Johannes Vermeer The astronomer c1668
Malone full speech
— Chief Nerd (@TheChiefNerd) January 23, 2022
Surprisingly low: “In the WHO Europe region [..] Omicron represented 15 percent of new cases as of January 18.” In many regions across the world it’s 90%.
The Omicron variant has moved the COVID-19 pandemic into a new phase and could bring it to an end in Europe, the WHO Europe director said Sunday. “It’s plausible that the region is moving towards a kind of pandemic endgame,” Hans Kluge told AFP in an interview, adding that Omicron could infect 60 percent of Europeans by March. Once the current surge of Omicron currently sweeping across Europe subsides, “there will be for quite some weeks and months a global immunity, either thanks to the vaccine or because people have immunity due to the infection, and also lowering seasonality.” “So we anticipate that there will be a period of quiet before COVID-19 may come back towards the end of the year, but not necessarily the pandemic coming back,” Kluge said.
The Omicron variant, which studies have shown generally leads to less severe infection than the Delta variant did, at least among vaccinated people, has raised long-awaited hopes that COVID-19 is starting to shift from a pandemic to a more manageable endemic illness like seasonal flu. “There is a lot of talk about endemic, but endemic means… that it is possible to predict what’s going to happen. This virus has surprised (us) more than once so we have to be very careful,” Kluge said. In the WHO Europe region, which is made up of 53 countries, including several in Central Asia, Omicron represented 15 percent of new cases as of January 18, compared to 6.3% a week earlier, the health body said.
“Those nurses will not spare the Wizard of Health next time. No booster on earth will protect him from their wrath.”
Friday 7th January 2022, King’s College Hospital, London. The Fascistic Minister of Ill-Health, Mr. Sajid Javid marched in and stood squat, like a Mussolini, sadomasochistic in standard NHS issue gimp mask. It was as if a pimp rolled up with a fine cane and a fur coat to ensure his brothel was in good order. He taunted the huddle of muzzled NHS nurses. So, girls, what do you think of the NHS jab mandate with which I destroy the NHS and scientific reason? Pretty cool, huh? Was it arrogance or ignorance? Should not a right-minded person have begged the ground to swallow him up whole for such faux-pas?
The nurses, stunned, giggled nervously like school-girls. What else could they do when paraded in front of their abusive master and executioner? The truth is they are professional nurses who know the answer. It is an unethical evil. It is political, it is unscientific. But the truth of which they knew, they could not speak. Then, someone spoke, softly. Dr. Steve James, ICU consultant. He did the Englishman’s equivalent of standing in front of a tank in Tiananmen Square. He politely interjected. In the short, split-second of a narcissistic politician’s photo-call, fuelled by adrenalin, Dr. James slipped an awkward, unpractised left jab which landed like a bomb on the polished chin of his monied opponent.
He beseeched the minister (I paraphrase), I’m not happy about that. I have been working on covid ITU since the beginning. I’m unvaccinated, your policy makes no scientific sense. You would have to boost us all every month. I will lose my job, I am not alone. Won’t you reconsider? And there it was. The sorcerer’s spell was broken. It was as if Toto had pulled back the curtain. Javid would be well advised to institute the focused protection of Great Barrington, or very strictly shield himself from all NHS establishments until at least his April Fools’ mandate. Those nurses will not spare the Wizard of Health next time. No booster on earth will protect him from their wrath.
Very elaborate from Julius Ruechel.
Colds and flus mysteriously disappeared over the past two years only to return recently in many countries, often with a vengeance. While only rarely discussed and frequently dismissed as a mere curiosity, the mystery of the disappearing flu is actually one of the most important events of the past two years. Unpacking this mystery provides deep insights into the future trajectory of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, exposes the abject failure of the vaccines to control the pandemic, and puts the final nail in the coffin on futile public health measures like masks and social distancing. Get ready for more than a few surprises as you follow me on another deep dive into Covid mayhem.
Many public health officials and journalists credited masks, lockdowns, and social distancing for the disappearance of the flu. Critics pointed out that the flu also disappeared in places like Sweden, which did not have lockdowns, mask mandates, or social distancing rules. Critics also pointed to long-standing research demonstrating that virus-bearing aerosols are too small to be stopped by masks and that, even in perfectly still air, these aerosols are so small that they hang in the air for many days before settling to the ground, making social distancing a joke.
