Wednesday, April 01, 2020


Armed Citizen Shoots, Kills Active Shooter At Tulsa Shopping Center

A woman was shot and killed at a Tulsa, Oklahoma shopping center Friday night after she opened fire on customers. While police are still investigating a possible motive and haven’t released the woman’s identify, the Tulsa World reports that the woman’s rampage was apparently stopped by a concealed carry holder before she was able to inflict any injuries.

Video reportedly showed the woman was involved in an earlier altercation in the parking lot. The woman left the shopping center and returned about three minutes later, when she pulled a gun and opened fire, according to the news release.

The concealed carry permit holder reportedly returned fire and was later questioned and released at the department’s detective division.

Who knows how bad this could have been had an armed citizen not been around to stop the shooter before she actually hit anyone? Sadly, because she didn’t actually kill or injure anyone, this story isn’t of nearly as much interest to the media as it would be otherwise, and this story will get virtually no national news coverage because there wasn’t enough carnage inflicted. The media would much rather talk about lives lost than lives saved.

Even locally, the story isn’t really getting a lot of attention. There was a brief writeup in the local paper and a short segment on local news channels, but that’s about it. Granted, this wasn’t a situation that called for hours of live, uninterrupted coverage, but to me this story is just as important as it would be if the suspect had actually taken any innocent lives, and it’s worth far more attention than what its received so far.

In fact, one Tulsa news station managed to report on the story and completely miss the fact that an armed citizen saved lives. From KTUL-TV:

Tulsa police say a woman has died after a shooting in north Tulsa Friday evening.

According to investigators a man shot and killed the woman near East 54th Street North and North Peoria Avenue.

Police say it was all caught on security footage outside a local store in the area and that’s why they now have the suspect in custody.

KTUL’s story makes it sound like this guy just walked up to the woman and shot her, and was then taken into custody. There’s no mention of the fact that the woman was shooting at customers, the man was a concealed carry holder, or that he was questioned and released by police with no expectation of an arrest.

This is journalistic malpractice at best, and an outright deception at worst. From what the Tulsa Police are saying, it sounds like this armed citizen deserves a medal. KTUL’s reporting makes it sound like he deserves to be locked up. Hopefully the station will update their story, but for now their report stands a stark reminder of the media’s failure to treat stories of armed self-defense with the same attention they give stories of murder and mayhem.

SOURCE 





Mercedes breathing device to keep coronavirus patients out of intensive care

A non-invasive breathing aid that can help to keep coronavirus patients from needing intensive care has been developed and approved in a matter of a few days.



The device, known as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), was created by a partnership between the Mercedes Formula One team, University College London (UCL) and University College London Hospital (UCLH).

CPAP devices work by pushing a mix of oxygen and air into the mouth and nose at a continuous rate, thereby increasing the amount of oxygen that gets into the lungs. They bridge the gap between an oxygen mask and the need for full mechanical ventilation, during which the patient must be sedated.

SOURCE 






Fake photo



As countries go into lockdown to stem infection rates, a Facebook post has highlighted Italy to emphasise the importance of staying home, using a photo of multiple coffins to reinforce the message.

The March 22 post from a Queensland-based Facebook user reads: “In case you’re still not convinced to stay home for you & ur beloved ones … Here’s a picture from Italy!”

The post has been viewed more than 21,000 times and shared at least 200 times.

The post urges people to stay home, which is in line with official advice in Australia and New Zealand on minimising social interactions to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

However, the problem is the photograph of an aircraft hangar filled with coffins is unrelated to COVID-19. The picture by news agency AFP was first published on October 5, 2013, following the sinking two days earlier of a boat carrying hundreds of African asylum-seekers off the Italian island of Lampedusa. The boat had left Libya 13 days before, carrying up to 500 people, according to survivors.

A UNHCR report on the tragedy says that when the boat’s engine stopped off the Italian coast, asylum seekers set fire to clothing in their attempts to be seen, but “fishing boats passed without helping”. Only 155 people survived and 366 were killed. The AFP photo shows the coffins of some of the victims in a hangar of Lampedusa airport.

SOURCE 






A civil liberties pandemic

by Jeff Jacoby

OUR HEALTH CARE system will eventually recover from the strain of the coronavirus pandemic. Our economy will recover too, notwithstanding the beating it is taking now.

Will our civil liberties recover?

Countless Americans are rightly alarmed by COVID-19 and the threat it poses to public health. Tens of millions are stunned by the abrupt wreckage of their businesses, livelihoods, and financial plans. An important debate is underway about how much economic pain can be justified by the need to suppress the infection. But where is the debate about the toll being taken on Americans' freedom and constitutional liberties by the unprecedented strictures that have been imposed to keep people apart?

Extraordinary threats often call for extraordinary measures. Under the Constitution, government officials, especially at the state and local level, have considerable latitude to protect public health. In the landmark 1905 case of Jacobson v. Massachusetts, the US Supreme Court ruled that states could compel residents to get vaccinated against smallpox, overriding objections from some who resented the temporary infringement on their personal liberty.

But are we sure that all the infringements in the current crisis will remain temporary?

Around the world, rulers are taking advantage of the pandemic to enlarge their authority, warns historian and journalist Anne Applebaum in an essay in The Atlantic. They're not only doing so in authoritarian countries, but even in liberal democracies like Israel, where the government has ordered a round-the-clock curfew and deployed anti-terrorist technology to track down people suspected of violating the coronavirus restrictions. Or like Norway, where anyone caught violating isolation rules can be fined $2,000 or jailed for 15 days. Or like the United Kingdom, where London Mayor Sadiq Khan unabashedly announces that "liberties and human rights need to be changed, curtailed, infringed — use whatever word you want."

The willing self-curtailment of human rights might seem unthinkable in a democratic culture. But in times of panic people "go along with measures that they believe, rightly or wrongly, will save them — even if that means a loss of freedom," writes Applebaum. "Such measures have been popular in the past. . . . They will be popular now too."

I'm not sure I would call the unsettling restrictions that have been imposed on Americans in the last two weeks popular. But they have been vigorously endorsed and defended — in some cases with considerable vehemence. Understandably, most Americans have been far too consumed with the health and economic impacts of the pandemic to be fretting about the civil liberties implications.

Will that change if the government goes even further?

Politico reported last weekend that the Justice Department is asking Congress for the ability to petition judges "to detain people indefinitely without trial during emergencies." That would wipe out the right of habeas corpus — the essential constitutional guarantee that anyone who has been arrested has the right to challenge the legality of his arrest in court. It would mean, explained Norman Reimer of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, that "you could be arrested and never brought before a judge until they decide that the emergency . . . is over." The Justice Department also wants judges to have the authority in an emergency to halt all court proceedings at any point.

These are horrendous proposals, but opposition to them has been muted at best. Nor is the Trump administration alone in believing America should dispense with civil liberties if that's what fighting COVID-19 requires. Law professor Michael Dorf, a noted progressive commentator, has called for a "national lockdown" in the United States, with habeas corpus suspended for the duration.

To repeat: This extraordinary menace may well require an extraordinary response. Yet a month ago, could anyone have imagined that we would see the complete cessation of all church and synagogue worship in the United States? Or a total halt to citizens' First Amendment right "peaceably to assemble and to petition the government"? Or the wholesale shutdown of entire industries and cultural events nationwide by unilateral decree? By and large, Americans have taken these restraints in stride.

Maybe they shouldn't be so sanguine.

It is daunting to realize just how much absolute authority is entrusted to governors and the president once an emergency has been declared. In Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker is empowered by state law to "exercise any and all authority over persons and property" in whatever way he deems necessary to cope with the crisis. The law allows him to do virtually anything — from banning weddings to prohibiting travel to commandeering utilities to closing schools to throwing innumerable people out of work by declaring their jobs nonessential. Legislative approval is not required. Nor is a public vote. Nor is there any fixed date on which those godlike powers must be surrendered.

Similarly sweeping emergency powers are available to governors in other states. Many similar powers are available to the president.

To be sure, these laws have been on the books for many years. But never have those powers been invoked so extensively across the entire country. Perhaps the governors and the president can be trusted to relinquish their authority to rule by decree the moment the end of the crisis is in sight. But power can be very addicting. Government officials are not always in a hurry to give it back. Especially when it was surrendered so unquestioningly in the first place.

This epidemic may leave the economy in tatters, but economies grow back. Let us hope it doesn't shred our civil liberties and democratic norms before it runs its course. Those aren't so easy to regrow.

SOURCE 

******************************

Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


************************************


Tuesday, March 31, 2020


Trump DOJ Defends Reality and Fair Play in Women's Sports Against Unfair Trans Rules

This week, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a "Statement of Interest" in support of female athletes suing the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) over its transgender policy. CIAC has claimed that federal law requires schools to allow biological males to compete in women's sports, while the female athletes claim this constitutes unfair discrimination in violation of Title IX of the Civil Rights Act. The DOJ statement clarifies that federal law does not require or support the CIAC policy.

