Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Covid-19: What is there left to hope for? Predicting our Future with SARS-CoV-2


I've been following the SARS-CoV-2/Covid-19 crisis carefully and have previously identified key indicators that will likely predict what future we find ourselves inhabiting.

Those key indicators included:
  • Nature of the virus - its capacities for circulation among and within human bodies
  • Nature of human socio-biological resilience (e.g., immune response) and disease susceptibilities (e.g., organs impacted and capacities to clear virus from infected systems over time)
  • Institutional impacts and adaptations - especially around critical supply chains such as food and energy
  • Social response - leadership, testing, support for sick and first responders, community cohesion

Where we stand today.

NATURE OF VIRUS & HUMAN SOCIO-BIOLOGICAL RESPONSE

The virus is highly mobile and innovative in its circulations across and within human bodies. Some people do not clear the virus and some people get reinfected or it re-activates. It may behave like a retrovirus but doesn't seem to replicate in T-cells as does HIV.

Is it merely a novel coronavirus, innovative but still predictable in terms of nature and capacities, or is it Stephen King's Captain Tripps? I do not know but I clearly hope for the former, while acknowledging the evidence for the latter.

To be clear: The extent of the crisis remains unclear!

The nature of human socio-biological resilience is not clear. There exists so much variability across individual responses. Older people are clearly more at risk but young people can be terribly afflicted with escalating inflammatory responses.

People with pre-existing conditions are at risk but yet perfectly healthy people fall victim while some elderly patients are apparently able to clear virus, at least as represented by our tests over the time period measured.

Much of my hope today centers on our biological resilience over time, as applied to the body of the global population and to individual human bodies.

The novel coronavirus can invade our blood cells and inhabit our lungs, gut and brain. Yet, the effects of these invasions are still unclear, as are our capacities to contain, de-activate, and expel this invasive coronavirus. 

It's important acknowledge that biological resilience is most decisively driven by social resilience factors. People who are economically disadvantaged are more likely to contract and die from covid-19, probably because their work is more risky and they have less access to health care and other institutional supports. Indigenous community impacts are, tragically, among the worst.

INSTITUTIONAL RESPONSE

Institutional impacts have been great with food supply chains impacted but adapting. Energy infrastructures seem unaffected, although refineries have reported large numbers of infections.

It is hard to predict infrastructural shocks. Perhaps shocks will result from a certain level of infection across the population or perhaps shocks will occur only from the convergence of other disruptors, such as Influenza A and B in November.

The biggest institutional impacts have been economic, particularly for the lowest-wage workers. The economic dispossession is staggering and will have profound consequences for the forseeable future.

SOCIAL RESPONSE

Leadership has emerged only sporadically and most often locally. Testing is fraught with poor reliability and manipulated data reporting by some entities. Public faith in political and expert leadership has deteriorated.

Community cohesion is complicated. The desperation of the most dispossessed, many of whom are in the streets demonstrating now, may create symbolic unities that counter their amplified socio-biological vulnerabilities.

In other ways, I see community cohesion breaking down. I cannot smile at the elderly Fry's customer who is my anonymous neighbor. People do not look at one another in public places very much any more unless it is a direct challenge by some unmasked person signalling their liberty in the face of an undecided virus that could still turn out to be Stephen King's Captain Tripps.

The growing desperation of the anti-mask groups, including their public rallies, signifies to political divisions that I believe are as much socially-engineered as organically driven, although there are many social engineers potentially involved, ranging from international actors to local ones.

I've seen social media posts targeted very narrowly to people in my specific locality aimed at inciting fear and social paranoia.

There have been a series of fires over the last two months in Maricopa county. Driving up to Payson AZ we saw fire-devastated landscapes. On the way back we saw an entirely new fire, started right next to the highway. This fire was not seeded from the previous one. It was likely arson.

Fires starting next to highways/freeways seems to be a pattern. Who is starting these fires and with what intent?

The world is burning, symbolically in Dr. Fauci's metaphor of Covid-19 as an increasingly out of control forest fire; and literally, as disruptors literally set the world ablaze.

In the course of these fires I hope and pray for virtuous, courageous and enabled biological/institutional/social fire-fighters....


 
 

Saturday, June 27, 2020

To Those Who Opened Pandora's Box: I Curse You. . . .



I have published and talked extensively about the catastrophic risks of so-called "innovative technology," most recently with nuclear.

The evidence is growing that the technological "innovators" have gone too far this time. They may have passed the rubicon.

