Special Bus Trip to Megiddo on Monday, April 19th and Antisemitism the last form of passable bigotry in America’, says Meghan McCain and The Disease Models Were Tested and Failed, Massively and Massachusetts Bans Dancing Like It’s 1684 by Jeffrey A. Tucker and Great Barrington Declaration Scientists with Gov. DeSantis in Florida and The 2020 Recession: Blame Lockdowns, Not the Virus by Jack Nicastro and Ethan Yang and more good news about the Vaccine-it protects against family members who are sick
Yehuda Lave is an author, journalist, psychologist, rabbi, spiritual teacher, and coach, with degrees in business, psychology and Jewish Law. He works with people from all walks of life and helps them in their search for greater happiness, meaning, business advice on saving money, and spiritual engagement.
Monday, April 19 Meet at the Inbal hotel at 8:30 Return approx. 19:00
At the height of Spring bloom, we will head for the lush and historic Jezreel valley, Israel's "bread basket".
Our first visit will be to the newly redesigned archeological site of Megiddo. (they just completed a year of work)New audiovisual, model, and museum presentations. Megiddo is the "mother" of archeological sites in
Israel. From Solomon to the 1948 war; layer upon layer of history is revealed.
We continue to the other end of the beautiful Valley to Migdal HaEmek. This "development town" is a jewel overlooking the
valley. Originally built in the first years of the state to house new immigrants from Arab countries, it is a town that faces socio-economic- spiritual challenges. Wonderful young idealistic families of the "Garin Torani" moved there from solidly middle-class homes to strengthen the original Jewish immigrant population of the "development town" .Migdal Haemek is surrounded by Arab villages.
The Arab presence in town is yet another challenge to the spiritual/ethnic fabric of the younger generation. On our way home we will stop at a picturesque village on a hill in the Judean desert. Kfar Adumim overlooks the breathtaking Judean desert and Wadi Kelt.
We will sun down with the best view in the country - probably the world. Being a picnic lunch cost: 280 shekels.
Contact me if you are interested asap.
COVID-19 vaccine protects against infected family members – Israeli study
Several studies have indicated that the Pfizer vaccine, which is the one currently used in Israel, is around 95% effective in preventive infection.
By ROSSELLA TERCATIN APRIL 6, 2021
The coronavirus vaccine is effective in protecting those who are fully inoculated even in case of prolonged exposure to infected family members, a new Israeli study has found.
A team from Ziv Medical Center in Safed led by Dr. Shimon Edelstein, head of the Infectious Diseases Unit, tracked hospital employees whose family members were infected with the virus. Their findings were published in the Journal of Medical Infection last week.
According to the study, about 12% of Ziv Medical Center's 1,800 employees have contracted COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. By the end of January, more than 90% of those eligible had been fully vaccinated.
"Despite the herd immunity of the medical staff, most of them returned home to locations where the epidemic was raging, in communities in which more than 7% of members were verified COVID-19-positive," the authors wrote. "Vaccinated workers did not have to quarantine even if a verified patient resided in their home, and they were allowed to continue working regularly at the hospital unless they developed suspicious clinical symptoms for COVID-19. However, prolonged exposure to a positive family member living in the same house may be a challenge to the immune system, unlike exposure to a positive patient for a short period."
Some 14 relevant cases were considered: 13 fully vaccinated staff, including nurses, doctors, and administrators, and one recovered patient. They all lived with an undiagnosed infected person.
Each employee was administered several PCR tests after the disease was discovered.
"All PCR SARS-CoV-2 tests performed for the 14 workers after exposure (33 tests) were found to be negative: no carriers were found, the researchers concluded," the report said. "These findings are encouraging, especially in light of the way mRNA triggers the immune system."
Several studies have indicated that the Pfizer vaccine, which is the one currently used in Israel, is about 95% effective in preventing infection.
The vaccine's ability to protect even in case of close and prolonged proximity with a patient is a positive development concerning its efficacy, the researchers wrote.
