Sunday, February 28, 2021

Lockdowns and ethics

A Response to Ian Dunt’s Anti-Sceptic Screed | Lockdown Sceptics: - David McGrogan:

February 27, 2021 - "Ian Dunt describes lockdown scepticism as 'an ethical abyss' in a recent article – 'a testament,' he puts it, 'to how certain commentators and politicians will allow their need for attention to overrule even the most rudimentary of moral standards.' This is, of course, kneejerk ... opinion: lockdown sceptics are immoral because they don’t care about grannies dying. It is also complete nonsense on its face, as we all know: one could just as readily respond that lockdown zealots are immoral because they don’t care about children’s futures or about cancer patients or about the death of liberal democracy....

"[T]he main argument against lockdowns is that they actually make ethical conduct impossible. Indeed, they deprive human beings of that most fundamental characteristic of humanity: the ability to make ethical choices of one’s own. In that sense, they represent the complete absence or negation of ‘ethics’ properly understood. So the phrase 'ethical abyss” is absolutely on the money – the perfect descriptor of the lockdown movement.

"Michel Foucault once said that 'freedom is the ontological condition of ethics'. That is a fancy French post-structuralist’s way of saying that ethics cannot exist without freedom. What does this mean? Very simply, if you are being forced to ‘do the right thing’, or you just do so to comply with the law or social expectation, then you can hardly be said to be acting ethically. You are just doing what you’re told, or what you’re ‘supposed’ to do, and that isn’t the exercise of any genuine sort of ethics. The only time you can properly be described as acting ethically is when you have a choice to do two or more things, and you make that choice in reference to ethical standards of your own....

"Foucault did not dismiss the difficulty of all of this. How does one generate one’s own ethical standards, and exercise choice on that basis? How does one cultivate in oneself the propensity to act ethically? These are not easy questions to answer, but they are not impossible ones, and indeed Foucault was attempting to chart a path to genuine self-actualising ethics before his untimely death. What he was clear about was that the whole enterprise was contingent on acting freely. 'Freedom is a practice,' he once said in an interview. You have to do it. In doing it, in acting freely, and in reflecting on what [one] is doing, one can develop ... the propensity to act in light of ethical standards of one’s own. The two things go hand in hand: ethics do not exist without freedom; freedom is ethics’ ontological condition.

"The lockdown movement is responsible for many great crimes but the greatest might be depriving people of their moral agency – depriving them of the capacity to make ethical choices. Our ethics have been determined for us. In taking our freedom away from us, the Government has taken away our capacity to develop ethically, indeed to act ethically at all. We do not exercise our own judgment about risk and the harms we might do to others.... We act mostly only in reference to ‘the rules’.

"Lockdown zealots like Ian Dunt will say that this is all to the good, because people can’t possibly be trusted to behave ethically (or at least with the ‘right’ ethics) if left to their own devices. They will have parties, they will hug their grannies, they will watch football matches, and they will kill people as a result. Maybe, maybe not, but what we can really be sure of is that their capacity to exercise genuine ethical conduct, on Foucault’s terms, will wither and die on the vine the longer lockdownism prevails. They will become ever more dependent on predetermined ethical standards, selected for them.... How, when this lockdown is over, will people ever revert to the position of acting, not in reference to what the government says is permissible, but in reference to their own ethical standards? How will children grow into fully formed adults if they can’t exercise ethical choices of their own? How will our society recover when the State has imposed its own ethics in between every single one of us in such an intrusive way, and for so long?

"This is the real enormity of what lockdowns are doing. This is the real ethical abyss."

Read more:

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Another lockdown in Auckland NZ for one case

New Zealand's largest city back in lockdown as COVID-19 lingers - CTV News - 

February 27, 2021 - "Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern ordered New Zealand's largest city back into lockdown on Saturday as COVID-19 cases continued to be detected in the community. The latest restrictions in Auckland will last at least seven days and come less than two weeks after a three-day shutdown in the city.

"Ardern said a new coronavirus case confirmed on Saturday could not be directly connected to other positive tests over the last two weeks, although a school in South Auckland was a common link.

"From Sunday morning the city's 1.7 million residents must stay at home except for essential shopping and work. Schools and non-essential shops will close, and entry in and out of the city will be restricted. The remainder of the country will be under level two restrictions which include limits on the size of public gatherings....

"Authorities have the ability to take enforcement action against rule breakers but that needed to be balanced with ensuring people with symptoms came forward, the prime minister added.

"'We will always weigh up, are we creating an environment where people will be open and honest?' she said. 'We are dealing with young people here and what we ask them to do is share with us their entire lives, and it's very important that we have a situation where people are able and willing to do that.'

"New Zealand has been widely praised for its handling of the pandemic, with just 26 deaths in a population of five million."

Read more:

Friday, February 26, 2021

Ivermectin cut COVID deaths 75%, study says

New study suggests ivermectin cuts Covid infections by around 75 per cent | Daily Mail - David Rose: 

February 24, 2021 - "A cheap and safe drug widely used against parasites cuts Covid infections, hospitalisations and deaths by about 75 per cent, a study shows. [A review of] More than 30 trials across the world found that ivermectin causes ‘repeated, consistent, large magnitude improvements in clinical outcomes’ at all stages of the disease. The peer-reviewed study, to be published in the US journal Frontiers of Pharmacology, says the evidence is so strong that the drug – used to treat head lice and scabies – should become a standard therapy everywhere, so hastening the global recovery. 

"Study co-author Professor Paul Marik, director of emergency and pulmonary care at the Eastern Virginia Medical School in the US, said: ‘The data is overwhelming – we are in a pandemic, and this is an incredibly effective way to combat it. If we use ivermectin widely, our societies can open up’....

"An earlier study by Professor Andrew Hill of Liverpool University also concluded that ivermectin cuts death rates by around three-quarters.... He recommended there should be larger trials before it was approved by UK regulators. A new trial of ivermectin as a Covid treatment is due to start shortly at Oxford University.

"Dr Tess Lawrie, director of the Evidence-Based Medicine Consultancy in Bath, convened an online summit of international experts last weekend to discuss the new data. It included evidence that widespread use of ivermectin in parts of India and South America has led to a big reduction in infections and deaths. Yesterday Dr Lawrie submitted a 97-page report to the World Health Organisation, urging it immediately to recommend ivermectin to treat Covid. 

'The drug, taken in tablet form or as drops, is licensed in Britain only as a treatment for parasitic worms, head lice and scabies. It has been used by hundreds of millions of patients over the past 30 years, mainly in developing countries, and at around £50 per patient – less in some countries – is far cheaper than other new Covid treatments, such as the rheumatism drug tocilizumab, which costs £1,000 per patient.

'The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency said it was aware of the global study into the use of ivermectin to treat Covid-19 and that its evidence would be reviewed."

Read more:

Read study:

Thursday, February 25, 2021

UK Coronavirus Act prosecutions unlawful

Revealed: Every single prosecution under government’s Coronavirus Act has been overturned | Yahoo News UK - James Morris:

February 24, 2021 0 "Every single one of the 246 prosecutions launched so far under a draconian coronavirus law has been done so incorrectly, the latest figures show. 

"The Coronavirus Act was introduced by the government in March last year, at the start of the pandemic. It contains emergency powers, such as banning mass gatherings and enforced screening for people deemed infectious, to restrict the spread of the virus. The latest Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) figures for January, which showed all 14 people accused of breaching the Act last month had been wrongly charged, means there have now been 246 incorrect prosecutions since it was introduced.

"On Wednesday, human rights barrister Kirsty Brimelow cited this data as she suggested the Act should be repealed. She told Parliament’s human rights committee: “One hundred per cent of prosecutions under the Coronavirus Act to date have been wrong. That shows to me there is a very strong case to repeal that section, that has continually been used wrongly and unlawfully against members of the public.

"'The statistics aren’t usual within a criminal justice context, to repeatedly see the law being unlawfully applied. What it does demonstrate is that the safeguards are not working within the criminal justice system, and it also demonstrates that where there are no safeguards which apply where fixed penalty notices are applied, where there is no lawyer overseeing them, it’s highly likely there are thousands of those [fines] that have been unlawfully issued'.... 

"Gregor McGill, CPS director of legal services, said: 'We remain committed to reviewing all of these cases for as long as necessary to ensure the right people are charged with the right offences.'

