Los Angeles (AFP) - Some of California's largest ever fires raged across the state Saturday, forcing tens of thousands from their homes as the governor called for international help to fight the blazes.About 12,000 lightning strikes hit across the state in 72 hours, officials said, sparking the fires that left thick smoke blanketing large areas of central and northern California."We simply haven’t seen anything like this in many, many years," California governor Gavin Newsom said on Friday.The two largest blazes -- dubbed the SCU Lightening Complex and the LNU Lightening Complex -- had burned ...
Marjorie Taylor Greene rant urges followers to sue doctors over ivermectin because it's used in Africa
In a series of tweets on Saturday morning of dubious scientific value, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) urged her followers to sue doctors to force them to prescribe ivermectin -- a deworming paste -- for the treatment of Covid-19 and to also file a wrongful death suit if a family member was denied and passed away.
According to the Georgia Republican -- who helped run a family construction business before being elected to the House -- ivermectin is used in Africa --which she believes has lower Covid death rates -- and therefore should be used in the U.S. instead of CDC-approved vaccines.
In her 7-part tweet rant, she declared, "Africans have safely taken Ivermectin for decades and many clinical trials have proven Ivermectin to be a very effective safe & cheap treatment against #Covid," before adding, "Any doctor refusing to prescribe Ivermectin for Covid is participating in politics that is killing people."
She then wrote, "With Africa's amazingly low death rate from Covid, combined with the lowest vaccine rate in the world & very little masking, the 'civilized' leaders of the world should immediately stop their tyrannical forced shutdowns, vaccine mandates, & absurd masking policies. If you had a loved one die from Covid, and they were not allowed to take Ivermectin or monoclonal antibodies, you might have a wrongful death suit in your hands."
"With all that is know about #Covid and all the covid studies and the known miracle of low deaths in Africa with very little vaccinations, it's no wonder the Tyrants announce a new #covidvariant from Africa and apply travel restrictions. They control you with irrational fear," she later accused.
You can see her tweets below:
1. Africa has the lowest vaccine rates in the world at 6%, and the lowest recorded deaths by drastic numbers.\n\nAfrica\u2019s covid response of not masking & not getting vaccinated is proof that vaccines & masks aren\u2019t stopping covid.https://news.yahoo.com/scientists-mystified-wary-africa-avoids-074905034.html\u00a0\u2026— Marjorie Taylor Greene \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf8 (@Marjorie Taylor Greene \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf8) 1638024902
3. Along with low obesity rates & higher Vit D & Zinc, Africans have safely taken Ivermectin for decades and many clinical trials have proven Ivermectin to be a very effective safe & cheap treatment against #Covid.\n\nhttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8248252/pdf/ajt-28-e434.pdf\u00a0\u2026— Marjorie Taylor Greene \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf8 (@Marjorie Taylor Greene \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf8) 1638024903
5. With Africa\u2019s amazingly low death rate from Covid, combined with the lowest vaccine rate in the world & very little masking, the \u201ccivilized\u201d leaders of the world should immediately stop their tyrannical forced shutdowns, vaccine mandates, & absurd masking policies.— Marjorie Taylor Greene \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf8 (@Marjorie Taylor Greene \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf8) 1638024904
7. With all that is know about #Covid and all the covid studies and the known miracle of low deaths in Africa with very little vaccinations, it\u2019s no wonder the Tyrants announce a new #covidvariant from Africa and apply travel restrictions.\n\nThey control you with irrational fear.— Marjorie Taylor Greene \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf8 (@Marjorie Taylor Greene \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf8) 1638024904
According to a report from NPR's Ron Elving, while the mainstream media has been busy focusing on over-inflating the "Dems in disarray" narrative, they are ignoring a coming apart of the Republican Party that is increasingly choosing sides over Donald Trump with an election on the horizon.
As Elving notes, it has always been an article of faith the Republicans are in a continual state of lockstep, offering up an image of party comity and unity, but recent developments show there is a power struggle within the party tied to allegiance to Trump.
