Service Provider(s) for Federal Quarantine / Isolation sites (6D112-202772/A) - Buyandsell.gc.ca
Thu, 22 Oct 2020 14:28
Trade Agreement: CETA / CFTATendering Procedures: All interested suppliers may submit a bidCompetitive Procurement Strategy: N/A - P&A/LOI OnlyComprehensive Land Claim Agreement: NoNature of Requirements: Request for Information regarding Service Provider(s) for Federal Quarantine / Isolation sitesfor The Government of CanadaThe Government of Canada (GoC) is considering engaging a Third Party Service Provider for Federal Quarantine / Isolation sites that will be used to house and care for people for public health and other related federal requirements associated with the COVID-19 pandemic response. The Government is seeking feedback from current service providers about potential options for standing up, operating and managing all of the services associated with these sites. The purpose of this Request for Information (RFI) is to seek feedback from potential service providers in order to develop a strategy for the potential future management of these sites going forward. Should the Government of Canada determine that a third-party managed solution going forward is a viable strategy, Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) may issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) to provide suppliers the opportunity to bid on the services required as per the schedule contained in this document.This RFI seeks industry's feedback to:i. Obtain supplier feedback, with advice and guidance on the operation of these sites; ii. Assess industry's interest in bidding on a potential the contemplated RFP;iii. Identify and minimize any potential competitive barriers where possible; andiv. Ensure that potential suppliers can deliver the type of services being requested in a possible upcoming RFP. This is not a bid solicitation. This RFI will not result in the award of any contract. As a result, potential suppliers of any goods or services described in this RFI should not reserve stock or facilities, nor allocate resources, as a result of any information contained in this RFI. Nor will this RFI result in the creation of any source list. Therefore, whether or not any potential supplier responds to this RFI will not preclude that supplier from participating in any future procurement. Also, the procurement of any of the goods and services described in this RFI will not necessarily follow this RFI. This RFI is simply intended to solicit feedback from industry with respect to the matters described in this RFI.Respondents are requested to provide their comments, concerns and, where applicable, alternative recommendations regarding how the requirements or objectives described in this RFI could be satisfied. Respondents should explain any assumptions they make in their responses. Requests must be submitted to: Nicole G(C)nier E-mail Address: Nicole.Genier@tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca Canada may summarize the feedback received and inform suppliers on www.buyandsell.gc.ca regarding how industry's questions, ideas, solutions, etc., have been considered.Delivery Date: Above-mentionedThe Crown retains the right to negotiate with suppliers on any procurement.Documents may be submitted in either official language of Canada.
Volunteer in Oxford COVID vaccine test, given placebo, dies in Brazil | The Times of Israel
Thu, 22 Oct 2020 12:47
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil '-- A volunteer participating in clinical trials of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University has died in Brazil, officials announced Wednesday, though media reports said he had received a placebo, not the test vaccine.
It is the first death reported in the various coronavirus vaccine trials taking place worldwide.
However, organizers of the study said an independent review had concluded there were no safety concerns and that testing of the vaccine, developed with pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca, would continue.
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Media reports said the volunteer was a 28-year-old doctor working on the front lines of the pandemic who died of complications from Covid-19.
Brazilian newspaper Globo and international news agency Bloomberg said he was in the control group and had received a placebo rather than the test vaccine, citing sources close to the trials.
In this handout photo released by the University of Oxford, a doctor takes blood samples for use in a coronavirus vaccine trial in Oxford, England, on June 25, 2020. (John Cairns, University of Oxford via AP)
''Following careful assessment of this case in Brazil, there have been no concerns about safety of the clinical trial, and the independent review in addition to the Brazilian regulator have recommended that the trial should continue,'' Oxford said in a statement.
AstraZeneca said medical confidentiality meant it could not give details on any individual volunteer, but that independent review had ''not led to any concerns about continuation of the ongoing study.''
Brazil's national health regulator, Anvisa, confirmed it had been notified of the case on October 19.
