Sandro Botticelli Portrait of a Young Woman 1480 – 1485
Geert’s New Year message: What’s next in 2022
“The horrific scenes that we saw a year ago – intensive care units being full, lots of people dying prematurely – that is now history in my view..”
Professor Sir John Bell, a member of the Vaccines Taskforce, has expressed his optimism that “the horrific scenes that we saw a year ago”, which he says involved the NHS being pushed to breaking point along with mass deaths from the virus, “is now history”. For this reason, Bell has supported Boris Johnson’s move not to tighten Covid restrictions in England. The Mail has more. “The message came as a leading vaccines expert backed Boris Johnson’s refusal to toughen England’s Covid restrictions to bring them into line with the other Home Nations, saying that mass deaths and hospitalisations from the deadly disease are “history”.
Professor Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University and a member of the Vaccines Taskforce, said the public had been “pretty responsible” in its response to the spread of the Omicron variant. Speaking to broadcasters about New Year celebrations this afternoon, Care Minister Gillian Keegan said: “We have always said ‘act cautiously’ since this new variant came among us. “It is highly infectious and many people will know people who have caught this over the Christmas period. “So do be cautious, take an Lateral Flow Test (LFT) before you go out. Go to well-ventilated areas; I have been to a couple of outdoor parties actually, people have moved things to outside. “So just be cautious, but do try to enjoy yourself as well but cautiously.” It came as new figures showed the number of people in hospital with Covid in England is less than half the same time last year – despite cases being three times higher…
Johnson, who is at his Chequers country retreat, left it to Health Secretary Sajid Javid to face the cameras to announce the decision, although he later tweeted advice to Brits to exercise caution at the new year. “The Health Minister has taken advice and looked at the data. I think his judgment where we should go in the next few days is probably fine,” Bell told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme. “There are a lot of people who are aware that we are in the face of this large wave of disease. The behaviour of people in the U.K., in England in particular, has been pretty responsible in terms of trying not to go out and spending a lot of time exposing yourself to the virus.” He added: “The horrific scenes that we saw a year ago – intensive care units being full, lots of people dying prematurely – that is now history in my view and I think we should be reassured that that’s likely to continue.”
“..patients are being discharged as fast as they are being admitted.”
Guys, I don’t know how to say this any more clearly: it is OVER. The Omicold (pronounced Immacold) variant is about to bring this clown show to its inevitable conclusion. I know none of our supposedly non-racist public health authorities were willing to believe the South African numbers, but we now have almost a month of data out of Denmark. They are real. And they are spectacular. Between Dec. 13 and Dec. 20, Denmark reported approximately 50,000 confirmed Omicron cases. Given the approximately one-week lag between infection and hospitalization, those people should be flooding into hospitals. EXCEPT THE NUMBER OF OMICRON PATIENTS IN DANISH HOSPITALS HAS NOT RISEN IN THE LAST WEEK.
You read that right. 50,000 positive tests the week before, no change in hospitalizations. Admissions have risen slightly, but patients are being discharged as fast as they are being admitted. The result: as of Dec. 21, Danish hospitals had 47 Omicron patients, with under five (the report is not more specific) in intensive care. As of Dec. 27, the hospitals had 51 Omicron patients, again with under five in intensive care. The question is no longer whether Omicron is a cold. It’s whether it’s as dangerous as a cold. (And, again, this has nothing to do with Covid vaccines; most South Africans are not vaccinated, and the pattern there was the same.)
The only sane political move at this point is to drop ALL mandates – vaccine and otherwise – and ALL asymptomatic or quarantine testing (dropping all non-hospital testing would be even better) – and declare victory and go home. Even if the country weren’t burned out on scare stories and sick of being lied to, the reality of these figures is already obvious to most people. (Including LeBron James.) When your media water-carriers have to write articles explaining the difference between Covid and a cold… it’s over. So why won’t Uncle Joe just say so? Because the current strategy isn’t working – not politically, and not for the country. It’s time to surrender to the ro like you did to the Taliban and to inflation. At least this time admitting the problem will fix it.
“..the triple vaccinated were 4.45 times more likely than the unvaccinated to have Omicron..”