"Allowing biological males to compete in all-female sports deprives women of the opportunity to participate fully and fairly in sports and is fundamentally unfair to female athletes," Attorney General William Barr said in a statement Tuesday. "Sports are an important part of education and character development and provide an arena where individual discipline can result in achievement and recognition. The purpose of all-female athletics is to ensure that women have an equal opportunity to participate, compete and excel in this important part of life."

"Title IX has been a major step forward in the long fight to achieve this equality. As reflected in Title IX, the basis for single-sex athletics, is rooted in the reality of biological differences between the sexes," Barr argued. "Clearly then, eligibility to participate on a single-sex team must be based on objective biological fact. Girls should not be forced, through the dismantling of Title IX, to be sidelined in their own sports."

Three female high school athletes filed the lawsuit in February. Among them is Chelsea Mitchell, the fastest biological girl in Connecticut, who nonetheless lost four state championships to male competitors who identify as female. "It’s very unfair for me and the other girls to race against biological males. It has inspired me and the other girls to stand up and fight for our right to compete and to have a fair competition," Mitchell told PJ Media. "Every race I’ve ever run against the biological males, I’ve lost. It’s definitely very defeating."

The lawsuit explains that "male puberty quickly increases the levels of circulating testosterone in healthy teen and adult males to levels ten to twenty times higher than the levels that occur in healthy adult females, and this natural flood of testosterone drives a wide range of physiological changes that give males a powerful physiological athletic advantage over females. Inescapable biological facts of the human species [are] not stereotypes, ‘social constructs,’ or relicts of past discrimination."

The suit lists 8 broad physiological athletic advantages males enjoy over girls and women after the onset of puberty, including larger lungs, larger hearts, an increased number of muscle fibers and muscle mass, higher myoglobin within muscle fibers (enabling faster transfer of oxygen to those muscles), larger and longer bones, increased mineral density in bones, and height. Due to these advantages, sporting events have long had different standards for girls and boys. Even the pro-transgender Journal of Medical Ethics has condemned the "intolerable unfairness" of the Olympic Committee's pro-transgender rules.

Yet CIAC claims its hands are tied on the issue, arguing that "federal law" requires this unfair state of affairs. Under former President Barack Obama, the DOJ interpreted Title IX's prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sex to apply to transgender identity. Under Trump, the DOJ has reversed this stance, arguing in a Supreme Court case that the authors of Title IX could not have meant to include transgender identity in the meaning of "sex." The Trump DOJ did not join the Connecticut high school girls' lawsuit, but it did file a "Statement of Interest" to make it clear that the CIAC is wrong about federal law.

"They are incorrect," the statement of interest argues. "Title IX and its implementing regulations prohibit discrimination solely 'on the basis of sex,' not on the basis of transgender status, and therefore neither require nor authorize CIAC’s transgender policy. To the contrary, CIAC’s construction of Title IX as requiring the participation of students on athletic teams that reflect their gender identity would turn the statute on its head."

"One of Title IX’s core purposes is to ensure that women have an 'equal athletic opportunity' to participate in school athletic programs. ... Schools realize that purpose primarily by establishing separate athletic teams for men and women and by ensuring that those teams are on equal footing," the statement argues. Far from being required by Title IX, CIAC’s transgender policy is in tension with 'the core of Title IX’s purpose.'"

Gender dysphoria — the persistent and painful sense of identifying with the gender opposite one's biological sex — is real, but it does not change biological reality. Even experimental "treatments" like cross-sex hormones and transgender surgery cannot alter a person's DNA and development — even in the womb, males and females develop differently. The DOJ is right to champion the biological and plain meaning of the term "sex" against transgender activism.

SOURCE 





Coronavirus: Questions over modelling behind UK’s strict restrictions

His name is forever tainted with a seriously flawed forecast about foot and mouth disease that resulted in the unnecessary slaughter of millions of livestock that saw pyres burning across Britain and cost farmers their livelihoods.

That was in 2001, and now the man who convinced then-Prime Minister Tony Blair to take such extreme action to handle the foot and mouth outbreak is behind Imperial College data that the UK government is relying on to inflict the most extreme social isolation measures in the coronavirus pandemic.

Professor Neil Ferguson heads an Imperial College, London team that has claimed 510,000 people in the UK would die from coronavirus if nothing was done, and by introducing various distancing measures, the curve could be flattened so as few as 20,000 people would die.

Given Professor Ferguson’s unquestionable influence on UK action, and possibly by extension Australia’s two-person social distancing policy that came into effect overnight, his numbers are being carefully scrutinised by others.

Early in March, Professor Ferguson and his team originally underestimated, by as much as half, the numbers of people who might require ventilators, prompting a drastic change in policy by Boris Johnson to try to suppress the virus rather than mitigate the crisis.

Before the UK went into lockdown, Professor Ferguson’s team warned 260,000 people would die if the less restrictive measures remained in place. But just days ago, Professor Ferguson told a parliamentary committee the numbers of deaths would be “substantially less than 20,000,’’ and his team predicted it could be as low as 5,700 – less than the annual toll from seasonal flu – with at least two-thirds of deaths in people who would have died anyway from underlying health conditions.

After an outcry about his changing stance, Professor Ferguson insisted he had been consistent throughout the crisis and that the revised prediction of the potential death toll was because of the strict lockdown put in place by the British government after following his advice.

Professor Ferguson claimed over the weekend that the lockdown would have to stay in place until the end of June, claiming any lift of measures earlier, say in May, would “be optimistic’’.

Yesterday Deputy Chef Medical Officer Jenny Harries mirrored Professor Henderson’s epidemiological assessment, warning it could take six months before a semblance of normality began to return.

Dr Harries said the lockdown measures would be reviewed in two to three weeks.

She said: “If we are successful and have squashed the top of curve we say that’s brilliant but we cannot suddenly revert to a normal way of living, (for those efforts) it will be wasted and we would see a second peak over the next six months.’’

Dr Harries predicted that it would take three to six months before society could get back to normal, warning: “It’s plausible it could go further than that’’.

The British government has effectively put the nation under house arrest and sparked nationwide anxiety on the basis of Professor Ferguson’s mathematics, most severely impacting those aged over 70, who have been told to remain indoors.

Some police forces have hotlines to dob in a neighbour if they exercise more than once a day – an ominous Stasi-like development.

All the while the British economy is tanking, with predictions the unemployed will rise to 2.75m and GDP plummeting 13.5 per cent.

Another professor, Michael Thrusfield of Edinburgh University has claimed Professor Ferguson’s “severely flawed’’ errors 19 years ago led to the cull of more than six million animals that did not need to die.

Another government study also found Professor Ferguson and his team at Imperial College used models during the foot and mouth crisis that “were not suitable for predicting the course of the epidemic and the effects of control measures. The models also remain not validated. Their use to predict the effects of control strategies was therefore imprudent.”

The same Professor Ferguson predicted as many as 69,000 deaths from swine flu in 2009 when only a few hundred died.

Professor Ferguson’s coronavirus gloom, contrasts with a study led by Sunetra Gupta, professor of theoretical epidemiology at Oxford University, who believes fewer than one in a thousand of those infected with coronavirus need hospital treatment, with most having mild or no symptoms. He also believes that millions of Britons may have already had the disease.

Another critic of the Imperial College study is John Ioannidis, a professor in disease prevention at Stanford University. He told The Telegraph UK: “The Imperial College study has been done by a highly competent team of modellers. However, some of the major assumptions and estimates that are built in the calculations seem to be substantially inflated.”

SOURCE 







Coronavirus pathogen has been spreading in humans for decades, study finds

COVID-19 could have spread among humans for years or even decades before now, a team of scientists has discovered in an alarming new development.

The virus may have jumped from animal to humans long before the first detection in Wuhan, according to research by an international team of scientists.

Researchers from Australia, Britain and the US sought clues about the disease’s past and found it might have jumped from animal to humans long before the first detection in the central China city of Wuhan. In fact, these scientists have speculated that it could have been as long as a decade.

The study was released on March 17 in the scientific journal Nature Medicine.

It was conducted by Kristian Andersen from the Scripps Research Institute in California, Andrew Rambaut from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, Ian Lipkin from Columbia University in New York, Edward Holmes from the University of Sydney, and Robert Garry from Tulane University in New Orleans.

Dr Francis Collins, director of the US National Institute of Health, said the study suggested that coronavirus had crossed from animals to humans long before it became capable of causing disease in people.

“Then, as a result of gradual evolutionary changes over years or perhaps decades. The virus eventually gained the ability to spread from human to human and cause serious, often life-threatening disease,” he said in an article published on the institute’s website on Thursday.

They’re not the only scientists to notice the trend.

Italian professor Giuseppe Remuzzi has noticed “strange pneumonias” in Italy since last November, which means the virus could have reached Europe before anyone knew about it.

Prof Remuzzi, director of the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research in Milan, said he would not be surprised if some asymptomatic carriers had travelled around China or even abroad earlier than December.

He said the unusual cases of pneumonia in November and December could mean that virus was already circulating in Lombardy, Italy’s worst-hit region, before people were aware of what was unfolding in Wuhan.

A Beijing doctor working in a public hospital treating COVID-19 patients said numerous cases of mysterious pneumonia outbreaks had been reported by health professionals in several countries last year.

