Friday, 31 July 2020
Politics, Not Science, Keeping Schools Closed
By Yinon Weiss July 31, 2020
Politicians speak about following the science to set COVID-19 policy, but their decisions are more about political objectives than they are about medical efficacy. Why else did California Gov. Gavin Newsom shut down retail businesses in March when the state had under 300 cases per day but allow them to be open in July when the state clocked in at over 10,000 cases per day?
Why else would Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear allow liquor stores to stay open but close down churches? Why did Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer insist that buying lottery tickets remain legal but made it illegal to buy garden supplies? And how did New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo use “science” to prohibit outdoor funerals but allow outdoor protests?
But as badly as our lockdowns have damaged local businesses, a potentially even bigger problem is created by the physical closure of schools. One of the most important functions of a civil society is to protect and educate its children, and the cancellation of in-person education stands to become one of the most detrimental acts of collateral damage during this pandemic.
California currently expects its 5-year-olds to complete kindergarten exclusively through online distance learning. For this dubious undertaking, the politicians are given passionate political cover. The Los Angeles Teachers Union maintains that “the only people guaranteed to benefit from the premature reopening of schools amidst a rapidly accelerating pandemic are billionaires and the politicians they’ve purchased” -- as if billionaires typically send their kids to L.A. public schools. The wealthy will send their children to in-person private schools or hire additional tutors, while most American families will suffer from a widening education gap that could set their kids back years. Worst of all, none of this is medically substantiated.
Children Are Safe
There is a great deal of fear generated in the media about risk to children, but the truth is that children are incredibly resistant to coronavirus. So much so that children are far more likely to die from the flu, or even just from driving to school, than from COVID-19.
The CDC has recorded a total of 20 COVID-19 deaths in children ages 5-14 compared to almost 2,000 deaths from non-COVID causes in the same time period for the same age group. It means children have been 100 times more likely to die from non-COVID causes during the pandemic than from COVID. This puts the risk of COVID death for children 5 to 14 in the same ballpark as deaths by lightning.
Claims of long-term damage or mystery illnesses have not been backed by any definitive evidence and they therefore serve more as a scare and intimidation tactic than as a medical guide. The truth is that children so far have had around a 1 in 20,000 rate of COVID-19 hospitalizations, according to the CDC. While controversial to some, Sweden’s policy of keeping primary schools open even at the height of the pandemic serves as an excellent counterpoint. With over 1 million children, Sweden did not have a single death of a school-aged child despite full attendance and no masks.
Sweden is not alone in sending kids to school. Denmark opened its schools back up in April. Finland kept normal class sizes when it reopened. Parts of Montana opened schools back in May, as did parts of Canada and Germany. The Netherlands announced that Dutch students didn’t even need to socially distance anymore as they experienced very low transmission rates. Schools all across Europe have reopened successfully, both with and without masks. The risk to the children themselves therefore cannot be used as a justification for the massive damage created by ceasing in-person education. But what about the teachers?
Transmission From Children to Adults Is Rare
Science magazine, a preeminent journal that dates to 1880, recently published a comprehensive analysis studying school reopenings around the world and concluded that “younger children rarely spread the virus to one another or bring it home.”
A study in Switzerland, including a review of World Health Organization contact tracing, failed to find evidence of a single case of a child passing coronavirus to an adult. A comprehensive study in Iceland isolated SARS-CoV-2 samples from every positive case, sequenced the virus genome, and tracked the mutation patterns. This analysis, along with contact tracing, allowed researchers to identify definitively who passed the virus to whom. The study concluded “[E]ven if children do get infected, they are less likely to transmit the disease to others than adults. We have not found a single instance of a child infecting parents.” A study of schools in Ireland found “no evidence of secondary transmission of COVID-19 from children attending school.”
New Zealand conducted a study across 15 schools in which 18 individuals with COVID-19 were in close contact with 735 other students and 128 staff members, yet no teacher or staff member contacted COVID-19 from any of the initial 18 cases and only two students out of the 735 would later test positive. The New Zealand study concluded: “Our investigation found no evidence of children infecting teachers.”
Cases and close contacts among teachers and students in 10 New Zealand high schools showing one secondary case in a student. Source: “COVID-19 in Schools – the Experience in NSW”
Denmark, The Netherlands, Finland, Belgium, and Austria all opened schools and “found no evidence of increased spread of the novel coronavirus after schools reopened.” The same was found in scientific studies in France, Sweden, and Germany. A leading British epidemiologist goes even further to claim there is not a single known case of a teacher being infected of coronavirus from a student anywhere in the world.
