Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Quebec gov't experiments with local lockdowns

Red alert level brings partial 28-day lockdown to 3 Quebec regions including Montreal, Quebec City | Global News - Kalina Laframboise & Annabelle Olivier Global:

September 29, 2020 - "The Greater Montreal area, the Capitale Nationale area in Quebec City, as well as the Chaudières-Appalaches region are being bumped up into the red zone under the province’s novel coronavirus regional alert system as cases and outbreaks surge in the province. Quebec Premier François Legault made the announcement during a press conference in Montreal attended by both Health Minister Christain Dubé and public health director Dr. Horacio Arruda.

"'The situation is critical,' Legault said. 'The cases are rising, If we don’t want our hospitals to be submerged, if we want to limit our number of deaths we must act strongly right now'.... ' 'We give ourselves four weeks with these measures to see if we can stop the second wave,” Legault said....

"Restaurants will be limited to take-out only but other businesses, such as hair salons and retail stores will be allowed to stay open.

"Furthermore, residents in affected zones will be prohibited from hosting anyone in their homes. Legault said only people living at the same address will be allowed inside a home. There will be exceptions such as if an elderly person needs a caregiver or a parent needs a babysitter, or someone needs a plumber. But in all instances only one additional person can enter a private residence at a time. In seniors’ residences, the same rule will apply in that a resident will only be allowed to receive care from one person at a time and a maximum of two people per day.

"Under the new restrictions, places of worship will be limited to 25 people at any one time. For outdoor spaces, people will have to maintain a two-metre distance from each other at all times.

"How the new measures will be enforced has yet to be determined. 'We said for many weeks that we prefer not to enter a house without a mandate,' Dubé said. 'Our deputy premier, Geneviève Guilbault, is looking at every measure that we can take'....

Restaurant owners were quick to express their dismay, saying they feel unfairly targeted. In a news release the Quebec restaurateurs association pointed to repeated government assertions that the virus wasn’t spreading in bars and restaurants but in private gatherings and homes. Contrary to private gatherings, restaurants provide a safe and controlled environment, the association said.... Creton also fears many restaurants will not survive a second round of restrictions.... 'We’re working on measures to compensate owners,' Legault said....

"On Monday, the government also announced it will be prioritizing testing for people with COVID-19 symptoms and those who have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive. People who don’t fall into either category could be refused access to screening, unless recommended by a health professional....  The ministry also recommends those who have come into contact with infected people to remain in isolation 14 days after the last 'risky' contact, even after a negative test. Those with COVID-19 symptoms who test negative are also being asked to self-isolate until they no longer show symptoms of the illness."

Read more:

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

London police attack peaceful lockdown protest

Coronavirus: police break up anti-lockdown protest in London | The Guardian - Damien Gayle, Mattha Busby & Ben Quinn:

September 26, 2020 - "Police have broken up a protest in central London after thousands of people defied their advice and demonstrated against lockdowns... and other coronavirus restrictions. The protest, organised by campaign groups including Save Our Rights UK, was called to mark six months since the passage of the Coronavirus Act.... Protesters began gathering from about midday, with the first speaker saying the demonstration was meant to be peaceful, and that it had been negotiated beforehand with the Metropolitan police, with a full health and safety impact assessment filed in advance. However, at about 3pm, the Met said the crowds had not 'complied with the conditions of their risk assessment and are putting people in danger of transmitting the virus'.... Officers waded in to break up part of the crowd and seize the sound system just before 3pm and used batons against protesters, leaving some bleeding with visible head injuries."

Read more:

The police state I never imagined I would see in this country | Conservative Women - Kathy Gyngell:

September 27, 2020 - I am not a natural protester or activist.... Like most people of my generation, I have always thought I was lucky to be born in a free country ... and that we did not have that much to protest about. No longer. Last week when the man we call Prime Minister, far from rowing back on his disastrous Covid policy, threatened further and indefinite constraints on our cherished freedoms, I decided I must be at yesterday’s anti-lockdown protest and rally in London; that the situation is too grave to ignore, too grave to stay silent.

"As I approached Trafalgar Square from Whitehall, it seemed almost too quiet. I even wondered for a moment if the rally was happening. Then I knew it still was. For, arriving within the Square, I found thousands of people quietly and respectfully listening to a speech....All ages were there, all races, classes, colours and creeds – and many, many young people.... I did notice and wonder about the armed police poised menacingly between the columns of the neo-classical National Gallery frontage looking down on the crowd. Nor were they there, it later became obvious, to protect the speakers or the organisers. 

"I moved through the crowd chatting to different friendly people – who was speaking, who was next on? Everyone was straining to see and hear. But no one could have missed the event’s organisers’ repeated stress on the importance of the rally’s peaceful credentials. Though they really didn’t need to. The atmosphere was warm, wonderful and good-humoured.... I felt proud to be British again. It felt the best of how British people are; in a great tradition of British questioning of authority.... Then it got serious again with a rather long and worthy speech about the need for world or free trade (I couldn’t make it out) which decided me to do a final survey of the crowd before setting off home. More young people. All races. All good-humoured.

"As I reached the south-west corner of the Square I saw police by their motorbikes were donning helmets. Heading on towards Pall Mall, I saw that grim faced masked police in vans were beginning to pull out from a side street parking. In my innocence I thought this over-manned convoy was off back to base because with no trouble and relatively few people they were just not needed. 

"How mistaken I turned out to be. It was not till I got home that I found to my horror from the news that far from going back to base this must have been the start of their mobilising against the crowd. Which indeed they did. Officers determined to disperse the crowd, penned it in. Protesters and police were hurt.... As Suzanne Evans asked: 'Who authorised them to pen the crowd in? There was no need – there was no overspill into surrounding streets'.... It has shocked me to the core. And now I see that Sky News instead of focusing on unjustifiable and provocative police action has chosen to relay selective vox pops of ‘conspiracy theorists’.... I could have told Sky News that you don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to question the legitimacy or the rationality of the current Emergency powers – or to want to publicly protest against them.

"Depressingly nearly all the papers today reporting the ‘clashes’ and the violence that occurred seem to have taken the pro-government line that the police enforcement of the government’s covid rules was justified, that they had a right to silence public dissent against them. They did not report that the police storming of the crowd after two and half hours of standing by was unprovoked or that there was every indication that their action was premeditated and planned. What I had witnessed was them moving into action when the rally was entirely peaceful and causing no disruption." 

Read more:

Monday, September 28, 2020

BC Libertarians step up to run in snap election

Libertarian Party announces Penticton candidate | - Steve Arstad:

September 24, 2020 - "The Penticton provincial riding has a new B.C. Libertarian candidate in time for this year's snap Oct. 24 election. Keith MacIntyre has been selected to run for the Libertarian Party, which ran 30 candidates in the 2017 election, according to a media release. The party said in the release issued today, Sept. 24, it is 'committed to providing British Columbians with more choice in the delivery of services, lower taxes, and real freedom.' MacIntyre has been a Penticton resident for 10 years. He owns Big Bear Software and is president of the Okanagan School of the Arts."

Read more:

Raymond Rodgers chosen as 2020 candidate for BC Libertarian Party in Prince George-Mackenzie | Prince George Matters - Jess Fedigan:

September 25, 2020 - "A third candidate has entered the Prince George-Mackenzie race for the 2020 provincial election. Raymond Rodgers of the BC Libertarian Party will join BC Liberal candidate and two-term MLA Mike Morris, along with BC NDP candidate Joan Atkinson, the current mayor of Mackenzie. Rodgers is described as a journeyman electrician in the mining, forestry and oil ... sectors who has lived in Salmon Valley for the past 1.5 years. "

Read more: 

Sean Robson chosen as 2020 candidate for BC Libertarian Party in Prince George-Valemount | Prince George Matters - Jess Fedigan:

September 26, 2020 - "BC Liberal Party and incumbent Shirley Bond has her second challenger in the Prince George-Valemount riding. The BC Libertarian announced today (Sept. 26) Sean Robson has been acclaimed the candidate for the seat.... Robson would have been the third candidate in the riding but the BC Ecosocialist Party saw candidate Stuart Parker resign.... Robson, who has lived in Prince George for 27 years, drives a logging truck for a locally owned and operated contractor while also being a father. "

Read more:

BC Libertarian party names Kelowna West candidate | Kelowna Capital News - Michael Rodriguez:

"September 27, 2020 - "The BC Libertarian party has acclaimed its candidate for the Kelowna West riding. Matt Badura announced Saturday, Sept. 26, he will be taking on the riding’s incumbent BC Liberal Ben Stewart in the upcoming provincial election slated for Oct. 24. So far, the two are the only confirmed candidates in the riding. Badura has been a Kelowna resident for the past four years. He works as a project manager in the construction industry."

