Monday, May 25, 2020
Kristina Wong, "Report: Hundreds of Documents Conflict with Joe Biden’s Account of Why Ukrainian Prosecutor Was Fired"
Hundreds of pages of never-released memos and documents conflict with a story that former Vice President Joe Biden has been telling about him pressuring Ukraine to fire its chief prosecutor because he was corrupt, and not because the prosecutor was investigating a company that hired his son, according to a report.
The Hill‘s John Solomon is reporting that the documents — many from the American legal team that helped the company, Burisma Holdings, try to stave off its legal troubles — raise the “troubling prospect” that U.S. officials may have “painted a false picture in Ukraine that helped “ease Burisma’s legal troubles and stop prosecutors’ plans to interview” Biden’s son Hunter during the 2016 presidential elections.
Solomon reported that, for instance, an official Ukrainian government memo shows that Burisma’s American legal representatives met with Ukrainian officials just days after Biden forced the firing of the chief prosecutor and offered “an apology for dissemination of false information by U.S. representatives and public figures” about Ukrainian prosecutors.
In other words — the company that employed Biden’s son apologized to the Ukrainian government after the firing of the chief prosecutor for the “U.S. representatives and public figures” actions or remarks.
Solomon also reported that Burisma’s American team offered to introduce Ukrainian prosecutors to Obama administration officials to make amends, according to the Ukrainian government memo and Burisma’s American legal team’s internal memos.
According to Solomon, the memos raise the following “troubling questions”:1) If the Ukraine prosecutor’s firing involved only his alleged corruption and ineptitude, why did Burisma’s American legal team refer to those allegations as “false information?”Solomon reported that in a “newly sworn affidavit prepared for a European court,” Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin testified that when he was fired in March 2016, he was told the reason was that Biden was unhappy about the Burisma investigation.
2) If the firing had nothing to do with the Burisma case, as Biden has adamantly claimed, why would Burisma’s American lawyers contact the replacement prosecutor within hours of the termination and urgently seek a meeting in Ukraine to discuss the case?
“The truth is that I was forced out because I was leading a wide-ranging corruption probe into Burisma Holdings, a natural gas firm active in Ukraine and Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, was a member of the Board of Directors,” Shokin testified, according to Solomon.
“On several occasions President Poroshenko asked me to have a look at the case against Burisma and consider the possibility of winding down the investigative actions in respect of this company but I refused to close this investigation,” Shokin reportedly said.
Solomon said other documents show that as Biden’s efforts to fire Shokin picked up steam, Burisma’s American legal team “appeared to be moving into Ukraine with intensity.”
Burisma’s accounting records “show that it paid tens of thousands of dollars while Hunter Biden served on the board of an American lobbying and public relations firm, Blue Star Strategies, run by Sally Painter and Karen Tramontano, who both served in President Bill Clinton’s administration.”
According to Solomon, just days before Shokin’s firing, Painter met with the second highest official at the Ukrainian embassy in Washington and asked to meet officials in Kiev around the same time that Joe Biden visited there.
Ukrainian embassy employee Oksana Shulyar reportedly emailed Painter afterward: “With regards to the meetings in Kiev, I suggest that you wait until the next week when there is an expected vote of the government’s reshuffle.”
Ukraine’s Washington embassy confirmed the conversations between Shulyar and Painter but said the reference to a shakeup in Ukrainian government was not specifically referring to Shokin’s firing or anything to do with Burisma, according to Solomon.
Painter reportedly asked one of the Ukraine embassy’s workers to “open the door for meetings with Ukraine’s prosecutors about the Burisma investigation.” Blue Star would eventually pay that Ukrainian official money for his help with the prosecutor’s office, according to Solomon.
At the same time, Blue Star worked in concert with an American criminal defense lawyer, John Buretta, who was hired by Burisma to help address the case in Ukraine, according to Solomon. That case was settled in January 2017 for a few million dollars in fines for alleged tax issues, he reported.
Solomon reported that Buretta, Painter, Tramontano, Hunter Biden, and Joe Biden’s campaign have not responded to “numerous calls and emails seeking comment.”
On March 29, 2016, the day Shokin’s firing was announced, Buretta reportedly asked to speak with Yuriy Sevruk, the prosecutor named to temporarily replace Shokin, but was turned down.
However, Blue Star, using the Ukrainian embassy worker it had hired, eventually scored a meeting with Sevruk on April 6, 2016, a week after Shokin’s firing. Buretta, Tramontano, and Painter attended that meeting in Kiev, according to Blue Star’s memos, Solomon reported.
Sevruk memorialized the meeting in a government memo that the general prosecutor’s office provided to Solomon, stating that the three Americans offered an apology for the “false” narrative that had been provided by U.S. officials about Shokin being corrupt and inept.
“They realized that the information disseminated in the U.S. was incorrect and that they would facilitate my visit to the U.S. for the purpose of delivering the true information to the State Department management,” the memo reportedly stated.
The memo also reportedly quoted the Americans as saying they knew Shokin pursued an aggressive corruption investigation against Burisma’s owner, only to be thwarted by British allies:These individuals noted that they had been aware that the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine had implemented all required steps for prosecution … and that he was released by the British court due to the underperformance of the British law enforcement agencies.This memo provides a “vastly different portrayal” of Shokin than Biden’s account, Solomon reported.
Solomon said the contents of the memo are partially backed by subsequent emails from Blue Star and Buretta that confirm the offer to bring Ukrainian authorities to meet the Obama administration in Washington:For instance, Tramontano wrote the Ukrainian prosecution team on April 16, 2016, saying U.S. Justice Department officials, including top international prosecutor Bruce Swartz, might be willing to meet. ‘The reforms are not known to the US Justice Department and it would be useful for the Prosecutor General to meet officials in the US and share this information directly,’ she wrote.
Buretta sent a similar email to the Ukrainians, writing that ‘I think you would find it productive to meet with DOJ officials in Washington’ and providing contact information for Swartz. ‘I would be happy to help,’ added Buretta, a former senior DOJ official.
Burisma, Buretta and Blue Star continued throughout 2016 to try to resolve the open issues in Ukraine, and memos recount various contacts with the State Department and the U.S. embassy in Kiev seeking help in getting the Burisma case resolved.
Just days before Trump took office, Burisma announced it had resolved all of its legal issues. And Buretta gave an interview in Ukraine about how he helped navigate the issues.
Solomon reported that Ukrainian prosecutors say they have tried to get this information to the Justice Department since the summer of 2018, fearing it is evidence of possible violations of U.S. ethics laws, and they hired a former federal prosecutor to bring the information to the U.S. Attorney in New York, who reportedly “showed no interest.” The Ukrainians then reached out to Tump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
As Solomon noted, the New York Times first published a story in December 2015 about Burisma hiring Hunter Biden just weeks after the vice president was asked by President Obama to oversee U.S.-Ukraine relations. That story also alerted Biden’s office that Shokin had an active investigation of Burisma and its founder, he noted.
Solomon detailed his previous reporting on “an effort to change the narrative” after the Times story about Hunter Biden ran, “with the help of the Obama State Department”:
Hunter Biden’s American business partner in Burisma, Devon Archer, texted a colleague two days after the Times story about a strategy to counter the ‘new wave of scrutiny’ and stated that he and Hunter Biden had just met at the State Department. The text suggested there was about to be a new “USAID project the embassy is announcing with us” and that it was “perfect for us to move forward now with momentum.”
