Friday, June 26, 2020

Putin's best-laid plans for lifetime rule

No matter what, the referendum will be declared a success. If the people rise up, Putin will use force to put them down — but there are limits to public patience.
The poor Russian people cannot get a break. It would be interesting to put demonstrators against the established order in the United States and in Europe in Russian shoes, to see what real political repression is about. 

go to

Monday, June 22, 2020

Russia Claims It Will Have a Covid-19 Vaccine in Production by September

According to TASS, a  spokesperson for a Russian state medical institute (Gamalei Institute) claims that they will have a coronavirus vaccine ready for production in September. The Institute is working together with a medical lab of the defense department. Clinical trials have been underway starting in June and will be completed by August at which time the vaccine will be registered with the appropriate authorities. The vaccine will be ready for use before the end of 2020.

This seems like a highly expedited schedule, and there are few details concerning the clinical trials. (I wonder if it will be tested on the military). Could it be that the Russian government wanted to release some “good news” before the July 1 referendum that allows President Vladimir Putin two more terms of office?

We can all hope for a surprise Russian success.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Police Unions Sue Leftist Newspaper for Hate Speech --In Germany

TAZ is a leftist German newspaper born in radical leftist cells in the 1960s. TAZ is published in German and in English; its paywall is virtually impenetrable. Its articles are “in your face,” designed to provoke and anger the reader. TAZ stirred up a hornets’ nest with its June 15 article: “Getting rid of the police – All Cops are Berufsunfaehig (unsuited to any job).” After considering alternative employment opportunities for former cops, TAZ concludes they should be deposited in the nearest garbage dump.

TAZ’s solution to “defund the police” is milder than “kill all cops” chants heard in US cities, but it riled Germany’s police unions, DPolG and GdP. They filed charges against the TAZ article as Volksverhetzung (Public incitement). The Union characterized the article as a “punch in the face.” Declared a police-union leader: “How hate-filled and degenerate and ready for violence must someone be in order to write such disgusting ideas.”

The charges of Germany’s police unions have some prospects of punishing TAZ. Germany has laws against Hassrede (hate speech) and Beamtenbeleidigung (insult of a civil servant). Showing the middle finger to a traffic cop can mean a four thousand Euro fine. It remains to be seen how much a figurative “punch in the face” to the police should cost.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Switzerland's Top Newspaper Asks: End of Free Thought and Beginning of Culture of Denunciation at the NYT?

The Neue Zurcher Zeitung (NZZ) is as a fiercely independent as the Swiss people themselves. The Zurich newspaper is no fan of Donald Trump. It is, therefore, noteworthy that the NZZ views with alarm for the journalism profession recent events at the New York Times associated with the firing (resignation?) of its opinion editor..

go to The Hill

Friday, June 12, 2020

Coronavirus Slowdown In Europe Complicates Clinical Trials

The decline in daily new COVID-19 infections to single and double digits in Europe is leading to new complications. Switzerland’s NZZ (Neue Zurcher Zeiting) reports that the slowdown in COVID-19 infections in Germany, Switzerland and neighboring countries is complicating the testing for effective drugs and therapeutic approaches. Declining new infections mean too few affected patients from which to recruit volunteers for clinical trials. The lack of infections is also complicating clinical trials of vaccines. Vaccination studies face the dilemma that vaccinated subjects have a lesser opportunity to come in touch with the virus in their daily lives. These complications suggest that the clinical trials of therapies and vaccines will have to move off shore to poor countries that are in earlier phases of the coronavirus

Monday, June 8, 2020

China Praises Itself and Xi for Its Handling of Coronavirus

The CCP under Xi Jinping legitimizes its dictatorship with claims of flawless “scientific” management. China has no elections, only meticulously orchestrated party and state extravaganzas. Beijing cannot allow reports of mistakes, mismanagement, or deceptions to stand.

The June 6 report of the CCP’s Central Committee on the coronavirus pandemic must be understood in this light.

Xu Lin, Deputy Secretary, presented a 66-page white paper entitled Fighting Covid-19: China in Action. It is full of self-praise for the CCP’s flawless handling of the Corona virus in China. The report is the first official assessment of the Chinese party and state’s handling of the COVID pandemic. The White paper is being distributed throughout China’s massive state media. It represents the official CCP party line to be repeated and defended with one voice both at home and worldwide.

The White Paper claims that China did everything right. Chairman Xi is mentioned favorably 44 times in the report.

Xu Lin summarized the White Paper as follows:

"The Chinese leadership has released information about the outbreak of the disease promptly, openly, and precisely, at all times. The White Paper shows that China responded directly to the concerns of the population and acted responsibly for human life, for the people, for history and for the international community."

