Judea and Samaria are liberated Jewish lands

Israel has historical and legal claims to all of Judea and Samaria

Reprinted from Daily Alert, July 6, 2020
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Don’t Call It Annexation – Amb. Danny Danon
    The continued use of the term “annexation” effectively denies the Jewish people the right to exercise sovereignty over our homeland and actually makes peace an ever more remote possibility. There is no peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians because the Palestinian Authority leadership refuses to acknowledge the Jewish people’s indigenous claim to the Land of Israel.
    The Palestinians contend that the Jews are European colonists and must be expelled, like the British, French, Ottomans, and other colonial powers. Those who use the term “annexation” subscribe, in whole or in part, to this Palestinian narrative. However, as former prime minister Menachem Begin once stated, “You can annex foreign territory. You cannot annex your own country.”
    Israel’s historical claim to this territory dates back over three millennia. Ever since Moses led the Israelites to the Promised Land after the Exodus from Egypt, Jews have lived and exercised sovereignty in Israel. The return of the Jewish people and the creation of the State of Israel is not a story of a foreign people colonizing a foreign land, but one of a native people reuniting with their brothers and sisters in their ancient homeland. The writer is Israel’s ambassador to the UN. (Jerusalem Post)

 

  • Israeli Diplomat: How Is a Failed Palestinian State Good for the Palestinians?
    Israel’s former ambassador to the UK, Mark Regev, told the BBC in an interview: “Any peace has to be based on reality. You can have a two-state illusion. It might look nice on a piece of paper but it will never be implemented. A real solution has to take into account the realities on the ground and, first and foremost, you have to build peace on security because we know that peace that can’t be defended won’t endure. It can’t survive.”
    “If a future Palestinian state’s going to be just another failed Middle Eastern state, if it’s going to look like Iraq or Syria or Yemen or Libya – which unfortunately there are signs that is going to be the case – how is that good for peace, how is that good for Israel?
    “More importantly, how is that going to be good for the Palestinians?… Is it a Palestinian state that is peaceful, democratic and one that wants to live with Israel side-by-side, or is it going to be a superior platform to continue the struggle against Israel? These are the questions that have to be asked.”  (BBC News)
The Jewish People’s Rights – Nadav Shragai (Israel Hayom)
  • A fundamental principle which is so lacking in the current discourse about sovereignty was highlighted by Israeli poet Naomi Shemer writing in Ma’ariv in December 1975.
  • “The Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people…regardless of conditions or temporary ownership of territory, regardless of the essence of a passing rule or a question such as how many Jews are living in the Land of Israel at any given moment.”
  • That, if you will, is the unwritten constitution of the State of Israel, the one that begins with “Go from your country…to the land that I will show you” (Genesis 12:1) and continues on to “the hope that is 2,000 years old” and the genetic code of “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem.”
  • Even the League of Nations recognized that genome 100 years ago as “the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine” and “the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country” and the Jewish right to “settle in any place in the west of Palestine, between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.”
  • Security is important but doesn’t come before everything else. David Ben-Gurion didn’t address the question when he insisted on holding onto far-flung settlements in the Jerusalem hills and in the Negev and the western Galilee.
  • We might be here today because of might, but even before that, because we have a right to be.

    The writer, a fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, has documented Jerusalem for Ha’aretz and Israel Hayom for over thirty years.


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American suburbs in danger

eppc.org

Biden and Dems Are Set to Abolish the Suburbs

Biden has embraced Cory Booker’s strategy for ending single-family zoning in the suburbs and creating what you might call “little downtowns” in the suburbs. Combine the Obama-Biden administration’s radical AFFH regulation with Booker’s new strategy, and I don’t see how the suburbs can retain their ability to govern themselves.

By Stanley Kurtz, June 30, 2020

President Trump had a great riff at his rally the other day in Phoenix. It was all about “abolish,” about how the Left wants to abolish the police, ICE, bail, even borders. Trump’s riff is effective because it is true. The Left has gone off the deep end, and they’re taking the Democrats with them.

Well, there’s another “abolish” the president can add to his list, and it just might be enough to tip the scales this November. Joe Biden and the Democrats want to abolish America’s suburbs. Biden and his party have embraced yet another dream of the radical Left: a federal takeover, transformation, and de facto urbanization of America’s suburbs. What’s more, Biden just might be able to pull off this “fundamental transformation.”

The suburbs are the swing constituency in our national elections. If suburban voters knew what the Democrats had in store for them, they’d run screaming in the other direction. Unfortunately, Republicans have been too clueless or timid to make an issue of the Democrats’ anti-suburban plans. It’s time to tell voters the truth.

I’ve been studying Joe Biden’s housing plans, and what I’ve seen is both surprising and frightening. I expected that a President Biden would enforce the Obama administration’s radical AFFH (Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing) regulation to the hilt. That is exactly what Biden promises to do. By itself, that would be more than enough to end America’s suburbs as we’ve known them, as I’ve explained repeatedly here at NRO.

What surprises me is that Biden has actually promised to go much further than AFFH. Biden has embraced Cory Booker’s strategy for ending single-family zoning in the suburbs and creating what you might call “little downtowns” in the suburbs. Combine the Obama-Biden administration’s radical AFFH regulation with Booker’s new strategy, and I don’t see how the suburbs can retain their ability to govern themselves. It will mean the end of local control, the end of a style of living that many people prefer to the city, and therefore the end of meaningful choice in how Americans can live. Shouldn’t voters know that this is what’s at stake in the election?

It is no exaggeration to say that progressive urbanists have long dreamed of abolishing the suburbs. (In fact, I’ve explained it all in a book.) Initially, these anti-suburban radicals wanted large cities to simply annex their surrounding suburbs, like cities did in the 19th century. That way a big city could fatten up its tax base. Once progressives discovered it had since become illegal for a city to annex its surrounding suburbs without voter consent, they cooked up a strategy that would amount to the same thing.

