Connect with us

Government

‘Forget About COVID’, They Say…

‘Forget About COVID’, They Say…

Authored by Jeffrey Tucker via The Brownstone Institute,

Earlier this year, a phrase was trending because…

Published

on

'Forget About COVID', They Say...

Authored by Jeffrey Tucker via The Brownstone Institute,

Earlier this year, a phrase was trending because Bari Weiss used it on a talk show: “I’m done with Covid.” Many people cheered simply because the subject has been the source of vast oppression for billions of people for two years. 

There are two ways to be over Covid. 

One way is to do what the memo from the consultants of the Democratic National Committee suggested: declare the war won and move on. For political reasons. 

Deaths attributed to Covid nationally are higher now than they were in the summer of 2020 when the whole country was locked down. They are also higher now than during the election of November the same year.

But today we are just supposed to treat it for what it is: a seasonal virus with a disparate impact on the aged and frail. 

Rationality is back! In that sense, it’s good to forget about Covid if it means living life normally and behaving with clarity about what does and does not work to mitigate a virus. The Democrats decided that the hyper-restrictionist ways were risking political fortunes. Hence, the line and the talking points needed to change. 

Another way to get over Covid is to forget completely about the last two years, especially the astonishing failures of compulsory pandemic controls.

Forget about the school closures that cost a generation two years of learning.

Forget that the hospitals were largely closed to people without a Covid-related malady.

Forget about the preventable nursing-home deaths.

Forget that dentistry was practically abolished for a few months, or that one could not even get a haircut. 

Forget the stay-at-home orders, the church and business closures, the playground and gym closures, the bankruptcies, the travel restrictions, the firings, the crazed advice for everyone to mask up and physically separate, the record drug-related deaths, the mass depression, the segregation, the brutalization of small business, the labor-force dropouts, the forced stoppages of art and culture, and the capacity limits on venues that forced weddings and funerals to be on Zoom. 

Forget about a closer look at the bogus mathematical models, vaccine trials, the circumstances behind the Emergency Use Authorizations, the adverse effects, the inaccuracies of the PCR test, and misclassification of deaths, the billions and trillions of misdirected funds, the division of all workers between essential and nonessential, and the millions who were forced to get jabs they did not want. 

Forget about the possibility of a lab leak, the role of China, the deadly use of ventilators, the neglect of therapeutics, the near-banning of all talk of natural immunity, the overselling of the vaccine, the lost religious holidays, the lonely deaths due to the blocking of loved ones from hospitals, the censorship of science, the manipulated and hidden CDC data, the payments to the major media, the symbiotic relationship between government and Big Tech, the demonization of dissent, and the abuse of emergency powers. 

Forget how health bureaucracies headed by political appointees took over the task of regulating nearly the whole of life, while messaging the country that freedom just doesn’t matter much anymore! 

Who precisely benefits from this method of being “over Covid?”

The unrepentant hegemon that gave us this disaster to begin with. They want to be in the clear. They don’t just desire to be exonerated; they don’t want to be judged at all. They want to be unaccountable. The best path toward that end is to foster public amnesia. 

I don’t just mean the Democrats. This calamity all began under a Republican president who still retains folk-hero status. Plus all Republican governors except one (Kristi Noem of South Dakota) bought into the initial lockdowns. They don’t want to talk about it either. 

There is a vast machine extant that desperately wants everyone to forget. Not even forgive, just forget. Don’t think about the old thing. Think about the new thing instead. Don’t learn lessons. Don’t change the system. Don’t uproot the bureaucracies or examine why the court system failed us so miserably until it was too late. Don’t seek more information. Don’t seek reforms. Don’t take away powers from the CDC and NIH, much less Homeland Security. 

Meanwhile, we live amidst a crisis without precedent. It affects health, economics, law, culture, education, and science. Nothing has been left untouched. The end of travel augmented every preexisting international tension. The wild government spending and the monetary accommodation of the ballooning debt, in addition to supply chain breakages, are all directly responsible for record levels of inflation. It’s much easier to blame Putin than it is to look at the failed policies of the US and many other governments in the world. 

There are so many remaining questions. My own estimate is that we know about 5% of what we need to know to make sense of this whole disaster. What precisely were Fauci, Collins, Farrar, Birx, and the whole gang doing in February 2020 when they weren’t looking for early treatments? 

Why did so many prominent epidemiologists completely reverse their stated views on lockdowns? They flipped from being largely skeptical of coercive measures on March 2, 2020, to fully embracing the most egregious measures only a few weeks later. Moreover, there was clearly a conspiracy emanating from the top to smear dissenting scientists who later said that the lockdowns were causing vastly more harm than good. The people behind the Great Barrington Declaration were targeted by government and media for professional ruin. 