“There will be a day when the whole thing comes to light,” said the doctor, who did not want to be named.

In December, doctors in Wuhan began noticing a surge in the number of people suffering from a mysterious pneumonia.

Tests for flu and other pathogens returned negative.

An unknown strain was isolated, and a team from the Wuhan Institute of Virology led by Shi Zhengli traced its origin to a bat virus found in a mountain cave close to the China-Myanmar border.

It has now infected every corner of the globe.

SOURCE 





We've been had, and Trump knows it

While President Trump closed the U.S. border against entry from China at the end of January, his overall instinct was right.  The CCP virus was nasty, but no worse than a supercharged flu.

Health professionals overwhelmed Trump and his inner circle with doomsday scenarios, bullied by panic-obsessed virologists and epidemiologists — begging for attention and copying the alarmist playbook from the climate/global warming extremists, allied with the MSM Trump-haters.

And now the government has completely suffocated economic demand, creating a depression, an unnecessary calamity that is destroying lives, livelihoods, families, and fortunes for a generation.  It is becoming apparent that the end-of-the-world predictions, computer models warning of an apocalyptic black plague worldwide, are all wrong.

Those paying attention were warned that the worse-case scenarios were hysterical, by the likes of Stanford epidemiologist John P.A. Ioannidis.

In dramatic fashion, U.K. Imperial College scientist Neil Ferguson published a doomsday scenario on March 16.  Now, just ten days later, he has reversed his outlook, essentially settling on a prediction no worse than a bad flu season.

Most telling, the two U.S. public health icons, Drs Fauci and Birx, are both saying the extreme models that provoked extreme measures bear little resemblance to the actual data on the ground.  From the New England Journal of Medicine March 26 co-authored by Fauci:

This suggests that the overall clinical consequences of Covid-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%) or a pandemic influenza (similar to those in 1957 and 1968) rather than a disease similar to SARS or MERS, which have had case fatality rates of 9 to 10% and 36%, respectively.

Re: Dr. Birx from The Hill:

Birx, speaking at a White House press briefing, singled out a recent study on the United Kingdom that originally predicted 500,000 people would die from the virus and has since been revised down to predict 20,000 deaths in the U.K. She said the data the government has collected does not show that 20 percent of the U.S. population would be infected with COVID-19, cautioning against predictions that say so.

"When people start talking about 20 percent of a population getting infected, it is very scary but we don't have data that matches that based on the experience," Birx said.

"There's no ... reality on the ground where we can see that 60 to 70 percent of Americans are going to get infected in the next eight to 12 weeks," Birx later continued.

Perhaps Trump had no other option than to go with the flow when this crisis unfolded.  But he is not usually a slave to consensus.  He was elected because he is a contrarian.  His contrarian antennae have already sent signals that he must reset the economy, pronto.

Trump wants America to reopen by Easter.  Despite his ambition being ridiculed and criticized, he's right to pivot from hysteria to rebound.

SOURCE 





Coronavirus: Lockdown a blunt instrument with no guarantees

The Canberra Gallery has been caught in the grip of Labor’s cynicism, turning the Prime Minister’s daily press briefings nastier and more distracting than they should be.

The situation is fluid, and evidence-based economic modelling is in short supply. There is no precedent to follow, no off-the-peg solution and the antidote may be more than a year away. It is a time when wiser heads hedge their bets and prepare to alter their judgments as the facts alter, sometimes by the hour.

The noisier participants, however, have headed quickly in the opposite direction, seeking comfort in the certainty of fresh dogma. The word “lockdown” is their latest totem, just as “Gonski” and “Stop Adani” were not long ago. Once again they’ve responded to a complex challenge with a flight to simplicity, chaining themselves to a gate that long ago seemed to be coming off its hinges.

The lockdown non-solution is social distancing on steroids. We don’t yet know how good it is at separating people from stray coronavirus cells, and the evidence from locked-down nations like Italy, Spain and France looks worse by the day.

We do know that it separates people from jobs and businesses from customers to a far greater extent than intended. The interdependency of the global economy has passed beyond the point where it can be mapped. When you start pulling one thread out of the economy, the rest of it unravels.

On Friday, 17 days after 16 million people were locked down in northern Italy, the country recorded its highest number of deaths in a single day — 919.

Even allowing for the different circumstances in Australia, it is hard to imagine that an Italian-style nationwide lockdown heavily enforced would reduce the spread fast enough to stop our medical services being swamped.

This should come as no surprise to older practitioners in the field of public health.

The sharp reduction in the number of toddlers drowning in backyards in the 1980s and 1990s wasn’t achieved by banning domestic swimming pools.

Neither did we bring HIV/AIDS under control by placing advertisements in The Australian Women’s Weekly. It was controlled with a targeted, scary campaign, the memory of which causes many who watched in their teens and 20s to break out in a cold sweat even today.

Australia stopped toddlers drowning by enforcing the installation of fences and childproof gate locks combined with a strong public health message.

The approach that works, in other words, is to focus on saving the vulnerable, none of whom want to end up in a crowded intensive care unit facing a lonely death.

A poll on the weekend by Roy Morgan demonstrates that voluntary self-isolation is a feasible strategy, avoiding the need for the authoritarian approach some appear to prefer.

In the poll, 84 per cent of those over 65 years of age said they were already self-isolating. Pictures of a crowded beach, then, are an inadequate guide to public behaviour in this crisis.

Most people are relying on their own common sense. With clearer advice from public health officials and some assistance and community goodwill, we can ensure that most of those at risk sit out this pandemic in the comfort of their own homes.

Nobody knows if a full lockdown, the indiscriminate stopping of almost all human activity outside the home, will end the pandemic or how long these draconian measures will have to stay in place. We do know, however, that such measures will come at an enormous cost to employment, welfare and families.

We know, too, that some of the countries doing better in the face of the pandemic, such as Switzerland, Belgium and South Korea, have slowed the rate of infection and death to manageable levels while expressly rejecting this blunt-edged strategy. Circumstances vary so much between nations, however, that we are unlikely to find a universal policy solution until we get a vaccine.

In the meantime, Australia must devise its own solution, informed by the epidemiological data now emerging from the worst-hit countries, and tempered by our knowledge of what happens when sections of our interlocking economy shut down and the human misery that follows.

It seems the total lockdown strategy would damage the economy beyond all recognition if kept in place for very long. The price would be paid not just in jobs and wages, but in loneliness, mental illness, family violence and perhaps even suicide.

In a situation like this, the least-worse solution will always be the one that takes account of the welfare of people. We cannot yet say with any confidence when it will be safe for the elderly to leave their homes. We do know, however, that the view from the worst window of the worst home in Australia is better than the view of the ceiling seen through a ventilator.

SOURCE  

******************************

Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here

************************************

Monday, March 30, 2020


Toby Young and the fightback against outrage mobs

Bettina Arndt

This week I interviewed Toby Young, a British journalist who became the subject of a media feeding frenzy two years ago after being appointed to an education committee by Theresa May. Within a few weeks he’d lost all of his five board positions and jobs on various education committees and found himself depersoned by the mob.

Toby, who is Associate Editor of Quillette in London, has written very movingly about what that was like:

“Being publicly shamed is a brutal, shocking experience that strips you of your dignity and I’ll always look back on it as one of the low points of my life.

“I know from my own experience that one of the hardest things about being mobbed is the feeling of isolation, of being a social pariah.”

He talks about the “offence archaeologists” who trolled through his 30-year journalism career cherry-picking sentences and phrases they could take out of context to cast him in a bad light, turning even former friends against him:

“That’s one of the most disheartening things about being shunned and cast out by your colleagues—the people you hoped would stick up for you join the lynch mob along with everyone else.”

As Toby explains, what’s really devastating is people start to believe what the mob is saying about you:

“One of the reasons social media mobbings are so effective at destroying a person’s reputation is that they create the impression that the views of the targeted individual are completely abhorrent to the vast majority of people.

“That’s one of the worst aspects of seeing your name dragged through the mud—the fear that people you know and care about are going to believe some of the terrible things people are saying about you and the feeling that there’s nothing you can do about it”.

Here’s the video I made with Toby, a long talk where he first describes just what happened to him. It would be great if you could help me circulate this.

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6lOc6no8RsQ

Some of his stories are very funny indeed, as his long journalist career provided rich fodder for the outrage mobs, who managed to dig up some hilarious material which they claimed were offensive.

From: Bettina@bettinaarndt.com.au




BAD cholesterol?

Cholesterol and COVID-19

Researchers from Wenzhou, China looked at clinical laboratory features including lipid levels of patients with COVID 19. They found dramatic reductions in the cholesterol levels of patients infected with COVID 19, compared with healthy controls (1)

The study provides data to suggest that cholesterol levels decline quite rapidly during the early stages of infection and increase as the patient starts to recover.  Therefore, indicating that cholesterol may have an important role to play in defending the body against such infections.

This perhaps, should not be a surprise, since we already know that cholesterol is an extremely important part of the immune system.

Back in 1997, researchers in the Netherlands published an article in the Lancet showing  elderly people with the highest cholesterol levels are best protected from cancer and infections (2).

