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Biden Having A Hard Time Squirming Out Of His Previously Stated Views

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Biden Having A Hard Time Squirming Out Of His Previously Stated Views
Robby Soave writes at Reason about Biden previously having advocated the "believe victims" standard. Biden denied that on Morning Joe to Mika Brzezinski:

Brzezinski wasn't having it. She repeatedly reminded Biden that he had advocated believing Christine Blasey Ford, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's accuser. She even read his own words back to him: "For a woman to come forward in the glaring lights of focus, nationally, you've got to start off with the presumption that at least the essence of what she's talking about is real, whether or not she forgets facts, whether or not it's been made worse or better over time." Brzezinski also called out several of Biden's high profile supports--Stacey Abrams, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)--for participating in the Kavanaugh double standard.

Caught in an obvious contradiction, Biden then tried to say that victims should be believed until contrary evidence emerges.

"Women are to be believed, given the benefit of the doubt," said Biden. "If they come forward and say something happened to them, they should start with the presumption they are telling the truth. Then you have to look at the facts.

"What I said during the Kavanaugh hearings was she had a right to be heard," Biden continued. "And she came forward, the presumption would be she's telling the truth unless it's proved she wasn't telling the truth, or unless it's clear from the facts surrounding it that it isn't the truth."

But under this standard, Biden would be presumed guilty. If the former vice president is taking the position that women should be believed unless their accusations are disproven, then the burden of evidence is on the accused. No evidence has emerged that explicitly contradicts Reade's story. Does that mean the public should default to believing her?

Biden seems to think the lack of evidence confirming Reade's story is the same thing as evidence disproving it. Indeed, Biden's campaign has circulated the talking point that The New York Times investigated the allegation and found that it wasn't credible. The Times rightly objected to this characterization of its reporting. The newspaper didn't find hard evidence supporting either finding; that is quite different than saying they disproved Reade.

This is why the presumption of innocence matters, in both a criminal and a cultural context. If there's no way to determine what happened, one solution would be to default toward not believing it--or at least, not punishing the accused. An extraordinary claim requires affirmative evidence to be accepted, and if the evidence does not materialize, it is rejected. That seems to be what Biden is saying now. It's definitely not what he said before.

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20 days ago
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Targets of fake subpoenas can sue Louisiana D.A., underlings

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“A federal appellate court … ruled that a Louisiana district attorney and several prosecutors in his office violated the law by using fake ‘subpoenas’ to pressure the victims and witnesses of crimes to meet with them, finding that the attorneys were not entitled to “absolute immunity” from legal liability.” [Jerry Lambe, Law and Crime; earlier (“Even though the subpoenas were unlawful, he really did jail people who didn’t obey them.”)]

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28 days ago
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COVID Update – Focus on Vitamin D

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28th April 2020

I have found, I suspect like almost everyone else, that it is almost impossible to keep track of what is going on with COVID. Stories swirl and multiply, and almost everyone seems to be trying to get something out of it. People are claiming miracle cures and success – but it is difficult to verify any such claims.

The normal rules of research (flawed though they often are) have completely flown out of the window. It is like the wild west, with snake oil salesmen announcing wonderful products that not only cure COVID, but every other disease… I mean every other disease, known to man.

You sir, you look like an intelligent man, a man who understands science. A man who can see that my wonderful potion can cure almost every ailment that befalls man. Baldness, wrinkled skin, impotence, COVID…

‘A vaccine you say sir, of course, I shall have one ready and done in four months, start to finish … safety sir, did you mention safety? No need for such things, vaccines are always safe, never caused anyone any harm. Never a single case of any problems.’

‘Narcolepsy sir… sounds like nonsense, never heard it. Guillain-Barré sir. My, we have been at the medical dictionary haven’t we? In my opinion, if you can’t spell it, you don’t need to worry about it. Sounds French to me anyway – and you can’t trust the French, can you?

‘The WHO sir… what’s that you say? It may be that you can get infected twice. So how is any vaccine going to work. Well, I must say sir that vaccines are far more effective at creating immunity than getting the actual infection. Everyone knows that sir… what do you mean utter bollocks. I can tell you that a vaccine will always work, every time, guaranteed one hundred per cent effective, or your money back.’