Read more:

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Van Morrison releases first anti-lockdown single

Listen to Van Morrison’s new anti-lockdown song, 'Born to Be Free' | Ultimate Classic Rock - Corey Irwin:

September 25, 2020 - "Van Morrison has released the first of his anti-lockdown-themed songs. The single, titled 'Born to Be Free,' features lyrics criticizing government response to the coronavirus pandemic.

"'Don’t need the government cramping my style / Give them an inch, they take a mile / Take you in with a phony smile / Wouldn’t you agree,' Morrison sings in an early verse, before launching into the song’s chorus: 'The new normal is not normal / It’s no kind of normal at all / Everyone seemed to have amnesia just trying to remember the Berlin Wall.'

"Despite its contentious subject matter, the tune is lively and upbeat, with organ and soulful backing vocals adding highlights to the rollicking guitar, bass and drums structure. You can listen to “Born to Be Free” below.

"Morrison has been a vocal critic of COVID-19 response, referring to social distancing as 'pseudo-science' and calling on fellow musicians to 'speak up' against rules that prohibit artists from performing traditional concerts. In early September, he announced he’d be releasing three lockdown protest songs.

"'I'm not telling people what to do or think, the government is doing a great job of that already,' Morrison remarked when the singles were announced. "It's about freedom of choice. I believe people should have the right to think for themselves.'

Read more:

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Ron Paul in hospital, but "doing fine"

Ron Paul hospitalized after apparent medical episode, says he's 'doing fine' | CNN - Sam Fossum, Ted Barrett, Kay Jones & Caroline Kelly:

September 25, 2020 - "Former Texas congressman Ron Paul was hospitalized earlier Friday after an apparent medical episode but is now 'doing fine,' according to a tweet posted to his Twitter account. Paul – a well-known libertarian, three-time presidential candidate and the father of Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul  – was seen visually slurring his words during a livestream on his YouTube channel on Friday. The video has since been removed.

"'Message from Ron Paul: "I am doing fine. Thank you for your concern,"' a tweet posted on the former congressman's account stated, which also included an image of Paul, who is 85, sitting up and smiling from a hospital bed. Rand Paul also tweeted out a brief statement, saying, 'Thank God, Dad is doing well. Thank you for all your prayers today'....

"Ron Paul ran for president as a Libertarian in 1988 and a Republican in 2008 and 2012, helping to pave the way for Rand Paul's run in 2016 by building a nationwide network of devoted supporters drawn to his message of limited government and non-interventionist foreign policy. 

"The elder Paul served as part of the Texas congressional delegation for more than two decades, representing the state's 22nd District from 1979 to 1985 and 14th District from 1997 until 2013 and becoming the first representative in US history to serve alongside his child serving in the Senate. Prior to serving in Congress, he practiced obstetrics and gynecology, delivering more than 4,000 babies."

Read more:

Friday, September 25, 2020

Clear thinking and confusion on COVID immunity

by George J. Dance

A neighborhood in Queen's, New York – ironically named Corona – may have become the first place in North America to achieve herd immunity to the coronavirua. Serological testing in New York during the summer found that 68% of the population had antibodies to the disease. If the virus spreads at an initial reproduction number (Ro) of 3 (the most common estimate), it would require 66.67% of a population to have it in order to achieve herd immunity, the point at which community transmission stops. (At an Ro of 2.5, the herd immunity threshhold would be 60%.) 

That makes Corona a very safe place to be in terms of COVID. Not completely safe, of course, as residents can still catch the disease elsewhere and bring it in; herd immunity will not prevent them from infecting anyone, only from restarting a local epidemic. The average of those with antibodies in New York is under 25%, far too low for that. And community transmission is ongoing, with the state experiencing an average 800-1,000 new cases, and 5-10 new deaths, every day. Still, the epidemic is over in New York: the virus is still spreading, and still killing, but now as a normal disease; the spread is endemic rather than an epidemic. For now the state, as its governor likes to brag, has somehow "tamed the beast." The only question is: How?    

Some religious people might say: Because we prayed, and God heard our prayers. A believer in the Church of Lockdown would say: Because the government locked us down. Both claims are similar, but the latter purports to be a scientific claim, meaning that it must be falsifiable; believers in lockdown must do more than just state the claim, but give some evidence for it besides the two events (the lockdown, and the drop in cases months later). At minimum, they have to deal with alternate hypotheses that explain the events better. 

In April, Israeli mathematician Isaac Ben-Israel analyzed the pandemic data, and noticed that outbreaks of the epidemic followed the same pattern: peaking in six weeks, then withering away after eight. Whether a atate locked down or not made virtually no difference. Therefore, he concluded, lockdown were ineffective. However, Ben-Israel, not being an epidemiologiat or virologist, had no explanation; he could only point to the numbers.

Nobel Prize winner Michael Levitt, who reached the same conclusion from the same data, noticed that the withering coincided with what he called 'saturation of infection' – a point when ~20% of the population (a figure he took from the Diamond Princess data) was no longer susceptible. Long before that point, while epidemics were still growing, their rates of growth had begun declining, an indication that the buildup of immunity was already slowing transmission. 

Others who looked at real-world data began to find the same dramatic drop at a similar infection ratio occurring around the world, from New York to Stockholm to Manaus, Brazil, to Shenzen, China.  Scientists have different theories why. One hypothesis, based on the theories of renowned epidemiologiat Sunetra Gupta, is that that there is pre-existing cross-immunity from other coronaviruas infections - enough, hypothetically, to achieve herd immunity at a lower level. Such cross-immunity may well exist, but not at that high an extent; for in none of the above communities (except possibly Shenzen) has the virus been eliminated, as herd immunity theory predicts. What has been eliminated is the epidemic, and with it most of the danger; but, as noted people are still dying of (or with) COVID in both New York and Stockholm. 

Another theory, to which I am partial, starts from the notion that "the herd" is a false analogy. Unlike a herd, where interaction is relatively the same for all, human interaction takes many different forms, within specific, limited social networks. Some people play key roles in such networks; they are more likely to get the disease, and more likely to spread it when contagious, but also more likely to block network transmission once recovered and immune. On this theory, a much lower number (~40%) of recovered patients is needed to reach "herd immunity" (at which point the disease is eliminated), while a much lower number than that would be enough to reduce the reproduction number R to ~1 (at which point the disease still spreads, but does not grow). Even some coronaviruas modellers have taken both theories seriously enough to model their assumptions, and use them to predict the pandemic's course.  

How do true believers in lockdown address the network theory, which also explains what happened in New York (and in Manauas and Stockholm, which the lockdown theory does not explain)? They don't. Rather, they first confuse the idea with the classical one of herd immunity – and, second, accuse the person who mentioned immunity of wanting more deaths simply to achieve herd immunity quicker. That was constantly done to Anders Tegnell in Sweden,  and also to Patrick Vallance in Britain, back when Britain had a no-lockdown policy. A speaker has only to mention 'immunity,' and a lockdown zealot will start ranting about 'herd immunity' instead.           

Another example occurs in this exchange between pandemic czar Antony Fauci and libertarian GOP Congressman Rand Paul. Fauci claims the epidemic ended in in New York because "they are looking at the guidelines that we have put together in the task force"; Paul points out that there is another possible explanation ("they've developed enough community immunity that they're no longer having the pandemic, because they have enough immunity"); and Fauci tries to shoot the idea down with this strawman: "If you believe that 22% is herd immunity, I believe you're alone in that." 

Paul seems to be thinking of Gupta's theory of cross-immunity, not the network theory. Still, he was clearly talking about building up a high enough degree of immunity (he says 'enough' twice) to lower the disease to New York levels, not reaching the herd immunity threshhold needed to eliminate it. Fauci either did not understand Paul's objection, or chose to misrepresent it.  

