The Great Barrington Narrative #2

1 of the #millionsmissing

I appreciate a well crafted narrative and like to dissect them and analyze the tricks and techniques being used. As a Caveat, I should point out that the use of rhetorical gimmicks and propaganda techniques to push a given idea or proposal doesn't mean that said proposal is ergo automatically wrong, only that its supporters chose to use such methods to try to influence people's minds. That said, I decided I had to look into what makes THE GREAT BARRINGTON DECLARATION work the way it does and also address some of the points and arguments made in both the thread here from the 6th (https://caucus99percent.com/content/great-barrington-declaration#comment...), and elsewhere. The reader has the task of trying to ferret out such things as why this narrative, why in this manner, and, above all, cui bono; WHO plans to benefit HOW from selling this.

So they start with misleading over the top semantically laden misdirection, which is never a good beginning for something putatively science based.

Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health. The results (to name a few) include lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings and deteriorating mental health – leading to greater excess mortality in years to come,

I am going to more or less gloss over the immensely distortive and misleading prefatory remarks and their use of over-the-top exaggeration and emotive phrasing. IF you have ever been in a Lockdown, raise your hand. Hell if you have ever been in prison or even the county lock-up , you know what horsecrap it is to use that word for the wildly variant and enormously permissive state of affairs to date. Many fingers have been pointed at California as horribly restrictive, yet it has not been remotely like a lockdown in any sense of the word. It also never, in any way, restricted access to medical care.

In the US we have no health care, but do have a predatory racket known as medical care. Arguably the government should've stepped in and provided for emergency "medical care", such things are really its primary and principal job, but it didn't and never will, which is also why the proposed "Focused Protection" will never, ever happen either. Government should've also provided economic assistance, some of which recipients willing to go slightly hungry could've slipped to "medical service providers" in exchange for those things, but no such funds were forthcoming.

At any rate, there is no lockdown and no restrictions not imposed by the medical service providers upon delivery of the services in question. You can bet your sweet bippie that Stanfoo and Hahvahd medical centers vaccinated all of their people and their families and their subscribers or whatever you choose to call them and their families, but nobody else unless somebody slipped them the requisite heaping pile of cowrie. Oxford possibly likewise, though the UK does have some kind of health care system, so they maybe helped the hoi polloi too. That's not because of social distancing or anything like that, that's because profit is the sole driver of our medical services racket and neither Obamacare nor anything else stepped in to fill the gaps even though a gazillion more people have medical care now than used to, or so were told.

Exclusive Focus on Death

This is very cagey and somewhat insidious. I am a member of the first generation to be told and constantly reminded as a child that "We can afford Megadeaths. It is worth noting, in passing that the phraseology is already economic, afford, we can easily spend these expendable, fungible, consumer and production units in order to procure something of value, in that case, keeping those dirty commies and their evil atheist socialized medicine away from our shores. That has, for generations now, set the bar for what matters. Thus, the current 210,000 deaths is pretty trivial, almost vanishingly so. Let's face it, none of us really contemplate dying anytime soon, none of us think about it much, it is something that happens to other people, those people, over there, so some of them dies, well, shit happens, fuck 'em.

Were the narrative more about already over a million have been struck ill, unable to work for a while, maybe a long while, and thereby earn a living with which to keep body and soul together and, for many, stave off medical bankruptcy. Were we to note that many of them suffered horribly during their illness, and that many, regardless of the severity of their symptoms will wind up physically impaired, with shortened and far less pleasant future lifespans and reduced ability to go work yet nonetheless condemned to toil 40 or more hours per week, in some cases just to buy their meds, then we might react differently, as in "shit, that could be me, or my friends and family", so no, we focus solely on DEATHS, a mere handful, so who cares and nothing to see here.

Only Current Deaths

By focusing on deaths, any narrative focused on data is restricted to current deaths. We know that some have gone from being healthy to having seriously damaged organs. We can be pretty sure that various numbers of that group will die a few years down the road, but they are not counted, which helps the goal of minimizing the seeming impact of the disease.

Focus on the Elderly

This is very likely to be somewhat misguided and a misrepresentation, but such is the nature of "epidemiological studies", they only get as far as "who" and seldom "how", and even less often "why". So we pretend that it is almost exclusively a problem of the elderly, which is very, very far from true, but nonetheless something that the populace has already internalized enough to buy without any real examination. This again makes it easier to dismiss, just some old fogies who have already lived a long happy life and yada, yada, yada. NOW, what about Co-Morbities? The narrative ignores these, because it is less likely to be simply "some of those people" and more likely to involve friends, family, co-workers and possibly you and me. In addition, that might help explain why the elderly, that and other things. These co-morbidities are health conditions ranging from COPD to heart problems, liver problems, diabetes (both types), varying degrees of overweight and obesity, and on and on. Anybody know anybody with any of those conditions? Yeah, me too, which is why they are ignored and only the elderly are targeted as possibly at risk. Another factor, which may or may not have been disclosed by the various epidemiological studies is simply poverty and/or inadequate income. Look at the established co-morbidities and at the way lifestyles in the US are divvied up depending upon earnings, think about food deserts and their effect on peoples' health, etc., but that is a digression and a rabbit hole we needn't go down right now. But! a related condition that might be significant is the terrible quality of care given to those elderly we warehouse in "homes" and its correlation to the wealth and expenditures of the victims and their families.