Other research, published in 2013, led by the University of California, found that derivatives of cholesterol play an important role in the immune system and could protect humans from a wide range of viruses, such as: Ebola, Rift Valley Fever, Nipah, and other deadly pathogens (3).

Two other studies in 2016 found that cholesterol-lowering statins impair the immune system and block the effectiveness of the flu vaccine  (4 , 5).

References

1). This study has been submitted to the Lancet medical journal and is still awaiting publication, however, the preliminary report can be seen in full here: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3544826

2). Total cholesterol and risk of mortality in the oldest old

3). Interferon-Inducible Cholesterol-25-Hydroxylase Broadly Inhibits Viral Entry by Production of 25-Hydroxycholesterol

4). Influence of Statins on Influenza Vaccine Response in Elderly Individuals

5). Impact of Statins on Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Against Medically Attended Acute Respiratory Illness

Via email






PETER HITCHENS: There’s powerful evidence this Great Panic is foolish, yet our freedom is still broken and our economy crippled

As I watched the Prime Minister order mass house arrest on Monday night, I felt revulsion, anger and grief – as anyone brought up when this was a free and well-governed country would. I also felt terribly alone.

You could not have known, from anything broadcast that night or printed the following day, that anyone was unhappy with these events. But they were.

So, above all things this week, I would like to thank all the kind, perplexed people who have got in touch with me by so many means, to say they share my doubts about the Government’s handling of Covid-19.

There are, in fact, many of us. If you feel this way, you are nothing like as solitary as you think.

Next, I would like to thank all those who disagree with me, who choose to abuse me, often with lies, personal smears and swearwords. Your childish, intolerant reaction has strengthened me in my conviction that mine is the better case. If your policy is so good, why can you not defend it like civilised adults? Do you really think that I regret needless deaths any less than you? Can you not accept that I also have good motives?

I now suspect this dark season might get still worse before we see the clear, calm light of reason again. The greater the mistake we have made, the less willing we are to admit it or correct it. This is why I greatly fear worse developments in the coming few days.

When I predicted roadblocks in my column two weeks ago, which I did, I did so out of an instinct that we were entering on the craziest period of our lives since the death of Princess Diana. And now there are such roadblocks, officious, embarrassing blots on our national reputation.

But even I would not have dared to predict the mass house arrest under which we are all now confined.

I have found the origin of this bizarre Napoleonic decree – a few clauses in the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, which I confess I had not even heard of. It just goes to show how careful you have to be with the wording of the laws you pass.

If the TV this weekend is full of pictures of people sunning themselves in city parks or escaping to the high hills, there will be plenty of zealots and politicians ready to call for yet more restrictions, subjecting all of us to collective punishment.

Perhaps we will emulate the French or Italian states, which have returned to their despotic origins and reduced their populations to a sort of cowering serfdom, barely able to step into the street.

I wonder whether there might also be restrictions on what can be said and published. I can see no necessary bar to this in the law involved.

Section 45 C (3) (c) of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 (appropriately enough) is the bit that does it. Once the Health Secretary believes there is a threat to public health, he has – or claims to have – limitless powers to do what he likes, ‘imposing or enabling the imposition of restrictions or requirements on or in relation to persons, things or premises in the event of, or in response to, a threat to public health’.

The former Supreme Court Judge Lord Sumption doubts that the Act can be used in this way and warns: ‘There is a difference between law and official instructions. It is the difference between a democracy and a police state. Liberty and the rule of law are surely worth something, even in the face of a pandemic.’

Lord Sumption is generally a liberal hero, and he was invited to deliver last year’s BBC Reith Lectures. But the Human Rights crowd have all melted away in the face of this outrage. So his warning was buried on Page 54 of The Times on Thursday, and Parliament, already supine, has slunk away after its craven acceptance of new attacks on liberty on Monday.

If it ever meets again, it will be as a poor, neutralised thing. One day it may come to be called the Dummy Parliament. Where is the Supreme Court when you really need it, come to that?

So do not be surprised by anything. After last week, can we rule anything out? This new Stasi society has a horrifying level of support. Humberside police are already advertising a ‘portal’ for citizens to inform on their neighbours for breaking the ‘social distancing’ rules.

If you think they won’t get any takers, think again. Northamptonshire police have revealed that their control room has had ‘dozens and dozens’ of calls about people ignoring the order.

They said: ‘We are getting calls from people who say, “I think my neighbour is going out on a second run – I want you to come and arrest them.” ’

Most people will, by now, have viewed the online film of Metropolitan police officers bellowing officiously at sunbathers on Shepherd’s Bush Green in London, energetically stamping out the foul crime of lying on the grass (would they have paid so much attention, two weeks ago, to a gaggle of louts making an unpleasant noise, or to marijuana smokers?).

Others will have seen the films, taken by Derbyshire police drones, of lonely walkers on the remote, empty hills, publicly pillorying them for not obeying the regulations. It is genuinely hard to see what damage these walkers have done.

But as a former resident of the USSR, I can tell you that this sort of endless meddling by petty authority in the details of life, reinforced by narks, is normal in unfree societies – such as we have now become for an indefinite period. It is, by the way, also a seedbed for corruption.

Meanwhile, our economy is still crippled, and the overpraised Chancellor Rishi Sunak, like some beaming Dr Feelgood with a case full of dodgy stimulants, seeks to soothe the pain by huge injections of funny money.

He will get this back from us as soon as we are allowed out again. Just you wait till you get the bill, in increased taxes, inflation and devastated savings.

It ought not to be so. In fact, several powerful pieces of evidence have come to light, suggesting that the Great Panic is foolish and wrong.

I shall come to these, to underline the fact that it is not I, alone, who have these doubts. I do not claim to be an expert. But I refer to those who definitely are experts, who doubt the wisdom of what we are doing.

It is sad that far too little of this is being reported as prominently as it should be by our supposedly diverse and free media, especially the BBC, which has largely closed its mind and its airwaves to dissent. It is quite funny that a statue of George Orwell stands by the entrance to the BBC, bearing the inscription: ‘If liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.’

Obviously, they should take it down, as nobody inside the building appears to believe that.

Crucially, those who began by claiming that we faced half a million deaths from the coronavirus in this country have now greatly lowered their estimate. Professor Neil Ferguson was one of those largely responsible for the original panic. He has twice revised his terrifying prophecy, first to fewer than 20,000 and then on Friday to 5,700.

He says intensive care units will probably cope. And he conceded a point made by critics of the panic policy – that two-thirds of people who die from coronavirus in the next nine months would most likely have died this year from other causes.

He tried to claim that the shutdown of the country had led to this violent backtrack, claiming that it was ‘social distancing strategies’ which had brought about his amazing climbdown. How could he possibly know either that this had happened, or that it would happen, or that there was any connection between the two?

It is very hard to see by what means he could know any of these things. Could he have softened his stance because of the publication early last week of a rival view, from distinguished scientists at Oxford University, led by Sunetra Gupta, Professor of theoretical epidemiology? It suggests that fewer than one in a thousand of those infected with Covid-19 become ill enough to need hospital treatment.

The vast majority develop very mild symptoms or none at all. Millions may already have had it.

This report is being unfairly sneered at by Government toadies, but we shall see. It seems unlikely that Oxford University would have bungled their work.

And it is obvious that a few days of raggedly enforced house arrest could not have made so much real difference. Even those who believe in these shutdowns think they take two weeks to have any effect.

It is fascinating, looking at all the different countries which have adopted different methods of dealing with the virus, to see just how little of a pattern there is.

It is very hard to link outcome clearly with policy. Even Hong Kong and Singapore, similar city states which had a similar outcome, adopted different policies. We might do well not to assume that things work, just because we favour them.

It is more likely that the panic-mongers, having got their way by spreading alarm and frightening the Prime Minister, are now trying to get us to forget how ludicrous their original claims were. But first let me issue another warning. If the Government do decide to release us from mass arrest, they will say, as Prof Ferguson is doing, that this is because their repressive economy-wrecking measures worked.

We must demand proof, after a thorough independent inquiry, that this is true. For, if it is not, as I very much suspect, then we are in endless danger.

Any government, using the same pretext, can repeatedly put us through this misery, impoverishment and confinement. In the end, like the peoples of other despotisms, we will be grateful to be allowed out at all.

As things stand, the Johnson Government is like a doctor, confronted with a patient suffering from pneumonia. ‘This is serious,’ says the doctor. ‘I have never seen anything like this. Unless I act radically, you will die terribly.’

He then proposes to treat the pneumonia by amputating the patient’s left leg, saying this method has been used successfully in China. The trusting patient agrees. The patient eventually recovers from pneumonia, as he would have done anyway. The doctor proclaims that his treatment, though undoubtedly painful and radical, was a great success. But the patient now has only one leg, and a very large hospital bill which he cannot afford to pay.

When I argue against this folly, I am accused of not caring about the deaths of the old. I am old. It is false. I care as much about the deaths of others as anybody. But as a result of taking my stand, I have received private support from people inside the NHS seriously disturbed by what is going on.

