News roundup for Fri, Feb 11, 2022

American truckers are rallying in support of the Canadian trucker protests. Alaskan truckers have formed a convoy, and there are rumors that a convoy is planning to make its way from Los Angeles (starting Super Bowl Sunday) all the way to DC. Major trade routes between the US and Canada have been blocked by numerous Canadian convoys, and both countries are mulling their options in putting these vaccine-mandate protests to rest. The protests have managed to shutter a Ford plant that can’t get the supplies it needs to keep running. General Motors and Stellantis have also been impacted and had to cut operational hours.

The Russia-Ukraine crisis is heating up, with no signs of Russian military de-escalation. Should Russia invade Ukraine, Biden threatens to help Germany derail the Nord Stream 2 pipeline deal. Americans in Ukraine have been warned to leave the country. The EU could be facing an armed conflict it doesn’t seem particularly prepared, either ideologically or practically, to fight. After all, 21 of the 27 EU members are in NATO. The US and the UK are sending in assets to multiple NATO countries. So far diplomacy has accomplished little, but diplomatic efforts are still being made all around. Of note, Ukraine is a global breadbasket, producing scores of millions of metric tons of wheat and other foodstuffs. Egypt, Turkey, and Lebanon all depend on Ukrainian wheat. If Ukraine (et al) goes to war, expect price spikes at a minimum and the potential for hunger in numerous countries.

Labor shortages in American schools are making school mealtimes challenging for staff. Biden wants school cafeteria workers to be full-time and unionized to better serve and feed American students.

Hundreds of thousands of electric vehicles (EVs) are being sold globally. The market share of EVs is growing. Biden is committing five billion dollars to EV charging infrastructure over the next five years.

We’ve got weird weather in the US. We just had a huge cold front sweep the country, and now we’ve got a massive heat wave. It was 85 and sunny for me today. There are reports of greenery flowering too early not just in the US, but in Europe as well.

Gas prices are through the roof right now because the price of a barrel of oil is 50% higher than it was last summer. Oil-producing countries are working on increasing output to meet demand.

40 of the 49 satellites recently launched by SpaceX’s Starlink have fallen out of orbit after being hit by a geomagnetic storm. They are designed to burn up entirely in the atmosphere and not to cause dangerous debris on Earth.

The world has 406 million COVID cases. The world has gained 17.9 million cases in the last week. There have been over 5.8 million deaths in total. The US has had a cumulative 79 million cases—about 2 million cases were added in the last week. Nearly 939,000 Americans have died—about 20,000 in the last week. The US is still leading global daily case gain followed by India, Brazil, France, and the UK. The US added over 221,000 new cases Wednesday and over 133,000 by late afternoon Thursday. Daily case counts in the US are still on the decline. Deaths in the US are still quite high:

J&J is pausing production of its COVID vaccine. It’s unclear exactly why, but consumer sentiment might be a part of it. Its side effect profile, coupled with lower COVID protection, means millions of doses of still on shelves, unused. J&J is likely to pivot to non-COVID-related vaccine production.


    • EzlyAmuzzed

      I do not understand what US vaccine mandates truckers are protesting because I thought the only mandate the US has left for the moment is for federal workers. Is there a mandate affecting truckers?

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      • Eric EzlyAmuzzed

        These are truckers who haul freight across international borders, and are required to be vaccinated in order to cross. Both Canada and USA have similar requirements that people crossing into their countries be vaccinated. The vast majority of such truckers took their vaccines and kept doing their jobs, but it doesn’t take many truckers to make a lot of trouble by blocking roads.

        These protests have also attracted some non-trucker pro-virus/anti-people political groups.

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      • Cia Eric

        I don’t think they are pro-virus, anti-people. They have a lot of public support among non-truckers. I was in favor of mandates up to and especially including Delta, while recognizing that the vaccines not infrequently caused severe harm. Delta is gone now. Many countries, including the US, have ended or are thinking about ending Covid control measures. John Campbell, a pro-vaxxer, said last night that Israel has very high deaths right now, and it may be owing to their having given many fourth doses.

        The convoy thing has spread all over the world. I think the time has come to end mandates except for health care workers. I think it’s just pride causing attempts to aggressively put down the vaccine protests.

