Monthly Archives: August 2020

Australian Politics 2020-08-31 15:25:00


Andrew Bolt: Australians left to die instead of Trump’s coronavirus cure being used

Hundreds of Australians may be dying because of Donald Trump. See, the US President last May made a fatal mistake: He backed a drug that could cure the coronavirus.

Sorry, let me rephrase. Hundreds of Australians may be dying because many politicians, medico-bureaucrats and journalists hate Trump’s guts.

Many would apparently rather ignore the studies that now say hydroxychloroquine works than admit Trump may have been right.

Think of that, if you get sick. Or if you watch a loved relative die.

Are you — are they — being denied a cure that almost any chemist in Australia could hand over right now, just to stop Trump from looking good?

In May, Trump said he was taking hydroxychloroquine because he had “heard a lot of good stories”.

Why not try it, he suggested, when “you’re not going to get sick or die” from a drug that has been used by millions since 1955 to protect against malaria, and, later, to treat conditions such as lupus.

From that moment, the media left in the US and Australia demonised hydroxychloroquine to prove Trump’s a fool.

Twitter, YouTube and Facebook even censor posts by doctors saying they’ve successfully used it.

How the pharmaceutical giants must love it. Hydroxychloroquine is a generic drug that earns them peanuts, but a new vaccine, however imperfect, would earn them billions.

The height of this insanity was reached last week when Labor’s health spokesman, Chris Bowen, demanded federal parliament censure Liberal MP Craig Kelly for having said studies showed hydroxychloroquine, given early, saved lives.

For some reason, this news appalled Bowen. He said Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration “strongly discourages the use of hydroxychloroquine” for this coronavirus, and denounced Kelly for spreading “misinformation and conspiracy theories”.

Please stop Bowen becoming our health minister. We’re not safe if our health system is run by a man who hates being told of a cheap cure, and tries to silence any MP trying to show the evidence.

You see, in the week before Bowen tried to silence Kelly, no fewer than five new studies said hydroxychloroquine indeed saves people from dying, even without the zinc that apparently makes it more effective.

In the US, the Hackensack University Medical Center said people given hydroxychloroquine were a third less likely to later need hospitalisation.

In Italy, a study in the European Journal of Internal Medicine said patients needing hospital care, when hydroxychloroquine is less effective, still had “a 30 per cent lower risk of death” when given the drug.

In Belgium, a study in the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents of 8000 hospitalised patients also said the death rate was cut by a third.

In Spain, a study of 9644 patients found “hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin (an antibiotic) correlated with a lower mortality rate”.

In France, a study by Aix Marseilles University of 226 sick residents in an aged-care home said hydroxychloroquine halved the death rate.

That’s five studies all saying hydroxychloroquine works — all in the week before Labor called Kelly “the most dangerous man in parliament” for saying the same. How shameful.

Worse, states like Victoria still want to ban doctors from prescribing this drug.

This is sick. This is the cancel culture played for deadly keeps.

Yes, other studies insist hydroxychloroquine is useless. And Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews dragged along Associate Professor Julian Elliott to a press conference last week to defend his state’s ban on it.

Elliott, head of the National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce, obliged, attacking “a particular trend on social media”, and declaring “hydroxychloroquine should not be used” because “there’s now substantial information that it’s not effective, and it does have side-effects”.

But as I’ve noted before, Elliott’s taskforce cherrypicked wildly to dismiss hydroxychloroquine.

It checked only nine studies that showed it had little or no effect, but ignored any that showed it worked.

It relied most on an Oxford study that for some disastrous reason gave very sick patients potentially lethal overdoses — up to 12 times the recommended dose.

Crucially, none of the nine studies included zinc. Hydroxychloroqine is a zinc ionophore — it helps zinc get into cells and stop the virus replicating. The aged, most likely to die of the coronavirus, often have zinc deficiencies.

To repeat: I don’t know if hydroxychloroquine works or not. But I do know it doesn’t kill, if used properly under medical advice, and some experts back it. So why ban doctors and patients from deciding for themselves? Or are hundreds of dead Australians a small price to pay for kicking Trump?


