John French Sloan Sunday, Women Drying Their Hair 1912
Joe Biden Clarence Thomas
“..excess mortality began to plummet in early January and is now back to levels below the 2015-2019 average..”
In any given year during the past decade in the United States, more than 2.5 million Americans have died – from all causes. The number has grown in recent years, climbing from 2.59 million in 2013 to 2.85 million in 2019. This has been due partially to the US’s aging population, and also due to rising obesity levels and drug overdoses. In fact, since 2010, growth rates in total deaths has exceeded population growth in every year. In 2020, preliminary numbers suggest a jump of more than 17 percent in all-cause total deaths, rising from 2.85 million in 2019 to 3.35 million in 2020. The increase was not all due to covid. At least one-quarter to one-third appear to be from other causes.
In some cases, more than half of “excess deaths” were attributed to “underlying causes” other than covid. But whether due to untreated medical conditions (thanks to covid lockdowns), or drug overdoses, or homicides, total death increased in 2020. In other words, total excess mortality is a partial proxy for covid deaths. Whatever proportion of total deaths covid cases may comprise, it stands to reason that if total deaths decline, then covid deaths are declining also. Moreover, looking at total deaths helps cut through any controversies over whether or not deaths are properly attributed to covid. What has been the trend with these “excess deaths” in recent months? Well, according to data through mid-March reported by Our World in Data and by the Human Mortality Database, excess mortality began to plummet in early January and is now back to levels below the 2015-2019 average:
Excess mortality peaked the week of January 3 and then it began to collapse, dropping back to summer 2020 levels by mid February. By March 14, excess mortality was at 1 percent above the 2015-2019 average. All this occurred even as very few Americans were vaccinated. When excess deaths began to drop, less than one percent of Americans had been fully vaccinated. At the end of January, less than two percent of Americans had been fully vaccinated. By the end of March, when excess mortality returned to 2019 levels, 15 percent of the population had been fully vaccinated. As of May 11, only one-third of Americans had been fully vaccinated, although “experts” insist 60 to 70 percent of the population must be vaccinated before we can expect to see a drop-off in deaths like that which occurred earlier this year. Yet, as of the week of March 22—excess mortality was below both the 2015-2019 average and below the total for the last year before the official beginning of the covid pandemic (2019).
Twitter knows better than Harvard.
A high-profile Harvard epidemiologist this week was locked out of his Twitter account after publicly challenging the mainstream pandemic orthodoxy on face masks. Martin Kulldorff, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a biostatician and epidemiologist, on Friday wrote that “some older high-risk people” had been “naively fooled to think that masks would protect them,” leading some of them to “not socially distance properly” and consequently die from COVID-19. “Tragic,” he wrote further. “Public health officials/scientists must always be honest with the public.” Kulldorff was subsequently locked out of his account. Pictures circulated on Twitter of an apparent message from the company informing him the tweet had “violat[ed] the policy on spreading misleading and potentially harmful information related to COVID-19.”
It’s mask day today, and confusion reigns.
In just about a month and a half, the leader of The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has dramatically changed her tone on COVID-19 and mask mandates. Today, the CDC announced it has revised its mask guidance again, now enabling those who are fully vaccinated to forgo wearing masks both indoors and outdoors. “Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities — large or small — without wearing a mask or physically distancing,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. “Based on the continuing downward trajectory of cases, the scientific data on the performance of our vaccines and our understanding of how the virus spreads, that moment has come for those who are fully vaccinated,” she continued.
Just 45 days ago, on March 29, Walensky warned the nation of dire days ahead. “I’m going to lose the script, and I’m going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom,” she said during a White House Covid-19 Response Team briefing. “But right now I’m scared. I know what it’s like, as a physician, to stand in that patient room gowned, gloved, masked, shielded, and to be the last person to touch someone else’s loved ones, because their loved ones couldn’t be there.” Walensky continued in the March livestream. The fearful sentiment from a top player in the response team sent a clear signal that though the rising vaccination rates were a positive indicator, there was not enough confidence to ditch the mask or change protocol.
In the weeks following Walensky’s March 29 comment, there was a surge in people running to get their vaccines. A month after her doom comments, and with a bump in new vaccination numbers, Walensky announced a mask revision on April 27 to allow people who are fully vaccinated to do most things outdoors, with some precautions. “We continue to recommend masking in crowded outdoor settings and venues such as packed stadiums and concerts where there is decreased ability to maintain physical distance, and where many unvaccinated people may also be present.”
Shouldn’t they all do the same thing when reading the same guidance?