I have sued the State Department for any records related to that meeting. The reason is simple:There is both a public interest and an ethics question to knowing if Hunter Biden and his team sought State’s assistance while his father was vice president.Solomon wrote, “Today, two questions remain:”
The controversy ignited anew earlier this year when I disclosed that Joe Biden admitted during a 2018 videotaped speech that, as vice president in March 2016, he threatened to cancel $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees, to pressure Ukraine’s then-President Petro Poroshenko to fire Shokin.
At the time, Shokin’s office was investigating Burisma. Shokin told me he was making plans to question Hunter Biden about $3 million in fees that Biden and his partner, Archer, collected from Burisma through their American firm. Documents seized by the FBI in an unrelated case confirm the payments, which in many months totaled more than $166,000.
Some media outlets have reported that, at the time Joe Biden forced the firing in March 2016, there were no open investigations. Those reports are wrong. A British-based investigation of Burisma’s owner was closed down in early 2015 on a technicality when a deadline for documents was not met. But the Ukraine Prosecutor General’s office still had two open inquiries in March 2016, according to the official case file provided me. One of those cases involved taxes; the other, allegations of corruption. Burisma announced the cases against it were not closed and settled until January 2017.
After I first reported it in a column, the New York Times and ABC News published similar stories confirming my reporting.
Joe Biden has since responded that he forced Shokin’s firing over concerns about corruption and ineptitude, which he claims were widely shared by Western allies, and that it had nothing to do with the Burisma investigation.One is whether it was ethically improper or even illegal for Biden to intervene to fire the prosecutor handling Burisma’s case, given his son’s interests. That is one that requires more investigation and the expertise of lawyers.“The second is whether Biden has given the American people an honest accounting of what happened. The new documents I obtained raise serious doubts about his story’s credibility. And that’s an issue that needs to be resolved by voter,” Solomon wrote.
Sunday, May 24, 2020
The federal judge who refused a Justice Department request to immediately drop the prosecution of former Trump adviser Michael Flynn has hired a high-profile trial lawyer to argue (*fakenews alert:) his reasons for investigating whether dismissing the case is legally or ethically appropriate.
In a rare step that adds to this criminal case’s already unusual path, U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan has retained Beth Wilkinson to represent him in defending (*fakenews alert:) his decision to a federal appeals court in Washington, according to a person familiar with the hire who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. The U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is now examining the judge’s actions and the larger case against Flynn after lawyers for President Trump’s former national security adviser asked the court to force Sullivan to toss Flynn’s guilty plea.
Wilkinson, known for her top-notch legal skills and get-results style, is expected to file a notice with the court in the coming week about representing the judge. She declined to comment when reached Friday evening. Sullivan also declined to comment through his office.
A federal judge doesn’t typically hire private counsel (*fakenews alert:) to respond to an appeals court, and yet so much about Flynn’s case has been a departure from the norm. A defendant doesn’t normally plead guilty under oath and then try to withdraw that admission, as Flynn did. The Justice Department almost never drops a case once it has essentially won a conviction, a signed guilty plea, as Attorney General William P. Barr ordered earlier this month.
(*alternative FACT alert:) About two weeks ago, Sullivan pushed off Barr’s request and paused Flynn’s case to invite outside groups and a retired federal judge to argue against the Justice Department’s proposal.
Sullivan also asked retired New York judge John Gleeson to examine whether Flynn may have committed perjury while pleading guilty to lying about his pre-inauguration contacts with Russia’s ambassador. Flynn’s lawyers then accused Sullivan of bias and asked the U.S. Court of Appeals to intervene.
On Thursday, that higher court took the extraordinary step of ordering Sullivan to answer within 10 days. The court also invited the Justice Department to comment.
In asking the D.C. Circuit to intervene, Flynn’s attorneys are arguing that prosecutors have exclusive authority to decide whether to drop a case and accusing Sullivan of judicial overreach.
Sullivan’s orders “reveal his plan to continue the case indefinitely, rubbing salt in General Flynn’s open wound from the Government’s misconduct and threatening him with criminal contempt,” Flynn lawyer Sidney Powell wrote. Conservative legal analysts and commentators have weighed in on the controversy, saying the Justice Department should be allowed to undo Flynn’s conviction without judicial interference.
Wilkinson, a go-to advocate for prominent officials snared in major Washington investigations and high-stakes legal battles, now joins the fray. Wilkinson represented Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh when he was a Supreme Court nominee and battling accusations he had sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford when they were both teens. Her firm also represented the lawyer and longtime confidant of Hillary Clinton amid an investigation into whether Clinton, then secretary of state, had mishandled classified information while trying to avoid using government emails.
But the Flynn case has expanded far beyond a simple charge of false statements to federal investigators, into one used as a rallying cry for Trump to accuse a covert “deep state” of seeking to entrap him and his campaign advisers. Legal scholars argue the demand that Sullivan drop the case at this point has dramatic implications for judicial independence and the constitution’s separation of powers.
Flynn admitted his conduct under oath three times before two federal judges, including Sullivan, before reversing course.
“This case does not involve a decision by the Executive Branch simply to ‘drop’ a prosecution,” but a “virtually unprecedented decision” to dismiss a case after it has been won, wrote a bipartisan group of about 20 constitutional experts, led by Harvard law professor Laurence H. Tribe, in a brief the group requested to file Friday.
The twists and turns of Flynn’s prosecution have in many ways become a reflection of the long-running war that Trump and his allies have waged against special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Mueller’s team of investigators inherited Flynn’s case and obtained his sworn admission that he had lied to the FBI about his conversations with a Russian ambassador while serving then-President-elect Trump.
Trump and his supporters, and Flynn’s defenders, later argued Flynn had been set up by the FBI. But during a dramatic hearing in 2018, Flynn repeatedly assured Sullivan that the FBI did not trick him, that he was responsible for his lies about the calls and he was pleading guilty willingly.
However, Flynn later fired his lawyers and argued he was a victim of FBI overreach. This year, after Mueller completed his investigation and disbanded his team, Barr sought to scrap the case, arguing the agents who questioned Flynn about his contacts with the ambassador didn’t have a legitimate investigative or counterintelligence basis to do so, so any lies Flynn told were neither important nor criminal.
Tuesday, May 19, 2020
President Barack Obama’s Treasury Department regularly surveilled retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn’s financial records and transactions beginning in December 2015 and well into 2017, before, during and after when he served at the White House as President Donald Trump’s National Security Director, a former senior Treasury Department official, and veteran of the intelligence community, told the Star Newspapers.
“I started seeing things that were not correct, so I did my own little investigation, because I wanted to make sure what I was seeing was correct” she said. “You never want to draw attention to something if there is not anything there.”
The whistleblower said she only saw metadata, that is names and dates when the general’s financial records were accessed. “I never saw what they saw.”
By March 2016, the whistleblower said she and a colleague, who was detailed to Treasury from the intelligence community, became convinced that the surveillance of Flynn was not tied to legitimate criminal or national security concerns, but was straight-up political surveillance among other illegal activity occurring at Treasury.
“When I showed it to her, what she said, ‘Oh, sh%t!’ and I knew right then and there that I was right – this was some shady stuff,” the whistleblower said.
“It wasn’t just him,” the whistleblower said. “They were targeting other U.S. citizens, as well.”
Only two names are listed in the whistleblower’s official paperwork, so the others must remain sealed, she said. The second name is Paul J. Manafort Jr., the one-time chairman of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
The other names include: Members of Congress, the most senior staffers on the 2016 Trump campaign and members of Trump’s family, she said.