Norman Fenton points out an interesting tidbit in the 21 December UK Office of National Statistics infection survey, on “Characteristics related to having an Omicron compatible result in those who test positive for COVID-19”. The data is for infections from 29 November to 12 December. First, this remarkable passage from the results sheet: Those who have received three doses of a vaccine and test positive for COVID-19 are more likely to be infected with infections compatible with the Omicron variant compared with those who are unvaccinated, though individuals who had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine continued to be less likely to test positive for COVID-19, regardless of variant. It is too early to draw conclusions from our data on the effectiveness of vaccines against the Omicron variant.
Yes, the numbers are very small. Yes, the 95% confidence intervals are enormous. Nevertheless: According to these numbers, the triple vaccinated were 4.45 times more likely than the unvaccinated to have Omicron, among those who tested positive for Corona. For comparison, those with recent travel abroad were 4.6 times more likely than the unvaccinated to have Omicron, while the double vaccinated were 2.26 times more likely, and the single vaccinated 1.57 times more likely. This squares entirely with the preliminary data from Denmark, which has the double vaccinated sliding into negative efficacy against Omicron (but not Delta) after 90 days. The authors of that study tried to talk away this awkward result by claiming that it “was likely the result of Omicron spreading rapidly initially through single (super-spreading) events causing many infections among young, vaccinated individuals.” The more the same effect is viewed in other data sets, the less likely that explanation becomes.
The vaccine distributes the spike protein to locations where the virus does not.
Bhakdi and Burkhardt are critizied, of course, but let’s have the discussion.
I got an email recently from Mike Yeadon, former VP of Pfizer, who urged me to check out this video. He wrote me this email on 12/24/21: “Steve, This is about the worst 15min I’ve ever seen. Mass covid19 vaccination is leading to mass murder. Mike” The video references this paper, posted on December 10, 2021, On COVID vaccines: why they cannot work, and irrefutable evidence of their causative role in deaths after vaccination by Sucharit Bhakdi, MD and Arne Burkhardt, MD. It has been getting a lot of attention lately. The authors did an autopsy in 15 patients who died (from 7 days to 6 months) after receiving the COVID vaccine. These were all cases where the coroner ruled as NOT being caused by the vaccine. They discovered that in 14 of the 15 patients there was widespread evidence of the body attacking itself, something that is never seen before. The heart was attacked in all 14 cases.
A number of salient aspects dominated in all affected tissues of all cases: • inflammatory events in small blood vessels (endotheliitis), characterized by an abundance of T-lymphocytes and sequestered, dead endothelial cells within the vessel lumen; • the extensive perivascular accumulation of T-lymphocytes; • a massive lymphocytic infiltration of surrounding non-lymphatic organs or tissue with T-lymphocytes. Lymphocytic infiltration occasionally occurred in combination with intense lymphocytic activation and follicle formation. Where these were present, they were usually accompanied by tissue destruction. VAERS as well as other independent studies shows the vaccines are killing people and that cardiac events were highly elevated. This study is consistent with those results. This work independently validates the analysis of Peter Schimacher who showed a minimum of 30% to 40% of the deaths after vaccine were caused by the vaccine.
“..the problems with the “pandemic of the unvaccinated” message pre-date the variant that rendered it factually ludicrous.”
If you spend too much time observing the way politicians speak, you’ll pick up an almost perceptibly mechanical gear-shift in their heads when the brain-groove reminds them to reproduce an anecdote or talking point they have formulated so many times before. Occasionally the subconscious rebels against the alienating monotony with apologetic prefix clauses like, “That’s why I like to say,” or “I always tell the story that,” but the pre-sets mostly override such human twitches to deliver the desired political result. So it was for President Joe Biden’s counterproductive “pandemic of the unvaccinated” slogan, which the White House COVID-19 Response Team introduced in mid-July, and which the president was still regurgitating inaccurately as late as December 14.
