February 1, 2023 by the real Aj News/Politics 2-1-23 What’s interesting in the news today? Open ThreadShare this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading... Related
It’s where corruption pays off.
“What in the Hell Is the Penn Biden Center?
Clearly it has a bad case of cult of personality.”
“f you’re like me, you’ve only recently heard of the Penn Biden Center at the University of Pennsylvania, generously described in the press as a “think tank.”
My ignorance is instructive. You see, I’m somewhat of a connoisseur of think tanks. Some people are connoisseurs of the arts, food, fine wine, and even good cigars. But I, dear reader, have an odd expertise in think tanks. I’ve worked at, written for, and even written about think tanks. I’ve given lectures at and even lectures about think tanks in grad schools, describing these distinctive entities, left and right and center. I actually began my professional career at a think tank, the Center for Strategic & International Studies. Next week, I speak at the Heritage Foundation. I’ve been a fellow at the Hoover Institution, the Institute for Faith & Freedom at Grove City College, and countless state and local think tanks.
If you’ll indulge me a bit more, I can relate an anecdote about this strange career path. I recall telling my working-class, Italian Catholic grandmother and her sisters that I worked for a think tank, only to elicit a puzzled look. “Paulie,” my grandma asked, “where do you work in Washington, D.C.?” I named the place and explained, “It’s a think tank, grandma.” This prompted my crusty grandpa to snap, “What in the hell is a think tank?”
All of which is a perfect segue to the Penn Biden Center.
Given my over three decades of think tank experience, I hereby assert, definitively, with no embarrassment, that I had never heard of the Penn Biden Center until it exploded into the news. And I’m certain that that’s more a product of the Penn Biden Center than anything lacking in my studious cranium.
To borrow from my Papa, I found myself wondering, “What in the hell is the Penn Biden Center?”
So, I ventured to the website of the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy & Global Engagement. Alas, I remain even more in the dark. I found a few articles and what seem like press releases. I found no reports or policy papers, which is odd because such is the main product of a think tank.
I did, however, find Joe Biden — everywhere. Biden’s grinning mug is splashed all over the thing. When you first open the website, you see Biden. When you click the first heading, labeled, “We’re Focused On,” you’re assaulted with some mindless mishmash about “Advancing the Dialogue of Internationalism.” The viewer is greeted by — surprise — two photos, both of Joe Biden. The first is a photo of, quite appropriately, old Scranton Joe and China’s Xi taking a friendly stroll together at some bridge near Beijing.
I say appropriately because, as readers know, the only thing maybe worth knowing about the Penn Biden Center is its possible shady connections with Xi and China. That being the case, I’m sort of surprised that whoever runs the website left that photo posted. Then again, the academic world moves very slowly. Perhaps they’re on sabbatical.”
“Of course, nothing I’ve said in this column gets to the core of why the Penn Biden Center is in the news. This time last year, my old friend and colleague Peter Schweizer released a major book, Red-Handed: How American Elites Get Rich Helping China Win, that reported on the stench of communist Chinese cash possibly connected to the center or the university. “The flow of money to the University of Pennsylvania should raise some eyebrows and offer cause as to who is financing the Biden Center’s Operations,” writes Schweizer. “One trend is unmistakable: after the Biden Center’s announcement that it was opening at the University of Pennsylvania, donations from the Chinese mainland to Penn almost tripled.”
According to Schweizer, that was in the amount of tens of millions of dollars.
It is indeed suspicious. It smells of corruption at the highest levels — government, Biden, and the already rotten higher-ed establishment. Speaking of which, the compassionate progressives at Penn charge your kid over $63,000 per year for tuition and fees (not including room and board). That itself is a scandal.
But back to the nuts and bolts: I’ve worked for think tanks with budgets under a million bucks that produced more in five months than the Penn Biden Center has done in five years. Chi-comm connections aside, let it be said that even the very essence of the Penn Biden Center as a think tank is questionable. Other than serving as a dubious tribute entity to Joe Biden, I don’t see this thing as doing much. Of course, in the world of academia, that would be no surprise. But in the world of think tanks, it is a surprise. There doesn’t seem to be much thinking going on at this think tank. Other than perhaps thoughts about the next big check.”
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This scum is the man Pres. Biden calls the smartest man he knows.
The media is broken.
The grifting never ends because it pays better than real work.
She means for the peasant kids, not her own.
Well that’s strange, we’ve been told there’s no there there……
And yet there keeps being there there.