I curse them for damning us all:
Julie Steenhuysen June 26, 2020 / 3:12 AM / Updated 3 hours ago ) Scientists just beginning to understand the many health problems caused by COVID-19. Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-effects/scientists-just-beginning-to-understand-the-many-health-problems-caused-by-covid-19-idUSKBN23X1BZ
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Scientists are only starting to grasp the vast array of health problems caused by the novel coronavirus, some of which may have lingering effects on patients and health systems for years to come, according to doctors and infectious disease experts.

Besides the respiratory issues that leave patients gasping for breath, the virus that causes COVID-19 attacks many organ systems, in some cases causing catastrophic damage.

“We thought this was only a respiratory virus. Turns out, it goes after the pancreas. It goes after the heart. It goes after the liver, the brain, the kidney and other organs. We didn’t appreciate that in the beginning,” said Dr. Eric Topol, a cardiologist and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla, California....

I can only pray that we survive their utter disregard for catastrophic risk.

Ancient myths designed to warn humanity of the peril of its greed and disregard have lost traction in a world organized primarily by ego and extraction.



Sunday, June 21, 2020

What's "Fake" About the Covid-19 Pandemic


There have been allegations that the covid-19 pandemic is a hoax and that the nature and provenance of the virus are suspect.

My personal opinion is that the virus itself is very real. Fraud and deception have infused the response rather than the thing itself - the virus.

In late December 2019, two health care workers in Wuhan, China notified officials of an emergent respiratory disease outbreak, Dr. Zhang Jixian, head of the respiratory department at a Hubei hospital and Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist, working in Wuhan (Li, 2020).

Dr Zhang Jixian was recognized by the Chinese government as first diagnosing and reporting cases to municipal health authorities on December 27, who subsequently contacted the World Health Organization December 31, 2020 (WHO, 2020).

In contrast, Dr. Li Wenliang was chastised by the government for alerting his professional colleagues of a new SARS-like disease using the social media site, WeChat, after making his official report (Kent, 2020).[i] Li Wenliang’s private chat was leaked and widely circulated, resulting in surging popular support in China for his perceived heroism in warning the public, but official condemnation for spreading rumors (Li, 2020).[ii]

After Li’s death, the, the hashtag #WeWantFreedomOfSpeech garnered nearly two million views on Weibo, while #WuhanGovernmentOwesDrLiAnApology had tens of thousands of views. The Chinese government responded with increased and “draconian” information control (Li, 2020).

Controlling the narrative is often seen as key for effective crisis communication and yet the uncertainty and dangerousness of crises amplify information sharing, sense-making, and whistle-blowing. 


FRAUD & CRISIS COMMUNICATION

The conditions in China occurring when the virus was sequenced were less than open. The Shanghai lab that first shared the virus sequence publicly was closed for "rectification."(iii)

The conclusions made about the virus phylogeny, traced to bat virus RaTG13 (found in 2013 but not previously published) have been challenged in a retracted study and anonymous posts, but there is no way for the public to know what is true given the requirements of specialized laboratory equipment to represent this incredibly small but potent hazard:
RaTG13 – the undeniable evidence that the Wuhan coronavirus is man-made. https://nerdhaspower.weebly.com/ratg13-is-fake.html 
harvard2thebighouse March 19, 2020 China owns Nature magazine’s ass – Debunking “The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2” claiming COVID-19 definitely wasn’t from a labhttps://harvardtothebighouse.com/2020/03/19/china-owns-nature-magazines-ass-debunking-the-proximal-origin-of-sars-cov-2-claiming-covid-19-wasnt-from-a-lab/ 
harvard2thebighouse ( March 23, 2020) No monkey ever reheated a frozen burrito” – What The Expanse tells us about the COVID-19 pandemic and serial passage gain-of-function research. https://harvardtothebighouse.com/2020/03/23/no-monkey-ever-reheated-a-frozen-burrito-what-the-expanse-tells-us-about-the-covid-19-pandemic/

Viral provenance - including wet-market versus lab origins, timeline and intermediate animal, remains obscure at the time this post was written.

The information coming out of China alerting the rest of the world has been slow as the Chinese government resisted allowing the WHO into the country to investigate and destroyed early virus samples:
Ankel, Sophia (2020, May 16). China confirms US accusations that it destroyed early samples of the novel coronavirus, but says it was done for 'biosafety reasons' https://www.businessinsider.com/china-confirms-that-it-destroyed-early-samples-of-new-coronavirus-2020-5
I am deeply saddened to say that the information shared by the US government has also been less than complete and has been politicized, as illustrated by the absurd politicization of masks.