Now focus, focus on those 210,000 (mostly) old people who died, because that's the only impact they want you to think that the virus has had OK, I was just going to analyze the rhetorical and illogical gamesmanship, but I cannot resist pulling back the curtain a tiny bit to assist in determining just who among us is old. Given that only the old are at risk, it looks like antiquity begins at 45, except that it is elsewhere used to mean only those over 85.

Age group All Deaths involving COVID-19 (U07.1)1
35–44 years 3,956
45–54 years 10,389
55–64 years 24,772
65–74 years 41,866
35 more rows

(full table https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/covid_weekly/index.htm shows that "old age" seems to start at 45)

So, my fellow elderly, stay focused on those 210,000 old people's deaths and don't think about other's with damaged health and lives. Remember, we are only interested in current deaths, not next years, or thereafter, but maybe also glance at this chart and what they say to do to minimize the spread. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/covid-data/investigations-disc... .

From that chart, we can see that people 18-20 are not young, so I guess that they too are old. Otherwise, THIS statement from the report is complete bullshit a total misrepresentation of the data by pretending that the old are only those over 85 and the young are only infants and extremely young children.:

Fortunately, our understanding of the virus is growing. We know that vulnerability to death from COVID-19 is more than a thousand-fold higher in the old and infirm than the young.

Ok, now forget that you saw that, especially on minimizing the spread, we don't want to minimize the spread, the unstated focus of the declaration is to get us to maximize the spread, "bring it on", dude. Most especially ignore social distancing because you can't do that when "business as usual kicks: in.

Join the Herd

As immunity builds in the population, the risk of infection to all – including the vulnerable – falls. We know that all populations will eventually reach herd immunity – i.e. the point at which the rate of new infections is stable – and that this can be assisted by (but is not dependent upon) a vaccine. Our goal should therefore be to minimize mortality and social harm until we reach herd immunity.

1) We don't know that herd immunity will occur. In history it has sometimes happened, and we hope it happens with covid-19, but it is not guaranteed by any means. Perhaps somebody might have told you about the common cold, or how many strains of flu keep on coming back year after year after year or that we still have cholera outbreaks. BTW: "You have failed to prove that it won't" is argumentum ad ignorantiam, a known fallacy and doesn't fly in adult discussions.

2) Note their definition of herd immunity, not at all what most think of as herd immunity because it is not not really immunity at all. 250,000 new cases, per week, like clockwork, week after week after week would meet this definition - keep that in mind.

3) Downplaying vaccines, because we will have to wait a bit for them and they are trying to make a case that it is urgent that we get back to work in our nice crowded offices via our nice crowded public transit immediately, yesterday if possible. There was, for the record, a recent piece by the BBC on how pandemics end ( https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/resources/idt-876f42ae-5e44-41c0-ba2d-d6fd537...?) that noted, for those ready to accept it, that smallpox was eliminated and wiped out by a vaccine. Of course, that's just one example, unlike polio and measles and all those other things that weren't wiped out by vaccines and which, of course, are still with us, though greatly reduced in occurrences because of luck or magik or something but most definitely not some vaccine.

That whole paragraph is an admixture of hopes and opinions presented as if it were established scientific fact or logical certainty, which is a common propaganda technique.

About those Model T's - a digression.

We are told that a large but unknown fragment of the population is already immune because of T-cells. Not quite. A completely unknown portion of the population has some T cells of mysterious unknown origin that react to and will try to attack Covid-19 virii. A large enough number of them in robust enough condition could give an individual immunity, especially where the viral load is small. That is really all that we actually know. Will they in all cases stave off a large viral load, or even any? Dunno? To some degree it is clear that their efficacy is health and diet dependent, but how much so? Dunno. Can we replicate them in those persons without them? Nobody has so claimed. Can we massively ramp up production of them in those having them to ensure success against a heavy viral load? Nobody has so claimed. Not exactly a sure thing.

a Diamond in the Rough - another digression.

One sees claims that "the Diamond Princess, a perfect incubator, full of old and hence massively at risk people only showed 20% infection" and ergo whatever. Way too many facts not in evidence, and given what evidence exists, almost certainly afactual. I have yet to see any reputable study or report which gave detailed demographics for the passengers on that ship. If it was more or less average, it would include all ages, though a sizable fraction would be over 45. Old, for purposes of this paper, depending upon the statistics they are distorting, could start at 45 of so, or at 85, so who knows. At any rate, the old often include a sizable fraction of relatively active and relatively robust persons in addition to some infirm persons. The ship was almost certainly NOT a perfect incubator. I have been on a cruise ship, of that specific line, fwiw, when a contagion was discovered aboard, and as soon as a very small number of passengers were discovered to have it they immediately instituted serious measures to combat and contain it, including quarantine and isolation of these who had it (whose rooms were treated in most respects like hazmat sites), hyper sanitizing all public areas on a frequent regular basis, restructuring their meal and similar services, etc. A ton of specific information is needed before any claims of anything based on that ship are to be taken seriously

Back to the "proposal"

The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk. We call this Focused Protection.

As noted above, this focuses once again exclusively on DEATH and downplays all of the other harm from long term illness to permanent organ damage to medical bankruptcy that can result from infection. They also promote, but do not and cannot promise the nice sounding palliative of "Focused protection". Ooooh, Protection, and focused. How focused, well not nearly so much as the paper is focused to death and on minimizing all other consequences and risks, but, kind of focused, in theory, maybe.

Adopting measures to protect the vulnerable should be the central aim of public health responses to COVID-19.