This de facto annexation strategy had three parts: (1) use a kind of quota system to force “economic integration” on the suburbs, pushing urban residents outside of the city; (2) close down suburban growth by regulating development, restricting automobile use, and limiting highway growth and repair, thus forcing would-be suburbanites back to the city; (3) use state and federal laws to force suburbs to redistribute tax revenue to poorer cities in their greater metropolitan region. If you force urbanites into suburbs, force suburbanites back into cities, and redistribute suburban tax revenue, then presto! You have effectively abolished the suburbs.

Obama’s radical AFFH regulation puts every part of progressives’ “abolish the suburbs” strategy into effect (as I explain in detail here). Once Biden starts to enforce AFFH the way Obama’s administration originally meant it to work, it will be as if America’s suburbs had been swallowed up by the cities they surround. They will lose control of their own zoning and development, they will be pressured into a kind of de facto regional-revenue redistribution, and they will even be forced to start building high-density low-income housing. The latter, of course, will require the elimination of single-family zoning. With that, the basic character of the suburbs will disappear. At the very moment when the pandemic has made people rethink the advantages of dense urban living, the choice of an alternative will be taken away.

That’s all bad enough. But on top of AFFH, Biden now plans to use Cory Booker’s strategy for attacking suburban zoning. AFFH works by holding HUD’s Community Development Block Grants hostage to federal-planning demands. Suburbs won’t be able to get the millions of dollars they’re used to in HUD grants unless they eliminate single-family zoning and densify their business districts. AFFH also forces HUD-grant recipients to sign pledges to “affirmatively further fair housing.” Those pledges could get suburbs sued by civil-rights groups, or by the feds, if they don’t get rid of single-family zoning. The only defense suburbs have against this two-pronged attack is to refuse HUD grants. True, that will effectively redistribute huge amounts of suburban money to cities, but if they give up their HUD grants at least the suburbs will be free of federal control.

The Booker approach — now endorsed by Biden — may block even this way out. Booker wants to hold suburban zoning hostage not only to HUD grants, but to the federal transportation grants used by states to build and repair highways. It may be next to impossible for suburbs to opt out of those state-run highway repairs. Otherwise, suburban roads will deteriorate and suburban access to major arteries will be blocked. AFFH plus the Booker plan will leave America’s suburbs with no alternative but to eliminate their single-family zoning and turn over their planning to the feds. Slowly but surely, suburbs will become helpless satellites of the cities they surround, exactly as progressive urbanists intend.

If America’s suburban voters understood that all this is what Biden and the Democrats have in store for them, it could easily swing the election. That means President Trump now has another “abolish” to add to his list: Joe Biden and the Dems want to abolish America’s suburbs.

There’s just one hitch. Incredibly, although AFFH is arguably Obama’s most radical initiative, Ben Carson’s HUD has still not gotten rid of it. Instead, Carson suspended enforcement of the rule early on and then tinkered around for three years trying to come up with a replacement. What Carson has developed so far is something you might call “AFFH lite.” While this possible replacement removes many of the regulation’s excesses, Carson has so far retained the most egregious feature of AFFH. He still wants to use HUD money to gut suburban single-family zoning. How Carson can even think about taking this stance in the face of President Trump’s explicit directive to reduce and remove excessive federal regulation is a mystery.

It will be very tough for President Trump to make a political issue out of Biden’s housing plans so long as his own cabinet secretary is talking about killing suburban single-family zoning with AFFH. I think Carson’s wobbling on AFFH explains a lot about why Democrats have become so bold with their plans to undo suburban zoning. If even the Trump administration goes along with federal attacks on suburban zoning, the Dems figure they’ve got political cover. Time was when Obama administration officials would turn somersaults to deny that they were going to control suburban-zoning decisions, even when it was obvious that this was their plan. Now, Biden and Booker are remarkably open about their desire to densify the suburbs and get rid of single-family zoning.

The Democrat war on the suburbs is a golden gift to President Trump, but he won’t be able to make use of it until he throws over Carson’s AFFH lite and completely guts Obama’s wildly radical regulation. Then Tump can go to town on Biden and the Dems for making war on the suburbs.

If there were ever proof that Biden has shed his centrism and been taken over by the Left, this is it. Biden got the nomination by declining to endorse the most radical plans of his rivals. But take a look at Biden’s housing plans and it’s clear that he is now a wholly owned subsidiary of the Left. Progressive urbanists’ long-cherished dream of abolishing the suburbs is now within reach. With AFFH restored to its original form by a President Biden, enforced to the hilt, and turbo-charged by the Booker strategy, suburbs as we know them will pass from the scene.

With them will disappear the principle of local control that has been the key to American exceptionalism from the start. Since the Pilgrims first landed, our story has been of a people who chose how and where to live, and who governed themselves when they got there. Self-government in a layered federalist system allowing for local control right down to the township is what made America great. If Biden and the Democrats win, that key to our greatness could easily go by the boards.

Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

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Apology for climate scare

environmentalprogress.org

On Behalf Of Environmentalists, I Apologize For The Climate Scare

Environmental groups have accepted hundreds of millions of dollars from fossil fuel interests. Groups motivated by anti-humanist beliefs forced the World Bank to stop trying to end poverty and instead make poverty “sustainable.” And status anxiety, depression, and hostility to modern civilization are behind much of the alarmism

June 29, 2020, Environmental Progress

On behalf of environmentalists everywhere, I would like to formally apologize for the climate scare we created over the last 30 years. Climate change is happening. It’s just not the end of the world. It’s not even our most serious environmental problem.

I may seem like a strange person to be saying all of this. I have been a climate activist for 20 years and an environmentalist for 30.

But as an energy expert asked by Congress to provide objective expert testimony, and invited by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to serve as Expert Reviewer of its next Assessment Report, I feel an obligation to apologize for how badly we environmentalists have misled the public.