According to Elving, "Heightened tensions within the GOP have been increasingly visible in recent weeks, driven by the still-divisive personality of former President Donald Trump — but also by issues such as vaccines and mandates and by the prospect of big Republican gains in the elections of 2022 and 2024," adding that Republican governors are increasingly turning their backs on not only Trump but GOP lawmakers in Washington, D.C. who are mired in petty squabbles inspired by the former president.
"Eyebrows were raised over the weekend when a big name Republican, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, criticized Trump and his claque in Congress. Sununu was especially disturbed at the so-called 'MAGA Squad,' the hardcore Trump acolytes who have tried to ostracize their in-party House colleagues who voted for the Senate's bipartisan infrastructure bill earlier this month — or who voted to impeach Trump earlier this year," Elving wrote before adding that Sununu is not alone in keeping his distance from Trump and his enablers and balking at running for the U.S. Senate despite the pleadings of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
"Sununu's approval in New Hampshire is 67%, [Maryland's Larry] Hogan's at home is 70%, but both have declined to run for the Senate next year, depriving the GOP of their best chance at a pick-up in both states," the NPR report states. "Also refusing party pleadings are Gov. Phil Scott of Vermont, the nation's most popular governor at 79% approval, and Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, who looks not too shabby at 72%. Scott has said publicly he voted for Biden and also called for Trump to be removed from office after Jan. 6. Baker has said he did not vote for Trump in either 2016 or 2020, and Trump has endorsed someone else for governor in the Bay State."
Beyond that, Elving wrote that Republicans are growing increasingly weary of Trump's insistence that the 2020 election was stolen from him -- and are now looking out for themselves and their political future as prospects of taking over the Senate and the House look promising.
"Trump's continued insistence on his 2020 alternative reality is not the only problem driving the GOP's dive into disunity. Another factor, curiously enough, is the prospect of power," he wrote, "Robust Republican turnout this month in New Jersey and Virginia gave the party near-giddy certainty about its prospects in 2022. This is especially true in the House. The party in the White House nearly always loses seats in the House in the midterm election year. The few exceptions, such as in the aftermath of the terror attacks 20 years ago or the Great Depression 90 years ago, mostly prove the rule."
Then there is the jockeying for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination that could be a referendum on Trump.
"Add to all this the familiar friction between potential presidential contestants already running shadow campaigns for 2024. Most, if not all, still say they will defer to Trump if he runs. This crew includes former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Senators Ted Cruz of Texas, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Marco Rubio of Florida and Tom Cotton of Arkansas," the report states before adding, "But not everyone in the field is promising to step aside for another Trump bid. Take for example Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor who ran against Trump in 2016, then worked hard to elect and re-elect him."
Writing, "over the years, as the nominally smaller group, the GOP nurtured the image of a tested, hardened cadre with fierce demands on members' loyalty," Elving cautioned, "Some of this was myth, of course, as the GOP always had its share of disagreements and dissension," before recalling, "[Ronald] Reagan also ran hard in the primaries against his party's incumbent Republican president, Gerald Ford."
"Clichés die hard," he conceded. "And the motif of D's in disarray and R's in lockstep is likely to live on in the popular imagination, and in the media, for a long time to come."
You can read the entire analysis here.
IN OTHER NEWS: Marjorie Taylor Greene is demonstrating 'the depth of power she has over Kevin McCarthy'
Marjorie Taylor Greene is demonstrating 'the depth of power she has over Kevin McCarthy' www.youtube.com
Long before the COVID-19 pandemic and the concomitant vaccine, the anti-vaccination movement was mainly identified with one very specific myth: the idea that vaccines cause autism.
Aside from being patently offensive to neurodiverse and autistic people (including this writer), version 1.0 of the anti-vax movement was also dangerous because its adherents made it easier for infectious diseases to spread. This wasn't just a theoretical fear: local measles outbreaks in places like Disneyland that occurred increasingly throughout the 2010s were tied to the increasing number of anti-vaxxers, who had collectively lowered the herd immunity numbers for diseases like measles which were once nearly eradicated in the United States.
Now that COVID-19 has changed the world, it is worth reexamining the legacy of that autism-related controversy, which may have proven to be the "original sin" that led us to this dismal moment in which anti-COVID-vaccination misinformation is rife. That means turning our eye to the inglorious career of a man named Andrew Wakefield.