Like "Focused Protection" nice, reassuring, paternalistic verbiage meaning and promising nothing. It heads up a paragraph that focuses on the elderly, of course, in keeping with the theme of pretending that they are the only people at risk (because we want the rest of you out packing the sports arenas and restaurants). And the solution is for some bureaucrats to draw up and publish some suggestions of things the elderly and their families and caregivers should take it upon themselves to do. Resources?? Come on, kids, this is the US of A, there will be no resources or assistance, or medical care. Anything that is done by or for those people will be done with their own resources until they run out and then it will be powered by hope and prayers.

THIS is very much the crux of the matter, the whole plan and proposal is made acceptable to the herd or at least sweetened and softened by "Focused Protection", a thing that does not and will not exist within our lifetimes in the good old US of A. You know what you call a proposition based on a false premise? Nonsense! or, in the immortal words of Herr Wittgenstein "Unsinn!" (also sinnlose). If this great herding of the risk free (whomever they might actually be, many but not all children under 7 or somesuch) depends upon this beautiful and wonderous "Focused Protection", should they not have presented a detailed plan for what it is, how it will operate and how they hell they personally intend to fund it, since their universities will not, nor will our government, nor any of those like Lockheed or Chevron who really run the show here?

In that respect, this is most telling:

Young low-risk adults should work normally, rather than from home.

And why should they? That is preposterous. If they can successfully work at home, especially if they have been, why take any risk whatsoever since they could very well be the next victim? Why, why, why, when it is so harmful to the environment (and to everybody's overall well being by contributing to the stresses of commuter living). They get no benefit and their employer gets no benefit, so it would appear that there is a crying need for these people to go out and eat junk food and soda from vending machines and convenience stores and some fast food joints while directly or indirectly consuming petroleum and other resources. Oh, and with luck they'll get sick, and survive with a minimum loss of income, few permanent physical impairments, and medical bills that stop just short of bankrupting them, which might or might not infinitesimally contribute to herd immunity, if there is actually a real possibility of that for this virus. Remember, they do not contribute unless they actually get ill, and stay home from work sick for a while. Why not just stay home from work well since neither they nor their employer benefit?

Nota Bene:

People who are more at risk may participate if they wish, while society as a whole enjoys the protection conferred upon the vulnerable by those who have built up herd immunity.

Reassuring as that was intended to be, it shows a terrible lack of understanding of their purported goal. Individuals do not, under any circumstances, build up herd immunity, herds do. Individuals build up individual immunity. They just had to throw the magic phrase in one more time, because repetition sells stuff. (BTW, why is "sheeple" derogatory if even scientists call us a herd?)

Whatever they decide to do is really out of our hands, but what they ought to do should be based on many things, and not merely the perceived need to get back to work. What they should do, among other things, never addressed, is see to it that there is plentiful economic support for the people (as opposed to the corporations) and ample health care (yeah, I know, it is too late for most generations now living.)

As always, ymmv, but, why this narrative, presented in this manner, using these techniques and "facts" at this time. Cui bono? Not I, guaranteed of that. Personally, I wanna see a great outpouring of real, tangible, funded compassionate focused protection. (I already have a few cases of moldy thoughts and prayers rotting in the shed, thank you.)

Once again, for me, I want to see somebody try to be vaguely honest and truthful, address the facts and the guesstimates, state their assumptions and do a real cost-benefit analysis. That they refuse to do is suspicious, regardless of the position they are taking.

be well and have a good one

Edited to fix mucho mispelllings

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Pricknick's picture

who say it is better to work at any place other than home (even though it's been shown to work) deserve no attention. It's the mindset of those who have their wealth tied into real estate. Gotta fill those overpriced offices.
Thanks for shredding this absolute pile of excrement.

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Regardless of the path in life I chose, I realize it's always forward, never straight.

enhydra lutris's picture

@Pricknick

contributing the otherwise non-addressed link to real estate interests.

be well and have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Pricknick's picture

@enhydra lutris
that the majority of those who signed this have no overiding desire to keep their and their masters offices fully staffed?
I can show you several offices buildings in Ann Arbor alone that have permanentely shuttered due to the university putting people on home desk duty.
It's a win win for the employees but you should hear the owners cry.

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Regardless of the path in life I chose, I realize it's always forward, never straight.

enhydra lutris's picture

@Pricknick

you've pointed out, it is obvious, much more so than any other aspect of commuter culture that comes to mind.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

I just finished the previous essay/comments, flip back to the CC page and whoosh! Here this is.

Seems a Lot of people with questionable motives are talking heads now telling us what’s good For us.
Except M4A.
Except a direct stimulus(ongoing).
Except a bailout for Main street.
Except what Actually might Be Good for us.

The s/n ratio is off the charts at this point.

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Ya got to be a Spirit, cain't be no Ghost. . .

Explain Bldg #7. . .

enhydra lutris's picture

@Tall Bald and Ugly

Has been for a while. If you shift your gaze hyper quickly you might chance to catch a quick glimpse of unvarnished reality out of the corner of your eye, but it is a real hassle to be constantly going through that.

be well and have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

glimpse of reality the Blue Man in my circle. @enhydra lutris

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Ya got to be a Spirit, cain't be no Ghost. . .

Explain Bldg #7. . .

enhydra lutris's picture

@Tall Bald and Ugly
I call it "seeing the fnords".