Why do they do that? Do they believe that the only possible level of immunity is herd immunity, or are they deliberately misrepresenting? Either may be possible – all that is known is that they consider the idea of 'immunity' evil, and are more concerned with eliminating it down than even considering it. It is also clear where they got that last idea; from the Bible of the Church of Lockdown, Tomas Pueyo's online writings, where the idea of immunity is discussed (not as a scientific theory, but as outright advocacy of more death:

The idea is that all the people who are infected and then recover are now immune to the virus. This is at the core of this strategy: 'Look, I know it’s going to be hard for some time, but once we’re done and a few million people die, the rest of us will be immune to it, so this virus will stop spreading and we’ll say goodbye to the coronavirus. Better do it at once and be done with it, because our alternative is to do social distancing for up to a year and risk having this peak happen later anyways.' (Tomas Pueyo, "The Hammer and the Dance")
To the best of my knowledge, no one else has ever said the sentences that Pueyo quotes.(I have searched). No one has to, as long as Pueyo's millions of readers are convinced it is what lockdown sceptics really believe down inside. The important thing then becomes not to logically answer sceptics, but to expose their evil intent. Fortunately, there are cracks in the monolith; despite everything lockdown advocates can do to suppress it, immunity theory seems here to stay.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Spanish gov't sends in army to enforce lockdown

Spanish army to enforce lockdown in Madrid | The Independent - Kate Ng:

September 22, 2020 - "Spain has requested its army’s help in enforcing coronavirus lockdown restrictions that were imposed in some parts of Madrid on Monday. The restrictions apply to poorer districts in the capital, sparking protests over the weekend against what residents described as discrimination against the poor. The Spanish army was deployed at the height of the first wave of infections between March and April to help civilian authorities contain the outbreak.

"Isabel Diaz Ayuso, the regional governor for the capital, announced the deployment after a meeting with Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez. 'We need help from the army for disinfection … and to strengthen local police and law enforcement,' she told a news briefing on Monday....

"850,000 people living in 37 districts in Madrid have been barred from leaving their neighbourhoods as of yesterday, except for work, family care o[r] legal obligations, as the number of infections surge in the capital.... 

"Demonstrators protested against the restrictions on Sunday night, claiming the lockdown affected some of the poorest neighbourhoods in the capital and accusing the Spanish government of treating them like second class citizens.

"Madrid’s mayor, Jose Luis Martinez-Almeida, denied the accusations, tweeting on Monday: 'There are no first-class residents and second-class residents. We have to be together at this moment.'

Read more:

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Past fiascos show need for vaccine caution

September 1, 2020 - "Vaccine experts are warning the American government against rushing out a coronavirus vaccine.... Their concern that the Food and Drug Administration may be moving too quickly heightened when FDA Commissioner Dr. Steven Hahn told the Financial Times that his agency could consider an emergency use authorization (EUA) for a COVID-19 vaccine before late stage clinical trials are complete if the data show strong enough evidence it would protect people. The commissioner has the authority to allow unapproved medical products to be used in an emergency when there are no adequate or approved alternatives. An EUA is not the same as full approval and it can be withdrawn....

"For a vaccine to be FDA approved, scientists must gather enough data through clinical trials in large numbers of volunteers to prove it is safe and effective at protecting people against a disease. Once the data is collected, FDA advisers usually spend months considering it. An EUA is much quicker. Only once before has the FDA given a vaccine this lesser standard approval of an EUA, but it was in an unusual circumstance. Soldiers had sued, claiming a mandatory anthrax vaccine made them sick, and a judge put a hold on the program. The Department of Defense asked for an EUA that then overrode the court ruling in 2005, so it could continue vaccinating military personnel -- this time on a voluntary basis. Otherwise, vaccines have had to go through the entire clinical trial process and FDA approval process, which can take months or years.

"When the vaccine making process has been rushed, there have been bad outcomes.
  • On April 12, 1955, the government announced the first vaccine to protect kids against polio. Within days, labs had made thousands of lots of the vaccine. Batches made by one company, Cutter Labs, accidentally contained live polio virus and it caused an outbreak. More than 200,000 children got the polio vaccine, but within days the government had to abandon the program.... Forty thousand kids got polio. Some had low levels, a couple hundred were left with paralysis, and about 10 died," said Dr. Howard Markel, a pediatrician, distinguished professor, and director of the Center for the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan. The government suspended the vaccination program until it could determine what went wrong.
  • However, increased oversight failed to discover another problem with the polio vaccine. From 1955 to 1963, between 10% and 30% of polio vaccines were contaminated with simian virus 40 (SV40).... Scientists wrongly thought the formaldehyde they used would kill the virus.... No current vaccines contain SV40 virus, the CDC [U.S. Center for Disease Control] says, and there's no evidence the contamination harmed anyone.
  • In 1976, scientists predicted a pandemic of a new strain of influenza called swine flu. 'President Ford was basically told by his advisers, that look, we have a pandemic flu coming called swine flu that may be as bad as Spanish flu,' said Michael Kinch, a professor of radiation oncology in the school of medicine at Washington University in St. Louis.... 'Ford was being cajoled to put forward a vaccine that was hastily put together'.... Ford made the decision to make the immunization compulsory ...  and 40 million people got vaccinated against swine flu, according to the CDC. That vaccination campaign was later linked to cases of a neurological disorder called Guillain-Barre syndrome, which can develop after an infection or, rarely, after vaccination with a live vaccine....
  • The CDC said the increased risk was about one additional case of Gullain-Barre for every 100,000 people who got the swine flu vaccine. Due to this small association, the government stopped the program to investigate....
"Markel said people's mistrust of the system makes the idea that the FDA would rush this process before late stage clinical trials are complete 'colossally stupid'.... 'All it takes is one bad side effect to basically botch a vaccine program that we desperately need against this virus. It's a prescription for disaster.

"FDA Commissioner Hahn said that the vaccine decision will be based on data, not politics, but Kinch shares Markel's concern.... A too-early EUA for a vaccine could cause a 'nightmare scenario,' for a few reasons.

"One, the vaccine may not be safe. Two, if it is not safe, people will lose faith in vaccines. Three, if a vaccine doesn't offer complete protection, people will have a false sense of security and increase their risk. Four, if a substandard vaccine gets an EUA, a better vaccine may never get approval, because people would be reluctant to enroll in trials and risk getting a placebo instead of a vaccine."

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

The problem with coronavirus modelling

 UCL Paper on Contact Tracing Gulls Credulous Journalist | Lockdown Sceptics - Sue Denim: 

June 16, 2020 - "A source of frustration for many of us is how journalists don’t seem to be learning lessons about academic models. It’s as though their need to report on anything new makes them extremely vulnerable to trusting the output of discredited processes and people. Take this piece in UnHerd by Tom Chivers called 'What’s the point of contact tracing?' ... about a paper entitled 'Modelling the health and economic impacts of Population-wide Testing, contact Tracing and Isolation (PTTI) strategies for COVID-19 in the UK'.... This paper has a whopping 26 authors [13 with Ph.D's - gd], yet they apparently couldn’t wait for peer review before sending it to journalists. Let’s do a quick review for them.

"The introduction says this: 'Mathematical models can be used to predict COVID-19 epidemic trends following relaxation of lockdown.' It provides a citation for this claim, the first in the paper: Professor Ferguson’s discredited Report 9. ICL’s model in reality proves the opposite – it couldn’t predict COVID-19 epidemic trends as evidenced by the results when applied to Sweden. And as is by now well documented, this work has severe and retraction-worthy methodological errors that make it unsuitable for citation. Given the media coverage of the many flaws in Report 9, it’s unlikely the authors of this new paper didn’t know that.

"And the paper goes downhill from there. It states: 'We assume an infection fatality rate (IFR) of 1.0%.' No source for this number is provided. There are many studies showing a far lower estimated IFR, more in the range of 0.1% – an order of magnitude difference.... Chivers says 'UnHerd has spoken to various people who think it’s lower than that' but otherwise accepts this exceptionally high value as a given. The story wouldn’t work if he didn’t.

"The paper goes on to say (my emphasis): 'Recent estimates suggest that only 6.8% of the population… had been infected… this level of presumed immunity is a long way from the roughly 60% required for herd immunity without 'overshoot'…. Consequently… without implementing effective provision of testing, contact tracing, and isolation, in conjunction with other measures, the UK may be at risk of either spending two thirds to three quarters of time locked down, or experiencing an uncontrolled epidemic with between 250,000 and 550,000 deaths.'

"The authors assume the 60% figure although the epidemic ended in many places without that level being achieved, implying it cannot possibly be correct.... They also double down on by now bizarre and absurd predictions of an 'uncontrolled epidemic'  with half a million deaths, in spite of the fact that countries and states that hardly locked down at all have seen no difference in how the epidemic proceeded....

