Art for episode 1280

1280: Deplatformed Duo

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

3h 15m
September 24th, 2020
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Executive Producers: Sir Mittens of Falls City, Sir Dirt Farmer, Joe, Bill Sola, Sir Jimmy-Vee, Sir Cal of Lavender Blossoms, Sir Luca of Switzerland, Dame Anonymous of Colonial Place

Associate Executive Producers: Noah Watenmaker aka Sir Quoia of the Sierra Batholith, Sir Micky Keck, Allison Flesch, David Wright, Sir JoeBwan of Weekapaug, Anonymous

Cover Artist: Darren O'Neill

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Woodstock
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M5M is dying
The virtual Emmy Awards hit an all-time ratings low with 6.1 million viewers
Mon, 21 Sep 2020 22:04
(C) Provided by The LA Times "Schitt's Creek" stars Eugene Levy, left, and Dan Levy accept an Emmy on Sunday. (Associated Press ) Despite a history-making night for the comedy "Schitt's Creek," the 72nd Emmy Awards continued its ratings slide of recent years, hitting a new all-time low of 6.1 million viewers Sunday.
The three-hour ceremony hosted by Jimmy Kimmel on ABC fell below the previous record low of 6.9 million viewers set last year according to Nielsen data. Fox carried the 2019 ceremony.
The program was the first major entertainment industry awards show to be held virtually, as safety precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus forced Kimmel to host in an empty theater (he called them the "pand-Emmys"). The health crisis was acknowledged throughout the night as essential workers located around the country were enlisted as presenters for some of the awards.
The recipients of the Television Academy's honors for creativity in the medium over the past year accepted from remote locations, either at their homes or in hotel suites.
The Emmy Awards telecast was up against a competitive "Sunday Night Football" contest on NBC and a dramatic NBA Western Conference Finals game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets on TNT.
While the additional competition and unusual circumstances for the ceremony may have played a role in the ratings decline, the audience levels for the Emmys telecast '-- watched by 17.7 million viewers in 2013 '-- have been on a downward trend in recent years.
As streaming services have become the preferred viewing platform for viewers, the Emmy Awards have honored a larger number of niche appeal programs as outlets such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu offer more creative freedom to show producers.
But the other factor is the diminished number of mass-appeal shows being honored. The last big hit that was also winning Emmy honors was HBO's "Game of Thrones," which ended its run last year.
''Schitt's Creek'' was the big winner on Sunday, the first series in history to sweep all seven major prize categories. The Canadian TV import about a formerly wealthy family forced to move to a podunk had a cult following during its six-season run in the U.S. on the ViacomCBS-owned cable channel Pop. The program's profile has risen since it became available on Netflix.
HBO's "Succession," the darkly comic drama about a family-controlled media company, also scored big on Sunday. It earned a total of nine trophies, including actor in a drama for Jeremy Strong and outstanding drama series.
Every entertainment industry awards show has seen audience levels drop as younger viewers are comfortable with streaming clips of the programs online instead of sitting through a three-hour telecast. The Academy Awards also hit an all-time low earlier this year with 23.6 million viewers. And ratings for the Tony Awards dipped in 2019 when it scored 5.46 million viewers on CBS, another new audience low.
Broadcast networks ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox annually rotate the broadcast of the Emmy Awards, paying $9 million a year for those rights, but are seeing virtually no promotional benefit. Not a single broadcast network show received an award during the telecast Sunday's ceremony.
Low ratings on the Emmy awards: this is actually the nexus of a huge industry that comes together fashion advertising gossip lots of online tags and Memes etc. All of that is lost and then all is left is an empty shell of the self-congratulatory bullshit that is Hollywood.
Award shows are no longer relevant because there’s so many niche categories it’s impossible to see what is the best of anything anymore
Let Us Out!
Thermo Fisher assay 45 cycles proof
School 'cases' and quarantine misleading headlines from Dame Jamie in CT.
https://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Trumbull-school-closes-for-2-weeks-as-70-people-15572956.php?src=ctphpcp&fbclid=IwAR17-uuJklLTmoiri59GChSmyXlr_5hd3FaJNU9qBK4pDqhbanuPDG7-cpw
Last night it was on the 11pm News
4 test positive- 55 in headline
https://www.wtnh.com/community/back-to-school/55-new-canaan-high-school-students-under-quarantine-due-to-covid-19-cases/
When I searched 'student tests positive, quarantine', more headlines showed up with the same scare tactics:
1 positive - 19 in headline
https://www.wtnh.com/community/back-to-school/north-branford-high-school-student-tests-positive-for-coronavirus-19-students-now-under-quarantine/
3 test positive - 58 in the headline
https://www.wbur.org/edify/2020/09/21/uri-greek-life-quarantine
1 positive - Class AND Teacher in headline
https://www.syracuse.com/education/2020/09/nedrow-kindergarten-class-and-teacher-are-quarantined-after-student-tests-positive-for-coronavirus.html
1 positive- 50 in headline
https://www.fox21news.com/health/coronavirus/reopening-schools/covid-fatigue-as-a-second-student-tests-positive-in-d-20-50-in-quarantine/
1 positive - 24 in headline
https://www.kvrr.com/2020/09/01/24-kindergarten-students-quarantined-in-thompson-after-student-tests-positive-for-covid-19/
3 cases but 139 quarantined
https://www.mlive.com/news/flint/2020/09/why-davison-schools-have-had-139-quarantined-but-only-3-positive-coronavirus-cases.html
4 positive- 150 quarantined
https://www.hometownstations.com/news/150-wapakoneta-city-schools-students-quarantined-after-more-positive-cases/article_4a6ff4e6-ebd3-11ea-a60e-338e75e8534c.html
Dutch BOTG Amsterdam report
Een boots on the ground update over covid in amsterdam en het doorgaande leven. Het wordt naar mijn idee totaal verkeerd gepresenteerd in de media.
In de media, NOS en Nederlandse Blauwe vinkjes twitteraars is er weer volop paniek over een tweede golf. Met name is de roep om paniek en actie in Amsterdam het hardst omdat hier de meeste infecties zijn.
Het aantal doden en opnames worden niet meer vernoemd omdat het niet genoeg oploopt om de bevolking bang te maken. Dit valt veel mensen op. Waardoor de urgentie van actie onder bevolking laag is.Zelf ben ik een millennial van de zelfde leeftijd als je dochter en kon me erg relateren met de opmerking die je maakte over het rouwen dat het leven van vroeger niet meer bestaat. En nog wel even duurt voordat dit terug komt.
Zeker nu de horeca en culture sector amper meer bestaat. Onder andere regels voor horeca zijn namelijk weer aangepast. (max 50 en sluiten om 01:00) En de parken zijn nu 's nachts gesloten voor publiek omdat er teveel "illegale" feesten waren.
Ik ben zelf ook bij enkele feesten geweest. Het had een grote jaren '90 nostalgie gevoel. Telefoons werden afgeplakt waardoor ze niet gebruikt konden worden. Dit resulteerde in OTG party's. Hierdoor realiseerde andere mede-millennials zich hoeveel een smartphone het leven verpest en dat feesten zonder telefoon resulteert in betere gesprekken en je veel meer mensen leert kennen. Hopelijk zet deze trend na covid door. Is het dan toch een "porthole" naar een nieuwe wereld?
Van mijn vrienden van oud tot jong in Amsterdam, maakt zich meer druk om corona en in de kenmerkende Nederlandse stijl wordt gedaan alsof iedereen zich aan de regels houdt en het goed vindt. Ze zullen dit ook zeggen als er naar gevraagd wordt. Maar zodra de gordijnen gesloten zijn, is er een onder andere een levendige circuit van huisfeesten ontstaan. Dit wordt gedoogd door iedereen en doet volop mee.
Wat wel ironisch is dat die feesten voornamelijk georganiseerd door zeer linkse mensen. Dezelfde groep die normaal extreem pro-overheid is, realiseert zich dat de overheid er toch niet voor hun is. Veel van die mensen uit die groep zijn namelijk werkzaam als zelfstandige in de event en culturele sector en hebben geen werk meer maar krijgen nu praktisch niets van ondersteuning van hun geliefde overheid. De corona-crisis is een hele grote 'red-pill' voor die groep millenials.
Vandaag was er een grote actie van bekende Nederlanders en influencers op instagram (accounts met meer dan 1mln volgers) met de hashtag. #ikdoenietmeermee en de slogan: "alleen samen krijgen we de overheid onder controle".
Texas GOP Urges Abbott to 'Open Texas Now' | Texas Scorecard
Thu, 24 Sep 2020 11:22
''No Exceptions, No Delays'.... Open Texas NOW.''
That's the call to action of a resolution passed nearly unanimously by the Republican Party of Texas executive committee, urging Gov. Greg Abbott to ''immediately rescind all COVID-related mandates, closures, and restrictions'' and reopen the state.
Consisting of one man and one woman from each of the state's 31 senate districts, the SREC is, essentially, the governing body of the Republican Party of Texas, meeting several times a year to do the party's business, such as organizing convention and passing resolutions.
Rolando Garcia, the newly elected committeeman for Senate District 15 in Houston who authored the ''Open Texas Now'' resolution, says he was motivated by Abbott's announcement last week, which allowed some businesses to open at 75 percent capacity while others were forced to remain closed.
''[Abbott's] announcement last week about another incremental increase in capacity was the last straw. It is so blindingly obvious to everyone that the lockdowns and restrictions were a mistake and devastated the lives of so many people,'' Garcia told Texas Scorecard .
''I really hoped that last week's announcement would finally put an end to this madness. Instead, we just got more games about 50 or 75 percent capacity '... for some businesses '... in some regions. It's such a farce at this point and totally disconnected from scientific or public health considerations. It was clear that the state party had to take a stand, so I authored and submitted that resolution.''
The resolution passed overwhelmingly during the committee's meeting in Houston this past weekend, with 54 members in favor and just four voting against.
''If we were voting based on what we hear from the grassroots, it would've passed with every single vote,'' Garcia added.
Garcia also stressed that the goal of the resolution was not to ''punish'' Abbott, but rather to urge a swift course correction.
''For a state party to publicly disagree with a sitting governor of the same party is not something any of us take lightly, and the instinct of loyalty to leadership is usually pretty strong among party activists. So for this to happen underscores the depth of the anger and frustration out there,'' said Garcia.
The full resolution, as passed by the State Republican Executive Committee, reads as follows:
No Exceptions, No Delays'....Open Texas NOW
''Whereas, Texans have been under emergency closures, lockdowns, mandates, and restrictions for SIX MONTHS;
''Whereas, state and local governments have exercised egregious overreach in misguided attempts to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 disease;
''Whereas, state and local government overreach has infringed on our Constitutional liberties '' including our rights to property and to peaceably assemble;
''Whereas, this egregious government overreach has resulted in unthinkable depredations upon the people of Texas, including left millions unemployed, countless businesses bankrupt or on the verge of bankruptcy, nursing home residents dying alone and isolated, lives ruined and dreams destroyed;
''Whereas, COVID-19 can pose a serious risk, in particular to some at-risk groups, and requires Texans to act responsibly for the health of themselves and their loved ones;
''Whereas, businesses and customers are fully capable of operating freely while undertaking reasonable precautions without top-down, government mandates;
''Whereas, every day that closures and restrictions continue, they wreak havoc on the livelihoods and liberties of Texans,
''Therefore be it resolved, the Republican Party of Texas calls on Gov. Greg Abbott to immediately rescind all COVID-related mandates, closures, and restrictions and to open Texas NOW. A copy of this resolution shall be sent by the Republican Party of Texas to the Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Republican State Senators, and Republican State Representatives.''
Coronavirus live updates: CDC acknowledges coronavirus often spreads through aerosols - The Washington Post
Mon, 21 Sep 2020 11:06
Please NoteThe Washington Post is providing this important information about the coronavirus for free. For more free coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, sign up for our Coronavirus Updates newsletter where all stories are free to read.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now officially acknowledges what many medical experts have long argued: The novel coronavirus often spreads through aerosols. Updated guidance on the agency's website states that the virus most commonly spreads when people come into close contact and such particles are ''inhaled into the nose, mouth, airways, and lungs.''
Here are some significant developments:
The global tally of people who have died of the coronavirus is rapidly approaching 1 million, while the United States will soon reach 200,000 fatalities. At least 30.9 million cases have been reported worldwide, with the United States contributing more than 6.7 million infections to that count. Britain's chief medical officer warned that the country is heading in the wrong direction, as the health secretary said the government may be forced to reimpose new restrictions if the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise. Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.) said Sunday that she tested positive for the coronavirus after visiting three facilities in an attempt to get a diagnosis. ''My experience and the experience of my staff underscore the need for a nat'l testing strategy with a coherent way to receive speedy, accurate results,'' she wrote on Twitter. ''This level of anxiety and uncertainty is untenable.'' Nearly 11,000 people have been exposed to the coronavirus on flights, according to the CDC, but due to incomplete contact tracing information, the agency has not been able to confirm any cases where transmission occurred. More than 4,500 students, teachers and staff at Texas schools have tested positive for the coronavirus since the school year began, according to the Dallas Morning News. The Emmy Awards took place with no live audience Sunday night, and some honorees wore their pajamas to the virtual ''red carpet.'' Sign up for our coronavirus newsletter | Mapping the spread of the coronavirus: Across the U.S. | Worldwide | Vaccine tracker | Where states reopened and cases spiked | Has someone close to you died of covid-19? Share your story with The Washington Post.
September 21, 2020 at 6:59 AM EDT
As infections ebb, Japan hopes it has cracked the covid code on coexisting with the virusTOKYO '-- There are no laws telling you what to do, but everyone knows the rules. Wear your mask, keep your distance, sanitize your hands, have your temperature checked. Don't touch, don't shout. Don't cheer at soccer matches, and don't scream on amusement park rides. (But if you catch the virus, it just might have been your fault.)
It may sound like a dystopian vision of a plague-infected future from the latest Netflix series, but it also happens to be Japan's solution to one of the most pressing problems facing the world today '-- how to coexist with the novel coronavirus.
With infections falling here even as they rise worldwide, Japan thinks it might have finally cracked the coronavirus code.
Read the full story here.
By Simon Denyer
September 21, 2020 at 6:30 AM EDT
The CDC says covid-19 is airborne and spread by aerosols, warns of badly ventilated spacesThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's new guidance points to the important of good ventilation indoors. (Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg News)
For months, scientists and public health experts have warned of mounting evidence that the novel coronavirus is airborne, transmitted through tiny droplets called aerosols that linger in the air much longer than the larger globs that come from coughing or sneezing.
Now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agrees. The CDC recently changed its official guidance to note that aerosols are ''thought to be the main way the virus spreads'' and to warn that badly ventilated indoor spaces are particularly dangerous.
''There is growing evidence that droplets and airborne particles can remain suspended in the air and be breathed in by others, and travel distances beyond 6 feet (for example, during choir practice, in restaurants, or in fitness classes),'' the agency stated.
While the CDC has not called for any new action to address the airborne threat of a virus that has now killed nearly 200,000 Americans, experts said the change should help to shift policy and public behavior.
Read the full story here.
By Tim Elfrink
September 21, 2020 at 6:22 AM EDT
Madrid's new restrictions appear to disproportionately target low income areas, sparking protestsProtesters wearing protective masks shout slogans during a demonstration, in the Vallecas neighborhood, against the measures imposed by the Madrid regional government on Sunday. (Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)
Around 850,000 Madrid residents living in some of the capital region's poorest areas were under new restrictions to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus on Monday, one day after residents there called the measures unfair and a discriminatory move.
The new restrictions had been announced by regional President Isabel D­az Ayuso on Friday.
Starting Monday, residents in 37 parts of the capital and surrounding area are only allowed to leave their neighborhoods to go to work or school or for medical reasons.
Business hours and the size of groups allowed to meet are also restricted.
Each of the affected areas '-- which are mostly located in comparably poor parts of the capital, with many of them being home to migrant communities '-- had crossed a threshold of 1,000 cases per 100,000 residents within two weeks.
Local officials said they had relied on epidemiological models to select the areas. The El Pais newspaper reported that the 37 areas account for 25 percent of all coronavirus cases in the region, whereas less than 20 percent of the regional population lives there.
But residents who took to the streets across a dozen affected areas over the weekend blamed the conservative regional government for failing to adequately fund hospitals and to prepare for a second wave of coronavirus infections, even though Madrid was one of the world's worst-hit cities in the spring.
Ayuso had also singled out ''the way of life of immigrants in Madrid'' for the recent surge in infections, further aggravating concerns among residents who believe the latest restrictions are discriminatory.
''Instead of protecting and looking after the most vulnerable people in our city and seeing to it that they didn't suffer the highest infection rates, they have instead opted for stigmatization, exclusion and territorial discrimination,'' a protest manifesto read, according to the Guardian.
By Rick Noack
September 21, 2020 at 5:52 AM EDT
Philippine health workers allowed to travel abroad once moreFilipino nurse Marciana Erispe tends to a mother inside the maternity ward of the government-run Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital in Manila, Sept. 18, 2020. (Eloisa Lopez/Reuters)
MANILA '-- President Rodrigo Duterte has allowed more than a thousand health workers to leave for work abroad, in an exception to a controversial ban meant to keep medical professionals in the Philippines.
''The president has listened to the nurses' concerns,'' presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in a briefing on Monday. ''Health professionals with complete documentation as of August 31, 2020, you have been allowed to leave for work overseas.''
Citing numbers from the Labor Department, Roque said around 1,500 nurses and other health professionals stood to benefit.
The pandemic has badly hit the Philippines' millions-strong overseas workforce, whose remittances amounted to $33.5 billion last year. About 5 percent of over 436,000 new hires deployed abroad in 2019 were health workers, according to data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.
In April, the country temporarily banned the deployment of health workers overseas '-- but later eased it, allowing those with existing contracts to leave. The government reasoned that more medical professionals were needed to fight the pandemic locally.
Health workers in the country have complained about being overworked and underpaid. In a Reuters report last week, those appealing to the government to ease the ban called themselves ''priso-nurses'' because they felt imprisoned.
Filipino Nurses United, an organization advocating for nurses' welfare, said the development was a ''partial victory'' '-- but maintained the government had to increase the salaries and benefits of nurses both in the public and private sector.
Filipino Nurses United ''holds on to its appeal for the government to totally lift the deployment ban for all health-care workers,'' it said in a statement. ''Because if not, they are violating the basic human right of nurses for survival.''
As of Monday, the Philippines had recorded more than 290,000 covid-19 cases and almost 5,000 deaths.
By Regine Cabato
September 21, 2020 at 5:22 AM EDT
Taj Mahal reopens to tourists despite surging caseloads in IndiaA small number of tourists visit the newly reopened Taj Mahal monument on Monday. (Pawan Sharma/AP)
The Taj Mahal reopened to tourists Monday as India continued to grapple with alarmingly high numbers of new coronavirus infections, with nearly 87,000 cases reported in the past 24 hours alone, according to the country's Health Ministry.
India currently has the second-highest tally of coronavirus cases worldwide, with more than 5.4 million total infections, and may outpace the United States before long. But authorities have resisted a return to lockdown restrictions, fearing the same kind of economic catastrophe that the country experienced in the spring.
The Taj Mahal shut its doors in March and did not reopen until Monday, the longest it has ever remained closed, according to the BBC. As a safety precaution, access to the monument will be limited to 5,000 visitors per day, a sharp decline from the 70,000 or more tourists who often visited in a single day during the pre-pandemic era. Tickets are being sold online only, and visitors are required to have their temperatures taken, wear masks and adhere to social distancing protocols. Selfies are allowed, but group pictures are banned.
Only about 300 tickets to the world-renowned mausoleum were purchased on Monday, according to Reuters. One of the first visitors to show up told reporters that she had figured the first few days of reopening would be a safe time to visit, since there would be few crowds at first.
Constructed in the 17th century, the Taj Mahal last closed for a brief period when the region flooded in 1978, according to the BBC. War between India and Pakistan similarly triggered a shutdown of only a few days in 1971.
By Antonia Farzan
September 21, 2020 at 4:52 AM EDT
British official to warn country is 'heading in the wrong direction' Commuters ride on a London Underground train on the Central Line in London, U.K., on Friday. (Hollie Adams/Bloomberg)
The British government's chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, was set to warn on Monday that the country ''is heading in the wrong direction,'' as hospitalization rates and the number of daily new cases are surging.
A transcript of Whitty's remarks was obtained by Reuters and other news organizations ahead of a briefing that is set to take place later on Monday.
The warnings comes amid reports that the British government is considering the imposition of new restrictions in London or potentially across England to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. Those measures would likely differ from the lockdown imposed in spring, when many businesses and schools shut down entirely.
Seeking to avoid nationwide measures, Britain had in recent weeks imposed localized measures to counter a rise in new cases.
But indications are mounting that the strategy may be insufficient.
''We have a choice, and the choice is if everybody follows the rules '... then we can avoid further measures,'' Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the BBC on Sunday. ''But the alternative to that choice is that we will have to bring in more action. And we don't want to do that, but every single person has a part to play in this.''
The Labour opposition party called on the government to stop blaming British citizens for surging infections. Despite months of preparation since the first wave of the virus, the country's testing system appears to have approached or exceeded its capacity in some regions.
Britain has so far reported 41,688 deaths and almost 400,000 cases of the virus.
Over the summer, the number of daily new infections had dropped below 500 '-- the country now sees around eight times more daily infections.
Reports that the British government was pondering new measures, along with growing concern over outbreaks elsewhere in Europe, helped to send stocks tumbling on Monday, with London's FTSE 100 index down 2.7 percent. The pan-European STOXX 600 index had fallen 2 percent by 8 a.m. GMT.
By Rick Noack
September 21, 2020 at 4:52 AM EDT
New Zealand has successfully controlled resurgence of infections and will lift most restrictions, PM saysNew Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern addresses a news conference in Auckland on Sept. 21. (Greg Bowker/AP)
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday announced plans to lift coronavirus-related restrictions for most of the country, saying that the mystery outbreak that appeared in August appears to be largely under control.
Limits on large gatherings will remain in place for Auckland, the center of the outbreak that prompted a return to some lockdown restrictions last month. Currently, gatherings of more than 10 people are banned, but on Wednesday the maximum size will grow to 100, Ardern said. Within two weeks, all restrictions will be removed.
New Zealand ended its original nationwide lockdown in June, and lifted all restrictions while keeping an ongoing border closure in place. The country went more than 100 days with no instances of community transmission until the Auckland outbreak was detected.
Last month, amid the resurgence in cases, Auckland returned to a strict lockdown while residents of other parts of the country were told to wear masks when social distancing wasn't possible, and to stay home whenever possible. The restrictions are being removed in time for New Zealand's parliamentary election on Oct. 17, when Ardern will be up for reelection.
''Our actions collectively have managed to get the virus under control,'' Ardern told reporters on Monday, according to Reuters.
New Zealand has reported just 1,815 coronavirus infections and 25 fatalities to date, and the number of new cases reported each day has remained at fewer than 10 since the start of September.
By Antonia Farzan
September 21, 2020 at 4:22 AM EDT
Like running a country: What it meant to be a schools superintendent this summerAlexandria City Public Schools Superintendent Gregory C. Hutchings Jr. had a long, awful summer. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)
He was wearing one of his beloved bow ties, which was the only normal thing about the situation.
It was July 21. As had been the case all summer, Alexandria City Public Schools Superintendent Gregory C. Hutchings Jr. was on a Zoom call.
He was sitting in his dining room, which is what counted as his workplace these days. Long ago forced to abandon his spacious corner office '-- with views of green treetops, rippling as far as the eye could see '-- he had lately also been forced out of his wife's home office. The Zoom chatter gave her headaches, and Hutchings was on calls from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. most days. Sometimes on weekends, too.
''The big question this week,'' said Simma Reingold, a managing partner at Education Elements, the consulting firm Alexandria had hired to help plan the return to school, ''the question we need to answer is: Are both the hybrid and virtual model feasible? And which one do we offer to our community?''
Read the full story here.
By Hannah Natanson
September 21, 2020 at 3:52 AM EDT
Lake of the Ozarks' Bikefest draws thousands to coronavirus 'red zone'A large inflatable eagle greets fireworks customers near the Lake of the Ozarks in July. (Christopher Smitha for The Washington Post)
Large gatherings in Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks, which became nationally notorious for hosting crowded, mask-free pool parties over Memorial Day weekend, are once again putting public health officials on edge.
This time around, the event raising eyebrows is Bikefest, which typically draws upward of 100,000 bikers to the Ozarks region. Though it's not yet clear how many bikers attended this year's rally, which began Wednesday and wrapped up Sunday, the Kansas City Star estimated that the total was in the thousands.
Local and state officials largely did not require masks or social distancing for the rally or put any capacity limits on bars and restaurants. That has led experts to worry that the gathering could become another ''superspreader'' event like South Dakota's Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, especially since the counties around Lake of the Ozarks are considered a ''red zone'' by the White House coronavirus task force.
As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch noted, Bikefest attendees could enter a lottery for a Harley-Davidson motorcycle by collecting ''passport stamps'' showing that they'd visited 24 restaurants and bars. ''These events tend to draw many people into crowded spaces,'' Steve Edwards, chief executive of local health-care system CoxHealth, told the paper. ''It's especially worrisome if participants gather indoors at bars and restaurants, which have proven to be high-risk areas.''
While the much-maligned Memorial Day parties didn't seem to lead to a spike in infections, central Missouri now has a 19.3 percent positivity rate, nearly twice the statewide average. Meanwhile, the Ozarks region has witnessed one of its best summers on record, with some local officials attributing the surge in visitors to media attention. After Lake of the Ozarks appeared on TMZ, a businessman who owns vacation rentals in the area told the Star: ''We were getting calls from all over. That was the best publicity that money could never buy.''
By Antonia Farzan
September 21, 2020 at 3:22 AM EDT
Florida State football coach Mike Norvell tests positive for coronavirusFlorida State football coach Mike Norvell tested positive for the novel coronavirus and will miss the Seminoles' next game, the school announced Saturday.
The first-year coach said in a statement he tested positive Friday after negative tests in each of the previous two rounds this week. The ACC mandates at least three rounds of testing per week for each institution during the football season.
Norvell would be the first head coach in major college football to miss a game because of a reported positive test. Toledo's Jason Candle and UCLA's Chip Kelly tested positive in July and March, respectively.
Read the full story here.
By Gene Wang
September 21, 2020 at 2:52 AM EDT
More than 4,500 students, faculty and staff at Texas public schools have tested positive since returning to campusA custodial worker vacuums a classroom at an elementary school in Leander, Tex., on Friday. (Sergio Flores/Bloomberg News)
More than 4,500 students, faculty and staff have tested positive for the coronavirus since Texas reopened schools for in-person learning, according to data released by the state for the first time Thursday.
A dashboard from the Texas Education Agency and the Department of State Health Services shows that about 2,350 public school students tested positive from Aug. 2 to Sept. 13, and that the number of new infections has steadily increased as more and more schools reopened for the fall semester. Roughly 2,175 faculty and staff tested positive during that same period.
The number of students testing positive for the coronavirus equates to roughly 0.2 percent of those resuming in-person learning. According to the dashboard, more than 1.1 million students returned to classrooms during the first week of the fall semester '-- roughly a fifth of the 5.5 million students that Texas public schools typically educate each year. The state has not released data on how many of the school system's 800,078 employees have returned to campus in person.
Texas's data suggests that infections among both students and staff rose by 48 percent between the week ending Sept. 6 and the week ending Sept. 13, an increase that may be attributable to the fact that more schools are resuming in-person classes, according to the Dallas Morning News.
By Antonia Farzan
September 21, 2020 at 2:22 AM EDT
WNBA playoff game between Storm, Lynx postponed over coronavirus test resultsThe first game of the WNBA semifinal playoff series between the Seattle Storm and Minnesota Lynx was postponed Sunday because of what the league said were inconclusive coronavirus test results for the Storm.
Players have entered isolation and were undergoing additional tests, the league said, with a reworked schedule for the best-of-five series coming when more is known. The decision to postpone the game was made, the WNBA said, ''out of an abundance of caution.''
The decision came shortly before tipoff. WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said the league ''needed more testing and data. As soon as I talked to them, they were concerned about health and safety, and it wasn't about basketball at that point.''
Read the full story here.
By Cindy Boren
September 21, 2020 at 1:53 AM EDT
Rep. Jahana Hayes tests positive for coronavirus, highlights testing woesRep. Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.) appears at a March 2018 political convention. (Jim Shannon/Republican-American/AP)
Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.) became the latest member of Congress to test positive for the novel coronavirus on Sunday, joining roughly a dozen members of the House who have contracted the virus to date.
In a series of tweets, Hayes said that she was not experiencing any symptoms ''except for breathing issues which are being monitored.'' She took the opportunity to call for a robust national testing strategy, noting that she had attempted to get tested at two urgent care centers on Saturday without any success, and only learned she was infected with the virus after getting an appointment at a third facility on Sunday morning.
''Contrary to popular belief, [members of Congress] do not get tested regularly,'' Hayes wrote. ''In fact we are not mass tested at all in DC. Masks, social distancing & frequent floor cleanings are the precautions that are taken in the House. I have taken every possible precaution and still contracted coronavirus.''
In a separate statement on Saturday, Hayes said that she sought out testing after learning that she had been in close contact with a staff member who tested positive for the coronavirus. All employees at her Connecticut and Washington, D.C., offices would be working remotely until further notice, she said, and her staff had been told to quarantine and get tested.
On Sunday, Hayes posted a video of herself receiving a nasal swab test and said that she would self-isolate for 14 days.
''My experience and the experience of my staff underscore the need for a nat'l testing strategy with a coherent way to receive speedy, accurate results,'' she wrote. ''This level of anxiety and uncertainty is untenable.''
By Antonia Farzan
September 21, 2020 at 1:23 AM EDT
D.C. school leaders struggle to reopen buildings for small groups this month as staff reluctance persistsLaQuandra Nesbitt, center, director of the D.C. Health Department, joins Mayor Muriel E. Bowser, left, and Lewis D. Ferebee, public schools chancellor, in addressing how the city will respond to the pandemic on March 13. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)
D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) said she wants to bring small groups of students back into schools by the end of September, but with less than two weeks to go, her administration has no plan and has not reached an agreement with teachers to return to classrooms.
The mayor on Thursday referred questions about reopening buildings to the school system's chancellor, but he had almost no details. The school system, he said in a statement, is ''actively considering options'' for a return to in-person school and would prioritize serving students ''furthest from opportunity.''
Bowser has said she aims to offer all students the option to return to classrooms part time by Nov. 9 '-- when the second term begins '-- under what is commonly known as a hybrid schedule.
Read the full story here.
By Perry Stein
September 21, 2020 at 12:24 AM EDT
Nearly 11,000 people have been exposed to the coronavirus on flights, the CDC saysMelaku Gebermariam of Grupo Eulen uses an electrostatic spraying process before passengers board a Delta Air Lines flight at Reagan National Airport on July 22. (Evelyn Hockstein for The Washington Post)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention investigated 1,600 cases of people who flew while at risk of spreading the coronavirus, identifying nearly 11,000 people who potentially were exposed to the virus on flights.
Although the agency says some of those travelers subsequently fell ill, in the face of incomplete contact tracing information and a virus that incubates over several days, it has not been able to confirm a case of transmission on a plane.
That does not mean it hasn't happened, and recent scientific studies have documented likely cases of transmission on flights abroad.
Read the full story here.
By Ian Duncan
CDC retracts guidance the coronavirus can float beyond 6 feet indoors - Business Insider
Mon, 21 Sep 2020 17:33
This photo of a sneezer caught in the act was taken by Professor Marshall Jennison from MIT, and published in a 1941 research paper. Bettmann/Getty Images The CDC on Friday acknowledged, for the first time, that the coronavirus can 'remain suspended in the air.' The new CDC guidance was swiftly retracted late Monday morning, with the agency saying that "a draft version" had been "posted in error." This has happened several other times in recent months, as the White House takes issue with the agency's evidence-based recommendations. The new phrasing that CDC had issued lined up with what studies from around the world have suggested: the virus spreads easily between people through the air, even when they're not snuggled closely together. Being loud, by singing, shouting, talking, and spitting, can all help the virus spread better. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Six feet may not be enough to protect you from the coronavirus, especially indoors.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now walking back new guidance, posted on its website Friday, helping to explain this idea.
The agency had acknowledged, for the first time last week, that the coronavirus "can remain suspended in the air and be breathed in by others, and travel distances beyond six feet."
But the updated language was swiftly pulled off the federal agency's website on Monday, even though it is backed by a large and growing body of evidence: the coronavirus spreads well between people who are indoors, shouting, singing, karaoke-ing, eating, and breathing together, even at a distance.
Reached by email on Monday, a CDC spokesperson told Insider that a "draft version" of the new guidance had been "posted in error to the agency's official website," and that the official recommendations are still being updated.
But the guidance the CDC had laid out was nothing revolutionary, merely clarifying what many other scientists and public health experts have said in recent months.
The move feels similar to other retractions the CDC has made to its guidance in recent weeks and months in the face of pressure from the Trump administration. Last month the CDC watered down its coronavirus testing recommendations, a move widely condemned by public health professionals, which was eventually reversed. Before that, the CDC shelved detailed tips for how businesses and schools might reopen safely, during the pandemic, again after pressure from the administration.
"I don't think there has ever been a time before when people from the White House or HHS are dictating what goes on technical documents on the CDC website," former CDC director Tom Frieden previously told Insider. "This is dangerous."
The truth is that people, and the tiny particles that they breathe, shout, sing, sneeze, and cough out are the greatest viral threat right now. Not surfaces, and not contaminated groceries or mail.
As Americans head into the chillier fall and winter months, with the novel coronavirus still in circulation, it'll be an important point to remember: Being inside with this virus is dangerous, and wearing a mask when indoors is an important infection prevention technique.
The CDC's guidance may not be enough in every setting The CDC's previous guidance was updated last on June 16, 2020. This is the same guidance you see when you load the webpage now. CDC Since the CDC last updated its guidance on how the virus spreads, in June, scientists have learned much more about the best ways that the coronavirus hops from person to person, as the illness has continued to move around the world.
In a now-infamous March choir practice investigated in Washington state, 53 people got COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, from one sick choir member, even though they were all social distancing (but not wearing masks) during practice. Two people died.
In May, the CDC even issued "interim guidance for communities of faith" warning against group singing activities during the pandemic, but the guidance was yanked off the agency's website after only a day, because the White House hadn't approved the change.
In July, the World Health Organization, which like the CDC is constantly reviewing new scientific evidence about how the virus spreads, acknowledged that the virus may float beyond six feet, especially indoors.
