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Jim Wilson startup Passage Bio plugs in CFO, CMO; Tillman Gerngross nabs a COO familiar with Covid-19 fight at Pfizer as Adagio files for IPO

Simona King
→ Back in May, Passage Bio CFO Richard Morris and CMO Gary Romano left within days of each other, but this week the gene therapy player has found their replacements, along with a chief commercial officer. Simona King, a 19-year Bristol Myers..

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Simona King

→ Back in May, Passage Bio CFO Richard Morris and CMO Gary Romano left within days of each other, but this week the gene therapy player has found their replacements, along with a chief commercial officer. Simona King, a 19-year Bristol Myers Squibb vet in finance, becomes CFO on Aug. 23 after a quick stop in the same post at Tmunity Therapeutics and a year at Emergent BioSolutions. CMO Mark Forman gets started a week from today and was recently VP of translational medicine at Acadia Pharmaceuticals, preceded by 11 years at Merck. And Maria Törnsén, who got the ball rolling as CCO this week, had been Sarepta’s SVP, general manager, US.

Morris is currently CFO at Carisma Therapeutics after leaving Passage Bio, which had its FDA hold lifted for its infantile GM1 gangliosidosis drug PBGM01 to kick off 2021.

Tillman Gerngross’ gang at Adagio Therapeutics filed for an $100 million IPO this week, but it’s a lock that the Covid-19 antibody biotech will shatter that mark when all is said and done. To supplement that news, Adagio — moving at a pace that belies the tempo marking that bears its name — has tapped David Hering as COO. Adagio plucks Hering from Pfizer, where he was at the forefront of launching the pharma giant’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate as the global mRNA business lead. He had moved to Pfizer in 2015 from a number of roles at Novartis Vaccines, including head of North America.

Marcella Ruddy

Co-founded by Tim Springer, led by CEO Alise Reicin and raising the curtain with an $80 million Series A round in April, Tectonic Therapeutic has picked up a CMO with Marcella Ruddy coming on board a couple months after Peter McNamara assumed the head of research role. Big names abound in Ruddy’s track record: 10 years in clinical research at Merck; brief stays as an exec with EMD Serono and Alnylam; and the last five years with Regeneron, where she was VP, global program direction for immunology/inflammation and the program lead for Dupixent before setting off for GPCR (G protein-coupled receptor)-focused Tectonic.

Bill Grossman

Bill Grossman has jumped ship from Arcus, with an SEC filing indicating that he’ll step into the role of SVP, oncology clinical research at Gilead — Arcus’ collaborator on a mammoth $2 billion immuno-oncology deal — beginning this coming Monday. Kartik Krishnan will take over clinical development duties for Grossman, a consultant for Gilead since December who had served as CMO at Bellicum for a year until he left the troubled biotech to accept the CMO job with Terry Rosen-led Arcus in 2019.

→ There are changes galore with Kåre Schultz’s crew at Teva, starting with the departure of North America commercial head Brendan O’Grady “to pursue a career opportunity outside of the pharmaceutical industry,” which happens to be chief commercial & growth officer at telehealth company Amwell. Getting the call from the bullpen to replace O’Grady as head of North America commercial is Sven Dethlefs, Teva’s EVP, global marketing & portfolio and international markets commercial and an employee at the company since 2008. Eli Shani, the head of the global business development and alliance management group who’s been with Teva the last 15 years, is getting promoted to Dethlefs’ previous position of EVP, global marketing & portfolio.

So who’s taking Dethlefs’ other old job? We know who it is. That EVP of international markets commercial gig will belong to Mark Sabag, a 15-year Teva vet who was chief human resources officer and head of global communications, brand and ESG.

So who’s taking Sabag’s old jobs? We know that too. Galia Inbar earns the promotion after her time as Teva’s SVP, head of global people operations.

The first day for this reshuffling is set at Aug. 15.

Ken Frazier

Ken Frazier’s post-Merck plans are taking shape, chairing the health assurance initiatives at General Catalyst and managing its $600 million fund. General Catalyst chairman and managing director Ken Chenault has known Frazier well since their days at Harvard Law School. “I am excited and proud that he has decided to join GC amid the myriad of choices I know he had for this next chapter of his career,” Chenault said in a statement. Frazier stepped down from Merck a few weeks ago after 29 years with the company, 10 of those as CEO.

Shahram Salek-Ardakani

Roger Perlmutter transformed Janux Therapeutics from a relative nobody into a definite somebody when he bet $1 billion-plus on the San Diego biotech’s T cell engagers in December 2020 before his “retirement” from Merck took effect. And this week at David Campbell-led Janux, Shahram Salek-Ardakani has signed on as CSO. Salek-Ardakani spent the last five years at Pfizer and was the pharma’s senior director of cancer immunology.