When did the vaccine companies get rolled into the mix and under what terms? We need to know the when and why of the questioning and denial of natural immunity. Who was involved in this egregious and wholly inaccurate attempt to stigmatize those who rejected the vaccine? Where were the trials for generic therapeutics that the NIH is supposed to fund? 

Why in general did an entire establishment choose panic, lockdown, and mandate over calm and the traditional practice of public health? 

I have my own questions.

What were the conditions and the messages that led the New York Times to use its podcasts and printed pages (February 27 and 28, 2020) to spread absolute panic?

This institution had never done this before in any previous pandemic. Why did it choose this path even weeks before Fauci and Birx started lobbying Trump to pull the trigger? 

To put a fine point on it: how much money was involved? 

What we need is a full timeline with every detail for two years. We need reparations for the victims. We need to take powers away from hundreds and thousands of leading politicians, scientists, public health officials and media executives. 

What changed pandemic panic to a new calm is the force of public opinion. God bless the protestors, polls, and truckers. That is a great improvement but there is a long way to go to rekindle the love of liberty that can protect us next time. It’s not about left and right. We need a new understanding of public health, bodily autonomy, and essential liberties. 

Some people want global amnesia and otherwise no change in the regime, no follow-up, no investigations, no connecting dots, no justice, no answers to burning questions. 

And consider this.

If we are so over Covid, why are people still being fired for not being vaccinated, including people with superior natural immunity? Why have the fired not been rehired? Why the masks on planes, trains, and buses? Why the continued quarantine rules? Why the restrictions on international travel? Why are children still forced to cover their faces? Why must everyone who wants to see a Broadway play be forced to cover up their smiles? 

The remnants of restrictions, mandates, and impositions are there to serve as a reminder of the prevailing ruling-class attitude toward their policy choices. There are no regrets. They have done everything right. And they still have their thumb on you. 

That is intolerable. By all means, forget about Covid and live life as normally as possible in defiance of those who live to foster fear. But, never forget the disastrous Covid restrictions that created such destruction. We cannot let anyone off the hook, much less pretend that the policy disaster that created billions of personal tragedies never happened. 

The world we live in today – with worse health, economic dislocations, demoralized and undereducated children and youth, segregations and censorships, the unquestioned ubiquity of rules manufactured by the undemocratic administrative state, the instability and fear that comes with no longer trusting the system – is a far cry from the one that existed only a few years ago. We need to know why, how, and who. There are millions of questions that cry out for answers. We must have them. And we need to work to recover, rebuild, and insure it will never happen again. 

Tyler Durden Wed, 03/09/2022 - 19:20

Read More

Continue Reading

Spread & Containment

Russia’s energy war: Putin’s unpredictable actions and looming sanctions could further disrupt oil and gas markets

Russian President Vladimir Putin has not hesitated to use energy as a weapon. An expert on global energy markets analyzes what could come next.

Published

on

By

The new Baltic Pipe natural gas pipeline connects Norwegian natural gas fields in the North Sea with Denmark and Poland, offering an alternative to Russian gas. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Russia’s effort to conscript 300,000 reservists to counter Ukraine’s military advances in Kharkiv has drawn a lot of attention from military and political analysts. But there’s also a potential energy angle. Energy conflicts between Russia and Europe are escalating and likely could worsen as winter approaches.

One might assume that energy workers, who provide fuel and export revenue that Russia desperately needs, are too valuable to the war effort to be conscripted. So far, banking and information technology workers have received an official nod to stay in their jobs.

The situation for oil and gas workers is murkier, including swirling bits of Russian media disinformation about whether the sector will or won’t be targeted for mobilization. Either way, I expect Russia’s oil and gas operations to be destabilized by the next phase of the war.

The explosions in September 2022 that damaged the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines from Russia to Europe, and that may have been sabotage, are just the latest developments in this complex and unstable arena. As an analyst of global energy policy, I expect that more energy cutoffs could be in the cards – either directly ordered by the Kremlin to escalate economic pressure on European governments or as a result of new sabotage, or even because shortages of specialized equipment and trained Russian manpower lead to accidents or stoppages.

Dwindling natural gas flows

Russia has significantly reduced natural gas shipments to Europe in an effort to pressure European nations who are siding with Ukraine. In May 2022, the state-owned energy company Gazprom closed a key pipeline that runs through Belarus and Poland.