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

is the lack of differentiation between what is the good for one
versus the good for many
as is typical of vulture capitalism
cooperative problem solving is not in the playbook
despite noise to the contrary
it is in our best interest to ignore this type of
nonsense
sure, people want answers
we are vulnerable to false prophets with
misleading conclusions
as always

reason it out

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enhydra lutris's picture

@QMS

be well and have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

but have "experts" talking as if they know everything.
I haven't been sick in any way for more than 15 years. Not even a sniffle for more than a half hour. Nothing.
Am I a freak of nature? Do I have some special kind of immune system? Do I have "cab driver immunity"? (supposedly a real thing - cab drivers in cosmopolitan cities have extra robust immune systems because their immune systems are being constantly exposed to all sorts of germs - does that mean our paranoid germophobia is killing us?) Or am I just lucky?
People better realize that covid is changing our lifestyle patterns because they are going to change anyway, no matter how many experts try to prop up real estate or wage slavery or consumerism or capitalism. If they go the way of feudalism or the dodo or the dinosaurs they will go no matter how much we are afraid of change. No matter how much we are afraid of reality.
When Trump said "don't let it dominate your life" (or something like that) he was talking a universal verity - or was it bullshit because Trump said it? Truth is not dependent on our opinion of the teller.

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A PROUD Hillary hater since 1993

enhydra lutris's picture

@doh1304
times when young, don't recall any particular lack of illness, but don't recall being sick much either. Not sure of the reasoning though, it would depend a lot on the cabbie's normal strategy (they have them, you know). Seems like, if real, it would also apply to those who man the information booths and ticket counters at international airports and students at universities which attract students and instructors from around the globe.

Yes, germaphobia is killing some of us at least, and no doubt weakening the rest.

be well and have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

@enhydra lutris

germaphobia is killing some of us at least, and no doubt weakening the rest.

Definitely agree with that - attempting germ free environments tends to create superbugs and deprive people's immune systems from developing robustly. Resorting to antibiotics/antivirals when not *really* needed undermines immune response because it short circuits the process of acquired immune memory getting the information it needs "on file" so as to be able to respond quickly and effectively when it encounters the same or a related pathogen.

On a microbus ride across Sinai one time I ended up sitting next to a Dutch biomedical researcher and got quite a tutorial about memory T-cells. This guy travelled extensively and said that unless the situation was really urgent or life-threatening that he avoided antibiotics if he got sick because he wanted his immune system optimized - specifically the memory T-cells - by making sure as much data as possible was available to them.

I'd taken that general approach to illness before then, but it was good info to have.

Having survived ten years of cab driving, 5 or 6 pandemics since the 1950's and having well-informed T-cells I'll take my chances on the current bug over a vaccine - and certainly not expect to have anyone not actively (or very recently) symptomatic to be limiting their activities on my behalf...

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filled with detail and rage

Lip-smacking delicious

need to read it again to get every juicy detail

The real estate angle mentioned by Pricknick is highly significant. In a rentier profit driven system occupancy is always at the heart of policy. (Hospitals are bed renting enterprises, for example. The hospitals's aim is to fill their beds with the patients whose insurance will pay the hospital the most.)

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NYCVG

enhydra lutris's picture

@NYCVG

Glad you enjoyed it and yes, very correct on both real estate and hospitals.

be well and have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

@enhydra lutris Very well argued positions throughout the essay.

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enhydra lutris's picture

@on the cusp

be well and have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Pluto's Republic's picture

There are so many considerations besides the most obvious flawed thinking, and you pulled those out. Most I had not considered. I got the Rush Limbaugh know-nothing taint right away and stopped with the fact that Herd Immunity doesn't fit this disease, anyway. .Post-infection Immunity is just too sketchy. There are a lot of scientists who say that vaccines do not fit this disease. I can't prove them wrong yet.

One place I didn't go was cui bono. There wasn't enough mystery about their argument to merit it. One just knows it is going to be banal and insipid and shallow. But since you brought it up, I have considered it again, and I still cannot see a compelling connection between the author and the life-style matrix that was in place. Perhaps the author was paid by some kind of consortium or cartel to make a generalized stink about getting back to normal.

It is true that this stay-at-home trend is a shock to the economy, but automation and AI was leading here, anyway. So why not make the best of it. One problem that has emerged is that broadband connectivity in the US is dismal. Too slow and spotty to really move into education competently for all students. Most other nations have faster service that leaves no one out. But the US was never big on infrastructure - or treating a public utility like the Internet as a public utility and a human right. So, that shows up.

Which makes me think that it could be a crisis about Capitalism that is driving this idea. Almost everything about this epidemic in the US shines a very ugly light on US-style Predatory Capitalism. From our crappy infrastructure to the lack of public heath care. A new appreciation for "communal" thinking and public awareness of the propaganda-based media are recent developments. The lack of transportation infrastructure in the US is a new awareness. And self-analysis about mindless consumerism as a worthwhile lifestyle is on everyone's radar.

Getting everyone back into never-ending commuting and back into working their soul-sucking jobs for the right to buy expensive health care insurance — might feel urgent in an Orwellian way, And People probably be willing to recondition themselves to endure the colossal waste of resources of commuting if it happens soon enough. They may be willing to return to their familiar meaningless jobs — if they can get everyone to do it. So perhaps the cui bono belongs to the Chamber of Commerce. Or maybe the Department of Homeland Security.

That's my random take. Thanks for revisiting this topic, el.

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enhydra lutris's picture

@Pluto's Republic @enhydra lutris

additional commentary. Yes our infrastructure and so much else sucks terribly and no doubt one beneficiary would for sure be the good old CofC.

I hadn't really stopped to think about the seeming urgency from their side, but this puts an interesting light on it.

And People probably be willing to recondition themselves to endure the colossal waste of resources of commuting if it happens soon enough.

