Month: April 2022

Microsoft Word Censors Politically Incorrect Language

An ‘inclusive language tool’ launched by Microsoft has been criticised for advising writers to type “assigned female at birth”, instead of “biologically female”. The Telegraph has more.

Critics say it amounts to censorship of an individual’s writing and makes a mockery of language, flying in the face of the biological and linguistic meaning of the word “woman” or “female”.

It comes after the Telegraph reported that Google has also started telling users not to use particular words because they are not inclusive enough.

The online giant is rolling out an “inclusive language” function that prompts authors to avoid using certain words and suggests more acceptable replacements.

Microsoft Word has introduced a similar tool, prompting users of the editing function to avoid certain words. Users can opt in or out of the function.

As well as advising people to steer clear of the term “biologically female”, it urges them to change phrases such as Postman Pat to “Postal Worker Pat”, as the former “may imply gender bias”.

It also recommends amending Mrs. to Ms., including changing “Mrs. Thatcher” to “Ms. Thatcher”. In addition, it proposes that users change the word “mankind” in Neil Armstrong’s famous phrase “one giant leap for mankind” to “humankind” or “humanity”.

Critics have objected in particular to the biological definition of a woman being flagged as potentially offensive.

Helen Staniland, a software developer and feminist activist, told the Telegraph: “Microsoft appears to be trying to influence how people discuss social issues, but not really know or understand what they are suggesting.

“What do they mean by gender bias? Why are they suggesting that the perfectly descriptive phrase ‘biologically female’ might imply a gender bias? Why would they presume that ‘assigned female at birth’ might be better?

“It seems that they are trying to jump on the bandwagon of attempting to prevent discussion of ‘biological females’, but their suggestions don’t help them.”

Worth reading in full.

Climate Change Saves Over Half a Million Lives in England and Wales, Says ONS – Not a Word From the Press

Over half a million fewer people died in England and Wales over the last 20 years due to a small rise in temperatures, according to recent work by the Office for National Statistics. According to the ONS, reduced climate-related mortality rates were 90% attributable to milder winters and 10% to warmer summers. Over three times the number of lives were extended due to climate change than are said to have been lost in the Covid pandemic.

In the mainstream media, the news was greeted with a deafening silence. There were few reports highlighting the lives saved. The BBC didn’t even mention the half million figure, but noted: “Hot days saw more injuries, violence and suicide but the relatively small rise in deaths was offset by warmer winter temperatures.” The third paragraph of the story claimed: “Climate change is a substantial threat to human health globally.” Resident green activist Justin Rowlatt then supplied an “analysis”, noting immediately that “statistics can be slippery, as these new climate-death figures show”.

For some inexplicable reason, there was no 5pm Downing Street press conference announcing that nearly 30,000 lives a year had been saved by climate change. There was no Professor Ferguson-inspired model suggesting that if current trends were followed, everyone in the world would be saved by teatime next Tuesday.

Stillbirths and Infant Deaths Double in Iceland in 2021, Raising Questions of Vaccine Safety

In 2021, 17 stillbirths and 35 first-year infant deaths were reported in Iceland, a total of 52, against 28 in 2020 in the island nation of 366,000 people. The rate of stillbirths almost doubled compared with the 2011-2020 average. In 2020 there were two stillbirths per 1,000 live births, but in 2021 there were 3.5. First-year infant deaths more than doubled, from an average of 3.5 per 1,000 to 7.2. Taken together the 2021 figure was 10.7 per 1,000, an 82% rise on the 10-year average of 5.9 per 1,000 (see above). These startling figures were reported by Icelandic daily Frettin, based on new data from Statistics Iceland.

Some studies have indicated a possible relationship between stillbirths and COVID-19 infection while others have found no relationship. In Iceland, almost 6,000 cases of COVID-19 were reported in 2020 and 21,000 in 2021, almost a third of those during the final month of the year as Omicron arrived. The first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020, saw no increase in stillbirths or newborn deaths above the average. No infant deaths have been attributed to COVID-19 according to official data. Mass vaccination against COVID-19 began early 2021 and by July 15th, 70% of the population had been fully vaccinated. Eleven cases of foetal damage following vaccination had been reported to the Icelandic Medicines Agency by April 2022.

