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Fear Of COVID Is The Opiate Of The People

Fear Of COVID Is The Opiate Of The People

Authored by Mark Oshinskie via The Brownstone Institute,

After all of the criticism I’ve directed…



Fear Of COVID Is The Opiate Of The People

Authored by Mark Oshinskie via The Brownstone Institute,

After all of the criticism I’ve directed toward Coronamaniacs and the Vaxxmongers over the past three years - in-person and online - I know that many of them have wished that I’d get very sick and die “from Covid.” If I had, they would have gleefully jeered me, as many did when lockdown critic Herman Cain died. Bear in mind that Mr. Cain was 74 and had Stage IV cancer.

But I haven’t died “from Covid.” Like the super-vast majority of people, I was never at any risk of doing so. 

While I’d prefer to never get sick, I always knew it was possible that I might “get Covid,” just as I had gotten some other, prior, unnamed coronavirus-driven colds or flus. It’s how life is, has been and will always be. Many people seem to be sick lately. It doesn’t help immune function to be in the low light/low Vitamin D state of winter. And during the past three years of disrupted social life, our immune systems haven’t been properly tested.

Many have said that, by Spring, 2022, everyone had been exposed to Covid-causing coronaviruses. Maybe it’s true, though it sounds like hyperbole; I’m not sure how this could be known. Regardless, except for one February, 2020 day of malaise, and then a week-long dry cough with no apparent cause—perhaps a quick, nearly asymptomatic, pre-Lockdown brush with Covid, or perhaps nothing at all—I’ve felt fine for the past three years. 

Last week, on the day after Christmas, that changed.

My muscles started to ache. These aches spread and lasted for three days, accompanied by a tight chest and a banging headache. On Day 2, I also got a high fever. I let the fever crest until I took some Tylenol to moderate my temperature. Serial doses over the next two days quelled the headaches. My wife got sick the day after I did and exhibited the same symptoms.

By our respective Day 4s, we each felt much better. 

Aside from the fever, we didn’t have the publicized, original Covid symptoms: shortness of breath, dry cough and fatigue. Plus, for what it’s worth, we each tested negative on home antigen tests that my wife had gotten in the mail. Thus, we mutually guessed that we probably had some form of flu. I didn’t care whether or not I had “had Covid.” That diagnosis never scared me. I only cared that we felt sick for three days. 

A day later, by coincidence—or perhaps because my computer was, in our surveillance society, eavesdropping on my wife and my conversations about how we were feeling, physically—this clickbait headline appeared on my screen: “The New Symptoms of Covid.” 

I took the bait. The article set forth a revised list of symptoms closely resembling those that my wife and I had just endured. 

Hmm. Maybe we did “have Covid.” The new kind. Because heaven forbid that anyone might think that they just got some unspecified sort of cold or flu, as they might have thought three-plus years ago. 

To the extent I might believe the article, it said that the virus had mutated into yet another variant, this one with the parodic name, “XBB-1.5.” I’ve known for decades that viruses mutate. This adaptability was another reason that I declined to begin to take an endless series of shots said to protect against viruses that would continually go out of fashion, only to be replaced by others. 

Throughout, my understanding has been that viruses typically weaken—not strengthen—following such mutations. Thus, I might expect that a coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, which was unscary to begin with, would cause the same symptoms—only weaker—as it evolved into some different variant under the “Covid” umbrella.

But as a virus weakens, I didn’t assume—as the clickbait article suggested—that the types of symptoms would change. I’ve wondered why an illness caused by an ever-evolving virus, that is supposedly genetically distinct from its viral predecessors and said to cause different symptoms than other viruses or variants have caused, is still widely presented to the public as “Covid.” 

