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A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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Countries that use Hydroxychloroquine may have 80% lower Covid death rates

The  scandal from the Swamp: Too rich to get a cheap drug?

Poor countries all over the world are using Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and it appears to be very useful.

The new HCQTrial suggests that despite the billion dollar budgets and expert staff, people in wealthier countries are dying from Coronavirus at far higher rates than people are in lands where HCQ is being used. And the effect of HCQ apparently holds even after researchers correct for patients being older, heavier, with higher blood pressure, living in high density apartment towers, or with getting tested more.

If word ever gets out that the Politico-Academic-Corporate-Swamp buried useful drugs because they were unprofitable and out of patent, there will be hell to pay.

The HCQTrial was done anonymously by @CovidAnalysis – who say they are PhD researchers, scientists.

You can find our research in journals like Science and Nature. For examples of why we can’t be more specific search for “raoult death threats” or “simone gold fired”. We have little interest in adding to our publication lists, being in the news, or being on TV (we have done all of these things before but feel there are more important things in life now).

It’s a mark of the times when people do a lot of work but don’t want credit. They just want to get the answers out there. When the main tool of public argument is ad hominem, this is sometimes how it has to be.

Hydroxychloroquine use, country by country, graph. Death rate. Mortality.

Hydroxychloroquine use, country by country, graph. Death rate. Mortality.

It’s not often a trial announces they put 2 billion people into the treatment group. But they literally included the world, then found 5 billion exceptions — some nations chopped and changed drug policy, some took up masks, and others isolated too soon to get really sick (New Zealand and Australia).  They were all ruled out. Some countries were too young or too small to be included. So they found nations that either did or didn’t use HCQ and stuck with the policy and followed them through to see what happened.

The raw data shows mortality rates are 87% lower, but when adjusted for confounders (like the age of the population) the mortality rates were only 79% lower. “Only”.

The low death nations include Cuba, India, Turkey, Indonesia, Algeria, Greece, Ukraine, Costa Rica, Russia, Morocco and Israel. Not all of which are poor.

The list itself may be a shock — for people in the West to find out that so many countries are using it.

Hydroxychloroquine is a 60 year old drug used by millions of people around the world. The wholesale cost is about $5US for a whole month of treatment in Africa. In the US HCQ (Hydroxycholoroquine) was approved in 1955, and there are about 5 million prescriptions for it every year for things like Malaria, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus. About 15 years ago it was shown to work against SARS the close-cousin to Covid-19-WuFlu. It’s one of the most prescribed drugs in the world and people sometimes take it for years.  The side effects and risks are well known, and doctors already know who shouldn’t take it. The “dangerous” drug is mainly dangerous to Corporate profits. It threatens Big Pharma which has taken some breathtaking punts on new drugs and new vaccines.

Take the 80% figure with some skepticism. Country by country comparisons are the lowest grade of medical studies — hunting for answers under a hill of confounding factors — but this is a well thought out, respectable study. It isn’t a prospective placebo controlled trial, and other factors may be influencing this result– like levels of sunlight or Vitamin D status (which isn’t mentioned). Genetics may also confound the results — things like blood groups, ACE2 expression, immune factors, past infections — all these things may affect wealthy Western nations differently.  As far as Vitamin D goes, cold Russia is in the low death camp, along with sunny Cuba — suggesting that there is no simple “high sunlight” rule.

A month ago the Ford study suggested HCQ might have reduced mortality by 50%.

South Korea has been recommending we use this drug since February 13th. Curiously, they were ruled out of this study, by the way, because they took up wearing masks too quickly, which the authors said reduced both infections and mortality.

Why is the West banning this drug?

There may be a good reason, but why isn’t the question the top priority in the highest corridors of politics? If we don’t have enough HCQ, then isn’t it time to discuss a plan to manufacture it ourselves? Shouldn’t we give our health care workers the option to use it?

The biggest treatment group in the world:

 2.0 billion people were assigned to the treatment group, and 663 million to the control group. As of August 6, 2020, an average of 38.5/million in the treatment group have died, and 440.2/million in the control group, relative risk 0.087. After adjustments, treatment and control deaths become 79.6/million and 630.0/million, relative risk 0.13.

The adjusted data (graphed below), which is also modeled out for 90 days, is where the 80% lower mortality rate is estimated from.

Hydroxychloroquine use, country by country, graph. Death rate. Mortality.

Hydroxychloroquine use, country by country, adjusted for demographic factors and extended out for 90 days.

People, like Sydney Morning Herald writers are being willingly fooled by badly done studies which start the drug too late when patients are already in a severe state and use it without the cofactors — zinc and an antibiotic. Some studies are so badly designed, it’s almost like they were not meant to succeed.

ABSTRACT

Many countries either adopted or declined early treatment with HCQ, forming a large country-randomized controlled trial. 2.0 billion people were assigned to the treatment group, and 663 million to the control group. As of August 6, 2020, an average of 38.5/million in the treatment group have died, and 440.2/million in the control group, relative risk 0.087. After adjustments, treatment and control deaths become 79.6/million and 630.0/million, relative risk 0.13. Confounding factors affect this estimate, including varying degrees of spread between countries. Accounting for predicted changes in spread, we estimate a relative risk of 0.21. The treatment group has 79.1% lower chance of death. We examined diabetes, obesity, hypertension, life expectancy, population density, urbanization, testing level, and intervention level, which do not account for the effect observed.

The final word from the FAQ:

Why should we trust @CovidAnalysis?
There is no need to. We provide organization and analysis, but all sources are public and you can easily verify everything. For the country-based analysis, all data is public and the analysis is simple to replicate. We also note that many equally qualified experts report contradictory conclusions. If you don’t like our analysis, you can use our database to locate information you may have missed for your own research.

h/t Dave B.