Read more:

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

A tale of two states

 The Florida Versus California Showdown | American Institute for Economic Research - Amelia Janaskie:

February 22, 2021 - "Florida and California are remarkably similar for their warm climates, beaches, tourist destinations, immigrant populations, and more, but both states could not be more different with respect to the management of the Covid-19 pandemic. Florida operates on close to zero pandemic-related restrictions whereas California maintains strict lockdown policies. In California, virtually all public schools are closed, restaurants must follow unwavering capacity limits, travelers must quarantine for ten days, and on the list goes. Meanwhile, Florida’s schools are all open for in-person instruction, state-wide restrictions do not exist for restaurants, and there is no travel quarantine implemented by the state....

"While the media labels California Governor Newsom a 'lockdown fanatic' for his authoritarian approach, they call Florida Governor DeSantis 'DeathSantis' for being too relaxed. The two governors are polar opposites in how they handle Covid, but their outcomes are peculiarly similar. In total, California experienced more cases per 100,000 people, while Florida had more deaths per 100,000 people. During the summer of 2020, cases and deaths spiked higher in Florida, but the course switched from November through January as cases and deaths peaked in California.... 

Graph courtesy The Dossier

"Rather, the outcomes suggest that lockdown measures might not have a significant impact on lowering the number of Covid cases and deaths. But a more comprehensive look at the economic and social well-being of the states potentially reveals a greater disparity. 

  • "First, the unemployment rate in Florida remains consistently lower than California’s. As of December 2020, Florida’s (preliminary) unemployment rate was at 6.1% while California’s was 9%. This means that a staggering 1,700,383 people are unemployed in California, compared to 614,327 in Florida. (The gap between the states is still immense when the numbers are adjusted for population.)
  • "The gross domestic product (GDP) of both states is similar, though Florida’s annual rate is slightly higher. California ranks as the largest economy – in terms of GDP – of all US states and even exceeds the United Kingdom’s. So, the drop in California’s GDP is not only steeper than Florida’s but also takes a greater toll on the entire United States economy.
  • "Another revealing factor is inbound and outbound migration. According to 2020 data collected from two moving companies (U-Haul and United Van Lines), Florida is among the top states for inbound migration, and California ranks high for outbound migration. While these migration patterns follow previous 2019 moving trends, lockdown policies still might play into other factors for why people are leaving California, including taxes, cost of living, and affordable housing. Florida conversely attracts movers for having no income tax, low housing prices, and agreeable climate....

"While Governor Newsom keeps his state at high level of lockdowns despite glaring consequences, Californians are becoming increasingly irate as they sign a petition for a recall against him. As of February 2nd, Newsom’s approval rating rests at 46%, a sharp drop from September’s rating of 64%. Meanwhile, DeSantis is in the green with an approval rating of 54%....

"California and Florida provide a clear example for the dubious efficacy of Covid-19 restrictions. Their disparities elucidate the enduring costs of lockdowns with regard to the economy and livelihoods of residents. The states also pave the way for us to better understand whether authoritarian measures truly work in controlling a virus and, on a greater scale, the trajectory of human behavior."

Read more:

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

The ZeroCovid cult

The ZeroCovid Movement: Cult Dressed as Science | American Institute for Economic Research - Jenin Younes:

February 21, 2021 - "This past year has given rise to some strange and novel methods of disease containment, including lockdowns and mask mandates. It is unsurprising that the natural next step in this progression has been the development of a movement known as 'ZeroCovid.' Its growing influence is, perhaps, predictable given that for nearly a year we have been inundated by the views of so-called experts seeking to legitimize their myopic worldview that public health is determined solely by prevention of Covid-19. Rather than acknowledge to a weary public that their approach has been a failure, they are doubling down and attempting to save their reputations by claiming that the problem is not that lockdowns do not work, but that they have not gone far enough. 

"There is, apparently, some diversity of opinion among the ZeroCovid crowd as to whether the term is to be interpreted literally, as some of its most impassioned and vocal proponents argue, or whether it simply means a more extreme version of the ideology that has dominated societies around the globe for the past year: the belief that suppressing the coronavirus is a singularly important goal, to replace all others and to be pursued with no or only minimal consideration of the effects of doing so. 

"ZeroCovid promoters appear to agree that much stricter border controls, lockdowns, and mask mandates are needed than exist in most nations today. Sam Bowman, one of the most prominent ZeroCoviders, claims for instance that the only way to address the coronavirus problem is with 'lockdowns, school closures, travel bans, mass testing, contact tracing, and masks.' Likewise, former United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony Blair’s think-tank has stated that the only way to avoid another lockdown is to bring coronavirus cases to zero. China, Australia and New Zealand are portrayed as successes by ZeroCovid proponents, and prove that suffering now brings with it the promise of eventual freedom. 

"While marketing themselves as theoretically opposed to lockdowns, ZeroCovid adherents actually aspire to implement a totalitarian-style state, which we are supposed to believe will exist only temporarily. For example, Devi Sridhar*, one of the movement’s most public faces in the United Kingdom, has claimed that the only way out of endless lockdown is a 'crude, harsh, catastrophic lockdown' now, the first phase. Given that the third phase of Sridhar’s plan entails an 'East Asian and Pacific model of elimination' that prohibits travel abroad, I can only imagine precisely what sort of totalitarian nightmare Sridhar envisions during phase one. 

"Those who follow this philosophy fail to recognize the glaringly obvious truth that suppression tactics have not succeeded because they run contrary to human nature (as well as basic cell biology) and entail severe deprivations of human rights and liberties. They also do not acknowledge the fact that if the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) managed to eliminate the coronavirus (a questionable assumption given the CCP’s tenuous relationship with the truth), it did so using tactics that prima facie constitute human rights violations. Even Australia and New Zealand, which before 2020 were considered beacons of liberal democracy, have recently been the subject of investigations or inquiries by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. 

"The ZeroCovid proponents do not address the reality that China, Australia, and New Zealand have continually had to implement lockdown policies in response to new cases arising even after declaring victory over the virus, and that the latter two are island nations able to effectuate border control in a way that cannot possibly be applied to nations that are geographically proximate to others and in which the virus has already become endemic....

"An argument could certainly be made that a virus or other threat calculated to wipe out humanity or a significant portion of it, across age ranges, warrants exclusive focus on that threat for its duration. As I and others have written before, the coronavirus simply does not constitute such a danger. We now have a year of data from which to conclude beyond all doubt that exposure to the virus only poses a significant risk, beyond those we are accustomed to taking in everyday life, to the very old. The overwhelming majority of those infected with the virus suffer not at all, or minimally, and recover within days or weeks. This does not mean that the problem should be ignored, but rather that it should be addressed utilizing the same methodology with which we approach all public health matters: by taking into account the effects of the policies enacted in response to them. 

"ZeroCovid adherents are not qualitatively different from the epidemiologists and politicians who have advocated for and imposed lockdowns and mask mandates across the globe. They all believe that they can force billions of people to behave, for an indefinite time period, in ways that are contrary to our nature and deleterious to our well-being. They see nothing wrong with assuming control over every facet of our lives. 

"They are maniacally focused upon theories and models, and uninterested in what works in practice. They have no conception of human liberty or dignity. Rather than recognize that lockdowns, forced human separation, and masks are ineffective at quelling the spread of the coronavirus, while carrying enormous costs, not least among them the erasure of liberal democracy, the most fervent adherents to this ideology believe that the answer is more, and harder. That means deprivation of our rights and liberties, and denial of our basic human needs, until the coronavirus is eradicated from the globe. If they get their way, that may well be until the end of time."

Read more:

* - signatory of the John Snow memorandum

Monday, February 22, 2021

Russia undercounted Covid deaths says DPM

Covid-19: Russia admits to understating deaths by more than two thirds | British Medical Journal - Owen Dyer: 

December 31, 2020 - "Russia’s true death toll from the novel coronavirus pandemic is not about 57,000, as official figures claim, but more than 180,000, the country’s deputy prime minister, Tatiana Golikova, conceded at a press conference.

"Russia’s claims of an extraordinarily low mortality have been widely dismissed as implausible for months by foreign observers and Russian doctors alike. Every other indicator, from packed hospitals with long lines of ambulances to mortality among health workers documented by their own associations, has painted a picture of a country hit hard by the pandemic.... These suspicions were confirmed when the Rosstat statistics agency said on 28 December that the number of deaths from all causes recorded between January and November was 229,700 higher than in 2019. 'More than 81% of this increase in mortality over this period is due to covid,' said Golikova. That would mean that more than 186,000 Russians have died from covid-19.

