Sunday 25th of September 2022

The value of protests…

desperate fascistdesperate fascist

We have protested against the Vietnam war. We have protested against nuclear ships armed with nuclear weapons entering Sydney Harbour. We have protested against the imprisonment of Julian Assange. We have protested against fascism, walked for freedom, and against Rupert Murdoch trying to destroy the Rabbitohs. We have protested against police brutality and imprisonment of Aboriginal people that have led to deaths in custody. We have protested against gas-fracking that destroys farmlands and pollutes waterways… We have protested against racism, against misogyny and we have marched with the Aboriginal elders to commemorate the Aboriginal soldiers who gave their lives in the stupid whitey World Wars.


In india, farmers have protested for years against new laws that favours gross industrial farming and the farmers have recently succeeded in killing these laws that affected their livelihood. 



Anger is mounting in Europe and elsewhere at renewed coronavirus restrictions brought in by governments in a bid to tackle another deadly wave of infections. Far-right groups have taken part in some demonstrations. DW



The protests against vaccination, against lockdown and against Covid-passes are weirdoes. While the previous protests were us against them, including the Sydney “Cronulla Riots” which were right-wing boofheads versus the Muslims, the anti-vax protests seem to be a new confused breed. It’s us against us — against the science of applied statistics designed to benefit our society. Thus, protesting together, we find fascists, left-wingers, wokes and anti-wokes, right-wingers and religious nutters anti-vaxxers protesting against governments trying to protect the society from a “pandemic” that is likely to overburden the health system and be a relatively long-time influencer of economic survival… We think the governments are thus fascist. Dictator Dan came up in the Murdoch media. Meanwhile our PM sides with the fascist protesters...


We have changed the dynamic of our social constructs responses to pandemics by a) having some draconian rehearsal to such “possible” pandemic and b) we have such a pandemic so soon after such rehearsal — giving an uneasy feeling of deception and usage of the pandemic as a stick, by authorities… Our reactions, including the for and against vaccination, have used disinformation and relative interpretation of statistical sciences to influence, and confuse, or polarise, our “beliefs” on the value of vaccination and lockdowns. These are mostly designed to avoid a catastrophic collapse of our society (or not?). Who is/are deceiving us? Are we just muddling about, hoping for the best?


The previous major pandemic we faced was the flu of 1917-18. It apparently killed more people than World War One… Even the AIDS epidemic did not require protests against anything, despite being segregational — not even against the frothed-up fear of the "grim-reaper” advertising. Annoyed? Sure… At the time, getting AIDS was a death sentence for anyone. But it was not as easy to catch like the flu is. AIDS is still a death sentence but with a far longer outcome. Presently, one of the major problem is a form of dementia induced by the cocktail of drugs and the disease itself. It seems that "a lot” more older AIDS patient suffer from dementia than the “normal” average population.


A few years ago, there were a few SARS epidemic that were soon stopped in their track by various means that did not involve vaccination nor lockdowns. So what happened with Covid-19? Why is the problem so threatening, unlike other diseases like polio, tuberculosis and small-pox, or anthrax? Didn’t we get vaccinated against diphtheria as well? Should we injure ourselves with dirty things like nails or chainsaw, don’t we get a jab against tetanus that could kill us within a couple of days?


We’ve been told that Covid-19 can infect say three times more people than the flu. And it can be far deadlier to older folks.


Every year, old people are encouraged to get a “flu shot” to avoid getting sick. For old people getting the flu is a 50/50 death sentence. With Covid-19, it’s a 80/20 death sentence. Like the flu, Covid-19, part of a SARS family of viruses, has variants and evolutionary resistance to eradication. As the German Der Spiegel says, Covid-19 is an arsehole of a disease. Without help, beyond a certain age, your chance of survival are basically nil… Dying before “your time” is up, becomes the norm.


So why protest against something than can save lives? Vaccinations, wearing masks and Lockdowns SAVE LIVES. Without any of these, the pandemic would have killed far more people than we’ve counted so far. In regard to disinformation, collection and interpretation of statistics become a minefield.


