Commentary: Remember What Happened After the Soviets left Afghanistan, and Why

Red Forest near Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the Exclusion Zone.

If you watched HBO’s recent docudrama about the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, you may have been struck by the historic connection to the Russian withdrawal from Afghanistan. The epilogue posited the theory that the need for helicopters to mitigate the nuclear disaster caused the Russians to pull the attack helicopters from Afghanistan, making the already pointless war impossible to continue. So in 1988, the Soviets cut their losses and withdrew from Afghanistan. 

The Afghan rebels did not seize control of Afghanistan until 1992. But the 1988 withdrawal also played a huge role in the loss of legitimacy for the Soviet system itself. The apparent juggernaut wielded terrifying power at its borders but remained frail and vulnerable to collapse from within. The very idea that the great Soviet evil empire could fail set off a series of dominoes that led to its collapse. The Afghan war, the struggling economy, and the Chernobyl disaster all combined to reveal the wise and powerful leaders in Moscow as incompetent despots.

More than 30 years later, American planners may have felt they had years or at least months during which residual civilians could make an orderly departure from Afghanistan as needed. The Soviet puppet government lasted almost four years (ironically, longer than the Soviet Union continued to exist), so why wouldn’t an American-sponsored government be able to hold on at least that long? The American planners probably believed that they were prolonging the longevity of the puppet regime by leaving nearly $80 billion in military equipment in the hands of the American-aligned Afghan government.

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Newly Released Documents Show Fauci Was ‘Untruthful’ About Wuhan Coronavirus Research, Infectious Disease Expert Says

A trove of newly released documents detailing U.S.-funded coronavirus research in China prior to the COVID-19 pandemic shows that Dr. Anthony Fauci was “untruthful” when he claimed that his agency did not finance gain-of-research in Wuhan, an infectious disease expert said Sunday.

Documents published by The Intercept on Sunday show that Fauci’s organization, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), provided federal funds to the U.S. nonprofit group EcoHealth Alliance and the Wuhan Institute of Virology to construct laboratory-generated SARS and MERS-related coronaviruses that demonstrated enhanced pathogenicity in humanized mice cells, according to Rutgers University professor of chemical biology Richard Ebright.

“The documents make it clear that assertions by the [National Institutes of Health] Director, Francis Collins, and the NIAID Director, Anthony Fauci, that the NIH did not support gain-of-function research or potential pandemic pathogen enhancement at WIV are untruthful,” Ebright said in a tweet Sunday evening.

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COVID Vaccination Status Increasingly Determines Treatment Under American Legal System

Are you vaccinated against COVID-19? The answer to that question may determine how the American legal system treats you, whether an inmate, party or even lawyer.

From custody fights and bail conditions to courthouse access and grooming privileges, vaccination status is playing an outsized role in courts and jails nationwide.

An Illinois judge provoked outrage a month ago by revoking a divorced mother’s visitation rights to her 11-year-old son after Rebecca Firlit told him she couldn’t get vaccinated because of adverse reactions.

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Report: Top Health Officials Tell White House to Pause Vaccine Booster Plan

Top U.S. health officials told the White House pandemic coordinator on Thursday to scale back the Biden administration’s plan to administer the coronavirus booster shots to individuals in September, The New York Times reported.

Dr. Janet Woodcock, the acting commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeffrey D. Zients that they need more time to collect and analyze the necessary data relating to the booster shots, The New York Times reported.

The doctors told Zients that their agencies might be able to determine whether to recommend boosters for recipients of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in the coming weeks, according to the Times.

The two doctors presented their argument to Zients at a meeting on Thursday. It is unclear how Zients responded to the news.

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Commentary: Massive Nurse Shortage Hits Houston, Weeks After 150 Unvaccinated Nurses and Hospital Workers Fired

Jennifer Bridges knew what was coming when her director at Houston Methodist hospital called her up in June to inquire about her vaccination status.

Bridges, a 39-year-old registered nurse, responded “absolutely not” when asked if she was vaccinated or had made an effort to get vaccinated. She was terminated on the spot.