"The figures mean Russia ranks third in the world in terms of [total] deaths from covid-19, behind only the US and Brazil. It would also give Russia the fourth highest per capita death rate, about 1273 deaths per million population, behind only San Marino, Belgium, and Slovenia.

"But the higher figures, which are estimated from numbers of excess deaths, may never find their way into official statistics of the pandemic. The director of Mexico’s National Centre for Preventive Programs and Disease Control made a similar announcement in October, telling a press conference that the country had undercounted deaths by more than 50 000 .... yet the extra deaths have never been added....

"The low official figure was generated by only reporting deaths in which novel coronavirus infection was identified on autopsy. From the beginning the official numbers drew widespread scorn from Russian doctors, who on social media painted a far grimmer picture, often mourning deaths in their own ranks from lack of personal protective equipment. A privately maintained list of Russian medical staff who lost their lives fighting the pandemic now stands at over 1000 names....

"Three doctors who raised concerns about the country’s response mysteriously fell from windows in the early months of the pandemic.4 Anastasia Vasilyeva, the head of the doctors’ union Alyans Vrachei (Doctors’ Alliance), an opposition linked group that has criticised pandemic preparations, was arrested and beaten by police when she attempted to deliver PPE to a hospital near Novgorod.....

"The deputy prime minister’s admission will embarrass President Vladimir Putin, who has favourably compared Russia’s response to those of other countries, on the basis of its supposed low death rate. Putin later appeared somewhat chastened, telling regional governors in one televised meeting in May that 'we don’t have much to brag about.'"

Read more:    Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m4975

Copyright © 2021 BMJ Publishing Group Ltd. This article is made freely available for use in accordance with BMJ's website terms and conditions for the duration of the covid-19 pandemic or until otherwise determined by BMJ. You may use, download and print the article for any lawful, non-commercial purpose (including text and data mining) provided that all copyright notices and trade marks are retained. 

Sunday, February 21, 2021

War on Terror comes home to America

The New Domestic War on Terror is Coming | Glenn Greenwald

January 18, 2021 - " The last two weeks have ushered in a wave of new domestic police powers and rhetoric in the name of fighting 'terrorism' that are carbon copies of many of the worst excesses of the first War on Terror that began nearly twenty years ago.... We have witnessed an orgy of censorship from Silicon Valley monopolies with calls for far more aggressive speech policing, a visibly militarized Washington, D.C. featuring a non-ironically named 'Green Zone,' vows from the incoming president and his key allies for a new anti-domestic terrorism bill, and frequent accusations of 'sedition,' 'treason,' and 'terrorism' against members of Congress and citizens. This is all driven by a radical expansion of the meaning of “incitement to violence'..... 

"The Wall Street Journal reports that 'Mr. Biden has said he plans to make a priority of passing a law against domestic terrorism, and he has been urged to create a White House post overseeing the fight against ideologically inspired violent extremists and increasing funding to combat them.' Meanwhile, Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) ... has had a bill proposed since 2019 to simply amend the existing foreign anti-terrorism bill to allow the U.S. Government to invoke exactly the same powers at home against 'domestic terrorists'....

"Why would such new terrorism laws be needed in a country that already imprisons more of its citizens than any other country in the world...? What acts should be criminalized by new 'domestic terrorism” laws that are not already deemed criminal? They never say, almost certainly because — just as was true of the first set of new War on Terror laws — their real aim is to criminalize that which should not be criminalized: speech, association, protests, opposition to the new ruling coalition....

"First, much of the alarmism and fear-mongering is being driven by a deliberate distortion of what it means for speech to 'incite violence.' The bastardizing of this phrase was the basis for President Trump’s rushed impeachment last week. It is also what is driving calls for dozens of members of Congress to be expelled and even prosecuted on 'sedition' charges for having objected to the Electoral College certification, and is also at the heart of the spate of censorship actions already undertaken and further repressive measures being urged....

"To illustrate this point, I have often cited the crucial and brilliantly reasoned Supreme Court free speech ruling in Claiborne v. NAACP. In the 1960s and 1970s, the State of Mississippi tried to hold local NAACP leaders liable on the ground that their fiery speeches urging a boycott of white-owned stores 'incited' their followers to burn down stores and violently attack patrons who did not honor the protest.... But the Supreme Court rejected that argument, explaining that free speech will die if people are held responsible not for their own violent acts but for those committed by others who heard them speak and were motivated to commit crimes in the name of that cause... that if speech is classified as 'incitement to violence' despite not explicitly advocating violence, it will sweep up any political speech which those wielding this term wish it to encompass. No political speech will be safe from this term when interpreted and applied so broadly and carelessly.

"And that is directly relevant to the second point. Continuing to process Washington debates of this sort primarily through the prism of 'Democrat v. Republican' or even 'left v. right' is a sure ticket to the destruction of core rights. There are times when powers of repression and censorship are aimed more at the left and times when they are aimed more at the right, but it is neither inherently a left-wing nor a right-wing tactic. It is a ruling class tactic, and it will be deployed against anyone perceived to be a dissident to ruling class interests and orthodoxies no matter where on the ideological spectrum they reside....

"If you identify as a conservative and continue to believe that your prime enemies are ordinary leftists, or you identify as a leftist and believe your prime enemies are Republican citizens, you will fall perfectly into the trap set for you. Namely, you will ignore your real enemies, the ones who actually wield power at your expense: ruling class elites, who really do not care about 'right v. left' and most definitely do not care about 'Republican v. Democrat' — as evidenced by the fact that they fund both parties — but instead care only about one thing: stability, or preservation of the prevailing neoliberal order. Unlike so many ordinary citizens addicted to trivial partisan warfare, these ruling class elites know who their real enemies are: anyone who steps outside the limits and rules of the game they have crafted and who seeks to disrupt the system that preserves their prerogatives and status.

"That a new War on Terror is coming is not a question of speculation and it is not in doubt. Those who now wield power are saying it explicitly. The only thing that is in doubt is how much opposition they will encounter from those who value basic civic rights more than the fears of one another being deliberately cultivated within us."

Read more:

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Inaccurate modelling led to care home deaths

How the Gates Foundation seeded America's COVID-19 policy catastrophes | The Dossier - Jordan Schachtel

February 16, 2021 - "New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is finally facing the heat for his botched and criminally negligent coronavirus response policies, yet no one seems to be asking why Cuomo and select governors made the fateful decisions that led to the excess deaths — and the coverup campaigns — of tens of thousands of senior citizens in New York and elsewhere across the United States.... Cuomo ... is far from the only governor who executed the 'nursing home death warrants.' Governor Cuomo was accompanied by the governors of California, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and elsewhere.

"The common thread seen in the United States is the delegation of state policy to prediction modeling forecasts from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), a Washington State-based institution that is wholly controlled and funded (to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars) by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In March and early April, politicians were informed by the modeling 'experts' at Gates-funded IHME that their hospitals were about to be completely overrun by coronavirus patients. Modelers from IHME claimed this massive surge would cause hospitals to run out of lifesaving equipment in a matter of days, not weeks or months.... 

"On two separate April 1 and April 2 press conferences, Cuomo made clear that his policy decisions were based off of the IHME model. 'There is a group that is funded by the Gates Foundation. Thank you very much Bill Gates,' Cuomo said on April 1 in discussing ICU needs and how he was using Gates models to make other healthcare policy decisions. 'There's only one model that we look at that has the number of projected deaths which is the IHME model which is funded by the Gates Foundation,' Cuomo said on April 2, adding, 'and we thank the Gates Foundation for the national service that they've done.'

"In an April 9 briefing, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer referred to the IHME model in order to project deaths and the PPE resources needed for the supposed surge. It was the same story with the government of Pennsylvania. The PA Health Department exclusively uses IHME models to forecast coronavirus outcomes. Governor Phil Murphy, another nursing home death warrant participant, used IHME models to navigate the state’s policy response. 

"It wasn’t just state governors relying on this data; federal bureaucrats Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, both of whom have substantial ties to the Gates network, used the IHME COVID-19 forecasting models (which Birx endorsed specifically as the best prediction modeling outfit) to make policy recommendations to states. In her White House briefings, Birx, who simultaneously had a seat on the board of a Gates-funded institution, almost exclusively relied on IHME models to project outcomes.... 

