1216: Rando

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 55m
February 13th, 2020
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Executive Producers: Sir Dave Fugazzotto, Earl of America's Heartland and Saudia Arabia, Anonymous, Brian McDonough

Associate Executive Producers: Sir Donald Silva, Aaron Moreno, Anonymous, Ms. Jamie of the Highway, Remy Kueter

Cover Artist: Chaibudesh


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Ratings: Oscars Hit All-Time Low, Down Sharply From First Host-Less Outing '' TVLine
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 14:43
In the latest TV ratings, ABC's broadcast of the 2020 Oscars averaged 23.6 million total viewers and a 5.3 demo rating, down 20 and 30 percent from last year's first host-less outing.
This year's Academy Awards thus hit new lows in both measures, lagging behind the previous ''record holder'' '-- the 2018 Oscars hosted by Jimmy Kimmel.
The Oscars outdrew both this award season's Grammys (which were steady-ish with 18.7 million viewers) and the Golden Globes (which dipped to 18.3 million viewers), making it TV's most-watched entertainment special in a year (since the previous Oscars), though the Grammys edged out the Oscars in the coveted 18-49 demo (having scored a 5.4 rating).
Last year's host-less Oscars delivered 29.6 million total viewers and a 7.7 demo rating in Nielsen finals.
Among this Sunday evening's performances, Janelle Mone's opening number averaged a TVLine reader grade of ''B+,'' Idina Menzel & Co. earned an ''A,'' This Is Us' Chrissy Metz netted an ''A-,'' Cynthia Erivo earned an ''A+'' and Billie Eilish's ''In Memoriam'' anthem drew a ''B+.'' Non-hosts Steve Martin and Chris Rock's opening ''mono''-logue, meanwhile, earned an average reader grade of ''B+''
Oscar audiences for the previous 10 years:
2019: 29.6 million total viewers (no host)2018: 26.5 million (host Jimmy Kimmel)2017: 32.9 million (host Jimmy Kimmel)2016: 34.3 million (host Chris Rock)2015: 37.3 million (host Neil Patrick Harris)2014: 43.7 million (host Ellen DeGeneres)2013: 40.3 million (host Seth MacFarlane)2012: 39.3 million (host Billy Crystal)2011: 37.9 million (hosts Anne Hathaway/James Franco, ugh)2010: 41.3 million (hosts Steve Martin/Alec Baldwin)
Of the many reruns airing opposite the Oscars, CBS' FBI delivered the largest audience (4.1 million total viewers) while also landing in a six-way tie for the highest demo rating (scoring a 0.4.).
Impeachment 2.0
DOJ Submits Supplemental Sentencing Memorandum Following Mueller Team Rogue Prosecution Effort'... | The Last Refuge
Wed, 12 Feb 2020 08:57
It is now obvious the Mueller prosecutors in the Roger Stone case intentionally inflated the sentencing recommendation (7 to 9 years prison) in a coordinated Lawfare effort to set-up a narrative of Attorney General Bill Barr interference.
After lying to main justice officials, in an effort to deploy their plan, all four prosecutors, Michael Marando, Aaron Zelinsky, Jonathan Kravis and Adam Jed have resigned from the case. Their resignations follow the DOJ filing a supplemental sentencing memorandum rebuking the prior sentence recommendation:
Ultimately responsibility for the the issues created by this internal ''resistance'' deployment falls directly on the shoulders of Attorney General Bill Barr who refused to purge the DOJ of corrupt and politically motivated lawyers.
These Lawfare-minded legal activists weaponized the DOJ against their political enemies and used the cover of former special prosecutor Robert Mueller to carry out their misdeeds. Ironically this Friday will be the one year anniversary of AG Bill Barr being sworn into office. Full DOJ filing below:
It is an unfortunate reality but if AG Bill Barr could be caught off-guard by the corruption within his own DOJ; as contrast against such high profile cases as Roger Stone and Lt. General Michael Flynn; what does that say about Barr's ability to see the ongoing institutional corruption evident within the FBI?
Continuing to sing the praises of institutional officers like Robert Mueller, Christopher Wray and Rod Rosenstein; while simultaneously being marginalized by efforts within Main Justice; does little to indicate AG Bill Barr possesses the fortitude or skillset to recognize the severity of corruption that surrounds him.
As CTH has shared for more than eight months, Bill Barr's biggest challenge is not only confronting the corruption that surrounds him, but also navigating through what We The People are fully aware of.
There are far too many people who have joined us in the sunlight for Bill Barr to try to maintain the ridiculous premise that all is well within the institutions of Main Justice and the FBI. His lack of intellectual honesty has now become his Achilles heel.
It seems odd to accept, but AG Barr seems to have forgotten that truth is actually on his side. However, in order to deploy the most effective use of truth as a weapon against the liars, the Attorney General must first admit the problem within the deceit.
Bill Barr could learn lessons from President Trump about using truth as a weapon against the liars.
When we see that justice is measured, not by due process, but by compulsion; when we see that in order to invoke our right to due process, we need to obtain permission from those who rebuke the constitution; when we see that justice is determined by those who leverage, not in law, but in politics; when we see that representatives get power over individual liberty by graft and by scheme, and our representatives don't protect us against them, but protect them against us; when we see corruption holding influence and individual liberty so easily dispatched and nullified; we may well know that our freedom too is soon to perish'....
Cold Anger does not need to go to violence. For those who carry it, no conversation is needed when we meet. You cannot poll or measure it; specifically because most who carry it avoid discussion'... And that decision has nothing whatsoever to do with any form of correctness.
The intelligence apparatus of our nation was weaponized against our candidate by those who controlled the levers of government. Now, with sanctimonious declarations they dismiss accountability.
Deliberate intent and prudence ensures we avoid failure. The course is thoughtful vigilance; it is a strategy devoid of emotion. The media can call us anything they want, it really doesn't matter'.... we're far beyond the place where labels matter.
Foolishness and betrayal of our nation have served to reveal dangers within our present condition. Misplaced corrective action, regardless of intent, is neither safe nor wise. We know exactly who Donald Trump is, and we also know what he is not.
He is exactly what we need at this moment.
He is a necessary, defiant and glorious fighter.
He is our weapon.
Cold Anger is not driven to act in spite of itself; it drives a reckoning.
Act, or be acted upon'...
Mighty Mike
Trump's China Plan
Goes back 30 years
Even Bannon noticed this
Trump gets in immediately starts 2 tracts
Build the Wall
China china china
Economic blow
China has money liquidity issues
5G comes on te radar
Phase one Trade Deal
Wuhan Flu
Coronavirus expert says the virus 'will burn itself out in about 6 months' | AccuWeather
The heroic optymologist whistle blower was the bag man. Dropped the virus and yelled. Likely eliminated as a signal receipt of message
Wuhan plan: Gates has anti virus. Collapse Econ ok my, power prices start of consumer goods in US
Li Wenliang's Coronavirus Death Gives Wuhan Its First Martyr
Wed, 12 Feb 2020 22:46
The coronavirus that first erupted in the central Chinese city of Wuhan only made global news in late January. But Li Wenliang tried to raise the alarm on it in December. He was one of eight doctors who posted accounts of the virus online, fearing that it showed human-to-human transmission. The response from the local government was to send police to threaten him and force him to sign a statement saying he wouldn't make further trouble. The written statement said, ''We solemnly warn you: If you keep being stubborn, with such impertinence, and continue this illegal activity, you will be brought to justice'--is that understood?''
Li is now dead. His death was reported this morning by multiple outlets, including the highly respected Caixin and the party-owned Global Times. As news of his death spread like wildfire on social media, however, previous reports were deleted, as were threads about him'--one of which had recorded 5 million comments'--and the claim was put out that he had been ''resuscitated'' though was still ''in critical condition.'' It may be that Li was truly lingering on the edge of death. Or it may be that the government was terrified of the possibility of making a martyr. There are claims that Li's body was literally strapped back into life support when the extent of public anger online became clear. In the end, his employer stated he had died at 2:58 am Friday.
Li was confirmed to have the virus on Feb. 1. At just 34 years old, Li is one of the youngest known victims of the coronavirus. He is not the first medical worker to die, which was the 62-year-old Liang Wudong, and he will not be the last. There are estimates that over 500 health care workers are already infected. It may be that official media is struggling to find a line to tell his story. While the whistleblowers have won applause from a central government eager to blame the local authorities for the failure, spreading news of his death is clearly much riskier, especially as Beijing cracks down on journalists, doctors, and ordinary citizens speaking out.
But Li's death is not just because of the coronavirus. As the Confucian philosopher Mencius asked, ''Is there any difference between killing a man with a stick and with a sword? '... Is there any difference between doing it with a sword and with governmental measures?'' The cover-up of the potential epidemic that Li and the others attempted to raise the alert on helped kill him'--just as surely as it has helped condemn, so far, hundreds of others to death.
Read More
China puts special emphasis on its tradition of martyrdom. As with every old country, there's a premodern tradition of people supposedly sacrificing themselves for the sake of the people or the kingdom, from the Warring States poet Qu Yuan to Yue Fei, executed during Song Dynasty intrigues. Those praised as historic martyrs are usually men, although sometimes women are included, most frequently as ''pious widows'' who killed themselves rather than remarry. And as in every new country'--for the People's Republic dates only to 1949'--there's a modern tradition of sacrifice for the nation and, in China's case, the Communist Party.
Martyrs were fodder for the revolution. The term ''martyr'' is routinely used in Chinese to refer to any wartime death, and martyrs' cemeteries are common across the country. Individual tales of sacrifice are a standard part of the school curriculum, from soldiers jumping on grenades to firefighters dying in forest blazes. Much of this heroism was real, but much of it was also imaginary. The Maoist cult doubled down on it; even in peacetime, martyrs had to be created. When Chinese historians and skeptics began to question it online in recent years, however, the Communist Party reacted fiercely, passing laws making it illegal to call these mythical accounts into doubt.
This tradition of national sacrifice has always been a cultivated one. It's regularly referred to in propaganda today. In describing the foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying's comments on Wuhan, the Chinese state outlet Xinhua wrote that ''sacrificing one's small family for the big family and putting the country before oneself has always been a spiritual hallmark of the Chinese nation and a strong bond uniting all Chinese people.''
Historically, that's a highly questionable claim. The idea that the nation and the party came before family was one drilled into the population by the Communists'--to the extent that two days after the Tangshan earthquake of 1976, for example, the cadre Che Zhengming was being celebrated on the front page of People's Daily for rescuing senior party staff while leaving his children to die. As elsewhere, the notion of the ''nation'' didn't reach most people until the 19th century or later, and Chinese were no more given to national sacrifice than people in any other country. It was the literati, those most invested in the imperial system, who were most dedicated to the idea of sacrificing themselves for it, not the common people.
Underneath that tradition of national martyrdom, however, there has always been a hidden current of dissident sacrifice. Sometimes these figures end up being (usually briefly) celebrated nationally, such as Lin Zhao, a Cultural Revolution dissident who wrote her last letters in her own blood. Sometimes, like the man who stood holding his shopping bags before a column of tanks in Tiananmen Square, even their names are unknown, and they're celebrated more outside than inside the country. The tradition of heroes killed unjustly goes back a long way, too. The third Ming Emperor murdered the Confucian scholars who opposed his usurpation of the throne; his grandson put statues up celebrating their sacrifice.
Li's image is being pinned online alongside the statement he was forced to sign, and censors are taking it down as fast as it goes up. The government has a tough decision. Does it embrace the image of a man official decisions helped kill, hoping to pin the blame entirely on the failures of the Wuhan authorities? Or does it keep removing his name and image, silencing the stories of another potential martyr?
Basic Coronavirus Facts in Wuhan Outbreak Still Aren't Clear
Wed, 12 Feb 2020 22:42
Questions about the coronavirus are coming thick and fast'--but not answers. Today China reported a startling leap in cases, adding over 14,000'--a third of the existing number'--to the total in Hubei, the central Chinese province where the virus started. This seems to be in part the result of a broader methodology that has moved many cases from the suspected column into being clearly counted as confirmed'--but much remains uncertain. As the death toll reaches over 1,300, the virus remains wrapped in a cloud of doubt. Some of these issues will eventually become clear. Many won't.
There are several reasons for this. One is the novelty of the coronavirus, which like any new disease will take months to fully detail through hard and tentative scientific work. Another is the sheer scale of the disaster; there are roughly 1.4 billion people in China, all of whose lives have been touched by the disease or the measures around it. As would happen anywhere, the situation on the ground is chaotic, and much goes unreported or exaggerated.
But there are also specific problems here. The Chinese Communist Party has a record of covering up or underreporting the toll of natural disasters from floods to earthquakes. Information is routinely concealed by officials from the public and their superiors for personal reasons. Top-level politics are almost entirely opaque to outsiders even at their most bloody. There are no independent watchdogs and increasingly few journalists able to report with even a modicum of freedom.
All this leads to an awful lot we don't know.
We don't know how many coronavirus cases there are. The Chinese authorities are producing daily figures of confirmed and suspected numbers'--but there are clearly many more out there. Just how many is a big question. Neil Ferguson, a prominent epidemiologist, estimated last week that as few as 10 percent of cases could be being detected. Other early modeling also showed the possibility of startling underestimates; one study suggested the number of cases in Wuhan alone had reached 75,000 by Jan. 25.
Many factors could be causing cases to be missed. Some victims appear to have relatively mild symptoms, especially children. (Reassuringly, early details of asymptomatic spreaders appear to be mistaken.) The incubation period for the virus could be 14 days, as is currently generally believed, or it could be 24. There's a severe shortage of diagnostic kits; while Wuhan itself appears to be catching up with the numbers, doctors elsewhere report having quarantined patients but no ability to test them. The sudden rise in cases today appears to have been a result of shifting '' in Hubei but not elsewhere '' patients clinically diagnosed by doctors but that had not been able to be fully tested into the 'confirmed' group.
Because of fears of being isolated or stigmatized, some people showing symptoms may be avoiding the medical system, which is why the authorities have now restricted the sale of medication. In a country where out-of-pocket payments are the norm, people may be avoiding hospitals due to lack of money: Despite the government's promise to cover costs, no clear mechanism is in place to compensate them, and some patients are paying many times their monthly income.
We don't know exactly how deadly the virus is. While the percentage of deaths among all known cases has remained steady in the official number at around 2.1 to 2.2 percent, there are several problems with that. Most of those diagnosed started experiencing symptoms only in the last week, and the disease hasn't yet run its course. The number of deaths appears to be severely understated, with many reports of victims dying at home and being cremated before being counted in the official total. (Cremation is a contentious issue in China and not just during epidemics.)
Deaths are also, so far, overwhelmingly concentrated in Wuhan itself, with the rate there nearing 5 percent. On the positive side, though, the cases being missed are likely to be the less serious ones, meaning that the fatality rate could actually be quite low.
We don't know whether the virus confirms immunity or resistance on people who have already had it and recover or whether they're subject to reinfection'--a particular worry as China rounds up patients into concentrated hospitals.
We don't know whether the virus has reached the internment camps and prisons in Xinjiang where China is holding over a million Uighurs and others, many in poor health.
We don't know how many health care workers have been infected. The case of Li Wenliang, the whistleblower who died last week, has been widely covered, as has one instance in which 14 health care workers were infected. Medical workers inside Wuhan have told the press that at least 500 of them have caught the virus.
We don't know when exactly people inside the Chinese government knew the virus could be transmitted between humans and how long they delayed before releasing that information to the public. Some folks, like the eight people threatened for ''spreading rumors,'' were talking about it in early January. (We don't know whether Li and another doctor were among the eight counted there.) We don't know why the Wuhan government admitted to only the initial cluster of 41 cases until Jan. 18, when the numbers suddenly leapt. We don't know whether the cover-up was the result of local political considerations or, as Wuhan's mayor has hinted, orders from the top.
We don't know why the crisis response went from zero to 60 in a few days. By Jan. 20, the numbers showed a significant outbreak; by Jan. 23, the city of Wuhan was shut down; and by Jan. 25, that quarantine had been extended throughout much of Hubei. We don't know if that was informed action by the government based on estimates of the spread or whether it was what the longtime China watcher Ian Johnson has called ''actionism'''--a political need to be seen doing something.
We don't know where the roughly 5 million people who left Wuhan before the quarantine was imposed went. For middle-class Chinese citizens, tracking them has been relatively easy thanks to China's extensive surveillance networks and the ubiquity of services like WeChat, the mobile pay app used by many people in China. But tracking the poor'--especially the roughly 450 million people without internet access'--is far harder.
We don't know exactly what the population of Wuhan was before the virus and quarantine. Chinese cities routinely undercount their populations by not including migrant workers because officials in the megalopolises are supposed to be restricting population there and so are incentivized to exclude people from their totals. In contrast, the rural areas where migrants originate receive extra funding for more residents, so they often keep counting people who spend only a week or less there a year. We don't know how big the Chinese population really is'--perhaps overcounted by 115 million people or perhaps severely undercounted thanks to unregistered births.
All this means we don't know whether the containment efforts will work. Previous mass quarantines have produced highly mixed results. Yet the extent of China's lockdown is unprecedented, as is the degree of control the government can exercise. Right now, new infections appear to be diminishing in number each day'--but that has been the case for only two days and may be just an illusion.
We don't know why the World Health Organization, which boasts of its partnerships with Beijing, initially chose not to declare a global health emergency in its early meetings and whether pressure from China'--which has leaned on countries like Pakistan and Cambodia to maintain transport links and not evacuate their citizens during the outbreak'--was involved.
We also don't know whether the absence of cases in some countries is a sign that the virus hasn't spread there through good fortune or that cases are going undiagnosed. That's especially worrying in countries like Indonesia, where the public health system isn't prepared for epidemics, and in poorer African nations where commerce with China has grown significantly in recent years.
We don't know whether the epidemic will remain contained largely within Wuhan, whether the clusters of several hundred cases in other Chinese cities will turn into outbreaks there, or whether outbreaks will strike other countries. We don't know if this will be a global pandemic.
We don't know when there will be a vaccine'--perhaps in six months, perhaps in a year, perhaps in 18 months.
China Reports Huge Jump In New Coronavirus Infections And Deaths; Oil, Stocks Tumble | Zero Hedge
Wed, 12 Feb 2020 22:33
All those clueless hacks who warned us for years not to trust China's economic numbers, yet were so gullible to believe any coronavirus pandemic "data" released by Beijing are going to look pretty stupid right about now.
Hubei just released its latest round of coronavirus outbreak figures, and in a clear confirmation of the 'conspiracy theory' that China had altered the way it was reporting Covid-19 deaths and cases - clearly in order to suggest that things were improving and you should go back to work, while ideally buying stocks, the province at the epicenter of the Coronavirus pandemic just came clean and the numbers are stunning.
The number of cases exploded by 14,840, resulting in a total of 48,206 cases, including 13,332 clinically diagnose cases:
And just like that we are back on the quadratic growth path in new cases, as one would expect from an exponentially spreading viral pandemic.
This also means that JPM, which earlier today was delighted by how far the infected case load is from its "pessimistic" forecast...
... will have to dramatically change its narrative.
So what happened?
Recall that on Monday we published "This Is How China Is Rigging The Number Of Coronavirus Infections" (just two days after pointing out that "There Is Something Very Strange In The Latest Chinese Official Coronavirus Numbers") in which we explained that China on Feb 7 moved the goalposts by changing the definition of the term "infection" and that "going forward patients who tested positive for the virus but have no symptoms will no longer be regarded as confirmed."
Well, it appears that a few days later, China changed its mind and has reverted to the original definition of "infection" while also including "clinical diagonisis" to determine if a new infection had take place. This is how Hubei explained the change:.
With the deepening of understanding of new coronavirus pneumonia and the accumulation of experience in diagnosis and treatment, in view of the characteristics of the epidemic in Hubei Province, the General Office of the National Health and Health Commission and the Office of the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine issued the "Diagnosis and Treatment Plan for New Coronavirus Infected Pneumonia (Trial (Version) "adds" clinical diagnosis "to the case diagnosis classification in Hubei Province, so that patients can receive standardized treatment according to confirmed cases as early as possible to further improve the success rate of treatment.
According to the plan, Hubei Province has recently conducted investigations on suspected cases and revised the diagnosis results, and newly diagnosed patients were diagnosed according to the new diagnosis classification. In order to be consistent with the classification of case diagnosis issued by other provinces across the country, starting today, Hubei Province will include the number of clinically diagnosed cases into the number of confirmed cases for publication.
Of course, the real reason for the original change as noted above was to give the impression that China was succeeding in containing the infection, which helped boost stocks - both in China and globally - sharply higher, and in the case of the S&P, to new all time highs.
As for the catastrophic revision, it may also explain why on Tuesday morning, China's CCTV reported that Hubei province removed its two top health officials, namely health commission head Liu Yingzi and party chief Zhang Jin from their posts. Almost as if, in retrospect, they were caught hiding something...
And while China can now claim it wants to be more transparent (which is odd for a nation that is still refusing to admit the US CDC on the ground) and wants a more comprehensive definition of "infection" because it is suddenly so concerned about all those people it ordered to go back to work on Monday (with new cases now emerging in people's workplaces forcing an immediate quarantine of all workers and co-workers), it somehow also changed the definition of "death", because at the same time as the explosion in new cases, which clearly indicates that the pandemic is now clearly out of control, the number of reported deaths in Hubei alone spiked by 242 to 1,310 (we are still waiting for the official number of deaths across all of China which will likely add quite a few more cases to the Hubei total).
What is absolutely terrifying about the chart above is that, of the 242 new deaths, more than double the previous day's total, is that according to the Hubei government, 135 are from the new "clinically diagnosed" category. This means that for weeks China was likely assigning coronavirus deaths to pneumonia (as we warned it was doing on Jan 25 in "This Is How China Is Hiding The True Number Of Coronavirus Deaths"), which also means that the real number of Coronavirus deaths is likely in the thousands.
For those curious what the now completely discredited fake coronavirus data, reported by China until today with the sole intent of boosting risk assets was, here is the full breakdown. Naturally none of these numbers matter anymore following today's sudden burst of Chinese truthiness.
In kneejerk reaction to the shocking surge in both new cases and deaths, Dow futures immediately plunged...
As did oil...
As is the yuan...
But at least gold is sharply higher:
Who could have seen that coming? The stock market wanted so badly to believe the Chinese data... bonds and commodities knew better. The clearest indication that all Chinese data was fake, however, came from Global Times Editor on Chief who earlier today tweeted that "New infection cases outside of Hubei have dropped for 8 consecutive days. It is now time for the US and other countries to actively consider resuming flights to China."
New infection cases outside of Hubei have dropped for 8 consecutive days. In Beijing with more than 21 million population, the daily new case of infection is around 10 recently. It is now time for the US and other countries to actively consider resuming flights to China.
'-- Hu Xijin èƒé--è› (@HuXijin_GT) February 12, 2020Ok you pathological liar.
Finally, we now look forward to what explanation China's global tourism impressario, WHO Director Tedros Adhanom best known as the "WHO Candidate Accused of Covering Up Epidemics", will come up with now after spending the past two weeks praising China's response and claiming there is no risk of a global pandemic, while criticizing the US for daring to halt flights to China.
Chinese Shipbuilder New Times Declares Force Majeure Due to Coronavirus
Wed, 12 Feb 2020 13:52
A Chinese worker welding at a shipbuilding yard in Chongqing, China on Sept. 21, 2015. (STR/AFP via Getty Images)
BEIJING'--A Chinese shipbuilder has declared force majeure on deliveries of two newcastlemax dry bulk vessels, a company spokesman said on Feb. 12, as a coronavirus outbreak and prolonged holiday impeded workers from returning to work.
Jiangsu New Times Shipbuilding Co., with a production capacity of 5 million deadweight tonnes (DWT) per annum, has issued a force majeure notice to 2020 Bulkers, a Bermuda-based cargo operator, following the coronavirus outbreak.
Force majeure refers to unexpected external circumstances that prevent a party to a contract from meeting their obligations.
The underlying event must be unforeseeable and not the result of actions undertaken by the party invoking force majeure . Natural disasters, strikes, and terrorist attacks can all be force majeure events.
Declaring force majeure may allow a party to a contract to avoid liability for nonperformance.
Two newcastlemax dry bulk vessels due to be delivered in April and May are facing possible construction delays, 2020 Bulkers said in a statement on Tuesday, citing a force majeure declaration from New Times on Feb. 5.
A New Times spokesman confirmed the force majeure on the two vessels. ''Workers are still not coming back to their positions due to the coronavirus. It is not known when they will resume work and when the two vessels will be completed.''
Chinese authorities have asked companies to put workers into quarantine for 14 days after returning from their hometowns for the Lunar New Year holiday, which has been extended by a week, in order to rein in the spread of the virus.
The China Association of the National Shipbuilding Industry data shows that around 75 percent of workers have come back to work at key shipbuilding companies in the southeastern provinces of Fujian and Liaoning, but only around 62.5 percent workers returned to Shanghai as of Monday.
However, shipbuilding companies at Guangdong, Shandong and Jiangsu, where New Times is located, are seeing workers ''gradually'' restart to work, the association said.
Drain the Swamp
NSC 70 purge. You heard about it here first
NSC just the tip of the u every. Deep state on notice now
Not a swamp. It’s a tarp pit.
Equifax Hack
Hi Adam,
Our colleagues in the lobbying business, specifically at
Akin Gump, drummed up this indictment at DOJ on behalf of Equifax so that
Equifax’s insurance company would be forced to pay for the losses from the
The whole thing is fake.
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VIDEO-New coronavirus: what markets should watch now - Reuters
Wed, 12 Feb 2020 09:42
(Reuters) - World markets started shrugging off the worst of the coronavirus impact last week and stock markets have since reached record highs. China's announcement that new cases of the so-called COVID-19 detected on Tuesday were at their lowest since Jan 30 has only consolidated those gains.
Here are some factors to watch in coming days:
HAS THE OUTBREAK PEAKED? In short, no one can say. Disease epidemic models include factors such as the number of known infections, time passed, frequency of travel or human contact, the ease of spread and mitigating measures like quarantine or screening.
But even those who use such models to understand the evolution of the outbreak are always updating their datasets with new information.
''In a situation like this where there are so many unknowns, it's fair to say it's impossible to predict with any kind of precision at all when the peak is going to happen,'' said Robin Thompson, a mathematical epidemiology specialist at Oxford University.
WHAT SHOULD WE LOOK FOR NOW? World Health Organization epidemiologists are currently watching:
-anything that sheds new light on the ease of human-to-human spread, including new cases from people with no travel history to China and geographical ''clusters'' of cases
-the emergence of a highly contagious ''super-spreaders'', such as the Chinese doctor who infected many others during a stay at a Hong Kong hotel at the height of the SARS outbreak in 2003. So far, WHO has not identified any super-spreading event and says such events should not be personalized.
-why some people die. People who are older or have underlying medical conditions are most at risk. The overall death rate among reported cases is 2% but WHO wants more data about the disease that in severe cases can cause pneumonia and organ failure.
CAN WE TRUST THE CHINESE NUMBERS? A moot point. There has been skepticism both inside and outside China about the official tallies of new cases, without anyone coming forward with reliable alternative data. The Chinese government last week amended its case definition but it is not clear what impact that is having on the figures. Health experts also note the sheer strain on resources in some cities could mean delays in getting people tested.
A man wearing a mask is seen at the Shanghai railway station in Shanghai, China, as the country is hit by an outbreak of the novel coronavirus, February 12, 2020. REUTERS/Aly Song WHAT'S THE IMPACT ON THE GLOBAL ECONOMY? While the disruption caused to the world's second-largest economy is already tangible, the bigger question is whether the economic output stalled by the outbreak will simply be postponed until later in the year or lost for good. The current market assumption is that the worst will be over soon enough for the former scenario to happen. JP Morgan for example thinks that China's annualised GDP growth rate could fall to 1% in Q1 but rebound to as high as 9.3% in the second quarter as factories start making up for lost orders and travel resumes.
The hit elsewhere could be uneven, however. The combined drag from bushfires and the coronovirus fall-out could stunt Australia's 28-year run of GDP growth, some economists fear.
Meanwhile, Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell says the U.S. economy appears to be ''resilient'' and EU officials see only ''marginal'' impact on Europe so far.
Reporting by Kate Kelland and Stephanie Nebehay; Writing by Mark John; Editing by Angus MacSwan
Wed, 12 Feb 2020 09:06
VIDEO - Jenny Craig TV Commercial, 'DNA Kit and 8 Days of Food' - iSpot.tv
Wed, 12 Feb 2020 08:42
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About Jenny Craig TV Commercial, 'DNA Kit and 8 Days of Food'Jenny Craig members testify that losing weight with Jenny Craig is easy and convenient due to the availability of ready-to-go meals, free delivery, and no prepping or cooking. According to some members, all you have to do is eat. For a limited time, you can get eight days of food free, a DNA kit free, and a weight loss coach free when you buy the program.
Get eight days of food free, a DNA kit free, and a weight loss coach free when you buy the program (expires: 02/28/2020)
None have been identified for this spot
Juice Group (Agency), LRXD (Creative Agency), LRXD (Digital Agency), LRXD (Media Agency)
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Check it out CommentsJenny Craig TV Spot, 'DNA Kit and 8 Days of Food'
Submissions should come only from the actors themselves, their parent/legal guardian or casting agency. Please include at least one social/website link containing a recent photo of the actor. Submissions without photos may not be accepted. Voice over actors: provide a link to your professional website containing your reel. Submit ONCE per commercial, and allow 48 to 72 hours for your request to be processed. Add Actor/Actress Details
VIDEO - Jenny Craig TV Commercial, 'DNA Program' - iSpot.tv
Wed, 12 Feb 2020 08:42
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About Jenny Craig TV Commercial, 'DNA Program'
A woman is excited because she got her DNA results back from Jenny Craig. Jenny Craig believes that the DNA program gives you an advantage in losing weight and allows for a personalized weight loss plan. For a limited time, if you buy a four week planned menu, you'll get a DNA Kit included.
buy a four week planned menu, you'll get a DNA Kit included (expires: 02/28/2020)
None have been identified for this spot
Juice Group (Agency), LRXD (Creative Agency), LRXD (Digital Agency), LRXD (Media Agency)
More Jenny Craig Commercials
Related Commercials
2020 Super Bowl Commercials
Watch Super Bowl commercials from the upcoming big game as well as previous years in our Super Bowl Ad Center.
Check it out Comments
Jenny Craig TV Spot, 'DNA Program'
Submissions should come only from the actors themselves, their parent/legal guardian or casting agency.
Please include at least one social/website link containing a recent photo of the actor. Submissions without photos may not be accepted.
Voice over actors: provide a link to your professional website containing your reel.
Submit ONCE per commercial, and allow 48 to 72 hours for your request to be processed.
Add Actor/Actress Details
VIDEO - The Best Is Yet To Come - Trump 2020 - YouTube
Wed, 12 Feb 2020 08:40
VIDEO - Liveleak.com - Poor People
Wed, 12 Feb 2020 08:11
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VIDEO-Lou Dobbs Talks About Jessie Liu and James Wolfe - YouTube
Tue, 11 Feb 2020 23:24
VIDEO - '60 Minutes' Exposes How Pelosi Makes BANK Using Sneaky Stock Market Manipulation
Tue, 11 Feb 2020 23:09
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VIDEO-(83) Miles Guo's interview with Stephen K. Bannon on War Room: Pandemic - YouTube
Tue, 11 Feb 2020 19:36
VIDEO-Chinese ambassador to U.S. dismisses coronavirus theories as "absolutely crazy" - YouTube
Tue, 11 Feb 2020 17:51
VIDEO - Jussie Smollett update: Former 'Empire' actor indicted again in connection with alleged Chicago attack, clerk's Office says | abc7chicago.com
Tue, 11 Feb 2020 17:21
CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Cook County Clerk's Office confirmed Tuesday that special prosecutor Dan Webb has indicted former "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett in connection with the alleged attack in Streeterville in January 2019.
Webb released a statement, saying a Cook County grand jury returned a six-count indictment against Smollett, charging him with making four separate false reports to Chicago police "related to his false claims that he was the victim of a hate crime, knowing he was not the victim of a crime."
Webb said he has arranged with Smollett's lawyers to have the actor voluntarily turn himself in for his arraignment on Feb. 24 at 9:30 a.m.
Smollett had originally been charged with 16 counts of felony disorderly conduct for allegedly lying to police about the alleged attack, which police say Smollett staged on himself because he was unhappy with his "Empire" salary.
WATCH: Timeline of Events in Jussie Smollett case
Police and prosecutors said Smollett orchestrated the attack with the help of the Osundairo brothers. One brother was an extra on "Empire" and the other was Smollett's personal trainer.
The Osundairo brothers released a statement on the new charges, saying, "The Osundairo brothers are aware of the new charges brought against Jussie Smollett today by the grand jury. As stated before, they are fully committed to the public knowing the truth about what occurred on January 29, 2019. The Osundairo brothers will continue to cooperate with that process and they thank the Special Prosecutor's office for their tireless work in seeing that justice was administered.:
All charges against Smollett were dropped in late February 2019 in exchange for community service and forfeiture of his $10,000 bond payment.
Webb was appointed as special prosecutor after the charges were dropped to review the Cook County State's Attorney's Office's decision.
Webb said his investigation was into whether Smollett should be further prosecuted for alleged false police reports, and whether any person or office involved in the investigation engaged in any wrongdoing, including the Cook County State's Attorney's Office.
Webb said he has not yet reached any conclusions as to the second part of the investigation, and that his investigation into whether any person or office involved in the investigation engaged in wrongdoing is ongoing.
The Cook County State's Attorney's Office released a statement Tuesday afternoon, saying, "As the Cook County State's Attorney's Office does in all cases, the Special Prosecutor reviewed the facts, evidence, and the law, and determined charges were appropriate in this matter. We are unable to comment further as the matter is pending."
PREVIOUS COVERAGE City seeks to have Smollett counterclaim dismissed Jussie Smollett files counterclaim against city saying prosecution was 'malicious'Jussie Smollett case: Judge denies motion to dismiss Chicago lawsuit against 'Empire' actorJudge in Smollett case rules to keep Dan Webb as special prosecutor after concerns of possible conflict of interestJussie Smollett case: Documents show special prosecutor Dan Webb made donation to Cook County State's Attorney Kim FoxxJussie Smollett case: Documents show special prosecutor Dan Webb made donation to Cook County State's Attorney Kim FoxxJussie Smollett case: PR firm says 'every iota' of 'Empire' actor's claim true; police differ Dan Webb appointed special prosecutor in 'Empire' actor's caseJussie Smollett case: Hearing held on Chicago's lawsuit against 'Empire' actor'Empire' filming in Chicago near Jussie Smollett alleged attack siteJussie Smollett: Judge dismisses motions by 'Empire' actor's attorneysJussie Smollett: Attorneys decline special prosecutor role in actor's case, report says'Empire' actor's attorneys argue against special prosecutor, want judge replacedJussie Smollett's attorneys argue for Chicago lawsuit to be moved to federal courtChicago police release investigative files, video of alleged staged attack on 'Empire' actorJudge orders special prosecutor to review Jussie Smollett case911 calls released of Jussie Smollett reporting alleged attackLee Daniels says Jussie Smollett not returning for final season of 'Empire'Cook Co. State's Attorney's Office releases documents in Jussie Smollett caseChicago police release 400 pages of Jussie Smollett case filesJudge rules to unseal records in Jussie Smollett case
'Empire' will go 1 more season, Smollett's future is unclearJudge asked to recuse himself from petition to appoint special prosecutor in Jussie Smollett caseJussie Smollett's contract extended, no plans for character to return to 'Empire'Osundairo brothers file defamation lawsuit against Jussie Smollett's attorneysKim Foxx receives death threats after Jussie Smollett charges droppedKim Foxx's chief spokesperson resigns from State's Attorney's Office2 top staffers leaving Kim Foxx's State's Attorney's OfficeJussie Smollett update: Kim Foxx's texts and emails raise more questions about recusalKim Foxx texts show she thought number of Jussie Smollett charges 'excessive'Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx asks for review of how Jussie Smollett case was handledCook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx asks for review of how Jussie Smollett case was handledCity sues Jussie Smollett for cost of investigating alleged staged attackCook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx lets Derrion Albert killer off the hookKim Foxx says 'this is personal' about calls for her to resignJussie Smollett attorney responds to Chicago's civil suit threatTaraji P. Henson weighs in on 'Empire' co-star Jussie Smollett's caseChicago to file civil suit against 'Empire' actor for not paying $130K cost of police investigationIn wake of Jussie Smollett, suburban police chiefs take no confidence stance against State's Attorney Kim FoxxJussie Smollett case leads to protests for, against Cook County State's Attorney Kim FoxxChris Rock rips an absent Jussie Smollett at the NAACP Image AwardsThousands referred for alternative prosecution by Cook County prosecutors haven't completed processJussie Smollett's surprise deal raises new questionsCity of Chicago asks Jussie Smollett to pay for $130,000 cost of investigationFBI reviewing circumstances of Jussie Smollett's charges being dropped, sources confirmWhat's inside the CPD Jussie Smollett investigative file?Mayor Emanuel calls decision to drop charges against Smollett 'whitewash of justice'
Charges dropped against 'Empire' actor Jussie SmollettOsundairo brother at center of Jussie Smollett case compete in Chicago boxing matchJussie Smollett update: 'Pain and anger' around 'Empire' in recent weeks, Lee Daniels saysFOP accuses Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx of interfering in Jussie Smollett investigationJussie Smollett pleads not guilty to disorderly conduct chargesJussie Smollett update: Texts shed light on why State's Attorney Kim Foxx recused herselfJussie Smollett appears in court for hearing; Cameras allowed for Thursday hearingJussie Smollett update: Brothers 'taken advantage of' by Smollett, attorney saysJussie Smollett indicted on 16 felony counts by grand juryBrothers reportedly involved in Jussie Smollett alleged hoax release statement expressing 'regret'Jussie Smollett's check to brothers obtained by ABC NewsJussie Smollett's character to be removed from 'Empire', producers sayWhat's next for Jussie Smollett? Possible big police billJussie Smollett alleged hoax may cast doubt on real hate crimes, advocates fearJussie Smollett out on bond after being accused of staging attackJussie Smollett charged with disorderly conduct for filing false police report, prosecutors sayCook Co. State's Attorney Kim Foxx recuses herself from Jussie Smollett investigationBrothers told police Smollett was upset threatening letter didn't get enough attention, staged attackActivist calls for Smollett's arrest, believes actor lied about attackBrothers tell police that Jussie Smollett paid them to stage attack, official saysSources: Police investigating whether Smollett staged attack with help of othersTimeline of key moments in alleged attack on Jussie SmollettJussie Smollett breaks silence on Chicago attack'Empire' actor's family releases statement on attack, pictures of possible persons of interest releasedPhotos show potential persons of interest in 'Empire' actor attack, police say'Empire' actor Jussie Smollett attacked in Chicago in possible hate crime, police say
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Tue, 11 Feb 2020 17:09
VIDEO - Likud leaks massive database - YouTube
Tue, 11 Feb 2020 13:06
VIDEO - Pompeo discusses China at the National Governors Association - YouTube
Tue, 11 Feb 2020 11:24
VIDEO - Attorney General on Receiving Information from Ukraine - YouTube
Tue, 11 Feb 2020 11:17
VIDEO - DOJ indicts 4 Chinese hackers for Equifax data breach - YouTube
Tue, 11 Feb 2020 11:15
VIDEO - Body Language: Coronavirus, Chinese Ambassador - YouTube
Tue, 11 Feb 2020 11:11
VIDEO - Cop Charged For Shooting Handcuffed Man Seven Times - YouTube
Tue, 11 Feb 2020 11:10
VIDEO - Mass shooters want to be famous -- you're helping them | Tom Teves | TEDxMileHigh - YouTube
Tue, 11 Feb 2020 11:05
VIDEO - Joe Biden & Gun Rights: He Doesn't Understand Second Amendment | National Review
Tue, 11 Feb 2020 10:43
Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign event in Somersworth, N.H., February 5, 2020. (Rick Wilking/Reuters) Let us count the ways in which Joe Biden misunderstands gun rights. S truggling Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden unleashed another incoherent rant about gun rights in front of a group of New Hampshire residents this weekend. While offering lots of the usual misinformation '-- Biden stands firmly against ''20, 30, 40, 50 clips in a weapon,'' for instance '-- things really fell apart when he started quoting Thomas Jefferson.
Biden: "Those who say 'the tree of liberty is watered with the blood of patriots' '-- a great line, well, guess what: The fact is, if you're going to take on the government you need an F-15 with Hellfire Missiles. There is no way an AK-47 is going to take care of you." pic.twitter.com/npmW40DHS2
'-- Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) February 9, 2020
This has to be the first time in history that a serious presidential contender has publicly gamed-out how a modern American military '-- armed with F-15s and air-to-surface missiles '-- would crush an imaginary citizen-led insurgency. (Sorry, Eric Swalwell '-- even though you once mocked Second Amendment supporters as being unable to defeat a government armed with nukes, you were never a serious presidential contender, so you don't count.)
For one thing, it's a weird way to appeal to a broad swath of voters. It's also an ignorant way to talk about millions of law-abiding and peaceful American gun owners '-- many of them in contested states such as Wisconsin and Michigan '-- who are far less inclined to violence than the average WTO protester.
It's also a really bad strawman, for a number of reasons:
1) It's highly improbable that members of the American military would start murdering their countrymen simply because some bloodthirsty president ordered them to do it. One imagines that a large-scale insurgency would only be sparked by cataclysmic national events that would likely cause a fissure in the military as well. The notion that the Air Force is going to carpet-bomb Iowa revolutionaries simply because it has capacity to do so is dubious. This is the United States. One suspects that the military would be on the side of the patriots.
2) Biden should be aware that modern armies, historically speaking, have had quite a tough time crushing insurgencies equipped with small arms. There have been hundreds of such deadly, drawn-out uprisings around the world over the past 70 years, including in Iraq and Afghanistan.
3) Biden could not have used a worse example to make his point than the AK-47. Americans, of course, mostly own semi-automatic versions of the famous Russian rifle, but the real Kalashnikov is one of, if not the most, durable and successful in history. During the Cold War '-- and beyond '-- it was the weapon of choice for revolutionaries, gangs, guerrilla fighters, and terrorists around the world. It has been an extraordinarily pliant weapon, used in virtually every modern insurrection since the mid-1960s.
4) By arguing that legal guns are no match for an F-15, Biden is making a powerful case that citizens should be able to more easily own powerful military-grade weapons. That's why the Second Amendment exists, as a bulwark against tyranny, should it ever appear here again. So his position makes no sense. Why does Biden believe that Americans have a right to own shotguns when an Auto-5 has no real chance against a Hellfire missile?
5) Biden cuts off Jefferson's hyperbole about revolutions at a very convenient spot. The quote, which was given in the context of a centuries-long fight for liberty, is: ''The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. (My italics.) One suspects that Jefferson '-- granted, far too animated by the violence of the French Revolution for my taste '-- was more interested in spilling the latter's blood. Lots of it. But Biden skips that part and stakes out an authoritarian position, not only because he doesn't believe in the core rationale for the Second Amendment but also because he doesn't believe in the core rationale for the Founding. The American citizenry is conferred rights by God, not by the power of a missile. What Biden said is tantamount to claiming that we don't need to protect our First Amendment rights because they can always be crushed by the power of an M-1 tank.
There's a good case to be made that we no longer have to take Biden seriously. But this risible argument seems to be increasingly popular among Second Amendment antagonists. I'll give them this: ''You don't need your guns because we can annihilate you with advanced military weaponry'' is a hell of an electoral sales pitch.
VIDEO - Tucker Carlson Tonight - Tuesday, February 11 Full Episode HD - YouTube
Tue, 11 Feb 2020 10:33
VIDEO-Sweden burning: Stockholm riots & violence enter 4th day - YouTube
Tue, 11 Feb 2020 09:36
VIDEO-Greg Price on Twitter: "Pete accidentally calls ''dark money'' ''black money'' while speaking to a room of black people. He then makes it so awkward that it physically hurt to watch this video. https://t.co/ImMvC2DE3u" / Twitter
Tue, 11 Feb 2020 09:07
Hilarious...actually, I thought he did a good job recovering pretty gracefully. Imagine how
@ewarren or
@JoeBiden would have attempted to run away from the comment, then lit it on fire, then burned themselves and the whole building down begging for forgiveness.
VIDEO-Trisha on Twitter: "HOLY FUCK, you gotta listen to this speech @MikeBloomberg tried to block from release. Thank you @BenjaminPDixon for covering this https://t.co/9PfBqQmG7H" / Twitter
Tue, 11 Feb 2020 09:07
Replying to
@wesleyborden @Trisha_Tahmasbi and
3 others He's bought tons of ad time in OK too, a state which appears to be leaning Sanders in Dem primary (even over OK native E Warren). FWIW, Sanders won the 2016 OK Dem primary and, if memory serves, even got more votes than GOP primary winner Ted Cruz (GOP field heavy that year).
VIDEO-கு சà®à¤µà®•à¯à¤®à¤¾à®°à¯ on Twitter: "@Grand333 @adamcurry @THErealDVORAK @Bin_Hamin Looks convincingly fake. @sgurumurthy" / Twitter
Tue, 11 Feb 2020 09:03
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VIDEO-NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt on Twitter: "Baltimore will soon begin a controversial pilot program using private surveillance planes to help solve and deter violent crime. Advocates tell @GabeGutierrez this could revolutionize policing. Critics
Tue, 11 Feb 2020 08:59
Baltimore will soon begin a controversial pilot program using private surveillance planes to help solve and deter violent crime.Advocates tell
@GabeGutierrez this could revolutionize policing. Critics warn of major privacy concerns. Watch more:
nbcnews.to/3bsdoGW pic.twitter.com/cSiLbS7c5i
VIDEO-BREAKING: Word On The Street Is There May Be Major Deep State Arrests This Week ...(But Of Course We've Heard This Before)
Tue, 11 Feb 2020 08:55
BREAKING: Word On The Street Is There May Be Major Deep State Arrests This Week '...(But Of Course We've Heard This Before) by Joe Hoft February 9, 2020
The word on the street from some qualified sources is that former Deep State crooked cops are going to be arrested this week. And Lindsey Graham says ''half of the Deep State'' will be going to prison.We heard last night from Senator Lindsey Graham:
Half the people behind the Russia investigation are going to go to jail''.
Listen carefully'... #QAnon pic.twitter.com/szEKRi9PMe
'-- M3thods (@M2Madness) February 9, 2020
Of course we've heard this before'... Remember Huber? We've also heard Senator Graham say he was going to bring in a whole batch of villains before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Lindsey has been saying this since before he took chairmanship of the committee back in 2018. But so far Lindsey has failed to bring anyone before his committee, except for IG Horowitz, in over a year.
But another source, the same one who first outed Ciaramella as the whistleblower, Greg Rubini on Twitter, is saying Dirty cops Peter Strzok and Andrew McCabe will both be arrested this week, maybe even Monday or Tuesday:
the first to be arrested will be McCabe & Strzok.
maybe as early as Monday or Tuesday next week.. pic.twitter.com/UYNGpqxsWe
'-- Greg Rubini (@GregRubini) February 8, 2020
We've been waiting forever and we won't hold out breath, because this is long overdue. We'll keep praying for justice and we won't stop praying, working and reporting until we see these criminals face justice.
VIDEO - 10-Feb-20: 'MWC cancellations continue due to coronavirus concerns'
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 18:08
10 February 2020 07:54 PM
byACN | Barcelona
Amazon, Sony, Nvidia, Ericsson and LG. These are the big names that have already withdrawn from the Mobile World Congress to prevent their employees from the threat of coronavirus. The organizers said the fair will still be held in Barcelona at the end of February, but with enhanced safety measures
VIDEO-Dick Gregory - White Supremacy vs. White Privilege - YouTube
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 14:21
VIDEO-Jason Howerton on Twitter: "I suddenly support the government censoring social media in order to protect the public from content like this. https://t.co/WPhyGPAiyC" / Twitter
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 14:11
Log in Sign up Jason Howerton @ jason_howerton I suddenly support the government censoring social media in order to protect the public from content like this.
pic.twitter.com/WPhyGPAiyC 8:52 AM - 10 Feb 2020 Twitter by: Kate Hyde @KateHydeNY That Trump Bromo 🇺🇸ðŸ"¸'ðŸŒ @ thattrumpbromo
3h Replying to
@jason_howerton After seeing this video, I've never been a prouder gay Republican.
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@jason_howerton pic.twitter.com/uFbKh0t8el View conversation · Davin Rein @ ReinMan23
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@jason_howerton #primariessowhite View conversation · Patti @ pattiannusa
3h Replying to
@jason_howerton We just need to be grateful that Joe didn't decide to bust a move! 🕺ðŸ¤...ðŸ>>''¸
View conversation · Danae @ naegore
3h Replying to
@jason_howerton I refuse to turn on the sound for this. Watching was bad enough.
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@jason_howerton @realmanobrow The short guy, far right has ''those eyes''...
pic.twitter.com/tCM5a1611N View conversation · HansomeAtaru @ AtaruHansome
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@jason_howerton Why did you make me watch it?
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VIDEO - (14) MSNBC on Twitter: "https://t.co/G7reHo4Cpy" / Twitter
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 11:31
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VIDEO-Coronavirus cases outside China 'could be spark' for bigger fire, says WHO - Reuters
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 10:54
BEIJING/GENEVA (Reuters) - The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday the spread of coronavirus cases which had no history of travel to China could be ''the spark that becomes a bigger fire'' as people across China trickled back to work after an extended Lunar New Year holiday.
The death toll from the epidemic rose to 908, all but two in mainland China, on Sunday as 97 more fatalities were recorded - the largest number in a single day since the virus was detected in the city of Wuhan in December.
The Diamond Princess cruise ship with 3,700 passengers and crew onboard remained quarantined in the Japanese port of Yokohama, with 65 more cases detected, taking the number of confirmed case from the Carnival Corp-owned vessel to 135.
European stocks fell on concerns about the impact of the closure of factories in China, the world's second-largest economy, on supply chains for companies from Taiwan's iPhone-maker Foxconn to carmakers Kia Motors and Nissan
Across mainland China, 3,062 new infections were confirmed on Sunday, bringing the total number to 40,171, according to the National Health Commission (NHC).
Wu Fan, vice-dean of Shanghai Fudan University Medical school, said there was hope the spread might soon reach a turning point.
But WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said there had been ''concerning instances'' of transmission from people who had not been to China.
''It could be the spark that becomes a bigger fire,'' he told reporters in Geneva. ''But for now it is only a spark. Our objective remains containment.
''We should really fight hard as one human race to fight this virus before it gets out of control.''
An advance team of international WHO experts had arrived in China to investigate.
''This mission brings together the best of Chinese science, Chinese public health with the best of world's public health'', the WHO's Mike Ryan said in Geneva.
The virus has spread to at least 27 countries and territories, according to a Reuters count based on official reports, infecting more than 330 people. The two deaths outside mainland China were in Hong Kong and the Philippines.
The death toll from the outbreak has now surpassed that of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which killed hundreds worldwide in 2002/2003.
For graphic comparing new coronavirus to SARS and MERS, click: tmsnrt.rs/2GK6YVK
NERVOUS COMMUTERS Usually teeming Chinese cities have become virtual ghost towns after Communist Party rulers ordered lockdowns, cancelled flights and closed factories and schools.
Ten extra days had been added to the Lunar New Year holidays that had been due to finish at the end of January. But even on Monday, many workplaces remained closed as people worked from home.
Few commuters were seen during the morning rush-hour on one of Beijing's busiest subway lines. All were wearing masks.
Chinese President Xi Jinping inspects the novel coronavirus prevention and control work at Anhuali Community in Beijing, China, February 10, 2020. Xinhua via REUTERS One Beijing government official, Zhang Gewho, said it would be be harder to curb the spread of the virus as people returned to work.
''The capacity of communities and flow of people will greatly increase and the difficulty,'' he said.
Hubei, the province of 60 million people that is the hardest hit by the outbreak, remains in virtual lockdown, with its train stations and airports shut and its roads sealed.
In Britain, the government said on Monday the number of confirmed coronavirus cases there had doubled to eight and it declared the virus a serious and imminent threat, giving it additional powers to isolate those suspected of being infected.
China's central bank has taken a raft of steps to support the economy, including reducing interest rates and flushing the market with liquidity. From Monday, it will provide special funds for banks to re-lend to businesses.
President Xi Jinping, who has largely kept out of the spotlight, leaving Premier Li Keqiang to take the public lead in government efforts to control the outbreak, said the government would prevent large-scale layoffs, Chinese state television reported.
Xi, who was shown on television inspecting the work of community leaders in Beijing and wearing a mask as he had his temperature taken, also said China would strive to meet economic and social targets for the year.
One senior economist has said growth may slow to 5% or less in the first quarter.
More than 300 Chinese firms including Meituan Dianping, China's largest food delivery company, and smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp were seeking loans totalling at least 57.4 billion yuan ($8.2 billion), two banking sources said.
E-commerce firm Alibaba said its affiliate, Ant Financial's MYBank unit, would offer 20 billion yuan ($2.86 billion) in loans to companies in China, with preferential terms for Hubei firms.
Slideshow (18 Images) Apple's biggest iPhone maker, Foxconn, won approval to resume production in the eastern central Chinsese city of Zhengzhou, but only 10% of the workforce has managed to return, a source said. It won approval to resume partial production in the southern city of Shenzhen from Tuesday.
Much remains to be determined about the virus, which has been linked to a market selling animals in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province.
Scientists at Imperial College London published new estimates of an overall case fatality rate of 1%.
But they said that this could range from 0.5% to 4% and warned there was ''substantial uncertainty'' due to varying levels of surveillance and data reporting.
Additional reporting by Sophie Yu, Ryan Woo, Huizhong Wu, Liangping Gao, Stella Qiu, Colin Qian, Brenda Goh in Beijing, Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva, Joyce Lee and Hyunjoo Jin in Seoul, Kylie MacLellan and Kate Kelland in London, Writing by Lincoln Feast, Robert Birsel and Nick Macfie; Editing by Angus MacSwan
VIDEO-Sanders Youth Volunteer At Campaign Rally: 'Our Planet Is Going to Die!''... | Weasel Zippers
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 10:46
Oh noes!
ZIP |February 10, 2020 9:28 am
VIDEO-Sanders: 'I'm Not Advocating For The U.S. Government To Take Over The Health-Care System' | Weasel Zippers
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 10:45
Since when?
ZIP |February 10, 2020 10:00 am
VIDEO-'Wake up!': Dem vet calls for party to be more 'relevant,' 'diverse' after Iowa chaos
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 10:13
Prominent Democratic figure James Carville joins MSNBC to discuss the results from the Iowa caucus. In a wide ranging interview, Carville slammed his Democratic party for the ''concerning'' results calculation in Iowa, saying it is ''not going particularly well.'' Carville argues polls indicate ''enthusiasm among Democrats is not as high as we might like it.'' Carville also called on the Party to ''wake up'' and ''talking about relevant things,'' and get back to having ''strong, diverse'' candidates. Carville also praised Elizabeth Warren for having ''the best bio he has ever seen in a presidential candidate,'' but adds she has to ''get serious'' on finishing her campaign. Feb. 5, 2020
VIDEO - Search for MH370 'certainly traumatic for victims' families' - YouTube
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 09:52
VIDEO - Colorado Springs mother mourns the loss of her son after fight with influenza - KRDO
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 09:40
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- A mother in Colorado Springs is mourning the loss of her 29-year-old son after he passed away from the flu on Jan. 25.
Kasey Yurovak, says her son Richard was sick with influenza A leading up his death. According to the family's GoFundMe, their son was able to obtain Tamiflu, but he gave the medicine to his girlfriend who was also sick and didn't have insurance.
"He literally gave his life to save her life," said Kasey between tears. "He loved with all his heart and soul. And he was such an amazing human being."
Although Richard was not in the at-risk demographic for the flu, the family says he was not vaccinated at the time and did not expect his condition to deteriorate so rapidly.
On Jan. 24, the family took Richard to the hospital to be treated for the flu and dehydration. Shortly after, his kidneys were failing and doctors put him on life support for pneumonia-related complications.
At 9:43 p.m. the next day, Richard passed away.
Kasey says she is sharing her son's story in hopes that others will stay safe and take necessary precautions for their health.
"I want to be an advocate for my son because I don't want to see other family go through this," she said. "I truly believe that he did what he was meant to do on this Earth and he's at peace."
KRDO is learning about this death after the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment recently confirmed the second pediatric flu death in Colorado this season.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says we are experiencing a high-activity flu season. The agency estimates there have been 210,000 hospitalizations and 12,000 deaths from flu this season.
VIDEO - Attorney: FBI had been lying about the murder of Seth Rich - YouTube
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 09:39
VIDEO-andrew.txt on Twitter: "My favorite economist: MILTON KEYNES https://t.co/omexQZrxWN" / Twitter
Sun, 09 Feb 2020 23:30
Log in Sign up andrew.txt @ andurudottext My favorite economist: MILTON KEYNES
pic.twitter.com/omexQZrxWN 2:25 PM - 8 Feb 2020 Twitter by: andrew.txt @andurudottext andrew.txt @ andurudottext
Feb 8 Replying to
@andurudottext youtube.com/watch?v=KgUemV'... View conversation · Mr. D''¤¸50p🇬🇧 @ Mr_D_2016
Feb 8 Replying to
@andurudottext @GuySplintie Wait until she discovers the works of Stoke on Trent
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@Mr_D_2016 @andurudottext Yes Minister predicted AOC
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@andurudottext @DineshDSouza She's a jewel.
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@IMG_doc @andurudottext @DineshDSouza Obviously she's talking about Maynard Keenan, Tool frontman
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@andurudottext @LOLNeverTweet Obviously she meant Milton Bradley
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VIDEO-Biden Lashes Out at Female New Hampshire Voter Asking About His Poor Performance in Iowa, 'You're a Lying Dog-Faced Pony Soldier' (VIDEO)
Sun, 09 Feb 2020 23:26
Biden Lashes Out at Female New Hampshire Voter Asking About His Poor Performance in Iowa, 'You're a Lying Dog-Faced Pony Soldier' (VIDEO) by Cristina Laila February 9, 2020
This should help turn around Biden's failing campaign.
Joe Biden is fighting for his political life ahead of the New Hampshire primaries after taking a punch to the gut in Iowa.
A female econ student asked Biden about his poor performance in Iowa at an event in Hampton, New Hampshire on Sunday and Biden lost his cool.
Biden snapped at the young woman and asked her if she's ever been to a caucus before.
When the woman said yes, Biden snapped, ''No you haven't. You're a lying dog-faced pony soldier.''
After a New Hampshire voter asks @JoeBiden why they should trust he can turn his campaign around, he asks if she's ever been to a caucus before; when she says yes, Biden snaps: "No you haven't. You're a lying dog-faced pony soldier." pic.twitter.com/3uxOAu0Ues
'-- Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) February 9, 2020
Last week Biden belittled a woman asking about coal plants by calling her ''kid'' and then brushed her off and told her to ''sit down'' and shut up.
According to a New Hampshire tracking poll, Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders are neck-and-neck in the Granite State and Biden is once again in last (5th?) place behind Warren.
VIDEO-PG_Kelly: "@adam This guy has a slick intro! Then he mentio'..." - No Agenda Social
Sun, 09 Feb 2020 23:17
@ PG_Kelly you missed when he moved to the other account. But both accounts have been silent lately. I was just thinking about him earlier today. Maybe he moved again. @ Arwalk @ xahlee
@ PG_Kelly @ adam "John Dvorak he's this curmudgeon type of guy... his style is always sarcastic and criticizing things... in today's lingo you just call him a troll" LOL
VIDEO-WATCH: Chinese Ambassador Asked If Coronavirus Came From Biological Warfare Program | The Daily Wire
Sun, 09 Feb 2020 20:24
The Chinese Ambassador to the United States, Cui Tiankai, appeared to not deny that the coronavirus came from China's biological warfare program on Sunday and instead suggested that the deadly virus could have come from a military lab in the U.S.
Tiankai made the remarks on CBS News' ''Face The Nation'' in response to China's struggle to stop the coronavirus from continuing to spread. It has now infected at least 37,198 and killed at least 811 in China.
''This week, Senator Tom Cotton, who sits on the Senate Intelligence and Armed Services Committee, suggested that the virus may have come from China's biological warfare program,'' CBS News' Margaret Brennan said. ''That's an extraordinary charge. How do you respond to that?''
''I think it's true that a lot is still unknown and our scientists, Chinese scientists, American scientists, scientists of other countries are doing their best to learn more about the virus, but it's very harmful,'' Cui responded. ''It's very dangerous to stir up suspicion, rumors and spread them among the people. For one thing, this will create panic. Another thing that it will fend up racial discrimination, xenophobia, all these things, that will really harm our joint efforts to combat the virus.''
''Of course, there are all kinds of speculation and rumors,'' Cui continued. ''There are people who are saying that these virus are coming from some '-- some military lab, not of China, maybe in the United States. How '-- how can we believe all these crazy things?''
''You think it's crazy,'' Brennan pressed. ''Where did the virus come from?''
''Absolutely crazy,'' responded.
''Where did the virus come from?'' Brennan asked.
''We still don't know yet,'' Cui responded. ''It's probably according to some initial outcome of the research, probably coming from some animals. But we have to '-- to discover more about it.''
Republican National Committee (RNC) Rapid Response Director Steve Guest flagged the clip on Twitter, writing, ''China's ambassador to the United States just went on CBS' 'Face the Nation' and DID NOT deny that coronavirus stemmed from the Chinese military's biological warfare program. Amb. Cui Tiankai then suggested that the virus could come from a US military lab.''
China's ambassador to the United States just went on CBS' "Face the Nation" and DID NOT deny that coronavirus stemmed from the Chinese military's biological warfare program.
Amb. Cui Tiankai then suggested that the virus could come from a US military lab. pic.twitter.com/z2g254iccz
'-- Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) February 9, 2020
''The coronavirus death toll in China has risen to 811, surpassing the toll from the SARS epidemic of 2002-3, according to official data released on Sunday,'' The New York Times reported. ''The number of confirmed infections rose to 37,198, according to China's National Health Commission. Eighty-nine deaths and 2,656 new cases were recorded in the preceding 24 hours, most of them in Hubei Province, the heart of the outbreak.''
World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned against misinformation last week, saying that it was ''making the work of our heroic workers even harder.''
''I would also like to speak briefly about the importance of facts, not fear,'' Tedros said. ''People must have access to accurate information to protect themselves and others.''
''At the WHO we're not just battling the virus, we're also battling the trolls and conspiracy theories that undermine our response,'' Tedros continued. ''As a Guardian [newspaper] headline says today, 'Misinformation on the coronavirus might be the most contagious thing about it'.''
The BBC reported that a Russian state media organization suggested that the American government was behind the virus.
The Middle East Media Research Institute reported that some in Arab media blamed the United States and said that the virus was being weaponized against China.
''Following the spread of the coronavirus in China and other countries, several writers in the Arab press wrote that this virus and others, such as the SARS and swine flu viruses, were deliberately created and spread by the U.S. in order to make a profit by selling vaccines against these diseases,'' MEMRI reported. ''Others wrote that the virus was part of an economic and psychological war waged by the U.S. against China with the aim of weakening it and presenting it as a backward country and a source of diseases.''
This report has been updated to include additional information.
VIDEO-Charlie Chiang on Twitter: "@Grand333 @adamcurry @THErealDVORAK @Bin_Hamin This is a lot of people infected and die." / Twitter
Sun, 09 Feb 2020 15:25
This is a lot of people infected and die.
House Votes to End Controversial USPS Payments for Future Retirees' Health Care - Government Executive
Thu, 13 Feb 2020 07:13
The House on Wednesday voted to end the U.S. Postal Service's mandatory payments toward the health benefits for future retirees, advancing a measure that would eliminate a controversial requirement the cash-strapped mailing agency has defaulted on for years.
Congress first established the prefunding mandate in the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, the last major legislative overhaul of the Postal Service, and the requirement has hampered the agency ever since. Shortly after the law's passage, the recession hit and mail volume began to decline precipitously. That trend has continued to this day, leaving USPS without the financial means to make the annual payments and forcing it to default on them while absorbing the losses on its balance sheet.
The Postal Service has lost money for 13 consecutive years and a majority of those losses stemmed from the prefunding requirement. In fiscal 2019, for example, 83% of the $8.8 billion the agency lost came from payments into its retiree pension fund and retiree health benefits fund. Critics of the mandate include a range of Republicans, Democrats, mailers and labor unions. They have estimated the law requires USPS to fund the benefits for retirees up to 75 years in the future, an obligation virtually no other government entities face.
Despite repeated bipartisan efforts, Congress has for years failed to repeal the mandate and reamortize the balance of USPS' liabilities over a 40-year period as part of a larger postal overhaul effort. Wednesday's vote marked the first time lawmakers pulled that provision into a standalone measure, as stakeholders have preferred to keep it as a bargaining chip to bring diverse views together for larger, compromise postal reform legislation.
"It gives them no flexibility, it gives them no additional cash flow," said Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., who has helped push previous bipartisan postal reform efforts, on the House floor Wednesday. "I cannot support his bill because it does not do what we need to do, which is address the problem today. This just kicks the can down the road."
Other lawmakers suggested Congress should not allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., went a step further in making his case against prefunding.
"This is part of the effort by some who literally have a jihad against the Postal Service," the congressman said.
The USPS Fairness Act (H.R. 2382) had more than 300 cosponsors, including more than five-dozen Republicans. Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., has introduced a companion bill (S. 2965) in the Senate with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii. The measure would eliminate the requirement going forward and forgive all payments on which USPS has defaulted.
Postal management has long called for the reform as one of the key tenets of any legislative effort to put the agency on better financial footing. Dave Partenheimer, a USPS spokesman, praised the legislation's intentions on Wednesday, while making clear it was only a first step for the changes the agency requires.
''This elimination of a requirement faced by no other public or private entity would improve our balance sheet and reduce our future reported losses,'' Partenheimer said. ''The Postal Service believes H.R. 2382 would be an important part of the legislative and regulatory changes'--along with substantial self-help efforts by the Postal Service'--that are necessary to secure our long-term financial stability.''
He added, however, it would not address the liquidity crisis that ''will literally threaten our ability to deliver mail'' in the next few years. The Postal Service pledged to work with Congress to craft a plan to make additional legislative changes. In addition to the prefunding repeal, lawmakers have looked to tweak the Postal Service's delivery standards, enable larger price increases and establish new streams of revenue to reverse the mailing agency's slide.
Pelosi Clashes With Facebook and Twitter Over Video Posted by Trump - The New York Times
Thu, 13 Feb 2020 06:33
Facebook and Twitter have rejected a request by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to remove a video posted by President Trump that was edited to make it appear as though she were ripping a copy of his State of the Union address as he honored a Tuskegee airman and other guests.
The decision highlighted the tension between critics who want social media platforms to crack down on the spread of misinformation and others who argue that political speech should be given wide latitude, even if it's deceptive or false.
The debate has accelerated during the 2020 presidential campaign, as Democrats in Congress have demanded that Facebook and other tech companies take tougher action, while figures on the right have fought back, arguing that such policing could muzzle conservative viewpoints.
Into that highly politicized environment came the video posted by Mr. Trump to his Twitter account on Thursday.
The roughly 5-minute clip shows Ms. Pelosi repeatedly ripping his speech in between snippets of him paying tribute to the airman, Charles McGee, as well as other guests he had invited to the State of the Union, including military families. In fact, Ms. Pelosi ripped a copy of Mr. Trump's speech immediately after his address to Congress on Tuesday.
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Drew Hammill, Ms. Pelosi's deputy chief of staff, on Friday demanded that the video be removed.
''The American people know that the President has no qualms about lying to them '-- but it is a shame to see Twitter and Facebook, sources of news for millions, do the same,'' Mr. Hammill wrote on Twitter.
''The latest fake video of Speaker Pelosi is deliberately designed to mislead and lie to the American people, and every day that these platforms refuse to take it down is another reminder that they care more about their shareholders' interests than the public's interests,'' he wrote.
But both companies rejected the request.
Andy Stone, a Facebook spokesman, responded to Mr. Hammill on Twitter, writing, ''Sorry, are you suggesting the President didn't make those remarks and the Speaker didn't rip the speech?''
Mr. Hammill shot back at Mr. Stone, writing: ''What planet are you living on? this is deceptively altered. take it down.''