Like other marketing campaigns—only more so—countless money and boundless effort went into building the “Covid” brand. In order to incite fear, Government/Media/Pharma had to set “Covid” apart from centuries of respiratory illnesses experienced by those infected by other coronaviruses. Given the name recognition that Government/Media have developed for “Covid” since March, 2020, they’re motivated to stick with this well-known brand name to describe a viral disease that wasn’t much different from centuries of pre-March, 2020 Coronavirus infections; which, in turn, won’t be much different from infections that follow it, ad infinitum.

Christian Scientists say that to name a disease is to empower it. But while the Chistian Scientists think it’s bad to empower an illness, Government/Media/Pharma have taken the opposite approach: for three years, they’ve relentlessly strived to empower, and thus, exploit “Covid.”

Politically and economically, it’s been extremely useful to perpetuate the Covid franchise. Keeping some people scared of Covid helps to sustain the perpetual State of Emergency—oxymoron intended—and all of the Covid-linked government oppression and subsidy schemes that depend upon the myth of crisis. If, instead of referring to “Covid,” Government/Media used all of the various variant names, the public might eventually figure out what they should have known in March, 2020: we’ve always lived among evolving respiratory viruses that briefly sicken many people but don’t seriously threaten anyone who’s healthy. 

Though to those with the attention span to accommodate all of the shifting variant names, these names might have a certain spooky sci-fi cachet of their own: so many viruses keep emerging that some people feel they’re under siege. 

But overall, from a fear-marketing standpoint, it’s best to stick with the simpler, original brand name:




Did I mention “Covid?”

Government/Media/Pharma have seared “Covid” into the American consciousness and terrorized people by grossly exaggerating Covid’s lethality. They aggressively suppressed criticisms of the attendant scam. By repeatedly saying “Covid” and “Pandemic,” they weaponized these words in order to pacify and control the masses, to effect the biggest wealth transfer in history to the already rich—including but not limited to, Pharma—to further impoverish the working class that they now disdain, and to strategically change election laws. 

Aside from sustaining the perception of a public health Crisis, and to justify imposing a wide array of deprivation restrictions on basic liberties, sustaining Covid brand loyalty also provides at least three other important, continuing benefits. 

Firstly, by keeping at least some segment of the population afraid of the Covid bogeyman, politicians can use it as an excuse to print ever more “Covid Emergency” relief and research money, ostensibly, but not actually, to control what Biden strategically labeled “this God-awful disease;” even though everyone I know who has had it experienced it as a cold or flu. This massive, annually supplemented slush fund will be used for a vast array of chicanery, including widespread political patronage, with tentacles reaching through politically-aligned state and municipal governments, political donors, the Medical Industrial Complex and the Defense/Biosecurity apparatus. Covid is worth far more alive than it is dead.

Secondly, sustaining Covidism protects politicians and public health bureaucrats. By continuing to invoke “Covid” to spook a gullible public, the scaremongers can use this word to defuse public anger regarding the overreaction of the past three years and all of the lasting damage which people are belatedly seeing. People who are constantly reminded of the Covid Scare of the past three years or who remain naively scared of the Covid Monster will continue to think that all measures to crush it were worth the suffering that the Government/Media/Pharma opportunistically caused with their orchestrated overreaction. Thus, most people won’t demand accountability for the scam of the past three years. They’ll allow the Government/Media/Pharma to continue to hide behind the foundational lie that “We did all of that to save you from death!” 

Fear of Covid is the opiate of the people. 

Lest we forget how essential it was—not—to wreck American society and economy over a virus that threatened almost no one under 75, politicians will order and fund the construction of public monuments where people can go and wring their hands over, and speak in hushed tones about, the deaths of unhealthy septugenarians, octogenarians and nonagenarians “from Covid.” 

Thirdly, preserving the Covid Scare also enables Government/Media/Pharma to unilaterally, arbitrarily declare victory over Covid whenever it wants. If Covid ever becomes a political liability, it can be decreed to have been conquered. The self-proclaimed Covid-slaying politicians can portray themselves, and the public health bureaucrats, as saviors of humanity. The Media can hail, and gullible people will venerate, those who may claim to have liberated our nation from the long-lasting grip of, as Trump so inaptly called it, “The Plague.” 