The new guidance pressed that certain high-transmission indoor settings '-- "during choir practice, in restaurants, or in fitness classes" '-- have all shared some common features: they're crowded, poorly ventilated places where people have spent a "prolonged period of time" with infected individuals.
It's very similar to the CDC's updated information on 'How COVID-19 spreads.'
The CDC had said the virus 'can remain suspended in the air' and 'travel distances beyond 6 feet,' but the new recommendations have been yanked The new guidance, dated September 18, 2020. This guidance was pulled back off the CDC's webpage on Monday, September 21. CDC Being outdoors with others is better than hanging out inside. There's infinite room for the virus to dissipate and disappear after leaving a sick person's nose or mouth, as long as you're not getting too close.
It also helps to have a good ventilation system, as many hospitals and airplanes already do. Or, open a window.
"If ventilation is good, it is not a threat, because the virus is not in the air," professor Lidia Morawska, a leading aerosol scientist in Australia, recently told Insider.
Wherever you are, keeping a good measure of distance between yourself and others is still a good idea, but if you're indoors, or in a crowded space, keeping your mask on, staying quiet, and making interactions brief can all help mitigate the spread.
"It's not rocket science to work out what needs to be done to minimize the risk of infection transmission," Morawska said.
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Pseudonymous commentator who called pandemic a 'massive fraud' revealed to work for Fauci
Tue, 22 Sep 2020 13:44
| September 21, 2020 03:25 PM
A harsh critic of the federal government's response to the coronavirus has been revealed to work as a public affairs specialist for the government health agency headed by Dr. Anthony Fauci.
William Crews, who has been editing and writing for the conservative site RedState under the pseudonym ''streiff,'' has railed against his colleagues at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, accusing them of being part of an anti-Trump conspiracy. He has also called Fauci, the government's top infectious disease expert and the director of the NIAID, ''attention-grubbing'' and ''media-whoring,'' the Daily Beast reported on Monday.
Fauci and other government health officials, such as Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have spent months urging the public to take the threat of COVID-19 seriously, to take steps to mitigate the spread of the virus, and to prepare for a severe flu season that will compound the danger of infection.
[Click here for complete coronavirus coverage]
Crews has also slammed public health officials at other federal agencies for their roles in imposing economic restrictions to slow the spread of the virus, which he argued had no basis in science and were part of an effort by the Left to destroy the economy and hurt President Trump's reelection chances.
''I think we're at the point where it is safe to say that the entire Wuhan virus scare was nothing more or less than a massive fraud perpetrated upon the American people by 'experts' who were determined to fundamentally change the way the country lives and is organized and governed,'' Crews wrote in a June post on RedState.
The NIAID told the Daily Beast in a written statement that Crews will retire, adding, ''We have no further comments on this as it is a personnel matter.''
Faith in Quick Test Leads to Epidemic That Wasn't - The New York Times
Wed, 23 Sep 2020 14:42
Dr. Brooke Herndon of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, shown at left this month, was told last spring that she appeared to have whooping cough. Credit... Jon Gilbert Fox for The New York Times Dr. Brooke Herndon, an internist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, could not stop coughing. For two weeks starting in mid-April last year, she coughed, seemingly nonstop, followed by another week when she coughed sporadically, annoying, she said, everyone who worked with her.
Before long, Dr. Kathryn Kirkland, an infectious disease specialist at Dartmouth, had a chilling thought: Could she be seeing the start of a whooping cough epidemic? By late April, other health care workers at the hospital were coughing, and severe, intractable coughing is a whooping cough hallmark. And if it was whooping cough, the epidemic had to be contained immediately because the disease could be deadly to babies in the hospital and could lead to pneumonia in the frail and vulnerable adult patients there.
It was the start of a bizarre episode at the medical center: the story of the epidemic that wasn't.
For months, nearly everyone involved thought the medical center had had a huge whooping cough outbreak, with extensive ramifications. Nearly 1,000 health care workers at the hospital in Lebanon, N.H., were given a preliminary test and furloughed from work until their results were in; 142 people, including Dr. Herndon, were told they appeared to have the disease; and thousands were given antibiotics and a vaccine for protection. Hospital beds were taken out of commission, including some in intensive care.
Then, about eight months later, health care workers were dumbfounded to receive an e-mail message from the hospital administration informing them that the whole thing was a false alarm.
Not a single case of whooping cough was confirmed with the definitive test, growing the bacterium, Bordetella pertussis, in the laboratory. Instead, it appears the health care workers probably were afflicted with ordinary respiratory diseases like the common cold.
Now, as they look back on the episode, epidemiologists and infectious disease specialists say the problem was that they placed too much faith in a quick and highly sensitive molecular test that led them astray.
Infectious disease experts say such tests are coming into increasing use and may be the only way to get a quick answer in diagnosing diseases like whooping cough, Legionnaire's, bird flu, tuberculosis and SARS, and deciding whether an epidemic is under way.
There are no national data on pseudo-epidemics caused by an overreliance on such molecular tests, said Dr. Trish M. Perl, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins and past president of the Society of Health Care Epidemiologists of America. But, she said, pseudo-epidemics happen all the time. The Dartmouth case may have been one the largest, but it was by no means an exception, she said.
There was a similar whooping cough scare at Children's Hospital in Boston last fall that involved 36 adults and 2 children. Definitive tests, though, did not find pertussis.
''It's a problem; we know it's a problem,'' Dr. Perl said. ''My guess is that what happened at Dartmouth is going to become more common.''
Many of the new molecular tests are quick but technically demanding, and each laboratory may do them in its own way. These tests, called ''home brews,'' are not commercially available, and there are no good estimates of their error rates. But their very sensitivity makes false positives likely, and when hundreds or thousands of people are tested, as occurred at Dartmouth, false positives can make it seem like there is an epidemic.
''You're in a little bit of no man's land,'' with the new molecular tests, said Dr. Mark Perkins, an infectious disease specialist and chief scientific officer at the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics, a nonprofit foundation supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. ''All bets are off on exact performance.''
Of course, that leads to the question of why rely on them at all. ''At face value, obviously they shouldn't be doing it,'' Dr. Perl said. But, she said, often when answers are needed and an organism like the pertussis bacterium is finicky and hard to grow in a laboratory, ''you don't have great options.''
Waiting to see if the bacteria grow can take weeks, but the quick molecular test can be wrong. ''It's almost like you're trying to pick the least of two evils,'' Dr. Perl said.
At Dartmouth the decision was to use a test, P.C.R., for polymerase chain reaction. It is a molecular test that, until recently, was confined to molecular biology laboratories.
''That's kind of what's happening,'' said Dr. Kathryn Edwards, an infectious disease specialist and professor of pediatrics at Vanderbilt University. ''That's the reality out there. We are trying to figure out how to use methods that have been the purview of bench scientists.''
The Dartmouth whooping cough story shows what can ensue.
To say the episode was disruptive was an understatement, said Dr. Elizabeth Talbot, deputy state epidemiologist for the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.
''You cannot imagine,'' Dr. Talbot said. ''I had a feeling at the time that this gave us a shadow of a hint of what it might be like during a pandemic flu epidemic.''
Yet, epidemiologists say, one of the most troubling aspects of the pseudo-epidemic is that all the decisions seemed so sensible at the time.
Dr. Katrina Kretsinger, a medical epidemiologist at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who worked on the case along with her colleague Dr. Manisha Patel, does not fault the Dartmouth doctors.
''The issue was not that they overreacted or did anything inappropriate at all,'' Dr. Kretsinger said. Instead, it is that there is often is no way to decide early on whether an epidemic is under way.
Before the 1940s when a pertussis vaccine for children was introduced, whooping cough was a leading cause of death in young children. The vaccine led to an 80 percent drop in the disease's incidence, but did not completely eliminate it. That is because the vaccine's effectiveness wanes after about a decade, and although there is now a new vaccine for adolescents and adults, it is only starting to come into use. Whooping cough, Dr. Kretsinger said, is still a concern.
The disease got its name from its most salient feature: Patients may cough and cough and cough until they have to gasp for breath, making a sound like a whoop. The coughing can last so long that one of the common names for whooping cough was the 100-day cough, Dr. Talbot said.
But neither coughing long and hard nor even whooping is unique to pertussis infections, and many people with whooping cough have symptoms that like those of common cold: a runny nose or an ordinary cough.
''Almost everything about the clinical presentation of pertussis, especially early pertussis, is not very specific,'' Dr. Kirkland said.
That was the first problem in deciding whether there was an epidemic at Dartmouth.
The second was with P.C.R., the quick test to diagnose the disease, Dr. Kretsinger said.
With pertussis, she said, ''there are probably 100 different P.C.R. protocols and methods being used throughout the country,'' and it is unclear how often any of them are accurate. ''We have had a number of outbreaks where we believe that despite the presence of P.C.R.-positive results, the disease was not pertussis,'' Dr. Kretsinger added.
At Dartmouth, when the first suspect pertussis cases emerged and the P.C.R. test showed pertussis, doctors believed it. The results seem completely consistent with the patients' symptoms.
''That's how the whole thing got started,'' Dr. Kirkland said. Then the doctors decided to test people who did not have severe coughing.
''Because we had cases we thought were pertussis and because we had vulnerable patients at the hospital, we lowered our threshold,'' she said. Anyone who had a cough got a P.C.R. test, and so did anyone with a runny nose who worked with high-risk patients like infants.
''That's how we ended up with 134 suspect cases,'' Dr. Kirkland said. And that, she added, was why 1,445 health care workers ended up taking antibiotics and 4,524 health care workers at the hospital, or 72 percent of all the health care workers there, were immunized against whooping cough in a matter of days.
''If we had stopped there, I think we all would have agreed that we had had an outbreak of pertussis and that we had controlled it,'' Dr. Kirkland said.
But epidemiologists at the hospital and working for the States of New Hampshire and Vermont decided to take extra steps to confirm that what they were seeing really was pertussis.
The Dartmouth doctors sent samples from 27 patients they thought had pertussis to the state health departments and the Centers for Disease Control. There, scientists tried to grow the bacteria, a process that can take weeks. Finally, they had their answer: There was no pertussis in any of the samples.
''We thought, Well, that's odd,'' Dr. Kirkland said. ''Maybe it's the timing of the culturing, maybe it's a transport problem. Why don't we try serological testing? Certainly, after a pertussis infection, a person should develop antibodies to the bacteria.''
They could only get suitable blood samples from 39 patients '-- the others had gotten the vaccine which itself elicits pertussis antibodies. But when the Centers for Disease Control tested those 39 samples, its scientists reported that only one showed increases in antibody levels indicative of pertussis.
The disease center did additional tests too, including molecular tests to look for features of the pertussis bacteria. Its scientists also did additional P.C.R. tests on samples from 116 of the 134 people who were thought to have whooping cough. Only one P.C.R. was positive, but other tests did not show that that person was infected with pertussis bacteria. The disease center also interviewed patients in depth to see what their symptoms were and how they evolved.
''It was going on for months,'' Dr. Kirkland said. But in the end, the conclusion was clear: There was no pertussis epidemic.
''We were all somewhat surprised,'' Dr. Kirkland said, ''and we were left in a very frustrating situation about what to do when the next outbreak comes.''
Dr. Cathy A. Petti, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Utah, said the story had one clear lesson.
''The big message is that every lab is vulnerable to having false positives,'' Dr. Petti said. ''No single test result is absolute and that is even more important with a test result based on P.C.R.''
As for Dr. Herndon, though, she now knows she is off the hook.
''I thought I might have caused the epidemic,'' she said.
Belgium's Security Council introduces long-term coronavirus strategy
Thu, 24 Sep 2020 11:58
Wednesday, 23 September 2020
Belgium has again adapted the measures in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the country, announced Prime Minister Sophie Wilm¨s during a press conference on Wednesday.
''We had already announced at the last press conference that we would be looking for a long-term strategy,'' said Wilm¨s, adding that, in order to understand this crisis properly, it needs to be broken down into three phases.
During the first period, the emphasis was on containing the virus to ensure that healthcare was not overwhelmed, and during the second phase, a gradual phasing out of the measures started.
''That brings us to this third phase: risk management,'' said Wilm¨s. ''In this way, we are trying to return to a situation that is as normal as possible, in the long term, for which a system can be worked out together with the experts from Celeval.''
The 6 golden rules remain a key point, and Wilm¨s stressed the importance of sticking to them at all times.
Limiting social contacts will be done with a ''modular approach,'' meaning that the rules may change depending on the epidemiological situation.
Instead of the social bubble, there will be a ''reference number'' that will vary between 1 and 5, depending on the health situation. At the moment, experts recommend a maximum of 5 close contacts per person per month.
''The rule concerning social contacts is especially important. Close contact means being physically close to someone who does not live under the same roof, for more than 15 minutes, without keeping a distance and without a facemask,'' she said.
Apart from those close contacts, people can see as many people as they want, as long as they keep their distance and respect the hygiene rules. However, meeting more than ten people at a time is still not allowed.
Related News:From 1 October, face masks will only be mandatory in crowded places, as well as on public transport and in cinemas, for example. ''It is useless to make masks compulsory anytime, anywhere,'' Wilm¨s said, calling on local authorities to comply with the change, and not keep the rule in unnecessary places.
For gatherings, a difference is made between private and professional gatherings. For private gatherings, the maximum number of guests remains at 10. ''This also applies to gatherings in the streets.''
Professionally organised events will follow the same rules as the hospitality industry. There will be no limit on the maximum number of guests allowed, as it will depend on the capacity of the place. The protocols must still be followed, and dance parties are still not allowed.
For events with an audience, however, the limit remains on 200 people for indoor events, and 400 for outdoor ones.
The authorities are working on an ''epidemic barometer'' at a national, provincial and regional level, to make sure that everyone understands the course of the epidemic better. The levels will be determined mainly '' but not exclusively '' by the number of people admitted to hospital.
The mandatory quarantine period will be reduced from 14 days to one week. People who show Covid-19 symptoms still have to contact their doctor. On day 5 of the quarantine, a new test can be taken. If negative, people may leave quarantine after the week is up. If positive, the quarantine will be extended to the full 2 weeks.
People returning from orange travel zones will no longer be tested. People returning from a red zone will have to go in quarantine on the first day of their return, and be tested on day 5.
The Coronalert smartphone app will be launched on 30 September, when more information on the subject will be given.
''Do not fall into the trap of nonchalance. We have to find a way to make the six golden rules our own rules. Tackling the epidemic also depends on our behaviour. We are all part of the solution,'' said Wilm¨s. ''As always, take care of yourself, and take care of each other.''
Ma¯th(C) ChiniThe Brussels Times
Black doctors' group creates panel to vet Covid-19 vaccines - STAT
Thu, 24 Sep 2020 12:07
A s trust in federal health agencies has withered over the last few months, a group of Black physicians has been working on an antidote: creating their own expert task force to independently vet regulators' decisions about Covid-19 drugs and vaccines as well as government recommendations for curbing the pandemic.
Organized by the National Medical Association '-- founded in 1895 as an answer to racist professional societies excluding Black doctors '-- the committee is meant to safeguard against any unscientific guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration.
''It's necessary to provide a trusted messenger of vetted information to the African American community,'' said Leon McDougle, a family physician and president of the NMA. ''There is a concern that some of the recent decisions by the Food and Drug Administration have been unduly influenced by politicians.''
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Just one of the examples he gave was the agency's go-ahead to use hydroxychloroquine against Covid-19 even though there was no reliable evidence that it worked, and some indication that it could cause heart damage. The FDA later back-tracked and revoked the authorization.
McDougle frames the new task force as a way to address the suspicion that has sprouted up around Covid-19 vaccines. Some worry that, in being developed at ''warp speed,'' the shots might not be safe or properly tested before they're approved, and the anxiety is only heightened for those who've been alienated by the medical system. That's part of the reason that certain patients of color are especially wary of taking part in the clinical trials '-- and those concerns may well persist even if adequate studies are done and a vaccine hits the market.
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''I think this will help to increase uptake in the African American community, if members of our task force give it the green light,'' McDougle said. But he emphasized that their stamp of approval would come only if data show that the vaccine is, in fact, effective and safe.
They'll also be evaluating how well the clinical trial participants represent the demographic breakdown of the American population, as well as the fairness of the federal plans to distribute a vaccine '-- both of which are especially important given the disproportionate impact that the pandemic has had on Black, Latino, and Native American communities.
''There is a need for this task force. We need a trusted organization to take the lead on this effort,'' said emergency physician Uch(C) Blackstock, the founder and CEO of the consulting firm Advancing Health Equity, who is not a member of the NMA. ''What we've seen in terms of political interference in the FDA and CDC has really undermined what little trust the Black community had.''
While the NMA may not be a household name for the lay public, Blackstock added, ''because they are an organization of Black physicians led by Black physicians, what they ultimately say and recommend will have significant influence on whether people take the vaccine or not.''
(McDougle didn't know how many members the NMA currently has, and the executive director did not respond to repeated requests for comment.)
The task force's leaders are still figuring out exactly how it will work. When asked what would happen if the FDA authorizes the use of a product without releasing the full data to support it '-- as was the case with the antiviral drug remdesivir in May '-- McDougle said that because some of the members are also involved with federal committees, he hopes that they would have access to those statistics, and that there wouldn't be much of a lag between a governmental decision and the NMA's review.
To scholars who study vaccine acceptance, the task force has the potential to either increase immunization rates or deepen mistrust, which may well be warranted. Under normal circumstances, Saad Omer, director of the Yale Institute for Global Health, would prefer that everyone simply look to the FDA and the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. ''As a public health professional, the more the mainstream process is followed, the better,'' he said.
But he knows these aren't normal circumstances. He pointed out that there is a precedent: Other professional societies representing some medical specialties have their own committees, but their recommendations tend to harmonize with the CDC's. Of the NMA task force, he said, ''I wish they didn't have to, but if they have to, I can understand why they're doing it.''
The idea came from Rodney Hood, an internal medicine doctor in San Diego. Even before the Trump administration, he knew his patients didn't have much faith in government. They trusted him, their doctor, and he was their source of evidence-based advice. But as he saw agencies making decisions that seemed more motivated by politics than by data, he realized his own faith in the official vetting process was shaken.
That put him in a strange position when his patients asked about the vaccines being developed to prevent Covid-19 and when the researchers testing them asked for his help recruiting Black volunteers.
''It's kind of a Catch-22,'' he said. He's long been an advocate for the inclusion of communities of color in clinical trials, but he also feels that the agencies overseeing the work are ''tainted.''
''A lot of us are on a 'wait-and-see,' trying to get some feeling that the FDA, the CDC, and whoever else is going to approve these vaccines is going to do so based on the science, and not rush it out,'' he said.
The sentiment wasn't just true for physicians. Francine Maxwell, president of the San Diego branch of the NAACP, said that politicians' promises of an effective vaccine by the election has only made her community more suspicious. ''They don't trust the science behind it, because they feel everyone is doing it to make 45 happy,'' she said, referring to President Trump.
The response she's hearing from many is to take a step back. ''They're not going to partake when the vaccine comes. They're going to wait an additional year. They're going to watch and do their own study and see how the data points pan out,'' she said.
As a past president of the NMA, Hood knew that the organization had in its ranks the kind of expertise that could deeply analyze clinical trial data '-- and so, in August, he helped introduced a resolution to form this task force. ''There were no objections,'' McDougle said.
Hood, who is on the task force alongside some epidemiologists and infectious disease specialists, is also hoping to look at the vaccine trial protocols more closely, and if he feels comfortable with one of them, will volunteer to participate himself.
Whether or not their assessment is the same as regulators', said Khadijah Lang, a family physician in Los Angeles and another member of the task force, ''we will tell our patients what our scientific findings are with full disclosure and full transparency, explaining how we came to our conclusions.''
That's good news to Sandra Crouse Quinn, professor and chair of the University of Maryland's family science department. ''We need sunshine everywhere, we need the pharmaceutical companies to share their data, we need the NMA and any other independent body and the FDA itself to shine the light and, whatever their decision, to say what their rationale is,'' she said.
Still, she's worried about the acceptance of a Covid-19 vaccine generally '-- and what might happen if the NMA's task force's conclusion differs from federal agencies'. ''How do we explain that so that it doesn't torpedo the credibility of any vaccine?'' she asked.
Both McDougle and Hood answered that question with a kind of careful optimism. As Hood put it, ''Hopefully, it will be the same as what the FDA and CDC are saying.''
BREAKING: Ohio Football Mom Tased and Arrested for Not Wearing Mask at a Game - The Ohio Star
Thu, 24 Sep 2020 12:09
Alecia Kitts drove an hour and a half from Marietta to Logan, Ohio to watch her son's seventh grade football game.
In the first quarter she was approached by an officer from the Logan Police Department because she was not wearing a mask.
The video below shows the three-minute encounter between Kitts and the officer.
According to Tiffany Kennedy, the woman who shot the above video, Kitts had not been warned for not wearing a mask prior to the officer approaching her. Kennedy also said that Kitts has asthma and that's why she was not wearing a mask.
''There is no reason to tase someone and arrest them for not wearing a mask,'' Kennedy said.
Kennedy also pointed out the female officer who is shown running toward the Logan officer and Kitts at the end of the video was not wearing a mask '' pulling one out of her pocket as she was in pursuit.
''Alecia's mom said that when the officer tased her, the current went through the bleachers and zapped the kid sitting there too.''
Kitts appears to be socially distanced from others in the crowd and sitting with her family. ''There were only 25 or 30 fans from our town on our side,'' said Kennedy.
The Logan Police Department declined comment and sent an inquiry to Captain Ryan Gabriel. The Ohio Star left a message with Captain Gabriel and will report back after making contact.
Alecia Kitts was contacted but had not returned comment before press time.
Sources indicate that Kitts was charged with criminal trespass and released on her own recognizance.
'' '' ''
Jack Windsor is Managing Editor and an Investigative Reporter at The Ohio Star. Windsor is also an Investigative Reporter at WMFD-TV. Follow Jack on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected] .
Vaccines and such
Francis Collins Responds to COVID Vaccine Skeptic - Post - BioLogos
Thu, 24 Sep 2020 11:56
Intro by BioLogos Editorial Team
The Clergy Letter Project is an organization that was founded to show that numerous clergy from a variety of denominations have embraced evolutionary theory and find it harmonious with their religious faith. It is perhaps surprising, then, that Michael Zimmerman, the Founder and Executive Director of the The Clergy Letter Project, has written an article titled, Why I'll not be Taking a Covid-19 Vaccine '-- and I'm a Scientist.
The gist of his argument is that he's concerned that the CDC and the FDA '-- federal agencies whose mission is to keep us healthy '-- have been co-opted by politics. This is not paranoia at the level of Plandemic conspiracies. But in our view, it also does not give science the chance to prove itself.
Zimmerman had the class and integrity to alert Francis Collins '-- BioLogos Founder and current Director of the National Institutes of Health '-- to the article. Francis replied to Zimmerman and both men gave us permission to publish his letter. Here it is unedited:
Dear Michael,
I am deeply troubled to read your essay. For someone with your training in science to adopt this view gives me true heartache about the future of our nation. As NIH Director deeply engaged in the vaccine development program, I have a front row seat to the science that is being pursued '-- in fact, it is a consuming passion that currently leads to 100-hour weeks. And it's actually going really well. I am cautiously optimistic that by the end of 2020 we will have at least one vaccine that is safe and effective '-- by rigorous standards that I think you would strongly endorse. But if you, and millions of others, have already closed your mind to the possibility that this might succeed, we will be dooming tens of thousands more to die in 2021 and beyond.
I am troubled that your confidence has been shaken in FDA and CDC. But the vaccine approval process will have to be transparent for all to see '-- that has already been guaranteed. Shouldn't you reserve judgment until you see the data? Isn't that what you as a scientist are called to? Why would you prejudge the outcome now? Are you allowing your own scientific judgment to be overcome by the current political tumult, and granting a victory to the forces of irrationality?
Please reconsider. Righteous indignation is one of my favorite emotions too, but sometimes it needs to be scrutinized. Many people depend on you and the Clergy Letter Project to bring a faithful blend of scientific reason and God's love to a hurting world. Does this stance fit with that? Prayerfully consider what God would expect of you at a time like this. Lives are at stake.
Forgive me for speaking so bluntly, but this really matters.
With respect and admiration for all the good things you and the Clergy Letter Project have done,
Francis
Zimmerman wrote back a gracious letter to Collins (which he posted publicly). He praises Collins and the scientists who are doing the difficult bench work that will lead to a vaccine. He admits that Collins' letter has caused him to rethink his position. But ultimately he deeply mistrusts the current administration and fears its interference with the scientific process. He will only consider getting the vaccine if a new administration is inaugurated on January 20, 2021.
While politics is inescapable, BioLogos is committed to being non-partisan. We won't be telling people which candidates they should vote for or otherwise advocating for a political party. Remember that Francis Collins was appointed to his position as Director of the NIH by President Obama, and in a rare show of bipartisan support, President Trump was encouraged by members of both parties to keep him in that position '-- the only Obama appointee still serving in the Trump administration. Francis Collins transcends politics.
Here is his rejoinder to Zimmerman:
Dear Michael,
Thanks for your rapid response. I hear you. But be careful that you don't end up hoping and praying for the vaccine to arrive after January 20 '-- when an earlier scientifically rigorous result would have potentially saved many lives. I am totally comfortable with you expressing your deep concern, but I would ask you (and by extension your readers) to keep minds open until you see the actual data on safety and efficacy. I believe it will ultimately be impossible to keep that out of public view.
Blessings, Francis
Vaccine is fast because it’s pre paid
FinCEN
FinCEN Files: All you need to know about the documents leak - BBC News
Mon, 21 Sep 2020 12:31
Leaked documents involving about $2tn of transactions have revealed how some of the world's biggest banks have allowed criminals to move dirty money around the world.
They also show how Russian oligarchs have used banks to avoid sanctions that were supposed to stop them getting their money into the West.
It's the latest in a string of leaks over the past five years that have exposed secret deals, money laundering and financial crime.
What are the FinCEN files?The FinCEN files are more than 2,500 documents, most of which were files that banks sent to the US authorities between 2000 and 2017. They raise concerns about what their clients might be doing.
These documents are some of the international banking system's most closely guarded secrets.
Banks use them to report suspicious behaviour but they are not proof of wrongdoing or crime.
They were leaked to Buzzfeed News and shared with a group that brings together investigative journalists from around the world, which distributed them to 108 news organisations in 88 countries, including the BBC's Panorama programme.
Hundreds of journalists have been sifting through the dense, technical documentation, uncovering some of the activities that banks would prefer the public not to know about.
Getty
FinCEN Files 2,657 documents including
2,121 Suspicious Activity Reports
Source: ICIJ Two acronyms you need to knowFinCEN is the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. These are the people at the US Treasury who combat financial crime. Concerns about transactions made in US dollars need to be sent to FinCEN, even if they took place outside the US.
Suspicious activity reports, or SARs, are an example of how those concerns are recorded. A bank must fill in one of these reports if it is worried one of its clients might be up to no good. The report is sent to the authorities.
Why does this matter?If you are planning to profit from a criminal enterprise, one of the most important things to have in place is a way of laundering the money.
Laundering money is the process of taking dirty money - the proceeds of crimes such as drug dealing or corruption - and getting it into an account at a respected bank where it will not be linked with the crime.
The same process is needed if you are a Russian oligarch whom Western countries have taken sanctions against to stop you getting your money into the West.
Banks are supposed to make sure they don't help clients to launder money or move it around in ways that break the rules.
By law, they have to know who their clients are - it's not enough to file SARs and keep taking dirty money from clients while expecting the authorities to deal with the problem. If they have evidence of criminal activity they should stop moving the cash.
Fergus Shiel from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) said the leaked files were an "insight into what banks know about the vast flows of dirty money across the globe".
He said the documents also highlighted the extraordinarily large amounts of money involved. The documents in the FinCEN files cover about $2tn of transactions and they are only a tiny proportion of the SARs submitted over the period.
What has been revealed?HSBC allowed fraudsters to move millions of dollars of stolen money around the world, even after it learned from US investigators the scheme was a scam.JP Morgan allowed a company to move more than $1bn through a London account without knowing who owned it. The bank later discovered the company might be owned by a mobster on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list.Evidence that one of Russian President Vladimir Putin's closest associates used Barclays bank in London to avoid sanctions which were meant to stop him using financial services in the West. Some of the cash was used to buy works of art.The husband of a woman who has donated £1.7m to the UK's governing Conservative Party's was secretly funded by a Russian oligarch with close ties to President Putin.The UK is called a "higher risk jurisdiction" and compared to Cyprus, by the intelligence division of FinCEN. That's because of the number of UK registered companies that appear in the SARs. Over 3,000 UK companies are named in the FinCEN files - more than any other country.The United Arab Emirates' central bank failed to act on warnings about a local firm which was helping Iran evade sanctions.Deutsche Bank moved money launderers' dirty money for organised crime, terrorists and drug traffickers. More details (BuzzFeed News)Standard Chartered moved cash for Arab Bank for more than a decade after clients' accounts at the Jordanian bank had been used in funding terrorism. Image copyright EPA Image caption Canary Wharf, the heart of London's banking network Why is this leak different?There have been a number of big leaks of financial information in recent years, including:
2017 Paradise Papers - A huge batch of leaked documents from an offshore legal service provider Appleby and corporate services provider Estera. The two operated together under the Appleby name until Estera became independent in 2016. They revealed the offshore financial dealings of politicians, celebrities and business leaders2016 Panama Papers - Leaked documents from the law firm Mossack Fonseca showed more about how wealthy people were using offshore tax regimes to their benefit2015 Swiss Leaks - Documents from HSBC's Swiss private bank showed how it was using the country's banking secrecy laws to help clients avoid paying tax2014 LuxLeaks contained documents from the accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers showing that big companies were using tax deals in Luxembourg to reduce the amount they were having to payThe FinCEN papers are different because they are not just documents from one or two companies - they come from a number of banks.
They highlight a range of potentially suspicious activity involving companies and individuals and also raise questions about why the banks which had noticed this activity did not always act on their concerns.
Once a bank has filed a report to the authorities, it is very difficult to prosecute it or its executives, even if it carries on helping with the suspicious activities and collecting the fees.
FinCEN said the leak could impact on US national security, compromise investigations, and threaten the safety of institutions and individuals who file the reports.
But last week it announced proposals to overhaul its anti-money laundering programmes.
The UK has also unveiled plans to reform its register of company information to clamp down on fraud and money laundering.
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Media caption What are Suspicious Activity Reports?
Deutsche Bank Execs Missed Money Laundering Red Flags
Mon, 21 Sep 2020 12:36
When Robert Meltzer, who runs gyms for children in Los Angeles, found that more than $60,000 in payroll taxes '-- half a year's worth '-- had gone missing in 2013, it was too late.
When something similar happened to Stanford Media Group, a company that sold CDs and DVDs online, Mark Gilula said he was forced to lay off employees. He said the stress contributed to his heart attack.
And when Maureen Sullivan, an architect, went looking for answers about the $111,000 that evaporated from her accounts, she said her inquiries with the police ''basically went into a black hole.''
What none of these small business owners could have known was that their losses were linked to one of the most infamous international banking scandals on record.
The bookkeeper who handled their payroll allegedly embezzled their money and injected it into a notorious scheme used by crime bosses, terrorist financiers, and drug cartels. The participants laundered $10 billion of illicit money into nice clean cash.
It all happened with the help of Deutsche Bank, Germany's biggest financial institution and one of the biggest lenders to Donald Trump. But when the enormous scandal broke, Deutsche blamed it on a few middle-level staffers in its Moscow office, paid a fine, and got back to business.
The FinCEN Files investigation reveals that Deutsche managers, including top executives, had direct knowledge for years of serious failings that left the bank vulnerable to money launderers. Documents show two warnings sent to committees that included Paul Achleitner, Deutsche's chair, and one sent to the bank's supervisory board.
RSZOOM / AlamyChristian Sewing (left), the bank's CEO, and Paul Achleitner, its chair.
Deutsche's problems were so striking they prompted Bank of America to file a confidential alert known as a suspicious activity report, or SAR, to the US government. Bank of America employees had visited Deutsche's London office to discuss worries about Russian money laundering. They were stonewalled when a Deutsche manager interrupted their meeting and asked them to leave the building. Bank of America found the situation troubling enough that it raised the matter with Achleitner, according to its filing.
Another top Deutsche executive, Christian Sewing, ran the audit division when one of its teams gave the Moscow office a clean bill of health, despite evidence that it could not even produce a list of its clients, let alone verify that they were who they said they were. Sewing is now Deutsche's CEO.
In all, more than 100 internal alerts were raised on the companies at the heart of the Russian mirror trade scandal between 2012 and 2015.
During these years, some of the world's worst criminals used the network to move dark money around the globe, with the help of shell companies and corrupt financiers. Business owners like Meltzer, Gilula, and Sullivan were left to pick up the pieces. The wide range of criminal activity linked to the mirror trades has never before been revealed.
The FinCEN Files investigation includes thousands of closely held US Treasury documents '-- among them, suspicious activity reports '-- that BuzzFeed News shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and more than 100 newsrooms around the world. This investigation is also based on confidential bank documents obtained by the German newspaper S¼ddeutsche Zeitung, a partner in this project.
By law, banks must file SARs to the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, when they spot activity that bears the hallmarks of money laundering or other financial misconduct. SARs by themselves are not evidence of a crime, but they can support investigations and intelligence gathering.
Alex Fradkin for BuzzFeed NewsDeutsche Bank's headquarters in New York
In recent years, Deutsche's share price has plummeted under the weight of scandal after scandal. In the last decade, the bank has paid fines for everything from evading sanctions against Iran and Myanmar to rigging foreign exchange markets to doing business with Jeffrey Epstein. And it has come under scrutiny for lending Trump hundreds of millions of dollars despite his history of defaulting on loans.
The bank, responding to questions raised by this investigation, said it has acknowledged ''past weaknesses'' and ''learnt from our mistakes,'' while investing hundreds of millions of dollars to bolster its defenses against financial crimes. ''We are a different bank now,'' a Deutsche spokesperson said in a written response.
The spokesperson said Sewing was not personally involved in the review of the Moscow office and disputed aspects of Bank of America's written account to the government, including the assertion that Achleitner met with an executive from that bank.
The $10 billion mirror trading scheme remains one of Deutsche's darkest stains. While it had many tentacles, at its heart was a group of money launderers who controlled a network of anonymous companies around the world.
They would buy shares in Russia and sell the stock to one of the European shell companies they owned. As the network pinged money across the globe, it turned the rubles into dollars and other currencies. The system had one other great advantage: It allowed criminals to move their ill-gotten gains undetected.
