Monday, August 31, 2020

Worldwide lockdown protests August 29

Berlin, Germany - "Berlin police broke up a mass protest against coronavirus curbs on Saturday and arrested 300 in the German capital after demonstrators failed to keep their distance and wear masks as instructed. Around 38,000 protesters gathered for events across the city and police reported pockets of unrest, as infections rise in Europe and public frustration at measures to contain the virus grows. Similar events took place in Paris, London and elsewhere on Saturday." ( 

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London, England - "Thousands descended on central London today as part of a protest organised to 'expose the truth about Covid and lockdown'. Sizeable crowds were pictured demonstrating in the English capital for the “Unite for Freedom” rally which called for an “end to government lies” and an end to all lockdown restrictions in place across the country.... Few, if any, protestors wore masks, while there were several homemade signs featuring anti-lockdown slogans like 'masks are muzzles' and 'new normal = new facism.' One appealed for "freedom over fear" while another called on the public to 'find courage' and 'Take back freedom.

"The [London] protests came exactly a week on from similar demonstrations in Dublin, where hundreds gathered to call for an end to the Irish government's strict lockdown rules. Protestors in Ireland were also opposed to the mandatory wearing of face masks on public transport and the introduction of hand sanitiser stations in shops." (Irish Times)

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Paris, France - "In Paris, up to 300 protesters marched against the government decision to make mask wearing compulsory in all public areas.... Protesters in the French capital, some waving placards stating "Stop the lies", were quickly surrounded by police who handed out 135 euro fines to those not wearing masks." (Euronews)

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Zurich, Switzerland - "On Saturday, around one thousand people took to the streets of Zurich to protest against government rules aimed at slowing the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, according to RTS. Under the slogan 'Zurück in die Freiheit' (Back to Freedom) protest organisers drew an eclectic group of people together at Zurich’s Helvetiaplatz to protest against compulsory mask wearing rules and the possibility of compulsory vaccination against the virus in the future." (le News)

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Ottawa, Canada - "Hundreds of protestors wearing raincoats, but not facemasks gathered on Parliament Hill on Saturday to demand an end to government-imposed rules designed to limit the spread of COVID-19. The protest was organized by a group called 'The Line." It bills itself as a 'leaderless movement' formed to defend constitutional rights and freedoms.... The group obtained a permit for its all-day protest, and Ottawa police reported no arrests." (Ottawa Citizen)

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Melbourne, Australia - "Several anti-lockdown protesters have been arrested in Melbourne after clashing with police over the weekend. Three protesters, a 17-year-old boy and two other men, aged 18 and 22, were arrested on Sunday during what they called a  Freedom March'.... Dozens of demonstrators, who were mostly young men, were chased through the streets of Broadmeadows by officers."

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Kelowna, B.C., Canada - "Over 160 people gathered in Kelowna [British Columbia] for a rally, protesting the public health orders and restrictions in place, during the COVID-19 pandemic. They say Canadians’ rights and freedoms are being taken away by the government." (Global News)

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Sunday, August 30, 2020

Lockdown zealots scarier than the coronavirus

Lockdown fanatics scare me far more than Covid-19 | Spiked - Brendan O'Neill:

May 8, 2020 - "I know I’m meant to be scared of Covid-19. But I’m far more fearful of the lockdown fanatics. These people who are so blase about the halting of economic life, and who bristle at any suggestion that the lockdown should be eased, pose a graver threat to the future of the UK than coronavirus does. They are a menace to liberty, reason and people’s livelihoods. Our society is taking steps to tackle Covid – now we need a huge collective effort to face down lockdown fanaticism....

"Here’s why lockdown fanaticism unnerves me more than Covid-19. The coronavirus pandemic is clearly a very serious health challenge. It is right that we take it seriously and that we devote as many of society’s resources as possible to ensuring that it doesn’t impact on the populace too harshly. It is right to propose social-distancing measures, which is what we had before the lockdown was imposed. But where Covid is proving to be less lethal than we first feared, lockdown fanaticism is proving to be more lethal.

"The Covid threat is not the apocalypse we were warned about. Its death rate is low. Its impact on younger people is negligible. Just 0.75 per cent of deaths in the UK have been among under-40s, and the majority of those were people with underlying health conditions.... The horror stories that were spread about Covid-19 by government officials and media fearmongers have been exposed as inaccurate, and in some cases hysterical. As the government adviser Professor Robert Dingwall says, the government has ‘effectively terrorised’ us into ‘believing that this is a disease that is going to kill you’. When in the vast majority of cases that simply isn’t true.... 

"So, coronavirus is proving manageable. It has not overwhelmed our health systems. It is not the plague. It is mild or even asymptomatic in most people. Society can handle it. What society can’t handle much more of, though, is lockdown fanaticism. This is a more destructive force than Covid-19.

"Covid is just a virus. It doesn’t know what it is doing. It spreads to survive. But the lockdown fanatics are conscious human beings. They know – or ought to – the destructiveness of the path they are carving out for Britain and other nations. They know the economic calamity and anti-social culture of fear they are foisting upon society, with all the mass unemployment, denigration of public services, and even death that this will cause. And yet they carry on.

"Britain is on the brink of the worst recession since the Great Frost of 1709, according to the Bank of England. Others are predicting an utterly unprecedented 13 per cent contraction in national output. Millions will lose their jobs. And that’s just the UK. More than 100 million Indians have lost their jobs as a result of the global contagion of lockdown. Many will be plunged into hunger, and worse. The International Labor Organization says 1.5 billion people around the world are at risk of losing their livelihoods. The halting of economic life and production and transportation could lead to a global ‘hunger catastrophe’, says the UN. I hope the lockdown fanatics think about that next time they post a pic of their latest loaf of sourdough.

"But they don’t think about it. Not seriously. They treat it as incidental.... Or, worse, they engage in a political sleight of hand. They say job losses, rising mental-health problems, lack of money and a global downturn that will hit the poor severely are also down to Covid. ‘Covid-19 is giving rise to economic problems, too’, they occasionally say. No. We cannot allow this. It is not Covid that is destroying livelihoods and liberties – it is our societies’ historically unprecedented, ill-thought-through, contagion-like authoritarian response to Covid; it is lockdown fanaticism.

"They need to take some responsibility. Covid can be excused; it’s a virus. The lockdown fanatics cannot be excused. Their extremism is hampering sensible government action, stymieing open public debate, and nurturing economic catastrophe. They must be held to account. More than that, they must be opposed. We need a return to reason, freedom and productivity."

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Saturday, August 29, 2020

Four overlooked facts about COVID-19

Four Stylized Facts about COVID-19 | National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper 27719 - Andrew Atkeson, Karen Kopecky, and Tao Zha:

August 2020 - "We document four facts about the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide relevant for those studying the impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) on COVID-19 transmission. 

  • First: across all countries and U.S. states that we study, the growth rates of daily deaths from COVID-19 fell from a wide range of initially high levels to levels close to zero within 20-30 days after each region experienced 25 cumulative deaths. 
  • Second: after this initial period, growth rates of daily deaths have hovered around zero or below everywhere in the world. 
  • Third: the cross section standard deviation of growth rates of daily deaths across locations fell very rapidly in the first 10 days of the epidemic and has remained at a relatively low level since then. 
  • Fourth: when interpreted through a range of epidemiological models, these first three facts about the growth rate of COVID deaths imply that both the effective reproduction numbers and transmission rates of COVID-19 fell from widely dispersed initial levels and the effective reproduction number has hovered around one after the first 30 days of the epidemic virtually everywhere in the world.... 

"In this paper, we document these facts regarding COVID deaths using both simple data smoothing procedures and a Bayesian estimation procedure that allows us to construct probability bands around our estimates of the growth of COVID deaths. We then use an SIR epidemiological model based on that in Kermack and McKendrick (1927) to interpret these data on the growth rate of COVID deaths ... and show that our conclusions about the worldwide decline in the transmission rate for COVID-19 are not much affected by the choice of epidemiological model....

"Several prominent studies, including Dehning et al. (2020), Hsiang et al. (2020), and Flaxman et al. (2020), have studied empirically the role of government-mandated non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) in reducing the transmission of COVID-19, and many of these studies  ... may substantially overstate the role of government-mandated NPI’s in reducing disease transmission due to an omitted variable bias. Moreover, given the observation that disease transmission rates have remained low ... as NPI’s have been lifted, we are concerned that estimates of the effectiveness of NPI’s in reducing disease transmission from the earlier period may not be relevant for forecasting the impact of the relaxation of those NPI’s in the current period....