IF it happens soon enough, definitely a part of it for sure.

be well and have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

@Pluto's Republic
But keeping docile masses huddling at home in fear is a feature not a bug.

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We are so screwed.

enhydra lutris's picture

@The Voice In the Wilderness

track record with curing viral diseases isn't too hot. Usually the cure is "wait until you get over it (or die) and try not to get it again. We have had slightly better luck with prevention, again, historically. With luck we'll accomplish one or the other and not be faced with another no-known cure or vaccine ailment.

Don't know about others but my wife and I haven't been "huddling at home in fear", but we haven't been hanging out in crowded indoor locales or being careless about things and either.

be well and have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@enhydra lutris

but, being in the first six months after Kate's transplant operation, with her taking immunosuppressant drugs, it's hard to know what else to do. We're slowly beginning to grapple with that, since it's really not healthy, in other ways, to maintain the kind of strict standards we have been using up till now.

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"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones." - Fiver

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

@The Voice In the Wilderness in a capitalist system is on revenue producers. Testing and treatment. Both of these are endless profit streams.

Without getting into a long debate, mammograms have been proven useless and/or harmful for at least 10 years. False positives and subsequent treatment measures haven't saved any lives and have shortened many.

Yet we encourage them. The treatments that ensue from dubious mammogram screenings then generate additional profit.

Prevention ends the profits quickly. Cure the same.

I've often wondered if Jonas Salk would have been allowed to bring his polio vaccines to market in our current age.

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NYCVG

polkageist's picture

Your writing is good and the comments are better than usual. And that's saying something because the essays and comments here are usually excellent. Thanks for all the ideas to contemplate.

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-Greed is not a virtue.
-Socialism: the radical idea of sharing.
-Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.
John F. Kennedy, In a speech at the White House, 1962

enhydra lutris's picture

@polkageist
the good words.

be well and have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Roy Blakeley's picture

Excellent essay EH.

In case you missed it, there was an excellent article on the origins and outcomes of the Swedish COVID-19 strategy in this weeks issue of the journal Science:

https://www.sciencemagazinedigital.org/sciencemagazine/09_october_2020/M...

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enhydra lutris's picture

@Roy Blakeley

in another tab to make sure I get to it tomorrow.

Be well and have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

travelerxxx's picture

Thanks for the work on this essay, el. Well done.

I took a bit of time late this afternoon to check what others have to say about this GBD (Great Barrington Declaration). By the way, el, you did right to use the word "narrative," as that is exactly what it is.

I am seeing writers who believe there is a concerted effort by right-wing think tank organizations (aka, propaganda mills) to fuel an attempt to fatten the bank accounts of billionaires and/or multi-national corporations. As you might expect, and as our faithful poster enhydra lutris has brought to our attention, the coffers of these capitalists are intended to be filled at the expense – yes, and even the lives – of the 99% of the world's people.

We have seen controversy almost since the very beginning of Coronavirus epidemic as economies worldwide reeled from attempts to slow the spread of the virus. Bottom lines were affected immediately. Politicians with their hands out were quick to leverage public opinion in an attempt to restart commerce, lives be damned. I suspect politicians are not the only ones with their hands out, expecting greased palms.

The newest onslaught from the ranks of the capitalist think tanks seems to have begun in September of this year. An investigative journalist, Dr. Nafeez Ahmed, noticed this latest scheme, covering it in this article: SCAMADEMICS? Right-Wing Lobbying Groups Reviving ‘Herd Immunity’ in the UK

He begins:

A pernicious but flawed narrative has come to dominate the public debate over the second COVID-19 wave. It is the idea that the science is somehow irreparably divided on what to do about the pandemic.

Much of this article discusses two letters sent to the British government regarding how to proceed in the face of rising COVID infections:

...one group supporting the reintroduction of social distancing restrictions, and the other criticising efforts to ‘suppress’ the Coronavirus.

In the article, Dr. Ahmed points out the conflicts of interest of the authors of the "open up" letter. There is much, much more. Note that a primary backer of the UK "open up" letter is shown to be one Professor Sunetra Gupta, a theoretical epidemiologist at Oxford University. Her name will come up again in further articles.

More tidbits from the article:

...Professor Stephen Griffin of Leeds University’s School of Medicine – who is also the Chair-Elect of the UK Microbiology Society’s Virus Division – the letter amounted to "little more than a thinly veiled return to a herd immunity strategy and the human cost for this has not changed since Spring, nor is it likely to – one only has to look across to countries like the US, Brazil and India to see this reality."

A few weeks later, Dr. Ahmed pens a second article, this after the release of the so-called Great Barrington Declaration: Climate Science Denial Network Behind Great Barrington Declaration

Fittingly so, this article features a photo of Charles Koch. In this piece, Dr. Ahmed covers the dirty money funding the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER). Professor Sunetra Gupta shows up once more as well. It also goes into the claims made of "thousands" of signers to the Barrington document, and proves just how bogus those claims are.

A snip from the article (my bold):

Indeed the AIER is not just a free-market think-tank. It receives a large bulk of its funding from its own investment activities, not least in fossil fuels, energy utilities, tobacco, technology and consumer goods. AIER owns a major investment firm, American Investment Services Inc., which harnesses the think-tank’s research to help inform investment advice. Security Exchange Commission filings seen by Byline Times confirm that AIER’s American Investment Services Inc. runs a private fund valued at $284,492,000.

