Friday, June 10, 2022


Covid not going away

A rise in UK hospital admissions for patients with Covid-19 has prompted experts to warn that Britain could face a fresh wave of coronavirus infections.

Life has largely returned to normal since the final social restrictions were removed on 24 February, with masks, distancing and hand sanitiser largely forgotten by the majority as the national focus switched to Partygate, the war in Ukraine and the cost of living crisis.

But new figures published on Tuesday show weekly admissions have increased by 4 per cent across England as of 5 June and were up by 33 per cent in the North East and Yorkshire.

Asked by The Independent if the UK was heading into another wave, John Roberts, one of the leading analysts at the Covid Actuaries group, answered: “Yes we could be but... how big that wave and how serious it will be in terms of admissions and deaths is very, very difficult to judge at this stage.”

His comments come after experts in Europe warned there will be a new wave driven by the growth of the BA.5 and BA.4 Covid variants.

The last major spike in cases came in December and January, driven by the Omicron variant, which spread rapidly around the world after being discovered in southern Africa in late November, once more threatening Christmas celebrations and sparking a run on booster vaccines.

Omicron proved to be less severe but more transmissible than its predecessor Alpha and Delta variants, with total daily case numbers in England rocketing to a pandemic high of 218,724 on 4 January, according to the UK Health Security Agency, before gradually falling away.

Since then, only the over-75s have been offered second booster jabs, meaning that immunity could be beginning to wane.

“If we are going to go into another wave, maybe that’s something that ought to be reconsidered,” Mr Roberts suggested.

What public health officials had to learn on the fly when Omicron arrived last winter was how the variant differed from the original Covid strain.

Whereas the World Health Organisation estimated that symptoms took anywhere between two days to two weeks to materialise in cases of people infected with the first coronavirus strain, Omicron proved to incubate much faster, closer to three to five days.

“Recent analysis from the UK Health Security Agency suggests that the window between infection and infectiousness may be shorter for the Omicron variant than the Delta variant,” UK health secretary Sajid Javid told the House of Commons on 6 December.

That explained why the strain was able to spread so swiftly and successfully, as the shortness of its incubation period gave sufferers a shorter window between suspecting they had contracted the virus and experiencing a flare-up, making it less likely a positive lateral flow test result would be recorded in time to warn others, enter isolation and prevent the contagion being passed on.

A shorter incubation period “makes a virus much, much, much harder to control”, Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, observed in The Atlantic that same month.

Another characteristic of Omicron that made it potentially harder to detect than earlier strains – and worth bearing in mind should any new variant make in-roads on these shores – is that its symptoms differed somewhat from the three primary indicators we had been conditioned to be on the lookout for in 2020: coughs, fever and the loss of one’s sense of taste or smell.

Early warning signs for the newer variant, by contrast, included a scratchy throat, lower back pain, a runny or blocked nose, a headache, muscle pains and fatigue, sneezing and night sweats.

Omicron cases analysed in Britain found that patients typically recovered within five days to a week on average, although some symptoms like coughing and fatigue were likely to linger for longer.

Shortness of breath, experienced by some sufferers, often proved to last for as long as 13 days after other symptoms had passed.

Covid patients are, typically, thought to be infectious to others from around two days before their first symptoms start to materialise and for around 10 days after.

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CDC Raises Monkeypox Alert, Recommends Masks During Travel, Then Removes Advice

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday raised its alert level for monkeypox to level 2 and recommended that people wear masks when traveling, before appearing to make a U-turn on the advice.

In an update, the government agency raised the alert level to 2, encouraging people to practice enhanced precaution measures such as avoiding contact with visibly sick people, regularly washing hands, and wearing a face covering.

“Cases of monkeypox have been reported in Europe, North America, South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia,” the CDC wrote in its alert.

“Some cases were reported among men who have sex with men. Some cases were also reported in people who live in the same household as an infected person,” it added.

The health body on Monday cautioned travelers to avoid close contact with sick people, including those with skin or genital lesions, as well as with dead or live wild animals such as small rodents and monkeys.

Travelers were also urged to avoid eating prepared meat from wild game or using products such as creams and lotions derived from wild animals from Africa, where cases of monkeypox are mainly found.

“Avoid contact with contaminated materials used by sick people (such as clothing, bedding, or materials used in health care settings) or that came into contact with infected animals,” the health body said.

Finally, the CDC urged travelers to wear masks, noting that doing so “can help protect you from many diseases, including monkeypox.”

However, the advice regarding mask-wearing is no longer present on the CDC website as of June 7, while the rest of the advice for travelers remains in place.

A CDC spokesperson told The Epoch Times on Tuesday:

“Late yesterday CDC removed the mask recommendation from the monkeypox Travel Health Notice because it caused confusion.

Travel Health Notices inform travelers and clinicians about current health issues that impact travelers’ health, like disease outbreaks, special events or gatherings, and natural disasters, in destinations around the world. In countries where there is a current monkeypox outbreak, CDC continues to recommend masking in high-risk situations including for household contacts and healthcare workers, or for other people who may be in close contact with a person who has been confirmed with monkeypox.

CDC will continue to update recommendations as more is learned about this current outbreak.”

Monkeypox is a rare virus believed to be transmitted to humans from animals and is endemic to Central and West Africa, typically places in close proximity to tropical rainforests.

It spreads from one person to another through close contact with bodily fluids, lesions, respiratory droplets, and contaminated materials.

Scientists say the virus can cause an array of symptoms including fever, body aches, swelling of the lymph nodes, fatigue, headaches, and a bumpy rash that often occurs one to three days after the fever begins before spreading to other parts of the body. The rash can last up to a month.

As of June 6, there have been 1,019 confirmed cases of monkeypox in 29 countries around the world tied to the current outbreak, of which 30 are in the United States, according to the CDC.

The first suspected case was reported on May 7 in an individual who traveled from the United Kingdom to Nigeria and subsequently returned to the United Kingdom.

Health officials have noted that a number of cases have been found among homosexual men, although the virus itself is not a sexually transmitted infection and can be caught by anyone.

Monkeypox is fatal in as many as 1 to 11 percent of people who become infected, although previous vaccination against smallpox, which is related to the monkeypox virus, may provide protection.

In May, pharmaceutical and biotechnology company Moderna announced it is testing potential vaccines against monkeypox in pre-clinical trials as part of its commitment to advancing programs by 2025 against pathogens that pose a threat to public health.

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The wheat crop: Biden was talking though his anus -- as usual

By Robert Romano

Last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported that U.S. winter wheat production will be down 8 percent in 2022, from 1.28 billion bushels in 2021 to 1.17 billion bushels expected this year amid drought in Kansas and other areas plus lower yields.

Adding to the misery, planting for spring wheat and durum is delayed the North Dakota Wheat Commission reported, via NDagconnection.com, on June 8: “this year producers continue to work on planting their wheat crops after a delayed start to planting and slow progress due to wet conditions, reports the North Dakota Wheat Commission… [S]ome fields are simply too wet to plant any crop and planting past June 10 or 15 is not an ideal option in an already short growing season.”