REFERENCE

Early treatment with hydroxychloroquine: a country-randomized controlled trial, Covid Analysis, August 5, 2020

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Major report by MPs in UK found Open Border was a ‘serious mistake’

Do 10,000 extra infections matter?

JoNova — cheaper and faster than a Parliamentary Report — said two months ago that it was baffling that the UK locked everyone down, but kept flying in the virus. Now British MP’s are saying the same.

UPDATE: Given Boris Johnson suddenly changed policy on flights from Spain last week, immediately adding a mandatory quarantine, what’s the bet someone told him this report was coming?

No 10′s ‘inexplicable’ decision to lift quarantine at height of pandemic: MPs’ damning report condemns ‘serious mistake’ that allowed 10,000 infected people into the UK

David Barett, DailyMail

Delaying quarantine measures at the border was a ‘serious mistake’ that allowed 10,000 infected people into the UK accelerated the virus spread, a major report by MPs says.

The cross-party inquiry is highly critical of the Government’s ‘inexplicable’ decision to lift its initial quarantine measures in mid-March, ten days before lockdown.

Experts from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine calculated that up to 10,000 infected people, largely from Spain, France and Italy, imported the virus into the UK.

Viruses can only survive in people temporarily, so to beat a rogue chemical code, we just stop feeding it new bodies. The cheapest, natural gap between networked, gregarious humans is at international borders. Every smaller border partition is harder, more complicated and more expensive. If state borders are a headache, suburban borders are a migraine. And when they fail we have to put a border around every single house.

Crush the Curve, Coronavirus, Graph. Close borders.

More flights speeds up the peak… and the death toll.

The sheer size of the UK air traffic is something to behold:

Arrivals by air to the UK totalled 7 million in January, 6.8 million in February and 3.8 million in March before falling to just 112,000 in April, the report says.

Nearly every other nation in the world closed borders. Haiti, Cuba, Nigeria, Eritrea. Pick a country, nearly any country. They almost all closed borders.

A hard border is the first lesson in baby epidemiology classes. But somehow the two greatest nations on Earth both failed to get this right. Which brings me to my Swamp hypothesis — namely that the two oldest, strongest democracies on Earth also have the most mature Swamps. They have the most red tape, the most complex incentives, and the deepest well of conflicts of interest. All of which makes possible, the dumbest decisions.

Keep reading  →

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Wind Power failure: on average every 3 days, there is a 500MW fail

On average, every 3 days, wind farms generating as much as one coal fired unit, fail on the Australian grid

The faith in Wind Power. It's like a religion.TonyfromOz exposes a failure rate so common it’s hidden in plain view. Wind “Farm” intermittency is even worse than we thought.

On average, every three days within a one hour period there’s a sudden failure of 500 MW of wind generation — equal to one industrial coal turbine. That’s four full wind farms or about 250 spinning turbines that stopped spinning.

Every time a coal plant trips out, it’s reported as a problem of relying on our “old coal fleet”. But when the same power output fails from wind, it’s the new clean green future at work (!) , and a sign we need to spend another $20 billion to “upgrade the grid” with interconnectors we don’t need, and Hydro schemes we don’t want.

A few wind farms are bad for the grid. More windfarms are worse.

100 times a year we get a 500MW outage

TonyfromOz (Anton Lang) laboriously finds and documents two different kinds of failure. The largest and longest outages are when wind farms are becalmed. But there are many more short sharp and very sudden failures in high wind conditions where wind farms cut out.

The sharpest power cuts are happening in between the high pressure cells. As the wind picks up, production maximizes, only to crash as turbines hit their safety cut off points and drop out of production suddenly. About 50 times a year generation across the entire Australian wind farm grid falls by 500MW or more within one hour or less.

On the other hand, when large cell weather patterns traverse Australia whole windfarm regions are becalmed, and rendered useless within hours. This sort of failure can be as large as 2 to 4 GW of power disappearing in less than nine hours. This is like a whole coal power plant or even two (with 8 different units) producing virtually nothing. It never happens with coal but it happens about twenty times a year with wind power.

Those long term losses are happening with every High Pressure system crossing SA and Victoria from West to East, and they last around one a week . Some pass more quickly than others and some hang around for up to a couple of days.

Building more towers in the same area makes the intermittency worse –not better.

Baseload generation must sit idling ready-to-go to pick up the slack. Or the giant Snowy Hydro scheme must sit in reserve, assuming it has enough water to release. In either case, great capital infrastructure is being used inefficiently as a bandaid for a fickle unreliable and expensive generator. And we wonder why electricity costs have risen inexorably?

_______________________________________________________

Wind Power Generation Intermittency – It’s Worse Than You Think It Is – Part One

By Anton Lang, edited by Jo Nova

Introduction

Intermittency on every scale is a large problem, and constructing more of those wind plants is making the problem worse.

For four years I have been collecting data on wind power generation in Australia. After looking at this data on a daily basis for so long, I could see many variations, but I was not seeing the long term trends of the scale of that intermittency, how big it was, how suddenly generation would fall, how sustained the losses could be, and the quite large sizes of the falls.