To make it all happen, the perpetrators needed a Western bank to work with them. They found one in Deutsche. It wasn't the only bank that was involved, but prosecutors said traders in its Moscow office were motivated by ''greed and corruption'' and that one supervisor had apparently been bribed to facilitate the trades.
The companies that moved the money were some of Deutsche Russia's most active clients, at times generating bigger commissions for the bank than any of its other customers in Russia.
In one confidential letter from March 2016, never before revealed, the UK's financial regulator privately scolded Deutsche's willingness to take on ''very profitable clients, regardless of financial crime risks.'' It cautioned that ''leadership on financial crime had been lacking for a considerable period of time.''
But when the agency spoke about the matter publicly, it exonerated senior managers, saying they ''were not aware of the suspicious trading'' and the failings at the bank had been committed ''negligently, rather than deliberately or recklessly.'' The regulator initially considered a fine of £1.7 billion for the scandal, but decided that would be ''disproportionately high'' and reduced it to £163 million.
Among the recipients of cash from the mirror trades was a company the US government says is part of the Russian mafia.
The state of New York imposed a higher fine of $425 million but took the occasion to praise the bank's leaders for dealing with the issue in a ''serious manner and timely fashion.''
Among the recipients of cash from the mirror trades, the FinCEN Files investigation has found, was a company the US government says is part of the Russian mafia. Its owner has been identified as a liaison for Vladislav ''Blonde'' Leontyev, described by US authorities as a Russian mobster and a high-level narcotics trafficker. In response to BuzzFeed News, Leontyev denied any involvement in the mirror trades or other criminal activity.
Between March 2013 and April 2014, nearly $50 million in illicit funds also went to a company that is part of the Khanani money laundering organization, whose clients include Hezbollah associates, the Taliban, and Mexican drug cartels, according to the US government. (The group's head, Altaf Khanani, was sentenced in 2017 to 68 months in prison after he laundered more than $1 million during an undercover Drug Enforcement Administration sting.)
A sporting goods supplier in Brooklyn, where the manager was found guilty of laundering money for cyberscammers, also received cash from the mirror trades. So did a New Jersey telecoms operation that did business with shell companies linked to organized crime, the Syrian weapons program, and a notorious oligarch, SARs show.
Money from a looted Russian bank where Vladimir Putin's cousin sat on the board was also filtered into the network, records show.
All those funds were funneled into the money laundering operation along with cash from LA Payroll, the tax consulting firm whose owner allegedly defrauded 141 small businesses across Southern California. The victims included churches and not-for-profit organizations. The man behind the fraud fled the US and the money has never been recovered.
The saga of the mirror trades is not yet over for Deutsche. In its most recent annual report, Deutsche said that the Department of Justice continues to investigate, and that the bank had set aside money in case of future fines.
Vasily Maximov / Getty ImagesDeutsche Bank's Russian headquarters in Moscow
It started with a client called Financial Bridge, a small Russian firm that used Deutsche to buy and sell shares for its clients.
Financial Bridge was at the center of the mirror trading network, which by 2011 was already funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars to a front for the Brothers' Circle '-- a group of organized criminals that the US government sanctioned for drug smuggling, human trafficking, and violence in Russia and around the world.
That same year, Russian authorities suspended Financial Bridge's trading license on suspicion of money laundering. That should have triggered a review inside Deutsche, an outside consultant later determined. But when the ban was lifted, Deutsche's Moscow office went right back to handling Financial Bridge's transactions.
One of the company's owners, a Ukrainian financier named Alexander Perepilichnyy, dropped dead during a jog outside his home on the outskirts of London.
Then, in November 2012, an even brighter red flag arose. One of the company's owners, a Ukrainian financier named Alexander Perepilichnyy, dropped dead during a jog outside his home on the outskirts of London. Two weeks after he died, it was revealed that Perepilichnyy was linked to a multimillion-dollar tax fraud and had fled Russia, blowing the whistle on the scam.
A few weeks later, the documents obtained by S¼ddeutsche Zeitung show, Deutsche's anti''money laundering software flagged Financial Bridge for its ''high-risk transactions.''
But the alert went to an office in India where staff had ''very limited'' training, confidential regulatory documents show. Financial Bridge's explanation for its transactions '-- that they were for ''investment activities'' '-- was deemed adequate.
By 2013, Deutsche's own internal reviews were beginning to identify crucial weaknesses in the bank's procedures for combating financial crime.
To guard against financial crimes, banks have policies to ''know your customer,'' which means researching clients before taking them on. But an internal review focusing on know-your-customer protocols in the Moscow office found that bankers there failed to properly vet clients, even neglecting to determine if they were known criminals. The Moscow bankers could not even produce a list of who their clients were.
SuppliedAlexander Perepilichnyy
A separate, simultaneous review found that the Moscow office's anti''money laundering department was severely short-staffed and failing to properly monitor transactions.
The findings of both of those reviews were shared with the Deutsche executive team. At one presentation, executives identified the situation as an ''immediate priority.''
Achleitner was then chair of the supervisory board for Deutsche and sat on board committees. Documents show that these bodies were informed of anti''money laundering problems at the bank on at least three occasions in 2013 and 2014.
Those updates for board members included descriptions of how the bank was struggling with its obligation to research clients and that it was facing technology and staffing issues for its compliance teams.
Thomas Lohnes / Getty ImagesChristian Sewing
By 2014, Christian Sewing, a Deutsche lifer who had started as a 19-year-old apprentice in the small German city of Bielefeld, was working his way up the corporate ladder and was chief of Deutsche's audit division, the bank's internal watchdog.
That summer, a team from his division turned its attention to Moscow; by fall the investigation had concluded. Despite all their colleagues' documented concerns, the auditors gave Deutsche's Moscow office a ''green'' rating, records reviewed by BuzzFeed News show.
The office received a ''satisfactory'' rating for ''Control Environment'' and for ''Management Awareness.'' As for the office's anti''money laundering and know-your-customer procedures '-- which the team was specifically instructed to evaluate '-- the auditors wrote nothing at all, the records show.
Despite all their colleagues' documented concerns, the auditors gave Deutsche's Moscow office a ''green'' rating.
Records show that Deutsche later examined the quality of the 2014 audit and determined it was inadequate.
Deutsche declined requests to interview Sewing, but a Deutsche spokesperson said that he ''had no direct or indirect involvement in the 2014 audit.''
The spokesperson added: ''That was consistent with the well-established protocols at the time concerning which audits were escalated to the Global Head of Audit.'' Deutsche also said Sewing helped to uncover the mirror trades later.
Alex Fradkin for BuzzFeed NewsThe Deutsche Bank headquarters in London
By the start of 2016, the volume of Russian money flowing into the US financial system was raising alarms at Bank of America. A team of experts from the bank flew to Deutsche's London office seeking answers.
A suspicious activity report would later provide a blow-by-blow account.
In a Jan. 11 meeting with Deutsche, the Bank of America team began to gain some insights as the head of Deutsche's business intelligence team ''revealed significant challenges'' that ''his staff had to navigate to perform enhanced due diligence on clients,'' the SAR says.
But the meeting was interrupted when one of Deutsche's managing directors arrived. He told the Bank of America investigators they were not authorized to talk to anyone in London and asked them to leave.
The SAR says that the matter was escalated within Bank of America, with one of its senior managers ''scheduled to meet with Paul Achleitner'' in a few days. The SAR adds, ''Achleitner indicated the matter would be addressed'' with the bank's CEO at the time, John Cryan.
On Jan. 29, a Deutsche executive overseeing compliance gave Bank of America officials assurances that their questions would be answered.
On Feb. 11, Bank of America filed its SAR on Deutsche. It wrote to the government that it did not yet have ''sufficient information to assess the adequacy of the Deutsche Bank's current control environment.''
Bank of America declined to comment for this story. Asked about the SAR, Deutsche Bank responded that ''our review of the situation indicates that the events did not take place as implied.''
It added: ''It would not have been the place of Paul Achleitner to get involved managing the interactions with Bank of America, nor do we have any record of him doing so.''
The bank declined to make Achleitner available for an interview.
Weeks later, the Financial Conduct Authority, the UK financial regulator that had been conducting a confidential review of Deutsche, sent a set of disturbing findings to the bank.
The letter warned that ''leadership on financial crime had been lacking for a considerable period of time'' at the bank and that managers had put the pursuit of profit above its responsibilities to fight money laundering.
It said it found evidence of ''financial crime risk being overridden by commercial drivers and in some cases a willingness to take on very profitable clients, regardless of financial crime risks.''
The regulator said there was a ''significant risk'' that money laundering at the bank was ''going unreported or undetected.''
To those within the bank, it wasn't news.
In October 2015, Deutsche had hired consultants from the accounting giant Deloitte to figure out what had gone wrong. Deloitte interviewed staffers, combed through emails, and examined trading data.
The bank laid the blame on Tim Wiswell, an American who ran the Deutsche Moscow trading desk. But according to a copy of the Deloitte report obtained by S¼ddeutsche Zeitung, there were systemic failings at the bank.
Going into detail on the Moscow audit, the report described how the team had given the office a positive rating even though auditors hadn't properly tested the office's money laundering prevention system. The report concluded that audits conducted by the division had ''severe shortcomings'' from 2012 onward.
Sewing, while not named in the report, was head of audit at the bank from June 2013 to December 2014. He then joined the bank's management board, where his responsibilities included the audit division for another six months.
The report also did not name Achleitner specifically. But it described instances when concerns about broken anti''money laundering systems were flagged to board committees on which he sat. The problem of understaffing was raised repeatedly, and Deloitte concluded that the bank's compliance teams had been ''undermined by limited allocated resources.''
Deloitte also found that the bank's transaction monitoring software had issued 108 alerts about the mirror trading companies between 2011 and 2015. Nonetheless, during that time Deutsche kept the transactions moving.
By the time regulators caught up with Deutsche, Wiswell was gone. He had decamped to Bali, where he now lives with his family, and did not respond to requests for an interview. He was pictured last year at the gala dinner of the Florence Biennale art festival, with a beaming smile on his face and a glass of champagne in his hand.
Homeland Security documents indicate that Tovmas Grigoryan, the Los Angeles bookkeeper who allegedly absconded with money from clients' small businesses, fled the country, likely for Russia.
Following its investigation into Deutsche and the mirror trades, the New York State Department of Financial Services determined that ''greed and corruption motivated'' some of the bank's Moscow employees. In a consent order that resulted in a fine for the bank, the department said there was evidence of around $3.8 million of alleged bribes going to one of the Moscow bankers and a close relative.
State and federal law enforcement authorities have never charged anyone at Deutsche in relation to the mirror trades.
Inside Deutsche, the bank sacked three people who had worked on the Moscow office audits. Deutsche said that ''most senior managers referenced in the internal investigative reports are not at Deutsche Bank anymore.''
''Consequences have been taken where and as appropriate, including on the management board level,'' the bank's spokesperson said.
The spokesperson defended the actions of the supervisory board, saying it ''diligently exercised its oversight responsibility.''
Achleitner remains in power at Deutsche. In 2018, his board forced out CEO John Cryan after a short three-year reign, citing sagging profits.
On a Sunday evening that April, Achleitner presented Deutsche's board with his choice for a new CEO to bring the bank the stability it so desperately needed: Christian Sewing. The board approved. '—
Here's what banking experts are saying in the wake of the FinCEN leak
Mon, 21 Sep 2020 17:35
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The files, obtained by Buzzfeed and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, contain Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) filed with the U.S. Department of Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, between 1999 and 2017.Rachel Woolley, director of financial crime at regulatory consultancy Fenergo, said the FinCEN files expose a "systemic failure across the entire financial system and industry."A view of the Canary Wharf financial district of London.
Prisma by Dukas | Universal Images Group | Getty Images
LONDON '-- Banking shares tumbled on Monday following the leak of reports on $2 trillion worth of suspicious transactions facilitated by major lenders and other financial institutions.
The documents, obtained by Buzzfeed and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, contain Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) filed with the U.S. Department of Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, between 1999 and 2017.
Financial institutions are legally obligated to alert regulators when they detect any suspicious activity, such as money laundering or sanctions violations. However, these SARs reports are not necessarily evidence of any criminal conduct.
Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan, Standard Chartered, HSBC, Barclays, BNY Mellon and Societe Generale have all been identified in the documents. The banks have emphasized increased expenditure on compliance systems in recent years and denied any conscious wrongdoing.
'Hiding behind complexity'Rachel Woolley, director of financial crime at regulatory consultancy Fenergo, said the FinCEN files expose a "systemic failure across the entire financial system and industry." She suggested that SARs were used as a "defense mechanism" to pass liability onto other stakeholders, with many countries lacking resources to actively investigate such reports.
"Fines are on the up, over $40 billion since the financial crisis, but is this really a deterrent to the financial institutions that facilitate money laundering?" Woolley said in an email to CNBC Monday. "In comparison to the trillions of dollars that illegally move around, these look like a simple cost of doing business."
She suggested the focus for the financial sector must now shift to "effective" rather than "technical" compliance.
"The days of hiding behind complexity and paper pushing are gone, the entire industry needs to collaborate more effectively in order to adhere to policy and prevent crime from entering the financial system."
'Poses grave threats to society'The Institute for International Finance (IIF) on Sunday voiced hopes that the findings would spur policymakers around the world into enacting urgent reforms to combat financial crime, which President and CEO Tim Adams said "poses grave threats to society as a whole."
"The findings of today's reports once again emphasize the need to pursue intelligence-led changes for financial crime risk management - driven by meaningful improvements to public-private sector cooperation and cross-border information sharing, coupled with the use of technology - to enhance the global anti-financial crime framework," Adams said.
The IIF emphasized that there is a balance to be struck between managing financial crime risk and ensuring access to the financial system for legitimate customers. It suggested SARs, as one part of this balance, should work in tandem with operational and tactical intelligence sharing.The body also stressed the importance of identifying the true owner or individual exercising control in a business relationship in a "reliable and transparent fashion through beneficial ownership information reform."
'Significant financial penalties'In a recent report, DBRS Morningstar highlighted the increasing scrutiny being placed on internal controls and often significant costs associated with addressing compliance failures retrospectively, raising the question as to whether investing earlier would reduce overall costs.
"In our opinion, establishing adequate internal controls should be a top priority for banks. Despite pressures on profitability driven by COVID-19 and low interest rates, banks must continue to invest in strengthening their operational risk controls," Tomasz Walkowicz, vice president of the Financial Institutions Group at DBRS Morningstar, told CNBC on Monday.
"We are currently seeing increased regulatory scrutiny focused on banks' operational risk oversight, and we think that any repeated failures in the areas such as prevention of money laundering or terrorism financing could lead significant financial penalties."
The FinCEN leaks represent the latest in a series of scandals involving the global financial system, following the Panama Papers, 1MDB and the Luanda Leaks in recent years.
News of the FinCEN documents sent European banking stocks sliding on Monday, with the Stoxx 600 Banks sector falling 4.6% by mid-afternoon and HSBC's share price hitting a 25-year low.
FinCEN Files Explainer: How BuzzFeed News And ICIJ Did It
Mon, 21 Sep 2020 17:39
This is part 3 of our FinCEN Files investigation. To read more, click here.
More than a year ago, BuzzFeed News received a remarkable collection of secret government documents. This huge trove had been assembled at the request of law enforcement agencies and congressional committees investigating the 2016 presidential election and other matters. The documents contained private banking information about public figures and senior government officials around the world '-- along with suspected criminals and organizations tied to terrorism.
Among the documents were more than 2,100 suspicious activity reports, or SARs, which banks and other financial institutions submit to the US Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, when they observe transactions that suggest money laundering or other illegal activity. Such reports can support investigations and intelligence gathering '-- but by themselves they are not evidence of a crime.
These documents are so closely protected that they are never supposed to be available to the public. You can't get them through Freedom of Information requests and you can't subpoena them in legal proceedings. Banks are not supposed to admit the existence of a SAR '-- even to other banks. Prior to this reporting, very few SARs are known ever to have been revealed. BuzzFeed News has thousands.
2,100+ Reports
22,000+ Pages
10,000+ Subjects
170+ countries and territories
Mostly dating from 2011 to 2017, although describing some transactions that occurred as early as 1999, the documents provide an unprecedented glimpse into global money laundering. To analyze them and crunch the numbers, BuzzFeed News teamed up with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and more than 100 partner news organizations from 88 countries.
What ensued was a yearlong data analysis collaboration that required thousands of hours of manual data entry, the creation of custom-built digital tools, machine learning, and specialized validation software.
But it all came down to those suspicious activity reports.
The Anatomy of a SAR '-- and How We Dissected ThemAll SARs have two parts: a set of data tables and a narrative.
The data tables lay out the amount of money under suspicion and the dates of activity, as well as detailed information about the people and organizations involved '-- such as their addresses, bank accounts, government ID numbers, and more.
These tables can go on for dozens of pages, depending on the complexity of the report. BuzzFeed News wrote custom software to extract all those details and put them in a single database for reporters to search and analyze.
The narrative section is a written account of the circumstances that spurred the bank to file the report.
Some narratives are bare bones, while others are in-depth accounts including individual transactions, additional parties, and what the money was purportedly being used for. In the FinCEN Files, these narrative elements alone came to more than 8,000 pages '-- or about 3 million words.
We tried writing computer programs to automatically extract this crucial information, but we quickly discovered that it was not possible.
So with no other choice, we did it the old-fashioned way: We read every last page.
On the Origin
of Species
199,000
words
Middlemarch
320,000
words
War and Peace
566,000
words
Pride and Prejudice
122,000
words
The Power Broker
700,000
words
Infinite Jest
564,000
words
2,942,000 total
3,000,000
Approximate number of words in
the FinCEN Files SAR narratives.
Source: Blotto Design (Moby-Dick, On the Origin of Species, Pride and Prejudice, Ulysses); Project Gutenberg (Middlemarch, War and Peace '' English translation by Louise and Aylmer Maude); Internet Archive (Infinite Jest); The New York Review of Books (The Power Broker). Word counts are approximate and may vary by edition. Images: BuzzFeed News; Penguin; Amazon; Barnes & Noble; Wikimedia
BuzzFeed News; Penguin; Amazon; Barnes & Noble; WikimediaSource: Blotto Design (Moby-Dick, On the Origin of Species, Pride and Prejudice, Ulysses); Project Gutenberg ( Middlemarch , War and Peace '-- English translation by Louise and Aylmer Maude); Internet Archive (Infinite Jest); the New York Review of Books (The Power Broker). Word counts are approximate and may vary by edition.
With the help of ICIJ's document-collaboration platform, BuzzFeed News and the partner newsrooms divided the task among more than 80 reporters. For each document, the reporters captured every set of transactions mentioned. After that, ICIJ submitted each ''extraction'' to multiple rounds of validation. It was a massive effort, but it allowed us to map out more than 200,000 of the transactions in the SARs.
This effort gave reporters access to a greater level of structured, searchable detail than FinCEN itself provides to investigators.
In addition to the written SARs, BuzzFeed News received hundreds of spreadsheets that banks had sent to FinCEN. Although those files often lack the context of the written reports, they list more than 100,000 transactions.
But each bank has a slightly different way of producing these files. So ICIJ undertook an effort to standardize the field names and address formats to make them more useful to our partners.
More Than $2 Trillion '-- Yes, With a ''T''In total, these reports flagged more than $2 trillion in transactions. Here's how it broke down.
The Banks: The FinCEN Files contain reports submitted by nearly 90 banks and other financial institutions. This particular collection of documents is not a representative sample of what banks file overall. Within this subset, by far the greatest number of SARs come from Deutsche Bank.
Here are the top 10 banks represented in the FinCEN Files, plus the total value of suspicious transactions they flagged:
One report, filed in August 2014 by JPMorgan Chase, identifies more than $335 billion in suspicious activity, relating to more than 100,000 wire transfers ''sent, received or processed'' over the course of a decade-plus by MKS, a Switzerland-based company that trades precious metals.
''We cannot confirm your report of a purported SAR from a half decade ago of which we have no knowledge,'' a spokesperson for MKS told BuzzFeed News and ICIJ. ''We note, however, that referencing $335 billion in purported wire transactions over a twelve-year period creates a false and misleading impression about the scale and scope of our precious metal operations.''
MKS is ''proud of our record of maintaining an industry-leading compliance program,'' the spokesperson said, ''and our long history of maintaining uninterrupted access to financial markets around the world.''
In total, 130 reports flagged at least $1 billion to the Treasury; these big-dollar reports account for more than 90% of all ''suspicious activity'' in these documents.
When banks first encounter suspicious transactions, they are supposed to file a report within 30 days. But that doesn't mean all of the information is timely: SARs often refer to much older transactions, even some that occurred more than a decade before. This frequently happens when banks receive new information about old transactions or clients, such as when ICIJ published the Panama Papers; but other times, the reason is unclear.
The Objects of Suspicion: The documents provide information on more than 10,000 people and organizations spanning more than 170 countries and territories. They also touch almost every state in the US.
More than 250 SARs reference people with addresses in the US, and more than 120 with addresses in Russia. The UK, China, Germany, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, and Ukraine were also common locations for people, each appearing in at least 20 reports.
At least 25 of the people named as subjects have appeared on Forbes' list of billionaires in 2018, 2019, or 2020, according to an analysis by ICIJ and BuzzFeed News.
The SARs, however, are far more likely to mention organizations than people. The locations of those organizations read like a where's where of wealth accumulation and management. More than 400 feature companies with addresses in the British Virgin Islands, and more than 300 include Hong Kong '-- two popular places for stashing wealth with little scrutiny.
More than a fifth of the SARs in the FinCEN Files include a subject whose ''address'' is effectively blank: no street number, city, state, or even country. In some cases, the blank addresses are for customers in the bank's own corporate network.
Some entities have been flagged numerous times in the FinCEN Files. Mayzus Financial Services, an online payment processing company that served clients involved in a bitcoin money laundering ring, sets the record, appearing as a subject of 36 SARs. Second is Kaloti Jewellery International, a Dubai-based precious metals company that was flagged as a subject in 34 separate SARs by eight different banks. Here are the five subjects flagged most often:
Responding to a request for comment, a representative for Mayzus Financial Services said the company takes compliance seriously and "helped to arrest online and offline fraudsters, corrupt remittance agents, money launderers, and apprehend hundreds of millions of dollars worth of illicitly gained assets" and that "from my perspective MFS has done exactly what it was supposed to be doing."
A lawyer for Kaloti said that the number of SARs was "statistically insignificant" in the context of its industry. "Kaloti vehemently denies any allegations of misconduct, whether those allegations stem from today or a decade ago," the company told ICIJ and BuzzFeed News.
Trafigura declined to comment. Veles International and Bufalo Management did not respond to BuzzFeed News' inquiries.
What the Government Doesn't KnowLast year, banks and other financial institutions filed more than 2 million SARs. Government investigators who combat money laundering told BuzzFeed News that the sheer volume of SARs made it impossible to pay close attention to them all.
"I don't think that we have enough resources in the government to meaningfully go through them all," said Richard Elias, a former federal prosecutor for the Eastern District of California.
Although the number of SARs filed grows every year, FinCEN's staff has shrunk by more than 10% over the past decade, according to official Treasury reports. (In addition to full-time staff, FinCEN also employs contractors to analyze SARs.) In 2017, FinCEN's acting director testified before Congress that the agency faced hiring issues, in part because of how long it takes to get security clearances.
FinCEN did not respond to BuzzFeed News' requests for comment about its investigative findings. It did, however, release a statement saying that ''the unauthorized disclosure of SARs is a crime,'' and it announced that it was referring the matter to the Department of Justice and the Treasury Department's Office of Inspector General.
FinCEN makes its database of SARs available to more than 450 law enforcement and regulatory agencies around the country, with more than 13,000 users who query the system millions of times a year.
FinCEN does not require banks to file spreadsheets detailing each individual transaction, although some do so voluntarily. Yet it's precisely those details that investigators say are most important. ''There's nothing of greater value than being able to take a look at a series of wire transfers or a series of deposits or a series of withdrawals,'' said Peter Djinis, a former FinCEN analyst who helped to set up the original SAR system. ''All of that information is so useful.''
When banks don't attach transaction files, analysts have to comb through each report individually or request those records directly.
The database produced by BuzzFeed News and ICIJ provides far more clarity than the individual filings themselves, and has already helped our international network of reporters examine failures by governments and banks to stem the flow of dirty money across the globe. '—
Emilia D­az-Struck and Agustin Armendariz of ICIJ contributed reporting.
FinCEN Files: Official who leaked docs is Trump supporter, say reports - Business Insider
Mon, 21 Sep 2020 17:41
Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards leaves a US federal court in New York in January 2019. AP Photo/Frank Franklin II Top banks allowed $2 trillion worth of suspicious transactions to go unchecked, according to leaked documents from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). The reporter who led the investigation, Jason Leopold of BuzzFeed News, has not revealed the source of the information. But in January a FinCEN official, Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, pleaded guilty to leaking information to a reporter identifiable as Leopold about suspicious financial transactions. Those transactions included some that involved Russians and officials who worked on Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. At the time of Edwards' arrest, Trump's 2020 campaign attempted to portray her as a "deep state" agent, but reports say that Edwards is actually a Trump supporter who has shared her political views on social media. Click here for all our reporting on the FinCEN files. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. The publication of leaked documents that detail $2 trillion in suspicious transactions that flowed through top international banks is igniting speculation over the source of the information.
On Sunday, BuzzFeed News and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) jointly published a collection of files from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), an agency that operates under the Treasury Department, that showed that top banks had engaged with dirty money for years.
The documents have been named the "FinCEN Files."
Neither BuzzFeed nor the ICIJ has explicitly commented on the identity of their source. But a former FinCEN official had pleaded guilty for leaking information to BuzzFeed which matches some content of the FinCEN leaks.
Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, a former senior adviser at FinCEN, pleaded guilty in January 2020 to a Manhattan federal court for conspiring to send sensitive government information to a reporter.
Prosecutors said at the time that Edwards' information was used in 12 articles published over a one-year period, according to court filings. The prosecutors did not name the outlet where the articles were published, but the headline and dates match those by BuzzFeed News.
Prosecutors also did not name the reporter '-- calling them "Reporter-1" instead '-- but the articles cited in the court documents were written by Jason Leopold, who led the FinCEN project.
BuzzFeed News led the investigation into the new leaks. Publications including Deutsche Welle and the ICIJ have suggested that Edwards may be a source.
Gates outside the Treasury Department building in Washington, DC, in August 2018. Reuters The 12 articles named in the court filings had focused on suspicious financial transactions, including those linked to ongoing probe into allegations of Russian interference in Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.
BuzzFeed had provided 2,100 leaked "suspicious activity reports," or SARs, to the ICIJ as part of the "FinCEN Files" investigation. The ICIJ noted that Congress had requested some of the documents as part of its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Edwards was attacked as a "deep state" operative After Edwards' guilty plea in January, Matt Wolking, a Trump campaign official, sought to characterize Edwards as part of a plot by the "deep state" to take down the president.
But according to reports in October 2018, when Edwards was arrested for the leaks, she was in fact a supporter who had shared pro-Trump messages on social media.
Business Insider has attempted to reach Edwards for comment via her lawyers.
The Wall Street Journal reported at the time that Edwards had "liked" a comment about former CIA Director John Brennan, a vocal Trump critic, which called him a "paid political hack."
DailyMail.com also reported at the time that Edwards had in Facebook posts defended Supreme Court Justice Bret Kavanaugh, during confirmation hearings where he was accused of sexual assault.
The Journal reported that Edwards was not motivated by partisan ire, but that she leaked the information because she believed that sensitive data was being mishandled by another Treasury Department agency.
According to the Associated Press (AP), Edwards told the court during her guilty plea: "I am sorry for what I have done and I apologize to you, your honor, and the court."
She signed a plea deal in January that recommends a sentence of zero to six months in prison, the AP reported. Her conspiracy charge typically carries a punishment of up to five years.
Read all of our reporting on the FinCEN files here>> NOW WATCH: Popular Videos from Insider Inc.
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Explore the FinCEN Files data - ICIJ
Tue, 22 Sep 2020 12:58
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HSBC moved vast sums of dirty money after paying record laundering fine - ICIJ
Tue, 22 Sep 2020 12:59
In March 2014, three men kidnapped Reynaldo Pacheco and bludgeoned his head with rocks, leaving the 44-year-old father of a young daughter dead in a creek bed in California's Napa County. Local authorities determined that his murder was a consequence of an investment fraud that targeted low-income Latino and Asian immigrants around the world.
Like other victims of the World Capital Market scheme, or WCM, Pacheco energetically promoted the deal to relatives and acquaintances. When the Ponzi scheme collapsed, an unlucky investor decided to have him killed.
Four days before Pacheco was beaten to death, compliance officers at the global banking giant HSBC raised a warning about millions of dollars flowing into a big-dollar account in Hong Kong controlled by the scammers. It was at least the third in a series of so-called suspicious activity reports that the bank's internal watchdogs had lodged about WCM over several months.
Yet HSBC continued to handle the Ponzi network's massive flow of dirty money into '-- and out of '-- its accounts at the bank.
HSBC was profiting from an international criminal scheme even while on probation for having served murderous drug cartels and other criminals. HSBC had admitted to U.S. prosecutors in 2012 that it had helped dirty money flow through its branches around the world, including at least $881 million controlled by the notorious Sinaloa cartel and other Mexican drug gangs.
In a controversial decision, prosecutors declined to seek an indictment of the bank but instead allowed it to pay a $1.92 billion settlement and serve five years of probation during which its efforts to prevent money laundering would be monitored by a court-appointed watchdog. The court named a former top New York state financial crimes prosecutor, Michael Cherkasky.
A 16-month investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, BuzzFeed News and 108 other media partners has found that HSBC continued to provide banking services to alleged criminals, Ponzi schemers, shell companies tied to looted government funds and financial go-betweens for drug traffickers. This occurred even while the bank was on probation and under Cherkasky's scrutiny.
The FinCEN Files investigation found that HSBC's highly profitable branch in Hong Kong played a key role in keeping the dirty money flowing. Although providing only a partial view of HSBC's suspicious activity reports, the records show that between 2013 and 2017, HSBC's U.S. compliance staff, who are charged with monitoring customer activity, filed reports lacking crucial customer information on 16 shell companies that had processed nearly $1.5 billion in more than 6,800 transactions through the bank's Hong Kong operations alone. More than $900 million of that total involved shell companies linked to alleged criminal networks, according to an analysis by ICIJ and its media partners.
In a statement, HSBC defended changes the bank made under the monitorship. ''Starting in 2012, HSBC embarked on a multi-year journey to overhaul its ability to combat financial crime,'' said Heidi Ashley, a spokesperson for the bank. ''HSBC is a much safer institution than it was in 2012.''
The bank told ICIJ that it increased its compliance staff from a few hundred members in 2012 to several thousand in 2017 and invested more than $1 billion in compliance initiatives since 2015. ''Though we have made significant improvements in our financial crime compliance programme, we are continually seeking ways to improve,'' the bank said in a statement.
The investigation is based on a review of dozens of leaked suspicious activity reports, or SARs, as well as interviews with more than a dozen former HSBC anti-money-laundering employees. Banks doing business in the United States submit the confidential reports to an intelligence office within the U.S. Treasury Department known as the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN. Suspicious activity reports reflect concerns of watchdogs within banks and are not necessarily evidence of any criminal conduct or wrongdoing.
Leaked records show HSBC processed at least $31 million between 2014 and 2015 for companies later revealed to have moved stolen government funds from Brazil; and more than $292 million between 2010 and 2016 for a Panama-based organization branded by U.S. authorities as a major money launderer for drug cartels. The organization, Vida Panama, denies wrongdoing and is fighting the U.S. designation. The records show HSBC worked with a bank in Tiraspol, within Moldova's breakaway territory of Transnistria, for four years after the U.S. Treasury Department issued a 2011 advisory warning of the risks of doing business with the Tiraspol bank.
Why are we filing SARs? '... Nothing is actually being done.'' Alexis Grullon
In interviews with ICIJ and BuzzFeed News, more than a dozen former HSBC compliance officers expressed deep concerns about the bank's anti-money-laundering program, even during its probationary period. Compliance officers said that the bank did not give them enough time to meaningfully investigate suspicious transactions and that branches outside the U.S. often ignored requests for crucial customer information. They said they were treated as a second-class workforce within the bank, with little power to shut down problematic accounts.
The FinCEN Files raise new questions about the U.S. Justice Department's decision in 2012 to forgo indicting HSBC or any bank executives in the Sinaloa cartel case. The decision was opposed by rank-and-file prosecutors, who had prepared a list of up to 175 criminal charges against the bank that the government ultimately shelved. No one went to prison over the bank's historic wrongdoing. The findings also raise questions about the department's decision, five years later, to pronounce HSBC reformed and allow its probation to lapse. The investigation builds upon ICIJ's previous Swiss Leaks project, which exposed how HSBC's Swiss private banking arm profited from doing business with tax dodgers and criminals around the world prior to 2008.
FinCEN Files documents show that HSBC knew regulators were investigating its customer, the WCM Ponzi scheme, even as it helped move its money.
A federal class-action lawsuit brought by bilked investors alleged that HSBC Hong Kong was ''instrumental in helping WCM777 to continue its Ponzi scheme.'' A federal judge dismissed the suit last month, ruling it had been brought in an improper jurisdiction.
In an exclusive interview with ICIJ, the Ponzi scheme's bow-tie-sporting founder, Ming Xu, said HSBC did not contact him to ask about massive money flows WCM was moving through the bank's Hong Kong accounts.
Banks' SARs form the backbone of U.S. authorities' attempts to fight money laundering, but the system fails to stop deluges of dirty money. Banks can, but are not necessarily required to, block or close accounts suspected of being used for money laundering, and they can fulfill a key legal obligation by simply reporting the transactions to FinCEN. The office received more than two million of those reports last year, more than its agents could hope to read.
The SARs reviewed by ICIJ and its partners include 73 reports filed between 2012 and 2017 by HSBC. The documents contain information on more than $4.4 billion in more than ten years of transactions reported as suspicious. That amounts to a tiny fraction of the tens of thousands of SARs HSBC files each year but offers a window into the bank's troubled compliance efforts.
The confidential records and interviews with former employees reveal that compliance officers often filed SARs lacking even basic information about who owned companies banking with HSBC, the nature of their businesses, and where the money came from. Sometimes, records show, they asked branches for the information and were ignored or rebuffed.
''It was impossible to do the job without this information,'' said Alexis Grullon, a former compliance officer who monitored international suspicious activity for HSBC's New York offices from November 2012 to August 2014. Grullon said that, in most cases, HSBC branches in other countries would simply ignore his requests for ownership information about suspicious accounts.
''They would say: 'Sure, we'll get back to you.' But they'd never get back,'' he recalled.