Several state governors this week scrambled to drop the mask mandates they had unilaterally imposed last year following reissued CDC guidance stating that vaccinated individuals largely do not have to wear them. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on Friday announced the rollback of his mask mandate, stating that current case numbers compelled him to “move up the timeline for lifting mitigation measures in Virginia.” “Virginians have been working hard, and we are seeing the results in our strong vaccine numbers and dramatically lowered case counts,” Northam claimed.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Friday also announced the impending removal of his own mask mandate. “Our long, hard-fought battle against the worst global pandemic in more than a century is finally nearing an end,” Hogan declared in the announcement, also announcing the end to the capacity limits he had imposed on the state. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper also declared on Friday he would remove his mask mandate “for most settings” in the state. “We can take this step today because the science shows our focus on getting people vaccinated is working,” Cooper said.
Only masks for those least at risk. Makes sense.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told schools nationwide on Saturday they should plan to keep students in masks for the 2021-22 school year because of the limited vaccinations of children. “CDC recommends schools continue to use the current COVID-19 prevention strategies for the 2020-2021 school year,” the agency said in new guidance for students issued just days after it cleared vaccinated adults to ditch their masks in most instances.
“All schools should implement and layer prevention strategies and should prioritize universal and correct use of masks and physical distancing,” it added. The agency also recommended regular testing in schools to “identify individuals with SARS-CoV-2 infection and vaccination for teachers and staff.” While vaccines are widely available for adults, they have not been distributed for most children. The Biden administration only in the last few days authorized Pfizer and BioNTech vaccines be administered for children as young as 12.
Those poor kids. “Evie Hickman, 13, from Dorking, liked wearing a mask to avoid “talking to people“.
Teachers, pupils and parents have greeted the easing of coronavirus safety measures in schools from Monday with a mixture of relief and, in the light of concern over the Indian variant, dismay and confusion. The government has announced that students will no longer need to wear face coverings in schools. But some areas in the north of England are being advised to continue measures, following rising numbers of cases of the new variant, known as B.1.617.2. For many pupils, wearing a face mask is one of many sacrifices they have made in the fight against the pandemic, and they are pleased the rules have changed. Jessie Wright, 12, from High Wycombe, said she would be “relieved” not to have to wear one in the classroom. “
The masks would get in the way of our learning. They are nice to wear when the weather is cold, but they’re uncomfortable when it’s hot.” Some teachers, she said, would let you “pull down your mask sometimes” at the end of the school day to allow yourself to “get your breath back”. “But other teachers would give you detention if you don’t wear your mask. It’s their decision,” she added. Evie Hickman, 13, from Dorking, liked wearing a mask to avoid “talking to people”. “I’m not going to wear a mask from Monday, but they were useful,” she said. “I’m quite anxious to not cough on others. I do wonder if people will get bullied if they continue to wear masks after next week, though.”
The Department for Education said on Saturday that “the latest data shows infection rates continuing to decrease” and that not having to wear masks would “improve interaction between teachers and students”. However, Bury and Bolton councils have written to parents, advising schoolchildren to “retain the use of face coverings as per the current arrangements, until further notice”, while Bedford borough council has called for all residents aged 16 and over to be vaccinated due to a rise of the variant first discovered in India.
That would be about a million in the US?!
An official tally of suspected side effects resulting from Covid vaccination in Sweden has surpassed 30,000, with the majority of cases occurring in people inoculated with AstraZeneca’s shot. According to the Swedish Medical Products Agency, as of last week, the Scandinavian nation had received 31,844 reports of adverse reactions linked to the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines. Sweden is currently offering three variants of the drug. There are currently 2,103 reports of side effects from the Moderna shot, while the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been associated with 9,117 health issues. But the number of suspected adverse reactions from the two shots seems relatively small when compared to the 19,961 reports linked to AstraZeneca’s Vaxzevria.
The most common side effects for all three drugs were fever and headache. Other reported adverse reactions included nausea, joint pain, and dizziness. Notably, the AstraZeneca shot only accounts for about 26% of the roughly 2.7 million vaccines that have been administered so far in Sweden, but makes up around 63% of the side effects reports. Of the nearly 32,000 reports, 663 cases have been registered where it’s unclear which vaccine was administered. Two-thirds of the reports have been submitted by the general public. The agency cautioned that individual reports do not necessarily demonstrate a correlation between the medical episode and the vaccine.
