Friday, July 31, 2020

COVID-19 vaccines advance to field trials

UK scientists immunize hundreds with coronavirus vaccine | CP 24 - Associated Press:

July 30, 2020 - "Scientists at Imperial College London say they are immunizing hundreds of people with an experimental coronavirus vaccine in an early trial after seeing no worrying safety problems in a small number vaccinated so far. Dr. Robin Shattock, a professor at the college, told The Associated Press that he and colleagues ... would now expand the trial to about 300 people, including some over age 75.

"'It's well tolerated. There aren't any side effects,' he said, adding it was still very early in the study. Shattock, who is leading the vaccine research at Imperial, said he hopes to have enough safety data to start inoculating several thousand people in October.

"Since COVID-19 infections have dropped dramatically in Britain, making it difficult to determine whether or not the vaccine works, Shattock said he and his colleagues are also looking to test their vaccine elsewhere....

"Earlier this week, the world's biggest coronavirus vaccine study started in the United States, with the first of 30,000 planned volunteers getting immunized with shots created by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc. Several other vaccines made by China and by Britain's Oxford University, based on different vaccine technologies, began smaller final-stage tests in Brazil and other hard-hit countries earlier this month.

"The World Health Organization has said multiple vaccine approaches are necessary for COVID-19, noting that the usual success rate for vaccine development is about 10%. Shattock said there were numerous coronavirus vaccines now in clinical trials, and he predicted that at least some of them would prove to be effective....

"'I'm just going to hold my breath and wait to see,' he said."

Read more:

Thursday, July 30, 2020

3rd party POTUS candidates registering in polls

Libertarian and Green Party Candidates Are Making Surprising Appearances in 2020 Election Polls | Newsweek - Jason Lemon:

July 21, 2020 - "As the 2020 presidential election is now less than four months away, Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins and Libertarian Party candidate Jo Jorgensen are registering support in national polls, signaling that their respective messages resonate with a segment of voters frustrated with Democrats and Republicans....

"Polling conducted by CNBC/Change Research from July 10 to 12 showed Hawkins with support from 2 percent of respondents, while Jorgensen was backed by 3 percent. Although that's marginal compared to the 51 percent support for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and the 41 percent for Republican incumbent President Donald Trump, even a few percent could sway what ultimately could become a close election. Separate polling this month by Redfield & Wilton Strategies showed Hawkins with 1 percent support, while Jorgensen was backed by 2 percent of respondents....

"The Green Party positions itself to the left of the Democratic Party, with Hawkins highlighting his differences with progressives such as former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Meanwhile, Libertarians align with more conservative principles when it comes to the economy, while being liberal socially due to their strong belief in individual freedoms.

"'I don't want the government making choices for you. I want you to have lots of choices provided by a wealth of free market alternatives, and to make those choices for yourself, for your family, and for your business,' Jorgensen explained. She emphasized that she wants to keep taxes and government spending down, end the war on drugs, bring the troops home and 'end cronyism in the energy business' while allowing nuclear-power initiatives to move forward.

"Hawkins pointed out that Greens have some overlap with Libertarians on social issues.... 'But there are some issues we agree on — drug policy reform, staying out of stupid foreign wars, civil liberties, mass surveillance unwarranted by the state, warrantless surveillance,' Hawkins said....

"In 2016, some political analysts pointed to Green Party candidate Jill Stein and Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson as having shifted the race in Trump's favor. The president narrowly beat former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in several key swing states, where the votes won by Johnson and Stein made up the difference.... Many Republicans and Democrats have warned about the possibility of a similar impact from third-party candidates this upcoming election. But Hawkins and Jorgensen are dismissive of these concerns, pointing out that people should vote for who they actually support the most. Additionally, it's not at all clear that those who voted for third-party candidates would have cast a ballot for Trump or Clinton if the other options were not available.

"'Don't waste your vote on the status quo. Vote for real change for real people,' Jorgensen said."

Read more:

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Coronavirus returns to countries that suppressed it

2nd wave of coronavirus in countries around Asia prompts fresh lockdowns | Global News - Stephen Coates, Reuters:

July 27, 2020 - "Countries around Asia are confronting a second wave of coronavirus infections and are clamping down again to try to contain the disease....

"Hong Kong is expected to announce further restrictions on Monday including a ban on restaurant dining and mandated face masks outdoors, local media reported. The measures, which are expected to take effect from Wednesday, would be the first time the city has completely banned dining in restaurants.

"Australian authorities warned a six-week lockdown in parts of the southeastern Victoria state may last longer after the country registered its highest daily increase in infections. Most of Australia is effectively virus-free but flare-ups in the two most populous southeastern states have authorities scrambling to prevent a wider national outbreak.

"In Japan, the government said it would urge business leaders to ramp up anti-virus measures such as staggered shifts, and aimed to see rates of telecommuting achieved during an earlier state of emergency. 'At one point, commuter numbers were down by 70 to 80 per cent, but now it’s only about 30 per cent,' Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said late on Sunday.... Japan has avoided mass infections but a record surge in cases during the past week in Tokyo and other urban centers has experts worried....

"Vietnam is evacuating 80,000 people, mostly local tourists, from the central city of Danang after three residents tested positive for the coronavirus at the weekend, the government said on Monday. The Southeast Asian country is back on high alert after the government on Saturday confirmed its first community infections since April, and another three cases on Sunday, all in Danang.

"In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte is ... weighing whether to re-impose stricter lockdown measures after easing them saw a dramatic surge in infections and deaths, with 62,326 cases reported since the first lockdown was relaxed June 1....

"North Korean state media reported on the weekend that the border town of Kaesong was in lockdown after a person who defected to South Korea three years ago returned this month with symptoms of COVID-19. If confirmed, it would be the first case officially acknowledged by North Korean authorities.... [In] South Korea ... Saturday’s 113 infections were the highest on a single day since March 31.

"Papua New Guinea halted entry for travelers from Monday, except those arriving by air, as it tightens curbs against infections that have more than doubled over the past week. Traditional border crossing were suspended from July 23, police chief David Manning said in a statement distributed on Monday. PNG has fluid borders with Indonesia, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Solomon Islands with people regularly crossing on foot or in small boats."

Read more:

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

In search of exponential growth

by George J. Dance

Imagine an invasive species of water lily that takes over a pond, choking off all other life; it grows exponentially, doubling its area every day. In 60 days the pond is completely full of lilies. When was the pond half full? When was the pond 1% full?

I expect most readers got the first answer: The pond was half full on day 59. The second is a bit trickier, and I found it much harder to estimate. It looks intuitive that if the pond is full in two months, it must have been at least 1% full after one month. However, that intuition does not account for the phenomenon of exponential growth. If the pond was full on day 60, then it was half full on day 59 (as you figured out), 1/4 full on day 58, 1/8 full on day 57, and so on. On day 53, the pond was only 1/128 full of lilies; so it was not 1% full until day 54. For more than seven weeks, there was nothing to see; then suddenly, in less than a week, the infestation had ripped through the pond killing everything in its path.

I read that story on the web in March. It was meant to illustrate the scary potential of the novel coronavirus, which at the time appeared to be growing exponentially. The warning was clear: even though, outside of New York, the virus was not even noticeable on this side of the ocean, it was only a matter of time before we had as many sick and dead as New York. The numbers got even scarier when one projected exponential growth into the future: epidemiologists at the Imperial College of London calculated that, by August 2020, 250 million Americans would be sick and 2.2 million would die, most in the last month.

Imperial College's report panicked Britain and the United States into lockdowns; and it was only lockdowns, we are told, that prevented its nightmare scenario from coming true: Without lockdowns, those countries would have suffered exponential growth and almost 3 million dead. The conclusion was inescapable: if those countries abandon lockdown, they once again face exponential growth and close to 3 million dead.

However, American state lockdowns have proved to be unsustainable. While still hugely popular with voters, they are being increasingly defied and ignored; and state governments (with a few exceptions like California) have found it necessary to lift or at least relax them. Since then the virus has resurged, and if the lockdown theory is right we can expect it to now resume exponential growth. Which is exactly why it is important to establish whether the virus is and/or will grow exponentially, anywhere.

Last week I looked at the numbers for the United States as a whole. I found that, while the virus grew exponentially in March (when total numbers were small), by mid-April (with 43 American states under lockdown) growth had become linear instead; the virus still spread, but at a steady rate. Even more encouragingly, after states began lifting and easing lockdowns, growth stayed linear.