"The README contains a comment indicative of the catastrophic mentality epidemiologists have developed 'we believe in checking models against each other, as it’s the best way to understand which models work best in what circumstances.' No. The best way to understand which models work best is to compare them to reality, not to other models. This circular definition of success has been presented by Imperial College as well. It seems the field of epidemiology has completely lost its grip on the scientific method.

"In the documentation the authors provide a variety of arguments for why their research isn’t invalid despite making assumptions they know are wrong. But often the explanations boil down to “just because” (my emphasis):

[We assume] The outbreak or epidemic is homogeneous in space and time. In reality, the UK is undergoing several COVID-19 outbreaks… In general, a model of a single large outbreak cannot be used to reproduce the dynamics of smaller outbreaks separated in time… This model does not represent those different, coupled outbreaks, it represents a single outbreak.
Justification: this is a simplifying assumption. In the case of COVID-19, the major outbreaks in the most populous cities are separated in time by only a couple of generations. We argue that this is close enough that, to a first approximation, the differences can be disregarded and valid insights gained by considering the ensemble as one large outbreak
"Although they say they 'argue' this assumption doesn’t matter, no actual argument is provided in the documentation. They just assert it’s all fine. The paper doesn’t appear to contain such an argument either. As they admit, the real reason for this assumption is just to make the coding easier. '[We assume] The population is homogeneous and each individual behaves in the same way and is affected in the same way by the virus. This is manifestly untrue of the real world. Justification: this is another simplifying assumption' [gd emphasis]....

"Last one (my emphasis): 'Face coverings were assumed to reduce 𝛽 by 30%. This is based on an estimated 60% effectiveness of face coverings in reducing transmission and a conservative assumption that they would only be worn 50% of the time, i.e. for 50% of the contacts occurring in the modelled scenario trajectories.' These two claims sound like they’re based on real observations. Of the papers cited, neither appears to actually [support] these claims. The first bolded sentence cites this paper which is the output of yet another model. The second sentence cites this response to criticism, which doesn’t appear to talk about how long people wear masks for at all....

"Although this paper hasn’t been peer reviewed it’s unlikely the peer review process in epidemiology would filter this sort of problem out. Papers in this field appear to be worse than useless – not only do they routinely describe a fantasy world the authors know isn’t real, but nobody seems to care. Circular reasoning runs rampant and yet journalists like Chivers – who is more scientifically literate than most – still present the resultant 'findings' to the population, knowing that readers won’t call them out on it....

"If academics want to be taken seriously in future, they should start creating public databases of past events and matching new outbreaks to them instead of trying to simulate whole societies. Empirical observation of the past can then be applied to estimate the future. Although this won’t require fancy modelling skills and may yield only a few papers, the results would be far more useful."

Read more: 

Monday, September 21, 2020

Libertarian Party on ballot in all 50 U.S. states

 LP Presidential Nominee On The Ballot in All 50 States Plus DC | Libertarian Party - Bob Johnston

September 16, 2020 - "As of September 15, the Libertarian Party (LP) has received confirmation that the campaign of Dr. Jo Jorgensen for president and Jeremy 'Spike' Cohen for vice president has met all states’ ballot-access requirements, according to the LP’s chair, Joseph Bishop-Henchman. Therefore, the Libertarian ticket is now officially on the ballot in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia. American voters — regardless of where they live — will see the Jorgensen–Cohen ticket on their ballots this November....

"The year 2020 marks the fifth time the Libertarian Party has succeeded in placing its presidential ticket on the ballot in all 50 states, having done so previously in 1980, 1992, 1996, and 2016. No other alternative party in over 20 years has achieved universal ballot access in a presidential election.

"The LP had already earned ballot status in 35 states plus D.C. this election, based on the party’s size or performance in past elections. In the remaining states, Libertarian candidates were forced to collect petition signatures from registered voters to be placed on ballots. Provisions vary considerably among states, but none require the nominees of the Democratic or Republican parties to petition for ballot access.

"The challenge of overcoming such discriminatory ballot-access laws was compounded this year as governors issued stay-at-home orders that prohibited in-person petitioning and cast it as a public-health threat. Despite these obstacles, Libertarians succeeded continuing the party’s streak of 50-state ballot access and building upon the momentum formed during Gov. Gary Johnson’s 2016 presidential candidacy.

"Jorgensen and Cohen campaigned in Pennsylvania and other key states this year to aid signature-gathering efforts. Speaking to supporters outside the State Board of Elections in Annapolis, Maryland, where Libertarians submitted their final signatures, Dr. Jorgensen remarked on the importance of ballot access:

"'We’ve got two big-government candidates, and 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', said Dr. Jorgensen. 'The only way to give every American another choice is for Libertarians to be on the ballot in all fifty states.'"

Read more:

Sunday, September 20, 2020

How not to revive the economy

Be Serious, You Don't Solve Lockdowns With More Central Planning | Real Clear Markets - John Tamny:

September 18, 2020 - "To read the lofty coronavirus relief proposals from Democrats and Republicans is to detect confusion about what powers economic growth.... Why the call for Congress to spend with abandon? This question ... answers itself, but for those still half awake, politicians on the city, state and national levels imposed lockdowns on economic activity beginning in March.... Even though economic growth has long been the greatest enemy of virus, disease and ill health more broadly, politicians decided that the answer to the coronavirus was to force an economic contraction that destroyed tens of millions of jobs, millions of businesses, and that otherwise created economic desperation.... 

"Even though wealth creation has long expanded the resources necessary for scientists and doctors to cure disease and elongate life, politicians decided in 2020 to freeze wealth creation given their belief that Americans are too stupid to avoid sickness and death on their own. Translated for those still half awake, your political leaders think you’re intensely dumb; so much so that you’re incapable of protecting yourself without politicians forcing you to do just that. But to make sure you would stay at home, they imposed job and business destroying lockdowns that kind of gave you no choice....

"[T]he insults to common sense didn’t stop with the economic contraction politicians forced on what was previously the world’s most dynamic economy. Having wrecked millions of lives and businesses, they proceeded to extract trillions more from the economy, only to blindly throw money at their countless errors. Yes, you read that right: the instigators of misery somehow got it into their heads that they were the ones who should deliver you from it....

"Governments can’t stimulate economic activity, nor can they offer relief, simply because they only have wealth to redistribute insofar as it was created first in the private sector. Governments can only move previously created wealth from one set of pockets to another. Politicized allocation of precious wealth is a consequence of economic growth, not an instigator of it. The 'relief' proposals promoted by left and right will in no way generate new economic activity.

"In truth, the trillions Congress is set to spend will logically delay recovery. Simple as that. It’s sad that something so basic requires explanation, but we’re living in a time of remarkable confusion within the policy establishment. Since we are, it’s useful to remind readers that central planning failed in miserable, murderous fashion in the 20th century. In the 20th politicians around the world tried their hand at command-and-control economic planning that placed those same politicians in control of the economy’s resources. It didn’t work ... because with government spending, there is no failure. There’s instead relentless spending on what doesn’t work.... 

"Economic growth is a consequence of intrepid allocation of limited resources to higher and higher uses. Economic growth is about investment in wealth that doesn’t yet exist. By contrast, governments can only fund the known, or what’s already known as a bust. If what’s a bust employs people, politicians will fund it forever. Medicare began as a $3 billion program. It’s rushing toward $1 trillion annually even though it still can’t meet its mandate over fifty years after its creation....

"Politicized allocation of resources is the path not just to stasis, but to decline. Central planning that failed in total in the 20th century doesn’t succeed when tried on a limited basis in the 21st. What didn’t work then still doesn’t work now. Politicians can’t play investor. Period.

"Readers should remember this as they see left-of-center thinkers ... join hands with right-of-center thinkers ... in their call for more government to fix today’s sagging economy. The simple truth is that government actions caused the contraction.... Stated simply, the economy is weak because politicians imposed command-and-control lockdowns, and having done that, they poured gasoline on a fire of their own making with trillions more in spending. Let’s not vandalize common sense with more of what’s already failed. The only economic relief is an end to the lockdowns."