Resistance spreads across Melbourne as anti-lockdown protesters clash with police

Police have arrested three men after fiery clashes with anti-lockdown protesters in Roxburgh Park in Melbourne's north on Sunday evening.

Illegal anti-lockdown “freedom walk” protests are spreading across Melbourne as unrest grows over the tough lockdown measures imposed on the city.

Police again clashed with angry protesters in residential streets as the organised demonstration unfolded in Roxburgh Park in Melbourne’s north on Sunday afternoon.

Ugly footage from the event show protesters baiting officers, setting off flares and dangerous running across a major road in front of moving traffic.

One policeman asked protesters to disperse before officers moved in to break up the group of about 30 youths.

One man was tackled to the ground by about half a dozen police officers when the tense standoff just off Pascoe Vale Rd was broken up.

Protesters wearing anonymous or Guy Fawkes masks linked arms and loudly chanted “resistance, resistance” before sprinting from police.

The event appears to have been organised on the social media platforms of Snapchat and Facebook, with many of the group streaming it live on Facebook.

The new northern protest group consisted of about 30 young men and grew in size as the “walk” progressed.

One who streamed the event said they were just exercising their rights to exercise for one hour a day.

“Everyone come down to Pascoe Vale Rd now for a walk, keep your distance, wear your mask.”

One protester claimed they were “just going for a nice walk and we’re getting harassed by police” as his video showed five men walking along the footpath side-by-side with no social distancing gap of 1.5m between them.

A Craigieburn boy, 17, and two Broadmeadows men, aged 18 and 22, were arrested and will be issued with fines for breaching the chief health officer’s directions.

Police said they were continuing to investigate the gathering and review social media footage to determine if more penalty notices need to be issued.

Another five people were also fined in Dandenong as anti-lockdown protesters took to the streets near George Andrews Reserve for the seventh straight day.

Police have also been monitoring social media sites such as Facebook for people encouraging others to blatantly breach the restrictions.

Meanwhile, on Monday Police Association Victoria secretary Wayne Gatt urged the Victorian parliament to extend the state of emergency as police and protective services officers relied on the extra powers to continue to assist the community in the ongoing fight against coronavirus.

“There can be no adequate plan for a return to some normality if the framework designed to ensure it’s done safely and incrementally is removed,” he said.


'There are individuals who are born evil': Top Australian criminal psychologist reveals why some people are destined to kill

He has analysed the minds of Australia's worst criminals, including mass murderer Julian Knight and Melbourne crime boss Alphonse Gangitano.

Now, top Australian forensic psychologist Tim Watson-Munro has lifted the lid on the murky world of crime and why some people are destined for a life of lawlessness.

Speaking exclusively to Daily Mail Australia, to promote hayu's true crime docu-series catalogue, Watson-Munro explained that while there are many factors that could lead someone to become a criminal, some people are simply born 'evil'.

'They are psychopathic from the start and demonstrate anti-social traits even during their pre-adolescent years. This can involve cruelty to animals, lighting fires and pathological lying,' he continued.

These behaviour patterns become hardwired with time, and can also be exacerbated by the use of drugs and alcohol, Watson-Munro explained.

The impact of 'social learning' must also be considered, including the home environment in which a person is raised, their role models and families.  

The idea of genetics playing a role in criminality is explored in hayu series Killer Siblings, which tells the story of identical twin murderers the Stovall brothers.

Watson-Munro, who has worked with almost 20,000 criminals, also shared the body language cues which can suggest a suspect is guilty during interrogation.

'Defensive body language such as closed arms, fidgeting when questioned on pertinent aspects of the case and an absence of eye contact, may reflect a consciousness of guilt,' he said.

'More seasoned psychopaths however who are well adapted to the interview process tend to approach the situation with an air of bravado, with well-rehearsed responses to anticipated questions.' 

The absence of emotion in someone's voice has, in the past, been used as a way to identify guilt.

On the other hand, however, Watson-Munro pointed out that some innocent people have received criticism for not showing enough emotion - such as Lindy Chamberlain who was wrongfully convicted for the murder of her child. 

Therefore, while body language is a useful diagnostic tool in criminal investigation, it should not be considered as infallible.

Rather, it should be used as 'an adjunct to more reliable and valid means of investigations such as DNA evidence and eye witness accounts,' he explained.