The lousy weather will almost certainly hurt yields, which are already down, according to the USDA’s May 12 press statement: “the U.S. yield is expected to average 47.9 bushels per acre, down 2.3 bushels from last year’s average of 50.2 bushels per acre.” That was the third consecutive year of declining yields, and they could not come at a worse time with the ongoing war in Ukraine, which combined with Russia was responsible for one-third of global wheat exports.

On May 11, President Joe Biden told the nation that U.S. farmers were “expanding production and feeding the world in need” this year, but it was all just happy talk. He vaguely offered crop insurance incentives to plant more. We didn’t.

In May, USDA had estimated that wheat planting nationwide would be up to 47 million acres planted this year, not a lot historically speaking. 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.”

The longer story here is that of globalization but also diversification of U.S. agriculture. The U.S. used to be the world’s breadbasket. Not so much, even with rising demand. 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.

More recently, 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.

The global shortfall is 4.5 million tons this year is real with global production already expected to drop by about 0.6 percent, according to the latest data by the Department of Agriculture: “Global production is forecast at 774.8 million tons, 4.5 million lower than in 2021/22. Reduced production in Ukraine, Australia, and Morocco is only partly offset by increases in Canada, Russia, and the United States. Production in Ukraine is forecast at 21.5 million tons in 2022/23, 11.5 million lower than 2021/22 due to the ongoing war.

And Russia won’t let the grain Ukraine produced out, with a naval blockade of Ukraine’s ports after taking over Mariupol in May, leaving 20 million tons of wheat apart from global supply chains.

On top of everything else, inflation isn’t helping. Producer prices for wheat by U.S. farmers are similarly adding to the drag, up 84 percent the last twelve months in April, according to data compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Biden knew the costs of escalating the war and what he called the “price of sanctions.” On March 24, President Biden warned of global food shortages at the NATO summit in Brussels Belgium, stating: “With regard to food shortage, yes, we did talk about food shortages. And — and it’s going to be real. The price of these sanctions is not just imposed upon Russia, it’s imposed upon an awful lot of countries as well, including European countries and our country as well. And — because both Russia and Ukraine have been the breadbasket of Europe in terms of wheat…”

This raises the question, what has the U.S. done to de-escalate the war? Because despite Biden’s rosy projections of “expanding production,” we have not. This year’s winter wheat was too dry, and the spring wheat might be too wet in some areas. And we’re just not planting enough. Is the rest of the world just going to have to make do?

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Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

https://immigwatch.blogspot.com/ (IMMIGRATION WATCH)

https://awesternheart.blogspot.com/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

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Thursday, June 09, 2022



Moderna develops new vaccine against Omicron

Moderna is powering ahead with the production of a new Omicron version of its Covid jab it hopes to have approved for use in the US within months.

Study results released in the US overnight show the new vaccine cocktail produces 1.75 times as many antibodies against Omicron as its original shot.

The new vaccine was tested in the US against the original Omicron variant BA.1 that swept through Australia over the Christmas holidays.

There is no data on whether it will work against the latest Omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5 variants now sweeping the country.

A new clinical trial by Moderna gave 377 people who‘d had three previous vaccinations a fourth dose of the company’s original vaccine.

And it compared their outcomes to 437 people also given three previous jabs who were given a new combination shot aimed at the original form of the virus as well as Omicron.

The newer vaccine led to a nearly eight-fold rise in levels of antibodies capable of fighting Omicron.

And it produced an antibody jump 1.75 times better than giving a fourth dose of the original vaccine, Moderna said.

The company said it was submitting the trial data to US regulator the FDA and hoped to market it around the end of summer in the US.

“We anticipate more durable protection against variants of concern with mRNA-1273.214, making it our lead candidate for a Fall 2022 booster,” said St├ęphane Bancel, Chief Executive Officer of Moderna.

“We are submitting our preliminary data and analysis to regulators with the hope that the Omicron-containing bivalent booster will be available in the late summer,” she said.

Moderna has entered a partnership with the Australian Government to build a manufacturing plant in Melbourne capable of producing 100 million mRNA vaccines a year.

It is possible the latest version of its Covid vaccine could be made here.

While the fast paced development of the Omicron version of the vaccine is unheard of, the virus is still managing to outpace science.

Even before the vaccine targeted at the original Omicron was fully tested the virus had mutated again to become even more infectious.

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Lockdown disasters: We told you so

Comment from Australia:

Not for the first time – and certainly not for the last, we can assure you – The Spectator Australia has been shown to have been prescient and astute in its analysis when all around us were heading in the opposite direction. That the knowledge that we belled the cat early on and against the orthodoxy comes with a degree of satisfaction is self-evident, but it also comes tinged with genuine unease. Why on earth does what appears to be common sense to so many of our writers and readers fly in the face of the accepted media and political dogma of the day?

In this instance, and it is by no means a solitary example, we now learn from a variety of respected and reputable sources that the draconian lockdowns we repeatedly railed against in these pages may have done more harm than good – quelle surprise! – including untold medical damage out of all proportion to their claimed successes. Worse, lockdowns may even have led to the deaths of thousands of young people who were never at risk from the virus in the first place. Indeed, one US study reports 170,000 surplus deaths amongst people in the prime of their lives (18-44) who were of low risk from Covid.

This disgraceful news was conveyed to an astonished world via the Australian newspaper this week along with numerous other sources.

Yet twelve months ago Dr David Adler, in his column in these pages entitled ‘Lockdown needs a slapdown’, was predicting this very outcome.

For the first time I deeply fear for the future of my country. This fear arises not from existential threats and challenges but because Australia is being trashed by incompetent control freak leadership which has also succeeded in severely scaring much of our citizenship. Panic rules the day.

Melbourne with over six months cumulative lockdown already holds the world record for the most locked down city and we’ve seen other cities locked down for a handful of community cases. Our state premiers are the world’s most reactionary in imposing panic lockdowns. The PM has signalled this is to continue.

There has been a complete loss of proportionality with Australian lockdowns doing much more harm than good and based on international data and experience, we now have impossible policy settings to sustain if we want life to return to normality. Our situation could now be described in the Eagles classic hit ‘Hotel California’, ‘you can check out anytime you like but you can never leave’.

The damage being done by lockdowns in smashing small businesses, disruption of education for kids, mental health problems including rise in self-harm and suicides, deferred routine health services resulting in delayed diagnoses of cancer and other illnesses – far exceed the harm caused by the virus. Australia may experience a wave of additional morbidity and mortality in the next few years due to cancers not being detected in 2020 and 2021 at Stage 1, but once they have spread to Stage 3 or 4. This could well affect thousands of patients.

Pursuing the lockdown and zero-case policy will do untold economic, health and lifestyle damage to Australians.

That is just part of Dr Adler’s article from a year ago. Several other Speccie writers, but most notably Rebecca Weisser and Ramesh Thakur, have throughout the two years of the pandemic, often on a weekly basis, provided insights, analysis, facts and warnings regarded as heresy by the left wokerati. Indeed, both have must-read articles in this week’s magazine, including a terrific – and terrifying – piece on excess mortality and the vaccines by Ms Weisser.

