Unvaccinated Americans say COVID vaccines are riskier than the virus, even as Delta surges among them

When asked which poses a greater risk to their health, more unvaccinated Americans say the COVID-19 vaccines than say the virus itself, according to a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll — a view that contradicts all available science and data and underscores the challenges that the United States will continue to face as it struggles to stop a growing “pandemic of the unvaccinated” driven by the hyper-contagious Delta variant.

The survey of 1,715 U.S. adults, which was conducted from July 13 to 15, found that just 29 percent of unvaccinated Americans believe the virus poses a greater risk to their health than the vaccines — significantly less than the number who believe the vaccines represent the greater health risk (37 percent) or say they’re not sure (34 percent).
Over the last 18 months, COVID-19 has killed more than 4.1 million people worldwide, including more than 600,000 in the U.S. At the same time, more than 2 billion people worldwide — and more than 186 million Americans — have been at least partially vaccinated against the virus, and scientists who study data on their reported side effects continue to find that the vaccines are extraordinarily safe.
Yet 93 percent of unvaccinated U.S. adults — the equivalent of 76 million people — say they will either “never” get vaccinated (51 percent); that they will keep waiting “to see what happens to others before deciding” (20 percent); or that they’re not sure (22 percent).
With Delta rapidly becoming dominant nationwide, U.S. COVID-19 cases have surged by 140 percent over the last two weeks. Hospitalizations and deaths — both lagging indicators — are up by one-third over the same period. Missouri, Arkansas, Nevada and Florida are being hit particularly hard, with hospitalization rates soaring to 2-3 times the national average. Nearly all of the Americans who are falling ill, getting hospitalized and dying — 99 percent, according to some estimates — are unvaccinated. And more than half the U.S. population (52 percent) has yet to be fully inoculated.
As the Delta variant surges among the unvaccinated and counties such as Los Angeles reinstitute indoor mask mandates to try to stave it off, Yahoo News and YouGov sought to understand why so many Americans continue to hold off on vaccination — and whether Delta’s rise might change any minds.
The results are complicated. Some unvaccinated Americans recognize the rising threat of Delta. The share who say they are worried about the variant has risen 9 percentage points (from 25 percent to 34 percent) since last month. Yet the share of unvaccinated Americans who say they are not worried about Delta is larger, and it has risen by nearly as much (from 31 percent to 39 percent).
As such, just half of the unvaccinated say Delta poses “a serious risk” to “all Americans” (33 percent) or “unvaccinated Americans” (17 percent); the other half says the variant doesn’t pose a serious risk to anyone (30 percent) or that they’re not sure (20 percent). In contrast, a full 85 percent of vaccinated Americans — and 72 percent of all Americans — say Delta poses a serious risk.
Yet while unvaccinated Americans are relatively dismissive of Delta’s dangers — which have been amply proven by massive outbreaks in India and elsewhere — they tend to apply a much lower bar to the COVID vaccines. Asked to pick the “most important reason” they haven’t been vaccinated, for example, few say they lack “easy access to vaccination” (4 percent), “can’t get time off from work” (3 percent), or “already had COVID” (9 percent). More say they’re not worried about getting COVID (12 percent) or — far more frequently — that they don’t trust the COVID vaccines (45 percent).
But why? The most important reason, according to 37 percent of unvaccinated Americans, is that they’re “concerned about long-term side effects.” That’s followed by “I don’t trust the government” (17 percent), “The vaccines are too new” (16 percent), “The FDA hasn’t fully approved the vaccines yet” (11 percent) and “I don’t trust any vaccines” (6 percent).
The trouble for public health officials is twofold. First, despite the fact that there’s no precedent in the history of vaccines for severe side effects emerging several months after dosage, let alone several years — and no mechanism by which the COVID vaccines would trigger such side effects — it’s difficult to convince skeptics that this time won’t be different. Meanwhile, the pandemic is ongoing and the clock is ticking.
Second, when unvaccinated skeptics are asked to select “all” the reasons they don’t trust the COVID vaccines — as opposed to just the “most important” — many select all of them. Seventy percent say they’re concerned about long-term side effects; 60 percent say the vaccines are too new; 55 percent say they don’t trust the government; 50 percent say they’re concerned about short-term side effects; 45 percent say the FDA hasn’t fully approved the vaccines yet; 45 percent say they don’t trust drug companies; and 26 percent say they don’t trust any vaccines. Hesitancy, in other words, could turn into a game of whack-a-mole: address one concern and another just pops up to replace it.
Whether Delta’s impact softens any of this resistance remains to be seen. Fifteen percent of unvaccinated Americans say the spread of Delta makes them more likely to get vaccinated, particularly Democrats (34 percent) and Latinos (34 percent). Yet another 12 percent of unvaccinated Americans actually say Delta makes them less likely to get a shot, and 73 percent say it makes “no difference.”
Delving deeper, 20 percent of unvaccinated Americans say they would be “much more” (10 percent) or “somewhat more” (10 percent) likely to get vaccinated “if COVID cases start to rise among unvaccinated people in [their] area”; the same goes for rising local hospitalizations and deaths. Likewise, 27 percent of unvaccinated Americans say they’d be either much more (12 percent) or somewhat more (15 percent) likely to get vaccinated when the FDA fully approves the COVID vaccines, which are currently authorized for emergency use to combat the pandemic.
Full FDA approval isn’t expected until next year. COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths, on the other hand, are already rising. We’ll see if either makes a difference.