In a local TV interview with News Center 7 in Dayton, Ohio, the president was asked about whether his administration would continue fighting his contested employer vaccine mandates in court. The politician-brain quickly whirred into gear. “This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. The unvaccinated. Not the vaccinated, the unvaccinated,” Biden emphasized, on the same day that the omicron variant produced a one-day positive-case increase of 16 percent in highly vaccinated New York City. “That’s the problem. And so everybody talks about ‘freedom,’ and not to have a shot or have a test. Well guess what? How about patriotism? How about making sure that you’re vaccinated, so you do not spread the disease to anybody else? What about that?” What about that indeed.
New York City’s one-shot vaccination rate (of 92 percent for adults, 83 percent for kids between 13 and 17) “rivals any number in the free world,” Politico’s Jack Shafer observed last week, and yet somehow my vaccinated teen and boosted self spent Christmas under quarantine. The fact-checkers over at The Poynter Institute’s PolitiFact generously rated Biden’s “vaccinated…do not spread the disease” claim as only “mostly” false, despite epidemiologist quotes like “[the] statement is not accurate,” and “vaccinated individuals can definitely infect other people.” But the problems with the “pandemic of the unvaccinated” message pre-date the variant that rendered it factually ludicrous.
On September 16, one week after Biden reversed serial administration promises by announcing an employer vaccine mandate (while using language such as “We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin. And your refusal has cost all of us”), science writer Yasmin Tayag penned an Atlantic piece headlined “Stop Calling It a ‘Pandemic of the Unvaccinated.'” “Bullying the unvaccinated into getting their shots isn’t going to work in the long run,” Tayag predicted, in a piece surveying a field of study (behavioral science) to which the White House seems oblivious. “The way the mandates are being presented is driving a wedge between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. If the goal is to inoculate enough people to reach herd immunity, this approach may eventually backfire.”
The WHO needs to maintain the narrative.
But in reality, the UK on Dec 27 had 143,071 “new cases” and 407 hospitalizations. Not overwhelming.
The World Health Organization has warned that the Omicron coronavirus variant could lead to overwhelmed healthcare systems even though early studies suggest it sparks milder disease, as daily case records fell across Europe and the US while China, South Africa and Germany brought back tough restrictions to stamp out infections. Covid-19 surges have wreaked havoc around the world, forcing many nations to make tough choices between economically punishing restrictions and controlling the spread of the virus. The United States has halved the isolation period for asymptomatic cases to try and blunt the disruption, while France has ordered companies to have employees work from home at least three days a week.
Contact restrictions were in place in Germany for the second year in a row heading into the New Year, as Europe’s biggest economy shuttered nightclubs and forced sports competitions behind closed doors. Despite facing a much smaller outbreak compared with global virus hotspots, China has not relaxed its “zero Covid” strategy, imposing stay-at-home orders in many parts of the city of Yan’an. [..] Beyond social strife, the pandemic has been punishing economically, in particular for sectors like travel. Some 11,500 flights have been scrapped worldwide since Friday, and tens of thousands more delayed, during one of the year’s busiest travel periods. Multiple airlines have blamed staffing shortages caused by spikes of Omicron cases.
The surge in the US has been fuelled by the Omicron variant, as well as large pockets of unvaccinated residents and a lack of access to quick and easy testing. President Joe Biden said Monday some US hospitals could be “overrun” but that the country was generally well prepared. He stressed that Omicron would not have the same impact as the initial Covid outbreak or the Delta variant surge this year. “Omicron is a source of concern, but it should not be a source of panic,” Biden said.
“I wonder if it could be caused by the ivermectin? What do you think?”
I cannot recall a time in American history where the medical boards would go after you for prescribing an approved drug off-label for a condition that is supported by over 60 positive studies and multiple peer-reviewed systematic reviews and meta-analyses which is the highest level of evidence-based medicine. Can you? Is there a cost-benefit analysis somewhere that I missed showing that ivermectin causes harm? If the cost-benefit analysis is clearly negative, how could those positive meta-analyses been published? Why is the FDA to be on the warpath against ivermectin? Check out this article: TrialSiteNews entitled “Feds Coming After Doctors & Pharmacies that Market Ivermectin as Effective & Safe for COVID-19.” Perhaps they don’t want you to take it because if people found out it works, the pandemic would be over? Wow. That would be really evil.