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Saturday, September 19, 2020

No, the UK never had a "herd immunity" strategy

Defining the policy problem: ‘herd immunity’, long term management, and the containability of COVID-19 | Paul Cairney: Politics & Public Policy blog:

June 13, 2020 - "Frankly, the widespread and intense focus on ‘herd immunity’ was a needless distraction, sparked initially by government advisors but then nitrous-turbo-boosted, gold-plated, and covered in neon lights during a series of ridiculous media and social media representations of ill-worded statements. This initial focus took attention away from a much more profound discussion of what the UK government thinks is feasible, which informs a very stark choice: to define the COVID-19 problem as (a) a short term pandemic to be eradicated (as in countries like South Korea) or (b) a long term pandemic to be expected and managed every year (the definition in countries like the UK).

"The key thing to note is that ministers and their advisors:

  1. Did talk in general terms about the idea of ‘herd immunity’ in March (best summed up as: herd immunity is only possible if there is a vaccine or enough people are infected and recover')
  2. Did not recommend an extreme non-intervention policy in which most of the population would be infected quickly to achieve herd immunity (in February, advisers described this outcome as the Reasonable Worst Case Scenario)....

"Rather, describing the idea of herd immunity as an inevitability (not determined by choice) is key to understanding the UK approach. It helps us question the idea that there was a big policy U-turn in mid-March. Policy did change in the short term, but a sole focus on the short term distracts from the profound implications of its long-term strategy (in the absence of a vaccine) associated with phrases such as ‘flatten the curve’ (rather than ‘eradicate the virus’).

"[Witness] Full Fact’s challenge to the wilful misrepresentation of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s appearance on the ITV programme This Morning (10.3.20), 'Here is the transcript of what Boris Johnson said on This Morning about the new coronavirus'.... These video stinkers, in which people (a) cut quotes so that you don’t hear the context, and provide a misleading headline, or (b) put a bunch of cut interviews in sequence and combine them with a tune that sounds like a knock-off version of the end credits to the TV Series The Hulk (in other words, people design these messages to get an emotional reaction)....

"This interview [at the bottom of the article] is described by Sky News (13.3.20) as: ‘The government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance has told Sky News that about 60% of people will need to become infected with coronavirus in order for the UK to enjoy “herd immunity”'. You might be forgiven for thinking that he was on Sky extolling the virtues of a strategy to that end. This was certainly the write-up in respected papers like the Financial Times ("UK’s chief scientific adviser defends ‘herd immunity’ strategy for coronavirus"). Yet, he was saying [at 4:10 - gd] nothing of the sort. Rather, when prompted, he discussed herd immunity in relation to the belief that COVID-19 will endure long enough to become as common as seasonal flu.

"See Vallance’s interview on the same day (13.3.20) during Radio 4’s Today programme (transcribed by the Spectator and headlined as 'How "herd immunity" can help fight coronavirus' as if it is his main message). The Today Programme also tweeted only 30 seconds to single out that brief exchange. Yet, clearly his overall message – in this and other interviews – was that some interventions (e.g. staying at home; self-isolating with symptoms) would have bigger effects than others (e.g. school closures; prohibiting mass gatherings) during the ‘flattening of the peak’ strategy (‘What we don’t want is everybody to end up getting it in a short period of time so that we swamp and overwhelm NHS services’). Rather than describing ‘herd immunity’ as a strategy, he is really describing how to deal with its inevitability.

"[PAC: Note that these examples are increasingly difficult to track, because people take the herd immunity argument for granted or cite reference to it misleadingly. For example, Scalley et al  state: 'To widespread criticism, [Vallance] floated an approach to "build up some degree of herd immunity" founded on an erroneous view that the vast majority of cases would be mild, like influenza.' Their citation takes you here, in which there is no reference to herd immunity or the quotation]....

"UK government policy [was] about reducing or moving the initial peak of infection, followed by longer term management to ensure that the NHS always has capacity to treat. The short-term focus emphasized the need to get the timing right in relation to the balance between public health benefits and social and economic cost.... Throughout, there [was] an emphasis on what might work in a UK-style liberal democracy characterised by relatively low social regulation, reinforced with reference to behavioural public policy."

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Friday, September 18, 2020

Libertarians running 3 in New Zealand

 Libertarian Party NZ Candidates | Scoop (press release):

12 September 2020 - "The Libertarian Party NZ is planning to run candidates in the upcoming 2020 election.... Our key policies are as follows-

  • Abolish victimless crimes. If it hurts no-one, it is not a crime.
  • Personal freedom. We support laissez-faire policies and people having the right to prosper without suffocating government regulations.
  • End government subsidies to private businesses. It is not the role of government to prop up failing businesses. We will end all subsidies to businesses and profit enterprises.
  • Right to bear arms. New Zealanders deserve the right to protect themselves using firearms....

"We have a slate of 3 star candidates, ready to fight for New Zealanders and libertarian values.

"Chris Perry, our party leader, is running in the seat of Selwyn. With Selwyn being an open seat, it is the perfect opportunity for National voters to provide their electorate vote to Chris Perry and the Libertarian Party NZ to get us into Parliament. Perry is a lifelong farmer who lives in Prebbleton.

"Deputy leader Jessica Bailey is running in Banks Peninsula, another open seat, where we are urging voters to reject the National-Labour duopoly and instead choose freedom. A Lyttelton local, Bailey knows Banks Peninsula like the back of her hand!

"Our other candidate, Leonard Wright, is running in Rangitata. A Timaru business owner, he decided to run for Parliament after hearing of his local MP’s disgusting behaviour, deciding we need a return to integrity in Parliament. Leonard Wright will always fight for personal liberty- because in the free market, only the best ideas will come out on top."

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Thursday, September 17, 2020

NZ Covid strategy: elimination or virtue-signalling?

New Zealand's lust for lockdown is the latest example of vapid political virtue-signalling | The Telegraph - Madeline Grant: 

August 22, 2020 - "Progressive mythology always demands a socialist valhalla; a nation to be idealised and held as up an inspiration. For years, Scandinavia, and particularly Sweden, played this role. The stereotype was never entirely accurate; Scandinavian social democracy is a far cry from full-throated socialism, yet it remained influential. In the face of the pandemic, however, the tables have turned; now it is the libertarian Right who are lining up to applaud Swedish exceptionalism, while progressives liken their controversial strategy to a form of eugenics.... [T]he Left needs a new country to fetishise, and they have alighted on New Zealand.

"This was underway long before the virus arrived, thanks to ... a charismatic, young and importantly, female, leader: Jacinda Ardern. Her decisive leadership following the mass shooting in Christchurch propelled the New Zealand PM to global prominence, and she has since enjoyed fawning media coverage surpassing even the high water-mark of Trudeau-mania.... Their zero-tolerance approach to Covid-19 has been especially influential.....

"[In August] the whole of Auckland was sent into lockdown after the government announced a grand total of four new cases in the capital. GDP has taken its biggest slide in three decades. A total ban on foreign arrivals has endured for months, with catastrophic results for tourism, directly employing 8.4 per cent of the workforce. New Zealanders returning from abroad must pay for the privilege of isolating in military-guarded facilities, to the tune of more than £1,500 per head. One man recently received a six-week jail sentence for hugging a friend quarantining in a detention centre.... Though the country has not recorded a single covid death since May, the government decided to postpone the Autumn elections following the small-scale outbreak.... Progressives, so alert to the subversion of democracy in the USA, had little to say about this extraordinary over-reaction.

"An elimination strategy has made them hostages to fortune; with precedence established, it will be politically toxic to change course. Ardern has ridden high in the polls so far, but if such disruption continues, public appetite for keeping the country virus-free at any cost will surely wane, and the recent outbreak, despite NZ’s geographic isolation and its draconian policy response, suggests no country can postpone the inevitable.....

"Tourism accounts for a third of jobs in Fiji, Palau and Vanuatu; and two thirds of their visitors come from Australia and New Zealand. Yet amid mounting poverty and unemployment, island leaders’ pleadings for air bridges seem barely to have registered with an administration myopically focused on elimination.... 

"Enthusiasts for this model imply that elimination, like the happiness budget, and like Ardern herself, puts people above the callous vicissitudes of the balance sheet. As we are increasingly finding, the two cannot be so easily disentangled. Excessively harsh lockdowns have become a form of international virtue-signalling; something only wealthy nations can afford, but which promises catastrophe for the world’s poorest.

"Before the recent spike, commentators lauded Ardern as being 'on course to eradicate the virus completely.' The ambition was childish and hubristic in the extreme. Until the planet reaches a state of elimination, New Zealand will have to stay in indefinite isolation, with domestic lock-downs a likely fixture of life, perhaps for years to come. The economy cannot bear this for long. Nor can the people."