Here are some facts few people know:

  • Humans are not causing a “sixth mass extinction”
  • The Amazon is not “the lungs of the world”
  • Climate change is not making natural disasters worse
  • Fires have declined 25% around the world since 2003
  • The amount of land we use for meat — humankind’s biggest use of land — has declined by an area nearly as large as Alaska
  • The build-up of wood fuel and more houses near forests, not climate change, explain why there are more, and more dangerous, fires in Australia and California
  • Carbon emissions are declining in most rich nations and have been declining in Britain, Germany, and France since the mid-1970s
  • Netherlands became rich not poor while adapting to life below sea level
  • We produce 25% more food than we need and food surpluses will continue to rise as the world gets hotter
  • Habitat loss and the direct killing of wild animals are bigger threats to species than climate change
  • Wood fuel is far worse for people and wildlife than fossil fuels
  • Preventing future pandemics requires more not less “industrial” agriculture

I know that the above facts will sound like “climate denialism” to many people. But that just shows the power of climate alarmism.

In reality, the above facts come from the best-available scientific studies, including those conducted by or accepted by the IPCC, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and other leading scientific bodies.

Some people will, when they read this imagine that I’m some right-wing anti-environmentalist. I’m not. At 17, I lived in Nicaragua to show solidarity with the Sandinista socialist revolution. At 23 I raised money for Guatemalan women’s cooperatives. In my early 20s I lived in the semi-Amazon doing research with small farmers fighting land invasions. At 26 I helped expose poor conditions at Nike factories in Asia.

I became an environmentalist at 16 when I threw a fundraiser for Rainforest Action Network. At 27 I helped save the last unprotected ancient redwoods in California. In my 30s I advocated renewables and successfully helped persuade the Obama administration to invest $90 billion into them. Over the last few years I helped save enough nuclear plants from being replaced by fossil fuels to prevent a sharp increase in emissions

But until last year, I mostly avoided speaking out against the climate scare. Partly that’s because I was embarrassed. After all, I am as guilty of alarmism as any other environmentalist. For years, I referred to climate change as an “existential” threat to human civilization, and called it a “crisis.”

But mostly I was scared. I remained quiet about the climate disinformation campaign because I was afraid of losing friends and funding. The few times I summoned the courage to defend climate science from those who misrepresent it I suffered harsh consequences. And so I mostly stood by and did next to nothing as my fellow environmentalists terrified the public.

I even stood by as people in the White House and many in the news media tried to destroy the reputation and career of an outstanding scientist, good man, and friend of mine, Roger Pielke, Jr., a lifelong progressive Democrat and environmentalist who testified in favor of carbon regulations. Why did they do that? Because his research proves natural disasters aren’t getting worse.

But then, last year, things spiraled out of control.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said “The world is going to end in twelve years if we don’t address climate change.” Britain’s most high-profile environmental group claimed “Climate Change Kills Children.”

The world’s most influential green journalist, Bill McKibben, called climate change the “greatest challenge humans have ever faced” and said it would “wipe out civilizations.”

Mainstream journalists reported, repeatedly, that the Amazon was “the lungs of the world,” and that deforestation was like a nuclear bomb going off.

As a result, half of the people surveyed around the world last year said they thought climate change would make humanity extinct. And in January, one out of five British children told pollsters they were having nightmares about climate change.

Whether or not you have children you must see how wrong this is. I admit I may be sensitive because I have a teenage daughter. After we talked about the science she was reassured. But her friends are deeply misinformed and thus, understandably, frightened.

I thus decided I had to speak out. I knew that writing a few articles wouldn’t be enough. I needed a book to properly lay out all of the evidence.

And so my formal apology for our fear-mongering comes in the form of my new book, Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All.

It is based on two decades of research and three decades of environmental activism. At 400 pages, with 100 of them endnotes, Apocalypse Never covers climate change, deforestation, plastic waste, species extinction, industrialization, meat, nuclear energy, and renewables.

Some highlights from the book:

  • Factories and modern farming are the keys to human liberation and environmental progress
  • The most important thing for saving the environment is producing more food, particularly meat, on less land
  • The most important thing for reducing air pollution and carbon emissions is moving from wood to coal to petroleum to natural gas to uranium
  • 100% renewables would require increasing the land used for energy from today’s 0.5% to 50%
  • We should want cities, farms, and power plants to have higher, not lower, power densities
  • Vegetarianism reduces one’s emissions by less than 4%
  • Greenpeace didn’t save the whales, switching from whale oil to petroleum and palm oil did
  • “Free-range” beef would require 20 times more land and produce 300% more emissions
  • Greenpeace dogmatism worsened forest fragmentation of the Amazon
  • The colonialist approach to gorilla conservation in the Congo produced a backlash that may have resulted in the killing of 250 elephants

Why were we all so misled?

In the final three chapters of Apocalypse Never I expose the financial, political, and ideological motivations. Environmental groups have accepted hundreds of millions of dollars from fossil fuel interests. Groups motivated by anti-humanist beliefs forced the World Bank to stop trying to end poverty and instead make poverty “sustainable.” And status anxiety, depression, and hostility to modern civilization are behind much of the alarmism

Once you realize just how badly misinformed we have been, often by people with plainly unsavory or unhealthy motivations, it is hard not to feel duped.

Will Apocalypse Never make any difference? There are certainly reasons to doubt it.

The news media have been making apocalyptic pronouncements about climate change since the late 1980s, and do not seem disposed to stop.

The ideology behind environmental alarmsim — Malthusianism — has been repeatedly debunked for 200 years and yet is more powerful than ever.

But there are also reasons to believe that environmental alarmism will, if not come to an end, have diminishing cultural power.

The coronavirus pandemic is an actual crisis that puts the climate “crisis” into perspective. Even if you think we have overreacted, Covid-19 has killed nearly 500,000 people and shattered economies around the globe.

Scientific institutions including WHO and IPCC have undermined their credibility through the repeated politicization of science. Their future existence and relevance depends on new leadership and serious reform.

Facts still matter, and social media is allowing for a wider range of new and independent voices to outcompete alarmist environmental journalists at legacy publications.