One helpful comment I received on that column suggested I look at the Republican states that have had newsworthy recent surges: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, and Texas. All four states have Republican governors, who have drawn extensive criticism, and lost some support with voters, for easing lockdowns already. If exponential growth were re-occurring anywhere, surely it would be there. So, leaving Georgia for another time, I did a similar dive into the numbers for those states, again using Worldometer's "United States" coronavirus pages for data. In addition, I used the numbers for California (a state that has has maintained a strick lockdown, but has also seen a surge) as a control. My tabulations appear at the end.

For the three "Republican" states, I found that while cases have risen dramatically in all of them, growth in all cases has stayed linear. Both Florida and Texas have seen a big surge in cases, to more than 10,000 a day; however, neither state's figures show the constant doubling that indicates exponential growth. Florida went from 50,000 cases to 100,000 in 30 days; from 100,000 to 200,000 in 13 days; from 150,000 to 300,000 in 15 days; and from 200,000 to 400,000 in 19 days - a big speedup, followed by a slowdown. For Texas, the comparable time intervals were 30, 18, 18, and 21 days. Arizona's cases doubled from 20,000 to 40,000 in 15 days; from 40,000 to 80,000 in 14; from 60,000 to 120,000 in 20; and from 80,000 to 160,000 in 25 days - a consistenty slower growth.

It was otherwise with California, the lockdown state. California, with a larger population than either Florida or Texas, has only a slightly higher number of cases than either; and while its death total is more than double that of either, it per capita death rate is below that of both Florida and Arizona. California's numbers seem low; but then, so did the number of lilies on the pond back on day 30. Given exponential growth, low numbers early on mean little.

And in California, exponential growth may be occurring. The state's caseload doubled from 50,000 to 100,000 in 26 days; from 100,000 to 200,000 in 29 days; from 150,000 to 300,000 in 26 days; and from 200,000 to 400,000 in 26 days. That steady increase, though happening slowly, looks like constant doubling and therefore exponential growth  While it is too early to say for sure (and the pattern may change at any time), California could be in serious trouble by the fall.

California was the earliest state to lock down, on March 19. The state's strict lockdown has already been lauded by at least one academic study, a National Bureau of Economic Research paper published in April, which concluded that the lockdown had prevented "as many as 1,661" deaths from COVID-19 in its first month. One can only hope that those, and subsequent months', prevented deaths in the state remain prevented..   

Deaths (time to add 500)
Jun. 5 - 1,012 (28 days)
Jun 24 - 1,490 (19 days)
Jul. 9 - 2,038 (15 days)
Jul 16 - 2,492 (7 days)
Jul 22 - 2,974 (6 days)

Cases  (time to add 20,000)
Jun. 1 - 20,123
Jun 16 - 39,097 (15 days)
Jun 24 - 59,974 (8 days)
Jun 30 - 79,215 (6 days)
Jul. 5 - 98,089 (5 days)
Jul 11 - 119,930 (6 days)
Jul 17 - 138,523 (6 days)
Jul 25 - 160,041 (8 days)

Deaths (time to add 1,000)
Apr 17 - 1,041
Apr 30 - 2,029 (13 days)
May 13 - 2,966 (13 days)
May 28 - 4,039 (15 days)
Jun 12 - 4,988 (15 days)
Jun 29 - 5,976 (17 days)
Jul 11 - 7,026 (12 days)
Jul 22 - 8,045 (11 days)

Cases (time to add 50,000)
Apr 30 - 50,347
May 26 - 100,208 (26 days)
Jun 13 - 150,921 (18 days)
Jun 24 - 194,415 (11 days)
Jul. 2 - 249,094 (8 days)
Jul. 9 - 303,323 (7 days)
Jul 15 - 355,285 (6 days)
Jul 20 - 399,898 (5 days)
Jul 25 - 453,121 (5 days)

Deaths (time to add 1,000)
Apr 23 - 987
May 18 - 1,997 (25 days)
Jun 16 - 2,996 (19 days)
Jul. 9 - 4,009 (23 days)
Jul 19 - 4,985 (10 days)
Jul 27 - 5,933 (8 days)

Cases (time to add 50,000)
May 23 - 50,127
Jun 22 - 100,217 (30 days)
Jun 30 - 152,434 (8 days)
July 5 - 200,111 (5 days)
Jul 10 - 244,151 (5 days)
Jul 15 - 301,180 (5 days)
Jul 19 - 350,047 (4 days)
Jul 24 - 402,312 (5 days)

Deaths (time to add 1,000)
May 6, - 1,006
Jun 14 - 1,996 (29 days)
Jul. 9 - 3,052 (25 days)
Jul 18 - 4,007 (9 days)
Jul 25 - 5,069 (7 days)

Cases (time to add 50,000)
May 18 - 49, 684
Jun 17 - 99,304 (30 days)
Jun 27 - 148,845 (10 days)
Jul. 5 - 202,146 (8 days)
Jul 10 - 254,319 (5 days)
Jul 15 - 302,817 (5 days)
Jul 20 - 347,135 (5 days)
Jul 26 - 397,992 (6 days)

Monday, July 27, 2020

Alaska LP submits 5,000 sigs for ballot access

Alaska Libertarians turn in over 5,000 signatures to get Presidential ticket on ballot } KINY 800/94.9:

July 20, 2020 - "The Alaska Libertarian Party has turned over signatures in order get the party's presidential ticket on the ballot. The ALP has submitted 5,024 ballot access petition signatures, well exceeding the 3,212 signatures required for state permission to allow Libertarian Presidential candidate Dr. Jo Jorgensen and Vice Presidential candidate Spike Cohen as a choice on Alaskan ballots in November.

"The ALP had sought pandemic-related relief from the statutory provisions requiring that the party obtain voter signatures on petitions to qualify for placement on Alaska’s November 3, 2020, general election ballot, from both the State of Alaska and the courts.

"'We have been met with opposition at every level of the State government, to include a response from the court that we, in essence, petition harder,' said Jon Briggs Watts, Chair of the Alaska Libertarian Party. 'In the face of additional health risk for all concerned, the state’s callous disregard for constituent safety gave us no choice but to do just that, even amidst a steep rise in cases around Alaska.'

"Watts said that. rather than take an opportunity to be supportive and offer an open hand during this crisis, the 'party system doubled-down on the preservation of their monopoly of control. But their actions continue to expose this as the harder they grasp, the more each individual sees this collectivist control for what it is.'"

Sunday, July 26, 2020

More COVID deaths in countries with better health care, researchers find

Study links good health care in Canada to higher COVID-19 death rate | CTV News - Cassandra Szklarski, Canadian Press:

July 16, 2020 - "Heart researchers say there's a surprising reason Canada has seen higher COVID-19 deaths than many countries with fewer health-care resources -- more Canadians live longer with chronic disease, putting them at greater risk of dying from COVID-19....

"Lead author Cindy Yip ... principal investigator and director of data knowledge management at Heart & Stroke, formerly known as the Heart and Stroke Foundation ... said Canadians are somewhat vulnerable to pandemics such as COVID-19 because so many have survived other health crises.

"'Because people are living longer with chronic disease like heart conditions and stroke we need to take actions, and we need them to take care of their health in order to avoid the poor outcome from COVID-19.'

"The study notes 11.7 per cent of Canadians suffer from cardiovascular disease, including strokes. That puts us in the top third among 63 countries studied -- worse than the 11.6 per cent found in the United States, 10 per cent in Russia, 7.6 per cent in South Korea, 4.3 per cent in India and 3.8 per cent in Pakistan. When it came to reported death rates from COVID-19, Canada ranked higher than all but 14 of the 65 countries studied.... That included places with poorer health-care resources such as Russia, India, Pakistan, and China....

"Yip acknowledged that countries vary in how they report deaths, but said researchers strove to use comparable numbers. She said the analysis accounted for the wide range in access to health-care services among countries. But a strong relationship between COVID-19 deaths and the prevalence of heart conditions and stroke was still there. For every 1 per cent increase in the number of people with heart problems, the COVID-19 death rate was 19 per cent higher.

"Age was also a factor. For every 1 per cent increase in the number of people aged 65 years and older, the COVID-19 death rate was 9 per cent higher. Nearly 9 per cent of the Canadian population is 65 or older....

"The study also tried to number the heart-related medical procedures that have been postponed by the pandemic, but Yip said data here is limited, forcing researchers to extrapolate.... The report estimates that province-wide, 1,252 procedures are being postponed each month by COVID-19 precautions. Yip said that could easily translate to thousands of patients across the country. And that means health-care providers need 'a very strategic plan' to provide care for people whose conditions may be worsening."