The D'Or Teaching and Research Institute (IDOR), which is helping organize the tests in Brazil, said the independent review had ''raised no doubts about the safety of the study, and recommended it continue.''
Oxford and AstraZeneca previously had to suspend testing of the vaccine in September when a volunteer in Britain developed an unexplained illness.
Trials resumed after British regulators and an independent review concluded the illness was not a side effect of the vaccine.
Half the volunteers in the final-stage clinical trial '-- a double-blind, randomized, controlled study '-- receive a placebo, IDOR said.
Around 8,000 volunteers have been vaccinated so far in Brazil, and more than 20,000 worldwide, it said.
Study participants must be doctors, nurses or other health sector workers who come into regular contact with the virus.
The deceased volunteer was a young doctor who had been treating Covid-19 patients since March in the emergency rooms and intensive care units at two hospitals in Rio de Janeiro, Globo said.
He graduated from medical school last year, and was in good health prior to contracting the disease, family and friends told the newspaper.
Boston University to require use of green badge indicating negative COVID-19 test after 'very worrisome increase in the daily numbers' - masslive.com
Thu, 22 Oct 2020 12:27
A passerby skates near an entrance to the Tsai Performance Center on the campus of Boston University. (Steven Senne/AP) AP
After what it calls an alarming rise in coronavirus cases, Boston University said this week it will start requiring that students wear badges in certain locations on campus indicating they tested negative for the viral respiratory infection.
Students must wear green ''daily attestation" badges starting Thursday to be allowed to enter dining halls, the George Sherman Union and several other public spaces at the university, the school said in a statement Wednesday.
''We hope this will be a reminder to everyone of the importance of daily symptom attestation and testing for keeping our campus safe,'' the statement said.
Over the past seven days, the university reported the largest number of new COVID-19 diagnoses among its campus community members since the final week of move-in in August, according to the statement.
From Oct. 13 to Oct. 19, BU reported 23 students and 10 staffers tested positive for the virus, data from the school's daily coronavirus dashboard showed. No faculty members tested positive during that time frame.
''If you look at our dashboard, you will see a very worrisome increase in the daily numbers of cases of the virus among our student body, as well as our staff, over the last week,'' BU President Robert Brown and Associate Provost and Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore said in the statement.
Although the number of daily cases is still ''relatively low,'' Brown and Elmore said, their growing concern is driven by the rising caseload in Massachusetts.
Daily new cases have increased statewide, and last week, the number of communities in the commonwealth labeled high risk of coronavirus transmission jumped by 23. Boston remains one of the 63 communities deemed in the ''red.''
The administrators also cited ''declining compliance'' with the school's testing and daily symptom reporting requirements, which apply to both on-campus students and off-campus ones who go to campus.
In September, the school reported nearly two dozen students would potentially face suspension after attending an outdoor party.
The partygoers reportedly did not follow university-mandated COVID-19 guidelines, including restrictions on gathering sizes, face coverings and social distancing. They were also spotted with alcohol.
A BU fraternity was placed on probation as well after video circulated of more than a dozen people at an off-campus gathering in September in violation of health and safety protocols, according to the college's newspaper, the Daily Free Press.
''From our analysis of our cases, we know that a critically important driver for our increasing infection rate is the number of social gatherings (on and off campus), as well as personal travel and off-campus visits with family and friends where participants do not adhere to physical distancing and mask-wearing,'' BU said.
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Share of Listening to Podcasting Hits All-Time High - Radio World
Thu, 22 Oct 2020 12:24
New data from Edison Research Share of Ear report reveals jump in U.S. listening levels
By Susan Ashworth '
Published: October 21, 2020
For the first time in the last six years '-- since Edison Research study began tracking audio consumption as part of its Share of Ear measurement efforts '-- podcasting's share of all audio listening has hit a new all-time high.