Press freedom inquiry proposes warrant changes, legal reform but ‘do not go far enough’

Former judges or senior lawyers should be able to make recommendations about police raids on journalists or media organisations reporting in the public interest under new rules proposed following an inquiry into press freedom in Australia.

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security also found Australia’s spy agency should reveal how many times it applied for warrants on journalists each year and journalists should be told when they are no longer under investigation as part of 16 recommendations tabled late last night.

But press freedom advocates said the recommendations would not stop journalists from being jailed for doing their job, and some members of the inquiry said its recommendations represented a “bare minimum” approach and “broader reforms to protect press freedom and the public’s right to know are clearly needed”

The parliamentary inquiry followed Australian Federal Police raids on the home of News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst and the ABC’s Sydney headquarters in June last year, and an unprecedented campaign for legal reform by Australian media organisations.

Parliamentary Joint Committee chairman Andrew Hastie said the inquiry, which was called in July last year and received 61 submissions, found greater protections and transparency were needed around reporting on matters of public interest in Australia.

“The issues related to law enforcement, intelligence powers and press freedoms are complex, and this inquiry has allowed the Committee to examine a range of matters in great detail,” he said.

Its final report recommended Public Interest Advocates should have a say in warrant applications against journalists and media organisations over the potential “unauthorised disclosure of government information,” and warrants should only be issued by superior courts.

The inquiry also supported reviews of defamation laws and the introduction of shield laws for journalists, greater consistency in the way government departments handled Freedom of Information requests, and a review of what information was classified as secret.

The report said both the Home Affairs Minister and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation should reveal how many warrants were sought against journalists and media organisations each year, and how many attempts were made to get them.

But its findings were criticised by members of its own committee, with Labor members adding that the recommendations did “not go far enough”.

“The Morrison Government should regard the Committee’s recommendations as a bare minimum – a starting point – for reform,” they said.

“Broader reforms to protect press freedom and the public’s right to know are clearly needed, though Labor members recognise that reasonable minds may differ about precisely what those broader reforms should look like.”

MEAA Media federal president Marcus Strom said the result was disappointing after a year-long wait for significant changes, and despite support for some reform, “journalists still face jail for legitimate news reporting in the public interest”.

“Most troubling in the inquiry’s recommendations is the fact that warrants can still be issued for police raids on journalists and media companies without those warrants being challenged,” he said.

“While we welcome the proposal that such warrants must be issued by a superior court, journalists must be able to challenge warrants before they are acted upon.”

News Corp Australasia executive chairman Michael Miller said the report showed there was still “much work to be done” to protect press freedom Australia.

“The PJCIS report highlights the problems journalists have in doing their job to keep Australians informed, and acknowledges that they must be better protected,” he said.

“However, while the report acknowledges the problem, it doesn’t go far enough in solving it.”

The inquiry followed an industry-wide campaign by the Right to Know coalition of media organisations, including News Corp, the ABC, Nine, Seven, SBS, and The Guardian, calling for six reforms to ensure the public was kept informed. They included the right to contest search warrants, protection for public sector whistleblowers, changes to Freedom of Information and defamation laws, limits for restricting government documents, and protection for journalists threatened with jail for doing their jobs.


 Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

The Week The S&P 500 Closed At New Record Highs Every Day

Say what you might about the narrow breadth of the rally in the S&P 500 (Index: SPX), there's no denying that its carving out record highs on a daily basis.

After holding below the 3,400 level for no apparent reason in the preceding week, the index broke through and, five trading days later, has broken through the 3,500 threshold. More remarkably, the trajectory of the S&P 500 falls well within the redzone forecast range we added to the alternative futures chart several weeks ago.

Alternative Futures - S&P 500 - 2020Q3 - Standard Model (m=-0.5 from 14 July 2020) - Snapshot on 28 Aug 2020

The big news of the week that was came from the Fed's annual retreat in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where Jerome Powell confirmed the Federal Reserve's inflation target would no longer be a ceiling, but instead be an average. Which is to say the Fed will tolerate inflation running higher than its official 2.0% target for sustained periods of time going forward.