Many people, including these swimmers, pictured, have been flouting the Government's urge for people to stay at home    +5
Many people, including these swimmers, pictured, have been flouting the Government's urge for people to stay at home

Now, if you want a scientist who does not support Government policy, the most impressive of these is Prof Sucharit Bhakdi. If you desire experts, he is one.

He is an infectious medicine specialist, one of the most highly cited medical research scientists in Germany. He was head of the Institute for Medical Microbiology at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, one of Germany’s most distinguished seats of learning.

In a recent interview he had many uncomplimentary things to say about the shutdown policy being pursued by so many countries (there is a link on my blog to the interview, and a transcription).

But perhaps the most powerful was his reply to the suggestion that the closedown of society would save lives. He argued the contrary, saying this policy was ‘grotesque, absurd and very dangerous’.

He warned: ‘Our elderly citizens have every right to make efforts not to belong to the 2,200 [in Germany] who daily embark on their last journey. Social contacts and social events, theatre and music, travel and holiday recreation, sports and hobbies all help to prolong their stay on Earth. The life expectancy of millions is being shortened.’

He also gave this warning: ‘The horrifying impact on the world economy threatens the existence of countless people.

‘The consequences for medical care are profound. Already services to patients who are in need are reduced, operations cancelled, practices empty, hospital personnel dwindling.

‘All this will impact profoundly on our whole society.

‘I can only say that all these measures are leading to self-destruction and collective suicide because of nothing but a spook.’

This is plainly true. Old people who are still healthy, thanks to regular exercise and busy social lives, will suffer hugely from being trapped in their homes.

But there is another major problem with the Government case. Do the figures show what they claim to show?

Many people will die with coronavirus. But this does not mean that they died of it.

This is already a major problem in judging death totals from such countries as Italy. Yet new rules in the UK mean deaths which may well be mainly from other causes are recorded as corona deaths.

John Lee, a recently retired professor of pathology and a former NHS consultant pathologist, writes in The Spectator this weekend that by making Covid-19 a notifiable disease, the authorities may have distorted the figures.

‘In the current climate, anyone with a positive test for Covid-19 will certainly be known to clinical staff looking after them: if any of these patients dies, staff will have to record the Covid-19 designation on the death certificate – contrary to usual practice for most infections of this kind.

‘There is a big difference between Covid-19 causing death, and Covid-19 being found in someone who died of other causes.

Making Covid-19 notifiable might give the appearance of it causing increasing numbers of deaths, whether this is true or not. It might appear far more of a killer than flu, simply because of the way deaths are recorded.’

This, of course, explains why such an overwhelming number of Covid deaths, here and abroad, involve so-called ‘underlying conditions’, in fact serious, often fatal, diseases.

Take this into account whenever you hear official figures of coronavirus deaths.

Dr Lee adds, equally crucially: ‘We risk being convinced that we have averted something that was never really going to be as severe as we feared.’

That is the heart of it. It was never going to be as bad as the panic-mongers said.

The hysterical measures taken may well not have done any good. Yet our freedom is still bruised and broken, and our economy limping and deeply damaged.

If we do not learn the right lessons from this grim episode, then we will, for certain, have to go through it all again.

SOURCE 





Rights groups in Australia alarmed at new coronavirus police powers

Rights groups have voiced concern about Australia's rollout of COVID-19 restrictions and how these are being policed.

This week, a number of states announced they were issuing on-the-spot fines for individuals and businesses flouting new COVID-19 rules.

Fines will be issued for not quarantining for 14 days after returning from overseas, attending or organising mass gatherings, and disobeying other government directions such as wedding and funeral sizes.

Depending on the state, individuals face $1,000-$13,345 fines and businesses can be fined up to $66,672.50.

While agreeing the crisis necessitates a strong government response to protect the community, rights groups said these heavy fines should be a "very last resort".

"Police should be trying to promote understanding of the new regulations and new restrictions and doing everything they can to get voluntary compliance," spokesperson for the NSW Council for Civil Liberties Stephen Blanks told SBS News.

"It shouldn't be a revenue-raising exercise for the government," Mr Blanks said.

"And it's so important that when restrictions are imposed, that proper notice is given to a community, that restrictions are clearly available on government websites. So people can see what it is that they are allowed and not allowed to do."

But he said in this instance, officials "have been struggling to achieve clarity". "This confusion makes it hard for members of the public to know what they are allowed to do," he said.

The Federal Government also announced the army has been brought in to make sure returned travellers isolate for 14 days.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison stressed on Friday that defence personnel would not have the power to issue fines, but would assist state and territory authorities.

Mr Blanks said the military's presence could add to the tension. "It's not a situation where you want to see members of the army on the streets with weapons."

The Human Rights Law Centre said civil liberties should not be forgotten in a crisis.

"As governments across Australia adopt emergency powers to lead us out of this crisis it is important that any response is transparent and proportionate," a spokesperson told SBS News in a statement.

"Any emergency powers or legislation passed in this time of crisis must be clearly expressed, narrowly confined to deal with the immediate public health issues, time limited, and independently reviewed on a continuing basis.

"This crisis must not be seen as an opportunity to advance the infringement of our democratic freedoms. We cannot allow a situation in which Australians emerge from this over-policed and under state surveillance with their democratic rights curtailed."

Associate professor of law at Flinders University Marinella Marmo researches human rights issues. With family members in virus-hit Italy, she is well-aware of how important a government response is to COVID-19. "Obviously, I am anxious but I also think that human rights are here to stay and we need to fight for them every single day," she said.

"Emergency measures [are] introduced quickly and this does not allow for a healthy debate on if and how they infringe civil liberties. Unfortunately, in the eye of the storm we lose track of these matters, but we need to remain vigilant.

"We now know that most emergency measures quickly introduced in the past by different governments around the world have not been withdrawn or completely withdrawn, see terrorist measures, for example.

"Any kind of COVID-19 emergency measure needs to be considered in light of ethical standards and human rights. And if now is not the time, as dismissively we may be told, then soon after the emergency is over."

In laying out the new measures, authorities have stressed that enforcing the rules will save lives.

On Saturday, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said giving police the new powers was very important as cases continue to rise in the state. "Everyone's got to take this seriously," he said.

Victorian Police Minister Lisa Neville said "we sincerely hope that Victoria Police does not have to issue one of these fines, and people do the right thing".

While NSW Police Minister David Elliott told reporters on Saturday that "everything we have done over the course of the last couple of weeks has been to save lives". "Whether it be closing Bondi Beach, whether it be closing our pubs, these are there to stop people from transmitting disease.

"These rules and regulations are not there to punish anybody. They are not there to issue intermittent justice. They are there to protect lives, they are there to save lives."

SOURCE  

******************************

Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here

************************************


Sunday, March 29, 2020



Money or lives: at some point we must say ‘enough!’

We trade off lives against other things all the time. If lives were all-important, we would ban motor cars -- given the many deaths from traffic accidents

And it is not as if confining people to their homes is safe.  It will undoubtedly create depression in many and in already depressed people the outcome will be suicides.  As well as tracking virus deaths we should also be tracking deaths from suicides and deaths from domestic violence. Becoming "stir crazy" from confinement is a well-known and dangerous phenomenon.  It may not be long before deaths from confinement-related causes will equal or surpass deaths from the virus

Our current draconian policies to tackle coronavirus are just not sustainable. The middle ground is more like what Sweden is doing. See below


By BJORN LOMBORG

The potential impact of the coronavirus pandemic is enormous. But draconian policies to tackle the virus also have colossal costs. Ignoring the trade-offs could land us with one of the worst possible outcomes.

A landmark study by London’s Imperial College on death impacts from different policies helped change the minds of US President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson towards implementation of lockdown policies. It showed that without any such policies, COVID-19 would kill a half-million people in Britain and 2.2 million people in the US.

Unrestricted COVID-19 means most people get sick at the same time, entirely overwhelming the healthcare system. Without restrictions, corona infections would peak in early June in Britain, with 280,000 sick people needing hospitalisation but only 8000 beds available. That is why it is crucial to “flatten the curve”. Policies to reduce the speed of infection can help spread out when people get sick and make hospital beds available for more people.

Smart policies such as self-­isolation, house quarantines and isolation for the vulnerable have little cost and can flatten the curve somewhat, reducing deaths by about 50 per cent. But this still leads to a quarter-million dead in Britain, so understandably almost all societies have decided that stronger policies to slow the spread of the virus are needed.

Imperial College defines social distancing of the entire population to mean that people still go to school and mostly to work but they curtail other social interactions such as going to restaurants, cinemas and bars by 75 per cent. Together with the other smart policies, this could flatten the curve so much that there would be almost enough beds for everyone for the next five months.

Unfortunately, the study also shows that such a successful reduction in infection means few people have gained immunity. So if restrictions are lifted in September, a second wave of infections will once again overwhelm society and kill almost as many.

Thus, if we want to keep deaths low, the Imperial College study shows we may have to maintain social restrictions for what may be up to a two-year wait ­before vaccinations are available.

This point needs more emphasis. Up to two years of draconian social restrictions will not only be phenomenally costly but also impossibly hard to keep in place.

Look at the costs first. Most of the early predictions were moderate. But the world’s much more ­severe policies have exploded the costs. According to JPMorgan, China’s economy will shrink by an unheard of 40 per cent in the first quarter of this year.