Nations are reverting openly to self-interest and away from Malthusianism and neoliberalism, which is good for nuclear and bad for renewables.

The evidence is overwhelming that our high-energy civilization is better for people and nature than the low-energy civilization that climate alarmists would return us to.

The invitations from IPCC and Congress are signs of a growing openness to new thinking about climate change and the environment. Another one has been to the response to my book from climate scientists, conservationists, and environmental scholars. “Apocalypse Never is an extremely important book,” writes Richard Rhodes, the Pulitzer-winning author of The Making of the Atomic Bomb. “This may be the most important book on the environment ever written,” says one of the fathers of modern climate science Tom Wigley.

“We environmentalists condemn those with antithetical views of being ignorant of science and susceptible to confirmation bias,” wrote the former head of The Nature Conservancy, Steve McCormick. “But too often we are guilty of the same.  Shellenberger offers ‘tough love:’ a challenge to entrenched orthodoxies and rigid, self-defeating mindsets.  Apocalypse Never serves up occasionally stinging, but always well-crafted, evidence-based points of view that will help develop the ‘mental muscle’ we need to envision and design not only a hopeful, but an attainable, future.”

That is all I hoped for in writing it. If you’ve made it this far, I hope you’ll agree that it’s perhaps not as strange as it seems that a lifelong environmentalist, progressive, and climate activist felt the need to speak out against the alarmism.

I further hope that you’ll accept my apology.

About the Author: (from Wikipedia)

Michael Shellenberger (born 1971) is an American author, environmental policy writer, cofounder of Breakthrough Institute and founder of Environmental Progress. He was named a Time magazine Heroes of the Environment (2008),[2] winner of the 2008 Green Book Award,[3] co-editor of Love Your Monsters (2011) and co-author of Break Through (Houghton Mifflin 2007) and The Death of Environmentalism (2004).[4] He and his co-author Ted Nordhaus have been described as “ecological modernists”[5] and “eco-pragmatists.”[6] In 2015, Shellenberger joined with 18 other self-described ecomodernists to coauthor An Ecomodernist Manifesto.[7] On November 30, 2017, he announced during a New York Times conference that he would run for Governor of California in 2018[8][9]. Shellenberger is the author of Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All (2020).[10]

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Variations in virus contagion

marketwatch.com

Scientists estimate the speed and distance of coronavirus transmission when people cough, sneeze, speak — and run

Factors affecting whether the virus remains “stable” and contributing to transmission: Humidity and temperature of the room, air-conditioning, whether or not there are open windows, general air quality, size of the room and, of course, how many people are present and how close they are to each other.

By Quentin Fottrell

A slew of studies examine the role of COVID-19’s contagiousness

A runner jogs along the seawall in Galveston, Texas. Social-distancing measures do not take into account the potential aerodynamic effects introduced by a person’s movement, such as walking fast, running and cycling, researchers say.Getty Images

There’s a lot scientists know — and a lot they don’t.

In “Coughs and Sneezes: Their Role in Transmission of Respiratory Viral Infections, Including SARS-CoV-2,” released Tuesday, researchers describe the various types and sizes of virus-containing droplets present in sneezes and coughs, and how some medical procedures and devices may spread these droplets. “Coughs and sneezes create respiratory droplets of variable size that spread respiratory viral infections,” according to the article, which was published online in the American Thoracic Society’s American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

“ ‘While most respiratory droplets are filtered by the nose or deposit in the oropharynx, the smaller droplet nuclei become suspended in room air and individuals farther away from the patient may inhale them.’ ”

“Because these droplets are forcefully expelled, they are dispersed in the environment and can be exhaled by a susceptible host. While most respiratory droplets are filtered by the nose or deposit in the oropharynx, the smaller droplet nuclei become suspended in room air and individuals farther away from the patient may inhale them,” said Rajiv Dhand, professor and chair of the Department of Medicine and associate dean of clinical affairs at University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine, and co-author of the paper.

Among the researchers’ recommendations: “Health care providers should stay six feet away from infected patients, especially when the patient is coughing or sneezing. For spontaneously breathing patients, placing a surgical mask on the patient’s face or using tissue to cover his or her mouth, especially during coughing, sneezing or talking, may reduce the dispersion distance or viral load. While ideally, infected patients should be in single rooms to prevent droplet dispersion, it is acceptable for two patients with the same infection that is spread by respiratory droplets to be in the same room.”

The contagiousness of speech droplets

“Speech droplets generated by asymptomatic carriers of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) are increasingly considered to be a likely mode of disease transmission,” a separate study published in the latest edition of the peer-reviewed Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the official journal of the National Academy of Sciences, found. “Highly sensitive laser light scattering observations have revealed that loud speech can emit thousands of oral fluid droplets per second.”

In a closed, stagnant-air environment, droplets disappear from view after eight to 14 minutes, “which corresponds to droplet nuclei of ca. 4um diameter, or 12um to 21um droplets prior to dehydration,” the researchers wrote. One micrometer, um, is equivalent to one millionth of a meter. The coronavirus is 0.125 um. The scientists said that, while it’s long been recognized that respiratory viruses such as coronavirus can be transmitted via droplets generated by coughing or sneezing, it’s less widely known that normal speaking does too. High viral loads of SARS-CoV-2 have been detected in oral fluids of COVID-19−positive patients, including asymptomatic ones.

Related:5 critical mistakes that created the biggest public-health crisis in a generation

How far coronavirus droplets can travel

Social distancing has been defined for people that are standing still. “It does not take into account the potential aerodynamic effects introduced by person movement, such as walking fast, running and cycling,” researchers wrote in another study titled, “Towards aerodynamically equivalent COVID-19, 1.5 meters social distancing for walking and running.” Bert Blocken, a professor of civil engineering at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands and Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Flanders, Belgium, and his co-authors recommend that people avoid walking or running in the slipstream of a walker or runner in the park and street.