"What might this omitted variable or variables be?... [T]he literatures in both epidemiology and economics offer several candidates. COVID-19 is not the first epidemic for which transmission rates have fallen faster than would be predicted by simple epidemiological models....

"The first of these hypotheses is that humans spontaneously take action to avoid disease transmission once an epidemic breaks out. For COVID-19, a great deal of real-time mobility and economic data indicate that human social and economic interactions have fallen substantially across a large number of locations. Further research is required, however, to determine whether this decline in human interactions is sufficiently large and widespread to account for the apparent decline in transmission rates....

"The second ... hypothesis is that the network structure of human interactions naturally leads to a slowdown in disease transmission faster than would be predicted from a simple epidemiological model in which the population interacts uniformly with each other. Further research is required to determine whether a network structure of human interactions can indeed explain the global decline....

"Finally, we must consider the possibility that ... some unobserved natural factor may have driven the decline to date in the transmission of COVID-19. Clearly, the existence of such an unobserved factor would complicate empirical studies of the causal driving forces behind COVID-19 transmission....

"One of the central policy questions regarding the COVID-19 pandemic is the question of which non-pharmaceutical interventions [NPIs] governments might use to influence the transmission of the disease. Our ability to identify empirically which NPI’s have what impact on disease transmission depends on there being enough independent variation in both NPI’s and disease transmission across locations as well as our having robust procedures for controlling for other observed and unobserved factors that might be influencing disease transmission. The facts that we document in this paper cast doubt on this premise."

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Friday, August 28, 2020

COVID-19 deaths drop steeply in Manaus, Brazil

Has this Brazilian city reached herd immunity without lockdown? | The Spectator USA - Ross Clark:

August 26, 2020 - "Throughout the Covid crisis, the international response to the disease has rested on a simple assumption: that none of us have any resistance to it, being caused by a novel virus. Therefore, if allowed to let rip through the population, the virus would exponentially spread until around 60 – 70 per cent of us had been infected and herd immunity was reached. This was the assumption behind Neil Ferguson’s paper in March,* claiming that Covid-19 would kill 500,000 Britons if nothing was done and 250,000 of us if the government carried on with the limited mitigation polices it was then following. 

"Yet real world data has challenged this assumption. First came the accidental human experiment of the Diamond Princess cruise ship, where in January the disease spread unnoticed among 3,711 passengers and crew in the closed environment of a ship. But when all those people were tested for the disease, only 19 per cent turned out to have been infected. Similarly, as reported in the Spectator in March, a study of 1,286 people in the southern Chinese city of Shenzen revealed that only 14.9 per cent of people who shared an apartment with someone later found to be suffering from Covid-19, had picked up the infection themselves.

"In New York City, a runaway epidemic seems to have left after antibody tests on a sample of the population revealed 21 per cent of the population had been infected. In London, the epidemic appears to have retreated after 17 per cent were infected.

"There is now another piece of powerful evidence.... The Amazonian city of Manaus has witnessed a remarkable retreat in what had seemingly been an uncontrolled epidemic among its 2 million population. Excess deaths, which had been running at 120 a day in May, have dropped away to virtually nothing, allowing the city’s emergency field hospital to be closed. Interestingly, the retreat of the virus occurred once 20 per cent of the population appeared to have been infected.

Source: Amazonas Health Surveillance Foundation - Washington Post

"In the case of London and New York, there was the complication of lockdown – could infection levels have been frozen around the 20 per cent level thanks to our restrictions, rather than as a result of any natural resistance? But in the case of Manaus, there are no such complications: no lockdown restrictions were ever imposed.... The virus staged a similar retreat in the Ecuadorean city of Guayaquil, although the proportion infected there is notably higher, at 33 per cent....

"As reported here in May, but not widely covered elsewhere, a team led by Gabriella Gomes of Strathclyde University and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine has produced its own model, taking into account that humans have widely different patterns of social interaction. Once a virus has infected those with a high level of social interaction, it finds it much more difficult to spread. As a result, according to Gomes’s model, the per cent of the population that needs to be infected before effective herd immunity is reached drops from 60 per cent to between 10 and [35] per cent....

"Yet the approach of governments towards Covid-19 – including that of our own – appears to be trapped by modelling based on the assumption of universal susceptibility and a herd immunity threshold of 60 per cent. Perhaps it is time the government seeks advice from a wider range of sources and begin[s] looking at real world evidence, rather than just models....

"Manaus does not provide a great advert for doing nothing at all to combat the spread of Covid-19. Before the city reached an apparent infection rate of 20 per cent, hospitals had been overwhelmed and it had recorded Covid-19 deaths of over 3,300 people – one in 600 of the population. Nevertheless, its experience falls a long way short of the projections made by Ferguson, whose worst-case scenario would have seen 1 in 130 Britons die."

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* Prof. Ferguson estimated that the coronavirus had an initial reproduction rate of 2.4, which implies a herd immunity threshhold of 58.33% of the population. However, he predicted an infection ratio of over  80% by July, meaning he either rejected or omitted the concept of a herd immunity threshhold, or miscalculated the percentage. - gd 

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Libertarian POTUS ticket makes ballot in Alabama

Libertarian POTUS candidate makes Alabama ballot | Sand Mountain Reporter:

August 24, 2020 - "The Libertarian Party of Alabama recently received confirmation from the Secretary of State’s Director of Elections, Clay Helms, that Jo Jorgensen and Jeremy “Spike” Cohen have met the signature requirements to be on the Alabama ballot Nov. 3, 2020.  Jorgensen and Cohen were nominated during the national Libertarian Party convention in June, the nation’s first completely online national convention.

"Collecting signatures is a legal requirement for a Libertarian candidate, but is not required for the Democrat nor Republican parties, which require only the certified nomination by their national and state party representatives. However, those same vintage parties that require only paperwork for themselves, are putting additional burden on their challengers, Jorgensen said.

"This 'disproportionate requirement' is based on defining the Libertarian Party as a 'Political Action Committee', instead of a 'Political Party', and effectively excludes the libertarian candidates from including their party affiliation on their ballot....

"Volunteers across the state helped collect the signatures. Petitioning during a regular election cycle is difficult enough, but in 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic made canvassing complicated; masks and social distancing challenged communication and 10 person gathering limits eliminated rallies and voter drives, Jorgensen said.

"Despite all the challenges, she said the grassroots Alabama libertarians were able to do what no other party in the state has done: get thousands of people to sign their name and say, 'I want HER to be an option for POTUS.'"

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Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Scientists rethinking COVID-19 immunity

Covid Spread Can’t Only Be Explained by Who’s Being ‘Bad’ | Bend Bulletin - Faye Flam, Bloomberg:

August 13, 2020 - "There are some weird things going on in the coronavirus data. It’s curious that cases dropped so fast, and have stayed pretty low, in the spring hot zones — New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. And why did cases remain so low in Idaho and Hawaii until recently?... This is the time to use scientific methods to understand what’s happening. The pandemic has gone on long enough to reveal patterns in the way it spreads. If it’s all about behavior, that’s a testable hypothesis. If, as a few speculate, dramatic drops in some places have something to do with growing immunity in the population, we can also turn that into a testable hypothesis....

"YouYang Gu, an independent data scientist ... recently took to Twitter to urge public health officials to apply scientific thinking. He pointed to data on Louisiana, where cases were rising earlier in the summer and seemed to level off after various counties issued mask mandates. But breaking the data down by county, he says, revealed a different story. Mask mandates varied in their timing, but places that implemented them late saw no more cases or deaths than those that did so early. 'I don’t think there’s currently enough evidence to support the fact that recent policy interventions (mask mandates, bar closures) were the main drivers behind the recent decrease in cases,' he wrote....

"A few scientists are examining the possibility that previously hard-hit areas are now being affected by a buildup of immunity, even if it flies in the face of the widespread understanding that the disease has to run through at least 60% of the population to achieve so-called herd immunity.... Scientists have started to investigate the possibility that there’s another critical factor here — heterogeneity in the way humans interact, and in our inherent, biological susceptibility.... In a Science paper published in June, University of Stockholm mathematician Tom Britton and colleagues calculated that herd immunity might be reached after as few as 43% of a very heterogenous population becomes infected. People mix unevenly in a way that could lead to little pockets of immunity, slowing the spread of the virus long before the world achieves herd immunity.