It seems that for example, OffGuardian has taken an absolute view that we are being fooled by Covid-19 and governments’ actions. Offguardian has a similar position in regard to global warming — posting some stupid article by a "Sapere aude", which we debunked here. Then when an article by Gus exposed the mistakes of the OffGuardian, Gus was eventually told that the "OffGuardian was not an expert on the subject of global warming" and this was the end of that. My guess is that OffGuardian, becoming the keeper of freedom at all cost, has lost proper critical power of analysis.


Yes, the authorities could be using the Covid-19 pandemic to reshape our societies with a “Great Reset" or a ”Green New Deal". Nothing new. Our social networks never had pure “freedom” for the people. We ALWAYS have been managed by some “bread and circuses” of the Roman-kind, for the last 10,000 years of “civilisation” when people started to get together to grow crops and herd easy preys like goats, cows and sheep. Some people started to make bronze and steel. This did not happen without a kind of a social minimum deal in which people were “employed” to perform tasks.


So what are we protesting about? That the vaccination/lockdown/pass are infringing our freedom? Knowing that say 90 per cent of the population is already vaccinated, why try for 100 per cent when we’ve already got “herd immunity” and the only people likely to (badly) catch Covid-19 are the unvaxxed? Have lockdowns achieved something?


Health authorities in any society have to be able to plan for influx of sick people. At which stage hospitals won’t be able to cope? I know that many workers in the building industry have to be doubled-vaxxed and have to have a weekly Covid-19 test to stay onsite. So far all this vaccination and testing is paid by the governments that are trying to understand the statistical sciences, using their best actuaries, while the scientists are working hard to invent best ways to combat the disease and while the Big Pharmaceuticals are making a lot of cash from selling the results to governments, with no-liability, underwritten by governments, on the side-effect of vaccines and treatments. 


There are also doubts about the value of the tests. There are some valid arguments that can argue the tests are not accurate, nor reflect the rate of infection. As well we know that some infected people will not get sick, while others will be sicker than sick dogs. There is an element of chance and gambling is part of the Covid-19 game. Do we risk more lives or not?


The point is to discover when our governments are deceiving us. And if they do, is it by ignorance or knowledge of the facts and at what level of operational matters?


May be we should protest against Big Pharma… Nationalise big Pharma… That would be the day.



Germany: Caught by the fourth wave


Nearly 100,000 people in Germany have now died of or with COVID-19. As the pandemic continues, infection rates are higher than ever. Vaccinations have stalled, and breakthrough infections are on the rise. DW



Austrians went back into lockdown after fierce protests over the weekend, for a period of at least 10 days and potentially 20. Elsewhere  Germany logged its highest seven-day incidence of the pandemic. DW has the latest.




From the BMJ:



Are there more deaths from flu than from covid?


Data from the Office for National Statistics show that in England and Wales the number of deaths from influenza was 1598 in 2018 and 1223 in 2019. This is way below the annual deaths from covid-19, which at the current rate of around 800 deaths a week in England and Wales equates to more than 40,000 a year.


Disagreements have emerged on social media because some commentators have quoted much higher figures for annual deaths from flu.3 The reason for the discrepancy, as highlighted by the health systems researcher Dan Goyal,4 is that flu and pneumonia deaths are often reported together, including by the ONS itself. When pneumonia deaths are included with flu, the number would be 29 516 in 2018 and 26 398 in 2019. This is obviously closer to covid death numbers, though still less, according to current trends.


Covid mortality data have also been the subject of debate. Through the pandemic some datasets, including Public Health England’s, have included all deaths from any cause within 28 days of a positive covid test. Some sceptics have argued that this approach has overestimated the number of people dying from covid-19. But as The BMJ’s columnist David Oliver and the expert statistician David Spiegelhalter have pointed out,56 this approach has probably under-recognised the real number of deaths from covid-19, because of an initial absence of testing back in spring 2020, and because people who survived more than 28 days before dying from covid will not have been included. The ONS’s data, considered the most accurate, are based on cases where covid 19 is mentioned on death certificates. As Spiegelhalter has highlighted, 90% of death certificates where covid-19 is recorded identify it as the primary, underlying cause of death.