“Another thing they would do is take targeted names from a certain database – I cannot name, but you can guess – and they were going over to an unclassified database and they were running those names in the unclassified database,” she said.
This ruse was to get around using classified resources to surveil Americans, she said. Once the Treasury personnel had enough information about someone they were targeting from the black box, they would go to the white box for faster and more informed search.
It was routine for these searches that had no criminal nor national security predicate, merely a political predicate, she said.
Complaint filed with Treasury Inspector General
In March 2017, she filed a formal whistleblower complaint with Acting Treasury Inspector General Richard K. Delmar, who continues in that office today, she said. Beyond Delmar acknowledging receipt of the complaint, the inspector general never followed up on the matter.
This formal complaint was a follow-up to an August 2016 notification to Delmar that did not meet the full requirements of formal complaint, but it provided Delmar with the details of Treasury’s surveillance of Flynn, she said.
The whistleblower filed a subsequent complaint with the Office of Special Counsel May 2017, which is the permanent office established to work with whistleblowers and is not related to Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
This surveillance program was run out of Treasury’s Office of Intelligence Analysis, which was then under the leadership of S. Leslie Ireland. Ireland came to OIA in 2010 after a long tenure at the Central Intelligence Agency and a one-year stint as Obama’s daily in-person intelligence briefer.
The whistleblower said Treasury should never have been part of the unmasking of Flynn, because its surveillance operation was off-the-books. That is to say, the Justice Department never gave the required approval to the Treasury program, and so there were no guidelines, approvals nor reports that would be associated with a DOJ-sanctioned domestic surveillance operation.
“Accessing this information without approved and signed attorney general guidelines would violate U.S. persons constitutional rights and civil liberties,” she said.
“IC agencies have to adhere to Executive Order 12333, or as it is known in the community: E.O. 12-Triple-Three. Just because OIA does not have signed guidelines does not give them the power or right to operate as they want, if you want information on a U.S. person then work with the FBI on a Title III, if it is a U.S. person involved with a foreign entity then follow the correct process for a FISA, but without signed AG guidelines you cannot even get started,” she said. Title III refers to the FBI authority to electronically surveil Americans.
Top Obama Treasury officials among those who unmasked Flynn
Because the intercepts from Flynn’s Dec. 29, 2016 phone call with the Russian ambassador Sergei were captured by an entity other than Treasury, Patrick Conlon, the OIA director, who succeeded Ireland, was on the list of 37 Obama administration officials who either requested that Flynn’s name be unmasked or were shown the unmasked surveillance product.
Conlon accessed the Flynn file Dec. 14, 2016.
There must have been some kind of meeting that day. These are all of the other Treasury Department officials looking at Flynn that day: Secretary Jacob Lew, Acting Assistant Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis A. Daniel “Danny” McGlynn, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis Michael Neufeld, Deputy Secretary Sarah Raskin, Under Secretary Nathan Sheets and Acting Under Secretary Adam Szubin.
Lew is the only one who made the list again, this time Jan. 12, 2017 – and if his deputy’s name sounds familiar, Raskin is the wife of Rep. Jamin B. “Jamie” Raskin (D.-Md.), one of the House Prosecutors, who argued for the removal of Trump after his impeachment. The congressman’s wife was also an Obama-appointed Federal Reserve governor.
Monday, May 18, 2020
We’re living in Orwellian times, certainly. Consider just this: “Drone” cameras to spy on and punish us expressly while we’re in our own backyards or the middle of nowhere – and hence in places least likely to spread the coronavirus. And then there are the “Freedom Is Slavery” type slogans that seek to convince us of what is exactly opposite the truth. None of which is more obnoxious and dangerous than “We’re all in this together.”
Viruses may not discriminate, but we do. COVID-19 cases and deaths are determined by geography and climate, quality of health care, lifestyle, and overwhelmingly by age and comorbid conditions. The old and infirm are at highest risk, while the young even with other conditions are at both at extremely low risk of suffering and transmitting the disease.
That means, on the one hand, we fail those at greatest peril, as we did by falsely democratizing AIDS with such slogans as “Now Everyone Is at Risk” AIDS. Indeed, a New York Times database shows a third of those classified as dying with COVID-19 are residents or workers in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
The CDC specifically says the virus targets people 65 years and older, those who live in a nursing home or long-term care facilities, and those with underlying medical conditions — that as it happens are associated with aging. Add those with a body mass index of 40 or above, which means incredibly obese.
Even British Professor Neil Ferguson testified “as many as half or two-thirds” of deaths labeled as COVID-19 may have occurred by the end of the year anyway “because this is affecting people either at the end of their lives or with poor health conditions.”
Yes, that’s the same Neil Ferguson whose model of from around 1.1 – 2.2 million U.S. deaths probably had the single greatest effect on putting countries throughout the world into lockdowns. (And who was later caught violating the British lockdown with someone else’s wife.)
Conversely, almost everywhere children’s schools are closed even as growing evidence shows that children are the least likely to become infected, to be symptomatic if infected, and to become spreaders.
The only true risk to children is the hysteria and the very lockdowns the Orwellian trappings encourage. Indeed, according to a U.N. report, millions of children may die from the devastation we inflict on the world economy each day we refuse to acknowledge that we are not all equals and refuse to open up economies.
The chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, Gita Gopinath, published an assessment of what she called “the Great Lockdown,” saying it will be “the worst recession since the Great Depression, and far worse than the global financial crisis” of 2007-2008.
One result, according to the U.N. report: “Economic hardship experienced by families as a result of the global economic downturn could result in hundreds of thousands of additional child deaths in 2020, reversing the last 2 to 3 years of progress in reducing infant mortality within a single year.”
Further, it said, “… this alarming figure does not even take into account services disrupted due to the crisis – it only reflects the current relationship between economies and mortality, so is likely an under-estimate of the impact.”
Laurence Chandy, lead author of the report and the director of UNICEF’s Office of Global Insight Policy, told Voice of America’s VOA publication, “The unprecedented simultaneous closure of schools across the world is affecting alone 1½ billion children,” or “almost all children in the world.” He added, “The report also mentions the more than 360 million children across 143 countries who rely on school meals.” Therefore, children are no longer getting what for many are their only meals of the day.
But it’s not just food. Chandy said child protection services also are largely closed, leaving children exposed to domestic violence and other forms of abuse and exploitation. Further, “immunization campaigns around the world have been put on hold.” Chandy said “That will set back the global campaigns on polio by years, I suspect” and moreover “there are 23 countries we count around the world that have put on hold their measles inoculation campaigns.”
Every day we maintain the façade of being the first in history to micromanage viral spread will cost the lives of more mothers’ sons and daughters
Michael Fumento sees echoes of the 1980s AIDS crisis in the current coronavirus pandemic.
Not because the two diseases are similar in their pathologies. Rather, the author notes that the public health responses to both outbreaks have striking similarities: Namely, that public health officials have resorted to grim predictions of sky-high body counts and once-in-a-generation public health crises, even when the truth is obviously less dire than that.
Fumento, an author and journalist, became known for his work in the late 1980s and early 1990s in which he pushed back against the growing claims that AIDS would soon be a crisis for average heterosexual men and women. Public health officials and media outlets at the time predicted that, as one headline put it, "The disease of them is suddenly the disease of us."