‘Bill Gates is behind it all sir you say, pushing for mandatory vaccines for all diseases. You think it’s like something out of 1984. Well, Mr Gates is an expert in viruses sir, is he not…His operating system did allow a massive attack on IT systems in the NHS in 2017 sir. Now, if you will excuse me, I have more snake oil to sell… tatty bye sir, and good luck to you.’

‘Roll up, roll up.

Which takes me to vitamin D. Which is my miracle cure for COVID.

I know that, in the West, the medical profession, hates vitamins with a passion. Those who promote vitamins are the very personification of woo, woo medicine. They have no proven beneficial effects they rant and on, and on. Insult and attack.

However, as I have been known to point out, the ‘vit’ in vitamin, stands for vital. As in, if you don’t take them, you die. So, they do kind of have important beneficial effects on the human body. Of course, I know the counter argument, which is not that vitamins are not necessary, of course they are, even doctors agree with that. The battle is about the optimal level for health.

We are told that almost everyone has sufficient vitamin intake from the food they eat, and that anything above that intake just creates expensive urine. In addition, some vitamins can be dangerous in excess. We have seen up to one death a year, in some cases.

Leaving the battles about vitamins to one side, what are the optimal levels of various vitamins? The answer is no-one really knows … for sure. The central problem here is that, when vitamins were first isolated, their deficiencies were creating major and obvious health problems. A lack of vitamin C caused scurvy – leading to death.

A lack of vitamin B1 a.k.a. thiamine led to Beriberi, with nerve and muscle damage and wasting and death. A severe lack of vitamin B12 lead to nerve damage, anaemia, weakness and death.

So, the focus was very much on finding the dose of vitamins required to prevent these serious health problems. However, no-one was particularly interested in looking beyond this bare minimum, to try and establish what level of a vitamin is associated with optimal health. For example, what are long term effects on cancer and heart disease – for example. Or prevention of infections.

Looking specifically at vitamin D, the major and immediate health problem caused by a lack of vitamin D is on bones. Without vitamin D, calcium is not absorbed properly and the bones become thin and brittle. Children with low vitamin D develop rickets, bent bones that do not grow properly.

Once the level of vitamin D required to protect the bones was established, that was pretty much seen as job done. However, is it better for health to have higher levels. Can we be optimally healthy with, what many believe, to be a low vitamin D level?

More importantly right now, does a higher level of vitamin D enable you to fight off infections such as influenza and COVID? Of course, as I stated at the beginning, in the middle of the COVID maelstrom, people are claiming everything about everything.

So, I am going to take you back to 2008 to look at Virology Journal – yes, this is about as mainstream as you can possibly get in the world of virus research. The article was called ‘On the epidemiology of influenza.’ If you want to get your mind blown, read it 1.

It set out to answer seven questions:

    1. Why is influenza both seasonal and ubiquitous and where is the virus between epidemics?
    2. Why are the epidemics so explosive?
    3. Why do epidemics end so abruptly?
    4. What explains the frequent coincidental timing of epidemics in countries of similar latitudes?
    5. Why is the serial interval obscure?
    6. Why is the secondary attack rate so low?
    7. Why did epidemics in previous ages spread so rapidly, despite the lack of modern transport?

Yes, I realise COVID is not Influenza, but past research on influenza is about as close as you can get. Cutting to the chase, of a very long article, the authors concluded the reason why flu was far more common in winter, is because people have much lower levels of Vitamin D.

Below is their graph of vitamin D levels in the UK, at different times of the year.


These researchers then looked at what happened to people who took vitamin D supplements all year round. One group took placebo, one group took 800 international units (IU) a day – and one group took 800 IU per day but 2000 IU a day in the final year of the trial. Below is a graph of what they found.


To put this another way, of those 104 subjects who took 2,000 IU of vitamin D every day, only one got a cold or influenza in the entire year.

Perhaps more importantly, if you do get infected with influenza, vitamin D (especially D3) has a potent effect on protecting endothelial cells. And damage to endothelial cells appears to be a key mechanism by which COVID creates the most severe, and potentially fatal, symptoms. Here is a section from the paper ‘Dietary Vitamin D and Its Metabolites Non-Genomically Stabilize the Endothelium.