Which is more dangerous, flu or covid?

Research published in The BMJ last December,7 which was based on an analysis of US Department of Veterans Affairs data on more than 3600 patients admitted to hospital with covid-19, found that, when compared with seasonal flu, covid was associated with an increased risk of extrapulmonary organ dysfunction, death, and increased health resource use, such as a fivefold higher risk of admission to intensive care and longer stays in hospital. Deaths from covid-19 were most pronounced in people over 75 with chronic kidney disease or dementia and in black people with obesity, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that in the US there were 1.8 deaths from flu per 100 000 population between 1999 and 2019.8 The estimated death rate from covid was 217.54 per 100 000 in the US and 206.73 per 100 000 in the UK.9


The global figure for the covid-19 death rate is estimated at 279 per 100 000 population.10


In the UK the Health Foundation has articulated the difference in impact between flu and covid in terms of life years. “In a bad flu year on average around 30 000 people in the UK die from flu and pneumonia, with a loss of around 250 000 life years. This is a sixth of the life years lost to covid-19,” it noted.11


Does getting flu with covid “double the risk of death”?

This statistic was quoted by Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency (one of the agencies that replaced Public Health England), in a recent interview.12 The claim is supported by research from Public Health England, published in August 2021 in the International Journal of Epidemiology,13 which found that patients with SARS-CoV-2 and influenza virus coinfection were around twice as likely to die (odds ratio 2.27 (95% confidence interval 1.23 to 4.19)) than people with SARS-CoV-2 alone.


What are the vaccine uptake rates in the UK?

Last winter (2020-21) 80.9% of people aged over 65 in England had the flu vaccine,14 up from 72.4% the year before, which meant that for the first time since 2005-06 England met the 75% target set by the World Health Organization. The increased uptake came after the government expanded its NHS flu vaccination programme to patients aged 50-64 who were not in a clinical risk group during the covid-19 pandemic. Uptake also rose among under 65s at risk (from 44.9% to 53%) and 2-3 year old children (from 43.8% to 56.7%) but fell among pregnant women (from 43.7% to 43.6%). Uptake in the new cohort of people aged 50-64 years and not in a clinical risk group was 35.2%.


This year, England’s flu programme is aiming to reach 85% uptake among over 65s and 75% among eligible under 65s,15 with the government emphasising the importance of double protection against flu and covid while both viruses circulate.16 The NHS has expanded the flu vaccine programme to an extra five million people, including secondary school children up to year 11, amid warnings that there could be a 50% rise in cases of flu this year, and additional stock is being made available from early November.17


Deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam said, “Not many people got flu last year because of covid-19 restrictions, so there isn’t as much natural immunity in our communities as usual. We will see flu circulate this winter; it might be higher than usual, and that makes it a significant public health concern.”


In terms of covid vaccination 85.6% of over 12s in the UK have had their first dose and 78.6% have had both doses. Ninety per cent of people aged 65 or older have had both doses. But uptake is lower among younger adults. For example, only 17% of 16-17 year olds, 55% of 18-24 year olds, 56% of 25-29 year olds, and 60% of 30-34 year olds are fully vaccinated. And only 12.1% of 12-15 year olds so far have had their first dose.18




Philosophy isn’t a science, but an appreciation of our worth lodged between desires and facts. In this regard, protests are philosophical statements that accentuate our emotions rather than our knowledge.


Meanwhile the scientists are still trying to find the kinks in SARS-CoV-2’s armour…


Certainty is not part of the game, though we try hard to be as certain as possible. Protests do not act on certainty of knowledge. We still don’t know the origin of this disease that has adapted very quickly to bypass the human body system of defences… Some of the disease mutations are natural and some are in reaction to our own antigens. 