Fundamentally, whether my wife or I had some weird, sore-throat-free cold, some nausea-less flu or just the latest style of “Covid,” neither of us enjoyed our three-day viral experience. Like any old school respiratory virus, this one made us feel lousy, albeit with a different constellation of symptoms. We handled it the same way as other viral illnesses: we drank extra water, took some home remedies, and tried to get some extra sleep. A few years ago, no one made a big deal about, or needed to categorize, being sick like this. People rode it out. No one cared what you had. Or didn’t have.

During the three days that my wife and I felt the effects of some sort of virus, I never regretfully thought that I would’ve been fine if I had only worn a mask. Nor, while reclining on the sofa sipping hot tea, did I think to blame anyone for passing a virus to me; I understood that an occasional respiratory infection is an unavoidable cost of social life.

And I definitely didn’t think that any coronavirus justified shutting down a society or mass-injecting some experimental substance.

These measures have failed miserably and caused tremendous, lasting and expanding harm.

*  *  *

Republished from the author’s Substack

Tyler Durden Sat, 01/07/2023 - 19:30

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There will soon be one million seats on this popular Amtrak route

“More people are taking the train than ever before,” says Amtrak’s Executive Vice President.



While the size of the United States makes it hard for it to compete with the inter-city train access available in places like Japan and many European countries, Amtrak trains are a very popular transportation option in certain pockets of the country — so much so that the country’s national railway company is expanding its Northeast Corridor by more than one million seats.

Related: This is what it's like to take a 19-hour train from New York to Chicago

Running from Boston all the way south to Washington, D.C., the route is one of the most popular as it passes through the most densely populated part of the country and serves as a commuter train for those who need to go between East Coast cities such as New York and Philadelphia for business.

Veronika Bondarenko captured this photo of New York’s Moynihan Train Hall. 

Veronika Bondarenko

Amtrak launches new routes, promises travelers ‘additional travel options’

Earlier this month, Amtrak announced that it was adding four additional Northeastern routes to its schedule — two more routes between New York’s Penn Station and Union Station in Washington, D.C. on the weekend, a new early-morning weekday route between New York and Philadelphia’s William H. Gray III 30th Street Station and a weekend route between Philadelphia and Boston’s South Station.

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According to Amtrak, these additions will increase Northeast Corridor’s service by 20% on the weekdays and 10% on the weekends for a total of one million additional seats when counted by how many will ride the corridor over the year.

“More people are taking the train than ever before and we’re proud to offer our customers additional travel options when they ride with us on the Northeast Regional,” Amtrak Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer Eliot Hamlisch said in a statement on the new routes. “The Northeast Regional gets you where you want to go comfortably, conveniently and sustainably as you breeze past traffic on I-95 for a more enjoyable travel experience.”

Here are some of the other Amtrak changes you can expect to see

Amtrak also said that, in the 2023 financial year, the Northeast Corridor had nearly 9.2 million riders — 8% more than it had pre-pandemic and a 29% increase from 2022. The higher demand, particularly during both off-peak hours and the time when many business travelers use to get to work, is pushing Amtrak to invest into this corridor in particular.

To reach more customers, Amtrak has also made several changes to both its routes and pricing system. In the fall of 2023, it introduced a type of new “Night Owl Fare” — if traveling during very late or very early hours, one can go between cities like New York and Philadelphia or Philadelphia and Washington. D.C. for $5 to $15.

As travel on the same routes during peak hours can reach as much as $300, this was a deliberate move to reach those who have the flexibility of time and might have otherwise preferred more affordable methods of transportation such as the bus. After seeing strong uptake, Amtrak added this type of fare to more Boston routes.

The largest distances, such as the ones between Boston and New York or New York and Washington, are available at the lowest rate for $20.