Over the last three months, I went back over more than 730 days of data, and collated all the falls for wind generation. Strikingly, there were a lot of sudden falls, and there were a lot of sustained falls. To assess the frequency of the falls I needed to set some parameters. For generation losses I selected 500MW because it is around the average for a single large scale coal fired turbine (or “Unit”). Australia has 16 coal fired power plants, and there are 48 separate Units in toto at all of those plants. The total Nameplate is 23,000MW, so the average size of those Units is 480MW. So, the loss of 500MW of power in a short space of time is equivalent of one of those large scale coal fired Units going off line, something that renewable power supporters tell us is proof somehow that coal fired power is unreliable. Secondly 500MW equates to around four or more wind plants or “farms” of turbines as they are known. The total Nameplate for wind power is currently 7,728MW and there are 64 wind plants, so the average is 120MW and a 500MW fall in power is similar to four wind plants stopping. Those power losses are significant — not just a few towers here and there — a 500MW loss is like 250 to 270 of those individual wind towers stopping.

I divided the sudden losses into five different time frames.  I assessed the number of times this happened and also the range of the power losses that occurred. All these separate failures occurred in the last two years and two months or 800 days.

Time Frame Number of Incidences  Range of power losses
Short
Power losses in less than one hour (0 – 55 minutes)  53 500MW to 1340MW
Power losses in One Hour (56-60 minutes)  54 500MW to 980MW
Power losses between one and three hours  (65 – 180 mins)  52 630MW to 1570MW
Long
Power loss between three and eight and a half hours (3 – 8.5 hours)  42 1240MW to 2490MW
 .. Power loss over sustained long period of time (9 hours or greater)  64 1500MW to 3670MW. (with 10 times over 3000MW)

 

As each of the time frames increased, I looked for larger power losses which would challenge the system. There were also many smaller sub 500MW incidents over the longer period which I did not include.

Keep in mind here that there were 265 occasions in the last 800 days where the power loss exceeded 500MW.

As often as I look at all this data, something that I did not see earlier has became more obvious –  nearly all of those losses in the short time frames were when power generation was already quite high, and again, this is a further reason I have split all of this into those two areas, the three short time frame ones, and the two long time frame ones.

With all the images on this page, if you click on the image, it will open on a new page and at a much larger size, so you can better see the detail.

Wind Generation Sustained Power Loss

The longer and large losses are due to large High Pressure cells sitting over the Eastern states

I was already aware that when it comes to those long time frame power losses, it was apparent it was related to the weather. Every time one of those large High pressure weather systems came into an area in the South of the Country, then wind generation would fall away by a large amount. An example of that is shown in the image at the right, and here, you can see that power generation fell away from the high of 4500MW just after Midnight to that indicated low around 850MW, a loss of 3650MW across that time frame of 20 hours. So, what we have here is that the greatest percentage of all the data that I was recording was coming from that same area where those High pressure systems would pass over. This was the South Eastern area of South Australia, and the Central West area of Victoria. Now, that particular area is where the largest number of those wind plants are located. Australia has (now) got a total Nameplate for wind power of 7728MW. However, in that area I have mentioned here there is now a total Nameplate of 4916MW, and that is 64% of ALL the total wind plant Nameplate in the Country, two thirds of it all, just in those two States alone.

The shorter sharp losses are due to high wind cut offs

The short time frame power losses are related to the weather as well. We have been told often enough that these wind towers only operate between specific wind ranges. When the wind gets too high, then the wind towers automatically turn off, and the same happens when the wind is too low, they also turn off automatically.

Short Term Large Power Loss Wind Generation

So, what is happening here for those short time frame power losses is that between the occurrence of those large High pressure weather systems over that area, moving as they do from West to East, the isobars are closer together, and because of that, the wind is high, and so, there is high wind power generation. However if the wind gets too high, then the turbines turn off.

An example of this is shown in the image at right, where power was already relatively high at the indicated high of 3558MW, and it quite suddenly fell 1340MW in 45 minutes. On that same image, you can also see that this happened earlier in the day twice, just after 2AM, and again just before 6AM, where, both times, it fell by more than 400MW, and then fell around 1500MW in a sustained period of more than seven hours.

A 500 MW fall shows that in a short space of time, a large number of towers turn off in high wind situations.

Yet again, the problem we have with the intermittency being supposedly resolved by constructing more of them, has in this case, also been made worse, as now there are more wind towers in that area, as more plants are constructed in that area, and now they are more susceptible to large scale losses in shorter time frames when the wind gets too high.

When this survey started back in May 2018 the total Nameplate for Wind Power was below 5000MW. In the 26 Months since then, the Nameplate for wind power has increased by almost 3000MW. This represents probably around 20 or more new wind plants, a lot of which has been in South Australia and Victoria.

This data I have collected here shows that the intermittency problem is getting worse, as there are more occurrences of power losses, and those losses in power generation are becoming larger.

In the next two Posts I will detail those losses, show you the tables of the scale of those losses, and explain them with respect to using three images for each time frame period across the 800 days of this data gathering task.

*****

Anton Lang uses the screen name of TonyfromOz, and he writes at this site, PA Pundits International on topics related to electrical power generation, from all sources, concentrating mainly on Renewable Power, and how the two most favoured methods of renewable power generation, Wind Power and all versions of Solar Power, fail comprehensively to deliver levels of power required to replace traditional power generation. His Bio is at this link.

 

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Windfarms threaten peat bogs and turn them into carbon emitters

More ironies.  One fifth of all soil carbon is stored in peat bogs.  Unfortunately when industrial wind turbines are built on them, the damage turns them from carbon sinks to carbon sources thus neutralizing the point of building the wind farm.

The headline evokes some supernatural power:

Wind farms built on carbon-rich peat bogs lose their ability to fight climate change

As if the magical whirly totem stick loses the gift of weather control when placed on a peat bog?