"We may also be heterogeneous in our biology. A recent paper in Science suggests that many people who’ve never been infected with SARS-CoV-2 carry a kind of immune cell, called a T-cell, which recognizes this novel virus and may partially mitigate an infection. These cells may be left over from infections with ... coronaviruses that cause the common cold.... Whatever the source of this heterogeneity, we know it exists. Most people on the contaminated cruise ship Diamond Princess remained uninfected, while others got asymptomatic infections and still others got severely ill. 

"Those differences can inform disease models, says statistics professor Gabriela Gomes of the University of Strathclyde in Scotland. 'What we see is that infections do not occur at random, but that people who are most susceptible to infection get exposed first,' she says, leaving a pool of ever-less susceptible people behind. So far, her predictions of the spread in the U.K., Belgium, Spain and Portugal have aligned well with reality. 

"Her models ... keep predicting declines after the infection [has] reached between 10% and 35% of the population. That doesn’t mean the virus has gone away — only that by her models, it won’t explode in those same places again. Gu’s models, too, predict no big second waves in New York City or Stockholm, but leave open the possibility of new outbreaks in relatively unaffected areas....

"[Gomes] says she didn’t expect to come up against resistance to her models in the scientific community. While she’s starting to get some attention in the media, she said journal editors told her that her modeling ideas, in preprint, posed the danger of making people feel entitled to relax their vigilance. Maybe the opposite is true, she suggests. Maybe censoring all but the most pessimistic views could discourage action by making the problem seem endless."

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Tuesday, August 25, 2020

BLM organizer: Looting is reparations

Black Lives Matter organizer calls Chicago looting ‘reparation’ | New York Post - Jorge Fitz-Gibbon:

August 11, 2020 - "A Chicago Black Lives Matter organizer defended the widespread weekend looting in the heart of the Windy City.... 'I don’t care if somebody decides to loot a Gucci’s or a Macy’s or a Nike because that makes sure that that person eats. That makes sure that that person has clothes,' Ariel Atkins said at a rally outside the South Loop police station Monday, local outlets reported. 'That’s a reparation,' Atkins said. 'Anything they want to take, take it because these businesses have insurance.'

"She also criticized the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who took to Twitter earlier Monday to denounce the 'pillaging, robbing & looting'.... 'Jesse Jackson has nothing to do with Black Lives Matter,' Atkins shot back. 'Jesse Jackson was not there for the creation of Black Lives Matter. Jesse Jackson can keep his opinions to himself.'

"The rally was held in the wake of a violent weekend that saw 100 arrests and 13 police officers injured in clashes with looters after a 20-year-old man was shot and wounded by cops on Sunday. Police identified the man as Latrell Allen, who was hit in the shoulder after opening fire on cops, according to authorities."

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BLM organizer who called looting ‘reparations’ dismisses peaceful protesting | New York Post - Lee Brown:

August 13, 2020 - "The Chicago Black Lives Matter organizer who justified looting as 'reparation' has doubled down — insisting this week that even calling someone a criminal is 'based on racism'.' Ariel Atkins told WBEZ that her group '100 percent' supports the violent looters who trashed chunks of the Windy City on Monday, again repeating her claim that it is 'reparations.'

“'The whole idea of criminality is based on racism anyway,' she told the NPR station. 'Because criminality is punishing people for things that they have needed to do to survive or just the way that society has affected them with white supremacist BS,' she said.... "Atkins attacked Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot — who is black — for calling the looting 'straight-up felony, criminal conduct.' 'It’s like her deciding what is criminal and what isn’t,' Atkins said.... 

"Atkins dismissed the idea that civil rights had 'ever gotten wins' from 'peaceful protests.' 'Winning has come through revolts. Winning has come through riots,' she said.

"Atkins had no sympathy for the businesses damaged in the spree, which included a small convenience store likely to go out of business after being looted twice in 40 days. 'The fact that anybody gives a s–t about these businesses over what is happening in this city right now and the pain that people are in and the suffering that is taking place, I don’t care,' she admitted."

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Sunday, August 23, 2020

Libertarians hope to put LP in play in Peoria

 Another Libertarian candidate makes it on the ballot | 25 News - Alex Menke:

August 18, 2020 - "Peoria, Ill. - A rare event in local election history as nine Libertarians have made it onto the November ballots. After a court battle over verifying signatures, Chad Grimm joins the rest of the third party candidates already on there....

"Grimm is running against Jehan Gordon-Booth for the 92nd District in the House of Representatives.

"'I'm extraordinary in support of the small business owner. I'm absolutely for lower taxes, less government. I'm also to the left of her on criminal justice which she pretends to champion,' explained Grimm.

"Libertarians are also seeking seats like coroner, auditor, board members in both Peoria and Tazewell County. Peoria County Election Commission's Executive Director, Thomas Bride, calls this local election history in the making.

"'We've only had one independent or third-party candidate in the last 10-12 years that I've been doing this. So it's extremely rare. It's not as rare at the state level, but on a local level it's more rare,' said Bride. 

"Bride thinks the state lowering the required signature number is a reason behind the change. 'In Peoria County you needed a little over 3,000 and it was [cut] down to about 330 signatures needed for the county wide race. They were allowed to collect signatures online which they haven't been able to do before. It dramatically lowered the bar [from what] it has been in the past,' said Bride.

"Bride said more people on the ballot means more choices for the voters. Grimm hopes he and the Libertarian party is the choice people are looking for."

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Bad COVID-19 models led to bad policy decisions, says epidemiologist

Modelers Were ‘Astronomically Wrong’ in COVID-19 Predictions, Says Leading Epidemiologist — and the World Is Paying the Price | Foundation for Economic Education - John Miltimore: 

July 2, 2020 - "Dr. John Ioannidis became a world-leading scientist by exposing bad science. But the COVID-19 pandemic could prove to be his biggest challenge yet. Ioannidis, the C.F. Rehnborg Chair in Disease Prevention at Stanford University, has come under fire in recent months for his opposition to state-ordered lockdowns, which he says could cause social harms well beyond their presumed benefits. But he doesn’t appear to be backing down. In a wide-ranging interview with Greek Reporter published over the weekend, Ioannidis said emerging data support his prediction that lockdowns would have wide-ranging social consequences and that the mathematical models on which the lockdowns were based were horribly flawed.

"Ioannidis also said a comprehensive review of the medical literature suggests that COVID-19 is far more widespread than most people realize. 'There are already more than 50 studies that have presented results on how many people in different countries and locations have developed antibodies to the virus,' Ioannidis, a Greek-American physician, told Greek Reporter.... 'A very crude estimate might suggest that about 150-300 million or more people have already been infected around the world, far more than the 10 million documented cases.'

"Ioannidis said medical data suggest the fatality risk is far lower than earlier estimates had led policymakers to believe and 'is almost 0%' for individuals under 45 years old. The median fatality rate is roughly 0.25 percent, however, because the risk 'escalates substantially' for individuals over 85 and can be as high as 25 percent for debilitated people in nursing homes.... Because of this, Ioannidis sees mass lockdowns of entire populations as a mistake....

"In March, in a widely read STAT article, Ioannidis said it was uncertain how long lockdowns could be maintained without serious consequences. 'One of the bottom lines is that we don’t know how long social distancing measures and lockdowns can be maintained without major consequences to the economy, society, and mental health,' Ioannidis wrote. 'Unpredictable evolutions may ensue, including financial crisis, unrest, civil strife, war, and a meltdown of the social fabric.' Nearly three months after that interview, the world has seen unemployment levels unseen since the Great Depression, mass business closures, spikes in suicide and drug overdose, and social unrest on a scale not seen in the US since the 1960s. 'I feel extremely sad that my predictions were verified,' Ioannidis said. He continued....

Globally, the lockdown measures have increased the number of people at risk of starvation to 1.1 billion, and they are putting at risk millions of lives, with the potential resurgence of tuberculosis, childhood diseases like measles where vaccination programs are disrupted, and malaria. I hope that policymakers look at the big picture of all the potential problems and not only on the very important, but relatively thin slice of evidence that is COVID-19.
"Ioannidis did not spare modelers who predicted as many as 40 million people would die, or those who claimed the US healthcare system would be overrun. 'The predictions of most mathematical models in terms of how many beds and how many ICU beds would be required were astronomically wrong,' Ioannidis said.... 

