to be getting severe disease despite the rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations in South Africa. The median length of hospitalization also appears to be shorter, but deaths due to COVID-19 are rising faster in patients of older age.

“BA.4/5 data do reinforce the need for boosters in vulnerable people to keep the antibody levels high,” says Gupta.

In the meantime, Moderna has published data on its new mRNA-1273.211 candidate booster vaccine—which mixes ancestral spike protein with a mimic of the Beta variant spike. Although not yet peer reviewed, the results seem to show superior protection for up to six months even against the Omicron variant.

“Vaccines are designed to prevent severe disease, to keep us out of hospital and off the ventilator,” says Lessells. “And they are still doing that extremely well, in the face of all these different variants.”




Monday, May 16, 2022

How Rusians think about the Ukraine war

The Russians may well love their children too, but many of their views about their war on Ukraine span a narrow range from intellectually dishonest to morally bankrupt.

Ironically, it’s only overt Russian imperialists that think in a way – though abhorrent in its application – that is arguably consistent. The West’s real challenge is to defeat their imperial ambitions which threaten, not only Ukraine, but global stability.

Let me step back to a day in a hotel room between trips to Ukraine.

I spent some time watching Russian television, including its vox pops, scrolling Russian social media sites, and reading the Tweets of mainstream Russians. Not the full rigorous analysis of my past lives with pollsters and in politics, but certainly part of the process that many campaigners and communicators normally follow. One tries to see the context through many prisms. Here’s some of what’s out there.

‘There’s nothing I can do.’

This fatalistic view is patently false. If every Russian took a similar view of their own lives and their own circumstances, there would be no one getting out of bed from St Petersburg to Vladivostok every morning. While there may be a limited number of choices available to Russians living in a neo-dictatorship, there are certainly still choices, and their own history of revolutions and Glasnost prove it.

Further proof of its falsehood is that hundreds of thousands of moneyed and educated Russians have actually made a significant choice recently; they’ve hurriedly left the country and were indeed encouraged to do so.

‘I’m not political.’

One way to describe this type of position is the ‘Instagram position’ (though ironically Russian influencers actively mourn their loss of that vanity platform).

Those who see themselves as beyond politics are those that can afford to be beyond politics. They typically feel themselves as not substantially impacted by the course of world events. It’s a standpoint founded in immaturity, narcissism, and materialism. Without a hint of self-awareness, it selfishly ignores the interdependence that led us out of caves and into civilisation. Such people have replaced society with brand and, through their vanity and irresponsibility, provide the space for dictatorships to operate in.

‘I support peace – stop the war.’

This type of view might be called the ‘oligarch position’. It’s the queen of all motherhood statements – the equivalent of liking puppy pics on social media.

Safe, unsubstantive, and sterilised of all meaning, but extremely convenient for those needing to cleanse themselves of culpability and/or superficially distance themselves from their country’s war against a neighbouring country.

Oligarchs who need to protect their direct interests, including avoiding sanctions, and the small Russian upper middle class who want to protect their global access use this type of statement as a ‘get out of jail card’ after mostly tolerating and indeed supporting Putin for decades in exchange for mafia-styled material gain.

‘The Zombie views.’

Some Russians put forward this broader set of views, or some part of it, that basically parrots Putin’s state-controlled propaganda machine.

‘We need to deNazify Ukraine… Nato is threatening Russia… The world hates Russia… A genocide is being committed against Russian speakers…Putin is our leader and we support our leader… Events in Ukraine are false flags by Ukrainian Nazis and their Nato sponsors…’

That these folks are aligned with the Kremlin’s (often inconsistent but always untrue) narratives is obvious. What’s less obvious are their various motivations.

First, we need to accept that Russian social and cultural structures have been authoritarian and collective – as opposed to democratic and liberal – for around a thousand years. Inasmuch, it’s logical that there’s no inherent personal dishonour in going along with prevalent norms, even if they are objectively problematic, in Russia. The bandwidth of the Russian people’s capacity for cognitive dissonance is necessarily narrowed by their history, cultural mores, and socio-economic development.

If we then go to a purely emotional level, and that’s where 80 per cent of our decision-making resides, the motives for Russians buying into Putinism as a worldview could variously be:

Protecting themselves from the perceived authoritarian threat of persecution for dissent.
Giving themselves the ‘benefits of belonging’ and group identity in a vast, multi-ethnic and relatively poor country that is actually short of a modern unifying ideology.
Isolating themselves from information that destabilises their view of themselves.
Taking queues from those they culturally trust – for better or for worse – to run their country.
‘Ukraine is not a real country and is part of Russia.’