Let’s look at a country that is allowed to use ivermectin: Japan . Here’s an article describing how Japan is using ivermectin to combat COVID. Here’s an excerpt: “Ivermectin was discarded unceremoniously till now, but Japan has demonstrated that the drug can be used as a more effective cure and a permanent substitute for the Coronavirus vaccines produced by big pharmaceutical companies. The Pandemic in Japan was going out of control, yet the Japanese government was smart enough to look beyond vaccines in its COVID-19 containment efforts. In September, Japan deployed Ivermectin and legalising the use of the anti-parasitic drug has helped people recover from COVID-19 with more durable and long-lasting immunity.
Caseloads have come down rapidly without the need for booster vaccination doses. In Tokyo, there were around 6,000 cases in the middle of August, but the number has now dropped down to below one hundred. Japan is now overcoming the Coronavirus, with the number of COVID tests dropping from 25% in the fag end of August to just 1% mid-October. Ivermectin use is thus helping Japan permanently beat the COVID-19 Pandemic. If and when vaccine efficacy wanes, Japan will have a choice- using an anti-parasitic medicine as a permanent cure to ensure speedy recovery of infected patients with durable immunity. Japan has thus crushed Big Pharma with a small move- deploying the use of Ivermectin.”
Let’s look at death rates in Japan vs. the US. See a difference? On a per capita basis, Japan is beating the US by a factor of 17. As soon as Japan rolled out ivermectin, their death rates dropped rapidly to 0. I wonder if it could be caused by the ivermectin? What do you think?
Is the Imperial College of London (ICL) the worst predictor ever?
While most countries imposed lockdowns, Sweden resisted. The Swedish government recommended social distancing and banned gatherings of more than 50 people, but it did not require businesses to close. Because of differences in population mobility, density, size, and the environment, a comparison of Sweden to the United States isn’t possible. What is possible is a comparison of Sweden to Sweden. The Imperial College of London (ICL) produced the early forecasts of Covid deaths. These were the forecasts on which politicians based their policy decisions. Applying the ICL forecast model to Sweden, Swedish epidemiologists predicted that, by July 1 2020, Sweden would have suffered 96,000 deaths if it had done nothing, and 81,600 deaths with the few policies that it did employ. In fact, by July 1, Sweden had suffered only 5,500 deaths.
The ICL model overestimated Sweden’s Covid deaths by a factor of nearly fifteen. Early ICL forecasts indicated that, unchecked, Covid would kill 40 million worldwide in 2020, and that the number could be cut in half by social distancing and isolating the elderly. According to the World Health Organization, worldwide Covid deaths for 2020 totaled 1.8 million. The ICL model overestimated world Covid deaths by a factor of ten. For 2020, the same ICL forecasting model also predicted that, if the countries did nothing in response to Covid, up to 2.2 million people in the US and another 550,000 in the UK would directly die from Covid.
Suppose that ICL predictions of US and UK Covid deaths were overstated only by a factor of three. Then, in the absence of lockdowns and mandatory masks, the United States could have expected around 730,000 Covid deaths and the UK 180,000 in 2020. How many people actually died? In 2020, the number of direct deaths due to Covid were approximately 360,000 in the US and 77,000 in the UK. Thus, even assuming that the ICL model had a significantly smaller bias than it demonstrated elsewhere, the lockdowns appear to have only saved around 370,000 lives in the US and 103,000 in the UK. To further skew these estimates, the ICL model assumes nonpharmaceutical interventions only. The widespread availability in the US of a vaccine, beginning in mid-2020, further reduces the number of lives the lockdowns saved.
In short, however many lives the lockdowns did save, they were far fewer than what the ICL models predicted they would save. As with all things, lockdowns do not come without tradeoffs. Some people died of cancer, kidney disease, and other non-Covid causes because they were afraid to go to hospitals out of fear of contracting Covid. In Canada, cancer screening was suspended so that hospital resources could be devoted to Covid care. Early estimates show up to a 10 percent increase in cancer deaths as a consequence. In the US in the early days of Covid, there was a 30 percent decline in the number of people seeking initial treatment for kidney disease.