For the US, Goldman Sachs envisages a 24 per cent second-quarter gross domestic product slump, and Morgan Stanley a 30 per cent drop. In the past week alone, 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits.

Moreover, most governments seem to have committed to draconian policies to avoid most deaths across the long term. These will cost much, much more. If China wants to reopen, it risks a second wave of coronavirus; if it doesn’t, the economic contraction could continue or get even worse. Economists are suggesting the costs of continued extreme policies could be comparable to Germany in the 1920s or the US in the 30s, with massive economic costs, a third of the workforce unemployed and a generational loss of opportunities.

The current raft of draconian shutdown policies spanning much of the world includes border closings, shutting down travel and closing schools, concert venues, restaurants, bars, malls, sports ­facilities and countless jobs.

These policies cannot be sustained realistically for many months, let alone years. Already, mobile phone tracking shows that 40 per cent of Italians still move around despite curfews and lockdowns. In France, “virus rebels” are defying bans and young Germans hold “corona parties” while coughing at older people.

As weeks of shutdown turn into months, this will get much worse. With many more people at home, this will likely lead to higher levels of domestic violence and substance abuse. As schools stay closed, the skills of the next generation erode. One study shows closing schools for just 13 weeks could initially cost the economy 8.1 per cent of GDP. As more people become unemployed and the economy plunges, we will be able to afford much less, also leading to lower-quality healthcare for every­one. Politically, the outcome could be dire — the previous long-term recessions in the 20s and 30s didn’t end well.

We need to discuss openly the trade-offs between tougher shutdowns and economic calamity. Trump is irresponsibly itching to end most restrictions by Easter. It could help the economy in the short term, but in the long term it could lead to the corona catastrophe forecast by Imperial College. Similarly, long-term shutdown policies also can lead to devastation: first destroying the economy; then, with their support withering and health regulations unravelling by September, a huge secondary wave of COVID-19 killing people indiscriminately.

Fortunately, the Imperial College study maps out more of a ­middle ground. It didn’t advocate the complete shutdown we mostly are seeing implemented. The researchers envisioned people continue studying and mostly working while reducing their ­social activities. They pointed out that cancelling mass gatherings has “little impact”.

This middle ground is more like what Sweden is doing: recommending people work from home if possible, and asking those who are sick and over 70 to avoid social contact. But most people still work, children go to school, most of society is still running. This is long-term sustainable. Shutting it all down — like France, New Zealand and California — is not.

We need to map a middle course that saves most lives and avoids a catastrophic recession.

SOURCE 





Chloe Middleton: the coronavirus death that wasn’t

This week, the news of the heartbreaking death of 21-year-old Chloe Middleton went across social media. She was reported to be Britain’s youngest coronavirus victim with no pre-existing condition. And so her case was quickly held up as proof as to why young people – thought to be too blasĂ© about Covid-19 – should take the outbreak more seriously.

But the Guardiam reports this afternoon that her death has not actually been recorded as a Covid-19 death:

‘Middleton was taken to Wexham Park hospital in Slough last weekend after she had a heart attack. Attempts to resuscitate her failed and she was pronounced dead soon after arriving… A Berkshire coroner said the death was related to Covid-19 after being told Middleton had a cough, the source said. But this surprised medics at the hospital, who have not recorded it as a coronavirus incident.’

An NHS source tells the Guardian that ‘the coroner’s move “raised eyebrows” at the hospital because [Middleton] had not tested positive for the disease’.

This shows us the dangers of allowing political imperatives – ie, the need for young people to take this crisis seriously – to get ahead of the facts. Amid this outbreak we need clear-eyed discussion of what’s really going on.

It seems this tragedy was too swiftly leapt upon and turned into a cautionary tale about Covid-19, purely because it aligned with some people’s worst fears. We need to do better.

SOURCE 






Dissent in a time of Covid

Two nasty ailments have gripped Britain in recent days. The first is Covid-19. The second is intolerance of dissent. The authoritarian instincts of the chattering classes have been on full display in this crisis. You can see it in their daily pleas for Boris Johnson to turn the UK into a police state. You can see it in their sneering at people who visit parks or take a walk on a beachfront. And you can see it most disturbingly in their implacable rage against anyone who deviates from the Covid-19 script and asks if shutting down society really is the right thing to do. Like medieval scolds, they brand such people dangerous, insane, a virus, accessories to manslaughter. ‘Shut them down!’, they cry, thinking they are signalling their concern for the public’s health when really they are advertising their profound contempt for freedom of thought and critical debate.

In an emergency, freedom of speech doesn’t stop being important. It becomes more important. The vast majority of people accept there will be restrictions on their everyday freedoms in the next few months. They know they won’t be able to socialise very much and will have to stay indoors for long periods of time. We accept this because, in contradiction of the anti-masses hatred coming from the media class at the moment, who are fuming over photographs of what they view as thick, ignorant scum walking in parks, people actually have a strong sense of social solidarity. They are concerned for the health of their friends, families, community and society. They accept restrictions to that end. But even in a moment like this there should be not a single restriction on freedom of speech. The right to dissent from the middle-class apocalypticism enveloping the Covid-19 crisis is the most important liberty right now.

And it’s a liberty under threat. The speed and intensity with which questioning extreme responses to Covid-19 has become tantamount to a speechcrime is alarming. I had a taste of it this weekend, when I found myself in the eye of a storm over a Spectator piece I wrote questioning the wisdom of closing pubs. Peter Hitchens did too, after he wrote a Mail on Sunday piece questioning the Covid shutdown of society. Others who have wondered out loud if the freezing of social and economic life is the right response to this novel new virus have been hounded, shamed, reported to the Silicon Valley authorities. David Lammy calls us insane and dangerous and says our words should be unpublished. Unpersoning will be next. Questioning the lockdown will see you blacklisted from polite society.

How swiftly we become McCarthyites. How naturally intolerance comes to that section of society that thinks it knows best. Partly, of course, this is always its default mode. As we know from the past couple of decades of social shaming, No Platforming and outright state assaults against people who are deemed to hold hateful or wrongthink views, the new elites are not exactly friends of freedom of speech. But the rising tide of Covid-19 censoriousness also suggests that these people think that when things get serious, when society faces a genuine threat, then freedom of speech becomes a negotiable commodity. Words potentially become dangerous. Bad ideas can lead to loss of life. So police speech, shame the dissenters, silence the ‘virus’ of incorrect thought. This is as wrong as it is possible for someone to be. It is precisely moments like this that show why freedom of speech is the most important value in a civilised, democratic society.

Right now, our societies are doing something historically unprecedented. They are asking us to change our lives in ways that would have been unimaginable just a couple of weeks ago. Some European societies have completely shut down. This week the UK will likely introduce a Coronavirus Bill that will give our government extraordinary power over individuals and public space. The right to question this is essential, for two reasons. First, because we should never feel comfortable with restrictions on freedom. Even if we accept them as short-term measures in a mass act of social solidarity to protect life, they should still make us bristle and balk and constantly ask questions: ‘Why is this necessary? When will it end? When will the Coronavirus Bill be repealed?’

And the second reason freedom of speech becomes even more important in a crisis is because of one of the key things that freedom of speech does – it encourages intellectual humility. Freedom of speech is the means through which all of us entertain the possibility that we are wrong. The great service of freedom of speech is that it helps us question ourselves. The unfettered existence of all kinds of interesting, challenging, strange and offensive views is the great and essential guard against our own tendencies to dogma. It invites rethinking, re-evaluation. It gives us that great liberty: the liberty to change our minds.

Dogma, in contrast, does the opposite. Dogma emerges where people shield themselves, normally courtesy of censorship, from the thoughts and questions and criticisms of others. Forcefielding oneself and one’s ideas from criticism gives rise to lazy, sclerotic thinking. It nurtures orthodoxies and blind beliefs, ideologies that are cleaved to not because their worth and substance have been properly tested through rigorous public debate but because we just know they are right. Doing that in normal times is bad enough. Doing that in a time of unprecedented crisis is lethal. It means this: society might go down a route that is wrong. I’m not saying it is wrong. But shouldn’t we entertain the possibility that it is? Shouldn’t we nurture the conditions of freedom in which the potential wrongness of what we are doing could be exposed? Shouldn’t we be humble rather than dogmatic about the overhaul of modern life, and open to the possibility that it is a mistake?

I want to hear from dissenters who think that what we are doing is wrong. Their voices are immeasurably important right now. They will protect us from the disease of dogma. I want to hear from people like David L Katz, founding director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, who says the lockdown might be a mistake; that this ‘near total meltdown of normal life – schools and businesses closed, gatherings banned – [might be] long-lasting and calamitous, possibly graver than the direct toll of the virus itself’. I want to hear from those, like Katz, who are asking if the lockdown itself could actually help to spread the disease, for example by closing colleges and schools and sending ‘young people of indeterminate infectious status… to huddle with their families’.