As the editor of The Spectator Australia, my commitment to you is that we will never flinch in providing you with well-researched and informed opinion that quite often upsets those in positions of power and flies in the face of the politically correct dictates of the day. And yes, there is a word for that, too. It’s called journalism.

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Doctors Suing Food and Drug Administration Over Ivermectin

A Washington law firm has filed a federal lawsuit against the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for interfering with the use of ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19.

The lawsuit was filed by Boyden Gray & Associates on behalf of three doctors who were disciplined for prescribing human-grade ivermectin to patients.

The firm’s founder, attorney Boyden Gray, is a former legal adviser to the Reagan and Bush administrations.

Gray told The Epoch Times that the FDA had violated well-established law that allows doctors to prescribe an FDA-approved drug as an off-label treatment.

Ivermectin was no different, he said. It was approved by the FDA in 1966.

“Congress recognized the importance of letting doctors be doctors and expressly prohibited the FDA from interfering with the practice of medicine,” Gray said.

“That is exactly what the FDA has done time and time again throughout this pandemic, assuming authority it doesn’t have and trying to insert itself in the medical decisions of Americans everywhere.”

The three plaintiffs in the case are Dr. Paul Marik of Virginia, Dr. Mary Bowden of Texas, and Dr. Robert Apter of Arizona.

Marik is a founder of the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care 21 Alliance (FLCCC), a national nonprofit that promotes alternative COVID-19 treatments to the government-touted vaccine.

“The FDA has made public statements on ivermectin that have been misleading and have raised unwarranted concern over a critical drug in preventing and treating COVID-19,” Marik told The Epoch Times. “To do this is to ignore both statutory limits on the FDA’s authority and the significant body of scientific evidence from peer-reviewed research.”

According to Marik, more than 80 medical trials conducted since the outbreak of COVID-19 show that ivermectin is a safe and effective treatment for the virus.

Gray said the FDA has engaged in unlawful interference with the use of ivermectin and should be held accountable for that.

The lawsuit included several statements made by the FDA that Gray said show that the administration interfered with the use of ivermectin.

They include an Aug. 21, 2021, Twitter post by the agency: “You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it.”

The post, with an image of a horse and a doctor, has a headline that reads, “Why you should not use ivermectin to treat or prevent COVID-19.”

Marik, Bowden, and Apter are among a number of U.S. doctors across the United States who have been disciplined for prescribing ivermectin.

Marik, a critical care specialist, was suspended by Sentara Norfolk General Hospital for prescribing ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment. Bowden, an ear, nose, and throat specialist, was suspended from the Houston Medical Hospital. Apter was under investigation by both the Washington Medical Commission and Arizona Medical Board for prescribing ivermectin.

Marik was recently informed that he was under investigation by the medical licensing board in Virginia.

Gray filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Texas.

The doctors are seeking a permanent injunction that would prohibit the FDA from interfering with the use of ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19.

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Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

https://immigwatch.blogspot.com/ (IMMIGRATION WATCH)

https://awesternheart.blogspot.com/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

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Wednesday, June 08, 2022



Inflation: Senile Joe Biden’s inflation diagnosis and cure will make the disease worse

Biden wrote at The WSJ that his plan has three parts:

“First, the Federal Reserve has a primary responsibility to control inflation. My predecessor demeaned the Fed, and past presidents have sought to influence its decisions inappropriately during periods of elevated inflation. I won’t do this. I have appointed highly qualified people from both parties to lead that institution. I agree with their assessment that fighting inflation is our top economic challenge right now.”

As with everything else, Joe is a little late to the party here. The Fed, through quantitative easing, has already ramped up the money supply so high that it will be very difficult to rein in inflation. You can’t un-ring a bell and dumping trillions of unsupported cash into the economy will show up. Americans see it whenever they go to the store or to the gas station.

Not “interfering” with the FED’s actions won’t earn Biden a pass here. He’s already done more than enough to set the inflation avalanche in motion. Staying out of the way now won’t alleviate the pain of those in its path. We’d best prepare our shovels to dig out from being buried by the flow.

Joe went on, “Second, we need to take every practical step to make things more affordable for families during this moment of economic uncertainty—and to boost the productive capacity of our economy over time. The price at the pump is elevated in large part because Russian oil, gas and refining capacity are off the market. We can’t let up on our global effort to punish Mr. Putin for what he’s done, and we must mitigate these effects for American consumers. That is why I led the largest release from global oil reserves in history. Congress could help right away by passing clean energy tax credits and investments that I have proposed. A dozen CEOs of America’s largest utility companies told me earlier this year that my plan would reduce the average family’s annual utility bills by $500 and accelerate our transition from energy produced by autocrats...”

Huh? The CEO’s Joe referenced must be Democrats. Since the vast majority of American energy is still realized through burning fossil fuels, how is it possible to reduce bills by cutting supply of what, pardon the expression, drives the economy? Biden must feel boxed in a corner with this green energy nonsense, so politically speaking, he can’t and won’t let it go. But ask your regular consumer whether he or she would be satisfied with tax credits and/or federal subsidies for windmills and solar panels and ethanol instead of just pumping more oil out of the ground, and he'll tell you to go catch a slow boat to China.

Even if Biden were correct, which he’s not, utility bills wouldn’t be reduced now, next year, or anytime soon by mass emphasis on “green energy”. Benefits twenty years down the line won’t “help” consumers pay for stuff in 2022. Here, again, Biden doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about.

In his piece, Joe also wrote that Democrats would fix the supply chain, build more housing and lower prescription drug prices by empowering Medicare to negotiate with drug companies. This was standard Democrat-speak for more government price controls and useless interference in the free market. He also shifted responsibility to Congress for inaction on his ideas (which basically singles out Senator Joe Manchin). Do we want Joe Biden’s “help” here? No thanks.

Biden lays out the third part of his plan: “Third, we need to keep reducing the federal deficit, which will help ease price pressures. Last week the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected that the deficit will fall by $1.7 trillion this year—the largest reduction in history. That will leave the deficit as a share of the economy lower than prepandemic levels and lower than CBO projected for this year before the American Rescue Plan passed. This deficit progress wasn’t preordained. In addition to winding down emergency programs responsibly, about half the reduction is driven by an increase in revenue—as my economic policies powered a rapid recovery.”

Not so astonishingly, Biden claims credit for “reducing the deficit” from the previous years, which not-so-loosely translated means, the government is spending slightly less than it was during the wanton appropriations binge during the COVID pandemic. While it may be true that the feds aren’t engaging in the splurging orgy that they were two years ago -- and last year, thanks to the $1.9 trillion, party-line vote “relief” bill -- the budget is still not even close to balancing.

Predictably, one of the many things Biden neglected to mention is the effect that paying higher interest rates to finance the enormous national debt will have on the annual budget. Every percentage point higher in interest adds up quickly when you’re servicing $30+ trillion that you’ve borrowed from the FED, China, taxpayers, whomever. How much will it cost in interest to finance what was borrowed a decade ago?