"Only time will tell if Ioannidis is proven correct in his assessments. But if he’s even half right, it would suggest that the experts did indeed fail again. There’s little question that the lockdowns have caused widespread economic, social, and emotional carnage. Evidence that US states that locked down fared better than states that did not is hard to find.

"Though not yet certain, the COVID-19 pandemic may well turn out to be another example of central planning gone wrong.... During the coronavirus pandemic, experts may have unintentionally brought about one of the most serious human disasters in modern history by removing choice from individuals with superior local knowledge."

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

USA Today: US COVID-19 mortality rate is 3.1%

by George J. Dance

Today, thanks to the internet, it is not hard to find information on COVID-19. However, given that anyone can post there, it is hard to find accurate information (or even information one can confidently believe); much of what one encounters is either unfactual, or while based on accurate data spun to imply inaccurate conclusions. To combat that, many websites have begun fact checking each others' stories; but in many cases, that has only served to further spread misinformation.

A case in point concerns a "Fact check" I read Friday in USA Today, "COVID-19 is deadlier than the 1918 Spanish flu and seasonal influenza." The article deals with a Facebook meme that makes what author Courtney Cox thinks is a misleading "comparison with the H1N1 pandemic of 1918 (the Spanish flu) and the seasonal flu." She accuses the meme creator of exaggerating the Spanish flu's death rate: while the meme claims a mortality rate of 5.6%, she writes, "an article in 2006 in the health journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, published by the CDC, cites a 2.5% global mortality rate." Meanwhile, the CDC (U.S. Center for Disease Control) has " reported that the annual mortality rate for the seasonal flu is about 0.01%,." In contrast, says Cox, "The COVID-19 mortality rate in the USA was 3.1% as of Thursday, according to Johns Hopkins University." (stress added)

A disease's mortality rate, or death rate (per Wikipedia), is "a measure of the number of deaths in a particular population, scaled to the size of that population, per unit of time. Mortality rate is typically expressed in units of deaths per 1,000 individuals per year; thus, a mortality rate of 9.5 (out of 1,000) in a population of 1,000 would mean 9.5 deaths per year in that entire population, or 0.95% out of the total." The population of the United States as of today, according to Worldometer, is 331,272,237. So a mortality rate of 3.1% would mean 10,269,439 dead Americans during the pandemic.

As of Friday, Worldometer is reporting 179,200 COVID-19 deaths in the USA, for a current mortality rate of just over 0.05%. Of course, that will not the be last word; the number of deaths, which has been increasing by over 1,000 per day, will keep rising in the future, and the mortality rate will rise along with it. All we can say right now, in the middle of the pandemic, is that the mortality rate over the pandemic's course will be higher than 0.05% – a point Cox marshalls in support of her 3.1% figure:

Though the number of people dead from COVID-19 as a percentage of world population at one point in time may be an accurate number, it is not reflective of the mortality rate of the virus. The mortality rate is not 1%, as the meme claims, but 3.1% in the USA, according to the latest data. That is far higher than seasonal flu and worse than the 1918 pandemic.

Yet the fact that more deaths are sure to come is no reason to believe that the COVID-19 mortality rate will ever reach 3.1%. COVID-19 deaths are rising, for sure; but at the current rate of increase (10,000 every nine days) it would take over 9,000 days – almost 25 years – for them to reach 3.1% of the population (and most likely not even by then, as the U.S. population likely would also have increased).

To support her claim, Cox cites a page on the Johns Hopkins University website, "Mortality analyses." That page gives a figure for current "deaths per 100,000" for the USA of 53.27 per 100,000 (again, just over 0.05%), but it also gives an "observed case fatality ratio" (CFR) for the country of 3.1 deaths per hundred, or 3.1%. That seems to be the only source for Ms. Cox's mortality rate claim. If everyone in the country becomes an observed case, and if the CFR stays at 3.1%, that would indeed equate to 10,269,000 or so deaths. However, there is no reason to think either of those ifs is going to happen. 

First, Cox ignores the concept of herd immunity. There is currently no scientific data on whether or not getting COVID-19 confers any immunity; nor can there be, given that the disease is so new. However, assuming that the disease is like every other known viral disease, one can expect those to recover to have at least short-term immunity. Given that assumption, calculating herd immunity is as easy as calculating the disease's initial reproduction number, or Ro. (The herd immunity threshhold is equal to (Ro-1)/Ro ).

Imperial College's infamous Report 9, the March report that frightened Britain and the USA into lockdowns, estimated an Ro of 2.4. Imperial's Report 12, issued in May, revised that number up substantially to 3.8. Using the higher number gives a herd immunity threshhold of 74% of the population, which alone would reduce the hypothetical mortality rate to 2.3% and possible deaths to 7,600,000. 

Second, there is no reason to think the CFR really measures the disease's lethality. There are many more people infected with COVID-19 than the number of observed cases. How many? According to Cox's own publication, "The real number of coronavirus cases is much higher than the recorded infections, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control. The research, published Tuesday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, looked at antibodies in blood samples taken from 10 geographic regions. Researchers found a range from six to 24 times the number of documented cases, but most sites likely have 10 times more infections than reported." 

Calculating the mortality rate means multiplying not by the CFR – the ratio of observed cases who die – but by the infection fatality ratio (IFR): the ratio of people who get the disease who die. Fortunately, we do not have to look up the currently estimated IFR, since the number appears in Cox's own article: "According to the latest data available from the CDC, COVID-19 has an overall infection mortality ratio of 0.0065." Using that figure instead gives a mortality rate of 0.65% and a death toll of 2,153,270 (assuming no herd immunity) or, respectively, 0.48% and 1,593,420 (assuming herd immunity). Those figures still look shockingly high (by a factor of 2 to 4), but nowhere near as shocking as Cox's 3%+ estimate. 

Back on March 3, the world media reported, citing the World Health organization (WHO), that "the mortality rate for COVID-19 is 3.4% globally" – an alarmist claim that set off worldwide panic, with consequences we will have to deal with for years. That figure has been repeatedly debunked, and today even the WHO no longer stands by it. I was saddened to see the same type of alarmist claim coming back into circulation, especially in a "Fact check." COVID-19's alleged "3.1% mortality rate" is not a fact.   

Friday, August 21, 2020

Ayn Rand Institute took Payroll Protection money

In sign of the times, Ayn Rand Institute approved for PPP loan | Reuters - Helen Coster:

July 6, 2020 - "The institute promoting the 'laissez-faire capitalism' of writer Ayn Rand, who in the novels Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead introduced her philosophy of 'objectivism' to millions of readers, was approved for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan of up to $1 million, according to data released Monday by the Trump administration. The Ayn Rand Institute: The Center for the Advancement of Objectivism in Santa Ana, California, sought to preserve 35 jobs with the PPP funding, according to the data.

"The institute advocates the Russian-American writer’s philosophy and 'applies its principles to many issues and events, including ones Rand herself never discussed,' according to its website....

The institute referred Reuters to a May 15 article, in which board member Harry Binswanger and senior fellow Onkar Ghate wrote that the organization would take any relief money offered from the CARES Act. 'We will take it unapologetically, because the principle here is: justice,' they wrote, adding that 'the government has no wealth of its own…. It can only redistribute the wealth of others.'

"In Rand’s novels and works of nonfiction — which included The Virtue of Selfishness and Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal — she expressed her belief in 'rational self-interest' and the goal of pursuing happiness as a person’s highest moral aim. 

"In a 1962 essay, Rand wrote of seventeenth century French businessmen: 'They knew that government "help" to business is just as disastrous as government persecution, and that the only way a government can be of service to national prosperity is by keeping its hands off.'"

Read more:

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Ontario police shot anti-masker at his home (video)

OPP shoot man dead hours after mask dispute leads to alleged assault | CBC News:

July 15, 2020 - "Ontario's police watchdog is investigating after officers fatally shot a 73-year-old man in Haliburton County on Wednesday morning. The man had refused to wear a mask and allegedly assaulted a grocery store employee before driving away, Ontario Provincial Police say. Police were called to a Valu-Mart in Minden, Ont., just after 8 a.m., OPP Sgt. Jason Folz said. Officers tried to stop the suspect's car, but they refrained 'in the interest of public safety' before doing a follow-up investigation....