On Saturday, Mr. Stone said that the video did not violate Facebook's policy on manipulated media.
The policy states, in part, that Facebook will remove videos that have been edited or synthesized ''in ways that aren't apparent to an average person and would likely mislead someone into thinking that a subject of the video said words that they did not actually say.''
In the case of the video posted by Mr. Trump, ''the reason I was making the point about the fact that the things featured in this video actually happened is because that's a key element of our policy on content like this,'' Mr. Stone wrote on Twitter.
A Twitter spokeswoman said on Saturday that, beginning on March 5, the company would start applying labels that read ''manipulated media'' on heavily edited videos like Mr. Trump's.
Twitter said it may also show a warning to users before they retweet or like a tweet with a manipulated video and may reduce the visibility of such tweets.
Mr. Trump's campaign said that the video, titled ''Powerful American Stories Ripped to Shreds by Nancy Pelosi,'' was clearly a parody.
''If Nancy Pelosi fears images of her ripping up the speech, perhaps she shouldn't have ripped up the speech,'' Tim Murtaugh, a Trump campaign spokesman, said on Saturday.
The campaign referred questions about the origin of the video to the White House, which did not respond to a request for comment.
The video isn't legally actionable and shouldn't be taken down, said Jonathan L. Zittrain, a Harvard Law School professor and a founder of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. But, he said, Facebook and Twitter should probably label the video.
''It's important for social media sites that have massive reach to make and enforce policies concerning manipulated content, rather than abdicating all responsibility,'' Professor Zittrain said.
Labeling is helpful, he added, because ''even something that to most people clearly appears to be satire can be taken seriously by others.''
Of course, deceptive political ads aren't a tool exclusive to the internet age, Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, said.
In 1968, Richard M. Nixon's presidential campaign created an ad showing his opponent, Hubert Humphrey, addressing the Democratic National Convention interspersed with scenes of fighting in Vietnam, demonstrators being beaten in the streets of Chicago and poverty in Appalachia, she said.
In another ad, from 1960, John F. Kennedy's presidential campaign edited clips of Mr. Nixon to show him sweating, appearing distracted and nodding and seeming to agree with Mr. Kennedy while Mr. Kennedy was speaking, Professor Jamieson said.
She warned against tech companies policing such content.
''Historically, we don't want anybody getting in the way of candidates speaking to the electorate,'' she said. ''We want the press and the opposing candidates to hold them accountable for deception.''
Facebook's decision not to remove the video came after it honored a request by Ms. Pelosi's office and took down a video on Thursday that was doctored to make it appear as though she were swallowing Tide pods.
The video, which was still posted on Twitter on Saturday, was apparently made by manipulating a 2018 video of Ms. Pelosi sampling chocolates on ''The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.''
Facebook said that video violated a policy against showing people eating Tide pods, which it created in 2018, after videos spread on social media encouraging people to bite down on the brightly colored laundry detergent packets.
Nike Joins Effort to Block Bill Designed to Protect Girls from Competing Against Transgender Athletes
Thu, 13 Feb 2020 06:23
Nike has joined a group of businesses in signing a letter of support to defeat a Tennessee bill which would prevent biological male athletes from being able to compete against girls.
The letter, sponsored by 142 businesses in the state, claims that other states will retaliate against Tennessee if it passes laws to prevent biological boys from competing as transgender girls and the resulting actions by outsiders will be bad for Tennessee's businesses.
Several bills have been introduced in the state legislature to address the problem of boys competing as girls. Two bills in particular, House Bill 1572 and Senate Bill 1736/HB 1689, are currently being considered.
''Policies that signal that the state is not welcoming to everyone put our collective economic success at risk,'' the letter says. ''It is both a business imperative and core to our corporate values that our customers, our employees and their families, and our potential employees feel fully included in the prosperity of our state.''
Nike, of course, is also a big advocate for the radical gay agenda.
While claiming to represent ''freedom'' for transgenders in America, Nike is also a big supporter of China where transgender people have few rights. Just last year, for instance, Nike celebrated its efforts to work with the Chinese government to push the company's business interests in the communist nation.
In October, Vice President Mike Pence slammed Nike for working so closely with the red Chinese, saying that the company's ''corporate greed'' has come before its fealty to humanity.
''Nike promotes itself as a so-called social justice champion, but when it comes to Hong Kong, it prefers checking its social conscience at the door,'' Pence said.
''A progressive corporate culture that willfully ignores the abuse of human rights is not progressive, it is repressive,'' the vice president added.
Correction: An earlier version of this story had reported that Governor Lee of Tennessee had signed the letter to defeat the legislation preventing transgender athletes from competing against females, that is incorrect.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on facebook.com/Warner.Todd.Huston.
'Assassin' game triggers chaos in Ponte Vedra
Thu, 13 Feb 2020 06:22
Sign up for our NewslettersLatest NewsPonte Vedra High School officials urge students to stop participating in potentially dangerous gameST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. '' Ponte Vedra High School officials are encouraging students to stop participating in a highly-organized game called ''assassin'' after St. Johns County deputies said some of the participants took it to ''potentially dangerous levels" this week.
At first, the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office didn't know what was going on Monday afternoon after school got out at Ponte Vedra High, but the ''chaos'' was the result of the ''assassin" game getting a bit out of hand.
Deputies said the game had more than 300 participants, divided into 64 teams. Three chairmen created rules and bylaws, and then the students set out to knock each other off with squirt guns, water balloons and Nerf guns.
But deputies said some of the students took the game to ''potentially dangerous levels.'' The Sheriff's Office said it received calls about students, some of whom were wearing camouflage gear, shooting at each other from speeding cars, driving through neighborhoods and chasing each other. Some of the water and Nerf guns were even made to look realistic.
''Only a small percent of people do that. I think only one team did that," said one student who plans to continue playing the game ''with a lot of carefulness.''
At least one homeowner was so alarmed, according to the Sheriff's Office, he got his real gun to investigate, but, fortunately, he figured out it was just the game afoot.
''Given the fact that this game began yesterday, the number of reports received by SJSO is staggering,'' school officials said in a letter sent Tuesday to parents, urging students to stop participating in the game that's set to go on for the next three months.
A surveillance photo provided to News4Jax captured two people dressed in camo outside a Ponte Vedra Beach home this week. Laura Burk, who lives next door, said the strangers startled her neighbors before they learned that they were students.
''I heard panicked voices," Burk said. "I like kids having fun and creating games, but when it gets out of control and they scare my neighbor to death, then it has gotten a little out of control.''
A possible reason for the overenthusiasm: cash prizes. The members of the winning team will get more than $600.
One parent told News4Jax the game is just kids being kids, and she actually bought her son a water gun for the game.
''In my opinion, it's an innocent teenage game involving toy water guns,'' she said.
The chairmen sent a message to the participants to follow the rules and tone it down, in addition to the letter that the high school sent to parents.
Dear Shark Families:
In conversations with the St. Johns Sheriff's Office (SJSO) today, we are very concerned over an organized game that we understand will continue over the course of the next three months. We are referring to a game called ''assassin'' and it has been reported that more than 300 students are participating. Local law enforcement has received reports of Ponte Vedra HS students engaging in reckless driving, blocking streets, driving on private property, crashing through fences, etc. Law enforcement also relayed that, in one instance, a property owner, not aware of this game or his/her student's participation, prepared to arm and defend himself/herself when students entered the property.
There is a high potential for things to go tragically wrong. We have also come to understand that there is a significant financial reward for the winning team, a driving incentive behind this aggressive behavior. We have yet to experience this game on campus, which would be dealt with in accordance with the district's Student Code of Conduct. Students are engaging in this game off campus and after school hours, NOT during the school day on school property. Given the fact that this game began yesterday, the number of reports received by SJSO is staggering.
It would be devastating if one or more of our students is hurt or worse from something that is completely avoidable. The PVHS administration strongly recommends that students forgo their participation in this game and behavior. We appreciate your time and attention to this matter as well as your continued support.
PVHS Administration
On Wednesday, Marsh Landing also sent out a notice to residents about the game, encouraging them to call the Sheriff's Office at 904-824-8304 to report any reckless behavior by high schoolers.
Copyright 2020 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.
About the Authors:Corley Peel Reports weeknights for The Ten O'Clock News and News4Jax at 11.
Colette DuChanois Jacksonville native and proud University of Florida graduate who joined News4Jax in March 2016.
Sinn Fein flying - The IRA's former political wing comes top in Ireland's election | Europe | The Economist
Thu, 13 Feb 2020 06:17
It may now be headed for government
Feb 10th 2020DUBLIN
Editor's note (February 11th 2020): This article has been updated to reflect the final tally of seats in the Irish parliament.
IRELAND'S PRIME MINISTER, Leo Varadkar, looks all but certain to lose his job. The left-wing Sinn Fein, the former political wing of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), rode a wave of anti-austerity sentiment to win the most votes in a general election on February 8th.
Sinn Fein's victory ends a century of electoral dominance for Fianna Fail and Mr Varadkar's Fine Gael, two centre-right rivals that have enjoyed a duopoly since the Irish state was founded in 1922. Born out of a civil war between rival factions in the original IRA'--Fine Gael's founders reluctantly accepted the temporary partition of Ireland as the price of peace with Britain after the war of independence, while Fianna Fail's founders insisted on a united Ireland'--the two parties have these days few if any ideological differences. Their electoral dominance reflected a deeply conservative electorate wary of change. In 1982 they had a combined 84% of the vote. On February 8th, they managed only 43%.
The present incarnation of Sinn Fein stems from a more recent and more bloody civil conflict, the Northern Ireland Troubles, in which it emerged as the political wing of the Provisional IRA. It too has sought to throw off its violent history, and has now succeeded in attracting voters wearied by over a decade of austerity, imposed after Ireland's economic crisis, by three successive governments led by Fianna Fail and Fine Gael.
In a surge which even caught Sinn Fein by surprise, the party won 24.5% of first-preferences under Ireland's single-transferable vote system of proportional representation. That was an impressive increase on its score of 13.8% at the previous election, in 2016. Fianna Fail won 22.2%, while Fine Gael trailed in third with 20.9%. Therefore even if Fine Gael enters a coalition with one of the other two parties, its leader will have no claim on the premiership.
Yet despite Sinn Fein's success, its leader, Mary Lou McDonald, also lacks a clear path to the prime minister's office. Stung by dismal local election results last June, in which its share of the vote slumped to only 9.5% and it lost half its council seats, Sinn Fein ran only 42 candidates for the 160 seats in the Dublin parliament. It therefore failed to secure the highest seat tally, despite winning most first preferences. Fianna Fail just pipped it, with 38 seats to Sinn Fein's 37 and Fine Gael's 35. (However, because a Fianna Fail MP will remain as speaker, the top two are in effect tied.) The Greens, with 12, secured their best result ever.
Behind the scenes, the political horse-trading has already begun. Most observers expect a coalition of Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein will form the basis of the next government. A ''grand coalition'' of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael is also possible, although it would need support from others and would surely anger voters who turned to Sinn Fein to end the old duopoly.
Both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael vowed in the course of the campaign that they would not go into coalition with Sinn Fein, because of its past support for violence in Northern Ireland and what they see as spendthrift promises. But Fianna Fail's leader, Micheal Martin, declined to rule out such an alliance as the scale of the surge emerged over the weekend. ''I'm a democrat,'' he told journalists. ''I listen to the people, I respect the decision of the people.''
Ms McDonald said at the weekend that her preference would be to form a Sinn Fein-led government in coalition with smaller leftist parties, the Green Party and independents. However, any such alliance would struggle to form a working majority.
The defeated Mr Varadkar had built his re-election campaign on a resurgent economy (GDP grew by around 5% last year) and his tough handling of the Northern Ireland border issue in talks with the European Union and Brexiting Britain. However, 63% of voters surveyed on election day said that they were not experiencing the economic recovery in their own lives. Almost a third said that the most important issue had been health care, while 26% chose housing. The same exit poll showed that 65% wanted to see more money spent on social services.
Sinn Fein appears to have benefited from this surge in social-democratic sentiment, moving into the political space formerly occupied by the Labour Party, which lost much of its support after it entered an austerity coalition with Fine Gael between 2011 and 2016.
Housing and health have become particularly difficult issues for Fine Gael, which has been in power for nine years (Mr Varadkar succeeded Enda Kenny as party leader and prime minister in June 2017). Its housing policies'--shared with Fianna Fail, which preceded it in office'--are widely blamed for a shortage of homes. Many young people are unable to buy, and private rents are among the highest in the world. Meanwhile, the mixed public-private health system is increasingly perceived to be in crisis. Hundreds of patients have waited on trolleys for admission to emergency rooms. Waiting lists for consultant appointments stretch out for years. Staff morale has plunged.
Whatever the composition of the next government, the election result is a triumph for Ms McDonald, an articulate Dubliner who, like all her front-bench spokespeople, had no involvement in the Troubles and is widely regarded as able on policy matters. Conversely, even if Mr Varadkar tries to cling to the leadership of Fine Gael, as he has vowed to do, he will be seen as weakened by an error-ridden, ill-conceived snap election campaign.
China's Top Biowarfare Specialist Helms Efforts to Combat Coronavirus, Army Enters Wuhan to Deliver Supplies
Thu, 13 Feb 2020 06:10
China's state-run media reported Feb. 3 that Chinese troops started to assist with deliveries of essential supplies to Wuhan, the coronavirus-stricken city of 9 million in central China's Hubei Province.
According to China Central Television (CCTV), soldiers of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Hubei Garrison in the Central Theater Command deployed to Wuhan on Feb. 2, where their first task was to transport more than 200 metric tons (about 220 tons) of goods to the city's supermarkets.
The previous day, the People's Liberation Army Daily reported that Chen Wei, China's top expert in biological warfare, has been leading the efforts to overcome the deadly, pneumonia-like pathogen for the last nine days.
Chinese authorities confirmed the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) on Dec. 31, 2019, but recently published studies show that the first patient was diagnosed on Dec. 1. So far, the virus has spread to at least 27 countries, while all provinces and regions of China have confirmed cases.
Wuhan is the provincial capital of Hubei. With the virus spreading, all of Hubei and its more than 58 million residents are under quarantine, as well as at least three major cities in coastal Zhejiang Province. The two provinces do not share a common border.
'Prepare for the Worst-Case Scenario'According to the PLA Daily report, Chen Wei holds the rank of major general, and is the country's leading specialist in biochemical warfare. She is employed as a researcher at the medical institute of the Academy of Military Sciences, and is concurrently an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.
Chen began researching coronaviruses since the SARS outbreak of 2003, according to the PLA Daily. In past years, she has also worked on the Ebola virus and Bacillus anthracis, an agent that causes anthrax.
Before the report, Chen's military rank and specialization was not widely known. She was first interviewed on Jan. 30 by the state-run China Science Daily. In a second interview the next day, she predicted that the outbreak in Wuhan would let up over the next few days, but could worsen again soon.
''We need to prepare for the worst-case scenario, find the best solutions, and be ready to fight the longest battle,'' she said.
The first PLA contingent entering Wuhan numbered 260 men, according to CCTV.
Their deployment comes days after Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who is commander-in-chief of the Chinese regime's armed forces, on Jan. 29 ordered the PLA to assist with disease control efforts in the city.
The newly built Huoshenshan Hospital in Wuhan opened on Feb. 3, and is staffed by around 1,400 PLA medics and other military personnel. The Wuhan Leishenshan hospital, another facility under rapid construction, is set to open on Feb. 6.
Total figures for the number of people who have contracted or succumbed to the Wuhan coronavirus are given by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) authorities as more than 20,000, as of statistics released Feb. 4.
However, there is much doubt over the official tally. Multiple Chinese and international experts, as well as Chinese claiming to be health workers in Wuhan, have said that the true number of infected could be in the hundreds of thousands.
The CCP regime has clamped down on unapproved online discussion about the coronavirus, and has modified its criminal law to punish those accused of using the topic to spread what the authorities deem to be ''rumors'' or disinformation.
According to social media posts by Chinese netizens claiming to have contacts in the regime, in the event that the outbreak is not brought under control by Feb. 10, the PLA will put Wuhan under martial law. Residents will not be allowed to leave their homes, and supplies will be delivered to them by soldiers going door to door, the widely circulated posts said.
Two items buried in Trump's budget call for big changes to Medicare
Wed, 12 Feb 2020 23:48
Published Wed, Feb 12 2020 3:42 PM EST
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Trump's budget is essentially a rundown of administration priorities and goals versus a mandate, and any changes to the program would need to make it through Congress.One of the proposals would let Social Security recipients opt out of Medicare Part A, which currently is tricky to do.The other aims to give Medicare recipients the ability to contribute to health savings accounts and to medical savings accounts.About 115 pages into President Trump's proposed 2021 budget are two line items that Medicare beneficiaries might want to take note of.
While the president's proposals pertaining to Medicare are largely aimed at behind-the-scenes shifts '-- i.e., lowering reimbursement rates to providers and rooting out waste or fraud '-- the budget also includes changes that would make it easier for older Americans to opt out of Medicare and would allow recipients to put money in tax-advantaged accounts earmarked for health-care costs.
Trump's budget is essentially a rundown of administration priorities and goals versus a mandate, and any changes in funding or to the program would need to make it through Congress. And while details are slim regarding either of these changes '-- and how they would interact with existing rules '-- here's the gist of the two line items (which are found under the heading "Reduce government-imposed burden in Medicare").
Hero Images | Getty Images
Opting out of Medicare Part AThe first proposal would allow individuals to opt out of Medicare Part A (hospital coverage) without the move interfering with their Social Security benefits.
The proposal isn't a new one. A court case from a decade ago challenged the rule, and is supported in some conservative circles.
Currently, if you start taking Social Security before age 65, you automatically get signed up for Part A when you hit that Medicare-eligible age. Waiting until after age 65 to tap Social Security results in automatic sign-up, as well. And while you could choose to opt out of Part B (outpatient care) if you have coverage elsewhere, you must remain enrolled in Part A or pay a steep price.
"The only way they can opt out of Part A is either not to apply for Social Security in the first place or, if they already have, repay the Social Security Administration all the money they've received and anything Medicare has spent on their health care," said Medicare expert Patricia Barry, author of "Medicare for Dummies."
She explained that the rule has been around since the program's beginnings, when most people retired at age 65 and started both Social Security and Medicare at that time.
Meanwhile, although Part A is free as long as you have at least a 10-year work history of contributing to the program through payroll taxes, it can also cause snags if your other insurance is a high-deductible health plan with a health savings account, or HSA. That's because under current rules, you cannot contribute to an HSA if you are on Medicare, even if only Part A (more on that below).
The budget notes that the change would have no effect on revenue.
Contributing to HSAsHSAs, offered in conjunction with high-deductible health savings plans, come with a triple tax benefit: Contributions, earnings and qualified withdrawals are tax-free. However, as mentioned, you can't contribute to an HSA if you're on Medicare, even if just Part A.
Trump's budget would change that by allowing beneficiaries with high-deductible health plans to make tax-deductible contributions to HSAs or to medical savings accounts, also called MSAs.
These accounts are similar to HSAs, although they exist only in the Medicare world. Basically, MSA plans combine a high-deductible Advantage Plan (which some recipients choose) with an MSA. However, a small fraction of Medicare's 62 million beneficiaries '-- about 6,000 '-- are estimated to use MSA plan, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
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In contrast to HSAs, however, an individual currently cannot contribute to MSAs. The insurer that offers the plan makes the contributions '-- an amount that could vary from year to year '-- and you can make tax-free withdrawals to cover medical expenses.
Also, MSA plans do not include Part D prescription drug coverage, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
This isn't the first time the Trump administration has pushed to let beneficiaries contribute to such accounts. In an executive order last year, the president called for the same change.
The budget estimates the change would cost the government about $16.3 billion over 10 years.
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Linux softwares on Windows with Xlaunch and WSL - Artemis
Wed, 12 Feb 2020 23:20
Sometimes, we do need to use Windows, and sometimes, while on Windows, we needto use a Linux-only tool.
When this tool is CLI-based, WSL comes in as a handy solution that allows us tohave a local Linux CL environment.
But, sometimes, we may want, or need, to run a Linux-based GUI software.
While not natively doable on WSL, we can install a tool that will allow us torun GUI softwares from WSL on our Windows computer.
Linux handles the GUI under the form of, like most of the system, a daemon andserver.
The softwares run attached to this server, and this server is made to providea drawing zone on which they can be displayed.
What we need is an X server on Windows, since it is the OS currently managingour screens.
This can be done using XLaunch, provided by Xming,a Windows implementation of the Xorg system.
The software can be downloaded on theofficial website.
When time comes to choose what you want to install as components, you canchoose to not install PuTTY at all, you shouldn't encounter any issue bydoing so.
Once installed, we can start it, to configure its few tweaks.
First, we have the choice of how the X server will integrate itself in Windows.
Since we'd like to avoid the "emulated linux" style, and instead have everysoftware right in Windows, we'll pick the "Multiple windows" option.
We'll set the display number to 0, and we'll keep that on the side for later.
You may use any display number you want, you only need tokeep it known and positive.
Since we only want a X server on windows, and nothing else, we can select the"Start no client" option.
We'd like to share the clipboard, as to be able to copy/paste between Windowsand Linux without any issue, and for performance reasons, we'll ask to usenative OpenGL implementation.
We don't care about the other settings, and we don't need to pass additionalarguments, so we also can leave that empty.
That's it for the configuration!I'd recommend towards saving it in someplace you can easily reach, so you'llbe able to double-click the configuration file to automatically launch thepre-configured Xlaunch session.
Now, we finish the configuration, and XLaunch will start!
Windows is now configured to open GUI softwares from WSL.
To test that, we can try to start a GUI software from WSL, like GitK(which has tk as dependency, if you get a wish not found-kind of error).
Instead of only running gitk, though, we need to inform WSL that a displayserver exists.That is done with the DISPLAY environment variable.
Remember the display number we kept on the side (which was 0)?
That's what we need to provide.
The syntax for the DISPLAY environment variable is :<DISPLAY NUMBER>,so we'll need DISPLAY=:0.
Of course, if you chose another number, use that other number.
$ DISPLAY=:0 gitkIf the software starts, and a gitk window is shown, you've just started yourfirst GUI software from WSL!
If not, you may have skipped a step, so make sure you've done everythingcorrectly.
Now, the last step is to configure your user session to avoid having to passthis annoying environment variable on every GUI software start.
The steps to do so depends on your user shell, I'll show it for Bash and ZSH.
$  echo   'export DISPLAY=:0'  >> .bashrc$  source  .bashrc $  echo   'export DISPLAY=:0'  >> .zshrc$  source  .zshrc And that's it!You now can run GUI softwares from Linux on Windows, without the need foremulation, or an entire desktop environment!
It didn't take long for Harry and Meghan to prove they are hypocrites
Wed, 12 Feb 2020 23:12
Well, that was fast.
Just weeks after slamming the door on Buckingham Palace, declaring their suffering as wealthy, pampered, world-famous senior royals so unbearable that they must take their leave and flee to the Canadian woods in search of privacy, humility, a slower way of life, time to think about which noble eco-warrior causes to support (while flying private, of course) and to create normalcy for themselves and their baby, Harry and Meghan are out on the stroll, selling their goods and services '-- whatever those may be '-- to the highest bidder.
You'd think, for appearances' sake, they would have held out a little longer. It's not as if they're suddenly destitute. Harry and Meghan are, after all, still on the royal payroll through at least May, after which Prince Charles has vowed to support them.
And since decamping Britain they've been freeloading, staying indefinitely at a $14 million Vancouver mansion (a deal brokered by music producer David Foster) and at Serena Williams' Palm Beach estate during a recent trip to Florida.
That trip, by the way, was to attend a summit hosted by JP Morgan Chase. Harry, a 35-year-old man who knows little of the real world, let alone macro- and micro-economics or likely how to work an ATM, spoke to an audience including former Prime Minister Tony Blair, Patriots owner Robert Kraft and architect Sir Norman Foster.
Neither side will say whether he was paid, though experts say it's likely he was compensated substantially. And to speak of what exactly?
The grief he still suffers from his mother's death twenty years ago.
To get this right: Harry, as he said in his last public statement as a working royal, had ''no other option'' given the ''many years of challenges'' he has faced, the result of losing his mother, his forced march behind her casket as a 12-year-old boy, and the ongoing mental health challenges from which he suffers.
''Every single time I hear a click, every single time I see a flash,'' he said last year, ''it takes me straight back.''
So, as he said in his farewell speech, he was forced to ''step my family back from all I have ever known, to take a step forward into what I hope can be a more peaceful life.''
But for the right price, he'll dredge up all that deeply personal emotional chaos, held sacred for decades, to a room full of global powerbrokers '-- despite zero chance any of it will elucidate or ameliorate a single real-world problem.
To cap off this inaugural foray into life as working commoners, Harry and Meghan reportedly had dinner with two of the most philanthropic and publicity-shy people on the planet, Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez.
Now they're reportedly house-hunting in L.A. and New York City '-- exactly where celebrities seeking seclusion go '-- and have been in talks with Goldman Sachs since at least November, months before announcing their plans to ''step back.''
It's been estimated that such vague partnerships could net the couple a billion dollar empire. Clearly, the only difference between life inside and outside palace walls is a profit margin.
The argument that they can do so much more now for their dearest causes, freed from palace restraints, is nothing but a cynical fiction.
Harry's mother, Princess Diana, did more to change public attitudes towards AIDS patients as a working royal than anyone, and it was precisely because she was doing things no royal had ever done '-- handhold and hug and kiss those dying from the disease '-- that her activism had such enormous impact.
And when Diana did something else a future queen of England had never done '-- get a divorce '-- she didn't commodify her brand or sell her secrets. She recognized her platform as inherently rare and valuable, made moreso by her refusal to monetize it.
SussexRoyal?! Diana would never.
Contrast his mother's approach with the recent video, since taken down, of Harry cornering Disney chief Bob Iger at a private event, begging him to hire Meghan for voiceover work while Beyonc(C) looks on, mortified.
When, as a royal, you literally put yourself in supplication to a titan of capitalism, you have shown no scruples, no self-awareness, no shame. Now you're just another hustler out to make a buck, and there's nothing special about that.
US Financial Crimes Watchdog Preparing 'Significant' Crypto Rules, Warns Treasury Secretary Mnuchin - CoinDesk
Wed, 12 Feb 2020 23:10
Feb 12, 2020 at 20:59 UTC Updated Feb 12, 2020 at 21:25 UTC
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (Image via Shutterstock)
US Financial Crimes Watchdog Preparing 'Significant' Crypto Rules, Warns Treasury Secretary MnuchinThe U.S. Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is preparing to unveil new regulations around cryptocurrencies, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday.
Speaking during a hearing before the Senate Finance Committee, Mnuchin said FinCEN, the nation's financial crimes watchdog, is preparing to roll out some "significant new requirements" around cryptocurrencies, though he did not provide any further detail.
Mnuchin's explanation came in response to Senator Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), who asked, "How will the Treasury's proposed budget increase in monitoring suspicious cryptocurrency transactions and prosecuting terrorists and other criminal organizations financing illicit activities with cryptocurrency?"
FinCEN and the Treasury Department more broadly are "spending a lot of time on this," Mnuchin said, and was working with some of the U.S.'s regulators on the issue. He did not name the specific regulators but the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Asset Control have all been active in the crypto space.
"We want to make sure that technology moves forward but, on the other hand, we want to make sure that cryptocurrencies aren't used for the equivalent of old Swiss secret number bank accounts," he said.
However, Treasury does share the senator's concerns about illicit use, and "you'll be seeing a lot of work coming out very quickly," Mnuchin said.
A spokesperson for FinCEN did not immediately return a request for comment.
FinCEN and its director, Kenneth Blanco, have been warning businesses in the crypto space for months that in their view, existing regulations cover most forms of crypto transactions, particularly anti-money laundering rules.
FinCEN joined its fellow financial regulators in signing a joint statement last autumn, noting that banking laws still apply to this nascent asset class.
CORRECTION (Feb. 12, 21:25 UTC): An earlier version of this article said Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) asked about FinCEN activity around cryptocurrencies. It was actually Senator Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.).
Disclosure Read More The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.
A strategy for rapidly making a vaccine and treatment for the disease caused by the Wuhan-Corona Virus (WCV)
Wed, 12 Feb 2020 09:57
Peptide vaccines have been successfully developed from identifying epitopes that induce antibodies in various diseases. (https://www.who.int/biologicals/vaccines/synthetic_peptide_vaccines/en).
The Wuhan seafood market pneumonia virus isolate Wuha-Hu-1 Corona genome has been completely sequenced. The possible coding has also been elucidated. NC_045512.2) (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/nuccore/NC_045512 )
An epitope search using the known epitopic sequences for other viruses and the tools available on (https://www.iedb.org/) has elucidated 184 possible similar epitopic peptide sequences coded by the Wuhan Corona Strain.
Most of these epitopes cluster in the Spike protein region of the WCS virus and are homologous to the SARS virus' Spike protein sequences.
Similar locations have been identified in various other viruses (Role of the Spike Glycoprotein of Human Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in Virus Entry and Syncytia Formation
Zhaohui Qian, Samuel R. Dominguez, Kathryn V. Holmes Plos One, 11 October 2013 | Volume 8 | Issue 10 | e76469).
The 184 possible epitopic peptide sequences are listed in Excel tables (Supplementary File)
One or more of these epitopic peptide sequences can be used to induce an immune response if linked to larger immunogenic proteins or structures (see peptide vaccines above).
However, how can we identify the actual and not theoretical epitopic sequence that induces an immune response?
If one can get access to serum and isolate using staph A or staph G columns the antibodies in patients who have survived infection with the WCV, then one can map the binding sequence of these antibodies using recombinant phage display libraries (US patent 5,866,363 and New England Biolabs, phage display library protocols).
These methods will identify a specific peptide sequence which binds an antibody from patients having been infected by WCS. If this peptide sequence corresponds to the 184 identified here, then it gives one a certain sense of confidence that this is the specific peptide sequence part of the induction of the antibodies to the WCS.
This peptide sequence can then also be used as a target for a combinatorial library binding, amplification and purification. This will identify a peptide sequence which will bind the WCS directly. It will act as an antibody mimic but much smaller and can be used for targeting the WCS directly for treating the disease. Let's call this the complementary peptide (CP). CP can be linked to a ligand that can inactivate the WCS virus.
The above strategies can be effectuated within one month and are worth trying.
This paper is dedicated to the memory of Norton Zinder, GP's professor and colleague. GP would like to acknowledge clinical discussions with Dr.Steve Pieczenik, MD, Phd. and Dr. Steve Dell, MD.
View Supplementary Data Editorial Information Editor-in-Chief Article TypeCommunication
Publication historyReceived date: February 08, 2020Accepted date: February 11, 2020Published date: February 13, 2020
Copyright(C)2020 Pieczenik G. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
CitationPieczenik G (2020) A strategy for rapidly making a vaccine and treatment for the disease caused by the Wuhan-Corona Virus (WCV). Med Case Rep Rev 3. DOI: 10.15761/MCRR.1000140
Corresponding author George Pieczenik Rutgers University, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, New Brunswick, N.J. 08901, USA
E-mail : bhuvaneswari.bibleraaj@uhsm.nhs.uk
No Figures.
Airbnb Swings to a Loss as Costs Climb Ahead of IPO - WSJ
Wed, 12 Feb 2020 09:53
Airbnb Inc. swung to a loss for the first nine months of last year as costs rose sharply, according to people close to the company, raising questions about the valuation and timing of the home-sharing giant's much-anticipated public-markets debut.
The multibillion-dollar startup racked up a $322 million net loss for the nine months through September, down from a $200 million profit a year earlier, one of the people said.
The slide into the red could affect Airbnb's price tag in an initial public offering, according to investors. Airbnb's profitability was expected to give it an edge as it wooed public investors. After the troubled debuts of Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc., investors have grown increasingly suspicious of companies with losses and no clear path to profitability.
The San Francisco-based company, which lets people list their properties for rent on its marketplace, is one of the nation's biggest private companies. It was valued at $31 billion in its last funding round in 2017, according to Dow Jones VentureSource data. Its most recent internal valuation was sharply less however, one of the people close to the company said.
Airbnb said last year that it would go public ''during 2020,'' setting the stage for what would likely be the only blockbuster offering of the year.
The timing could be affected by the coronavirus, a person close to the company said. Airbnb's business in China is currently down about 80% compared with last year, as the virus disrupts travel to the country and listings are suspended in some cities, the person said. China is an important growth market for Airbnb, and the company might wait until the impact of the virus has stabilized before going ahead with its IPO, the person said.
Any IPO this year would likely be in the third quarter or later, people close to the company said. It is expected to be several months before the company even files with the Securities and Exchange Commission the confidential documents needed to kick-start the process, some of the people said.
The company is the largest home-sharing platform in the U.S., with more than two million people on average booked every night into its listings world-wide.
Airbnb would be testing the public markets amid increased wariness of fast-growing, unprofitable startups. In addition to Uber and Lyft's choppy starts, mattress startup Casper Sleep Inc. last week pegged its IPO price at $12, putting its worth at less than half its $1.1 billion private valuation. Its stock is currently trading more than 10% below that lowered IPO price.
WeWork parent We Co. is still reeling from its scrapped public debut.
It isn't unusual for Silicon Valley startups to still be spilling red ink when they go public'--fewer than one in four technology IPOs in the five years through 2019 were profitable, according to data from Jay Ritter, finance professor at the University of Florida.
Airbnb is in a stronger financial position than many companies that have been launched on the public markets, according to Mr. Ritter. The company has a ''huge global market share, the brand name'...and there's no question they will be able to achieve profitability,'' he said.
Airbnb also has the advantage of some $3 billion in cash on its balance sheet, people close to the company said, giving it the kind of healthy financial cushion that WeWork lacked.
The company, which doesn't have to disclose financial information because it is held privately, has released little data on its revenue and profit. It said last year that in both 2017 and 2018, it was ''profitable on an Ebitda basis.'' Ebitda, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, is a widely used performance metric that falls outside the generally accepted accounting principles.
Airbnb's drooping profitability is causing concern within the firm, according to people close to the company. The board in recent weeks grilled executives on why expenses are outpacing revenue, the people said.
This pattern is reflected in Airbnb's quarterly results for the three months through September. Historically, the third quarter is the most profitable period for the company because of travel patterns, according to people close to the company.
Airbnb increased its revenue to $1.65 billion in the third quarter, up almost $400 million from a year earlier, one of the people said. But costs rose faster. Net profit for the quarter was $266 million'--less than the $337 million profit for the same period in 2018, and not enough to cover losses for the first six months of the year, the person added.
Costs are likely to increase further, as a result of Airbnb's recent move to spend more on safety issues affecting its platform. The company has struggled with theft, prostitution and other crimes among its hosts and guests since its founding in 2008. After shooters tore through a house party in Orinda, Calif., in October, the company announced a series of steps to increase safety for its members, including verifying all seven million of its listings for quality and accuracy.
The company in early December announced details and additional measures, including a commitment to spend $150 million on safety initiatives.
Airbnb is also spending heavily on upgrading the technology of its platform, with costs running at more than $100 million a year, a person close to the company said.
One category of costs that has grown particularly fast is general and administrative expenses, which more than doubled year-over-year to total $175 million in the third quarter, according to another person close to the company. This category covers business overhead, such as the costs to run Airbnb's San Francisco headquarters, and legal, accounting and human-resource functions.
Belinda Johnson, who oversees many of these areas as chief operating officer, is leaving that post on March 1 to join Airbnb's board, the company said in November. Ms. Johnson said at the time that she wanted to spend more time with her family. Brian Chesky, Airbnb's co-founder and chief executive, said he told Ms. Johnson she could ''return to Airbnb as an executive if she ever wishes to do so.''
Write to Jean Eaglesham at jean.eaglesham@wsj.com, Maureen Farrell at maureen.farrell@wsj.com and Kirsten Grind at kirsten.grind@wsj.com
Luxury Hard Landing? Gucci Owner Blames Covid-19 Virus ForDeteriorating Outlook
Wed, 12 Feb 2020 09:49
Kering shares on the Euronext Paris jumped several percents on Wednesday following higher-than-expected sales for 4Q19. Traders have since faded the initial pop, due mostly to the company's warning that the virus outbreak in China could damage sales in 1Q20 for its star brand Gucci, reported Reuters.
Kering said Gucci's success is partly because of the robust Chinese market, with much of the economy shut down, and consumption collapsed, this could have a significant impact on "consumption trends and tourism flows, and their ability to affect economic growth."
Kering's CFO Jean-Marc Duplaix said the company "remained very confident about its growth potential in the medium and long term" despite the world's second-biggest economy shut down, 400 million people in quarantine, factory hubs on idle, and transportation networks froze.
Kering's revenues increased by 13.8% to $4.76 billion in 4Q, up 11% Y/Y. Duplaix said despite sales halving in Hong Kong last year because of the riots, the company was overly reliant on mainland China to drive new sales. He said Gucci contributes 83% of its recurring operating income.
However, just like global stock markets, Kering's Chairman P{inault is optimistic...
''Knowing how dynamic and resilient the Chinese people are, we expect things to return to normal promptly once the emergency is over,''
But, Kering admitted it was "impossible" at this time to assess the impact of the virus on business and how fast it will recover, as it has closed around half of its stores in mainland China and is postponing new openings and reviewing product launches in the country due to the impact of Covid-19.
Earlier this week, Italian jacket maker Moncler warned that sales at its stores in China crashed 80% since the virus broke out.
Under Armour, on Tuesday, forecasted a surprise drop in 2020 revenue because of the expected sales slowdown associated with the virus.
"The company's initial 2020 outlook currently includes an estimated negative impact of the coronavirus outbreak in China of approximately $50 million to $60 million in sales related to the first quarter of 2020."
Pandora A/S informed investors this week that its operating segment in China has ground to a halt.
Gucci, Moncler, Under Armour, and Pandora are some of the first consumer companies to realize a demand shock in China could severely damage sales in 1Q.
As we've mentioned before, the coronavirus impact on China is global, and it could be a large enough disruption that tilts the global economy into recession.
Geen meth-lab zo professioneel als de Moerdijkse drugsboot | De Volkskrant
Wed, 12 Feb 2020 09:47
Ontmanteling van het drugslab op een boot in Moerdijk. Beeld Erald van der AaAls Diego V. een opdracht kreeg, dan voerde hij die uit. Zonder te protesteren. De opdrachten kwamen binnen via WhatsApp '' soms wel meerdere per minuut. Verstuurd vanaf een Mexicaanse telefoon. Zo nu en dan stelde Diego een vraag terug: 'Moet je niet roeren?' of 'Als je het erbij gooit, volgt er dan een reactie?' En dan kwam er meteen een antwoord, zodat de 24-jarige Mexicaan weer verder kon.
Wie die opdrachten verstrekte? Dat wil Diego '' beige jas, donker haar, klein van stuk '' in de Bredase rechtbank niet zeggen. 'Voor zijn eigen veiligheid', legt de tolk uit.
Dinsdag was de eerste dag van de inhoudelijke behandeling van de Moerdijkse crystal meth-zaak, die vanaf het eerste moment al uitzonderlijk is. Afgelopen jaren ontdekte de politie wel vaker labs waar deze zwaar verslavende, verwoestende drug werd gemaakt. Maar nooit eerder vond de recherche zo'n professioneel laboratorium, eentje waar kwalitatief zeer hoogwaardige 'ICE' werd geproduceerd. En dat terwijl er in Nederland nauwelijks markt voor is. Justitie gaat ervan uit dat het bedoeld was om te verschepen naar landen als Duitsland, Letland, Estland en Australi.
De zaak van de Moerdijkse 'narcoboot' begon op vrijdag 10 mei 2019. Vanaf een passerende patrouilleboot roken agenten van de waterpolitie een verdachte wietgeur in de haven van Moerdijk. Toen ze even later het 85 meter lange vrachtschip 'Arsianco' betraden, troffen ze daar behalve de schipper, ook drie Mexicanen aan '' onder wie Diego V. en diens 27-jarige broer. Naast de boot dreef een dode vis.
De Mexicanen waren aan het werk in een aparte ruimte, een container met daarin een laboratorium dat volgens het team Landelijke Faciliteit Ontmantelen weken moet hebben gekost om op te bouwen. En dat niet alleen: tijdens de doorzoeking vond de politie telefoons, met daarop WhatsApp-berichten vol opdrachten, belastende filmpjes en foto's van onder meer de op ijspegels lijkende drug. Volgens Diego moesten ze die foto's maken van de opdrachtgevers, om te laten zien waarmee ze bezigwaren.
Justitie vermoedt dat er op de boot al bijna een half jaar drugs werd geproduceerd. Maar volgens Diego begonnen hij en zijn twee Mexicaanse medeverdachten pas in het voorjaar van 2019. Hoeveel drugs de narcoboot precies heeft geproduceerd, is niet te achterhalen. Dat komt onder meer omdat het schip zonk in de nacht van 10 mei ''op dat moment waren de experts van het LFO, de politieafdeling die gespecialiseerd is in de ontmanteling van drugslabs, het schip nog aan het onderzoeken.
GezonkenHet begon met een plasje, vertelt een van hen. Maar al snel spoot het water de ruimte binnen en vielen de lampen uit. Zo goed als het kon probeerden ze '' gewapend met zaklampen '' het bewijsmateriaal veilig te stellen. Maar al snel werden ze gesommeerd om door de kleine uitgang naar buiten te gaan. Door het zinken, vielen vaten vol chemicalin om en lekten de ingredinten van de methamfetamine in het water.
Aanvankelijk werd gedacht dat het schip tot zinken was gebracht door een op afstand bestuurbare boobytrap. Toen het gebeurde, scheurde een verdachte auto weg uit de haven. Maar uit onderzoek is inmiddels gebleken dat er van een boobytrap geen sprake was. Inmiddels houdt de politie rekening met het scenario dat er tijdens de doorzoeking nog iemand anders in het schip aanwezig was, en dat deze persoon de waterpomp heeft aangezet om het onderzoeksteam te saboteren.
Hoe het ook zij, stelt het OM: het staat vast dat er op grote schaal drugs werd geproduceerd op deze narcoboot. Justitie vermoedt dat de Mexicaanse opdrachtgevers Nederland zien als een handig distributieland, waar de straffen voor drugsdelicten relatief laag zijn en waar je '' dankzij de grote synthetische drugsindustrie '' makkelijk grondstoffen kunt vinden.
Diego kan hier niks over zeggen. Het enige wat hij nog aan de rechter kwijt wil, is dat hem verteld is dat hij in Nederland 3.000 euro per maand kon verdienen. Met welk werk ontdekte hij naar eigen zeggen pas toen hij in de drugsboot arriveerde. 'Ik kon hier tien keer zoveel verdienen als in mijn eigen land', zegt de twintiger die in Mexico bij een groentegroothandel werkte.
Tot slot wil zijn advocaat nog (C)(C)n vraag stellen aan de twintiger. Of hij zijn loon ooit heeft gekregen? Maar Diego schudt van nee.
De zitting wordt donderdag hervat, dan volgt de strafeis.
'Chemische wietgeur'Kan een crystal meth-lab nu wel of niet naar wiet ruiken? Die vraag stond op de eerste zittingsdag centraal in de Bredase rechtbank. Stuk voor stuk staken zeven togadragers hun neus in een klein potje. Eerst de rechters, toen de advocaten. Allemaal roken ze aan de witte substantie die op 10 mei 2019 in beslag was genomen op de Moerdijkse narcoboot. De rechters bewaarden hun oordeel voor later.
Maar terwijl zich op de perstribune een subtiele wietgeur verspreidde, stelde advocaat Bart Welvaart al meteen: 'Dit ruikt n­(C)t naar wiet.' Aanleiding voor de test was een verzoek tot het niet-ontvankelijk laten verklaren van het OM door (C)(C)n van de advocaten. De raadsman van schipper Cor B. (66) stelde dinsdag in de rechtbank dat de verbalisanten van de waterpolitie meerdere malen hadden gelogen in hun processen-verbaal.
Zo verklaarden de agenten dat ze het vrachtschip op 10 mei betraden vanwege een verdachte wietgeur. Maar, stelt de advocaat van schipper Cor B.: hoe kan een crystal meth-lab ruiken naar wiet? Volgens hem had er de geur van rotte eieren moeten hangen, 'en niet die van hennep'.
Maar volgens justitie is dat onjuist: bij de productie van deze drugs komt wel degelijk 'een chemische wietgeur' vrij. Ondanks de test in de rechtbank was advocaat Welvaart dinsdag niet overtuigd. Al gaf hij toe dat de witte substantie niet naar rotte eieren rook. 'Eerder naar gebakken champignons.' Hoe het ook zij: de rechtbank oordeelde dinsdag dat er onvoldoende bewijs is dat de agenten hebben gelogen.
Free porn is being offered to passengers on coronavirus quarantined ship
Wed, 12 Feb 2020 09:45
Being stranded on a cruise ship during a global health crisis involves a lot of waiting around. As bouts of extreme fear and anxiety gradually pass, it's likely that, at some point, an overwhelming horniness will set in.
It seems this exact conversation was had in a Miami boardroom on Monday (February 10), namely at the headquarters of adult entertainment website CamSoda, which has offered free porn tokens to people quarantined on cruise ships. According to Fox Business, passengers have been promised full complimentary access to the site's webcam services to help them pass the time at sea.
''They are not only dealing with the fear of infection, which is terrifying, but boredom,'' CamSoda's vice president Daryn Parker said in a press release. ''We like cruises just as much as the next guy, but without activities or human interaction, the boredom must be crippling.''
''In an effort to keep their minds off of the coronavirus and to help with the boredom, we're offering passengers and crews the ability to have fun in a safe and controlled environment with camming,'' he continued.
The offer was extended to some 7,300 passengers stranded on the Diamond Princess and World Dream cruise-ships, although all 1,800 onboard the World Dream have since been given the all clear and were released on Sunday.
Passengers and crew on the Diamond Princess however remain docked in a Japanese port, with 70 confirmed cases of the coronavirus among the 3,500 on board. It is unclear how much longer they will remain under lockdown, but they have a way to entertain themselves for now at least.
Read our story about the people stuck under quarantine in Wuhan, China, who have been fighting their boredom with memes.
Organisers poised to call off Mobile World Congress: sources - Reuters
Wed, 12 Feb 2020 09:44
MADRID/PARIS/BERLIN (Reuters) - Organisers of the Mobile World Congress (MWC) will decide on Wednesday whether to cancel the event, two sources said, after several major European telecom companies pulled out due to the coronavirus outbreak.
An employee walks past a banner of MWC20 (Mobile World Congress) in Barcelona, Spain February 12, 2020. REUTERS/Nacho Doce
Deutsche Telekom (DTEGn.DE ), Vodafone (VOD.L ), BT (BT.L ) and Nokia (NOKIA.HE ) said they would not be attending and a source said Orange (ORAN.PA ) was set to join them although the French company said it had not taken any final decision.
The telecom industry's biggest get together, scheduled for Feb. 24-27, typically draws more than 100,000 visitors to Barcelona. The GSMA industry group that hosts the event estimates it gives a lift of around half a billion dollars to the Spanish economy.
The GSMA convened a 'virtual' meeting of its board, consisting of 25 industry bosses, at 1300 GMT to discuss its options, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.
The withdrawals on Wednesday by core members of the GSMA followed the loss of top industry names from the United States, Japan and Korea.
In a holding statement pending further updates, the GSMA said it was monitoring the ''fast-changing situation'' around the coronavirus while working with the Spanish and global health authorities to ensure the wellbeing of attendees.
Barcelona's mayor Ada Colau said on Wednesday she wanted to send a ''message of calm'', insisting the city was ready to host the event. Spanish health officials have said there is no need to declare a health emergency.
That failed, however, to alleviate concerns among major exhibitors that the precautions would be insufficient to halt the virus that has spread beyond China's borders to two dozen countries.
''To bring people together and connect them: That is what Telekom stands for. This is also what the Mobile World Congress, the 'class reunion' of our industry, stands for,'' Deutsche Telekom CEO Tim Hoettges posted on LinkedIn.
He added, however, that large gatherings of people with many international guests posed a particular risk: ''To take this risk would be irresponsible.''
MOBILE CHINA CONGRESS? Major Chinese exhibitors, led by Huawei [HWT.UL], vowed to attend, ordering at-risk staff to isolate themselves and drafting in replacements from elsewhere to staff event stands and network with clients.
The GSMA had banned attendees from China's Hubei province, where the coronavirus outbreak began, and required others to prove that they had been outside the country for at least two weeks prior to the event.
Coronavirus has proved to be contagious even when people who have caught it are asymptomatic, meaning that people attending the MWC might not even realise that they could infect others they meet there.
Reconstructing meetings and movements across the Fira trade grounds and the city of Barcelona of anyone who later tests positive would be a difficult task.
In China, total infections have hit 44,653, health officials said, including 2,015 new confirmed cases. The number of deaths on the mainland rose by 97 to 1,113 by the end of Tuesday.
Writing by Douglas Busvine; Additional reporting by Supantha Mukherjee, Tarmo Virki, Joan Faus, Can Sezer and Stephanie Nebehay; editing by Keith Weir and Elaine Hardcastle
Patreon Faces New Legal Peril Under California Law
Wed, 12 Feb 2020 09:41
Patreon has lost several high profile creators including Sam Harris, Dave Rubin, and Jordan Peterson due to Patreon's decision to begin censoring creators for ideological reasons.
The belief is that Patreon can ban anyone they want to. Is this true under California law?''Private companies can do whatever they want,'' is an old canard repeated by people who aren't lawyers or aren't very good lawyers. But a new legal remedy is available under California's arbitration law, especially with the adoption of SB-707.
There's an economic relationship between Creators and their Backers.Patreon, by banning a Creator, disrupts the economic relationship between Creator and Backer. In legal terms this is called tortious interference with a business relationship.
Backers can demand to have the disruption of this relationship sent to arbitration.
Patreon, under California law, must pay the arbitration fees in advance. These fees can be upward of $10,000 per case.
If 500 backers demanded arbitration, Patreon would need to put up five million dollars in advance in filing fees alone. Legal fees will ramp those fees up by a factor of ten.
And judges are enforcing the law strictly:
DoorDash Ordered to Pay $9.5M to Arbitrate 5,000 Labor Disputes:
SAN FRANCISCO (CN) '' Rejecting claims that the legal process it forced on workers is unfair, a federal judge Monday ordered food-delivery service DoorDash to pay $9.5 million in arbitration fees for 5,010 delivery drivers' labor demands against the company.
''You're going to pay that money,'' U.S. District Judge William Alsup said in court. ''You don't want to pay millions of dollars, but that's what you bargained to do and you're going to do it.''
Patreon has tried writing itself out of this legal requirement with amended Terms of Service, which took effect on January 3, 2020:
You may not bring a claim against us for suspending or terminating another person's account, and you agree you will not bring such a claim. If you try to bring such a claim, you are responsible for the damages caused, including attorneys fees and costs.
This provision is unlawful and unenforceable, because Patreon demands all users abide by JAMS Streamlined Arbitration Rules and Procedures:
If a dispute does arise out of these terms or related to your use of Patreon, and it cannot be resolved after you talk with us, then it must be resolved by arbitration. This arbitration must be administered by JAMS under the JAMS Streamlined Arbitration Rules and Procedures, except as expressly provided below. Judgment on the arbitration entered in any court with jurisdiction. Arbitrations may only take place on an individual basis. No class arbitrations or other other grouping of parties is allowed. By agreeing to these terms you are waiving your right to trial by jury or to participate in a class action or representative proceeding; we are also waiving these rights.
Under California law, a consumer cannot be forced to pay costs and fees under a mandatory arbitration clause. California law is clear:
For matters involving consumers, the consumer is only required to pay $250. See JAMS Policy on Consumer Arbitrations Pursuant to Pre-Dispute Clauses. For matters based on a clause or agreement that is required as a condition of employment, the employee is only required to pay $400. See JAMS Policy on Employment Arbitrations, Minimum Standards of Fairness.
In other words, if Patreon bans a Creator, and the Backers want to file arbitration claims, Patreon will have to be millions of dollars of fees.
As one law firm specialization in arbitration law notes:
SB 707 applies to employment or consumer arbitration agreements and requires that the drafting party pay any fees and costs that might be due before the arbitration can proceed within 30 days after the due date. The failure by the drafting party to pay will mean that the drafting party is in material breach of the arbitration agreement, is in default of the arbitration and will waive its right to compel arbitration
There is no exception to this law, and Patreon cannot draft its way out of California law with a Terms of Service update. Again, California law provides:
With respect to the cost of the arbitration, when a consumer initiates arbitration against the company, the only fee required to be paid by the consumer is $250, which is approximately equivalent to current Court filing fees. All other costs must be borne by the company, including any remaining JAMS Case Management Fee and all professional fees for the arbitrator's services. When the company is the claiming party initiating an arbitration against the consumer, the company will be required to pay all costs associated with the arbitration.
Patreon may win on the grounds that its Terms of Service as of January 2020 apply to all creators banned in 2020 or beyond. It's unlikely they will, because courts look unfavorably on parties who demand arbitration while seeking to opt-out of rules they don't like.
My best guess is that if a Creator or Backer sued Patreon to have the fee-shifting provision struck from the Terms of Service, then that party would prevail.
Any Patreon creator banned before 2020 will have favorable procedural rules, and Backers bringing claims will not be required to pay more than $250.
The same rules would also apply to PayPal and other companies with mandatory arbitration provisions.
The lawfare revolution grows
Wed, 12 Feb 2020 09:39
Mike Cernovich explains the legal mire into which Patreon and other thought policing platforms have plunged headlong:Patreon has lost several high profile creators including Sam Harris, Dave Rubin, and Jordan Peterson due to Patreon’s decision to begin censoring creators for ideological reasons.The belief is that Patreon can ban anyone they want to. Is this true under California law?“Private companies can do whatever they want,” is an old canard repeated by people who aren’t lawyers or aren’t very good lawyers. But a new legal remedy is available under California’s arbitration law, especially with the adoption of SB-707.There’s an economic relationship between Creators and their Backers. Patreon, by banning a Creator, disrupts the economic relationship between Creator and Backer. In legal terms this is called tortious interference with a business relationship.Backers can demand to have the disruption of this relationship sent to arbitration.Patreon, under California law, must pay the arbitration fees in advance. These fees can be upward of $10,000 per case. If 500 backers demanded arbitration, Patreon would need to put up five million dollars in advance in filing fees alone. Legal fees will ramp those fees up by a factor of ten.And judges are enforcing the law strictly.Read the whole thing. The situation he's describing doesn't merely apply to Patreon, it applies to every tech company that has a business that depends upon matching two parties together without taking responsibility for the performance of either party.Labels: corpocracy, law
Claws out: Visual Effects Society slams Academy for Oscars dig at Cats
Wed, 12 Feb 2020 09:35
After James Corden and Rebel Wilson poked fun at their Razzie-nominated musical at the Oscars, the group has released an impassioned statement
James Corden and Rebel Wilson onstage during the Oscars.Photograph: Kevin Winter/Getty ImagesAfter a skit ridiculing the special effects in the critically reviled flop Cats at last night's Oscars, a catfight is now brewing between the Academy and the Visual Effects Society.
To present the award for best visual effects, Cats stars James Corden and Rebel Wilson arrived onstage dressed as their characters from the film. They quipped that as cast members of the Razzie-nominated musical, ''nobody more than us understands the importance of good visual effects''.
The line elicited some of the biggest laughs of the night but not from the Visual Effects Society (VES), made up of more than 4,000 members, who released a statement today to criticise the Academy's scapegoating.
''The best visual effects in the world will not compensate for a story told badly,'' the statement read. ''On a night that is all about honoring the work of talented artists, it is immensely disappointing that the Academy made visual effects the butt of a joke. It demeaned the global community of expert VFX practitioners doing outstanding, challenging and visually stunning work to achieve the film-makers' vision.''
The Oscar-winning visual effects animator Hal Hickel also referred to it as a ''dumb joke'' on Twitter.
The VES statement also made a dig at another skit, from Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell, where the pair jokingly misunderstood the role of the cinematographer and the editor. ''Moving forward, we hope that the Academy will properly honor the craft of visual effects '' and all of the crafts, including cinematography and film editing '' because we all deserve it,'' it read.
Tom Hooper's adaptation of the hit Andrew Lloyd Webber musical was one of 2019's biggest disasters, reportedly losing studio Universal over $70m. It was rushed to meet the deadline for Academy consideration but instead, led the nominations for the Razzies this past weekend, the annual ''celebration'' of the year's worst films.
The visual effects of the film were heavily criticised and within days of release, a new version with tweaks was sent to cinemas worldwide. In his Vanity Fair review, Richard Lawson called it ''a 110-minute journey into a computer graphic phantasmagoria, revolting and briefly alluring, a true grotesque''.
At last months's Baftas, Wilson also quipped that the black half of her dress was made up form an outfit she wore ''to the funeral of the movie Cats'' while Corden claims not to have seen it but has ''heard it's terrible'.
Harvey Weinstein chooses not to take stand as defense rests its case
Wed, 12 Feb 2020 09:34
Harvey Weinstein will not be giving evidence in his own defense at his rape trial in New York, announcing he had decided to forego the witness stand after he huddled with his legal team for half an hour on Tuesday.
Courtroom 99 at the New York supreme court held its collective breath as the fallen movie mogul, his lead lawyer, Donna Rotunno, and other members of his legal team retired to consider the critical question of whether he would subject himself to questioning in open court.
But when they returned, Damon Cheronis, one of the defense lawyers, told the court: ''We discussed it with Mr Weinstein. He is not guilty and he is not going to be testifying.''
Judge James Burke asked Weinstein directly whether he agreed with that, and Weinstein said he did.
Weinstein's decision to remain aloof from the proceedings in effect brought to an end the defense phase of the trial, and with it the evidence that will be presented to the jury of seven men and five women.
Later this week, defense lawyers followed by prosecutors will present closing arguments, leaving the jury to deliberate on its verdict early next week.
Despite his silence, Weinstein, 67, has been a dominant presence throughout the five weeks of the trial so far. He has been in court every day, usually shuffling in on his now trademark walking frame with yellow tennis balls at its feet. The defendant has maintained a largely impassive stance at the defense table. At points in his accusers' testimony, however, he has permitted himself a brief laugh or shrug of his head.
Only occasionally has he been heard speaking, responding to reporters' questions outside the courtroom. At the start of the trial, he said he was feeling ''very confident'' about its outcome because ''I got great lawyers''. Another time he was asked whether one of the witness's descriptions of his deformed body and genitals was accurate, and he sarcastically replied: ''Perfect.''
Over the past few days, during the defense stage of proceedings, Weinstein's legal team has sought to discredit and undermine the accounts given to the jury by the six women who have testified. In particular, Rotunno and her colleagues have homed in on one of the two central accusers in the case, a 34-year-old woman whom the Guardian is not naming because it is unclear whether she approves being identified.
Earlier this month the woman testified that she was raped by the defendant in March 2013 in a hotel room at the Doubletree hotel in midtown Manhattan. After the alleged rape, the accuser said, she found a syringe in a trash can that she later found out was medicine for erectile dysfunction that Weinstein must have injected himself with.
The woman's allegations are key to the prosecution case against Weinstein, who faces two counts of rape flowing from her account. He also faces one count that he forced oral sex in 2006 on a then Project Runway production assistant, Miriam Haley, and two counts of predatory sexual assault that require sex crimes to be proved against multiple women and carry a top sentence of life in prison.
Weinstein has pleaded not guilty and has insisted that all sexual encounters were consensual. He has now been accused of a range of sexual misconduct, from harassment to rape, by 105 women.
Weinstein's lawyers appear to have calculated that the rape accuser is the weak link in the prosecution strategy. In a highly unusual move, the New York district attorney's office decided to make a central pillar of the case a witness who has admitted to maintaining consensual sexual relations both before and long after the alleged attack happened.
In 2017, four years after she said she was raped at the Doubletree, the accuser sent an email to Weinstein saying: ''I love you, I always do. But I hate feeling like a booty call. ;)''.
Sexual crimes experts emphasize that rape is often committed by men who know their victims, and that intimate relations '' including sexual ones '' can follow violent acts. Yet Weinstein's lawyers have made maximum use of emails between the former producer and the woman to suggest that she was either lying or had unreliable memories.
On Tuesday, the defense called under subpoena a friend of the accuser in an attempt to undermine her account further. Thomas Richards, an entertainment agent, had been with the accuser in the Doubletree hotel at the time of the alleged assault and had attended a breakfast with her and Weinstein in the lobby cafe shortly after she said the rape had occurred.
Under questioning by a defense lawyer, Richards said she had looked ''normal'' and ''her everyday self'' at the table. He recalled nothing unusual about the way his friend appeared or behaved in front of Weinstein, and said nothing stood out about her dress, complexion or hair, or eyes.
''Was there any indication to you whatsoever that she was in any sort of distress?'' Cheronis asked. The witness said there was not.
The defense is now focusing on the rape accuser, seeking to puncture a hole in the case against the defendant. On Monday, Talita Maia, a Brazilian model, was also called under subpoena to give evidence.
She too said that the woman had seemed ''like herself'' at the Doubletree breakfast that she also attended soon after the alleged rape. She told the jury that her then friend had once called Weinstein her ''spiritual soul mate''.
Wed, 12 Feb 2020 09:10
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Wed, 12 Feb 2020 09:02
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Nissan to shut Japan factory due to shortage of Chinese parts - BBC News
Wed, 12 Feb 2020 09:01
Image copyright Getty Images Nissan is the latest car maker to temporarily shut one of its factories as it can't get parts from China.
The firm will halt production for two days at a plant in Japan which makes the Serena and X-Trail models.
Global car brands are facing similar disruptions as much of China's manufacturing sector remains locked down due to the deadly coronavirus.
Hyundai temporarily closed its factories in South Korea last week due to a shortage of Chinese parts.
In fact, many of the world's biggest car makers are dealing with dwindling supplies as factories across China remain closed.
China is the world's manufacturing powerhouse and a major part of the global supply chain for the automotive industry, making key parts and components. Hubei, where the coronavirus outbreak first started, is a major car manufacturing hub.
Last week, Fiat Chrysler said it was considering halting production at one of its European plants due to difficulty in sourcing parts from China. It joins a long list of car brands that rely on Chinese exports.
''It only takes one missing part to stop a line," said Mike Dunne, a consultant to the car industry in Asia.
Many factories and car plants were due to reopen on Monday after an extended Chinese New Year break. Some restarted production, but others remained closed due to local authority restrictions and lack of workers. Nissan expects to restart production in China on 17 February.
In a statement, Nissan said: "Due to supply shortages of parts from China, Nissan Kyushu in Japan will carry out temporary production adjustments on February 14 and 17." It stressed there was no impact on its other Japanese factories.
Nissan is part of a French-Japanese strategic partnership that includes Renault and Mitsubishi.
How the CIA used Crypto AG encryption devices to spy on countries for decades - Washington Post
Wed, 12 Feb 2020 09:00
For more than half a century, governments all over the world trusted a single company to keep the communications of their spies, soldiers and diplomats secret.
The company, Crypto AG, got its first break with a contract to build code-making machines for U.S. troops during World War II. Flush with cash, it became a dominant maker of encryption devices for decades, navigating waves of technology from mechanical gears to electronic circuits and, finally, silicon chips and software.
The Swiss firm made millions of dollars selling equipment to more than 120 countries well into the 21st century. Its clients included Iran, military juntas in Latin America, nuclear rivals India and Pakistan, and even the Vatican.
But what none of its customers ever knew was that Crypto AG was secretly owned by the CIA in a highly classified partnership with West German intelligence. These spy agencies rigged the company's devices so they could easily break the codes that countries used to send encrypted messages.
The decades-long arrangement, among the most closely guarded secrets of the Cold War, is laid bare in a classified, comprehensive CIA history of the operation obtained by The Washington Post and ZDF, a German public broadcaster, in a joint reporting project.
The account identifies the CIA officers who ran the program and the company executives entrusted to execute it. It traces the origin of the venture as well as the internal conflicts that nearly derailed it. It describes how the United States and its allies exploited other nations' gullibility for years, taking their money and stealing their secrets.
The operation, known first by the code name ''Thesaurus'' and later ''Rubicon,'' ranks among the most audacious in CIA history.
''It was the intelligence coup of the century,'' the CIA report concludes. ''Foreign governments were paying good money to the U.S. and West Germany for the privilege of having their most secret communications read by at least two (and possibly as many as five or six) foreign countries.''
From 1970 on, the CIA and its code-breaking sibling, the National Security Agency, controlled nearly every aspect of Crypto's operations '-- presiding with their German partners over hiring decisions, designing its technology, sabotaging its algorithms and directing its sales targets.
Then, the U.S. and West German spies sat back and listened.
They monitored Iran's mullahs during the 1979 hostage crisis, fed intelligence about Argentina's military to Britain during the Falklands War, tracked the assassination campaigns of South American dictators and caught Libyan officials congratulating themselves on the 1986 bombing of a Berlin disco.
A Royal Navy helicopter takes off after transporting Royal Marines to Darwin, Falkland Islands, in 1982. During the Falklands War, U.S. spies fed intelligence about Argentina's military to Britain. (Paul Haley/Imperial War Museums/Getty Images)
An American hostage is guided outside the U.S. Embassy compound in Tehran in 1979, after students stormed the embassy and took its diplomatic staff hostage. Using Crypto, the United States monitored Iran's mullahs during the crisis. (Kaveh Kazemi/Getty Images)
A Royal Navy helicopter takes off after transporting Royal Marines to Darwin, Falkland Islands, in 1982. During the Falklands War, U.S. spies fed intelligence about Argentina's military to Britain. (Paul Haley/Imperial War Museums/Getty Images) An American hostage is guided outside the U.S. Embassy compound in Tehran in 1979, after students stormed the embassy and took its diplomatic staff hostage. Using Crypto, the United States monitored Iran's mullahs during the crisis. (Kaveh Kazemi/Getty Images)
The program had limits. America's main adversaries, including the Soviet Union and China, were never Crypto customers. Their well-founded suspicions of the company's ties to the West shielded them from exposure, although the CIA history suggests that U.S. spies learned a great deal by monitoring other countries' interactions with Moscow and Beijing.
There were also security breaches that put Crypto under clouds of suspicion. Documents released in the 1970s showed extensive '-- and incriminating '-- correspondence between an NSA pioneer and Crypto's founder. Foreign targets were tipped off by the careless statements of public officials including President Ronald Reagan. And the 1992 arrest of a Crypto salesman in Iran, who did not realize he was selling rigged equipment, triggered a devastating ''storm of publicity,'' according to the CIA history.
But the true extent of the company's relationship with the CIA and its German counterpart was until now never revealed.
The German spy agency, the BND, came to believe the risk of exposure was too great and left the operation in the early 1990s. But the CIA bought the Germans' stake and simply kept going, wringing Crypto for all its espionage worth until 2018, when the agency sold off the company's assets, according to current and former officials.
The company's importance to the global security market had fallen by then, squeezed by the spread of online encryption technology. Once the province of governments and major corporations, strong encryption is now as ubiquitous as apps on cellphones.
Even so, the Crypto operation is relevant to modern espionage. Its reach and duration help to explain how the United States developed an insatiable appetite for global surveillance that was exposed in 2013 by Edward Snowden. There are also echoes of Crypto in the suspicions swirling around modern companies with alleged links to foreign governments, including the Russian anti-virus firm Kaspersky, a texting app tied to the United Arab Emirates and the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei.
This story is based on the CIA history and a parallel BND account, also obtained by The Post and ZDF, and interviews with current and former Western intelligence officials as well as Crypto employees. Many spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the subject.
It is hard to overstate how extraordinary the CIA and BND histories are. Sensitive intelligence files are periodically declassified and released to the public. But it is exceedingly rare, if not unprecedented, to glimpse authoritative internal histories of an entire covert operation. The Post was able to read all of the documents, but the source of the material insisted that only excerpts be published.
Click any underlined text in the story to see an excerpt from the CIA history.
The CIA and the BND declined to comment, though U.S. and German officials did not dispute the authenticity of the documents. The first is a 96-page account of the operation completed in 2004 by the CIA's Center for the Study of Intelligence, an internal historical branch. The second is an oral history compiled by German intelligence officials in 2008.
The overlapping accounts expose frictions between the two partners over money, control and ethical limits, with the West Germans frequently aghast at the enthusiasm with which U.S. spies often targeted allies.