I want to hear from people like Professor Michael T Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, who says ‘a national lockdown is no cure’. Who says we must urgently ‘consider the effect of shutting down offices, schools, transportation systems, restaurants, hotels, stores, theatres, concert halls, sporting events and other venues indefinitely and leaving all of their workers unemployed and on the public dole’. ‘The likely result’, he says, ‘would be not just a depression but a complete economic breakdown’.

I want to hear from people like Gerd Gigerenzer, director of the Harding Center for Risk Literacy at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, who reminds us that apocalyptic predictions were made about earlier viral diseases and they did not come true. Who reminds us that the UK government predicted that 65,000 Brits would die from swine flu in 2009, but actually fewer than 500 died. Who says there are dangers both to underreaction and overreaction to Covid-19 and that our society must learn to live with this uncertainty.

I want to hear from these voices because they can help to hold at bay the desire for unflinching certainty and dogmatic responses in the face of Covid-19, neither of which are helpful, and both of which could end up causing as much harm to society and our wellbeing as the disease itself. The instinct to demonise and shut down anyone who says we are overreacting to Covid-19 is not only irritatingly censorious and anti-intellectual – it is potentially dangerous, too, since it will erase those opinions that are holding out the possibility that what we are doing is wrong. ‘Am I wrong?’ has never been a more important question to ask ourselves. And freedom of speech is the thing that makes that question possible, makes it meaningful, and gives it the extraordinary power to protect society from good intentions that might have terrible consequences.

SOURCE 






Coronavirus: It’s time for us to decide if the cure is worse than the disease

Janet Albrechtsen writes from Australia

In Letters to a Young Contrarian, Christopher Hitchens writes that the essence of the independent mind lies not in what it thinks but in how it thinks. It is ­intellectual curiosity that matters most. And right now we need more of this key ingredient. A healthy democracy does not die in a pandemic.

Let’s be clear. No one has the wisdom of Solomon or the prophetic powers of Apollo. But finally, this past week, many more people are publicly asking if the cure is worse than the disease. We need more of this intellectual curiosity instead of joining the cheer squad for the Morrison government or the more hysterical Canberra press bubble.

It means probing government decisions, checking herd mentalities, raising differences between expert advice, and understanding that bureaucrats advising governments about the current economic responses to COVID-19 never lose their jobs in a crisis. We should not accept medical advice as the sole source of truth either. Not only is it both contestable and contested, but doctors have a laser-like focus on medical issues and have little or no knowledge of, and sometimes not much interest in, the social, economic or cultural conse­quences of their advice.

A few weeks ago, Guardian Australia political editor Katharine Murphy wondered whether dealing with COVID-19 might be the revenge of the experts. Beware of those who assert that “experts” equal a consensus, or accepted wisdom, or settled orthodoxy. Remember Brexit? These phrases are often used by people who pretend to love a rollicking debate — but only when it suits them. On some matters, they claim consensus to shut people up.

As American intellectual Walter Lippmann once said: “Where all think alike, no one thinks very much.” And happily, not all people think alike. Consider the comments this week from newly appointed Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth, an infectious diseases specialist at Canberra Hospital. In an interview on ABC radio on Thursday, Coatsworth said the effectiveness of imposing harsher rules around ­social isolation to deal with COVID-19 is “a contested point”.

Coatsworth also challenged the ABC’s message that the broadcaster’s medical reporter, Norman Swan, is the go-to guy on COVID-19. “I disagree with Norman when he thinks that this is going to be over in weeks if we go for harder and faster lockdowns,” Coatsworth said. “I don’t think they’ve thought through the impact on Australia and Australians of doing that.”

It is no bad thing to push back. John Ioannidis, a professor of medicine in epidemiology and co-director of Stanford’s Meta-­Research Innovation Centre in the US, questions the official death rate of 3.4 per cent put out by the World Health Organisation.

No one can accurately tally up unrecorded cases of COVID-19 and that single fact renders the modelling inaccurate. If the true fatality rate is closer to 1 per cent or even lower, Ioannidis says, then “locking down the world with potentially tremendous social and financial consequences may be ­totally irrational”.

Veteran left-liberal commentator Thomas Friedman also has broken from the pack about this pandemic. Writing in The New York Times this week, Friedman is asking whether the cure is worse than the disease. Friedman spoke with David Katz, founding director of Yale University’s Yale-­Griffin Prevention Research Centre in the US, who questions the current “horizontal interdiction” — basically, shutting down commerce and limiting movement by large parts of the population.

Katz posits a more surgically targeted “vertical interdiction” strategy to sequester and protect the more vulnerable after a short, sharp period of lockdown of two weeks, rather than a longer, unsustainable and economically ruinous approach that will deliver its own devastating health costs.

Katz suggests that “the rejuvenating effect on spirits, and the economy, of knowing where there’s light at the end of this tunnel would be hard to overstate”.

“Risk will not be zero,” he told Friedman, “but the risk of some bad outcome for any of us on any given day is never zero.’’

Again, none of us has the perfect set of answers. And no leader should be demonised for changing tack. US President Donald Trump wants to reopen the US economy by Easter. It may not happen, but Trump offers hope instead of the dark, uncertain and confusing ­tunnels many of us face in other countries.

It was breathtaking to hear Anthony Albanese claim this week that the Morrison government needed to avoid a tension “between dealing with the health issues and dealing with the economic issues”. Is he kidding?

Was this brazen politics or reckless stupidity? There are devastating social costs arising directly from decisions to shut down businesses and shunt away people.

If Albanese cannot grapple with that, then he has no rightful claim to be the alternative prime minister.

The tensions are immense. Poverty kills people, too. Losing your job through no fault of your own is soul-destroying. Facing extended unemployment can wreck the prospects and futures of millions of people. People and families need to know how they will pay their bills and buy food.

Government Services Minister Stuart Robert assured me on ­Sunday evening that the myGov bureaucracy was primed for huge numbers of newly unemployed Australians desperately seeking help on Monday. It had already been road-tested by the bushfire crisis, he said.

This is not a time for cockiness. The system crashed the next day under the weight of demand. I had passed on the minister’s assur­ances to try to allay the concerns of hardworking decent people who lost their jobs on Sunday night.

Can Robert imagine what it is like to stand in a long line on a pavement during a pandemic to ask for money because a job has been taken from you overnight by a decision made by government?

The next day, Robert tried to wash the egg off his face by claiming there had been a cyber hack ­attack. It wasn’t true.

Robert still has his job.

We are tearing at the social fabric of communities, shutting down footy and pubs and church ser­vices. GPs tell me of their concerns about the devastating mental health consequences of enforced social dislocation. Are we potentially creating a powder keg that we will one day rue?

Being forced into lockdown in dysfunctional and even dangerous households doesn’t bear thinking about. But we must, surely, consider all these tensions as part of every single decision made to deal with COVID-19.

A woman who lives on South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula, 165km from Adelaide, was due to have a hysterectomy in Adelaide on Thursday. On Wednesday morning, she was told all elective surgeries were cancelled, effective immediately because of government directives. Early Wednesday afternoon, she was told her surgery would go ahead after a change to the rules. Later that day, she was told it was cancelled again. Her distress is immense.

At another Adelaide hospital, a nurse went to work on Monday, only to be told to stay home the next day because of new self-­isolation rules that applied to her after a trip to Sydney on the weekend. On Tuesday, she was asked to come to work after all. She was told that the rules about self-isolation applied only to people arriving after Tuesday 11am.

This confusion is across industries, across the country.

To be sure, leaders are doing their best in the most frightful circumstances. As the Prime Minister spoke to the nation on Tuesday evening following a meeting of the national cabinet, who could imagine telling the country that a ­funeral must have no more than 10 mourners, or that a big birthday party for a two-year old cannot go ahead in these times?

It is unthinkable. But that does not mean we must be unthinking.

SOURCE  

******************************

Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here

************************************



Friday, March 27, 2020



Coronavirus may have already infected half of UK, study says

The leading person behind this finding is an expert in precisely this subject, so her conclusions carry more weight than most other pontifications on the subject. 

And her prediction is highly congruent with what we know already:  Lots of people are exposed to the virus but don't get ill.  It seems highly likely that the people who get ill are a quite small fraction of the population. And those who die are an even smaller fraction.  Given that, calculations of incidence have so far been much overblown.  The numbers reported as adversely affected amount to less than 1% of the population and those who die are a tiny fraction of that.

In Australia only 11 people have died.  What fraction of the 25 million population is that?  It's totally insignificant.

And those who die all seem to be in risk groups anyhow. In Italy, the average age of those who have died is 80! And people in that age group frequently succumb to whatever flu is around that year. In Britain deaths were also in risk groups. 43 coronavirus deaths were recorded there on Wednesday 25th.  But only one of those did not have an underlying health condition

Unless that radically changes, we must therefore conclude that the number of cases adversely affected may be no greater than what we see in a normal bout of the flu.  We are, in other words, moving heaven and earth to prevent something pretty normal and of no unusual concern.

In the whole of biology a trend never goes on forever.  What we always see is an initial leap followed by either a flattening out or a steady decline.  And exactly that will happen with the present infections.  The big question, of course is WHEN will the infections stop increasing.

China has already experienced a cessation of new infections so from that datum we have to conclude that those adversely affected will be a very small percentage of the overall population. 