Not to mention, what about the revenues lost from the senseless reductions in energy production? Democrats never credit the significant tax collections that are generated from oil, gas and coal development. While it may not be possible to drill our way out of government deficits, every bit counts. God gifted the United States with the capability to not only achieve energy independence, but also to export the fuels to a thirsty global market.

As I’ve argued many times, boosting energy prices makes everything more expensive. Farmers don’t have electric tractors and combines and there aren’t “green energy” semi-trucks to transport the harvest, either.

Further, we have not yet begun to see the full effects of the inflation to come. Reports are emerging that food prices will increase dramatically when farmers harvest their crops and send them to market. In other words, the more they’re paying for fertilizer now to grow the same amount of grain or feed their livestock as the year before, the more they’ll ask for when they bring the crops for sale.

And what about all the personal credit card debt Americans are accumulating in trying to deal with the skyrocketing prices? Interest rate hikes will be found here, too, which will compound the already serious problem.

It’s clear by his repeated excuses and denials of culpability that Joe Biden neither understands what’s causing inflation nor how to deal with it. Government “help” has already done enough damage and every extra tidbit of tinkering with the free market will exacerbate the problem. Democrats brought the political anger upon themselves by elevating a senile dunce to the presidency.

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Hispanic breakthrough?

In another sign the November midterm elections will see widespread losses for Democrats, another poll finds Hispanic voters are more likely than white voters to disapprove of Joe Biden’s job performance and prefer Republicans control Congress.

The poll, conducted by Quinnipiac University and released May 18, found only 35 percent of all registered voters approved of Biden’s job performance, with 57 percent disapproving. Additionally, 47 percent of registered voters preferred Republicans win control of the U.S. House, with 43 percent preferring Democrats. (These numbers have actually declined even further, but we’ll stick with this particular poll for now.)

But what is surprising to many is Hispanics, generally considered a reliable Democrat voting bloc, are now more likely than white voters to disapprove of Biden and prefer Republicans.

When asked “Do you approve or disapprove of the way Joe Biden is handling his job as president?,” only 32 percent of white registered voters expressed approval. Among Hispanics it was even lower, at only 26 percent approval.

The trend continued in party approval. When asked “Do you approve or disapprove of the way the Republicans in Congress are handling their job?” Hispanics were more likely than whites to express approval, 33 percent to 28 percent.

Only 24 percent of Hispanics approve(d) of the way the Democrats in Congress are handling their job,” compared to 27 percent of whites.

While support for Republicans isn’t optimal, the rock-bottom approval of Biden and Democrats appears to be fueling strong Hispanic support for GOP candidates.

When asked “If the election were today, would you want to see the Republican Party or the Democratic Party win control of the United States House of Representatives?,” 48 percent of Hispanic registered voters backed Republicans and 34 percent backed Democrats.

All About the Money

I have a feeling that Hispanics, like all other subsets of our population, are starting to look at the bottom dollar. And at this point, there isn’t one. Families are going under with mounting fuel costs, skyrocketing grocery bills, and no relief in site. Even the little bitty babies are suffering from a formula shortage that Biden refuses to address properly. But he doesn’t mind giving Ukraine $40 Billion. How many Hispanic families could that money help?

Clearly, inflation is rampant. The consumer price index jumped another 8.3% in April alone. This trend isn’t slowing down. Not only is Bidenflation a problem, but we’re headed into stagflation– a stagnant economy mixed with inflation that is so bad, the 1970s are back for an encore performance.

That’s not the worst of our problems. Biden is the worst of our problems. Whether we’re talking foreign relations, military leadership, inflation, supply chain, trade, lingering effects of the scamdemic, the issue is really not what matters. What truly matters is what approach our leaders are taking to solve these crises. And that’s where we see what a demented clown is sitting in the White House.

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One Picture Of Trump’s Home Has Just Burst The Liberal Bubble!

The left loves to tout that President Trump and his supporters are white supremacists who hate women and want to steal your candy, but as we know that is hardly the truth. Trump is the one leader that we have had in a very long time that actually promotes unity to the American people, and wants to make American great for all that live in our nation.

However, that just doesn’t fly with liberals whose only desire is to destroy our country from the inside with division and hatred.

Now, to fly in the face of that ridiculous rhetoric from the left, a new picture is floating around Twitter that literally smacks these hateful leftists and their lies.

Caleb Hull posted a picture on the HUGE social media site showing Trump’s employees laughing, smiling, and trying to get a picture with him. Take a few seconds to focus on a different person each time you look at the picture. As Hull says, there is a LOT going on!

image from https://pbs.twimg.com/media/E1RShP-WYAYrz8R?format=jpg&name=900x900

Did you notice what I noticed?

Yeah, there all sorts of diversity happening in that picture and they seem, do I dare say…happy?

There were lot of positive tweets about the picture but all have been deleted by Twitter

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Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

https://immigwatch.blogspot.com/ (IMMIGRATION WATCH)

https://awesternheart.blogspot.com/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

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Tuesday, June 07, 2022

The end of energy free trade


Russia’s attack on Ukraine is redrawing the world’s energy map, ushering in a new era in which the flow of fossil fuels is influenced by geopolitical rivalries as much as supply and demand.

Over the past half-century, oil and natural gas have moved with relative freedom to the markets where they commanded the highest prices around the world. That ended abruptly when Russian tanks rumbled across the Ukraine border on February 24, triggering a barrage of trade sanctions by the US and Europe targeting Russia that have plunged global commerce into disarray.

During the past week, the European Union agreed to its toughest sanctions yet on Russia, banning imports of its oil and blocking insurers from covering its cargoes of crude.

Whatever new order emerges won’t be fully clear for years to come. But traders, diplomats and other experts in energy geopolitics generally agree that it will be more Balkanized, and less free-flowing, than what the world has seen since the end of the Cold War.

Three likely axes of energy influence are emerging: the US and other Western nations, which have used their massive economic and purchasing power as a political weapon; China and large emerging nations such as India, Turkey and Vietnam, which have rebuffed Western pressure and continued doing business with Russia; and Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern oil-producing nations, which have sought to maintain neutrality, and may stand to gain market share in the years to come.

“We are in a real hinge of history,” said Chas Freeman, a former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia. Mr. Freeman, who is now a senior fellow at Brown University, said Europe can never again trust Russia to be its primary energy provider, and that even if sanctions are lifted, countries are proposing costly new infrastructure and endorsing long-term alternative supply contracts that will lock in the new energy map.

The new order promises to make the energy trade less efficient and more expensive, potentially putting commodities at the centre of the next global economic crisis, said Zoltan Pozsar, a former official at the Treasury Department who now heads short-term interest-rate strategy at Credit Suisse Group AG.

A German embargo of Russian crude would likely mean that instead of Russian oil reaching Hamburg in a week or two, it would take several months to travel to China, he noted. Conversely for Middle Eastern oil, the embargo would trigger a longer voyage to Europe for crude that would have ordinarily gone to Asia. Such inefficiencies will drive up the costs of shipping, insurance, and financing that underpin the energy trade, he said.

Many predict Russia’s energy industry, the backbone of its economy, will contract because the loss of its largest market cannot be completely replaced. Western financial and technological sanctions will undermine Russia’s ability to maintain current revenues and production levels, these people say.