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Biden’s dangerous assault on freedom of speech

Just days after calling voter identification requirements “the most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War,” President Joe Biden accused Facebook of “killing people” by failing to censor what the White House characterizes as “misinformation” about COVID-19 vaccines.

Biden’s penchant for hyperbole would not be so worrisome if his press secretary, Jen Psaki, had not called on social media companies to work together in banning sources from all social media platforms

“You shouldn’t be banned from one platform and not others for providing misinformation out there,” Psaki said.

The White House’s efforts to deputize social media platforms into becoming de facto government censors should be deeply troubling to every citizen who has ever voiced an opinion outside of the politically acceptable mainstream.

It was not that long ago when some social media platforms actively suppressed claims that COVID-19 originated in a Wuhan laboratory and spread after an accidental leak. It was not that long ago when government officials encouraged people not to buy masks to protect themselves from COVID-19. It was not that long ago experts said COVID-19 spread through physical surfaces or that we had to be a full 6 feet away from each other to socially distance.

In each of these cases, the Biden White House would have preferred to quash any debate about the truth of the virus. They want only one voice of expert opinion reaching people, and they want to ban anyone voicing a dissenting opinion from all platforms.

The implications of this White House conspiracy to shut down speech it does not like becomes even scarier when the subject moves beyond COVID-19. Just consider NPR’s recent story about The Daily Wire in which the story admits that “the articles The Daily Wire publishes don’t normally include falsehoods” but by “only covering specific stories that bolster the conservative agenda and only including certain facts readers still come away with the impression that Republican politicians can do little wrong.”

And: “If you’ve stripped enough context away,” NPR chosen expert Jaime Settle said, “any piece of truth can become a piece of misinformation.”

Truth as misinformation. This Orwellian idea is probably why social media platforms colluded with Democrats to suppress true stories of Hunter Biden’s laptop containing evidence he sold access to his father.

Or why they suppressed evidence COVID-19 did originate from a Chinese communist lab.

Or why they banned books documenting the harm of invasive surgery on confused young children.

The power of social media platforms is only growing. More than half of adults prefer to get their news on a digital platform. Even if the people running these platforms didn’t give 90% of their political donations to one party, it should be worrisome these firms are conspiring with the federal government to control what can and cannot be said about any subject.

Policy solutions to this problem are hard. But the Biden administration is showing the need for a solution is great and growing.