Read more:

Saturday, July 25, 2020

How the Cuomovirus ravaged New York

Andrew Cuomo's Coronavirus Response Has Been a Failure | Reason - Billy Binton:

July 17, 2020 -"New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ... has been the subject of several fawning media interviews over the course of the last few months, many of them conducted by his own brother, CNN's Chris Cuomo.... This past Monday he appeared on Jimmy Fallon's first night back.... Fallon praised how 'honest' and 'smart' Cuomo is. 'We're just worried the infections are going to come from the other states now, back to New York, and that would be a tragedy," Cuomo said....

"Passing the buck to other states is a savvy political move. But it obscures Cuomo's own response to COVID-19. As of today, New York has seen more than 32,000 of its residents die from the disease. That's more than seven times the deaths in Florida, about nine times the deaths in Texas, and more than four times the deaths in California.... Of the state's total, more than 22,000 deaths came from New York City....

"Cuomo certainly isn't to blame for all of the state's troubles. Plenty of politicians performed poorly, from President Donald Trump down to New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, and some factors were outside any official's control. But the governor did plenty wrong....

"In late March, when COVID-19 measures were still in their nascent stages, not much was known about the virus. One thing that was known, though, was that the elderly were significantly more at risk to die should they contract it. Yet Cuomo issued a mandate requiring nursing homes to accept residents who had tested positive for COVID-19, including those who were still at risk for spreading the disease to others. Since then, around 6,500 people in those facilities—about 6.5 percent of the state's nursing home population—have died of COVID-19.... Cuomo has declined to share which nursing homes were affected. The directive was not reversed until May 10.

"Earlier in March, the governor adopted a blasé attitude about the virus. 'This isn't our first rodeo,' he said at a March 2 press conference, after the state's first known case was announced. 'We should relax.' The governor assured everyone that he was implementing a robust contact tracing program that would track down everyone on the patient's flight from Iran. That never happened.

"Once the outbreaks became more widespread, hospitals across the country began depending on their state governments for oxygen supplies.... An over-reliance on Cuomo proved to be a fatal mistake. According to an investigation by The Wall Street Journal, many ventilators sent from the state and city, as well as some from the federal government, were old and faulty, and many patients died on them. A spokeswoman for NYC Health + Hospitals told the Journal that many such machines "were not 'ready to go' when they came" and often required additional maintenance. Several health care workers claim that patients assigned those ventilators often worsened with collapsed lungs or similar complications as the machines were not able to provide proper support.

"What's more, Cuomo's near-exclusive focus on ventilators neglected to address other hospital needs, such as the demand for supplemental oxygen and oxygen monitors.... The lack of vital-signs equipment proved detrimental as well. Health care workers detailed stories of patients pulling off their oxygen masks while alone. Without monitors, they died.

"Meanwhile, Cuomo got drawn into a public power struggle with de Blasio. The mayor announced a city-wide shelter-in-place on March 17; Cuomo squashed that on March 18; then Cuomo issued his own stay-at-home order on March 20. Something similar happened when de Blasio announced that the city's schools would remain shuttered through the academic year: Cuomo declared that only he had that authority.... And that back-and-forth may have had consequences beyond prompting confusion. The Journal reports that patients in New York City were often transferred between hospitals without the relevant medical and treatment information, even when those patients were not in stable condition. The city blames the state and the state blames the city.

"But mixed messaging defined Cuomo's initial response to COVID-19, which teetered between cavalier and dismissive. Though he's said he wishes he 'blew the bugle' sooner, he has spent considerably more time blaming the press, the experts, and the president.

"New York's crisis moment has passed for now, with the curve flattened and daily deaths bottoming out.... But if the government's response hadn't been so incompetent, that landmark may have come a lot earlier."

Read more:

Friday, July 24, 2020

National mask mandate in COVID-free N. Korea

Hard Labor For North Koreans Who Don’t Wear Masks Under Tough New Coronavirus Measures | Radio Free Asia:

July 16, 2020 - "North Koreans who fail to wear masks face at least three months of 'disciplinary labor' with harsher penalties for people caught sneaking into China under tough new COVID-19 prevention measures, officials in the country told RFA Thursday. The punishments, to be enforced by students conscripted into facemask patrols, were rolled out this week in a renewed drive against the spread of the coronavirus that belies Pyongyang’s official claim that the country has stayed virus free.

"'Beginning on the 16th, an inspection team is being organized here in Pyongyang and also in provincial cities with police officers, and college and high school students to conduct intensive crackdowns on people who don’t wear masks,' said an official familiar with policies launched after a top-level meeting this month. 'Whoever doesn’t wear a mask will be punished with more than three months of disciplinary labor, regardless of who they are,' the source, who asked not to be named in order to speak freely, told RFA’s Korean Service.

"After reports of infections in Chinese provinces near North Korea last month, the government swung into action, sending students back on vacation on July 1, only a month after schools had reopened.  On July 2, at expanded meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Korean Workers’ Party, with Kim Jong Un presiding, several senior health officials were fired for failing to contain the virus, RFA reported recently....

"Pyongyang officially asserts that there have been no confirmed COVID-19 cases within its borders, but it has taken extensive measures since late winter to stop the spread of the pandemic, including the lockdown of entire counties and cities and the closure of its economic lifeline – the border with China.... Though the Sino-Korean border has been officially closed since January, the border is quite porous and smugglers and traders, as well as people hoping to escape North Korea, can sneak across the Tumen and Yalu rivers with relative ease in some places.

"RFA reported in March that a mask enforcement team had been organized in Kimjongsuk county, Ryanggang province, and was cracking down on maskless residents in marketplaces and streets there. At that time, a resident said that the punishment for being caught without a mask was a three-day stint at a military labor center.

"As of Thursday evening, the World Health Organization has not responded to emails from RFA regarding the COVID-19 situation there, including questions about their figure of zero confirmed cases."

Read more:

Thursday, July 23, 2020

The story of the exponentially growing virus

by George J. Dance

I have to admit that I am no statistician; rows of numbers usually bore me. By April, though, I figured that if I was to understand the coronavirus event, I had to learn enough to be able to read the numbers and get an idea of what they were saying. So I began looking at the statistics, and asking questions on social media.

The first thing I ran into was the assertion that the virus grew "exponentially". Unlike linear growth (at which something grows at a constant rate) exponential growth meant that, the more the virus grew, the faster it would grow, with infections and deaths both doubling at a constant rate. People were pushing this idea all over social media, of course, but in more academically respectable venues as well. For example, the infamous Imperial College Report 9 by Neil Ferguson et al modelled "an exponentially growing rate (with a doubling time of 5 days)," to forecast almost 250 million infections and over 2.2 million deaths in the United States by August.

Ferguson's predictions were instrumental in pushing both the U.S. and Britain into lockdown; and although they never came true, that had a simple explanation: the lockdowns save us. Consequently, the assumption of exponential growth has gone unchallenged; rather than study the virus's growth in real time, these days scientists are more interested in studying why "American participants mistakenly perceive the virus’s exponential growth in linear terms (conservatives more so than liberals)."

With the ending of lockdowns in some states, their easing in others, and the people increasingly ignoring them in others, many fear that the virus is again spreading exponentially. Not just in the United States; the mayor of Calgary, Alberta, announced today that Calgary is experiencing exponential growth. That got me concerned enough to finally look at the numbers.

I began with a quick look at doubling times of deaths in the United States, to see if there were any change. Thanks to extensive media coverage, it is easy enough to google the day of any number of deaths in the country; so I did a few quick searches for doubled values, and used the dates of the newspaper stories. Here are the results: 

Deaths - exponential (time to double)
2,500 - Mar. 30
5,000 -  Apr. 1 (2 days)
10,000 - Apr. 6 (5 days)
20,000 - Apr 11 (5 days)
40,000 - Apr 20 (9 days)
80,000 - May 11 (21 days)
160,000 -
That told me the disease was spreading exponentially in March and (though slower) in early April. However, after mid-April, the time it took to double increased: to twice as long, then four times as long. Then, in May, deaths stopped doubling. So I decided to check whether growth had gone linear instead. Using the same method as above, I began checking the time interval to add a further 10,000 deaths (the amount of the last true doubling).