But both sides describe the operation as successful beyond their wildest projections. At times, including in the 1980s, Crypto accounted for roughly 40 percent of the diplomatic cables and other transmissions by foreign governments that cryptanalysts at the NSA decoded and mined for intelligence, according to the documents.
All the while, Crypto generated millions of dollars in profits that the CIA and BND split and plowed into other operations.
Crypto's sign is still visible atop its longtime headquarters near Zug, Switzerland, though the company was liquidated in 2018. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)
Crypto's products are still in use in more than a dozen countries around the world, and its orange-and-white sign still looms atop the company's longtime headquarters building near Zug, Switzerland. But the company was dismembered in 2018, liquidated by shareholders whose identities have been permanently shielded by the byzantine laws of Liechtenstein, a tiny European nation with a Cayman Islands-like reputation for financial secrecy.
Two companies purchased most of Crypto's assets. The first, CyOne Security, was created as part of a management buyout and now sells security systems exclusively to the Swiss government. The other, Crypto International, took over the former company's brand and international business.
Each insisted that it has no ongoing connection to any intelligence service, but only one claimed to be unaware of CIA ownership. Their statements were in response to questions from The Post, ZDF and Swiss broadcaster SRF, which also had access to the documents.
CyOne has more substantial links to the now-dissolved Crypto, including that the new company's chief executive held the same position at Crypto for nearly two decades of CIA ownership.
A CyOne spokesman declined to address any aspect of Crypto AG's history but said the new firm has ''no ties to any foreign intelligence services.''
Andreas Linde, the chairman of the company that now holds the rights to Crypto's international products and business, said he had no knowledge of the company's relationship to the CIA and BND before being confronted with the facts in this article.
''We at Crypto International have never had any relationship with the CIA or BND '-- and please quote me,'' he said in an interview. ''If what you are saying is true, then absolutely I feel betrayed, and my family feels betrayed, and I feel there will be a lot of employees who will feel betrayed as well as customers.''
The Swiss government announced on Tuesday that it was launching an investigation of Crypto AG's ties to the CIA and BND. Earlier this month, Swiss officials revoked Crypto International's export license.
The timing of the Swiss moves was curious. The CIA and BND documents indicate that Swiss officials must have known for decades about Crypto's ties to the U.S. and German spy services, but intervened only after learning that news organizations were about to expose the arrangement.
The histories, which do not address when or whether the CIA ended its involvement, carry the inevitable biases of documents written from the perspectives of the operation's architects. They depict Rubicon as a triumph of espionage, one that helped the United States prevail in the Cold War, keep tabs on dozens of authoritarian regimes and protect the interests of the United States and its allies.
The papers largely avoid more unsettling questions, including what the United States knew '-- and what it did or didn't do '-- about countries that used Crypto machines while engaged in assassination plots, ethnic cleansing campaigns and human rights abuses.
The revelations in the documents may provide reason to revisit whether the United States was in position to intervene in, or at least expose, international atrocities, and whether it opted against doing so at times to preserve its access to valuable streams of intelligence.
Nor do the files deal with obvious ethical issues at the core of the operation: the deception and exploitation of adversaries, allies and hundreds of unwitting Crypto employees. Many traveled the world selling or servicing rigged systems with no clue that they were doing so at risk to their own safety.
Juerg Spoerndli is an electrical engineer who spent 16 years working at Crypto. Deceived employees said the revelations about the company have deepened a sense of betrayal, of themselves and customers. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)
In recent interviews, deceived employees '-- even ones who came to suspect during their time at Crypto that the company was cooperating with Western intelligence '-- said the revelations in the documents have deepened a sense of betrayal, of themselves and customers.
''You think you do good work and you make something secure,'' said Juerg Spoerndli, an electrical engineer who spent 16 years at Crypto. ''And then you realize that you cheated these clients.''
Those who ran the clandestine program remain unapologetic.
''Do I have any qualms? Zero,'' said Bobby Ray Inman, who served as director of the NSA and deputy director of the CIA in the late 1970s and early 1980s. ''It was a very valuable source of communications on significantly large parts of the world important to U.S. policymakers.''
Boris Hagelin, the founder of Crypto, and his wife arrive in New York in 1949. Hagelin fled to the United States when the Nazis occupied Norway in 1940. (Bettmann Archive)
A denial operation This sprawling, sophisticated operation grew out of the U.S. military's need for a crude but compact encryption device.
Boris Hagelin, Crypto's founder, was an entrepreneur and inventor who was born in Russia but fled to Sweden as the Bolsheviks took power. He fled again to the United States when the Nazis occupied Norway in 1940.
He brought with him an encryption machine that looked like a fortified music box, with a sturdy crank on the side and an assembly of metal gears and pinwheels under a hard metal case.
It wasn't nearly as elaborate, or secure, as the Enigma machines being used by the Nazis. But Hagelin's M-209, as it became known, was portable, hand-powered and perfect for troops on the move. Photos show soldiers with the eight-pound boxes '-- about the size of a thick book '-- strapped to their knees. Many of Hagelin's devices have been preserved at a private museum in Eindhoven, the Netherlands.
Marc Simons and Paul Reuvers founded the Crypto Museum in Eindhoven, Netherlands. The virtual museum has preserved many of Hagelin's devices. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)
Hagelin's M-209 encryption machine had a crank on the side and an assembly of metal gears and pinwheels under a hard metal case. Portable and hand-powered, it was used mainly for tactical messages about troop movements. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)
Marc Simons and Paul Reuvers founded the Crypto Museum in Eindhoven, Netherlands. The virtual museum has preserved many of Hagelin's devices. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post) Hagelin's M-209 encryption machine had a crank on the side and an assembly of metal gears and pinwheels under a hard metal case. Portable and hand-powered, it was used mainly for tactical messages about troop movements. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)
Sending a secure message with the device was tedious. The user would rotate a dial, letter by letter, and thrust down the crank. The hidden gears would turn and spit out an enciphered message on a strip of paper. A signals officer then had to transmit that scrambled message by Morse code to a recipient who would reverse the sequence.
Security was so weak that it was assumed that nearly any adversary could break the code with enough time. But doing so took hours. And since these were used mainly for tactical messages about troop movements, by the time the Nazis decoded a signal its value had probably perished.
Over the course of the war, about 140,000 M-209s were built at the Smith Corona typewriter factory in Syracuse, N.Y., under a U.S. Army contract worth $8.6 million to Crypto. After the war, Hagelin returned to Sweden to reopen his factory, bringing with him a personal fortune and a lifelong sense of loyalty to the United States.
Even so, American spies kept a wary eye on his postwar operations. In the early 1950s, he developed a more advanced version of his war-era machine with a new, ''irregular'' mechanical sequence that briefly stumped American code-breakers.
Marc Simons, co-founder of Crypto Museum, a virtual museum of cipher machines, explains how secret messages were created using the Hagelin CX-52. (Stanislav Dobak/The Washington Post)
Alarmed by the capabilities of the new CX-52 and other devices Crypto envisioned, U.S. officials began to discuss what they called the ''Hagelin problem.''
These were ''the Dark Ages of American cryptology, '' according to the CIA history. The Soviets, Chinese and North Koreans were using code-making systems that were all but impenetrable. U.S. spy agencies worried that the rest of the world would also go dark if countries could buy secure machines from Hagelin.
The Americans had several points of leverage with Hagelin: his ideological affinity for the country, his hope that the United States would remain a major customer and the veiled threat that they could damage his prospects by flooding the market with surplus M-209s from the war.
The U.S. Army's Signals Intelligence Service was headed by William Friedman, center, in the mid-1930s. Other members, from left: Herrick F. Bearce, Solomon Kullback, U.S. Army Capt. Harold G. Miller, Louise Newkirk Nelson, seated, Abraham Sinkov, U.S. Coast Guard Lt. L.T. Jones and Frank B. Rowlett. (Fotosearch/Getty Images)
The United States also had a more crucial asset: William Friedman. Widely regarded as the father of American cryptology, Friedman had known Hagelin since the 1930s. They had forged a lifelong friendship over their shared backgrounds and interests, including their Russian heritage and fascination with the complexities of encryption.
There might never have been an Operation Rubicon if the two men had not shaken hands on the very first secret agreement between Hagelin and U.S. intelligence over dinner at the Cosmos Club in Washington in 1951.
The deal called for Hagelin, who had moved his company to Switzerland, to restrict sales of his most sophisticated models to countries approved by the United States. Nations not on that list would get older, weaker systems. Hagelin would be compensated for his lost sales, as much as $700,000 up front.
It took years for the United States to live up to its end of the deal, as top officials at the CIA and the predecessor to the NSA bickered over the terms and wisdom of the scheme. But Hagelin abided by the agreement from the outset, and over the next two decades, his secret relationship with U.S. intelligence agencies deepened.
In 1960, the CIA and Hagelin entered into a ''licensing agreement '' that paid him $855,000 to renew his commitment to the handshake deal. The agency paid him $70,000 a year in retainer and started giving his company cash infusions of $10,000 for ''marketing'' expenses to ensure that Crypto '-- and not other upstarts in the encryption business '-- locked down contracts with most of the world's governments.
It was a classic ''denial operation'' in the parlance of intelligence, a scheme designed to prevent adversaries from acquiring weapons or technology that would give them an advantage. But it was only the beginning of Crypto's collaboration with U.S. intelligence. Within a decade, the whole operation belonged to the CIA and BND.
In 1967, Crypto released the H-460, an all-electronic machine whose inner workings were designed by the NSA. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)
A brave new world U.S. officials had toyed since the outset with the idea of asking Hagelin whether he would be willing to let U.S. cryptologists doctor his machines. But Friedman overruled them, convinced that Hagelin would see that as a step too far.
The CIA and NSA saw a new opening in the mid-1960s, as the spread of electronic circuits forced Hagelin to accept outside help adapting to the new technology, or face extinction clinging to the manufacturing of mechanical machines.
NSA cryptologists were equally concerned about the potential impact of integrated circuits, which seemed poised to enable a new era of unbreakable encryption. But one of the agency's senior analysts, Peter Jenks, identified a potential vulnerability.
If ''carefully designed by a clever crypto-mathematician,'' he said, a circuit-based system could be made to appear that it was producing endless streams of randomly generated characters, while in reality it would repeat itself at short enough intervals for NSA experts '-- and their powerful computers '-- to crack the pattern.
Two years later, in 1967, Crypto rolled out a new, all-electronic model, the H-460, whose inner workings were completely designed by the NSA.
The CIA history all but gloats about crossing this threshold. ''Imagine the idea of the American government convincing a foreign manufacturer to jimmy equipment in its favor,'' the history says. ''Talk about a brave new world.''
The NSA didn't install crude ''back doors'' or secretly program the devices to cough up their encryption keys. And the agency still faced the difficult task of intercepting other governments' communications, whether plucking signals out of the air or, in later years, tapping into fiber optic cables.
But the manipulation of Crypto's algorithms streamlined the code-breaking process, at times reducing to seconds a task that might otherwise have taken months. The company always made at least two versions of its products '-- secure models that would be sold to friendly governments, and rigged systems for the rest of the world.
In so doing, the U.S.-Hagelin partnership had evolved from denial to ''active measures.'' No longer was Crypto merely restricting sales of its best equipment but actively selling devices that were engineered to betray their buyers.
The payoff went beyond the penetration of the devices. Crypto's shift to electronic products buoyed business so much that it became addicted to its dependence on the NSA. Foreign governments clamored for systems that seemed clearly superior to the old clunky mechanical devices but in fact were easier for U.S. spies to read.
German and American partners By the end of the 1960s, Hagelin was nearing 80 and anxious to secure the future for his company, which had grown to more than 180 employees. CIA officials were similarly anxious about what would happen to the operation if Hagelin were to suddenly sell or die.
Hagelin had once hoped to turn control over to his son, Bo. But U.S. intelligence officials regarded him as a ''wild card'' and worked to conceal the partnership from him. Bo Hagelin was killed in a car crash on Washington's Beltway in 1970. There were no indications of foul play.
U.S. intelligence officials discussed the idea of buying Crypto for years, but squabbling between the CIA and NSA prevented them from acting until two other spy agencies entered the fray.
The French, West German and other European intelligence services had either been told about the United States' arrangement with Crypto or figured it out on their own. Some were understandably jealous and probed for ways to secure a similar deal for themselves.
In 1967, Hagelin was approached by the French intelligence service with an offer to buy the company in partnership with German intelligence. Hagelin rebuffed the offer and reported it to his CIA handlers. But two years later, the Germans came back seeking to make a follow-up bid with the blessing of the United States.
In a meeting in early 1969 at the West German Embassy in Washington, the head of that country's cipher service, Wilhelm Goeing, outlined the proposal and asked whether the Americans ''were interested in becoming partners too.''
Months later, CIA Director Richard Helms approved the idea of buying Crypto and dispatched a subordinate to Bonn, the West German capital, to negotiate terms with one major caveat: the French, CIA officials told Goeing, would have to be ''shut out.''
West Germany acquiesced to this American power play, and a deal between the two spy agencies was recorded in a June 1970 memo carrying the shaky signature of a CIA case officer in Munich who was in the early stages of Parkinson's disease and the illegible scrawl of his BND counterpart.
The two agencies agreed to chip in equally to buy out Hagelin for approximately $5.75 million, but the CIA left it largely to the Germans to figure out how to prevent any trace of the transaction from ever becoming public.
A Liechtenstein law firm, Marxer and Goop, helped hide the identities of the new owners of Crypto through a series of shells and ''bearer'' shares that required no names in registration documents. The firm was paid an annual salary ''less for the extensive work but more for their silence and acceptance,'' the BND history says. The firm, now named Marxer and Partner, did not respond to a request for comment.
A new board of directors was set up to oversee the company. Only one member of the board, Sture Nyberg, to whom Hagelin had turned over day-to-day management, knew of CIA involvement. ''It was through this mechanism,'' the CIA history notes, ''that BND and CIA controlled the activities'' of Crypto. Nyberg left the company in 1976. The Post and ZDF could not locate him or determine whether he is still alive.
The two spy agencies held their own regular meetings to discuss what to do with their acquisition. The CIA used a secret base in Munich, initially on a military installation used by American troops and later in the attic of a building adjacent to the U.S. Consulate, as the headquarters for its involvement in the operation.
The CIA and BND agreed on a series of code names for the program and its various components. Crypto was called ''Minerva,'' which is also the title of the CIA history. The operation was at first code-named ''Thesaurus,'' though in the 1980s it was changed to ''Rubicon.''
Each year, the CIA and BND split any profits Crypto had made, according to the German history, which says the BND handled the accounting and delivered the cash owed to the CIA in an underground parking garage.
From the outset, the partnership was beset by petty disagreements and tensions. To CIA operatives, the BND often seemed preoccupied with turning a profit, and the Americans ''constantly reminded the Germans that this was an intelligence operation, not a money-making enterprise.'' The Germans were taken aback by the Americans' willingness to spy on all but their closest allies, with targets including NATO members Spain, Greece, Turkey and Italy.
Mindful of the limitations to their abilities to run a high-tech company, the two agencies brought in corporate outsiders. The Germans enlisted Siemens, a Munich-based conglomerate, to advise Crypto on business and technical issues in exchange for 5 percent of the company's sales. The United States later brought in Motorola to fix balky products, making it clear to the company's CEO this was being done for U.S. intelligence. Siemens declined to comment. Motorola officials did not respond to a request for comment.
To its frustration, Germany was never admitted to the vaunted ''Five Eyes,'' a long-standing intelligence pact involving the United States, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. But with the Crypto partnership, Germany moved closer into the American espionage fold than might have seemed possible in World War II's aftermath. With the secret backing of two of the world's premier intelligence agencies and the support of two of the world's largest corporations, Crypto's business flourished.
A table in the CIA history shows that sales surged from 15 million Swiss francs in 1970 to more than 51 million in 1975, or $19 million. The company's payroll expanded to more than 250 employees.
''The Minerva purchase had yielded a bonanza,'' the CIA history says of this period. The operation entered a two-decade stretch of unprecedented access to foreign governments' communications.
Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and President Jimmy Carter meet during the Egyptian-Israeli peace negotiations at Camp David in September 1978. During the negotiations, the NSA was secretly monitoring Sadat's communications back to Cairo. (White House/CNP/Getty Images)
Iranian suspicions The NSA's eavesdropping empire was for many years organized around three main geographic targets, each with its own alphabetic code: A for the Soviets, B for Asia and G for virtually everywhere else.
By the early 1980s, more than half of the intelligence gathered by G group was flowing through Crypto machines, a capability that U.S. officials relied on in crisis after crisis.
In 1978, as the leaders of Egypt, Israel and the United States gathered at Camp David for negotiations on a peace accord, the NSA was secretly monitoring the communications of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat with Cairo.
A year later, after Iranian militants stormed the U.S. Embassy and took 52 American hostages, the Carter administration sought their release in back-channel communications through Algeria. Inman, who served as NSA director at the time, said he routinely got calls from President Jimmy Carter asking how the Ayatollah Khomeini regime was reacting to the latest messages.
''We were able to respond to his questions about 85 percent of the time,'' Inman said. That was because the Iranians and Algerians were using Crypto devices.
Inman said the operation also put him in one of the trickiest binds he'd encountered in government service. At one point, the NSA intercepted Libyan communications indicating that the president's brother, Billy Carter, was advancing Libya's interests in Washington and was on leader Moammar Gaddafi's payroll.
Inman referred the matter to the Justice Department. The FBI launched an investigation of Carter, who falsely denied taking payments. In the end, he was not prosecuted but agreed to register as a foreign agent.
Throughout the 1980s, the list of Crypto's leading clients read like a catalogue of global trouble spots. In 1981, Saudi Arabia was Crypto's biggest customer, followed by Iran, Italy, Indonesia, Iraq, Libya, Jordan and South Korea.
To protect its market position, Crypto and its secret owners engaged in subtle smear campaigns against rival companies, according to the documents, and plied government officials with bribes. Crypto sent an executive to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with 10 Rolex watches in his luggage, the BND history says, and later arranged a training program for the Saudis in Switzerland where the participants' ''favorite pastime was to visit the brothels, which the company also financed.''
At times, the incentives led to sales to countries ill-equipped to use the complicated systems. Nigeria bought a large shipment of Crypto machines, but two years later, when there was still no corresponding payoff in intelligence, a company representative was sent to investigate. ''He found the equipment in a warehouse still in its original packaging,'' according to the German document.
In 1982, the Reagan administration took advantage of Argentina's reliance on Crypto equipment, funneling intelligence to Britain during the two countries' brief war over the Falkland Islands, according to the CIA history, which doesn't provide any detail on what kind of information was passed to London. The documents generally discuss intelligence gleaned from the operation in broad terms and provide few insights into how it was used.
Plainclothes U.S. military officers walk around the scene of the bombing at the La Belle disco in West Berlin, which killed two U.S. soldiers and a Turkish woman in 1986. In an address, Reagan appears to have jeopardized the Crypto operation by citing evidence of Libya's complicity in the attack. (Andreas Schoelzel/Associated Press)
Reagan appears to have jeopardized the Crypto operation after Libya was implicated in the 1986 bombing of a West Berlin disco popular with American troops stationed in West Germany. Two U.S. soldiers and a Turkish woman were killed as a result of the attack.
Reagan ordered retaliatory strikes against Libya 10 days later. Among the reported victims was one of Gaddafi's daughters. In an address to the country announcing the strikes, Reagan said the United States had evidence of Libya's complicity that ''is direct, it is precise, it is irrefutable.''
The evidence, Reagan said, showed that Libya's embassy in East Berlin received orders to carry out the attack a week before it happened. Then, the day after the bombing, ''they reported back to Tripoli on the great success of their mission.''
Reagan's words made clear that Tripoli's communications with its station in East Berlin had been intercepted and decrypted. But Libya wasn't the only government that took note of the clues Reagan had provided.
Iran, which knew that Libya also used Crypto machines, became increasingly concerned about the security of its equipment. Tehran didn't act on those suspicions until six years later.
United States
West Germany
1980 borders
Documents indicate that more than 120
countries used Crypto AG encryption
equipment from the 1950s well into the 2000s.
The files don't include a comprehensive list but
identify at least
62 customers.
Ivory Coast
Vatican City
Rep. of the Congo
South Africa
United Nations
Saudi Arabia
South Korea
The records show that at least four countries '-- Israel, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom '-- were aware of the operation or were provided intelligence from it by the United States or West Germany.
United States
West Germany
1980 borders
Documents indicate that more than 120 countries used
Crypto AG encryption equipment from the 1950s well
into the 2000s. The files don't include a comprehensive
list but identify at least
62 customers.
Ivory Coast
Vatican City
Rep. of the Congo
South Africa
United Nations
Saudi Arabia
South Korea
The records show that at least four countries '-- Israel, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom '-- were aware of the operation or were provided intelligence from it by the United States or West Germany.
United States
West Germany
1980 borders
Documents indicate that more than 120 countries used Crypto AG
encryption equipment from the 1950s well into the 2000s. The files don't
include a comprehensive list but identify at least
62 customers.
Ivory Coast
Saudi Arabia
South Korea
Vatican City
Rep. of the Congo
South Africa
United Nations
The records show that at least four countries '-- Israel, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom '-- were aware of the operation or were provided intelligence from it by the United States or West Germany.
United States
West Germany
1980 borders
Documents indicate that more than 120 countries used Crypto AG
encryption equipment from the 1950s well into the 2000s. The files don't
include a comprehensive list but identify at least
62 customers.
Ivory Coast
Saudi Arabia
South Korea
Vatican City
Rep. of the Congo
South Africa
United Nations
The records show that at least four countries '-- Israel, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom '-- were aware of the operation or were provided intelligence from it by the United States or West Germany.
The irreplaceable man After the CIA and BND acquisition, one of the most vexing problems for the secret partners was ensuring that Crypto's workforce remained compliant and unsuspecting.
Even while hidden from view, the agencies went to significant lengths to maintain Hagelin's benevolent approach to ownership. Employees were well paid and had abundant perks including access to a small sailboat on Lake Zug near company headquarters.
And yet, those who worked most closely with the encryption designs seemed constantly to be getting closer to uncovering the operation's core secret. The engineers and designers responsible for developing prototype models often questioned the algorithms being foisted on them by a mysterious external entity.
Crypto executives often led employees to believe that the designs were being provided as part of the consulting arrangement with Siemens. But even if that were so, why were encryption flaws so easy to spot, and why were Crypto's engineers so routinely blocked from fixing them?
In 1977, Heinz Wagner, the chief executive at Crypto who knew the true role of the CIA and BND, abruptly fired a wayward engineer after the NSA complained that diplomatic traffic coming out of Syria had suddenly became unreadable. The engineer, Peter Frutiger, had long suspected Crypto was collaborating with German intelligence. He had made multiple trips to Damascus to address complaints about their Crypto products and apparently, without authority from headquarters, had fixed their vulnerabilities.
Frutiger ''had figured out the Minerva secret and it was not safe with him,'' according to the CIA history. Even so, the agency was livid with Wagner for firing Frutiger rather than finding a way to keep him quiet on the company payroll. Frutiger declined to comment for this story.
Mengia Caflisch, circa 1990s. After she was hired by Crypto, Caflisch, a gifted electrical engineer, began probing the vulnerabilities of the company's products. (Obtained by The Washington Post)
U.S. officials were even more alarmed when Wagner hired a gifted electrical engineer in 1978 named Mengia Caflisch. She had spent several years in the United States working as a radio-astronomy researcher for the University of Maryland before returning to her native Switzerland and applying for a job at Crypto. Wagner jumped at the chance to hire her. But NSA officials immediately raised concerns that she was ''too bright to remain unwitting.''
The warning proved prescient as Caflisch soon began probing the vulnerabilities of the company's products. She and Spoerndli, a colleague in the research department, ran various tests and ''plaintext attacks'' on devices including a teletype model, the HC-570, that was built using Motorola technology, Spoerndli said in an interview.
''We looked at the internal operations, and the dependencies with each step,'' Spoerndli said, and became convinced they could crack the code by comparing only 100 characters of enciphered text to an underlying, unencrypted message. It was an astonishingly low level of security, Spoerndli said in an interview last month, but far from unusual.
''The algorithms,'' he said, ''always looked fishy.''
In the ensuing years, Caflisch continued to pose problems. At one point, she designed an algorithm so strong that NSA officials worried it would be unreadable. The design made its way into 50 HC-740 machines rolling off the factory floor before company executives discovered the development and stopped it.
''I just had an idea that something might be strange,'' Caflisch said in an interview last month, about the origin of her suspicions. But it became clear that her probing wasn't appreciated, she said. ''Not all questions appeared to be welcome.''
The company restored the rigged algorithm to the rest of the production run and sold the 50 secure models to banks to keep them out of the hands of foreign governments. Because these and other developments were so hard to defend, Wagner at one point told a select group of members of the research and development unit that Crypto ''was not entirely free to do what it wanted.''
The acknowledgment seemed to subdue the engineers, who interpreted it as confirmation that the company's technology faced constraints imposed by the German government. But the CIA and BND became increasingly convinced that their routine, disembodied interference was unsustainable.
Crypto had become an Oz-like operation with employees probing to see what was behind the curtain. As the 1970s came to a close, the secret partners decided to find a wizard figure who could help devise more advanced '-- and less detectable '-- weaknesses in the algorithms, someone with enough cryptological clout to tame the research department.
The two agencies turned to other spy services for potential candidates before settling on an individual put forward by Sweden's intelligence service. Because of Hagelin's ties to the country, Sweden had been kept apprised of the operation since its outset.
Kjell-Ove Widman, a mathematics professor in Stockholm, had made a name for himself in European academic circles with his research on cryptology. Widman was also a military reservist who had worked closely with Swedish intelligence officials.
To the CIA, Widman had an even more important attribute: an affinity for the United States that he had formed while spending a year in Washington state as an exchange student.
His host family had such trouble pronouncing his Swedish name that they called him ''Henry,'' a moniker he later used with his CIA handlers.
Officials involved in Widman's recruitment described it as almost effortless. After being groomed by Swedish intelligence officials, he was brought to Munich in 1979 for what purported to be a round of interviews with executives from Crypto and Siemens.
The fiction was maintained as Widman faced questions from a half-dozen men seated around a table in a hotel conference room. As the group broke for lunch, two men asked Widman to stay behind for a private conversation.
''Do you know what ZfCh is?'' asked Jelto Burmeister, a BND case officer, using the acronym for the German cipher service. When Widman replied that he did, Burmeister said, ''Now, do you understand who really owns Crypto AG?''
At that point, Widman was introduced to Richard Schroeder, a CIA officer stationed in Munich to manage the agency's involvement in Crypto. Widman would later claim to agency historians that his ''world fell apart completely'' in that moment.
If so, he did not hesitate to enlist in the operation.
Without even leaving the room, Widman sealed his recruitment with a handshake. As the three men joined the rest of the group at lunch, a ''thumbs up'' signal transformed the gathering into a celebration.
Crypto installed Widman as a ''scientific advisor'' reporting directly to Wagner. He became the spies' hidden inside agent, departing Zug every six weeks for clandestine meetings with representatives of the NSA and ZfCh. Schroeder, the CIA officer, would attend but tune out their technical babble.
They would agree on modifications and work up new encryption schemes. Then Widman would deliver the blueprints to Crypto engineers. The CIA history calls him the ''irreplaceable man,'' and the ''most important recruitment in the history of the Minerva program.''
His stature cowed subordinates, investing him ''with a technical prominence that no one in CAG could challenge.'' It also helped deflect the inquiries of foreign governments. As Widman settled in, the secret partners adopted a set of principles for rigged algorithms, according to the BND history. They had to be ''undetectable by usual statistical tests'' and, if discovered, be ''easily masked as implementation or human errors.''
In other words, when cornered, Crypto executives would blame sloppy employees or clueless users.
In 1982, when Argentina became convinced that its Crypto equipment had betrayed secret messages and helped British forces in the Falklands War, Widman was dispatched to Buenos Aires. Widman told them the NSA had probably cracked an outdated speech-scrambling device that Argentina was using, but that the main product they bought from Crypto, the CAG 500, remained ''unbreakable.''
''The bluff worked,'' the CIA history says. ''The Argentines swallowed hard, but kept buying CAG equipment.''
Widman is long-retired now and living in Stockholm. He declined to comment. Years after his recruitment, he told U.S. officials that he saw himself as ''engaged in a critical struggle for the benefit of Western intelligence,'' according to the CIA document. ''It was, he said, the moment in which he felt at home. This was his mission in life.''
That same year, Hagelin, then 90 years old, became ill on a trip to Sweden and was hospitalized. He recovered well enough to return to Switzerland, but CIA officials became worried about Hagelin's extensive collection of business records and personal papers at his office in Zug.
Schroeder, with Hagelin's permission, arrived with a briefcase and spent several days going through the files. To visitors, he was introduced as a historian interested in tracing Hagelin's life. Schroeder pulled out the documents ''that were incriminating,'' according to the history, and shipped them back to CIA headquarters, ''where they reside to this day.''
Hagelin remained an invalid until he died in 1983. The Post could not locate Wagner or determine whether he is still alive. Schroeder retired from the CIA more than a decade ago and teaches part-time at Georgetown University. When contacted by a reporter from The Post, he declined to comment.
The Hydra crisis Crypto endured several money-losing years in the 1980s, but the intelligence flowed in torrents. U.S. spy agencies intercepted more than 19,000 Iranian communications sent via Crypto machines during that nation's decade-long war with Iraq, mining them for reports on subjects such as Tehran's terrorist links and attempts to target dissidents.
Iran's communications were ''80 to 90 percent readable'' to U.S. spies, according to the CIA document, a figure that would probably have plunged into the single digits had Tehran not used Crypto's compromised devices.
In 1989, the Vatican's use of Crypto devices proved crucial in the U.S. manhunt for Panamanian leader Manuel Antonio Noriega. When the dictator sought refuge in the Apostolic Nunciature '-- the equivalent of a papal embassy '-- his whereabouts were exposed by the mission's messages back to Vatican City.
In 1992, however, the Crypto operation faced its first major crisis: Iran, belatedly acting on its long-standing suspicions, detained a company salesman.
Hans Buehler, then 51, was considered one of the company's best salesmen. Iran was one of the company's largest contracts, and Buehler had traveled in and out of Tehran for years. There were tense moments, including when he was questioned extensively in 1986 by Iranian officials after the disco bombing and U.S. missile strikes on Libya.
Six years later, he boarded a Swissair flight to Tehran but failed to return on schedule. When he didn't show, Crypto turned for help to Swiss authorities and were told he had been arrested by the Iranians. Swiss consular officials allowed to visit Buehler reported that he was in ''bad shape mentally,'' according to the CIA history.
Buehler was finally released nine months later after Crypto agreed to pay the Iranians $1 million, a sum that was secretly provided by the BND, according to the documents. The CIA refused to chip in, citing the U.S. policy against succumbing to ransom demands for hostages.
Buehler knew nothing about Crypto's relationship to the CIA and BND or the vulnerabilities in its devices. But he returned traumatized and suspicious that Iran knew more about the company he worked for than he did. Buehler began speaking to Swiss news organizations about his ordeal and mounting suspicions.
William Friedman in Switzerland in 1957 with his wife and fellow cryptanalyst, Elizebeth Friedman, left, and Annie Hagelin, Boris Hagelin's wife. (George C. Marshall Foundation)
Boris Hagelin in 1972. (George C. Marshall Foundation)
William Friedman in Switzerland in 1957 with his wife and fellow cryptanalyst, Elizebeth Friedman, left, and Annie Hagelin, Boris Hagelin's wife. (George C. Marshall Foundation) Boris Hagelin in 1972. (George C. Marshall Foundation)
The publicity brought new attention to long-forgotten clues, including references to a ''Boris project'' in Friedman's massive collection of personal papers, which were donated to Virginia Military Institute when he died in 1969. Among the 72 boxes delivered to Lexington, Va., were copies of his lifelong correspondence with Hagelin.
In 1994, the crisis deepened when Buehler appeared on Swiss television in a report that also featured Frutiger, whose identity was concealed from viewers. Buehler died in 2018. Frutiger, the engineer who had been fired for fixing Syria's encryption systems years earlier, did not respond to requests for comment.
Michael Grupe, who had succeeded Wagner as chief executive, agreed to appear on Swiss television and disputed what he knew to be factual charges. ''Grupe's performance was credible, and may have saved the program,'' the CIA history says. Grupe did not respond to requests for comment.
Even so, it took several years for the controversy to die down. In 1995, the Baltimore Sun ran a series of investigative stories about the NSA, including one called ''Rigging the Game'' that exposed aspects of the agency's relationship with Crypto.
The article reported NSA officials had traveled to Zug in the mid-1970s for secret meetings with Crypto executives. The officials were posing as consultants for a front company called ''Intercomm Associates'' but then proceeded to introduce themselves by their real names '-- which were recorded on notes of the meeting kept by a company employee.
Amid the publicity onslaught, some employees began to look elsewhere for work. And at least a half-dozen countries '-- including Argentina, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Indonesia '-- either canceled or suspended their Crypto contracts.
Astonishingly, Iran was not among them, according to the CIA file, and ''resumed its purchase of CAG equipment almost immediately.''
The main casualty of the ''Hydra'' crisis, the code name given to the Buehler case, was the CIA-BND partnership.
For years, BND officials had recoiled at their American counterpart's refusal to distinguish adversaries from allies. The two partners often fought over which countries deserved to receive the secure versions of Crypto's products, with U.S. officials frequently insisting that the rigged equipment be sent to almost anyone '-- ally or not '-- who could be deceived into buying it.
In the German history, Wolbert Smidt, the former director of the BND, complained that the United States ''wanted to deal with the allies just like they dealt with the countries of the Third World.'' Another BND official echoed that comment, saying that to Americans, ''in the world of intelligence there were no friends.''
The Cold War had ended, the Berlin Wall was down and the reunified Germany had different sensitivities and priorities. They saw themselves as far more directly exposed to the risks of the Crypto operation. Hydra had rattled the Germans, who feared the disclosure of their involvement would trigger European outrage and lead to enormous political and economic fallout.
In 1993, Konrad Porzner, the chief of the BND, made clear to CIA Director James Woolsey that support in the upper ranks of the German government was waning and that the Germans might want out of the Crypto partnership. On Sept. 9, the CIA station chief in Germany, Milton Bearden, reached an agreement with BND officials for the CIA to purchase Germany's shares for $17 million, according to the CIA history.
German intelligence officials rued the departure from an operation they had largely conceived. In the German history, senior intelligence officials blame political leaders for ending one of the most successful espionage programs the BND had ever been a part of.
With their departure, the Germans were soon cut off from the intelligence that the United States continued to gather. Burmeister is quoted in the German history wondering whether Germany still belonged ''to this small number of nations who are not read by the Americans.''
The Snowden documents provided what must have been an unsettling answer, showing that U.S. intelligence agencies not only regarded Germany as a target but monitored German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cellphone.
Alive and well The CIA history essentially concludes with Germany's departure from the program, though it was finished in 2004 and contains clear indications that the operation was still underway.
It notes, for example, that the Buehler case was ''the most serious security breach in the history of the program'' but wasn't fatal. ''It did not cause its demise,'' the history says, ''and at the turn of the century Minerva was still alive and well.''
In reality, the operation appears to have entered a protracted period of decline. By the mid-1990s, ''the days of profit were long past,'' and Crypto ''would have gone out of business but for infusions from the U.S. government.''
As a result, the CIA appears to have spent years propping up an operation that was more viable as an intelligence platform than a business enterprise. Its product line dwindled and its revenue and customer base shrank.
But the intelligence kept coming, current and former officials said, in part because of bureaucratic inertia. Many governments just never got around to switching to newer encryption systems proliferating in the 1990s and beyond '-- and unplugging their Crypto devices. This was particularly true of less developed nations, according to the documents.
Most of the employees identified in the CIA and BND histories are in their 70s or 80s, and some of them have died. In interviews in Switzerland last month, several former Crypto workers mentioned in the documents described feelings of unease about their involvement in the company.
They were never informed of its true relationship to intelligence services. But they had well-founded suspicions and still wrestle with the ethical implications of their decisions to remain at a firm they believed to be engaged in deception.
''Either you had to leave or you had to accept it in a certain way,'' said Caflisch, now 75, who left the company in 1995 but continues to live on the outskirts of Zug in a converted weaving factory where she and her family for many years staged semiprofessional operas in the barn. ''There were reasons I left,'' she said, including her discomfort with her doubts at Crypto and her desire to be home more for her children. After the latest revelations, she said, ''It makes me wonder whether I should have left earlier.''
Spoerndli said he regrets his own rationalizations.
''I told myself sometimes it may be better if the good guys in the United States know what is going on between these Third World dictators,'' he said. ''But it's a cheap self-excuse. In the end, this is not the way.''
Most of the executives directly involved in the operation were motivated by ideological purpose and declined any payment beyond their Crypto salaries, according to the documents. Widman was among several exceptions. ''As his retirement drew near, his covert compensation was substantially increased,'' the CIA history says. He was also awarded a medal bearing the CIA seal.
After the BND's departure, the CIA expanded its clandestine collection of companies in the encryption sector, according to former Western intelligence officials. Using cash amassed from the Crypto operation, the agency secretly acquired a second firm and propped up a third. The documents do not disclose any details about these entities. But the BND history notes that one of Crypto's longtime rivals '-- Gretag AG, also based in Switzerland '-- was ''taken over by an 'American' and, after a change of names in 2004, was liquidated.''
Crypto itself hobbled along. It had survived the transitions from metal boxes to electronic circuits, going from teletype machines to enciphered voice systems. But it struggled to maintain its footing as the encryption market moved from hardware to software. U.S. intelligence agencies appear to have been content to let the Crypto operation play out, even as the NSA's attention shifted to finding ways to exploit the global reach of Google, Microsoft, Verizon and other U.S. tech powers.
In 2017, Crypto's longtime headquarters building near Zug was sold to a commercial real estate company. In 2018, the company's remaining assets '-- the core pieces of the encryption business started nearly a century earlier '-- were split and sold.
The transactions seemed designed to provide cover for a CIA exit.
CyOne's purchase of the Swiss portion of the business was structured as a management buyout, enabling top Crypto employees to move into a new company insulated from the espionage risks and with a reliable source of revenue. The Swiss government, which was always sold secure versions of Crypto's systems, is now CyOne's only customer.
Giuliano Otth, who served as CEO of Crypto AG from 2001 until its dismemberment, took the same position at CyOne after it acquired the Swiss assets. Given his tenure at Crypto, it is likely he was witting to the CIA ownership of the company, just as all of his predecessors in the job had been.
''Neither CyOne Security AG nor Mr. Otth have any comments regarding Crypto AG's history,'' the company said in a statement.
Crypto's international accounts and business assets were sold to Linde, a Swedish entrepreneur, who comes from a wealthy family with commercial real estate holdings.
In a meeting in Zurich last month, Linde said he had been drawn to the company in part by its heritage and Hagelin connection, a past that still resonates in Sweden. Upon taking over operations, Linde even moved some of Hagelin's historic equipment from storage into a display at the factory entrance.
When confronted with evidence that Crypto had been owned by the CIA and BND, Linde looked visibly shaken, and said that during negotiations he never learned the identities of the company's shareholders. He asked when the story would be published, saying he had employees overseas and voicing concern for their safety.
In a subsequent interview, Linde said his company is investigating all the products it sells to determine whether they have any hidden vulnerabilities. ''We have to make a cut as soon as possible with everything that has been linked to Crypto,'' he said.
When asked why he failed to confront Otth and others involved in the transaction about whether there was any truth to the long-standing Crypto allegations, Linde said he had regarded these as ''just rumors.''
He said he took assurance from the fact that Crypto continued to have substantial contracts with foreign governments, countries he assumed had tested the company's products vigorously and would have abandoned them if they were compromised.
''I even acquired the brand name, 'Crypto,' '' he said, underscoring his confidence in the company's viability. Given the information now coming to light, he said, this ''was probably one of the most stupid decisions I've ever made in my career.''
The company's liquidation was handled by the same Liechtenstein law firm that provided cover for Hagelin's sale to the CIA and BND 48 years earlier. The terms of the 2018 transactions have not been disclosed, but current and former officials estimated their aggregate value at $50 million to $70 million.
For the CIA, the money would have been one final payoff from Minerva.
Reporting for this article was done in collaboration with Peter F. Mueller, a journalist and documentary filmmaker based in Cologne, Germany. Julie Tate in Washington contributed to this report.
Greg Miller Greg Miller is a national security correspondent for The Washington Post and a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize. He is the author of "The Apprentice," a book on Russia's interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential race and the fallout under the Trump administration.
About this story
Editing by Peter Finn. Copy editing by Emily Codik. Design and development by Lucio Villa. Photography by Jahi Chikwendiu. Photo editing and research by Bronwen Latimer. Video by Stainislav Dobak. Video editing by Jason Aldag. Graphics by Aaron Steckelberg. Project management by Julie Vitkovskaya.
Trump Seeks to Slash Education Budget, Combine 29 Programs Into Block Grant - Politics K-12 - Education Week
Wed, 12 Feb 2020 08:10
By Andrew Ujifusa and Evie Blad
President Donald Trump's proposed budget would shrink U.S. Department of Education funding by nearly 8 percent in part by consolidating 29 major programs'--including Title I aid for disadvantaged students and funding for charter school expansion'--into a single, $19.4 billion block grant.
Trump's spending proposal for fiscal 2021, released Monday, would cut the Education Department's budget by $5.6 billion, reducing it to $66.6 billion, a 7.8 percent decrease. Its new Elementary and Secondary Education for the Disadvantaged block grant, meanwhile, would represent a $4.7 billion cut from the combined current funding levels for the 29 programs that would be merged.
If the proposal were to be adopted, the federal government would no longer guarantee support specifically for the programs and policy areas being folded into the block grant. Most programs authorized by the Every Student Succeeds Act would be consolidated into this new block grant, according to the department.
Separately, the budget proposal would boost special education grants to states to nearly $13 billion, an increase of $100 million, and would provide a significant increase for current state grants for career and technical education.
Although the new consolidated funding stream is described as a block grant, the administration's budget documents also state that it would distribute the money using the current Title I formulas under the Every Student Succeeds Act, which direct funding districts. Education Department funding for Title I is currently $16.3 billion.
"Different states will spend their share of the block grant differently, and that's okay," U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said during a presentation of the spending proposal Monday. "In fact, that's what we hope they will do."
Frank Brogan, the assistant secretary of elementary and secondary education,, said that the block grant proposal actually continued a recent decline in the number of specific programs funded by the main federal K-12 law and was not truly a "dynamic and totally new approach."
"We can walk and chew gum on this one. We can provide much greater local control and still have accountability," Brogan said during a presentation of the budget Tuesday.
Other programs whose funding would be merged into this new block grant include Title II grants for educator preparations (which currently gets $2.1 billion in federal funding); 21st Century Learning Centers, which back after-school programs ($1.3 billion); and Title IV block grants for academic enrichment and student well-being ($1.2 billion). Funding for programs that focus on special student populations such as migrant and homeless students, Native Hawaiian and Alaskan students, and rural education and community schools funding, also would be folded into the block grant.
While the administration painted this proposed block grant as a large, flexible program, critics of the budget said it was a way to conceal cuts to important priorities.
Daniel Domenech, executive director of AASA, the School Superintendents Association, said in a statement that, "Once again, unsurprisingly, the president has released a budget proposal that is bad for students, bad for schools, and bad for public education."
Change on Charters The new block grant would absorb $440 million for the federal Charter School Program grants. This move would eliminate funding specifically allocated to help charter schools expand. That marks a significant departure from past Trump budget proposals, which have sought to increase funding for the program. Congress has approved increases for the charter grant during the Trump administration. In a statement, Nina Rees, the president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, called the Trump budget "chilling."
In a separate interview, Rees said including the charter funding in block grants would "risk diluting the purpose of the program." The grants are particularly useful for small, community lead charter founders who lack start-up capital from larger charter networks, she said.
And, at a time when some states have debated new restrictions on charters, the change could leave the funding susceptible to the political whims of leaders who don't favor the schools.
"When you block grants, you leave it up to states to decide how to spend the money. And in those instances where the state education chief and the governor are charter school friendly, hopefully they will keep a line item for charter schools. If they're not in favor, they're probably going to invest the money in something else," Rees told us. "This administration wants to be known, especially secretary DeVos, wants to be known as the secretary who has promoted school choice. ... So in light of that, it is ironic that they would lump this program into a large block grant with all these other set asides and programs that they normally don't support."
Elsewhere, Trump's fiscal 2021 spending blueprint would provide $2 billion to career and technical education, which is approximately a $700 million increase. Trump signed a reauthorization of the federal law for CTE in 2018, which was a priority for his administration on the K-12 front, and he highlighted CTE in his State of the Union address last week when he asked Congress to back his plan "to offer vocational and technical education in every single high school in America."
The administration says its latest budget, through the pitch for $700 million more for CTE, "provides resources to assist students too often forgotten'--those who would like to pursue good-paying trades without getting a four-year degree."
And the budget also includes a Trump proposal introduced last year for Education Freedom Scholarships, which rely on $5 billion in annual federal tax credits designed to support more education options, including vouchers and others.
In addition, the proposed budget would eliminate Public Service Loan Forgiveness, which teachers can use to eliminate federal student loan debt under certain circumstances. Funding for Regional Education Laboratories, which work in ten regions to improve academic outcomes, and State Longitudinal Data Systems, which support states' work to manage, analyze, and use education information, are also eliminated in Trump's budget pitch.
Past Proposals and Rejections Trump's budget proposal marks the fourth straight time the president has sought to cut the Education Department's budget. Congress has essentially ignored his previous education spending blueprints and approved small increases for the department in each of the past three federal appropriations bills. There's no particular reason to think Capitol Hill would treat this newest proposal much differently.
Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., the chairwoman of the House appropriations committee, called the newest Trump budget pitch a "disastrous repeat" of previous pitches.
"Just as we did last year, House Democrats will write responsible appropriations bills that invest in American families and communities," Lowey said.
Sen, Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., the chair of the Senate education committee, said in a statement that he would "carefully consider" the president's recommendations, but that "it is Congress' job to set spending priorities and pass appropriations bills." He did praise the Education Freedom Scholarships plan for providing "low-income families more of the same choices that wealthier families already have for schooling their children."
Last year, Trump proposed a 10 percent cut to the Education Department that would have shaved 10 percent off the agency's roughly $71 billion budget. As in past years, the administration proposed eliminating $2.1 billion in Title II aid for educator training, $1.2 billion for after-school programs, and $1.1 billion in Title IV block grants for academic enrichment and student well-being.
However, the spending bill Trump signed at the end of 2019 actually increased the department's budget by $1.3 billion up to $72.8 billion. None of the 29 programs he sought to eliminate funding for were actually axed. And Title II and Title IV grants actually got increases, as did aid for disadvantaged students under Title I and special education funding for states.
While Capitol Hill might give the cold shoulder to Trump's budget pitch, there's a very good chance it could become a running feature in the 2020 presidential campaign. Democratic candidates, for example, could tie Trump's proposed education cuts to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos ( who is remarkably unpopular with Democrats ) and use them to argue how Trump does not support struggling schools and students.
Other Agencies Elsewhere, funding for Head Start under the Department of Health and Human Services would decline by $58 million $10.6 billion.
Meanwhile, the proposed budget for the U.S. Department of Agriculture would impose new restrictions on the Community Eligibility Program, which allows schools or districts with high enrollments of students who qualify for free and reduced-price meals to serve free meals to all students, without individually enrolling them in the National School Lunch Program. The budget proposes only allowing participation for individual schools where at least 40 percent of students automatically or categorically qualify for the subsidized meal programs.
That would close a loophole under which some districts qualified all of their schools or groups of schools by combining their enrollment and meal data as an aggregate.
Photo: President Donald Trump's budget request for fiscal year 2021 arrives at the House Budget Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Feb. 10, 2020. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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As Coronavirus Stifles China, Economic Logjams Build Worldwide - The New York Times
Wed, 12 Feb 2020 07:33
A tumble in commodity markets reflects the spreading ripples of an outbreak.
An empty road near Yuyuan Garden, a usually-bustling tourist attraction in central Shanghai. Credit... Yuyang Liu for The New York Times In Australia, after hauling hundreds of thousands of tons of iron ore to China, returning freighters can face a 14-day quarantine before being able to reload.
BHP, which has headquarters in London and Melbourne and is one of the world's largest copper mining companies, has been in talks to possibly delay shipments to Chinese ports.
And from Qatar to Indonesia, exporters of liquefied natural gas face the prospect of disrupted shipments after a crucial importer in China is reportedly turning back deliveries after invoking clauses in long-term contracts that blame a ''greater force.''
The coronavirus outbreak in China has generated economic waves that are rocking global commodities markets and disrupting the supply networks that act as the backbone of the global economy.
''We're seeing a rippling out,'' said Ed Morse, global head of commodities research at Citigroup in New York. ''And we don't see it stopping.''
Prices for key industrial raw materials such as copper, iron ore, nickel, aluminum and liquid natural gas have plummeted since the virus emerged. Currencies of countries that export these goods at high rates, including Brazil, South Africa and Australia, are near their lowest levels in recent memory. And manufacturers, mining companies and commodity producers of all stripes are weighing whether they will be forced to cut back on production for fear of adding to a growing inventory glut.
The woes of the commodities markets '-- arguably the worst-performing asset in financial markets this year '-- reflect the basic reality that China's industry-heavy economy is the most important consumer of raw materials on earth.
Updated Feb. 10, 2020
What is a Coronavirus? It is a novel virus named for the crown-like spikes that protrude from its surface. The coronavirus can infect both animals and people, and can cause a range of respiratory illnesses from the common cold to more dangerous conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS. How contagious is the virus? According to preliminary research, it seems moderately infectious, similar to SARS, and is possibly transmitted through the air. Scientists have estimated that each infected person could spread it to somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5 people without effective containment measures. Where has the virus spread? The virus originated in Wuhan, China, and has sickened tens of thousands of people in China and at least two dozen other countries. How worried should I be? While the virus is a serious public health concern, the risk to most people outside China remains very low, and seasonal flu is a more immediate threat. Who is working to contain the virus? World Health Organization officials have praised China's aggressive response to the virus by closing transportation, schools and markets. This week, a team of experts from the W.H.O. arrived in Beijing to offer assistance. What if I'm traveling? The United States and Australia are temporarily denying entry to noncitizens who recently traveled to China and several airlines have canceled flights. How do I keep myself and others safe? Washing your hands frequently is the most important thing you can do, along with staying at home when you're sick. And drastic efforts to quell the outbreak, including a lockdown of Wuhan, a city of 11 million, and severe curtailment of transportation nationwide, have slowed the Chinese economy sharply.
JPMorgan economists now think China's economy will grow at a pace of just 1 percent in the first quarter, well down from an initial forecast that anticipated a peppy 6.3 percent rate.
The slowdown will be most pronounced in the industrial sector. Most Chinese provinces had extended the Lunar New Year holiday and kept factories closed until Monday in an effort to contain the virus. Some have reopened, but it could be weeks or months before production can fully ramp up.
That is a major challenge for the supply chains that have developed in recent decades to deliver a constant supply of the materials that make Chinese factories hum.
Commodities markets have tumbled as those factories idled. Iron ore is down more than 10 percent this year. Copper is down about 8 percent, as is nickel, a key ingredient for stainless steel. Zinc and aluminum are both down more than 5 percent in 2020.
''There is a big drop in consumption and you need storage space,'' said Harry Tchilinguirian, head of commodity strategy at the French bank BNP Paribas, in London. ''And if you don't have storage space that's one of the reasons why the buyers have invoked this clause.''
One of China's largest importers of liquefied natural gas, China National Offshore Oil Corporation, or CNOOC, was one of the entities to invoke a ''force majeure'' clause, according to multiple news reports. Asian gas prices tumbled in response; benchmark prices for North Asian liquid natural gas are down more than 30 percent in 2020.
Copper prices have also been tested as China's construction and automotive industries have stalled. BHP said it was monitoring the situation and was ''working closely with our copper customers'' as they returned from the holiday.
For some, the decline in copper is an ominous sign: Copper has long been considered an unofficial leading indicator of the direction of the global economy, because of its close connection to the industrial sector.
On Tuesday, the Federal Reserve chair, Jerome H. Powell, told House Financial Services Committee members that the central bank was ''closely monitoring the emergence of the coronavirus, which could lead to disruptions in China that spill over to the rest of the global economy.''
Whether the downturn is a blip or a serious shock is as much a question of epidemiology as economics.
If the spread of the virus starts to slow '-- as many expect it will '-- commodities will most likely rebound as production returns to normal and inventories that have been built up over the past few weeks gradually shrink.
''A lot of what's happened in some of these commodity prices is more speculation that it gets worse before it gets better,'' said John LaForge, the head of real asset strategy at Wells Fargo Investment Institute. ''My guess is that commodity prices bounce pretty quickly.''
Others are not so sure.
Mr. Morse, at Citigroup, said several key markets '-- like crude oil '-- had already been showing softness, suggesting that the global economy was weak even before the virus hit. That could complicate any quick rebound for commodities prices.
''The market has been thinking that there's going to be a V-shaped recovery at some point,'' he said. ''And we don't think that's in the cards.''
Coronavirus poses greater global threat than terrorism, leading doctors warn | World News | Sky News
Wed, 12 Feb 2020 00:51
The coronavirus is "the worst enemy you can ever imagine" and poses a greater global threat than terrorism, the World Health Organisation has warned.
Urging the world to "wake up" and be as aggressive as possible in tackling the outbreak, the UN health agency has given a new name to the disease that has sickened more than 44,600 people.
It is now going to be officially known as COVID-19 - CO stands for corona, VI for virus, D for disease and 19 for the year it emerged.
Image: Leading doctors say the coronavirus must be treated as 'public enemy number one'Chinese health officials have expressed hope that the outbreak will be over in April, but the head of the World Health Organisation was far less optimistic.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned the first vaccine for COVID-19 was 18 months away, adding: "To be honest, a virus is more powerful in creating political, social and economic upheaval than any terrorist attack. It's the worst enemy you can imagine."
WHO officials added that they have gone to great lengths to ensure the name did not refer to a geographical location, animal or group of people.
Image: A restaurant worker has his temperature taken in Hong KongIn other developments:
The total number of deaths from COVID-19 has exceeded 1,1002,015 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 were confirmed on 11 February - the lowest number of new infections since 30 JanuaryAnother 39 people, including a quarantine officer, have tested positive for COVID-19 on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship off the coast of JapanTwo prisoners are being tested for coronavirus in Oxfordshire, one of whom had recently been transferred from a jail in ThailandAn A&E worker at Worthing Hospital in West Sussex is among the eight confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the UKThe British man believed to be a "superspreader" of coronavirus has been identified as businessman Steve WalshBank of England governor Mark Carney has said the virus is "already bigger than SARS" from an economic perspective. Image: A sign on the front door of a surgery in Brighton closed over coronavirus fearsDetails of British cases emerge
The Department of Health has stressed that all services at Worthing Hospital - including surgeries and outpatient appointments - are continuing normally despite an A&E worker being diagnosed with COVID-19.
It is understood this is not the same person as the locum doctor working in Brighton, who is also one of the eight confirmed cases in the UK.
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Meanwhile, two prisoners at HMP Bullingdon in Oxfordshire are being held in isolation as they are tested for the coronavirus - and access to that wing has been restricted.
The prison, which has capacity for 1,114 inmates, remains operational.
Thai officials have told Sky News that they do not believe the prisoner who was transferred to the UK had coronavirus when he left the country.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that anyone concerned about the coronavirus should "simply take the advice" of the NHS.
He added: "We are a great country, we have got a fantastic NHS, we have got fantastic doctors."
Image: Steve Walsh has been named as the coronavirus superspreader in the UK. Pic: ServomexThe British man believed to be a "superspreader" of the coronavirus has said he has fully recovered after being diagnosed in Brighton on 6 February with COVID-19.
Steve Walsh contracted the virus while at a business conference in Singapore before going to the French Alps for a ski holiday, and then returning to his home in Hove, East Sussex.
The 53-year-old appears to have unwittingly infected 11 other Britons who were in France with him. Five of those Britons are now in the UK, five are in France and one is in Majorca.
He is still in quarantine at St Thomas' Hospital in London, and said in a statement: "I would like to thank the NHS for their help and care - whilst I have fully recovered, my thoughts are with others who have contracted coronavirus."
Image: About 3,600 people are quarantined aboard the Diamond Princess off the coast of JapanNew cases confirmed on cruise ship
Japan's health ministry has said that 39 new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed on the cruise ship currently quarantined off the coast of Yokohama.
Foreign nationals are among the latest people to be diagnosed.
Image: A quarantine worker is among the 39 who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 aboard the Diamond PrincessA total of 174 cases have now been identified aboard the Diamond Princess - a British man who was on his honeymoon is among them.
Health officials have been conducting medical checks on all of the ship's 3,700 passengers and crew - but a quarantine officer is among those who have now fallen ill.
A total of 78 British passport holders are on board the luxury cruise liner, and a 14-day quarantine continues.
Coronavirus: How many people are at risk?Economic impact
Stock markets around the world surged to record highs on Tuesday after Zhong Nanshan, a Chinese medical adviser who played a role in combating the SARS outbreak in 2003, predicted that COVID-19 cases will peak this month.
But even if the epidemic ends soon, the coronavirus will have a lasting impact on China's economy.
Some companies have already begun to lay off workers, while others say they will need loans running into billions of dollars if they are going to stay afloat.
There is another dilemma. The virus could further spread if businesses start reopening in China - but if they don't, there are fears that medical supplies could run low.
Postal operators in the US, China and elsewhere have also said that the suspension of flights is having a major impact on global flows of letters and parcels.
Reports suggest that top health officials in Hubei province, where the city of Wuhan is based, have been relieved of their duties following criticism their response to the crisis was too slow and ineffective.
Democrats now face a fractured and divisive contest for the nomination - The Washington Post
Tue, 11 Feb 2020 23:38
CONCORD, N.H. '-- Democrats braced themselves Tuesday night for a long and divisive contest for their party's presidential nomination after New Hampshire voters added new uncertainty to a race already scrambled by last week's caucuses in Iowa.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who won Tuesday night, has staked his claim as the favored candidate of the party's liberal wing and a threat to win the nomination. But his performance in New Hampshire was hardly overwhelming and far short of what he accomplished here four years ago.
Yet if Sanders is the candidate of the liberal wing, those who are more moderate are still divided in their choice. The existence of that competition, and questions about each of the candidates seeking to become the alternative to Sanders, heightened the discontent about where this race might be heading.
The likely prospect now is that Sanders and several other candidates will divide the vote and delegates the rest of this month and into March, when more than 60 percent of the pledged delegates will be chosen. With support among the center-left candidates divided, Sanders could emerge from Super Tuesday with a lead in delegates. He would then be in a position to do what few Democrats thought possible before the campaign started, which is win the nomination '-- but not without a major fight.
A week ago, Iowa Democrats shook up the race by giving former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg the narrowest of victories in the contest for so-called state delegate equivalents. That propelled the 38-year-old into the top ranks of the field, and he continued his once-improbable march as he was giving Sanders a serious challenge in the Granite State.
Buttigieg will use those results to claim the race is now a two-person contest. But New Hampshire voters produced a plot twist that was wholly unforeseen two weeks ago, lifting Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who ran fifth in Iowa, into the competition here with Sanders and Buttigieg. After being written off, Klobuchar has suddenly made herself a factor in the race, though she is still someone with major question marks about her candidacy and what comes next.
Democrats got to this position largely because of the collapse of former vice president Joe Biden. Weeks ago, he was intending to fill the role of Sanders's principal rival. But the voters in Iowa and New Hampshire rejected Biden in such numbers that, for now, he has been relegated to also-ran status, his candidacy in a perilous state from which it will be difficult to recover.
All of this could be good news for Mike Bloomberg, the former New York mayor, who has chosen to skip the first four contests and begin his campaign in the states that vote March 3.
But it is good news for Bloomberg only if he can quickly make himself the principal alternative to Sanders. With Buttigieg and now possibly Klobuchar in the mix, that won't be easy.
Bloomberg has resources that Buttigieg and Klobuchar can only dream of having. But as a onetime Republican, he is not a natural fit in the Democratic Party. As a multibillionaire in a party that includes many voters who decry the influence of big money in politics, he will be accused of trying to buy the nomination.
Democrats search for a moderate to love
Sanders has already taken aim at him, but the resentment against his candidacy is not limited to those who back Sanders, if private conversations with a number of Democrats on Tuesday are any indication.
A year ago, Democrats were celebrating their victories in the 2018 midterms. Today they are deeply worried about 2020. Trump is seizing on every benefit incumbency offers and adding to his advantage with an enormous war chest and a skilled reelection operation. The Trump team is on offense like no other campaign in recent memory, savoring what it sees as disarray among Democrats.
Fears among Democrats of a Trump victory in November have grown in the wake of his acquittal in the Senate impeachment trial, leaving many demoralized and many voters in New Hampshire uncertain where to turn.
Half the electorate there made a decision in the last few days, according to network exit polling. The desire to find the one candidate who could assure victory in the fall and the fear of getting that decision wrong left many voters here in near-paralysis.
Beyond Biden, the New Hampshire results were also bad news for Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who had expected to be in a duel for supremacy with Sanders here. This state has often treated candidates from neighboring states well, but that wasn't the case Tuesday for Warren. Nonetheless, the unpredictability of the Democratic contest provides little incentive to others who have run poorly to quit the race before Super Tuesday.
After Iowa, Democrats fear another meltdown in Nevada
Nevada and South Carolina, the next two states on the calendar, offer a dramatically different demographic mix than Iowa and New Hampshire, with Latinos and African Americans now coming to the fore. The demographics of those states will test Buttigieg and Klobuchar, neither of which has yet shown an ability to attract the support of minority voters.
Biden, who has bet his candidacy on his support from African Americans and to some extent Latinos, made clear Tuesday night that he hopes for a better finish next week in Nevada, which then could boost his chances in South Carolina. Whether after two dismal finishes he can do that is questionable. Warren, after a disappointing third in Iowa and a weak result in New Hampshire, has, like Biden, put herself in a deep hole with no obvious comeback opportunities.
Many strategists in the party anticipated a muddled campaign that would drag into the spring, but no one expected that it would look quite like this. The nightmare scenario for Democrats is what comes after the early states, if the delegates are divided among several candidates.
The Democrats face a version of what Republicans went through in 2016. Trump benefited because no single rival could consolidate the anti-Trump vote. Democratic rules are different. Delegates are allocated proportionally. That makes it difficult to gain a big lead, but even a small one can become insurmountable to those trailing.
As the votes were being counted Tuesday, some Democrats were already talking about the possibility that the nomination contest could go all the way to the party convention in Milwaukee, at which time the choice could be whether to ratify the plurality leader in delegates or hand it to someone else. Either choice could rupture the party.
One strategist who fears the impact on the party of a Sanders nomination said the only hope of stopping him might be for Democrats to rally around Bloomberg. ''I think we're getting to the point where either we all consolidate behind Mike Bloomberg or Bernie Sanders becomes our nominee,'' said the strategist, who asked not to be identified to share his assessment of the race.
As things stand now, it's hardly clear how that scenario could be engineered.
The various scenarios sketched out by Democrats on Tuesday night left another veteran of Democratic presidential campaigns deeply pessimistic. ''We are facing such an awful president and the worst, scariest person we ever faced, and we had the best field we ever had and look at where we are,'' this strategist said. ''Shame on us.''
Coronavirus Mortality Rate (COVID-19) - Worldometer
Tue, 11 Feb 2020 23:30
Last updated: February 11, 10:25 GMT
At present, it is tempting to estimate the case fatality rate by dividing the number of known deaths by the number of confirmed cases. The resulting number, however, does not represent the true case fatality rate and might be off by orders of magnitude [...]A precise estimate of the case fatality rate is therefore impossible at present.
2019-Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV): estimating the case fatality rate '' a word of caution - Battegay Manue et al., Swiss Med Wkly, February 7, 2020Presented on this page:
How to calculate the mortality rate during an outbreak The case fatality rate (CFR) represents the proportion of cases who eventually die from a disease.
Once an epidemic has ended, it is calculated with the formula: deaths / cases.
But while an epidemic is still ongoing, as it is the case with the current novel coronavirus outbreak, this formula is, at the very least, "na¯ve" and can be "misleading if, at the time of analysis, the outcome is unknown for a non negligible proportion of patients." [8]
In other words, current deaths belong to a total case figure of the past, not to the current case figure in which the outcome (recovery or death) of a proportion (the most recent cases) hasn't yet been determined.
The correct formula, therefore, would appear to be:
CFR = deaths at day.x / cases at day.x-{T} (where T = average time period from case confirmation to death)
This would constitute a fair attempt to use values for cases and deaths belonging to the same group of patients.
One issue can be that of determining whether there is enough data to estimate T with any precision, but it is certainly not T = 0 (what is implicitly used when applying the formula current deaths / current cases to determine CFR during an ongoing outbreak).
Let's take, for example, the data at the end of February 8, 2020: 813 deaths (cumulative total) and 37,552 cases (cumulative total) worldwide.
If we use the formula (deaths / cases) we get:
813 / 37,552 = 2.2% CFR (flawed formula).
With a conservative estimate of T = 7 days as the average period from case confirmation to death, we would correct the above formula by using February 1 cumulative cases, which were 14,381, in the denominator:
Feb. 8 deaths / Feb. 1 cases = 813 / 14,381 = 5.7% CFR (correct formula, and estimating T=7).
T could be estimated by simply looking at the value of (current total deaths + current total recovered) and pair it with a case total in the past that has the same value. For the above formula, the matching dates would be January 26/27, providing an estimate for T of 12 to 13 days. This method of estimating T uses the same logic of the following method, and therefore will yield the same result.
An alternative method, which has the advantage of not having to estimate a variable, and that is mentioned in the American Journal of Epidemiology study cited previously as a simple method that nevertheless could work reasonably well if the hazards of death and recovery at any time t measured from admission to the hospital, conditional on an event occurring at time t, are proportional, would be to use the formula:
CFR = deaths / (deaths + recovered)
which, with the latest data available, would be equal to:
1,115 / (1,115 + 4,794) = 19% CFR (worldwide)
If we now exclude cases in mainland China, using current data on deaths and recovered cases, we get:
2 / (2 + 54) = 3.6% CFR (outside of mainland China)
The sample size above is extremely limited, but this discrepancy in mortality rates, if confirmed as the sample grows in size, could be explained with a higher case detection rate outside of China especially with respect to Wuhan, where priority had to be initially placed on severe and critical cases, given the ongoing emergency.
Unreported cases would have the effect of decreasing the denominator and inflating the CFR above its real value. For example, assuming 10,000 total unreported cases in Wuhan and adding them back to the formula, we would get a CFR of 7.0% (quite different from the CFR of 19% based strictly on confirmed cases).
Neil Ferguson, a public health expert at Imperial College in the UK, said his ''best guess'' was that there were 100,000 affected by the virus even though there were only 2,000 confirmed cases at the time. [11]
Without going that far, the possibility of a non negligible number of unreported cases in the initial stages of the crisis should be taken into account when trying to calculate the case fatally rate.
As the days go by and the city organized its efforts and built the infrastructure, the ability to detect and confirm cases improved. As of February 3, for example, the novel coronavirus nucleic acid testing capability of Wuhan had increased to 4,196 samples per day from an initial 200 samples.[10]
A significant discrepancy in case mortality rate can also be observed when comparing mortality rates as calculated and reported by China NHC: a CFR of 3.1% in the Hubei province (where Wuhan, with the vast majority of deaths is situated), and a CFR of 0.16% in other provinces (19 times less).
Finally, we shall remember that while the 2003 SARS epidemic was still ongoing, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported a fatality rate of 4% (or as low as 3%), whereas the final case fatality rate ended up being 9.6%.