Ebba Hallberg, an official with the Medical Products Agency, told Swedish media that it was unusual to receive so many reports of side effects, but noted that the figure was likely high because of public focus on the new vaccines. Healthcare providers are likely only reporting more “serious” side effects, the official theorized. Hallberg also said that it was possible that AstraZeneca was overrepresented in the data because the shot was given to many young people and healthcare workers, who are more tech-savvy and would therefore be more likely to report an issue. According to one Swedish outlet, the agency has received more reports of suspected side effects over the past several months than it typically does over four years.
Google translate from Dutch.
Sixty to seventy-five thousand Dutch people with long-term corona complaints are being treated by a physiotherapist. Their number has more than doubled since the turn of the year. This is evident from a calculation based on data from the National Physiotherapy Database, in which some of the Dutch physiotherapists keep track of which treatments they perform. At the end of last year, an estimated 28,000 ex-Covid patients received help from a physical therapist. The treatment duration is an average of eighty days. According to the professional association, this means that a treatment period of several hundred days is no exception. The complaints for which people are treated, according to the KNGF, range from breathing problems, fatigue and loss of muscle mass to psychological problems, or a combination thereof.
Some of them are no longer able to work or participate in social activities. This site recently reported that many ex-Covid patients experience many problems with their brain in addition to physical discomfort. Physiotherapists therefore often work together with, for example, occupational therapists and psychologists. Some people who are being treated with corona have been in hospital, but according to physiotherapist Anne-Loes van der Valk it is 80 percent of people who went through their infection at home. “They are of all ages. I also see students aged 17, 18 who have to temporarily stop their studies. ” Van Woerkom says he expects that the number of ex-Covid patients needing physiotherapy will increase even further. Many people who became infected during the third wave have yet to turn to for help.
Due to the large increase in the number of patients, the pressure on physiotherapy practices is also high. Patients often require longer and more frequent treatment than regular patients, the KNGF warns. The professional association calls on the cabinet to extend the temporary rehabilitation care scheme with which these treatments are reimbursed. Van Woerkom: “The figures show that a lot of physiotherapy is still needed. An arrangement that would expire in three months would leave a huge number of patients out in the cold. ”
So you go somewhere else
Despite widespread vaccination availability and even the U.S. CDC saying that vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks, Toronto has decided to cancel an entire summer’s worth of social functions. The city has cancelled “all major in-person events for a second straight summer,” CBC reported on Friday. As the city continues to fight off large numbers of Covid cases during the pandemic’s third wave (whatever that even means at this point), it has made cancellations all the way through Labour Day. Previously, provincial officials had been hoping for normalcy beginning in July or August. That doesn’t look like it’s going to be the case. The city has cancelled events like the Canadian National Exhibition, Taste of the Danforth, the Caribbean Carnival and Salsa in Toronto.
The city is making the decision in May because organizers asked for “as much advanced notification as possible”. So now they have it: Toronto will officially have nothing going on during the summer. Mayor John Tory said that he thought the city would be in better shape by late summer, but he wasn’t sure it would be safe to be “shoulder to shoulder” with large groups of people. Darrell Brown, Executive Director of the Canadian National Exhibition called the news “devastating for the community and staff” who will now face layoffs. “At this point in time we’re living on borrowed money in the short-term and will be completely out of funds by December,” he said. The event has lost more than $70 million in revenue over the course of the pandemic and it generates $128 million for the Ontario economy each year.
Last year was the first time the event was closed since World War II. Despite asking the government for relief, it has only gotten $20,000 from Ontario’s small business relief fund. Tory said: “I am working with the Canadian National Exhibition to help the fair through this difficult year and prepare for a bigger and better in-person event in 2022.” Toronto, meanwhile, has delivered 1.6 million doses of Covid vaccines. The city’s population stands at about 3 million. Despite this, the city’s stay at home order will remain in place until “at least” June.
Pluck them clean.
A new HBO documentary called ‘The Crime of the Century’ lays bare how firms like Purdue used bribery, dodgy marketing, and shady political deals to make fortunes by getting millions hooked on super-strong painkillers. What would it look like if an illegal international drug cartel were allowed to advertise? Perhaps it might take the form of slick music videos and glossy magazine ads promising an ‘end to pain’. Certainly, they would minimise the negative effects of their drugs on your life, your future, and your loved ones. If questioned about what they were doing, we can imagine them blaming those who use their drugs, not themselves for providing them. It sounds mad – madder still that anyone would believe them – but this is exactly what has been allowed to happen with large pharmaceutical companies and their marketing of highly addictive opioid drugs.