‘Vitamin D is a known modulator of inflammation. Native dietary vitamin D3 is thought to be bio-inactive, and beneficial vitamin D3 effects are thought to be largely mediated by the metabolite 1,25(OH)2D3…

Our data suggests the presence of an alternative signaling modality by which D3 acts directly on endothelial cells to prevent vascular leak. The finding that D3 and its metabolites modulate endothelial stability may help explain the clinical correlations between low serum vitamin D levels and the many human diseases with well-described vascular dysfunction phenotypes.’ 2

In short, it seems Vitamin D stops you getting infected with viruses and, even if you do get infected, it helps to mitigate the worst effects. This could explain results from a, not yet published study, looking at the severity of COVID infections vs. the level of Vitamin D in the blood 3.


On the face of it, remarkable benefits. However, they fit with what is already known about the benefits of vitamin D on influenza.

Further supporting the role of vitamin D in COVID, it has been recognised in many countries that those with dark skin are more likely to get infected, and die, from COVID. Here from the Guardian (UK newspaper).

I am not alone in being alarmed at the preponderance of deaths from COVID-19 among those with dark skin (UK government urged to investigate coronavirus deaths of BAME doctors, 10 April). While COVID-19 is likely to magnify the effect of social deprivation, I don’t think this is the whole story.

Vitamin D is needed for many reasons, including correct functioning of the immune system. It is converted to its active form by the action of sunlight on the skin. This is impeded by having dark skin and leads to low levels of vitamin D. Supplementing with vitamin D3 at 5000iu daily corrects this deficiency, and it is now an urgent need for all people with dark skin (and most with white). There is a reasonable chance that vitamin D replacement could help reduce the risk we are seeing playing out so tragically in the BAME community 4.

So, what do we know?

  1. Dark skinned people are more likely to die from COVID
  2. Dark skinned people are more likely to have low vitamin D levels 5
  3. Vitamin D supplements protect against colds and flu – and hopefully COVID
  4. Higher levels of Vitamin D should be able to mitigate the damage caused by COVID

The increased risks of low vitamin D levels on COVID seem dramatic, and the benefits of supplementation with vitamin D could be just as dramatic. I have been going out into the sun wherever possible in the last month. I take Vitamin D3 supplements 4,000 units a day. I strongly advise everyone else to do the same.  It is snake oil, and it is free (if provided by the sun).

The only problem I see is that I cannot make any money out of this at all. Oh well. Perhaps I should claim to be making a vaccine, that could earn me billions.

1: https://virologyj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1743-422X-5-29

2: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0140370

3: https://www.grassrootshealth.net/blog/first-data-published-COVID-19-severity-vitamin-d-levels/

4: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/apr/10/uk-coronavirus-deaths-bame-doctors-bma

5: https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/136/4/1126/4664238

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31 days ago
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A builder manifesto


Marc Andreessen says we were unprepared for the covid pandemic because: “We chose not to build.”

The problem isn’t money, or capitalism, or technical competence:

The problem is desire. We need to want these things. The problem is inertia. We need to want these things more than we want to prevent these things. The problem is regulatory capture. We need to want new companies to build these things, even if incumbents don’t like it, even if only to force the incumbents to build these things. And the problem is will. We need to build these things.

Amen. And I’ll add:

The problem is ignorance. We don’t know how far we’ve come, and we don’t teach our children.

The problem is complacency. We take progress for granted, as if it were automatic or inevitable. It isn’t: for most of human history we moved forward only weakly and sporadically. Progress only happens when we resolve to make it happen.

The problem is fear. Every harm, large or small, actual or potential, real or imagined, becomes a rule, a regulation, a thread in a ribbon of red tape that has brought sclerosis to our institutions, public and private. We’ve bought safety at the price of speed, without debating or deciding it.

The problem is guilt. We worry that what we build is “unsustainable”, or that it increases inequality, when we should be proud that what we build drives growth and moves humanity forward.

The problem is hatred. Hatred of technology, of industry, of money, of capitalism—hatred that blinds people to the immense good these forces do in the world for all humanity.

The problem is entitlement. Not knowing what it takes to put food on the table, the roof over their heads, or the shirts on their backs, too many people see these things and much more as birthrights. Not knowing that wealth is created, they see the rich as thieves and scorn even their gifts.

The problem is tribalism. We don’t teach our children to think, and so they learn only to feel. Without a commitment to truth, without confidence in their own judgment, they fall back on age-old patterns of ingroup vs. outgroup—witness a world where even the efficacy of a drug becomes a partisan issue.