Novel Coronavirus Mortality Rate, as discussed by the National Health Commission (NHC) of ChinaAsked at a press conference on February 4 what the current mortality rate (or case fatality rate, CFR) is, an official with China NHC said that [7]:
The formula they are using is: cumulative current total deaths / current confirmed cases. Therefore, as of 24:00 on Feb. 3, the formula used was 425/20,438.Based on this figure, the national mortality rate to date was 2.1% of confirmed cases.There might be mild cases and other cases not reported. 97% of the country's total deaths (414) were in the Hubei Province.Mortality rate in Wuhan was 4.9%.Mortality rate in the Hubei Province was 3.1%.Mortality rate nationwide was 2.1%.Fatality rate in other provinces was 0.16%.Deaths in Wuhan were 313, accounting for 74% of China's total. Most of the cases were still mild cases, therefore there was no need to panic.Asked why Wuhan was so much higher than the national level, the NHC official replied that it was for lack of resources, citing as an example that there were only 110 critical care beds in the three designated hospitals where most of the cases were sent. National mortality rate was basically stable, as of Feb. 4 at 2.1%, and it was 2.3% at the beginning of the epidemic, which can be seen as a slight decline. Front the analysis of death cases, it emerged that the demographic profile was mainly male, accounting for 2/3, females accounting for 1/3, and is mainly elderly, more than 80% are elderly over 60 years old, and more than 75% had underlying diseases present such as cardiovascular and cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and, in some cases, tumor.Elderly people with basic diseases, as long as they have pneumonia, were clinically a high-risk factor regardless of whether it is a coronavirus or not, and the case fatality rate was also very high, so it is not that the case fatality rate of pneumonia is high because of the infection with the new coronavirus. "This point must be explained to everyone," concluded the NHC official.[7]World Health Organization: too early to make conclusive statements The World Health Organization (WHO) had mentioned 2% as a mortality rate estimate in a press conference on Wednesday, January 29 [1][2] and again on February 10. However, on January 29 WHO specified that this is a very early and provisional estimate that may change. Surveillance is increasing, within China but also globally, but at the time:
We don't know how many were infected ("When you look at how many people have died, you need to look at how many people where infected, and right now we don't know that number. So it is early to put a percentage on that."[1][2]). The only number currently known is how many people have died out of those who have been reported to the WHO.It is therefore very early to make any conclusive statements about what the overall mortality rate will be for the novel coronavirus, according to the World Health Organization [1][2]. Preliminary study providing a tentative 3% estimate for case fatality rate A preliminary study published on The Lancet on January 24 [3] provides an early estimation of 3% for the overall case fatality rate. Below we show an extract (highlights added for the relevant data and observations):
Of the 41 patients in this cohort, 22 (55%) developed severe dyspnoea and 13 (32%) required admission to an intensive care unit, and six died.
Hence, the case-fatality proportion in this cohort is approximately 14.6%, and the overall case fatality proportion appears to be closer to 3%.
However, both of these estimates should be treated with great caution because not all patients have concluded their illness (ie, recovered or died) and the true number of infections and full disease spectrum are unknown.
Importantly, in emerging viral infection outbreaks the case-fatality ratio is often overestimated in the early stages because case detection is highly biased towards the more severe cases.
As further data on the spectrum of mild or asymptomatic infection becomes available, one case of which was documented by Chan and colleagues, the case-fatality ratio is likely to decrease.
Nevertheless, the 1918 influenza pandemic is estimated to have had a case-fatality ratio of less than 5% but had an enormous impact due to widespread transmission, so there is no room for complacency.
A novel coronavirus outbreak of global health concern - Chen Wang et al., The Lancet. January 24, 2020Fatality rate can also change as a virus can mutate, according to epidemiologists.
Death rate among patients admitted to hospital A study on 138 hospitalized patients with 2019-nCoV infection, published on February 7 on JAMA, found that 26% of patients required admission to the intensive care unit (ICU) and 4.3% died, but a number of patients were still hospitalized at the time. [9]
A previous study had found that, out of 41 admitted hospital patients, 13 (32%) patients were admitted to an ICU and six (15%) died.[5]
Days from first symptom to death The Wang et al. February 7 study published on JAMA found that the median time from first symptom to dyspnea was 5.0 days, to hospital admission was 7.0 days, and to ARDS was 8.0 days.[9]
Previously. the China National Health Commission reported the details of the first 17 deaths up to 24 pm 22 Jan 2020. A study of these cases found that the median days from first symptom to death were 14 (range 6-41) days, and tended to be shorter among people of 70 year old or above (11.5 [range 6-19] days) than those with ages below 70 year old (20 [range 10-41] days.[6]
Median Hospital Stay The JANA study found that, among those discharged alive, the median hospital stay was 10 days. [9]
Comparison with other viruses For comparison, the case fatality rate with seasonal flu in the United Stats is less than 0.1% (1 death per every 1,000 cases).
Mortality rate for SARS was 10%, and for MERS 34%.
Virus Death Rate Wuhan Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
2%* SARS
9.6% MERS
34% Swine Flu
0.02% *estimate
Novel Coronavirus Worldometer Sections: Sources Update on the situation regarding the new coronavirus [transcript] - World Health Organization (WHO), January 29, 2020 WHO: "Live from Geneva on the new #coronavirus outbreak" [video] [audio] A novel coronavirus outbreak of global health concern - Chen Wang et al., The Lancet. January 24, 2020 Case fatality risk of influenza A(H1N1pdm09): a systematic review - Epidemiology. Nov. 24, 2013 Clinical features of patients infected with 2019 novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China - Huang et al., The Lancet. January 24, 2020 Updated understanding of the outbreak of 2019 novel coronavirus (2019nCoV) in Wuhan, China - Journal of Medical Virology, Jan. 29, 2020 NHS Press Conference, Feb. 4 2020 - National Health Commission (NHC) of the People's Republic of China Methods for Estimating the Case Fatality Ratio for a Novel, Emerging Infectious Disease - Ghani et al, American Journal of Epidemiology Clinical Characteristics of 138 Hospitalized Patients With 2019 Novel Coronavirus''Infected Pneumonia in Wuhan, China - Wang et. al, JAMA, Feb. 7, 2020 Virus-hit Wuhan speeds up diagnosis, treatment of patients - Xinhua Net, Feb. 2, 2020 Coronavirus: 100,000 may already be infected, experts warn - The Guardian, Jan. 26, 2020
John Bolton failed to appear at impeachment deposition
Tue, 11 Feb 2020 19:42
WASHINGTON '-- Former national security adviser John Bolton failed to appear Thursday for his closed-door deposition in the House impeachment inquiry, following the lead of other current and former Trump administration officials who have chosen not to show up.
Last week, Bolton '-- who was fired by Trump in September '-- was formally invited to testify before the three congressional committees leading the inquiry, but his lawyer, Charles Cooper, quickly made clear that his client was unwilling to appear voluntarily.
Bolton was scheduled give his deposition at 9 a.m. ET, but did not show up.
Jennifer Williams, special adviser to Europe and Russia to Vice President Mike Pence, did arrive Thursday for her scheduled deposition.
''Jennifer is a longtime dedicated State Department employee," her attorney, Justin Schur, said in a statement. "If required to appear, she will answer the committees' questions. We expect her testimony will largely reflect what is already in the public record.''
An official working on the impeachment inquiry confirmed to NBC News that Williams was issued a subpoena Thursday morning to compel her testimony.
Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.
Bolton has not been issued a subpoena, according to Cooper, his attorney.
Bolton's no-show comes after his former top deputy, Charles Kupperman, defied a subpoena and skipped his own scheduled deposition amid efforts by the White House to block his appearance. Kupperman, who is also represented by Cooper, then filed a lawsuit asking a federal judge to rule on whether he must testify under a congressional subpoena.
The House, seeking to avoid a delay in the impeachment inquiry, withdrew the subpoena, an Intelligence committee official told NBC News on Wednesday.
In a letter to Kupperman and Cooper, the chairmen of the three committees leading the inquiry said they would expect him to abide by whatever decision comes down in the House Judiciary Committee's lawsuit involving former White House counsel Don McGahn. The House filed a lawsuit in August to enforce a subpoena and compel McGahn's testimony as a central witness in special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian election interference and Trump.
That case, the Democratic chairs argued in their letter, is "procedurally much much further along."
"The House's impeachment inquiry will not countenance, however, further efforts by witnesses or the White House to delay or otherwise obstruct the committees' vital investigatory work," they wrote.
If Bolton were to testify, he would be the most high-profile witness yet in the impeachment investigation. He has been named in the testimonies of other officials who recounted a concerted effort by President Donald Trump and his associates to pressure Ukraine to launch and publicly announce politically advantageous to Trump in exchange for the release of military aid.
According to the transcripts of previous testimony made public as well as reports from inside the room, officials have told lawmakers that Bolton was disturbed by the administration's push to get Ukraine to probe former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, as well as a conspiracy theory related to the 2016 presidential election.
Bill Taylor, who currently serves as the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, told lawmakers in his deposition last month that he was told by two National Security Council officials that Bolton abruptly ended a meeting with Ukrainian officials in early July after U.S. ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland brought up the idea of ''investigations."
This "triggered Ambassador Bolton's antenna, political antenna, and he said, 'We don't do politics here,'" Taylor told impeachment investigators, according to the transcript of his testimony released Wednesday.
Taylor also testified that Bolton was opposed to the idea of Trump holding a phone call with Ukraine's president because Taylor said ''he thought it was going to be a disaster.''
Former White House official Fiona Hill reportedly told Congress in October that Bolton was so disturbed by the administration's actions toward Ukraine that he called it a "drug deal." Hill added that Bolton told her to report the situation to the top lawyer at the NSC, and that Bolton also was said to have referred to Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, as a "hand grenade."
The House Intelligence Committee is set to begin the first public hearings in the impeachment inquiry next week. The first open hearing, to be held Nov. 13, is slated to hear testimony from Taylor and State Department official George Kent. The second hearing, scheduled for Nov. 15, is expected to include testimony from former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.
Rebecca Shabad Rebecca Shabad is a congressional reporter for NBC News, based in Washington.
Geoff Bennett Geoff Bennett is a White House correspondent for NBC News.
Haley Talbot is an associate producer in the NBC News Washington bureau.
Could China actually have 30,000 tonnes of gold in reserves? | Gold Eagle
Tue, 11 Feb 2020 19:38
New York (Mar 1) Last year gold analyst, Alasdair Macleod, suggested that China had accumulated 25,000 tonnes of gold between 1982 and 2003.
Gold Production At Precious Metals Producer Oegussa GmbHMy attention has just been drawn to a note put out by a very well respected analyst and China follower which postulates that China could actually be holding as much as 30,000 tonnes of gold in various government accounts and that within the next three years the nation will link the yuan to gold. The nation's official holding is only 1,054.6 tonnes as reported to the IMF, but there is widespread belief that it has been accumulating additional gold over the past several years, perhaps to the tune of around 5,000 tonnes while holding this in separate non-reportable (as China considers them) accounts. But, of course, this does not include previously high volumes of gold which may also have been bought, and stored, in the past, and again never reported as official holdings.
So what are China's real gold holdings?The 30,000 tonne figure has come from Simon Hunt of Simon Hunt Strategic Services (Hunt was the Hunt in Brook Hunt, one of the world's top metals analytical teams now absorbed into Wood Mackenzie) in his latest 'Thought for the Day' letter to his clients in which he comments that ''China has much more gold than it is allowing the world to see. As Alasdair Macleod, probably the world's number one analyst of the gold market, wrote that between 1983 and 2002 China probably accumulated 25,000 tons of gold. Thus, its current gold holdings are probably north of 30,000 tons in contrast to the USA which has either sold or leased most of its gold.'' Now this statement coming from one of the usual gold megabulls might be ignorable, but Hunt does not fall into this category and has a good track record of insights into China's strategic initiatives as far as metals and minerals are concerned.
There is also some anecdotal evidence to support some massive gold storage vaults in China containing unreported gold, but then a vault visitor presented with a store of gold bars would have little or no idea of how much is really there.
Hunt notes the following summary points, among others in his 'Thought for the day':>> China will take strong action in the second half of this year to restructure its financial system, its heavy industry, manufacturing and real estate sectors. It will be what we call a period of ''controlled crisis'' that will not only shock most foreigners but will have global reverberations.>> China does not want its currency to be the global reserve currency but to be an accepted unit for the settlement of trade and for central banks and others to retain in their portfolios.>> China does not trust Washington's ability to manage the sole reserve currency unit in the interests of the rest of the world, only in its own interests. Historically, America has used the inflation route to reduce its debts to the rest of the world. In contrast, China is likely to link the Yuan to gold within three years. Before then government must have its economy seen to have been restructured and stable even though the process will be painful.
There has been much talk in the media of 'currency wars' and Hunt reckons that China's strategising recognises this and feels that a stable yuan (linked to gold) is key to any future global power plays to dominate the global financial order '' although as Hunt also comments it doesn't feel the need to set the yuan up specifically as a global reserve currency. Indeed it may well work in conjunction with Russia, which has recently been raising its own gold holdings, and perhaps some of the other BRICS, to offer a gold backed alternative to the dollar as others have suggested.
Some yuan internationalisation is already in hand with, so far, swap agreements having been set up with around 28 countries and the establishment of a yuan trading centre in Zurich through which yuan payments may be facilitated.
If China does have 30,000 tonnes of gold then gold backing for its currency is certainly within the bounds of credibility, but even if not, the amount of gold known to be flowing in to the country '' and its likely accumulation of unreported gold reserves by the Central Bank '' would place it in a strong position in any future world financial realignment anyway. But 30,000 tonnes is a huge amount to have bought in '' although given its massive trade surpluses, and a need to diversify its holdings away from the dollar, is not impossible. The suggestion that the nation holds this amount of gold has to be considered highly speculative, but over the years one should have learnt that China plans strategically very far ahead '' one of the benefits of a controlled economy '' and plays its cards very close to its chest, so one can't just laugh the idea off as fantasy.
Source: Lawrence Williams
Beijing Under Partial Lock Down As Virus Death Toll Tops 900; More Than 40,000 Infected | Zero Hedge
Tue, 11 Feb 2020 19:37
Virus death toll hits 902, vastly surpassing all of SARS (813) in only three weeksThe number of global confirmed cases hits 40,553 in China (40,171) and offshore (382)WHO Director-General warns "we may only be seeing the tip of the iceberg"Exiled Chinese billionaire says true death toll closer to 50k, 1.5 million infectedNew cases confirmed in UK, Spain, SingaporePassengers aboard 'Diamond Princess' warn authorities aren't doing enough to protect them - and othersOfficials in Shenzen say they won't block Foxxconn factory reopeningCruise ship quarantined in Hong Kong allowed to leave after 4 days* * *
Update (2240ET): And so the epidemic reaches China's capital Beijing. As gnews reports, as the coronavirus spreads from Wuhan, China has been implementing ''closed management'' by putting 80 cities under lockdown, and on Monday, Beijing authorities also issued a ''Strict Closed Management of Residential Communities'' in an epidemic prevention and control announcement (link here). It is an official declaration that Beijing, the country's capital city of China, is now under lockdown.
Finally, #Beijing partially locked down, all communities under ''closedown model '' management. Original Chinese language announcement here #æ­...汉肺炎 #coronavirus 北京发布ç–情é²æŽ§éšå‘Š¼Œä¸¥æ ¼å±…住小区¼æ'‘¼‰å°é—­å¼ç®ç†https://t.co/FRGsRtbJNP pic.twitter.com/zRqnQEEOe7
'-- 曾錚 Jennifer Zeng (@jenniferatntd) February 10, 2020According to the notice, Beijing will further enforce ''community closed management'' in a strict manner. Outside vehicles and personnel are not allowed to enter the city. People arriving in Beijing must also report their health status and complete the registration of personal information.
Those, who have left the epidemic area or have physical contact with persons in the epidemic area within 14 days of their arrival at Beijing, shall be inspected or quarantined at home in accordance with the regulations. They should take the initiative to report their health conditions, and cooperate with relevant management services. They shall not go out. Anyone who refuses to accept epidemic prevention measures such as medical observation and home quarantine constitutes a violation of public security management and shall be severely punished by the public security bureau according to the law.
In addition, all public places in the Beijing community that are not essential for people's living are closed. All agencies and enterprises must strictly strengthen body temperature monitoring. Housing agencies and landlords in Beijing must provide local government with information on rental houses and tenants. This is a measure for epidemic prevention.
* * *
Update (1900ET): The latest official "numbers" from China's National Health Commission are out and they confirm that after a modest slowdown in the past few days, the number of new cases has once again rebounded.
Here's what we know: the total number of mainland cases has risen from 37,198 to 40,171, with 97 new deaths overnight, the most yet in one day, bringing the total death tally in China to 908.
And, as has been the case for the past weeks, the number of cases remains within spitting distance of 3,000, rising from yesterday's 2,652 to 2,973, however this number is largely irrelevant: as Dr. Scott Gottlieb the increase in the number of confirmed cases is likely a function of China's "testing reporting capacity", which is roughly 3,000 per day . This means that every suspected case eventually becomes a confirmed cases, and only logistics limit how many new cases are actually being added any given day. As such, any change in the number of new cases is not only irrelevant but misleading for all those who actually trade on this as an indicator of whether the Coronavirus has peaked.
As for the now utterly meaningless death rate, one only wonders what goalseek model China is using ot keep the death rate within +/- 0.1% of 2.1% for the past two weeks.
And here we get into the part where China openly fabricates numbers. First, as discussed several days ago, the number of people receiving medial attention unexpectedly peaked at just under 190,000 after increasing by about 15,000-20,000 daily until then, in a truly mysterious "kink" on the chart below.
And finally, in the latest entrant to the "goalseeked" race, we have the number of suspects coronavirus cases, which after rising consistently by about 1,000-2,000 for the past two weeks, suddenly collapsed by over 5,000 overnight, resulting in a sharp drop in the total number of suspects cases from 28,942 to 23,589. On the surface this would be great, the only problem is that this violates virtually every aspect of viral epidemiology, and if anything only confirms how aggressively China is now fudging the data.
* * *
Update (1725ET): China's Hubei Province reports 2,618 additional Coronavirus cases overnight with a stunning 91 new Coronavirus deaths - the biggest daily jump yet.
This pushes the officially-reported "confirmed cases" to 29,631 as China's official death toll rises to at least 902.
While that is bad enough, the WHO Director-General warned ominously...
There've been some concerning instances of onward #2019nCoV spread from people with no travel history to 🇨ðŸ‡". The detection of a small number of cases may indicate more widespread transmission in other countries; in short, we may only be seeing the tip of the iceberg.
'-- Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) February 9, 2020Which is all the more shocking given his - until now - stunning lack of fear or demands for containment of the dealy virus!
* * *
Update (1300ET): A lot of epidemiologists and 'citizen journalists' have been throwing out numbers that they believe to be the true accurate counts of the number of people infected with the Wuhan coronavirus in China, as well as the true death toll.
But exiled Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui said Sunday, citing leaked information out of Wuhan, that the death toll could be as high as 50,000, as Chinese officials burn bodies to cover up the true extent of the crisis.
1.5 million chinese infected with #coronavirus.50,000 cremated.pic.twitter.com/ckNPD1pyNX
'-- Darren of Plymouth 🇬🇧 (@DarrenPlymouth) February 9, 2020This isn't the first time we've heard about the regime burning bodies, rather, it's one of those 'conspiracy theories' that grows more credible every day.
One reporter from the Epoch Times shared this map earlier showing the sulfur dioxide content in the air spiking over Wuhan.
數æ'šç¶²çhttps://t.co/DdLAqVN3UFçšæ•¸å­—é¯ç¤º¼Œ#æ­...æ¼ å'°åçšäºŒæ°§åŒ–çåé‡é é於其ä>>–å'°å¼ŒèŒééšå¸¸æ¯ç--±å'¨æ(C)Ÿç‰(C)çšçšç‡'æ‰å¼•èµ·çš'...'...#æ­...汉肺炎 ç–情中¼Œå°åº•æ­>>了多少人了¼Ÿ https://t.co/zjYj39M3eY
'-- 曾錚 Jennifer Zeng (@jenniferatntd) February 9, 2020Wengui also said he has information showing 1.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases in China. To be sure, this would contradict the theory that the ~3,000 or so new cases confirmed every day in China reflects restrictions on the supply of tests.
50,000 deaths would be an incredible thing to cover up...but then again, this outbreak is the without a doubt the greatest crisis of cinfidence faced by the regime since the June 4th incident back in 1989.
* * *
Last night, we reported that Chengdu had been placed under strict lockdown, adding another 14.4 million Chinese to the 400 million+ already living under virtual house arrest across the country as Beijing struggles to contain the coronavirus outbreak that has already claimed more lives than SARS did during its nearly year-long run.
And as fears about the economic fallout from the outbreak grow, the government in Shenzen, a city that has been on lockdown for a couple of days, reportedly denied rumors that it would prevent Foxconn from re-opening local factories. In a transparent to boost confidence in China's frozen manufacturing sector, local officials said the factor would reopen asap after inspections had finished.
The local government of the city of Shenzhen in southeastern China said on Sunday it had not blocked plans by Apple supplier Foxconn to resume production, adding that the company would restart once inspections were completed$AAPL
'-- *Walter Bloomberg (@DeItaOne) February 9, 2020CNBC's Eunice Yoon, a reporter who has doggedly covered the outbreak from Beijing, warned that factories won't go back online across the country tomorrow, as Chinese officials had said. Instead, she expects the switch back to work would be gradual and depend largely on the whims of local officials. Only minutes ago, Chinese state media reported that the first workers would return to factories in 'batches'.
Still, whether the Chinese economy can avoid the crash predicted by JPM remains unclear.
In other news, one reporter from the Epoch Times, a newspaper that has assiduously covered the virus despite threats from the mainland government, said she believed based upon her research that the virus might be artificial, a question that others have raised.
不太清楚ã‚åç§è¯´æ"•å¾å¤š¼Œåç§å¯ç–‘之å¤ä¹Ÿå¾å¤šã‚æ‘趋于相äæ¯äººé 病æ¯'ã‚希æ'›ç§‘å­...家能尽å调查清楚゠https://t.co/wYi5FgHfth
'-- 曾錚 Jennifer Zeng (@jenniferatntd) February 9, 2020Out of all 31 provinces in China, Guangdong Province is quickly becoming the second-worst-hit after Hubei, even though the two provinces don't share a land border. The ET shared a video of a third makeshift nCoV hospital being built somewhere in the province, apparently.
Probably somewhere in #Guangdong province(the man in the video speaks Cantonese), a huge temporary "hospital" under construction. æ®è¯´æ¯ #å¹ä¸' 某å'°¼Œå¤§åž‹ä¸´æ—¶åŒ>>éå'¨å>>º¼Œæ--¶å®¹ #æ­...汉肺炎 #æ–°å† è‚ºç‚Ž 病人ã‚#Coronavirus #coronaviruschina #CoronavirusOutbreak #全民反抗 #全民自救 pic.twitter.com/7EhniJqIPy
'-- 曾錚 Jennifer Zeng (@jenniferatntd) February 9, 2020Meanwhile, more disturbing videos of Chinese resisting the forced quarantines have surfaced.
Woman fighting fierecly, with a knife, against forced quanrantine, one of the many scenes in #China during #CoronavirusOutbreak. It was said she got taken away nevertheless. #Coronavirus #coronaviruschina å¥"子揮å反强å¶éš--ç...>>ã‚据说æ'后èæ¯èå¶æ'å¸...走了ã‚#æ­...汉肺炎 #æ–°å† è‚ºç‚Ž pic.twitter.com/s0PlWVIaXK
'-- 曾錚 Jennifer Zeng (@jenniferatntd) February 9, 2020Someone says what she is saying is "People are innocent", or "People are guiltless". https://t.co/aTlFScjvrc
'-- 曾錚 Jennifer Zeng (@jenniferatntd) February 9, 2020Tensions between villagers and outsiders continue to run high as well.
In an era of #coronavirus in #China , villagers failed to stop someone from going somewhere. #coronaviruschina 与其 #全民äº'å®" äº'斗¼Œä¸å...‚全民ä¸èµ·åæŠ—中共ã‚#全民反抗 #全民自救 #全民äº'救 #æ­...汉肺炎 #æ–°å† è‚ºç‚Ž pic.twitter.com/8RMEWNiwO7
'-- 曾錚 Jennifer Zeng (@jenniferatntd) February 9, 2020The bitterness felt toward the government has prompted the creation of memes and videos like this.
WHAT IS THE REAL VIRUS?誰才æ¯ç'Ÿæ­£çšç—…æ¯'¼Ÿ#coronavirus #CoronavirusOutbreak#æ­...æ¼ #æ­...æ¼è‚ºç‚Ž #å¤(C)æ>>…中共 #æ­...æŒèµ·ç– #æ­...汉肺炎 #æ–°åž‹å† çŠ¶ç—…æ¯' pic.twitter.com/gaVaXkCA7f
'-- 曾錚 Jennifer Zeng (@jenniferatntd) February 9, 2020Quarantines have lasted for more than two weeks in some places, yet many outsiders still have no idea how those living under quarantine are surviving. This video offers an important clue:
This is how you get your food supplies at the age of #coronavirus quarantine in a village in #China. #æ–°å† è‚ºç‚Ž çšå°æ'‘æ—¶ä>>£¼Œå¤§å®¶éƒ½è‡ä¸Šå¹"等çšç¤¾ä¼šä¸>>义新ç--Ÿæ´>>了¼Ÿ #æ­...汉肺炎 #coronaviruschina pic.twitter.com/kqZjVv7o3o
'-- 曾錚 Jennifer Zeng (@jenniferatntd) February 9, 2020Expanding on the death toll we reported last night, local officials confirmed 89 new deaths from the virus on Saturday, a number that many suspect might be wildly underrated following additional reports of Beijing cremating bodies that haven't yet been counted in the local statistics. Still, 89 is up from 86 fatalities on Friday, according to figures released early on Sunday by the country's health authority, per the SCMP.
Beijing also touted the fact that the number of new cases dropped on Saturday. Newly confirmed coronavirus cases in the mainland rose by 2,656 on Saturday, down from 3,385 new cases on Friday, according to China's National Health Commission. The total number of mainland cases now stands at 37,198, plus an additional ~350 confirmed cases outside China. A local party chief in Wuhan has called on local health officials to finish testing all suspected cases in the city (remember, the government rounded them all up a few days ago) within two days, before the people riot and Beijing sends in the tanks.
Britain and Spain on Sunday confirmed a new coronavirus case, bringing the total cases in the UK to four, while Spain now has two. In the UK, the infected person was a "known contact of a previously confirmed U.K. case" (who allegedly contracted the virus in a French ski chateau). The case in Spain is a British man who lives on Majorca. 6 new cases were confirmed on the cruise ship in Japan (we'll get into more on that later), while authorities in Hong Kong ended the four-day quarantine of another ship after finding no evidence of infections among its 3,600 passengers and crew, per NYT.
New cases were also confirmed in Singapore (three new cases), while a new study published by Kyodo News found that half of all new infections occur within the virus's incubation period, bolstering theories that it spreads "silently" - ie before infected patients display symptoms.
At least one of every two instances of human-to-human transmission of the new coronavirus is believed to occur while the first patient is not yet showing symptoms, according to an estimate by a group of Japanese university researchers.
Based on its determination, the team, headed by Hokkaido University professor Hiroshi Nishiura, has called for preventive measures as well as reinforcing the medical care system against a potential sharp rise in coronavirus patients, rather than focusing exclusively on isolation as a way to contain the disease.
According to the estimate based on 26 human-to-human infection cases released by six countries such as China, Thailand and the United States, the timing of the secondary infection was shorter than previously thought.
Elsewhere, the government is fighting back against the torrent of criticism unleashed by the death of Dr. Li by claiming that the disruption is the work of foreign state actors - a classic trope invoked by the Chinese government to whitewash its mistakes. The Global Times, a pro-Communist Party tabloid, accused "Hong Kong secessionists and foreign entities" of trying to provoke public discord in China by sensationalizing Dr. Li Wenliang's death (he succumbed to the virus late last week).
On Sunday morning, the NYT published one of the most extensive looks at life aboard the 'Diamond Princess', where more than 2,600 passengers (minus those who have tested positive and been taken to a hospital) are understandably going stir crazy while simultaneously being consumed by paranoia as they try to avoid a monster that can't be seen or heard.
So far, more than 70 passengers and crew have tested positive for the virus, making the ship host to the largest coronavirus outbreak outside China. Quarantining the ship was a coup for Japanese health authorities:they successfully prevented what probably would have been a brutal outbreak in Japan, a country where more than 20% of the population are elderly and/or ailing.
The NYT reporter makes it seem like she's talking to passengers directly, as if she were aboard the ship. But judging by the Dateline, the piece was reported entirely from Tokyo. Most of these conversations must have occurred via phone.
One passenger described keeping track of the number of cases by counting the ambulances that arrive to cart away the infected.
"Now we will start counting ambulances and know that's the number being removed," said Sarah Arana, 52, a medical social worker from Paso Robles, Calif.
The same individual discussed strategies for limiting stress, since it weakens the immune system and makes one more vulnerable to infection.
"I know that stress and anxiety compromise my immune system," said Ms. Arana, who is on her first cruise. "My whole thing is just to stay calm, because no matter what, I'm here. But every day it's anxiety-provoking when we see the ambulances line up on the side of the ship."
The quarantine of the Diamond Princess was imposed by Japanese health officials who learned that a man who had disembarked on Jan. 25 tested positive for the virus in Hong Kong.
Another passenger told the NYT that they didn't understand why authorities were only testing people with symptoms (aka fevers) or who had direct contact with the infected man.
"I do not now believe they are containing this epidemic by keeping us quarantined," said Gay Courter, 75, an American novelist and avid cruisegoer who was isolated in a cabin with her husband, Philip. "Something is wrong with the plan."
Some passengers speculate that the virus might be transmitted through the ship's ventilation system. Others worry it could be spread via the food. This is that kind of all-consuming paranoia, the kind that injects an element of terror into every daily interaction.
"Nobody can tell us for certain," said Ms. Courter. "There's no scientific evidence this is not being spread through food handlers or the people delivering the food, even in rubber gloves."
Passengers have been speculating that the virus could be transmitted through the ship's air ventilation system. Some shared their concerns with the United States Embassy in Tokyo.
One rumor that spread like wildfire across the ship claimed the US government was working to evacuate Americans aboard the cruise ship. So far, that has not happened. Some passengers with chronic health issues like diabetes are extremely worried about running out of medicine.
On Wednesday, Carol Montgomery, 67, a retired administrative assistant from San Clemente, Calif., had a low-grade fever. Her husband John, 68, a retired city planning director, was concerned about his diabetes, and about whether he should clean the air ventilator he uses every night for sleep apnea.
"We're sitting inside this room and the number of cases is slowly rising," Mr. Montgomery said. "It's just very disconcerting that we can't get tested to figure out if we have it."
About as interesting as that NYT story is this piece by WSJ. It's a blatant piece of access journalism - the worst kind when you think about it since the reporters clearly got the green light from Communist Party officials - but the reporters found a way to outsmart censors and embed clues and hinted-at criticisms within the text.
The report recounts a cross country journey undertaken by Shen Wufu, a young businessman who was quarantined in the Chinese city of Shantou after picking up the virus during a multi-city journey. Authorities aren't certain where he picked up the virus, but he believes it was during a brief stop in Wuhan on Jan. 18, a time when government officials were still actively suppressing news about the outbreak (or so many suspect).
A map of his journey shows how the government's sluggish initial reaction to the virus placed millions in jeopardy. In reality, Shen isn't so different from the super-spreader we mentioned earlier, though the government might argue that they acted quickly enough to prevent this.
To be sure, the paper noted that Shen is "living proof that some Chinese countermeasures are working," like the fact that he was eventually quarantined thanks to a pair of quick-thinking local officials (who we imagine will be scapegoated for failing to suppress the virus at the orders of the leadership).
As it becomes increasingly clear that the outbreak is getting worse, not better, despite the supposed 'decline' in new cases (which is supposed to show that the state's heavy handed methods are working), the World Health Organization cautioned on Sunday against reading too much into those numbers, saying that Wuhan and Hubei remain in the middle of a "very serious outbreak."
Though we didn't need the New York Times to figure that out.
Jussie Smollett Indicted Again Over Alleged 2019 Attack: Special Prosecutor
Tue, 11 Feb 2020 17:20
Actor Jussie Smollett talks to the media before leaving Cook County Court after his charges were dropped, in Chicago on March 26, 2019. (Paul Beaty/AP/File)
Former ''Empire'' actor Jussie Smollett was indicted again in connection with the alleged attack in Chicago in January 2019.
He was originally charged with 16 counts of felony disorderly conduct for allegedly lying to police. Officials claimed he staged a hate crime attack on himself because he was not happy with his ''Empire'' salary.
The Cook County Clerk's Office told ABC Chicago that special prosecutor Dan Webb indicted Smollett on six counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly making four separate false reports to Chicago police ''related to his false claims that he was the victim of a hate crime, knowing he was not the victim of a crime.''
Webb announced the charges in a press release obtained by the Chicago Tribune, saying that ''further prosecution of Jussie Smollett is 'in the interest of justice.'''
Smollett has been accused of hiring two brothers to stage the attack, which allegedly involved racist slurs, a ''Make America Great Again'' hat, and a noose. Smollett has denied that he staged the incident. Police and prosecutors alleged one brother was an extra on ''Empire'' while the other was Smollett's former personal trainer.
In February 2019, all charges against the actor were dropped in exchange for community service and forfeiture of a $10,000 bond payment.
Webb was appointed as a special prosecutor after the initial charges were dropped.
Actor and singer Jussie Smollett attends the ''Empire'' FYC Event in Los Angeles, California, on May 20, 2016. (Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)The dismissal of charges drew an immediate backlash. Former Mayor Rahm Emanuel called the deal ''a whitewash of justice'' and lashed out at Smollett for dragging the city's reputation ''through the mud'' in a quest to advance his career, The Associated Press reported. And he asked, ''Is there no decency in this man?''
Smollett's attorneys said last year that his record was ''wiped clean'' of the 16 felony counts. The actor insisted that he had ''been truthful and consistent on every single level since day one.''
''I would not be my mother's son if I was capable of one drop of what I was being accused of,'' he told reporters in March after a court hearing. He thanked the state of Illinois ''for attempting to do what's right.''
Defense attorney Patricia Brown Holmes said the actor was ''attacked by two people he was unable to identify'' and ''was a victim who was vilified and made to appear as a perpetrator.''
Smollett accused Chicago police of malicious prosecution and said he was the victim of ''mass public ridicule and harm'' after police alleged he was behind the attack. Chicago sued Smollett for $130,000 to recover the cost of the investigation, according to CBS Chicago.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
The Brief '' What if Coronavirus reaches Africa? '' EURACTIV.com
Tue, 11 Feb 2020 16:59
Amongst mounting concern about the coronavirus outbreak, EU health ministers will gather in Brussels on Thursday to discuss Europe's readiness to face a potential large-scale epidemic of the virus.
This follows a warning from Professor Gabriel Leung, the chair of public health medicine at Hong Kong University, who told The Guardian that coronavirus epidemic could spread to about two-thirds of the world's population unless appropriate controls are put in place.
But as Europe is stepping up its efforts to combat the spread of the virus, there is one continent that has been absent from the conversation.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has voiced its concern that the outbreak outside China might worsen and the virus might spread to countries with weaker health systems.
But the question is, has the WHO considered the impact of a large-scale Coronavirus epidemic in Africa?
Although there are currently no confirmed cases of coronavirus on the continent, there have already been some suspected cases.
An EU official told EURACTIV on Monday that the possibility of coronavirus reaching Africa is a matter of concern for Brussels, especially given Africa's close relationship with China.
''Africa has the most fragile healthcare systems globally,'' the official said.
With health systems already stretched in many countries across Africa, Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta has recently admitted that the country is not prepared for an outbreak of the disease.
''We don't have the capacity to build hospitals in seven days, right? So we must do everything that we can within the limited resources to ensure that we keep this virus completely away,'' the US National Public Radio quoted Kenyatta as saying.
Over the past couple of decades, economic links between China and Africa have grown exponentially, with China being Africa's biggest trade partner since 2009.
According to Chinese state media, more than a million Chinese workers and entrepreneurs are estimated to be living on the continent.
Not to mention that several airlines, including Ethiopia Airlines and Air Alg(C)rie, have come under fire for their decision to continue flights to China, including one to Chongquing, which neighbours the area from which the disease originates.
Can Europe afford to leave out its neighbours from its containment strategy? Given our close ties to the continent, it shouldn't.
The Roundup
Belgium stands to be the fourth EU state most affected by Brexit economically '' behind Ireland and Malta '' and its food and beverages, administration, and textiles sectors are the ones most vulnerable to Brexit-related job losses.
Members of the European Parliament have written to the European Commission voicing concern that EU spending on LNG and other gas projects ''may not be in line with the Union's climate commitments under the Paris Agreement''.
GSMA, the global mobile network industry group, is set to decide on Friday whether this year's Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona will go ahead, amid concerns that the event may aggravate Europe's management of the deadly coronavirus.
The French government has been ordered to adapt its policy on plants developed using a new plant breeding technique (NPBTs), called mutagenesis, in order to adhere to stricter rules for genetically modified organisms (GMOs), a French court ruled.
The European Commission's new proposal for enhanced accession process of the Western Balkans is 'a small masterpiece of European compromise' that could foster momentum and reforms. But it still lacks details on funding and convergence and realistic target years.
Check out this week's edition of Sam Morgan's Transport Brief.
Look out for'...
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen addresses the Strasbourg plenary on the Multi-Annual Financial Framework.
NATO defence ministers meet in Brussels.
Views are the author's
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]
Man driven by dislike of President Trump in GOP tent attack, report shows
Tue, 11 Feb 2020 13:05
Sign up for our NewslettersRelated StoriesLatest NewsGregory Timm, 27, was arrested hours after a van he was driving plowed into GOP voter registration tentBooking photo of Gregory Timm (Jacksonville Sheriff's office)JACKSONVILLE, Fla. '' The man who is accused of deliberately driving his van into a tent where voters were being registered by local Republicans told the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office his disapproval of President Donald Trump was a motivating factor, according to an unredacted arrest report obtained by News4Jax.
Gregory Timm, 27, was arrested hours after police said his van plowed through the tent, narrowly missing volunteers who were set up the parking lot of a Walmart Superstore at the corner of Atlantic and Kernan boulevards about 3:50 p.m. on Saturday. He's accused of two counts of aggravated assault on a person over 65 years old, criminal mischief and driving without a license.
RELATED: What we know about man accused of driving into GOP tent
According to JSO investigators who tracked him down, Timm admitted to purposefully driving into the tent because ''someone had to take a stand.''
Timm told investigators he saw the registration tent after he went to pick up food and cigarettes and a nearby Walmart, according to JSO.
He then showed investigators a video he recorded while driving towards the tent, according to JSO, but the video cut out before he hit the tent. According to the report, Timm said he was upset that the video ended before ''the good part.''
Timm said he waited until there were no people in front of the tent before he ran it over although, JSO investigators noted in the report, the video showed people still standing there.
Witnesses said he ''flipped off'' the people near the tent before driving away.
The suspect told investigators he does not like President Trump and that was part of the reason he wanted to run over the tent, according to the arrest report.
While JSO didn't immediately say if the action was politically motivated, the incident was quickly condemned as a political attack by both Republican and Democratic leaders in Jacksonville, Florida's two U.S. Senators, and even President Donald Trump.
Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott both called the attack ''politically motivated," with Rubio tweeting, ''Thanking God that no one was injured.'' Scott echoed that in his own tweet, adding," @DuvalGOP will not be silenced or intimidated. They will redouble their efforts to support strong Republicans in NE Florida and around the state!"
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry's tweet emphasized that while thankfully no one was hurt, ''the hate is toxic and dangerous.''
A clearly emotional chairman of the Duval County Republican Party also condemned the van attack on volunteers during a press conference Monday.
''We are outraged. This is not who we are. This is un-American," Dean Black said. ''We are thankful that no one was injured; no one was killed.''
Jacksonville attorney Rhonda Peoples-Waters said there is a small likelihood the incident could be reviewed for a potential hate crime element.
''But I suspect him saying I do not like Donald Trump is gonna be used as part of his confession to push harder to have these charges brought against him,'' Peoples-Waters said.
She said there could be serious charges that are hard to defend because of the video evidence.
''It does not look good for him,'' she said. ''And it's gonna be a hard case to put up a defense. Maybe the claim of mental instability could be an issue.''
Copyright 2020 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.
About the Authors:Vic Micolucci Lifetime Jacksonville resident anchors the 9 a.m. weekday newscast and is part of the News4Jax I-Team.
Travis Gibson Digital reporter who has lived in Jacksonville for more than 25 years and focuses on important local issues like education and the environment.
Edison Mail Responds to Report on Email Apps Selling Anonymized Data Scraped From Inboxes - MacRumors
Tue, 11 Feb 2020 11:23
A report today from
Motherboard highlights several email apps that sell anonymized or pseudonymised data collected from users' inboxes, including Edison Mail, Cleanfox, and Slice, adding that many users are unaware of this practice.
An excerpt from the report:
The popular Edison email app, which is in the top 100 productivity apps on the Apple app store, scrapes users' email inboxes and sells products based off that information to clients in the finance, travel, and e-Commerce sectors. The contents of Edison users' inboxes are of particular interest to companies who can buy the data to make better investment decisions, according to a J.P. Morgan document obtained by Motherboard.Data obtained by
Motherboard reveals what some of the information scraped from emails can look like, using Slice as an example:
A spreadsheet containing data from Rakuten's Slice, an app that scrapes a user's inbox so they can better track packages or get their money back once a product goes down in price, contains the item that an app user bought from a specific brand, what they paid, and an unique identification code for each buyer.The report serves as a good reminder to review the privacy policies of apps that you use. Edison Mail is transparent about its data collection in its privacy policy, for example, noting that it uses "non-personal data such as seller, product and price extracted from information we collect" to help its Edison Trends business partners "aggregate and understand commerce trends."
Edison's privacy policy and support website also indicate that users can
opt out of having their anonymized data shared with Edison Trends partners by navigating to Account > Settings > Manage Privacy in the app.
Most importantly, Edison Mail requires users to accept or decline Edison Trends data collection during initial setup of the app.
Edison emphasizes its transparency
in its response to the report:
To keep our Edison Mail app free, and to protect your privacy by rejecting an advertising-based business model, our company Edison Software, measures e-commerce through a technology that automatically recognizes commercial emails and extracts anonymous purchase information from them. Our technology is designed to ignore personal and work email, which does not help us measure market trends. Edison puts privacy first in everything we do as a company and that includes making our users aware of how we use their data in our products. You have complete control over how your information is used and we allow you to opt-out of data sharing in our research product, without impacting your app experience. We strive to be as transparent as possible about our business practices in our press communications, Edison Mail website, Edison Trends website, privacy policy, blog posts, on our app store pages, on social media, and of course, in our app itself. We do not participate in any ad targeting of our users and do not allow others to do ad targeting of our users.To learn more, read Edison's
lengthy blog post on its business model from last year.
Bigger than Vindman: Trump scrubs 70 Obama holdovers from NSC
Tue, 11 Feb 2020 11:21
| February 10, 2020 08:14 AM
President Trump is making good on his promises to ''drain the swamp'' and cut Obama-era holdovers from his staffs, especially the critical and recently controversial National Security Council.
Officials confirmed that Trump and national security adviser Robert O'Brien have cut 70 positions inherited from former President Barack Obama, who had fattened the staff to 200.
Many were loaners from other agencies and have been sent back. Others left government work.
The NSC, which is the president's personal staff, was rocked when a ''whistleblower'' leveled charges that led to Trump's impeachment.
....was given a horrendous report by his superior, the man he reported to, who publicly stated that Vindman had problems with judgement, adhering to the chain of command and leaking information. In other words, ''OUT''.
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 8, 2020 Last week, one key official who testified against Trump at a House hearing on the Ukraine affair that led to impeachment was sent packing. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman was returned to the Pentagon. His twin brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, was also given the boot. Trump had expressed displeasure that Alexander Vindman had testified against him when the Ukraine specialist said he did not like the phone conversation between the president and a newly elected president of Ukraine.
Since entering the White House, Trump has relied on staffs smaller than previous administrations and has noted how prior presidents had a much smaller NSC team.
O'Brien recently said that former President George W. Bush handled the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with 100 NSC aides, a model he is instituting.
''This month, we will complete the right-sizing goal Ambassador O'Brien outlined in October, and in fact, may exceed that target by drawing down even more positions,'' John Ullyot, the NSC's senior director for strategic communications, told Secrets.
Chilling effect of the coronavirus is turning up in the shipping news
Tue, 11 Feb 2020 11:20
China's Council for the Promotion of International Trade, which issues force majeure certifications '' documents that validate a company's claim that it can't meet its contractual obligations because of events it couldn't have foreseen and therefore are beyond its control '' has said it has received more than a thousand inquiries about the certificates from Chinese companies.
China's biggest LNG buyer, China National Offshore Oil Corp, invoked force majeure in relation to long-term contracts to buy gas from France's Total and Royal Dutch Shell, although Total has said it rejected the notification. Shipments of LNG are being cancelled or delayed.
A copper smelter, Guangxi Nanguo, has also declared force majeure, along with an auto parts manufacturer.
As the virus continues to spread, more of China's factories are freezing production which will inevitably mean further reduced demand for commodities and more attempts to use the force majeure option to rescind contracts.
Not surprisingly, the impact of the virus on commodities is reflected in both shipping activity and commodity prices.
The Baltic Dry Index, which tracks freight rates for the world's largest dry bulk carriers and is regarded as a bellwether for international shipping activity levels and global economic conditions more generally, is at all-time lows. It has plunged more than 83 per cent since its peak last September.
Bloomberg's Commodity Index is down more than 8 per cent over the past month, with oil, iron ore and copper prices all tumbling as the impact of the virus on people and economies becomes increasingly apparent.
The oil price has fallen nearly 18 per cent this year, from just under $US70 a barrel to $US54.47 a barrel. Copper is down more than 11 per cent and iron ore, which was trading around $US95 a tonne in mid-January, has tumbled almost 14 per cent to less than $US82 a tonne.
China is the world's largest oil importer '' it imported more than 10 million barrels a day last year '' and represents nearly 40 per cent of the growth in demand. Its big refiners are cutting production and some smaller independents have shut down. Stocks of gasoline and jet fuel are mounting as travel restrictions tighten.
With some estimates that its demand will fall by more than 25 per cent this month '' more than 3 million barrels a day, or 3 per cent of global demand '' and the spillover effects to global shipping and travel mounting, the oil price probably provides as good a guide to the economic impact of the virus as any of the commodities. It is increasingly damaging.
The plunge in oil prices and the uncertainty about the ultimate impact and duration of the epidemic has created a quandary for OPEC and its affiliates.
OPEC+, as the wider group is known, agreed last December to a more than 500,000 barrels-a -day production cut for the March quarter this year to put a floor under oil prices.
Only a week ago a special meeting of its joint technical committee proposed a further 600,000 barrels a day cut for the June quarter but, with Russia yet to respond and members of the cartel yet to even agree to meet before next month, there is no certainty the cuts will eventuate. Without more production cuts the price could fall further.
What the virus means for China's trade truce with the US, under which it agreed to buy an extra $US200 billion of US products this year and next, including an extra $US50 billion of energy commodities, is anyone's guess.
Unless the virus is brought under control quickly, an already ambitious target would become near-impossible.
There are some "get out" clauses in that deal for events beyond China's control (the coronavirus would certainly qualify as an unforeseeable event) but the fractured relationship between the US and China and the politics of the Trump administration's perceived victory in the trade war means that a passive US acceptance of China's inability to meet its commitments can't be taken for granted.
Stephen is one of Australia's most respected business journalists. He was most recently co-founder and associate editor of the Business Spectator website and an associate editor and senior columnist at The Australian.
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Pete Buttigieg's Ancestor Owned Slaves On Native American-Ceded Land
Tue, 11 Feb 2020 11:16
It's often said among genealogists that the best way to get your family tree researched for free is to run for office. Even before former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg began to ascend the Democratic ranks after his victory in Iowa, various articles were published about his father's Maltese origins and his mother's longer-tenured American roots.
But none of them, until now, note that among Buttigieg's mother's ancestors we can find his great-great-great-great-grandfather, a Tennessee congressman and planter named William Marshall Inge. Inge was one of the pioneer settlers of Sumter County, Alabama, after land there was ceded to the United States by the Choctaw tribe in the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, the first of the treaties signed under President Andrew Jackson's Indian removal policy. Census records also show the Inge family as the owners of five or six slaves during their time in Alabama.
A 2019 blog post from Christopher C. Child of the New England Historic Genealogical Society explores part of this ancestry, naming William Henry Neal, Buttigieg's great-great-grandfather, but explores that line no further. Not reported there'--or anywhere else in press coverage of the candidate'--is the connection with Inge, William Neal's maternal grandfather. Inge is the first of several Democratic politicians found in this branch of Buttigieg's family tree.
Inge was born in 1802 in North Carolina, the son of Richard Inge and Sarah Johnson. Richard was a Revolutionary War soldier and a tobacco planter in Virginia. He moved to North Carolina, where William was born, and later to Alabama, where he was among the first planters to settle the region. The movement between states was not uncommon in that era, where many early Americans looked for new opportunities on the western frontier.
William Inge moved from North Carolina to Tennessee, where he was admitted to the bar. He married Susan Marr of Fayetteville, Tennessee, just north of the Alabama border. Inge represented Tennessee's 10th district in the House of Representatives for a single term during the 23rd Congress, from 1833 to 1835. (Tennessee no longer has a 10th district. The area it covered is now in the 4th and 7th districts.)
He sat as a Jacksonian Democrat at a time that party held a large majority in the House. Jackson was popular on the frontier; of the 13 representatives Tennessee sent to Congress that term, 12 were Democrats. The only exception was the 12th district's representative, Davy Crockett.
After his term expired, Inge moved to Sumter County, Alabama, and resumed the practice of law. Sumter County was a part of the lands that had been recently ceded to the United States under the first of the Indian Removal Treaties during the Jackson administration'--the events that led to the infamous Trail of Tears. Inge also served in the Alabama state House of Representatives in the early 1840s.
While there, he argued against the death penalty and in favor of allowing juries to impose life sentences, instead. According to historian Paul M. Pruitt's book ''Taming Alabama: Lawyers and Reformers, 1804-1929,'' Inge had by this time left the Democratic Party and sat as a Whig. His nephew, Samuel Williams Inge, would also serve in the federal House as a Democrat from Alabama from 1847 to 1851.
William Inge died in 1846, and his widow and children relocated to Arkansas sometime in the late 1850s. His two sons and at least two sons-in-law fought in the Civil War, three for the Confederacy, one for the Union.
Inge's daughter Susan married Caswell Neal, a lawyer, and their son, William Henry Neal, became a deputy U.S. marshal in Indian Territory'--present-day Oklahoma. He worked there as an attorney in the ''Little Dixie'' region of the state and died in 1912. His brother, Tom Neal, served in the Oklahoma legislature as a Democrat for one term, in 1917.
Buttigieg's ancestors moved on from there to Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, and later Indiana, where his mother and father lived in South Bend, both faculty members at Notre Dame.
''We are not aware of these connections but every American has a responsibility to confront and work to eradicate the effects of slavery and systemic racism,'' responded Buttigieg spokesman Sean Savett. ''Pete knows that the legacy of slavery is alive and well today, and he is determined to do everything he can as president to confront and dismantle it. He knows systemic racism affects all aspects of our lives. That's why among other actions he has called for the passage of HR40 and laid out a comprehensive and intentional plan to tackle racist structures and systems across the country to create a truly equitable America.''
H.R. 40 would create a commission to discuss reparations, or financial payouts from current taxpayers to the descendants of those who were slaves in America 150 years ago.
While a few of his ancestors are more noteworthy than most people can claim, Buttigieg's family's journey through American history is fairly typical for someone with antebellum Southern ancestry. The conflicts of the past are often forgotten, but it does not take much digging to unearth not only our country's history, but often our families' histories, as well. While we all forge our own destiny in this world, the connection to the past is never too far away.
Copyright (C) 2020 The Federalist, a wholly independent division of FDRLST Media, All Rights Reserved.
Clinton Foundation Whistleblowers: Doyle, Moynihan vs. IRS | Zero Hedge
Tue, 11 Feb 2020 11:07
In a December 2018 Congressional hearing on Not-for-Profit Charities with a Specific Case Study on the Clinton Foundation, our nation was introduced to two private individuals who had undertaken a multi-year investigative probe of the 43rd President's foundation.
Larry Doyle and John Moynihan informed those observing that they filed a formal Whistleblower Submission replete with a hundred-plus formal exhibits in excess of 6,000 pages of evidence with the Internal Revenue Service on the Clinton Foundation in August 2017. They further testified that they had submitted the same materials to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and selected US Attorneys in the Department of Justice as well and that their documents included:
reviews of the foundation's tax returns and those of the foundation's donors
reviews including audits of the foundation's programs and operations, foreign and domestic
email exchanges between foundation executives and foreign government officials
contracts with foreign governments and engagements with other public and private entities
reviews of partnerships with an array of private companies, private universities, and other 501c3 public charities
interviews with both current and former senior Clinton Foundation officials
reviews of state registration materials
documents covering the foundation's own internal reviews
During the hearing, Doyle and Moynihan highlighted that they believe the evidence they presented in their submission provided probable cause that the Clinton Foundation violated IRS codes relating to the Organization and Operational Tests for a 501c3 public charity with specific details addressing Misrepresentations and Misuse of Donated Public Funds. On top of that, they also addressed their probable cause assertion that the Clinton Foundation acted as an agent in violation of IRS code and the Foreign Agent Registration Act. These whistleblowers also highlighted that private foundations, including the Gates Foundation, that have donated to the Clinton Foundation are themselves subject to taxation based on IRS codes relating to Donors' Responsibilities. Ultimately, Doyle and Moynihan maintained that the Clinton Foundation could be subject to paying tax on anywhere from $400mm to potentially as much as $2.5 billion of revenue.
These whistleblowers informed those watching that the IRS had issued a Preliminary Denial of their Submission shortly before they provided their riveting testimony to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee during that December 13, 2018 hearing.
During that hearing, Moynihan specifically emphasized that their submission was "a tax claim". Moynihan also informed those on the committee that depending on how the IRS ruled that the two whistleblowers would have other causes of action that they could and would pursue including filing an appeal to the US Tax Court if in fact they received a Final Denial from the IRS.
Well, it appears that these two 'financial bounty hunter' whistleblowers have done just that. How is that appeal playing out? It looks like over the course of the last few months Doyle and Moynihan have been in the midst of an extensive array of motions and responses, many filed under seal, going back and forth with IRS Counsel in the course of their having their day in the US Tax Court v the Internal Revenue Service. Those interested in the case can track it via this US Tax Court site:
Chinese Researchers Caught Stealing Coronavirus From Canadian Lab | GreatGameIndia
Tue, 11 Feb 2020 11:05
One of Canada's top scientists says he's surprised and dismayed an ''administrative matter'' resulted in the sudden eviction of a prominent Chinese Canadian virologist, her biologist husband, and her students from Canada's only level-4 lab in Winnipeg and prompted an RCMP investigation.
EXPLOSIVE: Canadian Scientist Frank Plummer Key to Coronavirus Investigation AssassinatedBreaking: India launch investigation against China's Wuhan Institute of VirologyExclusive: Coronavirus Bioweapon '' How Chinese agents stole Coronavirus from Canada and weaponized itExclusive Interview: Bioweapons Expert Dr. Francis Boyle on the Origins of Coronavirus (transcript)Must read piece published worldwide: Coronavirus '' China's Secret Plan to Weaponize VirusesUpdate: Chinese Biowarfare agents at Harvard University caught smuggling deadly virusesUpdate 2: Indian Scientists Discover Coronavirus Engineered With AIDS Like InsertionsSources say Xiangguo Qiu and her husband Keding Cheng were escorted from the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg on July 5. Since then, the University of Manitoba has ended their appointments, reassigned her graduate students, and cautioned staff, students and faculty about traveling to China. (Governor General's Innovation Awards) Chinese Researchers Caught Stealing Coronavirus From Canadian Lab''I think it's unfortunate. It's all speculation. We have no idea what the investigation is about. The fact the RCMP is involved to me doesn't mean anything at all, because they just need somebody external to their investigation,'' said Gary Kobinger, professor in the Department of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases and director of the Research Centre on Infectious Diseases at Laval University in Quebec.
Sources say Xiangguo Qiu, biologist Keding Cheng, and an unknown number of Qiu's students were escorted from the National Microbiology Lab (NML) and their security access revoked on July 5.
Qiu is head of the Vaccine Development and Antiviral Therapies Section in the Special Pathogens Program.
Kobinger said it's procedure to escort someone from the building if they don't have a security badge that allows them access.
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) will only confirm it referred an ''administrative matter'' involving a possible ''policy breach'' to the RCMP on May 24.
Neither PHAC nor the RCMP are providing further details, citing privacy concerns.
China's Biological Warfare Program include the full range of traditional chemical and biological agents with a wide variety of delivery systems including artillery rockets, aerial bombs, sprayers, and short-range ballistic missiles. #coronoavirushttps://t.co/7qpDNNmqk7
'-- GreatGameIndia (@GreatGameIndia) January 24, 2020
Meanwhile, the University of Manitoba has suspended the appointments of both Xiangguo Qiu and Cheng and reassigned Qiu's students, pending the RCMP investigation.
Qiu, Cheng and the students all originally come from China.
There has been speculation the case involves the improper transfer of intellectual property or biological materials to China. The NML is Canada's only level-4 facility and one of only a few in North America equipped to handle the world's deadliest diseases, including Ebola.
However, Kobinger does not believe Xiangguo Qiu was involved in economic espionage.
''The Chinese, do you see the science they've been generating in the past 5 years?'' he asked, adding most of the research is published publicly.
''The Chinese '' they have so many scientists, it's unreal. What we can do in six months, they can do in a month. There is nothing, nothing, nothing that I can see from my side that they would benefit from us in terms of knowledge, in terms of re-agents,'' Kobinger said. ''They have better access to pathogens, everything else, the vaccine, therapies, everything.''
Weaponizing Biotech '' China's War for Biological Dominance#coronoavirushttps://t.co/MEVQ5VERJw
'-- GreatGameIndia (@GreatGameIndia) January 25, 2020
He believes it may be a case of paperwork filled out incorrectly or the breach of a government policy created by bureaucrats who don't understand how science works.
Or, he adds, it could be a question of mandate because the role of the lab has always been unclear '' some say it should just do diagnostics while others believe it should do research.
Dr. Gary Kobinger, former chief of special pathogens (right), and Dr. Xiangguo Qiu, research scientist (second from right) met with Dr. Kent Brantly and Dr. Linda Mobula, assistant professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the physician who administered ZMapp to Brantly in Liberia when he was infected with Ebola during the 2014-16 outbreak. (Submitted by Health Canada)Until he left the NML three years ago, Qui worked with Kobinger to develop ZMapp, a treatment for Ebola that was successfully used during the outbreak in West Africa in 2014-16. (The World Health Organization declared the latest Ebola outbreak a global health emergency last week.)
Kobinger and Qiu have been recognized for their work, including a Governor General's Innovation Award in 2018.
Kobinger said he reached out to Xiangguo Qiu by email after hearing the news and she thanked him for his support.
He wishes PHAC could provide a little more information to settle the speculation going on internationally.
''[Qiu's] body of work is solid. I don't think it's going to damage it. But her reputation, I think so, yeah,'' Kobinger said in a phone interview.
''If I was in her place, I don't know if I would ever go back. I would not,'' Kobinger said. ''So she can take the phone and find a lab anywhere in the world, tomorrow. People may not realize, when you are a top scientist, it's not hard to move.''
Neither Qiu nor Cheng could be reached for comment.
Xiangguo Qiu works in level-4 containment at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg. (CBC News)All of this comes at a time when relations between Canada and China are strained.
Last December, Canada arrested Chinese Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on a U.S warrant. In retaliation, China has arrested two Canadian men on espionage charges, sentenced a third to death for drug offenses, and shut down imports of Canadian canola and meat.
Kobinger hopes Xiangguo Qiu and her team are not caught unfairly in the middle of a diplomatic dispute.
''Everyone benefits from working together, that's the nature of science. Again, I think there is clearly other issues that are completely unrelated to scientific research,'' he said.
#FrankPlummer '' renowned Winnipeg based Canadian National Microbiology Laboratory scientist key to #Coronavirus investigation has died in mysterious conditions in Africa. He was the one who received Saudi SARS Coronavirus sample which was smuggled to Wuhanhttps://t.co/VjvQMURTyT
'-- GreatGameIndia (@GreatGameIndia) February 6, 2020
This case has similarities to investigations in the U.S., where authorities have been investigating and warning about the danger of scientists and academics with Chinese connections sharing intellectual property and trade secrets with Beijing. Several have been forced from their positions at American universities and institutions.
The Canadian Security Intelligence Service and NATO have also warned of state-sponsored espionage.
In 2014, Canada claimed China was responsible for a cyber attack on the National Research Council.
Karen Pauls · CBC News · Posted: Jul 23, 2019 5:00 AM CT | Last Updated: July 23, 2019
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Head of Space Force slams Russia for trailing US spy satellite with TWO spacecraft | Daily Mail Online
Tue, 11 Feb 2020 11:04
Gen John Raymond, chief of space operations for the US Space Force, confirmed that two Russian satellites have been following a US spy satellite on Monday
A top Space Force official has lashed out at Russia for trailing a US spy satellite with two spacecraft.
Gen John Raymond, the chief of space operations for America's newly-minted Space Force, said the two Russian satellites began pursuing the multi-billion dollar US satellite in November and have at times flown within 100 miles it.
'This is unusual and disturbing behavior and has the potential to create a dangerous situation in space,' Raymond said in a statement to Business Insider.
'The United States finds these recent activities to be concerning and do not reflect the behavior of a responsible spacefaring nation.'
The US has raised concerns about the matter to Moscow through diplomatic channels, Raymond told Time magazine, which first reported the stalking on Monday.
The confrontation marks the first time the US military has publicly identified a direct threat to a specific American satellite by an adversary.
Pentagon, White House and Congressional backers have said that Russia's actions demonstrate the need for the Space Force, which became the sixth military branch when President Donald Trump signed the $738billion National Defense Authorization Act into law in December.
Space enthusiast Michael Thompson raised concerns one of the Russian satellite's maneuvers on Twitter late last month. He shared the graphic above which shows the path of the US satellite US 245 in blue and the Russian satellite Cosmos 2542 in purple
US military analysts first took note of the Russian mission when a spacecraft that was launched into orbit on November 26 - the Cosmos 2542 - unexpectedly split into two about two weeks later.
Closer inspection revealed that the second smaller satellite - Cosmos 2543 - had been effectively 'birthed' from the first.
'The way I picture it, in my mind, is like Russian nesting dolls,' Raymond told Time. 'The second satellite came out of the first satellite.'
Russia's Defense Ministry confirmed the separation on December 6 and said the purpose of the experiment was to 'assess the technical condition of domestic satellites', according to the TASS news agency.
The explanation was called into question in mid-January as analysts noticed the two satellites were flying close by the American satellite dubbed USA 245.
The satellite is one of four in a reconnaissance constellation codenamed Keyhole/CRYSTAL - KH-11 for short - which is operated by the National Reconnaissance Office, a secretive intelligence agency based in Virginia.
KH-11 satellites' sensors and cameras are said to be focused on foreign adversaries' top-secret military installations. They operate in a polar orbit several hundred miles above the Earth's surface, allowing them to cover its entirety.
One of those satellites, the USA 224, is widely believed to have taken the highly-detailed image of Iran's Imam Khomeini Space Center that President Donald Trump posted on Twitter in August.
Pictured: Launch of a Soyuz 2-1v rocket carrying the Cosmos 2542 satellite
Space enthusiast Michael Thompson raised concerns about Cosmos 2542's maneuvers on Twitter late last month.
'This is all circumstantial evidence, but there are a hell of a lot of circumstances that make it look like a known Russian inspection satellite is currently inspecting a known US spy satellite,' Thompson tweeted on January 30.
He suggested that Cosmos 2542 may be getting close to USA 245 to take intelligence photos of the satellite or that it could be getting into a position to debilitate it.
Russia has a number of communications satellites positioned above the Earth that the Kremlin could use to gather intelligence or even disable or destroy other satellites, according to The Drive.
This could potentially usher in a new era of 'space war', where weaponized satellites in orbit attempt to gain ground on satellites from other nations.
Thompson shared the graphic above on Twitter which illustrates the distance between the two satellites, with dates on the x axis and kilometers on the y axis
Thompson said the satellites' orbital periods were less than one second apart, meaning that Cosmos 2542 is 'loitering around USA 245 in consistent view'
HAVE SATELLITES EVER COLLIDED IN SPACE?In the decades since humanity first launched satellites to orbit, there have only been four known collisions between two such objects in space.
But, experts say satellite crashes will become more common in the future.
The first occured in 1991, when Russia's Cosmos 1934 was hit by a piece of Cosmos 926, according to ESA.
Five years later, France's Cerise satellite was struck by a piece of an Ariane 4 rocket.
Then, in 2005, US upper stage was hit by a piece of a Chinese rocket's third stage. In 2009 an Iridium satellite slammed into Russia's Cosmos-2251.
Instead of Solving Real Crimes, Cops Go Undercover to Arrest 118 Handymen for Not Having Licenses
Tue, 11 Feb 2020 10:47
Hillsborough County, FL '-- In the land of the free, attempting to earn money in certain professions without first paying the state for the privilege of doing so can and will get you kidnapped and extorted. These laws are applied to children behind lemonade stands as well as adults selling flowers. The state callously and with extreme prejudice has been documented arresting people, or even beating up women to enforce these licensing laws.
In one of the largest and most egregious cases we've ever seen, cops squandered countless resources waging an elaborate undercover scheme to arrest 118 handymen for trying to earn a living without first paying the state to obtain a license.
Brave deputies with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office went undercover in Operation House Hunters to nab the 118 contractors attempting to earn an honest living instead of robbing, stealing, begging, or collecting welfare. The contractors are accused of performing jobs that totaled over $540,000 worth of work. The horror.
The unsuspecting contractors were lured by Hillsborough's finest to one of five homes where they were filmed doing work like installing recessed lighting or painting '-- then they were arrested for it. It takes a special kind of person to unapologetically trick an honest laborer into doing work just so you can arrest them for failing to obtain the correct state license.
If you listen to the police, however, it's as if every one of these folks were hardened criminals preying on the town.
''These 118 con men and women were posing as contractors & preying on innocent homeowners in Hillsborough County, who were just looking to repair or improve their home,'' said Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister at a Tuesday press conference. The department then proudly displayed a poster of their mugshots as if they were child molesters or bank robbers.
Sheriff: ''We have arrested 118 people in an investigation we called, 'Operation House Hunters.' These 118 con men & women were posing as contractors & preying on innocent homeowners in Hillsborough County, who were just looking to repair or improve their home.'' pic.twitter.com/5TQyb1QteZ
'-- HCSO #teamhcso (@HCSOSheriff) February 4, 2020
As Reason magazine points out, only eight of the people arrested as part of Operation House Hunter had criminal records, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Department. The other 110 were arrested for first-time offenses. The bulk of those charges were for ''unlawful acts in the capacity of a contractor,'' a misdemeanor offense that can come with a $1,000 fine and a 12-month jail sentence. Repeat violations can result in a felony charge.
No one here is advocating for homeowners to blindly hire anyone who comes to their door. Before hiring someone to do a job in your home, you should definitely make sure they come with references, are insured, and can show you prior work. If you are hiring someone for expert work like electrical or HVAC, certification is a must. But this is the job of the homeowner to assess these situations '-- not the police state.
Touting the fact that they arrested 8 people with criminal histories is a sham to make this undercover sting seem like it was worth it. However, do not be fooled, these cops, like con men, have ulterior motives as well.
Leslie Sammis, a criminal defense lawyer in Tampa, Florida has represented clients who have been caught up in these most unscrupulous schemes. He says these stings almost never result in arresting actual criminals.
''The real con men that are trying to trick homeowners are usually too experienced to get caught up in one of these types of sting operations. So the stings tend to catch someone that crosses the line in an unsophisticated way,'' Sammis told Reason.
Sammis explained that the undercover cops will hire handymen on the pretext of performing work that doesn't require a license and then trick them into doing it mid-job. It's nothing short of entrapment.
''When the handyman says no, then the undercover detective moves the conversation to something else and then comes back to the question later in a different way,'' says Sammis. ''By the time the handyman gets to the location, they want to make the homeowner happy and end up agreeing to perform work that they didn't intend on doing when they first arrived. The undercover detective[s] are just creating a crime that probably wouldn't occur otherwise.''
