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How Eisenhower Predicted Fauci

How Eisenhower Predicted Fauci

Authored by Rafi Eis,

If it wasn’t obvious before, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that science has become…

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How Eisenhower Predicted Fauci

Authored by Rafi Eis,

If it wasn't obvious before, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that science has become thoroughly politicized. Though normally focused on observable and verifiable causes and effects in the natural world, many scientists, especially government employed ones, have taken on a political role and have shaped scientific findings in the service of those political ends. The truth eventually came out, but at a massive cost to people's mental health, finances and trust.

President Dwight Eisenhower foresaw this abuse by government scientists, and he shows us the way out.

Public health officials initially insisted on the wet-market origin story for the novel coronavirus, but the lab-leak theory has become just as plausible. Cloth masks once deemed essential are now labeled "facial decorations." Schools have opened without becoming super spreaders. A John Hopkins University study recently concluded that lockdowns had a minuscule impact on virus morbidity.

With all of these issues, some of the federal government's top scientists made a concerted effort to stifle debate. Dr. Francis Collins, the former head of the National Institutes of Health, requested a "devastating takedown" of those who disagreed with his insistence on lockdowns, referring to dissenting scholars from Harvard, Oxford and Stanford as "fringe." He and other public health officials selectively ignored real data. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) and chief medical adviser to the president, declared that "attacks on me, quite frankly, are attacks on science."

Collins' approach and Fauci's sentiment are exactly what President Eisenhower warned the American public about in his Farewell Address.

He advised vigilance against the "danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite."

These "task forces of scientists," Eisenhower cautioned, would lead to the "domination of the nation's scholars."

One reason that so few infectious disease scientists disagreed with Fauci is quite simple: the power of money. America offers around $5 billion per year to support infectious disease research, and almost all of it runs through the agency led by Collins and Fauci. Any infectious disease researcher would therefore be disinclined to run afoul of Dr. Fauci, as future grant funding or professional advancement may depend on the director's approval. Grants like those from NIAID give the project a stamp of legitimacy and open the door to other supporters. This system offers Fauci monopoly-like power over infectious disease research.

Research scientists then toe the line, or at least remain silent. This creates the appearance of unanimous agreement as, in Eisenhower's words, "a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity."

It is hard to prove intentional silence.

But there are signs.

When mask mandates were first introduced, for example, numerous virologists should have pointed to published RCT studies that cast doubt on masks' effectiveness in preventing transmission of airborne viruses. One May 2020 CDC paper "did not find evidence that surgical-type face masks are effective in reducing laboratory-confirmed influenza transmission, either when worn by infected persons (source control) or by persons in the general community to reduce their susceptibility."

Likewise, the World Health Organization's 2019 program for an influenza pandemic does not recommend facemask use for the non-symptomatic or uninfected, and only recommends business and school closures in the most severe circumstances, even while acknowledging that these measures lack good evidence of effectiveness. This too was missing from COVID policy discussions.

Ike correctly assessed that "the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop" is no longer the driving force behind scientific and technological progress. Research has become more "formalized, complex and costly." A 21st-century Benjamin Franklin can no longer purchase the expensive equipment or devote the time needed to make world-changing inventions or discoveries. Therefore, an "increasing share [of research] is conducted for, by or at the direction of the federal government."

But it is still possible to steer clear of the dangers of politicized bias in science by maintaining the core of scientific inquiry: "intellectual curiosity." Intellectual curiosity is what enables us to figure out the truth of the reality that confronts us.

A pivot towards government research grants need not remove "the solitary inventor" from the picture. Those inventors may not be able to conduct the research on their own, but they can surely analyze the data. Government funded scientific data should always be open for scrutiny, because transparency enables the curious to understand the truth for themselves. Time and again, public officials attempted to force consensus over COVID. Government funded research that encourages competition and debate, rather than uniformity of thought, can help us figure out the truth.

But Ike proposed a second, more important principle. To avoid the "domination of the nation's scholars" he declared that "it is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system-ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society." Scientists can tell us their best understanding of reality and its consequences, like the dangers of a new virus. But multifaceted decisions that affect people in different ways, such as closing schools or businesses, are not questions of science but judgements about the best way to navigate reality. That is the role of politicians elected by the people.

While the scientist may be able to predict the consequences of some of our decisions, it is the statesman who must create policy that balances various needs, especially the tradeoff between freedom and safety. What should the quarantine policy be for COVID-exposed children in schools? Should hospital workers be obliged to get vaccinated? This requires a deliberative process, one best suited for legislative bodies.