“In the absence of head wind, tail wind and cross-wind, for walking fast at 4 kilometers per hour, this distance is about 5 meters (16 feet) and for running at 14.4 kilometers per hour, this distance is about 10 meters (32 feet),” the study, which has not been peer reviewed, found. The smaller the distance between the runners, the larger the fraction of droplets to which the trailing runner is exposed.” If people wish to run behind and/or overtake other walkers and runners with regard for social distance, “they can do so by moving outside the slipstream into staggered formation,” it added.

Factors indoor contributing to contagion

Factors affecting whether the virus remains “stable” and contributing to transmission: Humidity and temperature of the room, air-conditioning, whether or not there are open windows, general air quality, size of the room and, of course, how many people are present and how close they are to each other. “In contrast to SARS-CoV-1, most secondary cases of the new SARS-CoV-2 transmission appear to be occurring in community settings rather than health-care settings,” a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which was first identified in Wuhan, China in December, had infected 9,295,365 people globally and 2,348,956 in the U.S. as of Wednesday. It had claimed at least 478,289 lives worldwide, 121,279 of which were in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering. The Dow Jones Industrial Index DJIA, -2.56% and the S&P 500 SPX, -2.59% were lower Wednesday, as investors weighed progress in COVID-19 vaccine research amid fears of a surge of coronavirus in U.S. states that have loosened restrictions. Fauci said he was hopeful that a coronavirus vaccine could be developed by early 2021.

How COVID-19 is transmitted

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COVID-19 optimism and pessimism

matzav.com

 What Has Happened to Covid-19 ? A Reason for Optimism – and Pessimism

“I’m very down about the damage done by the too long lockdown of the economy. The collateral damage for some is drug use, alcohol use, depression, severe economic damage- some of which is permanent, loss of relationships, etc. We are multifaceted people. The global picture and global impact need to be considered. Economists lean towards money outcomes and public health administrators lean on health outcomes. We need a hybrid approach. Both need to be considered. My wife keeps telling people that I have a risk:benefit approach. I do. All of life is a risk:benefit calculation. I pray that I make the correct risk:benefit calculation when I give advice.”


By Marc J. Sicklick, M.D.

It’s been several weeks of changing times and attitudes. What has happened to COVID-19 during that time? What is my personal take on the current situation and what do I think will happen?

What gives me cause for optimism at the present time?

Some reports that infected patients not only made antibodies, but also had evidence of a cell mediated response. What this means in English is that we can think of the immune system as having 2 basic arms. Antibodies come out of one of the arms. The other arm has both killer function toward viruses and also has regulatory effects on antibody production. Both arms seem to have an immune response to COVID-19. This is good.
Intimate household contact with sick, COVID-infected patients have not always led to infection in other household members. Is it possible that past coronavirus infections may play a role in current reduced risk in people who had a good immune response to them? Is there some cross protection? Is there a genetic factor that protects some people? These are all possibilities Anything that reduces the number of potentially vulnerable people may reduce the number still needed to achieve herd immunity. This is also good.

Some preliminary evidence that at least one (or more) of the multitude of vaccines being made has met some early hopes. The vaccine made by Moderna seems to be on the brink of starting phase 3 studies. Keep in mind that even if a vaccine isn’t 100% effective, anything that gives partial protection will help reach the level needed for herd immunity. (When reading newspaper reports of breakthroughs, remain skeptical about press releases on vaccines, medicines, new approaches etc., especially if business releases appear before medical ones. But I do think that significant progress is being made in a relatively short period of time by several manufacturers.)

Social distancing and masks are becoming part of our life. Or at least part of the life of those who care about other people. Everyone has to social distance and wear masks near other people. Having antibodies does not prove immunity and is certainly not a reason to not wear a mask. There are no legitimate reasons not to wear one. Masks will help slow the spread of the disease. Good studies show that it cuts the spread very significantly.

Politicians have learned from their mistakes. In the opinion of many doctors, the most egregious mistake was putting COVID-19 positive patients into nursing homes. This is no longer happening. Had this not been done, our mortality rate would have been much, much lower.

Medical personnel are learning about this new disease on an ongoing basis and we, too, are learning from our mistakes. We have learned that not all damage is caused by direct viral effect. Much of the damage is caused by an over reactive immune response and by clotting. Use of medications, when appropriate, to reduce the immune response and to reduce clotting, can save lives and prevent organ damage. This will be reflected in, what I hope will be, lower mortality rates.

The seasonal warming will hopefully lead to us following the path of other coronaviruses. They usually decrease (not necessarily disappear) in the mid-spring. They also return in the fall, but we will hopefully be better prepared to handle it then. One of the models that I recently saw does project an increase beginning in September. The good news is that it should not reach as high as the April peak and doctors and hospitals are better prepared, both with material and knowledge.

What gives me cause for pessimism?

My biggest concern is the still lengthy time that it will take until we can both contain COVID-19 with medications and prevent it with vaccines that are both effective and safe. I expect both, to some degree, to be found, and just pray that it’s soon. I do not expect a vaccine in the immediate future. I am not sure that we will ever have a totally effective vaccine, but that doesn’t mean that the disease will not be controlled. I expect some beneficial medications and a better approach to the different phases of the disease, and both will cut the death rate.

I’m very upset to see people not adhering to social distancing and not wearing masks in public. These work NOW. There is no excuse for this. If everyone would wear a mask when outside, the virus will have a very difficult time going from person to person. Some studies show that masks and social distancing cut the rate of new infection by well over 80%. Some are much higher than that. I understand lock-up fatigue. Everyone has had enough. Me too. But I don’t understand the lack of worrying about your neighbor, even if you think (despite all the medical warnings to the contrary) that you’re already immune. If people don’t do this now, what will happen in the fall?