While this is a historically and objectively false statement at every level, it is distinct from all those above. Namely, for those who (mistakenly or intentionally), hold it, it is arguable that it is intellectually and morally consistent whereas the positions above are built on one form of dust or another.

In some respects, those who are open about the fact that Russia is pursuing an imperialist agenda to crush and colonise Ukraine are, ironically, the most ‘honest’ Russians. They don’t try to dress up the unprovoked aggression and brutality of their dictator, government, or military with some false construct. It’s the no-bullshit approach.

Think of the difference between America’s ‘destroying weapons of mass destruction in Iraq’ to ‘we need to protect our strategic energy interests and key ally’.

Indeed, this group of Russians are the ones who most acknowledge a state of war and an expanded invasion, intentional full-scale violence against civilians, and the enormous costs to their own society. However, because of their foundational belief – that Russia should be ‘restored’ as an empire and a global power – this set of people logically see all actions, no matter how monstrous or bestial, as justifiable steps toward, in their view, a positive objective. It is a disgusting view, but it is not a lie or a fiction.

And, we would do well to treat it as the well-spring current events. Russian imperialism and all the forms it takes is the true opponent.


The Ukrainian national anthem. It's rather good


The UK government shocks observers with a host of new genuinely conservative bills

The government of Boris Johnson has faced an endless list of accusations since its accession to power in 2019, except for one: being too “conservative.” In fact, the Johnson government’s impotence at meeting the expectations of the Brexit movement, its complacency about the Channel migrant crisis, and its endless praise for multiculturalism and diversity, have led some to question its conservative credentials entirely. That is why Tuesday’s list of new policy proposals, announced during the Queen’s Speech, were met with a certain degree of shock.

To the casual observer, the main story of the day was that Queen Elizabeth II could not attend the ceremony in the Houses of Parliament, and her eldest son, Prince Charles, filled her role for the day. He was tasked with presenting the government’s 38 new bills that will determine the government’s policies for the coming parliamentary season. Some among these are well worth noticing, because for the first time since leaving the clutches of the EU, the British government is demonstrating the virtues of political freedom and national sovereignty, for which the majority of British citizens voted for in the Brexit referendum.

Chief among these bills is a Bill of Rights, which would help fulfill the conservative dream of replacing the much-despised Human Rights Act. The new Bill of Rights would enshrine freedom of speech in law, protecting it from the attacks of woke and politically-correct activists. It will also protect people’s right to express their views against European-style privacy laws that have muffled a number of newspaper reports about the rich and powerful in the past.

Crucially, the new bill will impede foreign criminals’ ability to use human rights laws to fight deportation to their country of origin, or against those who use human rights legislation to shorten their jail sentences. The myriad of human rights cases that are currently bogging down British courts will, in the future, be prejudged by the courts on their merit, before they can be allowed to proceed in front of the judges.

In a sign the government is beginning to prioritize national security in accordance with the present threats the UK faces at home and from abroad, the Queen’s Speech included a National Security Bill, that will update current spy laws, making it easier to prosecute leaks of classified data to foreign governments or terrorist organizations. Foreign interference, sabotage or the theft of trade secrets will be punishable by life sentences, in the case of serious offenses.

In line with current affairs the government has also announced an Economic Crime Bill, that is likely aimed at avoiding national scandals, such as Russian and Arab oligarchs laundering their ill-gotten money through British companies. If the bill passes, those aiming to establish a firm in the U.K. will have to verify their true identity with Companies House, a government controlled register. Crime fighters will also get new powers to seize cryptocurrencies from suspects, something that was exceedingly difficult to do with the current legislation.

A newly proposed Online Safety Bill will tackle social media companies if they fail to remove harmful or illegal content from their platforms. They can be fined in the tune of 10 percent of their global turnover in case they do not comply. Newly reintroduced duty of care plans will protect users of these websites from attacks or harmful information. It remains to be seen though how this bill is going to be implemented, as most understand that regulating online content, apart from extreme examples, can be a double-edged sword, and can impede the freedom of speech, which the government is allegedly trying to protect.

Perhaps one of the most interesting, and popular of the new bills will be the Public Order Bill, which is aimed at stopping radical political- or eco-activists from causing havoc and economic damage. In the past, radical climate protesters brought anarchy to Britain’s roads during peak hours, blocked newspaper printing and delivery companies, or chained themselves to gas stations, causing unquantifiable damage to ordinary citizens as well as companies. Once the bill is introduced, offenders will face a maximum jail sentence of up to six months.