In June, the company reduced shipments to Germany via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which has a capacity of 170 million cubic meters per day, to only 40 million cubic meters per day. A few months later, Gazprom announced that Nord Stream 1 needed repairs and shut it down completely. Now U.S. and European leaders charge that Russia deliberately damaged the pipeline to further disrupt European energy supplies. The timing of the pipeline explosion coincided with the start up of a major new natural gas pipeline from Norway to Poland.

Russia has very limited alternative export infrastructure that can move Siberian natural gas to other customers, like China, so most of the gas it would normally be selling to Europe cannot be shifted to other markets. Natural gas wells in Siberia may need to be taken out of production, or shut in, in energy-speak, which could free up workers for conscription.

European dependence on Russian oil and gas evolved over decades. Now, reducing it is posing hard choices for EU countries.

Restricting Russian oil profits

Russia’s call-up of reservists also includes workers from companies specifically focused on oil. This has led some seasoned analysts to question whether supply disruptions might spread to oil, either by accident or on purpose.

One potential trigger is the Dec. 5, 2022, deadline for the start of phase six of European Union energy sanctions against Russia. Confusion about the package of restrictions and how they will relate to a cap on what buyers will pay for Russian crude oil has muted market volatility so far. But when the measures go into effect, they could initiate a new spike in oil prices.

Under this sanctions package, Europe will completely stop buying seaborne Russian crude oil. This step isn’t as damaging as it sounds, since many buyers in Europe have already shifted to alternative oil sources.

Before Russia invaded Ukraine, it exported roughly 1.4 million barrels per day of crude oil to Europe by sea, divided between Black Sea and Baltic routes. In recent months, European purchases have fallen below 1 million barrels per day. But Russia has actually been able to increase total flows from Black Sea and Baltic ports by redirecting crude oil exports to China, India and Turkey.

Russia has limited access to tankers, insurance and other services associated with moving oil by ship. Until recently, it acquired such services mainly from Europe. The change means that customers like China, India and Turkey have to transfer some of their purchases of Russian oil at sea from Russian-owned or chartered ships to ships sailing under other nations’ flags, whose services might not be covered by the European bans. This process is common and not always illegal, but often is used to evade sanctions by obscuring where shipments from Russia are ending up.

To compensate for this costly process, Russia is discounting its exports by US$40 per barrel. Observers generally assume that whatever Russian crude oil European buyers relinquish this winter will gradually find alternative outlets.

Where is Russian oil going?

The U.S. and its European allies aim to discourage this increased outflow of Russian crude by further limiting Moscow’s access to maritime services, such as tanker chartering, insurance and pilots licensed and trained to handle oil tankers, for any crude oil exports to third parties outside of the G-7 who pay rates above the U.S.-EU price cap. In my view, it will be relatively easy to game this policy and obscure how much Russia’s customers are paying.

On Sept. 9, 2022, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control issued new guidance for the Dec. 5 sanctions regime. The policy aims to limit the revenue Russia can earn from its oil while keeping it flowing. It requires that unless buyers of Russian oil can certify that oil cargoes were bought for reduced prices, they will be barred from obtaining European maritime services.

However, this new strategy seems to be failing even before it begins. Denmark is still making Danish pilots available to move tankers through its precarious straits, which are a vital conduit for shipments of Russian crude and refined products. Russia has also found oil tankers that aren’t subject to European oversight to move over a third of the volume that it needs transported, and it will likely obtain more.

Traders have been getting around these sorts of oil sanctions for decades. Tricks of the trade include blending banned oil into other kinds of oil, turning off ship transponders to avoid detection of ship-to-ship transfers, falsifying documentation and delivering oil into and then later out of major storage hubs in remote parts of the globe. This explains why markets have been sanguine about the looming European sanctions deadline.

One fuel at a time

But Russian President Vladimir Putin may have other ideas. Putin has already threatened a larger oil cutoff if the G-7 tries to impose its price cap, warning that Europe will be “as frozen as a wolf’s tail,” referencing a Russian fairy tale.

U.S. officials are counting on the idea that Russia won’t want to damage its oil fields by turning off the taps, which in some cases might create long-term field pressurization problems. In my view, this is poor logic for multiple reasons, including Putin’s proclivity to sacrifice Russia’s economic future for geopolitical goals.

A woman walks past a billboard reading: Stop buying fossil fuels. End the war.
Stand With Ukraine campaign coordinator Svitlana Romanko demonstrates in front of the European Parliament on Sept. 27, 2022. Thierry Monasse/Getty Images

Russia managed to easily throttle back oil production when the COVID-19 pandemic destroyed world oil demand temporarily in 2020, and cutoffs of Russian natural gas exports to Europe have already greatly compromised Gazprom’s commercial future. Such actions show that commercial considerations are not a high priority in the Kremlin’s calculus.