CDC and WHO are useless. One of many things the pandemic has exposed.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has revised down its estimates for US infection by the Omicron variant, stating it accounts for approximately 59% of all Covid cases in the US, not 73% as it previously said. Nevertheless, the figures issued Tuesday indicates that Omicron is spreading rapidly in the US, growing from a revised estimate of 23% of cases as of 18 December. The correction shows that until the week before Christmas, the Delta variant remained dominant. “Setting aside the question of how the initial estimate was so inaccurate, if CDC’s new estimate of #Omicron prevalence is precise then it suggests that a good portion of the current hospitalizations we’re seeing from Covid may still be driven by Delta infections,” Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, posted on Twitter.
The disparity in estimates, while confirming the rapid spread of Omicron, also speaks to relative lack of precision in detecting a new variant that can only be confirmed by genetic analysis. The news comes as the US surpassed its all-time total for new cases, according to figures from Johns Hopkins, with the daily total soaring above 512,000. However, the numbers come with the caveat that many testing centers were closed over the holiday weekend, and a CDC spokesperson told Politico that the number was likely an “overestimate” due to a delay in state reporting. Separately, the former US surgeon general Jerome Adams criticized the CDC for its revision Monday to cut Covid isolation periods from ten days to five.
“I love the CDC. Grew up wanting to work there and have been one of their most ardent defenders. I never dreamed the day would come when I would advise people NOT to follow their guidance,” Adams said in a tweet on Tuesday. “They wouldn’t even follow it for their own family.” The CDC also announced Tuesday that the United States has administered 505,013,980 doses of the Covid-19 vaccines. The figures show that US health authorities have administered 1,533,313 doses from a day earlier. The agency also estimated that more than 67 million people have received an additional dose of either Pfizer or Moderna’s vaccine since 13 August, when the United States authorized a third dose of the vaccines for people with compromised immune systems.
“This whole disaster would finally come to an end (or at least the end would begin) when it became obvious that the great strategy of class division and demarcation would fail to protect the Zoom class from infection.”
For nearly two years, we’ve wondered how this will end. In retrospect, the clue is in how it began. The initial lockdowns had a strong class-based component. The working classes were assigned the job of delivering groceries, tending to the sick, driving the trucks filled with goods, keeping the lights on, and keeping the fuel running. The professional class, among whom were the people who pushed lockdowns in the name of disease avoidance/suppression, were assigned the job of staying home in their pajamas and staying safe. It all happened seemingly in an instant. We all had to figure out whether our job qualified and what we should do. More striking at the time was the very notion that government bureaucrats could slice and dice the population this way, deciding what can open and what cannot, who must work and who must not, what we can and cannot do based on our station in life.
So it now seems obvious to me. This whole disaster would finally come to an end (or at least the end would begin) when it became obvious that the great strategy of class division and demarcation would fail to protect the Zoom class from infection. That day has finally arrived, with cases soaring in many parts of the country and hitting everyone of every class, whether they are being “careful” and adhering to the “mitigation measures” or not. What’s even more striking is how even the vaccines, which were supposed to codify the wisdom of class segregation, have not protected against infection. All of this seems to have taken place over the course of December 2021, with the arrival of the seemingly mild Omicron variant. Still the other variants circulate widely, causing various degrees of severity with or without hospitalization much less death.
In other words, millions from among all classes of people are finally getting sick. At this point, we seem to be seeing a big shift in attitudes. A lot of this comes from casual conversation. A person comes down with Covid, perhaps confirmed by the newly fashionable at-home tests. “Did you get vaccinated?” the person is invariably asked. The answer comes back: yes and boosted. That’s when the chill happens. It appears that nothing can ultimately protect people from this. In which case, it is time we change our tune. “Thousands who ‘followed the rules’ are about to get covid. They shouldn’t be ashamed,” headlines the Washington Post.