Kate McKinley

Elevar Therapeutics out of Salt Lake City just popped into Peer Review a couple weeks ago with a few appointments — CMO Maureen Conlan among them — but a bigger change has unfolded at Elevar as Kate McKinley takes the helm, succeeding Alex Kim in the top spot. McKinley originally came to Elevar to take the CCO job in 2019 after two years at Dendreon, and from 2000-17, she filled an extensive list of roles at AbbVie, rising to US head of sales and taking charge of the urology, oncology & gynecology franchise. And Kim isn’t wandering off completely, swinging into his new role as chairman of Elevar’s board.

Fabrice Chouraqui and the folks at Cellarity now have an ex-Morgan Stanley analyst in their corner as David Risinger takes the CFO spot at the Flagship company. Risinger logged 12 years for Morgan Stanley as managing director and head of US major and specialty pharmaceuticals equity research. Cellarity chalked up $123 million in a Series B in February to advance its drug discovery platform that mixes network biology, high-resolution data, and machine learning tech.

Pam Stetkiewicz

→ From the creative mind of Feng Zhang, CRISPR upstart and Vertex CF partner Arbor Biotechnologies has turned to Pam Stetkiewicz and Kathryn McCabe to be COO and lead business development, respectively. Stetkiewicz just spent a year as SVP, global program leader at Flagship’s Pioneering Medicines, and from 2016-20 she was Editas Medicine’s VP, program and alliance management. McCabe looks to put down roots at Arbor after jumping around from Big Pharma to Big Pharma, notably GlaxoSmithKline, Eli Lilly and — just before grabbing this opportunity — Roche, where she was senior director of business development in Cambridge, MA.

Nicholas Haining

→ Backed by Beth Seidenberg and Sean Parker and launched in the fall of 2019, designer T cell company ArsenalBio has named co-founder Nicholas Haining as CSO. Before jumping into ArsenalBio, Haining was VP of discovery oncology and immunology at Merck Research Laboratories. Like Passage Bio, ArsenalBio led off the new year with good news of its own, inking a discovery deal with Bristol Myers for $70 million upfront.

→ French hearing loss disorder biotech Sensorion will bring in Otmane Boussif as its new chief technical officer starting Aug. 1. Boussif, an EMD Serono and Sanofi Pasteur vet, brings Big Pharma experience to Sensorion after six years at Novartis in a panoply of positions ranging from global head of cell and gene therapy technical development to global head of early phase development.

Peter Olagunju

TCR² Therapeutics impressed analysts last year around this time with data for its T cell therapy TC-210, albeit with a five-patient sample size. A year later, TCR² has appointed FerGene’s SVP of technical operations, Peter Olagunju, as chief technical officer. Prior to FerGene, Olagunju was the program lead for Zynteglo and later the VP of global patient operations for Nick Leschly’s bunch at bluebird bio. He’s also been involved in global technical operations at Dendreon.

Sandra Horning

Alexis Borisy’s EQRx has assembled a mission advisory board to — naturally — “guide the Company’s vision and mission-critical activities focused on bringing more affordable medicines to the people who need them globally,” the statement reads. A few of the headliners include longtime Roche exec (and EQRx co-founder) Sandra Horning, ex-Pfizer CMO Mace Rothenberg and ex-Sanofi global R&D chief Elias Zerhouni, while Otis Brawley, Richard Schilsky, Ellen Sigal and Gail Wilensky join them. Looking to shake up the drug pricing model, EQRx partnered with AI player Exscientia a month ago to develop less expensive oncology and immunology drugs.

Kimberly Lindstrom

→ San Francisco’s Esker Therapeutics, which made its debut in May with a $70 million Series A — all from Foresite Capitalhas welcomed Kimberly Lindstrom as VP, regulatory and Travis Remarchuk as executive director, CMC. Lindstrom, the ex-senior director of regulatory affairs at Bristol Myers, had held the same title at MyoKardia before the $13 billion buyout. And Remarchuk was recently CMC director and staff scientist with Ryan Watts’ team at Denali. Esker has also scored a big board appointment with Bing Yao, the ex-CEO at Viela Bio who is now helming ArriVent Biopharma.

Only Esker and Sestina Bio have been unveiled so far as part of the five biotechs that Vik Bajaj is firing up at Foresite Labs, as discussed in an Endpoints News exclusive with our Amber Tong.

