Putting Floridians at Risk (PAUL OFFIT, NOV 27, 2023, Beyond the Noise)

Ladapo also claimed that Covid boosters are unsafe, stating that, “mRNA COVID-19 vaccines present a risk of subclinical and clinical myocarditis and other cardiovascular conditions among otherwise healthy individuals.” A vaccine is considered to be safe if it’s benefits clearly outweigh its risks. But no vaccine—indeed no medical product—is absolutely safe. Myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscle, occurs in about 1 in 100,000 mRNA vaccine recipients. Myocarditis following Covid infection occurs in roughly 1 in 5,000, a 20-fold increase compared with vaccination. Also, whereas myocarditis following vaccination is typically short-lived and self-resolving, myocarditis caused by Covid is more serious. Therefore, regarding myocarditis, the benefits of mRNA vaccination outweigh the risks.

Ladapo’s recommendation to boost everyone over 65 doesn’t make sense. First, if he believes that Covid boosters are ineffective and unsafe, then he shouldn’t recommend them for anyone. Second, if Ladapo believes that boosters should be targeted only to those at greatest risk, why limit the vaccine to those over 65. Other groups are also at risk, such as people with comorbidities such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease or lung disease or people who are immune compromised or people who are pregnant. Third, technically, everyone over 65 is not necessarily at high-risk of severe Covid. Recent data from the CDC showed that 99 percent of those over 65 hospitalized with Covid have at least one comorbidity and 90 percent have at least two. By recommending the vaccine for otherwise healthy people over 65, Ladapo is including many people who are less likely to benefit.

In the name of standing up to the “Washington edicts,” Governor DeSantis and his state’s Surgeon General have put many Floridians at unnecessary risk and inexplicably offered the vaccine to some who are not at high risk.


Margaret Thatcher’s Character and Legacy (Robin Harris, November 27, 2023, European Conservative)

Mrs. Thatcher was sincere in wanting Europe to be a success. But what she wanted the European Common Market to be was not what most of the other states eventually wanted. Her British successors then gave up on the battle to steer Europe away from centralism. If she had remained a few more months in office, she would have vetoed the Maastricht Treaty. That would have allowed Britain to remain within the existing framework, while others integrated further under new treaties. Brexit would, therefore, have been unnecessary. In this sense, she would have kept Britain in Europe.

The important text for all this, if now only as an inspiration, is her Bruges Speech to the College of Europe in 1988. I had a hand in it. Read it, and you will see that it is not anti-European. In fact, in the speech she extolls Europe’s legacy and values, especially those of Christendom. She adds that “Europe is not the creation of the Treaty of Rome.” She calls for cooperation between independent sovereign states and makes clear that nationhood must not be devalued. She says it is “folly” to attempt creating what she called an “identikit European personality.” That is what virtually all right-of-centre Europeans believe today.

The Bruges speech was also ahead of its time in reaching out explicitly to Europeans living in the thrall of Communism. “East of the Iron Curtain,” she said, “people who once enjoyed a full share of European culture, freedom, and identity have been cut off from their roots,” She added that “we shall always look on Warsaw, Prague and Budapest as great European cities.”


From Niagara Falls to Texas to Gaza, a horrifying look into the abyss of a post-truth future (Will Bunch, Nov. 26th, 2023, Philadelphia Inquirer)

No one can fault the FBI or other agencies for investigating whether this was some type of terror attack, given the location of the accident at a key border crossing, the timing — perhaps the busiest travel day of the year — and the spectacular nature of the explosion. What’s inexcusable, however, was the rapid reporting of the most extreme speculation as fact, and the large number of supposedly responsible politicians willing to run with those untruths.

“What I’ve been told is that this was an attempted terrorist attack,” said Alexis McAdams, a correspondent for Fox News, the right-slanted network that despite a series of scandals and mishaps is still the most-watched cable news channel. Reporting just two and a half hours after the crash, McAdams added that her law enforcement sources believed that the motorists — in reality, remember, two middle-aged KISS fans — “have packed that car full of explosives.”

Thus, the “reputable” Fox News was adding the meat of confirmation to what a frothing right-wing echo chamber on social media was already proclaiming: The “blast” mean a network of terrorists is poised to enter America not only from the south but from the north, thus proving — in their minds — the inherent weakness of President Joe Biden’s border policies. And there was an army of political demagogues eager to run with a false meme.

“We need to lock down the borders immediately,” GOP Rep. Anna Paulina Luna of Florida posed on X/Twitter Wednesday. “Full deportation efforts need to begin. The U.S. does not need to be the world’s hospitality suite any longer.” Added another Florida Republican, Rep. Byron Donalds, in a now deleted tweet: “Open borders, soft-on-crime policies and bending a knee to the woke P.C. mob is an inevitable threat to our nation and its people. Today’s apparent terrorist attack must be a wake-up call to all Americans.”