The most recent SEC document filed in August reveals that the fund’s holdings include a wide range of companies including: Chevron, ExxonMobil, General Electric, One Gas Inc, Duke Energy Corp, Northwestern Corp, WEC Energy, Xcel Energy, tobacco giant Philip Morris International, JP Morgan Chase, Visa Inc., Mastercard, Alphabet Inc (the owner of Google), Microsoft, McDonalds, Verizon Communications, Intel Corp, Nike Inc, consumer goods giant Procter and Gamble, Host Hotels & Resorts, Dow Inc., Pepsico, the major stock market advisors Vanguard Group, and many more.

This context, none of which is acknowledged on the Great Barrington Declaration website, suggests that it is less the product of a rigorous, reliable and impartial scientific process, than the outcome of an opaque lobbying effort.

That should be enough to whet your appetite. I urge folks to read the entire article; it's not huge.

I would also urge readers to spend a few minutes on another article – this by Sam Bright, which is in the same vein as the previous two: ‘There is No Alternative to Herd Immunity’
How a Dangerous Fallacy Infected the World

A few snippets from that:

What’s more, it is entirely unclear that contracting COVID-19 leads to long-term immunity. As the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control noted in June, the longevity of antibodies after suffering from COVID-19 “is still unknown”. However, “it is known that antibodies to other coronaviruses wane over time”, typically between 12 and 52 weeks from the onset of symptoms.

There are also a large number of people who have reported long-term side-effects after contracting the disease – including debilitating lethargy and a permanent loss of taste.

This was the context of a viral confrontation in the Senate this week, between one of the fact-allergic lobby – Republican Rand Paul – and a world-leading expert on infectious diseases, Dr Anthony Fauci.

First criticising the city of New York for suffering during the first wave of COVID-19, Paul then suggested the Big Apple was performing relatively well now because it had achieved a certain degree of ‘herd immunity’.

“You are not listening,” Fauci shot back. “In New York [immunity is] about 22%. If you believe 22% is ‘herd immunity’, I believe you’re alone in that.”

As Democratic congressman Eric Swalwell wrote on Twitter, Paul got “stomped by science”.

While there are many more articles out there (and this post is long enough already), I'd be remiss if I didn't mention one more. This from the UK's Academy of Medical Sciences: Navigating COVID-19 through the volume of competing voices

Written by the president of the academy, I'll post the lead-off paragraph (my bold):

Earlier this week [Tuesday 6 October] a group of scientists published an open letter, the Great Barrington Declaration, arguing against lockdown policies and for ‘Focused Protection’ of the vulnerable, while allowing for the rest of the population to operate as normal. None of us want to let the virus rule our lives, and I am acutely aware of the detrimental impacts that COVID-19 restrictions have on the nation’s mental health and economy, but this letter does not acknowledge that managing the virus is a near-impossible balancing act. It has gained a worrying amount of prominence and I am concerned about the public perception of what this document calls for. Below I address some of the main ideas put forward in the Declaration, and why they are untenable.

I urge readers to do their own research, simply asking you to keep in mind that there is massive money and power at play in this gambit to sacrifice lives in return for profit.

[Edit: gender bending]

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enhydra lutris's picture

@travelerxxx

information. Untimely Ripped sent me a link you might enjoy, the GBNarrative seems to have a humorous side that we've been unaware of. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/oct/09/herd-immunity-letter-signe...

be well and have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

travelerxxx's picture

@enhydra lutris

Think you're link was truncated, but I figured it out ...me thinks. Bet you meant this:

Herd immunity letter signed by fake experts including 'Dr Johnny Bananas'

Pretty damn funny ...or sad. Or both.

Nice that the story contained a link to this article – a good one: Long Covid: the evidence of lingering heart damage

Cardiologists are finding that problems aren’t related to age or severity of infection

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enhydra lutris's picture

@travelerxxx
it appears that "long covid" is now a thing, saw another article just the other day.

be well and have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

@enhydra lutris try this.

And, thank you thank you thank you, for putting this together. Shit drives me nuts.

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enhydra lutris's picture

@peachcreek

thanks for providing the right one.

be wll and have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

@travelerxxx I thought you might like to know that she is a woman.

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travelerxxx's picture

@out of left field

Thank-you. Now that you mention it, I did see a picture of her and should have remembered that.

Thanks again.

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enhydra lutris's picture

@Marie

be well and have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

The post author wrote:

"One sees claims that "the Diamond Princess, a perfect incubator, full of old and hence massively at risk people only showed 20% infection" and ergo whatever. Way too many facts not in evidence, and given what evidence exists, almost certainly afactual. I have yet to see any reputable study or report which gave detailed demographics for the passengers on that ship."

You will find a full set of demographics and much else in the Wikipedia article linked below. It contains over a hundred end notes directing the reader to the sources of all the statistics in the article.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COVID-19_pandemic_on_Diamond_Princess

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enhydra lutris's picture

@out of left field

demographics. It does give the median age of both the crew and passengers, which is at least something, as well as the age range and nationality of those who died. There is also slightly more data on those of the patients who were treated at one Japanese hospital. Sadly, median is, when unaccompanied by other measures, semi-useless.
1,2,3,4,50,51,51,51,51 - median 50
49,49,49,49,50,90,99,125,247 - median 50

The narrative up through Feb 5 is very interesting in that it looks like one lone 80 year old carrier who was on the ship for only 5 days started it all. That was really lucky for them because he wasn't part of a family group or tour, and isn't reported to have been part of any affinity group and already had a cough. There isn't much other information given, but in all likelihood he would've had minimal contact with the crew and other passengers, or it could've been much worse, especially given the time lag between his departure from the ship and the passenger quarantine.

be well and have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Lookout's picture

ways we can re-emerge from our current state. While I don't buy the entire "declaration" approach, there are aspects that are worth consideration.