How much oil would come off the market if Putin escalates his energy war? It’s an open question. Global oil demand has fallen sharply in recent months amid high prices and recessionary pressures. The potential loss of 1 million barrels per day of Russian crude oil shipments to Europe is unlikely to jack the price of oil back up the way it did initially in February 2022, when demand was still robust.

Speculators are betting that Putin will want to keep oil flowing to everyone else. China’s Russian crude imports surged as high as 2 million barrels per day following the Ukraine invasion, and India and Turkey are buying significant quantities.

Refined products like diesel fuel are due for further EU sanctions in February 2023. Russia supplies close to 40% of Europe’s diesel fuel at present, so that remains a significant economic lever.

The EU appears to know it must kick dependence on Russian energy completely, but its protected, one-product-at-a-time approach keeps Putin potentially in the driver’s seat. In the U.S., local diesel fuel prices are highly influenced by competition for seaborne cargoes from European buyers. So U.S. East Coast importers could also be in for a bumpy winter.

This article has been updated to reflect conflicting reports about the draft status of Russian oil and gas workers.

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

Read More

Continue Reading

Spread & Containment

Three reasons a weak pound is bad news for the environment

Financial turmoil will make it harder to invest in climate action on a massive scale.

Published

on

By

Dragon Claws / shutterstock

The day before new UK chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget plan for economic growth, a pound would buy you about $1.13. After financial markets rejected the plan, the pound suddenly sunk to around $1.07. Though it has since rallied thanks to major intervention from the Bank of England, the currency remains volatile and far below its value earlier this year.

A lot has been written about how this will affect people’s incomes, the housing market or overall political and economic conditions. But we want to look at why the weak pound is bad news for the UK’s natural environment and its ability to hit climate targets.

1. The low-carbon economy just became a lot more expensive

The fall in sterling’s value partly signals a loss in confidence in the value of UK assets following the unfunded tax commitments contained in the mini-budget. The government’s aim to achieve net zero by 2050 requires substantial public and private investment in energy technologies such as solar and wind as well as carbon storage, insulation and electric cars.

But the loss in investor confidence threatens to derail these investments, because firms may be unwilling to commit the substantial budgets required in an uncertain economic environment. The cost of these investments may also rise as a result of the falling pound because many of the materials and inputs needed for these technologies, such as batteries, are imported and a falling pound increases their prices.

Aerial view of wind farm with forest and fields in background
UK wind power relies on lots of imported parts. Richard Whitcombe / shutterstock

2. High interest rates may rule out large investment

To support the pound and to control inflation, interest rates are expected to rise further. The UK is already experiencing record levels of inflation, fuelled by pandemic-related spending and Russia’s war on Ukraine. Rising consumer prices developed into a full-blown cost of living crisis, with fuel and food poverty, financial hardship and the collapse of businesses looming large on this winter’s horizon.

While the anticipated increase in interest rates might ease the cost of living crisis, it also increases the cost of government borrowing at a time when we rapidly need to increase low-carbon investment for net zero by 2050. The government’s official climate change advisory committee estimates that an additional £4 billion to £6 billion of annual public spending will be needed by 2030.

Some of this money should be raised through carbon taxes. But in reality, at least for as long as the cost of living crisis is ongoing, if the government is serious about green investment it will have to borrow.

Rising interest rates will push up the cost of borrowing relentlessly and present a tough political choice that seemingly pits the environment against economic recovery. As any future incoming government will inherit these same rates, a falling pound threatens to make it much harder to take large-scale, rapid environmental action.

3. Imports will become pricier

In addition to increased supply prices for firms and rising borrowing costs, it will lead to a significant rise in import prices for consumers. Given the UK’s reliance on imports, this is likely to affect prices for food, clothing and manufactured goods.

At the consumer level, this will immediately impact marginal spending as necessary expenditures (housing, energy, basic food and so on) lower the budget available for products such as eco-friendly cleaning products, organic foods or ethically made clothes. Buying “greener” products typically cost a family of four around £2,000 a year.

Instead, people may have to rely on cheaper goods that also come with larger greenhouse gas footprints and wider impacts on the environment through pollution and increased waste. See this calculator for direct comparisons.

Of course, some spending changes will be positive for the environment, for example if people use their cars less or take fewer holidays abroad. However, high-income individuals who will benefit the most from the mini-budget tax cuts will be less affected by the falling pound and they tend to fly more, buy more things, and have multiple cars and bigger homes to heat.