Sammis says that these cops couldn't care less about homeowner safety, which is illustrated by the fact that very few actual criminals are caught. Also, while these cops are devoting resources to arresting handymen, actual crimes in which there are actual victims, go unpunished and uninvestigated. Instead of solving or helping to prevent the further victimization of innocent citizens, these elaborate stings are used to bolster the city's bottom line.
''These sting operations rake in big money in fines and court costs,'' Sammis says. ''Catching real criminals actually committing a crime is much harder.''
Tientallen bedrijven niet naar techbeurs in RAI door coronavirus - AT5
Tue, 11 Feb 2020 10:40
Ruim 70 bedrijven hebben zich afgemeld voor de ISE in de RAI, dat is een van 's werelds grootste beurzen op het gebied van ge¯ntegreerde audiovisuele systemen. De bedrijven durven of kunnen niet aanwezig bij het congres in Amsterdam. Voor de ruim 1300 bedrijven die er wel zijn, zijn er extra veiligheidsmaatregelen getroffen. Daarnaast geeft de organisatie de bezoekers bijvoorbeeld het advies om elkaar geen hand te geven.
Tijdens de ISE komen bedrijven van over de hele wereld samen om de laatste ontwikkelingen op het gebied van audiovisuele systemen te bewonderen. Vanwege het snel verspreidende coronavirus maakten veel bedrijven zich zorgen over de veiligheid van het evenement.
'We ontvingen veel vragen over of het evenement wel door kon gaan, en over welke maatregelen wij treffen om de veiligheid van de bezoekers te waarborgen,' vertelde Joe Hosken, directeur marketing en communicatie van ISE.
50 bedrijven uit China komen nietUiteindelijk hebben 72 van de bijna 1400 bedrijven besloten zich terug te trekken, waaronder de Zuid-Koreaanse techgigant LG. Van de afgehaakte bedrijven zijn er 50 afkomstig uit China. In veel gevallen konden ze eenvoudigweg niet komen omdat veel vluchten zijn geannuleerd.
Om eventuele verspreiding van het coronavirus tijdens het evenement te voorkomen zijn er extra veiligheidsmaatregelen getroffen. 'We adviseren mensen om fysiek contact te vermijden, geef elkaar een boks in plaats van een hand of kies voor een simpele verbale groet,' meldt ISE in een online coronavirus update.Er is een medisch team aanwezig waarvan het telefoonnummer op de badges van alle deelnemers geprint staat. Mensen met griepverschijnselen wordt vriendelijk verzocht wegwerp tissues te gebruiken, vaak de handen te wassen en afstand tot andere mensen te bewaren.
Er zijn extra sanitaire voorzieningen beschikbaar gesteld zodat mensen vaker hun handen kunnen wassenen de registratieapparatuur wordt extra vaak schoongemaakt. Verder worden na elke presentatie de toetsenborden en microfoons schoongemaakt.
De beurs is vandaag begonnen en duurt nog tot en met vrijdag.
Pangolins Are Suspected as a Potential Coronavirus Host - The New York Times
Tue, 11 Feb 2020 09:53
The world's most trafficked mammal may be involved in the Wuhan outbreak, but the evidence is far from clear.
An earlier interest in pangolins as a possible source of human coronavirus infection appears in a report that predates the epidemic. Credit... Themba Hadebe/Associated Press In the search for the animal source or sources of the coronavirus epidemic in China, the latest candidate is the pangolin, an endangered, scaly, ant-eating mammal that is imported in huge numbers to Chinese markets for food and medicine.
The market in pangolins is so large that they are said to be the most trafficked mammals on the planet. All four Asian species are critically endangered, and it is far from clear whether being identified as a viral host would be good or bad for pangolins. It could decrease the trade in the animals, or cause a backlash.
It is also far from clear whether the pangolin is the animal that passed the new virus to humans. Bats are still thought to be the original host of the virus. If pangolins are involved in disease transmission, they would act as an intermediate host. The science so far is suggestive rather than conclusive, and because of the intense interest in the virus, some claims have been made public before the traditional scientific review process.
As a result, some researchers who specialize in studying diseases that spill over from animals to humans have expressed frustration about conducting discussions about scientific claims without the life breath of science: publicly available data and accounts of how the research was done that have been vetted by other scientists.
While scientists wait for details on genetic studies, there is a gaping hole in the more mundane, but equally important, detective work involved in tracking the path of a disease. To be certain of what happened with the new virus, researchers need to know exactly which animals were present in the market in Wuhan which may have been instrumental in the spread of the disease.
The virus was found in people associated with the market, and in the market environment '-- on surfaces, for instance, or in cages. However, some of the early cases, including what might have been the first reported case, were in people who were not associated with the market. Jon Epstein, vice president for science and outreach at EcoHealth Alliance in New York, said this means the first jump from animals to humans may not have occurred in the marketplace. People may have contracted the disease from animals at another location or earlier, as yet unknown cases may have contracted the disease at the market and passed it on to other people.
Further complicating matters, animals at the Wuhan market seem to have been quickly disposed of, although reports from China were that samples from those animals tested negative for the virus.
Updated Feb. 10, 2020
What is a Coronavirus? It is a novel virus named for the crown-like spikes that protrude from its surface. The coronavirus can infect both animals and people, and can cause a range of respiratory illnesses from the common cold to more dangerous conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS. How contagious is the virus? According to preliminary research, it seems moderately infectious, similar to SARS, and is possibly transmitted through the air. Scientists have estimated that each infected person could spread it to somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5 people without effective containment measures. Where has the virus spread? The virus originated in Wuhan, China, and has sickened tens of thousands of people in China and at least two dozen other countries. How worried should I be? While the virus is a serious public health concern, the risk to most people outside China remains very low, and seasonal flu is a more immediate threat. Who is working to contain the virus? World Health Organization officials have praised China's aggressive response to the virus by closing transportation, schools and markets. This week, a team of experts from the W.H.O. arrived in Beijing to offer assistance. What if I'm traveling? The United States and Australia are temporarily denying entry to noncitizens who recently traveled to China and several airlines have canceled flights. How do I keep myself and others safe? Washing your hands frequently is the most important thing you can do, along with staying at home when you're sick. ''That's the black box we have, what animals were there, what animals involved,'' said Dr. Epstein.
In previous coronavirus outbreaks, SARS in China in 2003 and MERS in Saudi Arabia in 2012, interviews with people who had contact with animal hosts were essential to finding the source, Dr. Epstein said.
Palm civets turned out to be an intermediate host of SARS and camels an intermediate host of MERS. In both outbreaks, researchers eventually found that the origin of the virus was in bats, where the virus could live without sickening the animals. From bats, the viruses seem to have jumped to intermediate hosts and then to people.
An earlier indication that pangolins could be a possible source of human coronavirus infection appeared in a report that predates the epidemic. Chinese researchers published a report in October that documented that pangolins can host a variety of coronaviruses. They released the genetic sequences from their analysis to public databases where they could be analyzed.
Then, on Friday, the Xinhua News Agency reported that researchers at South China Agricultural University had found a virus in pangolins that had a 99 percent match to the novel coronavirus that has now sickened 40,000 people and killed more than 900. That would be the closest match so far.
The news report did not say the finding was conclusive, but that the result means ''pangolins may be an intermediate host of the virus.'' Scientists in the field are eagerly awaiting publication of the findings, and until then, they are impossible to evaluate.
In addition, a post on the website Virological, suggested that a coronavirus from bats could have recombined with one from pangolins to form the new virus.
Joseph Petrosino, at Baylor College of Medicine, said Matthew Wong, a bio-informatician in his lab, posted an analysis he had done. Dr. Petrosino said he expected the work to be posted on bioRxiv shortly and that he and his colleagues have submitted it to a peer-reviewed journal.
In essence, he said, data mining of genomic data posted in the last 12 months '-- most importantly the October report on pangolins '-- indicated that a portion of a coronavirus in pangolins was nearly identical to one in the new virus. That portion involves the way that the virus invades human cells. Therefore, they propose, the bat virus and pangolin virus may have combined, perhaps in pangolins in the wild, perhaps in another animal.
Dr. Petrosino said he's eager for the peer review process, but the intensity of attention to the new virus made public discussion somewhat inevitable. The website Virological, he said, is like ''Twitter for geeks,'' not a place where news is usually made. His lab's research was first reported in the Daily Maverick, a South African news site.
What might have been early hints of hypotheses or preliminary findings in another context now attract global attention. CITES, the international organization that lists endangered species, tweeted that #Pangolins may have spread #coronavirus to humans.''
That drew a response from Hume Field, science and policy adviser for EcoHealth Alliance in Australia, who worked on both SARS and MERS. He responded:
''I appreciate CITES genuine concern for pangolins and the devastating illegal trade, but to seek to further their cause by propagating this unsubstantiated news release only adds to confusion and rumor.''
Public databases enable any lab, anywhere, to investigate and analyze genetic sequences published for bat and pangolin coronaviruses, and hypothesize what may have happened.
Benjamin Neumann, chairman of the biology department at Texas A&M University, is one of the scientists who have been looking at the sequences in his lab and talking to other scientists examining them. ''Similar analyses are taking place in labs around the world right now,'' he said.
But, he said, ''While the pangolin-associated viruses appear to be related to the novel coronavirus that is infecting people, it is not yet the smoking gun that tells us how 2019-nCoV originated.'' That's what the virus causing the epidemic is called.
He pointed out that the pangolins could have been infected by the same virus that sickens humans, but be just another victim rather than the source.
Determining the transmission of a virus from an animal to a human requires much more information, Dr. Epstein said.
He said, ''The smoking gun here is finding people who were healthy before they were handling pangolins, or any other animal. They handled the animal, they got sick after they handled the animal, and the same virus that made them sick was present in the animal they handled.''
Coincidentally, this Saturday, Feb. 15, is World Pangolin Day.
Some Experts Worry as a Germ-Phobic Trump Confronts a Growing Epidemic - The New York Times
Tue, 11 Feb 2020 09:52
When President Barack Obama contended with an Ebola outbreak, Mr. Trump demanded measures like canceling flights, forcing quarantines and even denying the return of American medical workers.
President Trump has spoken openly about his phobia of germs. Credit... T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times WASHINGTON '-- When an outbreak of the Ebola virus touched the United States' shores in mid-2014, Donald J. Trump was still a private citizen. But he had strong opinions about how America should act.
Mr. Trump, who has spoken openly about his phobia of germs, closely followed the epidemic, and offered angry commentary about what he said was the Obama administration's dangerous response. He demanded draconian measures like canceling flights, forcing quarantines and even denying the return of American medical workers who had contracted the disease in Africa.
''Ebola patient will be brought to the U.S. in a few days '-- now I know for sure that our leaders are incompetent. KEEP THEM OUT OF HERE!'' Mr. Trump tweeted on that July 31 after learning that one American medical worker would be evacuated to Atlanta from Liberia. ''The U.S. cannot allow EBOLA infected people back,'' Mr. Trump wrote the next day, adding: ''People that go to far away places to help out are great '-- but must suffer the consequences!''
In nearly 50 tweets, as well as in appearances on Fox News and other networks, Mr. Trump supported flight bans and strict quarantines and branded President Barack Obama's deployment of troops to West Africa to fight the disease as ''morally unfair.''
Many health experts called Mr. Trump's responses extreme, noting that the health workers would have most likely faced agonizing deaths had they not been evacuated to American hospitals. Former Obama administration officials said his commentary stoked alarmism in the news media and spread fear among the public.
Now Mr. Trump confronts another epidemic in the form of the coronavirus, this time at the head of the country's health care and national security agencies. The illness has infected few people in the United States, but health officials fear it could soon spread more widely. And while Mr. Trump has so far kept his distance from the issue, public health experts worry that his extreme fear of germs, disdain for scientific and bureaucratic expertise and suspicion of foreigners could be a dangerous mix, should he wind up overseeing a severe outbreak at home.
''Having a head of state who is trusted, who is a credible message deliverer, consistent in communications and consistent with evidence, is absolutely necessary,'' said Dr. Jennifer Nuzzo, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. ''There's so much misinformation out there, so a central role is for a leader to be a go-to source for credible information.''
For the most part, Mr. Trump has been uncharacteristically restrained in his commentary about the virus, partly for fear of elevating the subject and further rattling financial markets, according to a person briefed on his thinking. Instead, he has largely delegated the response to senior health officials.
At the end of January, Mr. Trump created a 12-member coronavirus task force, which will be managed by the National Security Council. It includes the health and human services secretary, Alex M. Azar II; Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health; and Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Updated Feb.11, 2020
Thirteen cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in the United States, including a 35-year-old man in Washington State, a couple in their 60s in Chicago and seven people in California. One of the people evacuated to the United States from Wuhan last week is infected with the coronavirus, U.C. San Diego Health said in a statement. Pittsburgh, Wuhan's ''sister city,'' has been shaken by the outbreak and is sending aid to relatives and friends trapped in the center of a deadly outbreak. Hundreds of Americans evacuated from Wuhan arrived on military bases, where they were expected to remain in quarantine for days. Hundreds of Americans who recently traveled to China are isolating themselves in 'self quarantines' for 14 days. There was a race to contain the disease after one man's cough became confirmation of America's first case. A high school exchange student may have been among the last Americans to arrive home in time to avoid the mandated quarantine. Mask hoarders may increase the risk of an outbreak in the U.S. Health care workers risk infection if they cannot get the protective gear. Most experts agree: To protect yourself wash your hands and avoid touching your face. Tips to not get sick while traveling. Affected by travel? Or do you know someone who is? Please contact us at coronavirus@nytimes.com if you are willing to be contacted by a reporter or have your comments used for a coming story. All three have experience dealing with infectious diseases, especially Mr. Fauci, who has helped to manage the response to numerous outbreaks, including the AIDS epidemic, the SARS virus and Ebola.
In many of his remarks he has made, Mr. Trump has praised President Xi Jinping of China, even though his government has been widely criticized for a clumsy and initially secretive response to the coronavirus, and made some questionable announcements.
''They're working really hard, and I think they're doing a very professional job,'' Mr. Trump said on Friday.
Speaking to a meeting of the nation's governors on Monday, he predicted that the virus will have run its course by spring and again referred to the Chinese president.
''The virus that we're talking about having to do, a lot of people think that goes away in April, with the heat, as the heat comes in, typically that will go away in April,'' Mr. Trump said. Referring to the United States, he added: ''We're in great shape, though. We have 12 cases, 11 cases, and many of them are in good shape now.'' (The number of confirmed cases is 12, according to a Monday update by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)
''I had a long talk with President Xi two nights ago,'' he added. ''He feels very confident. He feels that again, as I mentioned, by April or during the month of April, the heat generally speaking kills this kind of virus. So that would be a good thing.''
Public health experts questioned the speculative nature of his comments. ''I think there is a lot we still don't know about this virus, and I'm not sure we can say definitively that it will dissipate with warmer weather,'' said Dr. Rebecca Katz, director of the Center for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown University.
''Relying on the fact that it's going to warm up in April as reassurance that the virus will be controlled by then I think is arguable,'' added Dr. James M. Hughes, a professor emeritus of medicine at Emory University.
Other comments from Mr. Trump about the disease have been inaccurate or met with criticism. In late January, he wrote on Twitter that five coronavirus cases had been confirmed in the United States just hours after a sixth had been confirmed. Addressing the virus on Feb. 2, Mr. Trump boasted to Fox News, ''We pretty much shut it down coming in from China.''
The words ''shut it down'' apparently referred to an executive order the president had issued two days earlier, barring entry to the United States by foreign citizens who traveled to China in the past two weeks. Some health experts worry that Mr. Trump overpromised because the order '-- which the White House announced abruptly, with little outside consultation '-- is unlikely to prevent the illness from reaching the United States, and federal health officials say they assume the number of cases in the United States is likely to increase.
Speaking at a Friday news briefing, Mr. Azar defended the president's actions and said the new travel restrictions were ''very measured and incremental'' while praising Mr. Trump's ''aggressive'' response overall.
Presidential words have played an important role in past health crises. Ronald Reagan was severely criticized for his slow response to the spread of H.I.V. and for recommending abstinence to address the infection. Mr. Obama resisted pressure from Mr. Trump and others to institute sweeping travel bans and quarantines, calling them alarmist and urging levelheaded thinking.
''This is a serious disease, but we can't give in to hysteria or fear because that only makes it harder to get people the accurate information they need,'' Mr. Obama said in October 2014 in a radio address. ''We have to be guided by the science. We have to remember the basic facts.''
Mr. Trump's record on presenting facts has been a persistent source of criticism in the scientific community. The last time the White House became involved in managing a national emergency, during Hurricane Dorian in September, he misstated an official forecast of the storm's path, then displayed a tracking map in the Oval Office that he appeared to have altered with one of his signature Sharpie pens.
''Trump has the right people, but the wrong instincts and the wrong structure,'' said Ronald Klain, who directed the Obama administration's response to the 2014 Ebola crisis. ''Our government is staffed with the best experts, scientists and medical leaders in the world. But Trump's instincts '-- anti-science, anti-expert, isolationist and xenophobic '-- risk that he will eschew that advice at critical points.''
Another factor is Mr. Trump's lifelong obsession with personal hygiene. While he has shown little interest in health or science policy, he has often spoken of his extreme revulsion to germs.
In his 2004 book, ''How to Get Rich,'' the president declared himself ''very much of a germophobe,'' and wrote that he was ''waging a personal crusade to replace the mandatory and unsanitary handshake with the Japanese custom of bowing.''
As a result, Mr. Trump generally avoids the political tradition of shaking dozens of hands after his speeches and rallies, and frequently uses hand sanitizer. He is quick to banish aides who cough and sneeze in his presence. In a January 2017 interview, the president's personal physician, Dr. Harold N. Bornstein, said Mr. Trump always ''changes the paper himself'' in the examining room.
In that regard, Mr. Trump may have gained at least a temporary ally in Mr. Xi. Mingling for the cameras with Beijing residents Monday, Mr. Xi, who sported a surgical mask, recommended they skip the customary form of greeting. ''Let's not shake hands in this special time,'' he said.
Lawrence K. Altman and Maggie Haberman contributed reporting. Kitty Bennett contributed research.
'Anonymous' author identified as White House official and will be promptly removed, Joe diGenova says
Tue, 11 Feb 2020 09:49
| February 10, 2020 01:05 PM
| Updated Feb 10, 2020, 01:55 PM
The White House has identified the Trump administration official behind the anonymous tell-all book and critical New York Times opinion piece about the White House and will part ways with that person, according to former U.S. Attorney Joe diGenova.
DiGenova, a lawyer whose work has been caught up in the Ukraine-impeachment controversy, said on Monday that he and his wife, Victoria Toensing, were told by "a senior government official" that "Anonymous" had been identified as an official working in the White House and would be removed "soon."
DiGenova declined to reveal more details in an interview with WMAL's Mornings on the Mall, but his comments come days after the White House dismissed Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, an impeachment witness, and his identical twin brother from the National Security Council.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this report. DiGenova declined to comment to the Washington Examiner.
DiGenova has been in the news lately as details emerged about his and Toensing's work with President Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to uncover evidence that former Vice President Joe Biden held up to $1 billion in loan guarantees from Ukraine to help his son escape a potential corruption investigation. Trump pressing Ukraine to announce investigations into his political rivals, including the Bidens, was the subject of impeachment, which ended in an acquittal of the president in the Senate last week.
The publicly unknown administration official first made him or herself known in September 2018 when the New York Times published an anonymous opinion piece by a senior member of the Trump administration, explaining that there is an internal "resistance" group of officials working to stymie the president's worst inclinations.
Following the publication of the New York Times piece, a multitude of Trump administration officials denied being the author amid feverish speculation, including Vice President Mike Pence, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Trump labeled the author "gutless" and questioned whether a "so-called 'senior administration official'" even existed.
"Anonymous" published a book titled A Warning last November.
There were several explosive claims in the book, including one alleging that a group of White House aides put together a tally of Cabinet members who they believed would support the use of the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. Another section of the book talks about how a group of senior Trump administration officials considered a "midnight self-massacre" in which they would resign together.
Dr_Revelator: "So it is only cut by 10%? That's reasonable. ---'..." - No Agenda Social
Tue, 11 Feb 2020 09:43
So it is only cut by 10%? That's reasonable. ---RT @[email protected]The White House Office of Science and Technology praising Trump's proposed budget which pretty much decimates science funding across the board. https:// twitter.com/whostp/status/1226 968800110796800 https:// twitter.com/DecoherenceWave/st atus/1227247307478855681
David Brooks: The Nuclear Family Was a Mistake - The Atlantic
Tue, 11 Feb 2020 09:08
T he scene is one many of us have somewhere in our family history: Dozens of people celebrating Thanksgiving or some other holiday around a makeshift stretch of family tables'--siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, great-aunts. The grandparents are telling the old family stories for the 37th time. ''It was the most beautiful place you've ever seen in your life,'' says one, remembering his first day in America. ''There were lights everywhere '... It was a celebration of light! I thought they were for me.''
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The oldsters start squabbling about whose memory is better. ''It was cold that day,'' one says about some faraway memory. ''What are you talking about? It was May, late May,'' says another. The young children sit wide-eyed, absorbing family lore and trying to piece together the plotline of the generations.
After the meal, there are piles of plates in the sink, squads of children conspiring mischievously in the basement. Groups of young parents huddle in a hallway, making plans. The old men nap on couches, waiting for dessert. It's the extended family in all its tangled, loving, exhausting glory.
This particular family is the one depicted in Barry Levinson's 1990 film, Avalon, based on his own childhood in Baltimore. Five brothers came to America from Eastern Europe around the time of World War I and built a wallpaper business. For a while they did everything together, like in the old country. But as the movie goes along, the extended family begins to split apart. Some members move to the suburbs for more privacy and space. One leaves for a job in a different state. The big blowup comes over something that seems trivial but isn't: The eldest of the brothers arrives late to a Thanksgiving dinner to find that the family has begun the meal without him.
''You cut the turkey without me?'' he cries. ''Your own flesh and blood! '... You cut the turkey?'' The pace of life is speeding up. Convenience, privacy, and mobility are more important than family loyalty. ''The idea that they would eat before the brother arrived was a sign of disrespect,'' Levinson told me recently when I asked him about that scene. ''That was the real crack in the family. When you violate the protocol, the whole family structure begins to collapse.''
As the years go by in the movie, the extended family plays a smaller and smaller role. By the 1960s, there's no extended family at Thanksgiving. It's just a young father and mother and their son and daughter, eating turkey off trays in front of the television. In the final scene, the main character is living alone in a nursing home, wondering what happened. ''In the end, you spend everything you've ever saved, sell everything you've ever owned, just to exist in a place like this.''
''In my childhood,'' Levinson told me, ''you'd gather around the grandparents and they would tell the family stories '... Now individuals sit around the TV, watching other families' stories.'' The main theme of Avalon, he said, is ''the decentralization of the family. And that has continued even further today. Once, families at least gathered around the television. Now each person has their own screen.''
This is the story of our times'--the story of the family, once a dense cluster of many siblings and extended kin, fragmenting into ever smaller and more fragile forms. The initial result of that fragmentation, the nuclear family, didn't seem so bad. But then, because the nuclear family is so brittle, the fragmentation continued. In many sectors of society, nuclear families fragmented into single-parent families, single-parent families into chaotic families or no families.
If you want to summarize the changes in family structure over the past century, the truest thing to say is this: We've made life freer for individuals and more unstable for families. We've made life better for adults but worse for children. We've moved from big, interconnected, and extended families, which helped protect the most vulnerable people in society from the shocks of life, to smaller, detached nuclear families (a married couple and their children), which give the most privileged people in society room to maximize their talents and expand their options. The shift from bigger and interconnected extended families to smaller and detached nuclear families ultimately led to a familial system that liberates the rich and ravages the working-class and the poor.
Annie Lowrey: The great affordability crisis breaking America
This article is about that process, and the devastation it has wrought'--and about how Americans are now groping to build new kinds of family and find better ways to live.
Part IThe Era of Extended ClansThrough the early parts of American history, most people lived in what, by today's standards, were big, sprawling households. In 1800, three-quarters of American workers were farmers. Most of the other quarter worked in small family businesses, like dry-goods stores. People needed a lot of labor to run these enterprises. It was not uncommon for married couples to have seven or eight children. In addition, there might be stray aunts, uncles, and cousins, as well as unrelated servants, apprentices, and farmhands. (On some southern farms, of course, enslaved African Americans were also an integral part of production and work life.)
Steven Ruggles, a professor of history and population studies at the University of Minnesota, calls these ''corporate families'''--social units organized around a family business. According to Ruggles, in 1800, 90 percent of American families were corporate families. Until 1850, roughly three-quarters of Americans older than 65 lived with their kids and grandkids. Nuclear families existed, but they were surrounded by extended or corporate families.
Read: What number of kids makes parents happiest?
Extended families have two great strengths. The first is resilience. An extended family is one or more families in a supporting web. Your spouse and children come first, but there are also cousins, in-laws, grandparents'--a complex web of relationships among, say, seven, 10, or 20 people. If a mother dies, siblings, uncles, aunts, and grandparents are there to step in. If a relationship between a father and a child ruptures, others can fill the breach. Extended families have more people to share the unexpected burdens'--when a kid gets sick in the middle of the day or when an adult unexpectedly loses a job.
A detached nuclear family, by contrast, is an intense set of relationships among, say, four people. If one relationship breaks, there are no shock absorbers. In a nuclear family, the end of the marriage means the end of the family as it was previously understood.
The second great strength of extended families is their socializing force. Multiple adults teach children right from wrong, how to behave toward others, how to be kind. Over the course of the 18th and 19th centuries, industrialization and cultural change began to threaten traditional ways of life. Many people in Britain and the United States doubled down on the extended family in order to create a moral haven in a heartless world. According to Ruggles, the prevalence of extended families living together roughly doubled from 1750 to 1900, and this way of life was more common than at any time before or since.
During the Victorian era, the idea of ''hearth and home'' became a cultural ideal. The home ''is a sacred place, a vestal temple, a temple of the hearth watched over by Household Gods, before whose faces none may come but those whom they can receive with love,'' the great Victorian social critic John Ruskin wrote. This shift was led by the upper-middle class, which was coming to see the family less as an economic unit and more as an emotional and moral unit, a rectory for the formation of hearts and souls.
But while extended families have strengths, they can also be exhausting and stifling. They allow little privacy; you are forced to be in daily intimate contact with people you didn't choose. There's more stability but less mobility. Family bonds are thicker, but individual choice is diminished. You have less space to make your own way in life. In the Victorian era, families were patriarchal, favoring men in general and first-born sons in particular.
As factories opened in the big U.S. cities, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, young men and women left their extended families to chase the American dream. These young people married as soon as they could. A young man on a farm might wait until 26 to get married; in the lonely city, men married at 22 or 23. From 1890 to 1960, the average age of first marriage dropped by 3.6 years for men and 2.2 years for women.
The families they started were nuclear families. The decline of multigenerational cohabiting families exactly mirrors the decline in farm employment. Children were no longer raised to assume economic roles'--they were raised so that at adolescence they could fly from the nest, become independent, and seek partners of their own. They were raised not for embeddedness but for autonomy. By the 1920s, the nuclear family with a male breadwinner had replaced the corporate family as the dominant family form. By 1960, 77.5 percent of all children were living with their two parents, who were married, and apart from their extended family.
The Short, Happy Life of the Nuclear FamilyFor a time, it all seemed to work. From 1950 to 1965, divorce rates dropped, fertility rates rose, and the American nuclear family seemed to be in wonderful shape. And most people seemed prosperous and happy. In these years, a kind of cult formed around this type of family'--what McCall's, the leading women's magazine of the day, called ''togetherness.'' Healthy people lived in two-parent families. In a 1957 survey, more than half of the respondents said that unmarried people were ''sick,'' ''immoral,'' or ''neurotic.''
During this period, a certain family ideal became engraved in our minds: a married couple with 2.5 kids. When we think of the American family, many of us still revert to this ideal. When we have debates about how to strengthen the family, we are thinking of the two-parent nuclear family, with one or two kids, probably living in some detached family home on some suburban street. We take it as the norm, even though this wasn't the way most humans lived during the tens of thousands of years before 1950, and it isn't the way most humans have lived during the 55 years since 1965.
Today, only a minority of American households are traditional two-parent nuclear families and only one-third of American individuals live in this kind of family. That 1950''65 window was not normal. It was a freakish historical moment when all of society conspired, wittingly and not, to obscure the essential fragility of the nuclear family.
Photo illustration: Weronika GÄsicka; AlamyFor one thing, most women were relegated to the home. Many corporations, well into the mid-20th century, barred married women from employment: Companies would hire single women, but if those women got married, they would have to quit. Demeaning and disempowering treatment of women was rampant. Women spent enormous numbers of hours trapped inside the home under the headship of their husband, raising children.
For another thing, nuclear families in this era were much more connected to other nuclear families than they are today'--constituting a ''modified extended family,'' as the sociologist Eugene Litwak calls it, ''a coalition of nuclear families in a state of mutual dependence.'' Even as late as the 1950s, before television and air-conditioning had fully caught on, people continued to live on one another's front porches and were part of one another's lives. Friends felt free to discipline one another's children.
In his book The Lost City, the journalist Alan Ehrenhalt describes life in mid-century Chicago and its suburbs:
To be a young homeowner in a suburb like Elmhurst in the 1950s was to participate in a communal enterprise that only the most determined loner could escape: barbecues, coffee klatches, volleyball games, baby-sitting co-ops and constant bartering of household goods, child rearing by the nearest parents who happened to be around, neighbors wandering through the door at any hour without knocking'--all these were devices by which young adults who had been set down in a wilderness of tract homes made a community. It was a life lived in public.Finally, conditions in the wider society were ideal for family stability. The postwar period was a high-water mark of church attendance, unionization, social trust, and mass prosperity'--all things that correlate with family cohesion. A man could relatively easily find a job that would allow him to be the breadwinner for a single-income family. By 1961, the median American man age 25 to 29 was earning nearly 400 percent more than his father had earned at about the same age.
In short, the period from 1950 to 1965 demonstrated that a stable society can be built around nuclear families'--so long as women are relegated to the household, nuclear families are so intertwined that they are basically extended families by another name, and every economic and sociological condition in society is working together to support the institution.
Video: How the Nuclear Family Broke Down
David Brooks on the rise and decline of the nuclear familyDisintegrationBut these conditions did not last. The constellation of forces that had briefly shored up the nuclear family began to fall away, and the sheltered family of the 1950s was supplanted by the stressed family of every decade since. Some of the strains were economic. Starting in the mid-'70s, young men's wages declined, putting pressure on working-class families in particular. The major strains were cultural. Society became more individualistic and more self-oriented. People put greater value on privacy and autonomy. A rising feminist movement helped endow women with greater freedom to live and work as they chose.
Read: Gen-X women are caught in a generational tug-of-war
A study of women's magazines by the sociologists Francesca Cancian and Steven L. Gordon found that from 1900 to 1979, themes of putting family before self dominated in the 1950s: ''Love means self-sacrifice and compromise.'' In the 1960s and '70s, putting self before family was prominent: ''Love means self-expression and individuality.'' Men absorbed these cultural themes, too. The master trend in Baby Boomer culture generally was liberation'--''Free Bird,'' ''Born to Run,'' ''Ramblin' Man.''
Eli Finkel, a psychologist and marriage scholar at Northwestern University, has argued that since the 1960s, the dominant family culture has been the ''self-expressive marriage.'' ''Americans,'' he has written, ''now look to marriage increasingly for self-discovery, self-esteem and personal growth.'' Marriage, according to the sociologists Kathryn Edin and Maria Kefalas, ''is no longer primarily about childbearing and childrearing. Now marriage is primarily about adult fulfillment.''
Read: An interview with Eli Finkel on how we expect too much from our romantic partners
This cultural shift was very good for some adults, but it was not so good for families generally. Fewer relatives are around in times of stress to help a couple work through them. If you married for love, staying together made less sense when the love died. This attenuation of marital ties may have begun during the late 1800s: The number of divorces increased about fifteenfold from 1870 to 1920, and then climbed more or less continuously through the first several decades of the nuclear-family era. As the intellectual historian Christopher Lasch noted in the late 1970s, the American family didn't start coming apart in the 1960s; it had been ''coming apart for more than 100 years.''
Americans today have less family than ever before. From 1970 to 2012, the share of households consisting of married couples with kids has been cut in half. In 1960, according to census data, just 13 percent of all households were single-person households. In 2018, that figure was 28 percent. In 1850, 75 percent of Americans older than 65 lived with relatives; by 1990, only 18 percent did.
Over the past two generations, people have spent less and less time in marriage'--they are marrying later, if at all, and divorcing more. In 1950, 27 percent of marriages ended in divorce; today, about 45 percent do. In 1960, 72 percent of American adults were married. In 2017, nearly half of American adults were single. According to a 2014 report from the Urban Institute, roughly 90 percent of Baby Boomer women and 80 percent of Gen X women married by age 40, while only about 70 percent of late-Millennial women were expected to do so'--the lowest rate in U.S. history. And while more than four-fifths of American adults in a 2019 Pew Research Center survey said that getting married is not essential to living a fulfilling life, it's not just the institution of marriage they're eschewing: In 2004, 33 percent of Americans ages 18 to 34 were living without a romantic partner, according to the General Social Survey; by 2018, that number was up to 51 percent.
Over the past two generations, families have also gotten a lot smaller. The general American birth rate is half of what it was in 1960. In 2012, most American family households had no children. There are more American homes with pets than with kids. In 1970, about 20 percent of households had five or more people. As of 2012, only 9.6 percent did.
We're likely living through the most rapid change in family structure in human history. The causes are economic, cultural, and institutional all at once.Over the past two generations, the physical space separating nuclear families has widened. Before, sisters-in-law shouted greetings across the street at each other from their porches. Kids would dash from home to home and eat out of whoever's fridge was closest by. But lawns have grown more expansive and porch life has declined, creating a buffer of space that separates the house and family from anyone else. As Mandy Len Catron recently noted in The Atlantic, married people are less likely to visit parents and siblings, and less inclined to help them do chores or offer emotional support. A code of family self-sufficiency prevails: Mom, Dad, and the kids are on their own, with a barrier around their island home.
Finally, over the past two generations, families have grown more unequal. America now has two entirely different family regimes. Among the highly educated, family patterns are almost as stable as they were in the 1950s; among the less fortunate, family life is often utter chaos. There's a reason for that divide: Affluent people have the resources to effectively buy extended family, in order to shore themselves up. Think of all the child-rearing labor affluent parents now buy that used to be done by extended kin: babysitting, professional child care, tutoring, coaching, therapy, expensive after-school programs. (For that matter, think of how the affluent can hire therapists and life coaches for themselves, as replacement for kin or close friends.) These expensive tools and services not only support children's development and help prepare them to compete in the meritocracy; by reducing stress and time commitments for parents, they preserve the amity of marriage. Affluent conservatives often pat themselves on the back for having stable nuclear families. They preach that everybody else should build stable families too. But then they ignore one of the main reasons their own families are stable: They can afford to purchase the support that extended family used to provide'--and that the people they preach at, further down the income scale, cannot.
Read: 'Intensive' parenting is a strategy for an age of inequality
In 1970, the family structures of the rich and poor did not differ that greatly. Now there is a chasm between them. As of 2005, 85 percent of children born to upper-middle-class families were living with both biological parents when the mom was 40. Among working-class families, only 30 percent were. According to a 2012 report from the National Center for Health Statistics, college-educated women ages 22 to 44 have a 78 percent chance of having their first marriage last at least 20 years. Women in the same age range with a high-school degree or less have only about a 40 percent chance. Among Americans ages 18 to 55, only 26 percent of the poor and 39 percent of the working class are currently married. In her book Generation Unbound, Isabel Sawhill, an economist at the Brookings Institution, cited research indicating that differences in family structure have ''increased income inequality by 25 percent.'' If the U.S. returned to the marriage rates of 1970, child poverty would be 20 percent lower. As Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University, once put it, ''It is the privileged Americans who are marrying, and marrying helps them stay privileged.''
When you put everything together, we're likely living through the most rapid change in family structure in human history. The causes are economic, cultural, and institutional all at once. People who grow up in a nuclear family tend to have a more individualistic mind-set than people who grow up in a multigenerational extended clan. People with an individualistic mind-set tend to be less willing to sacrifice self for the sake of the family, and the result is more family disruption. People who grow up in disrupted families have more trouble getting the education they need to have prosperous careers. People who don't have prosperous careers have trouble building stable families, because of financial challenges and other stressors. The children in those families become more isolated and more traumatized.
Read: The working-to-afford-child-care conundrum
Many people growing up in this era have no secure base from which to launch themselves and no well-defined pathway to adulthood. For those who have the human capital to explore, fall down, and have their fall cushioned, that means great freedom and opportunity'--and for those who lack those resources, it tends to mean great confusion, drift, and pain.
Over the past 50 years, federal and state governments have tried to mitigate the deleterious effects of these trends. They've tried to increase marriage rates, push down divorce rates, boost fertility, and all the rest. The focus has always been on strengthening the nuclear family, not the extended family. Occasionally, a discrete program will yield some positive results, but the widening of family inequality continues unabated.
The people who suffer the most from the decline in family support are the vulnerable'--especially children. In 1960, roughly 5 percent of children were born to unmarried women. Now about 40 percent are. The Pew Research Center reported that 11 percent of children lived apart from their father in 1960. In 2010, 27 percent did. Now about half of American children will spend their childhood with both biological parents. Twenty percent of young adults have no contact at all with their father (though in some cases that's because the father is deceased). American children are more likely to live in a single-parent household than children from any other country.
Read: The divorce gap
We all know stable and loving single-parent families. But on average, children of single parents or unmarried cohabiting parents tend to have worse health outcomes, worse mental-health outcomes, less academic success, more behavioral problems, and higher truancy rates than do children living with their two married biological parents. According to work by Richard V. Reeves, a co-director of the Center on Children and Families at the Brookings Institution, if you are born into poverty and raised by your married parents, you have an 80 percent chance of climbing out of it. If you are born into poverty and raised by an unmarried mother, you have a 50 percent chance of remaining stuck.
It's not just the lack of relationships that hurts children; it's the churn. According to a 2003 study that Andrew Cherlin cites, 12 percent of American kids had lived in at least three ''parental partnerships'' before they turned 15. The transition moments, when mom's old partner moves out or her new partner moves in, are the hardest on kids, Cherlin shows.
While children are the vulnerable group most obviously affected by recent changes in family structure, they are not the only one.
Consider single men. Extended families provided men with the fortifying influences of male bonding and female companionship. Today many American males spend the first 20 years of their life without a father and the next 15 without a spouse. Kay Hymowitz of the Manhattan Institute has spent a good chunk of her career examining the wreckage caused by the decline of the American family, and cites evidence showing that, in the absence of the connection and meaning that family provides, unmarried men are less healthy'--alcohol and drug abuse are common'--earn less, and die sooner than married men.
The period when the nuclear family flourished was not normal. It was a freakish historical moment when all of society conspired to obscure its essential fragility.For women, the nuclear-family structure imposes different pressures. Though women have benefited greatly from the loosening of traditional family structures'--they have more freedom to choose the lives they want'--many mothers who decide to raise their young children without extended family nearby find that they have chosen a lifestyle that is brutally hard and isolating. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that women still spend significantly more time on housework and child care than men do, according to recent data. Thus, the reality we see around us: stressed, tired mothers trying to balance work and parenting, and having to reschedule work when family life gets messy.
Read: The loneliness of early parenthood
Without extended families, older Americans have also suffered. According to the AARP, 35 percent of Americans over 45 say they are chronically lonely. Many older people are now ''elder orphans,'' with no close relatives or friends to take care of them. In 2015, The New York Times ran an article called ''The Lonely Death of George Bell,'' about a family-less 72-year-old man who died alone and rotted in his Queens apartment for so long that by the time police found him, his body was unrecognizable.
Finally, because groups that have endured greater levels of discrimination tend to have more fragile families, African Americans have suffered disproportionately in the era of the detached nuclear family. Nearly half of black families are led by an unmarried single woman, compared with less than one-sixth of white families. (The high rate of black incarceration guarantees a shortage of available men to be husbands or caretakers of children.) According to census data from 2010, 25 percent of black women over 35 have never been married, compared with 8 percent of white women. Two-thirds of African American children lived in single-parent families in 2018, compared with a quarter of white children. Black single-parent families are most concentrated in precisely those parts of the country in which slavery was most prevalent. Research by John Iceland, a professor of sociology and demography at Penn State, suggests that the differences between white and black family structure explain 30 percent of the affluence gap between the two groups.
In 2004, the journalist and urbanist Jane Jacobs published her final book, an assessment of North American society called Dark Age Ahead. At the core of her argument was the idea that families are ''rigged to fail.'' The structures that once supported the family no longer exist, she wrote. Jacobs was too pessimistic about many things, but for millions of people, the shift from big and/or extended families to detached nuclear families has indeed been a disaster.
As the social structures that support the family have decayed, the debate about it has taken on a mythical quality. Social conservatives insist that we can bring the nuclear family back. But the conditions that made for stable nuclear families in the 1950s are never returning. Conservatives have nothing to say to the kid whose dad has split, whose mom has had three other kids with different dads; ''go live in a nuclear family'' is really not relevant advice. If only a minority of households are traditional nuclear families, that means the majority are something else: single parents, never-married parents, blended families, grandparent-headed families, serial partnerships, and so on. Conservative ideas have not caught up with this reality.
Read: How politics in Trump's America divides families
Progressives, meanwhile, still talk like self-expressive individualists of the 1970s: People should have the freedom to pick whatever family form works for them. And, of course, they should. But many of the new family forms do not work well for most people'--and while progressive elites say that all family structures are fine, their own behavior suggests that they believe otherwise. As the sociologist W. Bradford Wilcox has pointed out, highly educated progressives may talk a tolerant game on family structure when speaking about society at large, but they have extremely strict expectations for their own families. When Wilcox asked his University of Virginia students if they thought having a child out of wedlock was wrong, 62 percent said it was not wrong. When he asked the students how their own parents would feel if they themselves had a child out of wedlock, 97 percent said their parents would ''freak out.'' In a recent survey by the Institute for Family Studies, college-educated Californians ages 18 to 50 were less likely than those who hadn't graduated from college to say that having a baby out of wedlock is wrong. But they were more likely to say that personally they did not approve of having a baby out of wedlock.
In other words, while social conservatives have a philosophy of family life they can't operationalize, because it no longer is relevant, progressives have no philosophy of family life at all, because they don't want to seem judgmental. The sexual revolution has come and gone, and it's left us with no governing norms of family life, no guiding values, no articulated ideals. On this most central issue, our shared culture often has nothing relevant to say'--and so for decades things have been falling apart.
Read: Why is it hard for liberals to talk about 'family values'?
The good news is that human beings adapt, even if politics are slow to do so. When one family form stops working, people cast about for something new'--sometimes finding it in something very old.
Part IIRedefining KinshipIn the beginning was the band. For tens of thousands of years, people commonly lived in small bands of, say, 25 people, which linked up with perhaps 20 other bands to form a tribe. People in the band went out foraging for food and brought it back to share. They hunted together, fought wars together, made clothing for one another, looked after one another's kids. In every realm of life, they relied on their extended family and wider kin.
Except they didn't define kin the way we do today. We think of kin as those biologically related to us. But throughout most of human history, kinship was something you could create.
Anthropologists have been arguing for decades about what exactly kinship is. Studying traditional societies, they have found wide varieties of created kinship among different cultures. For the Ilongot people of the Philippines, people who migrated somewhere together are kin. For the New Guineans of the Nebilyer Valley, kinship is created by sharing grease'--the life force found in mother's milk or sweet potatoes. The Chuukese people in Micronesia have a saying: ''My sibling from the same canoe''; if two people survive a dangerous trial at sea, then they become kin. On the Alaskan North Slope, the Inupiat name their children after dead people, and those children are considered members of their namesake's family.
In other words, for vast stretches of human history people lived in extended families consisting of not just people they were related to but people they chose to cooperate with. An international research team recently did a genetic analysis of people who were buried together'--and therefore presumably lived together'--34,000 years ago in what is now Russia. They found that the people who were buried together were not closely related to one another. In a study of 32 present-day foraging societies, primary kin'--parents, siblings, and children'--usually made up less than 10 percent of a residential band. Extended families in traditional societies may or may not have been genetically close, but they were probably emotionally closer than most of us can imagine. In a beautiful essay on kinship, Marshall Sahlins, an anthropologist at the University of Chicago, says that kin in many such societies share a ''mutuality of being.'' The late religion scholar J. Prytz-Johansen wrote that kinship is experienced as an ''inner solidarity'' of souls. The late South African anthropologist Monica Wilson described kinsmen as ''mystically dependent'' on one another. Kinsmen belong to one another, Sahlins writes, because they see themselves as ''members of one another.''
Back in the 17th and 18th centuries, when European Protestants came to North America, their relatively individualistic culture existed alongside Native Americans' very communal culture. In his book Tribe, Sebastian Junger describes what happened next: While European settlers kept defecting to go live with Native American families, almost no Native Americans ever defected to go live with European families. Europeans occasionally captured Native Americans and forced them to come live with them. They taught them English and educated them in Western ways. But almost every time they were able, the indigenous Americans fled. European settlers were sometimes captured by Native Americans during wars and brought to live in Native communities. They rarely tried to run away. This bothered the Europeans. They had the superior civilization, so why were people voting with their feet to go live in another way?
When you read such accounts, you can't help but wonder whether our civilization has somehow made a gigantic mistake.
We can't go back, of course. Western individualists are no longer the kind of people who live in prehistoric bands. We may even no longer be the kind of people who were featured in the early scenes of Avalon. We value privacy and individual freedom too much.
Our culture is oddly stuck. We want stability and rootedness, but also mobility, dynamic capitalism, and the liberty to adopt the lifestyle we choose. We want close families, but not the legal, cultural, and sociological constraints that made them possible. We've seen the wreckage left behind by the collapse of the detached nuclear family. We've seen the rise of opioid addiction, of suicide, of depression, of inequality'--all products, in part, of a family structure that is too fragile, and a society that is too detached, disconnected, and distrustful. And yet we can't quite return to a more collective world. The words the historians Steven Mintz and Susan Kellogg wrote in 1988 are even truer today: ''Many Americans are groping for a new paradigm of American family life, but in the meantime a profound sense of confusion and ambivalence reigns.''
From Nuclear Families to Forged FamiliesYet recent signs suggest at least the possibility that a new family paradigm is emerging. Many of the statistics I've cited are dire. But they describe the past'--what got us to where we are now. In reaction to family chaos, accumulating evidence suggests, the prioritization of family is beginning to make a comeback. Americans are experimenting with new forms of kinship and extended family in search of stability.
Usually behavior changes before we realize that a new cultural paradigm has emerged. Imagine hundreds of millions of tiny arrows. In times of social transformation, they shift direction'--a few at first, and then a lot. Nobody notices for a while, but then eventually people begin to recognize that a new pattern, and a new set of values, has emerged.
That may be happening now'--in part out of necessity but in part by choice. Since the 1970s, and especially since the 2008 recession, economic pressures have pushed Americans toward greater reliance on family. Starting around 2012, the share of children living with married parents began to inch up. And college students have more contact with their parents than they did a generation ago. We tend to deride this as helicopter parenting or a failure to launch, and it has its excesses. But the educational process is longer and more expensive these days, so it makes sense that young adults rely on their parents for longer than they used to.
In 1980, only 12 percent of Americans lived in multigenerational households. But the financial crisis of 2008 prompted a sharp rise in multigenerational homes. Today 20 percent of Americans'--64 million people, an all-time high'--live in multigenerational homes.
The revival of the extended family has largely been driven by young adults moving back home. In 2014, 35 percent of American men ages 18 to 34 lived with their parents. In time this shift might show itself to be mostly healthy, impelled not just by economic necessity but by beneficent social impulses; polling data suggest that many young people are already looking ahead to helping their parents in old age.
Another chunk of the revival is attributable to seniors moving in with their children. The percentage of seniors who live alone peaked around 1990. Now more than a fifth of Americans 65 and over live in multigenerational homes. This doesn't count the large share of seniors who are moving to be close to their grandkids but not into the same household.
Immigrants and people of color'--many of whom face greater economic and social stress'--are more likely to live in extended-family households. More than 20 percent of Asians, black people, and Latinos live in multigenerational households, compared with 16 percent of white people. As America becomes more diverse, extended families are becoming more common.
African Americans have always relied on extended family more than white Americans do. ''Despite the forces working to separate us'--slavery, Jim Crow, forced migration, the prison system, gentrification'--we have maintained an incredible commitment to each other,'' Mia Birdsong, the author of the forthcoming book How We Show Up, told me recently. ''The reality is, black families are expansive, fluid, and brilliantly rely on the support, knowledge, and capacity of 'the village' to take care of each other. Here's an illustration: The white researcher/social worker/whatever sees a child moving between their mother's house, their grandparents' house, and their uncle's house and sees that as 'instability.' But what's actually happening is the family (extended and chosen) is leveraging all of its resources to raise that child.''
Read: Why black families struggle to build wealth
The black extended family survived even under slavery, and all the forced family separations that involved. Family was essential in the Jim Crow South and in the inner cities of the North, as a way to cope with the stresses of mass migration and limited opportunities, and with structural racism. But government policy sometimes made it more difficult for this family form to thrive. I began my career as a police reporter in Chicago, writing about public-housing projects like Cabrini-Green. Guided by social-science research, politicians tore down neighborhoods of rickety low-rise buildings'--uprooting the complex webs of social connection those buildings supported, despite high rates of violence and crime'--and put up big apartment buildings. The result was a horror: violent crime, gangs taking over the elevators, the erosion of family and neighborly life. Fortunately, those buildings have since been torn down themselves, replaced by mixed-income communities that are more amenable to the profusion of family forms.
I often ask African friends who have immigrated to America what most struck them when they arrived. Their answer is always a variation on a theme'--the loneliness.The return of multigenerational living arrangements is already changing the built landscape. A 2016 survey by a real-estate consulting firm found that 44 percent of home buyers were looking for a home that would accommodate their elderly parents, and 42 percent wanted one that would accommodate their returning adult children. Home builders have responded by putting up houses that are what the construction firm Lennar calls ''two homes under one roof.'' These houses are carefully built so that family members can spend time together while also preserving their privacy. Many of these homes have a shared mudroom, laundry room, and common area. But the ''in-law suite,'' the place for aging parents, has its own entrance, kitchenette, and dining area. The ''Millennial suite,'' the place for boomeranging adult children, has its own driveway and entrance too. These developments, of course, cater to those who can afford houses in the first place'--but they speak to a common realization: Family members of different generations need to do more to support one another.
The most interesting extended families are those that stretch across kinship lines. The past several years have seen the rise of new living arrangements that bring nonbiological kin into family or familylike relationships. On the website CoAbode, single mothers can find other single mothers interested in sharing a home. All across the country, you can find co-housing projects, in which groups of adults live as members of an extended family, with separate sleeping quarters and shared communal areas. Common, a real-estate-development company that launched in 2015, operates more than 25 co-housing communities, in six cities, where young singles can live this way. Common also recently teamed up with another developer, Tishman Speyer, to launch Kin, a co-housing community for young parents. Each young family has its own living quarters, but the facilities also have shared play spaces, child-care services, and family-oriented events and outings.
Read: The hot new Millennial housing trend is a repeat of the Middle Ages
These experiments, and others like them, suggest that while people still want flexibility and some privacy, they are casting about for more communal ways of living, guided by a still-developing set of values. At a co-housing community in Oakland, California, called Temescal Commons, the 23 members, ranging in age from 1 to 83, live in a complex with nine housing units. This is not some rich Bay Area hipster commune. The apartments are small, and the residents are middle- and working-class. They have a shared courtyard and a shared industrial-size kitchen where residents prepare a communal dinner on Thursday and Sunday nights. Upkeep is a shared responsibility. The adults babysit one another's children, and members borrow sugar and milk from one another. The older parents counsel the younger ones. When members of this extended family have suffered bouts of unemployment or major health crises, the whole clan has rallied together.
Courtney E. Martin, a writer who focuses on how people are redefining the American dream, is a Temescal Commons resident. ''I really love that our kids grow up with different versions of adulthood all around, especially different versions of masculinity,'' she told me. ''We consider all of our kids all of our kids.'' Martin has a 3-year-old daughter, Stella, who has a special bond with a young man in his 20s that never would have taken root outside this extended-family structure. ''Stella makes him laugh, and David feels awesome that this 3-year-old adores him,'' Martin said. This is the kind of magic, she concluded, that wealth can't buy. You can only have it through time and commitment, by joining an extended family. This kind of community would fall apart if residents moved in and out. But at least in this case, they don't.
Read: The extended family of my two open adoptions
As Martin was talking, I was struck by one crucial difference between the old extended families like those in Avalon and the new ones of today: the role of women. The extended family in Avalon thrived because all the women in the family were locked in the kitchen, feeding 25 people at a time. In 2008, a team of American and Japanese researchers found that women in multigenerational households in Japan were at greater risk of heart disease than women living with spouses only, likely because of stress. But today's extended-family living arrangements have much more diverse gender roles.
And yet in at least one respect, the new families Americans are forming would look familiar to our hunter-gatherer ancestors from eons ago. That's because they are chosen families'--they transcend traditional kinship lines.
Photo illustration: Weronika GÄsicka; AlamyThe modern chosen-family movement came to prominence in San Francisco in the 1980s among gay men and lesbians, many of whom had become estranged from their biological families and had only one another for support in coping with the trauma of the AIDS crisis. In her book, Families We Choose: Lesbians, Gays, Kinship, the anthropologist Kath Weston writes, ''The families I saw gay men and lesbians creating in the Bay Area tended to have extremely fluid boundaries, not unlike kinship organization among sectors of the African-American, American Indian, and white working class.''
She continues:
Like their heterosexual counterparts, most gay men and lesbians insisted that family members are people who are ''there for you,'' people you can count on emotionally and materially. ''They take care of me,'' said one man, ''I take care of them.''These groups are what Daniel Burns, a political scientist at the University of Dallas, calls ''forged families.'' Tragedy and suffering have pushed people together in a way that goes deeper than just a convenient living arrangement. They become, as the anthropologists say, ''fictive kin.''
Over the past several decades, the decline of the nuclear family has created an epidemic of trauma'--millions have been set adrift because what should have been the most loving and secure relationship in their life broke. Slowly, but with increasing frequency, these drifting individuals are coming together to create forged families. These forged families have a feeling of determined commitment. The members of your chosen family are the people who will show up for you no matter what. On Pinterest you can find placards to hang on the kitchen wall where forged families gather: ''Family isn't always blood. It's the people in your life who want you in theirs; the ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile & who love you no matter what.''
Two years ago , I started something called Weave: The Social Fabric Project. Weave exists to support and draw attention to people and organizations around the country who are building community. Over time, my colleagues and I have realized that one thing most of the Weavers have in common is this: They provide the kind of care to nonkin that many of us provide only to kin'--the kind of support that used to be provided by the extended family.
Lisa Fitzpatrick, who was a health-care executive in New Orleans, is a Weaver. One day she was sitting in the passenger seat of a car when she noticed two young boys, 10 or 11, lifting something heavy. It was a gun. They used it to shoot her in the face. It was a gang-initiation ritual. When she recovered, she realized that she was just collateral damage. The real victims were the young boys who had to shoot somebody to get into a family, their gang.
She quit her job and began working with gang members. She opened her home to young kids who might otherwise join gangs. One Saturday afternoon, 35 kids were hanging around her house. She asked them why they were spending a lovely day at the home of a middle-aged woman. They replied, ''You were the first person who ever opened the door.''
In Salt Lake City, an organization called the Other Side Academy provides serious felons with an extended family. Many of the men and women who are admitted into the program have been allowed to leave prison, where they were generally serving long sentences, but must live in a group home and work at shared businesses, a moving company and a thrift store. The goal is to transform the character of each family member. During the day they work as movers or cashiers. Then they dine together and gather several evenings a week for something called ''Games'': They call one another out for any small moral failure'--being sloppy with a move; not treating another family member with respect; being passive-aggressive, selfish, or avoidant.
Games is not polite. The residents scream at one another in order to break through the layers of armor that have built up in prison. Imagine two gigantic men covered in tattoos screaming ''Fuck you! Fuck you! Fuck you!'' At the session I attended, I thought they would come to blows. But after the anger, there's a kind of closeness that didn't exist before. Men and women who have never had a loving family suddenly have ''relatives'' who hold them accountable and demand a standard of moral excellence. Extreme integrity becomes a way of belonging to the clan. The Other Side Academy provides unwanted people with an opportunity to give care, and creates out of that care a ferocious forged family.
I could tell you hundreds of stories like this, about organizations that bring traumatized vets into extended-family settings, or nursing homes that house preschools so that senior citizens and young children can go through life together. In Baltimore, a nonprofit called Thread surrounds underperforming students with volunteers, some of whom are called ''grandparents.'' In Chicago, Becoming a Man helps disadvantaged youth form family-type bonds with one another. In Washington, D.C., I recently met a group of middle-aged female scientists'--one a celebrated cellular biologist at the National Institutes of Health, another an astrophysicist'--who live together in a Catholic lay community, pooling their resources and sharing their lives. The variety of forged families in America today is endless.
For many people, the era of the nuclear family has been a catastrophe. All forms of inequality are cruel, but family inequality may be the cruelest. It damages the heart.You may be part of a forged family yourself. I am. In 2015, I was invited to the house of a couple named Kathy and David, who had created an extended-family-like group in D.C. called All Our Kids, or AOK-DC. Some years earlier, Kathy and David had had a kid in D.C. Public Schools who had a friend named James, who often had nothing to eat and no place to stay, so they suggested that he stay with them. That kid had a friend in similar circumstances, and those friends had friends. By the time I joined them, roughly 25 kids were having dinner every Thursday night, and several of them were sleeping in the basement.
I joined the community and never left'--they became my chosen family. We have dinner together on Thursday nights, celebrate holidays together, and vacation together. The kids call Kathy and David Mom and Dad. In the early days, the adults in our clan served as parental figures for the young people'--replacing their broken cellphones, supporting them when depression struck, raising money for their college tuition. When a young woman in our group needed a new kidney, David gave her one of his.
We had our primary biological families, which came first, but we also had this family. Now the young people in this forged family are in their 20s and need us less. David and Kathy have left Washington, but they stay in constant contact. The dinners still happen. We still see one another and look after one another. The years of eating together and going through life together have created a bond. If a crisis hit anyone, we'd all show up. The experience has convinced me that everybody should have membership in a forged family with people completely unlike themselves.
Ever since I started working on this article, a chart has been haunting me. It plots the percentage of people living alone in a country against that nation's GDP. There's a strong correlation. Nations where a fifth of the people live alone, like Denmark and Finland, are a lot richer than nations where almost no one lives alone, like the ones in Latin America or Africa. Rich nations have smaller households than poor nations. The average German lives in a household with 2.7 people. The average Gambian lives in a household with 13.8 people.
That chart suggests two things, especially in the American context. First, the market wants us to live alone or with just a few people. That way we are mobile, unattached, and uncommitted, able to devote an enormous number of hours to our jobs. Second, when people who are raised in developed countries get money, they buy privacy.
For the privileged, this sort of works. The arrangement enables the affluent to dedicate more hours to work and email, unencumbered by family commitments. They can afford to hire people who will do the work that extended family used to do. But a lingering sadness lurks, an awareness that life is emotionally vacant when family and close friends aren't physically present, when neighbors aren't geographically or metaphorically close enough for you to lean on them, or for them to lean on you. Today's crisis of connection flows from the impoverishment of family life.
I often ask African friends who have immigrated to America what most struck them when they arrived. Their answer is always a variation on a theme'--the loneliness. It's the empty suburban street in the middle of the day, maybe with a lone mother pushing a baby carriage on the sidewalk but nobody else around.
For those who are not privileged, the era of the isolated nuclear family has been a catastrophe. It's led to broken families or no families; to merry-go-round families that leave children traumatized and isolated; to senior citizens dying alone in a room. All forms of inequality are cruel, but family inequality may be the cruelest. It damages the heart. Eventually family inequality even undermines the economy the nuclear family was meant to serve: Children who grow up in chaos have trouble becoming skilled, stable, and socially mobile employees later on.
Related Stories The Gay Guide to Wedded Bliss Family Reunions: Not Just for Grandparents The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration Ta-Nehisi Coates: Extended Family Values When hyper-individualism kicked into gear in the 1960s, people experimented with new ways of living that embraced individualistic values. Today we are crawling out from the wreckage of that hyper-individualism'--which left many families detached and unsupported'--and people are experimenting with more connected ways of living, with new shapes and varieties of extended families. Government support can help nurture this experimentation, particularly for the working-class and the poor, with things like child tax credits, coaching programs to improve parenting skills in struggling families, subsidized early education, and expanded parental leave. While the most important shifts will be cultural, and driven by individual choices, family life is under so much social stress and economic pressure in the poorer reaches of American society that no recovery is likely without some government action.
The two-parent family, meanwhile, is not about to go extinct. For many people, especially those with financial and social resources, it is a great way to live and raise children. But a new and more communal ethos is emerging, one that is consistent with 21st-century reality and 21st-century values.
When we discuss the problems confronting the country, we don't talk about family enough. It feels too judgmental. Too uncomfortable. Maybe even too religious. But the blunt fact is that the nuclear family has been crumbling in slow motion for decades, and many of our other problems'--with education, mental health, addiction, the quality of the labor force'--stem from that crumbling. We've left behind the nuclear-family paradigm of 1955. For most people it's not coming back. Americans are hungering to live in extended and forged families, in ways that are new and ancient at the same time. This is a significant opportunity, a chance to thicken and broaden family relationships, a chance to allow more adults and children to live and grow under the loving gaze of a dozen pairs of eyes, and be caught, when they fall, by a dozen pairs of arms. For decades we have been eating at smaller and smaller tables, with fewer and fewer kin.
It's time to find ways to bring back the big tables.
This article appears in the March 2020 print edition with the headline ''The Nuclear Family Was a Mistake.''
David Brooks is a contributing writer at
The Atlantic and a columnist for
The New York Times. He is the author of
The Road to Character and
The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life.
George Conway: Trump is right. We might have to impeach him again. - The Washington Post
Tue, 11 Feb 2020 09:01
George T. Conway III is a lawyer and is also an adviser to the Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump super PAC.
''So we'll probably have to do it again.''
So said the already-once-impeached President Trump on Thursday in the East Room, musing about the possibility he could become the first president to be impeached more than once. And on the very next day, as though he were competing for it, Trump showed precisely why he could be destined to achieve that ignominious fate.
With essentially no pretense about why he was doing it, the president brazenly retaliated Friday against two witnesses who gave truthful testimony in the House's impeachment inquiry. He fired Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland. And he also fired a third man, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, merely for being the brother of the first. Trump essentially admitted his retaliatory motive on Saturday, when he tweeted that he sacked Vindman in part for having ''reported contents of my 'perfect' calls incorrectly.''
If this were a criminal investigation, and Alexander Vindman and Sondland had given their testimony to a grand jury, this Friday Night Massacre could have been a crime. At the very least, it ought to be impeachable: If Richard M. Nixon was to be impeached for authorizing hush money for witnesses, and Trump himself was actually impeached for directing defiance of House subpoenas, then there should be no doubt that punishing witnesses for complying with subpoenas and giving truthful testimony about presidential misconduct should make for a high crime or misdemeanor as well.
But it's really not about this one day, or this one egregious act. It's about who Trump is, who he always was and who he always will be. It's about the complete mismatch between the man and the office he holds.
It's about the fact that the presidency is a fiduciary position, the ultimate public trust. And that Trump's narcissism won't allow him to put anyone else's interests above his own, including the nation's. Indeed, he can't even distinguish between his interests and the nation's '-- and doesn't need to, according to his lawyers and now the judgment of the Senate. For Trump, it's always L'(C)tat, c'est Trump, as many observers have trenchantly put it.
Or, as Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) said during the impeachment trial, ''you know you can't trust this president to do what is right for this country. You can trust he will do what is right for Donald Trump. He will do it now. He has done it before.''
And he will do it again. He did do it again by firing the Vindmans and Sondland. He's telling us he will do it again. And no one can seriously doubt it, even those who voted to acquit. The ever-hopeful Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who said last week that she was voting to acquit partly because she thought Trump had learned ''a pretty big lesson'' from being impeached, quickly backtracked to say she was merely being ''aspirational.'' Such a lofty aspiration '-- that the president refrain from committing an impeachable offense.
''Fantastical'' would better describe it, actually. On Thursday, Trump portrayed himself as the innocent victim: ''Went through hell, unfairly. Did nothing wrong. Did nothing wrong.'' ''We were treated unbelievably unfairly.'' ''It was all bullshit.'' It was ''a very good phone call.'' "I call it a 'perfect call' because it was.''
On the flip side, it was Trump's opponents who did wrong. He called his impeachment ''evil,'' ''corrupt,'' ''phony, rotten,'' brought about by ''dirty cops,'' ''leakers and liars" and, in general, ''very evil and sick people'' who were ''vicious as hell.'' ''They made up facts.'' ''It was a disgrace.''
So just as we had Nixon's enemies list, so we have had three years of Trump's use of presidential power for vindictive ends. Long before the Vindmans and Sondland, the firing of James B. Comey as FBI director. Trump's alleged directive to the Pentagon to ''screw Amazon,'' whose chief executive owns this newspaper, which, frankly, ought by itself to have been an impeachable offense. So, too, his threats against Google, Facebook and Twitter. His obvious punishment of Puerto Rico for its politicians' criticisms of him. His attacks on a British ambassador who dared assess him critically. The Ukraine scandal itself, indeed, was partially an effort to attain vengeance for wrongs '-- Ukrainian ''interference'' '-- Trump imagines were done to him in 2016. He'll use whatever means he has at his presidential disposal to redress his bottomless pit of grievances.
And he'll only get worse. Narcissistic leaders such as Trump always do. As we've now seen, his rage leads to retribution and misconduct, which beget more criticism, and more investigation, and even more rage, retribution and misconduct. Over and over again.
So America beware: The state is Trump, and he's very, very angry. We might, indeed, have to do it again.
Read more:
Max Boot: Trump's 'Friday night massacre' is just the beginning. I fear what's to come.
Dana Milbank: This vulgar man has squandered our decency
Alexandra Petri: A chastened president addresses a healing nation
Marie Yovanovitch: These are turbulent times. But we will persist and prevail.
Greg Sargent: Trump's latest viral attack on Romney exposes Trumpism's ugly core
James Comey: As usual, Trump called me a sleaze. But the audience reaction to his rant was more upsetting.
Li Wenliang, Chinese doctor who tried to raise alarm on coronavirus, dies from disease - The Washington Post
Tue, 11 Feb 2020 00:44
HANGZHOU, China '-- A Chinese doctor who was silenced by police for trying to share news about the new coronavirus long before Chinese health authorities disclosed its full threat died after coming down with the illness, a hospital statement said, triggering an outpouring of anger online toward the ruling Communist Party.
Li Wenliang, a 34-year-old ophthalmologist at Wuhan Central Hospital, became a national hero and symbol of the Chinese government's systemic failings last month. Li had tried to warn his medical school classmates Dec. 30 about the existence of a contagious new virus that resembled the deadly severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
Word began to spread in China thanks to Li, but his posts were censored, and he was detained Jan. 1 for ''rumor-mongering.''
Coronavirus live updates: Death of whistleblower doctor unleashes fury in China
The full outlines of his story, which came to light in recent weeks as the Wuhan outbreak exploded into an international emergency, set off a swell of outrage in China, where citizens have long chafed at the government's penchant for relentlessly snuffing out any speech deemed threatening to social stability.
Many, including China's judicial authorities in a rare rebuke of the police, have wondered whether the epidemic would have unfolded differently had Li not been silenced at the critical juncture around Jan. 1.
Guan Hanfeng, an orthopedist at Wuhan's Tongji Hospital, and Luo Yu, a technology industry executive who was one of the deceased doctor's university classmates, broke the news of Li's death late Thursday.
''The Wuhan government owes Dr. Li Wenliang an apology,'' Luo wrote in a widely circulated post on the Weibo social media site as tributes flowed in. Twitter hashtags such as #DoctorLiPassedAway attracted millions of views and comments.