Too many people assume that if they have antibodies, they are immune (see above ad nauseum. I am repeating myself over and over because this is such an important life-saving tool.). If you assume that antibodies are a guarantee of immunity (which at this time has not be proven), and even if you can assume that the tests are 100% accurate (and they are not), no one knows how the long the antibodies remain protective and no one can say that a person with antibodies can’t be a carrier and infect other people. Recent papers have shown that some people lose antibodies over several months. It may be that those who had milder cases lose antibodies faster. I have had a few patients with positive swabs and antibodies who have lost them. No one knows what this means. Everyone should practice social distancing. Everyone should worry about everyone else.

Pictures of protesters in very close proximity, many without masks or with masks below the nose, on the news, terrify me as a physician. There are thousands of people in close contact who can really restart the epidemic. They can get sick. They can die. They can infect other people.

I am also upset to see religious gatherings with people violating the social distancing rules. Some are too close. Some aren’t wearing masks. Some wear their mask below their nose. Some cover their nose and expose their mouth. This will be costly. And a new wave is likely for the late summer which is not that far off. Prevention today will decrease disease tomorrow.

The spikes in Florida, Texas, Arizona and California are very alarming. We all know snowbirds who are now leaving Florida. Campers are also coming up for the summer. It is very easy for the disease to spread from hot spots, as we have already seen.

I’m very down about the damage done by the too long lockdown of the economy. The collateral damage for some is drug use, alcohol use, depression, severe economic damage- some of which is permanent, loss of relationships, etc. We are multifaceted people. The global picture and global impact need to be considered. Economists lean towards money outcomes and public health administrators lean on health outcomes. We need a hybrid approach. Both need to be considered. My wife keeps telling people that I have a risk:benefit approach. I do. All of life is a risk:benefit calculation. I pray that I make the correct risk:benefit calculation when I give advice.

It’s too easy for politicians who get a regular, large paycheck to say to shut down the economy. Perhaps if politicians were not paid during this time, they would have an inkling of what our lives and worries are like and we would have different results. Perhaps not. But that won’t happen so I’m pessimistic about their ability to fully understand our situation and to react appropriately.

The idea of camps is still controversial. Some states allow camps. New York State does not allow sleep away camps. If anyone thinks that kids will be staying home in a controlled environment with no outside contacts if there isn’t camp, I’d like to know what they’re taking. I fear spread. I fear too many young drivers sharing roads with kids on bikes. I fear teens and younger children mixing with friends and then bringing COVID home to the more vulnerable. Most of all I fear decisions that are not from the world of reality. The equation is kids mixing and mingling and possibly spreading disease at home, and bike riding and sharing streets with drivers, vs. kids being away in a more controlled environment. Both sides carry some risk. We need an answer, again, based on reality and our best global scientific data and prediction.

What do I realistically see happening?

The virus will be here for the foreseeable future. The decreasing numbers now are not permanent. There will be another spike or spikes until there is herd immunity. (I’m not sure what the number is for herd immunity in this disease.) The cooler fall weather is a risk factor. So is quarantine fatigue. So are less practiced social restrictions and distancing. It is not realistic to keep people locked up for months, let alone years. It is not beneficial to individuals or society to not have businesses and schools open.

I expect that New York will NOT lead the country in cases and deaths. Hopefully, because so many were already infected and because we will not be exposing COVID-19 negative people to COVID-19 positive people in nursing homes, we will not have as many potential targets. (Based on current data, about 20% of New York City has already been infected. In areas such as Williamsburg and Flatbush, the number is between 40-50%) And I hope that people continue to wear masks and distance. So perhaps New York can actually be a bit of a haven.

We will have a new normal. Some deaths are inevitable. That is a tragedy beyond words. EVERY death is a tragedy. But we cannot fully control nature. Schools will reopen in some form and so will businesses, but it will be different. Social distancing is here for now. Even after a vaccine is effective and widely available, I think many people will continue to avoid crowds, planes, cruises, weddings, and other parties.

People vote with their actions and we see what’s happening. Politicians cannot make unrealistic rules. Few will listen and it will lead to a general disregard for all COVID regulations, even those that are needed and make sense. We need a realistic approach. (Sometimes, the less realistic COVID restrictions remind me of Prohibition. We can’t legislate laws and rules that the public cannot and/or will not accept.)

Those of us who are vulnerable must take some responsibility on ourselves, and the rest of society should try to make our job easier. But it is not fair for me to expect a healthy person with low risk to be placed under rigid rules that benefit those of us who should be taking care of ourselves.

If I could give one piece of advice and only one and have it followed, what would it be?

WEAR A MASK WITH SOCIAL DISTANCING. You will save a life.

About Dr. Sicklick: Dr. Sicklick is a graduate of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.  He is board certified in Allergy and Immunology and is a Fellow of both the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology and the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. During his twenty years on the faculty of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Dr. Sicklick reached the academic rank of associate clinical professor. Dr. Sicklick is currently on staff at North Shore University Hospital, Long Island Jewish Medical Center, Montefiore Hospital and Medical Center, and South Nassau Communities Hospital.
Dr. Sicklick has been featured in magazine, newspaper, radio, and television pieces on topics related to allergy and immunology. Among these media sources are The New York Times, Newsday, The Daily News, The Boston Globe, Harper’s Bazaar, Redbook, L’Express (Paris), The NBC Nightly News, CNBC, WNBC-TV, and others.
Dr. Sicklick is listed on the current Castle-Connolly Best Doctors list and on Newsday’s Best Doctors list.

Marc J. Sicklick, M.D.
123 Grove Avenue
Suite 110
Cedarhurst, NY 11516

ph: 516-569-5550
fax: 516-210-0080

Posted in Education, Health Sciences, Opinion, Recent Posts | Comments Off on COVID-19 optimism and pessimism

Early humans migrated to Israel

jewishpress.com

How Carmel Cave Rodent Changed Scientists’ Understanding of Human Evolution

“The tiny remains of the animals we examined are of paramount importance to the study of human evolution. With the help of fossils, one can determine under what conditions ancient humans could have survived in different prehistoric times, and at what rate human adaptability evolved in order to adjust to diverse climatic conditions.”