The findings were revealed at the Podcast Movement virtual conference in a keynote address by Edison Research Senior Vice President Tom Webster. The latest findings show that the share of time that Americans age 13 and older spend with podcasts as a percentage of all their audio listening has tripled to 6%, up from 2%, in 2014.
[Read: Listening Is Shifting Back to the Car]
''Podcasting has become the greatest companion medium,'' Webster said. ''Not only can you take it with you while you do other things, but we also see people turning to podcasts for a sense of community and connection during a very stressful time.''
The growth in podcast listening has been steady according to Edison's research over the last six years. In the Share of Ear report released in Q3 of 2018, podcasts had risen one percentage point over the previous four years to 3%. That report revealed that large chunks of listening time were allocated to other channels like YouTube (11%), streaming audio (14%) and AM/FM radio (46%). In the two years since the 2018 report, listening levels for podcasts has risen another three points.
The Share of Ear Report looks at how the average American divides their listening time among the listening platforms '-- including AM/FM radio, streaming music, owned music, satellite radio and podcasts '-- and looks at where and through which devices consumers listen to audio.
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Following YouTube's ban, QAnon followers are jumping to these other major platforms | Media Matters for America
Thu, 22 Oct 2020 12:16
Update (10/19/20): According to Business Insider, Spotify has since removed the four QAnon podcasts identified in Media Matters' reporting.
Update (10/21/20): According to Business Insider, Vimeo has since removed instances of the QAnon recruitment video Fall of the Cabal and other conspiracy theory content identified in Media Matters' reporting: ''A spokesperson for the company told Insider that QAnon content is not allowed on the platform, citing guidelines that prohibit 'conspiracy theory-related content where the underlying conspiracy theory spreads, among other things, hate speech, large scale defamation, false or misleading vaccination or health-safety content.'''
QAnon followers are jumping to other platforms following YouTube's slow crackdown on content pushing the conspiracy theory. Media Matters has identified four major platforms -- Spotify, Vimeo, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts -- where QAnon content is flourishing. These platforms must follow other tech companies' lead and commit to swiftly banning all QAnon content; anything short of that will only further enable the spread of this inherently dangerous conspiracy theory.
Following YouTube's decision to ban QAnon content from the platform, discussion about where to find major accounts supporting the conspiracy theory surfaced in a private QAnon Facebook group which is still active, despite Facebook's promise to remove QAnon content from its platform as well. One user decried ''youtube censorship,'' suggesting, ''try Vimeo it's a decent site.'' Another wrote, ''X22 is on Spotify as well,'' referring to a popular QAnon account recently banned from YouTube.
There is no denying QAnon's ties to violence; the FBI even classified the conspiracy theory as a domestic terrorist threat last year. The conspiracy theory is centered around claims that President Donald Trump is secretly fighting against members of the ''deep state'' and ''pedophiles,'' who will supposedly be rounded up and executed soon -- it is also wildly anti-Semitic. This unfounded conspiracy theory promoting imminent violence against the president's enemies has been directly linked to multiple killings, a kidnapping, and even terrorism.
With social media companies struggling to enforce piecemeal bans on the conspiracy theory, many of its major supporters have had ample time to create backups or move to other platforms. With that in mind, Media Matters has identified four major platforms where QAnon video and audio content continues to spread with seemingly no restrictions. The examples below are just a small sample of the much larger amount of QAnon content circulating on these platforms.
Spotify X22 Report, a major QAnon account that was recently banned from YouTube.
Indigenous Mike, a QAnon account whose content on Spotify has included the QAnon slogan ''where we go one, we go all,'' often abbreviated as ''WWG1WGA.''
Praying Medic is a prominent QAnon account that was banned from YouTube yesterday.
Pardon My American has discussed ''Red October,'' a reference to the QAnon conspiracy theory that Trump is preparing to finally take down his ''deep state'' enemies.
Vimeo Fall of the Cabal, a violent QAnon video series used to recruit new members and which suggests that the Clintons and former President Barack Obama should be hanged for committing ''high treason,'' was removed from YouTube yesterday but remains active on Vimeo.