Particularly embarrassing for those cheerleading all these heavy-handed measures is that the flu disappeared several months before the first mask mandate was imposed, as demonstrated in the chart below showing influenza cases in Canada. I’ve added dates to the chart to show when mask recommendations and mask mandates were first rolled out — it’s rather obvious that they had nothing whatsoever to do with why the flu disappeared. Clearly, we need to look elsewhere to explain the mystery of the disappearing flu.
On the other side of the debate are some who have suggested that cold and flu infections were simply rebranded as Covid due to flawed PCR testing. However, in many countries flu testing did not stop, yet the number of flu tests coming back positive nonetheless fell off a cliff. Some countries even conducted more flu tests than usual and still found nothing. And cold and flu numbers also collapsed in countries like Japan, which had extremely low Covid infections during the early waves of the pandemic; they had low flu and low Covid numbers, so it was not a matter of shoddy accounting transferring cases from one balance sheet to another. The flu stopped circulating globally (I’ll get to the surprising exceptions later in this article — hint: Kenya).
[..] There is a well-known but poorly understood concept in virology called viral interference (also known as viral displacement). Virus interference was first described in plants in 1929 where the yellow-mosaic tobacco virus did not replicate in plants already infected with the common mosaic virus. This phenomenon is not restricted to plants; it also happens with animal and human viruses. The essence of this concept is that an infection with one virus can temporarily prevent or partially suppress infection with another different virus. And it happens all the time.
“There are methods to deal with these respiratory viruses without wrecking the life chances of our children.”
Improving our response to flu pandemics has long been a passion of mine, and over the years I’ve treated countless people with severe flu. Sadly, there is little that can be done as antivirals are only helpful in the first few days. For those who are frail, elderly or immuno-compromised (and therefore most likely to succumb to it), it can be a debilitating and painful way to die. Thankfully, we have flu vaccinations and, as with Covid vaccines, those jabs save countless lives. Omicron may be milder, but it’s not mild. My point is that neither is flu – and pre-Covid, our society approached the challenges it threw up each year in a very different way. There are methods to deal with these respiratory viruses without wrecking the life chances of our children.
That sound logic was applied during every winter of my lifetime, with one exception in 2020. I believe we need to regain some of that pragmatism which guided our response through difficult winters before. In those days, society agreed that restrictions on freedom were inappropriate and perhaps ineffective to combat flu. The damage far outweighed any sad deaths that might result from winter waves. Before, if a doctor felt ill and had symptoms they would stay home. If they didn’t, they would go to work. Was that such a bad system? It’s one we will have to return to at some stage if we want to avoid the current isolation chaos every winter. As with the flu, annual Covid boosters should be offered to the elderly and the vulnerable.
That will enable society to continue as normal – restrictions and all of their appalling consequences should become a thing of the past. We have the vaccines, we have the antivirals/treatment options and we have the milder strain. Just as with our annual battle with influenza, no restrictions are required. It is possible to test for the flu – in fact, at Doctorcall, where I work, we are constantly offered lateral flow tests by eager suppliers. During the winter of 2017/18, if we had tested so relentlessly and imposed quarantine on asymptomatic people, what would the damage have been then? Quite horrific, just as it is today. It’s time we learnt to live with this virus and got on with our lives.
By doctors Harvey Risch, Paul E. Alexander and Jay Bhattacharya.
The time has come to terminate the pandemic state of emergency. It’s time to end the controls, the closures, the restrictions, the plexiglass, the stickers, the exhortations, the panic-mongering, the distancing announcements, the ubiquitous commercials, the forced masking, the vaccine mandates. We don’t mean that the virus is gone—Omicron is still spreading wildly, and the virus may circulate forever. But with a normal focus on protecting the vulnerable, we can treat the virus as a medical rather than a social matter and manage it in ordinary ways. A declared emergency needs continuous justification, and that’s now lacking.
Over the last six weeks in the United States, the Delta variant strain—the most recent aggressive version of the infection—has according to the CDC been declining in both the proportion of infections (60 percent on Dec. 18 to 0.5 percent on Jan. 15) and the number of daily infected people (95,000 to 2,100). During the next two weeks, Delta will decline to the point that it essentially disappears like the strains before it. Omicron is mild enough that most people, even many high-risk people, can adequately cope with the infection. Omicron infection is no more severe than seasonal flu, and generally less so. A large portion of the vulnerable population in the developed world is already vaccinated and protected against severe disease.