Jewish Press News Desk

Photo Credit: Mina Weinstein-Evron, University of Haifa

Misliya Cave

Contrary to the popular theory that states that the cold and dry climate of the Ice Age was a barrier to the intercontinental migration of humans – new and surprising Israeli research reveals that migration out of Africa did take place under such climatic conditions some 200,000 years ago.

The research examined animal fossils from Misliya Cave in Mount Carmel, and identified a vole species that characterized northern and cold regions. The rodents were found close to a human jawbone, nearly 200,000 years old, that is among the earliest human remains outside Africa. The research was published Yesterday (Sunday) in the Journal of Human Evolution.

Dr. Lior Weisbrod with tiny fossils of rodents from the excavation. / Yoli Schwartz, Israel Antiquities Authority

According to Dr. Lior Weisbrod of the Israel Antiquities Authority, who published the new findings together with Prof. Mina Weinstein-Evron of the Zinman Institute of Archeology at the University of Haifa, “We investigated tiny fossils, most of them smaller than a single mm, discovered within the same layer where, the jawbone of the earliest modern humans (Homo sapiens) outside Africa was found two years ago, a finding published by Prof. Israel Hershkowitz of the Tel Aviv University and Prof. Mina Weinstein-Evron of Haifa University in the prestigious journal Science. The fossils now being investigated were identified as belonging to 13 different species of rodents and small insect eaters, some of which now live in high and cold regions, in the Zagros Mountains of northwestern Iran and in the Caucasus Mountains.”

The human jawbone from Misliya Cave. / Israel Hershkowitz, Tel Aviv University

According to Dr. Weisbrod, “It is amazing to learn about modern human evolution from the remains of one small rodent. Among the species discovered during the excavation, we were also very surprised to discover animals capable of living only in cold climates – especially one species called Ellobius lutescens, which lived here during the Ice Age and disappeared from our region more than 150,000 years ago. This signifies that, here in Israel, cold conditions prevailed that allowed such animals to survive. Finding the human jawbone in the same layer where the rodent lived, suggests that these early humans survived under these conditions! The tiny remains of the animals we examined are of paramount importance to the study of human evolution. With the help of fossils, one can determine under what conditions ancient humans could have survived in different prehistoric times, and at what rate human adaptability evolved in order to adjust to diverse climatic conditions.”

The research of Dr. Weisbrod of the Israel Antiquities Authority and of Prof. Weinstein-Evron of the University of Haifa, now reveals that the migration from Africa occurred during a period of a global ice age and supports the belief that the adaptations that made humanity the dominant species on Earth appeared early on in our evolution.

Misliya Cave / Mina Weinstein-Evron, University of Haifa

According to Prof. Weinstein-Evron, the researcher who conducted the excavation at Misliya Cave, “Prehistoric discoveries in Israel, and in other regions of North Africa and southeastern Europe, are changing existing perceptions on human evolution. These discoveries shed light on the origins of modern humans and the development of their physiological and behavioral capabilities. These capabilities enabled us to reach each of the continents in a relatively short time, in evolutionary terms, accelerated the extinction of earlier human species, and actually led our ancestors to dominate the world. If the climate wasn’t the factor that initially delayed our ancient ancestors, researchers will have to examine other explanations, including those related to population demographics, interactions with other human species, or the late emergence of technological innovations.”

Posted in Education, Evolutionary Biology, Judaism, Middle East Report, Recent Posts, Science and Technology | Comments Off on Early humans migrated to Israel

Facts on Israeli annexation

honestreporting.com

The Law of Annexation: What’s Right and What’s Wrong?

Whether Israel may annex and whether Israel should are two different questions, with the latter being hotly debated even among Israelis. Surprisingly, opponents of the plan include not only left leaning Israelis but also a section of right-wing Israelis who fear that this process will lead to a Palestinian state, including some Jewish settlers who worry that their homes may actually end up inside such a Palestinian state. Meanwhile, the annexation plan has some surprising support from niches of Palestinians who expect to end up receiving Israeli citizenship: they are currently citizens of the Palestinian Authority government, which many Palestinians find to be oppressive, corrupt and not a true democracy.

By Daniel Pomerantz

On June 10 a web site called opiniojuris.org circulated an article entitled An Open Letter to the Israeli Government,  which claims that Israel’s plans to annex certain parts of the disputed territories in Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”) per se violate international law. The letter was electronically signed by a number of lawyers, legal “scholars,” and “human rights experts.” However, only some of the letter’s signatories have experience in international law, many do not. In fact, anyone claiming to be an “expert” or “scholar” was able sign the letter simply by sending an email: there was no vetting to verify a signer’s credentials.

Despite the letter’s lack of transparency and credibility, it is being touted by voices on social media such as the New York Times’ Israel bureau chief David Halbfinger, former U.S. Special Envoy Martin Indyk, Palestinian diplomat Saeb Erekat, and others.

The letter is clearly a political statement rather than an actual legal analysis: it makes vague reference to “rules of international law” without actually identifying which rules the writers have in mind. The letter’s primary claim is that annexation in situations that involve force is per se (always and by definition) illegal. Aside from being unspecific and misleading, the claim finds no support in the relevant international treaty (Geneva Convention IV, art. 47) nor in the surrounding case law.

Indeed the question of whether annexation is right or wrong is hotly contested even among Israelis. Yet whether annexation is right and whether it is legal are two different questions. The law is not some kind of popularity contest, like American Idol or Eurovision, and journalists should not imply otherwise to the public by touting a vague and misleading letter. A journalist should instead present credible legal opinions on both sides of the issue and educate the public as to what legal analysis truly requires: a rigorous examination of the original source materials.

What Does the Law Say?

The relevant legal question is actually not whether there is use of force, but whether there is violation of state sovereignty (forceful or otherwise). This is apparent in the Cook Islands (1900),  Island of Palmas Arbitration (1928), and  Eastern Greenland (1933) cases, all three of which were annexed under circumstances that did not involve sovereignty violations.  Other cases did involve sovereignty issues but were completed via mutual consent, such as America’s annexation of Texas and Hawaii, while still others do involve violations of sovereignty and of international law, such as Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Crimea.