But the real damage is not just to wallets for another pointless windfarm. Peat bogs are so much more than carbon sinks — they are also an archive of paleohistory and the  ancient climate. Indeed, even though cattle, wind and rain can damage the bogs, the researchers now say the wind farms now pose the “most serious risk” of all. Apparently the vehicle access tracks create artificial streams that drain the peat. The drainage changes are pervasive and “affect the whole peatland” not just the part near the track.

The “blanket bogs” are rare, but occur from Spain to Norway in Europe as well as in Canada, New Zealand and Korea.

The paper is a thinly disguised plea from bog experts to save the peat wilderness from industrial development. Sadly, they seem to think the headline “carbon emissions” will attract more help than the intrinsic scientific and biological value of the peat, which says something very screwed up about environmentalists.

Wind farms, on peat bogs.

Wind farms damage peat bogs.

Wind farms built on carbon-rich peat bogs lose their ability to fight climate change

Guaduneth Chico, Ben Clutterbuck, Nicholas Midgley, The Conversation

In our recent study, we found that wind farms in Spain are being built on rare peat bogs that store vast quantities of planet-warming carbon. Because these habitats are so poorly mapped, there’s a good chance that this mistake is being replicated in many other places throughout Europe, including the UK.

Peatlands are a natural carbon sink and, despite covering less than 3% of the Earth’s land surface, they contain 20% of all the carbon stored in soils worldwide.

Although peat is naturally eroded by wind, rain and ice, blanket bogs grazed by livestock can lose four to six times more carbon than protected bogs. But the most serious risk to these habitats today is wind farms. Unprotected blanket bogs often cover mountain peaks, where there is also great potential for generating wind energy. During wind farm construction, vegetation that helps to trap the carbon is removed to create turbine bases and vehicle access tracks. These tracks create artificial streams that drain the peat and reshape the terrain.

This release can be so significant that the climate benefit of generating clean energy is likely to be neutralised.

REFERENCE

Chico et al (2020) Geo‐hydromorphological assessment of Europe’s southernmost blanket bogs, https://doi.org/10.1002/esp.4927

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Unthreaded Explosions

An open thread, with remarkable footage and terrible state of affairs in Lebanon. Pray for the people of Beirut.

Apparently someone didn’t think much about storing 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer in one spot in a city for six long ticking years. Two tons of the same was used to kill 168 people in the Oklahoma terrorist bombing. In this case, the worst “terrorist” appears to be bureaucratic negligence. Lebanon is in a dire state, with hyperinflation ruining life savings, and coronavirus accelerating.

Chatter suggests the explosion was set off by workers welding the doors to stop thieves?

Because there was a smaller fire, many cameras were on when the second explosion started.

Phenomenal footage and news on #BeirutBlast

Afterwards

The danger of uncontrolled chemistry.

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China now has half of the worlds coal power fleet

ABC, Public Broadcaster, news, media, alternate logo, AustraliaThe global economy has been sucker punched by a world wide pandemic, but ABC propaganda writers don’t miss the chance to push their ultimate fantasy, that coal has turned a magical point in a terminal decline. Global coal fired capacity fell by an awesome 0.14 percent for the “First Time On Record”. Hyperbole knows no bounds.

How excited can someone get over a decline of one sixth of one percent? This much:

The world is now shutting down coal plants faster than it’s opening them

by James Purtill, ABC

The world’s combined coal power capacity has fallen for the first time on record as the closure of generators outstripped stations being commissioned. That’s good news for global emissions.

Note the numbers:

Coal power capacity fell by 2.9 gigawatt in the first half of 2020 — a small though significant drop of about 0.14 per cent, according to US research group Global Energy Monitor, which monitors fossil fuel developments.

By comparison, the global coal fleet had grown by an average of 25GW every six months over the previous two decades, from 2000-2019.

In a nutshell, or just a nut, coal power grew by 50GW every year for 20 years, but “coincidentally” fell by 3GW during a pandemic and therefore this is the start of the spiral of doom? Oh Yessity:

The reported drop confirms 2020 will be a “pivot point” for global electricity supply and mark the long-term decline of coal-fired generation, said Tim Buckley, from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. [IEEFA]

“It’s unbelievable watching this space, it’s moving so bloody fast,” he told Hack.

“So bloody fast” sayth Tim from the IEEFA which is an institute whose “mission is to accelerate the transition”. Not that the ABC tells us that he is an industry hack paid to promote unreliable energy.

The ABC advertising copywriter could have interviewed a coal industry analyst but it was against his religion.

The only other person interviewed was Christine Shearer from the group that wrote the report. That’s GEM or the Global Energy Monitor which is an NGO activist group “in support of fossil fuel phase out”. How’s that for balance? Two anti-coal activists get taxpayer funded free adverts, no hard questions asked.

She gushes too:

India has also shrunk its coal-fired capacity in 2020, “an unthinkable prospect just a few years ago,” Ms Shearer said.

They do concede that the pandemic might have something to do with the decline:

“The decline is not entirely to do with the technological obsolescence of coal — the pandemic is definitely a major factor,” Mr Buckley said.

Spot the long term trend in Indian emissions:

Is that red line a meaningless pandemic blip or a real long term trend?

India coal use, emissions, graph

Indian coal use is in sudden decline?

The little detail about global industrial might is quietly buried:

Green Dragon, China.At the same time, China has boosted its coal generating capacity — in the first half of 2020 it built 86 per cent of new coal generation.

“These shifts mean China is for the first time now home to half the world’s operating coal fleet,” Ms Shearer said.

Right. All the rest-of-the-world’s coal fired electricity generation combined is now less than China’s. The CCP controls most of the cheapest source of electricity in the world. Maybe that matters?

China, Map, Flag.

Author: China map User:DrRandomFactor  and  Dragon: Nyo.