The Three Musketeers at the Kotel
Great Barrington Declaration Scientists with Gov. DeSantis in Florida
This article is too long to repost so here is the link to read it
The state of Massachusetts has now entered Phase III Step 2 of a reopening, which means all sorts of amazing nonsense cobbled together by people with power who imagine that their high-end credentials grant them the intelligence to outsmart a virus. Not that many citizens of the state really believe this is true but they have to comply nonetheless.
Among the things now permitted in the state are small weddings. However, dancing at such events is strictly regulated, so much so that it is effectively abolished. The website doesn't explain the details of this regulation but a friend in the catering business was the recipient of a direct letter from the once-respected Department of Health. It explained that people at a wedding party can only sit at square tables that seat six, and each table must be six feet apart from other tables, even though people have started to admit that there is zero science to back this rule.
It gets crazier. If there is to be dancing, the venue must create a circle on the floor out of tape next to a table, and the only people allowed in the circle are those at the table and not people from other tables. Additionally, while they are dancing, they must be wearing their masks.
My friend found all this so preposterous that he is ruling out doing any wedding parties. His job is to make people happy with food and fun, not enforce puritanical regulations on how close people can and cannot be with each other. Of course all these wacky rules only drive social activity underground. Essentially the whole state has been one big speakeasy since the summer. Everyone knows it but hardly anyone talks about it for fear of media and police.
Very strange times for Massachusetts! But how strange is it really? Going back to Colonial times, something very similar took place, not in the name of controlling a virus but rather controlling sin, witchcraft, heresy, and any belief or practice that contradicted Puritan teaching.
The Reverend Doctor Increase Mather (1639-1723) was the most influential Puritan cleric in New England at the time of the Salem Witch Trials. A graduate of Harvard, he eventually served as its president. He was singularly responsible for eliminating the readings of ancient Roman authors and the study of Latin, replacing them with Christian authors and the study of Greek and Hebrew. He was also an advocate of the suppression of Catholicism as well as a pusher of sumptuary laws; that is, regulations against clothing that is too fancy or otherwise impious.
I never thought we would see the return of sumptuary laws in modern times – until state mask mandates were imposed last year. The mask is precisely the kind of virtue signal that Rev. Mather would have approved of. It clearly delineates saints and sinners, those who comply and those who do not. He was obsessed with such symbols. The same piety that drove Rev. Mather to outlaw buckles on shoes also leads the current governor to have the most strict mask mandate in the country. Take off your mask in public in Massachusetts, count to ten, and almost always someone will yell at you for violating the rules of public piety.
But the focus for now is on the subject of dancing. Rev. Mather is the author of the famed 1684 tract "An Arrow Against Profane and Promiscuous Dancing Drawn Out of the Quiver of the Scriptures." The qualifiers of "profane" and "promiscuous" are important here. He writes that dancing "may be of use" in some settings such as "where men vault in their Armour, to shew their strength and activity." Also there is nothing wrong with "leaping" when it is "a natural expression of joy," a mere "outward expression of inward Rejoycing."
What he opposed was "Gynecandrical Dancing, or that which is commonly called Mixt or Promiscuous Dancing, viz. of Men and Women (be they elder or younger persons) together: Now this we affirm to be utterly unlawful, and that it cannot be tolerated in such a place as New- England, without great Sin."
If we consider, by whom this practice of Promiscuous Dancing was first invented by whom patronized, and by whom witnessed against, we may well conclude, that the admitting of it, in such a place as New-England, will be a thing pleasing to the Devil, but highly provoking to the Holy God… Who were the Inventors of Petulant Dancings? They had not their original amongst the People of God, but amongst the Heathen. Learned men have well observed, that the Devil was the first inventor of the impleaded Dances…
We command you, Brethren, in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw your selves from every Brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the Tradition which he received from us. Now they that frequent Promiscuous Dancings, or that send their Children thereunto, walk disorderly, and contrary to the Apostles Doctrine. It has been proved that such a practice is a Scandalous Immorality, and therefore to be removed out of Churches by Discipline, which is the Broom of Christ, whereby he keeps his Churches clean.