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Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Israeli gov't imposes 2nd nationwide lockdown

Coronavirus: Israel to impose three-week national lockdown | BBC News

"September 14, 2020 - "Israel is to impose a new national lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus - with tough restrictions coming into effect on Jewish new year. The country's second lockdown begins on Friday and lasts at least three weeks. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the measures would "exact a heavy price on us all", but the country faced a surge with 4,000 new daily infections....

"The measures he announced will be the most extensive imposed in Israel since the first lockdown, which ran from late March until early May, and include:

  • No more than 10 people can meet indoors while groups of 20 are allowed outdoors
  • Schools and shopping centres will close, and 
  • Israelis must stay within 500 metres of their homes with the exception of travelling to workplaces
  • Non-governmental offices and businesses can stay open but must not accept customers....

"The second lockdown will cost the economy, which is in recession due to the pandemic, an estimated 6.5bn shekels ($1.88bn), the finance ministry says."

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State virus adviser slams lockdown as ‘stupidest and most hazardous solution’ | Times of Israel - Nathan Jeffay:

September 16, 2020 - "Israel’s new lockdown is the 'stupidest and most hazardous solution' to its coronavirus woes, according to doctors union chief Hagai Levine, a member of the coronavirus czar’s expert panel. While Ronni Gamzu, the virus point man he advises, has backed the closure, which starts Friday, Levine is resolutely opposed, insisting that, contrary to the warnings of some hospital heads, the health system isn’t in danger of meltdown and therefore the step isn’t justified.

"Despite strong condemnation from business leaders and criticism from opposition politicians, the government has taken the view that with cases spiraling, and hospitalizations rising, a lockdown is the only option.... But Levine, an epidemiologist, told The Times of Israel that Israel needs to fight the virus by changing the public’s conduct for the duration of the pandemic, not by investing hopes in a three-week lockdown.... 

"Levine works on predictions for the pandemic with two Hebrew University experts on stats and modeling. One of them, economist David Gershon, told The Times of Israel he is convinced that the closure won’t bring the desired results, and the government will end up deploying a third lockdown. 'They are destroying the country, but we’ll be back in the same situation soon,' Gershon said....

"Proponents of the lockdown say it is good for the general health of the nation, by protecting the health system from becoming overstretched. But Levine, confident that the health system has capacity to cope, says they are wrong.... Gershon acknowledged that there is alarm over high infection rates, but said they are not translating to hospitals being pushed to over capacity.... 

"There are currently 535 coronavirus patients in serious condition, and it has been widely suggested that hospitals will struggle if they have upwards of 1,000 such cases. Noting that hospital officials have said that staffing, not physical space, is their main challenge, Gershon said that the state is able to deploy extra staff, as it would in the case of a natural disaster, and should quickly invest in manpower in order to quell fears of the system being overwhelmed.... He added: 'The country has to learn to live with COVID-19… We need to be able to live with even 2,000 patients in serious situation.... The people who want to see zero, or 200, new cases a day aren’t being realistic. Under 500 also isn’t going to happen. The virus is not stoppable, so we have to learn to live with it.”

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Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Pennsylvania lockdown was unconstitutional, federal judge rules

Federal Court Rules Pennsylvania's Lockdown Order Unconstitutional | Reason - Christian Britschgi:

September 14, 2020 - "A federal judge on Monday has ruled that lockdown restrictions imposed by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D), including a ban on large gatherings and the closure of 'non-life sustaining businesses,' are unconstitutional. While those restrictions were "well-intentioned," wrote U.S. District Judge William Stickman IV, 'good intentions toward a laudable end are not alone enough to uphold governmental action against a constitutional challenge. Indeed, the greatest threats to our system of constitutional liberties may arise when the ends are laudable and the intent is good—especially in time of emergency."

"In May, Wolf and Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary Rachel Levine were sued by a coalition of counties, federal and state elected representatives, and several small businesses over the state's coronavirus restrictions. The restrictions included a shelter-in-place order requiring people to stay in their homes, a closure of all 'non-life-sustaining' businesses, and bans on gatherings of more than 25 people indoors, or 250 people for outdoor gatherings.

"The plaintiffs collectively argued that the governor's restrictions on gatherings violated the First Amendment's protections of free speech and assembly. The shelter-in-place order and closure of businesses, they contended, were a violation of their rights to substantive due process under the 14th Amendment.... 

"In regards to restrictions on gatherings, Stickman ruled that these were not 'narrowly tailored' but 'rather, they place substantially more burdens on gatherings than needed to achieve their stated purpose' of controlling the transmission of the virus. The fact that the governor's orders allow people to visit malls, restaurants, and stores in greater numbers than what the state's restrictions on gatherings permit showed that the latter were overly broad, Stickman wrote. His opinion also cites comments from Wolf's chief of staff about how large protests — which the governor attended — didn't lead to a 'super spreader' event as evidence that restrictions on gatherings were overly broad.

"Stickman similarly ruled that Wolf's order closing non-life sustaining businesses was also overly broad and arbitrary, and deprived Pennsylvanians of their right to earn a living under the 14th Amendment. Stickman also wrote that population-wide lockdowns are 'such a dramatic inversion of the concept of liberty in a free society as to be nearly presumptively unconstitutional.'"

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Monday, September 14, 2020

Libertarian polls at 24% in Indiana governor's race

Polling Positions – Part Two | Abdul At Large, WIBC - Abdul-Hakim:

September 12, 2020 - "In the latest Indy Politics/Change Research poll of the Governor’s race, Eric Holcomb has lost ground and the main benefactor is Libertarian Donald Rainwater.

"In April, Holcomb was 20 points ahead of Dr. Woody Myers, the Democrat nominee. Now that number is down to 6 points, but oddly enough, picking up the slack is Libertarian Donald Rainwater. The breakdown was 36 percent Holcomb, 30 percent Myers, 24 percent Rainwater, and 10 percent undecided.

"Rainwater looks to be the candidate of choice here among Republicans disaffected with the mask mandate and Gov. Holcomb’s leadership during the pandemic: over a third of respondents who say they’re voting for Trump say they’d vote for Don Rainwater for Governor were the election today....

"The poll of 1033 lively voters was conducted by Change Research from September 3-7.  Change Research used its Dynamic Online Sampling to achieve a sample reflective of the likely November electorate. The margin of error as traditionally calculated at the 95% confidence level is 3.1%. Post-stratification was performed on age, gender, ethnicity, education, geography, and 2016 vote."

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Sunday, September 13, 2020

The social responsibility of business

 How Liberals Opened the Door to Libertarian Economics | New York Times Magazine - Kurt Andersen:

September 13, 2020 - "On September 13th, 1970, the New York Times Magazine published an essay by Milton Friedman entitled “The Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits,” which turned out to be one of the most influential economic arguments of the century. To mark its 50th anniversary, DealBook and the Times Magazine assembled experts including chief executives, Nobel Laureate economists and top think-tank leaders to debate and dissect the legacy of Friedman’s ideas."
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A Friedman doctrine - The Social Responsibility Of Business Is to Increase Its Profits | New York Times Magazine - Milton Friedman: 

September 13, 1970 - "The discussions of the 'social responsibilities of business' are notable for their analytical looseness and lack of rigor. What does it mean to say that 'business' has responsibilities? Only people can have responsibilities. A corporation is an artificial person and in this sense may have artificial responsibilities, but 'business' as a whole cannot be said to have responsibilities, even in this vague sense. The first step toward clarity in examining the doctrine of the social responsibility of business is to ask precisely what it implies for whom.

"Presumably, the individuals who are to be responsible are businessmen, which means individual proprietors or corporate executives. Most of the discussion of social responsibility is directed at corporations, so in what follows I shall mostly neglect the individual proprietor and speak of corporate executives.

"In a free‐enterprise, private‐property system, a corporate executive is an employe of the owners of the business. He has direct responsibility to his employers. That responsibility is to conduct the business in accordance with their desires, which generally will be to make as much money as possible while conforming to the basic rules of the society, both those embodied in law and those embodied in ethical custom. Of course, in some cases his employers may have a different objective. A group of persons might establish a corporation for an eleemosynary purpose — for example, a hospital or school. The manager of such a corporation will not have money profit as his objective but the rendering of certain services. In either case, the key point is that ... the manager is the agent of the individuals who own the corporation or establish the eleemosynary institution, and his primary responsibility is to them....