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Freedom and hard borders are 96% popular — a third of West Australians want to secede

A telling incident in Western democracies about borders

Western Australia, WA. Map.The electoral power of strong borders is vastly underestimated.

Western Australia has hard borders at the moment, and no coronavirus — other than a few cases getting caught in the mandatory quarantine. That’s 2.5 million people who are almost living a normal life.  This is not to boast (we wish you could be here), but to point out how politically popular closed borders are in the current pandemic. The Premier is wildly popular, polling close to 90%. To all the people who said “states can’t close borders” the message is that it’s bonkers not to close borders. When the Commonwealth government joined the bizarre High Court push to force them open, the pushback was ferocious. A poll today showed that West Australians are fed up. The West Australian collected 245,000 signatories to a petition supporting the border closure.

Not only do 96% say the borders should stay shut, but when asked, a whopping 34% of Western Australians said the state should secede. How fast did it come to that?

Never, have I seen such vitriol towards the Commonwealth from WA. …the Commonwealth’s decision to effectively join hands with Palmer in the Federal and High courts risked making Morrison and the Federal Liberals public enemy No.1 here in WA. It beggars belief that the Morrison Government would ever let it get to this point, that the Federal Government would ever be part of any legal action to force WA to open its borders.

– Joe Spagnolo, Columnist, The West Australian (Paywalled)

Presumably that anger will be lower now that the Commonwealth has pulled out of one of the most stupid cases they were ever involved in.

WAxit: Exclusive new survey results show one in three West Australians wish to secede from the nation

The West Australian

Exclusive polling conducted by The West Australian showed 34 per cent of the 837 people surveyed this week support the move for WA to become a separate nation.

Close to three quarters of West Australians said that since the COVID-19 pandemic the Federal Government has put the needs of the eastern states ahead of West Australians. More than 35 per cent of those canvassed by Painted Dog Research strongly agreed with the statement that Canberra is too focused on the needs of the eastern states which has been to the detriment of WA.

Only last week Scott Morrison was saying he was sure WA would lose in the High Court and he had some mealy mouth words about doing it to protect us. But faced with a Liberal Party wipe out coming in WA elections, and the growing debacle of “open borders” on the East Coast, where infections are spreading, he finally backed down. The question is, what was he thinking in the first place?

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says Commonwealth will no longer participate in Clive Palmer’s court fight to open WA border

In a stunning development, the Prime Minister informed Premier Mark McGowan by letter that the Commonwealth would not continue to participate in Mr Palmer’s court fight to force WA to open up its interstate border.

“Having taken into account the changed state of the pandemic that has worsened since these matters were first brought to the High Court, the high level of concern regarding public health in the Western Australian community, and our desire to work with you cooperatively on a constitutionally sustainable way forward, I consider, on balance, that we must set aside the normal convention in these circumstances and not continue the Commonwealth’s participation in this case.”

For the record, every other state attorney general sided with WA (bar NSW which stayed neutral).

To understand what a huge backdown this was — consider that only a few days ago Morrison was using weasel words, strawmen and intimating he might withhold the Australian defense force:

Prime Minister Scott Morrison warns WA is in ‘weakened state’ due to hard border stance

Thursday July 30th, The West Australian.

Scott Morrison has warned the McGowan Government’s stance on WA’s border has opened it up to being put in a “weakened state” against the coronavirus.

He said WA needed to abide by the Constitution if it wanted to make the most of national resources like Australian Defence Force personnel. 

“It is the Commonwealth Government, in response to the request from the WA Premier is providing ADF resources to bolster their (WA’s) hotel quarantine,” he said. “The Constitution doesn’t provide for unilateral decisions to close borders, without there being a proper basis of advice. That’s our state of mind.”

Mr Morrison said the WA Government needed to open its border up to States like South Australia where “incidence of cases is lower than it is in Western Australia”.

Every single case in WA is an incoming traveller in hotel Quarantine — doesn’t Scott Morrison know anything?

Here’s a table that matters:

Let’s hope the debacles in NSW and Victoria haven’t send cases across the borders to spread in all the other states.

WA represents a peak case of border anger. It is more isolated, and has fewer divided families split across state lines. It’s not dependent on tourism dollars the way Queensland or Florida or Spain would be. It’s also easier to block the border when there aren’t twin towns straddling the line as there are on Vic-NSW-Qld borders. To put this is perspective, WA has an 1,874 km state line, but only two sealed roads across it. There are a few dirt tracks, but nothing a spotter plane couldn’t cover.

Meanwhile forty percent of the WA economy is made up of mining and gas extraction and that’s making a fortune at the moment as competitors are forced to close mining due to the virus.

For baffled foreign baffled readers, Clive Palmer was the theoretical-billionaire-coal-miner and politician who suddenly befriended Al Gore in 2014. He helped create the legal back-door for an Emissions Trading Scheme when Tony Abbott axed the Carbon tax.  Supposedly Palmer got knocked back when he asked to cross the border into WA, and enraged, he took his battle to the High Court, saying that closing borders was unconstitutional. But it now turns out Palmer didn’t even put in a serious application to enter WA. The three applications by his pilot were so dodgy, claiming Carlo Fingergi was a female, and with fake entries for his wife, the officials dismissed them as a hoax. McGowan has asked Palmer to listen to the people and dump the case.

Why did Scott Morrison push to help Palmer? Paul Murray, columnist in The West Australian thinks it probably has something to do with Palmer spending $60m on the last Federal Election, mostly against the Labor Party.

“No one had ever spent that much to influence an Australian election but political pundits remain unsure of its real effect.”