Matthew Navarro

Matthew Navarro has taken on the role of CFO at Gilead’s NASH partner Glympse Bio. Once the senior manager, strategy, portfolio management and commercial operations at Pfizer, Navarro used to lead East Coast biopharma coverage as managing director at Perella Weinberg Partners. Last year around this time, Carolyn Loew-led Glympse racked up $46.7 million in a Series B round, setting up the biotech to further develop its biosensor platform.

→ Not to be confused with the former University of Texas quarterback, J&J and Novartis alum Chris Simms will survey the options on the field as chief commercial officer of retinal disease-focused Iveric Bio starting Aug. 2. Simms makes this change following a stay at Novartis where he led the US ophthalmics business unit — the home of Beovu and Xiidra. He was also the marketing lead for Lucentis during his four years at Genentech.

→ Sitting pretty with a massive Series C totaling $276 million, San Diego DNA sequencing player Element Biosciences has welcomed three execs to the team. Chief people officer Brian Stolz held this position before at videogame maker Activision Blizzard and then became Neil Kumar’s COO at BridgeBio. Diana King comes to Element as VP of customer support after almost two years as chief business development officer at medical imaging company Multi, Inc. And VP of engineering Jordan Neysmith was previously the senior director of development and engineering for Bruker Nano Surfaces.

Elizabeth White

→ For the third time in four weeks, Philly’s Renovacor makes an appearance at Peer Review, this time with CBO and SVP of operations Elizabeth White. She joins all the other newbies at the AAV-based gene therapy biotech from NeuExcell Therapeutics — another Pennsylvania company — where she served as chief business and strategy officer. White closed out her 15 years at Pfizer leading commercial development for the rare disease and gene therapy business.

→ Cancer biotech Iterion Therapeutics out of Houston has selected Jean Chang as COO. A nine-year Dynavax alum in corporate and program development with early stops at Genzyme and Gilead, Chang has served as Nurix Therapeutics’ VP, program management and asset strategy before moving on to Iterion, which has its lead candidate tegavivint in a Phase I/IIa trial to treat progressive desmoid tumors.

Doug Manion

→ Another opportunity has opened up for Doug Manion, the CEO of Kleo Pharmaceuticals before Biohaven swooped in to buy the company in January. Manion is now EVP of R&D for Amit Munshi at Arena Pharmaceuticals, which suffered double duds with its lead drug etrasimod for atopic dermatitis and then with olorinab for IBS pain. Before his tenure at Kleo, Manion had an 11-year run at Bristol Myers that saw him lead specialty development and R&D in Japan and China.

→ Hello, Newman: Rockville, MD-based Immunomic Therapeutics has pegged Robert Newman as CBO. A former SVP at Ziopharm Oncology, Newman makes his way to Immunomic — a biotech working on a dendritic cell vaccine for glioblastoma multiforme dubbed ITI-1000 — after a stint as general manager of WCG Analgesic Solutions.

Ajay Rai

→ When the FDA pressed pause on Sigilon’s hemophilia A program a couple weeks ago with a clinical hold, it was the kind of stumble you don’t normally see from Flagship’s stable of companies. While Sigilon picks itself up and dusts itself off, the biotech co-founded by Bob Langer has also recruited Ajay Rai as SVP, head of business development. Since leaving Takeda in 2018 as senior director of corporate development, Rai had been VP, corporate development, strategy & alliance management with Frequency Therapeutics.

David Proia

→ When in ROME: Three new staffers have emerged at Rosana Kapeller’s ROME Therapeutics, which puts “junk DNA” known as the repeatome in the spotlight. David Proia (VP, oncology) breaks away from his role as C4 Therapeutics’ senior director, in vivo pharmacology; Menachem Fromer (head of data science) is the former data science and R&D lead at Verily Life Sciences; and Sarah Knutson (senior director, early discovery) just spent more than two years at Kazumi Shiosaki startup Twentyeight-Seven and is the ex-associate director of discovery biology at Nimbus, where Kapeller was the founding CSO.

Brenda Marczi has been named SVP of regulatory affairs at San Diego-based cancer biotech Tracon Pharmacueticals. Marczi was a regulatory exec from 2011-20 at Ferring Pharmaceuticals and VP, regulatory and clinical affairs at Eagle Pharmaceuticals.

→ Cambridge, MA oncology upstart Immuneering has locked in Michael Bookman as general counsel and secretary. Bookman joins a staff that includes ex-Jefferies analyst Biren Amin after his time as general counsel and secretary at Frequency Therapeutics.

John Johnson

→ Florida-based Axogen, a developer of products for peripheral nerve repair, has pulled in Big Pharma luminary John Johnson for its board of directors. The J&J and Eli Lilly vet, who was once the CEO at Melinta, is entering his second year as CEO of Strongbridge Biopharma.