But for hours there were conflicting reports about Li's fate. A social media post from Li's hospital said he was in ''critical condition and we are trying our best to rescue him.''
Later, Wuhan Central Hospital posted a message confirming that Li died after he became ''infected during the course of his work battling the pneumonia epidemic due to the spread of the new coronavirus.''
The doctor's death sparked grief and outrage on Chinese social media as people expressed fury toward the authorities for their efforts to cover up Li's initial warning of the coronavirus danger, portraying him as a martyr and demanding answers from the government.
''We demand freedom of speech'' became a trending hashtag on Weibo, China's version of Twitter, early Friday, echoing the sentiments of the 1989 Tiananmen Square uprising. By dawn, that hashtag had been scrubbed by censors.
A World Health Organization official, Michael Ryan, described Li as being on the ''front line'' of battling the novel coronavirus, which has claimed more than 560 lives.
On Dec. 31, Chinese authorities informed the World Health Organization's China office of the mysterious pneumonia cases in Wuhan. But it would be weeks before Chinese health officials acknowledged the seriousness of the outbreak and began to take unprecedented measures to lock down tens of millions of people in Wuhan and surrounding areas.
Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization's health emergencies program, told reporters in Geneva on Thursday: ''We are deeply saddened by the passing of Dr. Li Wenliang. We all need to celebrate work that he did.''
Li was released from detention Jan. 3 after signing a police document admitting that he committed an illegal act by making ''untrue statements'' on social media and promising that he would ''earnestly reflect'' on his mistakes.
Early missteps and state secrecy in China may have led to virus spread
After they detained Li, Wuhan police appeared on Chinese state television to warn the public about the dangers of spreading rumors. In a coordinated state media push that day, they urged Internet users across the country to not believe online rumors and help build a ''clear and bright cyberspace.''
Days after he was released the first week of January, Li returned to work receiving patients who were beginning to flood into Wuhan's hospitals.
He began coughing Jan. 10, he later recalled. This past Saturday, three weeks after he checked himself into his hospital, he told his social media followers that he had finally been tested: He was indeed infected by the coronavirus.
As he spent his final days in Wuhan Central's intensive-care unit, Li began publicly sharing how he sought to warn friends about the new virus, his ordeal with the police and his fight with the illness.
He revealed that he lived with a pregnant wife and young child, and had quickly quarantined himself as soon as he suspected he was infected. His mother and father were now hospitalized for fever, he said without disclosing whether they '-- or his wife and child '-- contracted the coronavirus.
But he maintained an upbeat presence on social media and assured his followers that he kept his medical license and hoped to leave the hospital as soon as possible.
''I've seen the support and encouragement so many people online have given me,'' he wrote. ''It makes my feel a little more relaxed in my heart.''
As word of Li's death trickled out Thursday night, his followers left messages on his Weibo account pleading in vain for him to post one last update. Hours after his death was confirmed, Chinese users began repeating a literary verse to express their gratitude for a man they felt their country did not deserve.
''He who holds the firewood for the masses,'' they wrote, ''is the one who freezes to death in wind and snow.''
Lame Cherry: China End Game Is Super Depression
Tue, 11 Feb 2020 00:03
 As another Lame Cherry exclusive in matter anti matter.It is of note that the Muslims are blaming the United States and the Jews for the Coronavirus. This blog has stated that Tel Aviv knows more about this Saudi Coronavirus than it is telling the world, and the United States is more informed on it, that it is stating. America though is taking the opportunity as an economic implosion in China, is better than a war, as a China in super depression, produces a China which will not project power in the region or the world.Gold is the short term leverage in this, and that is to deplete China's gold, at deflated prices.Arab media accuse US, Israel of coronavirus conspiracy against China  ∞ jpost  China is in process of cancelling orders for natural gas and copper, the foundations of their manufacture. China cancelling those orders, means China does not have ready cash, and their liquidity is being pumped into their markets. The end game in this should be two fold. China will be forced to liquidate gold at deflated prices, and China will be forced to repatriate American bond trillions for pennies on the dollar, to deal with their impending depression. While the United States trolls about the paddy, exploiting opportunity, the reality is that someone else waited to form a government, and then in inquiry, this blog noted a coming economic problem in January with stocks collapsing in early February, is what the Chancellor was waiting for. There are numbers of groups who at this juncture of time space, who would see benefit to exploit the problems of China. Thursday, February 6, 2020 When the man comes Around The reality is that the American natural gas industry, is being backed by the banking conglomerates, or Saudi Arabian Sunni money, and they are preparing for natural gas stores to be burned by American electrical power plants. Coal is to continue taking a hit, as these stores not going to China will be used in electrical plants, because as gas becomes cheaper than coal, the switch will be made. If you do not understand the above, the basic short version is, energy deflation will progress, as energy deflates, all consumer prices in the United States will deflate.  Deflation as in the Reagan era spurs American economic expansion. Donald Trump just may have a MAGA if in addition Corona crops the Mexican overpopulation. Chinese Copper Buyers Cancel Orders Around The Globe As Economy Grinds To A Halt  Ford as the US #2 automaker has been banking on a world of electrical cars. Batteries are Chinese generated. Ford already plotting for an electrical world, requires China, but the world is now in flux. The American economy is in Trumpstagnation. People can not afford 40,000 dollar new automobiles. Couple that with battery cars which will not be viable in Zone 4 areas north in North America, nor for heavy payload truck hauling, and Ford is building toward a world in which China in it's current form will not exist. Ford's earnings were even worse than expected, and its stock is plummetingChina projected to import 10 trillion dollars of food per year. That projection was a 7 years ago. China can not feed itself. China can not sustain itself. Coronavirus is breaking the Chinese structure. China is not manufacturing. It's imports are stopped at the ports. China can not export. The cause and effect of this must be to deflate American bonds for American benefit which China holds and to deflate Chinese gold for payment of debts, as the world in depression goes into deflation as America rises in expansion. In early April, President Xi Jinping told a group of foreign leaders and businessmen that China’s imports of commodities, goods and services will hit a value of $10 trillion annually in the next five years, up from $1.8 trillion in 2012. Rising incomes and consumption are part of the reason why China is now an importer of agricultural products. Another is urbanization. In the greatest urbanization movement the world has ever seen, approximately 260 million farmers have moved to the cities since 1978, and another 260 million are expected to move off the farms in the coming years.Once again, Lame Cherry exclusive in matter anti matter. Nuff Said   agtG  
Arab media accuse US, Israel of coronavirus conspiracy against China | The Jerusalem post
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 23:56
One report claimed that it was no coincidence that the coronavirus was largely absent from the US and Israel. By JERUSALEM POST STAFF FEBRUARY 9, 2020 18:17
A staff member checks the temperature of a passenger entering a subway station, as the country is hit by an outbreak of the new coronavirus, in Beijing, China January 28, 2020.
Numerous reports in the Arab press have accused the US and Israel of being behind the creation and spread of the deadly
coronavirus as part of an economic and psychological war against China, the Middle East Media Research Institute (
MEMRI) reported.
One report in the Saudi daily newspaper
Al-Watan claimed that it was no coincidence that the coronavirus was absent from the US and Israel, though this is despite America having 12 confirmed cases at the time of writing.
"A 'wonder' virus was discovered yesterday in China; tomorrow it will be discovered in Egypt, but it will not be discovered either today, tomorrow or the day after tomorrow in the US or Israel, nor in poor countries such as Burundi or the Comoro Islands," the report said.
It also went on to accuse the US and Israel of being behind other outbreaks over the past several years in China and in the Arab world.
"As soon as Egypt announced, a few years ago, that it would rely on poultry [raised in the country], and that it would even export [poultry] abroad '' that is, that it no longer needed poultry from the US, France, and so on '' [suddenly] there appeared, from underneath the ground, the avian flu virus'... with the aim of nipping [Egypt's economic] awakening in the bud," the report said.
"Even before this, the same thing was done in China'... when in 2003 [the country] announced that it had the [world's] largest dollar reserves [and] they [the Americans] introduced coronavirus' cousin,
SARS, into [the country]."
At the beginning of February, Syrian daily newspaper
Al-Thawra also claimed the coronavirus and other outbreaks were part of a US-China war.
"From Ebola, Zika, SARS, avian flu and swine flu, through anthrax and mad cow disease to the corona[virus] '' [all these] deadly viruses were manufactured by the US and threaten to annihilate the peoples of the world," the report alleged. "[The US] has turned biological warfare into a new type of war, by means of which it intends to change the rules of play and shift the conflict with the peoples [of the world] away from the conventional path."
A report on the Egyptian news site Vetogate.com built on this theory even more, specifying why Wuhan was supposedly chosen as the epicenter of the current outbreak.
"American factories are the first to manufacture every kind of virus and bacteria, from the virulent smallpox virus and the bubonic plague virus to all the viruses we saw in the recent years, such as mad cow disease and swine flu," the site claimed. "Wuhan, the city that has now been struck by the corona[virus], is an industrial town, but it is nevertheless the eighth-richest city in China after Shanghai.
"Guangzhou, Beijing, Tianjin and Hong Kong, are the country's major cities. [Wuhan's] place at the bottom of the list [of China's major cities] is what makes it a suitable [place] for an American crime... for it is not a focus of attention, and the level of healthcare there is surely lower than in the larger and more important cities." The news site adds that there is a theorized economic motivation for the outbreak, as the supposed masterminds behind it will reap the billions of dollars spent by China on emergency treatments and medicines, "which, by the way, will be manufactured by an Israeli company."
Over 37,000 people around the world have been infected with the coronavirus as the outbreak continues to spread. The current death toll is over 800 people.
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Chinese-Australian politician complains that response to coronavirus is discriminatory
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 22:25
Chinese-Australian politician Scott Yung has complained to 2GB talkback radio host Ben Fordham about discrimination against the Chinese community as fears rise over coronavirus.
Mr Yung made the comments in an interview on Thursday afternoon. He is president of the Liberal Party Chinese Youth Council in Sydney, and is described by Mr Fordham as a future State or Federal MP.
Introducing the segment, Mr Fordham lamented rising racism against Chinese by other Australians.
''Community concern is sky-high, you can't argue with that. The downside of that concern is that some are discriminating. There are already cases of people from the Chinese-Australian community being marginalised by other Aussies who are scared of coronavirus.''
Mr Yung agreed, arguing that any association between the coronavirus and Chinese people is ''not really congruent with the successful multicultural society that we have.''
Mr Yung's interview on 2GB went to air as fears rise globally over the extent of coronavirus in China, and Western media outlets run stories accusing China of covering up death rates and burning bodies in secret.
DYING IN AUSTRALIAN STREETSAs evidence that discrimination against Chinese is occurring by Australians, Mr Yung cited the death of an elderly man in Sydney's Chinatown on Tuesday evening.
''Obviously the other day when the Chinese-background gentlemen had a heart attack in Chinatown and no-one helped him, I mean, that's really disturbing to see'...''
The man died because bystanders refused to offer CPR for fear of coronavirus. The ethnic background of the bystanders remains unclear.
Those familiar with Chinese culture would know that such incidents, however, are not uncommon in China. In 2011, two-year-old Wang Yue died after being run over twice in a market in Guangzhou. 18 passers-by ignored her dying body as they walked past, along with four shop owners with clear line of sight to the tragic incident. She died in hospital a week later.
When challenged with security footage once the story went viral, the shop owners claimed the rain was too loud for them to hear or see anything outside.
IS NOT WANTING TO DIE OF CORONAVIRUS RACIST?The clear implication of the event on Tuesday in Sydney's Chinatown according to Mr Yung, however, is that Australian racism was to blame.
Mr Yung then went on to explain to the audience that the primary concern of Chinese parents who had visited China in January was that their children didn't infect other students when they returned to school, and that recent returnees from China were buying face masks online rather than at the supermarket because it is the ''thoughtful, considerate thing to do''.
Mr Fordham went on to describe social media posts by Australians warning others not to visit Chinese parts of their cities as ''malicious''.
The radio interview came on the heels of an international outcry by Chinese people and the government in Beijing about an image published in a Danish newspaper showing the communist flag with the coronavirus instead of the usual stars.
The Chinese embassy issued a statement demanding the newspaper apologise, which it has refused to do. At the same time, Chinese anger in Canada about the local response to coronavirus fears has led the mayor of Toronto, John Tory, to denounce avoiding Chinese areas of the city as ''xenophobia''.
While many questions still remain about just how far the China coronavirus has spread and its real mortality rate, it is clear the global pandemic is challenging the ideology of open borders and unregulated markets favoured by wealthy elites in the West.
Originally published at XYZ.
The Skinner Box or Operant Conditioning Chamber
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 21:47
A Skinner box, also known as an operant conditioning chamber, is an enclosed apparatus that contains a bar or key that an animal can press or manipulate in order to obtain food or water as a type of reinforcement.
Developed by B. F. Skinner, this box also had a device that recorded each response provided by the animal as well as the unique schedule of reinforcement that the animal was assigned.
Skinner was inspired to create his operant conditioning chamber as an extension of the puzzle boxes that Edward Thorndike famously used in his research on the law of effect. Skinner himself did not refer to this device as a Skinner box, instead preferring the term "lever box."
How Is a Skinner Box Used? So how exactly do psychologists and other researchers utilize a Skinner box when conducting research? The design of Skinner boxes can vary depending upon the type of animal and the experimental variables. The box is a chamber that includes at least one lever, bar, or key that the animal can manipulate.
When the lever is pressed, food, water, or some other type of reinforcement might be dispensed. Other stimuli can also be presented including lights, sounds, and images. In some instances, the floor of the chamber may be electrified.
What exactly was the purpose of a Skinner box? Using the device researchers could carefully study behavior in a very controlled environment. For example, researchers could utilize the Skinner box to determine which schedule of reinforcement led to the highest rate of response in the study subjects.
Examples in Research For example, imagine that a researcher wants to determine which schedule of reinforcement will lead to the highest response rates. Pigeons are placed in the operant conditioning chambers and receive a food pellet for pecking at a response key. Some pigeons receive a pellet for every response (continuous reinforcement) while others obtain a pellet only after a certain amount of time or number of responses have occurred (partial reinforcement).
In the partial reinforcement schedules, some pigeons receive a pellet after they peck at the key five times. This is known as a fixed-ratio schedule. Pigeons in another group receive reinforcement after a random number of responses, which is known as a variable-interval schedule. Still, more pigeons are given a pellet after a 10 minute period has elapsed. This is called a fixed-interval schedule. In the final group, pigeons are given reinforcement at random intervals of time, which is known as a variable-interval schedule.
Once the data has been obtained from the trials in the Skinner boxes, researchers can then look at the rate of responding and determine which schedules lead to the highest and most consistent level of responses.
One important thing to note is that the Skinner box should not be confused with one of Skinner's other inventions, the baby tender. At his wife's request, Skinner created a heated crib with a plexiglass window that was designed to be safer than other cribs available at that time. Confusion over the use of the crib led to it being confused with an experimental device, which led some to believe that Skinner's crib was actually a variation of the Skinner box.
At one point, a rumor spread that Skinner had used the crib in experiments with his daughter, leading to her eventual suicide. The Skinner box and the baby tender crib were two different things entirely, and Skinner did not conduct experiments on his daughter or with the crib, nor did his daughter take her own life.
The Skinner box became an important tool for studying learned behavior and contributed a great deal to our understanding of the effects of reinforcement and punishment.
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Schacter, D.L., Gilbert, D.T., & Wegner, D.M. (2011). Psychology. New York: Worth, Inc.Skinner, B. F. (1983). A Matter of Consequences. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
The Chinese miracle has raised millions out of poverty but is unlikely to last
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 21:16
The following article is written by the amazingly talented Daniel Greenfield and is published with kind permission of the team at Frontpage Mag. Original article can be viewed here:
DanielGreenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is aninvestigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamicterrorism.
The People's Republic has no future. In the 1980s, movies like DieHard and Back to the Future 2 showed off a Japanesetakeover of America. Turning Japanese was bound to be playingon the radio every hour.
Japan had leveraged unfair tradepolicies, currency manipulation, and government subsidies to buy up Americancompanies (it's still happening, but few are paying attention) and was the waveof the future sweeping over America.
Everyone was driving Japanese cars,using Japanese electronics, and buying ''Made in Japan.'' And Japan gotthere by stealing massive amounts of American intellectualproperty and reselling it to Americans.
By 1991, George Friedman's book, TheComing War With Japan, was flying off the shelves.
Why doesn't the future belong to Japan?There are economic answers. But there's also a demographic answer. Japanentered the 1980s with an acceptably healthy 14 births per 1,000 people birthrate.
The Japanese rate back then was only alittle below America's own 15 births per 1,000 people number.
But throughout the 80s, while Japan wassupposed to be taking over America, its economy was impressive, but its birthrate was cratering at an even more impressive rate.
By 1991, the future not only didn'tbelong to Japan, but at a rate of 10 births per 1,000 people, it didn't evenhave a future of its own.
Japan had entered the 1980s with amedian age of 32. It left the decade with a median age of 37. By 2000, themedian age was 40. Today, it approaches 50. The median Japanese age had passedfertility.
The Japanese had foreclosed their ownfuture.
What were they doing instead of havingchildren? Buying stuff. Lots and lots of stuff. Economic consumption rose andmarriage dropped away.
The origins of Japan's boom lay in the70s with a marriage boom which led to a massive baby boom. The energizedpopulation seemed as if it might take over the world.
But Japan's 'baby boomers' insteaddecided to enjoy the good life. Today the marriage rate is less than half that.The Japanese went from marrying in their twenties to marrying in theirthirties.
Maternal age at birth also rose from thetwenties to the thirties. The nation's fertility rate is at 1.42. Far belowreplacement rate. That means no future.
The first part of this story shouldsound familiar. Just substitute the People's Republic of China for Japan.
China's birth rate is down to 1.6. At10.48 births per 1,000 people, it's below America's, 11.8.
And while you might be inclined toblame the Communist dictatorship's One Child Policy, the PRC trashed the OCPprecisely because the regime is worried about its declining birth rate.
The PRC's poor birth rate has itsorigins in its poor marriage rate. China's marriage rate sank down to 7.2 per1,000 people.
That's above America's 6.5 rate, butit's trending downward and in the same direction. And the average number concealsthe full scope of the bad news.
While the national rate was 7.2, inShanghai it was 4.4. Meanwhile divorces in Beijing hit 39%. As China'spopulation moves from the rural to the urban, trading farm work for tech jobs,marriage rates drop, divorce rates rise, and birth rates continue theirdecline.
Like the Japanese, China's risingmiddle class wants to enjoy the materialistic pleasures of consumerism.
What happened to Japan is exactly whathappened to Europe. And what's been happening to America and much of the firstworld.
But the problem hits Asian countriesharder because of the sharp transition from one kind of society to another,while the citizenry lack the moral cushioning of religious values.
The People's Republic of China isvigorously fighting Christianity, but its own mixture of Communism andConfucianism has failed to meet the challenges of prosperity.
The regular crackdowns on governmentcorruption are only spurring more cynicism. And a social credit system willcreate an artificial digital pressure that, like any other totalitarian system,will be evaded and only generate more hypocrisy
Not even America's Silicon Valleytechnocrats believe that the internet is a substitute for morality.
Whatever the Communist Party maycommand, China's metropolitan populations, especially the women, are, liketheir Japanese counterparts, avoiding marriage and parenthood, with the sameresults.
By 2030, there will be more People'sRepublic of China citizens over the age of 65 than under 14. With a decliningworkforce, the PRC will be unable to sustain its growth as its population ages.Its pension funds are officially projected to run out of money by 2035. Thereal figures are probably worse.
The PRC threatens other countries, butif its demographics continue their downward spiral, it will become unable tomaintain control even over the territories that it already has.
To understand China's obsession withXinjiang, look at its birth rate which is much higher than the rest of the country.That's why the PRC keeps trying to figure out not only how to de-IslamizeXinjiang, but to reduce its birth rate.
China's median age is at 38.4. That'sabout Japan's median age when its house of cards began to fall. The PRC's boomwas powered by a population in its twenties.
By the oughts, it entered the low 30s.It's now sliding inevitably closer to the big four zero. By 2040, China'smedian age will be 46.
That's the same pathway which tookJapan from a potential world power to a society of senior citizens.
China has a much larger population. Butthat just means it's going to have a great many elderly people and childlesssingles who aren't willing to sacrifice their consumer lifestyle to any greaterpurpose.
And why should they?
What larger purpose does China offerits younger generation except consumer goods? The Communist leadership avoidedthe fate of the USSR by turning into the factory and warehouse of capitalism.
But a diet of technologicalconveniences doesn't predispose the citizenry to anything more than comfort.
Nationalism and xenophobia keep China'spopulation hostile to America and the outside world, but haven't convinced itsnetizens to do anything more than post nasty comments about President Trump.
China currently has the surpluspopulation for a war or a number of wars, but, as Russia and Germany could tellit, after the war, the surplus population is gone and there's no more where itcame from.
Japan had nothing but nationalism,xenophobia, and consumer goods to offer its citizens. That didn't make Japaninto a formidable superpower, but a nation of elderly singles with really greatcomputers.
China also has nothing to offer itspopulation except nationalism, xenophobia, and consumer goods. And its citiesare full of aging single women with some of the best smartphones and shoes onthe market.
This isn't just bad news for the PRC.It's also bad news for the USA.
The decline of family and religionmeans that we are and have been headed to the same place for some time.
Our demographics have been artificiallyinflated by mass migration, but the influx of cheap labor is no substitute fornatural growth.
And the stress of mass migration iscracking the country apart while providing few benefits except a population ofunskilled laborers who, unlike China's rural to urban farmers, aren't fuelingmanufacturing, but propping up middle class lifestyles at taxpayer expense.
The problem in America, Europe, andAsia is that the wonders of the Industrial Revolution have been redirected tolittle more than personal conveniences, while our societies have shedeverything else, religion, culture, purpose, and family, leaving behind comfortablesocieties with no future.
The People's Republic of China is notgoing to take over the world. Its expansive ambitions are impressive, butthey're built on a materialistic decadence that will destroy them.
Mercantile empires can be built ongreed and a love of pleasure, but as the price grows too high, they fall thesame way.
The free market is superior not becauseof some innate magic of the system, a hall of mirrors that some libertarianswander into and then never leave, but because it allows people to pursueworthwhile goals, whether it's raising a family, inventing the airplane, oranything in between.
When the only goal is waiting to buy an8K television, then the market becomes a Skinner box that destroys those whouse it.
Free markets are means, not ends. And asociety needs some higher transcendent purpose. People need to believe thatthey exist for something more than a few immediate pleasures followed by death.
China's demographics convey a societywith no purpose except its own gratification. And, like Japan before it, thePeople's Republic of China isn't building an empire, it's destroying a society.
Chinese Official Floats Plan to ''Stabilize Fertility'' Among Some Uighurs '' Foreign Policy
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 21:16
Ordinary Chinese social media users have reacted with nonchalance and even some rejoicing to news that Xinjiang, a far western region beset with bloody ethnic unrest, may tighten its family planning policies to curb population growth among minority Uighurs. The plan, part of a blueprint for restoring peace and stability to the violence-wracked region, was announced by Xinjiang's top Communist Party official, Zhang Chunxian, in an essay published July 31 in party journal Seeking Truth. On top of pledges to boost education and tackle unemployment, Zhang wrote that Xinjiang must "implement a family planning policy that is equal for all ethnic groups" and must "lower and stabilize fertility at a moderate level," although he gave no details or timeline for the changes. Uighurs are a Muslim, Turkic-speaking people numbering a little less than half of Xinjiang's 22 million people.
The plan, if implemented, seemed bound to ratchet up already spiraling tensions between Uighurs and Han Chinese, who make up more than 90 percent of China's total population. Alim Seytoff, president of the Washington-based Uyghur American Association, told Foreign Policy that there was "pure outrage" in the Uighur exile community over Zhang's remarks. Seytoff said he expected Uighurs would interpret new birth restrictions "as proof that the Chinese government's final solution for the Uighur people is to eventually eliminate them."
China, which famously limits most urban couples to just one child, has more lenient family planning policies for minorities. The government currently allows urban Uighurs to have two children and rural Uighurs to have three. Some Han Chinese resent the special treatment. On China's Twitter-like Weibo, several users welcomed the remarks of Zhang, who is Han, writing there should be just one birth policy for all ethnicities in China. Some also betrayed inter-ethnic animosity. One user wrote that the government should go further and "encourage Han births" in Xinjiang. In response to concerns that fewer Uighur babies might trigger an aging problem in Xinjiang, another web user wrote in response: "Xinjiang won't be facing instability because of aging, but because the Han population [there] will get smaller and smaller compared to the Uighurs."
In fact, Uighurs today make up less than half the population in Xinjiang and the number of Han Chinese has grown rapidly, a result of in-migration rather than a high Han birthrate. It's been a big shift. In 1949, 82 percent of Xinjiang was Uighur, and the population was mostly concentrated in the southern part of the region. By 2010, when China released its last nationwide census, only 46.4 percent of Xinjiang's population was Uighur, and northern Xinjiang had become the economic and political center of the region. Meanwhile Han Chinese, spurred by government programs encouraging migration to the region, rocketed from 6.2 percent of the population in 1949 to 39 percent in 2010. The capital, Urumqi, is now a majority Han city.
Zhang's essay did not mark the first time Xinjiang officials have raised the alarm over Uighur population growth. Uighurs have the country's highest birth rate, with an average of just over 2.0 children born to most Uighur women, while the national average is around 1.8. In February 2006, Nur Bekri, the deputy party secretary of Xinjiang, said that Xinjiang's population controls would have to be tightened or any economic gains in the region would be erased. But no radical changes came as a result, and Bekri didn't go as far as to say that Uighurs should be subject to the same strict limits that Han face. That is apparently what Zhang is prescribing now.
Zhang's latest announcement comes as China is loosening family planning rules across the country. China has limited most urban couples to just one child for more than 30 years but in November of last year, the government tweaked the rules to allow more Han Chinese the chance at a second child. Now couples with one parent who grew up an only child are allowed to have two children.
Zhang's essay also comes on the heels of Xinjiang's worst spasm of ethnic violence in five years. According to a government account, police gunned down 59 knife-toting terrorists near the Silk Road city of Kashgar on July 28 after they launched a premeditated attack on government and police buildings, killing 37 civilians. Exile groups say the people shot by police were protestors, not terrorists. There have been numerous other attacks blamed on Uighurs, including a slashing rampage and suicide bomb attack at a railway station in the capital of Urumqi that left three dead and 79 injured. Exile groups say repression is behind the growing violence and point to rules that bar Uighur civil servants from wearing Muslim dress or fasting during Ramadan. The Beijing government says foreign terror groups are infiltrating the region and spurring the unrest.
Depending on how vigorously it is pursued, an attempt to tighten birth policies in the region might act as a spark in the region's tinderbox atmosphere. Research by Barry Sautman, a professor of social science at Hong Kong University, shows that previous attempts to tighten family planning rules for Uighurs resulted in riots in Urumqi in 1983, and Uighur student demonstrations both in Urumqi and Shanghai in 1985. Yi Fuxian, an obstetrics researcher at the University of Wisconsin and a vocal critic of the one-child policy, told FP he didn't think the Xinjiang government would actually enforce a single policy for all ethnic groups because the "cost would be too high." Yi said Uighurs would revolt if subject to the same birth limits that Han face and there would be greater violence and instability. "I think maybe Zhang Chunxian said this to help release some Han Chinese anger" over the unequal policy, Yi said. "I think it's meant to console the Han."
RUSH LIMBAUGH: John Brennan Traveled to Ukraine With Fake Passport -- To Research Trump
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 20:46
RUSH LIMBAUGH: John Brennan Traveled to Ukraine With Fake Passport '-- To Research Trump by Jim Hoft September 30, 2019
Rush Limbaugh broke some shocking news today on former CIA Director and Trump-hater John Brennan.Brennan reportedly traveled to Ukraine with a fake passport to dig dirt on Trump.
Brennan has been leading the charge against President Trump since he entered office.
Just this past weekend Brennan called on all the Deep State hacks to file reports based on hearsay and secondhand information to damage President Trump.
A reminder to federal officials:
There is no limit on the number of individuals who can use the whistleblower statute.
If you think you were involved in unlawful activity as a result of a directive from Mr. Trump or someone doing his bidding, now is the time to report it.
'-- John O. Brennan (@JohnBrennan) September 28, 2019
This partisan lunatic was in charge of the CIA.That's scary.
Rush Limbaugh said Brennan traveled to the Ukraine with a fake passport to research Trump.The deep state leader was traveling to Ukraine to find dirt on Trump.
Via The Rush Limbaugh website:
RUSH: I got an email, ''What do you mean, Brennan traveled to Ukraine with a fake passport? I didn't hear that.'' Well, folks, I'm sorry. Let me give you the details. John Brennan, Obama's director-CIA, went to Ukraine under a fake passport so that nobody would know it was him. Fake name. Can you do that? Can you get a fake passport? No. John Brennan can, CIA director. I'm surprised he even needed a passport. But he went under a fake passport to get opposition research on Trump!
The Obama administration originally lied about Brennan's visit, but they were forced later to admit the report was true after evidence of Brennan's visit emerged. This is that guy, John Brennan, who over the weekend encouraged every deep stater to come forward and blow the whistle on Trump. (summarized) ''There is no limit on the number of individuals who can use the whistleblower statute. If you think you were involved in unlawful activity as a result of Trump, now is the time to report it!''
Is Brennan gonna pay all of you whistleblowers? Is he gonna pay for your protection? This is a former director of the CIA asking the deep state to rise en mass and start blowing the whistle on Trump with a bunch of made-up lies! This guy's fingers are as dirty as anybody's on the dossier, including McCain's people. He traveled to Ukraine under a fake passport. The Obama regime denied it until the news was undeniable. Then they had to admit it.
DEAD MEN DON'T NEED IMPEACHMENT. Swamp in Panic: Trump In Danger.
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 20:40
The Betrayal of Donald Trump'--by one he helped most REMEMBER, MR. PRESIDENT. NO GOOD DEED GOES UNPUNISHED. I'LL BE BACK TO SCREW YOU LATER!The man on the left flew to New York to beg for Donald Trump's support in his 2012 run for President against Barack Hussein Obama.
He came to Trump again when he ran for the U.S. Senate after somehow losing the presidency to a Socialist Muslim no one had ever heard of before. Trump graciously helped him''again.
But Mitt Romney is a sorry politrickster. He let Manchurian candidate, Barack Obama, smoke him in the presidential race'....but he won a seat in the Senate.
So Trump backs Romney twice, but when last week's flap over a phone call exploded, Romney was the first to condemn the President. Say what?
What had Trump done? As Executive of the United States, back in August, he had a friendly conversation with the newly elected anti-corruption Ukraine President, Volodomyr Zelenskyy, congratulating him on his election and encouraging him to look into sinister activities involving Ukraine in the American election'...back in 2016.
What could possibly be wrong with that? And Ukrainian President Zelenskyy said he was already doing just that.
So when hapless Mitt Romney condemned President Trump before even reading the transcript of the call, I immediately knew something was up. When I read it, there was absolutely nothing even interesting, much less amiss.
Why wasRomney worried about Ukraine?It was clear there was more to the story, but absent Romney's baseless and immediate attack, I must admit that we never would have investigated. But boy-oh-boy, I'm glad we did.
BACKGROUND-In May of this year (2019) the Russia collusion narrative was proven a hoax by the Mueller Report. Considering the fact that all 18 of the 'investigators' were devout Hillary fans and contributors tells me that if something was 'there' we would know.
President Trump then ordered his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani'--former 9/11 Mayor of New York and famous prosecutor of mobsters'--as well as his Attorney General, William Barr'--to find the origins of this expensive hoax that locked down the first years of his presidency. A fair question.
So just yesterday we learned Giuliani and Barr had travelled to meet with foreign leaders whose nations assisted in the attempted coup, by-passing the corrupt institutions of government that had participated in it. Why? It's rather obvious.
The CIA, NSA, DNI and FBI were compromised. It was actually these corrupt pieces of the U.S. apparatus of State that led the coup and solicited foreign nations to play a role, so this was a wise'--but completely unexpected '' move by Trump.
That's his specialty, and that is what will save him.
By May of 2019 it was also known that Democrats solicited Ukraine to 'dig up dirt' on the Trump campaign'--which has now been admitted by Ukraine'--using these same U.S. government entities as conduits to assist the DNC (Democrat National Committee) using a Ukraine-American spy, Alexandra Chalupa.
This was all confirmed by POLITICO in its rather amazing article published January 11, 2017, (they are extremely anti-Trump) but it's out there. The Ukraine admitted what was done, and apologised. (https://www.politico.com/story/2017/01/ukraine-sabotage-trump-backfire-233446)
We also showed you a video last week of Vice President Joe Biden. He was bragging to the Council on Foreign Relations back in 2014 about extorting the Ukraine government into firing its Prosecutor General, Viktor Shokin.
As part of the corruption President Trump asked the new Ukraine president to 'look into', Biden forced the Ukraine through extortion (in the amount of $1.2 billion) to shut down the investigation of his son, Hunter, and Ukrainian company, Burisma Holdings. (See FAKE NEWS MEDIA TRUMPED AGAIN, September 24th, The Pickering Post, but you'll have to search for the video now'...surprise, surprise'...it was taken down after posting'...hey Harry, we're being noticed!)
Among the corruption being investigated, Burisma Holdings was paying Rosemont Seneca, (owned by Vice-President Biden's son, Hunter), $166,000 per month to 'consult.' His partners were Secretary of State, John Kerry's step-son, and FBI murderer/Boston Gang Boss, Whitey Bulger's nephew. Hmm. Nothing to see here.
In addition, the Vice President's son, Hunter, was being paid $50,000 each month, to sit on the board of the natural gas company as its 'legal advisor' despite having no experience in Ukrainian law or natural gas.
The Democrats clearly expected Trump to either let all this go like most RINOs would; or leave it to their Deep State operatives to 'investigate'.
The Dems knew their Deep State rats would prevent any meaningful review. They would make sure that Trump's promise to 'get to the bottom of it' was enough to satisfy pissed-off Trump supporters without really getting near the bottom.
Meanwhile, they would get away with it as they had The Russia Hoax, the Hillary Clinton cover up, and the rest, including rapes, murders, and worse''treason.
No Dem ever pays for corruption in Washington, DC. Everyone knows this.
But there is a new sheriff in town folks
Donald J. Trump is not a RINO or DC insider. He's a tough-guy billionaire from Queens, New York and a street-fighter.
When the Democrats realised last week that Trump was actually heading up his own investigation rather than leaving it to their Deep State apparatchiks'--and doing so directly with the leaders of Ukraine, Australia, and Italy (and perhaps the U.K.)'--they did the political equivalent of starting a fire in a theatre.
House of Representatives Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, announced impeachment proceedings against the president just three hours after stating in a speech that she would not. Speaker Pelosi had zero evidence, cause, stated reason and lacked the required vote of the House of Representatives to do so, but announced it anyway.
Strangely enough'...and what caught my attention'... Mitt Romney jumped on the ''Impeach Trump'' train that same day.
How did Nancy go from ''There will be noimpeachment proceedings,'' that morning in New York to announcing impeachmentproceedings that afternoon when she got back to Washington, DC?
Meet the Grand Master of the Deep State in America. Admitted Communist, John Brennan, who has some serious explaining to do now that his attempted coup of U.S. President Donald Trump has been exposed..and continues!So why did Romney want to shut down any investigation of Ukraine's role as well?That's the question that got this investigation started and it's shocking. Romney's National Security Advisor, Joseph Cofer Black, sits on the Board of the same Burisma Holdings that was being investigated for corruption back in 2014, and the Vice President and Obama Administration demanded be shut down. Why? Because Burisma was/is their vehicle for corrupt practices in Eastern Europe.
And CIA Director, John Brennan's 9/11 Deep State partner, Cofer Black, is still the link to all that goes on there. In fact, I can state unequivocally that Burisma is the centre of Ukraine corruption and the Democrats' shadow organisation for corrupt activities. I live in Eastern Europe (Poland) and my sources are first-hand.
And I know this matters greatly to Mitt Romney as he is not yet done with politics. If Black is busted, it will reflect on Romney, and it only makes sense that Cofer Black is the Deep State 'plant' in case Romney ever rises above polishing knobs in the U.S. Senate.
Romney wants to run for President again in 2024 and if he wins, Cofer Black will be back with his fingers on the strings either as DNI or CIA Chief of Corruption.
Burisma Holdings is the hub of U.S. Democrat activities to corrupt both Ukraine and American politics and there is proof. Ukraine President Zelenskyy's win surprised both Brennan and Black's Deep State ops as much as Trump's did in 2016 in America.
So who is this Cofer Black guy?
Joseph Cofer Black, joined the CIA in 1974 and rose to be Director of The National Counterterrorism Center, before joining Mitt Romney. If it were not for researching this article, I admit, he was unknown to me as well. What a revelation.
Black was also the Head of Counterintelligence who somehow missed the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, though according to The Economist, 16 foreign leaders and heads of intelligence agencies warned him it was not only going to happen but when. Oh well. And nothing was done about Cofer Black for this, indicating this is what the Deep State wanted.
But it goes deeper. John Brennan and this guy, Cofer Black, are how 19 terrorists got into the U.S.A. to attack the U.S. on 9/11. Editor Harry will jump on me or make Nurse Ratched give me a dose of Castor Oil if I say something I can't prove, so I'm just going to quote the CIA whistleblower at the Jeddah, Saudi Arabia CIA staff hearing, who is the source:
''According to FreedomOutpost, Brennan wasthe CIA station chief in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, when the 9/11 hijackers weregiven visas to travel to the United States.
''InSeptember 2014, a whistleblower named Greg Ford, a former military intelligenceofficer, told Ground Zero Radio's Clyde Lewis that the CIA had objectionsto the approval of those visas but Brennan actually overrode them.''
The second in command of theCIA station was directly quoted by the whistleblower as saying, 'No way, absolutely we are not going to stampthose visas.'
But CIA Saudi station chief, John Brennan, overrode the officer in charge and ordered the visas to be stamped and issued. They came, they learned to 'take off' an airplane but said they were not interested in 'how to land.'
Cofer Black ignored the reports about this strange behaviour, though it was made, I know as a fact, from the people who made it. I was also a Florida-based pilot in 2001.
You know the rest of the story. America lost over 3,000 citizens that day, and I sat for an hour trying to get past the terrorist pilots' apartment in Coral Springs, Florida.
Freedom Outpost concluded, ''If it weren't for John Brennan, 9/11 may never have happened.'' I'd add to that, if Cofer Black weren't the head of Counterterrorism, Brennan could not have gotten his men in to do the job. It took (these) two to tango. That's an opinion, not news, but I'll bet money I don't have, that I'm right as it's a no risk bet. These are partners in crime.
''Joseph Cofer Black '' the former Director of the CIA's Counterterrorist Center (1999-2002) and Ambassador at Large for counter-terrorism (2002-2004). Mr. Black is an internationally recognized authority on counterterrorism, cyber security, national security, and foreign affairs.'' (from Burisma's website) Brennan definitely had help in this. These terrorists had to have someone at the highest level in U.S. Counterintelligence to let their mission come to pass and succeed by ignoring all the warnings.
They even took their flight training near my home and I remember being locked down in Coral Springs, FL after 9/11 where they lived for three days while the FBI went through their apartment just a few blocks away.
And this is where Romney's man, Joseph Cofer Black, comes in. He was the partner in crime of John Brennan, (the Deep State Master), as well as being Mitt Romney's National Security Advisor. Bad news for Mittens.
And Cofer Black is the reason Romney is desperate to have President Trump's real investigation shut down. Also FACT
I thought wewere talking about Ukraine?
Yes, we are. But we just learned all of this through researching why Mitt Romney wanted to hide what happened in Ukraine and was willing to trash President Donald Trump to do it. That makes this all relevant and pretty damn interesting to me.
As Obama's CIA Director, John Brennan was also in charge of the dirty tricks campaign against then-candidate, Donald Trump. FACT
All of that has now been uncovered by investigative reporters Gregg Jarrett (The Russia Hoax) and Peter Schweizer (Secret Empires) with enough references to satisfy Editor Harry and Nurse Ratched.
Amazingly, the plot was actually laid by theDeep State in 2014 before they even knew Trump would be Hillary's foil in 2016.
I found that part pretty amazing.
The Ukraine/Russia story was created for whomever was the candidate to run against Hillary Clinton.
For John Brennan, it really didn't matter to him who ran on the Republican side. He just cared that whomever it was, lost to the Deep State's choice '' Hillary Clinton.
Brennan, Black, James Clapper, James Comey and ahost of others were prepared to make sure of it.
It was exposed just last week that Brennan flewunder a fake passport to avoid detection on his trip to set this up in EasternEurope as early as 2015. There is no explanation for a CIA Director to do thisunless what he was doing was illegal.
Now let's go back to Joseph Cofer Black. He is Romney's Ukraine man, and Brennan's long-time associate who is still covering here in Eastern Europe (from where I am reporting) for the Deep State in America.
Brennan came back Stateside from the Saudi Arabian CIA office the year after arranging for the 9/11 attackers to get into America. So what did he do? He took over CIA Counterintelligence from his partner, Cofer Black. Convenient, eh?
The Counterintelligence guy who 'missed' the 16 warnings on 9/11, and the guy who granted the attackers visas to get into the U.S. to take pilot training and do it, swap jobs, perhaps to prevent detection? Well it worked'...until now.
Andhistory repeats. The tag team is back at itBarack Obama chose (or was told) to make John Brennan his CIA Director. Brennan then sets up the Russian hoax through the Ukraine government and intel operatives covertly in 2015 to target any candidate who might face Hillary Clinton in 2016. FACT
Once Trump became the Republican candidate, President Obama authorised illegal spying on Trump's campaign, we now know, because it was labeled a 'counterintelligence operation' which can only be authorised by a President. FACT
The script for the Ukraine/Russia hoax was actually written back in 2007 to use against Republican candidate, John McCain. It was temporarily deployed but then shut down and recycled when it was clear RINO McCain would get his ass handed to him by Obama in 2008 without CIA involvement. FACT
So, Brennan decided to use the script in 2016.The Republican's candidate would be targeted using the same plan, according toone of Obama's own secret service agents, now author, Dan Bongino, in his newbook, Exonerated (just out last week).
The original script was written by Fusion GPS owner, Glenn Simpson. That's the same man and company who would be paid $12 million by the Clinton Campaign, The Democrat National Committee and the FBI in 2016 for ''the Steele dossier'' that caused the Russia Hoax against Trump'--though actually written years earlier. Glenn Simpson simply changed the names. FACT
Unfortunately,there was a problem. Socialist Bernie Sanders was leading the Democrats sideover the Chosen, Hillary, and had to be eliminated.
To achieve this, the Clintons literally did aforced takeover of The Democrat National Committee and its funds.
They immediately cut off Hillary's rival, BernieSander's campaign (as admitted by former DNC Director, Donna Brazille, ontelevision) eliminating Bernie from the race.
John Brennan then began leaking the 'dossier' toCongressional Democrats, including then-House Speaker, Harry Reid and theirmedia co-conspirators to begin the take down of the Republican candidate,Donald J. Trump.
Ironically, Brennan also leaked the fake dossierto Sen. John McCain, it's original target, and McCain leaked it back to itsoriginal source'--the FBI'--to apply for warrants to spy on Trump using their ownlaundered information.
The FBI literally paid for the fabricatedinformation, leaked it to the media and politicians who hated Trump, then usedtheir reports and that dossier when fed back to them, to get warrants to spy onTrump.
But then the kimchee hits the fan for real.Trump gets elected! So, who jumps over to Ukraine to protect the conspiracyfrom being found out?
Brennan's 9/11 partner, Joseph Cofer Black.. Within days of Trump's inauguration was immediately put in place in Ukraine to prevent anyone from talking.
The Board of Burisma Holdings'--the same centre ofUkraine corruption used by Joe Biden in 2014 to enrich his kid'-- was the basefrom which to shield the Democrat origins of the Russia Hoax and its intelroots from any real investigation.
By February of 2017, Cofer Black was a voting member of the Board of Burisma.
You'll hear the screams around the world this week as the democrats realise that Trump has taken this investigation on personally rather than leaving it to the deep state vermin It's all starting to fit together now, isn't it?
So,here's what to expectYes. There will be wailing a-plenty and gnashingof teeth over coming days, and this is the point where the president's securityneeds to be at an all-time high, cause The Deep State is spinning out ofcontrol and desperate.
If the new leaders of the nations that aidedBrennan, Black and the Democrats'--all of whom are admirers of Donald Trump'--haveinvestigated the crimes of their predecessors as Trump asked, he likely has theevidence on his desk rather than having it hidden by the Deep State criminals.
I suppose the President is waiting to see who isrunning the U.K. but may have spoken with Boris Johnson as well on his recenttrip to London.
We have no evidence of that, but this train has left the station, regardless'--and we made sure the President knew that England (and Boris) played a key role in the attempted coup against him before he left on Airforce One.
How you ask? Well as Secretary of State, Boris Johnson was aware the GCHQ was spying on Trump for President Obama.
Not only that, but BoJo actually approved GCHQ Director Harrigan's renewal of 'Project Fulsome', as requested by Obama's National Security Advisor, Susan Rice.
We got a copy of that letter from a British intelligence whistleblower. Yes. We did.
Director Harrigan announced his earlyresignation the day after President Trump's inauguration in 2017. Guilty feetain't got no rhythm, I suppose.
We made sure President Trump had a copy of the GCHQ request from the Obama administration that Boris approved to 'continue' spying on Trump and his family even after Trump was elected president! Then, this past Friday, it became known thatPresident Trump had not only launched his own investigation with foreign leadersinto the 2016 Election tampering, but that it was almost complete.
As soon as that happened, the freak-out began. At 65 years of age, I've not seen one quite like it.
The Deep State was and is in paroxysms of unmitigated fear and psychosis.
They ramped up an immediate media assault using the usual outlets'--CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times and Washington Post'--and the same exact leak specialists who put America through The Russia Hoax.
But The Pickering Post scooped them all.
This letter alone proves the Obama administration ordered and authorised collusion with foreign governments to illegally spy on Trump, his businesses and his family'--even after he was elected president of the United States. The media spectacle on Friday past wasimmediately followed with a sua sponte announcementby Speaker Pelosi that she was impeaching the President'--a power she does notpossess no matter how many cocktails she's had.
A completely false narrative was spun of whatwas said in President Trump's phone call with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy,knowing Trump would never allow them to have a copy of the classifiedtranscript to disprove their lies.
But guess what? Within 24 hours, in another act of unprecedented transparency The Donalddid just that. He released the full, unredacted transcript of the call,publicly proving them all to be Pinocchios.
And I just watched his Attorney, Rudy Giuliani, announce that he is drafting a lawsuit to file against those who lied about his client, Donald Trump'--another unprecedented event to my knowledge. So the price of lying about the President is about to get expensive, and while Rudy's suit will be in civil court, if proven that these public officials violated Trump's civil rights 'under colour of law', it might become a criminal referral under 18 USC §§ 241, 242 (Deprivation of rights under colour of law and a conspiracy to do so).
I personally believe this is why the Presidentand his lawyers are doing it. Through the civil suit, they'll have the right ofdiscovery to get records they could never accessin any other way'--like the letter above.
By then, Trump's team will have enough evidencein the civil suit to refer the defendants for criminal prosecution by the Dept.of Justice.
In the Deep State's current state of mania, an assassination attempt is not only likely but perhaps inevitable. I predict they will have one of their insiders still in the White House do it, or a foreign team (CIA trained) do the hit on his helicopter. Not a single CIA, DOJ, NSA, DNI or Secret Service leftover from Barack Hussein Obama should be allowed near him and then all 17 illegal spy agencies that have so disgraced my nation should be shaken up or even better, shut down.
No other leader in my nation's history wouldhave the audacity to take on these evil forces'--or have a chance of winning otherthan Donald Trump'--and they will do everything possible to take him out beforehe gets them.
In my opinion, we'll either have a presidentialfuneral followed by a descent into the darkness of Socialism, or a brighter andbetter day with dozens of Deep Staters eating institutional food and wearing orangefor life.
I'm praying for Door #2.
Howell Woltz, The International Centre for Justice,
Warsaw, Poland
Does this satellite image show the scale of China's coronavirus cremations? | Daily Mail Online
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 20:15
High sulphur dioxide levels at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak could be a sign of mass cremations, it has been claimed.
Satellite maps in recent days have shown alarming levels of SO2 around Wuhan, the Chinese city where the outbreak began.
In addition, there were high sulphur dioxide levels in the city of Chongqing which is also under quarantine.
Scientists say that sulphur dioxide is produced when bodies are cremated, and also when medical waste is incinerated.
But social media users who investigated the maps have suggested that dead bodies could be being burned on the outskirts of the city.
This satellite map which was captured at the weekend shows very high levels of sulphur dioxide (SO2) in the city of Wuhan at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak
China has decreed that the bodies of coronavirus victims should be cremated in low-key funerals to prevent large public gatherings.
The country's National Health Commission said earlier this month that bodies should be 'cremated close by and immediately'.
On top of that, there have been repeated claims - albeit unverified - that officials are concealing a higher-than-reported death toll with mass cremations.
The high sulphur dioxide levels in Wuhan would be consistent with a high number of cremations in the city.
One map from Czech-based weather service Windy.com showed sulphur dioxide levels in Wuhan at a staggering 1,350 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3) over the weekend.
For comparison, the World Health Organisation (WHO) says that a dosage of 500 µg/m3 should not be exceeded for more than 10 minutes.
The UK government considers a 15-minute concentration of 533 µg/m3 to be 'high'.
According to the map, the SO2 levels were lower today but Wuhan and Chongqing still stood out compared to much of China.
Parts of Wuhan still showed concentrations above 500 µg/m3 on Monday, the map suggested.
Scientists say that cremating bodies releases SO2 along with other pollutants including nitrogen oxides.
Health workers in protective suits stand by the body of a man wearing a face mask who died in Wuhan. China has decreed that virus victims be quickly cremated
The US Environmental Protection Agency says that burning medical waste can also cause sulphur dioxide emissions.
However, it is not certain that the high SO2 levels are related to the coronavirus crisis. The colourless gas is also produced by the burning of fossil fuels and other chemical processes.
The areas around Beijing and Shanghai, which are not in lockdown, also displayed high levels of SO2 today, although they were not as high over the weekend.
Wuhan remains in lockdown with 11million people in quarantine, meaning reports from the city are hard to verify.
The World Health Organisation says that high or prolonged exposure to sulphur dioxide can cause 'serious risks to health'.
The gas can play a role in health problems such as asthma, lung inflammation and reduced lung function, experts say.
'SO2 can affect the respiratory system and the functions of the lungs, and causes irritation of the eyes,' the WHO says.
'Inflammation of the respiratory tract causes coughing, mucus secretion, aggravation of asthma and chronic bronchitis and makes people more prone to infections of the respiratory tract.
'Hospital admissions for cardiac disease and mortality increase on days with higher SO2 levels.
'When SO2 combines with water, it forms sulphuric acid; this is the main component of acid rain which is a cause of deforestation.'
The virus-hit cities of Wuhan and Chongqing both showed high levels of sulphur dioxide, which is produced in the incineration of bodies and medical waste
The death toll from the virus rose by 97 yesterday, the deadliest day since the outbreak began.
Another 3,062 cases were reported in China yesterday - an increase of 15 per cent compared to Saturday which put an end to a series of daily declines.
The latest surge in figures has dampened hopes that China's public health response might be working.
The rise in China's death toll comes as millions of people return to work today after an extended Lunar New Year holiday.
Roads in Beijing and Shanghai had significantly more traffic than in recent days and the city of Guangzhou was resuming normal public transport today.
However, the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai said 60 per cent of its member companies were planning mandatory work-from-home policies.
Tens of millions of people in Hubei province were not returning to work, as the province at the centre of the outbreak remained under lockdown.
Two people wearing face masks walk along a a street in Shanghai today as millions of people in China were returning to work after an extended Lunar New Year break
China has built two hospitals for virus patients in Wuhan and sent thousands of extra doctors, nurses and other health care workers to the city of 1 million people.
Most access to Wuhan was suspended on January 23 and restrictions have expanded since then to cities with a total of 60million people.
China said today that 27 foreigners had been infected with the virus in the country, including two of the country's 908 deaths.
Two people have died outside mainland China, one in Hong Kong and the other in the Philippines, taking the global toll to 910.
More than 360 cases of the virus have been confirmed outside China, bringing the total to at least 40,531.
The fatality toll has passed the 774 people believed to have died in the 2002-03 SARS outbreak, another viral outbreak that originated in China.
The total of more than 40,000 confirmed cases of the new virus vastly exceeds the 8,098 sickened by SARS.
Steve Bannon: Bloomberg Will Open Door for Hillary to 'Save' the Party
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 18:43
Former chief White House strategist Steve Bannon touched on several topics during a recent Fox Business interview, including the 2020 race, which he says is Donald Trump's to lose and that Michael Bloomberg's candidacy will open the door for Hillary Clinton to ''save'' the Democratic Party.
Bannon said the Democrats' voting base will soon throw former Vice President Joe Biden away (though, you keep hearing this a lot as he continues to lead in pretty much every major poll), opening the door for Bloomberg and '... the return of Clinton.
''They'll throw Biden away to get to Trump and hope Elizabeth Warren or I even think Hillary Clinton or Bloomberg or some centrist comes in here,'' he said. ''All these other people that could have been the centrist candidate for whatever reason haven't materialized. And that leaves a huge opportunity for two people, I believe: Michael Bloomberg and Hillary Clinton.
''It's quite evident that, look, the ratings '-- and President Trump follows this; like the ratings for the impeachment started to drop off. The ratings for the Democratic primaries are dropping off. There's a lack of interest. There's no star power. And more importantly, there doesn't seem like a fighter that can take on Trump.''
Bannon then discussed what Bloomberg brings to the table, particularly ''capital.'' Bloomberg, of course, is worth north of $50 billion, far more than even Trump, so he has more than enough money to throw around. Bloomberg has said he'll spend up to $100 million on his campaign, and has already doled out $20 million on an anti-Trump voting registration drive in five swing states.
''He's very smart in applying his capital to politics. Remember, one of the reasons we have this impeachment going on is because Nancy Pelosi took the House on the shoulders of Mike Michael Bloomberg '-- Bloomberg's money,'' Bannon said. ''It was $100 million of Bloomberg's capital that went in. I think they focused on 25 House races and won 23 of them. So to a large extent, Nancy Pelosi owes her job to Michael Bloomberg. He's been he's been moving these chess pieces around for a while. He hopes to use his capital to blow a hole because he sees Mayor Pete (Buttigieg), Biden, Cory Booker, the other centrists are just not getting traction.
''And I believe he thinks the Wall Street faction of the Democratic Party is not going to have a coronation for Elizabeth Warren. So he's going to come in, I think is going to totally disrupt the race. And I believe Hillary Clinton is going to look and say, 'I'm going to step in to save the Democratic Party.' And so don't count '-- I'm only 2-for-2 on this. I think Hillary Clinton is taking a hard look and seeing what Bloomberg is doing and seeing how Bloomberg is trying to position himself. I think the Democratic race is wide open.''
Ultimately, Bannon said, no one can beat Trump '-- other than Trump himself '-- in the 2020 election.
''The only person who can beat Donald Trump is Donald Trump. Nobody '-- Michael is not going to beat '-- there's nobody out there that can beat him. I think, look, if you see where the economy's going, if you see how he's sorting out the national security situation. If you see how people are now focused on prosperity and they get around the Thanksgiving table at the end of the year, University of Michigan's consumer report came out. I think it's the 30th month in the row. It's been over ninety five. And we haven't had optimism like this from the consumer since the 1990s and the Internet and when the Internet stocks were on fire.''
Will Spotify Ruin Podcasting? - BIG by Matt Stoller
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 14:00
Matt StollerFeb 8 26Sign up to like postLoginPrivacyTerms 9Hi, Welcome to BIG, a newsletter about the politics of monopoly. If you'd like to sign up, you can do so here. Or just read on'... Today I'm going to write about podcasting, with some observations on how a media market that is far healthier than online publishing functions. But first, a quick update on
Read '†'
White Supremacy | Encyclopedia.com
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 11:30
White supremacy '-- the belief in the superiority of the white race, especially in matters of intelligence and culture '-- achieved the height of its popularity during the period of European colonial expansion to the Western Hemisphere, Africa, and Asia stretching from the late 1800s to the first half of the twentieth century. White supremacists have based their ideas on a variety of theories and supposedly proven facts; the most prominent of these include the claims of pseudoscientific racist academic research that attempted to correlate inferiority and pathological behavior with categories of racial phenotypes, especially head size in the case of eugenics. White supremacist belief has also been justified by the Biblical Hamitic hypothesis, which viewed blacks as the descendants of Ham who would be cursed for life. There is a direct correlation between the rise of imperialism and colonialism and the expansion of white supremacist ideology justifying the changing international order, which increasingly saw Europeans assuming political control over peoples of darker skin color through military force and ideological means, such as religion and education. It is important to note that the range of those considered '' white '' expanded considerably in the twentieth century. For example, in the United States, not all ethnic groups with white skin were initially considered white. It was not until well into the twentieth century that the Irish and Italians, for example, were considered white. By the end of that century, the United States federal government had also expanded its definition of whites to include Arabs.
Various groups and institutions have used varieties of white supremacist thinking to organize followers socially and politically, often with the purpose of policing racial barriers. This activism has included, but not been limited to, the physical elimination of nonwhite populations (especially through violence), preventing cross-racial marriage, and maintaining racial segregation. The most well known examples of institutionalized white supremacy were '' Jim Crow '' segregation in the United States, apartheid in southern Africa, and the Nazi German state under Adolph Hitler, which sought a '' final solution '' through the extermination in gas chambers of millions of Jews and gypsies, and under which various racial medical experiments were carried out.
The academic field of anthropology has been most closely associated with theories of racial difference, including white supremacy. As anthropology developed as a field in Europe and North America in the 1800s, its epistemological foundations actually provided scholarly legitimacy to the practice of categorizing human beings according to race. In the twentieth century it was also the field that amassed the primary evidence to refute white supremacist thinking. Of particular note as regards this latter phase was the work of Franz Boas, whose fieldwork among North American indigenous peoples provided evidence to refute ideas that races and cultures could be placed in hierarchies that ranged from primitive to sophisticated, with the white race at the top.
After World War II (1939 '' 1945), and the carnage caused by Nazi racial ideology, effort was invested by social scientists to refute white supremacist ideology. Of particular note was the '' Statement by Experts on Problems of Race '' that the then new United Nations sponsored and had published in the early 1950s. The list of scholars who supported the document comprised the most prominent thinkers on issues related to race at the time, including E. Franklin Frazier, Claude Levi-Strauss, Julian S. Huxley, Gunnar Myrdal, Joseph Needham, and Theodosius Dobzhansky. The central point of the Statement was that race was not based on biological difference and was actually a social construction because all the supposedly different human races belonged to the same species of Homo sapiens.
Due to publications such as the Statement and the mapping of the human genome (which provided additional evidence that there are few significant genetic differences between races), biological justifications for white supremacy popular during the first half of the twentieth century declined in prevalence in the second half. Similarly, by the end of the century all states that had officially declared themselves to be white supremacist had been eliminated. However, white supremacist ideology was resuscitated by a number of social transformations that were particularly evident by the last decade of the twentieth century. These included the end of Communist states in eastern Europe, increased immigration to Europe and North America by nonwhite groups, and the growth of technologies to facilitate rapid transnational communication. White supremacy was deployed by various groups as an organizing tool. In eastern Europe, groups in the former Communist societies used it to create new identities in the wake of communism ' s demise, and eastern Europe quickly became the center of neo-Nazi activism. In the United States, groups such as the World Church of the Creator and so-called citizen militias invoked religious and nationalist mythology to rally their believers against the increased power of racialized groups and the presence of illegal immigrants from Latin America. The expansion of the Internet was useful to these hate groups because it facilitated the exchange of documents and enabled the organization of adherents over vast distances. It also allowed some European white supremacy activists to obviate European antiracist propaganda laws that had been enacted after World War II.
The persistence of white privilege, even in societies where nonwhites are the majority, has meant that white supremacy and its consequences have not ceased to be sources of social scientific research. A notable event in the growth of '' white studies '' was the conference '' The Making and Unmaking of Whiteness, '' held at the University of California, Berkeley in April 1997. This yielded, four years later, a volume of the same name published by Duke University Press.
In the United States the legal scholar Cheryl Harris, the historian David Roediger, and the American Studies scholar George Lipsitz are among those whose work in white studies has been influential. Melissa Steyn, the South African, has also been a prominent thinker in the area.
White studies is best contextualized as another stage in the evolution of humanities and social science research on the functioning of social systems. One of the most prominent themes in the study of whiteness is identity formation. The argument for doing white studies, and putting it on par with other more established areas of ethnic studies such as black studies, is that the adoption of white identity and the related ideology of white supremacy confer privilege at the expense of others who cannot or will not invest in them.
SEE ALSO Frazier, E. Franklin; Genomics; Hierarchy; Immigration; Inequality, Racial; Levi-Strauss, Claude; Myrdal, Gunnar; Nazism; Racism; Whiteness
BIBLIOGRAPHYBoas, Franz. [1945] 1969. Race and Democratic Society. New York: Biblo & Tannen.
Brander Rasmussen, Birgit, ed. 2001. The Making and Unmaking of Whiteness. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Montagu, Ashley. 1972. Statement on Race. 3rd ed. New York: Oxford University Press.
Steyn, Melissa E. 2001. '' Whiteness Just Isn ' t What It Used to Be '' : White Identity in a Changing South Africa. Albany: State University of New York Press.
Mark D. Alleyne
Single-cell RNA expression profiling of ACE2, the putative receptor of Wuhan 2019-nCov | bioRxiv
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 11:22
New Results Yu Zhao , Zixian Zhao , Yujia Wang , Yueqing Zhou , Yu Ma , Wei Zuo
doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.01.26.919985
AbstractA novel coronavirus (2019-nCov) was identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in December of 2019. This new coronavirus has resulted in thousands of cases of lethal disease in China, with additional patients being identified in a rapidly growing number internationally. 2019-nCov was reported to share the same receptor, Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), with SARS-Cov. Here based on the public database and the state-of-the-art single-cell RNA-Seq technique, we analyzed the ACE2 RNA expression profile in the normal human lungs. The result indicates that the ACE2 virus receptor expression is concentrated in a small population of type II alveolar cells (AT2). Surprisingly, we found that this population of ACE2-expressing AT2 also highly expressed many other genes that positively regulating viral reproduction and transmission. A comparison between eight individual samples demonstrated that the Asian male one has an extremely large number of ACE2-expressing cells in the lung. This study provides a biological background for the epidemic investigation of the 2019-nCov infection disease, and could be informative for future anti-ACE2 therapeutic strategy development.
Severe infection by 2019-nCov could result in acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and sepsis, causing death in approximately 15% of infected individuals1,2. Once contacted with the human airway, the spike proteins of this virus can associate with the surface receptors of sensitive cells, which mediated the entrance of the virus into target cells for further replication. Recently, Xu et.al., modeled the spike protein to identify the receptor for 2019-nCov, and indicated that Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) could be the receptor for this virus3. ACE2 is previously known as the receptor for SARS-Cov and NL634''6. According to their modeling, although the binding strength between 2019-nCov and ACE2 is weaker than that between SARS-Cov and ACE2, it is still much higher than the threshold required for virus infection. Zhou et. al. conducted virus infectivity studies and showed that ACE2 is essential for 2019-nCov to enter HeLa cells7. These data indicated that ACE2 is likely to be the receptor for 2019-nCov.
The expression and distribution of the receptor decide the route of virus infection and the route of infection has a major implication for understanding the pathogenesis and designing therapeutic strategies. Previous studies have investigated the RNA expression of ACE2 in 72 human tissues8. However, the lung is a complex organ with multiple types of cells, and such real-time PCR RNA profiling is based on bulk tissue analysis with no way to elucidate the ACE2 expression in each type of cell in the human lung. The ACE2 protein level is also investigated by immunostaining in lung and other organs8,9. These studies showed that in normal human lung, ACE2 is mainly expressed by type II and type I alveolar epithelial cells. Endothelial cells were also reported to be ACE2 positive. However, immunostaining analysis is known for its lack of signal specificity, and accurate quantification is also another challenge for such analysis.
The recently developed single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-Seq) technology enables us to study the ACE2 expression in each cell type and give quantitative information at single-cell resolution. Previous work has built up the online database for scRNA-Seq analysis of 8 normal human lung transplant donors10. In current work, we used the updated bioinformatics tools to analyze the data. In total, we analyzed 43,134 cells derived from normal lung tissue of 8 adult donors. We performed unsupervised graph-based clustering (Seurat version 2.3.4) and for each individual, we identified 8~11 transcriptionally distinct cell clusters based on their marker gene expression profile. Typically the clusters include type II alveolar cells (AT2), type I alveolar cells (AT1), airway epithelial cells (ciliated cells and Club cells), fibroblasts, endothelial cells and various types of immune cells. The cell cluster map of a representative donor (Asian male, 55-year-old) was visualized using t-distributed stochastic neighbor embedding (tSNE) as shown in Fig. 1b and his major cell type marker expressions were demonstrated in Fig.2.
Figure 1. Single-cell analysis of normal human lung.a. Characteristics of lung transplant donors for single-cell RNA-Seq analysis.
b. Cellular cluster map of the Asian male. All 8 samples were analyzed using the Seurat R package. Cells were clustered using a graph-based shared nearest neighbor clustering approach and visualized using a t-distributed Stochastic Neighbor Embedding (tSNE) plot.
Figure 2. Violin plots of expression for ACE2 and select cell type-specific marker genes significantly upregulated in distinct lung cell clusters of the Asian male donor.AGER, type I alveolar cell marker; SFTPC (SPC), type II alveolar cell marker; SCGB3A2, Club cell marker; TPPP3, ciliated cell marker; CD68, macrophage marker; PTPRC(CD45), pan-immune cell marker.
Next, we analyzed the cell-type-specific expression pattern of ACE2 in each individual. For all donors, ACE2 is expressed in 0.64% of all human lung cells. The majority of the ACE2-expressing cells (averagely 83%) are AT2 cells. Averagely 1.4±0.4% of AT2 cells expressed ACE2. Other ACE2 expressing cells include AT1 cells, airway epithelial cells, fibroblasts, endothelial cells, and macrophages. However, their ACE2-expressing cell ratio is low and variable among individuals. For the representative donor (Asian male, 55-year-old), the expressions of ACE2 and cell-type-specific markers in each cluster are demonstrated in Fig.2.
To further understand the special population of ACE2-expressing AT2, we performed gene ontology enrichment analysis to study which biological processes are involved with this cell population by comparing them with the AT2 cells not expressing ACE2. Surprisingly, we found that multiple viral process-related GO are significantly over-presented, including ''positive regulation of viral process'' (P value=0.001), ''viral life cycle'' (P value=0.005), ''virion assembly'' (P value=0.03) and ''positive regulation of viral genome replication'' (P value=0.04). These highly expressed viral process-related genes in ACE2-expressing AT2 include: SLC1A5, CXADR, CAV2, NUP98, CTBP2, GSN,HSPA1B,STOM, RAB1B, HACD3, ITGB6, IST1,NUCKS1,TRIM27, APOE, SMARCB1,UBP1,CHMP1A,NUP160,HSPA8,DAG1,STAU1,ICAM1,CHMP5,D EK, VPS37B, EGFR, CCNK, PPIA, IFITM3, PPIB, TMPRSS2, UBC, LAMP1 and CHMP3. Therefore, it seems that the 2019-nCov has cleverly evolved to hijack this population of AT2 cells for its reproduction and transmission.
We further compared the characteristics of the donors and their ACE2 expressing patterns. No association was detected between the ACE2-expressing cell number and the age or smoking status of donors. Of note, the 2 male donors have a higher ACE2-expressing cell ratio than all other 6 female donors (1.66% vs. 0.41% of all cells, P value=0.07, Mann Whitney Test). In addition, the distribution of ACE2 is also more widespread in male donors than females: at least 5 different types of cells in male lung express this receptor, while only 2~4 types of cells in female lung express the receptor. This result is highly consistent with the epidemic investigation showing that most of the confirmed 2019-nCov infected patients were men (30 vs. 11, by Jan 2, 2020).