Grullon said that a key component of his job was submitting SARs to the federal government but that the reports did little to stop customers' suspicious activities.
''Why are we filing SARs?'' Grullon recalls wondering. ''The account is still open. Nothing is actually being done.''
'The world's local bank'Founded in Hong Kong as the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corp. in 1865, HSBC prospered managing British government accounts across East Asia. By the mid-2000s, the bank had become one of the world's most pervasive retail financial institutions, with thousands of branches in more than 70 countries, dubbing itself at one point, ''the world's local bank.''
It was more than a slogan. Under the global brand, HSBC operated as a loose confederation of largely autonomous fiefs. This degree of decentralization meant that the bank's headquarters, which moved to London in 1941, extended its hands-off approach even to anti-money laundering questions.
One result: HSBC accepted clients whose massive wealth translated into big profits but who turned out to be criminals.
In 2003, HSBC agreed to a consent order drawn up by U.S. authorities in which the bank promised to fix its anti-money laundering program and empower compliance officers by providing better tools and information about customers.
Instead, the bank took part in one of the most notorious episodes in money laundering history. As the Mexican drug war metastasized in the mid-2000s, the bank provided essential U.S. dollar-denominated accounts to narco-gangs needing to clean hundreds of millions of dollars in drug earnings. The cartels designed specially shaped boxes that fit HSBC's teller windows to deliver the massive amounts of illicit cash pouring in.
In 2010, the bank was forced to submit to another court order secured by its primary regulator, the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. The bank promised to boost anti-money-laundering systems and provide compliance officers with more information about its clients '-- again.
In the summer of 2012, the U.S. Senate investigative panel released its 339-page report on the bank's work with Mexican narco-gangs and its role in terrorist financing. Later that year, the Justice Department and HSBC reached their deferred-prosecution agreement. Critics cast the government's decision to forgo indictment of the bank or any of its executives as a sign of big banks' virtual impunity from meaningful consequences for their misdeeds.
Hong KongAlthough no longer the banking giant's headquarters, Hong Kong remains the beating heart of HSBC. In 2015, its operations in the island territory, which include a subsidiary called Hang Seng Bank, accounted for nearly half of HSBC's global profits, and its market share in Hong Kong dwarfs that of its competitors.
On June 20, 2012, the same day HSBC's attorneys were describing the bank's anti-money-laundering protocols to Senate investigators on Capitol Hill, HSBC's Hong Kong branch began transmitting funds for a shell company called Trade Leader Corp. Ltd.
By February 2014, transfers into and out of the shell company's Hong Kong accounts totaled more than $581 million.
Records from the FinCEN Files show that, when the bank's U.S. compliance staff asked for information about who owned the big-dollar account, HSBC's Hong Kong bankers simply responded that there was ''none available.''
According to a review of data collected by an ICIJ media partner, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, Trade Leader Corp. Ltd. was a major East Asian node in the ''Russian Laundromat,'' a sprawling network that moved criminally tainted money from former Soviet states to the West. Incorporated in Hong Kong, Trade Leader lists one company official in its 2015 filing in the Hong Kong corporate registry, a director whose address is an apartment unit in a decaying Soviet-era building in the far-eastern Russian city of Novosibirsk.
In 2014, Hong Kong's corporate registry listed Trade Leader's sole shareholder as a company called INHK Ltd. In an email to ICIJ, Trade Leader's registration agent, a firm called Intercorp Asia, acknowledged that INHK's only purpose was to hide Trade Leader's true owner, known as the ''ultimate beneficial owner,'' or UBO.
INHK does not have ''any business activity and [is] used to hide the real UBO information in [the] company registry of HK,'' Alex Orso, an Intercorp representative wrote. He declined to share further information about Trade Leader.
Trade Leader was not an isolated case. Though documenting only a tiny fraction of HSBC's activities during this period, the FinCEN Files reveal a striking tolerance of questionable customers within HSBC's Hong Kong branch.
ICIJ analyzed nearly $1.5 billion in transactions that flowed through shell companies holding commercial accounts with HSBC Hong Kong between 2011 and 2016. In each case, HSBC filed SARs that failed to include fundamental facts about the bank's own big-dollar customers, including who owned the accounts, what countries the owners lived in, and where the money came from.
The U.S. Senate's 2012 report on HSBC highlighted the danger of bank compliance officers remaining in the dark about such basic information.
''Information sharing was one of the major things HSBC promised they were going to do,'' said Elise Bean, lead author of the Senate report and former aide to then-Sen. Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan.
The FinCEN files show that HSBC broke the pledge repeatedly.
In mid-2013, a shell company client, Vic Charm Ltd., sent or received more than $80 million through HSBC Hong Kong accounts during the first several months of the bank's probation. HSBC compliance officers listed virtually nothing about the firm, aside from a series of Hong Kong addresses linked to it and the name of an owner, about whom the officers said they knew nothing, not even the person's country of residence. In 2015, prosecutors in Malawi alleged that the shell company had received $3.8 million in a scheme to launder money out of the resource-deprived country.
The case remains pending, according to a statement from the Reserve Bank of Malawi, which is involved in pressing the laundering charges.
In February 2016, well into HSBC's probation period, bank compliance officers asked the Hong Kong branch about a suspected laundering operation involving a customer called Enjoy Trading Shanghai Co., but had received no response before filing a SAR one month later.
In May of that year, the bank's compliance staffers filed a report on a former HSBC Hong Kong customer called Alahdin Limited, saying that documents posted to the internet alleged that more than half a trillion dollars in transactions had flowed through the firm. Relying on information received from HSBC's Hong Kong branch, the report offered almost no information about the company's ownership, listing Alahdin's owner with merely a first name and initials '-- ''SHAHUL H H M'' '-- along with an email address.
A May 2016 suspicious activity report filed by HSBC. Image: ICIJ / FinCEN Files The report did not note that Alahdin, a company registered in Hong Kong, had two years prior changed its name to the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company Ltd. Little is known about this company, but it shares its name with one that decades ago created Pakarab Fertilizers Limited, a subsidiary of Pakistan's Fatima Group, according to the group's website. In 2012, U.S. military officials accused Fatima's fertilizer operations of providing chemicals used to make Taliban roadside bombs targeting U.S. and other coalition forces in Afghanistan.
Profit Accounting Company Limited, a firm that Hong Kong registry documents say acted as Alahdin's corporate secretary, told ICIJ it had no record of ever having worked with the firm. Fatima Group did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
In July 2016, HSBC filed a suspicious activity report on a customer called Cool Distribution Ltd., which had sent or received more than $92 million between 2011 and 2015 through the bank's accounts. ICIJ's research found that $19 million of that amount went to a company run by a businessman who had been convicted in a 2015 tax fraud case in Bologna, Italy, involving Italian organized crime.
The SAR lists three names for Cool Distribution's owners, but without addresses, country of residence or other basic information. Two of the names have been linked to a Hong Kong financial fraud scandal, another belongs to a Russian intellectual property tycoon who denied to ICIJ knowing anything of Cool Distribution. HSBC's report listed a Dubai address for the company but searches of corporate registries in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates found no record of the firm.
In March 2017, HSBC filed a report on another suspected money laundering account '-- a shell company called Well Fortune HK Ltd., which had moved more than $167 million in transactions through HSBC accounts over more than five years. The bank listed addresses for the company in Russia and Hong Kong, an email address and the name of a purported owner but no other identifying information, including the person's country of residence.
Well Fortune's 2014 filing in the Hong Kong corporate registry lists Adrian Matthew Bradley, a resident of Belize, as its sole shareholder. Bradley's name appears on records of dozens of shell companies around the world, according to leaked documents and public records. ICIJ sent requests for comment to Bradley's apparent email address, but received no response. Bradley is a ''decoy name'' for a Ukrainian oligarch named Serhiy Kurchenko, according to an article published by the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based think tank. Ukrainian prosecutors have accused Kurchenko of amassing millions of dollars via tax evasion and stealing from bank investors. In March 2014, the EU sanctioned him for his alleged links to state corruption. The following year, the U.S. sanctioned Kurchenko.
In September 2013, not long before financial regulators around the world announced investigations into the business, the leaders of WCM moved the Ponzi scheme's headquarters from Los Angeles to Hong Kong.
In October, Colombia's then-President Juan Manuel Santos announced that the national police would launch an investigation into allegedly illegal activities by the business. Three days later, HSBC compliance officers filed the first of several suspicious activity reports related to WCM accounts, noting that more than $6 million in transactions had moved through a single account over the preceding three months. The SAR said an internet search had revealed ''Ponzi allegations'' against the business.
Four months later, in February 2014, HSBC filed another suspicious activity report on the scheme, saying WCM had received or sent $15 million between 2013 and early 2014 through its HSBC Hong Kong account and company accounts with other banks to which HSBC provided U.S. dollar services. By then, authorities in Peru, Colombia, California and Massachusetts had publicly launched civil or criminal investigations into the company.
Yet massive dollar amounts kept flowing into the Hong Kong account.
Shane Riedel, a former HSBC compliance executive who now runs a Berlin-based anti-money-laundering consultancy, says a bank in this situation should take action.
''If a Ponzi scheme is flagged in one country and the accounts are not closed in another, that's not a mistake,'' Riedel said. He added that banks' systems for analyzing and sharing compliance information are often inadequate.
In March 2014, HSBC compliance officers filed yet another suspicious activity report on WCM, whose business continued to hum despite intense law enforcement scrutiny around the globe. Four days after the report was filed, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission obtained a restraining order that sought to freeze the company's bank accounts.
But even after the SEC order, WCM's accounts at HSBC remained highly active. According to court documents later filed by attorneys appointed by the SEC to seek restitution for the scheme's victims, WCM drained more than $7 million from the accounts during the following week, drawing its balance to zero.
HSBC's 2010 cease-and-desist order stipulated that the bank must examine its handling of subpoenas and law enforcement inquiries. Eleven days after the restraining order, HSBC Hong Kong formally declined to comply with a U.S. court's subpoena for records.
''Our bank is outside the jurisdiction of U.S. courts,'' HSBC Hong Kong's law firm said in a letter to lawyers seeking money for victims. By February 2015, the bank had not provided account information to the attorneys. As a result, ''the cost of tracing these funds overseas will be very expensive,'' the lawyers said in a court filing of the HSBC accounts and an account with UBS bank that had allegedly moved more than $2 million in transfers relating to the scam.
The SEC alleged that the scheme had used accounts at a variety of banks in addition to HSBC, but little is known about those accounts, including exactly how long they remained active. A summary of the forensic accounting report filed by the SEC-appointed lawyers focused largely on the HSBC Hong Kong accounts.
Meanwhile, WCM executives bought golf courses in Southern California, million-dollar homes and vacant land in Santa Barbara County that the scheme's zealously religious founder, Ming Xu, told ICIJ was supposed to become a Christian ''community of caring and sharing.''
In early 2014, 29-year-old Elvis Callejas was working toward his dream of building a set of retail stores in Bolivia's rural northernmost region. But he was forced to lay off the men helping to construct the project when his savings of $10,000 evaporated in WCM's collapse. ''I realized that I had fallen into a trap,'' Callejas told ICIJ.
Callejas found himself taking out loans to cover the sudden loss. ''That is a very large amount of money here,'' Callejas said.
Reynaldo Pacheco, the WCM investor murdered in Napa County, was also not a rich man. According to local law enforcement, he had searched for years for business opportunities and believed that WCM was a legitimate investment. Three people were later convicted for his kidnapping and murder.
Ming Xu, denies that WCM was a Ponzi scheme and told ICIJ that the SEC had ''plundered'' him. When he returned to mainland China in early 2015, he started a new version of WCM there, according to Chinese court documents. In November of that year, Chinese authorities arrested Xu for related financial crimes. He was subsequently convicted and spent three years in prison.
The Chinese court documents in Xu's case state that his venture in China had accounts with a list of Chinese banks, along with a single global bank: HSBC.
You can't get a man to believe in something when a salary depends on him not believing it.'' Mike Coates
HSBC's 2012 deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) was cast by Justice Department prosecutors as serious punishment '' akin to a criminal reporting to a probation officer '' bringing both serious consequences and strict oversight. It required, for instance, the bank to tie executive bonuses to the progress of its anti-money-laundering systems. Top salaries were supposed to be reduced if compliance fell short.
By 2014, HSBC was back to paying huge executive bonuses, including more than $2.5 million for then-Chief Executive Stuart Gulliver. The bonuses were so large that the bank had to exploit a loophole in EU regulations meant to keep bank executive bonuses from exceeding twice their yearly salary. The bank circumvented this by providing its senior executives with large ''allowances.''
''HSBC substantially revised its approach to remuneration in the context of our financial crime reforms to ensure that it captured our expectations for employees around risk and compliance,'' HSBC's Heidi Ashley said. ''As disclosed in our annual report and accounts, since 2013, a portion of our Executive Directors' variable pay awards have been expressly linked to risk and compliance measures to underscore the Group's commitment.'' Ashley noted that the new executive pay plan was assessed by the monitor and approved by U.K. financial regulators.
The DPA had given wide latitude to the bank's independent monitor, Michael Cherkasky, who submitted to prosecutors annual reviews of HSBC's anti-money-laundering performance. The reviews are secret, but short summaries published in court documents offer glimpses of Cherkasky's dissatisfaction at times. In 2016, for instance, the monitor mentioned, ''instances of potential financial crime'' occurring within HSBC's accounts. It also questioned whether HSBC was satisfying all requirements of the DPA.
As HSBC's probation neared its end in 2017, prosecutors mulled whether to let the probation lapse.
In December of that year, the Justice Department agreed to allow the bank's probation to end. The bank claimed that it had ''lived up to all of its commitments'' under the DPA.
The news stunned one HSBC senior anti-money-laundering executive, who left the bank shortly after the DPA expired. The executive, who asked to speak anonymously for fear of retaliation by the bank, identified Hong Kong as the epicenter of the bank's financial crime problems and said the issues there had remained ''largely untouched'' during the monitorship.
The former executive credited HSBC for bringing in top talent to address the DPA, including former FinCEN chief Jennifer Calvery, but said the bank's leadership often appeared unaware of how difficult the changes were to implement on the ground level.
Six former HSBC employees interviewed by ICIJ said the ending of the DPA coincided with a broad cultural shift at the bank toward profit-making over compliance. The shift, they said, included layoffs, lapsing contracts of anti-money-laundering staffers and the closing of a transactions-monitoring office in New Castle, Delaware.
HSBC declined to share numbers regarding its staffing after the DPA, but noted that its financial crime compliance personnel had grown to roughly five thousand in 2017. In comments to ICIJ, the bank also touted initiatives to fight laundering it made after the DPA's lifting, including a platform it launched in 2018 to analyze social networks to make it easier for the bank to identify customers potentially involved with criminal networks. The bank says it screens 689 million transactions across 236 million accounts per month.
In a statement to ICIJ and its reporting partners, the department of justice defended its record of enforcement actions against big banks.
''The Department of Justice stands by its work, and remains committed to aggressively investigating and prosecuting financial crime '-- including money laundering '-- wherever we find it,'' Matt Lloyd, a spokesperson for the department's Criminal Division, said.
Since the DPA's conclusion, the bank and U.S. authorities have vigorously fought to keep Cherkasky's monitoring reports secret.
In November 2015, Hubert Dean Moore Jr., a homeowner who sued HSBC, alleging that the bank had mishandled his request for mortgage relief, asked a federal judge in New York to unseal one of Cherkasky's reports on HSBC. The judge agreed, but an appeals court panel overturned the decision, siding with the Justice Department's argument that the report was not a releasable document. Cherkasky's reports remain under seal.
In 2019, ICIJ partner BuzzFeed News sued for the release of Cherkasky's final report, arguing that the public's interest in understanding the government's handling of the HSBC case demands that it be unsealed. The Justice Department continues to fight to keep the Cherkasky report sealed and has sought repeatedly to delay preliminary hearings, citing the coronavirus pandemic. The suit is pending.
Mike Coates, a former HSBC employee who worked on financial crime compliance during the DPA and left the bank in 2018, said the industry's profit-focused incentive structures can still override the fight against financial crime.
''You can't get a man to believe in something when a salary depends on him not believing it,'' said Coates, who declined to provide specifics about his time at the bank. ''That's the biggest challenge you have in this industry.''
Contributors : Jason Leopold, Anthony Cormier, Kyra Gurney, Roman Anin, Emilia Diaz-Struck, Agustin Armendariz, Delphine Reuter, James Oliver, Golden Matonga
BLM
Fundraiser by Richard Walden : Project Whiteout
Wed, 23 Sep 2020 13:48
As a white cisgender male, I must make a meaningful contribution to Social Justice. I need give up as much of my privilege as I can, knowing I can never truly give it all up. To do that, I will leave my upper five to six-figure career role to make room for People of Color. I can help by making more room for People of Color in professional spaces.
What will I contribute? I will be giving up between $2,000,000 and $3,000,000 in future earnings
What am I asking of you? To help pitch in a small percentage of that to help make Project Whiteout possible
What will I do if Project Whiteout is successful? I plan to devote time volunteering to help the Community
What will be done with funds raised beyond the goals listed below? If there are funds raised in excess of the goals listed below, after the gofund me fees have been paid, they will be donated to causes that will help the Community
I will Whiteout from the workplace within the timeframe noted next to each goal. The more that is raised, the faster I will Whiteout.
$250,000 Whiteout within 1 year
$215,000 Whiteout within 2 years
$180,000 Whiteout within 3 years
$145,000 Whiteout within 4 years
$110,000 Whiteout within 5 years
$75,000 Whiteout within 6 years
$40,000 Whiteout within 7 years
$5,000 Whiteout within 8 years
Why is it a lower amount as years pass? I will be saving toward Whiteout as I continue to work. The level of Community support for Social Justice will make the difference between making space for People of Color within a year or within a decade.
It's time for positive change
EDI at NBCUniversal
Donald J. Trump on Twitter: "A few weeks ago, I BANNED efforts to indoctrinate government employees with divisive and harmful sex and race-based ideologies. Today, I've expanded that ban to people and companies that do business..." / Twitter
Wed, 23 Sep 2020 00:01
Donald J. Trump : A few weeks ago, I BANNED efforts to indoctrinate government employees with divisive and harmful sex and race-based'... https://t.co/DsXFNmcPnZ
Tue Sep 22 22:53:22 +0000 2020
Pimp turned activist is paid $150,000 by Seattle to work as a 'street czar' | Daily Mail Online
Wed, 23 Sep 2020 14:56
A pimp turned activist who once vowed to 'go to war' with Seattle is being paid $150,000 by the city to work as a 'street czar' and come up with 'alternatives to policing' because he said he can talk to 'gang members, pimps and prostitutes who won't sit down with anybody else'.
Andr¨ Taylor, who set up nonprofit Not This Time after his brother Che Taylor was shot dead by Seattle cops in 2016, signed a deal with the city on July 27 to work as its community liaison, according to the contract published by PubliCola last week.
As part of the $12,500 a month deal, Taylor will provide recommendations to the city on de-escalation, community engagement, and alternatives to policing as Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan aims to improve relations between law enforcement and community members in the wake of multiple cop killings of black men and women across America.
Taylor, who was convicted of being a pimp back in 2000, has a mixed past with City Hall, promising to wage 'war' after his brother's death before emerging as an ally and vocal critic of the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP) zone this year.
He publicly sided with Mayor Durkan in calls to dismantle the zone after two people were shot dead but was then exposed in a secret recording urging occupiers to 'leave with something' and offering to negotiate a million-dollar financial package with the city on their behalf.
Andr¨ Taylor (pictured left in 2017, and recently right) signed a deal with the city on July 27 to work as its community liaison, according to the contract published by PubliCola last week
Pimp turned activist Andr¨ Taylor (pictured in 2017 at a protest over the cop killing of a pregnant mother in Seattle) who once vowed to 'go to war' with Seattle is being paid $150,000 by the city to work as a 'street czar' and come up with 'alternatives to policing'
Taylor's $12,500 a month contract, which includes an office in Seattle's Municipal Tower, and his new title as the city's 'street czar' was his idea, reported Seattle Times.
He told the news outlet he is the man for the job because 'not too many people can go talk to gangbangers in their territory, and then go talk to the government in their territory.'
Taylor said he has 'particular genius in a particular area' and can talk to 'gang members, pimps and prostitutes' who 'won't sit down with anybody else,' reported KOMO News.
Taylor pictured in 1999 in the documentary 'American Pimp'. In 2000, he was convicted of seven prostitution-related counts and sentenced to five and a half years in prison
Taylor, who set up nonprofit Not This Time after his brother Che Taylor (pictured) was shot dead by Seattle cops in 2016, said he can talk to 'gang members, pimps and prostitutes who won't sit down with anybody else'
'Black people as a whole have not been in a place to be compensated for their genius or their work for a very, very long time,' he said.
Mayor Jenny Durkan's office did not immediately return DailyMail.com's request for comment but told the Seattle Times the partnership would 'help de-escalate the ongoing situation' by allowing the city to tap into Taylor's 'lived experience with the criminal legal system'.
'The City's Department of Neighborhoods entered into a contract with Not This Time so that the organization could help de-escalate the ongoing situation in and around Cal Anderson Park,' spokesperson Kelsey Nyland said in the statement.
'The City sought a contract with Not This Time because of our existing working partnership'... but also because of the organization's lived experience with the criminal legal system, and their history of successful advocacy and activism on issues of policing and dismantling systemic racism.'
The mayor's office said the city has also entered into similar contracts with other community groups.
Not This Time is also developing a program to support the mental health of black people leaving prison as they reintegrate into the community.
The nonprofit also worked with the city in 2019 on a $100,000 contract to host a speaker series called 'Conversation with the Streets'.
The latest partnership comes after Taylor spoke out publicly this year against the controversial CHOP zone, which started as a peaceful occupation of a police precinct before turning into the site of two deadly shootings.
Protesters occupied several blocks around a park and the Seattle Police Department's East Precinct after officers abandoned the building on June 8 following clashes with demonstrators calling for an end to police brutality and racism in the wake of George Floyd's 'murder' in Minneapolis.
As part of the $12,500 a month deal, Taylor will provide recommendations to the city on de-escalation, community engagement, and alternatives to policing as Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan (pictured) aims to improve relations between cops and community members
Lorenzo Anderson, 19, was shot dead in the zone on June 20 and Antonio Mays Jr., 16, was killed on June 29 and cops cleared the area and reclaimed the precinct days later.
Taylor, who led one of the first protests in the city over Floyd's Memorial Day 'murder', condemned the zone for its violence.
He joined forces with Durkan at a press conference on June 22 after Anderson's death and as the city grappled to take back control of the area, telling reporters: 'I feel like I cannot help the situation now because of the violence that will probably continue.'
Taylor was criticized by some protesters who accused him of siding with the mayor.
Despite his public stance in support of the mayor, the community activist was then caught on a secret recording encouraging demonstrators to meet with the mayor and demand millions for the community in return for leaving CHOP.
Taylor has a mixed past with City Hall, promising 'war' after his brother's death before emerging as an ally and vocal critic of the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP) zone this year. Pictured the CHOP zone
CHOP zone being dismantled. Taylor publicly sided with Mayor Durkan in calls to dismantle the zone but was exposed on a secret recording urging occupiers to 'leave with something' and offering to negotiate a financial package with the city on their behalf
'I'm advising you to leave,' Taylor told CHOP activists during the conversation at a South Seattle restaurant.
'Let me go before you to the mayor. Leave with resources, money for the community. Then you win.'
He proposed that he could go to Durkan and negotiate money on their behalf.
''Listen, I went down and talked [to the CHOP activists]'... They're so serious about this space, they're willing to die. But we have an out. They're more concerned about being able to have some money for communities that are devastated right now, and if we can move that, they'll be willing to leave',' he said he could put to Durkan.
'So don't just leave. Leave with something.'
He added: 'You gotta get something. Let me make that happen for you, and then I can bring that back to you. I don't know, we'll ask for $2 million. They might give us $1 million, but let's ask for it.
'Because the reason why we're holding that space is not only for George Floyd but for the millions of George Floyds.'
Taylor has since defended his comments and insisted the mayor knew nothing of his proposals to the CHOP occupants.
'They wanted to defund [the police] and to redistribute funds. I told them they could go to the mayor and ask her for a certain amount,' he told Seattle Times.
Taylor said of his deal that 'not too many people can go talk to gangbangers in their territory, and then go talk to the government in their territory'
'I was concerned about the protesters leaving that space without having some type of win. They were concerned about the safety of being there. I agreed with them about that. But at the same time, I was telling them, 'Don't leave without a win.''
He said he wanted to help 'get some real action for the community' and that he 'would do it again'.
CHOP activist Javi Cordero who was at the meeting with Taylor said the group felt his suggestions were 'off'.
'After the meeting, I thought 'this feels off,' talked about it with some other activists, and we never followed up with Andr¨,' Cordero told Seattle Times.
Taylor founded Not This Time after his brother Che was shot dead by cops on February 21 2016 in the Wedgwood neighborhood of Seattle.
Police were carrying out an undercover drug operation and said Che had reached for a gun and refused to comply with their commands when they opened fire.
At an inquest, jurors unanimously agreed Che complied with officers' orders to show his hands and had moved his body position down toward the floor after officers ordered him to get on the ground.
No charges were filed against the cops involved in the case.
Taylor arrived in the city after his brother's death and vowed to go to war over his killing.
He then founded Not This Time, which champions statewide police reforms, holds police accountable and connects relatives of people killed by police with local leaders to push for reforms.
Taylor's escapades as the pimp 'Gorgeous Dre' were featured in the documentary 'American Pimp' (pictured)
In 2000, Taylor, whose own father was a pimp and his mother a prostitute, was convicted of seven prostitution-related counts and sentenced to five and a half years in prison.
The Las Vegas pimp was proven guilty of traveling across several state lines with an underage prostitute, who was 16 at the time.
Taylor allegedly lived in a $300,000 house and wore $4,000 Versace suits and a $90,000 Rolex while pimping out the girl and other adult women.
His escapades as 'Gorgeous Dre' were featured in the documentary 'American Pimp'.
'I was born from the streets; I come out of the deep darkness,' he said in a YouTube video about his former career earlier this year.
'We knew you considered us the waste of the world from the beginning. We didn't care what you thought about us '... just like I don't care what you think about me now.'
Noodle Gun
'F--k Cuomo and de Blasio' mural painted on Brooklyn street
Mon, 21 Sep 2020 13:20
September 20, 2020 | 5:55pm | Updated September 21, 2020 | 8:58am
Warning: Graphic content
The writing's on the wall '-- er, road.
Fed-up New Yorkers painted a massive stretch of Brooklyn blacktop with the yellow message ''F''k Cuomo and de Blasio'' over the weekend in the vein of Hizzoner's ''Black Lives Matter'' art, only for the city to quickly scrub the statement.
The not-so-subtle shout-out to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio went up around 1 a.m. Saturday on North 15th Street between Wythe Avenue and Banker Street in Williamsburg, during the waning hours of an annual block party which this year doubled as a ''small business owner protest,'' one attendee told The Post.
''A few partygoers got the idea to paint in huge [letters, using] yellow paint with rollers on North 15th, 'F''k Cuomo and de Blasio,''' the attendee said Sunday, refusing to be identified by name. ''The party continued. Everyone took photos.
''It was a big hit. The crowds cheered, even the cops chuckled.''
But word made it back to city officials, who evidently didn't share the assessment.
Bucking widely held notions about municipal inefficiency, workers from the city Department of Transportation descended on the display less than 24 hours later '-- around 10 p.m. Saturday '-- to cover up the message with black, according to the attendee.
The anti-Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio mural in Brooklyn
The mural on North 15th Street between Wythe Avenue and Gem Street painted over
Gregory P. Mango
Up NextThe Cowboys looked primed for another loss after just barely...
''They told the partygoers it came from up top and they were told the sign said 'F''k the police,''' the attendee said, though it was unclear whether the workers meant that the order came from top DOT officials or City Hall.
The all-caps, block-length message was in the style of city-sanctioned projects reading ''Black Lives Matter'' that sprang up during the summer's fierce protests over police bias and racial injustice '-- including one outside Manhattan's Trump Tower, which has become a vandalism magnet.
Even while personally helping plaster that message on public property, de Blasio has nixed efforts to paint a similar display reading ''Blue Lives Matter'' in support of cops, leading two pro-police groups to take him to court.
City business owners big and small have railed against elected officials' handling of the coronavirus crisis and its resulting economic fallout.
The DOT and City Hall didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.
The NYPD confirmed that a criminal mischief complaint had been filed over the incident and that an investigation is ongoing, but did not comment on the claim that cops laughed at the vandalism while doing nothing to stop it.
'Antebellum' Movie Review: I Am Tired of Films Like This
Tue, 22 Sep 2020 20:32
This movie had the opportunity to show a more dynamic side of slavery narratives, but it ends up reaffirming the very horror it is trying to critique. Photo: Universal Pictures
I am tired. I am tired of pop-cultural artifacts that render Black people as merely Black bodies onto which the sins of this ragged country are violently mapped. I am tired of suffering being the primary lens through which we understand Black identity. I am tired of being so hungry for Black joy and Black representation that scraps feel like a meal. I am tired of films about slavery refusing to acknowledge the interior lives of Black women even as their beings become tools for filmmakers to explore the horrors of the enslaved. I am tired of thin characterization and milquetoast social messaging being the kind of representation Black folks receive. I am tired of films like Antebellum.
The feature debut of writer-director duo Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz is seemingly poised '-- with an overly serious demeanor '-- to provoke a reckoning. Especially if you ask its directors, who, in an introduction that preceded the version of their film I watched, prattled on about their lofty goal to ''activate a conversation'' that is ''of and for this moment.'' Instead, Antebellum reaffirms the very horror it's trying to critique.
Beginning with the ostentatious opening tracking shot '-- snaking its way through plantation grounds, noting the hard work of the Black folks on the land and the white Confederate soldiers watching their every move '-- we are plunged into a world both strange and achingly familiar. A world of picked cotton and casual cruelty, prim southern ritual and uninhibited brutality. But there is something amiss about the plantation on which Eden (Janelle Mone) is viciously abused and from which she continuously tries to escape. The first cue that things are far from what they seem is the appearance of a golden septum piercing glinting in the light on the face of another enslaved woman as she futilely tries to break free and is unceremoniously killed for it.
But before we learn anything about Eden's reality, before we even know her actual name, we witness profound violence against her, first in a harrowing scene in which she's branded. After 40 minutes of unrelenting torture in antebellum dress, the film turns on its axis. Mone is reintroduced as Veronica Henley, a famous writer and activist of considerable wealth, with a doting husband and young daughter. Here, we get more detail about her lavish home than the actual characters who live there with her, the camera panning across the luxe interior and photographs of Veronica competing in horse-jumping events (a subtle gesture to what's to come in the third act). At one point in this contemporary setting, Veronica says to a friend, ''My nana used to say our ancestors haunt our dreams to see themselves forward.'' The line suggests a multitude of fantastical pathways for Antebellum. Is this story like something out of Octavia Butler's Kindred? Is the Mone we saw before a figment of the memories of Veronica's distant relatives? Is there something supernatural afoot? No. Instead, the filmmakers choose a more banal explanation. Her link to the plantation we witness in the first act of the film is less imaginative than that slip of dialogue suggests.
Antebellum ends up being a noxious tour of historic violence against Black folks in service of a story that has nothing novel to say about the obliterating function of whiteness and anti-Black racism. Lacking a strong point of view to grant interiority to its characters, its approach to horror and social commentary becomes deadened. On the level of craft, Antebellum assumes beauty '-- the film is obsessed with depicting the magic hour in all its sherbet-hued glory '-- is inherently rich with meaning. As a result, the world-building is slapdash, confusing obfuscation with intrigue. Antebellum is an artistic failure of two directors whose goals supersede their ability to meet them, festering with not only aesthetic and narrative failures but moral ones too: It implicitly argues that depictions of suffering are the best means of understanding what it means to be Black in America.
In the wake of Jordan Peele's success with his first two films '-- the exploratory Get Out and the beguiling but messy Us '-- Hollywood has realized that horror is an apt venue for excavating the grooves of Black identity and the mellifluous, dynamic experience of what it means to be Black throughout the diaspora. There is Misha Green's overwrought Lovecraft Country currently airing on HBO, as well as Justin Simien's Bad Hair and Nia Dacosta's upcoming reimagining of the 1990s Tony Todd classic Candyman. The genre, at its best, lets us explore cultural taboos and fears with an unvarnished alacrity. I still think it's possible to do a horror film that explores slavery in this country's history, but that requires a sure hand, a strong point a view, and an even stronger sense of history '-- none of which is demonstrated in Antebellum. It's hard to create any tension when the characters are so poorly drawn and the world they inhabit has little internal logic. Sure, there are scant moments of tension, but they fizzle out quickly thanks to the inert dialogue and rank stupidity of the story (much of which I can't get into without spoiling the majority of the plot).
White people in particular are rendered as caricatures who seem to get an erotic charge from the violence they inflict, including Jack Huston as the leering Hugo Meadows, a Confederate solider of great standing who supervises the plantation '-- which isn't necessarily a misguided approach so much as improperly executed, flattening rather than revealing anything about the nature of whiteness and its emptiness in America. Whiteness is an oft-told lie that powers much of the world, yet Antebellum is neither cunning enough nor intellectually ambitious enough to explain such a truth. So the white people have no internal logic, no gravitas. They evoke neither fear nor overwhelming hate, mostly just boredom, except for Jena Malone, who comes the closest to striking the necessary chord by foregrounding white women's toxicity. But her performance is undone by the odd dishonesty of the film '-- the N-word is never uttered, for one.
The idea of doing a slave narrative, even one wrapped in a twist that puts a Black woman at the fore, is a risky proposition, given that slavery period films rarely allow the interior life of their characters to rise above the physical and psychological pain they endure. Who even is Veronica? When we see her onstage at a public appearance in New Orleans, staring out at the beaming faces of so many Black women, she speaks in empty, progressive platitudes that make it hard to understand the work she actually does. (I lost count at how many times she shoved the word ''patriarchy'' into her sentences.) A strange grasp of class snakes its way through the story, too; it's as if the filmmakers are drawing a line from the worth of a modern-day Black person to the intellectual/financial class they inhabit. (One of the more important deaths in the film is of a character who is only referred to as ''professor,'' but given no defining features beyond that.)
The effect is wholly distancing. It's worthwhile to explore the pain and grit of moving through America while being Black, but that exploration shouldn't come at the expense of the humanity of the characters. Janelle Mone is entirely miscast; she has been charming in supporting roles like that in Moonlight, but here she lacks the gravitas and precision to make Veronica feel real. But I can't blame her for not bringing to life what obviously didn't exist on the page. Antebellum is ultimately a travesty of craft and filmmaking with a perspective that hollows out the Black experience in favor of wan horror.