"Ontario's Special Investigations Unit (SIU) said the man drove away, and an officer saw the car and started following it for a short while. Based on the licence plate, officers made their way to a home on Indian Point Road.... Outside the home there was an "interaction," and two police officers fired their guns, the SIU said....The man was shot and taken to hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 11:47 a.m....

"Tianna Frances, a worker at the Valu-Mart in Minden, said she arrived for her shift at the grocery store shortly after the police were called.... Frances was told that the man didn't want to wear a mask and she and other employees had to explain politely to other customers that an incident had happened earlier.... 'I guess he just got angry and didn't want to. We couldn't really deal with that ourselves because it's really against the rules. So we had to call the police and everything,' Frances said....

"Frances said workers shouldn't have to enforce the mandatory mask policy issued by the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit. The policy ... took effect on 12:01 am on Monday. It's causing chaos, she said. 'If we didn't have to force him and ... tell him that he couldn't come into the store, nothing would have happened, really. He would have got his groceries and went along with his day.'"

Read more:

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Dying and lying over New York's COVID19 failure

August 12, 2020 - "It’s hard to know what’s worse — the dying or the lying.

"More than 32,000 New Yorkers have died from the coronavirus, a toll higher than any other state. New York also ranks second to the worst out of all 50 states, in deaths per million residents. Only New Jersey did worse. You wouldn’t know it, listening to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who brags that his administration 'tamed the beast.' Or the media that praise him and chide states with much, much lower death rates.

"Cuomo is doing everything he can to cover up the errors. He’s stonewalling bipartisan efforts in Albany to investigate the deaths of thousands of elderly in nursing homes ravaged by the virus. Legislators need to persevere, and in fact broaden their investigation to include the poor performance of many hospitals in the state. 

"On March 2, one day after the first coronavirus case in New York was disclosed, Cuomo told New Yorkers not to worry because 'we have the best health care system on the planet.' That’s a whopper. Patients treated for COVID-19 in hospitals here died at more than twice the national average. California has had more cases of coronavirus than New York, but less than a third as many deaths....

"Cuomo ... and the department of health spent years stripping New York City’s outer boroughs of sufficient hospital beds and equipment. There are five hospital beds for every 1,000 residents in Manhattan, but only 1.8 beds for every 1,000 Queens and Brooklyn residents. The result? When the pandemic struck, those hospitals were overwhelmed fast. The death rate for COVID-19 patients at Mount Sinai hospital in Manhattan was 17%. At Coney Island Hospital, 41% of COVID-19 patients didn’t make it....

"New York state stacks up even worse in protecting elderly nursing home residents from COVID-19. Florida and Texas, both more populous states, have had only one quarter of the number of nursing home fatalities.

"Numbers don’t lie. New York didn’t crush the coronavirus. The virus took thousands of New York lives needlessly, because of the Cuomo administration’s mistakes."

For anyone who wishes to use this meme, here's the link & source code:
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Tuesday, August 18, 2020

New York City is dead

NYC is Dead Forever... Here's Why | - James Altucher:

 August 14, 2020 - "NYC has never been locked down for five months. Not in any pandemic, war, financial crisis, never. In the middle of the polio epidemic, when little kids (including my mother) were becoming paralyzed or dying (my mother ended up with a bad leg), NYC didn’t go through this.... 

"In early March, many people (not me), left NYC when they felt it would provide safety from the virus and they no longer needed to go to work and all the restaurants were closed. People figured, 'I’ll get out for a month or two and then come back.' They are all still gone. And then in June, during rioting and looting, a second wave of NYCers (this time including me) left.... I was a little nervous when I saw videos of rioters after curfew trying to break into my building.... Now a third wave of people is leaving....

"Businesses are remote and they aren’t returning to the office. And it’s a death spiral — the longer offices remain empty, the longer they will remain empty.... 

"Broadway is closed until at least the spring. The Lincoln Center is closed. All the museums are closed. Forget about the tens of thousands of jobs lost in these cultural centers. Forget even about the millions of dollars of tourist-generated revenues lost by the closing of these centers. There are thousands of performers, producers, artists, and the entire ecosystem of art, theater, production, curation, that surrounds these cultural centers. People who have worked all of their lives for the right to be able to perform even once on Broadway, whose lives and careers have been put on hold.... 

"Around late May, I took walks and saw that many places were boarded up. OK, I thought, because the protesting was leading to looting and the restaurants were protecting themselves. They’ll be OK. Looking closer, I’d see the signs. For Lease. For Rent.... Yelp estimates that 60% of restaurants around the United States have closed. My guess is more than 60% will be closed in New York City.... If building owners and landlords lose their prime tenants (the store fronts on the bottom floor, the offices on the middle floors, the well-to-do on the top floors, etc.) then they go out of business.... 

"There are almost 600,000 college students spread out through NYC.... I don’t know of any college fully coming back right away.... Let’s say just 100,000 of those 600,000 don’t return to school and decide not to rent an apartment in New York City.... That’s a lot of landlords who will not be able to pay their own bills..... So now it ripples back to the landlords, to the support staff, to the banks, to the professors, etc.... 

"Everyone has spent the past five months adapting to a new lifestyle. Nobody wants to fly across the country for a two-hour meeting when you can do it just as well on Zoom. I can go see 'live comedy' on Zoom. I can take classes from the best teachers in the world for almost free online.... You can live in your hometown in the middle of wherever. And you can be just as productive, make the same salary, have higher quality of life with a cheaper cost to live.... 

"It will be cheaper for businesses to function more remotely and bandwidth is only getting faster.  Wait for events and conferences and even meetings and maybe even office spaces to start happening in virtual realities once everyone is spread out from midtown Manhattan to all over the country. The quality of restaurants will start to go up in all the second- and then third-tier cities as talent and skill flow to the places that can quickly make use of them. Ditto for cultural events. And then people will ask, 'Wait a second, I was paying over 16% in state and city taxes and these other states and cities have little to no taxes? And I don’t have to deal with all the other headaches of NYC?'.... What reason will people have to go back to NYC? 

"I love my life in NYC. I have friends all over NY.... I could go a few minutes by Uber and meet with anyone or go play PingPong or go to a movie.... I could go out at night to my favorite restaurants and then see my favorite performers perform. I could go to the park and play chess, see friends. I could take advantage of all this wonderful city has to offer. No more."

Read more:

Monday, August 17, 2020

Maryland LP collects 7,000 sigs to make ballot

Libertarian Presidential Candidate Delivers Signatures for Maryland Ballot | Maryland Matters - Hannah Gaskill:

August 5, 2020 - "Libertarian candidate Jo Jorgensen presented more than 7,000 signatures to the State Board of Elections Monday, which she hopes will more than fulfill Maryland’s requirement to appear on the state ballot for president.... About 30 people lined the sidewalks of Annapolis’ West Street as Jorgensen exited a big blue campaign bus adorned with her face. Bob Johnston, chair of the Libertarian Party of Maryland, followed as she walked to the Board of Elections office, three cardboard beer boxes of petitions in tow, bearing 7,731 signatures. The minimum requirement for third party candidates in Maryland is 5,000 valid voter signatures.

"According to Joe Bishop-Henchman, chair of the Libertarian National Committee, Jorgensen has qualified to appear on the ballot in 42 of 50 states. Bishop-Henchman said the party is still working toward meeting requirements in the other eight states....

"Addressing her supporters in a parking garage near the State Board of Elections office, Jorgensen thanked volunteers for pushing for her to be on the ballot.

"'It’s just so important to be on the ballot in all 50 states,” she said, 'because right now the status quo is giving us the impression that we have an alternative — that we have a choice, but we’ve got two big government people, they both want to increase spending, they both want to take away your decision-making power and neither one wants to bring the troops home, so the only way to get that choice to every American is to be on the ballot in all 50 states.'

"Twice in her interview with Maryland Matters Jorgensen asserted that, if she were in the Oval Office, her first priority would be 'bringing the troops home — day one. Because that’s something I can do myself,' she said. 'I don’t need Congress to do that. I don’t need their help to do that.' She also recommended bringing overseas troops home as one solution to America’s major economic downturn brought on by the coronavirus crisis.

"Despite its effect on every aspect of American life, the pandemic has not slowed Jorgensen. Annapolis was one of her first stops along her '20-city, 16-day bus tour,' going as far west as Kansas City, Mo. and Dallas, Tx. Jorgensen jabbed at presumptive Democratic Nominee Joe Biden (D) for being 'locked up in his basement giving Zoom interviews' while she is traveling around the country.