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      • Cia Cia

        Also, the vaccine does not prevent infection with Omicron nor transmission. It looks as though it probably prevents severe cases and death. But that part should be up to choice. The main reason for a mandate was to prevent infecting others. If it can’t be shown to do that, it shouldn’t be mandated, since the dangers of vaccination still exist.

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      • Cia Cia

        Four downvotes with no arguments given to attempt to refute what I said? Oh, well.

        -8 |
      • Eric Cia

        “Four downvotes with no arguments given to attempt to refute what I said?”

        It’s up to 8 now. I am not one of them, but I do agree with them.

        I spent a lot of time explaining to you a month ago why you were probably mistaken about Omicron being mild. You don’t seem to have learned anything from that. Isn’t it obvious by now that Omicron is killing more people per day in USA than Delta ever did? Just look at the death per day graph in today’s article above. But you keep talking about Omicron infection being a good thing. My explanations were a waste of time/effort.

        I’m happy to explain if I think it will help someone. I don’t think you’re ready to listen.


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      • Cia Eric

        As recently as a couple of weeks ago, most of those dying of Covid were dying of Delta, not Omicron. Like the man whose wife successfully sued to get him moved to another hospital because the first wanted to take him off life support. Unfortunately, he died anyway, but he died of Delta contracted in November, but he spent nearly two months in the hospital

        So one thing we need to know is how many are dying of Delta and how many of Omicron. They don’t usually do genomic analysis.

        The next question is what yo do about it. My friend in Bulgaria with Covid is also triple vaxxed, as I and many here are. He got two Pfizer’s in April and the third in October. He had a bad reaction to the first, much to his surprise. He has O and pneumonia now. Sure, could be worse (though he’s not well yet),but being triple vaxxed didn’t protect him from Covid pneumonia.

        So, as has been widely reported, even large numbers of the triple vaxxed are getting Omicron and transmitting it to others. Many of those faithfully wearing masks are getting it. It is reported that the triple vaxxed usually get milder cases, but it is universally acknowledged now that O is much milder than the other variants, in most people. What is the proof that the usually milder cases are because of the vaccine for a strain no longer in existence, and not because O is a milder strain? Usually is not the same as always. Numerically many have gotten severe cases of O. So what’s the solution? John Campbell, a strong vaccine advocate, said that natural immunity offers better longterm protection, but requires that one go through the sometimes-dangerous natural disease. Also that there is reason to believe the high deaths in Israel are related to the fourth dose. You can’t keep vaccinating forever with no damage to the immune system and decreased efficacy. 

        We have few answers. I think we need to make what we know available and let people decide for themselves. My daughter didn’t get the third dose. I am disinclined to get a fourth dose. I told my friend he’d better at least wait for the O-specific vaccine. 

        However, I think the situation is resolving itself. The extraordinarily high transmissibility means that extraordinary numbers have gotten O, have recovered, and are now immune. It has in no way been demonstrated that they’ll all just get it again in a few months. And notice that they’re positing ever-shorter terms for vacvine immunity, such as it is. What’s the end game? The doctor I spoke to today thinks it would be difficult at this point to catch it even if you wanted to. The critical number may already have been exposed. That’s how the Spanish flu ended. After a year and a half every human in the world had been exposed and had immunity. At the cost of fifty to a hundred million deaths, but it ended, with no vaccine.

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      • Cia Eric

        O is usually mild, but extremely transmissible. It peaked at extremely high numbers. But now numbers have plunged. Everyone agrees that it is usually mild. Not always. Is that not the case for all contagious diseases? Should we mandate that everyone receive another dose annually against all vaccine-preventable diseases? A rabies vax every year for everyone, to prevent the horrible deaths from rabies of a small number a year?

        I have read what you have said with attention. I do not agree with everything you have expressed. I have raised points which you have not addressed. I might say that I have wasted my time and effort, but I would not say that. You are privileged not to have to go out into the world, and when you do so, you have said that you use an ultra-heavy-duty respirator rather than an ordinary mask. Will you do so for the rest of your life? You know that soon the vaccine companies will give up on the effort to get everyone to take another vaccine every three or four months? With waning efficacy, every one or two months? A cui bono?