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Democrats ignore science with their new push for marijuana

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has introduced legislation to remove marijuana from regulation under the Controlled Substances Act.
There is plenty of common ground on the issue of cannabis. People generally agree on ending overly harsh punishments for its use and possession and removing obstacles to non-psychotropic cannabis products such as hemp. But it is a delusion that marijuana is a safe substance for recreational use and that the federal government should stop worrying about its trafficking.
For those who claim to care about science and data, these offer few lessons for society about this drug.
The Lancet, a highly respected medical journal, published a study in 2019 proving at least correlation and suggesting possible causation between marijuana use and psychosis. It found that roughly half of all cases of psychoses in Amsterdam could be prevented “if high-potency cannabis were no longer available.”
Another study, published in JAMA Psychiatry in February 2019, found adolescent marijuana use is associated with up to a 40% risk of developing depression and suicidal behavior in adulthood. Roughly one-third of marijuana users develop an unhealthy dependency, and smoking marijuana increases the risk of a heart attack by almost 400%.
In Colorado, the first eight years of marijuana legalization were accompanied by a noticeable increase in violent crime. That does not prove a causal link, but note that legalization did not cause the decrease that advocates repeatedly, constantly, and irresponsibly promised.
Meanwhile, marijuana now consistently causes about 20% of all traffic fatalities in Colorado each year — a number that has roughly doubled since legalization in 2013. Traffic fatalities per capita have also increased by about 10% since legalization.
Between 2012 and 2017 (the last year for which data are available), there was a 50% increase in emergency room visits related to marijuana use. Colorado child poison control cases related to marijuana have risen by more than 300% between legalization and 2019. The number of children under 12 endangered in this manner (usually through ingestion of edibles) has increased six-fold since 2012.
Perhaps, the scariest fact is what researchers at the University of California San Diego reported last decade. Long-term use of marijuana by young adults under age 30 is believed to cause permanent brain damage in the form of “poorer performance on measures of attentional functioning.” Basically, if you smoke marijuana for your eight years of high school and college, or at any point before your brain is fully developed at age 30, science says this is a known medical risk.
If any other drug caused such effects on the brain, Schumer would probably be railing against the company that produced it and calling for his trial-lawyer donors to sue. If mass shootings caused anywhere near as many deaths as marijuana-impaired drivers, he would be calling for gun control twice as loudly as he does.
But when it comes to marijuana, Schumer is too cowardly and too busy pandering to acknowledge the problem.
To put it mildly, there is quite a bit we don’t understand about marijuana’s effects. Although it may be harmless relative to heroin or fentanyl, that doesn’t mean it is objectively harmless or that the federal government should give up efforts at limiting its use.
Moreover, it doesn’t mean that widespread marijuana smoking is healthy for society and won’t create a class of dropouts and government dependents who, by their own choice, become a burden.
Marijuana should also not be treated like a special medicine that doesn’t require any of the regulation or scientific scrutiny applied to nearly every over-the-counter and prescription drug available in the United States. Many advocate for this position under the banner of “medical marijuana” as if that were the middle ground. But this is lunacy, based mostly on hunches and not science.
There is a reason people do not chew tree bark and call it “medicinal.” Modern medicine depends upon drugs in precise doses to produce well-studied and well-understood effects and side effects.
It is one thing to take drugs — even dangerous, potentially addictive, or hallucinogenic drugs — in carefully regulated doses known to be safe, labeled with warnings, and actually proven to treat or cure disease.
It is quite another thing to smoke marijuana, with unpredictable dosages of its components and whose precise effects remain poorly understood. After all, there are drugs available that use marijuana’s components but with precise dosages and medically rigorous testing.
Schumer is in a difficult spot. His one-vote Senate majority is as precarious as it can be, and he faces a midterm election in which his party is likely to lose its legislative power.
This provides him with a distraction and an opportunity to pander. He will try to make it look like a criminal justice issue.
But take that isolated, bipartisan question off the table, and his proposal is at war with science and medicine.

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BLM chapter triggers 'relentless' backlash after calling American flag 'symbol of hatred': 'The person flying it is a racist

CHRIS ENLOE July 10, 2021

A Black Lives Matter chapter triggered "relentless" backlash this week after declaring the American flag is "a symbol of hatred" and that patriotic displays of Old Glory are reserved for racists only.
What are the details?
To celebrate Independence Day, the Utah chapter of Black Lives Matter disparaged the American flag and patriotic Americans.

"When we Black Americans see this flag we know the person flying it is not safe to be around. When we see this flag we know the person flying it is a racist," the group said on Facebook.

"When we see this flag we know that the person flying it lives in a different America than we do. When we see this flag, we question your intelligence. We know to avoid you. It is a symbol of hatred," the message continued.