We may however wonder how far we can trust the Chinese figures so the findings below are timely.  They too lead to the view that only a small part of the population gets ill from the virus.  So we now have two lines of evidence leading to the view that we are turning our world upside down for something very minor in the total scheme of things. If so, the rational course would be simply to let the virus run its course -- as we normally do with flu viruses



The rapidly spreading coronavirus may have already infected half the UK population — but that is encouraging news, according to a new study by the University of Oxford.

The modeling by researchers at Oxford’s Evolutionary Ecology of Infectious Disease group indicates the COVID-19 virus reached the UK by mid-January at the latest, spreading undetected for more than a month before the first official case was reported in late February, the Financial Times reports.

But even though this suggests the spread is far worse than scientists previously estimated, it also implies that only one in a thousand people infected with COVID-19 requires hospitalization.

The researchers say this shows that herd immunity — the idea that the virus will stop spreading when enough of the population builds up resistance through becoming infected — can help fight the highly-contagious disease.

This view is in contrast to the Imperial College London modeling used by the UK government to develop policies to halt the crisis, including social distancing.

“I am surprised that there has been such unqualified acceptance of the Imperial model,” Sunetra Gupta, professor of theoretical epidemiology, who led the study, told the Financial Times.

If the Oxford model is confirmed by testing, Professor Gupta believes this means current restrictions could be removed much sooner than the government has indicated, the Financial Times reports.

The group is now working with colleagues at the Universities of Cambridge and Kent to start antibody testing to figure out what stage the epidemic is in and to assess protective immunity, according to the outlet.

SOURCE 





The Right to Anonymity is Vital to Free Expression: Now and Always

“There are myriad reasons why individuals may wish to use a name other than the one they were born with. They may be concerned about threats to their lives or livelihoods, or they may risk political or economic retribution. They may wish to prevent discrimination or they may use a name that’s easier to pronounce or spell in a given culture.”

These words, from a blog post we published nine years ago during my first year at EFF, remain as true as ever. Whether we’re talking about whistleblowers, victims of domestic violence, queer and trans youth who aren’t out to their local communities, or human rights workers, secure anonymity is critical for these individuals, even life-saving.

And yet, our right to anonymity online remains at risk. Just last month, British television presenter Caroline Flack’s death by suicide prompted calls for more regulation of social media, with some pundits suggesting platforms require ID. In India, a similar proposal is expected to be released by the country’s IT Ministry, although reports indicate that verification would be optional.

Proponents of such proposals believe that when people use their “real” name, they behave more civilly toward one another. Facebook has long maintained that their policy requiring “authentic identity” keeps users safe. But the evidence just isn’t there. One report, from the Coral Project, breaks down the fallacy of why people believe anonymity makes people less civil, while another—from commenting platform Disqus—suggests that people are at their kindest when using a pseudonym.

But most importantly, there are myriad reasons why anonymity and pseudonymity remain vital tools for free expression and safety. Take, for instance, our recent case involving Darkspilver, a member of the Jehovah’s Witness community who posted comments—including a copy of an advertisement from the organization’s Watchtower magazine—to Reddit. The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society pursued a copyright claim against Darkspilver over the advertisement. A magistrate judge ruled that the organization should be able to pursue its claim, and ordered the disclosure of Darkspilver’s identity.

Darkspilver had serious concerns about being “disfellowshipped” from their community, having seen others cut off from their families and communities. EFF was able to successfully appeal in District Court, however, and Darkspilver’s anonymity remains protected.

Today, as we’re seeing many of our digital rights impacted by governments’ handling of COVID-19, the right to anonymity remains vital. We’ve already seen important medical information being shared with the press by anonymous health experts in Wuhan. We’ve also already heard stories of vital information being suppressed, and arrests of those who speak out against their governments.

In times of turmoil, authorities might scapegoat anonymous speakers, blaming them for societal challenges. But anonymous speech is often how the public finds out the depth and severity of those challenges, be it an abuse of political power or the severity of a global pandemic. Without anonymous speech, some lies powerful people tell would go unchecked.

SOURCE 






A Pandemic of Political Correctness

During today’s meeting of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, the liberal majority voted to issue a statement expressing “grave concern” regarding “growing anti-Asian racism and xenophobia” related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Of course, my conservative colleague Gail Heriot and I oppose expressions of racism, if any, related to the pandemic or otherwise. But we voted against the statement for several reasons. Our biggest objection related to the Commission’s suggestion that referring to COVID-19 with terms like “Chinese Coronavirus or Wuhan flu” is somehow fueling “[t]his latest wave of xenophobic animosity toward Asian-Americans.” This suggestion is consistent with those recently voiced by Democrats and mainstream media (but I repeat myself).

It’s common to refer to infectious diseases by their geographic origin. Examples include Asian flu, Bolivian hemorrhagic fever, Ebola, German measles, Japanese encephalitis, Lyme disease, Marburg virus, Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), Pontiac fever, Rift Valley fever, Spanish flu, Venezuelan hemorrhagic fever, and West Nile virus. Spanish flu was probably a misnomer. It may have originated in Kansas. But calling it Spanish flu was never an indication that people hated Spaniards. Nor is there any evidence that the names of any of the other diseases inspired “racism or xenophobia” toward races or ethnicities commonly identified with such regions.

Calling COVID-19 “Chinese Coronavirus” is accurate. It originated in China. But it didn’t merely originate there. As Victor Davis Hanson has noted, China’s Communist Party rulers hid its outbreak from the rest of the world for several crucial weeks. They misrepresented its contagious nature for several more. They permitted thousands of Chinese nationals to travel throughout the world while obfuscating the potential consequences. And the Chinese government is falsely claiming the U.S. military is responsible for introducing the virus. Under those circumstances, to object to calling the virus “Chinese Coronavirus” is, to say the very least, profoundly misguided.

SOURCE 





Coronavirus: People being told to go against instincts

Boris Johnson’s bold but sombre, schoolmasterly instruction: go home and do as you’re told, is asking the British people to go against every instinct in their political culture.

The big Anglo-Saxon countries - the US, Britain, Australia - are encountering a distinctive set of problems coping with the COVID-19 crisis.

They are asking their populations to give up familiar freedoms for a civic purpose.

More than any other cultures on earth, the Anglo-Saxon cultures - perhaps now more accurately called the Anglomorph cultures, nations with the civic shape of their British/American heritage - prize freedom as their cardinal civic value.

They have fought bitter civil wars, and even more bitter world wars, to seize and preserve their freedoms.

Five minutes ago, Johnson himself led a brilliant Brexit campaign with the slogan: Take back control. Now his message is: Relinquish control!

Where Britain has gone in lockdown, Australia will surely follow in coming days.

In Britain, in the US and in Australia large numbers of people have point blank refused to take social distancing seriously.

Common sense has been abundantly absent, from Bondi Beach to Miami holiday celebrations to a thronging London bar and cafe scene up to a day or two ago.

The disarray in the US, with states all going their own way, state and federal governments in conflict, and partisan rancour so toxic that Congress cannot even pass a stimulus package, is truly shocking.

Donald Trump declaring flatly that he is going to re-open the economy soon undercuts the seriousness of the message that people need to practice social isolation if they’re going to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Singapore’s Prime Minister, Lee Hsein Loong, told me this week it was important for any government to go into a crisis “with some social capital”.

His people believe the mainstream media, trust the government in a crisis, believe their government tells the truth and generally obey government instructions.

In the Anglomorph cultures, none of that is true.

Maybe that’s sometimes a good thing. In this crisis, it’s absolutely deadly.

London and much of the UK are singularly ill suited to a home-based lockdown.

My wife and I lived in London for three months last year in a tiny flat in Barons Court, just beyond West Kensington.

It was the smallest space I’ve ever inhabited. The dining, living and kitchen space were about the size of a large ensuite bathroom in any self respecting McMansion and the bedroom required careful sliding around the edge of the bed.

But it was perfectly fine for a temporary stay partly because life in London is not lived at home. Walking 300m left or right took me to many tiny coffee bars, cafes, small super markets and pubs. You never had coffee at home because all these places functioned as your living room.

In Australia we drive to the super market and do a big shop once a week, or even less often, unless we particularly enjoy shopping. In Barons Court everyone it seemed went to the markets and food stores every day. Everyone went to the pubs every night. You watched the football in the pub, you read the newspaper in a cafe, you bought your supplies almost daily for those rare occasions when you ate at home.

Our refrigerator was the size of a few - very few - stacked shoe boxes. We backed on to a building site which was always noisy. None of this mattered because our time in the apartment was sparse.

Imagine being locked in full time, with the prospect that lock down might last weeks, months.

And our apartment, on the top floor, was very good by London standards. The people in the semi-basement ground floor at the front had their window open on to the building’s always full garbage bins. The apartment at the back opened onto the noisy, dust-generating building site.

Cabin fever would set in after about a day. Keeping symptom-free people, especially young people, confined in apartments like that, and there are many much smaller and more crowded all over London, will require the spirit of the blitz in an era of routine, narcissistic civil disobedience.

That’s very tough.

SOURCE
 
******************************

Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here

************************************