Feeling ashamed about getting covid-19 isn’t healthy or helpful, experts agree…. Remember: You’re not a failure. “Millions of other people have gotten sick,” (Seema) Varma says. “Unfortunately, you’re not alone. You’re not the only one. You’re not the first one to get covid, and you won’t be the last.” And that positive test, she reiterates, “doesn’t make you an irresponsible person.” So on the piece goes, with a complete flip of the narrative they have long preached: anyone who gets Covid has failed to comply, disregards of Fauci’s advice, probably lives in a Red state, rejects the science, and otherwise bears the mark of selfishness and the desire to put freedom ahead of public health.
“..Manchin refused to be fooled. He announced that he won’t support the bill – effectively killing it in its present shape.”
President Biden’s approval rating has plummeted, and Democrats wonder why. The United States is facing hardships, but hardships alone don’t make a president unpopular. Leaders who are honest about the problems we face and forthright about the solutions they offer tend to do well (think, say, of Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan). Unfortunately, that is not the leadership Americans are getting from this president. Instead, the Biden administration has tried to convince the public of things that are not just untrue but implausible. To note a few, Biden did not (and does not) have a “national strategy” to defeat COVID; our southern border is not “secure;” the Afghan withdrawal was not an “extraordinary success”; the current bout of inflation is neither “temporary” nor “a good thing”; and government spending never takes “the pressure off of inflation.”
Of course, politicians often overstate things and sometimes outright lie. Nothing new there. It’s the in-your-face nature of the administration’s falsehoods that is stunning. For a recent example, take Biden’s efforts to promote his Build Back Better bill. The administration often claims that the legislation really “costs zero dollars” because it is “paid for.” Most Americans realize that paying for something doesn’t make it free. Otherwise, literally everything would be free. Seriously, people get this. In fairness, Biden was attempting to state that BBB wouldn’t add to the deficit because taxing the rich would pay for it. But even that claim didn’t pass the smell test. Just about everybody outside of Washington, D.C., knows that government programs are never actually “paid for.” We are already borrowing from our great-grandkids just to cover our current profligate spending.
[..] The supply-and-demand dynamic and its impact on inflation seem to be mysteries to the administration – but not to most Americans. According to the Penn Wharton Budget Model, the average American family will incur an additional $3,500 in expenses this year solely because of already-surging inflation. It’s the kind of thing people notice. Of course, the administration made this implausible claim only because the bill needed West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin’s support to pass. Manchin, however, made it clear that, with inflation already at a 40-year high, he wouldn’t support legislation that added to the deficit or further swelled prices.
Like most Americans (including Larry Summers), Manchin refused to be fooled. He announced that he won’t support the bill – effectively killing it in its present shape. Rarely deterred by reality, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer then announced that the Senate would move forward with a vote on the bill nonetheless.
“Scientism’s rituals need to be imposed by the government by means of stiff penalties..”
Unfortunately for the promoters of Scientism, there are enormous problems with their idea. One is that it can be defined as a “granfalloon,” to use Kurt Vonnegut’s term for “a proud and meaningless collection of human beings.” Even though many people see the new liturgy as a service for others, Scientism’s rituals need to be imposed by the government by means of stiff penalties. It is the same as when the Roman Government imposed sacrifices to the Emperor on pain of death. We haven’t arrived at that for the disbelievers of Scientism, so far, but we are clearly sliding in that direction.
A religion that needs to be imposed by force is doomed from the beginning. It means that it cannot create a stable kind of horizontal empathy” natural for human beings. You cannot create it on the basis of the idea that humans are filthy, germ-carrying bags, that need to be kept at a distance from each other or locked in cages. And masked people cannot really speak to each other, they are only expected to receive orders from above. It is a brutish form of “vertical” empathy, based on the powerful giving orders to the powerless. As it happened at the time of the Roman persecutions of Christians, people may lapse into formally surrendering in order to survive, but they remain ready to toss away the veneer of political correctness on the first occasion. Scientism may be already starting an irreversible decline, pushed down by its own supporters who bombard people from TV screens with sentences such as “trust science.”
Another enormous problem with Scientism is that it requires years of training for the adepts (“researchers”) to make them able to perform the complex liturgy required (“scientific experiments”), also because they need expensive liturgic equipment (“instrumentation”). The whole contraption is simply impossible to keep together in a society that’s rapidly sliding down to economic collapse. The Catholic Church lasted for nearly two thousand years, Communism (that the Italian Catholic writer Lorenzo Milani termed “a page torn out of the Christian books”) lasted less than a century. Will scientism last more than a decade? And if not, what will come afterward?