"These models, and the policy decisions that were made by relying on them, set off a chain of events that led to indefinite lockdowns, complete business closures, statewide curfews, and most infamously, the nursing home death warrants. States across the nation went to extremes, resorting to full bunker mode while waiting for bodies to start dropping in the streets, but the IHME modeling never panned out. Hospital capacity was never threatened. Most states that had created 'surge capacity' pop-up health care centers never even used these facilities. 

"IHME, for its part, regularly 'adjusts' its models, and has never acknowledged their routine failures to forecast outcomes. Gates has never discussed the catastrophic failures of his prized 'health metrics' forecasting organization.... Instead, he has seamlessly washed his hands of COVID mania, and has moved on to demanding that the western world sacrifice itself in the name of the latest 'crisis' that is climate change."

Read more:

Friday, February 19, 2021

Utah legislators seek to curb emergency powers

Bill on public health orders moves forward in Utah legislature | Fox News - Ben Winslow:

February 16, 2021 - "A bill that puts limits on the governor's ability to issue a state of emergency or public health orders is advancing on Capitol Hill with bipartisan support.... Senate Bill 195 ... puts up a number of guardrails on the governor's ability to enact public health orders and state of emergency declarations. It is in direct response to a public dispute between then-Governor Gary Herbert and legislative leadership on COVID-19 health orders. When lawmakers sought to end his state of emergency, he allowed it to expire and then issued a brand new one every 30 days....

"The bill would allow a governor to issue a state of emergency. However, only the legislature can agree to extend it and has the ability to terminate it. There's a provision for public hearings on extensions. The bill also sets limits on fines for violation of public health orders and reins in the power of some restrictions, including 'stay at home' orders....

"'Every power and order that the executive branch and the health department have been using, are legislative powers,' Senate Majority Leader Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, told FOX 13. 'The legislature has allowed them to use those, so I think it’s appropriate that the legislature would have oversight.'

"Lawmakers have complained about Gov. Herbert's public health orders, including mask mandates and limits on gathering sizes. Provisions in the bill also block restrictions on religious gatherings....

"But the bill also allows counties to issue orders as they deem necessary. Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson had difficulty getting Gov. Herbert to issue a mask mandate. He finally relented and allowed her to issue her own, then allowed other communities to do the same before finally issuing a statewide mask mandate that has been in place since November.

"Governor Spencer Cox's office told FOX 13 on Friday that it is working with the legislature to find a 'balance' on the bill. But some public health groups have expressed concerns about it. 'We have concerns about the ability of an elected official to override the rules and authority of a health department to make medically and scientifically based decisions in the best interest of public health,' said Maryann Martindale, the executive director of the Utah Academy of Family Physicians, in a statement.... 'We are concerned that this bill will shift the balance away from sound health-based decisions—especially during emergencies—to the whims of political influence.'

Asked if the Senate was inserting itself into public health decisions, the senate president insisted they were not. 'Those policy things I think come back to those elected officials, not those appointed," Sen. Adams said. "Surely, we need to be aware. We’d have the political consequences of ignoring recommendations, but we haven’t taken them totally away.'

"Senate Democrats were also involved in negotiations over the bill. Senate Minority Whip Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City, said they were in support of the bill. '"I think this bill will provide transparency and allow the public to engage and the public, I feel, haven’t been able to engage fully,' she said."

Read more:

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Lockdown harms 10 times higher than benefits, MD reports

Canadian expert's research finds lockdown harms are 10 times greater than benefits | Toronto Sun - Ari Joffe, as told to Anthony Furey:

January 9, 2021 - "Dr. Ari Joffe is a specialist in pediatric infectious diseases at the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton and a Clinical Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at University of Alberta. He has written a paper titled 'COVID-19: Rethinking the Lockdown Groupthink' that finds the harms of lockdowns are 10 times greater than their benefits. The below ... is [from] an exchange between Joffe and Anthony Furey.

[Dr, Joffe:] "There are a few reasons why I supported lockdowns at first. First, initial data falsely suggested that the infection fatality rate was up to 2-3%, that over 80% of the population would be infected, and modelling suggested repeated lockdowns would be necessary. But emerging data showed that the median infection fatality rate is 0.23%, that the median infection fatality rate in people under 70 years old is 0.05%, and that the high-risk group is older people especially those with severe co-morbidities. In addition, it is likely that in most situations only 20-40% of the population would be infected before ongoing transmission is limited (i.e., herd-immunity).... 

"Second, I am an infectious diseases and critical care physician, and am not trained to make public policy decisions. I was only considering the direct effects of COVID-19 and my knowledge of how to prevent these direct effects. I was not considering the immense effects of the response to COVID-19 (that is, lockdowns) on public health and wellbeing. Emerging data has shown a staggering amount of so-called ‘collateral damage’ due to the lockdowns. This can be predicted to adversely affect many millions of people globally with food insecurity [82-132 million more people], severe poverty [70 million more people], maternal and under age-5 mortality from interrupted healthcare [1.7 million more people], infectious diseases deaths from interrupted services [millions of people with Tuberculosis, Malaria, and HIV], school closures for children [affecting children’s future earning potential and lifespan], interrupted vaccination campaigns for millions of children, and intimate partner violence for millions of women. In high-income countries adverse effects also occur from delayed and interrupted healthcare, unemployment, loneliness, deteriorating mental health, increased opioid crisis deaths, and more.

"Third, a formal cost-benefit analysis of different responses to the pandemic was not done by government or public health experts. Initially, I simply assumed that lockdowns to suppress the pandemic were the best approach. But policy decisions on public health should require a cost-benefit analysis.... 

"In the cost-benefit analysis I consider the benefits of lockdowns in preventing deaths from COVID-19, and the costs of lockdowns in terms of the effects of the recession, loneliness, and unemployment on population wellbeing and mortality. I did not consider all of the other so-called ‘collateral damage’ of lockdowns mentioned above. It turned out that the costs of lockdowns are at least 10 times higher than the benefits. That is, lockdowns cause far more harm to population wellbeing than COVID-19 can. It is important to note that I support a focused protection approach, where we aim to protect those truly at high-risk of COVID-19 mortality, including older people, especially those with severe co-morbidities and those in nursing homes and hospitals....

"We should focus on protecting people at high risk: people hospitalized or in nursing homes (e.g., universal masking in hospitals reduced transmission markedly), in crowded conditions (e.g., homeless shelters, prisons, large gatherings), and 70 years and older (especially with severe comorbidities) – don’t lock down everyone, regardless of their individual risk. We need to keep schools open because children have very low morbidity and mortality from COVID-19, and (especially those 10 years and younger) are less likely to be infected by, and have a low likelihood to be the source of transmission of, SARS-CoV-2.

"We should increase healthcare surge capacity if forecasting, accurately calibrated repeatedly to real-time data (up to now, forecasting, even short-term, has repeatedly failed), suggests it is needed. With universal masking in hospitals, asymptomatic health care workers should be allowed to continue to work, even if infected, thus preserving the healthcare workforce."

Read more:

Read paper here: Joffe, A. COVID-19: Rethinking the Lockdown Groupthink. Preprints 2020, 2020100330 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202010.0330.v1). 

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Dutch lower court strikes down curfew

Covid: Dutch crisis as court orders end to Covid curfew | BBC News:

Feb. 16, 2021 - "A court in The Hague has told the Dutch government that an overnight curfew to reduce the spread of coronavirus should be lifted, ruling that it breaches the right to free movement. The court said the 21:00 to 04:30 curfew was imposed by an emergency law when there was no 'acute emergency'. Later, a higher court ruled that the curfew could stay in place pending an appeal on Friday....

"The earlier court ruling - which said the curfew should be lifted immediately - was a victory for campaign group Viruswaarheid (Virus Truth) and a major upset for the government. The government quickly asked for the decision to be suspended until an appeal was heard at the end of the week. An appeals court later granted that suspension. 

"Prime Minister Mark Rutte described the ruling against the curfew as a setback and urged people to continue to follow the restrictions, which he said were 'simply necessary'. The Dutch cabinet is urgently working on a new law to enforce the curfew, but that could take time....

"France has had a nightly curfew from 18:00 but has stopped short of imposing a third lockdown. Greece has also imposed curfews, as have Spain and Italy.