“BREAKING: FBI now searching Biden’s Rehoboth home; UPDATE: Biden attorney claims no classified material found; UPDATE: Or was it?”
“Hmmmmm. Until now, the White House has left the impression that Joe Biden’s retreat at Rehoboth Beach had no involvement in his classified-material scandal.
Is the Department of Justice merely trying to confirm that — or is there a specific reason why FBI agents are currently conducting a search of Biden’s beach house? Both NBC and CBS broke the news a few minutes ago:
The FBI is searching President Joe Biden’s beach house outside Rehoboth Beach, Del. on Wednesday morning, two sources familiar with the situation told NBC News.
The New York Post wonders if the DoJ has decided that Biden might not be the most reliable source of information:
The FBI is searching President Biden’s Delaware vacation home for classified documents, CBS reported Wednesday morning.
Biden’s legal team said this month it had searched the Rehoboth Beach home and found no mishandled papers. However, similar assurances were given about the president’s Wilmington home before more records were found there by the FBI on Jan. 20.
This raises all sorts of questions. First, as I posited above, the FBI doesn’t just show up for searches without some sort of predicate. That may be as simple as an invitation from Biden, of course. He might have decided — finally — that the best way to deal with this scandal is to rip off the Band-Aid and end the drip-drip revelations that keep seizing news cycles. However, it may also be that Biden and/or his attorneys found classified material stored improperly at that house too, thus necessitating a more thorough search.
Another complicating factor is Biden’s extensive use of the Rehoboth Beach house as a weekend White House. Has that been authorized as a classified-info storage facility for that work? If so, then the issue would depend on when the material got stored at that house. If not, that would seem like a very sloppy approach. If all that’s found in Rehoboth is material from Biden’s presidency, though, this is a more minor issue than the material found in Wilmington and the Penn Biden Center.
That also raises another question, though. What about Biden’s other home?”
And yet politicians, govt, and schools continue to require them even though they don’t work and stifle learning among kids.
“Randomized controlled trials: masks do nothing”
“Cochrane Library, an extremely well-regarded service that aggregates a database of high-quality medical studies and analyzes them, has published a new analysis of randomized controlled trials on physical interventions designed to reduce the spread of respiratory viruses.
Physical interventions they studied were the use of surgical masks, N95 masks, and hand washing. They hoped to review other interventions such as the use of PPE such as face shields and similar equipment, as well as travel restrictions, but no RCTs exist on these interventions.
Did nobody think to do any scientific studies on these common interventions? In fact, the Cochrane authors themselves expressed frustration at the incuriosity of scientists on matters of immediate interest and vital importance, as have some public health figures such as Vinay Prasad. Where are the RCTs to back up all these mandates and restrictions? RCTs are the gold standard in science.
In any case, the review of the (too few) studies reveals what most of us know to be the truth: masks don’t work; even N95 masks don’t work. The latter is true probably because compliance and proper use are too burdensome over time to maintain, although that is speculation. Handwashing makes a modest difference in the frequency of infections.
Viral epidemics or pandemics of acute respiratory infections (ARIs) pose a global threat. Examples are influenza (H1N1) caused by the H1N1pdm09 virus in 2009, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003, and coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‐19) caused by SARS‐CoV‐2 in 2019. Antiviral drugs and vaccines may be insufficient to prevent their spread. This is an update of a Cochrane Review last published in 2020. We include results from studies from the current COVID‐19 pandemic.
To assess the effectiveness of physical interventions to interrupt or reduce the spread of acute respiratory viruses.
We searched CENTRAL, PubMed, Embase, CINAHL, and two trials registers in October 2022, with backwards and forwards citation analysis on the new studies.
We included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and cluster‐RCTs investigating physical interventions (screening at entry ports, isolation, quarantine, physical distancing, personal protection, hand hygiene, face masks, glasses, and gargling) to prevent respiratory virus transmission.
This is precisely what the Cochrane database is designed to do. By collecting the extant medical research into a database you can analyze the results of multiple studies in order to tease out what the collective data can tell us.
We included 11 new RCTs and cluster‐RCTs (610,872 participants) in this update, bringing the total number of RCTs to 78. Six of the new trials were conducted during the COVID‐19 pandemic; two from Mexico, and one each from Denmark, Bangladesh, England, and Norway. We identified four ongoing studies, of which one is completed, but unreported, evaluating masks concurrent with the COVID‐19 pandemic.