Since there could still be a rare school outbreak, such as experienced in Israel, students with high-risk household members should be given a distance education option, and teachers who believe themselves or their households to be at high risk should be allowed to teach remotely, balancing the risk for all parties. This way healthy students can be be educated by healthy teachers. With science overwhelmingly pointing to reopening schools, why do so many schools intend to remain closed?
The Politics of Teaching
If children are at minimal risk, transmission to adults is rare, and both can be accommodated with optional distance learning, why are some schools suspending all in-person education? It’s certainly not because of the parents, who would be the last people to send their children into a dangerous situation. The vast majority of parents support reopening schools with modifications, perhaps because they best understand the cost-benefit of depriving their children of a full education.
The reason many schools won’t open, just like why so many places originally locked down, comes back to fear and politics. The Los Angeles’ teachers union, for example, recently came out with a list of demands before returning to teach in person. These included defunding the police, ending charter schools, “Medicare for All,” and a new wealth tax. It was not until the union came out with these demands that Newsom announced closure of nearly all schools in California -- overriding individual school districts that had planned to open.
In a brazen announcement, the union put in bold words the conclusion of their argument: “Normal wasn’t working for us before. We can’t go back” – openly conveying that this negotiation was more about changing what they didn’t like about American education and society before the pandemic, and certainly not about what is best for children. Despite overwhelming scientific evidence pointing to the safety of school reopenings, union President Cecily Myart-Cruz labeled doing so “anti-science.” Yet, it’s also no wonder that so many teachers have concern for their safety now, as media outlets like CNN continue to run sensationalized stories building up school reopenings as dangerous while downplaying the actual science and evidence.
Day Care at School Gives the Game Away
Cities left with little choice due to their political environment are trying to mitigate the situation for parents. New York City will offer day care for 100,000 students attending schools that are only partially reopening, though this largely defeats the point of keeping children from being at school in the first place. If school closing advocates are correct, this would only expose children to a broader cohort of peers and would make teachers, children, and their caretakers less safe.
Some districts in California are offering day care right on school campus for half and full day programs, at a cost. So parents can pay to send their kids to school to be watched but not to be taught. Ironically, a student might be physically at a school under the watch of paid day care while simultaneously “attending” the very same school online.
It is clear that science is not the driving principle behind any of these policies, which helps explain why both the CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics have advocated for opening on-campus education.
Teachers Are Essential Workers
There are few functions in society more essential than educating our children. “Education of our children is an essential Texas value,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton recently wrote in a letter directing that health officials cannot completely close schools, and they certainly cannot preemptively close schools with no evidence of local school spread.
The CDC recently concluded that “in-person schooling is in the best interest of students, particularly in the context of appropriate mitigation measures similar to those implemented at essential workplaces.”
The education of our children is too essential to be used as a political bargaining chip. If nurses can come to work every day and treat the sick and infected, then certainly teachers can be expected to come to work and teach the young and healthy.
Yinon Weiss is a tech entrepreneur, a U.S. military veteran, and holds a degree in bioengineering from U.C. Berkeley.
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Posted on 07/31/2020 6:22 AM by Bobbie Patray
Thursday, 30 July 2020
Goodbye, Washington DC.
Mayor Bowser broke her contract with residents like me. So we’re leaving.
By Daniel Turner on July 23, 2020
During the last night in my condo in DC, I had to walk my dog an extra lap around the block because a crazy person was outside screaming obscenities. I wasn’t afraid. I just didn’t feel like getting into it with him or having to listen to his story—his “Let me just tell you something,” attempt to get money from me. It was 1 A.M., and I was tired from a night out—but more so, just tired in general. Tired of it all.
I’m a city kid, through and through. And not a recent one. Not some Nebraska transplant who moved to the city and immediately thinks of himself as a local. A woman tried that on me once. With her affected upspeak cadence, where declarations sound like interrogatories, she told me she was from “Brook-LAN?” “No, you’re not,” I retorted (obnoxiously, being the 6th generation New Yorker that I am). “You LIVE in Brooklyn. People who are really from there don’t pronounce it like that.”
My uncle Bob, the family historian (and former Congressman representing our neighborhood from Queens) traces our family in Manhattan since the 1840’s. Between my Irish dad, from the Irish part of Manhattan, and my Italian Mom, from the Italian part of Brooklyn, we have family or friends in practically every part of the city. New York is not just where we live; it’s like a family member, as loved as offspring, as revered as a grandparent, as formative as a mom and dad.