A search for the QAnon slogan ''WWG1WGA'' on Vimeo brings up the following results:
A search for the phrase ''QAnon'' brings up additional examples of the conspiracy theory spreading on Vimeo:
Apple Podcasts X22 Report and X22 Spotlight
Woke Societies's Podcast, which has discussed ''the storm,'' a key phrase related to the conspiracy theory; Pardon My American; and Red Pill News, hosted by another QAnon account recently banned from YouTube.
Indigenous Mike and Tore Says Show, another QAnon-affiliated program promoting mass arrests of the president's political opponents.
Google Podcasts X22 Report
Great Awakening Podcast
Rudy Giuliani faces questions after compromising scene in new Borat film | Borat Subsequent Moviefilm | The Guardian
Thu, 22 Oct 2020 12:05
The reputation of Rudy Giuliani could be set for a further blow with the release of highly embarrassing footage in Sacha Baron Cohen's follow-up to Borat.
In the film, released on Friday, the former New York mayor and current personal attorney to Donald Trump is seen reaching into his trousers and apparently touching his genitals while reclining on a bed in the presence of the actor playing Borat's daughter, who is posing as a TV journalist.
Following an obsequious interview for a fake conservative news programme, the pair retreat at her suggestion for a drink to the bedroom of a hotel suite, which is rigged with concealed cameras.
After she removes his microphone, Giuliani, 76, can be seen lying back on the bed, fiddling with his untucked shirt and reaching into his trousers. They are then interrupted by Borat who runs in and says: ''She's 15. She's too old for you.''
Representatives for Giuliani have not replied to the Guardian's requests for comment.
Word of the incident first emerged on 7 July, when Giuliani called New York police to report the intrusion of an unusually dressed man.
''This guy comes running in, wearing a crazy, what I would say was a pink transgender outfit,'' Giuliani told the New York Post. ''It was a pink bikini, with lace, underneath a translucent mesh top, it looked absurd. He had the beard, bare legs, and wasn't what I would call distractingly attractive.''This person comes in yelling and screaming, and I thought this must be a scam or a shakedown, so I reported it to the police. He then ran away,'' Giuliani said. The police found no crime had been committed.
Giuliani continued: ''I only later realised it must have been Sacha Baron Cohen. I thought about all the people he previously fooled and I felt good about myself because he didn't get me.''
Viewers may be less convinced that Baron Cohen, reprising his role as the bumbling reporter Borat Sagdiyev, and Maria Bakalova, who plays his daughter, Tutar, had no success.
In the film Borat is dispatched by the Kazakh government back to the US to present a bribe to an ally of Donald Trump in order to ingratiate his country with the administration. After the monkey earmarked for the gift is indisposed, Borat's supposedly underage offspring becomes the replacement present.
Even before he reaches into his trousers, Giuliani does not appear to acquit himself especially impressively during the encounter. Flattered and flirtatious, he drinks scotch, coughs, fails to socially distance and claims Trump's speedy actions in the spring saved a million Americans from dying of Covid. He also agrees '' in theory at least '' to eat a bat with his interviewer.
Giuliani has become a key figure in the late stages of the US presidential election after obtaining a laptop hard drive purportedly belonging to Hunter Biden and left at a repair shop in Delaware.
His efforts to unearth political dirt on Trump's rival for the White House mean that the film's mortifying footage can be seen as an attempt to undermine Giuliani's credibility. The film, released on Amazon Prime less than a fortnight before the election, ends with an instruction for viewers to vote.
Although unfortunate, the circumstances of the set-up appear consensual, with Giuliani led to believe he was being courted. Bakalova, 24, is highly plausible in the sting, despite also having to pretend, for the benefit of viewers, to be a feral child posing as a far-right journalist.
In a radio interview after news of the scene broke, Giuliani claimed that he was only trying to take off his microphone and tucking in his shirt.