At least, this is the argument put forward in a new two-part HBO documentary series released this week entitled, ‘The Crime of the Century’. Across its nearly four-hour run-time, director Alex Gibney lays bare the bribery, underhanded marketing tactics, and shady political dealings that enabled the devastating overproduction and over-distribution of synthetic opiates. In devastating detail, the documentary portrays American pharmaceutical companies and the doctors who recklessly doled out prescriptions as elements of a glorified drug cartel – dealers in lab coats, suits and ties. Systematically overselling the benefits of synthetic opioids and downplaying the risk of addiction, the documentary traces how drug companies are driven to pursue ever stronger and more exotic medications as patents on old treatments run out and profits dry up.
In many ways, it traverses territory that is already well known, but is no less useful for highlighting in shocking detail just how much these companies have become a major risk to public health. This is particularly true in their penchant for ‘discovering’ and treating ever more chronic conditions. While the efficacy of opioids for treatment of acute pain and end-of-life care has been well known, there is little incentive to develop and provide drugs solely for such patients, who tend to be few and far between and whose needs are often short-term. No, the real money is in long-term use in greater numbers. And this is where the dangers of pushing these drugs on patients with any kind of pain became increasingly clear.
In an interview on Tuesday with Fox News’ Bret Baier, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) denied that she spread the discredited CIA “Russian bounty” story. That CIA tale, claiming Russia was paying Taliban fighters to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan, was cooked up by the CIA and then published by The New York Times on June 27 of last year, right as former President Trump announced his plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. The Times story, citing anonymous intelligence officials, was then continually invoked by pro-war Republicans and Democrats — led by Cheney — to justify their blocking of that troop withdrawal. The story was discredited when the U.S. intelligence community admitted last month that it had only “low to moderate confidence” that any of this even happened.
When Baier asked Cheney about her role in spreading this debunked CIA story, Cheney blatantly lied to him, claiming “if you go back and look at what I said — every single thing I said: I said if those stories are true, we need to know why the President and Vice President were not briefed on them.” After Baier pressed her on the fact that she vested this story with credibility, Cheney insisted a second time that she never endorsed the claim but merely spoke conditionally, always using the “if these reports are true” formulation.
Liz Cheney, as she so often does, blatantly lied. That she merely spoke of the Russian bounty story in the conditional — “every single thing I said: I said if those stories are true” — is completely and demonstrably false. Indeed, other than Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), there are few if any members of Congress who did more to spread this Russian bounty story as proven truth, all in order to block troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. In so doing, she borrowed from a pro-war playbook pioneered by her dad, to whom she owes her career: the former Vice President would leak CIA claims to The New York Times to justify war, then go on Meet the Press with Tim Russert, as he did on September 8, 2002, and cite those New York Times reports as though they were independent confirmation of his views coming from that paper rather than from him.
Still not over.
Perhaps Arizona can adopt California’s new minority-friendly math curriculum before the election audit ordered by the Arizona State Senate is completed in a month or two. Under that new system of math, or maff, two plus two doesn’t equal four, it equals more, five plus five equals a lot more, and 1,672,143 minus X equals don’t-bother-me-with-your-racist-numbers. It’ll take some kind of math or maff to unravel the mystery of Arizona’s 2020 election results, and the people who run Maricopa County — that is, Phoenix and its suburban asteroid belt, or about 60 percent of the AZ population — don’t want that mystery solved. So, they are not responding to a court-ordered subpoena to produce the evidence, namely, the vote tabulation files from their Dominion Systems voting machines, the county’s server routers, or the chain-of-custody records of the precinct batches of paper ballots.
The county’s servers indicate that the folder containing the database of election results was deleted sometime after the election, so the county has no record of the vote. Hmmmm…. By a previous subpoena, the state Senate took possession of 2.1 million ballots and nearly 400 Dominion election machines and turned them over to the company, Cyber Ninjas, hired to do the audit. Problem was, the county didn’t hand over the passwords to the Dominion machines. Officials claim they never had the passwords, which suggests that the County Board of Elections never had control over their own elections, for which they are legally responsible. A curious situation, because the county says it conducted a previous examination of its voting machines weeks after the election. How’d they do that without the Dominion passwords?
Maybe the data was not stored on the Dominion machines but booted onto external hard drives, which would be against the rules. Or maybe the Dominion machines were connected to the Internet and information was booted into the Dominion machines from somewhere else on Planet Earth. That would be very very against the rules. If that was so, the log files on the machines would show time-stamps and where the outside information originated. Would that be enough for the State Senate to de-certify the Arizona election results? Or prompt audits in other states where the outcome is still contested: Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin?
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