"Jorgensen said the date of the election should not be moved. 'We’ve been through much worse than this in our country,' she said. 'And I just want to point out that my goal as president would be to make government so small that it wouldn’t even matter if people forgot to vote, that they could make their own choices in health care, environment, health, education, and so on, and that they wouldn’t even worry about who was in the White House'.... She criticized the current administration’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying that Trump should have lifted FDA restrictions on U.S.-made test kits and promoted testing for asymptomatic citizens."


Sunday, August 16, 2020

Shutdowns an extinction-level event for business

 The end of the American dream | Vox - Laura Entis:

July 29, 2020 - "Located in the middle of the New Mexico desert, Pie Town is as much a nostalgic idea as an actual place. Founded in the 1920s and named after a bakery that sold dried-apple pies, most maps no longer list it.... When Kathy Knapp and her family visited in 1995, there wasn’t even any pie, just a mournful sign on a boarded-up bakery.... A few months later Knapp bought the property ... her mom moved in, named the place Pie-o-neer, and started selling pies. Knapp took over the shop in 1997.... She’s been serving pies ... ever since.

"Until Covid-19, that is. In March, following public health state orders, Knapp closed the shop, a move she, like many American small-business owners, believed was temporary. But as the months wore on, utilities, overhead, and insurance piled up. When, in June, the governor of New Mexico green-lighted the reopening of restaurants only at a limited capacity, ... she closed Pie-o-neer for good.

"Across the nation, restaurants, startups, retail stores, art studios, and other storefronts are facing a fate not unlike Pie-o-Neer’s. Defined by the Small Business Administration as companies with fewer than 250 to 1,500 employees, depending on the industry, there are about 31 million small businesses in the US. Last year, they employed nearly half of the private workforce and created 1.6 million jobs. But heading into the pandemic, nearly half of small businesses had two weeks or less of cash liquidity on hand, according to a report from JPMorgan Chase, turning forced shutdowns and lost revenues into an immediate fight for survival.

"The government scrambled to provide relief, funneling $670 billion into loans for small businesses through the Small Business Administration’s (now exhausted) Economic Injury Disaster Loan, designed to help businesses cover operating expenses such as rent and health care benefits; and the Paycheck Protection Program, which incentivized businesses to keep employees on staff by turning loans into grants if most of the money went to payroll.

"There were flaws from the start. The first round of loan money quickly ran out; Ostensibly earmarked for small businesses, much of it nonetheless went to large restaurant chains like Shake Shack and Ruth’s Chris Steak House due to a provision in the program that based eligibility on employees per location. (Some companies, including Shake Shack, returned the money; others did not.) Recently released data shows that PPP loan recipients included private equity firms, lobbyists, major law firms, and businesses with financial ties to President Trump’s family and associates.

"And because loans had to be accessed through financial institutions, companies that had preexisting relationships with a bank were moved to the front of the line — even though, in many cases, these were the businesses most likely to survive without a loan, at least in the short term. Meanwhile, applications from smaller and minority-owned businesses that needed a lifeline weren’t prioritized and got lost in the shuffle.... Despite a second round of PPP funding, hundreds of thousands of small businesses have yet to receive aid. The result will inevitably be a spate of closures as mom-and-pop shops — laundromats, bodegas, dental practices, clothing stores, nail salons — are forced to shut down.

"''I think we are really looking at an extinction-level event,' says Amanda Fischer, policy director at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, a nonprofit research firm."

Read more:

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Parts of India may have achieved herd immunity to COVID-19

Coronavirus: some India slums ‘may have reached herd immunity’, study finds | South China Morning Post - Bloomberg:

July 30, 2020 - "'Mumbai’s slums may have reached herd immunity,' said Jayaprakash Muliyil, chairman of the Scientific Advisory Committee of India’s National Institute of Epidemiology, and the retired head of one of its premier medical colleges. 'If people in Mumbai want a safe place to avoid infection, they should probably go there.'

"The findings of the study, which was conducted by municipal authorities and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, suggest that despite efforts to contain its spread, Mumbai’s poorest places may have unwittingly pursued the controversial strategy of herd immunity.... About 57 per cent of surveyed people in the slums of Dahisar, Chembur and Matunga had antibodies in their blood, compared to 21.2 per cent found in an April study in New York City, and 14 per cent reported in Stockholm in May.

"A 'hands-off' approach has been criticised in places like Sweden.... But the findings from Mumbai’s slums, where the population is young and less predisposed to severe cases of Covid-19, may support public health strategies more focused on protecting the vulnerable without trying to suppress the virus completely.

"With social-distancing generally impossible, Mumbai’s slums are singularly well-suited for the coronavirus’ spread. Dharavi, the largest, is home to some 1 million people and has a population density of 277,136 per square kilometre. As many as 80 people often share a public toilet, and families of eight regularly packed in a 100-square-foot room.

"Yet the slums have seen steep drops in infections in recent weeks after cases first erupted in April, even as India’s overall cases grow at the fastest pace globally. Credit has largely been given to the intensive containment measures officials implemented in the slums, like door-to-door health screenings and rapidly-erected quarantine facilities. The serological findings suggest another possibility: the crisis may be largely over because the virus has spread efficiently, not because it was stopped.

"Muliyil said.... 'The virus doesn’t worry about your quarantine and it is much more efficient than your efforts to contain it.'  He does, however, credit the government’s containment measures with keeping mortality rates low in the slums, because the proactive surveillance ensured that cases were caught early and given high quality care.... Dharavi has recorded 253 deaths.

"Growing herd immunity may also be behind the dip in cases in the capital city of New Delhi, said Muliyil, where a study in early July found that a quarter of the population had been exposed. Epidemiologists generally believe that infection levels must reach 60 per cent to create herd immunity. But exposure concentrated in the populations least able to socially distance could still slow the overall spread of infection.

"In Mumbai overall, new cases dropped to the lowest tally in almost three months this week, although the July antibody survey found only 16 per cent had been exposed to the virus among those living in places where social distancing is more feasible, like apartment buildings and houses."

Friday, August 14, 2020

Libertarian ticket makes ballot in Maine

Libertarian presidential candidate qualifies for Maine ballot, ending lawsuit against state | Bangor Daily News - Michael Shepherd:

August 11, 2020 - "Libertarian presidential candidate Jo Jorgensen qualified for the Maine ballot on Tuesday, bringing an end to the third party’s lawsuit over state rules and putting the fifth and final party hopeful on the November slate here. The party promoting civil liberties and small government was recognized in Maine between June 2016 and December 2018, but it then failed to reach a voter threshold to be recognized as a party. Jorgensen was therefore required to collect 4,000 signatures of registered voters to get on the ballot, the state’s threshold for non-party candidates.

"Jorgensen’s campaign sued the state in late July over the threshold, asking a U.S. District Court judge to halve the requirement, which it said was too onerous amid the coronavirus pandemic. But the office of Secretary of State Matt Dunlap determined the campaign had enough signatures to qualify, Assistant Attorney General Phyllis Gardiner said in a Tuesday filing. That led the parties to agree to dismiss the suit. 

"Jorgensen will be on the Maine ballot in November alongside President Donald Trump, a Republican, former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, and Green nominee Howie Hawkins and Rocky de la Fuente of the Alliance Party. The latter candidate had to meet the same threshold as Jorgensen.

"The Maine race will be under the microscope as Trump looks to repeat his 2016 win in the 2nd Congressional District with Biden leading recent public polls statewide. The third-party candidates could have an outsized importance with the state planning to use ranked-choice voting for the first time in the history of presidential elections."

Read more:

Thursday, August 13, 2020

NY lockdown may have spread coronavirus, Cuomo admits

Cuomo wonders if coronavirus quarantine may have backfired in some cases | New York Post - Bernadette Hogan and Aaron Feis:

March 26, 2020 - "Sweeping statewide quarantine orders may not have been the most effective strategy to combat the coronavirus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo conceded on Thursday.... 'We closed everything down. That was our public health strategy,' said Cuomo during an Albany press briefing. 'If you re-thought that or had time to analyze that public health strategy, I don’t know that you would say "Quarantine everyone."'

"Cuomo has publicly mused about quarantines and how best to eventually restart the Empire State’s shattered economy. But Wednesday, Cuomo’s answer during an hour-long news conference about quarantines — which are backed by city and state health officials — took a new turn as he speculated it might have spread the disease.