        -5 |
      • Stephanie ArnoldContributor Cia

        In my experience as a clinician, Omicron is not mild. At the outset of the Omicron wave, we saw some protective effect in the population from previous infection. Rates of ICU admission were initially far lower than we saw with the previous Delta wave, about 4% versus 30%–but over time the ICU admissions creeped back up, hitting upwards of 20% of cases. This is the case in what I have seen with my own eyes and nationally. Deaths, although always a lagging indicator, are an extreme lagging indicator with Omicron. Huge number of people are still dying, and in many cases their deaths are occurring many weeks later than we saw in the disease trajectory with Delta. So what we have with Omicron is a different disease trajectory–longer illness, longer time to ICU need, drawn out but high rates of death. This is, categorically, not mild. Edit: typos. 

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      • Cia Stephanie Arnold

        See my link above to a South African doctor who said that for the vast majority, it is mild. And that she was being pressured to say it was not mild. If you have six times as many diagnosed with O, of course there will be more deaths. But only a few more than with D, not six times. The vaccine has given some protection, but not complete and not reliable. But it’s academic now. It’s over.

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      • TraceContributor Eric

        The BS Asymmetry Principle — I love it, and so true.

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      • Cia Eric

        I just read this, about a S African doctor doctor who was pressured to say Omicron was serious, as serious as Delta, but she insisted that she had seen it and usually it was much less serious than Delta or the others. She said she wouldnt say what was not true. 

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      • Carlotta SusannaStaff Cia

        @Cia with respect, some of the websites you’re linking to do not seem credible, and many of your comments toe the line on forum rules (avoiding unfounded conspiracies and culture-war stuff, noncredible sources, etc). This just isn’t the place to have going-in-circles debates about vaccines. Please consider this an official moderator request to debate vaccines elsewhere, as your vaccine comments have become too overwhelming and hard to moderate, and don’t really add much to the prepping convo.

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      • Cia Carlotta Susanna

        Many of the comments here have discussed all the many aspects of vaccines, and it has been important to consider all sides of the risks vs. benefits. I don’t think I have said anything overtly political. As you have seen, I have thought carefully about both (all) sides. I have taken three doses of the mRNA vaccines. But no one would say that either this or any other vaccine never causes extremely severe adverse reactions. But the issue is ending now. What has been done was done, and now we’ll move on.

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      • TraceContributor Carlotta Susanna

        Thank you.

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      • Karl Winterling Carlotta Susanna

        PJ Media is classified as a “Questionable Source” by Media Bias Fact Check, in contrast to other right-of-center news sources that mostly publish factual information and editorialize from a conservative, right-leaning centrist, or libertarian perspective. The “Questionable Source” categorization doesn’t mean everything the site publishes is inaccurate, it means you have to individually fact check every article if you’re engaging with someone who uses the site as a source.

        The mix of some true articles, some false or conspiracy/speculative articles, and culture wars commentary makes it very difficult for someone with a different perspective to have a productive conversation with whoever uses the site as a source (whether or not a person gives links or citations). You have to individually fact check every factual statement to get anywhere. The problem is the BS Asymmetry Principle, not that someone has a different political or philosophical perspective.

        Cia does not post explicitly political or culture wars content but most of her comments get as close as possible to primarily being about an emotionally laden hot-button culture wars issue (like who in society gets to make medical/health decisions about kids) without technically engaging in political debate. This isn’t a place to discuss bioethics or an issue like who in society should get final decisional authority on public health emergency countermeasures.

        I’m hesitating to post this comment because I don’t want to give the impression that anyone is a bad or dangerous person or is unable to make responsible decisions as a layperson. However, I think it’s helpful to encourage people not to waste their time with unproductive conversations.

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      • Cia Karl Winterling

        I think it’s better to read what is interesting and timely than what is on a list of approved reading material. Certainly if you’re not interested in a topic, or only want to hear one view, there’s no reason for you to discuss it. I would be interested in talking about who has the authority to make health decisions for children, but that hasn’t been brought up here by me or anyone else.

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      • TraceContributor Karl Winterling

        Well said — and that is a difficult thing to say, respectfully and with class. Well done. 

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      • Karl Winterling Cia

        No, you shouldn’t take a vaccine simply because so-and-so authority figure says so. That’s silly. You should get one because empirical evidence shows that getting one is probably a good idea.