Eisenhower issued two warnings in his Farewell Address: "the acquisition of unwarranted influence...by the military-industrial complex" and "that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite."

The aimless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq demonstrated the danger of the former, while the coronavirus pandemic has forced us to witness the latter.

Ike was prescient.

We cannot return to a bygone era and dismantle these systems, but we can be more aware of the forces at play and be wiser. The current pushback against American engagement in Ukraine is more forceful than the leadup to the Iraq conflict because we saw the experts mislead us and fail.

The next time a scientific scare comes rolling around, we must passionately seek truth and demand that our elected leaders courageously represent the people.

*  *  *

Rafi Eis is the executive director of the Herzl Institute.

Tyler Durden Wed, 02/23/2022 - 23:00

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Economics

After a near 10% rally this week can the Netflix share price make a comeback?

The Netflix share price rallied by nearly 10% (9.6%) this week after co-CEO Ted Sarandos confirmed the film and television streaming market leader is to…

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The Netflix share price rallied by nearly 10% (9.6%) this week after co-CEO Ted Sarandos confirmed the film and television streaming market leader is to introduce a new ad-supported, cheaper subscription. The company also announced it is to lay off another 300 employees, around 4% of its global workforce, in addition to the 150 redundancies last month.

Netflix has been forced into a period of belt-tightening after announcing a 200,000 subscriber-strong net loss over the first quarter of 2022. The U.S. tech giant also ominously forecast expectations for the loss of a further 2 million subscribers over the current quarter that will conclude at the end of this month.

netflix inc

The company has faced increasing sector competition with Paramount+ its latest new rival, joining Amazon Prime, Disney+, HBO Max and a handful of other new streaming platforms jostling for market share. A more competitive environment has combined with a hangover from the subscriber boom Netflix benefitted from over the Covid-19 pandemic and spiralling cost of living crisis.

Despite the strong gains of the past week, Netflix’s share price is still down over 68% for 2022 and 64% in the last 12 months. Stock markets have generally suffered this year with investors switching into risk-off mode in the face of spiralling inflation, rising interest rates, fears of a recession and the geopolitical crisis triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Growth stocks like Netflix whose high valuations were heavily reliant on the value of future revenues have been hit hardest. No recognised member of Wall Street’s Big Tech cabal has escaped punishment this year with even the hugely profitable Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet and Amazon all seeing their valuations slide by between around 20% and 30%.

But all of those other tech companies have diversified revenue streams, bank profits which dwarf those of Netflix and are sitting on huge cash piles. The more narrowly focused Meta Platforms (Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram) which still relies exclusively on ad revenue generated from online advertising on its social media platforms, has also been hit harder, losing half of its value this year.

But among Wall Street’s established, profitable Big Tech stocks, Netflix has suffered the steepest fall in its valuation. But it is still profitable, even if it has taken on significant debt investing in its original content catalogue. And it is still the international market leader by a distance in a growing content streaming market.

justwatch

Source: JustWatch

Even if the competition is hotting up, Netflix still offers subscribers by far the biggest and most diversified catalogue of film and television content available on the market. And the overall value of the video content streaming market is also expected to keep growing strongly for the next several years. Even if annual growth is forecast to drop into the high single figures in future years.

revenue growth

Source: Statista

In that context, there are numerous analysts to have been left with the feeling that while the Netflix share price may well have been over-inflated during the pandemic and due a correction, it has been over-sold. Which could make the stock attractive at its current price of $190.85, compared to the record high of $690.31 reached as recently as October last year.

What’s next for the Netflix share price?

As a company, Netflix is faced with a transition period over the next few years. For the past decade, it has been a high growth company with investors focused on subscriber numbers. The recent dip notwithstanding, it has done exceedingly well on that score, attracting around 220 million paying customers globally.

Netflix established its market-leading position by investing heavily in its content catalogue, first by buying up the rights to popular television shows and films and then pouring hundreds of millions into exclusive content. That investment was necessary to establish a market leading position against its historical rivals Amazon Prime, which benefits from the deeper pockets of its parent company, and Hulu in the USA.

Netflix’s investment in its own exclusive content catalogue also helped compensate for the loss of popular shows like The Office, The Simpsons and Friends. When deals for the rights to these shows and many hit films have ended over the past few years their owners have chosen not to resell them to Netflix. Mainly because they planned or had already launched rival streaming services like Disney+ (The Simpsons) and HBO Max (The Office and Friends).

Netflix will continue to show third party content it acquires the rights to. But with the bulk of the most popular legacy television and film shows now available exclusively on competitor platforms launched by or otherwise associated with rights holders, it will rely ever more heavily on its own exclusive content.