Replace every mention of religious motivation with scientific disease control and you have a template that could easily fit with Phase III Step 2 of "reopening Massachusetts" today. It is officially permitted to dance with a mask, with people in your household, or with friends up to six. But moving from table to table, dancing without a mask, or otherwise doing line dances or square dances with strangers is nothing but a danger to public health.
There are aspects of lockdownism as ideology that have a religious caste, and this has been true from the beginning of the lockdowns. People seen experiencing joy during lockdowns are shouted at by the members of the new flagellants. The idea is that if you are failing to be miserable and sad, you are contributing to the spread of disease and thus prolonging the period of misery for those who are compliant.
Under lockdowns, society is divided between the clean and unclean, not for reasons of spiritual sin, but for reasons of exposure to SARS-CoV-2, as proven by a PCR test which is then tracked and traced to root out all stains of germ from the community. Despite the 300 years between them, the ideological distance between Rev. Increase Mather and Governor Charlie Baker is not that great.
One year ago this week the world embraced a lockdown strategy premised on the epidemiology modeling of Imperial College-London (ICL). In a March 16, 2020 report by physicist and computer modeler Neil Ferguson, the ICL team predicted catastrophic death tolls in the United Kingdom and United States unless both countries adopted an aggressive policy response of mandating social distancing, school and business closures, and ultimately sheltering in place.
Ferguson's model presented a range of scenarios under increasingly restrictive nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs). Under its "worst case" or "do nothing" model 2.2 million Americans would die, as would 510,000 people in Great Britain, with the peak daily death rate hitting somewhere around late May or June. At the same time, the ICL team promised salvation from the coronavirus if only governments would listen to and adopt its technocratic recommendations. Time was of the essence to act, so President Donald Trump and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson both listened. And so began the first year of "two weeks to flatten the curve."
It took a little over a month before we saw conclusive evidence that something was greatly amiss with the ICL model's underlying assumptions. A team of researchers from Uppsala University in Sweden adapted Ferguson's work to their country and ran the projections, getting similarly catastrophic results. Over 90,000 people would die by summer from Covid-19 if Sweden did not enter immediate lockdown. Sweden never locked down though. By May it was clear that the Uppsala adaptation of ICL's model was off by an order of magnitude. A year later, Sweden has fared no worse than the average European lockdown country, and significantly better than the UK, which acted on Ferguson's advice.
Pressed on this unexpected result, ICL tried to distance itself from the Swedish adaptation of its model in May. The records from the March 21st supercomputer run of the Uppsala team's projections belie that assertion, linking directly to Ferguson's March 16th report as the framework for its modeling design. But no matter – the ICL team's own publications would soon succumb to a real-time testing against actual data.
A second ICL report, attempting to model the reopening of the United States from lockdowns, wildly exaggerated the death tolls that were expected to follow. By July, this model too had failed to even minimally correspond to observed reality. ICL attempted to save face by publishing an absurd exercise in circular reasoning in the journal Nature where they invoked the unrealized projections of their own model to supposedly "prove" multiple millions of lives had been saved by the lockdowns. That study soon failed basic robustness checks when the ICL team's suite of models were applied to different geographies.
Another team of Swedish researchers then noticed oddities in the ICL team's coding, suggesting they had modified a key line to bring data from their own comparative analysis of Sweden into sync with other European countries under lockdown after the models did not align. A published derivative of this discovery showed that ICL's own attempts to validate the effectiveness of its lockdown strategies does not withstand empirical scrutiny.
The verdict is in. Imperial College's Covid-19 modeling has an abysmal track record – a characteristic it unfortunately shares with Ferguson's prior attempts to model mad cow disease, swine flu, avian flu, and countless other pathogens.
After a year of model-driven lockdowns, we may also look back to the original March 16, 2020 report to see yet another failure of its predictive ability. Recall that this is the model that fueled the alarmist rush to shut everything down last March, all to avert a 2.2 million death toll that would presumably peak around June.