"'I don’t even know that that was the best public health policy. Young people then quarantined with older people, [it] was probably not the best public health strategy,' he said. 'The younger people could have been exposing the older people to an infection'....

"Cuomo’s office said the governor was referencing a study by a Yale professor, who wrote a column that appeared in the opinion section of the New York Times last week. They pointed the Post to nearly identical comments Cuomo made about the topic during a press conference Monday, when he explicitly named the piece’s author, Dr. David Katz.

"'There’s a theory of risk stratification that Dr. Katz who’s at Yale University is working on, which is actually very interesting to me,' Cuomo told reporters then. 'Isolate people but really isolate the vulnerable people. Don’t isolate everyone because some people, most people, are not vulnerable to it.'

He added: 'And if you isolate all people, you may be actually exposing the more vulnerable people by bringing in a person who is healthier and stronger and who may have been exposed to the virus.'"

Read more:

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Biden picks fellow drug warrior as running mate (video)

Kamala Harris Is a Cop Who Wants To Be (Vice) President | Reason - Elizabeth Nolan Brown:

August 11, 2020 - "The Democratic 2020 veepstakes are over, and Sen. Kamala Harris (D–Calif.) is the winner. Joe Biden announced Tuesday afternoon that he had picked Harris to be his running mate as he seeks to become the next president of the United States.

"The good news is that it keeps Harris — who has a long and authoritarian history on criminal justice issues — far from the Department of Justice. There was some speculation that should Biden win, he would name Harris as attorney general. As American's top cop, Harris would have the potential to do much more damage than as vice president. The bad news is that it puts Harris next in line for the presidency should anything happen to Biden and sets her up nicely for a future presidential run.... 

"Harris — who served as a district attorney in San Francisco and attorney general of California before becoming a senator in 2016 — has a troubling history when it comes to law-and-order issues and is despised for it by many young left-of-center voters; she consistently chose to protect law enforcement prerogatives and to stonewall reform in California, beyond the minimum demands of her role as the state's top cop. That's a particular liability as Americans streets are still erupting with protests over police violence and calls for criminal justice reform."

Read more:

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Libertarians make ballot in Pennsylvania

 Libertarian Presidential Candidate to Speak in Centre County | - Geoff Rushton:

July 31, 2020 - "Earlier this week the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the Libertarian Party's challenge, filed in the spring, to Pennsylvania's requirements that third parties collect in-person signatures for ballot access in the November general election. The party argued that the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions made it too difficult to collect the signatures in person before the Aug. 3 deadline.

"This weekend, [presidential candidate Jo] Jorgensen and the party's vice presidential candidate, Spike Cohen, are on crisscrossing tours across the commonwealth in an effort to gain the needed 5,000 signatures by Monday. Cohen's tour will cover eastern Pennsylvania. Liz Terwilliger, Libertarian candidate for Pennsylvania's 12th congressional district, which includes part of Centre County, said in a statement she appreciated the top ticket candidates embarking on the signature drive."

Read more:,1483748/

There will officially be a Libertarian candidate for President on Pennsylvania’s ballot in November | ABC 27 - WHTM:

August 10, 2020 - "Libertarian Presidential candidate Dr. Jo Jorgenson has officially gained ballot access in Pennsylvania for the November election.

"Jorgenson and running mate Jeremy 'Spike' Cohen campaigned on a three-day tour in 20 cities around PA to voice their opinions and introduce themselves to the Pennsylvania public. Spike visited York County earlier this month as a part of this campaign.

"Despite the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, recent court rulings required volunteers to collect over 5,000 physical signatures to ensure ballot access in November. With help from hundreds of volunteers, the candidates collected double the number of required signatures."

Read more:

Monday, August 10, 2020

Lockdown recession hits youth the hardest

Coronavirus has created a 'lockdown generation', with one in six young people forced to stop working, UN warns | Daily Mail - Harry Howard:

May 27,2020 - "The ,,, International Labour Organisation said the COVID-19 crisis has disproportionately affected young people and could impact upon their work opportunities and career options for decades to come....

"'I don't think it is giving way to hyperbole to talk about the danger of a lockdown generation,' ILO chief Guy Ryder told a virtual press conference. 'As we recover from the pandemic, a lot of young people are simply going to be left behind. Big numbers,' he said, warning ... that 'this initial shock to young people will last a decade or longer.

"A survey of young people across the world by the UN's International Labour Organisation showed that 17.1 per cent of them have stopped working since the coronavirus pandemic struck. The figures show that 16.1 per cent of women and 18.1 per cent of men under 30 have stopped working. Even before the crisis, the global youth unemployment rate stood at 13.6 percent in 2019 - far higher than for any other group - while some 267 million young people were neither employed nor in education or training (NEET).

"Overall, the ILO study said it expected the coronavirus crisis to obliterate 10.7 percent of working hours worked globally during the second quarter of 2020 compared to the final three months of 2019 - the equivalent of 305 million jobs.... But while all age groups are suffering, the UN agency pointed to recent data from a range of countries indicating 'a massive increase' in youth unemployment since February, with young women particularly hard-hit.

"In the US for example, the jobless rate for young men went from 8.5 per cent in February to 24 per cent in April. The rise for young women - from 7.5 per cent to 29 per cent in the same period - was even greater. In Canada, the overall jobless rate rose six percentage points from February to April, but for young men it swelled by 14.3 percentage points (to 27.1 percent) and for young women it ballooned by 20.4 percentage points to 28.4 percent. Similar trends were seen in countries including Australia, China, Ireland, Republic of Korea, the Netherlands and Switzerland....

"The ILO said it did not yet have enough data to determine the overall global youth unemployment rate since the crisis began. But in a survey of people aged 29 and under, it found that globally, over 17 percent of those who were working when the pandemic hit had been forced to stop. And those who have continued to work have meanwhile seen their working hours cut on average by 23 percent, the study found.

"The report warned that young people are facing a 'triple shock' from the crisis, which is not only destroying their employment but has also disrupted education and training, and has made it far more difficult to try to enter the labour market or move between jobs. It found that around half of students expect their education to be delayed, while 10 percent now believe they will be unable to complete their training at all. And a full 60 percent of young women and 53 percent of young men surveyed viewed their career prospects 'with uncertainty or fear', the report found."

Read more:

Sunday, August 9, 2020

The myth that lockdowns stop pandemics

The Myth That Lockdowns Stop Pandemics | Real Clear Politics - Stacey Rudin:

August 07, 2020 - "From the beginning of time, humans have used mythology to make sense of a chaotic natural world.... Folklore provided pre-scientific people a comforting sense of control over nature. To address dry spells, they deployed rain dances. Sunless stretches hindering crops prompted offerings to Helios. Then, our ancestors sat back and waited. The rains always came. The sun always reappeared, validating their 'wisdom,' the illusion of control reinforced.... Similarly, today’s politicians race to take credit – or place blame – for COVID-19 'results.' Do politicians really control these outcomes, or are they simply exploiting our ingrained tendencies?

"When China first deployed lockdown in January to 'defeat COVID-19,' The Washington Post approvingly quoted [Lawrence O. Gostin] a Georgetown University professor [of global health law] as saying, 'The truth is those kinds of lockdowns are very rare and never effective'….

"In March, Imperial College London's dire projections influenced the White House, but a careful reading of the advice contained in the Imperial College report reveals that its authors knew lockdown alone could not eliminate any infections, only delay them: 'The more successful a strategy is at temporary suppression,' it stated, 'the larger the later epidemic is predicted to be in the absence of vaccination, due to lesser build-up of herd immunity.'

"Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pandemic planning documents state non-pharmaceutical interventions such as social distancing are ineffective once a disease infects 1% of a region's population.... According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control:

"There are no historical observations or scientific studies that support the confinement by quarantine of groups of possibly infected people for extended periods in order to slow the spread. It is hard to imagine that measures like those within the category of social distancing would not have some positive impact by reducing transmission of a human respiratory infection.... However, the evidence base supporting each individual measure is often weak....

"No respiratory virus ever needed a 'lockdown' to dissipate. What it needs is herd immunity, preferably sooner than later, preferably developed by the young and healthy to minimize mortality. Politicians know the disease will eventually leave, yet they strive to convince a critical mass that their actions -- modern-day versions of the rain dance -- brought about that result....