"What does it mean to say that the corporate executive has a 'social responsibility' in his capacity as businessman? If this statement is not pure rhetoric, it must mean that he is to act in some way that is not in the interest of his employers. For example, that he is to refrain from increasing the price of the product in order to contribute to the social objective of preventing inflation.... Or that he is to make expenditures on reducing pollution beyond the amount that is in the best interests of the corporation or that is required by law.... Or that, at the expense of corporate profits, he is to hire 'hard core' unemployed ... to contribute to the social objective of reducing poverty. 

"In each of these cases, the corporate executive would be spending someone else's money for a general social interest. Insofar as his actions in accord with his 'social responsibility reduce returns to stock holders, he is spending their money. Insofar as his actions raise the price to customers, he is spending the customers’ money. Insofar as his actions lower the wages of some employes, he is spending their money....

"[I]t may well be in the long‐run interest of a corporation that is a major employer in a small community to devote resources to providing amenities to that community or to improving its government. That may make it easier to attract desirable employees, it may reduce the wage bill or ... have other worthwhile effects. Or it may be that, given the laws about the deductibility of corporate charitable contributions, the stockholders can contribute more to charities they favor by having the corporation make the gift than by doing it themselves, since they can in that way contribute an amount that would otherwise have been paid as corporate taxes. In each of these — and many similar — cases, there is a strong temptation to rationalize these actions as an exercise of 'social responsibility.' In the present climate of opinion ... this is one way for a corporation to generate goodwill as a by‐product of expenditures that are entirely justified in its own self‐interest....

"[But] blameworthy or not, the use of the cloak of social responsibility, and the nonsense spoken in its name by influential and prestigious businessmen, does clearly harm the foundations of a free society. I have been impressed time and again by the schizophrenic character of many businessmen. They are capable of being extremely far‐sighted and clear‐headed in matters that are internal to their businesses. They are incredibly short sighted and muddle‐headed in matters that are outside their businesses but affect the possible survival of business in general.... This short sightedness is ... exemplified in speeches by businessmen on social responsibility. This may gain them kudos in the short run. But it helps to strengthen the already too prevalent view that the pursuit of profits is wicked and immoral and must be curbed and controlled by external forces. Once this view is adopted, the external forces that curb the market will not be the social consciences, however highly developed, of the pontificating executives; it will be the iron fist of Government bureaucrats. Here, as with price and wage controls, business men seem to me to reveal a suicidal impulse.

"The political principle that under lies the market mechanism is unanimity. In an ideal free market resting on private property, no individual can coerce any other, all cooperation is voluntary, all parties to such cooperation benefit or they need not participate. There are no 'social' values, no 'social' responsibilities in any sense other than the shared values and responsibilities of individuals. Society is a collection of individuals and of the various groups they voluntarily form.

"The political principle that underlies the political mechanism is conformity. The individual must serve more general social interest — whether that be determined by church or a dictator or a majority. The individual may have a vote and a say in what is to be done, but if he is overruled, he must conform. It is appropriate for some to require others to contribute to a general social purpose whether they wish to or not.

"Unfortunately, unanimity is not always feasible. There are some respects in which conformity appears unavoidable, so I do not see how one can avoid the use of the political mechanism altogether. But the doctrine of 'social responsibility' taken seriously would extend the scope of the political mechanism to every human activity. It does not differ in philosophy from the most explicitly collectivist doctrine. It differs only by professing to believe that collectivist ends can be attained without collectivist means. That is why, in my book Capitalism and Freedom, I have called it a 'fundamentally subversive doctrine' in a free society, and have said that in such a society, 'there is one and only one social responsibility of business — to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception [or] fraud.'”

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Saturday, September 12, 2020

WHO trials overdosed HCQ patients, MD says

WHO and UK trials use potentially lethal hydroxychloroquine dose--according to WHO consultant | Anthrax Vaccine blog - Meryl Nass, M.D.

June 14, 2020 - "The Solidarity Trial is a WHO-led conglomeration of many national trials of treatments for Covid-19.... The hydroxychloroquine arm of the Solidarity trials restarted enrolling patients June 3, after being halted May 25 by WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and the Executive Group of the Solidarity Trial... after publication of the Lancet Surgisphere study, which claimed that patients who received chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine had 35% higher death rates, but the Lancet study was retracted 13 days after publication.... The HCQ Solidarity trials are currently ongoing.... The doses were not specified on WHO's list of the drugs to be trialed, nor were they specified, surprisingly, in WHO's April 8 four-person 'consultation on chloroquine (CQ) dosing'....

"Last week, I was alerted to the fact that India's ICMR, its official medical research agency, had written to the WHO, telling WHO that the hydroxychloroquine doses being used in the Solidarity trial were 4 times higher than the doses being used in India.  Then I learned that Singapore had been hesitant to participate in the WHO trial due to the hydroxychloroquine dose....  

"The Solidarity trial is registered but the registration fails to specify dosages. The registration of the Canadian portion of the Solidarity trial informs us of its HCQ dose: ten 200 mg tablets during the first 24 hours (800 mg initial dose, 800 mg 12 hours later then 400 mg every 12 hours for 9 more days).  This is 2.0 grams during the first 24 hours, and a cumulative dose of 8.8 grams over 10 days.... The Norwegian Solidarity trial uses dosing identical to Canada....

"How is the drug hydroxychloroquine normally used?  For chronic daily use in systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis or Lyme disease, patients receive between 200 and 400 mg daily....  In acute Q fever, 600 mg daily may be given at the start of treatment. For acute attacks of malaria, 1,500-2,000 mg may be given over 3 days. Professor Didier Raoult's group in Marseille used 600 mg daily for up to ten days in 1061 Covid-19 patients, and reported 8 deaths, a mortality rate of 0.75%, all over 74 years of age....

"What is a toxic dose?  All experts agree on this: '... chloroquine has a small toxic to therapeutic margin,' according to Goldfrank's Toxicologic Emergencies.  The drug is very safe when used correctly, but not a lot more can potentially kill.  Prof. Nicholas White, a Wellcome Trust Principal Research Fellow and expert in malaria treatment, who attended both WHO consultations on the chloroquines, has confirmed this.... The WHO hired a consultant to explore the toxicity of chloroquine in 1979. The consultant, H. Weniger, looked at 335 episodes of adult poisoning by chloroquine drugs. Weniger on page 5 notes that a single dose of 1.5-2 grams of chloroquine base 'may be fatal.' According to Browning and Goldfrank, the pharmacokinetics and potency of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are almost identical.... 

"The [independent UK] Recovery trial used 1.86 grams hydroxychloroquine base (equal to 2400 mg of hydroxychloroquine) in the first 24 hours for treatment of already very ill, hospitalized Covid-19 patients.  The Canadian and Norwegian Solidarity trials used 2,000 mg of HCQ, or 1.55 grams of HCQ base in the first 24 hours. Each trial gave patients a cumulative dose during the first 24 hours that, when given as a single dose, has been documented to be lethal. (The drug's half-life is about a month, so the cumulative amount is important.)  The doses used in these trials are not recommended for therapy of any medical condition, which I confirmed with Goodman and Gilman's Pharmacology textbook, the drug's US label, and the online subscription medical encyclopedia UptoDate.... 

"Excessive dosing makes it impossible to assess therapeutic benefit, if any, of HCQ. Furthermore, because there are over 400 trial sites, and relatively few subjects in each, unexpectedly high trends in mortality are likely to be missed at individual trial sites. Finally, testing the drug only in hospitalized patients means that the window of time during which HCQ would be expected to provide the most benefit, early in the illness when viral titers are rising, has passed....

"To sum up: 

  1. In the UK Recovery trial, and in WHO Solidarity trials, HCQ is used in a non-therapeutic, toxic and potentially lethal dose.
  2. HCQ is furthermore being given, in clinical trials, too late in the disease course to determine its value against SARS-CoV-2.
  3. Collection of limited safety data in the Solidarity trials serves to protect trial investigators and sponsors from disclosures of expected adverse drug effects, including death.
  4. It appears that WHO has tried to hide information on the hydroxychloroquine doses used in its Solidarity trial.  Fortunately, the information is discoverable from registries of its national trials....