MASK FRAUD

The mask illustrates everything wrong and fraudulent in the crisis management of this pandemic. The US Center for Disease Control (CDC) offered contradictory advice about the utility of masks across spring 2020.

Perhaps the agency's intent was to conserve masks for health care workers and front-line workers. However, we have since learned that these critical workers had grossly insufficient protective equipment and that no national supply of masks were made available to the people who most needed them and whose work is critical to national infrastructures.

Its also possible the CDC knew that masks incoming from China were fraudulent as well:
A. Hufford (2020, June 18). "Chinese Mask Maker is Charged in the US." The Wall Street Journal, p. A7.  Charged for shipping masks with a "filtration efficiency of 22%, significantly worse than the 95% filtration required for N95 masks."
Many masks available for purchase in the spring of 2020 were fake. They promised protection they were incapable of delivering.

TESTING FRAUD

And then there is the matter of testing. Everything about the regime of testing has been contaminated with fakeness, beginning with allegations that early tests from China were contaminated with the virus.

Then the CDC majorly bungled its early test response, producing fake tests that promised valid and reliable results but could not deliver them:
Kaplan, S. (2020, April 18) C.D.C. Labs Were Contaminated, Delaying Coronavirus Testing, Officials Say. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/18/health/cdc-coronavirus-lab-contamination-testing.html 
Sloppy laboratory practices at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention caused contamination that rendered the nation’s first coronavirus tests ineffective, federal officials confirmed on Saturday.

Two of the three C.D.C. laboratories in Atlanta that created the coronavirus test kits violated their own manufacturing standards, resulting in the agency sending tests that did not work to nearly all of the 100 state and local public health labs, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
It turns out that the foundational elements of the covid-19 test kits - the test tubes - came from a supplier called out by whistleblowers for routinely contaminating test tubes with dust and other contaminants as workers often labored without protective gear with fans keeping them cool in what were probably hot workplaces - See "Covid-19 Test-Tube Supplier Accused of Workplace Lapses" The Wall Street Journal, 6/19/2020 p. A7).

Contaminated test tubes are fraudulent. They are not what they claim to be.

EPIDEMIOLOGICAL DATA FRAUD

And then there are the cases of data manipulation by the CDC and two southern states - namely Florida and Georgia. For example:
Gay, S., Stolberg, S, Kaplan, S., & Meryosh, S. (2020, May 22, updated May 23). CDC Test Counting Error Leaves Epidemiologists ‘really baffled’. The New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/22/us/politics/coronavirus-tests-

Anderson, Z. (2020, May 20) After scientist fired, Florida governor calls coronavirus data manipulation charge a 'nonissue’ Sarasota Herald-Tribune https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/05/20/coronavirus-florida-gov-ron-desantis-disputes-data-manipulation/5226744002/

Jarvie, Jenny (2020, May 23). Georgia reopened first. What the data show is a matter of fierce debate
https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2020-05-23/georgia-reopened-first-the-data-say-whatever-you-want-them-to

One common tactic for data manipulation has involved inappropriately combined test results from two distinct types of testing - the testing for (1) the virus itself and (2) the antibody testing.

Since there may be redundancy across the populations tested using these two techniques, the total number of tests across them should not have been combined as the denominator for calculating mortality. But that was precisely what happened and is probably still happening.

The data for understanding the epidemiological consequences of this pandemic are infused with fraud.

POLICY RESPONSE FRAUD

And then there was the government policy response - the promise to protect displaced workers and small businesses and to aid education and other key infrastructure.

For all those economically impacted, this policy response has fallen well-short of expectations that were based on false promises.

What is FAKE about the covid-19 pandemic is the social response as it reflects failures to deliver on promised goods, services, and leadership essential for human security.


DARKEST WINTER 
 
National preparedness was revealed to be a fraud.

Dr. Rick Bright was removed from his post as head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, allegedly after reporting to the Department of Health and Human Services the importance of investing in vaccine development and stocking up on supplies:
Ricardo Alonso Zaldivar Associated Press May 13, 2020Whistleblower: US could face virus rebound 'darkest winter’ Northwestern Georgia News. https://www.northwestgeorgianews.com/associated_press/whistleblower-us-could-face-virus-rebound-darkest-winter/article_b3fb5e00-0933-5981-bdb5-8110fac1edcc.html
WASHINGTON — America faces the “darkest winter in modern history” unless leaders act decisively to prevent a rebound of the coronavirus, says a government whistleblower who alleges he was ousted from his job after warning the Trump administration to prepare for the pandemic....