Along with the anti-America message, the group linked to a Google Drive account that contained hate-filled messages directed at Black Lives Matter.
When we Black Americans see this flag we know the person flying it is not safe to be around. When we see this flag we know the person flying it is a racist. When we see this flag we know that the person flying it lives in a different America than we do. When we see this flag, we question your intelligence. We know to avoid you. It is a symbol of hatred.

Enjoy this fun compilation of racism, hate and death threats given to Black Lives Matter Utah from flag waving Americans.

What was the reaction?
The controversial post triggered "swift and relentless" backlash, according to Deseret News. Even Utah Gov. Spencer Cox (R) responded to the inflammatory post.

"Our flag represents the greatest country in the history of the world. It stands for freedom and opportunity for all," Cox told Deseret News. "It has stood the test of time as a beacon to the free and oppressed and too many lives have been lost to preserve that symbol and all its stands for. I refuse to let any white supremacy or Black Lives Matter groups change that."

Former Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), meanwhile, called BLM's post "disgusting, more divisive, and flat out wrong." The Utah Republican Party also hit back in a statement.
"Utahns should never tolerate SHAMEFUL and DIVISIVE rhetoric like this. The American flag is a symbol of freedom, opportunity and equality to the world, NOT a symbol of racism!" the party said on Facebook.

How did BLM Utah respond?
Despite the backlash, the group's leader, Lex Scott, refused to back down from criticism of the American flag, continuing to associate it with racism.

"We see the Ku Klux Klan carrying the flag. We see the Proud Boys carrying the flag. ... We see the insurrectionists carrying the flag," Scott said. "We see all of these people carrying the flag during their hate protests, and the world never erupts in anger. They never show outrage when these groups do this."

"When you use the flag as a hate symbol, we are going to tell you it's a hate symbol," Scott added. "I don't know how someone can watch the Ku Klux Klan fly a flag and then fly the same flag and not believe the same things unless we see outrage. And we don't see outrage."

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Tennessee town says profane anti-Biden flag is protected by Constitution

The small-town mayor of Munford, Tennessee, says he is powerless to order a local resident to take down a flag with a profane message about President Joe Biden and his supporters.
The flag, which hangs on the resident's private property, states, "F*** Biden and f*** you for voting for him."

According to WREG-TV, Mayor Dwayne Cole says he's received several complaints about the flag over the past month from residents who found it offensive. The mayor had the city attorney look into the matter and the city found that the homeowner had a constitutional right to fly the flag on his property.

"It's vile. It's vulgar. It's protected speech under the Constitution," Cole said. "If I had the authority to make him take it down, I would definitely do that."

A city ordinance regulating certain campaign yard signs does not apply in this case, the mayor said, because the resident is flying the political flag on his porch.

Cole said he met with the homeowner about the flag, who has no intention of taking it down.

"That's where we stand," the mayor said.

The homeowner also owns a pro-Trump flag with profanity on it. But like the Biden flag, city officials told WREG the flag is constitutionally protected speech.

Jay DeWitt, a resident of the neighborhood, said that while he doesn't have a problem with the flag's political message, he does wish his children weren't exposed to the profanity.

"If it said (expletive) Trump I would have the same problem," he said. "I have children. I have two children. We have a lot of children in that community. The kids can see it."

Profane anti-Biden flags have caused controversy in several communities.

A New Jersey woman faces a $500 a day fine from the town of Roselle Park for refusing to take down a flag that reads "F*** Biden" on her property near an elementary school.

"We have an ordinance on the books that prohibits sexually profane things and anything that is profane in nature. Nine times out of 10 it would be slightly less of an issue if it wasn't right by a school but it's literally a block away from an elementary school," Roselle Park Mayor Joe Signorello told a local radio station in June.

"Freedom of speech when it comes to politics obviously totally in bounds. The issue comes when using profane sexual language especially near an elementary school. All we're asking is for her to comply and take those down," Signorello added. "She can put up all the pro-Trump signs she wants as long they're not sexual and vulgar in nature."

Complaints against anti-Biden flags with vulgar messages have been lodged in several other cities, including Erie, Pennsylvania; Hazlet, New Jersey; Fairfield, Ohio; and Jackson, Michigan.

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