''I had to take off the electronic equipment,'' Giuliani told WABC. ''And when the electronic equipment came off, some of it was in the back and my shirt came a little out, although my clothes were entirely on. I leaned back, and I tucked my shirt in, and at that point, at that point, they have this picture they take which looks doctored, but in any event, I'm tucking my shirt in. I assure you that's all I was doing.''
He added that he had believed the interview with Bakalova was entirely legitimate. ''At one point she explained to me some problems she had. I actually prayed with her,'' he said. ''And then I had to leave. I had my jacket on. I was fully clothed at all times.''
Later on Twitter, Giuliani derided the film as ''a complete fabrication''.
''At no time before, during, or after the interview was I ever inappropriate. If Sacha Baron Cohen implies otherwise he is a stone-cold liar,'' he added.
As with the first film, which made $262m on release in 2006 and won a Golden Globe for Baron Cohen, the most troubling scenes are those which reveal deep-seated prejudice among the American people.
Baron Cohen's real-life broadsides against platforms he feels enable antisemitism are echoed in the film, in which Borat learns through Facebook that the Holocaust ''was nothing but a fairytale''.
He is corrected following a conversation with two elderly Jewish women, one of whom, Judith Dim Evans, died after filming, aged 88. Last week her estate filed a suit against the film-makers, claiming that she was ''horrified and upset'' upon learning ''the movie was actually a comedy intended to mock the Holocaust and Jewish culture''.
However, Deadline suggests the film-makers did apprise Dim Evans of the film's true targets after her scenes were shot, and that there is footage of this. They are also said to be hopeful her family may reconsider once they have seen the film, which ends with a dedication to Dim Evans and the link to a website set up in her honour.
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Could United Airlines' New Health App Help Reopen Borders? - Simple Flying
Thu, 22 Oct 2020 11:45
Many aviation actors have made calls for a comprehensive, coordinated test regime to facilitate the reopening of international borders. Now, United Airlines is piloting a new digital health pass on a flight from Heathrow to Newark. Could the app, a non-profit initiative called CommonPass, be the solution that the industry is so desperately hoping for?
United Airlines is trialing a new health app called CommonPass on Wednesday. Photo: Getty ImagesCommonPass from Heathrow to NewarkUnited Airlines will carry out the trial with a group of volunteers on its flight UA2789 from London Heathrow to New York's Newark on Wednesday, October 21st. The passengers will upload the results from a pre-departure COVID-test to their smartphones, along with the completion of a health questionnaire. The app will then generate a QR code to be scanned by crew before boarding and border officials upon arrival.
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Private testing company Prenetics supplied the rapid results tests for the flight, which took off four minutes ahead of schedule at 09:51 this morning. They were performed by travel and medical company Collinson at designated facilities at the airport, run by Swissport. As there was no delay to the departure, we can only assume that everything went smoothly.
The trials' purpose is to demonstrate that COVID-credentials can reliably travel from one country to the other. Photo: Getty ImagesEstablishing a global standard of trustThe new health app, CommonPass, is developed by a Swiss non-profit organization called The Commons Project. It is backed by, among others, the World Economic Forum and the Rockefeller Center. The developers mean for it to establish a global standard for passengers to prove they are corona-negative.
''The goal of these trials is to demonstrate to governments that they can rely on someone getting tested in one country and present their credentials in another country,'' Paul Meyer, Chief Executive of The Commons Project, told Reuters.
Of course, this means that agencies and authorities in one country have to trust in the testing facilities and certifications of another. Easier said than done, as passengers who have supplied a negative pre-departure PCR test-result have, on occasion, tested positive on arrival.
The Commons Project says it aims to build a network of trusted labs and vaccination facilities, the results, and records of which will be recognized internationally.
With something as delicate as personal health data, there are bound to be privacy concerns. The app's developers claim that they have designed it to protect the user and only share COVID-related information when consent is acknowledged.