There were no mistakes. After all, the battle against coronavirus was led according to the “centralized and efficient” command of none other than the Great Leader, Xi Jinping.

Moreover, China has been a good international citizen. The White Paper assures that “China Conducts Active International Exchanges and Cooperation” and has shown “International Solidarity and Cooperation in Fighting the Pandemic.”

These assurances ring hollow when compared with the accounts of international reporters, local health officials, bloggers, and a vast array of social media. These entities provide extensive evidence that, especially at the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, China's leadership ignored and covered up information that could have been used to confine the spread to Wuhan. Whistleblowers were silenced and reporters disappeared, local newspapers were censored, and cooperation with international specialists was turned down.

China’s state-controlled media are distributing the White Paper’s narrative worldwide through their foreign channels and their production companies, in English, in German and in other languages. China’s massive propaganda onslaught will not rest until the world is convinced that China was not the goat of the worldwide coronavirus epidemic but its hero.

Journalists who want to research the contents of the White Paper beware: Chinese journalists who have reported from Wuhan have disappeared without a trace in the past few months. Several foreign reporters were expelled. Writing about China’s role in the virus spread is dangerous business.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Distinguished Yale Professor of Medicine Calls for Widespread Use of HCL in Early Stages of COVID-19 (And is Ignored)

The Yale School of Public Health published an interview with Yale Professor Harvey Risch, MD, PhD concerning his study, accepted (passed peer review) in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Risch concluded that hydroxychloroquine (used in conjunction with two other drugs) should be “widely available” in the fight against the current pandemic, which he characterizes as the greatest health challenge of our time.

With widespread media claims (including statements by Dr. Anthony Fauci),  that hydroxychloroquine (HCL) is both ineffective and dangerous, it is worth examining why such a highly-credentialed scientist as Risch is going against the crowd and is receiving remarkably little attention in the process.

I therefore quote from his interview with the Yale School of public health:

First, Covid is really two diseases

Risch: “In the first few days, it is like a very bad cold. In some people, it then morphs into pneumonia which can be life-threatening. What I found is that treatments for the cold don’t work well for the pneumonia, and vice versa. Most of the published studies have looked at treatments for the cold but used for the pneumonia. I just looked at how well the treatments for the cold worked for the cold.” (Risch cites four of five extant studies that find HCL effective in treating the cold part of COVID-19.)

Second, HCL is effective only in treating the “cold” phase

Risch: “I think that there has been confusion about treating the cold versus treating the pneumonia. These medications don’t seem to work so well for treating the pneumonia. As early as possible is crucial, within the first five to six days of symptoms.”

Third, Early treatment is a possible game changer

Risch: “The game changer is to aggressively treat people as soon as possible, before they are hospitalized, to keep them from becoming hospitalized in the first place. Hydroxychloroquine plus the other medications is what we know about now. In a few months we may have data on other medications that also work. We just have to start with something now.

Fourth, HCL is already in wide use for treating the early phases of the disease

Risch: “An international survey of doctors who treat COVID-19 patients recently showed 72 percent of doctors in Spain say that they have been using them. I think that doctors need to be able to use their own clinical judgement about their patients and have objective information about drugs that can work for the early part of the infection, the cold part.”

Fifth: Risks from heart pacing are extremely low

Risch: “There is a concern that these medications do change the heart pacing a little and could cause cardiac arrhythmias. However, these arrhythmias are still very rare in people using these medications.” (In his American Journal of Epidemiology paper, Risch calculates the risk of death due to heart arrhythmias at 9 per 100,000).

My Takeaway

The most important takeaway is the proposition that HCL can be effective only if taken early in the course of the disease. Studies of hospitalized patients, according to this proposition, will inevitably show HCL is ineffective during the more advanced stages of the disease; thus the important of early treatment. If Risch is correct, the health risks are low and fears of fatal side effects are not justified for patients properly tested for heart disease.

Caution: I am not an MD, but I can read and understand the gist of well written medical articles.  

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

NPR is providing health advice on how to demonstrate in the age of Covid.

NPR  is providing health advice on how to demonstrate in the age of Covid. I quote these health tips without comment:
Some health experts, even as they urge caution, said they support the demonstrations — because racism also poses a dire health threat.
Health experts urged protesters not to sing and shout to reduce the threat of person-to-person transmission. And they cautioned that police tactics such as tear gas and pepper spray could exacerbate the situation by prompting people to cough and gasp for air.
The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene issued a list of tips for demonstrators to lower their risk of contracting COVID-19, such as covering their faces and staying in small groups. "Don't yell; use signs & noise makers instead.. . Some of these tips can be difficult to follow. For example, if you are angry or frustrated about an issue, you want to express that feeling, and speaking is one way of doing that."