We have learned much about the utility of inexpensive supplements like Vitamin D to reduce disease risk, and there’s a host of good therapeutics available to prevent hospitalization and death should a vulnerable patient become infected. And for younger people, the risk of severe disease—already low before Omicron—is minuscule. Even in places with strict lockdown measures, there are hundreds of thousands of newly registered Omicron cases daily and countless unregistered positives from home testing. Measures like mandatory masking and distancing have had negligible or at most small effects on transmission. Large-scale population quarantines only delay the inevitable. Vaccination and boosters have not halted Omicron disease spread; heavily vaccinated nations like Israel and Australia have more daily cases per capita than any place on earth at the moment. This wave will run its course despite all of the emergency measures.
“..they focused on the creation of a vaccine which the evidence shows is making things worse. Much worse.”
Hi. I’m Steve. I am not a doctor. I’m worse. I’m an engineer with two degrees from MIT. I look at data. I make decisions based on what the data says, not on what people tell me to think. After 3 relatives of a friend of mine died right after being vaccinated, I started looking at the data from the clinical trials, from studies, from the government, and from doctors. What the data said was troubling. Very troubling. First of all, this entire pandemic was completely avoidable. We had an early treatment protocol in March of 2020 developed by George Fareed and Brian Tyson. Nobody dies on their protocol if they get treated early. Zero. And only a few people got hospitalized. Yet today, the NIH is saying nothing about this protocol.
That is ridiculous. If they are going to mandate anything, they should mandate you get this protocol if you get COVID. But they don’t. Instead, doctors can have their licenses revoked if they prescribe early treatment drugs like ivermectin and Fluvoxamine. We don’t need masks, we don’t need vaccines, we don’t need mandates, and we don’t need lockdowns. We never did. What we need to do is to start listening to the doctors who have treated thousands of COVID cases with no deaths. Is that too much to ask? But the NIH refused to listen to these doctors. And instead, they focused on the creation of a vaccine which the evidence shows is making things worse. Much worse. COVID cases are at an all time high.
We are being mandated to take a vaccine for a societal benefit without ever being shown the risk-benefit analysis. There is a reason for that. The benefit is negative. According to over 12 studies, the vaccines are killing at least 15 people for every life that the vaccines were projected to save. And we are permanently disabling even more. For kids, I’ve seen a risk benefit analysis showing we kill over 100 kids to save 1 kid from COVID. NOBODY has the right to MANDATE that I must risk my life to save other people I don’t know. That’s unethical and immoral. I would not voluntarily choose to deprive my kids of their father.
NOBODY has the right to mandate that I take a vaccine which is likely to double my chances of being infected. The data now coming out of the UK and Scotland clearly shows this. In Study after study, the more you vaccinate, the more likely you are to be infected. Precisely the opposite of what we were told. This is why Boris Johnson in UK recently dropped all COVID restrictions. “We will trust the judgment of the English people.” he said. Finally. Why can’t we do that here?
Oh, go away.
Dr. Anthony Fauci has said he is as “confident as you can be” that Omicron cases in the US will hit their peak in mid-February, though he acknowledged in an ABC interview on Sunday that “you never want to be overconfident when you’re dealing with this virus.” Fauci has been one of the lead advocates for Covid-19 vaccinations and boosters, but he admitted that varying vaccination rates across the country will not significantly affect Omicron infection rates in the US. Some areas, however, may face “a bit more pain and suffering with hospitalizations in those areas of the country that have not been fully vaccinated or have not gotten boosters.”
Fauci claimed his prediction is based on data from other nations like Israel, South Africa, and the UK. “They’ve peaked and [are] starting to come down rather sharply,” the health official said, predicting a turnaround soon across the US. Health officials have stressed that vaccinations can prevent more serious side effects from Omicron. Once cases are below a certain “area of control,” Fauci said, Covid could be “essentially integrated into the general respiratory infections that we have learned to live with.”
Fauci’s constant presence during the Covid pandemic has led to a sharp divide in public opinion, with the controversial health official polling low outside of Democrats, similar to President Joe Biden. Fauci riled up his critics once more on Sunday, again suggesting multiple booster shots on top of people’s original vaccinations. The infectious disease expert said the exact “durability” of a third mRNA booster or a “second shot boost” of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is unknown, but he claims a “third shot boost” will have more durability and “protection against severe disease” thanks to data collected from the first boosters.