City-living in America, for decades, meant tolerating mild inconveniences so that you could be left alone, alongside millions of others.
I left that family member in 2003, when I moved to Washington, DC for work. It’s not New York, but it’s still the city, and, for the past 17 years, it’s been an exciting time to call it home. I’ve witnessed the birth of entire neighborhoods: Shaw, 14th Street, The Atlas District, Navy Yard, Ivy City, The Wharf. Parts of DC you couldn’t even drive through at one point now had Michelin Star dining and outdoor beer gardens. From abandoned streets with burnt-out buildings—many still bearing the scorched marks from the fires of the ‘68 riots—multi-million-dollar row houses were restored, new condos arose, and wine bars and gyms multiplied like Abraham’s offspring.
We put up with a lot in order to live in the city: lousy transportation, noise, traffic, pollution, and our fair share of homeless people. It’s all just a part of living in urban America. But I’ll gladly tolerate sirens and car horns in exchange for a new restaurant on the corner. For major league sports, performing arts, museums, and bars, I will put up with the occasional crazy guy on the street, metro derailment, or gridlocked traffic because an intersection is blocked by some group “raising awareness” about something or other. That’s just the price of the urban lifestyle, and as a life-long city dweller, I knew what I was paying for—and with what.
I did my part, too. My role in the fabric of urban society, overlooked but essential, was to spend my money. Eat, drink, shop, spend, tip, pay. And man, did I pay: taxes, rents, then a mortgage and HOA fees. I paid taxes on things the government deemed “bad” for me, like alcohol and cigarettes; taxes on services which organized labor deemed “bad” for them, like rideshare. I paid gas tax, cable tax, cell phone tax, and, of course, income tax. Lots of income tax.
All I asked in return was relative safety and to be left alone to enjoy the city. City-living in America, for decades, meant tolerating mild inconveniences so that you could be left alone, alongside millions of others. That was the tacit pact.
And DC broke it.
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Posted on 07/30/2020 7:10 AM by Bobbie Patray
Wednesday, 29 July 2020
Biden woos Muslim voters, plugs Islam in schools
Friday, July 24, 2020
The Democrats' presumptive presidential nominee is courting a million Muslim voters by calling for children in public schools to study Islam.
Speaking to the Million Muslim Voters Summit this week from his home in Delaware, former Vice President Joe Biden touted the Islamic faith:
"[Islam is one of the] great confessional faiths. I wish we taught more in our schools about the Islamic faith. I wish we talked about all the great confessional faiths. It's one of the great confessional faiths."
Calling all Muslims
After being endorsed by Emgage Action in April, the pro-Muslim group hosted the online summit for Biden in order to secure one million Muslim voters' ballots for the Democratic nominee in November's presidential election, with many Muslims in office supporting him, as well.
"A number of Muslim American officials – including Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, and Rep. Andre Carson (D-Ind.) – signed a letter organized by Emgage Action endorsing Biden on Monday," CBN News reported.
Omar – who came to the United States as a Somali refugee – has been notorious for her anti-Semitic statements, and her district in Minnesota has been ranked as the worst for race relations of all the 435 districts represented in Congress.
"Omar – one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress – served as a high-profile surrogate for [self-proclaimed socialist] Bernie Sanders before he exited the presidential race in April … making her support for Biden potentially helpful as the former vice president seeks to mobilize Muslim voters this fall," Fox News recounted.
Biden made it clear that he would push Islam into prominence – if elected.
"We all come from the same root here in terms of our fundamental basic beliefs, and I just want to thank you for giving me the opportunity, for being engaged, for committing to action, this November," Biden expressed to those attending the online summit.
All faiths the same?
However, in an argument against Islam being included with Christianity and Judaism as a confessional-type faith, Jihad Watch co-founder Robert Spencer noted how proponents of Islam have aimed to exclude all other religions and that Muslims have strived to get into public office for power, as he said in a piece quoting Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) co-founder Omar Ahmad.
"Islam isn't in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant," Ahmad declared, according to Spencer. "The Koran – the Muslim book of scripture – should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth."
Even though Ahmad adamantly refused to acknowledge this statement, Spencer cites evidence of his claim being factual. "[T]he original reporter, Lisa Gardiner of the Fremont Argus – hardly a hardline 'Islamophobe' with an axe to grind – stood by her story," Spencer stressed.
Spencer also quoted CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper.
"I wouldn't want to create the impression that I wouldn't like the government of the United States to be Islamic sometime in the future," Hooper said, according to the watchdog.