        Yes. There can be a problem with authoritarianism, shutting down conversations, or blind trust in authority figures. The problem now, though, seems to be people giving their support and money to people who are willing to lie or deceive to tell their audiences what they want to hear. The conversation hasn’t really been meaningfully suppressed and I’m skeptical of claims that more deplatforming will lead to anything good.

        The thing is that the conversation hasn’t been all that productive because it’s mainly centered on speculation and conspiracy accusations (it isn’t a “conspiracy theory” that tries to piece facts together, it’s mainly a mix of baseless accusations and encouraging people to speculate wildly about what might or might not be true when no basis for speculation exists). The “theory” side hasn’t been substantive enough to convince anyone who follows empirical evidence, while the rest is pretty much wildly throwing speculation and accusations around.

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      • Cia Karl Winterling

        That’s why I took three doses. I normally would not, and refused a flu vaccine yesterday. I agree that there have been wild theories about harm caused by the Covid vaccines, but in other cases, the harm has been real. At this point I think it’s academic. Different Canadian authorities are calling for an end to different measures, in part due to the convoy. But the time has come, and they are being discontinued in many places, soon everywhere. It feels anticlimactic. Maybe that’s how the end of a pandemic has always felt.

        -1 |
      • Stephanie ArnoldContributor Cia

        Omicron transmission risk is still reduced by vaccination, especially by booster doses.

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      • Captain Peanut EzlyAmuzzed

        Correct me if I’m wrong… but from my understanding, the Prime Minister of Canada and the President of the US instituted a vaccine mandate or 14 day quarantine for truckers going across the CA-US border. About 90% of Canadian truckers are supposedly vaccinated and about 65% of US ones are. 

        It’s mostly just a protest against all vaccine and covid mandates more than about the trucking mandate. By parking your large semi trucks and blocking streets and constantly blowing their horns they hope to have leaders stop all restrictions. Many anti-vaxx protesters are arriving in their vehicles as well to honk and show their support. 

        These protests are expanding from Ottawa and are rumored to be showing up in other major US cities as well. 

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      • Cia Captain Peanut

        In several foreign countries as well. I think the time has come to get back to normal. I saw a doctor this morning who asked if I had had fever recently. I said no, but I’d kind of like to get O and get it over with. I’m triple vaxxed, which shouldn’t be an impediment to catching it. She said that at this point, it was extremely unlikely that I catch it. Which surprised me, despite having seen cases decrease dramatically from the previous day for maybe two weeks now. Has any guideline been set for determining when low is low enough to rescind the measures? It needs to be.

        -7 |
      • Robert LarsonContributor Cia

        My mom is triple vaxxed and currently is struggling with covid. She is quite miserable and probably would advise you against getting it.

        Her main symptoms are fatigue and bad chest pain.

        Hope she gets over it soon…

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      • Cia Robert Larson

        I hope she recovers soon as well. I wear a mask when out, and am triple vaxxed. I’m not making an effort to get it, but it might be better in the long run, natural immunity and so on. 

        i have a friend in Bulgaria who had something like mild flu last week, recovered, then the fever came back. He had an X-ray yesterday which showed spots in the lungs.Today a specialist said it was O and that in older people it COULD attack the lungs, though it usually doesn’t. He was prescribed a steroid. I learned yesterday that Bulgaria and Greece have the highest death rates in Europe. I recognize that O is still occurring.

        I recognize that nothing is certain in this life. I refused a flu shot this morning. I might catch and die of flu despite the mask. But a flu shot paralyzed my father. I had an MRI Wed. I have MS from a vaccine reaction.  I refused the gaudolinium contrast in the MRI, so they couldn’t tell how old the newish lesions were. But I think the gaudolinium is more dangerous than any benefit in knowing this. They didn’t use it in the other two I had years ago.  I would go to jail before taking a flu shot or having an IV with gaudolinium. Flu deaths are one in a thousand. Up through Delta, Covid deaths have been one in two hundred cases. At some point you have to set a boundary and let people decide for themselves. No one will help you if you have a bad reaction.

        -8 |
      • Robert LarsonContributor Cia

        Thank you for the well wishes, that means a lot. 