Diem Nguyen

Paul Peter Tak-led oncolytic virus biotech Candel Therapeutics, shooting for that customary $100 million number with its IPO, has elected Diem Nguyen to the board of directors. The Pfizer veteran is in her first year as CEO of Xalud Therapeutics.

OrbiMed-backed Prelude Therapeutics out of Delaware has added Martin Babler to the board of directors. Babler scores this board appointment at the oncology outfit after Sanofi’s $3.7 billion purchase of Principia Biopharma ended his nine-year run as Principia’s chief executive.

Stacey Ma

Stacey Ma and Stephen Brady are now members of Atreca’s board of directors. Ma, who spent more than two decades at Roche/Genentech, is Sana’s EVP and head of technical operations (as well as a 2020 Women in Biopharma honoree at Endpoints News), while Brady first came to Tempest Therapeutics as president and COO before his June promotion to CEO.

Voyager’s CFO and principal finance and accounting officer Allison Dorval now owns a spot on the board of directors at Aerovate. Led by Timothy Noyes, Aerovate made its Nasdaq debut with an upsized IPO amounting to $121.5 million a few weeks ago.

VistaGen is growing its board of directors further with Maggie FitzPatrick, the former chief communications officer with J&J who just had a four-year run as a corporate affairs exec with Exelon. CNS-focused VistaGen has also named Joanne Curley and Mary Rotunno to the board since April.

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Science Shaky On School Mask Mandates While Harms Ignored

Science Shaky On School Mask Mandates While Harms Ignored

Authored by Nathan Worcester via The Epoch Times,

Should children be required to wear masks at school?

A review of the costs and benefits, including some of the latest science, does.

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Science Shaky On School Mask Mandates While Harms Ignored

Authored by Nathan Worcester via The Epoch Times,

Should children be required to wear masks at school?

A review of the costs and benefits, including some of the latest science, does not add much to the case for mandating school masks.

First, some basics... The risk of death from COVID-19 among schoolchildren is very, very low.

How Low?

Nature study estimating the COVID-19 infection fatality rate (IFR), or proportion of those infected who die, found IFRs of just 0.001 percent in children aged 5–9, and IFRs well below 0.01 percent in all those aged 19 and under.

That’s less than one in 10,000 among teenagers and less than one in 100,000 in 5- to 9-year-old children.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which has advocated masking children aged 2 and up, found that only 460 children had died of COVID-19 between late May 2020 and Sept. 9, 2021 across 45 states, New York City, Guam, and Puerto Rico—0.08 percent of the total number of deaths they counted.

Looking again across multiple states, the AAP found that COVID-19 cases among children have surged in recent weeks, growing by 10 percent from 4,797,683 to 5,292,837 between Aug. 26 and Sept. 9—a trend that could be related to the start of in-person schooling.

Yet the AAP’s own data shows children are just 0.9 percent of COVID-19 hospitalizations, a rate on par with previous weeks, and down from reported hospitalization rates of 3.8 percent in mid-2020.

With all that in mind, what are the benefits of masking children?

According to the AAP, those benefits include the “protection of unvaccinated students from COVID-19,” as well as “reduc[ed] transmission.”

Yet as described above, COVID-19’s risks for schoolchildren have been, and remain, extremely low.

What’s more, vaccines have been made widely available or are even mandated among teachers, who belong to age groups more vulnerable to COVID-19 than children—and despite efforts to restrict access to ivermectin, individuals may still be able to obtain the drug, identified as an “essential medicine” by the World Health Organization, as well as other potential therapeutics.

Like the AAP, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends universal masking in schools, a change from its previous stance that vaccinated students and teachers do not have to wear masks. (Neither the AAP nor the CDC mention natural immunity in their school masking guidance).

They, too, point to transmission as a justification for universal indoor masking, citing the highly transmissible Delta variant.

Concerns about transmission come down to two questions:

  • First, how much is widespread COVID-19 transmission driven by children in school, and

  • Second, how well do masks and mask mandates limit transmission?

While some scientists have provided evidence that children might play a significant role in community spread, researchers generally agree that children, and especially young children, are not the primary drivers of it.

An observational study in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggested that children up to the age of 9 attending school were not major contributors to COVID-19 spread, though the study’s findings on teenagers were more equivocal.

A 2020 meta-analysis, or analysis of multiple studies, on COVID-19 susceptibility among young children and adolescents concluded susceptibility was lower in those groups than in adults and offered “weak evidence” that they play a lesser role in population-level transmission.