“Russia’s days as an energy superpower are over,” said Daniel Yergin, the vice-chairman of S&P Global and a noted oil-industry historian.

But the new map isn’t without risks to American power and the country’s standing as the guarantor of global trade. Since the end of World War II, the US dollar has been the default currency for oil transactions, which has helped maintain its centrality to the global economy.

Leveraging the might of the US financial system to muster sanctions against Russia has called into question its reliability as a place to store wealth, Mr Freeman said.

Now Saudi Arabia, India and other developing countries are exploring conducting energy transactions in non-US dollar currencies. Russia has similarly begun seeking recompense in rubles for its fossil fuels.

“We may have had good reasons, but the US has politicised the trade of energy,” Mr Freeman said.

Geopolitics and energy have always been linked, and US. sanctions against Iran and Venezuela have disrupted global oil flows in recent years. But since the end of the Arab oil embargo of the early 1970s, the relatively free trade of commodities, backed by US. military and financial might, has been a hallmark of the international system.

That is now changing. During a speech in April, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said that in the wake of Russia’s invasion, it was time to redesign Bretton Woods, the system of trade rules adopted in 1944 that prioritised economic efficiency and international cooperation. Ms Yellen advocated for “friend-shoring” supply chains of critical raw materials by deepening trade ties with “a group of countries that have strong adherence to a set of norms and values.” Trade flows are already being redirected as Western energy companies pull out of Russia and shippers, lenders and insurers refuse to touch Russian exports.

The EU, in beginning to implement its embargo on Russian oil exports today, joins Australia, the US, UK and Canada. Following concerns Hungary raised about the economic impact, the embargo will exempt oil delivered from Russia via pipelines. Still, by the end of the year, the embargo would cover 90 per cent of previous Russian oil imports, EU officials said.

Russian oil exports to the EU, the U.S., the UK, Japan and South Korea have already fallen by 563,000 barrels per day, or 32 per cent from February to April. A full EU ban would mean some 2.8 million barrels per day of crude and 1.1 million barrels per day of products that normally flow into Europe will have to find a new market, according to investment bank Piper Sandler.

European leaders will find it more difficult to wean themselves off Russian natural gas, which typically accounts for more than 30% of the EU’s supply and mostly comes via pipeline. JPMorgan Chase estimates that by the end of the year Europe will still receive between 81 per cent and 94 per cent of the amount of Russian gas it took in 2021. The EU has said it would stop using Russian oil and gas by 2027, but ending its reliance on Russian energy could come at a heavy cost.

Amos Hochstein, President Biden’s coordinator for energy security, has worked with foreign officials and energy executives to bolster alternative supplies of oil and gas to Europe to blunt the pain.

But Europe and the US are operating under an additional constraint: Mr. Hochstein said the US won’t provide incentives for long-term fossil-fuel investments that run counter to its plan to encourage a transition to greener energy sources.

“We’re trying to help Europe, stabilise the market and protect U.S. consumers while making Putin pay the price and do that without cheating our overall goal of reduced fossil-fuel usage,” Mr Hochstein said.

EU leaders have said they would now accelerate ambitious plans to build out renewable energy projects as a result of the war, but concede Europe will need more fossil fuels in the interim.

Increased demand coupled with Western energy sanctions against Russia that will cut its output may lead to physical shortages of global oil, according to Joseph McMonigle, secretary-general of the Saudi Arabia-based International Energy Forum.

“If Russia is removed from the export market, there will be a global recession that kills demand,” Mr McMonigle said.

Saudi comeback Middle Eastern producers look poised to be winners in the emerging energy map. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states had been under pressure to diversify away from fossil fuels in recent years due to growing global concerns about climate change. But President Joe Biden called on the kingdom to drill more in the lead up to war, a stark turnaround from his presidential campaign, when he called the nation a pariah.

Retired Admiral Dennis Blair, who served as then president Barack Obama’s first director of National Intelligence, said despite efforts to pivot US foreign policy away from the region, the importance of the Middle East to US interests has been elevated again by the war.

“We need to have a very eyes-open, transactional relationship with Saudi, where we do have to go back to being their ultimate provider of defence until we can electrify our transportation and transition to more diverse energy sources,” Mr Blair said.

State-owned energy giant Saudi Arabian Oil Co, known as Saudi Aramco, which recently overtook Apple Inc. as the world’s most valuable company, is already receiving more requests for its crude from buyers in Europe. More broadly, Saudi officials say the war has shown that aggressive targets to reduce carbon emissions by rapidly cutting fossil fuel usage were unrealistic.

“The kingdom finds it laughable that last year, several countries, including the United States, have been pressuring them to stick to [plans to zero out carbon emissions by 2050] but now are asking them for more oil,” said a Saudi official.

After rejecting U.S. requests for more production for months, OPEC and its allies agreed Thursday to a bigger-than-expected output increase, allowing Saudi Arabia to potentially pump more crude and paving the way for a potential oil-for-security deal with the US and a visit from President Biden later this month.

“The Russian invasion has taught the world one thing loud and clear: We need more Saudi oil,” another Saudi official said.

Challenge for Russia Russia’s new imperative is deepening ties with Asia, and especially China, to offset the looming loss of its European market.

Such a pivot is particularly necessary for Russia’s natural-gas exports, which are less fungible than its oil, and will require a massive infrastructure build-out to find a new home. Russia previously exported as much as 200 billion cubic metres of gas a year to Europe, by far its biggest market. It sold about 33 bcm to Asia last year.

Russia has a handful of proposed pipelines and liquefied natural gas projects, which convert the gas to a liquid enabling seaborne trade, that would boost its ability to send gas to Asia, but many of the projects are technically challenging and expensive, and Western sanctions will hamper their progress, say analysts.

The most important planned project is a roughly 1600-mile (2570km) pipeline connecting Russia’s Yamal peninsula to China, called Power of Siberia 2. The first Power of Siberia project cost more than $US50 billion ($69bn) and took more than five years to build. It will send nearly 40 bcm to China at full capacity and the second could send as much as 50 bcm of gas to China.

When the two countries agreed to terms on the first pipeline in 2014, China extracted relatively cheap gas prices. “Our Chinese friends drive a hard bargain as negotiators,” Russian President Vladimir Putin remarked at the time.

China holds even more negotiating power this go-round, due to Russia’s desperation to offset European lost revenues, said Ed Chow, a senior associate at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies. Russia could, at most, sell as much as 120 bcm of gas to Asia by 2030, and at a lower price than it fetches in Europe, according to CSIS.

“Everyone will try to take advantage of the fact that Russia needs them more now,” Mr. Chow said.

Russian diplomats are rushing to counter U.S. efforts to deter Russian energy from finding a new home. Russian oil cargoes bound for India, Turkey, China and other “friendly” countries increased by more than 1.2 million barrels per day from February to April, a 146 per cent increase, according to JPMorgan Chase.

Russian state-run natural gas giant Gazprom redirected several LNG tankers from Japan to China and India, an official said in an interview, a pre-emptive move in case Tokyo joins the Western embargo.