That tolerance means the Fed will leave the Federal Funds Rate within its zero-range bound for the indefinite future. For investors, that equates to a relatively expansionary monetary policy compared to the Fed's previous framework. But not more expansionary than what they've been expecting since mid-July 2020, which is why the trajectory of the S&P 500 continues to track along with the redzone forecast.

There really wasn't much else in the way of market-moving news in the past week, where we scraped the following headlines from the week's newstream.

Monday, 24 August 2020
Tuesday, 25 August 2020
Wednesday, 26 August 2020
Thursday, 27 August 2020
Friday, 28 August 2020

Those were what we thought the market moving headlines of the past week were, but other stuff happened too. Check out Barry Ritholtz' succinct summary of positives and negatives he found in the rest of the week's economics and markets news!

30/8/20: COVID19 Update: U.S. vs EU27

 Updating charts for COVID19 pandemic for EU27 and the U.S.:

As per above two charts:
  • Deaths per capita: the U.S. has overtaken the EU27 since May 18, and the trend for the U.S. continues to be worse than that for the EU27.
  • EU27 death rate per capita has effectively flattened-out at around 303-308 per 1 million prior to August 2, 2020, but is rising once again since then (313.0 currently).
  • U.S. deaths per capita continue to increase (555.6 currently).
  • Overall counts of deaths in the U.S. are now above the EU27, since July 12, with current excess gap at +42,946 up from +15,413 a month ago. 
  • In other words, despite the facts that (1) EU27 population is significantly larger than that of the U.S., (2) The U.S. onset of pandemic is of later vintage than that of the EU27, allowing for more significant impact of learning and pre-peak preparations in the U.S., and (3) The U.S. demographic being younger than of the EU27, the U.S. has experienced almost 43,000 more deaths than the EU27.
  • The U.S. has a vastly higher death rate per 1 million population than the EU27 rate:  Current death rate per 1 million of population in the U.S. is 555.6; Current death rate per 1 million of population in the EU27 is 313.0.
  • Put differently, current U.S. death rate per capita is 77 percent above that for the EU27. 
  • Overall counts of deaths in the U.S. are now above the EU27, since July 12, with current excess gap at +42,946 up from +15,413 a month ago.

Per above charts and table:

  • The U.S. is still experiencing its first wave of infections. 
  • The trend in the U.S. suggest that the peak infection has taken place in the second half of July. 
  • The EU27 daily counts of new cases are on a sustained and rapid rise since mid-July and currently exceed the levels at which the original EU lockdowns were imposed. In fact, new cases counts are now approaching prior peak for the EU27.
  • U.S. deaths are continuing to run substantially above those in the EU27.  
  • Adjusting these for vintage of cases, expanded learning curve in treatments and testing that the later pandemic onset in  the U.S. implies, this severely poor performance of the U.S. cannot be explained by any factors other than political decisions and the dismal state of public health system.
  • Since mid-July, EU27 new cases are now trending slightly up once again, and deaths are starting or rise as well.
  • The table above shows that during August, 892 more Americans died a day, on average, compared to the residents of the EU27. Given the fact that the U.S. deaths reporting is more lagged and less consistent that for the EU27, this number is likely an underestimate of the true extent of the gap. 
  • Notably, higher deaths in the U.S. in August are in excess of the same in June and July.
Perhaps the best way to summarize thee bleak reality of the U.S. numbers is by relating these to relative shares of world population:

30/8/20: COVID19 Update: Worldwide Cases and Deaths


Updating charts for COVID19 worldwide data, with main comments in the charts:

  • Global number of daily new cases was on an upward trend through July 2020. Since the start of August, however, new daily cases additions have been flat (running at approximately constant rate) at the levels close to the prior peak trend (< 260,000 per day). This suggest that although pandemic growth rate has fallen to close to zero, the pandemic continues.
  • In the last 30 days, average number of new cases stood at 259,500, with the current 7-days average at 255,986. This implies a mild moderation in the rate of daily cases arrivals that statistically is close to nil, as noted above.
  • Week-to-date, daily case numbers ranked within top 25 in 5 days, which is an improvement on the mid-August trends.
  • Overall, there are some indications in the more recent data that the trend in new cases will likely moderate toward 240-245,000 per day in the next 7-10 days. Such a moderation will not, in itself, be sufficient to mark the end of the first wave of the pandemic. This conclusion is further supported by the evidence that Europe and parts of Asia-Pacific where the pandemic's first wave started earlier in the year are now experiencing robust increases in new cases (see subsequent post on EU27 data).