More recently, a 2021 meta-analysis on COVID-19 transmission clusters concluded that children infected in school “are unlikely to spread SARS-CoV-2 to their cohabiting family members.”

While the Delta variant appears to be more contagious, driving a rise in CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus-related cases and deaths, many have argued that it is less deadly than the original Alpha strain.

This would be in line with the hypothesized trade-off between transmission and virulence, which suggests that pathogens evolve in the direction of spreading farther while also becoming less damaging to their hosts.

The effectiveness of masks, and mask mandates, in schools is also a matter of dispute, with mask mandates for students apparently lacking clear support.

In his July 30 executive order against mask mandates in Florida schools, Gov. Ron DeSantis argued that “forcing students to wear masks lacks a well-grounded scientific justification,” citing a 2021 preprint that found no correlation between mask mandates and COVID-19 case rates among students and faculty across schools in Florida, New York, and Massachusetts.

Yet the authors of that study stressed that their research was limited to just three states, meaning their conclusions may not apply elsewhere. They also emphasized that the masking variation they identified in Florida schools could make their findings “even less generalizable to all U.S. students.”

A 2020 report by the CDC itself on elementary schools in Georgia noted that “COVID-19 incidence was 37% lower in schools that required teachers and staff members to use masks.”

Crucially, however, the CDC found that mask mandates for students did not have a statistically significant impact on COVID-19 incidence.

Here too, the study’s authors noted some limitations to their work; notably, their findings were based on self-reporting, and investigators did not directly examine whether people were using masks.

What About Masks More Generally?

An early randomized controlled trial of 4,862 adult participants from Denmark did not find that surgical masks reduced COVID-19 infection, although the authors noted that some results were “inconclusive.”

On Sept. 1, however, researchers released a working paper detailing a cluster-randomized trial of mask promotion across communities in rural Bangladesh, which involved 600 villages and more than 300,000 individuals, that appeared to support masking.

After surveying “all reachable participants” and testing blood from symptomatic individuals, the researchers linked mask promotion to a slight reduction in symptomatic COVID-19 infections.

Yet similar to the Danish study, the Bangladesh study was explicitly intended to examine mask-wearing among those “who appear to be 18 years or older”—not the young children or adolescents to whom school mask mandates apply.

What, then, are the potential costs of requiring children to be masked at school?

An obvious one is cleanliness.

“We were almost all taught as children that disposable tissues are good because handkerchiefs are unhygienic and disgusting,” wrote Michael Brendan Dougherty in an article for National Review Online. “But for young children, toddlers in particular, the cotton-jersey masks that they most often wear in schools are just that, a handkerchief pulled over their mouth and nose constantly. They often are disgusting at the end of a day of use.”

Unsurprisingly, children’s masks may be a breeding ground for bacteria and other microorganisms, some of them potentially dangerous.

One recent analysis from the University of Florida revealed that most masks worn by children in 90-degree-Fahrenheit heat were contaminated with parasites, fungi, and bacteria, including a virus known to cause a fatal systemic disease in deer and cattle.

Masks, particularly disposable masks, are also harmful to the environment. With billions of single-use masks being thrown out every day, researchers believe that discarded masks and respirators are adding to plastic pollution—a problem to which school mask mandates can only contribute.

Masking and other interventions may also have knock-on effects related to the frequency of other respiratory diseases.

The recent, out-of-season spike in pediatric hospitalizations for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) has been tied to the COVID-19 response, with infants and young children who would have otherwise been exposed to RSV at an earlier age now falling ill from it.

Masking may also have significant psychological and developmental effects on children.

2004 article on masking in a pediatric hospital, authored long before the COVID-19 pandemic shifted the scientific debate on masking, expanded on some of the psychological hazards for children.

“Imagine the impact of a hospital filled with “faceless” people on a young child. Who is smiling? Who is frowning? How do I recognize my doctor? How does my nurse recognize me? Why is everyone so scared of me and my germs?…”

“When wearing masks, goggles and/or face shields, non-verbal communication is impaired. Subtle facial cues are absent or can be misread and lip-reading is impossible.”

More recently, in a roundtable with Governor DeSantis and other scientists, Stanford professor Dr. Jay Battacharya argued that masking children is both medically unnecessary and “developmentally inappropriate.”

“I mean, how do you teach a child to read with a face mask on Zoom? I think children develop by watching other people,” Battacharya said.

The controversy over the developmental impact of masking children has even impacted the AAP.

In August, Internet users unearthed an AAP webpage emphasizing the developmental importance of face time between parents and babies that had apparently been removed from the organization’s website, along with other AAP webpages describing how babies and young children learn through looking at faces.