That means continued investment, the expected budget for this year is $17 billion, which will put a strain on profitability. But most analysts expect the company to continue to be a major player in the video streaming sector.

Its strategy to invest in localised content produced specifically for international markets has proven a good one. It has strengthened its offering on big international markets like Japan, South Korea, India and Brazil compared to rivals that exclusively offer English-language content produced with an American audience in mind.

The approach has also produced some of Netflix’s biggest hits across international audiences, like the South Korean dystopian thriller Squid Games and the film Parasite, another Korean production that won the 2020 Academy Award for best picture – the first ever ‘made for streaming’ movie to do so.

Netflix is also, like many of its streaming platform rivals, making a push into sport. It has just lost out to Disney-owned ESPN, the current rights holder, in a bid to acquire the F1 rights for the USA. But having made one big move for prestigious sports rights, even if it ultimately failed, it signals a shift in strategy for a company that hasn’t previously shown an interest in competing for sports audiences.

Over the next year or so, Netflix’s share price is likely to be most influenced by the success of its launch of the planned lower-cost ad-supported subscription. It’s a big call that reverses the trend of the last decade away from linear television programming supported by ad revenue in its pursuit of new growth.

It will take Netflix at least a year or two to roll out a new ad-supported platform globally and in the meanwhile, especially if its forecast of losing another 2 million subscribers this quarter turns out to be accurate, the share price could potentially face further pain. But there is also a suspicion that the stock has generally been oversold and will eventually reclaim some of the huge losses of the past several months.

How much of that loss of share price is reclaimed will most probably rely on take-up of the new ad-supported cheaper membership tier. There is huge potential there with the company estimating around 100 million viewers have been accessing the platform via shared passwords. That’s been clamped down on recently and will continue to be because Netflix is determined to monetise those 100 million viewers contributing nothing to its revenues.

If a big enough chunk of them opt for continued access at the cost of watching ads, the company’s revenue growth could quickly return to healthy levels again. And that could see some strong upside for the Netflix share price in the context of its currently deflated level.

The post After a near 10% rally this week can the Netflix share price make a comeback? first appeared on Trading and Investment News.

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Government

Aura High Yield SME Fund: Letter to Investors 24 June 2022

The RBA delivered a speech this week indicating faster monetary policy tightening is to come in the near-term with the aim of curbing the rate of inflation….

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The RBA delivered a speech this week indicating faster monetary policy tightening is to come in the near-term with the aim of curbing the rate of inflation.

Inflation and Monetary Policy 1,2

This week, RBA Governor Philip Lowe spoke about the department’s monetary policy intervention to tackle inflation in the evolving economic environment. Over the last six months, similar factors have continued to put pressure on food and energy prices – namely the war in Ukraine, foods on the East coast, and Covid lockdowns in China. The ongoing lockdowns in China are causing disruptions in manufacturing and production and supply chains coupled with strong global demand that is unable to be met. These pressures have forced households and businesses to absorb the rising cost of living.

To demonstrate the rise, the RBA reporting this week on Business Conditions and Sentiments saw:

  • Almost a third of all businesses (31 per cent) have difficulty finding suitable staff;
  • Nearly half (46 per cent) of all businesses have experienced increased operating expenses; and
  • More than two in five businesses (41 per cent) face supply chain disruptions, which has remained steady since it peaked in January 2022 (47 per cent).

* The Survey of Business Conditions and Sentiments was not conducted between July 2021 to December 2021 (inclusive)

Inflation is being experienced globally, although Australia remains below that of most other advanced economies sitting at 5.1 per cent. The share of items in the CPI basket with annualised price increases of more than 3 per cent is at the highest level since 1990 as displayed in the graph below.

With additional information on leading indicators now on hand, the RBA has pushed their inflation forecast up from 6 to 7 per cent for the December quarter, due to persistently high petrol and energy prices. After this period, the RBA expects inflation will begin to decline.

We are beginning to see pandemic-related supply side issues resolve, with delivery times shortening slightly and businesses finding alternative solutions for global production and logistic networks. Whilst there is still a way to go in normalising the flow in the supply side and the possibility that further disruptions and setbacks could occur, the global production system is adapting accordingly, which should help alleviate some of the inflationary pressures.

The RBA’s goal is to ensure inflation returns to a 2-3 per cent target range over time, with the view that high inflation causes damage to the economy, reduces people’s purchasing power and devalues people’s savings.