Deaths  - linear (time to increase by 10,000)
10,000 - Apr. 6
20,000 - Apr 11 (5 days)
30,000 - Apr 15 (4 days)
40,000 - Apr 20 (5 days)
50,000 - Apr 24 (4 days)
60,000 - Apr 29 (5 days)
70,000 - May 5 (7 days)
80,000 - May 11 (6 days)
90,000 - May 17 (6 days)
100,000 - May 28 (11 days)
110,000 - June 6 (9 days)
120.000 - Jun 21 (15 days)
130,000 - July 6  (15 days)
140,000 - Jul 19 (13 days)

That was more informative. As I suspected, the virus continued to spread, in a linear fashion, through the lockdown period.  The surprising thing is that even after some states began ending lockdowns, deaths continued to grow in a linear fashion, and at an even lower rate. The recent shortening of the increase time, though, shows that the death rate is trending up again, and this may indicate the onset of exponential growth; it is too soon to say anything.

So I decided to check confirmed cases as well. Cases give a less reliable measure of the disease due to under- and over-counting, as well as testing capacity and differing test specificities; however, they give earlier information, which can indicate what the death toll will look like in the future. This time I used a more precise data source, the figures provided on the Worldometer site (a great source of data). Again I checked time to double for the earlier period:

Cases - exponential (time to double)
Feb. 15 - 15
Feb. 20 - 35 (5 days)
Feb. 27 - 60 (7 days)
Mar. 3 -  124 (5 days)
Mar. 6 -  319 (3 days)
Mar. 8 - 540  (2 days)
Mar. 10 - 994 (2 days)
Mar. 13 - 2,185 (3 days)
Mar. 16 - 4,611 (3 days)
Mar. 18 - 9,333 (2 days)
Mar. 20 - 19,608 (2 days)
Mar, 23 - 44,325 (2 days)
Mar. 26 - 86,669 (3 days)
Mar. 31 - 194,114 (3 days)
Apr. 7 - 411,116 (7 days)
When, once again, the time needed to double itself began doubling, I assumed linear growth, and began recording the time it took to add another 100,000 infections:

Cases - linear (time to increase by 100,000)
Mar 31 - 194,114 (3 days)
Apr. 4 - 319,444 (4 days)
Apr. 7 - 411,116 (3 days)
Apr 10 - 512,010 (3 days)
Apr 13 - 597,642 (3 days)
Apr 16 - 685,712 (3 days)
Apr 20 - 801,820 (4 days)
Apr 23 - 890,436 (3 days)
Apr 26 - 991,670 (3 days)
Apr 30 - 1,100,105 (4 days)
May  3 - 1,193,573 (3 days)
May 7  - 1,298,462 (4 days)
May 11 - 1,393,513 (4 days)
May 15 - 1,494,646 (4 days)
May 20 - 1,606.295 (5 days)
May 24 - 1,701,574 (4 days)
May 29 - 1,810,430 (5 days)
Jun. 2 - 1,899,666 (4 days)
Jun. 7 - 2,010,569 (5 days)
Jun 11 - 2,093,253 (4 days)
Jun 16 - 2,212,264 (4 days)
Jun 19 - 2,300,667 (3 days)
Jun 22 - 2,391,754 (3 days)
Jun 25 - 2,506,490 (3 days)
Jun 27 - 2,597,454 (2 days)
Jun 29 - 2,682,781 (2 days)
Jul. 1 - 2,781,217 (2 days)
Jul. 3 - 2,898,358 (2 days)
Jul. 5 - 2,994,393 (2 days)
Jul. 7 - 3,101,020 (2 days)
Jul. 9 - 3,224,892 (2 days)
Jul 10 - 3,297,170 (1 day)
Jul 12 - 3,417,795 (2 days)
Jul 13 - 3,483,584 (1 day)
Jul 15 - 3,621,637 (2 days)
Jul 16 - 3,695,025 (1 day)
Jul 17 - 3,770,012 (1 day)
Jul 19 - 3,898,550 (2 days)
Jul 21 - 4,028,569 (2 days)
The first thing I noticed is that cases are rising much faster than deaths – a good sign, as it means that the death rate is steadily decreasing. The second is that, while the amounts differ, both cases and deaths obey the same trajectory: increasing exponentially at the beginning, slowing to linear growth during lockdown, and then slowing even more before rising again later in the summer. The third is that cases and deaths change trajectory in lockstep, with deaths following cases by three weeks.

That allowed me to conclude that, though deaths will increase through mid-August, their growth will stay linear for now. "For now" is important; with both cases and deaths increasing, there is no guarantee that we will not suddenly be witnessing exponential growth. Although I found no evidence of exponential growth after the very earliest stage, that does not prove it cannot happen.

In addition, I realize that my conclusions could be wrong; as I said, I have not studied statistics, and I could very well be overlooking something. Which is why I rejected my earlier title for this piece, "The myth of the exponentially growing virus" - while my research shows no evidence for exponential growth, I cannot conclude at this time that exponential growth is only a myth.

Accordingly I welcome detailed, informative criticism of my observations. In addition, I intend to keep these tables updated,, and most likely do a few for other geographic areas.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

DHS agents 'disappearing' protesters in Portland

Conservatives, libertarians push back on Portland crackdown | Washington Times - David Sherfinski:

July 21, 2020 - "President Trump’s deployment of federal officers to quell rioting in Portland, Oregon, and possibly elsewhere is seeing pushback not only from Democrats but also from conservatives and libertarians who say the federal government can’t indiscriminately throw its weight around and trample on constitutional rights. The White House insists the federal forces are necessary to stop the marauding mobs in Portland, but civil libertarians object to reports that unidentified officers are sweeping people up and detaining them.

"'It’s pretty straight-up unconstitutional,' said Nicholas Sarwark, a former chairman of the Libertarian National Committee. 'I wish I could nuance this one.... There’s nothing good there.'

"The White House said the law that created the Department of Homeland Security after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks gives the agency authority to protect federal property, which is the administration’s reason for the deployment in Portland to protect a federal courthouse. Mr. Trump has [also] said he might send federal agents into Chicago and other big cities wracked by violent crime in the wake of the racial justice upheaval and calls to defund police departments.

"The federal government does have 'disturbingly broad authorities' to send law enforcers anywhere in the country if it chooses, said Walter Olson, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, a libertarian Washington think tank. 'That doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be a political fight about it,' he said....

"Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, objected to the Trump administration’s sending 'unidentified' federal agents to Portland. 'We cannot give up liberty for security,' Mr. Paul said on Twitter. 'Local law enforcement can and should be handling these situations in our cities, but there is no place for federal troops or unidentified federal agents rounding people up at will.'

"Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, a Libertarian who quit the Republican Party last year, said on Twitter: 'Donald Trump is deploying unmarked federal police, decked out like a paramilitary force, to grab Americans off the streets. He’s not protecting liberty; he’s practicing tyranny'....

"U.S. Customs and Border Protection has jurisdiction of areas in the U.S. that are within 100 miles of an external boundary. 'That gives broader authority for Customs and Border [Protection] in particular to operate than folks may realize,' said Jonathan Adler, a professor at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law. But there is no 'generic federal police authority,' he said. 'Nor should there be.... That’s the sort of power that was reserved to the states'....

"Sarwark said that people backing the president’s actions can’t seriously defend the situation from a constitutional perspective. 'This will separate the sheep from the goats,” he said. “If you don’t oppose secret police disappearing people off of American streets because they’re leftists, then you’re not really opposed to secret police — you’re just opposed to it being used against people you like.'"

Read more:

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Wuhan lab scientists have defected, says Bannon

China disease coverup: Wuhan scientists have ‘defected’ to west and will say 'virus truth' | The Express - James Bickerton:

Jul 12, 2020 - "Scientists from the Wuhan laboratory close [to] the original coronavirus outbreak have defected to the west, according to an incendiary claim from Steve Bannon, formerly Donald Trump's White House chief strategist.

"Originally the disease, which has killed more than half a million and triggered lockdowns across the world, was believed to have originated at a Wuhan live animal market. However, China’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention recently admitted it likely originated elsewhere and the market was merely a major point of spread.

"Speaking to the Mail on Sunday Mr Bannon ... commented: 'I know that certain defectors are working with the FBI here to try to knit together what happened. They are not talking to the media yet, but there are people out of the Wuhan lab and other labs that have come to the West and are turning over evidence of the culpability of the Chinese Communist Party. I think people are going to be shocked.

"'People around these labs have been leaving China and Hong Kong since mid-February. [US intelligence] along with MI5 and MI6 are trying to build a very thorough legal case, which may take a long time'....

"Referring to western spy agencies Mr Bannon added: 'I think they have electronic intelligence, and that they have done a full inventory of who has provided access to that lab. I think they have very compelling evidence'....