The AAP responded by explaining that the web pages disappeared as a result of website migration, telling Just the News that “some content areas, including Early Brain and Child Development, are still being organized before they go live on the new platform.”

Finally, the practice of mandating masks could be argued to compromise individual and parental autonomy.

Advocacy groups such as Utah Parents United have spoken out against school mask mandates, saying that they undermine parental rights and are unnecessary for such a low-risk group, particularly given the availability of vaccines to adult teachers and staff.

With all that we know so far, how can we answer these parents?

If the benefits of mask mandates do not outweigh the costs, it’s hard to find fault with opposition, or at least skepticism—especially for young schoolchildren, who are at the lowest risk of serious illness and death, and who may be most vulnerable to the uncertain and understudied costs of universal masking and other stringent measures.

Tyler Durden Mon, 09/20/2021 - 23:00

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Victor Davis Hanson: The Afghanistization Of America

Victor Davis Hanson: The Afghanistization Of America

Authored by Victor Davis Hanson via AmGreatness.com,

The United States should be at its pinnacle of strength. It still produces more goods and services than any other nation—China included

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Victor Davis Hanson: The Afghanistization Of America

Authored by Victor Davis Hanson via AmGreatness.com,

The United States should be at its pinnacle of strength. It still produces more goods and services than any other nation—China included, which has a population over four times as large. Its fuel and food industries are globally preeminent, as are its graduate science, computer, engineering, medical, and technology university programs. Its constitution is the oldest of current free nations. And the U.S. military is by far the best funded in the world. And yet something has gone terribly wrong within America, from the southern border to Afghanistan. 

The inexplicable in Afghanistan—surrendering Bagram Air Base in the middle of the night, abandoning tens of billions of dollars of military equipment to the Taliban, and forsaking both trapped Americans and loyalist Afghans—has now become the new Biden model of inattention and incompetence. 

Or to put it another way, when we seek to implant our culture abroad, do we instead come to emulate what we are trying to change?

COVID Chaos

Take COVID-19. Joe Biden in 2020 (along with Kamala Harris) trashed Trump’s impending Operation Warp Speed vaccinations. Then, after inauguration, Biden falsely claimed no one had been vaccinated until his ascension (in fact, 1million a day were being vaccinated before he assumed office). Then again, Biden claimed ad nauseam that he didn’t believe in mandates to force the new and largely experimental vaccinations on the public. Then, once more, he promised that they were so effective and so many Americans had received vaccines that by July 4 the country would return to a virtual pre-COVID normality. 

Then came the delta variant and his self-created disaster in Afghanistan. 

To divert his attention away from the Afghan morass, Biden weirdly focused on an equally confused new presidential COVID-19 mandate, seeking to subject federal employees, soldiers, and employees of larger firms to mandatory vaccinations—right as the contagious delta variant seemed to be slowly tapering off, given the millions who have either been vaxxed, have developed natural immunity, or both.

Consider other paradoxes. American citizens must be vaccinated, but not the forecasted 2 million noncitizens expected to cross the southern border illegally into the United States over the current fiscal year. Soldiers who bravely helped more than 100,000 Afghan refugees escape must be vaccinated, but not the unvetted foreign nationals from a premodern country?

Scientists now are convinced naturally acquired COVID-19 immunity from a previous infection likely provides longer and better protection than does any of the current vaccinations. 

Yet those who suffered COVID-19, and now have antibodies and other natural defenses, must likewise be vaccinated. That anomaly raises the obvious logical absurdities: will those with vaccinations—in reciprocal fashion—be forced to be exposed to the virus to obtain additional and superior natural immunity, given the Biden logic of the need for both acquired and vaccinated immunity? 

Tribal Lands 

We have Afghanistanized the border as well, turning the United States into a pre-state whose badlands borders are absolutely porous and fluid. There is no audit of newcomers, no vaccinations required, no COVID-19 tests—none of the requirements that millions of citizens must meet either entering the United States or working at their jobs. Our Bagram abandonment is matched by abruptly abandoning the border wall in mid-course. 

Yet where the barrier exists, there is some order; where Joe Biden abandoned the wall, there is a veritable stampede of illegal migration. 

October 7, 2019. Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Coups, Juntas and Such

Third-World countries suffer military coups when unelected top brass and caudillos often insidiously take control of the country’s governance in slow-motion fashion. The latest Bob Woodward “I heard,” “they say,” and “sources reveal” mythography now claims that General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, discussed separating an elected commander-in-chief from control of the military. Woodward and co-author Robert Costa also assert that Milley promised his Chinese Communist military counterpart that he would tip off the People’s Liberation Army of any planned U.S. aggressive action—an odd paranoia when Donald Trump, of the last five presidents, has proved the most reluctant to send U.S. troops into harm’s way. 