Household Wealth 3

Growth of 1.2 per cent in household wealth, equivalent to $173 billion, was reported in the March quarter. The rise was a result of an increase in housing prices in the March quarter. Prices have started reversing since that read.

Demand for credit also boomed, with a record total demand for credit of $218.8 billion for the March quarter. The rise was driven by private non-financial corporations demanding $153.2 billion, while households and government borrowed $41.9 billion and $17.5 billion respectively. 

We will likely see a significant shift in household wealth and credit demand in next quarter’s report given the rising interest rate environment, depressed household valuations and elevated pricing pressures. 

Portfolio Management Commentary

A lag in leading economic indicators has shifted the RBA’s outlook, with an increase in the expected level of inflation to peak at 7 per cent and rate rises to come harder and faster in the near term. From a portfolio standpoint we are not seeing any degradation in our underlying portfolio and open dialogue with our lenders has us confident in their borrowing base. We are maintaining a close eye on the economic environment to ensure we maintain the performance of our Fund and ensure our lenders are in a position to maintain performance and strive to capitalise off the back of economic shifts.

1 RBA Inflation and Monetary Policy Speech – 21 June 2022

2 RBA Inflation and Monetary Policy Speech – 21 June 2022

3 Australian National Accounts: Finance and Wealth

You can learn more about the Aura High Yield SME Fund here.

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The Sussex researchers who used international collaboration and 3D printing to stem PPE shortages in Nigeria

Researchers at the University of Sussex and their partners in Nigeria used open-source designs and 3D printing to reduce personal protective equipment…

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Researchers at the University of Sussex and their partners in Nigeria used open-source designs and 3D printing to reduce personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages for a community in Nigeria during the Covid-19 pandemic – tells a recently published academic paper.

Credit: Please credit Royhaan Folarin, TReND

Researchers at the University of Sussex and their partners in Nigeria used open-source designs and 3D printing to reduce personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages for a community in Nigeria during the Covid-19 pandemic – tells a recently published academic paper.

In their paper in PLOS Biology, Dr Andre Maia Chagas from the University of Sussex, and Dr. Royhaan Folarin from the Olabisi Onabanjo University (Nigeria), explain how their collaboration led to the production of  over 400 pieces of PPE for the local hospital and surrounding community, including those providing essential and frontline services. This included face masks and face shields, at a time when a global shortage meant it was impossible for these to be sourced by traditional companies. 

In their collaboration, they leveraged existing open-source designs detailing how to manufacture approved PPE. This allowed Nigerian researchers to source, build and use a 3D printer and begin producing and distributing protective equipment for the local community to use. Plus, it was affordable.

One 3D printer operator and one assembler produced on average one face shield in 1 hour 30 minutes, costing 1,200 Naira (£2.38) and one mask in 3 hours 3 minutes costing 2,000 Naira (£3.97). In comparison, at the time of the project, commercially available face shields cost at least 5,000 Naira (£9.92) and reusable masks cost 10,000 Naira (£19.84). 

Dr Maia Chagas, Research Bioengineer at the University of Sussex, said: “Through knowledge sharing, collaboration and technology, we were able to help support a community through a global health crisis. 

“I’m really proud of the tangible difference we made at a critical time for this community. As PPE was in such high demand and stocks were low, prices for surgical masks, respirators and surgical gowns hiked, with issues arising around exports and international distribution. 

“We quickly realized that alternative means of producing and distributing PPE were required. Free and open-source hardware (FOSH) and 3D printing quickly became a viable option.

“We hope that our international collaboration during the pandemic will inspire other innovators to use technology and share knowledge to help address societal problems, which were typically reliant on funding or support from government or large research institutions. 

“With open source designs, knowledge sharing and 3D printing, there is a real opportunity for us to start addressing problems from the ground up, and empower local communities and researchers.”

Dr. Royhaan Folarin, a Neuroscientist and lecturer of anatomical sciences at Olabisi Onabanjo University in Nigeria, said: 

“During the pandemic, we saw the successful printing and donation of PPE in the Czech Republic by Prusa Research and it became a goal for me to use the training I had received in previous TReND in Africa workshops to help impact my immediate community in Nigeria.”

The international collaboration came about as a result of the TReND in Africa network, a charity hosted within Sussex which supports scientific capacity building across Africa. 

After initial use, testers provided feedback commending the innovativeness, usefulness and aesthetics of the PPE and, while the team’s 3D printer was not built for large-scale serial manufacturing, they identified the possibilities for several 3D printers to run in parallel, to reduce relative production time. During the pandemic, this was successfully demonstrated by the company Prusa Research, which produced and shipped 200,000 CE certified face shields. 


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