"The Wuhan Institute of Virology, founded in 1956, opened China’s first biosafety level 4 laboratory in 2015. Mr Bannon also claimed the facility may have been bugged by the French when French companies helped construct it."

Read more:

Monday, July 20, 2020

Jorgensen campaign responds to "boogaloo" story

Response to the Guardian from Dr. Jo Jorgensen | Jorgensen/Cohen 2020:

"An article in the Guardian, a British newspaper, featuring a picture of Dr. Jo Jorgensen, attempts to smear the Libertarian Party presidential candidate by associating her with a movement known as boogaloo, because of her appearance on a podcast hosted by some members of the movement. The Guardian describes boogaloo by detailing its most radical elements.

"The boogaloo movement has no organization and no leadership. Participants within vary widely, from white supremacists, at one extreme, to those who vehemently condemn both racism and white supremacy. Their unifying characteristic is the belief that citizens have the right to rise up against an oppressive government, and in particular, [against] one that denies their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, or their right to self-defense.

"This view is enshrined in America’s Declaration of Independence from, coincidentally, Great Britain. It states that whenever a government becomes destructive of human rights, 'it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it.'

"The Guardian article fails to distinguish between anti-government and anti-authoritarian government sentiment, the latter of which better describes the views of boogaloo members.

"As both the Libertarian Party and the Jorgensen campaign have made consistently and abundantly clear, and as the Guardian‘s journalist surely knows, libertarians vehemently oppose the initiation of force, whether by government or civilian forces.

"As Dr. Jorgensen explained to the reporter, the Libertarian Party has a membership requirement unlike that of any other U.S. political party. To be eligible to join, each individual must sign a pledge attesting that they oppose the initiation of force for the purpose of achieving social or political goals.

"'I reject violence and bigotry, and I advocate non-aggression, peaceful persuasion, and voluntary cooperation,' Jorgensen said. 'At the same time, I and my fellow libertarians reject so-called cancel culture, which denies people their right to free speech.'"

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Researchers rebut COVID-19 reinfection rumors

Dead virus fragments are causing COVID-19 reinfection false positives - News Medical | - Angela Betsaida B. Laguipo:

May 4, 2020 - "The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has ravaged across the globe.... One of the most significant concerns in this global pandemic is the possibility of reinfection as previous reports in South Korea and Japan show people testing positive with the coronavirus again.

"Now, a team of South Korean researchers has revealed that reports of recovered coronavirus patients testing positive for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection a second time round are due to testing errors and not actually reinfection.

"The country’s infectious disease experts said that dead-virus fragments were most likely cause [of] positive results for SARS-CoV-2 infection among 260 people who have recovered from the disease. The tests even showed the presence of these fragments even weeks after making full recoveries.

"Oh Myoung-don, who spearheads the central clinical committee for emerging disease control in South Korea, said there was little reason to believe the cases had emerged from reactivation of the virus or reinfection. 'The tests detected the ribonucleic acid of the dead virus,' Dr. Oh, who is also a hospital doctor at the Seoul National University, explained.

"The conventional test used to detect SARS-CoV-2 is the polymerase chain reaction test or PCR test. However, there are technical limitations to the test. It cannot distinguish whether the virus in the patient is alive or dead.... 'The respiratory epithelial cell has a half-life of up to three months, and RNA virus in the cell can be detected with PCR testing one to two months after the elimination of the cell,' Dr. Oh explained.

"So far, there were more than 260 people who tested positive again in South Korea. These patients have recovered and were declared virus-free.

"The new report confirmed a previous assessment of the Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that patients who tested positive again had little or no contagiousness at all. This means that they cannot transmit the virus to others, based on virus culture cells that all failed to find live viruses in recovered patients.

"The reports of reinfection in the country ... sparked panic, as South Korea has already flattened the curve after extensive mass testing and isolation of cases. It is one of the countries that have controlled the spread of the virus without resorting to restrictions and lockdowns."

Read more:

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Chinese state takes over Hong Kong

US Calls Out Chinese Regime’s ‘Orwellian Censorship’ on Hong Kong | Epoch Times - Mimi Nguyen-Ly:

July 7, 2020  - "The U.S. Department of State late Monday issued a statement strongly condemning the Chinese Communist Party’s crackdown on free speech in Hong Kong.... Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said ... 'With the ink barely dry on the repressive National Security Law, local authorities — in an Orwellian move — have now established a central government national security office, started removing books critical of the CCP from library shelves, banned political slogans, and are now requiring schools to enforce censorship'....

"Hong Kong was handed back from British colonial rule to Chinese sovereignty in 1997 with the express guarantee under the Sino-British Joint Declaration that the city’s high degree of autonomy and essential freedoms would be preserved under the principle of 'one country, two systems' until 2047. However, after a national security law on Hong Kong became effective late on June 30, a growing number of Hongkongers are considering fleeing the city due to fears that the freedoms that had distinguished Hong Kong from China — including freedom of speech — are now no more.

"The draconian national security law became effective late on June 30 after ceremonial votes by China’s rubber-stamp legislature. The legislation was written and passed behind closed doors without the consultation of Hong Kong’s legislature or local government. The law gives Beijing sweeping power to target individuals for any acts of secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces with maximum penalties of life imprisonment.

"Under the new law, expressed political views that advocate for Hong Kong’s independence or liberation are illegal. On July 1, the morning after the law was enacted, Hong Kong police arrested 10 people under provisions of the new law. In some cases, they were arrested for holding flags, banners, and flyers that had slogans supportive of Hong Kong independence.

"On July 2, the Hong Kong government declared that the popular protest slogan 'Liberate Hong Kong! Revolution of our times' is illegal because it 'connotes' a pro-independent, separatist, and subversive message. Public libraries have started to review books written by pro-democracy activists to see whether they violate the new law, and according to multiple reports, pro-democracy books have begun to disappear from libraries in Hong Kong.

"The national security law also mandates that a new security bureau be established in the city. On July 3, Beijing appointed Zheng Yanxiong, known for his role in suppressing ... 2011 anti-corruption protests in the southern village of Wukan, to head the new security bureau — which directly answers to the central government....

"The U.S. Congress on July 2 unanimously approved legislation that would impose sanctions on Chinese officials who violate Hong Kong’s autonomy, as well as banks that do business with those officials."

Read more:                                            [Eva Fu and Reuters contributed to this report]

Friday, July 17, 2020

Amash not campaigning for re-election

'I’m still going to miss it': Amash not campaigning for re-election to his seat in Congress | Detroit News - Melissa Nann Burke:

July 16, 2020 - "When U.S. Rep. Justin Amash ended his exploratory bid for the presidency, Libertarian activists held out hope he would run for re-election to his seat in the U.S. House, where he is the first and only Libertarian to serve in Congress. It seems they are about to be disappointed.

"A top Amash aide reiterated this week that the West Michigan congressman idled his congressional campaign back in February. She also indicated Amash does not intend to seek the party's nomination at the Michigan Libertarian Party's convention in Gaylord this weekend. 'He hasn't been campaigning for any office and doesn't plan to seek the nomination for any office,' Amash adviser Poppy Nelson said by email. Amash himself confirmed he isn't seeking re-election to his House seat in a tweet Thursday night....

"That's not to say Amash, 40, is done with politics. Those familiar with his thinking suggested he wouldn't have joined the Libertarian Party this spring if he didn't intend to work within the organization and run for office again in the future. But Libertarians say they would be disappointed not to see Amash on the ballot after finally seeing one of their own among the ranks of the U.S. House of Representatives — a first for the party founded in 1971....

[Amash] has represented the Grand Rapids area for five terms and saw his national profile soar after he became the only GOP member of Congress to support Trump's impeachment. He split from the Republican Party a year ago, became an independent, then signed up with the Libertarian Party in April before launching an exploratory bid to run for president on the Libertarian ticket. Amash dropped that possibility after five weeks, citing extreme polarization in the country, resistance in the press to third-party candidates, and limited chances for 'lesser-known' candidates to secure media opportunities during the pandemic....

"Nathan Hewer, who represents Amash's congressional district on the state Libertarian Executive Committee, said there's a possibility Amash could be nominated at the state convention even if he doesn't show up in person.... If Amash is not the nominee, delegates will nominate another Libertarian to run for his seat, Hewer said, though he's personally hoping Amash still runs....

"Some party activists in Michigan would like to see Amash run for governor in two years, Hewer added, noting that Amash raised the possibility during question-and-answer forums he held with Libertarian caucuses during his exploratory bid for president. One concern he had was taking a job as a congressman and vacating the position halfway through to take a different position. That's a major concern he has,' Hewer said. 'I think he just wants to make sure he respects the office and does not take a job that he's not going to carry out to full term.'"