The website Meidas Touch published a list of more than 30 Republican officials or right-wing luminaries who tweeted similar sentiments and occasionally embellished their posts with new made-up details, like the discovery of an Iranian passport at the crash site. Some of these posts are still up, days after it became clear that the Niagara Falls crash was just a horrific tragedy and not the far-right’s fever dream of Islamic jihad to justify a repressive response. Others, including Fox News, have ripped yet another page from George Orwell’s 1984 — tossing their initial reporting down a memory hole.

Unfortunately, their mission had already been accomplished.


Case for gas as transition fuel falling apart on both economic and environmental costs (Rachel Williamson, 27 November 2023, Renew Economy)

The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility​ (ACCR) today released financial modelling that shows Australia’s LNG projects did not generate value for shareholders.

The report, “Australia’s LNG growth wave – did it wash for shareholders?” analysed returns from Woodside’s Pluto project, Chevron’s Gorgon and Wheatstone projects, the three east coast LNG plants supplied by coal seam gas, Inpex’s Ichthys project and Shell’s Prelude.

It found these projects collectively eroded $US19 billion of shareholder value by requiring extra investment for running 35 per cent over budget and behind schedule, according to data from Rystad.

Only Gorgon has delivered a positive return to shareholders – the report did not specific how much but says it has achieved an estimated 10 per cent Internal Rate of Return.

Across the LNG industry, cost overruns and delays will see the industry deliver a negative $US1.8 billion return to shareholders, compared to

None of the projects are delivering returns that meet the cost of capital – even in the boom times, says ACCR lead analyst Alex Hillman.


Austerlitz: The Story Of How Napoleon Crushed The Austro-Russian Army (Ian Castle, December 2023, History Today)

The problem facing Napoleon was his urgent need to bring this Austro-Russian army to battle. His greatest fear was that the allies would withdraw to the east, forcing him to extend his already precarious line of communications even further as the biting cold of an eastern European winter took hold.

And it was a move such as this that Kutuzov, commander of this new combined army, advocated. Yet the final decision was no longer his to make. Tsar Alexander rode into Olmütz along with the reinforcements, determined to join his army at the front and lead it to victory. It was the Tsar who would decide the future direction of the army.

A council of war took place in Olmütz on 24 November, during which Kutuzov outlined his plan for a retreat towards the Carpathian mountains, leaving a wasteland in his wake to deter pursuit. By gaining time in this way he hoped to draw in General Bennigsen’s distant army to further boost his strength. Other officers put forward ideas for a withdrawal into Hungary or Bohemia to join forces with approaching allied formations. However, all supported a common theme: that of retreat.

But the presence of the Tsar diluted the authority of these generals. Surrounded by his own circle of sycophantic advisors and would-be military experts, Tsar Alexander, without any military experience, willingly accepted their analysis that the French were over-extended and vulnerable. This, they advised him, was his best chance to cross swords with the man recognised as the greatest soldier of his age, and win. Flattered and entranced by what he heard, Alexander overruled Kutuzov and took the decision to fight. Such was the standing of the Tsar in Russian society that no one felt inclined to oppose his wishes. It was just the decision Napoleon desired.


Terry Venables: the gambler of Euro 96: The England manager embodied an era of optimism (JONATHAN WILSON, 11/27/23, UnHerd)

It would be an exaggeration to say that modern football was born amid the battle between QPR and Watford for promotion from Division Two in the early Eighties, but in their rivalry was encapsulated a key fault line that continues to shape football today. Watford were managed by Taylor, Venables’s predecessor as England manager. When he took over Watford in 1977, they were in the Fourth Division. Within six years, he had taken them to second in Division One. His football then was, as he cheerily admitted, rudimentary: he had his players knock the ball in behind the opposing full-back, then had his side press to try to regain possession in dangerous areas, relying on an aggressive offside trap to offer defensive solidity.

Taylor said that each time his side got promoted he expected to be found out, but that it wasn’t until playing Sparta Prague in the Uefa Cup in 1983 that anybody did, largely because the Czechoslovak defenders had the technical ability not to panic when put under pressure. With better players, he amended his approach to an extent, but he remained always of a school that saw football as a game of chaos, and pressing as a way of guiding that. Venables, in seeking to impose order, was the cerebral Pep Guardiola to Taylor’s Klopp.


Arizona solar canal project aims to save water while making power (Loz Blain, November 23, 2023, New Atlas)

Not only will the solar panels generate up to one megawatt of power for the Gila River Indian Community, they’ll also provide shade for the water below, helping keep water in the canals rather than letting the baking desert heat evaporate it away. Viewed as a solar farm, it should be considerably cheaper, since no land needs to be acquired.

Furthermore, the water will help cool the panels, increasing their efficiency and creating a ~3% boost to power production, according to Professor Roger Bales, who wrote about the California project for The Conversation in 2022. In a study published in 2021, Bales and his team argued that “covering all 4,000 miles of California’s canals with solar panels would save more than 65 billion gallons of water annually by reducing evaporation,” while generating up to 13 GW of renewable energy in a distributed fashion that could cut down on transmission losses.