We also noticed that the only Asian donor (male) has a much higher ACE2-expressing cell ratio than white and African American donors (2.50% vs. 0.47% of all cells). This might explain the observation that the new Coronavirus pandemic and previous SARS-Cov pandemic are concentrated in the Asian area.
Altogether, in the current study, we report the RNA expression profile of ACE2 in the human lung at single-cell resolution. Our analysis suggested that the expression of ACE2 is concentrated in a special population of AT2 which expresses many other genes favoring the viral process. This conclusion is different from the previous report which observed abundant ACE2 not only in AT2, but also in endothelial cells8. In fact, to our knowledge, endothelial cells sometimes can be non-specifically stained in immunohistochemical analysis. The abundant expression of ACE2 in a population of AT2 explained the severe alveolar damage after infection. The demonstration of the distinct number and distribution of ACE2-expressing cell population in different cohorts can potentially identify the susceptible population. The shortcoming of the study is the small donor sample number, and that the current technique can only analyze the RNA level but not the protein level of single cells. Furthermore, it remains unknown whether there is any other co-receptor responsible for the 2019-nCov infection, which might also help to explain the observed difference of transmission ability between SARS-Cov and 2019-nCov. Future work on the ACE2 receptor profiling could lead to novel anti-infective strategies such as ACE2 protein blockade or ACE2-expressing cell ablation.
MethodsPublic datasets (GEO: GSE122960) were used for bioinformatics analysis. Firstly, we used Seurat (version 2.3.4) to read a combined gene-barcode matrix of all samples. We removed the low-quality cells with less than 200 or more than 6,000 detected genes, or if their mitochondrial gene content was > 10%. Genes were filtered out that were detected in less than 3 cells. For normalization, the combined gene-barcode matrix was scaled by total UMI counts, multiplied by 10,000 and transformed to log space. The highly variable genes were identified using the function FindVariableGenes. Variants arising from number of UMIs and percentage of mitochondrial genes were regressed out by specifying the vars.to.regress argument in Seurat function ScaleData. The expression level of highly variable genes in the cells was scaled and centered along each gene, and was conducted to principal component analysis.
Then we assessed the number of PCs to be included in downstream analysis by (1) plotting the cumulative standard deviations accounted for each PC using the function PCElbowPlot in Seurat to identify the 'knee' point at a PC number after which successive PCs explain diminishing degrees of variance, and (2) by exploring primary sources of heterogeneity in the datasets using the PCHeatmap function in Seurat. Based on these two methods, we selected the first top significant PCs for two-dimensional t-distributed stochastic neighbor embedding (tSNE), implemented by the Seurat software with the default parameters. We used FindClusters in Seurat to identify cell clusters for each sample. Following clustering and visualization with t-Distributed Stochastic Neighbor Embedding (tSNE), initial clusters were subjected to inspection and merging based on the similarity of marker genes and a function for measuring phylogenetic identity using BuildClusterTree in Seurat. Identification of cell clusters was performed on the final aligned object guided by marker genes. To identify the marker genes, differential expression analysis was performed by the function FindAllMarkers in Seurat with Wilcoxon rank sum test. Differentially expressed genes that were expressed at least in 25% cells within the cluster and with a fold change more than 0.25 (log scale) were considered to be marker genes. tSNE plots and violin plots were generated using Seurat.
AcknowledgementsThis work was funded by National Key Research Program to W. Zuo (2017YFA0104600), National Science Foundation of China (81770073 to W. Zuo, 81570091 to W. Zuo), Youth 1000 Talent Plan of China to W. Zuo, Tongji University (Basic Scientific Research-Interdisciplinary Fund and 985 Grant to W. Zuo), Shanghai Science and Technology Talents Program (19QB1403100 to W. Zuo), and Shanghai East Hospital Annual Grant to W. Zuo.
Reference'†µ Huang , C.-I. et al. Clinical features of patients infected with 2019 novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China . The Lancet ( 2020 ).
'†µ Chan , J. F.-W. et al. A familial cluster of pneumonia associated with the 2019 novel coronavirus indicating person-to-person transmission: a study of a family cluster . The Lancet ( 2020 ).
'†µ Xu , X.-t. et al. Evolution of the novel coronavirus from the ongoing Wuhan outbreak and modeling of its spike protein for risk of human transmission . SCIENCE CHINA Life Sciences 63 ( 2020 ).
'†µ Li , W. et al. The S proteins of human coronavirus NL63 and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus bind overlapping regions of ACE2 . Virology 367 , 367 '' 374 ( 2007 ).
Wu , K.-I. , Li , W.-k. , Peng , G.-q. & Li , F. Crystal structure of NL63 respiratory coronavirus receptor-binding domain complexed with its human receptor . Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 106 , 19970 '' 19974 ( 2009 ).
'†µ He , L. et al. Expression of elevated levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines in SARS-CoV-infected ACE2+ cells in SARS patients: relation to the acute lung injury and pathogenesis of SARS . Journal of Pathology 210 ( 2006 ).
'†µ Zhou , P. et al. Discovery of a novel coronavirus associated with the recent pneumonia outbreak in humans and its potential bat origin . bioRxiv, 2020.2001.2022.914952 , doi: 10.1101/2020.01.22.914952 ( 2020 ).
'†µ Hamming , I. , Timens , W. , Bulthuis , M. L. C. , Lely , A. T. & Goor , H. V. Tissue distribution of ACE2 protein, the functional receptor for SARS coronavirus. A first step in understanding SARS pathogenesis . Journal of Pathology 203 , 631 '' 637 ( 2004 ).
'†µ Yang , J. K. , Lin , S.-S. , Ji , X.-J. & Guo , L.-M. Binding of SARS coronavirus to its receptor damages islets and causes acute diabetes . Acta Diabetologica 47 , 193 '' 199 ( 2010 ).
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View Abstract
Mobile World Congress - BBC News
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 11:15
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US charges four Chinese army members over giant Equifax hacking breach | Hacking | The Guardian
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 11:00
Show caption William Barr at a press conference on Monday to announce the charges. The breach in 2017 affected nearly 150m American citizens, Barr said. Photograph: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images
HackingWilliam Barr says hackers spent weeks in Equifax system, stealing company secrets and personal data
Reuters in Washington
Mon 10 Feb 2020 11.21 EST
The United States has charged four Chinese military hackers in the 2017 breach of the Equifax credit reporting agency that affected nearly 150 million US citizens, William Barr, the attorney general, said on Monday.
Democrats go on the offensive ahead of New Hampshire primary '' live ''This was a deliberate and sweeping intrusion into the private information of the American people,'' Barr said about one of the largest data breaches in US history.
The indictment charges four members of the Chinese Liberation Army.
''This data has economic value,'' Barr said, ''and these thefts can feed China's development of artificial intelligence tools.''
The Chinese embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The announcement is the latest in an aggressive campaign by US authorities to root out Chinese espionage operations. Since 2018, the US has snared a growing group of Chinese government officials, business people and academics pursuing American secrets.
Roughly 147 million people had information, including social security numbers and driver's license data, compromised by the Equifax breach.
The hackers spent weeks in the Equifax system, breaking into computer networks, stealing company secrets and personal data. The hackers ran about 9,000 queries, taking names, birth dates and social security numbers for nearly half of all American citizens.
They routed traffic through about 34 servers located in nearly 20 countries to obfuscate their true location.
The data breach, because it was so large and involved so much sensitive financial information on so many Americans, had far-reaching implications for Equifax and the consumer credit industry.
The company agreed to pay up to $700m to settle claims it broke the law during the data breach and to repay harmed consumers.
The scandal sent the company into turmoil, leading to the exit of its chief executive, Richard Smith, and multiple congressional hearings as the company's slowness to disclose the breach and security practices were challenged by lawmakers.
Policymakers and consumer groups have questioned how private companies could amass so much personal data, sparking efforts to bolster consumers' ability to control their information.
Both the Senate banking and House financial services committees are considering legislation that would require companies to better protect consumer data.
In a statement on Monday, Equifax thanked the justice department for its ''tireless'' work and said: ''Cybercrime is one of the greatest threats facing our nation today, and it is an ongoing battle that every company will continue to face as attackers grow more sophisticated.
''Combating this challenge from well-financed nation-state actors that operate outside the rule of law is increasingly difficult.''
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What Do Ex-Obama Staffers Have to Do With Brad Pitt Going Political at Oscars? - Sputnik International
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 10:52
Since more and more Hollywood A-listers have been heard to drop political or socially-laden comments at award ceremonies, including from the Dolby Theatre stage on 10 February, questions arise as to whether their speeches are really off the cuff or thought over by PR pros.
As the US political theatre is gaining momentum in the run-up to the presidential elections, and while caucus primaries are in full swing, there is hardly any Democrat or fan who hasn't yet taken a jab at POTUS Trump. Even more so, given the lukewarm impeachment debacle that spanned a total of 4 months, when only the laziest didn't have their say.
The frenzy gripped even [read: naturally] the Oscars, which appeared incredibly politicised this year, and seems to be less than accidental, and neither was Brad Pitt's dig during his acceptance speech at Senate Republicans, who acquitted President Trump of all accusations last week.
''They told me I only had 45 seconds, which is 45 seconds more than the Senate gave John Bolton this week'', Pitt said after winning the best supporting actor Oscar for his stuntman role in ''Once Upon a Time in Hollywood''.The question is not if he is truly disappointed with the outcome of the impeachment trial (he apparently is, taking into account his reported backstage comments), but who authored his Oscars address, like the other, no less perfectly-worded award acceptance speeches.
Entertainment news outlet Vulture earlier reached out to a number of PR and speechwriting agencies to dot the ''i''s.
While one unnamed firm confirmed to a Vulture writer that Pitt's representatives reportedly contacted it vis-a-vis its speechwriting services, a separate representative for Fenway Strategies, a speechwriting and communications firm, revealed their services had long spilled out of the political arena, to entertainment, art, and, incidentally, Hollywood events.
Fenway author, Sam Koppelman, Mike Bloomberg's ex-speechwriter and Hillary Clinton's former digital strategist, referred to the practice of writing speeches for A-list actors as ''speechwriters' dream come true'' and Hollywood's "worst kept secret''. Koppelman also notably co-authored the bestselling ''Impeach: The Case Against Donald Trump''.
However, what's more curious, Fenway appears to have been founded by former Obama Administration officials: Jon Favreau, the former director of speechwriting, and Tommy Vietor, the former national security spokesman, back in 2013, the company's website says in black and white.
''With some of the highest-caliber writing talent on the planet, we help clients find their voice, and show them how they can use it to change the world'--one mind at a time'', it promises.Whether it is that very communications agency that helped Brad Pitt go political on the 92nd Academy Awards stage, remains unclear (yet probable), since neither the firm, nor Pitt's representatives have commented on the issue.
If so, it would perfectly correlate with another outcome of Sunday's night event - an Oscar won by Netflix's "American Factory", a film that came out under the banner of Barack and Michelle Obamas' production company, Higher Ground Productions.
The documentary was awarded for Best Documentary Feature, as it chronicles the story of a Midwestern factory restarted by a number of Chinese entrepreneurs, in a swipe at President Donald Trump's allegedly undelivered promises to revive the manufacturing industry in America's heartland.
The movie was produced by company Participant Media before the finished film was jointly acquired by Netflix and Obamas' Higher Ground, after the two agreed to cooperate last year.
Netherlands University Pays $240,000 After Targeted Ransomware Attack
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 10:42
University of Maastricht Pays Roughly $240,000 in Bitcoin Following Targeted Ransomware Attack
The University of Maastricht, The Netherlands (UM), has paid a ransom of 30 Bitcoins (about $240,000 at the time, $294,000 today) for a decryption key to the CLOP ransomware. UM has been open and forthcoming on the details of the attack, providing detailed insight into a classic targeted ransomware attack.
The encryption process started on December 23, 2019. By December 29, 2019, UM had concluded that its only realistic way forward was to pay the ransom and buy the decryption key. Rebuilding the infrastructure would take months -- even if it were possible -- while research material would be irretrievable. In the meantime, its students would not be able to work effectively and may not be able to take their exams.
The intrusion started on October 15th. A series of phishing emails was delivered, and two were successful on different workstations on Octoer 15th and 16th. The attacker was resident on UM's network for more than two months before the encryption commenced, and were able to study the topology and deliver the maximum damage.
The attacker was the group known as TA505. "The modus operandi of the group behind this specific attack," said Fox-IT in a forensic report commissioned by UM, "comes over with a criminal group that already has a long history, and goes back to at least 2014. The group is often referred to publicly as 'TA505', as well as 'GraceRAT', named after one of the tools used by the group."
Some subsequent media reports have linked TA505 with Evil Corps, the group behind Dridex -- but this is questionable. The source appears to be a Microsoft tweet from 30 January 2020: "Dudear (aka TA505/SectorJ04/Evil Corp), used in some of the biggest malware campaigns today, is back in operations this month after a short hiatus. While we saw some changes in tactics, the revived Dudear still attempts to deploy the info-stealing Trojan GraceWire."
Responding to this, however, Bryan Campbell, senior threat analyst with Proofpoint, commented simply, "TA505 does not equal Evil Corp." Certainly, Fox-IT mentions neither SectorJ04 nor Evil Corp in its forensic report. Evil Corp is usually associated with the group behind Dridex. Fox-IT believes that TA505 is a separate group, but that the group has "cooperated with the 'Dridex' group."
Both successful phishing emails were written in English, with links leading to an Excel document. These documents contained a macro that downloaded the SDBBot remote access trojan from IP addresses 185.225.17(.)99 and 185.212.128(.)146 respectively.
Following the successful phishing, TA505 accessed several UM servers. One of these had not been fully patched, and the group was able to gain full rights across the infrastructure. The group surveilled the topology and was able to collect multiple account usernames and passwords. On 23 December 2019 it successfully deployed the CLOP ransomware on 267 of UM's servers. Fox-IT found no indication that any personal or research data had been stolen, but has not been able to definitively exclude the possibility. Nevertheless, UM has now commissioned Fox-IT to conduct a separate investigation to confirm this.
The forensic firm made four primary recommendations based on its analysis of the attack: improve vulnerability and patch management, increase segmentation within the network, implement or improve network and log monitoring, and practice different crisis response scenarios.
For its part, UM has accepted the recommendations, but explains the difficulties faced by all higher education establishments: finding the right balance, it said in its own report (PDF), "between optimal digital security and providing an open and transparent environment for students and researchers." Its conclusion is that some openness must be sacrificed to improved security in the modern cyber world.
It intends to improve security awareness training and tools for better phish detection and handling. It will improve its patch regime, but explains the problem: "UM receives approximately 100,000 updates per year, all of which have to be processed on 1,647 servers and 7,307 workstations." It will reconsider its current segmentation, and improve its control of administrator accounts. It does already use segmentation, but acknowledges that its V-LANs "are relatively open to each other to guarantee the openness of the network and also to facilitate decentralized management and use of UM infrastructures."
UM also intends to establish a 24/7 SIEM and SOC. This had already been planned for January 2020, but too late to affect the TA505 attack. It hopes to do this in conjunction with other universities, and hopes to emulate what is happening in Canada and is already operational in the U.S. -- effectively a joint SOC between different universities for improved cooperation and collective action.
Two areas that go beyond the Fox-IT primary recommendations include the development of a configuration management database and improving its backup regime. The university acknowledges that lack of understanding of its own infrastructure hampered its response. "There were insufficient insights into the number of active and inactive computer and server systems in the UM domain."
It also acknowledges that failure to have an offsite backup was an error. Its existing backups were primarily aimed at ensuring instant continuity, and were consequently online. "The cyber attacker was able to encrypt these online backups from a few critical systems," it reports. "This must be prevented in the future." Since the attack, it has now made "offline and online backups for every critical system."
One area not mentioned by any of the parties is 'cyber insurance'. Since the basic education budget was established before the advent of ransomware, it may be considered currently too expensive. Nevertheless, it is something that should be considered in such a high-risk sector as higher education. There is little doubt that ransomware attacks against universities will continue, while cyber insurance already has a good track record in funding victims' ransom payments.
Related: The Case for Cyber Insurance
Related: The Growing Threat of Targeted Ransomware
Related: Highly Targeted 'Zeppelin' Ransomware Hits Tech, Healthcare Firms
Related: Ransomware Hits Hundreds of US Schools, Local Governments: Study
Kevin Townsend is a Senior Contributor at SecurityWeek. He has been writing about high tech issues since before the birth of Microsoft. For the last 15 years he has specialized in information security; and has had many thousands of articles published in dozens of different magazines '' from The Times and the Financial Times to current and long-gone computer magazines.
Previous Columns by Kevin Townsend:
Trump's purges show he didn't learn anything from being impeached Ç View | Euronews
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 10:38
It didn't take long to find out what an unleashed Donald Trump looks like '-- and I'm not referring to his petulant, un-Christian comments at the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday morning or even his toxic, stream-of-subconsciousness victory lap in the East Room of the White House early that afternoon, during which the leader of the free world introduced ''top scum'' and ''bullshit'' to the public presidential lexicon.
Sure, both performances offered disturbing glimpses into Trump's very scary emotional state, as if his Twitter feed weren't enough. But even as he debuted the latest iteration of his angry-victim performance art, he and his allies also started settling scores in a startlingly open way.
In a certain sense, the rhetoric was no surprise: Trump has always described himself as a counterpuncher, unwilling to let any perceived slight pass. But now, free from impeachment's shadow and safe in the knowledge that congressional Republicans will forgive literally any trespass, he's counterpunching with reckless abandon, going beyond even what his detractors had imagined.
We knew that he was compiling an impeachment ''enemy's list" and now, the official White House statement on his acquittal asked of one of his prosecutors: ''Will there be no retribution?'' White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham appeared on Fox News on Thursday morning to drive home that message, promising that Trump would be talking about how victimized he feels and that, ''maybe people should pay for that.''
Pay indeed. Trump Friday fired Lieutenant Colonel Alex Vindman and had him escorted from the White House complex. Vindman was the National Security Council staffer who raised questions about Trump's infamous Ukraine phone call and then testified in the House impeachment inquiry under subpoena. And Trump purged Vindman's twin brother, Yevgeny Vindman, as well, in a triumph of petty vindictiveness. (He was, of all things, an ethics lawyer, which makes it amazing this White House employed him in the first place.)
On Friday night, Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union who had allegedly spearheaded Trump's effort to get the Ukrainian government to investigate the Bidens and then testified in the impeachment hearings, was also sacked in apparent retaliation for his impeachment testimony, which was also given under subpoena.
Trump aides reportedly spent Thursday circulating talking points savaging Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, who chose fidelity to conscience and Constitution over loyalty to dear leader and party. We're still waiting for Romney's Republican colleagues to voice the same outrage they contrived when Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., had the temerity to suggest during the impeachment trial that the White House might engage in reprisals against Republicans who didn't vote to acquit him.
Trump's Hill henchmen are getting in the act as well, promising to deliver what he couldn't get from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy: A Biden investigation Trump can tout if the former vice president survives the primaries. On the same day the Senate trial ended, Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., who chair the Senate Finance and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committees, respectively, sent a letter to the Secret Service requesting information about times the younger Biden traveled abroad with government protection because they are ''reviewing potential conflicts of interest posed by the business activities of Hunter Biden.''
And while the administration has stonewalled Congressional Democrats seeking records of any kind, it is being more cooperative when it comes to punishing his enemies. The Treasury Department has reportedly already sent sensitive financial records pertaining to the younger Biden to Grassley and Johnson. This is the same agency which has for years '-- and recently in violation of federal law '-- refused to divulge Trump's tax returns and participated in Trump's evidentiary obstruction and coverup during the impeachment proceedings.
''Senators like Grassley and Johnson are supposed to be holding the president accountable,'' Walter Shaub, former director of the Office of Government Ethics, tweeted Thursday night. ''Instead, they are corruptly weaponizing the criminal investigative apparatus against citizens to interfere in an election."
The president's attempts to trump up an investigation of the Bidens '-- and use U.S. military aid to Ukraine as leverage '-- spurred impeachment in the first place. But with the trial out of the way, Trump's attack-lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, is ''ramping up,'' his investigations of the Bidens. ''It's a matter of the fair administration of justice for real,'' Giuliani told The Daily Beast, in an O.J.-like pledge to hunt down the real criminals.
So maybe it's another coincidence that the day after Trump's acquittal, word emerged from the embattled eastern European nation that the administration is holding up $30 millions of arms sales to the country. Or maybe it's a reminder that Trump's wrath extends beyond his proximate political adversaries. Recall that he believes the Russian propaganda that the real 2016 election interference was driven by Kyiv and aimed at him, rather than from Moscow and in his favor.
Also within hours of the Senate trial ending, the administration announced a punitive new measure aimed at the very-blue New York state (whose senator, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, led the Democrats in voting to impeach him): Empire State residents are being cut out of ''trusted traveler'' programs like Global Entry. The administration was ostensibly reacting to a new law there permitting immigrants to get driver's licenses while forbidding the Department of Motor Vehicles from sharing any data with immigration enforcement officials without a court order, despite the fact that, for example, licenses are not required for Global Entry.
And Friday morning, the famously thin-skinned commander-in-chief opined that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., ''broke the law'' when she tore up her copy of his State of the Union speech. This particular bit of grandiose nonsense is incorrect: Tearing up a copy of a speech is not the same thing as destroying an official document. (Trump, by the way, makes a habit of ripping up actual official documents.) At minimum, Pelosi will become the new target of Trump rally ''lock her up'' chants '-- but would it surprise anyone if the newly-emboldened president pressed Attorney General William Barr to open an investigation as well?
And these are just the examples which have come to light in the days since Trump emerged from impeachment, angrier and less repentant than ever (despite the openly stated hopes of moderate Republicans, like Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who said Tuesday that she thought ''he will be much more cautious in the future''). Who knows what else he's quietly up to or what is yet to come? Remember that he only stepped up his pressure on Ukraine after former special counsel Robert Mueller testified before Congress.
When President Bill Clinton was acquitted, the joke was that he felt free to start dating again; with Trump the reality is that he feels empowered to abuse his office again.
And it may be a long while before we know the true depths of his political depravities because on the same day that Trump was acquitted, Attorney General Barr issued new guidance that he must personally approve any politically-sensitive investigations. Barr, who has dispensed with his office's traditional independence from the president, has been a vocal critic of Mueller's investigation, even though it produced dozens of indictments, seven guilty pleas (many from top Trump aides) and five prison sentences. And now he has insulated Trump from any fears of being held accountable in the run-up to the November elections.
Though a number of Senate Republicans have suggested that Trump had learned a lesson from his impeachment, early indications are that he intends to teach a number of people some very hard lessons '-- including about believing people when they show you who they are '-- instead.
Robert Schlesinger is a veteran Washington journalist and commentator and cohost of the Bipodisan podcast. He is the author of ''White House Ghosts: Presidents and Their Speechwriters.''This piece was first published by NBC Think.
Are you a recognised expert in your field? At Euronews, we believe all views matter. Contact us at view@euronews.com to send pitches or submissions and be part of the conversation.
While Idlib burns, Turkey pushes Syrians to fight its war in Libya | The Jerusalem post
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 10:34
How Turkey achieves its goals is by offering a few of its solders to train Tripoli's forces and send the same Syrian rebels Turkey was recently using to fight Kurds in eastern Syria. Syrian President Bashar al Assad visits Syrian army troops in war-torn northwestern Idlib province, Syria, October 22, 2019
Turkey is pushing a new ''road map'' for Libya, focusing on a conflict 1,000 km from Ankara, while a few kilometers from Turkey's border refugees are being driven from their homes in Idlib by a Moscow-backed Syrian offensive. It is part of the Turkey's new policy of sending Syrian rebels to fight in Libya so that Ankara can receive rights to exclusive energy exploration off the coast of North Africa. In exchange the Syrian regime appears to have received a free hand to bomb Syrian rebels in Idlib into submission.
On Tuesday Turkey's leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan was on an Africa tour that has seen him travel to Algeria and then Gambia to discuss Turkey's growing footprint in Africa and his desire to take over the Libyan conflict. Libya is in the midst of an none-year civil war. One side is led by Khalifa Haftar, an aging general who controls most of Libya. The other is run by the Tripoli-based embattled and weak government that claims UN backing. Haftar is backed by Egypt, the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Turkey recently signed a deal with Tripoli and has been sending drones, armored vehicles and now paying Syrian rebels to fight as mercenaries in Libya, in exchange for the Tripoli government giving Turkey a deal in the Mediterranean. Turkey wants to get rights to an exclusive economic zone that overlaps with Greek and Cyprus claims in the Mediterranean.
How Turkey achieves its goals is by offering a few of its solders to train Tripoli's forces and send the same Syrian rebels Turkey was recently using to fight Kurds in eastern Syria. Since 2017 Turkey has hijacked the Syrian rebel cause and used them to fight its wars, while working with Russia to get S-400s and sell out the Syrian opposition to the Syrian regime in exchange for Russian military hardware and other bits and pieces of northern Syria. Turkey's goal last year was to destroy the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces by forcing the US to withdraw from parts of northern
Syria. Turkey argues that the SDF is linked to the Kurdish PKK which it calls terrorists and as such it wants the ''terrorists'' removed from its border. It wants to replace them with a mostly Sunni Arab Syrian buffer, but taking Syrian rebels from Idlib and refugees from Turkey and inserting them into formerly Kurdish-run areas like Afrin or Tel Abyad. That stokes Kurdish-Arab tensions and gives Ankara power.
Having accomplished its task in Tel Abyad Turkey now wants to move Syrians to Libya, getting them further away from Idlib so that they will fight Haftar, while the Syrian regime bombs Idlib. The Syrian regime has acted in concert with Turkey's agenda, attacking Idlib increasingly since the fall of 2019 and driving tens of thousands of Syrians from their homes. Around 2,000 Syrians are now in Libya.
Turkey's overall goal isn't to win the war in Libya, but create another Syrian scenario where it uses Syrians to hold on to small parts of Libya to create a balance with the Egyptian-backed Haftar and brings Haftar to the peace table. Once an agreement or ceasefire can be worked out with Haftar then Turkey can declare victory and leave the Syrians in Libya to do whatever they like there. Accordingly Ankara has fed its pro-government media like Daily Sabah a narrative describing Haftar as a ''putschist'' and claiming that Erdogan is now involved in ''truce talks in Moscow and Berlin.'' Haftar is portrayed as violating the ceasefire that Turkey wants. Turkey claims that the war in Libya can't be solved by military means, which roughly translates as: Turkey has sent forces to Libya so Haftar will not be able to take Tripoli. Since Haftar won't take Tripoli now that Turkish forces are there, he will be encouraged to sign a deal, similar to the deal that Turkey and Russia signed over Idlib in September or the one Turkey and Russia signed over eastern Syria, partitioning parts of Libya to Turkish and Russian spheres of influence.
Erdogan is putting miles under his belt to achieve the goal. He flew to Africa even as thousands were being displaced from Idlib, ignoring the crises close to home to get a piece of the much larger pie in Libya. The Africa trip is one of several recent Turkish initiatives with Algeria and Tunisia designed to show that Ankara now has major influence in North Africa. The larger context is that Ankara wants to balance Egypt. Erdogan's AKP party is rooted in the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt has banned the Brotherhood after overthrowing the Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi in 2013. This means that the larger goal is a proxy war between the Saudi-UAE-Egypt entente and the Turkey-Qatar-Hamas-Brotherhood alliance system. The war is afoot in Libya to see which grand alliance will win. As such each must send proxies and arms.
Turkey's goal is also a gamble for European support.
Turkey uses Syrian refugees to threaten Europe and has asked Germany to sign on for its plans to continue taking over places like Afrin where Kurds have been ethnically cleansed. Turkey uses the same threats regarding Libya, arguing that if Tripoli falls then extremists might flow to Europe. Europe, fearful of refugees and right wing populism, is willing to keep paying Turkey to keep the refugees away. The only problem for Turkey now is Greece and Cyprus. Greece has a role in the EU and NATO and Greece is angry over Turkey laying claim to waters off Libya and frustrating its own gas pipeline ideas. Turkey says its drill ships will go where they please and has sent drones to Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus to enforce its power at sea. Turkey calls this the ''blue mortherland'' strategy to resurrect the power of Ottoman times. Greece hopes it can work with Egypt and the Gulf to stop the slide towards more Turkish domination of the seas.
Now Russia may swoop in as it has in Syria to find a compromise. Russia has energy interests in Turkey via the TurkStream pipeline and the S-400 deal. Russia wants a Turkish ally and it wants Turkey to work with Iran in the Astana process for Libya. Together Turkey and Russia can partition spheres of influence in Libya and Turkey can give up some bits of Idlib where it has a dozen observation points. Allowing the Syrian regime to crush the Syrians in Idlib aids Turkey by making the Syrians more dependent on Ankara's good will and enables Ankara to funnel them to Afrin, Tel Abyad and even to Libya. Recent videos of the poor Syrians who went to fight in Libya show them waving money around and drinking tea with Ak-47s saying they don't know why they are in Libya but they are being paid and they have little else to do. After having channeled the same Syrian rebels to fight Kurds, the next logical step was to get them as far away from home as possible so that they won't see the slow strangulation of Idlib that is taking place.
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Russia and Turkey Send Troops to Syria, Build New Gas Pipeline at Home
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 10:33
Russian President Vladimir Putin oversaw Friday's joining of a major pipeline that's set to provide Turkey with over 556 billion cubic feet of gas each year, an event that came shortly after the two countries reached a deal to allow foreign troops into areas previously designated as safe zones in Syria.
Russia and Turkey, which support opposing factions in Syria's more than six-year civil war, have had a tumultuous relationship in recent years. Turkey's geographic and political position as a bridge between East and West has given it strategic leverage with both the Western military alliance NATO, of which it is a member, and Russia, an important economic partner. With Turkish-backed Syrian rebels facing major defeats by both the Russia-backed Syrian military and the U.S.-backed Kurdish militants, Thursday's announcement that Turkey and Russia agreed to allow international forces into areas of respective influence in Syria comes as Ankara attempts to retain its stake in the conflict.
Related: Iran and Turkey, at war in Syria, back Qatar in Gulf crisis with food and military exercises
"We will probably be most prominent in the Idlib region with the Russians, mostly Russia and Iran around Damascus; and a mechanism involving the Americans and Jordan in the south in the Daraa region is being worked on," Ibrahim Kalin, spokesperson for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was quoted as saying, according to Reuters.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Gazprom Chief Executive Alexei Miller inspect the work on the Turkish Stream gas pipeline project aboard the Pioneering Spirit pipeline-laying ship in the Black Sea near Anapa, Russia, on June 23. Progress on the Russia-Turkey pipeline coincides with the two nations' cooperation in Syria's conflict, where they back opposing factions. Mikhail Metzel/Sputnik/Kremlin/ReutersWhile Kalin said negotiations for troop deployments were ongoing, the framework will likely follow an agreement reached in early May by Russia, Turkey and Iran that established four de-escalation zones around the country. The zones are intended to protect civilians fleeing a war that's already killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions more. As the Syrian military and its allies advance nationwide, scores of armed rebels have been forced into reconciliation deals with President Bashar al-Assad's government, which has given insurgents the choice to remain in neighborhoods now secured by Syria's armed forces or relocate to another part of the country.
Idlib, where Turkey maintains a military presence, has been a frequent destination for opposition groups dislodged from formerly rebel-held districts in major cities such as Damascus, Hama and Aleppo. The government's victory there in December was widely seen as a turning point in the war and forced Turkey to come to the table with Assad allies Russia and Iran. Russia and Turkey had previously fallen out in 2015, when Turkey shot down a Russian jet near its border in northern Syria. Turkey initially remained defiant after the incident but has since worked with Russia to reach a political solution to the conflict and, like France, has withdrawn calls for Assad's removal as a precondition for talks.
From November 27, 2015, a map showing the planned route of the TurkStream pipeline. It includes other planned gas pipeline projects to Europe. Measurements are in billion cubic meters. Construction of the pipeline began on the Russian side in May 2017 and has continued despite political differences between Russia and Turkey in Syria. Companies/World Energy Atlas/ReutersTurkey and Russia also have come together on other fronts. They first announced plans for the Turkish Stream pipeline, or TurkStream, at the end of 2014. The project was interrupted after Turkey shot down the Russian jet in Syria, but resumed in 2016 after Erdogan apologized. Russia began laying the line last month, and on Friday Putin himself watched as Russia's Pioneering Spirit began laying the shallow and deepwater segments of the pipe, according to the state-run TASS Russian News Agency. TurkStream has a projected capacity of 1.11 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, about half of which will ultimately reach Europe. The planned pathway conveniently allows Moscow to bypass Ukraine, where Russia supports rebel movements in the east, and replaces previous plans for a South Stream pipeline that was opposed by the EU due to fears it would give Russia too much power over Europe's resources.
TurkStream isn't the first pipeline to intersect with politics surrounding the war in Syria. Two competing plans for pipelines running through Syria served as the framework for the international alliances that have dominated the conflict. One proposal, called the Friendship Pipeline, would run from Iran through allies Iraq, Syria and Lebanon and, finally, supply Europe. The alternative would run from Qatar through U.S. allies Saudi Arabia and Jordan, then through Syria and Turkey and on to Europe'--but bypassing Russia. Assad rejected this pipeline to protect energy interests, according to an Agence-France Presse report cited by The Guardian.
Trump To Propose Slashing Entitlements, Boosting Defense in $4.4 Trillion Budget Reduction
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 10:26
News Brendan Smialowski / AFP via Getty Images President Donald Trump pauses while speaking to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House on Feb. 7, 2020. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP via Getty Images)
By Jack DavisPublished February 10, 2020 at 6:54amPresident Donald Trump is proposing a $4.8 trillion federal budget that makes drastic cuts in foreign aid while increasing funding for homeland security.
The budget, which is being formally released on Monday, also proposes cutting $4.4 trillion in federal spending over the next 10 years, largely through cuts to the Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as food stamps) and other welfare programs that would see more stringent work and eligibility requirements put in place, according to Fox News.
Trump's budget also calls for trimming Medicare by lowering drug prices.
''Working together, the Congress can reduce drug prices substantially from current levels,'' the president said in his State of the Union speech last week. ''I have been speaking to Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa and others in the Congress in order to get something on drug pricing done, and done properly.
''I am calling for bipartisan legislation that achieves the goal of dramatically lowering prescription drug prices. Get a bill to my desk, and I will sign it into law without delay.''
TRENDING: Nearly 3 Years Later, FBI Director Admits Surveillance of Carter Page Was Illegal
Trump's budget would reduce foreign aid by 21 percent, according to NBC News.
It would also wipe out funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The AmeriCorps volunteer program is also on the chopping block, according to CNBC
The Environmental Protection Agency would receive a 26 percent cut in Trump's budget, while the Department of Housing and Urban Development would take a 15 percent hit.
Not everything was cut. The Department of Veterans Affairs would get a 13 percent spending hike, while the Department of Homeland Security would see a 3 percent increase.
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In addition to the border wall funding, within DHS, Trump is seeking a 7 percent increase for the Customs and Border Protection agency and a 23 percent boost for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
NASA would get a 12 percent increase.
The budget would allocate $28.9 billion to the Pentagon to modernize nuclear delivery systems and $19.8 billion to the National Nuclear Security Administration for ''modernizing the nuclear weapons stockpile,'' according to Axios.
The White House estimates that the federal deficit will be eliminated in 15 years, largely through economic growth.
''First and foremost, we have to restore growth,'' Vice President Mike Pence said Friday on CNBC. ''That's how we will deal with the long-term fiscal challenges facing our country.''
RELATED: Trump Responds to Viral Image Circulating: 'This Was Photoshopped'
The budget faces strong opposition in the Democrat-controlled House.
The budget is a statement of values. Once again, the #TrumpBudget makes it painfully clear how little the President values the good health, financial security and well-being of America's hard-working families. https://t.co/ohbibWuyY1
'-- Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) February 10, 2020
In a briefing before the budget's release, a senior administration official outlined Trump's goals, according to The Washington Times.
''The president is proposing more mandatory savings and reforms than any other president in history. He does protect Social Security and Medicare beneficiaries in those programs; he totally meets that commitment,'' the official said.
The official said Trump wants long-term reductions in spending.
''We're trying to make the case that the president cares about spending, and has cared about spending,'' the official said. ''He's been doing this since his very first budget. This is now the fourth budget. Many of these reforms have been in each and every one of them. We do need Congress. Congress has not been there.''
The official said: ''We're going to have a national election that will hopefully decide that Congress is going to be on the side of the American people along with other taxpayers who balance their family budgets. We're making the argument that deficit reduction is really important.''
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.
Merkel Successor Unexpectedly Resigns As CDU Leader In Latest Shock To Germany's Political Establishment
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 10:22
Following a series of reports in the German and broader European press claiming her imminent resignation, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer - better known as AKK - has confirmed that the rumors are indeed true. She will step down as the leader of Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union, the center-right party that has ruled Germany for two decades, and won't run as the party's candidate to succeed Merkel during the federal election to pick Germany's next chief executive in 2021.
AKK reportedly resigned in protest over flirtations by the party's conservative wing to ally with Alternative f¼r Deutschland, or the AfD, to achieve common political aims.
The centrists in the CDU, including Merkel herself, have denounced the AfD as a far-right borderline hate group populated by Nazi sympathizers. Meanwhile, AfD's leaders have taken steps to expel Nazi sympathizers and others who might alienate the general German public.
AKK & Angela Merkel
This political fracture was recently exacerbated by CDU members in East Germany, the formerly Communist region where the AfD's popularity is at its highest, who recently allied with AfD members to oust the left-wing premier of Thuringia. Merkel criticized the decision, which provoked general outrage throughout Germany.
Now, the FT says the race to succeed Merkel has been "thrown wide open."
Not that this is that big of a surprise. We've been reporting on the increasingly strained relationship between AKK and her one-time political mentor for nearly a year, a feud that supposedly inspired Merkel's decision to come out of retirement and once again play a more active role inside the CDU after handing the reins to AKK. Merkel now reportedly doubts AKK's ability to lead Germany, as well as the CDU.
A series of gaffes and political missteps have also eroded AKK's popularity over the last year. She has reportedly lost her status as a "shoo-in" for the chancellorship, according to the FT.
"Her mistakes just kept piling up," said Olav Gutting, a CDU MP who is in the party's governing council. "People like her a lot as a person, but the grass roots had growing doubts about her fitness for the highest office."
Germany's next national election is now expected to be a three-way race between Armin Laschet, prime minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany's most populous state, German Health Minister Jens Spahn and former CDU leader Friedrich Merz, a longtime conservative rival to Merkel, whose reign has been defined by a sense of pragmatic centrism.
Should Merz or Spahn prevail (both men are considered conservatives) it would mark a serious moment of transition not only for the CDU, but for Germany's government as a whole. There are many within Germany who would like the CDU to return to its conservative roots and work more closely with AfD.
For now, at least, those voices appear to be winning out against Germany's established political elite.
FLASHBACK: US dependence on pharmaceutical products from China
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 10:18
(C) REUTERS/Jason Lee (CHINA BUSINESS HEALTH) A technician works at a product line of the Inactivated H1N1 Influenza Vaccine in Sinovac Biotech Ltd., a Chinese vaccine making company, in Beijing, September 3, 2009.
Last month, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission held a
hearing on the United States' growing reliance on China's pharmaceutical products. The topic reminded me of a spirited discussion described in Bob Woodward's book,
Fear: Trump in the White House. In the discussion, Gary Cohn, then chief economic advisor to President Trump, argued against a trade war with China by invoking a Department of Commerce study that found that
97 percent of all antibiotics in the United States came from China. "If you're the Chinese and you want to really just destroy us, just stop sending us antibiotics," he said.Cohn's words highlight a security concern associated with pharmaceuticals from China. As Rosemary Gibson noted in her testimony, centralization of the global supply chain of medicines in a single country makes it vulnerable to interruption, "whether by mistake or design." If we are dependent on China for thousands of ingredients and raw materials to make our medicine, China could use this dependence as a weapon against us. While the Department of Defense only purchases a small quantity of finished pharmaceuticals from China, about 80 percent of the active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) used to make drugs in the United States are said to come from China and other countries like India. For example, the chemical starting material used to make doxycycline, the recommended treatment for anthrax exposure, comes from China. When an influential Chinese economist earlier this year suggested that Beijing curb its exports of raw materials for vitamins and antibiotics as a countermeasure in the trade war with the United States, the worries surrounding our API dependence to China seemed to be vindicated. Concern about a disruption in the supply chain could explain why the tariffs on Chinese products proposed by the United States Trade Representative in May 2019, worth approximately $300 billion, excludes "pharmaceuticals, certain pharmaceutical inputs, and select medical goods."
While the potential exposure to raw material supply disruptions drives part of our fear, concern about the safety and efficacy of Chinese-made pharmaceuticals is another component. In the summer of 2018, one of China's largest domestic vaccine makers sold at least 250,000 substandard doses of vaccine for diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough. It was the latest in a slew of scandals caused by poor quality drug products made in China over the last decade. In 2008, the contamination of a raw ingredient imported from China and used to make heparin, a blood-thinning drug, was associated with at least eighty-one deaths the United States. According to an investigative journalist, fraud and manipulation of quality data is still endemic in Chinese pharmaceutical firms.
In order to address the growing security and safety concerns about Chinese-made pharmaceuticals, some suggest that the United States switch to India as an alternative API supplier. However, doing so would be no different from rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. It is true that many Indian pharmaceutical firms are leading API manufacturers but India depends on China for sourcing nearly three quarters of APIs in generic drug formulations. The disruption in the supply chain notwithstanding, switching to India for the supply of APIs would only make the drugs sold in the United States more expensive: APIs and chemical intermediates from China are 35 to 40 percent cheaper than Indian ones. Moreover, India has its own drug safety problems as well. In 2013, a generic drug maker in India pled guilty to drug safety charges, which included shipping batches of adulterated drugs, having incomplete testing records, and inadequate programs to assess drug quality. According to a former executive of the company, this was only a fraction of the safety issues the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could identify in overseas plants.
Moreover, we could have overestimated our dependence on Chinese-made pharmaceutical products. As of 2018, China claimed 13.4 percent of all import lines- defined as distinct regulated products within a shipment through customs-among countries that export drugs and biologics to the United States. Of these import lines for drugs and biologics, about 83 percent were finished drugs, and only 7.5 percent were APIs. We certainly underestimate the share of APIs from China given that Chinese-made APIs can come to the United States as part of the finished drug products from other countries like India. However, the lack of a reliable API registry makes it difficult to estimate the true market share of Chinese-made APIs.
In addition, when highlighting our dependence on Chinese-made pharmaceuticals, we could overlook the other side of the coin: China needs finished drugs made in the United States. China is facing a crisis of non-communicable diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes. It is estimated that between 2002 and 2016, new cancer cases in China increased by more than 55 percent, from 2.19 million to 3.8 million. A majority of Chinese cancer patients, however, lack access to the most effective drugs. Partly because of this, cancer survival rate in China is less than half of the United States. Under the performance-based legitimacy in contemporary China, the government must justify its rule by continuously delivering public goods and services, like better healthcare, to meet people's wants. In an increasingly state-dominated political system, the link between performance and legitimacy becomes so tight that failure to deliver such goods could endanger the system itself. In the meantime, with the rapid improvement of material living standards, Chinese people are increasingly valuing things beyond basic earnings, such as good health. As President Xi Jinping stated in the 19th Party Congress, the "principal contradiction" in the society is "the contradiction between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people's ever-growing needs for a better life." In fact, in 2018, the government cut the import value-added tax on cancer drugs from 17 percent to 3 percent and reduced import tariffs on all common drugs and cancer drugs to zero. Essentially, regime legitimacy requires the state to deliver the most effective drugs, which are often patented and provided exclusively by multinational pharmaceutical companies. In May 2019, China unveiled a list of imported U.S. medical products to impose punitive tariffs upon. The list includes commonly used drugs such as insulin, ibuprofen, as well as medical devices such as ultrasonic diagnostic apparatuses and endoscopes, which Chinese firms can manufacture themselves. Nevertheless, the list did not include anti-cancer drugs and other patented ones.
The same legitimacy concern also led the Chinese government to introduce incentives to improve the quality of its pharmaceutical products. In 2016, China's FDA introduced the Generic Consistency Evaluation (GCE), which required generic drugs approved for production prior to 2008 to pass the GCE in order to gain "equivalence" to branded drugs in terms of safety and efficacy. Failure to pass the GCE in a timely manner will lead to the revocation of registration licenses or ineligibility for government tendering. Since generic drugs approved before 2008 are prone to low quality problems, a significant number of drugs that have failed to pass GCE are expected to exit the public market. The measure will help weed out over half of the nation's 2,900 or so small, and often low-quality, domestic drug makers. Since early this year, nearly 20 pharmaceutical firms have either exited the industry or been reorganized.
So what does all this mean for a response from the United States? Before making any major decisions on this issue, it is important to collect as much information as possible for a full assessment of the risks we face. We should also nurture the development of alternative sources and capabilities to make critically essential drugs in the United States. At present, instead of looking at the issue from a national security perspective, the best approach is to work with China to ensure the safety and efficacy of their pharmaceutical products. As I argued in my testimony to the U.S.-China Commission, this involves expanding the FDA's inspection activities in China, helping to beef up the regulatory capacities of China's National Medical Products Administration in the drug development and review process, and making sure Chinese firms consistently follow the appropriate process for safeguarding quality in production. Lastly, the U.S.-China Social and Cultural Dialogue, the only high-level forum to discuss U.S.-China cooperation after 2017, should be reopened as an institutional venue to discuss these issues.
Situation in Libya Becoming Global Threat Due to Foreign Meddling - African Union
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 10:15
Africa14:28 GMT 10.02.2020Get short URL
Sputnik International
ADDIS ABABA (Sputnik) - The situation in Libya has become a threat to the global security, especially due to the unprecedented foreign meddling in the country's affairs, African Union's Commissioner for Peace and Security Smail Chergui said on Monday.
Speaking at a press conference held on the sidelines of the African Union Summit, Chergui added that the United Nations' arms embargo was being violated, with advanced weapons being sent to crisis-torn Libya.
A communique released following the landmark Berlin Conference on Libya in January stipulated a complete arms embargo on Libya and an implementation of a nation-wide ceasefire between the opposing sides.
(C) REUTERS / The Egyptian Presidency
Chergui assured that the African Union wants to join the UN in assessment missions to Libya once a complete cessation of hostilities has been officially signed.
Libya has been plagued by violence for most of the past decade following the ouster and assassination of longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Today the country is divided between the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) and the Tobruk-based Libyan National Army (LNA) both of whom are supported by a myriad of foreign powers.
In Amazon's Bookstore, No Second Chances for the Third Reich - The New York Times
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 10:10
The retailer once said it would sell ''the good, the bad and the ugly.'' Now it has banished objectionable volumes '-- and agreed to erasing the swastikas from a photo book about a Nazi takeover.
Video Credit Credit... Erik Carter SAN FRANCISCO '-- Amazon is quietly canceling its Nazis.
Over the past 18 months, the retailer has removed two books by David Duke, a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, as well as several titles by George Lincoln Rockwell, the founder of the American Nazi Party. Amazon has also prohibited volumes like ''The Ruling Elite: The Zionist Seizure of World Power'' and ''A History of Central Banking and the Enslavement of Mankind.''
While few may lament the disappearance of these hate-filled books, the increasing number of banished titles has set off concern among some of the third-party booksellers who stock Amazon's vast virtual shelves. Amazon, they said, seems to operate under vague or nonexistent rules.
''Amazon reserves the right to determine whether content provides an acceptable experience,'' said one recent removal notice that the company sent to a bookseller.
Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have been roiled in recent years by controversies that pit freedom of speech against offensive content. Amazon has largely escaped this debate. But with millions of third-party merchants supplying much of what Amazon sells to tens of millions of customers, that ability to maintain a low profile may be reaching its end.
Amazon began as a bookstore and, even as it has moved on to many more lucrative projects, now controls at least two-thirds of the market for new, used and digital volumes in the United States. With its profusion of reader reviews, ability to cut prices without worrying about profitability and its control of the electronic book landscape, to name only three advantages, Amazon has immense power to shape what information people are consuming.
Yet the retailer declines to provide a list of prohibited books, say how they were chosen or even discuss the topic. ''Booksellers make decisions every day about what selection of books they choose to offer,'' it said in a statement.
Gregory Delzer is a Tennessee bookseller whose Amazon listings account for about a third of his sales. ''They don't tell us the rules and don't let us have a say,'' he said. ''But they squeeze us for every penny.''
Nazi-themed items regularly crop up on Amazon, where they are removed under its policy on ''offensive and controversial materials.'' Those rules pointedly do not apply to books. Amazon merely says that books for sale on its site ''should provide a positive customer experience.''
Now Amazon is becoming increasingly proactive in removing Nazi material. It even allowed its own Nazi-themed show, ''The Man in the High Castle,'' to be cleaned up for a tribute book. The series, which began in 2015 and concluded in November, is set in a parallel United States where the Germans and the Japanese won World War II.
''High Castle'' is lavish in its use of National Socialist symbols. ''There's nothing that there isn't a swastika on,'' the actor Rufus Sewell, who played the Nazi antihero, said in a promotional video. The series promoted its portrayal of ''the controlling aesthetic of Hitler'' in its nomination for a special effects Emmy.
Image Rufus Sewell as John Smith in a still from ''The Man in the High Castle.'' Credit... Amazon Image In a new book about the series, Mr. Sewell's swastika has been digitally removed.But in ''The Man in the High Castle: Creating the Alt World,'' published in November by Titan Books, the swastikas and eagle-and-crosses were digitally erased from Mr. Sewell's uniform, from Times Square and the Statue of Liberty, even from scenes set in Berlin. A note on the copyright page said, ''We respect, in this book, the legal and ethical responsibility of not perpetuating the distribution of the symbols of oppression.''
An Amazon spokeswoman said, ''We did not make editorial edits to the images.'' Titan, which wanted to market the book in Germany, where laws on Nazi imagery are strict, said Amazon approved the changes.
Some fans of the series said they found reading the book as dystopian as the show itself. ''If you can't even have swastikas shown in a book about Nazis taking over America, please do not make books ever again,'' wrote one reviewer.
When Amazon drops a book from its store, it is as if it never existed. A recent Google search for David Duke's ''My Awakening: A Path to Racial Understanding'' on Amazon yielded a link to a picture of an Amazon employee's dog. Amazon sellers call these dead ends ''dog pages.''
Some booksellers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation, said they had no problem with the retailer converting as many offensive books to dog pages as it wished.
Mr. Delzer, the proprietor of a secondhand store in Nashville called Defunct Books, has a different view. ''If Amazon executives are so proud of their moral high ground, they should issue memos about which books they are banning instead of keeping sellers and readers in the dark,'' he said.
The bookseller said he only knew Amazon was forbidding titles because he received an automated message from the retailer, saying two used books he sold seven years ago '-- ''Conspiracy of the Six-Pointed Star: Eye-Opening Revelations and Forbidden Knowledge About Israel, the Jews, Zionism, and the Rothschilds'' and ''Toward the White Republic'' '-- were now proscribed.
''This product was identified as one that is prohibited for sale,'' Amazon told him. Failure to immediately delete listings for these books, the company said, ''may result in the deactivation of your selling account'' and possible confiscation of any money he was owed.
Image Gregory Delzer, in his bookstore, Defunct Books, in Nashville, said of Amazon, ''They don't tell us the rules and don't let us have a say.'' Credit... Kristine Potter for The New York Times Amazon said it didn't really mean any of that about ''Toward the White Republic.'' ''We did not intend to imply the book itself could not be listed for sale,'' it said in a statement.
As for ''Conspiracy of the Six-Pointed Star,'' which is widely available from other online booksellers, Amazon said the book did not comply with its ''content guidelines.''
Mr. Delzer said the email, which he posted on an Amazon forum, was clear and Amazon was dissembling about ''White Republic.''
A bookseller since 2001, Mr. Delzer said he does not condone white supremacist material but believes people should be free to read what they want. The biggest seller in his shop at the moment is by Greta Thunberg, the young climate activist.
''Amazon wants its customers to trust Amazon,'' he said. ''The place that sells books doesn't want much critical thinking.''
In 1998, when Amazon was an ambitious start-up, its founder, Jeff Bezos, said, ''We want to make every book available '-- the good, the bad and the ugly.'' Customers reviews, he said, would ''let truth loose.''
That expansive philosophy narrowed over the years. In 2010, when the news media discovered the self-published ''Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure'' on the site, the retailer's first reaction was to hang tough.
''Amazon believes it is censorship not to sell certain books simply because we or others believe their message is objectionable,'' it said at the time.
That resolution wilted in the face of a barrage of hostility and boycott threats. Amazon pulled the book.
Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom, said Amazon has the same First Amendment right as any retailer.
''Amazon has a First Amendment right to pick and choose the materials they offer,'' she said. ''Despite its size, it does not have to sponsor speech it finds unacceptable.''
Physical bookstores rarely stock supremacist literature, for no other reason than it would alienate many customers. The question is whether Amazon, because of its size and power, should behave differently.
''I'm not going to argue for the wider distribution of Nazi material,'' said Danny Caine of the Raven Book Store in Lawrence, Kan., who is the author of a critical pamphlet, ''How to Resist Amazon and Why.'' ''But I still don't trust Amazon to be the arbiters of free speech. What if Amazon decided to pull books representing a less despicable political viewpoint? Or books critical of Amazon's practices?''
Amazon's newfound zeal to remove ''the ugly'' extends beyond the Nazis. The order page for the e-book of The Nation of Islam's ''The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews'' stated last week, ''This title not currently available for purchase.''
''The Man in the High Castle'' was based on a 1962 novel of the same name by Philip K. Dick, whose stories are often about the slippery nature of reality and how it will be controlled in the future by governments and corporations. One character in the streaming series was Mr. Rockwell, the American Nazi Party founder.
In photos in ''Creating the Alt World,'' the tribute book, the swastika around Mr. Rockwell's neck was removed. The real life Mr. Rockwell has been largely removed from Amazon's bookstore as well.
After a complaint by a member of Congress in 2018, a children's book that Mr. Rockwell wrote disappeared from Amazon. So did his book ''White Power.'' Other Rockwell material, like The Stormtrooper Magazine, is described as ''currently unavailable.''
Some sellers circumvent the blocks by listing titles with a word or two changed, other booksellers said. One seller said he recently received a message from Amazon that several titles by Savitri Devi, also known as ''Hitler's Priestess,'' were forbidden. But they are now on the site. And a copy of ''Toward the White Republic'' recently popped up on Amazon, for $973 plus postage.
There is still an abundance of other Nazi material available on Amazon, much of it with favorable reviews. There is the ''SS Leadership Guide,'' many editions of Hitler's ''Mein Kampf'' and Joseph Goebbels's ''Nature and Form of National Socialism,'' to name just a few.
That only underlines how hard it can be to tell exactly what Amazon's rules are. The confusion is reinforced by AbeBooks, the biggest secondhand book platform outside of Amazon itself.
Some of the books dropped from Amazon are available on Abe. Recently, there were 18 copies of Mr. Duke's books on Abe, at prices up to $150. Amazon, which owns Abe, declined to comment.
Billionaire pro-Israel Buttigieg backer Seth Klarman funds group behind Iowa's disastrous voting app | The Grayzone
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 09:38
Behind the app that delayed Iowa's voting results is a dark money operation funded by anti-Bernie Sanders billionaires. Its top donor Seth Klarman is a Buttigieg backer who has dumped money into pro-settler Israel lobby groups.By Max BlumenthalAt the time of publication, 12 hours after voting in the Democratic Party's Iowa caucuses ended, the results have not been announced. The delay in reporting is the result of a failed app developed by a company appropriately named Shadow Inc.
This firm was staffed by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama campaign veterans and created by a Democratic dark money nonprofit backed by hedge-fund billionaires including Seth Klarman. A prolific funder of pro-settler Israel lobby organizations, Klarman has also contributed directly to Pete Buttigieg's campaign.
The delay in the vote reporting denied a victory speech to Senator Bernie Sanders, the presumptive winner of the opening contest in the Democratic presidential primary. Though not one exit poll indicated that Buttigieg would have won, the South Bend, Indiana mayor took to Twitter to confidently proclaim himself the victor.
Iowa, you have shocked the nation.
By all indications, we are going on to New Hampshire victorious. #IowaCaucuses
'-- Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) February 4, 2020
The bizarre scenario was made possible by a mysterious voting app whose origins had been kept secret by Democratic National Committee officials. For hours, it was unclear who created the failed technology, or how it wound up in the hands of Iowa party officials.
Though a dark money Democratic operation turned out to be the source of the disastrous app, suspicion initially centered on former Hillary Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook and his Russiagate-related elections integrity initiative.
Leveraging Russia hysteria into lucrative election opportunitiesWhile Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Troy Price refused to say who was behind the failed app, he told NPR that he ''worked with the national party's cybersecurity team and Harvard University's Defending Digital Democracy project'...'' Price did not offer details on his collaboration with the Harvard group, however.
The New York Times reported that this same outfit had teamed up with Iowa Democrats to run a ''drill of worst-case scenarios'' and possible foreign threats, but was also vague on details.
Robby Mook, the former campaign manager for Hillary Clinton's failed 2016 presidential campaign, was the co-founder of Defending Digital Democracy. His initiative arose out of the national freakout over Russian meddling that he and his former boss helped stir when they blamed their loss on Russian interference. Mook's new outfit pledged to ''protect from hackers and propaganda attacks.''
He founded the organization with help from Matt Rhoades, a former campaign manager for Republican Mitt Romney whose public relations company was sued by a Silicon Valley investor after it branded him ''an agent of the Russian government'' and ''a friend of Russian President, Vladimir Putin.'' Rhoades' firm had been contracted by a business rival to destroy the investor's reputation.
As outrage grew over the delay in Iowa caucus results, Mook publicly denied any role in designing the notorious app.
.@RobbyMook, you may not have built the app, but the @nytimes is reporting that you were involved in stress testing it.
Any comment? https://t.co/OHOVs2vX4u pic.twitter.com/2FmbnZc4tT
'-- Franklin Leonard (@franklinleonard) February 4, 2020
Hours later, journalist Lee Fang reported that a previously unknown tech outfit called Shadow Inc. had contracted with the Iowa Democratic Party to create the failed technology. The firm was comprised of former staffers for Obama and Clinton as well as the tech industry, and had been paid for ''software rights'' by the Buttigieg campaign.
FEC filings show the Iowa Democratic Party and Pete Buttigieg campaign paid Shadow Inc., which developed the flawed app used in the Iowa caucusAn Israel lobby moneyman's path to Mayor Pete's wine caveShadow Inc. was launched by a major Democratic dark money nonprofit called Acronym, which also gave birth to a $7.7 million Super PAC known as Pacronym.
According to Sludge, Pacronym's largest donor is Seth Klarman. A billionaire hedge funder, Klarman also happens to be a top donor to Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar.
Though he has attracted some attention for his role in the campaign, Klarman's prolific funding of the pro-settler Israel lobby and Islamophobic initiatives has gone almost entirely unmentioned.
Seth Klarman is the founder of the Boston-based Baupost Group hedge fund and a longtime donor to corporate Republican candidates. After Donald Trump called for forgiving Puerto Rico's debt, Klarman '' the owner of $911 million of the island's bonds '' flipped and began funding Trump's opponents.
The billionaire's crusade against Trump ultimately led him to Mayor Pete's wine cave.
By the end of 2019, Klarman had donated $5,600 to Buttigieg and pumped money into the campaigns of Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker, and Kamala Harris as well.
The billionaire's support for centrist candidates appears to be not only about his own financial interests, but also his deep and abiding ideological commitment to Israel and its expansionist project.
As I reported for Mondoweiss, Klarman has been a top funder for major Israel lobby outfits, including those that support the expansion of illegal settlements and Islamophobic campaigns.
Klarman was the principal financier of The Israel Project, the recently disbanded Israeli government-linked propaganda organization that lobbied against the Iran nuclear deal and backed the Israeli settlement enterprise.
Klarman has heaped hundreds of thousands of dollars on the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) and the American Jewish Committee. And he funded The David Project, which was established to suppress Palestine solidarity organizing on college campuses across the US and battled to block the establishment of a Muslim community center in Boston.
Through his support for the Friends of Ir David Inc., Klarman directly involved himself in the Israeli settlement enterprise, assisting the US-based tax-exempt arm of the organization that oversaw a wave of Palestinian expulsions in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan.
Other pro-Israel groups reaping the benefits of Klarman's generosity include Birthright Israel, the AIPAC-founded Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), a neoconservative think tank that helped devise Trump's ''maximum pressure'' campaign of economic warfare on Iran.
Klarman is the owner of the Times of Israel, an Israeli media outlet that once published a call for Palestinian genocide. (The op-ed was ultimately removed following public backlash.)
In recent weeks, Buttigieg has sought to distinguish himself from Sanders on the issue of Israel-Palestine. During a testy exchange this January with a self-proclaimed Jewish supporter of Palestinian human rights, the South Bend mayor backtracked on a previous pledge to withhold military aid to Israel if it annexed parts of the West Bank.
NEW: The day after Trump unveiled his plan green-lighting Israeli annexation and Netanyahu's announcement of a cabinet vote on annexation this Tuesday, @PeteButtigieg backtracked on his repeated promise that the "U.S. will not foot the bill for annexation." #StopFundingOccupation pic.twitter.com/dldyRnI5lo
'-- IfNotNowðŸ--¥ (@IfNotNowOrg) January 30, 2020
Another recipient of Klarman's funding, Amy Klobuchar, has taken a strongly pro-Israel line, vowing to support Trump's relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Klarman's interest in Israel has apparently led him to support regime change in Syria. In 2017, the pro-Israel billionaire's foundation donated $100,000 to the Syrian American Medical Society, a US-based non-profit that has lobbied aggressively for US intervention in Syria while partnering on the ground with foreign-backed extremists that occupied large swaths of the country.
The Klarman Family Foundation 2017 990 form shows it funds the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS)Back home in the US, Klarman has contributed heavily to funding the CIA Memorial Foundation. He is listed alongside former CIA Director George Tenet as a top individual contributor to the group.
Billionaire Seth Klarman is listed as a top donor to the CIA Memorial FoundationKlarman's support for Buttigieg, The Grayzone previously reported, has been complimented by a surprisingly long roster of former high-ranking CIA officials, regime-change architects, and global financiers.
Battling Bernie with hedge fund money and sexism claimsLike Klarman, Donald Sussman is a hedge funder who has channeled his fortune into Pacronym. He has given $1 million to the Super PAC and was also top donor to Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Sussman's Paloma Partners operates through a series of offshore shell companies, and received tens of millions of dollars in the 2009 federal bailout of the banking industry.
His daughter, Democratic operative Emily Tisch Sussman, declared on MSNBC in September that ''if you still support Sanders over Warren, it's kind of showing your sexism.''
MSNBC pundit says if you support Bernie Sanders over Elizabeth Warren it's ''showing your sexism.'' pic.twitter.com/fghFIqOF6C
'-- Ibrahim (@ibrahimpols) September 27, 2019
As Democratic elites like the Sussmans braced for a Bernie Sanders triumph in Iowa, a mysterious piece of technology spun out by a group they supported delayed the vote results, preventing Sanders from delivering a victory speech.
And the politician many of them supported, Pete Buttigieg, exploited the moment to declare himself the winner.
In such a strange scenario, the conspiracy theories write themselves.
Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and the author of several books, including best-selling Republican Gomorrah, Goliath, The Fifty One Day War, and The Management of Savagery. He has produced print articles for an array of publications, many video reports, and several documentaries, including Killing Gaza. Blumenthal founded The Grayzone in 2015 to shine a journalistic light on America's state of perpetual war and its dangerous domestic repercussions.
Coronavirus could cause bike delays '-- even for brands that don't make bikes in China | Bicycle Retailer and Industry News
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 09:34
TAICHUNG, Taiwan (BRAIN) '-- The CEO of A&J Bicycles '-- one of the world's largest original equipment bike makers, with factories in Taiwan, China, Vietnam, and Cambodia '-- is warning customers of possible shipment delays due to the novel coronavirus outbreak in China. He said the situation in China could lead directly to delays in production even at A&J factories in other nations.
A&J has supplied brands including Trek, Bianchi, Scott, Felt, Rocky Mountain, Norco, and Kona in the past. BRAIN reported last year that Trek was moving some production from Giant to A&J's factory in Cambodia because of U.S. and European tariffs on Chinese imports.
"(In Vietnam) t here is some anti-Chinese sentiment building, because of the potential of Chinese workers on site carrying CV (coronavirus)," Jon Edwards, the CEO of A&J Group, said in an email to customers late this week.
"We have heard today that some Vietnamese factories staff have initiated '2 week' strikes to effectively close factories where China staff are situated, to ensure there is no CV being spread to the local workers. We are concerned that this could spread in the coming days and could even affect our own area in Vietnam," Edwards told customers in an email obtained by BRAIN.
"(In Vietnam) there is some anti-Chinese sentiment building" '-- Jon Edwards
Edwards said any shutdowns in Vietnam would lead directly to delays at A&J's Cambodia factory, which depends on hydroformed and butted frame tubes from Vietnam.
Last year the U.S. imported 264,000 bikes from Cambodia, twice the imports from 2018. The U.S. imported 104,000 bikes from Vietnam last year, up from near zero in 2018.
He reported that all A&J employees are virus-free, but that its Chinese factories are running at a slower pace than usual as quarantines and travel restrictions prevent workers from returning to factories following trips during the Chinese New Year holiday.
"This 'potential' event is for sure out of our control, and although we will continue to do all we can to keep things moving along in both factories, in the case of a strike we have no choice but to sit tight and wait it out," Edwards wrote. "We will continue to keep you updated as things develop be they positive or negative, but we feel that forewarned is forearmed, which is the reason for this mail."
For non-A&J factories in China, production is very slowly ramping up after the holiday, with some local officials barring factories from re-opening until Feb. 17 or later, sources within the industry tell BRAIN. Most bike makers, even if they assemble elsewhere, still get a significant amount of their parts from China and are bracing for delays as a result.
Specialized's Bob Margevicius said the company is watching the situation carefully.
"At this moment, based on the China factories being on lock down, we anticipate there may be delays in receiving bicycles and bicycle components. Fortunately, we are in the winter months, (Chinese New Year) was early, there are 29 days in February, and the Chinese will work doubly hard to fill all orders," he told BRAIN. Margevicius is Specialized's executive vice president.
"The important consideration is this a global crisis, not just impacting the USA. Everyone is fighting for product, production and availability for everything. I do think the Euros, who are managing their own supply chains, are directly impacted. They will be very proactive in pressing the suppliers to deliver.
"At this moment, the factories in Taiwan and (Southeast Asia) are being very cautious until things settle down. We are watching carefully, in contact with our Asian teams on a daily basis, pray for the those who are infected and have died, and are proactive in contributing to efforts to find a cure," Margevicius said.
According to the latest information from WHO, there are 10 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus infection in Vietnam and one case in Cambodia. There are more than 30,000 confirmed cases in China.
BRAIN stories on the coronavirusFeb. 7: Tapei Cycle show canceledFeb. 5: Velo cancels Taipei welcoming partyFeb. 4: Exhibitors petition TAITRA to cancel Taipei CycleFeb. 2: Bafang announces extended lead times Feb. 2: Taipei Cycle to go ahead, but Chinese visitors banned, face masks mandatoryJan. 29: Further shutdowns likely to disrupt productionJan. 28: Coronavirus could disrupt industry travel and production
Extremists Use Coronavirus to Advance Anti-Semitic Conspiratorial Agendas - The Jewish Voice
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 09:13
Edited by: TJVNews.com
Following a well-worn pattern of capitalizing on major news stories to advance their bigotry and anti-Semitism, extremists have latched onto fears surrounding the rapid spread of the cornonavirus in order to promote anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
As per usual, extremists are relying heavily on social media platforms to share their hateful views.
Finally! Science has discovered a cure for the most insidious disease of our time'...Jewishness.''
Shortly after posting this to Telegram, referring to a news report that three Israelis had been quarantined as possible carriers of the coronavirus, the same poster wrote, ''3 down, 5,999,997 to go!''
On notoriously extremist-friendly platforms like Telegram, 4chan and Gab, it's easy to find posts linking the coronavirus to racist and anti-Semitic slurs and memes.
For example, users across these channels regularly share racist messages or caricatures of Chinese people, mocking their eating habits, accents and hygiene. Posters on Telegram and 4chan appear to be cheering on the virus, hoping it will spread to predominately non-white countries, such as those in Africa.