"Update June 18:  I sent a tweet to WHO Director General Tedros informing him of these findings 3 days ago.  I also emailed WHO's Dr. Restrepo, inquiring about the doses used in the Solidarity trial.  I am very pleased to report that WHO stopped this deadly trial yesterday, with no fanfare ... on the basis of the Recovery trial result ... as well as WHO data. I like to think my investigation has helped save some lives."

Friday, September 11, 2020

Libertarians on ballot in NH and Texas

It’s official: Libertarian Party candidates to be on general election ballot | WMUR 9 - John DiStaso: 

September 3, 2020 - " The Secretary of State’s Office on Wednesday certified that nine Libertarian Party of New Hampshire candidates will appear on the general election ballot on Nov. 3. It was the final step in the LPNH effort that began in the spring to relax the thresholds for nomination papers needing to be collected, due to the restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, to have the candidates appear on the ballot.

"The party last week said it collected enough nomination papers in each congressional district to meet lower thresholds ordered into place by a federal judge. 'This closes this cycle’s ballot access saga,' said LPNH vice chair Richard Manzo.

"Appearing on the ballot will be candidates for president Jo Jorgensen; for U.S. Senate, Justin O’Donnell; for 1st Congressional District, Zachary Dumont; for 2nd Congressional District, Andrew Olding; for governor, Darryl W. Perry; for Hillsborough County Attorney, Nicholas Sarwark; for Hillsborough County Treasurer, Richard Manzo; for Hillsborough District 14 state representative, Robert Daniel; and for Sullivan County District 9 state representative, Tobin Menard."

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Texas Supreme Court rejects Republicans' attempt to remove 44 Libertarians from the November ballot | Texas Tribune - Sami Sparber:

September 5, 2020 - "The Texas Supreme Court on Saturday rejected an attempt by Republicans to kick 44 Libertarians off the ballot in the November elections. Several Republican Party candidates and organizations had sued to remove the Libertarians, arguing they did not pay filing fees — a new requirement for third parties under a law passed by the Legislature last year. But the Supreme Court dismissed the suit, finding that the Republicans missed the Aug. 21 deadline to successfully boot people from the ballot....

"Groups affiliated with both major parties have gone to court in recent weeks to remove from the ballot non-major-party candidates perceived to be a threat. In general, Libertarians are believed to peel votes away from Republicans, while the Green Party is thought to siphon votes from Democrats.

"In multiple cases citing the same lack of a filing fee paid, state and national Democrats were successful in removing some Green Party candidates. The Supreme Court suggested that at least some Libertarians may have made the same mistake, but said the GOP was too late in bringing its legal challenge forward."

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Thursday, September 10, 2020

Sturgis SD responds to superspreading allegation

U.S. biker rally may have led to 260,000 new COVID-19 cases: study | CTV News - Agence France-Presse

September 8, 2020 - "A massive motorcycle rally held in South Dakota last month may have been responsible for 260,000 new coronavirus cases, according to an analysis published Tuesday. This figure, which came from a paper that hasn't yet been peer-reviewed, would represent the biggest COVID-19 spreading event documented in the U.S. to date.

"The study was published by the Institute of Labor Economics and conducted by economists at the University of San Diego who studied the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which drew an estimated 460,000 people from August 7 and August 16. The analysis is a statistical approximation based on anonymized cell phone data that documented the influx in the town from non-residents and showed where they came from.... 

"U.S. counties that contributed the highest numbers of attendees experienced a rise of 7 to 12.5 percent in the number of cases compared to those that did not contribute inflows. Researchers said their calculations indicated 'a total of 263,708 additional cases in these locations due to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally'."

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Sturgis SD - 2020 City of Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Update (press release):

September 9, 2020 - "The San Diego State University IZA study regarding the COVID-19 cases resulting from the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is blatantly faulty. The study concludes that nearly 20% of the COVID-19 cases reported in America from August 2 to September 2 are due to the event. This outrageous conclusion is antithetical to actual case data as numerous State Officials across the United States have been actively seeking to tie any COVID-19 case to the event. Despite these active efforts, fewer than 300 cases have been identified nationwide. 

"The careless ease with which mainstream media outlets have published a report that multiplies that factual data by 1,000 is shameful. The absolute preposterousness of the conclusion is further demonstrated by the results of the community-wide mass testing which occurred after the event, where there were 26 positives cases out of 650 patients tested.....

"[I]ndividuals were exposed to the virus on their trip to, from, or while at the Rally, but the data reported by health officials across the nation show that the impact from the event was a mere fraction of what was projected and anticipated by many of the experts. 

"The continued media focus on infection and the hope of increased transmission rates and death, following this event are reminiscent of the models that told us that locally our hospitals would be overwhelmed, we would have a massive lack of ventilators, and 3-5% of us would not survive. Fortunately, as we have seen, the underlying assumptions of these models were unfounded and categorically inaccurate, just as is the conclusion of this report."

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Wednesday, September 9, 2020

PCR tests exaggerating COVID-19 case counts

Your Coronavirus Test Is Positive. Maybe It Shouldn’t Be | New York Times - By Apoorva Mandavilli:

Sept. 8, 2020 - "Some of the nation’s leading public health experts are raising a new concern in the endless debate over coronavirus testing in the United States: The standard tests are diagnosing huge numbers of people who may be carrying relatively insignificant amounts of the virus. Most of these people are not likely to be contagious, and identifying them may contribute to bottlenecks that prevent those who are contagious from being found in time....

"The most widely used diagnostic test for the new coronavirus, called a PCR test, provides a simple yes-no answer to the question of whether a patient is infected.... The PCR test amplifies genetic matter from the virus in cycles; the fewer cycles required, the greater the amount of virus, or viral load, in the sample. The greater the viral load, the more likely the patient is to be contagious. This number of amplification cycles needed to find the virus, called the cycle threshold, is never included in the results sent to doctors and coronavirus patients, although it could tell them how infectious the patients are.

"In three sets of testing data that include cycle thresholds, compiled by officials in Massachusetts, New York and Nevada, up to 90 percent of people testing positive carried barely any virus, a review by The Times found. On Thursday, the United States recorded 45,604 new coronavirus cases.... If the rates of contagiousness in Massachusetts and New York were to apply nationwide, then perhaps only 4,500 of those people may actually need to isolate and submit to contact tracing.

"One solution would be to adjust the cycle threshold used now to decide that a patient is infected. Most tests set the limit at 40, a few at 37. This means that you are positive for the coronavirus if the test process required up to 40 cycles, or 37, to detect the virus. Tests with thresholds so high may detect not just live virus but also genetic fragments, leftovers from infection that pose no particular risk — akin to finding a hair in a room long after a person has left, Dr. [Michael] Mina [an epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health] said.

"Any test with a cycle threshold above 35 is too sensitive, agreed Juliet Morrison, a virologist at the University of California, Riverside.... A more reasonable cutoff would be 30 to 35, she added. Dr. Mina said he would set the figure at 30, or even less. Those changes would mean the amount of genetic material in a patient’s sample would have to be 100-fold to 1,000-fold that of the current standard for the test to return a positive result .... The C.D.C.’s own calculations suggest that it is extremely difficult to detect any live virus in a sample above a threshold of 33 cycles.... 

"Officials at the Wadsworth Center, New York’s state lab, [have] identified 872 positive tests, based on a threshold of 40 cycles. With a cutoff of 35, about 43 percent of those tests would no longer qualify as positive. About 63 percent would no longer be judged positive if the cycles were limited to 30. In Massachusetts, from 85 to 90 percent of people who tested positive in July with a cycle threshold of 40 would have been deemed negative if the threshold were 30 cycles, Dr. Mina said. 'I would say that none of those people should be contact-traced, not one,' he said....

"The F.D.A. noted that people may have a low viral load when they are newly infected. A test with less sensitivity would miss these infections. But that problem is easily solved, Dr. Mina said: 'Test them again, six hours later or 15 hours later or whatever,' he said. A rapid test would find these patients quickly, even if it were less sensitive, because their viral loads would quickly rise....

"Highly sensitive PCR tests seemed like the best option for tracking the coronavirus at the start of the pandemic. But for the outbreaks raging now, he said, what’s needed are coronavirus tests that are fast, cheap and abundant enough to frequently test everyone who needs it — even if the tests are less sensitive. 'It might not catch every last one of the transmitting people, but it sure will catch the most transmissible people, including the superspreaders,' Dr. Mina said. 'That alone would drive epidemics practically to zero.'"

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