But Asian buyers are unlikely to fully supplant Europe as a market for Russian oil and gas over the long term, say analysts and traders. Though India has rebuffed calls to embargo Russian oil, it is buying Russian barrels at a steep discount in the same way China has sought natural-gas discounts.

Losing its nearest and largest market will cost Russia billions of dollars in energy revenues every year. Coupled with biting technological sanctions, this will seriously degrade the country’s ability to sustain its current oil-and-gas production levels. The IEA estimates the amount of Russian production offline could triple to 3 million barrels per day by the end of 2022 amid the EU oil sanctions, suggesting a nearly 27 per cent decrease in pre-war production levels.

Some Russian energy officials privately concede Russia will be unable to dodge prolonged Western energy sanctions.

“Russia was shocked at how united the West was on sanctions,” the Gazprom official said.

https://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/the-wall-street-journal/the-end-of-energy-free-trade/news-story/4c1dca56a888fac10f6811134368b46d

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Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

https://immigwatch.blogspot.com/ (IMMIGRATION WATCH)

https://awesternheart.blogspot.com/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

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Monday, June 06, 2022



New York Times Backtracks on COVID-19 Lockdown Harm

The New York Times (NYT), one of the leading media outlets to publish favorable articles on lockdowns and other extreme measures to battle the COVID-19 virus, has done an about-face on its position, at least on how such policies have impacted children and the lockdown harm they have caused.

On May 5, 2022, the media outlet ran an article titled, ‘Not Good for Learning,’ which details evidence that school shutdowns cost students dearly in terms of math and reading scores based on standardized Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) test results.

“Remote learning was a failure,” wrote the writer, David Leonhardt.

The impetus for the change on lockdown harm appears to come from a new study from the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University. The study, titled “Consequences of Remote and Hybrid Instruction During the Pandemic,” reviewed MAP test data for 2.1 million students in 10,000 schools in 49 states, plus D.C.

The study revealed that, on average, students who attended in-person school for nearly all of 2020-21 lost about 20 percent worth of a typical school year’s math learning during the study’s two-year window. However, students who stayed home for most of 2020-21 fared much worse, losing an average of about 50 percent of a typical school year’s math learning during the study’s two-year window.

The article also referenced an October 2020 article by Emily Oster in The Atlantic titled, “Schools Aren’t Super-Spreaders,” which detailed data she had collected from 47 states that indicated an average student infection rate of a scant 0.13 percent. Even higher-risk staff were infected at a rate of only 0.24 percent.

Low-Risk Group

A few months into the pandemic, there was a growing body of evidence that school-aged children were among the lowest risk groups for serious infection or transmission of the SARS-CoV2 virus.

“The experience of Sweden shows that the school shutdowns were never justified,” said Jeffrey A. Tucker, the founder, and president of the Brownstone Institute. “Even based on demographic data from January 2020, we knew this already. The elites sacrificed a whole generation of school kids, and the public is demanding answers now. Rightly so.”

Other MSM publications also have been slow to admit that early fearmongering and the resultant shutdowns are increasingly being demonstrated to have been pointless. Few have linked draconian policies to the devastating consequences being seen today such as supply chain shortages, empty retail and grocery shelves, soaring energy costs, and inflation, following the trillions of dollars that were pumped into the U.S. economy in the name of COVID-19 emergency relief.

Media narratives on lockdown harm began to soften in 2022 when poll after poll demonstrated the weariness of the public from the restrictions and a mid-term election looming in November. A key study gave media outlets little room for defending masks and lockdowns.

A meta-data analysis conducted by three respected economists from Johns Hopkins University, Lund University in Sweden, and the Danish think-tank the Center for Political Studies and published in January 2022, found that restrictions imposed in the spring of 2020, including shelter in place orders, masks mandates, and social distancing, only reduced COVID-19 mortality by 0.2 percent.

Still, Newsweek published a February 7, 2022 hit piece on the study titled, “Did a Johns Hopkins Study ‘Prove’ Lockdowns Don’t Work? What We Know So Far.” The article criticized the study for not being peer-reviewed and that alleged “right-leaning outlets,” including The National Post, The Washington Times, and The Wall Street Journal had reported on the study.
The article failed to mention that peer reviews are not always the gold standard. In 2020, the Lancet and New England Journal of Medicine retracted peer-reviewed studies discrediting off-label drugs to treat and prevent COVID-19.

The Newsweek article concluded not with a factual rebuttal of the study, but rather with a dogmatic claim, not by a medical scientist or epidemiologist, but by an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science, University of Oxford, named Seth Flaxman.

“Smoking causes cancer, the Earth is round, and ordering people to stay at home (the correct definition of lockdown) decreases disease transmission,” Flaxman said. “None of this is controversial among scientists. A study purporting to prove the opposite is almost certain to be fundamentally flawed.”

Can’t Deny Growing Evidence

Tucker says it is impossible for mainstream media outlets to ignore the growing evidence that the lockdowns were a costly mistake.

“Not even the New York Times can deny the crisis caused by the shutdowns, which affects the whole of society, especially the catastrophic educational losses,” said Tucker. “What’s outrageous is the lack of responsibility here. The NYT essentially began this era with its promotion of COVID lockdowns. The losses are incalculable. We need honesty not only about the effects but also about the cause. Their own venue was a major player.”

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During the Omicron Wave, Death Rates Soared for Older People

Despite strong levels of vaccination among older people, Covid killed them at vastly higher rates during this winter’s Omicron wave than it did last year, preying on long delays since their last shots and the variant’s ability to skirt immune defenses.

This winter’s wave of deaths in older people belied the Omicron variant’s relative mildness. Almost as many Americans 65 and older died in four months of the Omicron surge as did in six months of the Delta wave, even though the Delta variant, for any one person, tended to cause more severe illness.

While overall per capita Covid death rates have fallen, older people still account for an overwhelming share of them.

“This is not simply a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” said Andrew Stokes, an assistant professor in global health at Boston University who studies age patterns of Covid deaths. “There’s still exceptionally high risk among older adults, even those with primary vaccine series.”

The Omicron Wave Was Deadlier Than Delta for Older People in the U.S.

That swing in the pandemic has intensified pressure on the Biden administration to protect older Americans, with health officials in recent weeks encouraging everyone 50 and older to get a second booster and introducing new models of distributing antiviral pills.

In much of the country, though, the booster campaign remains listless and disorganized, older people and their doctors said. Patients, many of whom struggle to drive or get online, have to maneuver through an often labyrinthine health care system to receive potentially lifesaving antivirals.

Nationwide Covid deaths in recent weeks have been near the lowest levels of the pandemic, below an average of 400 a day. But the mortality gap between older and younger people has grown: Middle-aged Americans, who suffered a large share of pandemic deaths last summer and fall, are now benefiting from new stores of immune protection in the population as Covid deaths once again cluster around older people.

And the new wave of Omicron subvariants may create additional threats: While hospitalizations in younger age groups have remained relatively low, admission rates among people 70 and older in the Northeast have climbed to one-third of the winter Omicron wave’s towering peak.