Immunologist Dr. Rick Bright makes his sobering prediction in testimony prepared for his appearance Thursday before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Aspects of his complaint about early administration handling of the crisis are expected to be backed up by testimony from an executive of a company that manufactures, respirator masks.

A federal watchdog agency has found “reasonable grounds” that Bright was removed from his post as head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority after sounding the alarm at the Department of Health and Human Services. Bright alleged he became a target of criticism when he urged early efforts to invest in vaccine development and stock up on supplies.

We live in a time of fraud when truth sayers are fired to hide alarming findings.

MOVING FORWARD

The US is still in its "first wave."

There are many experts concerned that a fall convergence of covid-19 infections with influenza A and B will present a public health crisis if not adequately planned for now. The food-supply-chain also remains at-risk, as reported recently by the Los Angeles Times.

Additionally, there remain great uncertainties about "recovery" and the possibility of either or both "re-activation" or "re-infection." Some people who contract covid-19 do not recover quickly, or at all, as 14 sailors from the USS Theodore Roosevelt reveal. These individuals may be especially vulnerable across time.

I still believe there is no fate but what we make and time is running out....


REFERENCES NOT CITED ABOVE


[i] Kent, C. (2020, April). From Covid-19 to SARS: what becomes of the whistleblowers? Pharmaceutical Technology, https://www.pharmaceutical-technology.com/features/covid-19-whistleblowers/

[ii] Audrey Jiajia Li Published: 9:00am, 12 Feb, 2020 Updated: 4:39pm, 14 Feb, 2020. Coronavirus crisis: How the death of Li Wenliang, a doctor and ordinary citizen, sparked Chinese demands for freedom of speech. South China Morning Post https://www.scmp.com/comment/opinion/article/3049910/coronavirus-crisis-how-death-li-wenliang-doctor-and-ordinary

iii Zhuang Pinghui (28 Feb, 2020Updated: 2:48am, 29 Feb, 2020). Chinese laboratory that first shared coronavirus genome with world ordered to close for ‘rectification’, hindering its Covid-19 research . South china Morning Post, https://www.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/3052966/chinese-laboratory-first-shared-coronavirus-genome-world-ordered

Monday, June 1, 2020

The Descent into Madness


The rage is boiling over and the forces of chaos are feeding deeply and reproducing.

Peaceful demonstrations are infiltrated by agent provocateurs.

Legitimate police forces are infiltrated by sadists.

Democratically elected politicians are infiltrated by fascists who seek "total domination."

The nation shudders as these infiltrations are displayed in a tableaux of escalating street violence.

CVS drugstore, Target and other other retailers close up shop as the agent provocateurs threaten their business, leaving communities who depend upon them without.

Supply and distribution chains already shocked by covid-19 are shocked again by the escalating violence.

Meanwhile, workers at factories, warehouses, and farms become sick with the mysterious covid-19 disease, which has proven capacities for dormancy and/or re-infection.

Global and national food supply chains are at risk as workers in these spaces become ill.

Some private employers stop reporting infection rates. Data on infections are manipulated by some national, state, and local public authorities. Some would prefer to control information about the threat rather than the threat itself.

While the spectacle of escalating violence and totalitarianism transfix, our vital infrastructures - flawed as they are - are shutting down.....

Change must happen but this trajectory of escalating violence is a descent into madness, especially given it is headed by a mad man.
 



Thursday, May 14, 2020

Covid-19 and No Fate but What We Make


I've always thought our future would resemble the scenario imagined in the film, Children of Men.

Now I see that my premonition is unfolding before my eyes in news headlines and social media discourse. But I also remember that we have existential freedom. We choose our fate.

There is only one way out of this disaster that we see unfolding before our eyes.

The only viable path forward entails these key elements/steps:

FULL TRANSPARENCY 

Information on the nature of the virus and human susceptibilities is currently fraught and contested. We need more effective and honest risk communication regarding nature and degree (short term and long term) of risk from virus synthesized by independent experts and articulated by respected authorities, leading to sensible and sustainable policies for limiting spread and treating impacted individuals and those who care for them (broadly conceived to include health care workers, grocery workers, etc)

DEMOCRATIC DELIBERATION 

The future is looking more and more authoritarian and exploitative. To the extent possible, LIBERTY, EQUALITY, JUSTICE and the PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS must be preserved and cultivated rather than discarded as currently happening.

FULL ECONOMIC SUPPORT  

The ongoing economic collapse is terrifying. If this continues, civil disorder will be upon us. Full economic support must be provided for the unemployed, the under-employed, and the otherwise economically vulnerable. Put aside your fears of "free riders" and "deficits." Our very being is at risk.