"The Dutch measure, which came into force on 23 January, was intended to reduce movement, particularly among young people, but triggered days of rioting in a number of towns and cities. The Netherlands had not seen a curfew since Nazi occupation in World War Two.

"Although the Netherlands initially avoided strict measures, a lockdown was brought in last December and, after the cabinet decided on a curfew in January, MPs backed it days later amid fears that the UK, or Kent, variant would increase infections. The government resigned before last month's curfew decision and now has a caretaker role ahead of elections next month."

Read more:

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Vitamin D cut Covid death 60% in Catalonia study

Vitamin D for patients admitted to hospital could cut Covid deaths by 60 per cent | The Telegraph - Sarah Knapton:

February 14, 2021 - "Giving high-dose Vitamin D to coronavirus patients when they are admitted to hospital could cut deaths by 60 per cent – double the benefit of the best current drug, new research suggests. Scientists from the University of Barcelona showed that patients prescribed calcifediol – an intensive dose of Vitamin D usually used for people with chronic kidney failure – had their risk of admission to intensive care dramatically cut and death rates significantly lowered.

"Currently the steroid dexamethasone has shown the greatest impact, reducing deaths by 30 per cent, and is now recommended for seriously ill NHS patients, but the new study suggests calcifediol could be twice as beneficial if given early.

"In the study, 10 per cent of patients admitted to Barcelona's Hospital del Mar with coronavirus died within 30 days. However, while 57 out of 379 (15 per cent) control patients died, just 36 out of 551 (6.5 per cent) of those treated with calcifediol died.

"The researchers found that earlier treatment was better. If given on admission to intensive care, the treatment made no difference. The authors concluded: 'Our results indicate that early calcifediol administration is critical for mortality reduction.... Ultimately these effects are thought to curb the inflammatory cascade that leads to the cytokine and chemokine storm associated with the pathogenesis of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Adequate Vitamin D status could also play a role in preventing Covid-19 infection.'

"There has been growing speculation that one of the reasons why black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities are so disproportionately impacted by coronavirus is endemic low levels of Vitamin D in BAME populations. The vitamin is produced naturally in the body when skin comes into contact with sunshine and is vital for healthy bones, strong muscles and a good immune system. But not as much sunlight can penetrate darker skins, meaning less of the vitamin is produced.... 

"Italy and Spain have both experienced high mortality rates, and scientists found both countries have lower than average Vitamin D levels. This is partly because people in southern Europe, particularly the elderly, avoid strong sun, while their darker skin pigmentation also reduces the body's ability to produce natural Vitamin D. In contrast, the highest average levels of Vitamin D are found in northern Europe, due to high consumption of cod liver oil and Vitamin D supplements, and possibly less sun avoidance.

"Vitamin D has been shown to protect against acute respiratory infections. It also regulates the response of white blood cells, preventing them from releasing too many inflammatory cells which may stop the body overreacting to the virus.

"The study was published as a preprint of The Lancet journal and is yet to be peer reviewed."

Read more:

Read study here:

Monday, February 15, 2021

Texas MD charged over unauthorized vaccinating

The Vaccine Had to Be Used. He Used It. He Was Fired. | New York Times - Dan Barry:

February 12, 2021 - "The Texas doctor had six hours. Now that a vial of Covid-19 vaccine had been opened on this late December night, he had to find 10 eligible people for its remaining doses before the precious medicine expired.... Scrambling, the doctor made house calls and directed people to his home outside Houston.... A bed-bound nonagenarian. A woman in her 80s with dementia. A mother with a child who uses a ventilator. After midnight, and with just minutes before the vaccine became unusable, the doctor, Hasan Gokal, gave the last dose to his wife, who has a pulmonary disease.... 

"For his actions, Dr. Gokal was fired from his government job and then charged with stealing 10 vaccine doses worth a total of $135.... Late last month, a judge dismissed the charge as groundless, after which the local district attorney vowed to present the matter to a grand jury....

"Dr. Gokal, 48, immigrated from Pakistan as a boy and earned a medical degree at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse. After working at hospitals in Central New York, he moved to Texas in 2009 to oversee the emergency department at a suburban Houston hospital.... But when the pandemic hit in early 2020, ... the Harris County Public Health department recruited him in April to become the medical director for its Covid-response team.

"On Dec. 22, Dr. Gokal joined a conference call in which state health officials explained the protocols for administering the recently approved Moderna vaccine. The 10 or 11 doses in a vial are viable for six hours after the seal is punctured. Dr. Gokal said the advice was to vaccinate people eligible under the 1(a) category (health care workers and residents in long-term-care facilities), then those under the 1(b) category (people over 65 or with a health condition that increases risk of severe Covid-related illness). After that, he said, the message was: 'Just put it in people’s arms. We don’t want any doses to go to waste. Period.'

On Dec. 29, ... Dr. Gokal arrived before dawn at a park in the Houston suburb of Humble to supervise a vaccination event intended mostly for emergency workers.... Around 6:45 at night, ... an eligible person arrived for a shot. A nurse punctured a new vial to administer the vaccine, which activated the six-hour time limit for the 10 remaining doses. The chances of 10 eligible people suddenly showing up were slim.... But Dr. Gokal said he was determined not to waste a single dose.... Dr. Gokal said he called a Harris County public health official in charge of operations to report his plans to find 10 people to receive the remaining doses. He said he was told, simply: OK.... 

"The next morning, he said, he submitted the paperwork for the 10 people he had vaccinated the previous night, including his wife. He said he also informed his supervisor and colleagues of what he had done, and why. Several days later, the doctor said, that supervisor and the human resources director summoned him to ask whether he had administered 10 doses outside of the scheduled event on Dec. 29. He said he had, in keeping with guidelines not to waste the vaccine — and was promptly fired.....

"On Jan. 21, about two weeks after the doctor’s termination, a friend called to say that a local reporter had just tweeted about him. At that very moment, one of his three children answered the door to bright lights and a thrust microphone.... This was how Dr. Gokal learned that he had been charged with stealing vaccine doses....

"Days later, a criminal court judge, Franklin Bynum, dismissed the case for lack of probable cause. 'In the number of words usually taken to describe an allegation of retail shoplifting, the State attempts, for the first time, to criminalize a doctor’s documented administration of vaccine doses during a public health emergency,' he wrote. 'The Court emphatically rejects this attempted imposition of the criminal law on the professional decisions of a physician'....

"Dane Schiller, the district attorney’s director of communications, declined to answer questions about the case. He said in an email that when the matter is presented to a grand jury, 'representatives of the community can vote on whether an indictment is warranted.'"

Read more:

Sunday, February 14, 2021

What happened to the flu?

The Unexpected Case of the Disappearing Flu | Illumination - M.G. Sunde, Ph.D.:

January 16, 2021 - "During the months preceding the surge of SARS-CoV-2 infections this fall and winter, many public health officials expressed concern about the potential for a 'double-barreled' respiratory virus season. In this scenario, healthcare facilities would be totally overwhelmed by: 1) patients afflicted by infections caused by endemic respiratory viruses (such as influenza) that occur during any normal year, and 2) a massive influx of coronavirus patients. Fortunately, such a catastrophe did not come to pass. The reason for this is an unprecedented reduction in flu prevalence for the 2020–21 season.

"Before proceeding, it should be noted that not all acute respiratory infections during the so-called 'flu season' actually result from influenza viruses ... with the causative pathogen commonly going unidentified. Other viruses causing the same general suite of symptoms include: rhinoviruses, coronaviruses, adenoviruses, respiratory syncytial viruses, among others.