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      • Cia Robert Larson

        What day did she become sick? Is the chest pain from pneumonia? My friend said he might have pneumonia. I sent my friend something about days 5-10 being the dangerous ones if you’re not clearly recovering. Three days ago he thought he had recovered, then got worse again. He was given a steroid, which I think is only used at a late stage in the illness, as earlier you don’t want to suppress the immune system. I’m certainly not trying to deny the suffering and deaths of millions, but am trying to look at all sides. Omicron is much milder in most. I sent my friend articles like the four-part Escape from Ecuador, by Greg Ellifritz, the articles by Bernie Carr at Apartment Prepper on her bout with Covid last summer and her use of oxygen tanks, and two by Daisy Luther about her having Covid in Mexico in December 2020. They give protocols and a lot of details about how terrible and frightening it was. Also all the talks on YouTube by Dr John Campbell. You would certainly find them interesting. 

        -9 |
      • Stephanie ArnoldContributor Cia

        The assertion that you have contracted multiple sclerosis as the result of a vaccine injury is not supported by medical literature. There’s another exhaustive and recent study here. The second study is more about immune exacerbation of existing MS, but also discusses the vaccine injury/MS hypothesis. There’s growing evidence of an infectious pathogenesis–scientists are still exploring this. I don’t care to argue about it because I don’t believe that will be productive. An incredible bulk of literature on the subject is available online. I would pay particular attention to meta-analyses linked in the first article, which are the highest level of evidence. It was hypothesized in the past that vaccine injury could trigger MS–this has, over time, been shown not to be the case. I fear that this assertion will spark unnecessary vaccine hesitancy in other readers and I would like you to reconsider your beliefs on this issue. I know these beliefs are a big part of your personal narrative and I don’t wish to cause you distress. I am happy you are a part of our community and I’m aiming to give you the best and most helpful information I can. 

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      • Stephanie ArnoldContributor Robert Larson

        Hope she gets better ASAP, Robert. 

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      • Cia EzlyAmuzzed

        Good point. Why are the truckers now the only ones singled out for mandates? Other than HCWs in many places. There’s another good Substack article by Rupa Supramanya based on interviews with a hundred of the ten to fifteen thousand truckers camping out in Ottawa. 

        -3 |
    • brownfox-ffContributor

      What you can do about it:

      • Keep building a pantry. It is a victory of small steps.
      • Practice cooking a meal. Do you have a best recipe?
      • Track what food you eat for two weeks. Does this give you better insight into what foods you should buy? New recipes to learn? Foods to avoid?
      • Consider a motto: “Early is On Time; On Time is too late”. Perhaps you can’t be early for the current event (whatever it is). But could you get ready now for the next change?
      • Make a plan: know an alternate route. If you have to get somewhere, do you know two ways to do it?
      • Make a plan: create an ally. Do you have any friends, family, or contacts where you could stay if you needed a place to go? Can you offer the same to them?
      • Consider when you would stay home, vs when you might leave
      • Get some exercise. Take your mind off things
      • Take a break, meditate, or read a book
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      • Captain Peanut brownfox-ff

        “Make a plan: create an ally. Do you have any friends, family, or contacts where you could stay if you needed a place to go? Can you offer the same to them?” 

        – Couldn’t agree more! I don’t have family nearby so I need to work on developing stronger ties to friends and offer the same place to stay for them.

        “Take a break, meditate, or read a book”

         – I will do this right now! I was having bad dreams last night about enemy invasions and running through a hotel that was being swept by the enemy forces. I ended up dying by severe stab wounds and actually felt horrible pain which woke me up. The mind is a powerful thing to create that sensation. I think I am stressing and worrying about things I cannot control and need to take a break to let things go. Thank you for the advice.

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    • Karl Winterling

      The State Department pretty much said: If you’re in Ukraine, leave immediately. If you can’t leave immediately, plan to leave within the next 24-48 hours.

      The geopolitics go back a while and aren’t exactly good vs. evil, but that doesn’t change the fact that an invasion would be bad.

      A “silver lining” of an invasion might be that it finally gets more people to worry about how food insecurity often helps create instability in developing countries. Maybe more people will start caring about what really matters (which I’ll concede is a bit open-ended).

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    • TraceContributor

      As always, thanks Stephanie. (I don’t comment a lot on your posts, but I always read and appreciate your information and analysis.)

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