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Citing Vaccine Requirement, Michigan Senate Majority Leader Shirkey to Skip Detroit Regional Chamber’s Conference

Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) has indicated he plans to skip the Mackinac Policy Conference, which is hosted annually by the Detroit Regional Chamber, citing the conference’s COVID vaccine requirement. 

The Republican leader reportedly said he is already immune, having gotten COVID-19, and therefore chooses not to get vaccinated.

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United Airlines to Become First Major Airline Requiring Staff be Vaccinated

United Airlines plane on runway

United Airlines announced Friday that it will require all employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 starting this fall, making it the first major airline to do so.

“We know some of you will disagree with this decision to require the vaccine for all United employees,” United CEO Scott Kirby and President Brett Hart announced in a memo. “But, we have no greater responsibility to you and your colleagues than to ensure your safety when you’re at work, and the facts are crystal clear: everyone is safer when everyone is vaccinated.”

The order requiring proof of vaccination will go into effect five weeks after the Federal Drug Administration officially gives full approval of the COVID-19 vaccines, or by Oct. 25, whichever comes first, The Hill newspaper reports. The FDA is expects to start giving full approval as early as next month.

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Commentary: You Are (Probably) Going to Be Infected With the Coronavirus

Crowded street market with people wearing masks

It may not be today. It may not be tomorrow. It may not be next week. It may not be this month, when the rapid ascension of the Delta variant in the United States could send confirmed daily case counts spiking to 200,000 or more before settling down again. It may not even be next year. But someday, you will almost certainly be infected with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

This uncomfortable fact may come as a surprise to many Americans, particularly to those who have spent hours sanitizing surfaces and groceries, who have dutifully adorned a mask even when not required to do so, and who have made the simple, science-backed decision to get vaccinated. SARS-CoV-2 has already spread around the world, infecting hundreds of millions or more. The genie is out of the bottle, and it is not going back in.

“We will be dealing with this virus forever,” Dr. Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota, said in an interview one year ago.

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Los Angeles Students Will be Forced to Undergo Weekly Testing Even If They’re Vaccinated

The Los Angeles Unified School District this week announced that students and employees returning to in-person instruction in the fall would be forced to undergo weekly testing even if they’ve been vaccinated against SARS-Cov-2.

“All students and employees, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, returning for in-person instruction must participate in baseline and ongoing weekly COVID testing,” Interim Superintendent Megan K. Reilly told media this week. “This is in accordance with the most recent guidance from the Los Angeles County.”

Though the district policy is making no distinction between unvaccinated and vaccinated individuals, Reilly herself stressed the importance of getting vaccinated anyway.

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Health Officials Less Confident in COVID Vaccine Efficacy with Rise of Delta Variant

Woman in blue hair net and mask

Public health confidence in the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine appears to be waning as officials warn of enhanced danger — even for vaccinated individuals — from the “Delta variant” of the SARS-Cov-2 virus.

For most of the past year officials have claimed that vaccinations are the only viable path back to normalcy and away from lockdowns and other aggressive mitigation measures. “Look at the folks in your community who have gotten vaccinated and are getting back to living their lives — their full lives,” President Joe Biden said at a May press conference, arguing that the vaccine was “going to help them and their loved ones be safe, get our businesses open again, and get us back to normal.”

The rollout of the vaccines starting last year and continuing throughout the spring and summer of this year has been hailed as the driving force behind the reopening of the economy and the ending of masking mandates and similar restrictions.

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Critics Denounce New CDC Guidance Urging Mask Usage, Vaccine or Not

Guy wearing a mask

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed course Tuesday, reversing its previous COVID-19 guidance by urging Americans to wear masks, regardless of their vaccination status. Critics quickly denounced the reversal, saying it undermines vaccine confidence.

The CDC said all students and teachers should wear masks, even if they are vaccinated, and that all Americans, including those with the vaccine, should wear masks in public places where the virus has a significant presence. The agency cited the delta variant of COVID, which is more transmissible.

The CDC had previously announced in May that vaccinated individuals did not have to wear masks. The White House fended off questions from reporters at the White House press briefing on the reasoning behind that reversal.