John Lewis has told staff they will get full sick pay regardless of their Covid vaccination status, saying that it doesn’t “believe it’s right” to treat jabbed and unjabbed workers differently. The retailer’s high-street rivals including Next, Ikea and Ocado are among the companies that have introduced sickness policies that differentiate between vaccinated and unvaccinated employees who have to self-isolate. However in a blogpost on LinkedIn, John Lewis’s group operations director, Andrew Murphy, told its 70,000-strong workforce: “We’re not going to make any change of this type.” He added: “We just don’t believe it’s right to create a link between a partner’s vaccination status and the pay they receive.”
He said the company – which is owned by its employees, called partners, who receive an annual profit share – was “hugely supportive of the UK vaccination programme” and had given staff time off to get their jabs. “We cast no judgment on the decisions of any other organisation; in fact we’ve enjoyed how united businesses – retailers especially – have been in the face of these huge corporate and societal challenges,” Murphy said. “However, when life increasingly seems to present opportunities to create division – and with hopes rising that the pandemic phase of Covid may be coming to an end – we’re confident that this is the right approach for us.”
Current rules in all UK nations now make a clear distinction in self-isolation requirements for vaccinated and unvaccinated people if they come into contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid. In all four nations the unvaccinated must self-isolate for 10 days even if they do not test positive for the virus. This requirement does not apply for people who are fully vaccinated. Unvaccinated workers at Next and Ikea are only eligible for statutory sick pay – which is set at £96.35 a week – during their 10 days of isolation, unless there are mitigating circumstances. This compares with weekly pay of more than £400 before tax for an average store worker at Ikea.
“..people would end up speaking a very different language..”
Language has become the main terrain on which the culture wars sweeping the Western world are played out. Arguably, just about every word and phrase can become an unexpected target of linguistic policing. Who would have imagined that it would no longer be acceptable to use words like “grandfather,” “spirit animal,” “brown bags,” “cakewalk,” “jerry-rigged,” “Sherpa,” “mantra,” “totem pole,” or “housekeeping”? These are just some of the entries on a long list of problematic words and phrases contained in the Inclusive Language Guide published by the University of Washington. Any sensible person reading this guide will be struck by its surreal tone. The reader learns that it is imperative to stop using phrases like “raining cats and dogs.”
The authors of the guide are obsessively driven in their attempt to justify why reasonable and hitherto uncontroversial words must no longer be used. For example, it justifies the need to abolish the word “housekeeping” on the grounds that “in reference to office work, this language can feel gendered.” If indeed the numerous suggestions of the Inclusive Language Guide were to be adopted, people would end up speaking a very different language – one that decries the making of distinctions between smart and ordinary individuals or men and women. That is why it communicates an intense level of hostility towards using the term “first-class.” It notes that this implies “that this particular value is the best quality or in the highest grade, and thus others under this group are second-class or lower-class.”
A drab, mediocre sensibility of refusing to make distinctions elevates inclusiveness into an end-in-itself. The ambition of linguistic imperialism is the principal driver of the guide. Linguistic imperialism, which is the project of imposing a new language and outlook on people – originated in the 1970s. Initially, it was promoted by feminists who argued that language privileged masculinity and created a reality where women would be assigned the role of second-class citizens. The feminist-inspired language reform movement aimed to create what was described as a “gender-fair language.”
“..the educated classes [..] can be made to believe anything, really.”
Just a few days ago, I was a guest on a TV discussion on the usual subject (practically, the only one being discussed nowadays*). At some moment, the discussion veered on propaganda, and the host** said something like, “but isn’t it strange that Germany fell so easily for the Nazi propaganda despite the fact that it wa the most cultured society in Europe at that time?” And it dawned on me: It was not despite. It was because. Exactly that. Propaganda and education go hand in hand: they are one the consequence of the other. In an instant, my whole career as a teacher flashed in my mind. What are we teaching to our students? Plenty of things, of course, but mostly it is about trusting the authority. Obedience, in one word. I experimented at times with the opposite approach, pushing my chemistry students to criticize their textbooks.
Many of my students are smart fellows, some of them appreciated the idea, and sometimes they found errors that I hadn’t noticed myself. But most of them found the exercise an annoying interlude in their studies. They were not stupid, either. They perfectly understood that learning how to criticize the authority gave them no useful “career points.” They just wanted to go through their classes as fast as they could, hoping that the ordeal would soon be over. The problem is not just with chemistry. In all fields, students and teachers play a game together, as Simon Sheridan well described in a recent post. It is a game that aims at creating “the archetypal orphan,” that is a person completely subjugated to a dominating figure that Sheridan identifies as “the devouring mother.”