Others eagerly imagine the coronavirus as a bioweapon. As one Telegram user wrote, ''If any of you get this, I expect you to spend as much time in public as possible with our enemies.'' And a 4chan commenter wrote, ''Send the sick to Israel '' if you already die at least take out as many Jews as you can.''
Extremists hope the virus kills Jews, but they are also using its emergence to advance their anti-Semitic theories that Jews are responsible for creating the virus, are spreading it to increase their control over a decimated population, or they are profiting off it. Some extremists have tied reports documenting Chinese efforts to safely dispose of victims' bodies to cast doubt on the number of Jews who died during the Holocaust.
Extremists on these platforms are not merely commenting on the coronavirus story, they are also actively manipulating it. For example, extremists on Telegram are sharing image templates for a hazmat suit and encouraging others to add their own logos or insert extremist memes.
While these themes are prevalent on social media platforms frequented by extremists, concerning messages are also spreading on more mainstream platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Reddit.
Echoing extremists on fringe platforms, users on these mainstream platforms are sharing a range of conspiracy theories. On Reddit, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, posters are calling coverage of the coronavirus a hoax and a distraction designed to frighten the public, while others are arguing that the virus's impact is far worse than authorities want people to think.
Meanwhile, conspiracies about the origins of the coronavirus are proliferating on Facebook, Reddit and Twitter, where some assert that the virus was created as a profit driver by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or by Bill Gates. Other users posit that the coronavirus is a Chinese biological weapon, though they differ on whether it was intentionally or accidently released.
Some people are using the coronavirus to further their political agendas: users on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are claiming the virus is a tool for authorities and pharmaceutical companies to get people to accept vaccinations, while rumors on Facebook and Twitter suggest that Wuhan residents' immune systems were weakened by 5G wireless networks, leaving them susceptible to the virus. Meanwhile, posters on Facebook and Twitter worry that the U.S. government will use the virus to impose martial law.
These conspiracies pollute information systems with lies, making it more difficult for people to understand what is actually happening and elevating people's fear and anxiety levels.
Users on these mainstream platforms are also spreading racist messages that denigrate Chinese habits and customs or blame the Chinese people for spreading the disease. Some on Facebook and Twitter are using the virus to advance anti-immigration rhetoric, arguing that until the virus is contained, the U.S. should end immigration and expand the travel ban to keep Americans safe. This online sentiment has made its way into the physical world, with a rise in racist, anti-Chinese incidents and a protest outside Sacramento International Airport.
The online response to the emergence of the coronavirus is just the latest example of how extremists and conspiracy theorists manipulate social media platforms to advance their agendas and spread hateful rhetoric and fear. (ADL.org)
A Driverless Oscars Takes a Winding Road - The New York Times
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 08:27
Television | A Driverless Oscars Takes a Winding RoadWithout a host for a second year, the ceremony offered a grab bag of emotional moments and head-scratching choices.
Steve Martin, left, and Chris Rock were among the performers who took center stage, temporarily at least, in yet another hostless Oscars. Credit... Noel West for The New York Times Published Feb. 9, 2020Updated Feb. 10, 2020, 4:23 a.m. ET
The Oscars are now an ensemble production.
Last year, after the fiasco of Kevin Hart's dropping out as host after a backlash against his history of homophobic jokes, the Oscars went stag to its own party. The broadcast was brisk and entertaining, the ratings for the hostless event rose and the awards show decided to leave the post vacant.
This can work, as it did last year, especially with clever set pieces and some awards-magic serendipity. But one thing a host can do is give the broadcast a shape and a voice when nothing else provides them.
And this year's show seemed to feel the vacuum more, turning out a grab bag of emotional high moments and perplexing uses of time.
The hostless show opened with Janelle Mone donning a Mister Rogers cardigan and belting out a medley with backup dancers and lyrics that rhymed ''Parasites'' and ''Dolemites,'' followed by a quick, hit-and-miss joint monologue by former hosts Steve Martin and Chris Rock. (''This is such an incredible demotion!'' Martin marveled.)
Ditching a host can help the show run on time (this one did not, and not only because of Joaquin Phoenix's extended argument for veganism). It can leave room for unscripted awards moments. But it loses one of the functions of the awards show host in recent years: to be the elephant-in-the-room pointer, the joker, lowercase, who acknowledges the industry's failures and embarrassments.
In this case, the Oscars' most noted offscreen controversy '-- the glaring whiteness and maleness of many of the major categories and movies '-- didn't get quite the airing an extended monologue might have delivered.
The collective did get in a few shots. Rock jibed that Cynthia Erivo, nominated for playing Harriet Tubman, must have hidden all the black nominees, while Mone said, ''We celebrate all the women who directed phenomenal films'' (something the best director nominations pointedly didn't).
This anarchist collective of a ceremony ended up being a sort of anthology of mini-shows, hosted by a string of presenters. Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig won Best Audition for a Future Awards Show, nailing a tight a cappella duet medley themed to the best costume design category. James Corden and Rebel Wilson, in costume from ''Cats,'' spoofed the uncanny-valley horror of that movie: ''Nobody more than us understands the importance of good visual effects.''
There was also a string of questionable choices, starting with a bizarre Russian-doll approach in which several of the presenters were introduced by their own presenters. (The show did recognize that some stars, like the musical guest Elton John, needed no introduction.) There was, for some reason, a musical recap of the program halfway through, rapped by Utkarsh Ambudkar.
In another puzzling musical decision, Eminem performed ''Lose Yourself,'' his nearly two-decade-old rap anthem from ''Eight Mile.'' (He followed a film montage, which followed an introduction by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who followed an introduction by Anthony Ramos. It was quite a journey.)
It may have worked in the room, and in the living rooms of viewers who still have the song on their workout playlist. But energizing the show with nostalgia for a 2002 soundtrack feels a little passive-aggressive toward the movies of 2019.
The ceremony was most effective when it simply got out of the way of its stars' shine. Erivo burned down the house with a performance of ''Stand Up,'' from ''Harriet'' (for which she was also nominated as an actress). There was a meltingly tender Hollywood family moment when Laura Dern shared her first Oscar, for supporting actress in ''Marriage Story,'' with ''my acting heroes, my legends, Diane Ladd and Bruce Dern.'' And last year's best actress, Olivia Colman, shared a side effect of winning a statuette: ''Last year was the best night of my husband's life.''
At its absolute best, this Oscars succeeded with what you can't script: great artists being recognized, and recognizing others. The room exploded for the surprise best-picture win for ''Parasite,'' the class-conscious film from director Bong Joon Ho.
When Bong collected the best director award earlier in the evening, he saluted Martin Scorsese and the other nominees in the category, saying through a translator: ''I would like to get a Texas chain saw, split the Oscar trophy into five and share it with all of you.''
Then he switched to English to sign off: ''Thank you. I will drink until next morning.'' A sentiment that, at the end of a long and formless awards show, plenty of us can also share.
Janelle Monae's Opener Tried to Make Up for Oscar Snubs - The Atlantic
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 08:22
That tension'--between the Academy's awareness of its shortcomings and its attempts to illustrate its interest in diversity'--ran throughout the night. Midway into the ceremony, the Indian-American actor Utkarsh Ambudkar (Pitch Perfect) delivered a freestyle rap about the Oscars. ''I do not belong here, you don't know me,'' he said cheekily in his introduction. ''I'm here to recap the show and emcee for a bunch of nominees who don't look like me.'' By the end of his rap, though, Ambudkar had changed his tune: ''Keep an open mind,'' he told the audience. ''I'm sure we'll find, there's plenty of light here for us all to shine.'' As warm as that sentiment may be, it made little sense for it to be delivered to the crowd in Dolby Theater. It was Oscar night; the ballots were long tallied; the results were in. The message of embracing marginalized artists, therefore, felt empty.
A similar whiplash occurred later in the evening, when the actors Brie Larson, Gal Gadot, and Sigourney Weaver united on stage. Larson and Gadot are best known for playing comic-book characters'--Larson as Captain Marvel, Gadot as Wonder Woman'--and the pair thanked Weaver for paving the way in her iconic genre roles. Weaver declared the trio wanted ''to stand here together and say that all women are superheroes,'' a thoughtful way to transition into revealing their purpose on stage: to introduce the show's first female conductor in 92 years, E­mear Noone. But it turned out Noone would only conduct a medley of Best Original Score nominees before handing her baton back to the male maestro. The Academy was once again flaunting its inclusivity without fully delivering.
Indeed, the Oscars kept patting itself on the back by trotting out women and people of color, as if giving them airtime made up for the lack of true recognition. Actors like Beanie Feldstein, Zazie Beetz, and Mindy Kaling presented awards and introduced performances. Some, like the In the Heights star Anthony Ramos, arrived to present another presenter; in his case, Lin-Manuel Miranda. These moments appeared to not only be about making up for the lack of a host, but also about underlining the Academy's expanding membership. Often, though, they only reminded the audience of the nominees' homogeneity.
Read: Bong Joon Ho showed that the Oscars can still be magic
In that sense, it's no wonder Parasite's sweep came as such a welcome surprise'--and its Best Picture win such a genuine moment of triumph. Here was proof the Academy cared for out-of-the-box storytelling from ''voices long deprived,'' as Monae had put it in the opening number. The director Bong Joon Ho's moving speeches energized the audience in a way the show's more performatively ''woke'' elements simply couldn't.
Sure, it's wonderful to see the Oscars give Kelly Marie Tran time to riff with Questlove, to watch Sandra Oh trade quips with Ray Romano, and to revel in Billy Porter taking the stage with Monae and matching her in exuberance. Like Ambudkar said in his rap, ''What you see in front of you is a sign of the times.'' But honoring those times requires more than just dressing up dancers as characters from the overlooked films and doling out stage time during a telecast at the end of a long awards season. Parasite's Best Picture finish showed that if the Oscars wants to call itself diverse and to brandish its inclusivity, it'll have to do so by nominating films that reflect diversity in the first place. When the roster of honorees looks nothing like the presenters and performers on Oscar night, the self-congratulatory tone doesn't work. Actual results will always matter more than awards-show routines.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.
Shirley Li is a staff writer at
The Atlantic'‹, where she covers culture.
Obama-Produced Film Wins Oscar, Producer Quotes Communist Manifesto In Acceptance Speech. Obama Praises. | The Daily Wire
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 07:43
The first Netflix film produced by former President Obama and Michelle Obama 's production company won an award on Sunday during the Oscars and, while accepting the award, the filmmakers recited Karl Marx's Communist manifesto.
Julia Reichert of ''American Factory'' received the award and said: ''Working people have it harder and harder these days '' and we believe that things will get better when workers of the world unite.''
The term ''workers of the world unite,'' comes directly from the communist manifesto and was widely noticed by media critics.
How woke! How Hollywood!
Producer Julia Reichert cites the Communist Manifesto because'... well, we all know why.
''Workers of the world unite." pic.twitter.com/kl64TC0uNh
'-- (((Jason Rantz))) on KTTH Radio (@jasonrantz) February 10, 2020
Obama praised them, writing on Twitter, ''Congrats to Julia and Steven, the filmmakers behind American Factory, for telling such a complex, moving story about the very human consequences of wrenching economic change. Glad to see two talented and downright good people take home the Oscar for Higher Ground's first release.''
Congrats to Julia and Steven, the filmmakers behind American Factory, for telling such a complex, moving story about the very human consequences of wrenching economic change. Glad to see two talented and downright good people take home the Oscar for Higher Ground's first release. https://t.co/W4AZ68iWoY
'-- Barack Obama (@BarackObama) February 10, 2020
Communism is an ideology of evil and was estimated to be responsible for the deaths of 100 million people last center.
The Wall Street Journal reported in 2017:
Such convictions set the stage for decades of murder on an industrial scale. In total, no fewer than 20 million Soviet citizens were put to death by the regime or died as a direct result of its repressive policies. This does not include the millions who died in the wars, epidemics and famines that were predictable consequences of Bolshevik policies, if not directly caused by them.
The victims include 200,000 killed during the Red Terror (1918-22); 11 million dead from famine and dekulakization; 700,000 executed during the Great Terror (1937-38); 400,000 more executed between 1929 and 1953; 1.6 million dead during forced population transfers; and a minimum 2.7 million dead in the Gulag, labor colonies and special settlements.
To this list should be added nearly a million Gulag prisoners released during World War II into Red Army penal battalions, where they faced almost certain death; the partisans and civilians killed in the postwar revolts against Soviet rule in Ukraine and the Baltics; and dying Gulag inmates freed so that their deaths would not count in official statistics.
If we add to this list the deaths caused by communist regimes that the Soviet Union created and supported'--including those in Eastern Europe, China, Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam and Cambodia'--the total number of victims is closer to 100 million. That makes communism the greatest catastrophe in human history.
Responses varied online with the far-left praises the speech and everyone else either mocking it or expressing shock or outrage.
Far-left activist Adam Best responded: ''The Obamas now have a movie that won at the #Oscars and Trump is still mad over never winning an Emmy. Imagine he's having a hissy fit right about now.''
Daily Wire podcast host Michael Knowles responded to Best by writing, ''Do the Obamas also get credit for the filmmaker's quoting the Communist Manifesto in her acceptance speech?''
Do the Obamas also get credit for the filmmaker's quoting the Communist Manifesto in her acceptance speech? https://t.co/KtbN5VUG1m
'-- Iowa Caucus Winner Michael Knowles (@michaeljknowles) February 10, 2020
Commentator Jordan Schachtel wrote: ''The 100 million victims of communist regimes would like to have a word.''
The 100 million victims of communist regimes would like to have a word.https://t.co/aKTBr4VrjA
'-- Jordan Schachtel (@JordanSchachtel) February 10, 2020
Columnist Jonah Goldberg wrote: ''I love that most of my twitter feed thought the big game away from her speech was 'go Buckeyes' not the opening line from the f***ing Communist Manifesto.''
I love that most of my twitter feed thought the big game away from her speech was ''go Buckeyes'' not the opening line from the f***ing Communist Manifesto. https://t.co/zHiHVfuoCE
'-- Jonah Goldberg (@JonahDispatch) February 10, 2020
Factbox: Airlines suspend China flights due to coronavirus outbreak
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 01:11
(Reuters) - Airlines are suspending flights to China in the wake of the new coronavirus outbreak.
Below are details (in alphabetical order):
AIRLINES THAT HAVE CANCELED ALL CHINA FLIGHTS - American Airlines - Jan. 31-March 27. Hong Kong service suspended Feb. 8-March 27.
- Air France - Said on Feb.6 it would suspend flights to and from mainland China for much of March
- Air Seoul - The South Korean budget carrier suspended China flights from Jan. 28 until further notice.
- Air Tanzania - Tanzania's state-owned carrier, which had planned to begin charter flights to China in February, postponed its maiden flights.
- Austrian Airlines - until end February.
- British Airways - Jan. 29-Feb 29.
- Delta Airlines - Feb. 2-April 30
- Egyptair - Feb. 1 until further notice.
- El Al Israel Airlines - Jan. 30-March 25 following a health ministry directive.
- Finnair - Suspended all flights to China between Feb. 6-29, to Guangzhou between Feb. 5-March 29.
- Iberia Airlines - The Spanish carrier extended its suspension of flights from Madrid to Shanghai, its only route, from Feb. 29 until the end of April.
- Kenya Airways - Jan. 31 until further notice.
- KLM - Will extend its ban up to March 15
- Lion Air - All of February.
- Oman and Saudia, Saudi Arabia's state airline, both suspended flights on Feb. 2 until further notice.
- Qatar Airways - Feb. 1 until further notice.
- Rwandair - Jan. 31 until further notice.
- Nordic airline SAS - Feb. 4-29.
- Scoot, Singapore Airlines' low-cost carrier - Feb. 8 until further notice.
- United Airlines - Feb. 5-March 28. Service to Hong Kong suspended Feb. 8-20.
- Vietjet and Vietnam Airlines - Suspended flights to the mainland as well as Hong Kong and Macau Feb. 1-April 30, in line with its aviation authority's directive.
AIRLINES THAT HAVE CANCELED SOME CHINA FLIGHTS/ROUTES - Air Canada- Canceled direct flights to Beijing and Shanghai Jan. 30-Feb 29.
- Air China - State carrier said on Feb. 9 it will ''adjust'' flights between China and the United States.
- Air New Zealand - Suspended Auckland-Shanghai service Feb. 9-March 29.
- ANA Holdings - Suspended routes including Shanghai and Hong Kong from Feb. 10 until further notice.
- Cathay Pacific Airways - Plans to cut a third of its capacity over the next two months, including 90% of flights to mainland China. It has encouraged its 27,000 employees to take three weeks of unpaid leave in a bid to preserve cash.
- Emirates and Etihad - The United Arab Emirates, a major international transit hub, suspended flights to and from China, except for Beijing.
- Hainan Airlines - Suspended flights between Budapest, Hungary, and Chongqing Feb. 7-March 27.
- Philippine Airlines [PHL.UL] - Cut the number of flights between Manila and China by over half.
- Qantas Airways - Suspended direct flights to China from Feb. 1. The Australian national carrier halted flights from Sydney to Beijing and Sydney to Shanghai between Feb. 9-March 29.
- Royal Air Maroc - The Moroccan airline suspended direct flights to China Jan. 31-Feb. 29. On Jan. 16, it had launched a direct air route with three flights weekly between its Casablanca hub and Beijing.
- Russia - All Russian airlines, with the exception of national airline Aeroflot, stopped flying to China from Jan. 31. Small airline Ikar will also continue flights between Moscow and China. All planes arriving from China will be sent to a separate terminal in the Moscow Sheremetyevo airport.
- Singapore Airlines - Suspended or cut capacity on flights to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Xiamen and Chongqing, some of which are flown by regional arm SilkAir.
- UPS - Canceled 22 flights to China because of the virus and normal manufacturing closures due to the Lunar New Year holiday.
- Virgin Atlantic - Extended its suspension of daily operations to Shanghai until March 28.
- Virgin Australia - Said it will withdraw from the Sydney-Hong Kong route from March 2 because it was ''no longer a viable commercial route'' due to growing concerns over the virus and civil unrest in Hong Kong.
Compiled by Jagoda Darlak, Tommy Lund and Aditya Soni, editing by Barbara Lewis and Uttaresh.V
Watching you watch: the tracking system of over-the-top TV streaming devices '' the morning paper
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 01:10
Watching you watch: the tracking ecosystem of over-the-top TV streaming devices, Moghaddam et al., CCS'19
The results from this paper are all too predictable: channels on Over-The-Top (OTT) streaming devices are insecure and riddled with privacy leaks. The authors quantify the scale of the problem, and note that users have even less viable defence mechanisms than they do on web and mobile platforms. When you watch TV, the TV is watching you.
In this paper, we examine the advertising and tracking ecosystems of Over-The-Top ("OTT") streaming devices, which deliver Internet-based video content to traditional TVs/display devices. OTT devices refer to a family of services and devices that either directly connect to a TV (e.g., streaming sticks and boxes) or enable functionality within a TV (e.g. smart TVs) to facilitate the delivery of Internet-based video content.
The study focuses on Roku and Amazon Fire TV, which together account for between 59% and 65% of the global market. The top 1000 channels from each service are analysed using a custom-built crawling engine, and traffic is intercepted where possible using mitmproxy.
How they did itFor each service, a list of the top 1000 channels was compiled, as well as the top 100 channels across the most popular categories. Since there was no off-the-shelf crawling infrastructure for OTT devices, the authors then had to build their own.
The desktop machine acts as WiFi access point and receives both the audio and video signals emitted from the device. This enables monitoring of the device outputs (audio, video, and network). The devices are controlled using their remote control functionality: web apis for Roku, and adb for Amazon Fire TV.
Where possible the authors use mitmproxy to intercept traffic from the devices. Some channels use certificate pinning. On the Roku device interception is disabled for those channels. On Amazon Fire TV there is access to the device which enabled the authors to bypass channel-level certificate pinning using a Frida toolkit script. Details are in appendix B of the paper.
The following table summarises the various crawls that were undertaken. The 'MITM' suffix indicates that the mitmproxy was used. Both Roku TV and Amazon Fire TV have privacy options ('Limit Ad Tracking', and 'Disable Interest-based Ads' respectively) and a crawl was also done with these options enabled to see what difference they made.
What they foundTrackers are everywhere! On Roku TV, the most prevalent tracker is for Google's doubleclick.net (975/1000 channels). On Amazon Fire TV it is amazon-adsystem.com (687/1000). Facebook is notably less present on TV than it is in mobile and web channels.
The amount of tracking varies by channel category, as the following plots reveal:
There are plenty of different device and user identifiers that can be used for tracking. The study checked for leaks of the following:
On Roku, we discovered that 4,452 of the 6,142 (nearly 73%) requests containing one of the two unique DIs (AD ID, Serial Number) are flagged as trackers. On Amazon, 3,427 of the 8,433 (41%) unique identifiers are sent in cleartext.
Nine of the top 100 channels on Roku, and 14 of the top 100 channels on Amazon Fire TV leak the title of each video watched to a tracking domain. The Roku channels leaked this information over unencrypted connections.
79% of Roku channels send at least one request in cleartext, and 76% of Fire TV channels. That unsecured information is flowing to the following destinations:
What you can do about itTurning on the in-device privacy options doesn't really help much. When you 'Limit Ad tracking' on Roku the AD ID no longer leaks, but the number of contacted trackers stays the same, as does the number of Serial Number leaks. That is, channels are obeying the letter of the law (limit ad tracking means no AD ID) but not the spirit.
It's a similar story on Fire TV:
Our data'... reveals that even when the privacy option is enabled, there are a number of other identifiers that can be used to track users, bypassing the privacy protection built into these platforms.
Running with a Pi-hole helps, but still misses about 27% of A ID leaks, and 45% of serial number leaks.
The last wordOur measurements showed that tracking is prevalent on the OTT platforms we studied, with traffic to known trackers present on 69% of Roku channels and 89% of Amazon Fire TV channels'...Our analysis of the available privacy countermeasures showed that they are ineffective at preventing tracking.
ongoing by Tim Bray · Why Google Did Android
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 01:04
What happened was, in the late stages of my career at Sun Microsystems, as we were sliding into Oracle's loathsome embrace, I haddiscovered Android. The programming language was Java, and not a dorky ''ME'' subset. My employer wassaying nicethings about it, and I'd long craved something I could both carry in my pocket and program. I discovered it was pretty easy toprogram and eventually published theAndroid Diary series in this space, which got pretty livelyreadership.
Thus, I shouldn't have been surprised when, shortly afterleaving Sun, I got outreach from Google's Developer Relations org. I wasreceptive and almost immediately I found myself in Mountain View for the famous Google Interview Day. My first session was withVic Gundotra, who was a major Google V.I.P. at the time. He opened bysaying ''I've been reading your blog and I think I know a lot about you. What would you like to know about us?''
That was easy. I asked ''Why is Google doing Android? Are you serious or is it just a hobby?'' (Because at Sun we'd had a lot ofhobbies '‰'-- '‰sideline technologies that we couldn't seem to give up '‰'-- '‰and thatsucked and I didn't want to work on one.)
Vic said something like (It's ten years later and I'm paraphrasing) ''The iPhone is really good. The way things are going,Apple's going to have a monopoly on Internet-capable mobile devices. That means they'll be the gatekeepers for everything, includingadvertising, saying who can and can't, setting prices, taking a cut. That's an existential threat to Google. Android doesn't have towin, to win. It just has to get enough market so there's a diverse and competitive mobile-advertising market.''
I don't know about you, but I found that totally convincing. And I suppose a lot of industry insiders are thinking ''Well ofcourse everyone knew that!'' I didn't. I made it through the interviews and they offered me the job and Ihad four good years at Google.
I wonder if Vic was right about what would've happened if they hadn't done Android?
By Tim Bray
I am an employeeof Amazon.com, butthe opinions expressed hereare my own, and no other partynecessarily agrees with them.
A full disclosure of myprofessional interests ison the author page.
'Best Supporting Actor' Brad Pitt Under Fire for 'John Bolton' Joke in Oscar Acceptance Speech
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 01:01
Viral06:08 GMT 10.02.2020Get short URL
The 56-year-old won best actor in a supporting role for his part as an aging stuntman in Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in'... Hollywood. In his speeches at recent film awards Pitt entertained the audience by joking about his role, fellow colleagues and private life, but this time he decided to touch on serious matters.
Hollywood star Brad Pitt has been criticised for a joke about Donald Trump's impeachment trial in his acceptance speech at the Oscars. The 56-year-old star took a jab at the US Senate for not subpoenaing John Bolton, a former member of the Trump administration, who served as national security advisor. "They said I have 45 seconds, which is 45 seconds more than the Senate gave John Bolton this week. I'm thinking maybe Quentin [Tarantino] does a movie about it. And in the end the adults do the right thing", Pitt said.
Some netizens didn't appreciate this comment, with some saying the actor should stick to acting and leave politics to experts.
Hey Brad, it wouldn't have mattered if Bolton did testify. Keep to the acting and leave the law making to the law makers.
'-- Raider Fan (@mizrad) February 10, 2020I wanted to watch to see Brad Pitt win. I hate that he had to bring politics into speech. Just a disappointment. I look forward to the Oscars my super bowl. Just bummed.
'-- Tina Barbee Mills (@TinaBarbeeMills) February 10, 2020Others accused the actor of using his speech to express his political views.
Everyone is sick of entitlement actors voicing their liberal garbage! Brad Pitt is an actor he's not a veteran, nurse, cop, doctor, fireman or any kind of leader or hero. Accept your award and go home! How hard is that to do!!
'-- Shawn Karl (@karl_shawn) February 10, 2020pretty sad when someone in the "limelight" has to push his "beliefs" onto people...grow up!
'-- jimi howser (@Alpha42dogJimi) February 10, 2020'‹Some reminded the actor that the House of Representatives did not allow the Senate to question Eric Ciamaramella, who is reportedly the alleged whistleblower that filed a complaint against President Trump that started the impeachment proceedings.
'‹A few netizens said that the star's joke had ruined the show and they quit watching it.
I really wanted to give The Oscars a chance this year, but alas he had to go there so I stopped watching. So over it.
'-- OyVeyDiosMio'­¸'­¸'­¸''Œ¸ (@Truthseeker126) February 10, 2020Way to start the show by alienating 1/2 the country. Couldn't change the channel fast enough.
'-- Elizabeth Levine (@LizLevineStudio) February 10, 2020'‹Others were downright angry and said they no longer love the actor. One user wrote: "I thought he had brains as well as looks. What a disappointment".
I was a fan of Brad Pitt. Not anymore, after his speech receiving an Oscar. He said ''I only have 45 seconds but that's more time than the Senate gave John Bolton''. Brad we don't need another Hollywood insider giving us his Democrat opinion. Take your trophy and go home.
'-- ken (@ken21246463) February 10, 2020Screw Pitt!! I will never watch another of his Movies! I thought he was a bigger person than this!!
'-- Linda Gooding (@LindaGo37803776) February 10, 2020'‹Pitt won the Oscar for best supporting actor beating out such Hollywood heavyweights as Al Pacino, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hanks, and Joe Pesci. The 56-year-old recently revealed he personally writes his speeches after rumours emerged that the actor resorted to the help of speechwriters, who helped him pen down some of the jokes he made during recent film awards. Pitt insisted he wrote down all the speeches although he admitted that he was helped by ''very, very funny friends''.
"Historically, I've always been really tentative about speeches, like, they make me nervous. So this '-- this round, I figured if we're going to do this '-- like, put some, like, some real work into it and try to get comfortable, and this is the result of that. I definitely write them. I have some funny friends. I have some very, very funny friends that helped me with some laughs, but, no, it's, you know, it's got to come from the heart", Pitt said.
The Trump administration's surveillance dragnet
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 01:00
10 February 2020The Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend that the Trump administration has purchased access to a commercial database that tracks the location and movement of millions of cell phones in order to aid in the deportation of immigrants living in the United States and to track people as they cross the border.
The revelation of this program shows that the government's illegal dragnet surveillance has been expanded since the exposure of mass National Security Agency spying by whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013.
Promises of a national dialogue on domestic electronic spying and the passage of legislation to provide more oversight of government operations were never anything more than a sham. The federal government is now outsourcing to private contractors a significant share of the electronic surveillance it had previously been carrying out itself.
[Credit: AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File]This breach of the right of the American and world population's right to privacy, first justified by President George W. Bush under the guise of the ''war on terror,'' then expanded under President Barack Obama, is now being utilized in Trump's fascistic war on immigrants. While the government claims that the cell phone data it uses is ''anonymized'' to protect American citizens, such measures will not be limited to immigrants. They will be used against left-wing political opponents of the government and to suppress any eruption of popular opposition by the working class.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the Trump administration began purchasing cell phone location data in 2017 from a company in the suburbs of Washington, DC named Venntel. This company has multiple ties to Gravy Analytics, a major mobile advertising firm.
Venntel purchases location data gathered by weather, game, commerce and other applications downloaded by cell phone users and then resells that information to its clients, in this case the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Smartphone apps are constantly giving off signals to cell phone towers and other devices that provide their exact location. Corporate marketers have been using this information to target advertising at consumers with increasingly frightening accuracy. While smartphone users may think they are getting a weather report for their commute, their location is being fed directly to the government that is plotting to deport them.
The use of commercial databases is an end run around a 2018 Supreme Court ruling, Carpenter v. United States, placing restrictions on the federal government's ability to directly collect cell phone data of American citizens from the big phone companies. ''In this case, the government is a commercial purchaser like anybody else. Carpenter is not relevant,'' Paul Rosenzweig, a former DHS deputy assistant secretary for policy, told the Wall Street Journal. ''The government is just buying a widget.''
Instead of following due process and going to a federal court to get a warrant to track a criminal suspect, the government is purchasing bulk data from marketing firms to spy on everyone living in or traveling to the United States. The Wall Street Journal's report notes that the purchase of marketing data is widely used by US agencies to gather intelligence internationally, though the extent is unclear as these contracts are classified.
The number of smartphone users in the United States has exploded over the last decade, rising from 63 million in 2010 to 273 million this year, more than three-quarters of the total population. In Mexico, the number of users is expected to rise from 71 million to 92 million in 2024, more than 70 percent of the population. Nearly one third of the world's population, 3.5 billion people, currently uses a smartphone. The potential for government surveillance utilizing the information put out by these devices is vast.
While the New York Times published an editorial this weekend calling for congressional hearings into the Trump administration's use of what the newspaper termed ''the most invasive corporate surveillance system ever devised,'' the revelation has passed largely in silence. It was not mentioned in the Sunday news interview programs nor raised by any of the Democratic presidential candidates. This is due to the fact that there is no section of the ruling elite that is committed to the defense of basic constitutional rights, and the assault on the democratic rights of American citizens and immigrants is bipartisan.
The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed an extension of the 2001 Patriot Act in November, including a provision that allows for the bulk warrantless surveillance of domestic electronic communications metadata. Even as they pursued the impeachment of Trump over his foreign policy in relation to Russia, and insisted that Trump is a stooge of Vladimir Putin, the Democrats ensured that the president retained invasive spying powers.
The impeachment process did not stop the Democrats from helping Trump deliver on his major policy initiatives, from allowing Trump to illegally transfer billions of dollars in Pentagon funds to build his wall along the US-Mexico border, to allocating $738 billion for military spending, to passing his austerity budget and ratifying the anti-China trade pact with Mexico and Canada.
The anti-Russia, national security impeachment, which predictably ended in a debacle for the Democrats, was a political diversion aimed at suppressing popular opposition to the ever widening war on immigrants, including the denial of the right to asylum and the imprisonment of hundreds of thousands of immigrants, including thousands of children, in detention camps.
With impeachment behind him, Trump has been empowered to escalate his attacks on the democratic rights of immigrants as well as the entire population. These attacks cannot be fought through the Democratic Party, a party of the CIA, the Pentagon and Wall Street. The only social force that can defeat Trump and the financial oligarchy that controls both parties is the working class.
The Socialist Equality Party is running its presidential campaign to build a revolutionary leadership in the working class that will fight to defend the democratic rights of all people. The SEP's candidates, Joseph Kishore for president and Norissa Santa Cruz for vice president, stand for the abolition of national borders and the right of all people to travel and work wherever they please, free from state surveillance and harassment.
For more information on the SEP election campaign and to sign up, visit socialism2020.org.
Niles Niemuth
Contribute to the fight for socialism in 20202019 has been a year of mass social upheaval. We need you to help the WSWS and ICFI make 2020 the year of international socialist revival. We must expand our work and our influence in the international working class. If you agree, donate today. Thank you.
Shawn Lucas: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know | Heavy.com
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 00:51
A screenshot of Shawn Lucas serving the DNC with the fraud lawsuit. (YouTube/Ricardo Villalba)
Conspiracy theories surround the sudden August death of a man who helped serve the Democratic National Committee with a lawsuit alleging fraud in the presidential race.
Shawn Lucas died on Aug. 2, 2016, confirmed the Washington D.C. medical examiner, but the circumstances of his death remained very foggy until November 1.
According to the Office of Chief Medical Examiner of Washington D.C., this is the cause and manner of Shawn Lucas' death. The office released the information to Heavy on November 1:
Cause: Combined adverse effects of fentanyl, cyclobenzaprine, and mitragynineManner: Accident
Lucas, 38, is the latest Washington D.C. man who died young to inspire DNC-related conspiracy theories. Conspiracy theories also surround the July murder of Seth Rich, a DNC data analyst who worked on voting rights issues and who was gunned down in an unsolved slaying on a Washington D.C. street.
In contrast to Rich, there was no public evidence that Lucas died suspiciously, however.
Here's what you need to know:
1. Lucas Is Seen in a Video That Shows Him Serving The DNC With Papers in The Fraud Lawsuit"YOU GOT SERVED!" DNC and Debbie Wasserman Schultz get served in Wilding class action Shawn and Ricardo film and serve process on Defendants DNC Services Corp. and Chairperson Debbie Wasserman Schultz at DNC's headquarters in Washington, D.C., in the fraud class action Wilding et al. v. DNC Services Corp. et al. It took two attempts, but the job got done! Thanks, guys. To learn more about the DNC fraud class action (and to make a contribution to Jam PAC), please visit http://jampac.us/ 2016-07-04T01:51:35.000Z
The lawsuit was filed on June 28 by Bernie Sanders supporters against the DNC and then DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who resigned in the wake of the WikiLeaks email scandal.
The lawsuit filed by ''a group made up predominantly of Bernie Sanders supporters'' alleges Wasserman Schultz ''rigged the primary for Hillary Clinton,'' says UPI.
The group of 120 people says in the lawsuit ''that Wasserman Schultz and the DNC were fraudulent, negligent and misrepresented their true motivations in the Democratic presidential primary,'' said UPI, adding that internal email and memos were cited in the lawsuit.
Snopes says Lucas was just one of the process servers in the DNC lawsuit.
2. Lucas Was Found Dead in a BathroomFueling rumors, authorities did not say how Lucas died until November 1.
Asked whether the death was being investigated as suspicious in any manner, the Washington D.C. Police Department's media office would only provide Heavy with a one-page incident report that says Lucas was found unconscious in a bathroom at home by his girlfriend, Savannah King (see above).
The D.C. medical examiner's office, by law, does not release more information to the public beyond cause of death.
Read more about Lucas' cause of death here:
3. A Fundraising Site Was Set Up After Lucas' Death in His Honor
The Go Fund Me site created by a friend confirms that Lucas died on Aug. 2. It says, ''The world lost an incredible man who made everyone around him better. On August 2nd, 2016 Shawn Lucas was unexpectedly taken from us. He was a brother, a son, a friend, a best friend, a beautiful heart.'...Trying to describe him in words is a difficult task, because he was so many things to so many people.''
The site said that Shawn ''wasn't like anyone you would ever meet or forget. He was someone you remember after only meeting once, someone who you want to have with you at every occasion because he just made it better. He brought light to every room, every situation, and always had a handful of witty comments no-one else could say more perfectly or think of on the spot and have ready at the tip of his tongue. Everyone has their own connection and closeness to Shawn, he was a friend to the universe and such a joy to be around. The sense of loss and thought of him not being here is overwhelmingly painful. It cuts the DC city deep.''
Heavy has written to the site's creator seeking more information on Lucas' death.
The site says that Shawn Lucas is survived by his loving partner Savannah King, his brother Justin Lucas, his father William Lucas, and his mother Susan Lucas.
Shawn's brother also wrote on the fundraising site. ''You may know him as Astro or MCSL, but to me, he was the coolest damn brother to walk the earth! He always followed his heart and lived life on the edge. When he was 18 he wanted to go snowboarding, so he moved to Colorado. When he was 28, he wanted to learn Jiu Jitsu, so he went to Brazil for three months (three separate times).''
The brother continued, ''He wanted to create music, so he wrote and produced two hip hop albums. If you had the pleasure of meeting him, there is no doubt he had an impact on your life. He helped raise me and I wouldn't be who I am or where I am without him. The world just lost a bad ass mo fo and I just lost my big brother. RIP Shawn. I miss you.''
4. Lucas' Name Was Mentioned in a July Motion The DNC Filed in The Fraud CauseA screenshot of Lucas serving the DNC with the fraud lawsuit. (YouTube/Ricardo Villalba)
Lucas' name comes up in the motion the DNC filed in July in the fraud lawsuit.
It says, in part, ''On July 6, 2016, Plaintiffs filed affidavits of service of process, in which Shawn Lucas and Brandon Yoshimura of One Source Process, Inc. claim to have served Rebecca Christopher (described by the affidavits as a 'Creative Strategist') with process for both the DNC and its chair at 1:30 p.m. on July 1st'...''
The motion continued, ''In fact, the person with whom Mr. Lucas and Mr. Yoshimura interacted was not Ms. Christopher, but a different DNC employee named Rebecca Herries'...Ms. Herries came to the lobby to meet Mr. Lucas and Mr. Yoshimura after she was repeatedly advised by security that Mr. Lucas and Mr. Yoshimura were refusing to leave unless they could hand some legal papers to a DNC staffer.''
5. Lucas' Name Is Mentioned By Conspiracy Theorists in Connection With The Murder of DNC Analyst Seth RichDNC staffer, Seth Rich, in his DNC profile picture. (LinkedIn/Seth Rich)
Rich was a data analyst for the DNC, who was found murdered in early July when he was gunned down on a Washington D.C. street. The murder remains unsolved.
ANNOUNCE: WikiLeaks has decided to issue a US$20k reward for information leading to conviction for the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich.
'-- WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) August 9, 2016
Conspiracy theorists have floated the theory that Rich could have been behind the WikiLeaks' document dump. Although WikiLeaks won't release its source, WikiLeaks did offer on Aug. 9. a $20,000 reward for information leading to a conviction in the Rich case.
However, WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange gave cryptic comments about Rich to Dutch television on Aug. 8, in which he would not confirm or deny whether Rich was a WikiLeaks' source (as standard practice, though, WikiLeaks does not discuss its sources).
Although conspiracy theorists are trying to link Lucas' death with that of Rich (and others), they offer no evidence to back up their contention that foul play was involved in Lucas' case or that Hillary Clinton was in any way tied to it. U.S. officials and data experts have said they think Russian intelligence agents might be behind the email leak by WikiLeaks, which denies ties to the Russians.
Seth Rich Hush Money?
Mon, 10 Feb 2020 00:49
Follow Matt on TwitterThis story was broke by America First Media Group on September 21st, 2017. We feel its good to refresh and go back through evidence throughout the course of an investigation.
During the 2016 Presidential Election, the biggest story became how Russia ''hacked'' the election. The ''17 intelligence agencies'' that Hillary Rodham Clinton cited all relied on word from a contracted company, Crowdstrike.
Crowdstrike is a technology company that specializes in cyber-security. Not only is there conflict of interest with Crowdstrike receiving payments, campaign data shows some incredible correlations with the payments that were made.
All payments cited below are part of the Federal Election Committee data of campaign spending on the http://www.fec.gov website.
The first payments made were preemptive measures on May 5th, 2016 when the DNC was looking to figure out where the breach of security was. Payments made on May 5th, 2016 of $7,650.00 and $1,462.50 were likely paid for Crowdstrike to install their Falcon software, a stellar technology security suite that would identify any internal or external security breach.
The final email on Wikileaks from the DNC is dated May 25th, 2016. Crowdstrike would have had complete knowledge of the party that ripped the emails from the server.
The next payment that was made to Crowdstrike occurred on July 11th, 2016 for the amount of $98,849.84. The relationship to this date happens to be the day after DNC Data Director of New Voter Registration Seth Rich was murdered.
The final payment to date is August 3rd, 2016. This coincides with another murder in the District of Columbia. Shawn Lucas, who died on August 2nd of last year, was the DNC Process Server and close friend of Seth Rich. The payment on August 3rd included two checks, one for $113,645.77 and the other for $4,275.00.
We find it highly coincidental that both of these payments came within 24 hours of two high profile murders in Washington D.C., which both have connection to the DNC.
Updates:The initial and final payment was referring to Technology Consulting and Technology Infrastructure Maintenance, linked here. It does not include the licensing of the software under the description of Data Services Subscription.
John Maynard Keynes - Wikipedia
Sun, 09 Feb 2020 23:29
John Maynard Keynes, 1st Baron Keynes[2] CB FBA ( KAYNZ ; 5 June 1883 '' 21 April 1946), was a British economist, whose ideas fundamentally changed the theory and practice of macroeconomics and the economic policies of governments. Originally trained in mathematics, he built on and greatly refined earlier work on the causes of business cycles, and was one of the most influential economists of the 20th century.[4][5][6] Widely considered the founder of modern macroeconomics, his ideas are the basis for the school of thought known as Keynesian economics, and its various offshoots.[7]
The Lord Keynes
Born ( 1883-06-05 ) 5 June 1883Died21 April 1946 (1946-04-21) (aged 62)NationalityBritishAlma materEton College, University of CambridgePolitical partyLiberal Spouse(s) Lydia LopokovaAcademic careerInstitutionKing's College, CambridgeFieldSchool ortraditionKeynesian economicsAlma materInfluencesJeremy Bentham, Thomas Malthus, Alfred Marshall, Nicholas Johannsen, Knut Wicksell, Piero Sraffa, John Neville Keynes, Bertrand Russell[1]ContributionsDuring the Great Depression of the 1930s, Keynes spearheaded a revolution in economic thinking, challenging the ideas of neoclassical economics that held that free markets would, in the short to medium term, automatically provide full employment, as long as workers were flexible in their wage demands. He argued that aggregate demand (total spending in the economy) determined the overall level of economic activity, and that inadequate aggregate demand could lead to prolonged periods of high unemployment. Keynes advocated the use of fiscal and monetary policies to mitigate the adverse effects of economic recessions and depressions. He detailed these ideas in his magnum opus, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, published in 1936. In the mid to late-1930s, leading Western economies adopted Keynes's policy recommendations. Almost all capitalist governments had done so by the end of the two decades following Keynes's death in 1946. As a leader of the British delegation, Keynes participated in the design of the international economic institutions established after the end of World War II but was overruled by the American delegation on several aspects.
Keynes's influence started to wane in the 1970s, partly as a result of the stagflation that plagued the Anglo-American economies during that decade, and partly because of criticism of Keynesian policies by Milton Friedman and other monetarists,[8] who disputed the ability of government to favorably regulate the business cycle with fiscal policy.[9] However, the advent of the global financial crisis of 2007''2008 sparked a resurgence in Keynesian thought. Keynesian economics provided the theoretical underpinning for economic policies undertaken in response to the crisis by President Barack Obama of the United States, Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the United Kingdom, and other heads of governments.[10]
When Time magazine included Keynes among its Most Important People of the Century in 1999, it stated that "his radical idea that governments should spend money they don't have may have saved capitalism."[11] The Economist has described Keynes as "Britain's most famous 20th-century economist."[12] In addition to being an economist, Keynes was also a civil servant, a director of the Bank of England, and a part of the Bloomsbury Group of intellectuals.[13]
Early life and education Edit King's College, Cambridge. Keynes's grandmother wrote to him saying that, since he was born in Cambridge, people will expect him to be clever.
John Maynard Keynes was born in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England, to an upper-middle-class family. His father, John Neville Keynes, was an economist and a lecturer in moral sciences at the University of Cambridge and his mother Florence Ada Keynes a local social reformer. Keynes was the first born, and was followed by two more children '' Margaret Neville Keynes in 1885 and Geoffrey Keynes in 1887. Geoffrey became a surgeon and Margaret married the Nobel Prize-winning physiologist Archibald Hill.
According to the economic historian and biographer Robert Skidelsky, Keynes's parents were loving and attentive. They remained in the same house throughout their lives, where the children were always welcome to return. Keynes would receive considerable support from his father, including expert coaching to help him pass his scholarship exams and financial help both as a young man and when his assets were nearly wiped out at the onset of Great Depression in 1929. Keynes's mother made her children's interests her own, and according to Skidelsky, "because she could grow up with her children, they never outgrew home".[14]
In January 1889 at the age of five and a half, Keynes started at the kindergarten of the Perse School for Girls for five mornings a week. He quickly showed a talent for arithmetic, but his health was poor leading to several long absences. He was tutored at home by a governess, Beatrice Mackintosh, and his mother. In January 1892, at eight and a half, he started as a day pupil at St Faith's preparatory school. By 1894, Keynes was top of his class and excelling at mathematics. In 1896, St Faith's headmaster, Ralph Goodchild, wrote that Keynes was "head and shoulders above all the other boys in the school" and was confident that Keynes could get a scholarship to Eton.[15][16]
In 1897, Keynes won a scholarship to Eton College, where he displayed talent in a wide range of subjects, particularly mathematics, classics and history. At Eton, Keynes experienced the first "love of his life" in Dan Macmillan, older brother of the future Prime Minister Harold Macmillan.[17] Despite his middle-class background, Keynes mixed easily with upper-class pupils.
In 1902 Keynes left Eton for King's College, Cambridge, after receiving a scholarship for this also to read mathematics. Alfred Marshall begged Keynes to become an economist,[18]although Keynes's own inclinations drew him towards philosophy '' especially the ethical system of G. E. Moore. Keynes joined the Pitt Club[19] and was an active member of the semi-secretive Cambridge Apostles society, a debating club largely reserved for the brightest students. Like many members, Keynes retained a bond to the club after graduating and continued to attend occasional meetings throughout his life. Before leaving Cambridge, Keynes became the President of the Cambridge Union Society and Cambridge University Liberal Club. He was said to be an atheist.[20][21]
In May 1904, he received a first-class BA in mathematics. Aside from a few months spent on holidays with family and friends, Keynes continued to involve himself with the university over the next two years. He took part in debates, further studied philosophy and attended economics lectures informally as a graduate student for one term, which constituted his only formal education in the subject. He took civil service exams in 1906.
The economist Harry Johnson wrote that the optimism imparted by Keynes's early life is a key to understanding his later thinking.[22]Keynes was always confident he could find a solution to whatever problem he turned his attention to and retained a lasting faith in the ability of government officials to do good.[23]Keynes's optimism was also cultural, in two senses: he was of the last generation raised by an empire still at the height of its power and was also of the last generation who felt entitled to govern by culture, rather than by expertise. According to Skidelsky, the sense of cultural unity current in Britain from the 19th century to the end of World War I provided a framework with which the well-educated could set various spheres of knowledge in relation to each other and life, enabling them to confidently draw from different fields when addressing practical problems.[14]
Career Edit In October 1908, Keynes's Civil Service career began as a clerk in the India Office.[24] He enjoyed his work at first, but by 1908 had become bored and resigned his position to return to Cambridge and work on probability theory, at first privately funded only by two dons at the university '' his father and the economist Arthur Pigou.
By 1909 Keynes had published his first professional economics article in The Economic Journal, about the effect of a recent global economic downturn on India.[25] He founded the Political Economy Club, a weekly discussion group. Also in 1909, Keynes accepted a lectureship in economics funded personally by Alfred Marshall. Keynes's earnings rose further as he began to take on pupils for private tuition.
In 1911 Keynes was made the editor of The Economic Journal. By 1913 he had published his first book, Indian Currency and Finance.[26] He was then appointed to the Royal Commission on Indian Currency and Finance[27] '' the same topic as his book '' where Keynes showed considerable talent at applying economic theory to practical problems. His written work was published under the name "J M Keynes", though to his family and friends he was known as Maynard. (His father, John Neville Keynes, was also always known by his middle name).[28]
First World War Edit The British Government called on Keynes's expertise during the First World War. While he did not formally re-join the civil service in 1914, Keynes traveled to London at the government's request a few days before hostilities started. Bankers had been pushing for the suspension of specie payments '' the convertibility of banknotes into gold '' but with Keynes's help the Chancellor of the Exchequer (then Lloyd George) was persuaded that this would be a bad idea, as it would hurt the future reputation of the city if payments were suspended before it was necessary.
In January 1915, Keynes took up an official government position at the Treasury. Among his responsibilities were the design of terms of credit between Britain and its continental allies during the war and the acquisition of scarce currencies. According to economist Robert Lekachman, Keynes's "nerve and mastery became legendary" because of his performance of these duties, as in the case where he managed to assemble '' with difficulty '' a small supply of Spanish pesetas.
The secretary of the Treasury was delighted to hear Keynes had amassed enough to provide a temporary solution for the British Government. But Keynes did not hand the pesetas over, choosing instead to sell them all to break the market: his boldness paid off, as pesetas then became much less scarce and expensive.[29]
On the introduction of military conscription in 1916, he applied for exemption as a conscientious objector, which was effectively granted conditional upon continuing his government work.
In the 1917 King's Birthday Honours, Keynes was appointed Companion of the Order of the Bath for his wartime work,[30] and his success led to the appointment that would have a huge effect on Keynes's life and career; Keynes was appointed financial representative for the Treasury to the 1919 Versailles peace conference. He was also appointed Officer of the Belgian Order of Leopold.[31]
Versailles peace conference Edit Keynes's colleague,
David Lloyd George. Keynes was initially wary of the "Welsh Wizard," preferring his rival
Asquith, but was impressed with Lloyd George at Versailles; this did not prevent Keynes from painting a scathing picture of the then-prime minister in his
Economic Consequences of the Peace.
Keynes's experience at Versailles was influential in shaping his future outlook, yet it was not a successful one. Keynes's main interest had been in trying to prevent Germany's compensation payments being set so high it would traumatize innocent German people, damage the nation's ability to pay and sharply limit her ability to buy exports from other countries '' thus hurting not just Germany's economy but that of the wider world.
Unfortunately for Keynes, conservative powers in the coalition that emerged from the 1918 coupon election were able to ensure that both Keynes himself and the Treasury were largely excluded from formal high-level talks concerning reparations. Their place was taken by the Heavenly Twins '' the judge Lord Sumner and the banker Lord Cunliffe whose nickname derived from the "astronomically" high war compensation they wanted to demand from Germany. Keynes was forced to try to exert influence mostly from behind the scenes.
The three principal players at Versailles were Britain's Lloyd George, France's Clemenceau and America's President Wilson.[32]It was only Lloyd George to whom Keynes had much direct access; until the 1918 election he had some sympathy with Keynes's view but while campaigning had found his speeches were only well received by the public if he promised to harshly punish Germany, and had therefore committed his delegation to extracting high payments.
Lloyd George did, however, win some loyalty from Keynes with his actions at the Paris conference by intervening against the French to ensure the dispatch of much-needed food supplies to German civilians. Clemenceau also pushed for substantial reparations, though not as high as those proposed by the British, while on security grounds, France argued for an even more severe settlement than Britain.
Wilson initially favored relatively lenient treatment of Germany '' he feared too harsh conditions could foment the rise of extremism and wanted Germany to be left sufficient capital to pay for imports. To Keynes's dismay, Lloyd George and Clemenceau were able to pressure Wilson to agree to include pensions in the reparations bill.
Towards the end of the conference, Keynes came up with a plan that he argued would not only help Germany and other impoverished central European powers but also be good for the world economy as a whole. It involved the radical writing down of war debts, which would have had the possible effect of increasing international trade all round, but at the same time thrown the entire cost of European reconstruction on the United States.
Lloyd George agreed it might be acceptable to the British electorate. However, America was against the plan; the US was then the largest creditor, and by this time Wilson had started to believe in the merits of a harsh peace and thought that his country had already made excessive sacrifices. Hence despite his best efforts, the result of the conference was a treaty which disgusted Keynes both on moral and economic grounds and led to his resignation from the Treasury.[33]
In June 1919 he turned down an offer to become chairman of the British Bank of Northern Commerce, a job that promised a salary of £2000 in return for a morning per week of work.
Keynes's analysis on the predicted damaging effects of the treaty appeared in the highly influential book, The Economic Consequences of the Peace, published in 1919.[34] This work has been described as Keynes's best book, where he was able to bring all his gifts to bear '' his passion as well as his skill as an economist. In addition to economic analysis, the book contained pleas to the reader's sense of compassion:
I cannot leave this subject as though its just treatment wholly depended either on our pledges or on economic facts. The policy of reducing Germany to servitude for a generation, of degrading the lives of millions of human beings, and of depriving a whole nation of happiness should be abhorrent and detestable, '' abhorrent and detestable, even if it was possible, even if it enriched ourselves, even if it did not sow the decay of the whole civilized life of Europe.
Also present was striking imagery such as "year by year Germany must be kept impoverished and her children starved and crippled" along with bold predictions which were later justified by events:
If we aim deliberately at the impoverishment of Central Europe, vengeance, I dare predict, will not limp. Nothing can then delay for very long that final war between the forces of Reaction and the despairing convulsions of Revolution, before which the horrors of the late German war will fade into nothing.
Keynes's followers assert that his predictions of disaster were borne out when the German economy suffered the hyperinflation of 1923, and again by the collapse of the Weimar Republic and the outbreak of the Second World War. However the historian Ruth Henig claims that "most historians of the Paris peace conference now take the view that, in economic terms, the treaty was not unduly harsh on Germany and that, while obligations and damages were inevitably much stressed in the debates at Paris to satisfy electors reading the daily newspapers, the intention was quietly to give Germany substantial help towards paying her bills, and to meet many of the German objections by amendments to the way the reparations schedule was in practice carried out".[35][36]
Only a small fraction of reparations was ever paid. In fact, the historian Stephen A. Schuker demonstrates in American 'Reparations' to Germany, 1919''33, that the capital inflow from American loans substantially exceeded German out payments so that, on a net basis, Germany received support equal to four times the amount of the post-Second World War Marshall Plan.
Schuker also shows that, in the years after Versailles, Keynes became an informal reparations adviser to the German government, wrote one of the major German reparation notes, and supported the hyperinflation on political grounds. Nevertheless, The Economic Consequences of the Peace gained Keynes international fame, even though it also caused him to be regarded as anti-establishment '' it was not until after the outbreak of the Second World War that Keynes was offered a directorship of a major British Bank, or an acceptable offer to return to government with a formal job. However, Keynes was still able to influence government policy making through his network of contacts, his published works and by serving on government committees; this included attending high-level policy meetings as a consultant.[33]
In the 1920s Edit Keynes had completed his A Treatise on Probability before the war but published it in 1921.[33] The work was a notable contribution to the philosophical and mathematical underpinnings of probability theory, championing the important view that probabilities were no more or less than truth values intermediate between simple truth and falsity. Keynes developed the first upper-lower probabilistic interval approach to probability in chapters 15 and 17 of this book, as well as having developed the first decision weight approach with his conventional coefficient of risk and weight, c, in chapter 26. In addition to his academic work, the 1920s saw Keynes active as a journalist selling his work internationally and working in London as a financial consultant. In 1924 Keynes wrote an obituary for his former tutorAlfred Marshall which Joseph Schumpeter called "the most brilliant life of a man of science I have ever read."[37]Marshall's widow was "entranced" by the memorial, while Lytton Strachey rated it as one of Keynes's "best works".[33]
In 1922 Keynes continued to advocate reduction of German reparations with A Revision of the Treaty.[33] He attacked the post-World War I deflation policies with A Tract on Monetary Reform in 1923[33] '' a trenchant argument that countries should target stability of domestic prices, avoiding deflation even at the cost of allowing their currency to depreciate. Britain suffered from high unemployment through most of the 1920s, leading Keynes to recommend the depreciation of sterling to boost jobs by making British exports more affordable. From 1924 he was also advocating a fiscal response, where the government could create jobs by spending on public works.[33] During the 1920s Keynes's pro stimulus views had only limited effect on policy makers and mainstream academic opinion '' according to Hyman Minsky one reason was that at this time his theoretical justification was "muddled".[25] The Tract had also called for an end to the gold standard. Keynes advised it was no longer a net benefit for countries such as Britain to participate in the gold standard, as it ran counter to the need for domestic policy autonomy. It could force countries to pursue deflationary policies at exactly the time when expansionary measures were called for to address rising unemployment. The Treasury and Bank of England were still in favor of the gold standard and in 1925 they were able to convince the then Chancellor Winston Churchill to re-establish it, which had a depressing effect on British industry. Keynes responded by writing The Economic Consequences of Mr. Churchill and continued to argue against the gold standard until Britain finally abandoned it in 1931.[33]
During the Great Depression Edit Keynes had begun a theoretical work to examine the relationship between unemployment, money, and prices back in the 1920s.[38] The work, Treatise on Money, was published in 1930 in two volumes. A central idea of the work was that if the amount of money being saved exceeds the amount being invested '' which can happen if interest rates are too high '' then unemployment will rise. This is in part a result of people not wanting to spend too high a proportion of what employers payout, making it difficult, in aggregate, for employers to make a profit. Another key theme of the book is the unreliability of financial indices for representing an accurate '' or indeed meaningful '' indication of general shifts in purchasing power of currencies over time. In particular, he criticized the justification of Britain's return to the gold standard in 1925 at pre-war valuation by reference to the wholesale price index. He argued that the index understated the effects of changes in the costs of services and labor.
Keynes was deeply critical of the British government's austerity measures during the Great Depression. He believed that budget deficits during recessions were a good thing and a natural product of an economic slump. He wrote, "For Government borrowing of one kind or another is nature's remedy, so to speak, for preventing business losses from being, in so severe a slump as the present one, so great as to bring production altogether to a standstill."[39]
At the height of the Great Depression, in 1933, Keynes published The Means to Prosperity, which contained specific policy recommendations for tackling unemployment in a global recession, chiefly counter-cyclical public spending. The Means to Prosperity contains one of the first mentions of the multiplier effect. While it was addressed chiefly to the British Government, it also contained advice for other nations affected by the global recession. A copy was sent to the newly elected President Franklin D. Roosevelt and other world leaders. The work was taken seriously by both the American and British governments, and according to Robert Skidelsky, helped pave the way for the later acceptance of Keynesian ideas, though it had little immediate practical influence. In the 1933 London Economic Conference opinions remained too diverse for a unified course of action to be agreed upon.[40]
Keynesian-like policies were adopted by Sweden and Germany, but Sweden was seen as too small to command much attention, and Keynes was deliberately silent about the successful efforts of Germany as he was dismayed by their imperialist ambitions and their treatment of Jews.[40] Apart from Great Britain, Keynes's attention was primarily focused on the United States. In 1931, he received considerable support for his views on counter-cyclical public spending in Chicago, then America's foremost center for economic views alternative to the mainstream.[25][40] However, orthodox economic opinion remained generally hostile regarding fiscal intervention to mitigate the depression, until just before the outbreak of war.[25] In late 1933 Keynes was persuaded by Felix Frankfurter to address President Roosevelt directly, which he did by letters and face to face in 1934, after which the two men spoke highly of each other.[40] However, according to Skidelsky, the consensus is that Keynes's efforts only began to have a more than marginal influence on US economic policy after 1939.[40]
Keynes's magnum opus, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money was published in 1936[41]. It was researched and indexed by one of Keynes's favorite students, later the economist David Bensusan-Butt.[42] The work served as a theoretical justification for the interventionist policies Keynes favoured for tackling a recession. The General Theory challenged the earlier neoclassical economic paradigm, which had held that provided it was unfettered by government interference, the market would naturally establish full employment equilibrium. In doing so Keynes was partly setting himself against his former teachers Marshall and Pigou. Keynes believed the classical theory was a "special case" that applied only to the particular conditions present in the 19th century, his theory being the general one. Classical economists had believed in Say's law, which, simply put, states that "supply creates its demand", and that in a free market workers would always be willing to lower their wages to a level where employers could profitably offer them jobs. An innovation from Keynes was the concept of price stickiness '' the recognition that in reality workers often refuse to lower their wage demands even in cases where a classical economist might argue it is rational for them to do so. Due in part to price stickiness, it was established that the interaction of "aggregate demand" and "aggregate supply" may lead to stable unemployment equilibria '' and in those cases, it is the state, not the market, that economies must depend on for their salvation.
The General Theory argues that demand, not supply, is the key variable governing the overall level of economic activity. Aggregate demand, which equals total un-hoarded income in a society, is defined by the sum of consumption and investment. In a state of unemployment and unused production capacity, one can only enhance employment and total income by first increasing expenditures for either consumption or investment. Without government intervention to increase expenditure, an economy can remain trapped in a low employment equilibrium '' the demonstration of this possibility has been described as the revolutionary formal achievement of the work.[43]The book advocated activist economic policy by government to stimulate demand in times of high unemployment, for example by spending on public works. "Let us be up and doing, using our idle resources to increase our wealth," he wrote in 1928. "With men and plants unemployed, it is ridiculous to say that we cannot afford these new developments. It is precise with these plants and these men that we shall afford them."[39]
The General Theory is often viewed as the foundation of modern macroeconomics. Few senior American economists agreed with Keynes through most of the 1930s.[44]Yet his ideas were soon to achieve widespread acceptance, with eminent American professors such as Alvin Hansen agreeing with the General Theory before the outbreak of World War II.[45][46][47]
Keynes himself had only limited participation in the theoretical debates that followed the publication of the General Theory as he suffered a heart attack in 1937, requiring him to take long periods of rest. Among others, Hyman Minsky and Post-Keynesian economists have argued that as result, Keynes's ideas were diluted by those keen to compromise with classical economists or to render his concepts with mathematical models like the IS''LM model (which, they argue, distort Keynes's ideas).[25][47] Keynes began to recover in 1939, but for the rest of his life his professional energies were largely directed towards the practical side of economics '' the problems of ensuring optimum allocation of resources for the war efforts, post-war negotiations with America, and the new international financial order that was presented at the Bretton Woods Conference.
In the General Theory and later, Keynes responded to the socialists who argued, especially during the Great Depression of the 1930s, that capitalism caused war. He argued that if capitalism were managed domestically and internationally (with coordinated international Keynesian policies, an international monetary system that didn't put the interests of countries against each other, and a high degree of freedom of trade), then this system of managed capitalism could promote peace rather than conflict between countries. His plans during World War II for post-war international economic institutions and policies (which contributed to the creation at Bretton Woods of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and later to the creation of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and eventually the World Trade Organization) were aimed to give effect to this vision.[48]
Although Keynes has been widely criticized '' especially by members of the Chicago school of economics '' for advocating irresponsible government spending financed by borrowing, in fact he was a firm believer in balanced budgets and regarded the proposals for programs of public works during the Great Depression as an exceptional measure to meet the needs of exceptional circumstances.[49]
Second World War Edit During the Second World War, Keynes argued in How to Pay for the War, published in 1940, that the war effort should be largely financed by higher taxation and especially by compulsory saving (essentially workers lending money to the government), rather than deficit spending, in order to avoid inflation. Compulsory saving would act to dampen domestic demand, assist in channeling additional output towards the war efforts, would be fairer than punitive taxation and would have the advantage of helping to avoid a post-war slump by boosting demand once workers were allowed to withdraw their savings. In September 1941 he was proposed to fill a vacancy in the Court of Directors of the Bank of England, and subsequently carried out a full term from the following April.[50] In June 1942, Keynes was rewarded for his service with a hereditary peerage in the King's Birthday Honours.[51] On 7 July his title was gazetted as "Baron Keynes, of Tilton, in the County of Sussex" and he took his seat in the House of Lords on the Liberal Party benches.[52]
As the Allied victory began to look certain, Keynes was heavily involved, as leader of the British delegation and chairman of the World Bank commission, in the mid-1944 negotiations that established the Bretton Woods system. The Keynes plan, concerning an international clearing-union, argued for a radical system for the management of currencies. He proposed the creation of a common world unit of currency, the bancor, and new global institutions '' a world central bank and the International Clearing Union. Keynes envisaged these institutions managing an international trade and payments system with strong incentives for countries to avoid substantial trade deficits or surpluses.[53] The USA's greater negotiating strength, however, meant that the outcomes accorded more closely to the more conservative plans of Harry Dexter White. According to US economist J. Bradford DeLong, on almost every point where he was overruled by the Americans, Keynes was later proved correct by events.[54]
The two new institutions, later known as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), were founded as a compromise that primarily reflected the American vision. There would be no incentives for states to avoid a large trade surplus; instead, the burden for correcting a trade imbalance would continue to fall only on the deficit countries, which Keynes had argued were least able to address the problem without inflicting economic hardship on their populations. Yet, Keynes was still pleased when accepting the final agreement, saying that if the institutions stayed true to their founding principles, "the brotherhood of man will have become more than a phrase."[55][56]
Postwar Edit After the war, Keynes continued to represent the United Kingdom in international negotiations despite his deteriorating health. He succeeded in obtaining preferential terms from the United States for new and outstanding debts to facilitate the rebuilding of the British economy.[57]
Just before his death in 1946, Keynes told Henry Clay, a professor of social economics and advisor to the Bank of England,[58] of his hopes that Adam Smith's "invisible hand" could help Britain out of the economic hole it was in: "I find myself more and more relying for a solution of our problems on the invisible hand which I tried to eject from economic thinking twenty years ago."[59]
Legacy Edit Keynesian ascendancy 1939''79 Edit From the end of the Great Depression to the mid-1970s, Keynes provided the main inspiration for economic policymakers in Europe, America and much of the rest of the world.[47] While economists and policymakers had become increasingly won over to Keynes's way of thinking in the mid and late 1930s, it was only after the outbreak of World War II that governments started to borrow money for spending on a scale sufficient to eliminate unemployment. According to the economist John Kenneth Galbraith (then a US government official charged with controlling inflation), in the rebound of the economy from wartime spending, "one could not have had a better demonstration of the Keynesian ideas."[60]
The Keynesian Revolution was associated with the rise of modern liberalism in the West during the post-war period.[61] Keynesian ideas became so popular that some scholars point to Keynes as representing the ideals of modern liberalism, as Adam Smith represented the ideals of classical liberalism.[62] After the war, Winston Churchill attempted to check the rise of Keynesian policy-making in the United Kingdom and used rhetoric critical of the mixed economy in his 1945 election campaign. Despite his popularity as a war hero, Churchill suffered a landslide defeat to Clement Attlee whose government's economic policy continued to be influenced by Keynes's ideas.[60]
Neo-Keynesian economics Edit In the late 1930s and 1940s, economists (notably John Hicks, Franco Modigliani, and Paul Samuelson) attempted to interpret and formalise Keynes's writings in terms of formal mathematical models. In what had become known as the neoclassical synthesis, they combined Keynesian analysis with neoclassical economics to produce neo-Keynesian economics, which came to dominate mainstream macroeconomic thought for the next 40 years.
By the 1950s, Keynesian policies were adopted by almost the entire developed world and similar measures for a mixed economy were used by many developing nations. By then, Keynes's views on the economy had become mainstream in the world's universities. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the developed and emerging free capitalist economies enjoyed exceptionally high growth and low unemployment.[63][64] Professor Gordon Fletcher has written that the 1950s and 1960s, when Keynes's influence was at its peak, appear in retrospect as a golden age of capitalism.[47]
In late 1965 Time magazine ran a cover article with a title comment from Milton Friedman (later echoed by U.S. President Richard Nixon), "We are all Keynesians now". The article described the exceptionally favourable economic conditions then prevailing, and reported that "Washington's economic managers scaled these heights by their adherence to Keynes's central theme: the modern capitalist economy does not automatically work at top efficiency, but can be raised to that level by the intervention and influence of the government." The article also states that Keynes was one of the three most important economists who ever lived, and that his General Theory was more influential than the magna opera of other famous economists, like Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations.[65]
Keynesian economics out of favour 1979''2007 Edit Keynesian economics were officially discarded by the British Government in 1979, but forces had begun to gather against Keynes's ideas over 30 years earlier. Friedrich Hayek had formed the Mont Pelerin Society in 1947, with the explicit