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Obama Health and Human Services Secretary: Unvaxxed Should Not Be Able to Work, Access Children, Roam Freely

Kathleen Sebelius

Former Obama Administration’s Secretary for Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, announced on CNN’s “Out Front” that people who have chosen not get vaccinated should be limited in their movements, not be allowed to work and have limited or no access to children.
Sebelius said, “We’re in a situation where we have a wildly effective vaccine, multiple choices, lots available, free of charge, and we have folks who are just saying I won’t do it. I think that it’s time to say to those folks, it’s fine if you don’t choose to get vaccinated. You may not come to work. You may not have access to a situation where you’re going to put my grandchildren in jeopardy. Where you might kill them, or you might put them in a situation where they’re going to carry the virus to someone in a high-risk position.”

She continued, “That’s, I think the point where we are, is freedom is one thing, but freedom when you harm others like secondhand smoke and issues that we’ve dealt with very clearly in the past you can’t drive drunk. You can drink, but you can’t drive drunk because you can injure other people. You can’t smoke inside of a public place where you can give cancer to someone else in spite of their never having been a smoker.”

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Fully Vaccinated Do Not Need Booster for Delta Variant, CDC and FDA Say

Fully vaccinated Americans do not need to receive a booster shot to protect against the Delta variant, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration said in a press release.

“People who are fully vaccinated are protected from severe disease and death, including from the variants currently circulating in the country such as Delta,” a joint statement said on Thursday.

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Study: Michigan’s Vaccine Lottery Unlikely to Boost Lagging COVID-19 Injections

COVID Vaccine sticker

After Michigan missed President Joe Biden’s vaccine deadline of 70% injected with a first COVID-19 vaccine by July 4, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer bet big on a vaccine lottery, tossing in $5 million of taxpayer-funded prizes.

In the meantime, the Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency estimates Michigan won’t reach the 70% benchmark for another year.

As of July 5, the state averaged 4,174 daily doses but only 1,740 first doses (0.1%) of the population.

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Prominent Medical Journals Highlight Harm to Children from Masks, Death Risk from COVID Vaccines

The range of acceptable opinion on COVID-19 mitigation efforts may be widening, with peer-reviewed medical journals recently publishing research finding that masks likely harm schoolchildren and questioning whether benefits from COVID-19 vaccines outweigh risks.

Measured carbon dioxide content in “inhaled air,” observed in a study of masked German schoolchildren, was at least three-fold higher than German law allows, according to a research letter published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics.

Last week, the journal Vaccines, affiliated with the American Society for Virology, published research that estimates every three COVID-19 deaths prevented by vaccination are offset by two deaths “inflicted by vaccination,” using Israeli and European data.

The papers share a lead author, Harald Walach, a professor in Poznan University of the Medical Sciences’ Pediatric Clinic in Poland and University of Witten/Herdecke’s psychology department in Germany.

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Largest Health Care Union to Fight Mandatory Vaccine Requirements for Workers

Doctor giving vaccination to patient

The president of the largest union of health care workers in the U.S. says it will fight companies requiring its members to have mandatory COVID-19 shots as a condition of employment.

The announcement came one day after Houston Methodist announced that 153 employees had been fired or resigned for refusing to get the shots as a condition of employment. Those suing argue requiring employees to receive a vaccine approved only through Emergency Use Authorization violates federal law. After a recent court dismissal, their attorney vowed to take the case all the way to the Supreme Court.

George Gresham, president of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, is weighing the organization’s legal options.

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Study Finds Novavax COVID-19 Vaccine 90 Percent Effective

Doctor preparing COVID-19 Vaccine

Novavax announced on Monday that its two-dose COVID-19 vaccine is 90% effective, according to a press release on Novavax’s website.

The phase-3 trial enrolled 29,960 participants ages 18 and older in the U.S. and Mexico. The study found that 77 of the participants tested positive for COVID-19, with 63 testing positive in the placebo group and 14 in the vaccine group, according to the press release.

“Today, Novavax is one step closer to addressing the critical and persistent global public health need for additional COVID-19 vaccines. These clinical results reinforce that NVX-CoV2373 is extremely effective and offers complete protection against both moderate and severe COVID-19 infection,” Stanley C. Erck, President, and CEO of Novavax said in the press release.