Thursday, July 16, 2020

American families turning to homeschooling

Families Turn to Homeschooling as the Education Establishment Fumbles Its Pandemic Response | - J.D. Tuccille:

July 11, 2020 - "President Donald Trump got a lot of pushback for his criticism of school reopening guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — including from the CDC itself. But even many people who share the CDC's goal of minimizing health risks in the midst of a pandemic agree that the guidelines aren't especially practical....

"'To prevent the spread of the coronavirus, school leaders must ensure social distancing — limiting group sizes, keeping students six feet apart, restricting non-essential visitors, and closing communal spaces. Those measures run counter to how schools usually operate, with teachers and students working together in close quarters, children socializing throughout the day, and the buildings serving as a community gathering space,' Education Week noted in June....

"That has educators across the country scrambling to un-crowd classrooms so that social distance can be maintained. Remote learning via online classes, and hybrid approaches that have kids in school some days and learning remotely on others, are the go-to solutions for now.... 'Some schools, particularly those with ample resources and some experience with remote learning, had a far easier time of it than most,' reports the Wall Street Journal of pandemic-prompted efforts at teaching online. But for most schools, 'it was a failure' because of inexperience with the approach, limited access to technology, and a lack of commitment on the part of participants....

"Unsurprisingly, there's an upswing in families planning to homeschool their kids this fall, either through their own efforts or through dedicated online classes and schools that have experience with remote learning. While it's difficult to track numbers when it comes to homeschooling, 'several states, including Texas, Utah and Washington, have reported sharp upticks in interest,' according to NBC News. North Carolina's website for families announcing plans to homeschool crashed at the beginning of July 'due to an overwhelming submission of Notices of Intent.'

"Parents asked about their reasons for pulling their kids from schools cite both concerns about their kids contracting COVID-19 in the classroom as well as worries that traditional school districts aren't up to the challenges of teaching through remote and hybrid models. They can either place their faith in an education establishment that hasn't earned that sort of trust, or they can experiment with alternatives that have grown increasingly popular in recent years precisely because they satisfy the demand for flexible and effective learning approaches.

"'It looks like the high school is only offering a remote learning options,' a friend who has three teenage daughters and lives outside Chicago told me. 'Could you resend me that list you made of homeschooling resources?' Why, yes. Here it is! A lot of homeschooling options are online, given the low cost involved in delivering complete schools, classes, lectures, and the like over the Internet. The internet can also mean easy ways to order books, tools, and materials for families who prefer hands-on learning.

"Splitting the difference between family-based education and institutional schooling is a growing movement of home- and community-based microschools that deliver lessons to small groups of kids. That allows parents who need to work to pool their resources while ensuring adult supervision. For a monthly fee (or free in Arizona), Prenda offers its curriculum for use by both microschools and by families for their own children.

"Traditional schools right now are fumbling the response to a crisis and convincing much of the public that they are dangerous to children and society. Families fleeing from those schools in search of alternatives are going to prove a tough audience for arguments that kids should be trapped in poorly managed classrooms that aren't up to the latest challenge."

Read more:

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Two new libertarian academic blogs

Welcome to the New Radical Classical Liberals Blog | - Ilya Somin, Volokh Conspiracy:

July 2, 2020 - "Last month, I lamented the end of the long-running Bleeding Heart Libertarians blog, and welcomed the establishment of 200-Proof Liberals, a new blog founded by several BHL alumni.

"I am happy to now welcome the Radical Classical Liberals blog, another new blog founded, in part, by former BHL contributors. It also includes numerous other prominent libertarian/classical liberal philosophers, legal scholars, and political theorists....

"Philosopher Andrew Jason Cohen has written a helpful post outlining the blog's goals:...
A view like that (re)developed and encouraged on BHL is needed in the blogosphere, in academia, and in our broader culture. This blog will provide that—a classical liberal view that maintains a clear and unapologetic concern for the plight of the less fortunate—at a point in time when it seems the world is finally being forced to take those concerns seriously. Importantly, we'll do so in a way meant to encourage greater civil dialogue. We hope to provide a counter to the sound bite culture so prevalent in contemporary media; we do so in order to provide greater understanding—both to our readers and to ourselves…

Our hopes for the blog are varied. They include showcasing the attractiveness of dynamic markets and anti-authoritarian solutions to contemporary problems, how these are often the best hope for those concerned with issues of deprivation, exclusion, and subordination, and how, far too often, government solutions are more pretense than substance. We are all concerned to show how freedom (we may disagree about what that is) goes hand in hand with prosperity for all. Putting that differently, we all recognize the value of markets and social justice on some understanding that recognizes (minimally) the basic moral equality of all human adults. Within that framework, our opinions are likely to vary considerably.

We hope to appeal to those who are curious about moral, legal, political, and social thought. While we all have our own existing biases, we hope to be able to bracket our prior beliefs and argue from acceptable premises to important conclusions — all with respectful and reasoned discussion.
"I look forward to their posts with great interest and anticipation!"

Read more:

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Governor shuts down California again

California extends its lockdown as coronavirus cases increase | Bangor Daily News - Associated Press:
July 13, 2020 - "California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday extended the closure of bars and indoor dining statewide and ordered gyms, churches and hair salons closed in most places as coronavirus cases keep rising in the nation’s most populated state.

"On July 1, Newsom ordered 19 counties ... to close bars and indoor operations at restaurants, wineries, zoos and family entertainment centers like bowling alleys and miniature golf. The Democratic governor extended that order statewide Monday. He also imposed additional restrictions on the 30 counties now with rising numbers, including the most populated of Los Angeles and San Diego, by ordering worship services to stop and gyms, hair salons, indoor malls and offices for noncritical industries to shut down....

"In March, California was the first state to issue a mandatory, statewide stay-at-home order.... The order appeared to work as cases stabilized in the ensuing weeks.... But the order devastated the world’s fifth-largest economy.... Newsom ... let most businesses reopen in May. Like other states that took similar steps, a subsequent rise in cases and hospitalizations led him to impose new restrictions....

"Newsom has compared his strategy of opening and closing businesses as a 'dimmer switch,' highlighting the flexibility needed as public health officials monitor the virus’s progress."
Read more:

California's new lockdown dims outlook for U.S. growth in pandemic | Reuters:
July 13, 2020 - "In March, after becoming the first U.S. state to impose a stay-at-home order in response to the coronavirus pandemic, California also became the nation’s job-loss leader. Some 2.6 million jobs disappeared in March and April, about equal to the combined job losses in Texas and Florida. The idea, of course, was to stop infections from getting out of control, trading a steep economic decline to create the conditions both for better public health and for a faster economic recovery. So far, it hasn’t worked out that way.

"Many states began to reopen in May. California allowed businesses to resume activity at a slower pace than many states did. That shows in the most recent state-by-state jobs data: during ... May, California added just 141,600 jobs, versus 182,000 in Florida and 237,000 in Texas.

"Since then, the virus has resurged in ... Florida, Texas, Arizona and California, forcing governors in all of those states to reimpose some restrictions. But none has gone as far as Newsom did on Monday....  Newsom is shutting bars and banning indoor restaurant dining statewide, and closing gyms, hair salons and non-essential workplaces in counties where the vast majority of its population lives. And with those new restrictions, the state’s relatively meager job gains so far could stall or even reverse."
Read more:

Monday, July 13, 2020

Seasteading project revived in Panama

This libertarian Bitcoin trader wants to build a city on the sea | Decrypt - Adriana Hamacher:

Jun 25, 2020 - "Chad Elwartowski, an American software engineer turned Bitcoin trader, is one of the leading lights of the 'seasteading' movement — a libertarian drive to build independent floating cities on the high seas. Right now,  he's constructing a prototype for 'the world’s first 3D-printed, smart, floating home,' off the Caribbean coast of Panama. A prior effort, in Thailand, was towed off by the Thai navy in 2019.

"Interest in seasteading is enjoying a renaissance among libertarian tech millionaires, keen to escape the threat of increasing government surveillance. The movement has come a long way since entrepreneurs Peter Thiel and Patri Friedman (grandson of eminent economist Milton) launched the Seasteading Institute in 2008.....

"But Elwartowski’s vision has changed since his first attempt at seasteading in Thailand, when he and his Thai partner Supranee Thepdet were forced to flee, dodging Thai patrol boats. He was tipped off that the authorities had determined that the fiberglass cabin, on top of a floating pole, posed a threat to the country's sovereignty — punishable by death.