"Many public health experts have made statements regarding the reduction in influenza cases this season. These experts have attributed the phenomenon to such things as flu vaccinations, hand-washing, mask-wearing, and social distancing. However, these explanations are largely implausible for the following reasons:

  1. As previously discussed, a large number of acute respiratory infections are not caused by influenza viruses, so vaccination against influenza cannot explain the overall low rate of hospital visits for influenza like illnesses (ILI) this season. Moreover, given that the benefits of flu vaccination have been largely overstated, it is unlikely that this year’s flu vaccine has reached an unprecedented level of efficacy.... For example, a recent Cochrane Review found that 'influenza vaccines probably have a small protective effect against influenza and ILI, as 71 people would need to be vaccinated to avoid one influenza case'.
  2. As with SARS-CoV-2, the spread of influenza virus via fomites is not thought to be a significant route of transmission. As such, hand-washing likely plays a minimal role in mitigating the spread of many respiratory viruses.
  3. The reduction (or more accurately disappearance) in influenza cases has occurred in all geographic regions, regardless of the nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) that have been employed. This disappearance coincides with the arrival of SARS-CoV-2, and is consistent worldwide: Influenza detections were not simply reduced, there was a worldwide disappearance.
  4. If the wearing of masks was capable of almost entirely removing influenza from circulation, as has been observed, then this approach would also eliminate SARS-CoV-2....  Since SARS-CoV-2, influenza, and various other respiratory viruses are largely spread by fine-particle aerosols in indoor settings, an intervention that works for one should logically work for the other. But in spite of the stringency of interventions, SARS-CoV-2 cases have skyrocketed. At the same time, ... adenoviruses, which are also spread via aerosolized particles, have been consistently detected throughout the coronavirus pandemic. If mask usage were almost entirely removing influenza and coronaviruses from circulation, why not SARS-CoV-2 and adenoviruses, which share similar virion sizes and modes of transmission?...

"In his seminal work The Transmission of Epidemic Influenza, Edgar Hope Simpson provides some discussion regarding such disappearances, which have been observed throughout history....

The phenomenon, christened the vanishing trick, has characterized most subsequent major and minor changes of influenza A virus. Strains that have been causing all the type A influenza in the world for perhaps a dozen years will vanish and next season be replaced by a novel strain....

"Subsequent research has borne out real world examples related to the phenomenon described by Simpson. According to a group of researchers at Yale, it is likely that a 2009 autumn rhinovirus epidemic interrupted the spread of influenza. The authors of that study write: 'one respiratory virus can block infection with another through stimulation of antiviral defenses in the airway mucosa'. Results from another study, conducted in mice, support those findings. Mice were infected with either a rhinovirus or a murine coronavirus, and it was found that both attenuated influenza disease. Moreover, it was observed that the murine coronavirus infection reduced early replication of the influenza virus. 

"In another study, negative interactions between noninfluenza and influenza viruses were suggested. According to the authors: 'when multiple pathogens cocirculate this can lead to competitive or cooperative forms of pathogen–pathogen interactions. It is believed that such interactions occur among cold and flu viruses'. A recently published study examining the effects of interactions between an adenovirus and influenza in mice suggested that certain respiratory infections could impede 'other viruses’ activities within the respiratory tract without attacking unrelated viruses directly'. Finally, in a paper entitled 'A systematic approach to virus–virus interactions', the authors state: 'increasing evidence suggests that virus–virus interactions are common and may be critical to understanding viral pathogenesis'.

"Since the current disappearance of various endemic influenza and coronaviruses cannot logically be attributed to NPIs (for the reasons previously discussed), biological phenomena (interactions between viruses), which are currently not well understood, present a far more plausible explanation."

Read more:

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Censorship in the name of Public Health

Thou Shalt Not Question Public Health! Censorship in the Age of COVID-19 | Montreal Counter-information - Anonymous submission

"The libertarian left, the broader tradition of which anarchism is a part, has historically been opposed to censorship. Nowadays, however, the Left seems to be silent on this subject. To be fair, it is a complicated subject in the age of fake news, conspiracy theories, and Cambridge Analytica. So I raise the issue earnestly, as a subject that is deserving of discussion and debate. I think that we need to seriously engage with this question, as we are undoubtedly living in an age of increasing censorship.

"Let me begin with an example.... Ontario MPP Roman Baber published a letter calling for an end to Ontario’s lockdown. In it, Baber makes the case that the health consequences of the lockdown, such as increased overdoses, suicidal ideation, and anxiety disorders, outweigh the harm of COVID-19. Basically, he is making a very tame argument that the lockdown is not in the public interest. His position is that 'Covid is real, but the fear of Covid is exaggerated. While every death is tragic, after 10 months we learned that Covid is not nearly as deadly as first thought.' He supports his argument by citing recent statistics from the CDC about the fatality rates for COVID-infected people in different age groups. The letter can be read here.... 

"Ford’s response was swift. Baber was ejected from caucus and it was announced that he would be barred from running for the Conservative party ever again.... Ford’s statement is typical: 'By spreading misinformation he is undermining the tireless efforts of our frontline health-care workers at this critical time, and he is putting people at risk,' he said. 'I will not jeopardize a single Ontarian’s life by ignoring public health advice… There is no room for political ideology in our fight against COVID-19 — rather, our response has been and will always be driven by evidence and data'....

"Let’s unpack Ford’s statement. First off, support for a lockdown is as much of an expression of political ideology as is opposition to a lockdown. Clearly, this is an absurd statement, but it seems to imply that that opposition to the ideology of the state will not be permitted.... Ford’s statement makes more sense when one replaces the word 'dissent' for 'political ideology'. With that substitution, the sentence would read: There is no room for dissent in our fight against COVID-19. Is that what he actually means?

"Secondly, which misinformation? The sources that Baber cited were sources the mainstream media usually would consider credible. Ford did not specify, although the government soon released a 'fact-sheet' disputing Baber’s claims, which absurdly points out a typo. You  can find the government’s response here.... So what misinformation is Ford referring to? The statistics of the CDC? And more importantly: Who gets to decide what is and what isn’t misinformation? This question has become extremely important in the past year, as social media platforms have implemented extensive censorship policies. It is becoming more unlikely that your average person will encounter perspectives critical of the official narrative around COVID-19....

"It should be pointed out that social media platforms are scrubbing their platforms of information deemed to be contrary to the recommendations of Public Health.... I think that we need to ask ourselves? What is Public Health? Who is Public Health? What is justifiable in the name of Public Health and what isn’t? I also think that we need to develop an analysis of the term 'Public Health' itself, as it gained new meaning and new importance in the past year.... Often, it seems that the term is used to suggest that individual wishes, needs and desires must be subordinated in the interests of a greater good. Who determines this greater good? Certainly not you or I! 'Public Health' is determined by authorities vested with their role by the state. So the state determines the Public Interest. I think that what is taking place is that. 'Public Health' is becoming an extremely important term in the lexicon of propaganda, and I think that we should be critical of the way that the term is being used.... I believe that this term is coming to represent the concept of 'Safety” or 'Security'....

"I feel that there is one thing that most people value over freedom. That is safety. If a drug cartel threatened your life or the lives of your family if you didn’t start working for the cartel, it is extremely likely that you would choose safety over freedom. Millions upon millions of people choose safety over freedom every single day. That is why, when a regime wishes to gain the compliance of a population for nefarious purposes, such as war, they focus on making people afraid. This is basic....

"Isn’t this very analogous to what is happening now? Everyday, we are told over and over again how dire the situation is. We are essentially being told that we are under attack.... For a time, Trump even called COVID the 'invisible enemy'. In the place of pacifists, there are civil libertarians, those who refuse to accept the logic of Public Health. These people, often characterized as 'anti-maskers' or 'anti-vaxxers', are the targets of scorn and ridicule, and by now their voices are mostly absent from mainstream political discourse. They are denounced for exposing vulnerable people to danger, and the danger of their ideas is used to justify censorship. And the scorn that they are subjected to sends a message to those who might be tempted to speak up against the normalization of arbitrary measures – it’s not worth the effort.

"I think that we need to reject the logic that we need to be protected from ourselves. To accept this logic is to accept defeat. If we accept the logic that the information that we have access to must be controlled, we are accepting the logic that we must be controlled. The state would have us believe that it has our best interests at heart, and that it is manipulating us for our own good, in the name of Public Health. I ain’t buying it.

"Stay Strong. Stay Safe. Smash the State."

Read more:

Friday, February 12, 2021

Aide admits Cuomo regime hid care home deaths

Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa admits they hid nursing home data so feds wouldn’t find out | New York Post - Bernadette Hogan, Carl Campanile and Bruce Golding:

February 11, 2021 - "Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s top aide privately apologized to Democratic lawmakers for withholding the state’s nursing home death toll from COVID-19 — telling them 'we froze' out of fear that the true numbers would 'be used against us' by federal prosecutors, The Post has learned. The stunning admission of a coverup was made by secretary to the governor Melissa DeRosa during a video conference call with state Democratic leaders in which she said the Cuomo administration had rebuffed a legislative request for the tally in August because 'right around the same time, [then-President Donald Trump] turns this into a giant political football,' according to an audio recording of the two-hour-plus meeting.