"AIDS never shifted," Fumento said in a podcast interview for John Solomon Reports. "It was always a disease, essentially, of gay men, of IV drug users, and initially people who received blood transfusions or hemophiliacs."
Yet "public opinion, the media, the public health services, they all did shift," Fumento said. "They were all desperate to convince us that ‘AIDS doesn’t discriminate.'"
AIDS at its peak in the United States was largely a disease confined to a narrow range of demographics, though the illness has been notably more prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa. Health researchers suggest that the region's more lax attitudes toward multiple sexual partners have likely played a role in its significant spread there.
Yet those patterns never really came to bear in the U.S., even as health officials in the 1980s and 1990s warned that AIDS was on the verge of breaking out among the general population.
“There are echoes of that with COVID-19," Fumento said.
Despite its being "a disease that overwhelmingly discriminates" against "really old people, often 80 and above, who have comorbid conditions," Fumento continued, "we’re told, ‘We’re all in this together.’ It’s really bringing back flashbacks of AIDS going back to 1987."
Fumento said that Robert Redfield, now the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, once estimated that the chance of getting aids between a male and a female having sex could be 50% per contact.
"I don’t think it’s coincidence that that totally irresponsible guy later was promoted to the head of the Centers for Disease Control," Fumento said. "That’s how he got promoted — through being an alarmist. That’s basically how you move up the ladder in today’s public health system."
For the article on which the podcast interview with Michael Fumento was based, Fumento sought comment from the CDC through its media office, but never received a substantive response.
One scientist at the time of the AIDS crisis made a grim prediction that individuals could give each other AIDS simply by casual contact in households. That scientist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, now heads the White House's coronavirus task force.
"The rewards really are in one direction," Fumento said of the public health sector. He cited Neil Ferguson, the British scientist famous for his estimate in March of this year that millions of people could die from the coronavirus in the U.K. and the United States.
"It helps to know," Fumento said, "that Ferguson, decades earlier, also predicted as many as 50,000 deaths from mad cow disease. There were about 200. And he predicted of couple of million deaths from avian flu, and there were 400."
Remarking on alternatives to the doomsday models that have saturated the official response to the coronavirus pandemic, Fumento pointed to Farr's Law. That law, named after 19th century British epidemiologist William Farr, "dictates that any epidemic — smallpox, SARS, COVID — starts out at a steep rate, and then it slows, and then it peaks, and then it declines. It’s more or less a symmetrical bell curve. It’s been going on throughout human history."
Yet Fumento expressed pessimism about the future of public health experts and their ability to appropriately inform the public about outbreaks such as this one.
"The public health service rewards people who are grotesquely wrong, so long as they are grotesquely wrong in the right direction — that is, alarmism, scaring the crap out of innocent human beings," he said.
Friday, May 15, 2020
Thursday, May 14, 2020
Monday, May 11, 2020
Saturday, May 9, 2020
Tuesday, May 5, 2020
Sunday, May 3, 2020
When I speak of a hoax and The Virus, I don’t mean there isn’t in our population a pathogen identified loosely as COVID-19 or, as the “unwoke” might say, the Wuhan Flu. As with past respiratory diseases, it’s also dangerous to the vulnerable. But as data increasingly show — and as I and some others have been saying all along — this current situation is very different from past pandemics in one significant and deadly way: It’s not being treated as only a medical/health issue.
It’s being treated as a political issue.
And as the Soviet Union’s Lysenkoism demonstrated, politics kills science.
I recently dubbed the Wuhan Flu the “Wizard of Oz Virus” because its reputation greatly exceeds its power. This was evident long ago, too. We only had to look at the early data coming out on Italy and a certain quarantined cruise ship, after all.
While the following might have changed a bit over time, we heard early on that 99-plus percent of the Italian victims had comorbidities and that their average age was 79.5. Italy is also a graying nation, with 23 percent of the population in its most affected area (the north) more than 65 years old.
Additionally, Italy has a wanting health care system, and stories emerged about askew triage-oriented priorities causing certain elderly to be denied care. Italy’s economic ties with Beijing also meant there were direct flights from Wuhan and 100,000 Chinese working in its factories.
There are other differences, too. One I pointed out is that Italy has an “un-social-distancing” culture, with acquaintances engaging in a lot of touching, and personal space between them only two to three feet (vs. four in North America).
Then there was the cruise ship Diamond Princess, which was quarantined off Japan’s coast in February and at one time had more than half the Wuhan virus cases outside of China. Of the 3,711 people on board, 712 (19.2 percent) contracted the disease and 13 (1.8 percent) died.
Yet note that this ship was called a disease incubator; the average age of those aboard was 58, with 33 percent over 70; and medical care was sub-par. Note, too, to illustrate the latter group’s (the elderly’s) vulnerability, that they were dying during a four-week stretch in 2018 at “a rate of 169 people a day [in the U.S.], or seven people per hour” of the common flu, reported the AARP.
In other words, there was never a reason to believe the Wuhan virus would transform America into Black Plague-ravaged medieval Europe. The Enemedia pretended to know this at one time, too.
Right after President Trump wisely announced his China travel ban (Jan. 31), the Enemedia, busy calling him “racist” for doing so, ran headlines such as this Feb. 1 Washington Post gem: “Get a grippe, America. The flu is a much bigger threat than coronavirus, for now.”
It was also around this time that Nancy “Let ‘em Eat Ice Cream” Pelosi, Bolshevik Bill (de Blasio) and other leftist pols were encouraging New Yorkers and San Franciscans to visit their Chinatowns, as they played the race card. Now they criticize Trump for not doing more when they counseled doing less.
(Know, too, that Dr. Anthony Fauci said on TV Jan. 29 that Americans didn’t need to change their behavior to combat the virus.)
But the Enemedia weren’t all wrong back then. Consider the following past flu pandemics, with the number of Americans dead accompanied by what that translates into today adjusted for population.
The Spanish Flu pandemic (1918-19) killed 675,000 Americans. Today: equates to a bit more than two million dead.
The “Asian Flu” pandemic of 1957 killed 116,000 Americans. Today: equates to approximately 223,000.
The “Hong Kong Flu” pandemic of 1968 killed at least 100,000 Americans. Today: equates to 164,915.
Thus far, the Wuhan virus has claimed approximately 63,000 Americans — if you can believe the allegedly exaggerated numbers our governments produce.
Moreover, each year the flu claims tens of thousands more U.S. victims, including 61,000 during the 2017-18 winter season and 358 children during 2009-10. (In contrast, there are three “unconfirmed” Wuhan virus pediatric deaths.) But we didn’t run around back then like a jack-booted Chicken Little trampling civil rights and economic fortunes, shutting down schools and complaining about naming the disease after its place of origin.
But, again, in those times disease wasn’t a political issue.
Now, of course, data are showing what cooler heads have long theorized: The Wuhan flu mortality rate may end up being similar to the flu’s; the doom-and-gloom computer-model projections were way off; lockdowns are deadlier than what they supposedly combat; perhaps 80-plus percent of the afflicted are asymptomatic or only mildly affected; the infection rate is far higher than most “experts” suspected; and as with the flu, going outside, living relatively normally and establishing herd immunity (while protecting the vulnerable) is the best way to eliminate the disease.
Yet the Enemedia and leftist politicians, far from correcting their mistakes, are doubling down on destructive policies. Given this, it’s time to examine how the Wuhan Flu was turned into the Wizard of Oz Virus.