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Unvaccinated Students at New Hampshire High School Marked and Tracked at Prom

Boy putting on a corsage on woman's wrist

Unvaccinated students who attended Exeter High School’s prom on Saturday were marked with numbers and contact traced throughout the course of the night, a school spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Students attending the event “who were unable to provide a vaccination card because they did not have or share a card or had not completed the full vaccination process had a number written on their hand,” an Exeter High School spokesperson told the DCNF. The school divided the dance floor into three sections and asked dancing students to stop periodically in between songs in order for them to “raise their hands to determine who they were around,” the spokesperson said.

The students were made aware of the contact tracing procedures beforehand, and were also told to provide vaccination information ahead of the event, the spokesperson said. Any personal information obtained for the event, including vaccination status, was destroyed, according to the spokesperson.

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California Offering Awards Totaling $116.5M to Get Vaxxed

COVID Vaccine sticker

Governor Newsom announced Thursday a $116.5 million vaccine incentive program including $1.5 million in cash prizes to encourage Californians to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

California follows other states in offering big vaccine incentive payouts, New York is giving out scratch-off tickets for the chance to win up to $5 million, according to Politico.

“California has already made incredible progress in the fight against COVID-19, with the lowest case rates in the country while administering millions more vaccines than any other state,” Newsom said in a release. “But we aren’t stopping there, we’re doing everything it takes to get Californians vaccinated as we approach June 15 to help us fully reopen safely.”

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Commentary: The World Health Organization Endorses Lockdowns Forever

World Health Organization

The last 14 months elevated a global group of intellectuals and bureaucrats about which most people had previously cared very little. Among them, the ones who believe least in freedom entrenched their power, thanks to a big push by the lavishly funded but largely discredited World Health Organization.

The WHO tapped an “independent panel” (the fix was already in: the panel’s head is former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark) to figure out what the world did right and did wrong in response to Covid-19. The final report has all the expected verbiage about the needs for more global coordination and largesse going to public health.

The key conclusion follows:

“Every country should apply non-pharmaceutical measures systematically and rigorously at the scale the epidemiological situation requires, with an explicit evidence-based strategy agreed at the highest level of government…”

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Michigan Reaches 50 Percent of Those 16+ with First Vaccination, Must Inject Another 1.6 Million to Drop Restrictions

a health care provider places a bandage on the injection site of a patient, who just received a vaccine

Michigan surpassed a milestone of injecting 50% of residents ages 16 and older with a first vaccine, but is still roughly 1.6 million people short of hitting the goal needed to drop all restrictions.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer laid out the plan last week.
The state must reach 55% of Michiganders ages 16 and older, or another 408,594 people, plus two weeks to reach complete immunity for the Whitmer administration to allow in-person work for all business sectors statewide.

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Medical Experts Predict an Increase in Cancer Deaths Due to COVID

National Cancer Institute

Delayed diagnoses and missed screenings due to the coronavirus pandemic will likely result in increased cancer deaths, medical experts told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

“We have not yet seen the real impact of COVID-19 on cancer diagnosis and deaths,” warned Dr. Julie Gralow, executive vice president and chief medical officer of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. “Screening for cancer (mainly breast, cervical, and colon) clearly dropped dramatically early in the pandemic, which will likely contribute to a later stage at diagnosis due to the delay/omission of screening that will be seen in the future.”

Lawmakers, health officials, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) called on health care providers to cancel non-essential or routine appointments, surgeries, and procedures to preserve personal protective equipment and prevent the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

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Poll: Michiganders Skeptical of COVID Vaccine

According to a January U.S. Census Bureau poll, on average, Michiganders say they are less likely to take the COVID-19 vaccine than residents of other states. 

“An estimated 24% of Michigan adults age 18 and older say they are unlikely to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to a new U.S. Census survey,” Michigan Live reported. “That includes 14% who say they ‘probably’ won’t get the vaccine; 9% who say they ‘definitely’ will not, and 1% who have received one dose but say they are not planning to get the second dose.”

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