And we do not have planet B to test the value of our medical'political responses versus doing nothing. At what point do we accept that restrictions are not nefarious but for our own good? It seems that people with placards and our prime minister who supports extremists know more than scientists, doctors and nurses...


The piece in the OffGuadian is an awful emotional froth. I am an existentialist and I am world-renowned to be suffering from emotional bypass. I still care, mind you. Other sources can easily explain where the OffGuardian is off the planet :


There is no evidence linking deaths among children to vaccine rollout. 


An article shared on Facebook claims deaths among boys are “83% higher than the 5-year-average since they were given Covid-19 vaccine”. 


The article, published by The Exposé, suggests that since children over the age of 12 began being vaccinated in September, more children in that age group (and boys in particular) have, sadly, died when compared to the average figures between 2015 to 2019.


The article claims the deaths may have been caused by the inflammatory heart conditions myocarditis and pericarditis. 


While the article accurately reports these mortality figures, there’s no evidence that links any of these deaths to myocarditis, pericarditis or vaccines. 


Are the vaccines linked to heart conditions in children?


Myocarditis relates to inflammation of the heart muscle, while pericarditis describes inflamed heart muscle and pericardium, the fibrous sac around the heart. Both can be caused by a number of different things, and although myocarditis in young people is rare, it’s not unheard of in children




While the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said there have been a “small number of reports” of these conditions, in the UK and internationally, it also said that there is “currently no indication of an increased risk” of myocarditis or pericarditis among under-18s in the UK. 


The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in July 2021 that of the 8.9 million children aged between 12 to 17 who had received the Pfizer vaccine in America, 397 reports for myocarditis or myopericarditis had been sent to its Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). However, the CDC has separately noted that that “reports of adverse events to VAERS following vaccination….do not necessarily mean that a vaccine caused a health problem.”


The CDC has also said: “Among the serious reports, myocarditis and other conditions that might be associated with myocarditis were among the most common terms reported; however, these terms did not account for a large proportion of VAERS reports overall. 


“No reports of death to VAERS were determined to be the result of myocarditis.”




Are deaths in boys 83% higher?

The Exposé article claims: “Since the Covid-19 vaccines began being given to kids over the age of 12, deaths among male children have increased by 83% against the five-year-average, whereas deaths among female children have still increased, but at a much lower rate of 33%.”

These figures are accurate but the way in which they are used is misleading.

The Exposé compares weekly Office for National Statistics (ONS) data on deaths among 10 to 14 year olds (registered in England and Wales) from the week ending 24 September to 15 October 2021, with the average number of deaths registered around that same time between 2015 to 2019. 

These figures show the five-year-average for all child deaths in this period was 21, while there were sadly 34 deaths between 24 September to 15 October 2021. For boys the increase was from 12 to 22 (an increase of 83%) and for girls it was from nine to 12 (a 33% increase).

However, there is no evidence to suggest that heart inflammation or vaccination played a role in these deaths. The ONS data does not specify if the children had been vaccinated when they died, or provide cause of death.

As we wrote above, there have only been five deaths associated with myocarditis and pericarditis following vaccination. Even if we assumed that all of these deaths were amongst children, this would still account for less than half of the 13 additional deaths for all children which the ONS reported between 24 September to 15 October 2021.

Additionally, the deaths recorded by the ONS were for 10 to 14-year-olds (which is mentioned twice in a table in the article) meaning the statistics the article used may have included children who were too young to be vaccinated, while it did not include any 15-year-olds.




We don’t need to be injected with “control chips”… From the day we’re born, we are injected with psychological dependency. We cannot survive without a minimum of systemic supplies. Fat foods and healthy foods are part of this supply… Who controls these supplies is the continuing battle for supremacy, yes. This was the province of kings and religion up until… yesterday. New kings are fighting for our custom, but by and large, we become part of one or the other systems. These present protests seems to be like people prefering to live in a shoddy building where the windows don’t close properly to get an inkling of freedom from the wind, to maintain the right to blow their cigarette smoke in your face, and to burn fossil fuel till the planet dies. 