“'He starts tweeting that we killed everyone in nursing homes,' DeRosa said.... In addition to attacking Cuomo’s fellow Democratic governors, DeRosa said, Trump 'directs the Department of Justice to do an investigation into us.... Because then we were in a position where we weren’t sure if what we were going to give to the Department of Justice, or what we give to you guys, what we start saying, was going to be used against us'.... 

"After dropping the bombshell, DeRosa asked for 'a little bit of appreciation of the context' and offered what appears to be the Cuomo administration’s first apology for its handling of nursing homes amid the pandemic. But instead of a mea culpa to the grieving family members of more than 13,000 dead seniors or the critics who say the Health Department spread COVID-19 in the care facilities with a March 25 state Health Department directive that nursing homes admit [Covid-positive] patients, DeRosa tried to make amends with the fellow Democrats for the political inconvenience it caused them....

“'So we do apologize,' she said. 'I do understand the position that you were put in. I know that it is not fair. It was not our intention to put you in that political position with the Republicans'....

"Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Queens), who took part in the call, told The Post on Thursday that DeRosa’s remarks sounded 'like they admitted that they were trying to dodge having any incriminating evidence that might put the administration or the [Health Department] in further trouble with the Department of Justice.... Kim, whose uncle is presumed to have died of COVID-19 in a nursing home in April, also said he wasn’t satisfied with DeRosa’s apology....

"In addition to stonewalling lawmakers on the total number of nursing home residents killed by COVID-19, Cuomo’s administration refused requests from the news media — including The Post — and fought a Freedom of Information lawsuit filed by the Empire Center on Public Policy. Instead, it only disclosed data on the numbers of residents who died in their nursing homes.

"But after state Attorney General Letitia James last month released a damning report that estimated the deaths of nursing home residents in hospitals would boost the grim tally by more than 50 percent, Health Commissioner Howard Zucker finally released figures showing the combined total was 12,743 as of Jan. 19. Just a day earlier, the DOH was only publicly acknowledging 8,711 deaths in nursing homes. In a Wednesday letter to lawmakers, Zucker said the total number of nursing home residents killed by COVID-19 had increased to 13,297. That number jumps to 15,049 when assisted living/adult care facilities are factored in.

"The controversy generated by James’ report led to an infamous news conference at which Cuomo callously dismissed the matter of where nursing home fatalities actually took place. 'Who cares [if they] died in the hospital, died in a nursing home? They died,' he said."

Read more:

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Greens want a climate-change lockdown

Why greens love lockdown | spiked - Ben Pile:

February 5, 2021 - "Over the past year, the response to the Covid-19 pandemic has caused untold damage to people’s lives. Discussing whether draconian policies are effective, or whether there may be other ways of managing the crisis, has been muted by angry ripostes – you will be branded a ‘denier’ or a ‘granny-killer’. To disagree is to have blood on your hands. But surely, despite these tensions, most people want the whole thing to be over? It doesn’t seem so. One tendency seems to hope that lockdown is just the dawn of an age of confinement. Greens, after a year at home on full pay, believe this is the beginning of a bright new era of global environmental consciousness and good international governance, in which lockdown will be the norm.

"The question at the centre of this bizarre, anti-human dystopianism is, ‘Will Covid help us save the planet?’. That was asked by last Sunday’s edition of the BBC’s Big Questions. spiked’s Fraser Myers, outnumbered by George Monbiot, Extinction Rebellion activists and neo-Malthusian population-obsessives, appeared on the show. He was interrupted every time he tried to counter the greens’ celebration of locking people in their homes....

"For Monbiot, the logic of lockdown was simple enough. ‘What we’ve discovered with the pandemic is that when people are called upon to act, they’ll take far more extreme action than environmentalists have ever called for’, he said. In Monbiot’s view, all that was required to elicit the obedience of the population was for the government to make it ‘abundantly clear that we have to do this for the good of all’. But this is not true. If it were true, there would not have been the need to pass emergency legislation, to force businesses to close, and to abolish gatherings, including protests, all under threat of fines of up to £10,000. Which is far in excess of what most people could afford without serious consequences, including the loss of their home.... 

"People have stayed at home because there was nowhere to go to, and nothing to do, and because they do not want to break the law, and because they have been terrified of the virus.... Rather than seeking to allay unfounded fear, and despite their putative emphasis on ‘The Science’, lockdown hawks capitalised on this overestimation of risk to fuel their cheap, utilitarian moral arithmetic. This may have been effective during this pandemic, in which threats are perceived as immediate, and the lockdown is presented as an extraordinary measure with an end in sight. But a climate lockdown would be forever. And in order to sustain it, the green misanthropes would need to take even greater liberties with the facts and stats.

"According to Monbiot, ‘billions’ of people will soon suffer from climate change. But in reality, ... [a]ttempts to measure fatalities attributed to the consequences of climate change have been beset by radical, historically unprecedented improvements in society. If there is a link between climate change and fatalities, then it is only possible to conclude that climate change has saved countless millions of lives. In order to sustain the notion of climate change as a grave risk, researcher-advocates have had to invent counterfactual worlds, in which there is no global warming, to claim that risks in this, the real world, are indeed increasing, despite material evidence to the contrary: the fact that we are living longer, healthier, wealthier lives.

"It is the ‘wealthier’ part that really bothers the greens. ‘There’s all this conversation that assumes that we can have whatever we want and make tiny little changes in our lifestyles and that will be enough’, said UCL population ethicist Karin Kuhlemann on The Big Questions. ‘I do not think people will change their relationships to the natural world. They won’t restrain consumption willingly. We need to dramatically reduce our impact on this planet ’.... So, whereas Covid lockdowns are intended to contain a virus and prevent it from overwhelming the NHS, climate lockdowns are intended to constrain human reproduction and consumption, to prevent us from overwhelming the planet.

"Some greens have been excited about how great lockdown is since last March. They wrote, from the comfort of their nice homes, on their full pay, about how fresh the air was, how clear the skies, and how prominent the birdsong. It was Kuhlemann’s colleague at UCL, Mariana Mazzucato, who in September really spelled it out: ‘Under a “climate lockdown”, governments would limit private-vehicle use, ban consumption of red meat and impose extreme energy-saving measures.’ In order to save ourselves from this fate, ‘we must overhaul our economic structures and do capitalism differently’, she claimed....

"The obvious consequence of Covid and climate lockdowns ... would be to reduce our ability to respond to actual emergencies, to spend on healthcare and public-health measures. It seems clear that green thinking is first and foremost driven by authoritarian impulses, which are subsequently given only a superficially plausible rationale. That is to say that the desire to reorganise society, which depends on hollow critiques of consumer and corporate capitalist society, exists prior to the facts, and yet are traded in the public sphere as obviously true, unimpeachable facts. No doubt, there are problems.... But the idea that they have driven us to the point of material crisis – from the weather, from diseases or from Gaia herself – is simply bullsh*t. Despite Covid and despite climate change, we have never been so safe, and the world has never before seen as much progress as it has since 1990.

"Seen from this perspective, green demands for climate lockdown should be viewed as a greater risk to us than infectious diseases and extreme weather.... Society has failed to grasp the extent to which green imperatives are ideological fantasies. Green claims are routinely taken at face value, rather than interrogated, to see what kind of world greens really want. One thing we can be sure of now, however, is that as soon as the climate lockdowners get what they want, they will simply move the goalposts. In December, the Guardian’s global environment editor, Jonathan Watts, claimed that, despite nearly a year of grounded flights, immobilised cars, a loss of 10 per cent or more of GDP, and a record plunge into further debt, lockdown had not done enough and was ‘too short to reverse years of destruction’. Now we know what lockdowns look like, it should sharpen our minds to the danger not from climate change, but from environmentalism."

Read more:

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

State raids clinic vaccinating teachers, seizes jabs

Rural community in shock after Georgia raids clinic vaccinating teachers | NBC News - Stephanie Gosk, Laura Strickler, Lisa Cavazuti and Corky Siemaszko:

February 5, 2021 - "ELBERTON, Ga. ... was still in shock Friday, days after state health workers raided the busiest medical clinic in the county and seized its Covid-19 vaccine supply because staffers had given doses to teachers. Some 470 shots of the Pfizer vaccine were confiscated from the Medical Center of Elberton, a private clinic that had been the largest provider of vaccinations in Elbert County, leaving behind just enough medicine to guarantee second doses to people who have already been inoculated. 'Everything that we had tried to do up until now to vaccinate our county was just laid to waste,' Dr. Jonathan Poon, who works at the clinic, told NBC News.