Many studies were conducted during non‐epidemic influenza periods. Several were conducted during the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, and others in epidemic influenza seasons up to 2016. Therefore, many studies were conducted in the context of lower respiratory viral circulation and transmission compared to COVID‐19. The included studies were conducted in heterogeneous settings, ranging from suburban schools to hospital wards in high‐income countries; crowded inner city settings in low‐income countries; and an immigrant neighbourhood in a high‐income country. Adherence with interventions was low in many studies.
The risk of bias for the RCTs and cluster‐RCTs was mostly high or unclear.”
Disgusting and criminal, but not surprising.
“Mother Tells How Daughter Fell Victim to Trafficking After School Hid Her Gender Identity. New Bill Aims to Prevent Such Tragedy.”
“A subcommittee in the Virginia House of Delegates voted Monday to advance a bill requiring schoolteachers and school staff to notify parents about their children’s purported gender transitions, partially in response to the horrific sex-trafficking story of Sage, a girl whose high school hid her transgender identity from her mother.
HB 2432, “Sage’s law,” requires any school professional who reasonably suspects a student is at risk of suicide or “is self-identifying as a gender different from the student’s biological sex” to contact at least one of the student’s parents, to notify the parent, and to offer counseling.
The law would allow school staff to avoid this contact only if the student faces an “imminent risk of suicide” as a result of parental abuse or neglect, in which case staff must contact social services.
The law also prohibits any school counselor from hiding gender-identity changes from a parent and from encouraging or forcing children to do so.
Del. Dave LaRock, R-Loudoun County, sponsored the bill and invited testimony from Michele (whose last name was withheld to protect Sage’s privacy], the biological grandmother of Sage, who Michele adopted after the death of her son, Sage’s father. Sage became a victim of sex trafficking after her high school hid the girl’s change in gender identity from her mother. Michele testified Monday.
“Because the high school hid Sage’s change in gender identification from Sage’s mother, Michele, Michele learned of Sage’s transitioning to a new gender identity the same evening that Sage ran off and into [the] dark and destructive world of human trafficking,” LaRock told The Daily Signal on Monday.
“When Sage ‘changed her gender identity’, without her parent’s knowledge, Sage started receiving communications with ‘creepy old dudes’, as she put it,” LaRock noted. “One of the expert witnesses in the hearing this morning confirms that online predators do target social media accounts of children who list themselves as ‘ftm’ or ‘female to male.’”
“Parents know their children best,” the legislator noted. “When schools drive a wedge between parents and students, and hide these life-changing conversations and decisions from parents, important aspects of the child’s overall well-being are not taken into account by those involved in the decision. Sage’s ‘gender-identity transition’ and subsequent introduction into sex trafficking took place quickly after she moved to a new school, where staff affirmed Sage’s new gender without knowing important aspects of her fragile condition.”
At the hearing, LaRock said, “Sage’s law is an anti-trafficking bill, because it ensures that parents are not kept in the dark about their children.”
In her testimony, Michele said that her daughter suffered from depression and anxiety, “at times very severe.” (Watch the video of her testimony here.)
Sage said all the girls at her high school “were bi, trans, lesbian, emo, and she wanted to wear boys clothes and be emo,” Michele recounted. By “emo,” she referred to a subculture associated with the “emo” style of rock music resembling punk but having more complex arrangements and lyrics. “Because I saw it as just a phase, it was fine with me. But at school, she told them something different. She was now a boy named Draco with male pronouns.”
Michele said Sage was “terribly bullied. Boys followed her, touched her, threatened violence and rape. Something happened in the boys’ bathroom.”
That night, Michele found a hall pass with the name “Draco,” and Sage told her about her identity as transgender. She then ran away.
After a nine-day search, the FBI found Sage in Baltimore. “My baby had been lured online, sex trafficked [into Washington,] D.C., then Maryland,” Michele recalled. “She was locked in a room, drugged, gang raped, and brutalized by countless men.”
A Maryland lawyer tried to keep Sage from her mother, even calling the school’s counselors to testify against Michele. The lawyer hid Michele’s letters from Sage and “told my precious child I didn’t want her anymore,” the mother testified.
Sage eventually ran away from the shelter and was discovered in Texas. “She had been drugged, raped, beaten, and exploited,” Michele said. A judge ruled in favor of Michele, but ordered that Sage spend time in a mental health facility, where the therapist pressured her to get her breasts removed. She resisted.”