Mask Study Finds No Impact on Covid Infections From Mask-Wearing and an INCREASE in Deaths

Mask-wearing had no discernible impact on the spread of COVID-19 in Europe during winter 2020-21 and may actually have increased mortality, a study has found.

The peer-reviewed study by Professor Beny Spira from the Department of Microbiology at the University of São Paulo, published in the journal Cureus, looked at the correlation between the rate of mask-wearing in the population and the number of reported infections and deaths from October 2020 to March 2021 in 35 European countries. All European countries, including Western and Eastern Europe, with more than one million inhabitants were included, encompassing a total of 602 million people. All the countries experienced a peak of COVID-19 infections during the six months – the winter 2020-21 wave.

The results are shown in the graphs above, where a positive correlation can be seen in the case of both infections and deaths, i.e., greater mask-wearing went hand-in-hand with more infections and deaths, the opposite of the intended effect of masks. In the case of reported infections the correlation was not statistically significant, so may have been by chance. In the case of deaths it was statistically significant, particularly in Western Europe, opening up the possibility that wearing masks actually made things worse.

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The Sanctions Debate is a Mess

A few days ago, I wrote a piece highlighting the energy embargo that Russia had placed on Poland and Bulgaria. Russia made clear weeks ago that they would not sell oil and gas to ‘unfriendly’ countries if they weren’t prepared to pay in roubles (which Poland and Bulgaria said they weren’t). As I noted at the time, the Russian move was clever and likely to work.

Some commentators responded to my piece that I did not understand the situation properly. In fact, they said, the embargo would not threaten Poland and Bulgaria because it only hit their gas supplies. Both countries have extensive coal-powered electricity grids and although Poland relies for almost a fifth of its electricity generation from gas, Poland is in the process of weaning itself off of Russian gas and onto alternatives, especially from Norway.

There are a few points that can be made against this argument.

  1. If Poland was going to wean itself off Russian gas anyway and Bulgaria does not rely on it for much of its energy generation, then what was the point of the histrionics? Since it has spooked energy markets and caused European gas markets to spike 20% – as firms price in the possibility of a broader energy embargo – it will give rise to inflated prices in Europe and worsen the already bad inflation.
  2. Poland and Bulgaria may not need the gas, but they do need petroleum. Most cars and trucks do not run on electricity and a new gas pipeline to Norway or additional coal power generation will not help motorists if Russia turns off the taps. If the two countries are willing to pay for the petroleum imports but not for the gas then, again, what was the point? They’ll still be sending Russia money.

These two points raise a much broader one. It appears to me that Poland and Bulgaria’s refusal to pay for Russian gas in roubles has one purpose in mind: to increasingly normalise a European boycott of Russian energy. If Russia does something in Ukraine that’s seen to merit a response from Europe, people will point to Poland and Bulgaria’s refusal, and we’ll be told that a boycott wouldn’t be that bad. This could have a cascade effect where Europe unwittingly commits itself to a catastrophically bad policy.

Former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO Says, “We Are Using the Ukrainians as Our Proxy Forces”

At the end of March, Biden caused a minor incident when he declared that Putin “cannot remain in power”. Now he’s asking the U.S. Congress for another $33 billion to support Ukraine, including $20 billion in military aid. That’s on top of $3 billion in military aid the U.S. has already sent since February.

To put the $23 billion number in perspective, it’s bigger than the annual military budget of Spain, Brazil or Turkey. In fact, only 15 countries in the entire world spend more than $23 billion a year on defence. Famously defence-minded Israel spends a ‘mere’ $24 billion.

As I noted in a previous post, there’s lots of evidence the U.S. actually wanted a war with Russia – notwithstanding the tendency of some commentators to dismiss this claim as ‘Russian propaganda’.

