Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for February 7th, 2021

Back Away From “America’s Frontline Doctors”

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“Frontline Medical Quacks” is more like it. Joe Schwarcz writes at McGill University’s Office for Science and Society:

Not a day goes by without a video being forwarded to me accompanied by the question, “Is this true?” Invariably the answer is “um..no..there is no evidence,” and that usually ends the discussion. Sometimes, though, I can discern that a video has legs because I get the “Is this true?” query several times a day. An example of this is a recent epic, dripping with pseudoscience, produced by Dr. Lee Merritt an American orthopedic surgeon. Dr. Merritt may be a fine orthopedic surgeon, but when it comes to the science of COVID-19, she is a bumbling neophyte.

Suspicion is immediately aroused when Merritt is identified as a member of “America’s Frontline Doctors,” a handful of conspiracy-minded physicians that include luminaries such as Dr. Stella Immanuel who alleges that alien DNA is being used in medical treatments and that researchers are working on a vaccine to prevent people from becoming religious. She also believes in a conspiracy by the “Illuminati” to destroy the world with abortion, gay marriage, and of all things, children’s toys. As far as gynecological diseases go, they can be caused by having sex with witches and demons that appear in dreams.

Then we have the founder of “America’s Frontline Doctors,” Dr. Simone Gold, who was arrested for taking part in the January 6 attack on the Capitol. She has a sordid history of attacking Dr. Fauci’s sound scientific advice and claiming that COVID-19 vaccines are “experimental biological agents.” She warns people not to be “coerced” into taking them. Lockdowns, this guru maintains, have mental health effects that are more harmful than those caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which according to her, are minimal. Dr. Gold trots out the usual nonsensical trope about 99% of infections by the virus being harmless. While it is true that most infected people experience mild or moderate symptoms, roughly 10-15% progress to serious disease and about 5% become critically ill. In some cases, symptoms can linger for months, maybe even years.

In any case, these fine specimens of the medical profession maintain that there is no need to worry even if someone contracts COVID-19 because “simple effective treatments are available.” It is at this point that the snake in the grass, namely hydroxychloroquine, rears its head. Not only is this medication presented as a treatment, but hydroxychloroquine is also claimed to prevent infection if taken prophylactically. Initially, there were some seductive results with hydroxychloroquine, but subsequent trials that were better designed failed to produce any positive results and some even suggested complications in terms of heart function. Ivermectin, an anti-parasitic medication used in animals is also championed by America’s Frontline Doctors. While there are theoretical possibilities for some benefit, so far clinical trials have been inconclusive, with some showing no effect, and others demonstrating a decrease in inflammatory markers as well as a shorter time for viral clearance. Certainly, ivermectin is not a “magic bullet” that targets COVID-19 as claimed.

Then there are the conspiracy theories. “Big Pharma” is said to be hiding hydroxychloroquine benefits because this cheap drug would undermine the potential profits from vaccines. And of course, as the convoluted story goes, those vaccines have not been properly tested and mess with our DNA. This handful of physicians, who have no specific training in epidemiology, virology or infectious disease, claim to have better knowledge of COVID-19 than the thousands of academic and pharmaceutical researchers who have forged specialized careers in these areas. The only expertise they have actually demonstrated is in spreading misinformation and undermining evidence-based advice.

The conspiracy theories continue with some more unabashed nonsense about two factories manufacturing ingredients for hydroxychloroquine pills mysteriously blowing up simultaneously. Of course, the insinuation is that this was done by the nefarious vaccine promoters to protect their profits. The story is that these factories were producing magnesium stearate, “the key component in hydroxychloroquine.” To start with, magnesium stearate is not a “key component.” It is an inactive ingredient used in many pills as an internal lubricant that prevents the active ingredient from clumping during manufacture. The Mexican factory cited doesn’t even produce magnesium stearate, neither does the other company in Madison, Illinois. And the plants didn’t blow up! They did experience unrelated fires.

Dr. Merritt buys into all these conspiracy theories and the various pseudoscientific treatments. Masks are useless, she says, and meetings with friends should be encouraged. Along with her Frontline Doctor colleagues,  . . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

7 February 2021 at 2:56 pm

Variant of Lappé’s Lentils Monastery Style

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Frances Moore Lappe’s Lentils Monastery Style is a long-time favorite. I’m going to make a variant. I’ve noted where I’ve altered the recipe — one alteration is to use no salt.

• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 8-10 cloves garlic, chopped small [no garlic in original]
• 2 large red onions, chopped
• 1 bunch scallions, chopped [scallions added; high nutritional value]
• 1 carrot, diced
• 1 beet, diced [I have a beet, and why not?]
• 1 teaspoon dried thyme [instead of 1/2 teastpoon]
• 1 teaspoon dried marjoram [instead of 1/2 teastpoon]
• 1 teaspoon dried mint [an addition — mint high in antioxidants]
• 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper [no red pepper in original]
• 3 cups vegetable broth
• 1 cup lentils, rinsed
• 1 16-ounce can tomatoes
• 1 cup cooked intact whole grain (rye, in this case) [instead of Swiss cheese; included in soup]
• 1/4 cup dry sherry (I’ll use Shaoxing wine)

Heat oil in a large pot and sauté the onions, carrot, and beet for 3 to 5 minutes, until softened and onion is translucent. Add dried herbs and garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add stock, lentils, and tomatoes and cook, covered, until lentils are tender, about 45 minutes. Add cooked grain and heat, then add sherry.

I thought about including a 300g brick of frozen chopped spinach as well, but I’ll wait and see.

I think it would also be a good idea to add a little more acid (beyond the tomatoes), so I’m thinking:

• 2 tablespoons vinegar (I’ll probably use brown rice vinegar, but apple cider vinegar would work as well)

If that sounds good to you, add vinegar with the stock, and the brick of spinach with the lentils.

Update. I used some vinegar (apple cider vinegar after all), but not spinach. I did add a few dashes of fish sauce. I chopped up some pickled ginger (like you get with sushi), put it in the bowl and ladled the soup on top, then stirred and ate. It’s a very thick soup, which I like. Spinach was not used this time.

Written by LeisureGuy

7 February 2021 at 10:07 am

Trump Shifted Campaign-Donor Money Into His Private Business After Losing The Election

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Once a grifter, always a grifter. Dan Alexander reports in Forbes:

Donald Trump’s reelection campaign, which never received a cent from the former president, moved an estimated $2.8 million of donor money into the Trump Organization—including at least $81,000 since Trump lost the election.

In addition, one of the campaign’s joint-fundraising committees, which collects money in partnership with the Republican Party, shifted about $4.3 million of donor money into Trump’s business from January 20, 2017, to December 31, 2020—at least $331,000 of which came after the election.

The money covered the cost of rent, airfare, lodging and other expenses. All the payments are laid out in filings the campaign submitted to the Federal Election Commission. Representatives for the Trump Organization, the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Two days after the election, on November 5, the joint-fundraising committee paid $11,000 to Trump’s hotel empire. A week later—after the Associated Press, Fox News and other major media outlets had already called the race for Joe Biden—the same committee put another $294,000 into Trump’s hotel business to rent space, order catering and pay for lodging. The campaign pitched in additional change—$110 that had been earmarked for recount efforts on November 16, another $220 the following day and $189 more the day after that.

On November 19, the campaign paid $31,000 for air travel to a company named DT Endeavor LLC. Five days later, the joint-fundraising committee paid the same entity $39,000Forbes did not include those payments in its overall total of money moving into Trump’s empire, since it’s not 100% clear that the former president owns DT Endeavor LLC. There are strong indications that he does, though. The federal filings list the address for the DT Endeavor LLC as Trump Tower in one spot and Mar-a-Lago in another. Trump also owns an aviation company with an almost identical name, DT Endeavor I LLC.

Whether or not Trump owns DT Endeavor LLC, he certainly controls several other companies collecting money from the campaign. On November 20, one of Trump’s joint-fundraising committees paid $20,000 to his hotel outfit.

Less than a week after that, the campaign paid $3,000 in rent to Trump Restaurants LLC, which the former president owns outright. That company appears to be connected to a souvenir stand in the basement of Trump Tower.

On December 1, nearly a month after the election, the campaign handed over  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

7 February 2021 at 9:49 am

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