As noted above, the 2.2 million figure for the US (and corresponding 510,000 figure in Britain) were "worst case" scenarios in which the pandemic ran its course. According to the underlying theory of the ICL model, these catastrophic totals could be reduced by the adoption of NPIs – the escalating suite of social distancing measures, business and school closures, and ultimately full lockdowns that we observed in practice over the last year.
Aside from its 2.2 million worst case scenario, ICL offered no specific projections for how its proposed mitigation measures would work in the United States. Ferguson did however tell the New York Times on March 20, 2020 that a "best case" American scenario would still yield "about 1.1 million deaths," giving us a glimpse of what he believed to be possible under NPI mitigation. The March 16th report similarly "predict[ed] there would still be in the order of…1.1-1.2 million in the US" under the most optimistic mitigation strategy, barring a large increase in hospital ICU bed capacity.
By contrast, ICL did publish an extensive table showing the results of its model run for Britain over a group of four increasingly stringent NPI scenarios. These range from the "worst case" projection with half a million deaths (the figures vary depending on assumptions about the virus's reproduction rate) to a more stringent model where four NPIs (public school closures, case isolation, home quarantine, and social distancing) are simultaneously enacted. The results are depicted below.
Note that the UK enacted policies based on all four measures recommended by the March 16th report, as well as an even more stringently enforced general lockdown on three separate occasions. After one year of following and expanding upon the Imperial College strategy, an unusual result appears in the data: not only have the UK's numbers come up far short of Ferguson's most alarmist scenario (depicted in the first column), but the UK has actually done much worse than the other NPI mitigation models in the ICL report.
As of the 1-year anniversary, the UK had a little over 125,000 confirmed Covid-19 deaths. By implication, the UK death toll has exceeded the mildest of the other three NPI scenarios from the ICL model (column 2) and blown past its heavier NPI recommendations (columns 3 and 4), even while operating under a more stringent set of lockdowns than ICL originally contemplated.
The implications are clear. While Ferguson wildly exaggerated the "worst case" scenario for the UK, he also severely overestimated the effectiveness of NPIs at controlling the pandemic.
By building its policy response around the Imperial College model, the UK government delivered the worst of both worlds. It imposed some of the most severe and long-lasting lockdowns in the world based on the premise that NPIs would work as Ferguson's team predicted, and that such actions were needed to avert a catastrophe. Except the lockdowns did not work as intended, and the UK also ended up with an abnormally high death count compared to other countries – including locales that did not lock down, or that reopened earlier and for longer periods than the UK.
Why were the Ferguson/ICL predictions so far off base on both ends? The answer likely derives from two central flaws in their model design.
First, Ferguson adapted the model directly from a 2006 influenza pandemic model that he published in the journal Nature. As with the March 16th Covid report, this study aimed to predict the spread of a virus across the general population, subject to a suite of increasingly stringent NPI countermeasures. As the second-to-last paragraph of the study reveals though, it only modeled general population spread. In doing so, the authors acknowledged that "Lack of data prevent us from reliably modelling transmission in the important contexts of residential institutions (for example, care homes, prisons) and health care settings."
With Covid-19 however, nursing homes have emerged as one of the greatest vulnerabilities in the pandemic. In many locales, nursing home deaths alone account for almost half of all Covid-19 fatalities despite housing only a tiny fraction of the population. While the latest nursing home figures for the UK are as of yet hard to come by, reports from last year suggest they are not only a large share of the country's Covid-19 deaths but also severely undercounted in official records. Using a preliminary count from last year, the UK had one of the worst nursing home shielding ratios in Europe – a measure that compares a country's death toll in its care facilities to the general population. The ICL projections likely missed this problem entirely due to a defect in the 2006 model it was built upon.
Second, Ferguson's model severely overstated the effectiveness of NPIs at mitigating general population spread. Part of the appeal of the ICL report from last March came from its succinct portrayal of the available policy options and their claimed effects. The modelers presented political leaders with a menu of escalating measures to adopt with mathematical precision, each linked to an associated projection of its effectiveness at staving off the pandemic. All the politicians had to do was select from the menu and implement the prescribed course.