The public has erroneously been encouraged to fear deficits. However, this fear of deficits is a control mechanism used cynically to promote austerity (i.e., cuts in social spending and public support for education, transportation, etc). Austerity and deficit talk discipline and disempower the public, as explained by the "banker who came in from the cold," Joseph Stiglitz.

In contrast, Public Banking is rooted in an economic model that argues that nation-states and other sovereign entities have the power of coinage. They can produce money. The idea of banking in the public interest has deep roots.

The public Bank of North Dakota provides a US example and public banking is expanding into California. Public banking can invest in the social, ecological and economic welfare of communities through direct transfers and, even more importantly, in local infrastructural and economic development.

SUSTAINABLE LOCAL INFRASTRUCTURE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

The time for local is now. We absolutely must adapt by bolstering our local capacities to meet FOOD, ENERGY, and other critical needs sustainably.

Funds from all available sources - public and private - national and local -  MUST be directed at bolstering communities' capacities to meet local needs (with the definition of local varying across geographic areas contingently).

Development should be sustainable ecologically, economically and socially in contrast to our current hazardous system (see Pollan's critique).

Local infrastructures must be grounded in respect for political pluralism and must be perceived widely as just, inclusive and democratic to the extent possible.

New trade pathways will emerge as localities trade in their area of specialization. This was, of course, Adam Smith's ideal market interaction based on trade among equals with varying specializations.


Nuclear energy is not the solution. Workers are old, and many are difficult to replace because of their expertise. They've been exposed to ionizing radiation at levels predicted to impact their longevity.  They are very likely to become ill and that could impact energy production, with terrifying consequences.

LEADERSHIP 

We are still waiting for leadership to emerge. It is still missing in action.

Leadership must be organically authenticated. That is, the type of leadership we need now is trusted by people across the diverse realms of everyday life. This means that leadership must emerge at local levels.

But simultaneously we need leadership at a national level to enable and empower more geographically-situated organizing.

Corporate executives and government officials need for once to put aside ENTRENCHMENTS and AVARICE for the welfare of the global and national assemblages that are collapsing before our eyes.

Spiritual leaders and organic story tellers must put aside their sectional divisions and come together in acknowledging and succoring humanity's shared fate.
 
OUR CHILDREN

I realize that our children are going to be traumatized by this great unraveling. We must all do what we can to love and protect them.

Local organizations that advocate for, and address, the needs of kids must be supported and empowered.

Children are our future. We must LOVE them as never before. And we must not only love our own children, but we must love the world's children for their fate is our own.

NO FATE but WHAT WE MAKE

The film serives Terminator in episode reminded us that as conscious beings who have terra-formed the earth - in ways beautiful and heinous - we still have the choice to make a better world:




Sunday, April 19, 2020

Covid-19 and The One Way Forward


Regardless of the origins of Covid-19, there is clearly only one way forward and that way is
One Love:



The story of the chimeric virus accidentally or deliberately released from the Wuhan Virology Lab often doesn't get into addition-of-function viral back histories in US, Australia and Canada labs (e.g., see here).

Concerns have been raised for years about the dangers of this high-tech enterprise (see https://mbio.asm.org/content/5/4/e01730-14.short).


Consequently, I argue that the narrative of covid-19 as a genetically engineered chimeric virus is most compellingly a story of collective responsibility and collective fate.

LESSONS LEARNED

The most important lessons from the story of the Wuhan lab are that technological hubris is our Achilles' heal and that Love and Collaboration for the Welfare of ALL must be prioritized, constituting the only viable path forward.

At this point virus origins are less salient than the question of how to re-build a ruptured global society.

MOVING FORWARD

What kind of social organization can emerge quickly enough with the theorized love and force capable of confronting not only existing apparatuses of exploitation, but also looming and potentially cataclysmic health/environmental challenges?

One thing is certain: People - everyday people - not just politicians and "experts" must be involved in the decisions that will shape what emerges out of the present collapse.


RESOURCES


Baler, Bret, & Re, Gregg. April 15, 2020 Sources believe coronavirus originated in Wuhan lab as part of China’s efforts to compete with US. Fox News. https://www.foxnews.com/politics/coronavirus-wuhan-lab-china-compete-us-sources

Josh Campbell, Kylie Atwood and Evan Perez, Thu April 16, 2020  US explores possibility that coronavirus started in Chinese lab, not a market CNN. Updated 10:37 AM ET, https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/15/politics/us-intelligence-virus-started-chinese-lab/index.html

Nadesan, Majia (2012). Commonwealth [review]. Organization https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1350508411431909