Anatomy of a National Hysteria
How we got to where we are now is complex, as man’s events usually are, but here’s a summary:Back when the Democrats and their Enemedia were focused on impeachment, video was emerging from China of government thugs in hazmat suits forcibly extracting people from their homes and spraying down wide areas with disinfectant. (This reaction lends credence to the increasingly accepted thesis that the virus originated in a Wuhan lab, mind you.)And now those officials have formulated a standard for opening the economy that has been called “rigged” and that may be impossible to satisfy. This is despite the Wizard of Oz Virus narrative’s collapse, with a study showing lockdowns don’t work and it becoming clearer, by the day, that they’ll actually lead to more disease and death.
With the impeachment effort’s collapse, the Enemedia turned its attention to the pandemic. After first downplaying it and calling Trump xenophobic, they then began exaggerating it and calling him criminally negligent. They simultaneously commenced showing that alarming Chinese footage, along with reporting massive death in Italy (which also might have been exaggerated) and continually showing videos of coffins, from Italy and later N.Y.C.
Hearing only the Enemedia horror stories and apocalyptic projections, Americans became terrified and panicked — and panicked people don’t make wise decisions. They are easy to control, though.
The Enemedia’s malpractice was devastating. With polls showing up to 80 percent support for lockdowns because of it, it became politically impossible for officials to implement rational policy. Trump and the governors were likely terrified that they’d be blamed for every death if they didn’t “take action.”
The pseudo-elites had and have incentive to keep the hoax going. The Enemedia know that if it bleeds, it leads, but they and the Democrats also wanted to damage Trump. Note that his strong economy has been crashed, and his popular rallies — central to his campaign effort — have been cancelled. Moreover, leftists have used the manufactured crisis to remove rights and advance their agenda, with some actually confessing this Machiavellian goal. Why, some rank-and-file leftists even admitted they’d prefer millions of Wuhan Flu deaths to Trump being re-elected.
It doesn’t help that Trump is a known germaphobe counseled by apparently incompetent and/or corrupt officials such as Fauci and Coronavirus Response Coordinator Deborah Birx.
It would be nice to think that the malicious Machiavellians in media and politics will be held accountable for visiting one of American history’s greatest blunders upon us. But that appears just a dream.
It’s lamentable, surely, and can make one understand why G.K. Chesterton once remarked, “It is terrible to contemplate how few politicians are hanged.”
Saturday, May 2, 2020
Friday, May 1, 2020
Eluwiwulit matemenend wemi linapi nitis payat
Wtenk wulitma maskansisil sakimanep w'tamaganat.
All being friendly, the Affable was chief, the first of that name.
He was very good, this Affable, and came as a friend to all the Lenape.
After this good one, Strong-Buffalo was chief and pipe-bearer.
Lappi tamenend sakimanepit wemi langundit.
Wemi nitis wemi takwicken sakima kichwon.
Again an Affable was chief, and made peace with all,
All were friends, all were united under this great chief.
Wednesday, April 29, 2020
Tuesday, April 28, 2020
Sunday, April 19, 2020
Mary Shippee voted for Senator Bernie Sanders in Wisconsin’s Democratic primary this month, well after it was clear he had no chance to become the party’s presidential nominee.
Now that Mr. Sanders has dropped out and endorsed former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Ms. Shippee is torn over whether to once again cast a vote for a moderate Democrat in November, after grudgingly supporting Hillary Clinton in 2016 and President Barack Obama in 2012.
“What it feels like is the Democratic Party relies on guilting progressives into voting for them, and they don’t want to have any meaningful changes,” said Ms. Shippee, 31, a nursing student in Milwaukee. “For the third election in a row, to have a candidate you’re not excited about makes me a little more interested in voting third party.”
Despite Mr. Sanders’s call to unite behind Mr. Biden to defeat President Trump — whom the Vermont senator described as “the most dangerous president” of modern times — and despite Mr. Obama’s assurance that the party had moved left since he left office, the youthful and impassioned army of Sanders supporters is far from ready to embrace a nominee so unlike the one they pinned their dreams on.
In interviews with two dozen Sanders primary voters across the country this week, there was a nearly universal lack of enthusiasm for Mr. Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee. Some called him a less formidable candidate than Hillary Clinton was in 2016. Many were skeptical of his ability to beat Mr. Trump. Others were quick to critique Mr. Biden’s sometimes incoherent speech.
Taken together, the voters’ doubts raised questions about how many would show up for Mr. Biden in November, including their likelihood to volunteer and organize for him, an important measure of enthusiasm. In a poll last month, four out of five Sanders supporters said they would vote for Mr. Biden, with 15 percent saying they would cross over to Mr. Trump, about the same share that did so in 2016.
Te’wuan Thorne, 24, said it was “up in the air” whether he would vote. A Sanders supporter who recently moved to New York City from Pennsylvania, where he is registered to vote, he said, “If I happen to be at my polling place, I would vote for Biden, but I’m not very enthusiastic about him whatsoever.”
Some Sanders primary voters said they would back a third-party candidate, a few said they would vote for Mr. Trump, and some were wavering about voting at all. Daniel Ray, 27, of Lancaster, Penn., planned to write in Tulsi Gabbard, the congresswoman from Hawaii who ended her long-shot bid for the Democratic nomination last month.
In Facebook groups for Sanders supporters and on Twitter, cynicism persisted about the olive branches on policy that Mr. Biden has offered to progressives and, at the extreme, some accused Mr. Sanders of selling out his leftist movement.
It is clear, if it wasn’t already, that the Sanders base is far different from the supporters of moderate candidates in the primaries, who moved on quickly from their first choices to coalesce around Mr. Biden early last month. For Mr. Sanders, bringing his people on board will not be easy, even though he endorsed Mr. Biden with seeming affection and months earlier than he did Mrs. Clinton in 2016.
Nathaniel Kesselring of Tucson voted for Mr. Sanders in the Arizona primary but said he would not vote for Mr. Biden because progressives should not compromise on issues like “Medicare for all” and free public college tuition.
“If we don’t declare as a movement that this isn’t good enough,” Mr. Kesselring said, referring to Mr. Biden’s moderate policies, “then the Democratic Party has every right to ignore us. I hate the idea of Donald Trump being president for another term, but if that’s what we need to do to make these people take us seriously, that’s what needs to be done.”
“I hate it,” repeated Mr. Kesselring, 45, the vice president of a buyer’s club for diabetes products. “I hate it. But I’m not moving.”
Certainly, as polling shows, the majority of Sanders voters plan to support Mr. Biden. Most of those interviewed who intend to do so called it a hold-your-nose election.
“I will vote for him; Biden is better than Trump, sure,” said Stephen Phillips, 33, who lives in Lakeland, Fla., and has been furloughed from his job in talent recruitment because of the coronavirus outbreak. But he cringed watching Mr. Sanders’s live-streamed endorsement of Mr. Biden on Monday, when the senator spoke extemporaneously while the former vice president seemed to be reading off cue cards. “This guy is going to be running against Donald Trump, who off the cuff can destroy anybody with words.”
Maria Aviles-Hernandez, 24, a Spanish teacher near Rocky Mount, N.C., didn’t vote in 2016 but plans to support Mr. Biden, although Mr. Sanders was her first choice. “I will vote this year, I will make sure of that,” she said. “I didn’t expect Trump to win the first time. The world just surprised me. I don’t want that to happen again.”