“I think we are going to see the death rates rising,” said Dr. Sharon Inouye, a geriatrician and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. “It is going to become more and more risky for older adults as their immunity wanes.”

Deaths have fallen from the heights of the winter wave in part because of growing levels of immunity from past infections, experts said. For older people, there is also a grimmer reason: So many of the most fragile Americans were killed by Covid over the winter that the virus now has fewer targets in that age group.

But scientists warned that many older Americans remained susceptible. To protect them, geriatricians called on nursing homes to organize in-home vaccinations or mandate additional shots.

In the longer term, scientists said that policymakers needed to address the economic and medical ills that have affected especially nonwhite older Americans, lest Covid continue cutting so many of their lives short.

“I don’t think we should treat the premature death of older adults as a means of ending the pandemic,” Dr. Stokes said. “There are still plenty of susceptible older adults — living with comorbid conditions or living in multigenerational households — who are highly vulnerable.”

The pattern of Covid deaths this year has recreated the dynamics from 2020 — before vaccines were introduced, when the virus killed older Americans at markedly higher rates. Early in the pandemic, mortality rates steadily climbed with each extra year of age, Dr. Stokes and his collaborators found in a recent study.

That changed last summer and fall, during the Delta surge. Older people were getting vaccinated more quickly than other groups: By November, the vaccination rate in Americans 65 and older was roughly 20 percentage points higher than that of those in their 40s. And critically, those older Americans had received vaccines relatively recently, leaving them with strong levels of residual protection.

As a result, older people suffered from Covid at lower rates than they had been before vaccines became available. Among people 85 and older, the death rate last fall was roughly 75 percent lower than it had been in the winter of 2020, Dr. Stokes’s recent study found.

At the same time, the virus walloped younger and less vaccinated Americans, many of whom were also returning to in-person work. Death rates for white people in their late 30s more than tripled last fall compared to the previous winter. Death rates for Black people in the same age group more than doubled.

The rebalancing of Covid deaths was so pronounced that, among Americans 80 and older, overall deaths returned to prepandemic levels in 2021, according to a study posted online in February. The opposite was true for middle-aged Americans: Life expectancy in that group, which had already dropped more than it had among the same age range in Europe, fell even further in 2021.

“In 2021, you see the mortality impact of the pandemic shift younger,” said Ridhi Kashyap, a lead author of that study and a demographer at the University of Oxford.

By the time the highly contagious Omicron variant took over, researchers said, more older Americans had gone a long time since their last Covid vaccination, weakening their immune defenses.

As of mid-May, more than one-quarter of Americans 65 and older had not had their most recent vaccine dose within a year. And more than half of people in that age group had not been given a shot in the last six months.

The Omicron variant was better than previous versions of the virus at evading those already weakening immune defenses, reducing the effectiveness of vaccines against infection and more serious illness. That was especially true for older people, whose immune systems respond less aggressively to vaccines in the first place.

For some people, even three vaccine doses appear to become less protective over time against Omicron-related hospital admissions. A study published recently in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine found that trend held for people with weakened immune systems, a category that older Americans were likelier to fall into. Sara Tartof, the study’s lead author and an epidemiologist at Kaiser Permanente in Southern California, said that roughly 9 percent of people 65 and older in the study were immunocompromised, compared with 2.5 percent of adults under 50.

During the Omicron wave, Covid death rates were once again dramatically higher for older Americans than younger ones, Dr. Stokes said. Older people also made up an overwhelming share of the excess deaths — the difference between the number of people who actually died and the number who would have been expected to die if the pandemic had never happened.

Dr. Jeremy Faust, an emergency physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, found in a recent study that excess deaths were more heavily concentrated in people 65 and older during the Omicron wave than the Delta surge. Overall, the study found, there were more excess deaths in Massachusetts during the first eight weeks of Omicron than during the 23-week period when Delta dominated.

As older people began dying at higher rates, Covid deaths also came to include higher proportions of vaccinated people. In March, about 40 percent of the people who died from Covid were vaccinated, according to an analysis of figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Fewer older Americans have also been infected during the pandemic than younger people, leading to lower levels of natural immunity. As of February, roughly one-third of people 65 and older showed evidence of prior infections, compared with about two-thirds of adults under 50.

A drop-off in Covid precautions this winter, combined with the high transmissibility of Omicron, left older people more exposed, scientists said. It is unclear how their own behavior may have changed. An earlier study, from scientists at Marquette University, suggested that while older people in Wisconsin had once been wearing masks at rates higher than those of younger people, that gap had effectively disappeared by mid-2021.

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Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

https://immigwatch.blogspot.com/ (IMMIGRATION WATCH)

https://awesternheart.blogspot.com/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

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Sunday, June 05, 2022


Explaining the Left/Right divide

In 2004 I wrote an article for a sociology journal under the above heading. It looked at the Left/Right divide over the last 1,000 years, with a particularly extensive focus on the Tudor period.

On looking back on the article, I was pleased to find that what it said was still applicable today. A lot has happened since 2004, however, so I have updated the article to include recent examples. You can find it here.

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'Long COVID' Is Not Grounds for More Mandates

Though the CDC claims people who choose not to get the COVID vaccine are more at risk of "long COVID," a new study reveals there is a negligible difference in risk for "long COVID" symptoms between those with and without the vaccine.

"Long COVID" refers to cases of COVID-19 in which affected individuals continue experiencing symptoms for weeks or months after initially contracting the virus. The CDC says, "people who did not get a COVID-19 vaccine may be more at risk for developing post-COVID conditions (or long COVID)."

According to the study from Nature Medicine, vaccines only decrease the risk of long COVID by about 15 percent.

One in five adults experience long COVID symptoms according to the CDC. But Dr. Greg Vanichkachorn, director of the COVID activity rehabilitation program at the Mayo Clinic, said "the majority of folks with long COVID have not had severe infections" (via NBC).

Booster vaccines do very little, if anything, to prevent long COVID according to Vanichkachorn (via NBC):

I do not think boosting will do much to prevent long COVID with the vaccine. We have many patients with breakthrough infections who are as vaccinated as possible. We also have not seen much of a difference between variants with long COVID symptoms.

Many are still encouraging masking to prevent COVID, even though the mandates in the past two years have not prevented transmission of the virus. Dr. Margaret Liu, chair of the board of the International Society for Vaccines, has highlighted such concerns (via Medical News Today):

A big reason that I and other physicians are still being so careful to still mask and to avoid as much as possible situations of exposure is that prevention of any COVID-19 infection is still the best strategy to avoid long-haul COVID.

The CDC has not provided any statistics relating to deaths caused specifically by long COVID and COVID deaths in general are going down. But as Townhall reported, lockdowns saw an increase in drug overdose deaths, domestic violence, and more harmful consequences.

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‘Significant’ Cases of Neurological Disorder Associated with the AstraZeneca Vaccine

A UK study by University College London has confirmed “small but significant” cases of the serious Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), a rare neurological disorder associated with the AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19.

The researchers speculate that “the majority or all” of the 121 UK cases of GBS (pdf) in March to April 2021 were associated with first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine administered in January.