“While Palmer’s United Australia Party was singularly unsuccessful at the election, its preferences went 65.14 per cent to the Coalition, in contrast to just 54 per cent as the Palmer United Party in 2013 when he also favoured Coalition candidates in every seat.”

One of the reasons Western Australia isn’t opening borders to SA, the NT, Tas or QLD is only because it can’t be sure the others will maintain their walls. No one wants to outsource border management.

ADDENDUM: As a last sorry note to the saga, McGowan now unnecessarily claims he knocked back Palmer because he was going to come to support hydroxychoroquine “which was dangerous”. If so, McGowan’s kicking an own-goal. Palmer has bought millions of hydroxycholoroquine doses and donated them to a national stockpile. To disallow Palmer for this reason is a free speech failure on a grand scale (what was he thinking?) and also scientifically pathetic,  because there are many studies showing HCQ is almost certainly useful, especially if used early and in combination with zinc. There are also thousands of doctors who want to use it and swear by it.

“He’s accepted the Donald Trump view of hydroxychloroquine, which no-one with a medical degree, as far as I’m aware, accepts.”

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Weekend Unthreaded

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Three quarters of mild to moderate Covid illnesses show heart damage

No wonder the Chinese lockdown a million people with every outbreak. Two thirds of these cases were not hospitalized.

These studies are small and need confirmation, but the medical specialists are asking if it is possible that Covid infections create new cases of heart failure which may trigger problems long after infection?

A startling number of COVID-19 patients suffer lasting heart damage

Fermin Koop, ZME Science

A study from the University Hospital Frankfurt looked at the cardiovascular MRIs of 100 people who had recovered from the coronavirus and compared them with heart images of people who hadn’t been infected.

Most of the patients hadn’t been hospitalized and recovered at home, with symptoms ranging from none to moderate. Two months after recovering from COVID-19, the patients were more likely to have troubling cardiac signs than people in the control group. Up to 78% of them had structural changes to the heart, while 76% had evidence of a biomarker signaling cardiac injury typically found after a heart attack, and 60% had signs of inflammation.

The Puntmann study was based in Germany, and the average age of cases was 49. Troponin is a marker used in standard hospital blood tests to find out if people have had heart attacks.

We don’t know how long it takes this inflammation and damage to return to normal, or if some damage is permanent.

Compared with healthy controls and risk factor–matched controls, patients recently recovered from COVID-19 had lower left ventricular ejection fraction, higher left ventricle volumes, higher left ventricle mass, and raised native T1 and T2. A total of 78 patients recently recovered from COVID-19 (78%) had abnormal CMR [Cardiac Magnetic Resonance] findings, including raised myocardial native T1 (n = 73), raised myocardial native T2 (n = 60), myocardial late gadolinium enhancement (n = 32), and pericardial enhancement (n = 22).

These findings don’t tell us what’s happening in the roughly 45% of cases which are asymptomatic. Nor do they apply to severe ICU cases or the under 18s.

Another study by Lindner et al looked at 39 autopsies of Covid cases and found 60% had viral RNA in their heart tissue. Most of these patients, who were older, had died of pulmonary failure. In 40% there was no sign of the virus infiltrating the heart. But the heart inflammation wasn’t associated with the presence of the virus. In cases where there was virus, it wasn’t in the heart muscle cells but in the immune cells of the heart. I think all we can say from Lindner is that we really need to understand this disease better. Is it more an immune system disease than a vascular one?

 Our findings from in situ hybridization revealed the most likely localization of SARS-CoV-2 not to be in the cardiomyocytes but in interstitial cells or macrophages invading the myocardial tissue.

Yancy and Fonarow write in JAMA that they hope doctors will check for ongoing heart inflammation, and that these findings need to be confirmed. They ask whether heart failure might be the next chapter in the Covid crisis:

When added to the postmortem pathological findings from Linder et al,4 we see the plot thickening and we are inclined to raise a new and very evident concern that cardiomyopathy and heart failure related to COVID-19 may potentially evolve as the natural history of this infection becomes clearer.

We wish not to generate additional anxiety but rather to incite other investigators to carefully examine existing and prospectively collect new data in other populations to confirm or refute these findings. We hope these findings represent that of a select cohort of patients. Yet, if this high rate of risk is confirmed, the pathologic basis for progressive left ventricular dysfunction is validated, and especially if longitudinal assessment reveals new-onset heart failure in the recovery phase of COVID-19, then the crisis of COVID-19 will not abate but will instead shift to a new de novo incidence of heart failure and other chronic cardiovascular complications.

 My simple rule for new likely bioweapon releases is (and always was), just cut it off at the border until we learn how nasty it is. We can always and easily restart the flights, but we can’t undo the damage or rewind the clock if it runs wild. Will Western nations adopt this policy in the long run (like most of China’s neighbouring countries already do)?

REFERENCES

Clyde W. Yancy, MD, MSc1,2Gregg C. Fonarow, MD3,4 (2020) Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and the Heart—Is Heart Failure the Next Chapter?, JAMA Cardiol. Published online July 27, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2020.3575

Lindner  D, Fitzek  A, Bräuninger  H,  et al. (2020) Association of cardiac infection with SARS-CoV-2 in confirmed COVID-19 autopsy cases.   JAMA Cardiol. Published online July 27, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2020.3551

Puntmann  VO, Carerj  ML, Wieters  I,  et al.  (2020)  Outcomes of cardiovascular magnetic resonance in patients recently recovered from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).   JAMA Cardiol. Published online July 27, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2020.3557

 

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The first interview of the US president where he’s treated like a human being

 

A guy called Dave does his first interview ever, with another guy called Donald Trump.