You might also say “the dominating father,” but it is a role that university professors assume by default. The technical details of what our students learn are obsolete or soon will be, but one thing of their training will remain for a long time: believing what they are told. Soon, the role of authority will not be their teachers anymore, they will be replaced by opinion leaders, politicians, and other figures. Look at how, in the 1940s, the tobacco industry had a huge success with a campaign aiming at convincing people that smoking Camels was a good idea because most doctors (a typical authoritative figure) smoked Camels. Look at how, nowadays, our governments used the same typical authoritative figures, doctors, to convince us to do things that might turn out to be more harmful for our health than cigarette smoking.
Marty’s Mac: …. it is remarkably easy to convince the educated classes of something. One only has to get the information printed in the right places. The educated can be made to believe that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, or that cigarettes and canola oil are healthy (a typical claim in the midcentury), or that the high numbers of breakthrough COVID cases in countries with 90% vaccination rates are caused by the 10% of unvaccinated people. They can be made to believe anything, really.
If someone says the future of Europe, democracy, or the international order or something similarly melodramatic is at stake in Ukraine, it's ok to ignore them on the grounds they're full of shit, running for office, or sniffing glue. Life is short.
— Ben Friedman (@BH_Friedman) January 24, 2022
“..Blinken will have no choice but to begin negotiating with the Kremlin while taking its position much more seriously…”
The United States says it’s putting together a “global strategy” to increase gas production among allies in the scenario of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. “The State Department, led by Senior Adviser for Energy Security Amos Hochstein, has in the last six to eight weeks been putting together a global strategy exploring contingency options to redirect and increase gas supplies from different parts of the world, a senior US official said,” CNN reports Sunday. This has included talks with firms in Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Asia. At the same time, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken explained during Sunday news talk show appearances that at this point it’s “too early” to impose sanctions on Russia, despite the current atmosphere of building war rhetoric.
He still threatened “massive consequences” for any Russian offensive, yet stressed that US is still leaving the door open for diplomacy. An eventual diplomatic resolution to the crisis is looking more and more likely given the lack of a unified NATO willingness to escalate to the level of armed conflict, particularly given Germany’s breaking with other allies of the last few days, including its refusal to send Kiev German arms. Thus it seems “all options” are not on the table just yet… Blinken told CNN’s State of the Union program that “The purpose of those sanctions is to deter Russian aggression and so if they’re triggered now you lose the deterrent effect.” In a separate CBS interview he was asked about UK government accusations that the Kremlin is plotting a coup in Ukraine, aimed at installing a new pro-Moscow leader.
Despite Russia’s denials slamming the charge as “dangerous” and “disinformation”, Blinken agreed with the narrative being put out by Britain, calling the sensational allegations “part of the Russian playbook”. [..] some leading hawks in the Senate are still calling for movement on applying “very strongest sanctions” possible against Russia, including the type of sweeping export controls currently in place on Iran’s economy. Such US action would undoubtedly result in the complete breakdown of all communications between Moscow and Washington. But again, given that it’s increasingly apparent that NATO is struggling to put together a unified front in response to Russia security demands, it’s looking like Blinken will have no choice but to begin negotiating with the Kremlin while taking its position much more seriously…
Another thing NATO partners are not doing.
The families of US diplomats have been ordered to leave Ukraine, while some embassy staffers were authorized to depart on a “voluntary” basis, according to an updated travel advisory that reiterated claims of a “continued threat of Russian military action.” “There are reports Russia is planning significant military action against Ukraine,” the State Department said on Sunday, adding that it “authorized the voluntary departure of US direct hire employees (USDH) and ordered the departure of eligible family members (EFM).” American citizens were once again strongly advised not to travel to Ukraine, while those already in the country were told to “consider departing now using commercial or other privately available transportation options.”
The highest “Level 4: Do Not Travel” advisory for Ukraine, citing Covid and “increased threats from Russia,” has been in place on the Department of State website for more than a month. The US had previously warned its citizens that they should not “anticipate that there will be US government-sponsored evacuations,” should a war take place in Ukraine, suggesting that they use the available commercial flights instead. Moscow has repeatedly denied accusations that it’s planning an invasion of Ukraine, which have been made by the US and its allies since November last year, describing the claims as groundless attempts to instill “hysteria.” According to the Kremlin, it’s the West that has been stirring tensions in Ukraine by supplying weapons to Kiev – which is embroiled in a “frozen” conflict with self-proclaimed republics in the southeastern Donbass region – and intensifying the NATO buildup in Eastern Europe.
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