Furthermore, local governments will be banned from introducing boycotts against the products from certain countries, as some did against Israeli products in the past. Such misguided policies championed by far-left politicians have been blamed for a rising antisemitic sentiment in parts of Britain.

The new Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill is another attempt to stop the extremist, often violent protests at student campuses and British universities, which have in the past prevented a number of public figures from delivering speeches or from visiting campuses. The government will introduce a complaints scheme for staff, students and visiting speakers who believe that their right to freedom of speech was violated. Universities and student unions can be punished for violating these new rules.

The proposed Brexit Freedoms Bill 51 will abolish the 1,400 EU laws still actively used in Britain, with Johnson looking to accelerate economic growth by ending inherited EU red-tape.

These bill proposals, and the government’s imminent introduction of the deportation of channel migrants to Rwandan processing centers, creates the impression that the conservative government of Boris Johnson has finally gotten the message from its core voters. They are not interested in supporting a conservative party that aims to compete with the Labour Party for left-wing voters. The Conservatives are currently some 5 points down against Labour in the polls, but the legislation introduced during the Queen’s Speech is a true testament to Boris Johnson’s exceptional survival instincts.




Sunday, May 15, 2022

Outrageous lie about vaccine from Biden team

The White House is walking back a tweet stating that claimed "there was no vaccine available" when President Biden took office, issuing a follow-up tweet on Friday night saying that it "misstated" the availability of COVID-19 vaccines in January 2021.

On Thursday, the official White House Twitter account tweeted "When President Biden took office, millions were unemployed and there was no vaccine available."

The original tweet drew fierce criticism from other Twitter users, who pointed out that there was a COVID-19 vaccine available when Biden took office on Jan. 20, 2021.

On Friday night, the White House tweeted that its original tweet "misstated that vaccines were unavailable in January 2021."

"We previously misstated that vaccines were unavailable in January 2021. We should have said that they were not widely available. Vaccines became available shortly before the President came into office. Since then, he’s responsible for fully vaccinating over 200 million people," the tweet from Friday night states.

While the White House corrected its tweet, the original version which states that there was "no vaccine available" when President Biden took office remains on the social media platform and has not been deleted.


CDC is winging it again

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says it does not have documents backing its claim that COVID-19 vaccines do not cause variants of the virus that causes COVID-19.

The CDC’s website calls it a myth that the vaccines cause variants.

“FACT: COVID-19 vaccines do not create or cause variants of the virus that causes COVID-19. Instead, COVID-19 vaccines can help prevent new variants from emerging,” the website states.

“New variants of a virus happen because the virus that causes COVID-19 constantly changes through a natural ongoing process of mutation (change). As the virus spreads, it has more opportunities to change. High vaccination coverage in a population reduces the spread of the virus and helps prevent new variants from emerging,” it also says.

The Informed Consent Action Network (ICAN), a nonprofit, asked the CDC in Freedom of Information Act requests for documentation supporting the claim.

In one request, the group asked for “All documents sufficient to support that COVID-19 vaccines do not create or cause variants of the virus that causes COVID-19.”

Another requested “All documents sufficient to support that the immunity conferred by COVID-19 vaccines does not contribute to virus evolution and the emergence of variants.”

The CDC has now responded to both requests, saying a search “found no records responsive” to them.

The first response came in January (pdf); the second came on May 4 (pdf).

If the CDC is making declaratory statements, the agency should have documents supporting them, Aaron Siri, an attorney representing ICAN, told The Epoch Times.

The responses are “very troubling,” Siri said. “I thought the CDC was a data-driven organization, that they made their decisions based on the studies and the science and the data.”

The CDC did not respond to a request for comment.

ICAN has been one of the more prolific requesters of information from the CDC during the pandemic. Many requests have yielded information. Others have not.

In this case, the CDC should act to ensure continued public trust, Siri says.

“Remove the language or provide the evidence,” he said. “There obviously are going to be instances where recommendations from the CDC might prove helpful or useful. And I think they do a disservice to everybody by hurting their own credibility by making statements that they either don’t have support or won’t produce the support for.”

Scientists outside the CDC have also said that vaccines can help prevent new variants.

“As more people get vaccinated, we expect virus circulation to decrease, which will then lead to fewer mutations,” the World Health Organization says on its site.

But many of the claims relied on the vaccines being able to stop infection from the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes COVID-19. The vaccines are increasingly unable to do so, particularly against the newest dominant strain, Omicron.

Dr. Geert Vanden Bossche, a virologist, is among those who say that the vaccines themselves are behind new variants.