Dave Portnoy of Barstool Sports achieves something none of the Pullitzer prize winners have.

What are the odds the ABC would play this?

“It’s the retweets that get you in trouble.”

Dave wonders if Trump regrets winning because he was living the dream — he had a great life.

“The best day in my life in terms of business and life and everything was the day before I announced I was running for president,” Trump said. “Everything was good…Now I’m really glad I did but I was treated very unfairly.”

Trump recalled a time soon after announcing his presidential bid when he was publicly booed, saying he had “never been booed before”.

“[Before that] I had a popularity rate … I was close to 100 percent popular.” -- The U.S. Sun

How much does he want to win in 2020? A billionaire could walk away and holiday for the rest of his life.

As for “delaying the election???” — Surely it’s bait. He wants people to talk about mail in voter fraud, or perhaps not talk about other news.

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Censorship is Weapon #1: Trump orders online Tech Giants to stop

Censorship trumps everything else. Without free speech, there are no free elections, and no progress in politicized science. The base temptations of the human condition thrive in the dark.

Ten years too late, the House Judiciary Hearing on antitrust laws is on:

Republicans tear into big tech CEOs

Katelyn Caralle, Nikki Schwabm, The Daily Mail

For more than five hours the world’s richest man, Bezos; fourth-richest, Zuckerberg; CEO of the world’s most valued corporation, Cook; and its key search engine, Pichai; were repeatedly ripped as copycats, liars, bullies, drug dealers and traitors.

…big tech’s out to get conservatives. That’s not a suspicion, that’s not a hunch. That’s a fact,’ Representative Jim Jordan asserted at the top of his opening remarks.

‘We’re 97 days before an election, and the power – as the previous chairman and ranking member have said – the power these companies have to impact what happens during an election, what American citizens get to see before their voting, is pretty darn important,’ he said.

Trump issued an Executive Order to prevent social media giants from altering or editorializing free speech. He declared that if Congress won’t act, he will.

Apparently, the internet high speed revolution doesn’t mean more information, it means better, faster filtering and light speed censorship. Yesterday the news was full of doctors being censored in the US (more on that later). Lord help the world if groups of dangerous doctors were seen supporting a position Donald Trump also held? People are dying in a pandemic but the censorship is so extreme it has become the story.

Silencing people is the main weapon of those who want to vote themselves the Treasury, or guard their Golden Monopolies. And it’s running rampant, not just in social media, but in tea rooms around the West the silent majority are scared to say what they think.

J.J. Reno visited the Midwestern States so critical in US elections and found both despair and anger.

When I asked about the election mood in their communities, they reported that political realities are increasingly hidden from view. One said, “Right now journalists seem ignorant of what most people are thinking, perhaps willfully so.” When I pressed him about why that’s the case, he replied, “In all fairness, most people won’t say what they’re thinking. It’s too dangerous.”

This censorship is not just in the searches, and the news, but in workplaces and dinner parties. And it’s moving fast — people are losing jobs for saying inane truths that were fine 12 months ago. “All lives matter” is ending careers, in media and Universities. It’s not enough to say quiet either, only vocal endorsement will do: “Silence is Violence”.

Tucker Carlson interviews Donald J Trump Jnr about his twitter ban

Censorship only ever hurts conservatives.

Google purges Breitbart and other conservative sites to “Zero”

Google Executives told us they would do this. Google is practically a wing of the Democrats.  After Trump’s election the Chief Executive Officer, the Chief Financial Officer, two Vice Presidents and the two men who founded Google got together for groups hugs and tears, said the election went the wrong way. Google co-founder Sergey Brin was ‘Deeply Offended’ by Trump’s Election and asked what they could do about it.

What they can do is suppress articles criticizing Democrats and crush search results of conservative sites.

Allan Bokhari, Breitbart

‘On April 4, 2016, Breitbart ranked in the top ten search positions (i.e., on the first page of Google search results) for 355 key search terms; but now, as of July 20, 2020, Breitbart ranks in the top ten search positions for only one search term. And, on April 4, 2016, Breitbart ranked in the top 100 search positions for 16,820 key search terms; but now, as of July 20, 2020, Breitbart ranks in the top 100 search positions for only 55 search terms.

Google Just Killed All Search Traffic to Breitbart for Joe Biden and Joe Biden-Related Searches

After Google’s May core search update on or about May 5, 2020, Google search impressions and search traffic to Breitbart for “Joe Biden” and other Biden-related search terms has gone to zero. Zero. The following graph clearly illustrates the foregoing.

On May 1, Google searches for “Joe Biden” generated approximately 30,000 impressions (views, used as a metric for advertisers) for Breitbart links. After May 5, both impressions and clicks went to zero. 

Breitbart News spoke to an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) expert, a 25-year industry veteran, whose job consists of analyzing traffic data from Google’s own website performance portal, Google Search Console.

The expert, who wished to remain anonymous, said he had never seen anything like this graph — and that it indicates highly probable manipulation on the part of Google.

Google’s How To Vote Card

h/t David E.

Google Censorship of news sites ranked.

 

Predatory monopolies boast about buying up competitors:

Isn’t this exactly what the anti-trust rules are supposed to stop?

In the most damaging moments, lawmakers unveiled Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s internal emails boasting about buying competitors, saying Instagram was a threat as he plotted to purchase it, and talking about a ‘land grab’ on other competition.

Democratic Representative Joe Neguse bluntly told Zuckerberg he was running a monopoly in the tech marketplace as he read from the emails.

‘You did tell one of Facebook’s senior engineers in 2012 that you can, quote ‘Likely just buy any competitive start up, but it will be a while until we can buy Google.’ Do you recall writing that?’ Neguse asked of the Facebook co-founder.