Except it wasn't that simple in practice. ICL's recommended NPI measures baked assumptions about their own effectiveness into the model. In reality, most of these assumptions had never been tested or even minimally quantified. As a key chart from the March 16th report illustrates, the supposed effect of each NPI was little more than a guesstimate – a set of nice, round numbers that purported to show the change in social interactions after its adoption.
A 2019 report by the World Health Organization (WHO) warned of the flimsy empirical basis for epidemiology models such as the one developed by ICL. "Simulation models provide a weak level of evidence," the report noted, and lacked randomized controlled trials to test their assumptions. The same report designated mass quarantine measures – what we now know of as lockdowns – as "Not Recommended" due to lack of evidence for their effectiveness. Summarizing this literature, which included the same 2006 influenza model that Ferguson adapted to Covid-19, the WHO concluded: "Most of the currently available evidence on the effectiveness of quarantine on influenza control was drawn from simulation studies, which have a low strength of evidence."
The UK's experience under the ICL model therefore demonstrates not only Ferguson's propensity toward wildly alarmist disease forecasting – it also illustrates the abject failure of lockdowns and related NPI measures to mitigate the pandemic. As a revealing point of comparison, the UK's population-adjusted daily death toll under lockdowns has been consistently higher than no-lockdown Sweden for most of the pandemic, despite both countries following a nearly identical pattern of timing in both the first and second waves.
The repeated failures of the Ferguson/ICL model point to a scientific error at the heart of the theory behind lockdowns and similar NPIs. They assume, without evidence, that their prescriptive approach is correct, and that it may be implemented by sheer will as one might achieve by clicking a check-box in a Sim City-style video game. After a year of real-time testing, it is now abundantly clear that this video game approach to pandemic management ranks among the most catastrophic public health policy failures in the last century.
Phil Magness is a Senior Research Fellow at the American Institute for Economic Research.
He is the author of numerous works on economic history, taxation, economic inequality, the history of slavery, and education policy in the United States.
Anti-Semitism the last form of passable bigotry in America', says Meghan McCain
TV personalty and daughter of late Arizona senator says "anti-Semitic things are forgiven just a lot easier than anything else."
By World Israel News Staff
Anti-Semitism is the last form of racism still accepted in the United States, television personality Meghan McCain said Wednesday, adding that cancel culture appears to be tolerant of hatred against Jews.
McCain, the daughter of late Arizona Senator and 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain, is a commentator on Fox News and cohost of the ABC talk show The View, where host Whoopi Goldberg was discussing the case of rapper and comedian Nick Cannon's anti-Semitic remarks.
ViacomCBS fired Cannon last year after he promoted anti-Semitic conspiracy theories during an episode of his "Cannon's Class" podcast.
"His statements were really egregious when they first came out," McCain said of Cannon. "He has apologized and now he is talking about the Hebrew concept of t'shuva [repentance]," she said. "He is clearly doing real work with Jewish leaders and trying to atone."
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"My concern is for some reason anti-Semitism is something we let people forgive a lot easier than any other forms of bigotry and racism," McCain said.
"We are having conversations about canceling Dr. Seuss. We are not having conversations about canceling The Merchant of Venice or Oliver Twist, both works of literature that have deeply anti-Semitic characters in them," McCain noted, citing the famous play by William Shakespeare and the novel by Charles Dickens.
"I find that people who say anti-Semitic things are forgiven just a lot easier than anything else, and I think that is something we really need to examine as a society," McCain said.
"I think that anti-Semitism is still sort of the last form of passable bigotry in America," she continued, noting the huge rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes in America last year.
"This is a big and serious problem and I hope that Nick Cannon continues the good work, but this isn't just about Nick Cannon," McCain said.
"It's why we as Americans seem to find more forgiveness in our hearts for anti-Semitism than we do for racism of any other kind," McCain concluded.