"Publicly available data shows no causal relationship between government orders and COVID-19 mortality outcomes. Sweden's all-cause, per-capita mortality for 2020 is approximately 290 per million above the prior five-year average, while lockdown-loving New Jersey's is almost 1,900 per million above the prior five-year average, and Michigan's is over 700 per million. (In case you suspect Sweden 'naturally' locked down on its own, mobility data reveals it didn’t.) The mainstream media does not report this. Instead, its energetic smearing of Sweden, coupled with its pseudo-scientific insistence that lockdowns do anything more than delay the inevitable, helps politicians exploit the human tendency to mythologize.

We are faced with a virus with a 997-out-of-1,000 survival rate. We have vanquished fiercer adversaries. We can rid ourselves of this plague less painfully by remembering one simple truth: neither we, nor our politicians, have control over death."

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Saturday, August 8, 2020

Majority of Canadians would like another lockdown

Most Canadians support second lockdown if COVID-19 caseloads spike | Tri-City News -Stéfan Labbe:

August 5, 2020 - "Most Canadians support a second round of shuttering businesses and self-isolating at home should the country see a spike in COVID-19 cases. That’s according to a poll conducted by Nanos Research on behalf of the Globe and Mail between July 26 and 30.

"Of the 1,094 people surveyed across the country, 73% said they would either support a second lockdown (50%) or somewhat support such measures (23%) amid a COVID-19 resurgence. Another quarter either oppose such actions (13%) or somewhat oppose them (12%). Those living in Atlantic Canada (84%), Ontario (83%) and British Columbia (78%) either supported or somewhat supported a renewed closure of businesses, whereas those in Quebec (56%) and the Prairies (67%) were less supportive.

"An earlier July poll conducted by the Angus Reid Institute found half of Canadians expected a second wave lockdown, with British Columbians among the most likely to predict another round of self-isolation and closures.

"The survey also probed respondents on their views around wearing masks in public, on the return to school in the fall and anxiety over reopening plans. A strong majority told the pollster they would support (72%) or somewhat support (15%) mandatory mask wearing policies in indoor public places. Only a combined 12% said they would oppose or somewhat oppose such a measure.

"Close to 80% said provinces should find a way to send kids back to school in the fall, though at 65%, British Columbians were least likely to say it was either important or somewhat important. B.C. residents were also most likely to express anxiety over contracting COVID-19 as jurisdictions across the country relax social distancing rules and reopen public life.

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Friday, August 7, 2020

Montana Libertarians nominate None of the Above for Senate

Libertarians won’t have 2020 candidate for U.S. Senate in Montana | KTVH - Mike Dennison:

August 6, 2020 - "The Montana Libertarian Party will be without a candidate in Montana’s 2020 U.S. Senate race, after party members failed to choose a replacement candidate last month. The lack of a Libertarian candidate leaves three people in the high-profile race: Incumbent Republican Sen. Steve Daines, his Democratic challenger, Gov. Steve Bullock, and Green Party candidate Wendie Fredrickson.

"Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate Susan Good Giese – who had replaced a Libertarian candidate that withdrew in March – announced in May that she would withdraw. Giese, a Lewis and Clark County commissioner from Augusta, said commissioner duties related to the Covid-19 pandemic would not allow her enough time to campaign. Libertarians then had until mid-August to choose a replacement. Yet at a July meeting of party officials to select that replacement, the choice that won the most votes was 'none of the above'....

"Chairman Sid Daoud of Kalispell told MTN News that 'none of the above' is always a choice in a Libertarian Party selection process. He said it wasn’t his choice, but because it was the top vote-getter, the party won’t name a replacement candidate. Libertarians usually get only a small percentage of the vote in statewide races. But, in past Montana U.S. Senate races, a third-party candidate can be a factor in a close contest."

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A win for the Republicans
George J. Dance

Montana can be called a solidly red state. In 2000, George W. Bush won the state by 25 percentage points – in 2016, Donald Trump's margin was more than 20 points – and the Republican nominee won in Montana every election between those years. The state's only congressman is a Republican. The GOP controls both state houses. Yet the governor and the senior U.S. Senator are both Democrats. How did that happen?

In the Senator's case, it happened thanks to the Montana Libertarian Party. The state LP began gaining traction in the 2000s during the big-government Bush years, and since then has been seen as the place for disgruntled Republicans to vote against their party, with both major parties buying into that narrative. In 2016 the GOP tried to remove a Libertarian from the ballot; while in 2012 a Democrat-controlled PAC spent $500,000 on television ads for the Libertarian in the Senate race (which the Democrat won, with the Libertarian playing 'spoiler'). This year, given anti-Trump sentiment, the Libertarian could conceivably have bled enough votes from the GOP to elect a second Democratic senator.

To forestall that, the Republicans took a page from the Democratic playbook, and spent $100,000 to ballot-qualify the Green Party candidate – while the Democrats went to court to have the Green kicked off. The GOP may also have put pressure on Giese to withdraw from the race, and may even have tried to influence the Libertarian vote on her replacement (though that is mere speculation). Be that as it may, it looks like this development will be enough to keep the seat in Republican hands. 

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Melbourne experiments with "local lockdown"

Melbourne stage 4 restrictions and Covid lockdown rules explaine | The Guardian - Joah Taylor:

August 5, 2020 - "The Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, has announced tough new stage four coronavirus restrictions.... The stage four restrictions covering metropolitan Melbourne run from Sunday 2 August and will last for six weeks until Sunday 13 September. Additional restrictions on businesses were announced on Monday 3 August, and most of them will start from 12.01 Thursday 6 August. Andrews also said further details will be announced throughout the week.

"You are only allowed to leave your house for four reasons: shopping for food and essential items, care and caregiving, daily exercise and work. Employers must support you to work from home if you can work from home. Unlike stage three, there is now a curfew on Melbourne residents between 8pm and 5am.... You can leave your house if you are at risk of family violence or to apply for an intervention order, and to attend court or a police station. You can also leave your house to access medical services. This time around, that explicitly includes leaving your house to give blood

"Shopping for food and necessary supplies must be within 5km distance from your home, except if the nearest supermarket is further than 5km. Only one person per household can leave to go shopping per day. Exercise must take place within 5km of home, and must be in metropolitan Melbourne. Exercise is limited to one hour, once per day.

"It has been mandatory for people in metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell shire to wear face coverings in public.... That rule is extended to the entire state.... People must wear a mask or covering whenever leaving the house.... People with a medical reason are exempt, as are children younger than 12. Those who have a professional reason are also exempt ... but those people will still be expected to carry a face covering at all times 'to wear when you can'. In schools, teachers will not need to wear a face covering while teaching, but students attending classes will. Both teachers and students will need to wear a mask on the way to and from school.

"You cannot have visitors or go to another person’s house unless it is for the purpose of giving or receiving care. You can leave your house to visit a person if you are in an 'intimate personal relationship' with them, even during curfew hours.... Cleaners, tradespeople, gardeners, painters and renovators are not allowed to visit your house for work. Exceptions exist for emergency issues like a burst pipe.... But 'it’s not the time to be painting your house or having unnecessary, non-urgent work happen,' Andrews said on Monday.... The stay-at-home rules apply to your main place of residence so you will not be able to get out of Melbourne and stay in your holiday house....

"Restaurants and cafes will only be able to trade as takeaway and delivery businesses. Supermarkets, grocery stores, bottle shops, pharmacies, petrol stations, banks, and local bakers and butchers will be allowed to trade but subject to density rules.... General retail will be closed.... Stores will still be allowed to operate contactless pick-up, delivery and 'click and collect'. Hardware stores will be open to tradespeople only.... If you need help with shopping, or need to help a friend or family member, you can go shopping together but [must] remain 1.5m apart.

"Pubs, bars and nightclubs will be closed and bottle shops will be takeaway only. Beauty services and hairdressers will be closed. Entertainment and cultural venues such as music venues, museums, indoor and outdoor cinemas, and the casino will be shut. Brothels and strip clubs will also shut. Libraries and community venues can only stay open for essential services, or to host funerals.... Religious services will need to be broadcast online. Weddings will no longer be permitted from Thursday, 6 August, while the limit will be 10 people at funerals (not including those conducting the service)....

"Andrews has said police will monitor traffic seeking to leave metropolitan Melbourne and officers would also enforce the restrictions within the city. Victoria police can issue on-the-spot fines of up to $1,652 for individuals and up to $9,913 to businesses. Andrews indicated more penalties were being considered."

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