Free Speech is the only way to solve disagreements without violence.

Our children don’t even know what Free Speech is.

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Thursday Open Thread

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Peter Ridd will take the fight for free speech to the High Court

For Peter Ridd, it would have been so much easier if he had gone quietly. This battle is not for him, but for our Australian Universities. He shouldn’t need to take this to the High Court, or even the Federal Court. The Scott Morrison government could turn off the tap to every institution which won’t guarantee free speech and enshrine it in their employee contracts. Dan Tehan is reviewing the university model code, but they don’t need a review. They know, we know, everyone knows, without free speech our universities are just Big Government advertising agencies, or victims of the latest FashionThink trend. Those funds could be frozen tonight, and watch how fast the universities can rewrite their contracts. At the speed of light…

Donations are already flowing in for the High Court Battle. Thank you to all who can help his GoFundMe Campaign.

John Spooner, PEter Ridd in Liliput.

From John Spooner, The Australian.

Peter Ridd Seeks High Court Appeal

Charlie Peel, The Australian

Sacked James Cook University professor Peter Ridd will go to the High Court over his controversial sacking for publicly criticising the institution and his colleagues over their climate change science.

A week after the Federal Circuit Court overturned an earlier court decision awarding him $1.2m, the marine physicist has confirmed the next front in his legal battle that has already cost more than $1m. Professor Ridd, who has personally spent $300,000 in his fight, has rallied his supporters in a fresh fundraising bid aimed at amassing $630,000 to bankroll his appeal to the highest court.

Professor Ridd told The Australian on Tuesday he had already spent $1.15m on his legal campaign, $860,000 of which came from donations.

For the scientist, 59, the fight is about more than the loss of potential earnings from a stalled academic career. “This is about principle,” Professor Ridd told The Australian. “We’ve got to have it that academics can speak.

“The fact is that because it was justified to fire me, any academic who wants to speak out about the Great Barrier Reef or any controversial issue will know it’s not worth the risk.”

Professor Ridd said he was “quite encouraged” by federal Education Minister Dan Tehan’s commitment last week to review the new university model code, developed by former High Court chief justice Robert French, aimed at protecting freedom of speech on university campuses.

“Anything he (Tehan) does has to be put into the (enterprise) agreement,” Professor Ridd said.

“As soon as there is any doubt, the university will win because the academic knows they can’t afford the legal battle.”

Ridd case must go all the way to the High Court

Joe Dowse, Mosman, NSW, Letters,  The Australian

The recent Federal Court decision on the sacking of Peter Ridd is a victory for intellectual timidity, collegial double-speak and institutional cowardice by the ironically named James Cook University. Reading the judgment, I was reminded of the way the majority judges in the Pell case came to their conclusion. That miscarriage of justice was fortunately reversed by the High Court.

h/t Anne Carter

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Older children may spread Coronavirus even faster than adults do

New research shows that families with teenage children were three times more likely to get Covid  (odds of spread , 18%) than families with children under ten (5%). It appears that it’s more dangerous to live with teens than to live with adults (12%). It may be that teens are more likely to be asymptomatic which means people don’t realize they need to isolate from them.

The question of opening primary schools is potentially very different to high schools. Quite possibly puberty affects immune systems in ways that make teens effectively young adults.

Older Kids May Transmit COVID-19 as Much as Adults Do, New Evidence Shows

ScienceAlert

The results also showed up something unexpected, however. When index patients were categorised by age (0–9, 10–19, 20–29, 30–39, 40–49, 50–59, 60–69, 70–79, and >80 years), households with older children (index patients of 10–19 years) had the highest rate of infection spread to household contacts, with 18.6 percent of household contacts later showing the infection.

By contrast, young children (index patients 0–9 years of age) seemed to confer the least amount of spread of the virus, with just 5.3 percent of household contacts contracting the infection, which is less than half of the 11.8 percent average of all age groups (most of whom represent adults).

The study in South Korea involved nearly 60,000 contacts of 5,700 Covid patients. The spread was six times more likely at home than outside home with 12% of household contacts catching the disease at home, but only 2% of contacts outside home catching it. Since this is Korea it’s likely that people wore masks outside the home.  The researchers say “the role of masking within the home, especially if any family members are at high risk, needs to be studied.” For the record — schools were largely closed in South Korea during the test period. They remained open for essential workers children and were limited to very small class sizes. So the study doesn’t necessarily tell us much about the spread at school.

Donald Trump has at least conceded that schools in hot spots should delay reopening. The spread of coronavirus hurts his campaign and helps Democrats in so many ways. Getting on top of this spread should surely be a top priority.

UPDATE: Ponder how unusual this epidemiology is:

Traditionally the under fives are the wildly dominant spreaders of any disease. Hands on everything. This is very different from the flu. While the under fives are short, and therefore “breathing lower in altitude” we pick them up and carry them and face to face contact is common. Not so with 12 year olds.

Teenagers (older ones) are out and about and may pick up the disease through careless behaviour. But it may be that teens are larger asymptomatic shedders of virus, and for some reason the youngest children aren’t. Perhaps the youngest wipe this virus out fast with innate immunity and therefore are not big shedders for long. In any case, the implications are that primary schools could be reopened more easily — which will help parents go to work. But teens could learn from home. It might be the lowest impact way to slow the virus with the smallest impact.

This is different.

REFERENCE

Young June Park et al (2020)  Contact Tracing during Coronavirus Disease Outbreak, South Korea,  Emerging Infectious Diseases. Volume 26, Number 10—October 2020, https://doi.org/10.3201/eid2610.201315

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Tuesday Open Thread

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