I Am Tired of Films Like Antebellum
Black Lives Matter Drops Call to 'Disrupt ... Nuclear Family' from Website
Thu, 24 Sep 2020 12:31
The main Black Lives Matter website has apparently deleted its ''What We Believe'' manifesto, which included calls for the disruption of the nuclear family.
The original ''What We Believe'' page explained:
Four years ago, what is now known as the Black Lives Matter Global Network began to organize. It started out as a chapter-based, member-led organization whose mission was to build local power and to intervene when violence was inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes.
In the years since, we've committed to struggling together and to imagining and creating a world free of anti-Blackness, where every Black person has the social, economic, and political power to thrive.
The page went on to describe the origins of the movement in outrage at the 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in 2012, and the refusal of a grand jury to indict a police officer in the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014. (Martin was slamming Zimmerman's head into concrete, and Brown had attempted to steal a police officer's gun before charging him '-- a confrontation falsely portrayed as ''hands up, don't shoot.'')
The page then added:
We are self-reflexive and do the work required to dismantle cisgender privilege and uplift Black trans folk, especially Black trans women who continue to be disproportionately impacted by trans-antagonistic violence.
'...
We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and ''villages'' that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.
The goal of disrupting the nuclear family became among the most controversial tenets of the organization.
The ''What We Believe'' page is now blank, with a ''page not found'' error message.
Instead, the website includes a shorter statement of purpose in its ''about'' section, which does not include the former statement about disrupting the nuclear family.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.
Wells Fargo CEO ruffles feathers with comments about diverse talent
Wed, 23 Sep 2020 14:58
Wells Fargo & Co Chief Executive Charles Scharf exasperated some Black employees in a Zoom meeting this summer when he reiterated that the bank had trouble reaching diversity goals because there was not enough qualified minority talent, two participants told Reuters.
He also made the assertion in a company-wide memo June 18 that announced diversity initiatives as nationwide protests broke out following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed African-American man, in police custody.
"While it might sound like an excuse, the unfortunate reality is that there is a very limited pool of black talent to recruit from," Scharf said in the memo, seen by Reuters.
Scharf spent more time listening than speaking during the 90-minute call which he initiated and has not been previously reported. His comments about Black talent rubbed some attendees the wrong way, according to the two employees, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they feared repercussions.
Not all attendees recalled being offended. "The meeting was incredibly constructive... I walked away being incredibly surprised at how genuine and sincere he is," said Alex David, president of the Black/African American Connection Team Member Network.
But several Black senior executives across corporate America said they are frustrated by claims of a talent shortage, and called the refrain a major reason that companies have struggled to add enough racial and ethnic diversity to leadership ranks, despite stated intentions to do so.
"There is an amazing amount of Black talent out there," said Ken Bacon, a former mortgage industry executive who is on the boards of Comcast Corp, Ally Financial Inc and Welltower Inc. "If people say they can't find the talent, they either aren't looking hard enough or don't want to find it."
Bacon said he was "shocked and puzzled" by Scharf's comments.
Wells Fargo spokeswoman Beth Richek defended Scharf's record on diversity.
The CEO of the largest U.S. bank employer has pledged to double the number of Black leaders over five years and tied executive compensation to reaching diversity goals. He is also requiring hiring managers to consider diverse candidates for high-paying roles that are vacant, and ensure diversity on interview teams.
Wells Fargo's latest proxy disclosed more diversity data than those of many other companies, including that two of 12 directors at the time were Black and 1 was "Latino/Hispanic".
Scharf "is committed to deep and systemic change to increase diversity and has held several forums where there has been candid conversation and unfiltered feedback," Richek said in a statement. Scharf was not available for an interview, she said.
"Talent is there"Introspection across corporate America during the Black Lives Matter movement has cast a harsh light on the lack of diversity.
In boardrooms, African Americans made up 10 percent of new director appointments in the Fortune 500 last year compared with their 13 percent of the U.S. population, according to a 2020 report from executive recruiting firm Heidrick & Struggles. New Hispanic directors were even more scarce, the study found.
Only 7.3 percent of the five highest-paid executives at financial companies in the Russell 3000 were racial or ethnic minorities, according to data from ISS ESG, an arm of the proxy-advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services. That number has risen in recent years, yet remains far below the percentage of minority groups in the general U.S. population.
Senior corporate executives and recruiters said the notion of a shallow minority talent pool is frequently cited as a hurdle to improving diversity but probably reflects insular professional and social networks.
Lauren Holland, who chairs a word-of-mouth professional network called Wall Street Friends, said she has 8,000 members in minority communities, and sent out more job posts to them in the last two months than in the last five years.
"I literally get emails every single day from people asking to be added to our list," she said. "The talent is there. It's just a matter of the firm accessing it and connecting with it."
Not enough progressExperts said one reason board rooms and C-suites lack diversity is that such jobs are often filled by people who have managed businesses, while many people of color have tended to be stuck in roles that lack a direct connection to profits.
"As women and minorities started to gain traction in corporate America, they were trapped in certain jobs companies felt comfortable placing them in, like human resources, administrative-support type functions," said Teri McClure, former general counsel and chief human resources officer at United Parcel Service Inc, who now sits on several boards, including JetBlue Airways Corp.
McClure said she frequently heard comments like Scharf's when companies have not tried hard enough to find diverse candidates or give them the experience to qualify for senior roles.
Some black directors and executives said they were not happy with the progress that had been made in improving diversity.
"Unless I practically get on a soapbox about it and ask about it every meeting, it gets pushed out," said Mary Winston, a director at companies including Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc , about some of her past work on boards. "It's just not as robust a conversation as it should be, and no progress has been made."
Winston, adding that she is often the only person of color in board rooms, also disagreed with the notion of a talent shortage.
One of the Wells Fargo employees said there simply was no lack of talent: "I can get them 10 to 15 resumes today." (Reporting by Imani Moise, Jessica DiNapoli and Ross Kerber; Editing by Lauren Tara LaCapra, Paritosh Bansal and David Gregorio)
Princeton's cheap, empty virtue-signaling may prove very expensive
Thu, 24 Sep 2020 11:30
| September 23, 2020 12:00 AM
Princeton University President Christopher Eisgruber has gotten himself into a bit of a bind, as the Washington Examiner's Tiana Lowe first reported. Earlier this month, he released an open letter filled with unsubstantiated claims that he runs an institution imbued with systemic racism.
Eisgruber wrote that "racism and the damage it does to people of color persist at Princeton." He further asserted that "racist assumptions" are "embedded in structures of the University itself."
The reader will likely recognize such claptrap for what it is '-- the completely insincere words of a cowardly, mediocre university administrator, fearful of the damage that social justice agitators could do to his school's reputation were he ever to fail to act in a sufficiently obsequious manner.
Fortunately, the U.S. Education Department is taking a more rigorous view of his comments. Eisgruber's admission that he runs a racist university puts his school's federal funding in jeopardy. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 provides that "no person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance." This means that Eisgruber's admission, along with an earlier public statement by hundreds of Princeton faculty that ''anti-Black racism has a visible bearing upon Princeton's campus makeup," constitute open confessions that the university is in violation of civil rights law and should be stripped of its federal funding.
The Department of Education replied to Eisgruber's silly groveling with a letter announcing a new investigation of the school and requesting relevant documents. "Based on its admitted racism,'' the letter reads, ''the U.S. Department of Education ... is concerned Princeton's nondiscrimination and equal opportunity assurances in its Program Participation Agreements from at least 2013 to the present may have been false'' and that ''Princeton's many nondiscrimination and equal opportunity claims to students, parents, and consumers in the market for education certificates may have been false, misleading, and actionable substantial misrepresentations'' under federal law.
Eisgruber now faces a dilemma. One option is to level with everyone and admit that no, Princeton is not a racist institution; that no, he was never sincere about what he was saying. This option would allow him to argue that Princeton's representations of being an inclusive university were indeed accurate all along.
But if Eisgruber admits that he was merely fudging it '-- offering a calculated, guileful admission of guilt, he would enrage the social justice crowd, whose dogma holds that America and her institutions are not just racist, but incurably so. In reversing himself and claiming that Princeton is a nonracist institution, Eisgruber would make himself a heretic and set up himself and his school as a target for future hostile activism.
Eisgruber's other option is to risk going down with the woke ship. Yes, he can maintain that Princeton is a hotbed of systemic institutional racism, but that position could potentially cost the school billions in federal funding.
Until now, virtue-signaling was so cheap and easy. Anyone could do it and come off looking better for it. How refreshing to see that there are limits to such rank dishonesty where taxpayer funding is involved.
Costco removes Palmetto Cheese after founder's BLM comments | Daily Mail Online
Thu, 24 Sep 2020 11:37
Furious shoppers have threatened to boycott Costco over its 'woke' decision to remove popular Palmetto Cheese from 120 of its stores after the founder of the dairy company slammed Black Lives Matter as a 'terror organization.'
The hashtag #boycottcostco was trending on Twitter Wednesday afternoon, with hundreds of critics blasting the retailer for removing an American-made product from its shelves and stifling free speech.
One Twitter user, Terry Forshee wrote: 'The truth is now punishable by the ''woke'' mob. Disgusting. I hope Costco pays big time.'
It comes after Palmetto Cheese owner Brian Buck Henry, who is also the mayor of Pawleys Island, South Carolina, blasted Black Lives Matter on his own Facebook page, calling the movement a 'terrorist organization'.
Costco has pulled Plametto Cheese products from its shelves at 120 stores nationwide after the company founder's controversial comments about Black Lives Matter
The pimento cheese spread brand has sparked calls for a boycott on social media
Furious customers have been tweeting #boycottcostco in response to the retailer's decision to pull the pimento cheese brand off its shelves
Henry confirmed that his brand of spicy cheese spread was being yanked from store shelves but has sought to downplay the move.
'Costco rotates items in and out during the course of the year. They will occasionally add and drop products as a matter of normal business,' Henry told The Post and Courier. 'We remain optimistic that Palmetto Cheese will be back on the shelves in the not too distant future.'
Costco has not commented on its decision to remove Palmetto Cheese from a portion of its 785 big-box stores.
Initially there were calls for the dairy company to be boycotted, but the news that the popular cheese was being removed from shelves was too much for some customers.
Twitter user Victoria wrote: 'It's time to start a boycott against Woke #Costco #boycottcostco bring back my #palmettocheese.'
'We don't hurt people in this country because of their political opinions. Comments were blunt but not racist. #boycottcostco,' tweeted user Phil Galbraith.
Another message read: 'Costco flexing their wokeness and/or giving in to the BLM mob. Criticize BLM = lose your business. #BoycottCostco'
The hashtag #boycottcostco was trending on Twitter Wednesday afternoon, with hundreds of critics blasting the retailer for removing an American-made product from its shelves and stifling free speech
Frank Clavijo commented: 'It's sad that a company like Costco go along with a Marxist communist organization like blm/antifa I guess the millions of conservatives in this country will find somewhere else to shop #boycottcostco free speech this is America not a Marxist communist country.'
The issue began when Henry posted an angry rant on his Facebook page last month, decrying the slaying of '2 white people defenselessly gunned down by a black man.'
Henry's screed referenced the August 24 killings of Nick Wall and his 21-year-old stepdaughter, Laura Anderson, who police say were shot and killed by Tysheem Walters III after a car crash and altercation in Georgetown, which also injured a third person.
'So why do we stand by and allow BLM to lawlessly destroy great American cities and threaten their citizens on a daily basis,' Henry wrote the following day. 'Should they have a carde blanche license to pillage and destroy. Why? This has gone too far. Rise up, America. This BLM and Antifa movement must be treated like the terror organizations they are.'
Critics have called on Brian Henry, the founder of Palmetto Cheese and the mayor of Pawleys Island, South Carolina, to resign following his remarks
Henry posted this angry screed a day after a Black suspect allegedly shot three white people, two of them fatally, following a car crash in Georgetown, South Carolina
Henry, who is white, went on to state: 'all lives matter. There I said it. So am I a racist now? I think not. How about the POS who just gunned down three defenseless white people? You be the judge.'
There is no evidence to suggest that Walters has ties to the Black Lives Matter movement, or that the violent incident was related to it. He has been charged with two counts of murder.
The Georgetown chapter of the NAACP lambasted Henry's now-deleted status update as 'racist' and demanded that he resign as mayor of Pawleys Island.
Meanwhile, Henry's critics have been promoting the hashtag #BoycottPimento on social media.
Earlier this month, Henry called a press conference and apologized for his remarks.
'I am profoundly sorry to those I offended with my post last week. My comments were hurtful and insensitive,' Henry told reporters on September 3. 'I spent that past 10 days listening and learning.
Henry called a press conference on September 3 and apologized for his 'hurtful and insensitive' comments
Costco has not commented on its decision to remove Palmetto Cheese from a portion of its 785 big-box stores
'The conversations I've had with friends, our staff, the community and faith-based leaders provided me with a deeper understanding of racial inequality and the importance of diversity sensitivity, which is very much needed to heal Pawleys Island, Georgetown and our country.'
Henry, who founded Palmetto Cheese with his wife, Sassy, in 2006, also appealed to his critics to end the calls for a boycott.
'Please consider the hundreds of South Carolinians' jobs that depend on its success,' he pleaded.
Palmetto Cheese is still sold in some 9,000 stores in 44 states and Washington, DC, according to the company's website.
Mars drops Uncle Ben's, reveals new name for rice brand - ABC News
Wed, 23 Sep 2020 14:20
The Uncle Ben's rice brand is changing its name to Ben's Original
By
ALEXANDRA OLSON AP Business Writer
September 23, 2020, 6:19 AM ET
' 3 min read
NEW YORK -- The Uncle Ben's rice brand is getting a new name: Ben's Original.
Parent firm Mars Inc. unveiled the change Wednesday for the 70-year-old brand, the latest company to drop a logo criticized as a racial stereotype. Packaging with the new name will hit stores next year.
''We listened to our associates and our customers and the time is right to make meaningful changes across society,'' said Fiona Dawson, global president for Mars Food, multisales and global customers. ''When you are making these changes, you are not going to please everyone. But it's about doing the right thing, not the easy thing.''
Several companies have retired racial imagery from their branding in recent months, a ripple effect from the Black Lives Matters protests over the police killing of George Floyd and other African Americans.
Quaker Oats announced in June that it would drop Aunt Jemima from syrup and pancake packages, responding to criticism that the character's origins were based the ''mammy,'' a black woman content to serve her white masters. Quaker said packages without the Aunt Jemima image will start to appear in stores by the end of the year, although the company has not revealed the new logo.
The owner of Eskimo Pie has also said it will change its name and marketing of the nearly century-old chocolate-covered ice cream bar. Beyond food brands, the Washington NFL franchise dropped the ''Redskins'' name and Indian head logo amid pressure from sponsors including FedEx, Nike, Pepsi and Bank of America.
Geechie Boy Mill, a family-owned operation in South Carolina that makes locally-grown and milled white grits, is also planning a name change. Geechie is a dialect spoken mainly by the descendants of African-American slaves who settled on the Ogeechee river in Georgia, according to Merriam-Webster.com.
''We are in the process of changing our name and have developed a whole new brand. We look forward to sharing it with the public,'' said Greg Johnsman, owner of Geechie Boy Mill.
Mars had announced in the summer that the Uncle Ben's brand would ''evolve.''
Since the 1940s, the rice boxes have featured a white-haired Black man, sometimes with a bow tie, an image critics say evokes servitude. Mars has said the face was originally modeled after a Chicago maitre d' named Frank Brown. In a short-lived 2007 marketing campaign, the company elevated Uncle Ben to chairman of a rice company.
Dawson said months of conversations with employees, customer studies and other stakeholders led the company to settle on "Ben's Original. She said the company is still deciding on an image to accompany the new name.
Mars also announced several other initiatives, including a $2 million investment in culinary scholarships for aspiring Black chefs in partnership with the National Urban League. It also is planning a $2.5 million investment in nutritional and education programs for students in Greenville, Mississippi, the majority African-American city where the rice brand has been produced for more than 40 years.
Mars said it has set a goal of increasing the ranks of racial minorities in U.S. management positions by 40%. The company did not give a timeframe for reaching that number.
'--'--'--
AP Writer Dee-Ann Durbin in Detroit contributed to this story.
China
Tik Tok Security analysis - will people understand all apps do this?
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1yGHkM3KAWWAnpiZqg8HbCHEMA6CafAB6vvF_IaE1DYs/edit?usp=sharing
This link takes you too a Google Drive Document, which lists case filings/official letters in order by date. Links are provided inside the document are linked to the document cloud .pdf files.
I have been searching for a technical analysis for this app, and so far I have been unable to find one.
There are several issues listed within the hundreds and hundreds of document pages.
This goes back to a previous e-mail, highlighting China does not recognize the authority and Laws of the United States.
Noted Issues contained in the documents:(you may want to check)
TikTok immediately retrieves information as soon as the app is download.
TikTok Copies keystrokes. See Video in the Google case File
TikTok exfils all videos recorded, regardless of posting.
TikTok exfils PII and information regardless of the users acknowledgement. (If you download the app, your data is theirs).
TikTok collects information even when the app is not open, running in the background.
TikTok exfils all contact information, Carrier Information, Device Information, history, clipboard history, notes, etc.(NOTE: Extreme concern, as Multi-factor Authentication is typical sent to the user screen and copied to the clipboard)
TikTok exfils your Precise Geolocation Data (NOTE: Extreme concern, given this can be used to track any US or Government employees activities. e.g. troop and asset location)
TikTok exfils Biometric data
TikTok Manipulates content so it aligns with CCP narrative.
TikTok obfuscated the app exfil processes to hid actions.
TikTok has been sued for violating Child Privacy act. Images, videos of children using the above methods
TikTok data gives Beijing 'shapes and styles of faces' China 'can't get in the mainland'
Mon, 21 Sep 2020 11:45
| September 19, 2020 06:30 AM
China is using images of TikTok users to improve its facial recognition capacities, according to American lawmakers and analysts monitoring the unfolding dispute over the social media giant's U.S. operations.
''TikTok is a massive repository of data,'' Foundation for Defense of Democracies analyst Emily de la Bruyere, an expert in the links between China's military apparatus and commercial entities, said of the social media platform. ''Facial recognition ... is a big part of it.''
That concern has contributed to the U.S. hostility to TikTok, which will be expelled from American app stores next week pursuant to a Commerce Department order unveiled Friday. The app, widely popular as a platform for short videos, has the ability to collect precious bulk data to power technological developments with both national security and economic ramifications.
''It's a lot of data that is tagged on shapes and styles of faces that the Chinese government can't get in the mainland,'' Texas Rep. Will Hurd, a Republican member of the House Intelligence Committee, told the Center for Strategic and International Studies in a conversation recorded last week and aired Thursday. ''So, all these things are connected.''
Such a cache of facial data could have economic and geopolitical value, as Chinese entities could learn to profile populations and socioeconomic groups.
''They're figuring out what people who look a certain way want to do with their app, and then, they can improve their pitch to you,'' the American Enterprise Institute's Derek Scissors explained. '''We have a pattern between your facial structure '-- which, of course, includes your age, your gender, so on '-- and what you like to look at, and that's going to help us give you the videos you want to look at, which makes us more competitive.'''
That's a competition that companies and governments in democratic societies can ill-afford to lose, given that ''data will be the fuel of tomorrow,'' as a top NATO commander put it earlier this year, powering the development of cutting-edge technologies made possible by the advent of ultra-high-speed, next-generation wireless technology and artificial intelligence.
''TikTok is also collecting data on how humans interact with information with visual stimuli, how faces respond to that,'' de la Bruyere said. ''What sort of things are captivating to like the human imagination or interest, and what's going to keep your attention? So it's not just the facial recognition for us. It's also immense collection of data on human behavior and potential.''
The ability to profile such large population groups could create significant opportunities for Chinese propaganda campaigns and influence operations, even election interference.
''And Chinese intelligence is certainly sophisticated enough to say, 'I want to target middle-aged white people in swing-state Wisconsin,'' Scissors said.
The availability of American data to Chinese entities is all the more troublesome given that Beijing already has greater access to data than Western companies do because the authoritarian regime lacks the privacy protections that exist in democratic societies.
''It's basically taking something valuable from the United States, commoditizing it, and selling it,'' Scissors said.
President Trump issued an order requiring TikTok's parent company, ByteDance, to sell its U.S. operations to an American entity by Sunday. The company has resisted that proposal, in part to protect from U.S. custody the algorithms developed and improved with the assistance of the data provided by the roughly 100 million American users of the app, and countered by offering to partner with an American company as a ''trusted technology provider'' while retaining a majority-Chinese ownership, but that proposal has drawn skepticism from Trump and China hawks.
''If we hold American firms to a certain standard on data extraction, and the Chinese can just ignore that, we're saying to China, 'Why don't you start three steps up the ladder? And we'll try to catch you,''' Scissors said.
Judge halts Trump WeChat ban from Apple, Google app stores
Mon, 21 Sep 2020 12:25
The Tencent Holdings Ltd. WeChat app is displayed in the App Store on a smartphone in an arranged photograph taken in Arlington, Virginia, on Friday, Aug. 7, 2020.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images
WASHINGTON '-- A U.S. judge in California halted the Trump administration's ban on downloads of the Chinese-owned app WeChat early Sunday.
The move blocks the Commerce Department from forcing Apple and Alphabet's Google to remove Tencent Holding's WeChat for downloads by Sunday evening.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler in California said in an order that WeChat users who filed a lawsuit "have shown serious questions going to the merits of the First Amendment claim, the balance of hardships tips in the plaintiffs favor."Beeler's preliminary injunction also blocked the Commerce order that would have barred other transactions with WeChat in the United States that could have degraded the site's usability for current U.S. users.
The U.S. Commerce Department and the White House did not immediately comment.
The Commerce Department announced Friday morning that it will ban U.S. business transactions with Chinese-owned social apps WeChat and TikTok on Sunday.
Read more: Trump to block downloads of TikTok, WeChat on Sunday
Commerce Department officials who spoke with reporters on the condition of anonymity Friday explained the next steps for WeChat users in the United States. The ban would have rendered the app largely dysfunctional for those who had already downloaded it.
"Users will experience some dysfunction and latency to the point where there will be an outage or a message or something will timeout. So, we do expect it may be usable but it may not be particularly functional after Sunday," a Commerce Department official said.
Commerce Department officials also said on a call with reporters that they were preparing for a long legal battle.
On Saturday, President Donald Trump said he approved a deal in which Oracle and Walmart will partner with the viral video-sharing app TikTok, allowing the popular app to avoid a shutdown.
The Trump administration said in July, amid deteriorating relations between Washington and Beijing, that they were looking at banning TikTok as well as other Chinese social media apps, citing national security concerns.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in August that the administration was scrutinizing TikTok as akin to Chinese state-backed tech companies Huawei and ZTE, which he has previously described as "Trojan horses for Chinese intelligence."
The nation's top diplomat also added that the State Department would work with the Commerce Department as well as the Defense Department to limit the ability of Chinese cloud service providers to collect, store, and process data in the United States.
U.S. officials have long complained that Chinese intellectual property theft has cost the economy billions of dollars in revenue and thousands of jobs and threatens national security. Beijing maintains it does not engage in intellectual property theft.
NYPD cop spied on Tibet natives for China
Wed, 23 Sep 2020 16:02
The logo of the New York City Police Department (NYPD) is placed on a surveillance camera near Ground Zero during the 18th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
Alexandra Schuler | picture alliance | Getty Images
A New York City police officer who also serves in the U.S. Army Reserve was arrested Monday on federal charges that accuse him of spying on fellow ethnic Tibetans while acting as an illegal agent for China.
The 33-year-old cop, Baimadajie Angwang, who was born in the region of Tibet in China, allegedly reported to officials at the Chinese consulate in New York on the activities of other Tibetans in the New York area.
Angwang, after appearing remotely in federal court in New York via teleconference, was ordered by a judge to be detained without bond after prosecutors said he "presents a serious risk of flight" to avoid the criminal charges. Angwang's lawyer reserved his right to argue for bail at a later date.
If convicted, Angwan, a resident of Nassau County, Long Island, face a maximum possible prison sentence of 55 years.
Authorities noted in a criminal complaint that Angwang, who currently works for the New York Police Department's community affairs unit in the 111th precinct in Queens, "initially traveled to the United States on a cultural exchange visa."
But after overstaying a second visa he "eventually sought asylum in the United States on the basis that he had allegedly been arrested and tortured in the [People's Republic of China] due partly to this Tibetan ethnicity," the complaint said.
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York, in a detention memo, said that despite Angwang's claims, an investigation found that "Angwang has traveled back to the PRC on numerous occasion since his asylum application was granted."
"These are not the actions of an individual who fears torture or persecution at the hands of the PRC, thus showing that his U.S. citizenship was secured through false pretenses," the memo said.
The criminal complaint said that beginning as early as 2014, Angwan maintained a relationship with one Chinese official at the consulate, and then in 2018 developed a relationship with a second official there, who was his handler and whom he called "Boss."
The second official is believed to have been assigned to a department responsible for neutralizing sources of potential opposition to the PRC
Tibet, which China occupied in 1951, is seen as a threat to the stability of the communist regime because of calls for the region's independence, particularly by Tibetans at home and overseas who consider the self-exiled Dalai Lama, a Buddhist leader, their spiritual guide.
The complaint says that Angwang texted or called the consulate officials more than 100 times since 2014. The complaint also contains transcripts of some of those calls, during which Angwang proposes his handler attend Tibetan events in Queens, and asked whether that official "wanted to attend NYPD events 'to raise our country's soft power.' "
According to court filings, Angwang "currently holds the rank of Staff Sergeant" in the Army Reserve, "and is stationed at Fort Dix, New Jersey in an Airborne Civil Affairs battalion."
He previously served on active duty in the U.S. Marines from 2009 to 2014, and was deployed to Afghanistan in 2013 through 2014, according to the Army, which did not comment on his arrest.
The criminal complaint said that Angwang, "while acting at the direction and control of PRC officials, has, among other things ... reported on the activities of ethnic Tibetans, and others, in the New York metropolitan area to the Consulate" of China.
He also allegedly "spotted and assessed potential ethnic Tibetan intelligence sources in the New York metropolitan area and beyond," the complaint said.
And Angwang "used his official position in the NYPD to provide Consulate officials access to senior NYPD officials through invitations to official NYPD events," the complaint said.
Angwang is charged with acting as an agent of a foreign government without prior notification to the U.S. attorney general, wire fraud, making false statements and obstruction of an official proceeding.
Angwang works as a civil affairs specialist for the Army Reserve. As part of his job there, he holds "Secret" level security clearance.
Authorities said that Angwang's father is a retired member of China's army, and a member of the nation's Communist Party, while his mother is both a Communist Party member and a retired Chinese government official. His parents live in China, as does his brother, who is a reservist in the People's Liberation Army.
According to the complaint, Angwang in 2016 wired a total of $150,000 to accounts in China controlled by his brother and another individual.
"Angwang has also received multiple substantial wire transfers from the PRC," the complaint said.
"State and local officials should be aware that they are not immune to the threat of Chinese espionage," said John Demers, the U.S. assistant attorney general for national security, in a prepared statement.
"According to the allegations, the Chinese government recruited and directed a U.S. citizen and member of our nation's largest law enforcement department to further its intelligence gathering and repression of Chinese abroad."
New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea, in a statement said, "As alleged in this federal complaint, Baimadajie Angwang violated every oath he took in this country."
"One to the United States, another to the U.S. Army, and a third to this Police Department," said Shea. "From the earliest stages of this investigation, the NYPD's Intelligence and Internal Affairs bureaus worked closely with the FBI's Counterintelligence Division to make sure this individual would be brought to justice."
A spokesman for China's foreign ministry on Tuesday called the accusations against Angwan "pure fabricaion."
"The [criminal complaint] is full of hedging terms such as 'seems' and 'possibly,' indicating the falsehood of the accusations," the spokesman said. "The U.S. won't succeed in its smears against Chinese consulates and personnel in the U.S."
The New York Police Benevolent Association, the union that represents patrol officers such as Angwang, last November posted on Facebook a photo from a delegates meeting at which Angwang presented the American flag.
The post said that Angwang, while serving with the U.S. military, had served one tour in Iraq and two tours in Afghanistan. That claim conflicts with the Army's statement about Angwang's service, which says he only did the tour in Afghanistan.
The PBA's post was removed by the PBA after Angwang's arrest became public.
A PBA spokesman said the union is not representing Angwang in the criminal case.
WHO: Give Info About 'Early Childhood Masturbation' to Kids Age 4 and Under | CNSNews
Thu, 24 Sep 2020 11:42
WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. (Getty Images)
(CNSNews) -- The World Health Organization (WHO), for which the Trump administration has halted U.S. funding pending a review, advises that in the sex education programs in Europe children age four and under be given information about "early childhood masturbation" and the "right to explore gender identities."
In addition, for children ages four to six, the WHO recommends they be given information "about friendship and love towards people of the same sex" and "same-sex relationships," and be guided to develop "an open, non-judgmental attitude."
From the Sexuality Education Matrix in the WHO document, Standards for Sexuality Education in Europe. (Screenshot)
These sex education recommendations are detailed in the Standards for Sexuality Education in Europe: A framework for policy makers, educational and health authorities and specialists, published by the WHO Regional Office for Europe and BZgA in 2010.
Among its specific recommendations for children in different age groups -- the sexuality education matrix -- the WHO document claims that "sexual health can be attained only if all people, including young people, have access to universal sexuality education and sexual health information and services throughout their lives."
(Screenshot)
"The fear that sexuality education might lead to more or earlier sexual activity by young people is not justified, as research results show," according to the WHO.
Parental guidance also is limited according to the U.N. agency. "As argued," reads the document, "parents, other family members, and other informal sources are important for learning about human relationships and sexuality, especially for younger age groups.
"However, in modern society this is often insufficient, because these informal sources themselves often lack the necessary knowledge, particularly when complex and technical information is needed (such as that pertaining to contraception or transmission modes of STI)."
From the Sexuality Education Matrix in the WHO document, Standards for Sexuality Education in Europe. (Screenshot)
"The development of sexual behaviour, feelings and cognitions begins in the womb," according to the document.
"Children have sexual feelings even in early infancy," states the WHO. "Between the second and third year of their lives, they discover the physical differences between men and women. During this time children start to discover their own bodies (early childhood masturbation, self-stimulation) and they may also try to examine the bodies of their friends (playing doctor)."
To read the entire WHO document, click here.
The WHO symbol at the United Nations. (Getty Images)
Section 230
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE'S REVIEW OF SECTION 230 OF THE COMMUNICATIONS DECENCY ACT OF 1996 | AG | Department of Justice
Wed, 23 Sep 2020 18:53
As part of its broader review of market-leading online platforms, the U.S. Department of Justice analyzed Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which provides immunity to online platforms from civil liability based on third-party content and for the removal of content in certain circumstances. Congress originally enacted the statute to nurture a nascent industry while also incentivizing online platforms to remove content harmful to children. The combination of significant technological changes since 1996 and the expansive interpretation that courts have given Section 230, however, has left online platforms both immune for a wide array of illicit activity on their services and free to moderate content with little transparency or accountability.
The Department of Justice has concluded that the time is ripe to realign the scope of Section 230 with the realities of the modern internet. Reform is important now more than ever. Every year, more citizens'--including young children'--are relying on the internet for everyday activities, while online criminal activity continues to grow. We must ensure that the internet is both an open and safe space for our society. Based on engagement with experts, industry, thought-leaders, lawmakers, and the public, the Department has identified a set of concrete reform proposals to provide stronger incentives for online platforms to address illicit material on their services, while continuing to foster innovation and free speech. Read the Department's Key Takeaways.
The Department's review of Section 230 arose in the context of our broader review of market-leading online platforms and their practices, announced in July 2019. While competition has been a core part of the Department's review, we also recognize that not all concerns raised about online platforms (including internet-based businesses and social media platforms) fall squarely within the U.S. antitrust laws. Our review has therefore looked broadly at other legal and policy frameworks applicable to online platforms. One key part of that legal landscape is Section 230, which provides immunity to online platforms from civil liability based on third-party content as well as immunity for removal of content in certain circumstances.
Drafted in the early years of internet commerce, Section 230 was enacted in response to a problem that incipient online platforms were facing. In the years leading up to Section 230, courts had held that an online platform that passively hosted third-party content was not liable as a publisher if any of that content was defamatory, but that a platform would be liable as a publisher for all its third-party content if it exercised discretion to remove any third-party material. Platforms therefore faced a dilemma: They could try to moderate third-party content but risk being held liable for any and all content posted by third parties, or choose not to moderate content to avoid liability but risk having their services overrun with obscene or unlawful content. Congress enacted Section 230 in part to resolve this quandary by providing immunity to online platforms both for third-party content on their services or for removal of certain categories of content. The statute was meant to nurture emerging internet businesses while also incentivizing them to regulate harmful online content.
The internet has changed dramatically in the 25 years since Section 230's enactment in ways that no one, including the drafters of Section 230, could have predicted. Several online platforms have transformed into some of the nation's largest and most valuable companies, and today's online services bear little resemblance to the rudimentary offerings in 1996. Platforms no longer function as simple forums for posting third-party content, but instead use sophisticated algorithms to promote content and connect users. Platforms also now offer an ever-expanding array of services, playing an increasingly essential role in how Americans communicate, access media, engage in commerce, and generally carry on their everyday lives.
These developments have brought enormous benefits to society. But they have also had downsides. Criminals and other wrongdoers are increasingly turning to online platforms to engage in a host of unlawful activities, including child sexual exploitation, selling illicit drugs, cyberstalking, human trafficking, and terrorism. At the same time, courts have interpreted the scope of Section 230 immunity very broadly, diverging from its original purpose. This expansive statutory interpretation, combined with technological developments, has reduced the incentives of online platforms to address illicit activity on their services and, at the same time, left them free to moderate lawful content without transparency or accountability. The time has therefore come to realign the scope of Section 230 with the realities of the modern internet so that it continues to foster innovation and free speech but also provides stronger incentives for online platforms to address illicit material on their services.
Much of the modern debate over Section 230 has been at opposite ends of the spectrum. Many have called for an outright repeal of the statute in light of the changed technological landscape and growing online harms. Others, meanwhile, have insisted that Section 230 be left alone and claimed that any reform will crumble the tech industry. Based on our analysis and external engagement, the Department believes there is productive middle ground and has identified a set of measured, yet concrete proposals that address many of the concerns raised about Section 230.
A reassessment of America's laws governing the internet could not be timelier. Citizens are relying on the internet more than ever for commerce, entertainment, education, employment, and public discourse. School closings in light of the COVID-19 pandemic mean that children are spending more time online, at times unsupervised, while more and more criminal activity is moving online. All of these factors make it imperative that we maintain the internet as an open and safe space.