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The next pandemic? It’s already here for Earth’s wildlife

Bird flu is decimating species already threatened by climate change and habitat loss.

I am a conservation biologist who studies emerging infectious diseases. When people ask me what I think the next pandemic will be I often say that we are in the midst of one – it’s just afflicting a great many species more than ours.

I am referring to the highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza H5N1 (HPAI H5N1), otherwise known as bird flu, which has killed millions of birds and unknown numbers of mammals, particularly during the past three years.

This is the strain that emerged in domestic geese in China in 1997 and quickly jumped to humans in south-east Asia with a mortality rate of around 40-50%. My research group encountered the virus when it killed a mammal, an endangered Owston’s palm civet, in a captive breeding programme in Cuc Phuong National Park Vietnam in 2005.

How these animals caught bird flu was never confirmed. Their diet is mainly earthworms, so they had not been infected by eating diseased poultry like many captive tigers in the region.

This discovery prompted us to collate all confirmed reports of fatal infection with bird flu to assess just how broad a threat to wildlife this virus might pose.

This is how a newly discovered virus in Chinese poultry came to threaten so much of the world’s biodiversity.

H5N1 originated on a Chinese poultry farm in 1997. ChameleonsEye/Shutterstock

The first signs

Until December 2005, most confirmed infections had been found in a few zoos and rescue centres in Thailand and Cambodia. Our analysis in 2006 showed that nearly half (48%) of all the different groups of birds (known to taxonomists as “orders”) contained a species in which a fatal infection of bird flu had been reported. These 13 orders comprised 84% of all bird species.

We reasoned 20 years ago that the strains of H5N1 circulating were probably highly pathogenic to all bird orders. We also showed that the list of confirmed infected species included those that were globally threatened and that important habitats, such as Vietnam’s Mekong delta, lay close to reported poultry outbreaks.

Mammals known to be susceptible to bird flu during the early 2000s included primates, rodents, pigs and rabbits. Large carnivores such as Bengal tigers and clouded leopards were reported to have been killed, as well as domestic cats.

Our 2006 paper showed the ease with which this virus crossed species barriers and suggested it might one day produce a pandemic-scale threat to global biodiversity.

Unfortunately, our warnings were correct.

A roving sickness

Two decades on, bird flu is killing species from the high Arctic to mainland Antarctica.

In the past couple of years, bird flu has spread rapidly across Europe and infiltrated North and South America, killing millions of poultry and a variety of bird and mammal species. A recent paper found that 26 countries have reported at least 48 mammal species that have died from the virus since 2020, when the latest increase in reported infections started.

Not even the ocean is safe. Since 2020, 13 species of aquatic mammal have succumbed, including American sea lions, porpoises and dolphins, often dying in their thousands in South America. A wide range of scavenging and predatory mammals that live on land are now also confirmed to be susceptible, including mountain lions, lynx, brown, black and polar bears.

The UK alone has lost over 75% of its great skuas and seen a 25% decline in northern gannets. Recent declines in sandwich terns (35%) and common terns (42%) were also largely driven by the virus.

Scientists haven’t managed to completely sequence the virus in all affected species. Research and continuous surveillance could tell us how adaptable it ultimately becomes, and whether it can jump to even more species. We know it can already infect humans – one or more genetic mutations may make it more infectious.

At the crossroads

Between January 1 2003 and December 21 2023, 882 cases of human infection with the H5N1 virus were reported from 23 countries, of which 461 (52%) were fatal.

Of these fatal cases, more than half were in Vietnam, China, Cambodia and Laos. Poultry-to-human infections were first recorded in Cambodia in December 2003. Intermittent cases were reported until 2014, followed by a gap until 2023, yielding 41 deaths from 64 cases. The subtype of H5N1 virus responsible has been detected in poultry in Cambodia since 2014. In the early 2000s, the H5N1 virus circulating had a high human mortality rate, so it is worrying that we are now starting to see people dying after contact with poultry again.