Spencer also brought up the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been linked to Islamic terrorism and credited for the Arab Spring uprising in the Middle East – a movement supported by former President Barack Obama.
"[T]he Muslim Brotherhood – to which all the major Muslim groups in the U.S., including CAIR, are linked – is dedicated in its own words to 'eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within, and sabotaging its miserable house … so that it falls, and Allah's religion is victorious over other religions,'" he informed from a captured internal document.
Teaching Islam in America's public schools has been pushed for some time.
"Groups like CAIR encourage Muslim input into textbook selection and the shaping of Islamic curricula for the public schools, which only adds to many people's concerns about Biden's suggestion to broaden Islamic studies in America's schools," CBN News disclosed.
"The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) – a religious liberty watchdog – reports numerous cases in recent years where teaching of Islam has moved from general knowledge of the religion to indoctrination of school children. On its website, the ACLJ cites some assignments that have raised concern from parents, like middle-school children in Tennessee being told to write 'Allah is the only God' and recite the Islamic conversion creed. An assignment in a Wisconsin public school told students to 'Pretend you are Muslim.'"
Similar stories were reported by the leftist media.
"It is important that students understand the differences between each of these religions to help them understand the tensions that exist in the region, the state standards – known as the Georgia Performance Standards – say," the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (ACJ) reported.
A homework assignment critiqued by one parent was also mentioned in the report, which read, "Allah is the ___ (fill in the blank) worshiped by Jews and Christians," according the document divulged by ACJ, with the suggested correct answer being, "same God."
Push for November
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Posted on 07/29/2020 6:27 AM by Bobbie Patray
Monday, 27 July 2020
John MacArthur's Grace Community Church announces it will not obey California's ban on indoor worship services
by Jordyn Pair · Jul 24th, 2020 9:20 am
Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, which is pastored by influential theologian and author John MacArthur, announced Friday that it would continue holding in-person services, saying state mandates restricting worship are an overstep of government authority and thus they have no duty to follow them.
Pastor MacArthur argued in a blog post published on Friday that "government officials have no right to interfere in ecclesiastical matters in a way that undermines or disregards the God-given authority of pastors and elders."
"Therefore, in response to the recent state order requiring churches in California to limit or suspend all meetings indefinitely, we, the pastors and elders of Grace Community Church, respectfully inform our civic leaders that they have exceeded their legitimate jurisdiction, and faithfulness to Christ prohibits us from observing the restrictions they want to impose on our corporate worship services," MacArthur wrote.
On July 13, California indefinitely closed churches— as well as restaurants, bars, fitness centers, hair salons, and barbershops — in at least 32 counties. A group of churches from the state also recently sued California Gov. Gavin Newsom after he instituted a ban on singing in churches as a way to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
"The biblical order is clear: Christ is Lord over Caesar, not vice versa. Christ, not Caesar, is head of the church," MacArthur wrote. "Conversely, the church does not in any sense rule the state. Again, these are distinct kingdoms, and Christ is sovereign over both."
He also argued that because the church is by nature an assembly, any restrictions goes against the nature of the church "in principle."
"As government policy moves further away from biblical principles, and as legal and political pressures against the church intensify, we must recognize that the Lord may be using these pressures as means of purging to reveal the true church," MacArthur wrote. "Succumbing to governmental overreach may cause churches to remain closed indefinitely. How can the true church of Jesus Christ distinguish herself in such a hostile climate? There is only one way: bold allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ."
➡️ Read MacArthur's full statement here.
Posted on 07/27/2020 5:27 AM by Bobbie Patray
Friday, 24 July 2020
Foster care organization for LGBTQ youth launches
Move comes just months after Gov. Bill Lee signs bill prohibiting gay couple from adopting
By Abby Lee Hood July 13, 2020
Just months after Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed a new bill prohibiting gay couples from adopting, the state is getting a new foster care organization exclusively serving LGBTQ+ homeless youth.
True You TN is in the beginning stages of opening, having just acquired their 501(c)3 and preparing to fundraise. The group, founded by Executive Director Stephanie Lowe, will build a group home for LGBTQ+ teens and youth and recently moved into their first office space.
True You will be the first group home to serve exclusively LGBTQ+ youth in the state, working to help the nearly 40 percent of homeless youth who identify as queer. Lowe said her own past drove her to create the organization, and although she has reconciled with her family, her coming out at 30 years old didn’t go as planned.
“It crushed me when my family turned their backs on me, so I can’t imagine that trauma as a youth,” Lowe said. “But it gets better and being true to yourself is necessary, even in the face of hatred.”