The Justice Department Unveils Proposed Section 230 Legislation on Behalf of the Administration | OPA | Department of Justice
Wed, 23 Sep 2020 18:54
Today, on behalf of the Trump Administration, the Department of Justice sent draft legislation to Congress to reform Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The draft legislative text implements reforms that the Department of Justice deemed necessary in its June Recommendations and follows a yearlong review of the outdated statute. The legislation also executes President Trump's directive from the Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship.
''For too long Section 230 has provided a shield for online platforms to operate with impunity,'' said Attorney General William P. Barr. ''Ensuring that the internet is a safe, but also vibrant, open and competitive environment is vitally important to America. We therefore urge Congress to make these necessary reforms to Section 230 and begin to hold online platforms accountable both when they unlawfully censor speech and when they knowingly facilitate criminal activity online.''
''The Department's proposal is an important step in reforming Section 230 to further its original goal: providing liability protection to encourage good behavior online,'' said Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen. ''The proposal makes clear that, when interactive computer services willfully distribute illegal material or moderate content in bad faith, Section 230 should not shield them from the consequences of their actions.''
The Department of Justice is grateful to all the experts, victims' groups, academics, businesses, and other stakeholders that have and continue to engage closely with the department during this process. The draft legislation reflects important and helpful feedback received thus far. The department is also grateful to our colleagues in Congress for their support on Section 230 reform and looks forward to continued engagement moving forward.
The Department of Justice's draft legislation focuses on two areas of reform, both of which are, at minimum, necessary to recalibrate the outdated immunity of Section 230.
Promoting Transparency and Open Discourse
First, the draft legislation has a series of reforms to promote transparency and open discourse and ensure that platforms are fairer to the public when removing lawful speech from their services.
The current interpretations of Section 230 have enabled online platforms to hide behind the immunity to censor lawful speech in bad faith and is inconsistent with their own terms of service. To remedy this, the department's legislative proposal revises and clarifies the existing language of Section 230 and replaces vague terms that may be used to shield arbitrary content moderation decisions with more concrete language that gives greater guidance to platforms, users, and courts.
The legislative proposal also adds language to the definition of ''information content provider'' to clarify when platforms should be responsible for speech that they affirmatively and substantively contribute to or modify.
Addressing Illicit Activity Online
The second category of amendments is aimed at incentivizing platforms to address the growing amount of illicit content online, while preserving the core of Section 230's immunity for defamation claims.
Section 230 immunity is meant to incentivize and protect online Good Samaritans. Platforms that purposely solicit and facilitate harmful criminal activity '-- in effect, online Bad Samaritans '-- should not receive the benefit of this immunity. Nor should a platform receive blanket immunity for continuing to host known criminal content on its services, despite repeated pleas from victims to take action.
The department also proposes to more clearly carve out federal civil enforcement actions from Section 230. Although federal criminal prosecutions have always been outside the scope of Section 230 immunity, online crime is a serious and growing problem, and there is no justification for blocking the federal government from civil enforcement on behalf of American citizens.
Finally, the department proposes carving out certain categories of civil claims that are far outside Section 230's core objective, including offenses involving child sexual abuse, terrorism, and cyberstalking. These amendments, working together, will be critical first steps in enabling victims to seek redress for the most serious of online crimes.
The Justice Department's proposals are available here.
2020
What is putting a LID on the campaign
Protect RBG's Legacy '-- Donate via ActBlue
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Outrage as couple post 'reckless' photo of Ruth Bader Ginsburg officiating their wedding | indy100
Mon, 21 Sep 2020 13:22
Allison Shelley / Getty Images
Supreme Court judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg officiated at a wedding in the middle of a pandemic. Without a mask.
A photo of the 87-year-old '' who has survived cancer five times '' sparked outrage online.
People are "furious" with Bader Ginsberg for "putting her health at risk".
But Bader Ginsburg has never allowed ill health to stand in her way. She famously didn't miss a single day at the bar while undergoing chemotherapy for colon cancer in 1999.
And when she began chemotherapy again for liver cancer in May this year '' having most recently been declared cancer-free in January '' she said she intended to continue on with her job at "full steam".
While her drive might be admirable, Bader Ginsburg has been criticised for being "reckless". Coronavirus has been known to spread at weddings, which aren't exactly a key part of her job.
Bader Ginsburg's health is extremely important.
She is one of the strongest liberal voices on the Supreme Court, and has spent her legal career advocating for gender equality and women's rights.
Since the sitting president appoints new Supreme Court justices, Trump would name her successor if she became incapacitated. Trump has so far appointed two new justices: Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
So it's safe to say that American liberals want justices like Bader Ginsburg, who were nominated by Democrat presidents, to stick around.
There are concerns that if Trump remains in office for a second term and is able to replace more Democrat-appointed justices, his administration may be able to overturn landmark rulings like Roe v. Wade, which guarantees American people access to abortion.
A spokesperson for the Supreme Court confirmed that Bader Ginsburg officiated at the wedding over the weekend.
Some Twitter users questioned the photo's authenticity, but court spokesperson Kathy Arberg confirmed that it's real.
She added that the bride, Barb Solish, and groom, Danny Kazin are Bader Ginsburg's family friends. Solish works at the National Alliance on Mental Illness, while her husband works for the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee.
Solish defended her photo by tweeting "don't worry, we tested negative!".
But people weren't exactly reassured.
Bader Ginsberg has not yet been declared free from her liver cancer, and her continuation as a Supreme Court justice is of supreme importance.
It seems wise for her not to take any chances.
Trump Predicts Biden Will Win Debates In Last-Minute Effort To Lower Expectations
Tue, 22 Sep 2020 12:55
Election 2020 | | Sep 21, 2020, 07:22pm EDT I cover politics and the 2020 election
Topline After months of casting former Vice President Joe Biden as decrepit, verbally stilted and incapable of winning the upcoming presidential debates, President Trump on Monday predicted that Biden will win them thanks to his decades of experience even as he continued to disparage Biden's physical and mental abilities.
Dayton International Airport in Dayton, Ohio September 21, 2020. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
AFP via Getty Images
Key FactsTrump has disparaged Biden's rhetorical abilities throughout the general election campaign, calling the Democratic presidential nominee's primary debate showings the ''worst debate performances I've ever seen,'' incorrectly claiming he was ''unable to answer anything'' and that moderators were asking, ''Are you awake, sir? Sir, please wake up.''
As recently as Saturday, Trump claimed without evidence Biden needed a ''big fat shot in the ass'' for his final primary debate against Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in March, repeating a claim he made in August alongside a call for drug testing before the general election debates.
However, possibly heeding advice from advisers that presidential campaigns historically raise debate expectations for their opponents, Trump switched his tune on Biden's debating abilities on Monday, noting at a rally in Dayton, Ohio that he's ''been doing it for 47 years, I've been doing it for 3 and a half.''
''Who knows,'' Trump said, predicting ''he should be able to beat me,'' because ''he's much more experienced'' and ''he's great.''
Trump contradicted himself minutes later when discussing how a potential President Biden would deal with world leaders, calling him ''shot'' and ''the worst presidential candidate in the history of politics,'' claiming he ''can't speak without the teleprompter.''
Forbes has reached out to the Biden campaign for comment.
Key BackgroundTrump reportedly hasn't done much preparation for the debates, with his campaign not holding a single mock session and making no plans to do so, according to NBC News. Instead, NBC and Politico reported, Trump's strategy is to prod Biden to knock him off balance.
Chief Critic''This president talks about cognitive capability. He doesn't seem to be cognitively aware of what's going on,'' Biden said in July. ''I can hardly wait to compare my cognitive capability to the cognitive capability of the man I'm running against.''
What To Watch ForThe Commission on Presidential Debates on Wednesday announced the moderators for the three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate in the run up to November. Fox News Host Chris Wallace will moderate the first debate on Sept. 29 in Cleveland, Ohio, C-SPAN political editor Steve Scully will moderate the second on Oct. 15 in Miami, Florida, and NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker will moderate the third on Oct. 22 in Nashville, Tennessee. The vice presidential debate will take place on Oct. 7 in Salt Lake City, Utah, and will be moderated by USA Today Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page.
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Twitter. Send me a secure tip. I am a news desk reporter covering politics and the 2020 election. I have previously worked for MSNBC and Chronogram Magazine. I attended Vassar College and the London
'... Read More I am a news desk reporter covering politics and the 2020 election. I have previously worked for MSNBC and Chronogram Magazine. I attended Vassar College and the London School of Economics.
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Senate Report Says Joe Biden Allowed Family to Enrich Themselves Abroad While He Was VP
Wed, 23 Sep 2020 14:11
A new Senate report released Wednesday concludes that former Vice President Joe Biden allowed Hunter Biden and other members of his family to enrich themselves through links with foreign companies and governments while he was in office.
The report notes that the Obama administration was aware of, but did nothing about the conflict of interest that was created when Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, was appointed to the board of Burisma, a corrupt Ukrainian fossil fuel company.
But the report goes further than what was revealed during the impeachment inquiry last year. It presents email evidence that former Secretary of State John Kerry, whose stepson Chris Heinz was one of Hunter Biden's business partners, was also aware of the conflicts of interest. It adds that ''Hunter Biden, his family, and [business partner Devon] Archer received millions of dollars from foreign nationals with questionable backgrounds.'' It notes that Hunter Biden went on a ''$100,000 global spending spree with James Biden and Sara Biden'' after receiving money from a Chinese investor. And it adds that Hunter Biden appeared to have paid women linked to an ''Eastern European prostitution or human trafficking ring.''
It also notes: ''The records acquired by the Committees show consistent, significant and extensive financial connections among and between Hunter Biden, James Biden, Sara Biden, Devon Archer, and Chinese nationals connected to the Communist regime and [People's Liberation Army] as well as other foreign nationals with questionable backgrounds.''
The report, presented by by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) of the Senate Committee on Finance, was launched in August 2019 '-- prior to the impeachment controversy, and as the result of the ''Henniges transaction,'' in which a company tied to the Chinese state had bought an American company that makes ''anti-vibration technologies with military applications.'' One of the companies in the transaction was Bohai Harvest RST (BHR), a Chinese-funded investment company in which Hunter Biden owns a stake.
The report ''details examples of extensive and complex financial transactions involving the Bidens'' and notes that Hunter Biden ''was not the only Biden who cashed in on Joe Biden's vice presidency.'' It also notes that Hunter Biden enjoyed Secret Service protection during extensive trips abroad, and that the protection continued for a few months after he joined Burisma.
It concludes:
The records acquired by the Committees show that Hunter Biden and his family were involved in a vast financial network that connected them to foreign nationals and foreign governments across the globe. Hunter Biden and Archer, in particular, formed significant and consistent financial relationships with the corrupt oligarch Mykola Zlochevsky during their time working for Burisma and their firms made millions of dollars from that association while Joe Biden was vice president and the public face of the Obama administration's Ukraine policy. Rosemont Seneca Thornton, an investment firm co-founded by Hunter Biden, received $3.5 million in a wire transfer from Elena Baturina, who allegedly received illegal construction contracts from her husband, the former mayor of Moscow. Moreover, Archer's apparent receipt of money for a car from Kenges Rakishev of Kazakhstan while Vice President Biden was in Kyiv is especially concerning in light of the timing. And finally, Biden and Archer's work with Chinese nationals connected to the Communist regime illustrate the deep financial connections that accelerated while his father was vice president and continued after he left office.
The report also notes that the vice president was made aware of the conflicts of interest that Hunter Biden's Ukrainian role entailed, as was Secretary of State Kerry:
Former Secretary Kerry's December 2019 denial of having any knowledge about Hunter Biden or Burisma is inconsistent with the evidence uncovered by the Committees. Kerry was briefed about Hunter Biden, Burisma and Heinz the day after Burisma announced Hunter Biden joined its board. Additionally, Secretary Kerry's senior advisor sent him press clips and articles relating to Hunter Biden's board membership. This appears to be yet another example of high- ranking Obama administration officials blatantly ignoring Hunter Biden's association with Burisma.
The reports, written by the Republican majority on both committees, accuse Democrats of falsely linking the investigations to foreign influence campaigns '-- ironically, the report notes, relying on foreign nationals with an interest in influencing U.S. politics.
Hunter Biden spoke during the Democratic National Convention, declaring that his father would be an ''honest'' president.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.
Rob Reiner Claims Justice Coming for Trump: 'In 42 Days We Will Arrest the Killer'
Wed, 23 Sep 2020 14:29
Filmmaker Rob Reiner is promising that law enforcement will apprehend President Donald Trump following election day, saying that ''in 42 days we will arrest the killer.''
Reiner made the outlandish prognostication Tuesday in a tweet in which he also accused the commander in chief of ''essentially'' shooting and killing hundreds of thousands of Americans.
''Donald Trump has essentially shot and killed 100s of thousands Americans on 5th Ave, continues to do it every day, and he's right, his cult doesn't care. But the rest of US do. In 42 days we will arrest the killer,'' Reiner tweeted.
The Princess Bride director appeared to be alluding to President Trump's boast during a 2016 campaign rally that ''I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters.''
Rob Reiner, who has endorsed Joe Biden's bid for the White House, has repeatedly used the Chinese coronavirus pandemic to accuse the president of being a murderer. Last week, he called Trump a murderer not once, but three times, in separate tweets.
Rob Reiner recently declared war on Republicans over who will succeed Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. The filmmaker said, ''This is war. Dems have powerful weapons. Now is the time to use them.''
Reiner also recently reunited with cast member of The Princess Bride to raise money for Wisconsin Democrats' efforts to turn the state blue.
Follow David Ng on Twitter @HeyItsDavidNg. Have a tip? Contact me at dng@breitbart.com
Chance the Rapper told people to vote for who their mom is voting for - Insider
Wed, 23 Sep 2020 14:37
Chance the Rapper encouraged fans to speak to their mothers about who they are voting for. BET2020/Getty Images for BET NETWORKS Chance the Rapper told followers to vote for whoever their mom is voting for, and people dragged him on Twitter. "Ask your mom who to vote for. Vote for who she say," the Chicago native tweeted on Tuesday. "Ya mama been thru alot. Ask them and trust them," Chance said in a subsequent tweet. People took issue with the fact that their mothers' political beliefs varied widely.Many also decried how the tweet seemingly encouraged followers to listen to their parents instead of educating themselves. "Yall worried bout everybody else mama, I said yo mama," Chance added in a follow-up tweet, seemingly in response to the backlash. Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.Chance the Rapper told followers to vote for whoever their mom is voting for in the upcoming presidential election, and people on Twitter aren't happy.
"Ask your mom who to vote for. Vote for who she say," the Chicago native tweeted on Tuesday, adding, "Ya mama been thru alot. Ask them and trust them."
'--Chance The Rapper (@chancetherapper) September 22, 2020'--Chance The Rapper (@chancetherapper) September 22, 2020Users quickly took issue with Chance's tweet, pointing out that the political views of their moms vary wildly. Others pointed out that religion, location, and race could also play a big part in who they're voting for.
But the biggest reaction was from the numerous people who decried Chance's advice, instead encouraging people to do their own research on political issues and presidential candidates.
'--Abie Spangler (@AbieJSpangler) September 22, 2020'--An Account About Hip Hop (@checktherhyme1) September 22, 2020'--jay (@userjaymes) September 22, 2020'--ð'–ð'–--ð'–'ð'–'ð'–--ð'–—🧛ðŸ>>🥂 (@xanful) September 22, 2020'--no (@miskeencore) September 22, 2020'--thayane HOLY (@kidrauhlhive) September 22, 2020'--Mak'š¸ (@Makaylajesae) September 22, 2020Chance seemingly responded to some of the backlash in a follow-up tweet, telling users, "Yall worried bout everybody else mama, I said yo mama."
'--Chance The Rapper (@chancetherapper) September 22, 2020Earlier this year, the Chicago native came under fire for seemingly supporting Kanye West's "presidential run" after he questioned his followers why Joe Biden "would be better" suited to be president than Donald Trump.
A few hours after his "endorsement," Chance clarified his stance, writing, "I understand the improbability of Ye winning the 46th Presidential seat and I understand that everyone voting for Biden isn't necessarily doing so enthusiastically."
Read more:Chance the Rapper says even he doesn't have a direct dial to Barack Obama and Jay-ZChance the Rapper says that Offset encouraged him to get married after tying the knot with Cardi BChance the Rapper says he was originally brought on as a 'nostalgia consultant' for 'The Lion King' remake More: Celebrities Chance the Rapper Music Election 2020 Looking for smart ways to get more from life? Visit Insider Coupons and get discounts on Fashion, Electronics, sports, home... and more!
OTG
Windows Server Update Gets Serious: You Have The Weekend To Comply, Homeland Security Says
Mon, 21 Sep 2020 12:07
Department of Homeland Security cybersecurity agency issues Windows Server exploit emergency ... [+] directive
Getty ImagesWindows security updates should always be taken seriously, of that there is no doubt. But when the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issues an emergency directive for a perfect 10, critical, Windows Server vulnerability, the urgency meter goes off the scale.
This is a vulnerability that could enable an attacker with network access to gain admin status by sending a string of zeros using the Windows Netlogon protocol. A vulnerability that, CISA said, must be assumed as being actively exploited in the wild.
Here's what we know about the Zerologon exploit and what you need to do about it right now.
CISA doesn't issue emergency directives unless there's a serious cause for concern. The last time I reported on such a rare directive was back in July when government agencies were given just 24 hours to update, you guessed it, Windows Server.
This time around, they get the whole weekend until midnight on Monday, September 21, to get their patching in order.
CVE-2020-1472 is about as serious as it gets, hence the maximum 10 Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) rating and the critical severity that Microsoft has attached to it. The vulnerability itself opens the doors for an attacker already inside the network to access the Windows Server Active Directory domain controller.
The good news is that Microsoft has already issued a patch to fix the vulnerability itself in August.
The bad news is that code that demonstrates how to exploit unpatched systems has been released into the public domain.
This post-compromise exploit has been named Zerologon because it requires messages including strategically-placed strings of zeros to be sent using the Netlogon protocol. As long as the attacker can establish a connection with the domain controller on an unpatched system, no authentication is required to elevate privileges to the max and become an 'instant admin.'
Emergency directive 20-04 requires federal agencies to comply with the "immediate and emergency action" that CISA has determined necessary to mitigate the "unacceptable risk" that the Zerologon exploit poses. That action being to "immediately apply the Windows Server August 2020 security update to all domain controllers," and do so before September 22.
While this directive applies to executive branch departments and agencies, the CISA also "strongly recommends" that not only should local and state governments patch this critical vulnerability as a matter of urgency, but also the private sector.
"CVE-2020-1472 is probably going to get weaponized pretty quickly," Ian Thornton-Trump, CISO at threat intelligence specialists Cyjax, says. "If history is any judge, my money is on APT Fox Kitten, also known as Parasite, who since the summer of 2019 have managed within a window of a few weeks to start campaigns using targeted exploits," he warns.
Those exploit campaigns have targeted CVE-2019-11510, Pulse Secure VPNs, CVE-2018-13379, Fortinet VPN servers, CVE-2019-1579, Palo Alto Networks Global Protect VPNs, CVE-2019-19781, Citrix ADC servers, and CVE-2020-5902, F5 Networks 'Big IP' networking devices.
"Windows Server Zerologon is more of a lateral movement exploit than a front door or internet-facing vulnerability," Thornton-Trump says, "so although APT groups will look at this as a great way to get onto servers, where all the cool data is, I can see it being devastating in the hands of cybercriminals."
With many cybercrime and ransomware groups using toolsets like Mimikatz to grab admin privileges, security systems will see such activity and block it. "This vulnerability appears not to require a tool," Thornton-Trump says, "so it may make the job of stealing and ransoming all your things on the server even quicker." Like the Department of Homeland Security, Thornton-Trump advises that "whatever your threat model, be it APT, cyber-criminal or both, this is a good thing to fix ASAP."
I have reached out to Microsoft for a statement and will update this article in due course.
Amazon Sidewalk is a new long-range wireless network for your stuff | TechCrunch
Tue, 22 Sep 2020 20:14
At its annual hardware event in Seattle, Amazon today announced Sidewalk, a new low-bandwidth, long-distance wireless protocol the company is developing to connect all of the IoT devices in and around your house.
Amazon argues that Bluetooth and Wi-Fi don't have enough range, while 5G takes too much power and is too complex.
''We came up with something that we call Amazon Sidewalk,'' Amazon's device chief Dave Limp said at the event today. ''Amazon Sidewalk is a brand new low-bandwidth network that uses the already existing free over-the-air 900 megahertz spectrum. We think it will be great for keeping track of things, keeping things up to date '-- but first and foremost, it will extend in the distance at which you can control these kinds of simple, low-cost, easy-to-use devices.
The details here remain a bit vague, but Amazon says that you may be able to use Sidewalk to connect to devices that can be up to a mile away, depending on how the base station and devices are positioned.
Amazon already sent out 700 test devices to households in LA to test the access points '-- and once you have a lot of access points, you create a network with some pretty broad coverage.
Amazon says it'll publish the protocol so that other device makers can also integrate it into their devices.
The first product that uses Sidewalk? A dog tag, so that you'll hopefully see fewer lost dogs on your local Nextdoor in the near future, because if your dog now leaves the perimeter, you'll get an alert. This new tag, the Ring Fetch, will launch next year.
Amazon details its low-bandwidth Sidewalk neighborhood network, coming to Echo and Tile devices soon '' TechCrunch
Tue, 22 Sep 2020 20:14
Image Credits: Amazon
Last year, Amazon announced its Sidewalk network, a new low-bandwidth, long-distance wireless protocol it developed to help connect smart devices inside and '-- maybe even more importantly '-- outside of your home. Sidewalk, which is somewhat akin to a mesh network that, with the right amount of access points, could easily cover a whole neighborhood, is now getting closer to launch.
As Amazon announced today, compatible Echo devices will become Bluetooth bridges for the Sidewalk network later this year, and select Ring Floodlight and Spotlight Cams will also be part of the network. Because these are low-bandwidth connections, Amazon expects that users won't mind sharing a small fraction of their bandwidth with their neighbors.
In addition, the company also announced that Tile will be the first third-party Sidewalk device to use the network when it launches its compatible tracker in the near future.
When Amazon first announced Sidewalk, it didn't quite detail how the network would work. That's also changing today, as the company published a whitepaper about how it will ensure privacy and security on this shared network. To talk about all of that '-- and Amazon's overall vision for Sidewalk '-- I sat down with the general manager of Sidewalk, Manolo Arana.
Image Credits: Amazon
Arana stressed that we shouldn't look at Sidewalk as a competitor to Thread or other mesh networking protocols. ''I want to make sure that you see that Sidewalk is actually not competing with Thread or any of the other mesh networks available,'' he said. ''And indeed, when you think about applications like ZigBee and Z-Wave, you can connect to Sidewalk the same way.'' He noted that the team isn't trying to replace existing protocols but just wants to create another transport mechanism '-- and a way to manage the radios that connect the devices.
And to kickstart the network and create enough of a presence to allow homeowners to connect their smart lights at the edge of their properties, for example, what better way for Amazon than to use the Echo family of devices.
''Echos are going to serve as bridges, that's going to be a big thing for us,'' Arana said. ''You can imagine the number of customers that will benefit from that feature. And for us to be able to have that kind of service, that's super important. And Tile is going to be the first edge device, the first Sidewalk-enabled device, and they'll be able to track your valuables, your wallet, whatever it is that you love.''
And in many ways, that's the promise of Sidewalk. You share a bit of bandwidth with your neighbors and in return, you get the ability to connect to a smart light in your garden that would otherwise be outside of your own network, for example, or get motion sensor alerts even when your home Wi-Fi is out, or to track your lost dog who is wearing a smart pet finder (something Amazon showed off when it first announced Sidewalk).
Image Credits: Amazon
In today's whitepaper, the team notes that Amazon will make sure that shared bandwidth is capped and provide a simple on/off control for compatible devices to give users the choice to participate. The maximum bandwidth a device can use is capped at 500MB and the bandwidth between a bridge and the Sidewalk server in the cloud won't exceed 80Kbps.
The overall architecture of the Sidewalk service is pretty straightforward. The endpoint, say a connected garden light, talks to the bridge (or gateway, as Amazon also calls it in its documentation). Those gateways will use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), Frequency Shift Keying (FSK) and LoRa in the 900 MHz band to connect to the devices on one side '-- and then talk to the Sidewalk Network server in the cloud on the other.
That network server '-- which is operated by Amazon '-- manages incoming packets and ensures that they come from authorized devices and services. The server then talks to the application server, which is either operated by Amazon or a third-party vendor.
Image Credits: Amazon
All these communications are encrypted multiple times, and even Amazon won't be able to know the commands or messages that are being passed through the network. There are three layers of encryption here. First, there's the application layer that enables the communication between the application server and the endpoint. Then, there's Sidewalk's network layer, which protects the packets over the air. In addition, there's the so-called Flex layer, which is added by the gateway and which provides the network server with what Amazon calls ''a trusted reference of message-received time and adds an additional layer of packet confidentiality.''
In addition, whatever routing information Amazon receives is purged every 24 hours and device IDs are regularly rotated to ensure data can't be tied to individual customers, in addition to using one-way hashing keys and other cryptographic techniques.
Arana stressed that the team decided not to go public with this project until it had gone through extensive penetration tests, for example, and added kill switches and advanced security features. The team also developed novel techniques to provision devices inside the network securely.
Image Credits: Amazon
He also noted that the silicon vendors who want to enable their products for Sidewalk have to go through an extensive testing procedure.
''When you look at the level of security requirements for the silicon to be part of Sidewalk, many of our silicon [vendors] haven't been qualified, just because it needs to be the new version, it needs to have certain secure boot features and things. That has been quite an eye-opener for everyone, to see that IoT is definitely improving '-- and it is going to get to a super level '-- but there's a lot of work to do and this is part of it. We took it on and embraced that security level to the maximum and the vendors have been extremely positive and forthcoming working with us.''
Among those vendors the team has been working with are Silicon Labs, Texas Instruments, Semtech and Nordic Semiconductor.
To test Sidewalk, Amazon partnered with the Red Cross to run a proof of concept implementation to help it track blood collection supplies between its distribution centers and donation sites.
''What we do with this is very simple tracking,'' Arana said. ''If you think about what they need, it is: did [the supplies] leave the building? Did they arrive at the other building? And it's just an immense simplification for them in terms of the logistics and creates efficiencies in terms of the distribution of those [supplies].''
This is obviously not so much a consumer use case, but it does show the potential for Sidewalk to also take on more industrial use cases over time. As of now, that's not necessarily what the team is focusing on, but Arana noted that there are a lot of use cases where Sidewalk may be able to replace cell networks to provide IoT connectivity for sensors and other small edge devices that don't have large bandwidth requirements '-- and adding cellular connectivity also makes these devices more expensive to build.
Because Amazon is jumpstarting the network with its Echo and Ring Devices, chances are you'll hear quite a bit more about Sidewalk in the near future.
Six indicted in connection with multi-million dollar scheme to bribe Amazon employees and contractors | USAO-WDWA | Department of Justice
Thu, 24 Sep 2020 11:47
Seattle - Six people have been indicted by a Grand Jury in the Western District of Washington with conspiring to pay over $100,000 in commercial bribes to Amazon employees and contractors, in exchange for an unfair competitive advantage on the Amazon Marketplace, announced U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran. EPHRAIM ROSENBERG, 45, of Brooklyn, New York; JOSEPH NILSEN, 31, and KRISTEN LECCESE, 32, of New York, New York; HADIS NUHANOVIC, 30, of Acworth, Georgia; ROHIT KADIMISETTY, 27, of Northridge, California; and NISHAD KUNJU, 31, of Hyderabad, India, are charged with conspiracy to use a communication facility to commit commercial bribery, conspiracy to access a protected computer without authorization, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and wire fraud. The defendants will make their initial appearances in U.S. District Court in Seattle on October 15, 2020.
''As the world moves increasingly to online commerce, we must ensure that the marketplace is not corrupted with unfair advantages obtained by bribes and kick'‘backs,'' said U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran. ''The ultimate victim from this criminal conduct is the buying public who get inferior or even dangerous goods that should have been removed from the marketplace. I commend the investigators and cybersecurity experts who have worked to identify and indict those engaged in these illegal schemes.''
''Realizing they could not compete on a level playing field, the subjects turned to bribery and fraud in order to gain the upper hand. What's equally concerning, not only did they attempt to increase sales of their own products, but sought to damage and discredit their competitors,'' said Raymond Duda, Special agent in charge, FBI Seattle. ''This indictment should send a message that the FBI will not sit on the sidelines while criminals try to cheat their way to the top.''
According to the Indictment, since at least 2017, the defendants have used bribery and fraud to benefit merchant accounts on the Amazon Marketplace, resulting in more than $100 million of competitive benefits to those accounts, harm to competitors, and harm to consumers. More specifically, the Indictment alleges that the defendants served as consultants to so-called third-party (''3P'') sellers on the Amazon Marketplace. Those 3P sellers consisted of individuals and entities who sold a wide range of goods, including household goods, consumer electronics, and dietary supplements on Amazon's multi-billion-dollar electronic commerce platform. In addition to providing consulting services to these 3P sellers, some of the defendants, including NILSEN, LECCESE, and NUHANOVIC, made their own sales on the Amazon Marketplace through 3P accounts they operated.
In the course of the conspiracy described in the Indictment, the defendants paid bribes to at least ten different Amazon employees and contractors, including KUNJU, who accepted bribes as a seller-support associate in Hyderabad, India, before becoming an outside consultant who recruited and paid bribes to his former colleagues. In exchange for those bribes, the corrupted employees and contractors took the following illicit steps:
Reinstating suspended merchant accounts and product listings on the Amazon Marketplace: The corrupted employees and contractors helped reinstate products and merchant accounts that Amazon had suspended or blocked entirely from doing business on the Amazon Marketplace. The fraudulently reinstated products included dietary supplements that had been suspended because of customer-safety complaints, household electronics that had been flagged as flammable, consumer goods that had been flagged for intellectual-property violations, and other goods. The fraudulently reinstated accounts included accounts that Amazon had suspended for manipulating product reviews to deceive consumers, making improper contact with consumers, and other violations of Amazon's seller policies and codes of conduct. The Indictment describes a variety of ways in which corrupted employees and contractors misused their positions to reinstate these accounts, including by manually reinstating product listings, and approving baseless and fraudulent merchant appeals that they themselves helped draft. In total, after their fraudulent reinstatement, the products and merchants earned in excess of $100 million in sales revenue.Facilitating attacks against competitors: The corrupted employees and contractors facilitated attacks against competitors' 3P accounts and product listings, by (a) sharing competitive intelligence about competitors' revenues, customers, advertising campaigns, and suppliers; (b) using their inside access to Amazon's network to suspend competitors' 3P accounts; and (c) providing consultants with information about Amazon's internal algorithms, which allowed the consultants to flood competitors' product listings with fictitious negative product reviews. Misappropriating Amazon's highly confidential business information: The corrupted employees and contractors also provided consultants and 3P sellers with unauthorized access to Amazon's highly confidential standard operating procedures and algorithms. These materials provided an obvious, unfair, competitive benefit to 3P sellers, by giving them coveted insight into the systems that power Amazon's search engine, Amazon's product reviews, and Amazon's enforcement processes. The misappropriated data also included the contact information for Amazon employees and consumers, which the members of the conspiracy misused and shared widely.Circumventing Amazon's internal limits on 3P accounts: The corrupted employees and contractors conveyed exclusive benefits that circumvented Amazon's rules and regulations. In exchange for bribes, they increased 3P sellers' storage limits in Amazon's warehouses, facilitated 3P sellers' otherwise meritless requests to sell products in restricted categories, and provided 3P sellers with inside knowledge about the most successful advertising campaigns and most profitable product listings.Conspiracy to use a communication facility in furtherance of commercial bribery, and to gain unauthorized access to a protected computer is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and wire fraud, are punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), with assistance from the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations, and the Department of Justice Office of International Affairs.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Siddharth Velamoor and Steven Masada.
20cr151_1_reduced-print-color.pdf
QFS
In Unprecedented Monetary Overhaul, The Fed Is Preparing To Deposit "Digital Dollars" Directly To "Each American" | Zero Hedge
Wed, 23 Sep 2020 16:37
Over the past decade, the one common theme despite the political upheaval and growing social and geopolitical instability, was that the market would keep marching higher and the Fed would continue injecting liquidity into the system. The second common theme is that despite sparking unprecedented asset price inflation, prices as measured across the broader economy - using the flawed CPI metric and certainly stagnant worker wages - would remain subdued (as a reminder, the Fed is desperate to ignite broad inflation as that is the only way the countless trillions of excess debt can be eliminated and has so far failed to do so).
The Fed's failure to reach its inflation target - which prompted the US central bank to radically overhaul its monetary dogma last month and unveil Flexible Average Inflation Targeting (or FAIT) whereby the Fed will allow inflation to run hot without hiking rates - has sparked broad criticism from the economic establishment, even though as we showed in June, deflation is now a direct function of the Fed's unconventional monetary policies as the lower yields slide, the lower the propensity to spend. In other words, the harder the Fed fights to stimulate inflation, the more deflation and more saving it spurs as a result (incidentally this is not the first time this "discovery" was made, in December we wrote "One Bank Makes A Stunning Discovery - The Fed's Rate Cuts Are Now Deflationary").
In short, ever since the Fed launched QE and NIRP, it has been making the situation it has been trying to "fix" even worse while blowing the biggest asset price bubble in history.
And having recently accepted that its preferred stimulus pathway has failed to boost the broader economy, the blame has fallen on how monetary policy is intermediated, specifically the way the Fed creates excess reserves which end up at commercial banks instead of "tricking down" all the way to the consumer level.
To be sure, in the aftermath of the covid pandemic shutdowns the Fed has tried to short-circuit this process, and in conjunction with the Treasury it has launched "helicopter money" which has resulted in a direct transfer of funds to US corporations via PPP loans, as well as to end consumers via the emergency $600 weekly unemployment benefits which however are set to expire unless renewed by Congress as explained last week, as Democrats and Republicans feud over which fiscal stimulus will be implemented next.
And yet, the lament is that even as the economy was desperately in need of a massive liquidity tsunami, the funds created by the Fed and Treasury (now that the US operates under a quasi-MMT regime) did not make their way to those who need them the most: end consumers.
Which is why we read with great interest a Bloomberg interview with two former Fed officials: Simon Potter, who led the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's markets group i.e., he was the head of the Fed's Plunge Protection Team for years, and Julia Coronado, who spent eight years as an economist for the Fed's Board of Governors, who are among the innovators brainstorming solutions to what has emerged as the most crucial and difficult problem facing the Fed: get money swiftly to people who need it most in a crisis.