It’s not just H5 subtypes of bird flu that concern humans. The H10N1 virus was originally isolated from wild birds in South Korea, but has also been reported in samples from China and Mongolia.

Recent research found that these particular virus subtypes may be able to jump to humans after they were found to be pathogenic in laboratory mice and ferrets. The first person who was confirmed to be infected with H10N5 died in China on January 27 2024, but this patient was also suffering from seasonal flu (H3N2). They had been exposed to live poultry which also tested positive for H10N5.

Species already threatened with extinction are among those which have died due to bird flu in the past three years. The first deaths from the virus in mainland Antarctica have just been confirmed in skuas, highlighting a looming threat to penguin colonies whose eggs and chicks skuas prey on. Humboldt penguins have already been killed by the virus in Chile.

A colony of king penguins.
Remote penguin colonies are already threatened by climate change. AndreAnita/Shutterstock

How can we stem this tsunami of H5N1 and other avian influenzas? Completely overhaul poultry production on a global scale. Make farms self-sufficient in rearing eggs and chicks instead of exporting them internationally. The trend towards megafarms containing over a million birds must be stopped in its tracks.

To prevent the worst outcomes for this virus, we must revisit its primary source: the incubator of intensive poultry farms.

Diana Bell does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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This is the biggest money mistake you’re making during travel

A retail expert talks of some common money mistakes travelers make on their trips.



Travel is expensive. Despite the explosion of travel demand in the two years since the world opened up from the pandemic, survey after survey shows that financial reasons are the biggest factor keeping some from taking their desired trips.

Airfare, accommodation as well as food and entertainment during the trip have all outpaced inflation over the last four years.

Related: This is why we're still spending an insane amount of money on travel

But while there are multiple tricks and “travel hacks” for finding cheaper plane tickets and accommodation, the biggest financial mistake that leads to blown travel budgets is much smaller and more insidious.

A traveler watches a plane takeoff at an airport gate.

Jeshoots on Unsplash

This is what you should (and shouldn’t) spend your money on while abroad

“When it comes to traveling, it's hard to resist buying items so you can have a piece of that memory at home,” Kristen Gall, a retail expert who heads the financial planning section at points-back platform Rakuten, told Travel + Leisure in an interview. “However, it's important to remember that you don't need every souvenir that catches your eye.”

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According to Gall, souvenirs not only have a tendency to add up in price but also weight which can in turn require one to pay for extra weight or even another suitcase at the airport — over the last two months, airlines like Delta  (DAL) , American Airlines  (AAL)  and JetBlue Airways  (JBLU)  have all followed each other in increasing baggage prices to in some cases as much as $60 for a first bag and $100 for a second one.

While such extras may not seem like a lot compared to the thousands one might have spent on the hotel and ticket, they all have what is sometimes known as a “coffee” or “takeout effect” in which small expenses can lead one to overspend by a large amount.

‘Save up for one special thing rather than a bunch of trinkets…’

“When traveling abroad, I recommend only purchasing items that you can't get back at home, or that are small enough to not impact your luggage weight,” Gall said. “If you’re set on bringing home a souvenir, save up for one special thing, rather than wasting your money on a bunch of trinkets you may not think twice about once you return home.”

Along with the immediate costs, there is also the risk of purchasing things that go to waste when returning home from an international vacation. Alcohol is subject to airlines’ liquid rules while certain types of foods, particularly meat and other animal products, can be confiscated by customs. 

While one incident of losing an expensive bottle of liquor or cheese brought back from a country like France will often make travelers forever careful, those who travel internationally less frequently will often be unaware of specific rules and be forced to part with something they spent money on at the airport.

“It's important to keep in mind that you're going to have to travel back with everything you purchased,” Gall continued. “[…] Be careful when buying food or wine, as it may not make it through customs. Foods like chocolate are typically fine, but items like meat and produce are likely prohibited to come back into the country.

Related: Veteran fund manager picks favorite stocks for 2024

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