“Mask waste from the year 2020 alone now makes up 7% of the Great Pacific garbage patch..”
Urban areas dominated by progressive leadership have dedicated green initiatives to banning single-use plastic like straws or utensils, and many bureaucracies now treat climate change as another public health crisis. Simultaneously, they mandate wearing masks in public places for the supposed safety of the general public, and are silent on the irrevocable damage masks are doing to our environment. Forget the straws – over 1.5 billion masks now pollute the ocean, but even the most publicly vocal on climate change are notably silent. Banning single-use plastic, like straws and utensils in restaurants and other businesses, is now the virtue signal du jour as far as communicating how climate-conscious a city is. But many – namely the public and the business owners who will be affected firsthand by these types of legislation – are understandably concerned about the realistic efficacy of such measures.
[..] Plastic straws and utensils aside, we’re now on the precipice of a genuine environmental crisis, one that was regrettably preventable. Even as lockdown proponents touted the benefits that stay-at-home measures had on traffic and air pollution, we were quickly learning that our “life-saving” disposable masks and other personal protective equipment were having the exact opposite effect. One report in Italy breaks down just how quickly this crisis took hold and became our newest environmental threat. During the country’s Phase II period, when lockdowns were beginning to lessen and public spaces were beginning to open back up, half a billion disposable gloves and one billion masks were needed – per month.
These statistics are frightening on their own when you begin to calculate how long masks and PPE have been needed, but they’re even more terrifying on a global scale. Marine and environmental researchers have estimated that in 2020, 1.56 billion face masks were released into oceans. By August 2021, 8.4 million tons of plastic trash were generated by 193 countries, including – but not limited to – Covid test kits, face masks, gloves, and plastic face shields, as well as the waste generated by unprecedented numbers of online shopping and e-commerce sites. Additionally, disposable masks are estimated to take 450 years to biodegrade. Mask waste from the year 2020 alone now makes up 7% of the Great Pacific garbage patch, an 80,000 ton mass of waste that resides in the Pacific Ocean.
[..] In July 2020, we learned that 85% of individuals who contracted Covid wore masks “always” or “often,” as reported by the CDC. A “systematic review” of 1,453 patients found “no difference in infection rates” between masked and unmasked patients. A study of healthcare workers in Japan conducted nearly 13 years ago discovered that “face mask use in healthcare workers has not been demonstrated to provide benefit in terms of [common] cold symptoms.” We’ve also recently learned that cloth masks are “useless” against the Omicron variant, even though two months ago, we were told that “a well-fitting cloth mask could be better than or equivalent to a surgical mask that’s poorly fitting.”
“We cannot tolerate NATO expansion. We will not just prevent it. We will put a stop to it..”
At upcoming talks with Washington, Moscow will not only obstruct but will put a complete stop to any eastwards expansion of the US-led NATO military bloc, the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister said on Tuesday. Speaking to news agency Interfax, Sergey Ryabkov said his country would go into the negotiations with a clear agenda and reject any attempts by US diplomats to dilute the proposed agreement between the two parties. “Our leadership has repeatedly said we can no longer tolerate the situation that is developing in the immediate vicinity of our borders. We cannot tolerate NATO expansion. We will not just prevent it. We will put a stop to it,” Ryabkov said.
The talks, due to be held on January 10, will focus on two publicly released draft treaties that include a list of promises Russia wants to obtain from the US and NATO. As well as pledges that the bloc won’t expand eastwards, the proposals also include the end of Western cooperation with post-Soviet countries, the removal of US nuclear weapons from Europe, and the withdrawal of NATO troops and missiles away from the Russian border. However, according to Ryabkov, the US wants to ignore Russia’s firm demands, instead proposing a less structured form of negotiations. “We should not come up with some kind of dimensionless agenda when it is in our interest to include topics that have long been sorted out through other channels. We have to focus exclusively on the two draft documents that we have presented,” he said.
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