“All COVID-19 vaccines fail in blocking viral transmission, especially transmission of more infectious variants. This is a huge problem as viral transmission is now increasingly taking place among healthy people in general and vaccinees in particular (as their S-specific Abs do not sufficiently neutralize S variants),” Vanden Bossche says on his website. “The resulting suboptimal S-directed immune pressure serves as a breeding ground for even more infectious variants.”


Biden promises to boost U.S. wheat production to combat loss of Ukrainian, Russian wheat exports, but production here is down 15 percent since 2019

President Joe Biden is promising to boost U.S. production of wheat to offset the loss of Ukrainian and Russian exports from the Black Sea thanks to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that has shut down the ports there, stating at a farm in Illinois on May 11 that he would extend crop insurance for farmers who double crop in a bid to get more wheat to market this year.

But will Biden’s plan even work? U.S. wheat production is down 15 percent since 2019, from 1.93 billion bushels in 2019 to 1.64 billion in 2021, according to data compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Overall, the U.S. produces a little more than half of what it did in 1981, when it produced more than 75 million metric tons. That was down to 44.8 million in 2021.

The domestic wheat shortfall last year was thanks to major drought conditions that severely impacted production in Idaho, Montana and North Dakota, another hit to global food production that could not come at a worse time.

The biggest part of the problem is not enough has been planted. According to a March Department of Agriculture release on prospective plantings, 2022 will be the fifth lowest area planted since 1919: “All wheat planted area for 2022 is estimated at 47.4 million acres, up 1 percent from 2021. If realized, this represents the fifth lowest all wheat planted area since records began in 1919.”

Is Biden’s crop insurance program enough to avert potential starvation in the third world and beyond?

Given current conditions — Biden also complained in his speech that the spring had been very cool this year and that there was less time to plant more wheat this year — it appears unlikely the U.S. will be able to boost production to even get back to 2019 levels, let alone to offset drops in Ukrainian and Russian exports. Meaning, the worst may be yet to come.


The United Nations is a paper tiger

Like the League of Nations before it. Internationalism is a foolish dream

“Where is the peace that the United Nations was created to guarantee?” That’s the pointed question Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky asked the U.N. Security Council during a video speech on April 5 in response to Russia’s war on his country

The urgency of his questions needs no explanation. Vladimir Putin has decided Ukraine belongs to Russia, and there are no boundaries, treaties, or warnings that will prevent him from waging war to make it so. At this point, why should Ukraine’s President, or anyone else, have much confidence that the “international community” will stop this war?

More broadly, loss of faith in governing authorities is the defining story of our era. The U.S., the only nation that can project military power into every region of the world, has become its most politically dysfunctional major power. A third of Americans say Joe Biden is not a legitimately elected President. Europeans have lost faith too. In 2016, Britain voted its way out of the E.U., and antiestablishment, xenophobic parties of the far right shifted the politics inside many European states.

In fact, the entire international system is increasingly in question. China has advanced from impoverished to powerhouse over four decades and increasingly rejects the right of Westernled institutions to make and enforce international rules. Strongmen have emerged in Russia, India, Turkey, and even E.U. members Hungary and Poland to challenge principles of freedom of the press, democratic checks and balances, and minority rights. Few in any country have faith the U.N. can do much more than help care for and feed the refugees fleeing conflicts no one can resolve.

There’s a lot to be said for the idea that crises create opportunities that mustn’t be wasted. It’s true that our world has faced a stream of shocks in recent years: the 2008 global financial crisis, the Arab Spring, the 2015–2016 tidal wave of migrants into Europe, Brexit, the rise of angry populists in Europe and America, and then the worst pandemic in 100 years. None of these events has created a new sense of unity and purpose.

Now Russia has invaded Ukraine. War is killing civilians by the thousands, more than 5 million refugees have headed west in more than two months of fighting, NATO and Russia have moved to high alert, and fuel and food prices around the world are surging.

It’s no one’s fault the system is failing. Order and disorder are cyclical forces. The U.N. and institutions like the World Bank and IMF were built atop the ashes of a war that ended 77 years ago. That’s why Germany and Japan, wealthy and dynamic free- market democracies committed to multilateralism and the rule of law, had no seats at the table for Zelensky’s speech to the Security Council—and why Russia did.

The international system is broken. To fix it, the world needs a crisis. It was the crisis of World War II that created institutions and alliances that helped keep the peace and invest in global development for decades after. Putin’s war on Ukraine has created the biggest geopolitical emergency since the Cold War’s end. The Russian government has even threatened the use of nuclear weapons and warned of World War III.

Can this crisis bolster dying institutions and create new ones?