"'DPH took the action after learning the provider had been vaccinating individuals in the Elbert County School District who were outside of the current Phase 1A+ eligible population,' the agency said in a statement.... In an interview, Dr. Chris Rustin of the Department of Public Health, said the clinic's actions left them no choice. 'Going outside of the phase in almost a deliberate manner was something that we could not ignore," he said. "And we needed to make sure that others that are vaccinating understand that we have such limitations on our vaccine supply that we have to follow a plan that's been clearly communicated.'

"Still, as recently as Dec. 7, educators were considered by the state to be in that 'essential group,' Poon said, adding that they were able to vaccinate about 177 school workers before the public health department shut them down.... 'The first inkling that they might have run afoul of the state was Jan. 26 when the department called 'asking whether or not we had vaccinated teachers,' the doctor said. 'And at the time we, of course, believed that that was part of the proper procedure, so we said yes,' Poon said. 'And in less than 48 hours, the state handed down a ruling that our vaccine status was suspended and that we would no longer be able to vaccinate individuals.'"

"Terrie Glaude, a teacher in Elbert County, managed to squeeze in her second shot just days before the department descended on the clinic.... 'Everyone wants their kids in school,' Glaude said. 'And the way to keep them in school is to let our teachers be vaccinated along with the elderly population'....

"Marlene Lord, who is 68 and got her second dose at the clinic Thursday, said she would have gladly given her vaccination to a teacher. 'Being retired, I have the ability to stay away from it more than they do,' she said. 'I want the kids in school. And I think the more protection there is, the better it is.' Lord also said the public health department did a disservice to the community by taking the vaccines from the clinic.'

"DPH spokeswoman Nancy Nydam said they gave the clinic 30 minutes notice Tuesday that they were coming to collect the vaccines... The Medical Center of Elberton has filed an appeal to overturn the suspension, claiming it did not knowingly break any rules or regulations and blamed the error on 'a lack of clarification from the state,' the NBC affiliate reported....

"Under Georgia’s guidelines, teachers aren’t eligible for the vaccine unless they’re also health care workers, first responders or 65 and older. But the Medical Center of Elberton began vaccinating school employees last month after administering doses to the high priority workers 'but before completing the vaccination of seniors,' The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in January....

"Covid-19 vaccinations are already being provided to teachers from kindergarten through high school in 25 states and Washington, D.C., although in some of those states it’s limited to select counties, according to a New York Times survey of vaccination eligibility rules. In a separate NBC News survey, teachers are eligible for a Covid-19 vaccination in 22 different states. Georgia, however, is not one of those states on either list."

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Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Big Pharma throws ivermectin under the bus

The fight against low-cost and highly effective Ivermectin has begun - Swiss Policy Research:

February 6, 2021 - "Dozens of studies and several meta-studies have already found low-cost ivermectin to be highly effective against covid. In January, even the US NIH [National Institutes of Health] had to change its stance from ‘negative’ to ‘neutral’. Detractors of ivermectin had to act,...

"In their fight against low-cost HCQ [hydroxychloroquine] – which was also found to be effective in the early treatment of high-risk patients, thanks to its anti-inflammatory and anti-thrombotic properties – detractors published a made-up study in the Lancet (the Surgisphere scandal) and ran trials with toxic overdoses in ICU patients (the ‘SOLIDARITY’ and ‘RECOVERY’ trials). But Ivermectin is very difficult to overdose, and unlike HCQ, it works as a prophylaxis against infection and even in ICU patients. Thus, it would be much more difficult to design a deceptive study against ivermectin.

"Finally, a ‘solution’ was found: US pharmaceutical company Merck – one of the manufacturers of patent-free Ivermectin – has just published a statement simply claiming, without evidence, that their (unpublished) 'analysis' had identified 'no scientific basis for a potential therapeutic effect against COVID-19 from pre-clinical studies; no meaningful evidence for clinical activity or clinical efficacy in patients with COVID-19 disease; and a concerning lack of safety data in the majority of studies.'

"An NIH operative quickly retweeted the Merck statement, adding: 'Merck’s statement on ivermectin is the leadership and commitment to quality translational science that we need to see from pharma/biotech.' In reality, Merck’s claim is completely baseless and also ironic: after having safely sold ivermectin for several decades, Merck now suddenly questions its safety....

"Merck recently signed a $356 million deal to supply the US with a much more expensive, newly developed experimental anti-covid drug. Meanwhile, Youtube removed a C-SPAN video of FLCCC President Dr Pierre Kory’s US Senate testimony on ivermectin....

"[A] low-cost and highly effective drug against covid, like Ivermectin, would disrupt not only the multi-billion dollar global vaccine campaign (which does indeed lack long-term safety and efficacy data), but also follow-up ‘lock step’ policies like vaccine passports, smartphone-based global contact monitoring, as well as programs like ID2020 and ‘Known Traveler’ promoted by vaccine investor Bill Gates, the World Economic Forum, and similar groups."

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Monday, February 8, 2021

Lockdown protests go worldwide in 2021

Swiss march in lakeside tax haven to protest COVID-19 lockdown | Reuters - Arnd Wiegmann:

February 6, 2021 - "Some 500 protesters marched through the Swiss tax haven of Zug on Saturday, wearing white protective suits and chanting dystopian slogans to voice displeasure with rules aimed at limiting the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. The demonstration was reminiscent of a rally a week ago in Vienna, where thousands opposed to that country’s even-stricter lockdown faced off against police. Though Switzerland’s restrictions have been less severe than those in Germany, Austria or Italy -- restaurants and non-essential shops are closed but ski areas are open -- there is still a steady buzz of opposition.

"In Zug, police watched but did not intervene."

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Anti-lockdown demonstrations continue in Europe | WION:

Feb. 7, 2021 - "Hundreds of people took to the streets of Copenhagen on Saturday night to protest Denmark's Covid-19 restrictions and the country's plans for a digital vaccination certificate. Organised by a group calling itself 'Men in Black Denmark,' some 600 people gathered in the bitter cold in front of the parliament building to protest the 'dictatorship' of Denmark's partial lockdown. 

"Main target of people's anger was plan for digital vaccine 'passport'.... Protest organisers say such a passport implies an obligation to be vaccinated and amounts to a further restriction on individual freedom. Vaccination is not compulsory in Denmark."

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What’s driving the COVID lockdown protests? | Al Jazeera - Elizabeth Melimopoulos: 

February 7, 2021 - "Since the start of the year, widescale anti-lockdown demonstrations leading to arrests have taken place in cities across Europe, North America and the Middle East, the latest in a wave of demonstrations that first erupted in March last year, when governments initially imposed restrictions.

"In the Netherlands, there were more than 500 arrests nationwide in relation to violent protests against the introduction of a lockdown and nighttime curfew in late January, the first in the European country since World War II. Last weekend, anti-lockdown protests took place in Belgium, Austria, Hungary, France, Spain and Denmark.

"Lockdowns have been financially devastating for millions of people who have been unable to work and lost their incomes. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), unemployment has soared across major economies since the beginning of the pandemic. The IMF estimates that the global economy shrank by 4.4 percent in 2020, the worst decline since the Great Depression of the 1930s....

"But the financial impact of lockdowns has been felt most acutely in developing economies, where people are less likely to be able to work remotely and individuals and businesses are less likely to have sufficient savings to cover for losses. Lebanon was already suffering a financial and economic crisis when the pandemic struck and its economy is expected to contract by 19.2 percent in 2020 and a further 13.2 percent this year, according to the World Bank. After the government imposed a strict lockdown in January, protesters poured into the streets of Tripoli demanding the government provide more financial support for citizens....

"Financial hardship has also fuelled protests in Latin America, with protests taking place in Peru and Mexico in recent weeks after lockdowns were imposed.... Last year, Mexico saw several protests against the lockdowns from retail and hospitality workers and street vendors. The demonstrations resumed in January, when restaurant employees in Mexico City protested against a renewed lockdown and some businesses reportedly opened in defiance of the restrictions. Renewed protests were held in the city on Thursday."

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