Overall, we can surmise that the protests in Melbourne are right-wing protests against a lefty government, the protests in Sydney are lefties protesting against a right-wing government — while in Western Australia, there are no protest in regard to the “isolation policy" of the left-wing government, because, "pandemic or not", most WA people, left-wing or right-wing CONservatives, are isolationists...



German Health Minister Jens Spahn has said that everyone will be immunised or succumb to the coronavirus in the coming months as he urged the public to get the shot.

“Probably by the end of this winter, as is sometimes cynically said, pretty much everyone in Germany will be vaccinated, cured or dead,” Spahn said on Monday.



Take it easy...




vaxed since the 1940s...




right-wing vitriol...


The most left-wing city in Australia has for months been blighted by large far-right protests that have consistently mobilised thousands. The movement is not losing momentum; it is attracting more participants through each new issue it latches on to. And it is expanding its base into the mainstream right and the Liberal Party.

What makes this movement “far right” is not merely the presence of open fascists, neo-Nazis and far-right groups at the demonstrations—although that clearly highlights the threat it poses. It’s the movement’s broader politics that are key: its vitriolic hatred of social democracy and social democratic-influenced policies, and its targeting of the state ALP, which during the pandemic has come to symbolise responsible management of the virus and the social solidarity that has followed from that. 

The COVID-19 vaccine mandates and the Victorian government’s “pandemic bill” have given the movement a major boost, but it had been steadily building throughout the COVID-19 crisis on the basis of opposing any and all health measures. For its thousands of participants, the idea that public health considerations should dominate government attention, and in any way intrude on the God-given right to shop and engage beauty services, is anathema.


This anti-social message has found a receptive audience in the legions of small business owners resentful about the impact health measures have had on their operations, the right wing ideologues hostile to “big government”, and the small-minded Liberal voters who favour individualistic self-sufficiency over the public good and who resent their taxes being used to help the “unproductive”. 

But this movement is also about more than the pandemic. The various high profile right wing figures throwing their weight behind it recognise the movement’s potential to transcend this crisis and potentially become a force that can reshape Australian politics in the longer run. The idea is to kick-start a US-style right-wing subculture, cohered broadly against the ALP, social democratic social policies, “big government” and the communist interests that supposedly lie behind them all. 

It is no coincidence that, where Labor state governments have been the most progressive, the movement has been strongest. In Victoria, it has been united by a hatred for Premier Daniel Andrews, who is portrayed as a communist dictator. Life-sized gallows intended for Andrews were brought by protesters to a recent rally outside state parliament. 

The right’s animosity towards Andrews is longstanding. Despite throwing money at the cops, being fully committed to privatisations and many other things that otherwise mark the Victorian government as a bog-standard business-friendly administration, Andrews has stood up to the political right in a way no other Labor figure has in recent times. 

Early in his premiership, the more the Liberals and the Murdoch press attacked him for endorsing “union thuggery”, the more he publicly embraced the trade union movement, going so far as to say on the night he was elected that the Labor campaign had indeed been about the unions and that he stood with them—a clear affront to the right.


Read more:




SARS-CoV-2 from alpha to epsilon

As battles to contain the COVID-19 pandemic continue, attention is focused on emerging variants of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus that have been deemed variants of concern because they are resistant to antibodies elicited by infection or vaccination or they increase transmissibility or disease severity. Three papers used functional and structural studies to explore how mutations in the viral spike protein affect its ability to infect host cells and to evade host immunity. Gobeil et al. looked at a variant spike protein involved in transmission between minks and humans, as well as the B1.1.7 (alpha), B.1.351 (beta), and P1 (gamma) spike variants; Cai et al. focused on the alpha and beta variants; and McCallum et al. discuss the properties of the spike protein from the B1.1.427/B.1.429 (epsilon) variant. Together, these papers show a balance among mutations that enhance stability, those that increase binding to the human receptor ACE2, and those that confer resistance to neutralizing antibodies. —VV