“A similar pattern is not seen with the other vaccines or following a second dose of any vaccine,” said lead author Prof. Michael Lunn on May 30.

The team observed that from January to October 2021, 996 GBS cases were recorded in the national database but with an unusual spike from March to April with about 140 cases per month rather than 100.

To identify whether any or all of these cases were linked to vaccination, the team linked dates of GBS onset to vaccination receipt for every individual and found that 198 GBS cases (20 percent of 966) occurred within six weeks of their first dose of COVID-19 vaccination in England; of these, 176 people had an AstraZeneca vaccination, 21 for Pfizer, and 1 for Moderna.

The researchers found no excess GBS cases associated with mRNA vaccines, but observed 5.8 excess cases of GBS per million doses of vaccine for AstraZeneca, equating to a total excess between January to July 2021 of around 98–140 cases, confirming the association between the vaccine and GBS.

GBS is a rare and serious neurological disorder that occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks its own nerves, typically resulting in numbness, weakness, pain in the limbs, and sometimes even paralysis of breathing.

The disease is commonly associated with Campylobacter infections that prompt the body to attack its own nerves.

However, GBS cases were also observed in the 1976 following administration of the swine flu vaccine as well as modern influenza and yellow fever vaccines, though none of them had rates as high as AstraZeneca.

Whilst the majority of the vaccination-associated GBS patients had recovered from symptoms of weak limbs, weak deep tendon reflexes, and monophasic sleep, one patient in the study had recurring neuropathic symptoms well after the second dose.

The patient initially developed facial paralysis on both sides and a tingling sensation in their limbs after the first dose and improved with treatment. However, two weeks after receiving their second dose, they developed increasing weakness with pain, changes in their nerves, and only partial response to the treatment.

Researchers are currently still speculating the reasons behind rises in GBS cases following the vaccine.

“It may be that a non-specific immune activation in susceptible individuals occurs, but if that were the case similar risks might apply to all vaccine types,” said Lunn.

“It is therefore logical to suggest that the simian adenovirus vector, often used to develop vaccines, including AstraZeneca’s, may account for the increased risk.”

Studies in the United States have also confirmed increased cases of GBS after receiving adenovirus vector COVID-19 vaccines, with significant cases of the disease associated with the vaccine.

According to the CDC, 1 to 2 people out of 100,000 in the United States develops GBS, however, a 2022 U.S. study found the incidence in receivers of J&J’s adenovirus vaccines to be 32.4 per 100,000 people within 3 weeks following the vaccine; well above the background rate.

A spokeswoman for AstraZeneca told The Epoch Times that “vaccination of any kind is a known risk factor for GBS” and “the small number of GBS cases [following the AstraZeneca vaccine] appears similar to increases previously seen in other mass vaccination campaigns.”

She wrote that reports of GBS have been very rare following vaccination and that “current estimates show that globally the vaccine has helped prevent 50 million COVID-19 cases, five million hospitalizations, and to have saved more than one million lives.

“The Emergency Medical Associates and other international bodies including the WHO, have all stated that the benefits of vaccination continue to outweigh any potential risks.”

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The Colorado and Ohio Model Programs That Train Teachers to Defeat Active Shooters

For many years there has been debate about allowing teachers to be armed to protect students. This post describes an established training program for teachers who choose to do so in compliance with school rules. The program is FASTER—short for Faculty/Administrator Safety Training & Emergency Response. Introduced in Ohio, FASTER could be adopted by every state and school, at no cost to taxpayers, and at considerable saving of lives.

FASTER was created in Ohio in December 2012, following the murders at Sandy Hook Elementary School. FASTER Ohio's website, FASTER Saves Lives, is the best resource for information about the program. FASTER Colorado was founded by Laura Carno; it has been adopted as a supported program of the Independence Institute, the Denver think tank where I work. Pilot programs for FASTER have begun in Utah and Arizona.

In the last decade, FASTER has trained thousands of teachers and other school staff in emergency medicine and emergency armed defense.

FASTER training is voluntary. No teacher or staffer should be forced to carry a firearm. For teachers and staff who want training, FASTER offers 26 hours over three days.

Almost all FASTER participants already have been issued a concealed handgun carry permit. The permits authorize concealed carry almost everywhere in one's home state; they also authorize concealed handgun carry in many other states (because of interstate reciprocity, like with drivers' licenses).

FASTER teaches specific skills for school protection. Legally, schools are said to act in loco parentis—in place of parents. Parents defend their children. Therefore, teachers defend their students. That's what FASTER participants think, and FASTER prepares them to do so.

FASTER graduates learn the medical and defensive skills relevant to stopping a school shooter from taking lives. FASTER instructors are law enforcement trainers. They teach FASTER classes two of the skills they teach law enforcement officers: treating gunshot wounds and defeating active shooters.

Part of FASTER training is a very specific subset of emergency medicine: how to keep a gunshot wound victim alive while waiting for an ambulance to arrive.

The other major component of FASTER is close-quarters combat against active shooters. FASTER teaches the same skills and techniques that law enforcement officers are taught.

To graduate from FASTER, one must exceed the marksmanship criteria required in one's state for certified law enforcement officers—such as Colorado's Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST). The three days of FASTER training make graduates well-prepared against school shooters; the classes do not prepare graduates to perform unrelated medical or law enforcement functions, such as dealing with heart attacks or conducting traffic stops.

FASTER charges tuition to cover expenses, but scholarships are available for employees of any school district that cannot afford tuition.

A school shooting you probably haven't heard about, unless you live in Colorado, took place on May 7, 2019, at the STEM High School in Highlands Ranch. When two armed criminals invaded a classroom, student Kendrick Castillo rushed them. His heroism allowed all other students to escape, but Kendrick was fatally shot. Kendrick's parents, John and Maria Castillo, speak to FASTER classes and explain the necessity of armed staff. This May, they held a fundraiser for FASTER Colorado, in honor of Kendrick.

There has never been a problem of any FASTER teacher causing an accidental discharge, or having a gun taken by student. FASTER training rigorously teaches weapons safety and retention.

FASTER Colorado executive director Laura Carno explained FASTER on the Jesse Watters show last week. More information about FASTER is available in Lauro Carno's article for The Hill, and in a New York Daily News article she coauthored with me, Arming teachers can protect kids.

FASTER is not the only good idea about preventing or thwarting school shootings. Implementing FASTER does not prevent consideration of any other school safety idea.

According to a recent poll of likely general election voters by The Trafalgar Group, 57.5% believe that preventing trained teachers from carrying firearms in schools makes schools more dangerous; 30.8% disagreed. Democrats felt the same way as the general public, although by a smaller margin: 48.2% to 41.3%. People aged 18-24 were the most supportive of armed teachers, with 62% for and 21% against.

So far, FASTER has a perfect record of prevention and a zero record of negative side-effects. School officials, politicians, or anti-gun activists who prevent willing, well-trained staff from protecting students are refusing to prioritize student safety

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Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

https://immigwatch.blogspot.com/ (IMMIGRATION WATCH)

https://awesternheart.blogspot.com/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

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