This raises profound questions about inequality and injustice in UK society. Alongside increased fuel poverty and foodbank use, we will see an uptick in the purchasing power of the wealthiest.

What’s next

Interest rate rises increase the cost of servicing government debt as well as the cost of new borrowing. One estimate says that the combined cost to government of the new tax cuts and higher cost of borrowing is around £250 billion. This substantial loss in government income reduces the budget available for climate change mitigation and improvements to infrastructure.

The government’s growth plan also seems to be based on an increased use of fossil fuels through technologies such as fracking. Given the scant evidence for absolutely decoupling economic growth from resource use, the opposition’s “green growth” proposal is also unlikely to decarbonise at the rate required to get to net zero by 2050 and avert catastrophic climate change.

Therefore, rather than increasing the energy and materials going into the economy for the sake of GDP growth, we would argue the UK needs an economic reorientation that questions the need of growth for its own sake and orients it instead towards social equality and ecological sustainability.

The authors do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Read More

Continue Reading

Economics

Covid-19 roundup: Swiss biotech halts in-patient PhII study; Houston-based vaccine and Chinese mRNA shot nab EUAs in Indonesia

Another Covid-19 study is hitting the breaks as a Swiss biotech is pausing its Phase II trial in patients hospitalized with Covid-19.
Kinarus Therapeutics…

Published

on

Another Covid-19 study is hitting the breaks as a Swiss biotech is pausing its Phase II trial in patients hospitalized with Covid-19.

Kinarus Therapeutics announced on Friday that the Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) has reviewed the company’s Phase II study for its candidate KIN001 and has recommended that the study be stopped.

According to Kinarus, the DSMB stated that there was a low probability to show statistically significant results as the number of Covid-19 patients that are in the hospital is lower than at other points in the pandemic.

Thierry Fumeaux

“As many of our peers have learned since the beginning of the pandemic, it has become challenging to show the impact of therapeutic intervention at the current pandemic stage, given the disease characteristics in Covid-19 patients with severe disease. Moreover, there are also now relatively smaller numbers of patients that meet enrollment criteria, since fewer patients require hospitalization, in contrast to the situation earlier in the pandemic,” said Thierry Fumeaux, Kinarus CMO, in a statement.

Fumeaux continued to state that the drug will still be investigated in ambulatory Covid-19 patients who are not hospitalized, with the goal of reducing recovery time and the severity of the virus.

The KIN001 candidate is a combination of the small molecule inhibitor pamapimod and pioglitazone, which is currently used to treat type 2 diabetes.

The news has put a dampener on the company’s stock price $KNRS.SW, which is down 22% since opening on Friday.

Houston-developed vaccine and Chinese mRNA shot win EUAs in Indonesia

While Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech’s mRNA shots to counter Covid-19 have dominated supplies worldwide, a Chinese-based mRNA developer and IndoVac, a recombinant protein-based vaccine, was created and engineered in Houston, Texas by the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development  vaccine is finally ready to head to another nation.

Walvax and Suzhou Abogen’s mRNA vaccine, dubbed AWcorna, has been approved for emergency use for adults 18 and over by the Indonesian Food and Drug Authority.

Li Yunchun

“This is the first step, and we are hoping to see more families across the country and the rest of the globe protected, which is a shared goal for us all,” said Walvax Chairman Li Yunchun, in a statement.

According to Walvax, the vaccine is 83% effective against the “wild-type” of SARS-CoV-2 infection with the strength against the Omicron variants standing at around 71%. The shots are also not required to be stored in deep freeze conditions and can be put in storage at 2 to 8 degrees Celsius.

Walvax and Abogen have been making progress on their mRNA vaccine for a while. Last year, Abogen received a massive amount of funding as it was moving the candidate forward.

However, while the candidate is moving forward overseas, it’s still finding itself stuck in regulatory approval in China. According to a report from BNN Bloomberg, China has not approved any mRNA vaccines for domestic usage.

Meanwhile, PT Bio Farma, the holding company for state-owned pharma companies in Indonesia, is prepping to make 20 million doses of the IndoVac COVID-19 vaccine this year and 100 million doses by 2024.

IndoVac’s primary series vaccines include nearly 80% of locally sourced content. Indonesia is seeking Halal Certification for the vaccine since no animal cells or products were used in the production of the vaccine. IndoVac successfully completed an audit from the Indonesian Ulema Council Food and Drug Analysis Agency, and the Halal Certification Agency of the Religious Affairs Ministry is expected to grant their approval soon.

Read More

Continue Reading

Trending