A challenge for Mr. Biden in the fall is that even if he has the grudging support of Sanders voters, many may not go out of their way to vote, either by applying for absentee ballots or by traveling home if they are students.
“For a college student, the barriers to get to the voting place are very real,” said Victoria Waring, 21, whose family home is in central Pennsylvania but who attends college in Philadelphia, studying film and animation. “A lot of my friends are disillusioned with the Democratic Party, they feel there’s nothing they can do to be represented, that the establishment will pick whoever they want and it doesn’t matter what we say.”
In 2016, before she was old enough to vote, Ms. Waring organized for Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate. Ms. Waring said she would not volunteer this year for the Biden campaign. “How could I in good faith tell someone to vote for someone who I don’t agree with on any issue?” she asked. “I can’t. No. Absolutely not.”
One survey after the 2016 election indicated that 12 percent of Mr. Sanders’s primary voters ended up voting for Mr. Trump in the general election. Another 8 percent of Sanders supporters voted for a third-party candidate, and 3 percent did not vote. The numbers were in line with past elections when a losing candidate’s primary voters did not support the nominee. But because the 2016 race was so close, with Mr. Trump winning by less than one percentage point in three crucial Rust Belt states, the Sanders drop-off voters helped tilt the election away from Mrs. Clinton.
Younger voters, who overwhelmingly backed Mr. Sanders in this year’s primary race, said Mr. Biden seemed like just another politician with wishy-washy positions on climate change and health care. What they craved, they said, was the type of fundamental change that Mr. Sanders has espoused for decades.
“Joe Biden, he seems fake to me,” said Jacob Davids, 21, a college student in Milwaukee. “I don’t know his policies, and if you haven’t put enough effort into P.R. and media to make viewers like me know where you stand, I’m not going to vote for you.”
Kevin Ridler, 55, voted for Mr. Sanders in this year’s Democratic primary and cast a ballot for Mr. Trump in the 2016 general election. Mr. Ridler lives in rural western Iowa and is the president of a railway maintenance workers’ local in the Midwest. He said he had believed Mr. Trump’s promises that he would be a friend of American workers. Immediately after the election, Mr. Ridler said, his union’s railroad employer refused to renegotiate a contract, citing a “new political climate,” and workers were forced to take a pay cut.
Mr. Ridler now calls his vote for Mr. Trump “a mistake” that he will not repeat.
He supported Mr. Sanders in Iowa’s caucuses. But he has a powerful dislike of Mr. Biden, whom he called dishonest, throwing in a few epithets. “I think he’s got dementia,” he said.
“Honestly, I hate to not vote at all,” he said, speaking from a railway bridge under construction outside Jefferson City, Mo. “I know that’s not the right thing to do, but that’s kind of what’s going to happen here.”
Robert Grullon, 29, a carpenter at a door factory near Melbourne, Fla., liked Mr. Sanders’s promises to raise the minimum wage and provide health care for all. “We love Bernie,” he said. “Bernie’s our guy.”
He complained that Hispanic voters and black voters — he is third-generation Dominican-American — tend to support Democrats but don’t get much back. “When are they going to have something for blacks and Hispanics, just for us?” he said. Mr. Biden struck him as just another politician in a blue suit.
“To tell you the truth, Trump might get my vote,” he said. “Donald Trump is a person who’s always been known in our community — I like hip-hop — we idolized him because he was a billionaire, he has been in rap videos, he has friends who are African-American.”
In eastern Iowa on Tuesday, Kelly Manning had just finished her route as a letter carrier for the Postal Service, which has lost millions in revenue during the pandemic even as Mr. Trump tries to block relief funding for the agency. Ms. Manning, 55, caucused for Mr. Sanders in Burlington, on the Mississippi River. She heard Mr. Biden speak when he came through Iowa, though she said he had made her nearly doze off.
“I’ll hold my nose and vote for Biden,” she said.
Her 31-year-old son, Mason Blow, is another matter. A staunch Sanders supporter, he voted for a third-party candidate in 2016. Ms. Manning said she and her sister were “working on him” to vote for Mr. Biden, to prevent a second Trump term.
“He said he won’t vote for Biden, he’s going to write in Bernie this time,” Ms. Manning said. “The younger people, they’re not used to having their dream crushed as we are."
Saturday, April 18, 2020
Large-scale Santa Clara antibody test suggests COVID-19 cases are underreported by factor of 50-85
It has long been assumed by medical experts that the United States is drastically underreporting the actual number of COVID-19 infections across the country due to limited testing and a high number of asymptomatic cases.
Large-scale antibody tests are expected to give researchers an idea of just how widespread the outbreak is, and preliminary results from the first such test in Santa Clara County suggest we are underreporting cases by at least a factor of 50.
In early April, Stanford University researchers conducted an antibody test of 3,300 residents in the county that were recruited through targeted Facebook ads. Researchers hoped to put together a sample that was representative of the county's population by selecting individuals based on their age, race, gender and zip code to extrapolate study results to the larger community.
The results of the study are preliminary and not peer-reviewed, but the general takeaways would seem to strongly contribute to the notion that there have been a large number of COVID-19 cases that went undetected.
Due to questions over the antibody tests' efficacy, researchers adjusted for test performance characteristics by using the test manufacturer's data and a sample of controls tested at Stanford University. Again, the results are preliminary and the study has not been peer-reviewed, but researchers found a raw, unadjusted antibody prevalence of 1.5 percent, which was scaled up to 2.5-4.2 percent when adjusting for population and test performance characteristics.
Researchers estimate that if 2.5 to 4.2 percent of the county has already been infected, the true number of total cases in early April — both active and recovered — ranges between 48,000 and 81,000. The county had reported just under 1,000 cases at the time the study was conducted, which would mean cases are being underreported by a factor of 50 to 85.
“Our findings suggest that there is somewhere between 50- and 80-fold more infections in our county than what’s known by the number of cases than are reported by our department of public health," Dr. Eran Bendavid, the Stanford professor who led the study, told ABC News.
If the study's numbers are accurate, the true mortality and hospitalization rates of COVID-19 are both substantially lower than current estimates, and due to lag between infection and death, researchers project a true mortality rate between .12 and .20. Results also suggest the county is nowhere near "herd immunity," as scientists estimate that 50-60% of the population would need to be infected for the virus to have nowhere to spread.
However, the study's authors caution against extrapolating Santa Clara County results to the rest of the country. The county reported its first case on January 31, and was one of the early national "hot spots" where the virus had gained a foothold. Researchers also acknowledge other limitations of the study, including an overrepresentation of white women between ages 19-64, and "other biases, such as bias favoring individuals in good health capable of attending our testing sites, or bias favoring those with prior COVID-like illnesses seeking antibody confirmation."
In San Mateo County, health officer Scott Morrow made a similar estimation on Monday night.
"I hesitate to give you the following numbers, because first of all they are a guess, and secondly because some will think they are too low to take action," he wrote in a message to the community. "My best guess is that approximately 2-3% of the SMC population are currently infected or have recovered from the infection. That’s around 15-25,000 people and they are all over the county and in every community. I don’t believe this number is off by a factor of 10, but it could be off by a factor of 2 to 3."
At the time of his announcement, the county had 699 confirmed cases of the virus, meaning if Morrow's numbers are correct, the county has identified just 2.7-4.5 percent of its total cases.