Cathay Pacific has also trialed the app between Hong Kong and Singapore. Photo: Getty Images.Cathay Pacific was first in the pilot programThis is the second pilot run of the app by an airline. Cathay Pacific has already trialed it on a flight between Hong Kong International Airport and Singapore's Changi earlier this month. According to Reuters, other large carriers are also planning to test it before the end of the year.
''For us, this is about travel recovery, you have to start somewhere. You start with a bubble between two countries and a limited number of people, and you gather data. Testing is critical to these sorts of things. You capture data, and you can further open up different options and routes,'' David Evans, joint CEO of Collinson, told Skift earlier this month.
Simple Flying has reached out to United for comment on Wednesday's trial, but was yet to receive a response at the time of publication.
What do you think of the new health app United is trialing? Is it a feasible way forward to open up global air travel again, despite the ongoing pandemic? Let us know in the comments.
United Airlines testing global health app on UK-U.S. flight in effort to reopen borders | Reuters
Thu, 22 Oct 2020 11:44
CHICAGO (Reuters) - United Airlines UAL.O is set on Wednesday to test a digital health pass under a global pilot program seeking to establish a common international standard for COVID-19 test results and eventually vaccine records that could help reopen borders.
FILE PHOTO: United Airlines passenger jets taxi with New York City as a backdrop, at Newark Liberty International Airport, New Jersey, U.S. December 6, 2019. REUTERS/Chris Helgren
The nonprofit initiative, called CommonPass, is backed by the World Economic Forum and Swiss-based foundation The Commons Project. If successful, it could persuade governments to ease the restrictions and quarantines that have slammed air travel since the coronavirus starting spreading across the globe.
The United flight from London Heathrow to Newark Liberty International in New Jersey follows a pilot by Cathay Pacific 0293.HK this month, and other large airlines are also planning international trials in November and December.
''The goal of these trials is to demonstrate to governments that they can rely on someone getting tested in one country and present their credentials in another country,'' Paul Meyer, chief executive of The Commons Project, told Reuters.
Broad deployment is targeted for January, he said.
Volunteers on the United flight, which will be observed by the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will upload COVID-19 test results from a certified lab to their smartphones and complete any required health screening questions to generate a verified QR (quick response) code that airline staff and border officials can scan.
They will present the code, which can be printed for passengers without mobile devices, before departing and on arrival.
The project aims to build a network of trusted labs and would rely on those results and vaccination records to be certified across borders, replacing the current method of sharing paper-based and easily falsified test results from unknown labs.
The labs would verify a person's identity for the app, which is designed to protect personal data and privacy, said Meyer, who is in a dialogue with airlines and countries across the globe for the project.
''The model only works if countries agree to trust health data from other countries,'' he said.
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US surgeon general to plead not guilty in Hawaii virus case | Star Tribune
Thu, 22 Oct 2020 04:25
See more of the storyHONOLULU '-- A lawyer for U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said Wednesday that his client, who is charged with illegally entering a Hawaii public park that was closed because of the coronavirus, will plead not guilty.
The criminal complaint against Adams, who was on Oahu in August helping with surge testing amid a spike in coronavirus cases, says he and two other men were looking at the view and taking pictures at Kualoa Regional Park on the island's northeastern coast. The rural park offers a view of the famed Mokolii island, also known as Chinaman's Hat for its cone shape.
Adams did not appear in court or on a video call for the Wednesday hearing, but his attorney, Michael Green, said his client understands the charge and will plead not guilty.
Because the charge is a "full misdemeanor," the judge said the not guilty plea could not be entered until Adams decided if he would waive his right to a jury trial. Green said Adams would not waive that right.
The judge set an arraignment date of Nov. 2 in circuit court.
Adams told a police officer who cited him that he was visiting Hawaii to work with Gov. David Ige on COVID-19 and didn't know parks were closed. Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell had closed them at the time to try to prevent crowding that could spread the virus.
Violating any of the mayor's emergency orders is punishable as a misdemeanor, with fines of up to $5,000, up to a year in jail or both.