"Now, they’ve settled in Panama and joined a local business called Ocean Builders, which is creating 30 'seapods,' and selling them on the open market for between $200,000 to $800,000 each. The pods will be registered as boats under the Panama flag for legal purposes....

"In 2017, the French Polynesian government approved the Seasteading Institute’s plans for an autonomous community near the French Polynesian coast, using a cryptocurrency called Varyon. However, the authorities rescinded ... approval a year later, in response to objections of 'tech colonialism' by the residents of Tahiti....

"Friedman is now involved in the Marshall Islands’ scheme to introduce a sovereign digital currency.... He and Thiel have moved on to self-governed 'charter cities' in developing countries, allowing international firms to set up shop in the semi-autonomous zones. The project takes the form of a venture fund, bolstered by $9 million in funding from Thiel, as well as investors and Bitcoin heavyweights Marc Andreessen, Roger Ver, and Balaji Srinivasan."

Read more:

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Floyd protests ignore the real issue of statism

Op-Ed: Virtue Signaling and Fundraising Solve Nothing | Loudwire - Eric July:
For example, when a cop shoots a black man you focus on the racism… ignoring all the statism / Holding signs, rioting is not about to save him ‘cause you must’ve forgot that that’s the power that you gave them”
                                  – “Self Ownership” by BackWordz in 2016. Words by: Eric July.
June 8, 2020 - "Imagine spending the last five years building a band from the ground up and releasing the first album right in the middle of an election cycle ... that has the theme of addressing the political and social landscape while being in opposition to a criminal institution known as the State.... Because the band’s philosophy threatens the institution that is used to fund or enforce the general politics and ideals of people within the scene, the scene defends the State against the band and its members....

"And ... a man that is the same color as the frontman is slowly killed by the same institution you spoke against. But the same people that were defending the State and supported people that wanted to expand its reach, are now concerned with the 'injustices' faced by people that are of the same race of the frontman....

"This conversation went straight to white vs. black or blue vs. black when it should be the State vs. You. At this point, I don’t even care to have these discussions about whether or not the law enforcement disproportionately kills when you account for population, crime rates etc. This issue is not going to be resolved if we can get everybody to be killed at the same rate.... But the national narrative is centered around racism and that alone, so now we have many different people trying to prove that they’re one of the good guys pertaining to how they view black people....

"Putting it bluntly: This is just a show for the most part and none of these actions are actually conducive to resolving the issue of State aggression.... For purposes of this write-up, understand that the State is a territorial monopoly on use of force, violence and ultimate decision making. The law enforcement, from the local level up to the federal level, are the teeth of the State. It’s not going to be Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, or your local representative that enforces the laws; it’s the law enforcers. Because this monopoly exists, they do not play by the same rules as the other people.

"Look no further than George Floyd to see this play out. Three men, with one on his neck, slowly killed him as onlookers pleaded with the cops. They didn’t step in to physically stop the cop. They just pleaded.... So why didn’t the onlookers assist George Floyd and opt to record it instead?... They could be shot. They could face charges in assaulting a police officer ... and ending up also dead or in prison isn’t worth it. Once they see the uniform and the badge, they understand that the State agents are rewarded with a set of protection that simply isn’t offered to the rest of the citizens....

"The cultural issue that nobody wants to really discuss is how people look to the State and their law enforcers as Gods even if they claim to hate them. Just a week ago some of the same people that were marching were lecturing people about how the State must impose a lockdown on the entire country because they were scared of a virus. They had no problem snitching on their neighbors and this economic illiteracy put 40 million or so people out of work, stripping them of their livelihoods much like what happens when businesses are destroyed.

"Who enforced these lockdowns? The same cops that they’re calling bastards. Because the game is rigged, they were able to go-back on everything that they previously lectured us about.... This isn’t unlike the other contradictory positions they have. Many of them support big government welfare statists and advocate for 'free' things such as college and healthcare. All of this is funded by theft and coercion of property through taxation. In the event any individual does not want to pay for said welfare statism who is going to confiscate property forcefully? Local and/or federal law enforcers.... If you advocate for things such as welfare statism or further taxation to pay for the things, what you advocate implies usage of cops in some capacity....

"I’m all for community-based security and privatized, voluntary forms of protection. I do not want something that is only defunded in name or replaced with State law enforcement under a different moniker. But ultimately we are our own first responders. Gun ownership is something that I feel as now necessary more than ever and people, especially black people, are looking to get armed. This has been my recent focus in activism in getting my family and friends trained on how to use guns....

"We can discuss the racist history of gun control in America, but I’d rather focus on the now. These are truly enemies of people and a large part of why I’d never be caught marching alongside these types. Prior to a week ago they wanted me dead, disarmed, taxed to death or ruled over. They are enemies of liberty, and I see these types as merely a rival gang of the cops. Neither are my friends, and I’m not forced to choose a side. In fact, the latter is statistically more likely to kill me than the cops. But every man and woman has the right to defend themselves against all aggressors, including state agents."

Read more:

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Pay Covid survivors for plasma, ethicist proposes

EU raises its bet on blood plasma in search for Covid-19 treatment |
July 7, 2020 - "The European Union wants to fast-track funding to treat Covid-19 patients with blood plasma collected from survivors ... in a sign of the bloc’s growing confidence in the experimental treatment.... Since the beginning of the pandemic, medics across the world have been transfusing convalescent plasma into critically ill Covid-19 patients, often with positive results, although its efficacy is still under investigation.
  • People who survive an infectious disease like Covid-19 are left with blood plasma containing antibodies, or proteins made by the body’s immune system to fight off a virus, that can be transfused into newly infected patients to try to aid recovery.
  • Plasma, which is the liquid component of blood, is also being tested by public authorities and companies to develop medicines against Covid-19, such as hyperimmune globulins.
  • Separate research is under way on its possible use to prevent Covid-19 infections, as antibodies extracted from it could be transfused to boost immunity defenses of vulnerable people. That could be particularly important in the absence of a vaccine.
Read more:

Bloody Well Pay Them: The Case for Voluntary Remunerated Plasma Collections | Niskanen Center:
June 14, 2020 - "Transfusing the blood plasma of those who have recovered from Covid-19, called convalescent plasma, appears to help against the novel coronavirus. Multiple trials are now underway around the world, with the U.S. Government supporting a national program to collect and provide convalescent plasma to patients in need across the country.

"The rest of the world must take similar action. A new paper, authored by Georgetown University professor Dr Peter Jaworski, argues this World Blood Donor Day (14th June) that it’s time for donors in other countries to be paid for donating blood plasma to ensure a healthy supply. New uses for plasma therapies, and a reduction in plasma donations during the crisis, will put additional strain on what is already a strained global supply, the report outlines....

"There is now not a single jurisdiction anywhere in the world that meets its needs exclusively based on non-remunerated plasma collections.... The report argues that the UK, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia should follow many European countries and the USA in withdrawing prohibitions on voluntary remunerated plasma collections. These developed, English speaking democracies would ensure a domestic security of supply and free themselves from over-reliance on the United States or EU-only schemes....

"Voluntary Remunerated Plasma Collections are the only evidence-based path towards a safe, secure, and sufficient supply of plasma. Relying on non-remunerated donations ... is a threat to patients, and a risk to their supply of plasma therapies. The UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are a drain on the global supply of plasma. The only way we can finally begin to contribute to the global supply of plasma is to permit Voluntary Remunerated Plasma Collections at home.”
Read more:

Friday, July 10, 2020

Governments imposing a 2nd wave of lockdowns

Localized lockdowns show that we're in the most complex phase of coronavirus yet | CNN - Emma Reynolds:

July 9, 2020 - "From English cities to the Spanish seaside and Australian housing estates, local lockdowns are cropping up all over the world as countries ease restrictions only to encounter new coronavirus outbreaks.... Beijing re-entered a partial lockdown in mid-June after a new coronavirus outbreak linked to a food market in the Chinese capital, while at least 24 states in the US are pausing or rolling back their reopenings as cases accelerate....

"The threshold for imposing new lockdowns as well as their size and scope varies dramatically between countries, from a single building in Italy, to several Rwandan villages, to a community of 200,000 in Spain's northeast and a coastal area of 70,000 in its northwest, to the whole of Israel. There are hopes this approach could minimize the economic damage resulting from large-scale shutdowns. In Portugal, for example, 19 boroughs on the outskirts of Lisbon have shut down, while the capital's downtown area has continued its reopening, along with the rest of the country.