Friday, April 17, 2020
from American Thinker
Is it not possible to assume that the Influenza-Like Illness (ILI) seen in American hospitals since January -- illnesses that weren't positive for flu but acted like the flu -- could have been untested SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) and thus remained unknown? This has been recorded as one of the largest flu seasons in the U.S. since 2009 with hundreds of thousands of cases of ILI collected by CDC surveillance.
When CDC COVID-19 testing data are overlaid on a graph with reported influenza-like-illness data (because ILI numbers were at least two orders of magnitude higher, CDC COVID-19 testing numbers were multiplied by 100 to make a graphic comparison easier to see.), the data curves are strikingly similar. This could indicate that as people exhibiting flulike illnesses (110,554 in week 6) were seen by U.S. physicians unable to diagnose them with a known influenza, physicians with the ability, had ILI patients tested for COVID-19, sending those tests to the CDC for verification.
SARS Ig immunity appears (from non-peer reviewed research) to last for 12 years and continued comparison studies with SARS and SARS-CoV-2 indicates that CoV-2 response will mirror SARS.
So, though an increase in testing will inevitably capture more cases, if SARS-CoV-2 has been circulating in the population since November and has conferred immunity on surviving patients similar to SARS, the number of cases and COVID-19 deaths should stay relatively low -- and isn’t that what’s being reported in real time?
It’s important to analyze and remember this scenario as the U.S. emerges from its quarantine cocoon to the inevitable cries from politicians of “But we had to act to keep people safe,” and “If we hadn’t shut everything down the death rate would have been so much worse.”
It’s understandable when situations involving human life elicit emotional responses over the rational. Christian hearts especially are geared to Jesus’ new and most important of all commandments. But it appears that many more lives will be affected by hardships invoked through the current economic freefall than the virus itself. Now is the time to practice appropriate risk assessment for our nation and allow its citizens to get back to work. One day, a pandemic of real consequence will sweep across the globe. People will need to be able to listen to adept and accurate warnings without wondering if they’re hearing the Boy Who Cried Wolf.
Sunday, April 12, 2020
So how come "Total" deaths are declining significantly in the last few weeks... while "Covid" deaths are up, deaths from "Influenza" and "Pneumonia" are down SIGNIFICANTLY? Is this simply a fake attribution of pneumonia and influenza (et al) related deaths to Covid?
Sweden records just SEVENTEEN new deaths from coronavirus - its lowest daily rise in a fortnight - as new infections plummet to only 466 cases-Sweden has recorded 17 deaths and just 466 cases of the coronavirus on Friday
-The majority of cases came from Stockholm - where cafes and bars remain open
-The figures announced Friday are surprisingly low compared to previous days
-The country's total number of cases now stands at 10,151, with 887 known deaths
Sweden has seen its lowest increase in the coronavirus death toll for almost a fortnight, with only 17 fatalities reported on Friday.
The number of new cases also fell again to 466, following a two-day peak of 700+ cases per day.
The low figures come despite the country not enforcing a lockdown, piling pressure on the UK and other countries that did enact stricter measures to contain the virus.
The totals, announced at 2pm today, are surprisingly low compared to the sharp increase Sweden had been experiencing during the week.
The country's total number of cases now stands at 10,151, with 887 confirmed deaths.
However, trends in the data released by the country's Public Health Authority show that confirmed deaths and cases fall over the weekend before rising again, because of what is believed to be a delay in reporting.
The Stockholm and Sörmland regions have been hit hardest by the pandemic.
However today people were seen enjoying the sunshine outside cafes and bars in the Swedish capital on the eve of Easter Sunday, after officials did not enforce a shutdown.
Yesterday, the daily death toll and the number of new coronavirus cases both fell.
There 77 new deaths - down from 106 on Thursday. The number of confirmed infections went up by 544, a drop of nearly a quarter from yesterday's near-record figure of 722.
These figures will likely be used to pressure governments which have resorted to lockdowns to battle Covid-19 to lift the draconian restrictions.
More than 4,000 of the country's 9,685 confirmed cases are in the Stockholm area, according to official figures.
The government has also carried out random sampling which suggests that as many as 2.5 per cent of people in Stockholm have been infected.
That implies a higher figure of around 60,000 in the Stockholm region, suggesting that many people have had the virus without being added to the official count.
Unlike most of Europe, Sweden has not imposed a lockdown, and primary schools, shops, cafes, restaurants and bars remain open.
People are not generally ordered to stay at home, although they are told to isolate at the first sign of 'slight cold-like symptoms'.
Swedes are advised to 'keep your distance' at gyms and sports facilities rather than avoiding them altogether.
There is a ban on gatherings of more than 50 people, but the rule is far more generous than the limit of two that Britain and Germany have set.
Finland has already moved to limit border crossings, fearing that the virus will spread from Sweden.
The government in Stockholm has emphasised taking personal responsibility for public health, but most of its measures are not enforced.
The lack of a lockdown makes Sweden an outlier, but the government has rejected Donald Trump's claims that the country is 'suffering' more than others.
Asked at a White House briefing on Tuesday what advice he would offer to leaders who were skeptical of social distancing measures, Trump replied: 'There aren't too many of them... They talk about Sweden, but Sweden is suffering very gravely.'
Swedish foreign minister Ann Linde pushed back against Trump's claim that Sweden was not doing enough.
'We are doing about the same things that many other countries are doing, but in a different way,' Linde told broadcaster TV4.
'We trust that people take responsibility.'
Government epidemiologist Anders Tegnell said he did not believe Sweden was suffering any more than any other country.
'No, we don't share his opinion,' he told reporters, referring to Trump.
'Of course we're suffering. Everybody in the world is suffering right now, in different ways,' he said.
'But Swedish healthcare, which I guess he alludes to... is taking care of this in a very good manner.
'It's a lot of work, it's a lot of stress on the personnel and it's really a fight for them every day, but it's working.'
Prime minister Stefan Lofven says that while most measures were not bans he still expected all Swedes to comply.
'The advise from the authorities are not just little hints,' he said. 'It is expected that we follow them every day, every minute.'
The United States is staring at a cinema-worthy apocalypse. You know, with feral animals eating human corpses, mutant plants reoccupying streets and buildings, empty restaurants and malls across the landscape . . .
Well, that last part is true, anyway. Not because of the disease, but rather the hysteria.
You’ve heard the apocalyptic claims. Imperial College in London estimates as many as 2.2 million U.S. deaths, depending on how drastically the population is locked down, locked out, and locked in. To reduce that figure to a “mere” 1.1 million, we would need to live a maximum-security lifestyle “until a vaccine becomes available (potentially eighteen months or more),” they said. The CDC has issued an estimate of as many as 1.7 million American deaths.
Yet with lesser measures in place now—and for a very short period—the market has crashed, unemployment claims are being filed at levels unseen since the height of the Great Recession, and there looms a real possibility of a worldwide depression. Yet there are those who say such measures aren’t nearly draconian enough.
Do we really need to destroy the country to save it?
Consider that China was taken completely unaware by the virus and, with an unfit healthcare system and poor public hygiene, has so far reported fewer than 3,300 deaths. Their epidemic peaked over five weeks ago with almost no new cases now. Based on the above predictions, despite a vastly better healthcare system, the United States can expect a per capita death rate about 2,500 times higher than the Middle Kingdom. Seriously, Imperial College?
You could quit reading right there. But please, don’t. The utter insanity here is worth documenting. It’s also worth knowing why even the low-end U.S. estimates are nonsense.