Structured Abstract


Variants of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) have been circulating worldwide since the beginning of the pandemic. Some are termed Variants of Concern (VOC) because they show evidence for increased transmissibility, higher disease severity, resistance to neutralizing antibodies elicited by current vaccines or from previous infection, reduced efficacy of treatments, or failure of diagnostic detection methods. VOCs accumulate mutations in the spike (S) glycoprotein. Some VOCs that arose independently in different geographical locations show identical changes, implying convergent evolution and selective advantages of the acquired variations. A set of three amino acid substitutions in the receptor-binding domain (RBD)—Lys417 → Asn (K417N), Glu484 → Lys (E484K), and Asn501 → Tyr (N501Y)—occurred in the B.1.1.28 and B.1.351 lineages that originated in Brazil and South Africa, respectively. The P.1 lineage that branched off B.1.1.28 harbored a Lys417 → Thr (K417T) substitution while retaining the E484K and N501Y changes. The E484K substitution has attracted attention as a result of its location within the epitope of many potent neutralizing antibodies. The N501Y substitution also occurred in the B.1.1.7 variant that originated in the UK and was implicated in increased receptor binding and higher transmissibility of the variant. The B.1.1.7 variant, in turn, shares the His69/Val70 spike deletion mutation with spike from a variant that was implicated in transmission between humans and minks (ΔFVI).


Global sequencing initiatives and in vitro neutralization and antibody binding assays have rapidly provided critical and timely information on the VOCs. Here, by combining cryo–electron microscopy (cryo-EM) structural determination with binding assays and computational analyses on the variant spikes, we sought to visualize the impact of the amino acid substitutions on spike conformation to understand how these changes affect their biological function.


We measured angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor and antibody binding for 19 SARS-CoV-2 S ectodomain constructs harboring amino acid changes found in circulating variants. These included a variant involved in interspecies SARS-CoV-2 transmission between humans and minks, as well as several VOCs including the B.1.1.7, B.1.1.28/P.1, and B.1.351 variants. Consistent with published neutralization data, B.1.1.7 showed decreased binding to N-terminal domain (NTD)–directed antibodies, whereas P.1 and B.1.351 showed reduced binding to both NTD- and RBD-directed antibodies. All variants showed increased binding to ACE2, which was mediated by higher propensity for RBD-up states, and affinity-enhancing mutations in the RBD. We observed spike instability in the mink-associated variant, highlighted by the presence of a population in the cryo-EM dataset with missing density for the S1 subunit of one protomer. Modulation of contacts between the SD1 and HR1 regions led to increased RBD-up states of the B.1.1.7 spike, with the protein stability maintained by a balance of stabilizing and destabilizing mutations. A local destabilizing effect of the RBD E484K mutation was implicated in resistance of the B.1.1.28/P.1 and B.1.351 variants to some potent RBD-directed neutralizing antibodies.


Our study revealed details of how amino acid substitutions affect spike conformation in circulating SARS-CoV-2 VOCs. We define communication networks that modulate spike allostery and show that the S protein uses different mechanisms to converge upon similar solutions for altering the RBD up/down positioning.


Read more:





Sean Kelly (“Danger in desperate measures”, November 22) illuminates the fundamental flaw in the character of the Prime Minister. Ever the marketing man, Scott Morrison takes every opportunity to frame responses to appeal to even the most extreme of his potential supporters. He is operating from the Donald Trump playbook with a token condemnation of violent protest but assuring these people that he “understands” their frustration. Once again, Morrison fails to lead and, in doing so, he condones poor behaviour. 

Max Redmayne, Drummoyne



Thanks, Sean Kelly, for doing the sums on the Prime Minister’s recent speech. He’s too slippery by half, this bloke: 80 words condemning the violence followed by 300 words of dog-whistling, with only the latter making it to his official Facebook page. It’s time to GoMo. 

Des Mulcahy, Orange