If that bizarre assertion is true, Milley himself might have essentially risked starting a war by eroding U.S. deterrence in apprising an enemy of perceived internal instability inside the executive branch, and the lack of a unified command. (So, Woodward wrote: “‘General Li, I want to assure you that the American government is stable, and everything is going to be okay,’ Milley said. ‘We are not going to attack or conduct any kinetic operations against you.’ Milley then added, ‘If we’re going to attack, I’m going to call you ahead of time. It’s not going to be a surprise.’”)

More germanely, when Milley called in senior officers and laid down his own operational directives concerning nuclear weapons, he was clearly violating the law as established and strengthened in 1947, 1953, and 1986 that clearly states the Joint Chiefs are advisors to the president and are not in the chain of command and are to be bypassed, at least operationally, by the president.

The commander in chief sets policy. And if it requires the use of force, he directs the secretary of defense to relay presidential orders to the relevant theater commanders. Milley had no authority to discuss changing nuclear procedures, much less to convey a smear to an enemy that his commander in chief was non compos mentis.

Milley has been reduced to a caricature of a caricature right out of “Dr. Strangelove”—and is himself a danger to national security. After Milley’s summer 2020 virtue-signaling “apology” for alleged presidential photo-op misbehavior (found to be completely false by the interior department’s inspector general); after leaked news reports that Milley considered resignation (promises, promises) to signal his anger at Trump in summer 2020; after his dismissal of the 120 days of rioting, 28 deaths, 14,000 arrests, and $2 billion in damage as mere “penny packet protests”; after his “white rage” blathering before Congress; after the collapse of the U.S. military command in Kabul; and after his premature and hasty assessment of a U.S. drone strike that killed 10 innocent civilians as “righteous,” Woodward’s sensationalism may not sound as impossible as his usual fare. 

Milley should either deny the Woodward charges and demand a real apology or resign immediately. He has violated the law governing the chain of command, misused his office of chairman of the Joint Chiefs, politicized the military, proved inept in his military judgment and advice, and may well have committed a felony in revealing to a hostile military leader that the United States was, in his opinion, in a crisis mode. 

Yet, Milley did not act in isolation. Where did this low-bar Pentagon coup talk originate? And who are those responsible for creating a culture in which unelected current and retired military officers, sworn to uphold the constitutional order and the law of civilian control of the military, believe that they can arbitrarily declare an elected president either incompetent or criminal—and thus subject to their own renegade sort of freelancing justice?

As a footnote, remember that after little more than a week of the Trump presidency, Rosa Brooks, an Obama-era Pentagon appointee, published in Foreign Policy various ways to remove the newly inaugurated president. Among those mentioned was a military coup, in which top officers were to collude to obstruct a presidential order, on the basis of their own perceptions of a lack of presidential rectitude or competence. 

We note additionally that over a dozen high-ranking retired generals and admirals have serially violated the uniform code of military justice in demonizing publicly their commander in chief with the worst sort of smears and slanders. And they have done so with complete exemption and in mockery of the very code they have sworn to abide. 

Two retired army officers, colonels John Nagl and Paul Yingling, on the eve of the 2020 election, urged Milley to order U.S. army forces to remove Trump from office if in their opinion he obstructed the results of the election—superseding in effect a president’s elected powers as well as those constitutional checks and balances of the legislative and judicial branches upon him. 

We know that these were all partisan and not principled concerns about an alleged non compos mentis president, because none of these same outspoken “Seven Days in May” generals have similarly violated the military code by negatively commenting publicly on the current dangerous cognitive decline of Joe Biden and the real national security dangers of his impairment, as evidenced by the disastrous skedaddle from Afghanistan and often inability to speak coherently or remember key names and places.

In short, is our new freelancing and partisan military also in the process of becoming Afghanized—too many of its leadership electively appealing to pseudo-higher principles to contextualize violating the Constitution of the United States and, sadly, too many trying to reflect the general woke landscape of the corporate board to which so many have retired? Like tribal warlords, our top brass simply do as they please, and then message to us “so what are you going to do about it?”

Achin, Afghanistan, 2011. John Moore/Getty Images

The Constitution as Construct

How paradoxical that the United States has sent teams of constitutional specialists to Iraq and Afghanistan to help tribal societies to draft legal, ordered, and sustainable Western consensual government charters that are not subject to the whims of particular tribes and parties. Yet America itself is descending in the exact opposite direction. 