What is the solution?

We need to learn to appreciate progress—both what we’ve already done, and why we can’t stop now. We need to tell the amazing story of progress: how comfort, safety, health, and luxury have become commonplace, and what a dramatic achievement that has been. We need to learn where progress comes from, to understand its causes. And we need to pass all that knowledge on to the next generation.

We need to glorify the inventor, the creator, the maker—the builder. The independent mind who defies tradition and authority. The scientists, technologists and industrialists who pursue a creative vision, against the crowd and against the odds, facing risk with courage and setbacks with resilience, working relentlessly over years and decades to bring about a better world.

We need to inspire young people to take part in this story, to step up in their turn and to one day lead the way, knowing that it is up to each generation to pick up the torch of progress and carry it forward.

We need to invest. We need to fund science and research, both basic and applied. We need to bring back the great corporate invention labs that helped create the modern world.

And then we need to get out of the way. Unwind the regulatory state. No matter where you fall on any political spectrum, acknowledge that the creeping bureaucracy has crept too far, and that it’s time to start untangling the thicket of regulations. We can maintain a reasonable and even continually increasing standard of safety, while at the same time valuing speed, efficiency, and cost, and most fundamentally, allowing for individual judgment.

Andreessen concludes:

Our nation and our civilization were built on production, on building. Our forefathers and foremothers built roads and trains, farms and factories, then the computer, the microchip, the smartphone, and uncounted thousands of other things that we now take for granted, that are all around us, that define our lives and provide for our well-being. There is only one way to honor their legacy and to create the future we want for our own children and grandchildren, and that’s to build.

Amen. Let’s make building and progress into a philosophy, a religion, a movement.


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40 days ago
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One reason why food intended for restaurants is not reallocated to supermarkets


Nutrition labeling also frequently doesn’t comply with Agriculture Department and Food and Drug Administration guidelines for consumer sales, said Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the Consumer Brands Association, a trade organization for the consumer packaged goods industry. A company that sold hamburger buns to major fast food outlets could try to pivot to retail, but that entails changing packaging on the fly, a relaxation of labeling requirements and new distribution contracts.

Here is a longer story, about how supermarkets are changing, by Laura Reiley, interesting throughout.  I’ll say it again: America’s regulatory state is failing us.

The post One reason why food intended for restaurants is not reallocated to supermarkets appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

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44 days ago
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Beware Of What Bureaucrats Try To Slide In In Emergencies

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Beware Of What Bureaucrats Try To Slide In In Emergencies

From Wikipedia:

The National Maximum Speed Law (NMSL) was a provision of the federal government of the United States 1974 Emergency Highway Energy Conservation Act that prohibited speed limits higher than 55 miles per hour (89 km/h). It was drafted in response to oil price spikes and supply disruptions during the 1973 oil crisis and remained the law until 1995.

While federal officials hoped gasoline consumption would fall by 2.2%, the actual savings were estimated at between 0.5% and 1%.

The law was widely disregarded by motorists nationwide, and some states opposed the law,[1][2] but many jurisdictions discovered it to be a major source of revenue. Actions ranged from proposing deals for an exemption to de-emphasizing speed limit enforcement. The NMSL was modified in 1987 and 1988 to allow up to 65 mph (105 km/h) limits on certain limited-access rural roads. Congress repealed the NMSL in 1995, fully returning speed limit-setting authority to the individual states.

The law's safety benefit is disputed as research found conflicting results.

The power to set speed limits historically belonged to the states. Prior to the NMSL, the sole exception to this occurred during World War II, when the U.S. Office of Defense Transportation established a national maximum "Victory Speed Limit" of 35 mph to conserve gasoline and rubber for the American war effort. The Victory Speed Limit lasted from May 1942 to August 14, 1945, when the war ended.[3][4] Immediately before the National Maximum Speed Law became effective, speed limits were as high as 75 mph (121 km/h).[5] (Kansas had lowered its turnpike speed limit from 80 mph (130 km/h) before 1974.) Montana and Nevada generally posted no speed limits on highways, limiting drivers to only whatever was safe for conditions.

From Marc's thread, there was a tax in 1898 to pay for the Spanish-American war. They finally rolled it back -- in 2006.

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45 days ago
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