The pandemic is showing signs of slowing worldwide. And that was to be expected per what’s called “Farr’s Law,” which dictates that all epidemics tend to rise and fall in a roughly symmetrical pattern or bell-shaped curve. Ebola, Zika, SARS, and AIDS all followed that pattern. So does the seasonal flu each year. Peaks for COVID-19 have already been reported in China, South Korea, and Singapore.
Importantly, Farr’s Law has precious little to do with human interventions such as “social distancing” to “flatten the curve.” It occurs because communicable diseases nab the “low-hanging fruit” first (in this case the elderly with comorbid conditions) but then find subsequent victims harder and harder to reach. Until now, more or less, COVID-19 has been finding that low-hanging fruit in new countries, but the supply is close to running out. While many people assume that the draconian regulations implemented in China are what brought the virus under control, Farr’s Law offers a different explanation. Even The New York Times admitted that South Korea recovered far more quickly with regulatory measures nowhere near the scale of China’s—although the Times still attributes that entirely to human intervention, of course, assigning no role to Mother Nature.
When the coronavirus epidemic ends and the public-health zealots inevitably slap themselves on the back for having prevented the nightmare scenarios they themselves cooked up, don’t buy it. This isn’t to say that thorough hand-washing several times a day and not sneezing and coughing in others’ faces won’t help: It will. But the authoritarian and economically devastating measures taken by the United States and other countries are wrecking the world economy. Any feared apocalypse would happen on their account, not the disease’s.
Coronavirus has not emptied our streets; government dictates have.
Right now, we’re seeing such a dramatic spike in cases because testing has only recently become readily available in the United States, due to a delay in the CDC developing its own assay. This availability has been almost universally hailed as a good thing, but it has at least two bad aspects.
First, tests will pick up many asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic people, who will be counted as “cases” just as much as those on death’s door. This will further contribute to hysteria. Second, many of those highly mild cases will suddenly develop “nocebo” symptoms (the opposite of placebo), in which negative expectations seem to cause real symptoms. This will only add to the confusion. Nocebo symptoms are psychosomatic but can feel very real. They can definitely mimic COVID-19 symptoms like fatigue and shortness of breath. It’s a good guess that hospitals are already seeing their share of the “worried well,” people who were feeling more or less okay before they tested positive and suddenly feel deathly ill.
On the positive side, the more you test, the lower the death rate becomes, because the denominator grows faster than the numerator. Rather than the 3.4% rate the WHO touted in early March, the crude U.S. death rate is about 1.35%. As testing continues, the rate will drop even further.
So how many deaths can the United States reasonably expect? From what the media tell us, “Italy’s Coronavirus Crisis Could Be America’s.” Really?
That country so far has had just over 7,500 deaths out of a population of 50 million, but the number of new cases and the number of deaths per day have peaked, with the highest number coming on March 21.
Still, at this point that’s a stunning 10% crude death rate, by far the highest death percentage in the world, which of course is why the media choose to focus on it almost exclusively. Germany, by contrast, has only about 240 deaths out of a much larger population.
But why is this happening in Italy? Partly because Italy simply doesn’t have a great health care system. Last year, the Nuclear Threat Initiative and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security ranked the United States the best prepared country in the world to handle a pandemic in late 2019. Italy came in thirty-first place.
As Forbes recently noted, U.S. hospitals have vastly more critical care beds per capita than Italy, which in turn has more than South Korea. And you don’t even want to hear about China. Bed pretty much equals floor.
Beyond that, Italy also has the fifth-oldest population in the world; the United States ranks sixty-first. We already knew from data released by the Chinese Center for Disease Control that COVID-19 preys overwhelmingly upon the old and infirm, with death rates dramatically higher for those aged seventy and older. Further, almost all the elderly dead in that study had “comorbid” conditions of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or hypertension.
Similarly, a March 17 study in Italy found that the vast majority of those who had died in that country thus far were over the age of seventy, and virtually all had comorbid conditions; in fact, half of those who died had three or more. Almost nobody under the age of fifty has succumbed, and almost all who have also had serious existing medical conditions. This may reveal something about Italy’s healthcare system, but it’s not a portent of America’s future.
Yet another U.S. advantage is that the disease hit here later than in Italy (and Asia, of course). Spring is in the air. Respiratory viruses usually hate warm, moist, sunny weather. Hence flu arrives in the United States in the fall and disappears by April or May. We know the “common cold” is rare in summer; many colds, in fact, are caused by different coronavirus strains.
SARS was a coronavirus and simply died out between April and July, 2003. The media and public health alarmists cite MERS-CoV as an exception, but it also flounders in warm, wet weather. Public health officials and the media desperately want you to think this coronavirus is different, but evidence so far suggests that it follows the usual seasonal patterns.
This year, the flu peaked in February. It’s possible that, even now, warmer weather is affecting U.S. coronavirus spread. Will it come back in autumn? Probably. But by then many in the population will have had exposure immunity, hospitals will be better prepared, the “worried well” problem will be diminished for lack of novelty, and we’ll have time to see if anything in our arsenal of antivirals and other medicines is truly effective. (No, there will be no vaccine available.)
Meanwhile, it’s very difficult to assess the effectiveness of the restrictive measures blanketing most of the country. We know hermits don’t get contagious diseases, but there’s a reason the term “society of hermits” is an oxymoron. South Korea didn’t need such drastic measures and Sweden hasn’t used them, even as its neighbor Norway has been praised for early implementation. For its efforts, Norway has been rewarded with twice as many cases per capita and is suddenly suffering its highest unemployment rate in eighty years.
But as always, we follow the dictates of the public health zealots, the media, and the power-hungry pols. Reality is bitter medicine; hysteria may taste sweeter at first, but it has dubious benefits.
Saturday, April 11, 2020
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) has drafted an amendment to a Republican plan that will ensure millions of very low-income, poor Americans are eligible for $1,200 or more in federal payments in the midst of the coronavirus crisis.So where are all the Progressive Democrats? They're holding up relief bills for working Americans like this instead of backing them.
Current legislation to give a quasi-Universal Basic Income (UBI) to Americans excludes those making under $2,500 or less a year. These are the lowest, poorest Americans and also American college students who do not necessarily work all year long.
Hawley’s amendment would end that income threshold and give money all Americans with a Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.
“Relief to families in this emergency shouldn’t be regressive,” Hawley wrote online. “Lower-income families shouldn’t be penalized.”
Cash to Americans — a plan originally touted by businessman Andrew Yang as a permanent program that would replace all existing forms of welfare — was most recently touted by Breitbart News’s Economic Editor John Carney, who called on Congress to implement a policy in which every American, including those earning over $75,000 a year, are sent the payment:
We need to put cash into the hands of the American people as quickly as possible.Millions of American workers have been forced to stay home from their jobs, as restaurants, bars, and other businesses have been required to close in many states.
I propose $1,000 of cash for every U.S. citizen. A family of four gets $4000 per month for the duration of the crisis. Bigger families get more. This boost of income will allow Americans to build emergency savings without having to drastically cut down on their spending.
This will not stop all the job losses but it will make them less painful. More importantly, it will make it far less likely that we go from stage one to stage two. It will make it more likely that the economic emergency can be contained to frontline effects.
These service industry workers generally rely on tips and minimum wage to pay their rent, mortgage, and other monthly bills. Often, they have no longtime financial security in place to tap into during emergency situations.
In total, the latest JPMorgan Chase analysis finds that about one-in-four American families do not have any savings and nearly half of Americans would struggle to pay $400 to cover an emergency.