The response was striking: the two propose creating a monetary tool that they call recession insurance bonds, which draw on some of the advances in digital payments, which will be wired instantly to Americans.
As Coronado explained the details, Congress would grant the Federal Reserve an additional tool for providing support'--say, a percent of GDP [in a lump sum that would be divided equally and distributed] to households in a recession. Recession insurance bonds would be zero-coupon securities, a contingent asset of households that would basically lie in wait. The trigger could be reaching the zero lower bound on interest rates or, as economist Claudia Sahm has proposed, a 0.5 percentage point increase in the unemployment rate. The Fed would then activate the securities and deposit the funds digitally in households' apps.
As Potter added, "it took Congress too long to get money to people, and it's too clunky. We need a separate infrastructure. The Fed could buy the bonds quickly without going to the private market. On March 15 they could have said interest rates are now at zero, we're activating X amount of the bonds, and we'll be tracking the unemployment rate'--if it increases above this level, we'll buy more. The bonds will be on the asset side of the Fed's balance sheet; the digital dollars in people's accounts will be on the liability side."
Essentially, the Fed is proposing creating a hybrid digital legal tender unlike reserves which are stuck within the financial system, and which it can deposit directly into US consumer accounts. In short, as we summarized "The Fed Is Planning To Send Money Directly To Americans In The Next Crisis", something we reminded readers of on Monday:
There still appears to be some confusion about the endgame. The Fed itself spelled it out.The Fed Is Planning To Send Money Directly To Americans In The Next Crisis: "by getting money to consumers you can limit the depth and duration of a recession"https://t.co/bG03TxiviT
'-- zerohedge (@zerohedge) September 22, 2020So this morning, as if to confirm our speculation of what comes next, Cleveland Fed president Loretta Mester delivered a speech to the Chicago Payment Symposium titled "Payments and the Pandemic", in which after going through the big picture boilerplate, Mester goes straight to the matter at hand.
In the section titled "Central Bank Digital Currencies", the Cleveland Fed president writes that "the experience with pandemic emergency payments has brought forward an idea that was already gaining increased attention at central banks around the world, that is, central bank digital currency (CBDC)."
And in the shocking punchline, then goes on to reveal that "legislation has proposed that each American have an account at the Fed in which digital dollars could be deposited, as liabilities of the Federal Reserve Banks, which could be used for emergency payments."
But wait it gets better, because in launching digital cash, the Fed would then be able to scrap "anonymous" physical currency entirely, and track every single banknote from its "creation" all though the various transactions that take place during its lifetime. And, eventually, the Fed could remotely "destroy" said digital currency when it so decides. Oh, and in the process the Fed would effectively disintermediate commercial banks, as it would both provide loans to US consumers and directly deposit funds into their accounts, effectively making the entire traditional banking system obsolete. Here are the details:
Other proposals would create a new payments instrument, digital cash, which would be just like the physical currency issued by central banks today, but in a digital form and, potentially, without the anonymity of physical currency. Depending on how these currencies are designed, central banks could support them without the need for commercial bank involvement via direct issuance into the end-users' digital wallets combined with central-bank-facilitated transfer and redemption services. The demand for and use of such instruments need further consideration in order to evaluate whether such a central bank digital currency would allow for quicker and more ubiquitous payments in times of emergency and more generally. In addition, a range of potential risks and policy issues surrounding central bank digital currency need to be better understood, and the costs and benefits evaluated.
The Federal Reserve has been researching issues raised by central bank digital currency for some time. The Board of Governors has a technology lab that has been building and testing a range of distributed ledger platforms to understand their potential benefits and tradeoffs. Staff members from several Reserve Banks, including Cleveland Fed software developers, are contributing to this effort. The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston is also engaged in a multiyear effort, working with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to experiment with technologies that could be used for a central bank digital currency. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York has established an innovation center, in partnership with the Bank for International Settlements, to identify and develop in-depth insights into critical trends and financial technology of relevance to central banks. Experimentation like this is an important ingredient in assessing the benefits and costs of a central bank digital currency, but does not signal any decision by the Federal Reserve to adopt such a currency. Issues raised by central bank digital currency related to financial stability, market structure, security, privacy, and monetary policy all need to be better understood.
To summarize, the wheels are already turning on a plan that sees the Fed depositing "digital dollars" to "each American", a stunning development that essentially sees the Fed bypass Congress, endowing the Central Bank with targeted "fiscal stimulus" capabilities, and which could lead to a dramatic reflationary spike as it is the lower income quartile segments of US society that are the marginal price setters for economic goods and services. And having already implemented Average Inflation Targeting, the resulting burst of inflation would be viewed by the Fed as insufficient on its own (as it would have to persist for a long time over the "average" period whatever it may end up being), to tighten monetary policy. In fact, even as inflation rages - which some alternative inflationary measures to CPI suggest it already is - the Fed will have a semantic loophole in explaining just why it needs to keep inflation scorching hot even as the standard of living in America collapses to the benefit of a handful of asset holders.
Why? The CBO showed the answer yesterday:
Absent a massive burst of inflation in the coming years which inflates away the hundreds of trillions in federal debt, the unprecedented debt tsunami that is coming would mean the end to the American way of life as we know it. And to do that, the Fed is now finalizing the last steps of a process that revolutionizes the entire fiat monetary system, launching digital dollars which effectively remove commercial banks as financial intermediaries, as they will allow the Fed itself to make direct deposits into Americans' "digital wallets", in the process also making Congress and the entire Legislative branch redundant, as a handful of technocrats quietly take over the United States.
Payments and the Pandemic
Wed, 23 Sep 2020 18:51
09.23.20 Loretta J. Mester Keynote Session, 20th Anniversary Chicago Payments Symposium '' Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago (via videoconference)
(PDF)It is a great pleasure being with you today as part of the 20th Anniversary Chicago Payments Symposium. Over the last two decades, this symposium has established itself as a valuable forum at which those interested in the payments system can gather to learn and share ideas. In recent years, the symposium has fostered important conversations between industry practitioners and policymakers. Those conversations have helped inform the Federal Reserve System's initiative to improve and modernize the U.S. payments system. That work is ongoing and has reached important milestones this year, despite the pandemic. Today, I will discuss some of the effects the pandemic has had on the U.S. payments system and update you on some of our ongoing efforts to modernize the payments system. As always, the views I'll express are my own and not necessarily those of the Federal Reserve System or of my colleagues on the Federal Open Market Committee.
I know I do not need to tell this audience that the payments system is a crucial part of the infrastructure of the U.S. and a well-functioning and secure payments system is vital for a sound economy. As is true of pretty much every aspect of life this year, the pandemic has affected the payments business, including payment patterns and volumes. The most important thing to recognize is that the U.S. payments system has been weathering the pandemic without significant disruptions. This has taken the hard work of many people in both the public sector and the private sector. Many of these workers were deemed to be essential, and we owe them all our deep gratitude for their dedication and public service. Because of the vital role played by the payments system, priorities had to change to meet the challenges posed by the pandemic. At the same time, progress continued on important projects that have longer-run consequences for the payments system.
There will be many lessons to take away from the current pandemic situation; two seem particularly relevant to the payments work in which we are all engaged. First, although it is safe to say no one anticipated an event quite like the pandemic, the industry's forethought, investment, and preparation to ensure that the payments system would be resilient to extreme scenarios has paid off greatly. It has allowed us to avoid a collapse of the payments system '' an event that would have made what was already a grave situation much, much worse. One big takeaway is that once we get through the current pandemic, making necessary investments to ensure that the U.S. payments system remains resilient in the face of extreme stress events will need to remain a priority.
Another key lesson is that having the right technology in place can make a big difference in being able to address the challenges posed in an environment of rapid change in payments behavior. Industry participants may need to rethink their payments technology investment strategy once we are through the pandemic. The changes we have seen in customers' payment behavior since February have happened quickly. The spread of COVID-19 heightened the reliance of businesses and individuals on digital services and faster connectivity, as many employees began to work from home and consumers turned to online shopping. This is a global pandemic, and demand for consumer-to-consumer and cross-border payments has risen, as people want to send and receive payments in support of family and friends. Some payments technology is more resilient, scalable, and adaptable to such rapid changes in user behavior and volume. Some industry participants note that cloud technologies are inherently more scalable and adaptable, and early adopters of the cloud are likely better positioned during these times compared to those operating on mainframes.1 It would be wrong to say that the pandemic has been the catalyst for payments system modernization: the Federal Reserve Banks have been assessing our payments technology for some time. We are investing in cloud technology and have platform modernization initiatives at various stages of completion across nearly all of our business lines. However, the pandemic does underscore the need to have a technology strategy that will meet the needs of the future. Industry efforts to replace decades-old core banking systems with more flexible, resilient, and cloud-friendly platforms, and to integrate the old with the new along the way, may need to be accelerated to ensure that we are prepared for the future.
Let me review some of the changes we have seen in payments activity during the pandemic.
Payments Volume and MixThe coronavirus pandemic and actions taken to contain its spread have had tremendous effects on households, businesses, and communities across America and on economic activity. So it is not surprising that the pandemic has had significant effects on the types and volumes of payments flowing through the payments system. In March, the country took aggressive social-distancing measures to limit the spread of the virus and to buy some time for the healthcare system to increase its capacity to care for the sick, learn more about the virus itself, and develop testing and treatments. In March and April, with stay-at-home orders issued by state and local authorities in full swing, the number of checks processed by the Reserve Banks declined substantially.
But at the same time, global demand for U.S. currency notes increased at unprecedented rates in March as currency orders from domestic and international banks spiked dramatically. At times of crisis, people often turn toward safety, and the U.S. dollar is viewed as a stable and safe asset across the world. So it is not unusual that the pandemic has led to a shift toward cash, but the scale has been unprecedented. Adding to that, the fiscal support in the form of economic impact payments issued by the U.S. government to millions of households also likely contributed to the higher demand in the U.S. as many people converted the payments into cash for spending. On the supply side, just as in other industries, the pandemic has affected the supply chain of cash. With the shutdown in full swing earlier this year, currency deposits to the Fed decreased, as retailers had less cash to deposit and banks wanted to maintain higher inventories in their vaults. The Federal Reserve Banks had to adjust their usual cash operations to ensure that cash inventories were maintained and cash was delivered to meet the higher demand.
According to a Federal Reserve survey of consumers taken in May of this year, participants reported that, on average, during the pandemic, they had increased their holdings of cash on their person from $69 to $81, a 17 percent increase.2 And the amount of cash stored at home or elsewhere rose even more, nearly 90 percent, from an average of $250 to over $475. Thirty percent of consumers did report they were avoiding using cash to pay for transactions, in favor of debit and credit cards. But even they were holding more cash in May than they were before the pandemic. Now, since May, as states and localities have relaxed stay-at-home restrictions and the economy has entered a reopening phase, the cash volumes at Reserve Banks have begun to return to more normal levels.
The pandemic has also caused a disruption to normal patterns of coin circulation. Deposits by banks to the Fed normally account for roughly 80 percent of the coins that the Federal Reserve puts back into circulation, with the remaining 20 percent coming from new coin produced by the U.S. Mint, the issuing authority for U.S. coin. While about $48 billion of coin is already in circulation, because coin-intensive businesses and bank branches have been less accessible during the pandemic, much of that coin has piled up in people's homes and piggybanks and in businesses that were shuttered by the pandemic.3 This has made it more difficult to recirculate the coin where needed. This temporary supply disruption is likely to dissipate because as the reopening phase continues and more businesses resume normal activity, more coins will flow back into retail and banking channels.
Electronic payments have also been affected by the pandemic. Automated Clearing House (ACH) volumes declined in late March and early April, driven by lower payroll processing, business-to-business payments, and online bill payments. Once the federal government's economic impact payments were disbursed and the Small Business Administration's payroll protection plan loans were funded, there was a rapid rebound in these types of payments and ACH volume has nearly recovered to its pre-pandemic growth trend.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland is the primary collection agent for the U.S. Treasury, and in late March and early April, our receipts of credit and debit card payments to the Treasury dropped to about half of what they were compared to last year. On the other hand, the use of debit and credit card payments increased for some types of payments. In the Fed survey of consumers, about 20 percent of respondents reported switching to paying online or over the phone for items from restaurants and big-box stores, and nearly two-thirds reported that they had made no in-person payments during the first several weeks of the pandemic.4
Finally, I will note that payments related to securities transactions have increased dramatically during the pandemic amid increased volatility in financial markets, higher levels of government bond issuance, and a surge in mortgage refinancings prompted by low interest rates.5
All in all, the pandemic has had a wide-ranging and uneven impact across firms' and households' payment behaviors and patterns. Some of the changes seen early during the pandemic have already reverted to pre-pandemic norms and others are likely to revert as the pandemic recedes. But it is also the case that the changes we have seen for some forms of payment will be longer lasting. A consumer's decision to use a different form of payment during the pandemic may have been driven by circumstances, but now that the consumer has had experience with it, that payment method may become a more routine choice. Similarly, some of the changes in work and consumption patterns may last after the pandemic has ended, altering payment mix and types of transactions more permanently.
Federal Reserve Payments ActionsGiven the importance of the payments system to the U.S. economy and the potential for wide-ranging effects of the pandemic and the actions taken to stem its spread, the Federal Reserve has been focused on mitigating disruptions and preparing for the unexpected. The Fed has established an active inventory management program to coordinate existing stores of cash and coin between Federal Reserve distribution locations. This has allowed us to better serve areas in the country experiencing high demand for cash and to increase the supply of fit notes available to the public. To help address the national coin circulation issues brought on by the pandemic, the Federal Reserve established temporary caps on coin orders in June. These caps, which have risen over time in response to changes in demand and supply conditions, have helped to ensure smooth ordering and fair distribution to financial institutions of all sizes. The Fed has also convened a U.S. Coin Task Force, with representatives from the Fed, the U.S. Mint, and the industry, to identify actions that could be taken to improve coin circulation.
The Fed understands that financial institutions have had to cope with several pandemic-related challenges '' after all, we have faced similar challenges. So to ease some of the burden, in May through July of this year, the Fed offered a customer assistance package, including some fee concessions on reporting, transactional, and electronic access services, and provided temporary relief from certain operational requirements. We also announced that in 2021 we would hold our prices for most Federal Reserve financial services at their current levels.
As fiscal agent to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the Federal Reserve Banks also provided service to the Treasury by processing more than 160 million economic impact payments to households and small businesses authorized by the CARES Act to help recipients cope with the financial effects of the pandemic. Payments were disbursed via ACH, check, and debit card in waves between April and August. The payments were made relatively quickly to those recipients whose bank account details were available to the government from prior tax returns or Social Security payments. Recipients whose bank account details were not known by the government could enter their account information on a specially created IRS website. Even so, this experience showed that the quality of recipients' routing information needs to improve in order to reduce the proportion of payments that cannot be posted automatically to the payee. And when exceptions occur, the processes for handling exceptions need to be sped up in order to avoid delays. It was a much bigger challenge to reach those without a bank account. This is a sizeable group: in 2017, this number was almost 8-1/2 million households, or about 6.5 percent of U.S. households.6 Recipients without bank accounts had to wait much longer for their relief payments to be disbursed by checks or debit cards through the mail, and unfortunately, many of these households tend to be lower income and have the greatest need for speedy financial assistance. The pandemic has underscored the need to ensure that during a crisis, payments can flow quickly and to everyone: those with and those without a bank account.7
As many in this audience know, one of the goals of the Fed's recent efforts to modernize the U.S. payments system is to speed up the flow of payments between payer and payees. Another goal is to make sure that all Americans have access to the payments system.
FedNowSMThe Federal Reserve's FedNow service, which is currently being built, will be an around-the-clock service whereby payments can be originated, cleared, and settled within seconds. The service is expected to provide clear public benefits in the form of safety, efficiency, and accessibility of instant payments. Yesterday, my colleague Ken Montgomery provided an excellent overview of FedNow features and functions, so let me touch upon a few points about how we'll be rolling the service out.
While COVID-19 has affected many parts of the payments system, it has not slowed down our work on FedNow. Our goal is to bring FedNow to market as soon as practicably possible. The target release date remains 2023 or 2024, but we will announce a more specific time frame once additional work is completed. In order to get the service up and running as soon as possible, we are taking a phased approach to its features. We will begin with the most important features and introduce enhancements quickly and iteratively thereafter. To inform the design and to determine which features to include at the start, we have been engaging extensively with stakeholders through focus groups, industry meetings, and the establishment of a stakeholder-wide FedNow community, and through the more formal public comment process. We are working to finalize a technology strategy that will create a flexible infrastructure, one that is scalable and can evolve with the times.
In addition to offering secure instant payments, an important goal of FedNow is to establish a nationwide reach for the service so that this new type of payment is broadly accessible to consumers and businesses alike. The Federal Reserve's payments services have a broad reach, with connections to and customer relationships with more than 10,000 diverse financial institutions across the country. This existing reach will help support a nationwide infrastructure for FedNow instant payments. We are also working closely with private-sector payment providers to explore the best approach to achieve wide accessibility.
Thinking ahead, a service like FedNow, coupled with a directory service with accurate information on where to route payments for final distribution to households and businesses, has the potential to solve some of the challenges the government faced when distributing pandemic relief payments. Of course, creating such a directory and ensuring it is kept up-to-date is complex, and several challenges, including data privacy considerations, account information maintenance demands, and business case considerations, would have to be solved. The Federal Reserve understands the potential value of such a service, and has been exploring these issues as it evaluates the features to eventually include in FedNow.
Central Bank Digital CurrenciesThe experience with pandemic emergency payments has brought forward an idea that was already gaining increased attention at central banks around the world, that is, central bank digital currency (CBDC). Legislation has proposed that each American have an account at the Fed in which digital dollars could be deposited, as liabilities of the Federal Reserve Banks, which could be used for emergency payments. Other proposals would create a new payments instrument, digital cash, which would be just like the physical currency issued by central banks today, but in a digital form and, potentially, without the anonymity of physical currency. Depending on how these currencies are designed, central banks could support them without the need for commercial bank involvement via direct issuance into the end-users' digital wallets combined with central-bank-facilitated transfer and redemption services.8 The demand for and use of such instruments need further consideration in order to evaluate whether such a central bank digital currency would allow for quicker and more ubiquitous payments in times of emergency and more generally. In addition, a range of potential risks and policy issues surrounding central bank digital currency need to be better understood, and the costs and benefits evaluated.
The Federal Reserve has been researching issues raised by central bank digital currency for some time. The Board of Governors has a technology lab that has been building and testing a range of distributed ledger platforms to understand their potential benefits and tradeoffs.9 Staff members from several Reserve Banks, including Cleveland Fed software developers, are contributing to this effort. The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston is also engaged in a multiyear effort, working with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to experiment with technologies that could be used for a central bank digital currency. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York has established an innovation center, in partnership with the Bank for International Settlements, to identify and develop in-depth insights into critical trends and financial technology of relevance to central banks.10 Experimentation like this is an important ingredient in assessing the benefits and costs of a central bank digital currency, but does not signal any decision by the Federal Reserve to adopt such a currency. Issues raised by central bank digital currency related to financial stability, market structure, security, privacy, and monetary policy all need to be better understood.
Improving Traditional Federal Reserve Financial ServicesFedNow and central bank digital currency have to do with the future, but the Fed is also working to enhance our current portfolio of payment services to ensure they meet evolving customer needs. We continue to make investments to modernize the technical platforms for traditional payment services, including the Fedwire Funds Service, FedACH, FedLine access channels, and currency-processing services.
We are investigating expanding the operating hours of wholesale payment services to meet the interbank settlement demands of a 24x7x365 world. We are enhancing services to facilitate cross-border payments, including expanding the reach of our FedGlobal ACH service and adopting the ISO 20022 global standard for several of our payment services. We are investigating emerging technical approaches, like APIs, to see whether they can be leveraged to facilitate broader access and efficiency. And, of course, we are doing what needs to be done to enhance the resilience of our platforms so that our services can run efficiently, reliably, and securely every day.
ConclusionI hope my remarks today give you some sense of the payments work that has been going on at the Federal Reserve during the pandemic. The pandemic has triggered notable short-term changes to payments system patterns, practices, and usage. But the Federal Reserve and industry participants have responded to ensure that our payments system, a critical part of the U.S. infrastructure, continues to function well and to meet stakeholder needs. We have all learned a lot during the pandemic. We have seen that we can respond to unforeseen events and that we can be flexible. We have seen the importance of investing in the resilience of our payments system '' such resilience helped ensure that the payments system was not disrupted and did not add another challenge to the long list caused by the pandemic. We have seen the important role the payments system can play in an emergency by distributing funds to those in need. There is some uncertainty about the extent to which some of the changes we have seen in consumer and business behavior with respect to their payment choices will continue after the pandemic. But one thing is certain: we must ensure that our payments system remains modern, resilient, and able to adapt to changing customer needs as they evolve. I am confident that by working together, the Fed and the industry will be able to achieve that goal for the benefit of the public.
Footnotes See Fintech Advisory Group (2020). Return See Kim, et al. (2020) Return U.S. Coin Task Force (2020). Return See Kim, et al. (2020). Return Increases in average daily trading volumes for fixed-income municipal, U.S. Treasury, MBS, ABS, and corporate debt for August 2020 year-to-date over the same period a year ago range from 15 percent to 40 percent (SIFMA, September 3, 2020). Return Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (2017). Return George (2020). Return See Mester (2020) for further discussion. Return Brainard (2020). Return Bank for International Settlements (2020). ReturnReferences Bank for International Settlements, ''BIS Innovation Hub to Expand to New Locations in Europe and North America,'' June 30, 2020. (https://www.bis.org/press/p200630a.htm) Brainard, Lael, ''An Update on Digital Currencies,'' at the Federal Reserve Board and Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco's Innovation Office Hours, San Francisco, CA (via webcast) August 13, 2020. (https://www.federalreserve.gov/newsevents/speech/files/brainard20200813a.pdf) Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, ''2017 FDIC National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households,'' October 2018. (https://www.fdic.gov/householdsurvey/2017/2017report.pdf) Fintech Advisory Group, ''Minutes of the Regular Meeting of the Fintech Advisory Group,'' Federal Reserve Bank of New York, April 8, 2020. (https://www.newyorkfed.org/medialibrary/media/aboutthefed/pdf/ftag-minutes-04082020.pdf) George, Esther, ''Pondering Payments: Challenges of Reaching All Americans,'' KC Fed Policy Perspectives, June 30, 2020. (https://www.kansascityfed.org/~/media/files/publicat/speeches/2020/policy_perspectives_6_30_20.pdf?la=en) Kim, Laura, Raynil Kumar, and Shaun O'Brien, ''Consumer Payments & the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Supplement to the 2020 Findings from the Diary of Consumer Payment Choice,'' Cash Product Office, Federal Reserve System, July 2020. (https://www.frbsf.org/cash/files/consumer-payments-covid-19-pandemic-2020-diary-consumer-payment-choice-supplement.pdf) Mester, Loretta J., ''Modernizing Our Payments System,'' remarks at the Fourth Annual Financial Literacy Day: Understanding Global Markets and Finance, Global Interdependence Center, University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee College of Business, Sarasota, FL, February 14, 2020. (https://www.clevelandfed.org/newsroom-and-events/speeches/sp-20200214-modernizing-our-payments-system) SIFMA, U.S. Fixed Income Trading Volume, statistics, September 3, 2020. (https://www.sifma.org/resources/research/us-fixed-income-trading-volume/) U.S. Coin Task Force, ''Statement from the U.S. Coin Task Force on the Coin Circulation Issue,'' July 24, 2020. (https://www.aba.com/-/media/documents/email-bulletins/us-coin-task-force-public-statement-072420#_ga=2.166214334.1890085829.1597941665-539224350.1597941665)
Epstein
DEVELOPING: All Passengers on Epstein's Flight Logs to Be Named - Epstein's Rich and Famous Pals Panicking
Mon, 21 Sep 2020 11:34
The world's rich and famous traveled to and from Jeffrey Epstein's island in the Atlantic for years. Today the AG for the US Virgin Islands demanded the logs on all flights to and from the island for the past few decades.The Mirror.co.uk is reporting tonight:
The Attorney General for the US Virgin Islands, where Epstein had a home, has demanded logs for his four helicopters and three planes, from 1998 to his suicide last year.
The Mirror also reports:
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Logs for every flight made by Jeffrey Epstein's aircraft over 21 years have been subpoenaed, ''sparking panic'' among his rich and famous pals.
The Attorney General for the US Virgin Islands, where Epstein had a home, has demanded logs for his four helicopters and three planes, from 1998 to his suicide last year.
Denise George has filed a lawsuit against Epstein's estate, alleging 22 counts, including aggravated rape, child abuse and neglect, human trafficking, forced labour and prostitution.
As well as the passenger lists, Ms George is seeking any ''complaints or reports of potentially suspicious conduct'' and any personal notes the pilots made.
The subpoena demands the names and contact details of anyone who worked for the pilots or who ''interacted with or observed'' Jeffrey Epstein or any passengers associated with him.
We reported last year that information shows former US President Bill Clinton flew with Epstein 29 times and most times with underage girls. We also reported that Clinton and Obama economist and the former President of Harvard, Larry Summers, took numerous flights on Jeffrey Epstein's jet. He even flew on Epstein's jet to Epstein's infamous 'Orgy Island' ten days after his marriage in 2005.
We also reported that Clinton's former National Security Advisor, Sandy Berger, took a flight on the Epstein Express from Epstein's 'Orgy Island' as well. US News reported about Berger for being charged with stealing documents from the National Archives by stuffing them in his clothes to protect President Clinton and himself from actions related to Osama Bin Ladin. Al Gore also flew on the Epstein express.
It will be interesting to see who else comes up.
Obama Gate
FBI Agent Who Uncovered Weiner Laptop with Hillary's Emails says FBI Leadership Told Him to Erase All of His Findings
Thu, 24 Sep 2020 12:31
John Robertson, was an FBI Agent who investigated crimes against children. This is how he stumbled upon Hillary Clinton's emails. We first reported on Robertson in August of 2018 when the mainstream media was focused on the Trump Russia Mueller sham investigation.
John was assigned to the Anthony Weiner case, a top Democrat married to Hillary Clinton adviser Huma Abedin. During his investigation of Weiner's computer John discovered thousands of Hillary Clinton emails and blew the whistle on the Comey-McCabe and Strzok cover-up of evidence.
Yesterday the Washington Examiner reported:
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''The crickets I was hearing was really making me uncomfortable because something was going to come down,'' Robertson said he later told Justice Department investigators. ''Why isn't anybody here? Like if I'm the supervisor of any [counterintelligence] squad '... and I hear about this, I'm getting on with headquarters and saying, 'Hey, some agent working child porn here may have [Hillary Clinton] emails. Get your ass on the phone, call [the case agent], and get a copy of that drive,' because that's how it should be. And that nobody reached out to me within, like, that night, I still to this day don't understand what the hell went wrong.'' Robertson wrote a ''Letter to Self'' in late October after an Oct. 19, 2016, meeting, during which he implored Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Kramer of the Southern District of New York to push FBI leadership to look at the thousands of emails he had unearthed.
''I have very deep misgivings about the institutional response of the FBI to the congressional investigation into the Hillary Clinton email matter '... Put simply: I don't believe the handling of the material I have by the FBI is ethically or morally right. But my lawyer's advice '-- that I simply put my SSA on notice should cover me '-- is that I have completed CYA [Cover Your Ass], and I have done so,'' Robertson wrote. ''Further, I was told by [Kramer] that should I 'whistleblow,' I will be prosecuted.''
Robertson continued: ''I possess '-- the FBI possesses '-- 20 times more emails than Comey testified to. '... While Comey did not know at the time about what I have, people in the FBI do now, and as far as I know, we are being silent. '... If I say or do nothing more, I am falling short ethically and morally. And later, I may be accused of being a Hillary Clinton hack because of the timing of all this. '... But if I say something (i.e., whistleblow), I will lose my reputation, my career, and risk prosecution. I will also be accused of being a Donald Trump hack.''
The Daily Mail reports on Robertson saying:
Do you think the FBI is corrupt?
99% (1653 Votes)
1% (16 Votes)
The only advice from his bosses was to erase his office computer, which meant leaving no record of his investigations, a new book says.
Charles Ortel, who's an expert on the corruption within the Clinton Foundation believes that there were a number of Clinton Foundation emails on the Weiner laptop:
'October Surprise': New details emerge about FBI delay on Weiner laptop in 2016 https://t.co/gEsF3B7YzIMany of these emails likely dealt with @ClintonFdn ''entities'' and/or Teneo and/or principals, clients. DOPEY, CROOKED @Comey belongs in JAIL, with MANY others @csthetruth
'-- Charles Ortel (@CharlesOrtel) September 20, 2020
Others believe that what was found on the Weiner laptop was shocking, we reported on this in August 2018 as well. In late 2016 shortly before the 2016 election on November 4th, 2016, Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater, was on Breitbart radio and he said shocking things about Weiner's emails ''
Prince claimed he had insider knowledge of the investigation that could help explain why FBI Director James Comey had to announce he was reopening the investigation into Clinton's email server last week.
''Because of Weinergate and the sexting scandal, the NYPD started investigating it. Through a subpoena, through a warrant, they searched his laptop, and sure enough, found those 650,000 emails. They found way more stuff than just more information pertaining to the inappropriate sexting the guy was doing,'' Prince claimed.
''They found State Department emails. They found a lot of other really damning criminal information, including money laundering, including the fact that Hillary went to this sex island with convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. Bill Clinton went there more than 20 times. Hillary Clinton went there at least six times,'' he said.
Prince shared that the NYPD kept a copy of all the emails on Weiner's computer, and the following ''
Clips
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VIDEO-Indian explains why Chinese are no good at cricket. - YouTube
Wed, 23 Sep 2020 23:29
VIDEO-Beam Of Light Aimed At West Coast Fires As Pentagon Warns That China Has Weaponized Space - YouTube
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VIDEO-Tom Elliott on Twitter: "SUPERCUT! Today's 'Morning Joe' condensed to 45 seconds #TrumpIsHitler https://t.co/Hg3FUlwyc5" / Twitter
Wed, 23 Sep 2020 18:46
Tom Elliott : SUPERCUT! Today's 'Morning Joe' condensed to 45 seconds #TrumpIsHitler https://t.co/Hg3FUlwyc5
Wed Sep 23 13:57:10 +0000 2020
Tim_CA : @tomselliott LMFAO....!!Our POTUS lives rent free in these (in-the-tank) goofballs pointy little craniums.His w'... https://t.co/cSEUddczx9
Wed Sep 23 18:42:21 +0000 2020
Sane Asylum : @tomselliott Why does everyone at @MSNBC see everyday people as nazis?
Wed Sep 23 18:41:28 +0000 2020
Doug Jones : @tomselliott ðŸ" https://t.co/5uxhgavFPD
Wed Sep 23 18:39:00 +0000 2020
everythingismeh : @tomselliott @GerryCallahan Can these people just get fucked and leave everyone alone?
Wed Sep 23 18:35:06 +0000 2020
conondrum : @tomselliott Amazing. Let's be clear that fascist is another branch of socialist, just like communist. The closest'... https://t.co/d1P9fqC4mQ
Wed Sep 23 18:34:43 +0000 2020
LoveMyWife : @tomselliott #TDS seems to be incurable. What morons...
Wed Sep 23 18:31:48 +0000 2020
VIDEO-De Blasio: 9,000 city managers furloughed in budget crunch
Wed, 23 Sep 2020 16:43
September 23, 2020 | 11:13am | Updated September 23, 2020 | 11:27am
Another 9,000 city employees will be furloughed, saving the city $21 million, in a bid to balance the budget, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday.
The five-day furlough will start in October and last through March and will affect all managerial employees and non-union workers at city agencies.
''It has real human consequences but it is necessary,'' de Blasio said at his daily press briefing. ''We need to keep finding savings to keep bridging us to give us a chance to get something better than layoffs. No one wants to see layoffs, but unfortunately they're still on the table.''
Last week, the mayor announced he and nearly 500 mayor's office employees would take five days of unpaid leave to get closer to plugging the $1 billion shortfall to balance the 2021 budget.
Hizzoner has repeatedly implored Washington for a federal bailout amid the coronavirus crisis, which has caused the city to plunge into a $9 billion hole, thanks to lost tax revenue. De Blasio has also unsuccessfully pushed for a long-term borrowing plan from Albany.
Both have suggested he instead tighten the city's fiscal belt with a bloated $88 billion budget.
VIDEO-Rep. Gaetz: Bloomberg may face criminal probe for paying felons' fines
Wed, 23 Sep 2020 16:38
Rep. Matt Gaetz warned billionaire Michael Bloomberg that he may be facing a criminal probe for paying the outstanding fines and fees of 32,000 convicted felons in Florida so they could regain their right to vote ahead of the November election.
Speaking to Fox News' ''Hannity'' Tuesday evening, Gaetz (R-Fla.) said he had spoken to Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody prior to his appearance on the show about Bloomberg's voter effort in the Sunshine State.
On Tuesday, it was reported that the former NYC mayor had raised over $16 million for, and donated $5 million to, the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition.
Bloomberg's push would benefit ex-cons as part of a 2018 state constitutional amendment allowing felons who have served their time to regain their right to vote.
Michael Bloomberg Getty ImagesBefore they can regain that right, however, they need to pay any fines, fees or restitution.
In a statement to Axios, a representative for Bloomberg said, ''The right to vote is fundamental to our democracy and no American should be denied that right. Working together with the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, we are determined to end disenfranchisement and the discrimination that has always driven it.''
To Gaetz and Moody, however, there are legal concerns regarding Bloomberg's political spending in this specific case.
''I believe there may be a criminal investigation already underway of the Bloomberg-connected activities in Florida,'' Gaetz told Sean Hannity.
''[Under Florida law] it's a third-degree felony for someone to either directly or indirectly provide something of value to impact whether or not someone votes. So the question is whether or not paying off someone's fines and legal obligations counts as something of value, and it clearly does. If Michael Bloomberg was offering to pay off people's credit card debts, you would obviously see the value in that.
''When you improve someone's net worth by eliminating their financial liabilities, that's something of value. Normally, it would be very difficult to prove that that was directly linked to impacting whether or not someone was going to vote. But they literally wrote their own admission,'' the Florida Republican argued, referencing a Washington Post report.
Matt Gaetz Getty ImagesA memo from the Bloomberg team, obtained Tuesday by the newspaper, explained that the billionaire businessman saw the effort as ''a more cost-effective way of adding votes to the Democratic column than investing money to persuade voters who already have the right to vote.''