One of their main arguments is that working class people (the essential workers) already are being exposed. They make a class argument, but it is also Drs, Nurses, and now teachers as well. I however agree with you it is absurd to force people to get out. People need to do what makes them feel safe (and what they can afford - which is indeed an issue that needs airing).

However, I think people should be allowed to make bad choices. Isn't that what voting is about? For example: A group of more than 100 members from New York City’s ultra-Orthodox community staged a protest on Tuesday in Brooklyn against the state’s new coronavirus restrictions targeting zip codes deemed “red zones” by health officials.
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/new-york-coronavirus-p...
Hey, if they want to gather and infect one another I think we should let them. Same with christian churches here. They've been singing and spreading the virus around here. Cases are increasing rapidly, and hospitalizations and deaths are climbing slightly.

As a teacher I've always thought education is the answer. Having a sane and consistent message has been a great failure here and many places around the world. Put the facts on the table for people to digest, and then let them make their own decision.

I guess this rambling comment is trying to suggest people should be free to make their own plan to re-enter society. It sure would be nice if those could be informed plans.

Discussing options isn't a bad thing, and this declaration has certainly sparked conversation and evaluation.

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

@Lookout choices. By correlation, we have civil and criminal statutes to dissuade you from acting badly,and punish you if you do. We should have reasonable laws in place to keep the general population as healthy as possible. Orthodox Jews and Pentecosts do not live in a vacuum. They have contact with everyone of every religious/non-religious stripe.
The root of the problem is misinformation about the virus and the approach to independent research. There are many competing agendas, and the only agenda that we need is to establish protocols to best ensure good health and to prevent unnecessary deaths.
TPTB know you can't fix stupid.

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Lookout's picture

@on the cusp

Send the kids back to school and university, but they can't have church? Just seems weird to me. Rules based on public health (rather than profit) would be nice. Some people have the privilege of working from home. Many do not, so how do we safely re-integrate? That's the question worth exploring to my mind.

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

@Lookout and one intermediate school in my county that are shut down. I was never a fan of school re-openings.
When profit and religion are injected into the problem, expect reasonable discussion to go off the rails.
Truths about this virus are in short supply.

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travelerxxx's picture

@on the cusp

Here in north Harris county (TX, y'all), I'm aware of none which have closed. However, of the two high schools within just a few minutes of my home, one has suddenly found COVID to be raging through students involved in athletics with over two dozen infected within a week (staff affected to a lesser degree, but affected). As stopping football would probably be considered more sacrilegious than forcing churches to close, I doubt they have done so. I'm not aware of them stopping it, anyway.

This is at our oldest daughter's alma mater.

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Lookout's picture

@on the cusp @travelerxxx

school report...

The Chattooga County School System released their weekly COVID-19 Report on Friday.

Currently there are two students at Chattooga High School, one student at Lyerly Elementary School and 2 at Summerville Middle School that have tested positive for the coronavirus.

The Chattooga High School football team was quarantined due to a direct exposure to COVID-19. News came this week that the Middle School football team is also being quarantined.

The Middle School Indians were scheduled to play Ashworth Middle School in Gordon County in a championship game. Ashworth Middle School refused to reschedule the game, which will cause the Chattooga team to forfeit the game, allowing Ashworth to claim the championship without having to compete for the title.

Efforts to appeal to the FCAA Executive Committee to allow the championship game to go ahead came to an end on Friday afternoon when the the Committee voted 5-0 for the forfeiture to stand, making Ashworth the champions by default.

I recently wrote a piece about how foolish I thought it was to re-open schools. That is my point about a consistent message. People here still are not wearing masks, nor distancing. It is as though the declaration el discussed in this essay is already being applied here. It isn't too difficult...wear a mask, distance, stay outside with others if possible, wash your hands after outside contact, and I'll add one more, protect your home as a safe haven. If everyone did those things I think it would be problem over.

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

travelerxxx's picture

@Lookout

Sorry to hear that folks there aren't so good at following recommendations.

While I'm also in the middle of Trump country, surprisingly most here are doing fairly well with it. Naturally, businesses are requiring good practices, but that's mainly large chains. Still, even small local businesses and their customers are pretty good with it. I've heard that local fundamentalist-type churches are not following procedures, but I expect that. I've no first-hand experience with the churches, so that's hearsay.

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Lookout's picture

@travelerxxx

...in the local rag, it blew my mind. These are not bad people...just terribly misinformed.

The closest church to us has a "drive-in" service where they all stay in their cars. We can hear it (sort of) if we're in the garden Sunday AM. That seems a reasonable solution.

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

travelerxxx's picture

@Lookout

Yes, the "drive in/up" solution does indeed seem reasonable. Unfortunately, around here (probably near you, too) we have quite a few extremely politicized churches. Their behavior seems to respond more to missives from the White House and/or Fox News rather than their (un)common sense.

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@Lookout

Rules based on public health (rather than profit) would be nice.

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"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones." - Fiver

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

enhydra lutris's picture

@Lookout

thing and a good approach. I also don't have overmuch problems with allowing cliques and sects to gather and, should that be the case, infect each other, though there are at least two concerning or mitigating factors.