Indeed, Congressman Adam Schiff couldn’t have been much clearer when he stated on the floor of the U.S. Senate, “The United States aids Ukraine and her people so that we can fight Russia over there, and we don’t have to fight Russia here.” (That was in January of 2020 during Trump’s impeachment trial.)

Vaccine Rollout Correlates With 25% Spike in Cardiac Arrest Emergency Calls for Young Adults, Study Finds

Emergency calls for cardiac arrest and acute coronary syndrome in young people in Israel were significantly associated with the vaccine rollout, both first and second doses, spiking 25% higher than in earlier years, but not with COVID-19 prevalence, a study in the Nature journal Scientific Reports has found.

Using data from the Israel National Emergency Medical Services (EMS) from 2019 to 2021, the study looked at the volume of cardiac arrest and acute coronary syndrome EMS calls in the 16-39 year-old population. It found an increase of over 25% in both call types during January-May 2021, compared with 2019-2020, but no significant increase in calls correlating with COVID-19 infection rates.

The main finding of this study concerns with increases of over 25% in both the number of CA [cardiac arrest] calls and ACS [acute coronary syndrome] calls of people in the 16-39 age group during the COVID-19 vaccination rollout in Israel (January-May, 2021), compared with the same period of time in prior years (2019 and 2020). Moreover, there is a robust and statistically significant association between the weekly CA and ACS call counts, and the rates of first and second vaccine doses administered to this age group. At the same time there is no observed statistically significant association between COVID-19 infection rates and the CA and ACS call counts. This result is aligned with previous findings which show increases in overall CA incidence were not always associated with higher COVID-19 infections rates at a population level, as well as the stability of hospitalisation rates related to myocardial infarction throughout the initial COVID-19 wave compared to pre-pandemic baselines in Israel. These results also are mirrored by a report of increased emergency department visits with cardiovascular complaints during the vaccination rollout in Germany as well as increased EMS calls for cardiac incidents in Scotland.

While several studies have found severe myocarditis to be a rare adverse effect of the vaccines, the study authors note that myocarditis is often missed, and in fact has been found to be likely responsible for 12-20% of unexpected deaths in adults under 40 in normal times.

Hospital and Care Home Visiting Restrictions Are “Cruel, Inhumane and Unnecessary”, Doctors Tell MPs

The Pandemic Response and Recovery All-Party Parliamentary Group met this week to hear about visiting restrictions still being imposed by many care homes and NHS Trusts. Co-chaired by Rt Hon Esther McVey MP and Graham Stringer MP, the Group listened to evidence about the devastating effects visiting restrictions in hospitals have on patients and their loved ones. MPs also heard how visiting restrictions in care homes, along with the continued use of rolling lockdowns and over interpretation of testing guidelines, is leading to isolation, neglect and abuse of the residents.

Leandra Ashton, who co-founded The People’s Care Watchdog, Dr. Ammar Waraich, a medical registrar in the West Midlands, Carol Munt, experienced Patient Partner and Advocate and Dr. Ali Haggett, community mental health and wellbeing specialist, told MPs of the obstacles still in place when trying to visit a loved one and the shocking impact on vulnerable hospital patients, care home residents and their families.

All the speakers voiced serious concerns that obstacles are still in place in some healthcare settings. Politicians heard harrowing accounts of the harmful effects of isolation and loss of social contact on physical and mental health, safeguarding problems with medication, dehydration, hygiene and lack of basic care and the failures to uphold existing legislation to protect those who lack capacity.

Leandra Ashton’s mother was arrested in November 2020 for taking her grandmother out of her care home a day before the second lockdown. Two years on, many residents are still being isolated from their loved ones. She told MPs:

Arctic Ice is Not “Rapidly Vanishing” – Study Finds Similar Trends Over At Least 200 Years

Whisper it quietly, but Arctic ice is making a comeback. The coverage is now very close to the 1991-2020 average, well above a 2012 low point and higher than 2020. According to the latest report from Copernicus, the EU’s Earth observation programme, the 2021 March sea ice extent was just 3% below the 30 year average. March is the annual maximum extent of sea ice in the Arctic.