''We have identified a significant vote share that requires a nominal investment. The data shows that in Florida, Black voters are a unique universe unlike any other voting bloc, where the Democratic support rate tends to be 90%-95%,'' the memo read.
Gaetz argued that the memo helped prove that this could be viewed as bribery.
''The law is clear, this is something of value, and I am encouraged after my conversation with the attorney general. I hope we have good law enforcement all over the country looking for the cheating and the tricks that these Democrats are going to try in this election,'' he told the network.
In addition to the millions that Bloomberg delivered to helping felons regain their right to vote, the one-time presidential candidate announced a $100 million push for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in the state earlier this month.
When announcing the move, Bloomberg adviser Kevin Sheekey argued that it was beneficial to other swing states as well.
''Voting starts on Sept. 24 in Florida so the need to inject real capital in that state quickly is an urgent need. Mike believes that by investing in Florida it will allow campaign resources and other Democratic resources to be used in other states, in particular the state of Pennsylvania,'' Sheekey, who served as campaign manager during Bloomberg's 2020 run, said in a statement.
A spokesperson for Bloomberg could not immediately be reached for comment.
VIDEO-He lost his line - YouTube
Wed, 23 Sep 2020 15:37
VIDEO-Ontario at threshold of more COVID-19 lockdowns - YouTube
Wed, 23 Sep 2020 15:23
VIDEO-Ginsburg
Wed, 23 Sep 2020 15:09
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VIDEO-Facebook Sued for SPYING! Lawyer Explains Class Action Suit - Viva Frei Vlawg - YouTube
Wed, 23 Sep 2020 15:04
VIDEO-WATCH: Schumer HECKLED during outdoor press conference - YouTube
Wed, 23 Sep 2020 14:55
VIDEO-Steve Guest on Twitter: "Joe Biden completely botches the Pledge of Allegiance: "I pledge allegiance to the United States of America, one nation, indivisible, under God, for real." https://t.co/Gct4AEVWog" / Twitter
Wed, 23 Sep 2020 14:43
Steve Guest : Joe Biden completely botches the Pledge of Allegiance:"I pledge allegiance to the United States of America, one n'... https://t.co/ERbXYBV77b
Mon Sep 21 20:02:27 +0000 2020
Kassius''¨'¸ : @SteveGuest good thing i don't stand for this bs anyway. this nation should not be considered to be under god🥰
Wed Sep 23 14:40:51 +0000 2020
Tom : @SteveGuest How much do you have to hate Donald Trump to vote for a guy with dementia? I can't wait till the debat'... https://t.co/oQ56UbsJF3
Wed Sep 23 14:37:15 +0000 2020
Pete James : @SteveGuest @bapplegate1 ðŸ'ðŸ'
Wed Sep 23 14:35:40 +0000 2020
Jim ji : @SteveGuest He doesn't know the pledge of Allegiance by heart. And he want to be president for what to sell us to China
Wed Sep 23 14:31:48 +0000 2020
Debra Collins : @SteveGuest Lmao. Joe come on man!!!!
Wed Sep 23 14:27:30 +0000 2020
Robert Valentine : @SteveGuest Without the teleprompter, Joe is so lost. It is pathetic that he can't even remember the Pledge of Alle'... https://t.co/xME1e0z0dS
Wed Sep 23 14:18:06 +0000 2020
Eyes Wide Open : @SteveGuest OMG
Wed Sep 23 14:16:58 +0000 2020
Carmela Crawford : @SteveGuest Low blow - but we expect nothing more of the MAGA people
Wed Sep 23 14:15:01 +0000 2020
tina guerrero : @SteveGuest I'm not surprised, he isn't being paid to rember that. Goodnite Biden
Wed Sep 23 14:14:28 +0000 2020
gloriaheart#45 : @SteveGuest Video sounds doctored.
Wed Sep 23 14:11:38 +0000 2020
VIDEO-Kyle Rittenhouse - The Truth in 11 Minutes - YouTube
Wed, 23 Sep 2020 14:38
VIDEO-Krystal and Saagar: Media Ignores BOMBSHELL Court Decision Which Could Spur Election CHAOS - YouTube
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VIDEO-Follow the Science? Nonsense, I say. - YouTube
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VIDEO-No Agenda Social
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VIDEO-(1330) Dr. Andrew Kaufman Addresses Trafalgar Square Protest - London 19/09/20 - YouTube
Wed, 23 Sep 2020 12:37
VIDEO-cole hersch '‘... on Twitter: "Saddleback College held a discussion on potential new mascots, so a student sent me the zoom link. https://t.co/5fsvdEKGyi" / Twitter
Wed, 23 Sep 2020 03:15
cole hersch '‘... : Saddleback College held a discussion on potential new mascots, so a student sent me the zoom link. https://t.co/5fsvdEKGyi
Thu Sep 17 22:56:56 +0000 2020
Harmless Patsy : @ColesTwitt3r LOL one of them started to cheer for him till she realized he was making fun of her.
Wed Sep 23 03:14:45 +0000 2020
TSMcK1000 🇺🇸 : @ColesTwitt3r Rock star
Wed Sep 23 03:14:33 +0000 2020
DIGITAL BATH : @ColesTwitt3r Fucking epic- bravo man
Wed Sep 23 03:14:03 +0000 2020
HickoryNut ðŸ'' : @ColesTwitt3r I think he just described @iamcardib
Wed Sep 23 03:13:58 +0000 2020
mel : @ColesTwitt3r This deserves the jeff goldblum meme
Wed Sep 23 03:13:57 +0000 2020
Snoop : @ColesTwitt3r Bwwwwwwaaaahahahaha
Wed Sep 23 03:13:43 +0000 2020
Chuck : @ColesTwitt3r https://t.co/vkxVikkbxT
Wed Sep 23 03:12:03 +0000 2020
REPLACE RBG NOW! : @ColesTwitt3r Tittypussy rules!
Wed Sep 23 03:11:57 +0000 2020
David Tannehill : @ColesTwitt3r This is why you have Twitter.
Wed Sep 23 03:08:23 +0000 2020
ArchCon : @ColesTwitt3r These kids don't understand the art of the prank call. 70s and 80s kids get it.This should make you'... https://t.co/NnWlwjhahD
Wed Sep 23 03:08:14 +0000 2020
VIDEO-In full: Rowan Atkinson on free speech - YouTube
Tue, 22 Sep 2020 21:30
VIDEO-Glenn Greenwald on Reality Winner Controversy and Asking Trump to Pardon Snowden | Useful Idiots - YouTube
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VIDEO-Paul Weston Covid Lies, Damned Lies & Statistics - YouTube
Tue, 22 Sep 2020 18:06
VIDEO - (8) Kyle Smith on Twitter: "''Nonpartisan journo'' https://t.co/Z5MJlcnSR5" / Twitter
Tue, 22 Sep 2020 14:02
Kyle Smith : ''Nonpartisan journo'' https://t.co/Z5MJlcnSR5
Tue Sep 22 13:22:33 +0000 2020
Nick Caraless : @rkylesmith https://t.co/J72GcmeOtj
Tue Sep 22 13:54:47 +0000 2020
Heartland : @rkylesmith @EWErickson It's not journalism...it's the rantings of a mad man. It's doubtful he truly comprehends what he's saying.
Tue Sep 22 13:46:01 +0000 2020
pa : @rkylesmith @EWErickson Sometime back journalists abandoned the objective-nonpartisan guidelines but made no formal announcement.
Tue Sep 22 13:44:57 +0000 2020
CO Independent ðŸ'' : @rkylesmith @EWErickson How do any trump enablers even have the GALL to call out any Journalist, when FOX AND OANN'... https://t.co/xRE9HEywlR
Tue Sep 22 13:44:41 +0000 2020
John Kingston : @rkylesmith @EWErickson I don't think even Don Lemon would describe himself that way.
Tue Sep 22 13:41:46 +0000 2020
Lilly VonSchtp : @rkylesmith Nonpartisan nitwit https://t.co/BxY51WJyCk
Tue Sep 22 13:26:32 +0000 2020
BCLive : @rkylesmith Haha...and extremely well informed on constitutional amendments. Just ''pack the courts...''
Tue Sep 22 13:24:52 +0000 2020
VIDEO-Former YouTube content moderator sues the company after developing symptoms of PTSD - The Verge
Tue, 22 Sep 2020 13:50
A former YouTube content moderator is suing the Google-owned company for failing to properly protect her and her co-workers from the mental harms caused by reviewing hours and hours of graphic footage every day.
The proposed class-action lawsuit against YouTube is being brought by the Joseph Saveri Law Firm, which previously sued Facebook for failing to safeguard the mental health of its own content moderators. That earlier suit resulted in Facebook paying a $52 million settlement to moderators who developed PTSD as a result of their work for the company.
''She has trouble sleeping and when she does sleep, she has horrific nightmares.''
The lawsuit, which was first reported by CNET, says YouTube consistently failed to follow its own safety guidelines and provided inadequate support to moderators. As a result of her time working for the company, the lawsuit's plaintiff, who remains anonymous, says she suffered ''severe psychological trauma'' and developed symptoms of PTSD and depression.
The lawsuit says videos that the plaintiff had to watch and review during her employment included footage of cannibalism, child rape, suicide, self-harm, bestiality; videos of a woman being beheaded by a cartel, of a person's head being run over by a tank, of a fox being skinned alive, and of school shootings.
''She has trouble sleeping and when she does sleep, she has horrific nightmares,'' says the lawsuit of the plaintiff. ''She often lays awake at night trying to go to sleep, replaying videos that she has seen in her mind. She cannot be in crowded places, including concerts and events, because she fears mass shootings. She has severe and debilitating panic attacks.''
The plaintiff in this recent lawsuit reviewed YouTube content via a third-party agency called Collabera, working for the firm between January 2018 and August 2019. Such third-party agencies are often used by tech companies like Google and Facebook. This work is frequently low-paid with short-term contracts and minimal health benefits. Employees have to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) to stop them talking about their work publicly.
The lawsuit details a number of alleged failings from YouTube and Collabera, including the following:
During the training process, new employees were exposed to graphic content without proper guidance or preparation. Trainees are told they can leave the room when being shown this content but the lawsuit says people were concerned that ''leaving the room might mean losing their job.''During training ''little to no time was spent on wellness and resiliency.'' Counselors guiding trainees told them to get enough sleep and exercise and take regular breaks during work, but when content moderators started full-time employment the pace of the job meant ''these promised breaks were illusory.'' YouTube's best practices says moderators should not view graphic content for more than four hours a day, but due to ''chronically understaffed'' workplaces this limit was ''routinely'' exceeded. Support services for content moderators included access to ''Wellness Coaches,'' but these coaches were not medically trained professionals who could diagnose or treat mental health disorders. One coach counseled the lawsuit's plaintiff to take illegal drugs to cope with her symptoms while another coach told a co-worker to simply ''trust in God.'' Content moderators were fearful that any complaints to coaches would be reported to management and so were not able to speak freely about their problems on the job.The lawsuit also highlights the lengths YouTube has gone to ''to shield itself from liability.'' It notes that the company began forcing content moderators to sign a statement acknowledging that the job can give them PTSD as of December last year, four days after The Verge published an investigation into the trauma caused by their work.
YouTube has repeatedly said it would use AI systems to relieve the burden on human moderators, but just this week the company admitted that such automated filters were not as accurate. YouTube and other tech platforms are facing increasing scrutiny over their moderations duties not only because of the trauma afflicted on employees but also the spread of racist content and misinformation.
The lawsuit is currently filed on the behalf of the individual plaintiff but is proposed as a class action suit ''on behalf of all persons who performed content moderation work for YouTube in the United States at any time up until the present.''
VIDEO-Greg Allen on Twitter: "Joe Biden was told, "You don't have a chance Joe" in Duluth Mn. September 18th. His answer, "Probably not". Please watch and share. The Media does not want you to see this video!! Lets get this mainstream.... https://t.co/oWV
Tue, 22 Sep 2020 13:50
Greg Allen : Joe Biden was told, "You don't have a chance Joe" in Duluth Mn. September 18th. His answer, "Probably not". Pleas'... https://t.co/LgzBL5MJJm
Mon Sep 21 12:55:21 +0000 2020
kim cottrill : @gregallen92 Biden isn't running for President, Harris is just Biden just the head of the snakes!!
Tue Sep 22 13:41:17 +0000 2020
Dana : @gregallen92 Mr Biden you reap what u sow!!!! Trump/Pence 2020🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸
Tue Sep 22 13:18:32 +0000 2020
VIDEO-SARS-CoV2 and the Rise of Medical Technocracy. Lee Merritt, M.D. - YouTube
Tue, 22 Sep 2020 13:38
VIDEO-Outsiders Weather and Ice Age Watch - YouTube
Tue, 22 Sep 2020 13:32
VIDEO-No Agenda Social
Tue, 22 Sep 2020 13:08
E-mail addressPasswordSign upForgot your password?Didn't receive confirmation instructions?
VIDEO-No Agenda Social
Tue, 22 Sep 2020 13:07
Pelosi had to reboot mid-interview. Maybe an update? But, I think it's a great ISO for the Sunday show, @ adam . Good morning, Sunday morning. # noagenda
VIDEO-CDC reverts previous guidance on airborne Covid-19 spread - CNN Video
Tue, 22 Sep 2020 12:56
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VIDEO-No Agenda - Social Media - YouTube
Mon, 21 Sep 2020 17:19
VIDEO-'Black-ish' Star Demands Jimmy Kimmel Shout 'Black Lives Matter' So 'Mike Pence Can Hear' at Emmys | Newsbusters
Mon, 21 Sep 2020 12:24
September 20th, 2020 11:47 PM
ABC's presentation of the 72nd Emmy Awards on Sunday, September 20, was a cringe-fest of bad jokes and poor visuals, made worse by the lack of a live audience. One of the more awkward moments came when actor Anthony Anderson, star of the ABC series Black-ish, presented an award for Best Limited Series.
Prior to announcing the nominees, Anderson gave host Jimmy Kimmel and the audience his race-centered views on what the awards show would have been without COVID this year.
Kimmel: Please welcome nine-time Emmy nominee, Anthony Anderson.
Anderson: All right. J.K., before we announce the nominees, I have a few things that I'd like to say.
Kimmel: You do?
Anderson: Yes, I do.
Kimmel: Because in rehearsal, I thought we decided --
Anderson: We have a record number of black Emmy nominees this year, which is great. This is the part where the white people start to applaud.
Kimmel: Oh.
Anderson: And nod.
Kimmel: Oh.
Anderson: Thank you, Jimmy. This Emmys would have been NBA all-star weekend and Wakanda all wrapped in one. This was supposed to be the blackest Emmys ever. Y'all wouldn't have been able to handle how black it was gonna be. But because of covid, we can't even get in the damn building.
Kimmel: Well, thank you, Anthony.
Anderson: These Emmys would have been so black, hot sauce in your purse black. Howard university homecoming black. You fit the description, black.
Kimmel: That does sound great, and I wish we'd --
Anderson: We would have had speeches quoting our great poets, like Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, Cardi B. "Wap," Jimmy.
Kimmel: Oh, the song. Totally. Right.
Anderson: But instead of that sexy melanated energy, here I am, alone in a sterilized green room, trying not to sneeze on a llama. What a damn shame.
Kimmel: It was actually an alpaca.
Anderson: Don't whitesplain it to me, Jimmy. It should have been a pit bull. But no, not tonight. This isn't what it should have been. But you know what? I'm still rooting for everybody black. Because black stories, black performances, and black lives matter. Say it with me, Jimmy.
Both: Black lives matter.
Anderson: Louder, Jimmy.
Both: Black lives matter.
Anderson: Louder, Jimmy. Say it so that Mike Pence can hear it.
Both: Black lives matter.
Anderson: That's right. And because black lives matter, black people will stay home tonight. To be safe. Which is fine, because guess what? Y'all don't know how to light us anyway. Jimmy, I'm glad I got that off my chest.
Kimmel: I am, too. It was my pleasure. You know that.
Where to begin with this speech? There are no individual human beings in Anderson's framing. Everything is racialized. Kimmel is just one of those "white people" who is supposed to applaud and nod on cue. Anderson is only rooting for black nominees. (Shouldn't he hope for the best nominees to win regardless of color?) And his statement, "Y'all don't know how to light us anyway" is dripping with contempt for millions of Americans.
Kimmel replies like an awkward puppet when he is ordered to yell louder. Are these men adults? The reference to Mike Pence is just more tired partisan ideology. Presidential candidate Joe Biden, not Mike Pence, has had the long history of negatively stereotyping black Americans. Biden's notorious "Corn Pop" speech, for example, would have never come out of Pence's mouth.
Anderson's lecture was uncomfortable for both the men on the stage and the audience watching. Ratings for the Emmy Awards show have been in freefall for years and with good reason. Nobody wants to be lectured at with speeches like Anderson's that manage to be both ideologically predictable and insultingly bizarre.
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VIDEO-Ocasio-Cortez to voters: Tell McConnell 'he is playing with fire' with Ginsburg's seat | TheHill
Mon, 21 Sep 2020 12:06
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Alexandria Ocasio-CortezOcasio-Cortez to voters: Tell McConnell 'he is playing with fire' with Ginsburg's seat Lawmakers fear voter backlash over failure to reach COVID-19 relief deal Why Democrats must confront extreme left wing incitement to violence MORE (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Charles Schumer Chuck SchumerRepublican senator says plans to confirm justice before election 'completely consistent with the precedent' Video of Lindsey Graham arguing against nominating a Supreme Court justice in an election year goes viral Graham signals support for confirming a Supreme Court nominee this year MORE (D-N.Y.) on Sunday called for voters to fight against the confirmation of President Trump Donald John TrumpBiden leads Trump by 36 points nationally among Latinos: poll Trump dismisses climate change role in fires, says Newsom needs to manage forest better Jimmy Kimmel hits Trump for rallies while hosting Emmy Awards MORE 's Supreme Court nominee, speaking at a joint media event called to discuss the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Ruth Bader GinsburgRegina King accepts Emmy wearing Breonna Taylor shirt, urges viewers to vote Ocasio-Cortez to voters: Tell McConnell 'he is playing with fire' with Ginsburg's seat Mural of Ruth Bader Ginsburg pops up blocks away from White House MORE .
"Call you senator and tell them not to listen to Mitch McConnell Addison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOcasio-Cortez to voters: Tell McConnell 'he is playing with fire' with Ginsburg's seat McConnell locks down key GOP votes in Supreme Court fight Video shows NYC subway station renamed after Ruth Bader Ginsburg MORE , not to be afraid of Mitch McConnell, to stand up and do the right thing," Schumer said, referencing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) plans to hold a vote to confirm Trump's nominee to replace Ginsburg.
Ginsburg died Friday due to complications of metastatic pancreas cancer. Her death triggered debate in Washington over what will happen to her Supreme Court seat heading into the election. Most Republicans support confirming whoever Trump announces as his nominee. But Democrats say it is hypocritical after Republicans blocked the confirmation of former President Obama's nominee Merrick Garland Merrick Brian GarlandOcasio-Cortez to voters: Tell McConnell 'he is playing with fire' with Ginsburg's seat Video shows NYC subway station renamed after Ruth Bader Ginsburg Alexander backs vote on Trump Supreme Court nominee: What Democrats 'would do if the shoe were on the other foot' MORE in 2016 because it was close to the election.
During Sunday's press conference, Schumer and Ocasio-Cortez called on voters to turn out in force this November to support Biden, and warned of the court decisions that could be handed down, such as overturning the Affordable Care Act, if the Supreme Court gains another conservative justice.
Sen. Schumer: "We're here to protect the rights of our globe -- and the people who live on it so that climate is protected." pic.twitter.com/I5K6BbwYBc
'-- The Hill (@thehill) September 21, 2020Ocasio-Cortez warned, "our entire livelihood" could be shaped by the election.
Rep. @AOC: "We need to tell [Mitch McConnell] that he is playing with fire." pic.twitter.com/CSgI2dBBmy
'-- The Hill (@thehill) September 20, 2020"This is one of the most important times that we have had for everyday people to stand up," Ocasio-Cortez said. "We all need to be more courageous and we all must act in unprecedented ways to make sure that our rights are stabilized. And to Mitch McConnell, we need to tell him that he is playing with fire. We need to make sure that this vacancy is protected, that our election continues and that the American people have their say."
VIDEO-HSBC, StanChart shares fall to 22-year lows on reports of illicit money flows | Article [AMP] | Reuters
Mon, 21 Sep 2020 10:58
Mon Sep 21, 2020 / 6:03 AM EDT
Alun John, Sumeet Chatterjee and Lawrence White
HONG KONG/LONDON HONG KONG/LONDON (Reuters) - HSBC's shares in Hong Kong and Standard Chartered's in London fell on Monday to their lowest since at least 1998 after media reports that they and other banks, including Barclays and Deutsche Bank, moved large sums of allegedly illicit funds over nearly two decades despite red flags about the origins of the money.
The BuzzFeed and other media articles were based on leaked suspicious activity reports (SARs) filed by banks and other financial firms with the U.S. Department of Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCen).
HSBC shares in London (HSBA.L ) fell as much as 5% to 288 pence, their lowest intraday level since 2009, after the lender's Hong Kong shares (0005.HK ) earlier touched a 25-year low. The stock has now nearly halved since the start of the year.
StanChart (STAN.L ) dropped as much as 4.6% in London to its lowest since 1998, against the backdrop of a broader selloff in the market with the STOXX European banks index .SX7P down 4.8%.
More than 2,100 SARs, which are in themselves not necessarily proof of wrongdoing, were obtained by BuzzFeed News and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and other media organisations.
In a statement to Reuters on Sunday, HSBC said "all of the information provided by the ICIJ is historical." The bank said that as of 2012 it had embarked on a "multi-year journey to overhaul its ability to combat financial crime."
StanChart said in a statement it took its "responsibility to fight financial crime extremely seriously and have invested substantially in our compliance programmes".
Barclays (BARC.L ) said it believes it has complied with "all its legal and regulatory obligations, including in relation to U.S. sanctions."
The most number of SARS in the cache related to Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE ), whose shares fell 5.2% on Monday. In a statement on Sunday, Deutsche Bank said the ICIJ had "reported on a number of historic issues."
"We have devoted significant resources to strengthening our controls and we are very focused on meeting our responsibilities and obligations," a spokesperson for the bank said.
London-headquartered HSBC and StanChart, among other global banks, have paid billions of dollars in fines in recent years for violating U.S. sanctions on Iran and anti-money laundering rules.
The files contained information about more than $2 trillion worth of transactions between 1999 and 2017, which were flagged by internal compliance departments of financial institutions as suspicious.
The ICIJ reported the leaked documents were a tiny fraction of the reports filed with FinCEN. HSBC and StanChart were among the five banks that appeared most often in the documents, the ICIJ reported.
"It confirms what we already knew '' that there are huge numbers of SARs being filed with relatively low numbers of cases brought through to prosecution," said Etelka Bogardi, a Hong Kong-based financial services regulatory partner at law firm Norton Rose Fulbright.
COMBATING FINANCIAL CRIME
The SARs showed that banks often moved funds for companies that were registered in offshore havens, such as the British Virgin Islands, and did not know the ultimate owner of the account, the report said.
Staff at major banks often used Google searches to learn who was behind large transactions, it said.
In some cases the banks kept moving illicit funds even after U.S. officials warned them they could face criminal prosecutions if they continued to do business with criminals or corrupt regimes, it said.
Global banks in the recent years have boosted investments on technology and staff to deal with tighter anti-money laundering and sanctions regulatory requirements across the world.
Thousands of clients were booted out of bank accounts in major wealth hubs including Hong Kong and Singapore after a money laundering scandal in Malaysia, the 'Panama Papers' expose, and a global push for tax transparency.
FinCen said in a statement on its website on Sept. 1 that it was aware that various media outlets intended to publish a series of articles based on unlawfully disclosed SARs, as well as other documents.
(Reporting by Alun John, Sumeet Chatterjee and Donny Kwok in Hong Kong and Lawrence White in London; Editing by Stephen Coates, Raju Gopalakrishnan and Louise Heavens)
VIDEO-AmmoInCamo on Twitter: "Holyyyy Cow!!! This public service announcement montage will BLOW YOUR MIND. WHAT is going on????? https://t.co/76Hvs5yxOw" / Twitter
Sun, 20 Sep 2020 23:46
AmmoInCamo : Holyyyy Cow!!! This public service announcement montage will BLOW YOUR MIND. WHAT is going on????? https://t.co/76Hvs5yxOw
Wed Sep 16 01:04:27 +0000 2020
Chris Manski : @Qclues_o7 Stage 3?
Sun Sep 20 23:46:38 +0000 2020
Cheeseontoast : @Qclues_o7 @909islive Do they think we are idiots??ðŸ¤--
Sun Sep 20 23:46:17 +0000 2020
tom : @Qclues_o7 Were these Covid updates you put together for this post all broadcasted on the same day?
Sun Sep 20 23:44:26 +0000 2020
No backbone=loose neck : @Qclues_o7 @2LarryJohnson7
Sun Sep 20 23:43:45 +0000 2020
🇺🇸ðŸ--¥Flower of FireðŸ--¥ðŸ‡ºðŸ‡¸ : @Qclues_o7 MASONS AND OTHER OCCULTISTS REVERE THE NUMBER '33' ABOVE ALL OTHER NUMBERS. MANY ACTS OF WAR, MURDER, AN'... https://t.co/SYw7HoVGdh
Sun Sep 20 23:43:34 +0000 2020
Karen L Reeves : @Qclues_o7 @gchoate84 Looks like all the media outlets got the same script
Sun Sep 20 23:41:17 +0000 2020
C K (Parler - FiftyFiftyGirl) : @Qclues_o7 @SleepingGiant16 @realDonaldTrump what kind of dark and twisty shadow sauce is This 33 ... ?
Sun Sep 20 23:39:33 +0000 2020
Lionel Urquhart : @Qclues_o7 @chasinmasons Over 6 or 7 months, there is bound to be one day in each area that has an increase of 33.
Sun Sep 20 23:39:24 +0000 2020
ðŸ'•ðŸ‘‘$SpanyshFLiðŸ'–ðŸ'‹ðŸ'¯ : @Qclues_o7 @bigmfer35 @Neloangelo314
Sun Sep 20 23:36:25 +0000 2020
None : @Qclues_o7 Luciferians All
Sun Sep 20 23:36:06 +0000 2020
6% WINTER'S COMING SNOWFLAKES 🌬''¸''¸ : @Qclues_o7 @Trkermike1 What are the dates though - Someone may have gone through and put this together just choosin'... https://t.co/p2UT8kvhGy
Sun Sep 20 23:34:11 +0000 2020
James McLaren : @Qclues_o7 very "Consistent" narrative.
Sun Sep 20 23:30:42 +0000 2020
INGodweTrust2020 : @Qclues_o7 @deedeeprospertx Dimmrats got the same memo
Sun Sep 20 23:29:44 +0000 2020
bebe kelly : @Qclues_o7 Atomic number arsenic.
Sun Sep 20 23:27:04 +0000 2020
Melvin Delbert : @Qclues_o7 @RomanaVolny Just like fake media saying the exact same words (montage).We can see who works against American citizens.
Sun Sep 20 23:25:46 +0000 2020
Teri : @Qclues_o7 I love all this evidence of the plandemic scamdemic. Carry on.
Sun Sep 20 23:25:15 +0000 2020
ðŸ--‘PhoenixRapture''Œ : @Qclues_o7 https://t.co/graeaK2Cgs
Sun Sep 20 23:23:04 +0000 2020
Trkermike : @Qclues_o7 Sounds like a roll call
Sun Sep 20 23:20:29 +0000 2020
Tracy : @Qclues_o7 Something is wrong with this picture!
Sun Sep 20 23:18:42 +0000 2020
Ljs Mccully : @Qclues_o7 @_Sm1ttyjr Code for something, pray, thank God for giving wisdom and the authority to destroy this evil'... https://t.co/8At21DeR7V
Sun Sep 20 23:12:20 +0000 2020
kryptotpyrk 🌷 u/992 : @Qclues_o7 @SatoshiAnalysis wow...what a coincidence!!!! what are the chances? https://t.co/TmjS6XjHl9
Sun Sep 20 23:10:57 +0000 2020
things not rite : @Qclues_o7 @DigMemePray Not surprised. Fake news does it, they are all in on it.
Sun Sep 20 23:03:13 +0000 2020
John cooper : @Qclues_o7 @cmccaff542 That's kinda weird. I better make sure I have 33 masks 🎭.
Sun Sep 20 23:01:53 +0000 2020
M̴̐̋̋̆̅̾̂Ì̋ÌÌ­Ì̪̟AÌ·Í'ÍÌ'͊̂Ì'͌ÍÌ¬Ì Ì§Ì®Ì§M̵̤͋ÍÌ"Í'A̴̋Ì--͇̬Ì...Í ÌµðŸ… : @Qclues_o7 Like Disney 2319!!!! 23+1+9=33 https://t.co/LXxUYIGA1n
Sun Sep 20 22:55:44 +0000 2020
OneNonBlonde : @Qclues_o7 SO EVIL!
Sun Sep 20 22:53:40 +0000 2020
Robert : @Qclues_o7 WTF
Sun Sep 20 22:47:07 +0000 2020
Mike : @Qclues_o7 ðŸ‘👇
Sun Sep 20 22:47:00 +0000 2020
Me : @Qclues_o7 @honestcitizend3 https://t.co/omGNu2v3Sl
Sun Sep 20 22:45:35 +0000 2020
takeurmask&shoveit : @Qclues_o7 @55true4u
Sun Sep 20 22:43:55 +0000 2020
GodsWordBelievers.com : @Qclues_o7 @TwilightEye57 https://t.co/jLAM6aS0yf
Sun Sep 20 22:42:00 +0000 2020
carol beckett : @Qclues_o7 BIG FUCKING FARCE!!!!
Sun Sep 20 22:41:10 +0000 2020
jubean_says : @Qclues_o7 ðŸ¤--ðŸ¤--ðŸ¤--ðŸ¤-- Veddy interdasting ###s!!
Sun Sep 20 22:40:43 +0000 2020
Indy Mcбот : @Qclues_o7 Simple: Corruption. All bought and paid for with big money by Gates and the Cabal.
Sun Sep 20 22:35:47 +0000 2020
BlondeAmbition '•¸ : @Qclues_o7 @Godwins04954009 Weird!!! All were 33!
Sun Sep 20 22:34:39 +0000 2020
CasinoRex : @Qclues_o7 The 33'th degree: Ordo Ab Chao.. https://t.co/UaHyOyNyUa
Sun Sep 20 22:33:42 +0000 2020
azwetinkweiz808 : @Qclues_o7 @DigMemePray 👎ðŸ>>
Sun Sep 20 22:27:19 +0000 2020
Louis Sirois : @Qclues_o7 @PhayLisa They are speaking in code. They are using the Kabbalah ritual of Gematria
Sun Sep 20 22:25:17 +0000 2020
VIDEO-Leftists LOSE Their Minds Over RBG - YouTube
Sun, 20 Sep 2020 20:54
VIDEO-Jack Posobiec 🇺🇸 on Twitter: "Is Biden alright? https://t.co/YhCLV5Eywm" / Twitter
Sun, 20 Sep 2020 20:37
Jack Posobiec 🇺🇸 : Is Biden alright? https://t.co/YhCLV5Eywm
Sun Sep 20 19:31:41 +0000 2020
MercuryLights : @JackPosobiec Maybe he's prepping for the CoronaVirus excuse to cancel debates, etc. 🧐
Sun Sep 20 20:36:58 +0000 2020
Michael Robert 🇺🇸 : @JackPosobiec ''Covid'' right before the debates. Watch
Sun Sep 20 20:36:51 +0000 2020
Mike Honcho : @JackPosobiec Word on the conspiracy theory street is that it was always planned for him to get Corona and now no debates.
Sun Sep 20 20:36:49 +0000 2020
DefundNYC - ERADICATE MARXISM : @JackPosobiec He didn't get his uppers today
Sun Sep 20 20:36:48 +0000 2020
£ynne 'š'¸ : @JackPosobiec No
Sun Sep 20 20:36:42 +0000 2020
Heidi Parrish : @JackPosobiec Is that a trick question?
Sun Sep 20 20:36:39 +0000 2020
Lucia Luzondo : @JackPosobiec @mswaller48 In this video, @JoeBiden seems to be gasping for air. I profoundly disagree with his plat'... https://t.co/47wNNLf1sI
Sun Sep 20 20:36:34 +0000 2020
MDforTrump~Liberty and Justice for ALL : @JackPosobiec Hell no he's not - how is it that a braindead fool can run for President of a country?
Sun Sep 20 20:36:32 +0000 2020
D.A.R.E : @JackPosobiec Sounds to me like he is having a hard time catching his breath.
Sun Sep 20 20:36:30 +0000 2020
Sheriff Bart 🇺🇸 : @JackPosobiec No, he isn't.
Sun Sep 20 20:36:28 +0000 2020
Angelina : @JackPosobiec Joe Biden 2022 https://t.co/Iqin1Cpudb
Sun Sep 20 20:36:26 +0000 2020
Bonnie Perez : @JackPosobiec No, he's not. But we all know that.
Sun Sep 20 20:36:24 +0000 2020
Ms. Understood : @JackPosobiec @JoeBiden is too sick to Debate #Trump & t4 he's too sick 2b President.We've been waiting for #Biden'... https://t.co/opUmXHgC9A
Sun Sep 20 20:36:18 +0000 2020
Timothy Horgan : @JackPosobiec Here comes the excuse.
Sun Sep 20 20:36:10 +0000 2020
TinyJustice : @JackPosobiec I feel so bad for him. Ugh.
Sun Sep 20 20:36:03 +0000 2020
Patrick : @JackPosobiec Not at all
Sun Sep 20 20:35:57 +0000 2020
Joseph. : @JackPosobiec What happens if biden dies, does trump get to pick his replacement?
Sun Sep 20 20:35:55 +0000 2020
Kimberly Mars : @JackPosobiec @nedryun Oh dear lord
Sun Sep 20 20:35:43 +0000 2020
Pissed🌟off🌟patriot🇺🇸 : @JackPosobiec No!!
Sun Sep 20 20:35:22 +0000 2020
BRIAN DAILEY : @JackPosobiec Kamala already announced the Harris administration.The DNC permitted Biden a few days as the 46th P'... https://t.co/8AbCzr7XRi
Sun Sep 20 20:35:19 +0000 2020
MM : @JackPosobiec The debate will never happen
Sun Sep 20 20:35:16 +0000 2020
Matt Rod : @JackPosobiec Has become den ever TRULY been ''alright?''
Sun Sep 20 20:35:16 +0000 2020

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