I recently addressed this topic in detail on ILTV news:

In this case, Israel is considering annexation of specific areas within a region that is historically called “Judea and Samaria” and which is not subject to any existing sovereignty. This territory was previously held by Jordan, which had conquered it by force in an unsuccessful attempt to destroy Israel in 1948. During its 19 year occupation, Jordan renamed the region the “West Bank,” but never declared sovereignty over it, nor would such a declaration have been valid. 

Prior to Jordan’s occupation, Judea and Samaria (or the “West Bank”) was previously held by the British Mandate. The British had acquired the area from the Ottoman Empire, which was defeated in World War I and no longer exists. The Ottomans, in turn, had acquired the region by force from previous conquerors. In fact, the Ottomans were the last of a long chain of conquests going back two thousand years – ultimately to the ancient Jewish Kingdom of David.

In short, unless one is attempting to defend the sovereignty of the now non-existent Ottoman Empire, there is simply no issue of valid national sovereignty at play.

Furthermore, the Geneva Conventions may not even apply at all. Legal scholars such as Eugene Kontorovich point out that bilateral treaties between Israelis and Palestinians have the effect of overruling the Geneva Conventions by mutual agreement, and that the history of the region makes the term “annexation” not even appropriate to describe these events. Legal scholar Avi Bell explains that the current events are almost entirely symbolic, and amount to little more than political posturing.

Is it Right or Wrong?

Whether Israel may annex and whether Israel should are two different questions, with the latter being hotly debated even among Israelis. Surprisingly, opponents of the plan include not only left leaning Israelis but also a section of right-wing Israelis who fear that this process will lead to a Palestinian state, including some Jewish settlers who worry that their homes may actually end up inside such a Palestinian state. Meanwhile, the annexation plan has some surprising support from niches of Palestinians who expect to end up receiving Israeli citizenship: they are currently citizens of the Palestinian Authority government, which many Palestinians find to be oppressive, corrupt and not a true democracy.

One misconception is that Israel is planning to annex the entire West Bank, thus foreclosing the possibility of a future Palestinian State. In fact, the specific areas that Israel is considering annexing are already primarily Jewish, and already under Israeli control. Indeed, the Oslo Accords were signed 25 years ago with the expectation that these particular areas would eventually become a part of Israel under any future peace agreement.

Some proponents feel that by moving annexation forward, Palestinian leadership will finally feel pressure to come to the negotiating table and cease its long standing practice of refusing peace offers.  Meanwhile, some annexation opponents feel that this process is merely political pandering to parts of Israel’s right wing, and is not worth the cost in international condemnation and diplomatic penalties that Israel may suffer.

Whatever your opinion, you have the right to form it with a full and fair understanding of the facts, the law and the overall situation. And journalists have a professional duty to give you that opportunity.

Posted in Education, Judaism, Middle East Report, Opinion, Recent Posts | Comments Off on Facts on Israeli annexation

FDA approves ADHD game

lifedoclifetime.com

FDA approves first prescription ADHD game

The Project Evo game requires children to multi-task by switching between a memory-based task and a visuomotor task. The first requires players to tap the screen to choose a target from a few options, for example, a blue fish as the target with red and yellow fish as distractions, according to the paper. The second task consists of steering a hovercraft along a river. The game’s difficulty increases as the child progresses.


Attention Deficit Hyper-activity Disorder or ADHD is a parent’s worst nightmare as children enter school ages. The FDA just approved the first prescription video game — it’s for kids with ADHD. This is a totally new treatment method for use with or without current medicines.

The game was built by Boston-based Akili Interactive Labs suggests evidence that it may improve attention function. Called Endeavor/Rx, requires a prescription and is designed for children ages 8 to 12 with certain symptoms of ADHD. It’s the first time the FDA has cleared a digital therapy for improving ADHD symptoms, and the first time the agency has ever authorized marketing of a game-based therapy for any condition.

During game development and research it was called Project EVO, and earned awards as a combination of a daily planner and intelligent mobile app. The system is personalized to YOU and specifically designed around how your Brain Type™ naturally works so you can achieve more flow and thrive.

As part of the Sensory Neurodevelopment & Autism Program, Endeavor/Rx demonstrated success with ADHD subjects. Experimental conclusions observed: “In the randomized, controlled trial of 348 children and adolescents diagnosed with ADHD, AKL-T01 showed a statistically significant improvement compared to an active control (p=0.006) on the predefined primary endpoint, a change in the Attention Performance Index (API), a composite score from the Test of Variables of Attention (T.O.V.A.®). The T.O.V.A.® is an objective measure of sustained attention and inhibitory control. AKL-T01 was shown to be safe in this study, with no serious adverse events observed.”

The Project Evo game requires children to multi-task by switching between a memory-based task and a visuomotor task. The first requires players to tap the screen to choose a target from a few options, for example, a blue fish as the target with red and yellow fish as distractions, according to the paper. The second task consists of steering a hovercraft along a river. The game’s difficulty increases as the child progresses.

While I normally suspect reliability of studies with 348 people, Endeavor/Rx did get approval from the FDA as a valid treatment for ADHD with Autism. Will health insurance pay for it? You may find a very good guide to Evolution/Rx foundation on Amazon online.

Medical drugs and alchemy supplements may help ADHD quickly but side-effects may be more dangerous than what you want to treat. Consult nutritionists.

We live in an APP happy world and “smart” digital therapy tech is very available. Our bodies are magicians and have innate properties for healing. Evolution/Rx may be a game, a first of many, to help conquer many ADHD symptoms toward a better future lifestyle for those with ADHD diagnoses and parents.

Posted in Education Report, Mental Health, Recent Posts, Special Education | Comments Off on FDA approves ADHD game