  • In July, average growth in death cases was +5.79%. August-to-date, the average is -2.36%. Last 7 days average is -0.86%. This suggests that slight moderation in new death counts experience earlier in August has been declining toward zero in more recent days.
  • In the mean time, daily deaths are still running at high rates. 30-days average is 5,726 deaths per day and 7-days average is 5,360.

  • New daily cases growth rates are moderating. July average daily growth rate in new cases was 10.35%. This fell to 0.27% in August (to-date).
  • In July, average growth in death cases was +5.79%. August-to-date, the average is -2.36%. 
Due to steadily increasing number of countries with large number of cases, I have adjusted my summary tables and analysis for countries with largest impact of the pandemic to those with 100K+ cases (prior tables covered countries with 25K+ cases):

Key conclusion: the pandemic remains unabated. The rates of growth in cases and deaths might be moderating, but daily counts of both remain high and consistent with peak levels of the pandemic. We are now 6 months into the full pandemic development and there are few signs of any material improvements on the ground. Almost 25 million people have now been officially identified as being infected and almost 840,000 people have died from the condition, per official counts.

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – August 30, 2020

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – August 30, 2020
by Tony Wikrent

Strategic Political Economy

Articles of impeachment drawn up against Gov. Mike DeWine over coronavirus orders
[, via Naked Capitalism 8-26-20]
A key principle of republicanism is public virtue: if your self-interests conflicts with the general welfare, you have a duty to not oppose the general welfare. Clearly, the principle of republicanism is dead in this country, hence, it is no longer a republic. Some of the most discomfiting passages from the speeches and writings of the foundering era of USA dealt with the issue of a people becoming unfit to govern themselves.

Another key principle of republicanism is that citizens must not be dependent on anyone else if they are to be able to judge public affairs with sufficient disinterestedness to make the general welfare their major concern. This principle created major problems, however, as it was used to justify restricting the vote on "men of means" only. This created an opening for ruling elites to establish oligarchy, especially in the South. In practice, it meant white supremacy. As Dayen writes below: "The way you control labor is that you don’t pay enough to ever have workers be comfortable."

The Logic of the Boss
David Dayen, August 27, 2020 [American Prospect]
The absolute last person you should ever ask about a labor action connected to racial justice is Jared Kushner. So of course CNBC did just that this morning. Kushner told Andrew Ross Sorkin: "The NBA players are very fortunate that they have the financial position where they’re able to take a night off from work without having to have the consequences to themselves financially." 
There’s an implicit logic of the boss embedded in here. The way you control labor is that you don’t pay enough to ever have workers be comfortable. You keep people reliant on the boss so they never get crazy ideas in their head like using their power for positive change, for themselves or the society at large. 
In the 1960s, cheap college tuition and a lower cost of living gave space to young antiwar radicals to devote themselves to sustained protest. The diminishing of higher-education support and the rise of student loans weren’t exactly responses, but it was a nice side benefit. The cleaving away of labor from productivity, the skyrocketing of inequality, the breaking of the labor movement, a federal minimum wage that hasn’t increased since the second Bush administration—this all snuffs out personal agency and the ability to speak out. Keep someone dependent on their paycheck, and their health insurance too, and you’ve put a lid on mass action. 
The NBA is leading the way together, and Jared Kushner wants to keep people afraid and alone.
[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism 8-24-20]
Aisha Ahmad
Aug 23 
2009: 1st Black President
2010: 3 women in SCOTUS
2015: Same-sex marriage legal
2020: 1st WoC nom for VP 
Federal Minimum Wage
2009: $7.25
2010: $7.25
2011: $7.25
2012: $7.25
2013: $7.25
2014: $7.25
2015: $7.25
2016: $7.25
2017: $7.25
2018: $7.25
2019: $7.25
2020: $7.25

Terminating payroll tax could end Social Security benefits in 2023, chief actuary warns
[NBC, via Naked Capitalism 8-26-20]
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