Once a British doctor, Wakefield is infamous for being the lead author of a 1998 case series that studied links between autism and digestive conditions — and, he claimed, documented changes in behavior in children who were given the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR vaccine). Over time, this mutated into a claim that MMR vaccines could cause autism, prompting an international panic.
Because Wakefield's study had been published in a distinguished medical journal (The Lancet), his claims quickly circulated and influenced millions of parents to not let their children get vaccinated at an age when, they believed erroneously, they could be at risk of developing autism. This trend persisted despite the fine print within the study: notably, it included no data about the MMR vaccine, its conclusions were speculative, it had been poorly designed, and the researchers had only studied a small sample of patients. Other critics observed that, because autism is usually diagnosed at the same young age when MMR vaccines are supposed to be administered, the study could dupe impressionable parents into thinking the timing of their child's autism diagnosis was linked to the inoculation. These fears proved founded; measles outbreaks surged as more and more people followed Wakefield's uninformed advice. By 2019, the United States was experiencing its worst measles outbreak since 1994.
Soon, the people who merely suspected something fishy in Wakefield's study were given more than mere clues. Other scientists were unable to reproduce Wakefield's findings, which is crucial for scientific studies to be considered valid. Then, in 2004, Wakefield was hit with a double whammy: An investigation by Sunday Times reporter Brian Deer demonstrated that Wakefield had financial conflicts of interest he had not disclosed when publishing his report. It was revealed that Wakefield had established several autism-related medical businesses, but their success was predicated on establishing links between MMR vaccines and a likely-fabricated disease called "autistic entercolitis." On top of that, 10 of the 12 scientists who co-authored the paper retracted it on the grounds that "no causal link was established between MMR vaccine and autism as the data were insufficient."
By 2010 The Lancet fully retracted the paper, admitting that it was riddled with scientific errors and that the authors had behaved unethically, in no small part by studying children without the required clearances. Wakefield was ultimately stripped of his ability to practice medicine, although he continues to stand by his findings and insists he was mistreated.
A direct line can be drawn between Wakefield's assertions about MMR vaccines and the rhetoric about COVID-19 vaccines (an issue where Wakefield is also anti-science, but has not emerged as a prominent voice). Studies have repeatedly found that general vaccine skepticism increased as a direct result of Wakefield's study; just last August, researchers writing for the scientific journal PLOS One again confirmed that vaccine hesitancy went up after Wakefield's paper came out.
"The Wakefield et al paper arrived at an interesting time in history," epidemiologist Dr. René Najera told Salon in June. "The internet was growing. The 24-hour news cycle was growing. People like Jenny McCarthy and others were becoming 'influencers.' His paper only brought to the forefront fears that many parents had: that vaccines caused developmental delays. Before 1998, you didn't have the internet as a bullhorn, or time to interview or showcase celebrities."
While hesitation about vaccines existed before Wakefield, the British doctor made it possible for misinformation to do something that had previously only occurred in the world of epidemics: achieving virality. Even after Wakefield himself sank into obscurity, other anti-vaccine activists emerged to take his place. By normalizing the practice of questioning vaccines without regard to reliable medical knowledge, they laid the foundations for the denial of the COVID-19 vaccines that is so prevalent today.
Wakefield may not be one of the so-called "disinformation dozen" — social media voices today who create two-thirds of all anti-vaxxer content online — but he is their forefather. Without Wakefield, it is hard to imagine that the anti-vaccination movement would have been so loud before the pandemic that it would metastasize during it, to the extent that millions of Americans now view opposing vaccines as a crucial part of their identity.
Despite the claims made by Wakefield and others, there is no evidence that vaccines are in any way linked to autism. There is also no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccines are either unsafe or ineffective — or, as some kooks claim, have microchips in them. Autism refers to a broad range of neurological conditions that many doctors argue should not even be considered "unhealthy," and which certainly are not induced by vaccinations. Vaccines work by training your immune system to protect the body against pathogens (microorganisms that cause disease) by either introducing a weakened or dead part or whole of that pathogen into the body, or by teaching the cells to make proteins associated with a specific pathogen so that the invader can be identified and eliminated.