"The German city of Guetersloh was put back into lockdown after 1,331 workers at its Toennies meat processing factory tested positive for the virus.... Guetersloh's lockdown was lifted Monday when a court in the state of North Rhine-Westfalia ruled that the regulation was 'no longer compatible with the principle of proportionality and the principle of equal treatment'....

"In the Italian city of Mondragone, authorities sealed off a building that housed migrant seasonal workers as a 'red zone' late last month after 49 people tested positive for Covid-19. The army was sent to monitor the hotspot and a group of workers living in the building broke the quarantine to protest.... And in Serbia, police in the capital Belgrade on Tuesday fired tear gas at protesters demonstrating against the President Aleksandar Vucic after he announced a weekend-long curfew to try to combat a surge in cases....

"The English city of Leicester returned to lockdown for two weeks from July 2, with non-essential businesses shutting, people advised to minimize social contact, and schools closed for most children, after a spike in cases there. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that Leicester showed 'the virus is out there still circling like a shark in the water,' raising fears of further lockdowns in other UK areas with rising numbers of new cases....

"In the Australian state of Victoria, 6.6 million people have been isolated from the rest of the country for six weeks after Melbourne saw a record rise in daily case numbers. On Saturday, 3,000 residents of nine densely populated public housing estates were put under full lockdown and from Wednesday, residents in metropolitan Melbourne are no longer allowed to leave their homes, except for grocery shopping, caregiving, exercise or work. Victoria's border with New South Wales will close for the first time since the pandemic began....

"Israel has re-imposed strict limitations across the whole country, closing event halls, bars, gyms and pools after the country hit a record daily figure of 1,140 new infections. It is facing a near 40-fold increase in daily cases from mid-May, when the nation appeared to have the virus under control....

"[Alexander] Kekulé, the virology professor [of the Institute for Biosecurity Research in Germany], believes that large-scale reopening and then locking down again is a mistake, and risks causing psychological or economic damage to those affected. 'We need a reliable picture of our future [f]or the economy,' he told CNN. 'You cannot plan when you have the possibilities of lockdowns at any time. People will not do that several times, again and again.... In the United States, [and] also in Brazil, we have the situation that the people are beginning to fight against lockdowns and I understand why they are doing that,' he said. 'Instead of braking and accelerating, we needed a completely different concept.'"

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Thursday, July 9, 2020

Libertarian convention 2020.2 opens in Orlando

Libertarians bring a socially distanced convention to Orlando, with color-coded ‘risk bracelets’ | Orlando Sentinel - Steven Lemongello:

July 8, 2020 - "The Libertarian National Convention kick[ed] off Wednesday in Orlando, bringing hundreds of delegates to the five-day event at the Rosen Centre on International Drive. The convention will hold most of its larger sessions at the Orange County Convention Center across the street, becoming one of the first events to be partially held at the convention center since the pandemic began.

"Libertarian national chair Nicholas Sarwark said the party is opposed to government-mandated mask orders.... But it has advised the estimated 500 to 600 delegates expected at the event to wear masks, get temperature-checked and socially distance themselves.... Special color-coded 'risk bracelets' will let delegates know how comfortable other participants are with close contact: red to stay 6 feet away, yellow for closer conversations without physical contact; and green for no distancing at all.

"'Public health guidance should provide as much information as possible to people so they can make good choices for themselves,' Sarwark said. 'What we’re doing is [the] best practices based on the best data that we have and working with the hotel and the convention center to try and abide by whatever regulations or guidance their insurers are recommending.'

"The convention had already been thrown into turmoil by the outbreak, with its scheduled meeting in Austin, Texas, in May forced to be canceled amid COVID-19 shutdowns. The party [held] a virtual convention in May to choose Jo Jorgensen, a lecturer at Clemson University in South Carolina, as its first woman nominee for president. Podcaster Spike Cohen will be her running mate.

"But the delegates still needed to convene in person to conduct other necessary business. The party turned to Orlando, where it had held its convention in 2016, and booked the Rosen Shingle Creek resort.... But then cases began to skyrocket in mid-June, and later in the month they were told the original location at Shingle Creek could not be used. Finally, a combination of the Rosen Centre and the convention center were booked.

"Jim Turney, an Altamonte Springs city commissioner and convention organizing committee member, said the party is expecting much fewer than the 900 delegates who attended the 2016 convention. 'We made a last-minute switch from Memorial Day to this weekend and from Austin to Orlando, so a lot of people fell out over that,' Turney said. 'And of course, some fell out because they don’t want to travel, either because of themselves or their families’ concerns for COVID'....

"Mid-June began a string of record-breaking single days of new cases in the state, including more than 11,000 on Saturday, and Orlando ranks among the cities with fastest-rising numbers nationwide. Travel advisories such as the one put in place by New York and New Jersey would also require 14-day quarantines upon returning home, and a similar rule for travelers from the New York area to Florida issued by Gov. Ron DeSantis in April is still in effect.

"The party is giving out 1,000 masks custom-made for the convention at a facility in Altamonte Springs, Turney said, as well as 2,000 non-branded masks....

"'I believe all Libertarians believe in personal responsibility,' Turney said. 'We believe that even when you don’t intend to cause harm to somebody, you just made a mistake or it was an accident or a coincidence or whatever, you’re still responsible.'"

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Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Jo Jorgensen interviewed on "boogaloo" podcast

Libertarian 2020 candidate appears on podcast tied to ‘boogaloo’ movement | The Guardian - Jason Wilson:

July 6, 2020 = "Libertarian party presidential candidate, Jo Jorgensen, has appeared on a podcast associated with the anti-government 'boogaloo' movement just days after an adherent of the movement was arrested for allegedly murdering two law enforcement officers.,,,

"The Libertarian party is one of the largest political parties in the US, outside the dominant pairing of the Democrats and Republicans. Although the party’s vote is still comparatively small, it has finished third in the last two presidential elections, and has increased its share of the vote in four successive elections, going from 0.4% of the vote in 2004 to 3.3% in 2016, when it fetched almost 4.5 million votes

"On the Roads to Liberty podcast, Jorgensen was quizzed on her policy proposals by a group of men who were introduced as 'some of the head admins for some of the most influential pages in the so-called boogaloo movement'. The word 'boogaloo' refers to the prospect of a second civil war in the US by playing off a reference to a movie sequel, Breakin’ 2: Electric boogaloo.... [Among those] questioning Jorgensen was a man identifying himself as 'Squid', an administrator of the 'Patriot Wave: V 2.0” (PW2) page.... the PW2 page features dozens of memes which reference fascist, white nationalist, and 'accelerationist' neo-Nazi imagery....

"The questioners ask Jorgensen about a range of policy areas, including taxes, veteran's affairs, and second amendment issues. 'Squid', however, asks about Jorgensen’s 'views on the boogaloo movement as a whole'. Jorgensen replies, 'Oh, can you please explain that to me again?”, and appears not to know about the movement.... Squid explains the purpose of the movement as 'basically liberty and justice for all'. 'Well, I am definitely for liberty and justice for all', Jorgensen replies....

"In an email, after being given examples of troubling images on the PW2 page, Jorgensen declined to specifically repudiate the support of the boogaloo movement, writing: 'I welcome the support of anyone who will reject violence and bigotry in favor of non-aggression, peaceful persuasion, and voluntary cooperation.'

"Asked if the boogaloo movement were anti-government extremists, Jorgensen wrote: 'The media tend to lump together peaceful protesters and those who advocate violence, and paint the entire group as being violent'.... She added: 'The boogaloo movement is highly decentralized and comprises both those who are aligned with the principle of nonaggression, and some who run counter to it'. 'Squid', the PW2 administrator, denied that the group were racist in an email, writing that they were 'constitutionalists'....

"Dozens of boogaloo groups, including many of the largest ones, have been promoting Jorgensen’s candidacy in recent days, and a dedicated Jorgensen meme group involves many self-identified boogaloo adherents. Facebook, meanwhile, banned hundreds of boogaloo-related accounts, pages, and groups on Instagram and Facebook on 30 June.... The Libertarian party formally condemns racism in its platform. However in 2017, after the Unite the Right rally, the party’s leadership had to issue a public denunciation of white nationalism....

"Asked about how the Libertarian party will keep extremists at a distance in future, Jorgensen wrote: 'The Libertarian Party is the only political party that favors non-aggression as a fundamental principle. Every Libertarian Party member has signed a pledge that they oppose the initiation of force for the purpose of achieving social or political goals.'"

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