One is the consumption of shared resources - if some group believes that god wants them to get sick to prove their faith, and that he will care for them, there is a problem for the rest of society if they then flood the local hospital(s), occupy all the beds and consume vast quantities of available medical resources, etc. such that those who get injured or sickened even though behaving rationally and responsibly cannot gain admittance or treatment .I'm sure you can expand that train of thought.

Another issue is the "Typhoid Mary effect". If the local jury process doesn't sufficiently isolate jurors from each other, I don't wish to be subject to mandatory jury sommons if any members of any such cult are permitted to be on the panel. Again you may expand.

Though implementation is always problematic, and the devil is always in the details, CA seems to have a good theoretical methodology which is to classify activities according to the inherent risk of spreading the disease or, worse yet, being superspreader events or activities and then permitting ever increasing levels of intrinsic risk as measures of actual risk decline, and rolling back the latest increments where subsequent measures of group risk and health take a downturn. They track cases, deaths, percentage of positive tests and other measures by zip code and classify areas into tiers so that good metrics might permit for example outdoor seating and service at restaurants, but lesser data would permit only delivery and take out, etc. This stuff is updated frequently (which is problematic). One important metric I have seen referenced is a measure of the infection ratio. A while ago, in my county, for example, it was less than one. That means that if somebody gets off of a bus from some covid-19 hotspot who later turns out to have been positive, the probability is that they will have infected less than one person, so that multiple such "vectors" are needed to cause one new case in the resident population. Keeping that number below one is considered to be an important goal, which is achieved by masking, social distancing, sanitation, and other measures. The size of gatherings, indoors and outdoors separately restricted, will be "regulated" (mostly meaning announced except for public indoor gatherings, etc.) Policies more or less of this type can be aggravating, but they do seem likely to have a positive effect on limiting the spread and deaths while providing for a gradual return to "normal" (which, I hope, never fully returns).

So, yes, we really need to discuss and examine how to go about things, but we need to also consider things like a hierarchy of goals. We need proponents of various proposals to truthfully and honestly tell us the anticipated financial and other benefits (if such exist in this country) and the anticipated financial costs as well as the anticipated number of illnesses, of cases of long-covid, of cases resulting in permanent health impairment and deaths, so that we can evaluate exactly what we can afford in both dollars and dead or permanently physiologically crippled neighbors. And that means honest and truthful and not stupid vague verbiage like old, large, small, young, etc.

be well and have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Lookout's picture

@enhydra lutris

So, yes, we really need to discuss and examine how to go about things, but we need to also consider things like a hierarchy of goals. We need proponents of various proposals to truthfully and honestly tell us the anticipated financial and other benefits (if such exist in this country) and the anticipated financial costs as well as the anticipated number of illnesses, of cases of long-covid, of cases resulting in permanent health impairment and deaths, so that we can evaluate exactly what we can afford in both dollars and dead or permanently physiologically crippled neighbors. And that means honest and truthful and not stupid vague verbiage like old, large, small, young, etc.

I just no longer think the US is capable of such a considered appropriate result...sadly. I suspect we will continue to see a growing number of cases with a slight increase in deaths. Of course if it is your death or that of a loved one...it ain't slight.

All the best!

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@Lookout

The more contagion there is, the greater the likelihood that even someone being quite cautious will get it. Isn't that so? (That's a real question, not a rhetorical one). If that *is* so, then people getting themselves killed via foolhardy behavior are also making my life more dangerous. Not sure whether or not that's OK.

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"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones." - Fiver

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

and I don't know that one needs to know more than this about the GBN:

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usefewersyllables's picture

I very much appreciate it, since I am also a member of the expendable, probably gonna die-in-the-next-few-years-anyway, to-be-pruned portion of the population. Hopefully, it will be spread far and wide to the folks who need to see it.

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Twice bitten, permanently shy.

report

Estimates global TB deaths could increase by 1.4 million in the period of 2020-25
under a three-month lockdown, 10 month recovery scenario:

 While stringent COVID-19 responses may only last months, they would have a lasting impact on TB in high-burden settings, through their effect mainly on TB diagnosis and treatment.

 Globally, a 3-month lockdown and a protracted 10-month restoration could lead to an
additional 6.3 million cases of TB between 2020 and 2025, and an additional 1.4
million TB deaths during this time.

 As such, global TB incidence and deaths in 2021 would increase to levels last seen in
between 2013 and 2016 respectively – implying a setback of at least 5 to 8 years in
the fight against TB, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Good article on Zero Hedge illustrating Google burying the Great Barrington Declaration, as well as censorship by Reddit, Facebook...

"Big Tech Has Become A Tool Of Totalitarian Fascism" - Google Has 'Memory-Holed' The Great Barrington Declaration"

Wonder why they would feel compelled to do that...

appropos quote at the end:

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

― C. S. Lewis

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

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"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones." - Fiver

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

SnappleBC's picture

Moon of Alabama – It’s time to say goodbye
…in which we debunk a “debunking”

The OffGuardian (which I assume most of you are already familiar with) is taking an anti-lockdown stance and they present a series of strong points for at least acknowledging that this stance is not stupid, inhumane, or lacking in scientific backing.

Note, I have not backtracked into each of the support links and papers yet... they are numerous. But at a bare minimum, I'm sold that their argument does, indeed, merit consideration and does not in and of itself make them monsters.

Wow, OffGuardian and Trump more or less agree. The world has gone off the rockers.

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A lot of wanderers in the U.S. political desert recognize that all the duopoly has to offer is a choice of mirages. Come, let us trudge towards empty expanse of sand #1, littered with the bleached bones of Deaniacs and Hope and Changers.
-- lotlizard