Suddenly in 2021 America, if ancient consensual rules, customs, and constitutional mandates do not facilitate and advance the progressive project, then by all means they must end—by a mere one vote in the Senate. It is as if the centuries of our history, the Constitution, and the logic of the founders were analogous to a shouting match among a squabbling Taliban tribal council of elders.

Junk the 233-year-old Electoral College and the constitutional directive to the states to assume primary responsibilities in establishing voting procedures in national elections. End the 180-year-old Senate filibuster. Do away with the now bothersome 150-year nine-justice Supreme Court. And scrap the 60-year-old tradition of a 50-state union.  

Impeachment was intended by the founders as a rare reset of the executive branch in extremis. Now it is to be a pro formaattack on the president in his first term by the opposite party as soon as it gains control of the House—without a special counsel, without witnesses and cross-examinations, without any specific high crimes and misdemeanors or bribery and treason charges. And why not from now on impeach a president twice within a year—or try him in the Senate when he is out of office as a private citizen? 

When private citizen Joe Biden is retired from the presidency, will his political enemies dig up his sketchy IRS records alleging that he never paid income taxes on the “big guy’s” “10 percent” of the income from the Hunter Biden money machine?

American Tribes

 We may think virtue-signaling pride flags, gender studies, and George Floyd murals in Kabul remind the world of our postmodern sophistication. Yet, in truth, we are becoming far more like Afghanistan in the current tribalization of America—where tribal, racial, and ethnic loyalties are now essential to an American’s primary identity and loyalty—than we were ever able to make Afghanistan like us.

When we read leftist heartthrob Ibram X. Kendi’s endorsement of overt racial discrimination or academic and media obsessions with a supposed near-satanic “whiteness,” or the current fixations on skin color and first loyalties to those who share superficial racial affinities, then we are not much different from the Afghan tribalists. We in America apparently have decided the warring badlands of the Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras, and Uzbeks have their advantages over a racially blind, consensual republic. They are the model to us, not us of the now-discredited melting pot to them.

How sad in our blinkered arrogance that we go across the globe to the tribal Third World to teach the impoverished a supposedly preferrable culture and politics, while at home we are doing our best to become a Third-World country of incompetency, constitutional erosion, a fractious and politicized military elite, and racially and ethnically obsessed warring tribes. 

Tyler Durden Mon, 09/20/2021 - 23:40

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Louisiana State University Begins Disenrolling Students Not Compliant With Vaccine Rules

Louisiana State University Begins Disenrolling Students Not Compliant With Vaccine Rules

By Ben Zeisloft of Campus Reform

Louisiana State University has begun unenrolling students who failed to comply with COVID-19 regulations.

As Fox 23…

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Louisiana State University Begins Disenrolling Students Not Compliant With Vaccine Rules

By Ben Zeisloft of Campus Reform

Louisiana State University has begun unenrolling students who failed to comply with COVID-19 regulations.

As Fox 23 reports, seventy-eight students were told that they had been “resigned” from the school and would be refunded 50 percent of their fees. Louisiana State media relations director Ernie Ballard confirmed on Twitter that the students are “being contacted that they are being unenrolled from the university.”

“As a student, you were sent numerous notifications regarding the Entry Test Requirement and reminders to comply,” read an email sent to the students.

“Should you want to re-enroll at the university, you must complete the Entry Test Verification Survey. You will then need to email the Office of Academic Affairs… stating your desire to be reinstated and added back to your courses.”

The university’s website states that all students had to “meet entry protocols” before September 10 in order to remain enrolled. The protocols included providing a negative COVID-19 test result no more than five days prior to arrival on campus, proof of a COVID-19 vaccination, or proof of a positive COVID-19 test result no more than 90 days prior to arrival.

On Wednesday, Louisiana State University announced that its president, William Tate, was invited by the Biden administration to discuss the school’s COVID-19 regulations. Executives from Disney, Microsoft, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and other organizations were also present.

“It is an honor to present our successful COVID mitigation strategies to President Biden and the COVID Response Team, and we are proud that our multi-tiered approach to protecting our students, faculty and staff has been recognized at such an incredibly high level,” said Tate in the release. “Our strategies have worked, with more than 81 percent of our student body currently vaccinated, a monthly testing protocol that monitors the presence of the virus on our campus, wastewater testing that allows us to intervene before an outbreak occurs, and a vaccine/testing mandate at Tiger Stadium to keep our fans safe, too.”

Ernie Ballard, the media relations director for Louisiana State University told Campus Reform that 78 students received an email stating that they were disenrolled from the university and must meet entry protocols by September 17 to re-enroll.

 

Tyler Durden Mon, 09/20/2021 - 21:20

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