A few days after the citation, Adams appeared with Caldwell at a news conference announcing a partnership between the city and federal government for surge testing.
"I'm proud of every single one of you who has sacrificed over the past several months," Adams said at the time. "And to the people who are lapsing a little bit, I want you to understand that a little bit of fun right now can result in shutdowns further on down the road. It's important that we all do the right things right now, even if we don't feel we are personally at risk."
Disclose.tv ð¨ on Twitter: "BREAKING - Charlie Hebdo cartoons, including the one of prophet Mohammed, projected onto Montpellier government building in France. https://t.co/6IQlgOZgP7" / Twitter
Wed, 21 Oct 2020 22:36
Disclose.tv ð¨ : BREAKING - Charlie Hebdo cartoons, including the one of prophet Mohammed, projected onto Montpellier government bui'... https://t.co/o6e0m5giax
Wed Oct 21 19:01:05 +0000 2020
Alick Machesoð¸ : @disclosetv https://t.co/1Wd5uuqO0A
Wed Oct 21 22:35:19 +0000 2020
Vijay Gupta : @disclosetv Superb. This is the right treatment for them.
Wed Oct 21 22:33:15 +0000 2020
INDIAN VIKING : @disclosetv What has to be done in 7th century is being done now. We are 1400 years late ð.
Wed Oct 21 22:32:44 +0000 2020
Florida investigating all COVID-19 deaths - South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Wed, 21 Oct 2020 22:34
Florida, which has reported the deaths of over 16,400 people from COVID-19, now says the public may not be able to trust any of those numbers.
The state Department of Health on Wednesday ordered an investigation of all pandemic fatalities, one week after House Speaker Jose Oliva slammed the death data from medical examiners as ''often lacking in rigor'' and undermining "the completeness and reliability of the death records.''
House Democrats then blasted the House Republicans' report as an insult to coronavirus victims and an attempt ''to downplay the death toll.''
The political battle over COVID-19 death reporting '-- and now the new review '-- follows Gov. Ron DeSantis' push for a full reopening of the state's businesses and tourist attractions and a picture of the virus being so under control, Tampa should host a packed Super Bowl in early February.
Health officials on Wednesday announced that ''fatality data reported to the state consistently presents confusion and warrants a more rigorous review.''
The state delayed the release of its daily coronavirus data about cases and deaths for over five hours because of the developing situation.
In a news release, officials highlighted concerns about 95 deaths reported to the state on Tuesday. The department said 16 of the deaths had "more than a two-month separation between the time the individuals tested positive and passed away, and 11 of the deaths occurred more than a month ago.''
And in five cases, there was a three-month gap between the time of infection and death.
Palm Beach County had 50 of the COVID-19 deaths in the latest report, which shattered the previous one-day record of 27 deaths reported Aug. 7.
In one example, the state says it just learned about an 85-year-old Palm Beach County woman's death on Sept. 27; she was diagnosed with COVID-19 on June 8. In another case, the state said it was just told about an 87-year-old county woman's death on Oct. 1, which followed her positive test on June 25.
The issue involves numerous other counties, such as the new report of a 58-year-old Miami-Dade woman who tested positive June 23 and died Oct. 6. There were no Broward irregularities listed.
These delays raise red flags that have to be examined, according to Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees.
''During a pandemic, the public must be able to rely on accurate public health data to make informed decisions,'' Rivkees said in a statement. "To ensure the accuracy of COVID-19 related deaths, the Department will be performing additional reviews of all deaths. Timely and accurate data remains a top priority of the Department of Health.''
DeSantis spokesman Fred Piccolo Jr. told the South Florida Sun Sentinel on Wednesday that officials have been struggling to get timely data. He said they've been running into the issue of labs reporting on one day the results of positive tests from weeks before.
''That's a problem,'' he said because it makes it harder to spot trends. What is different about the deaths, is that the health department was finding people who were admitted as positive as far back as March or April and who passed away in August or September or October. ''Is that a COVID death?''
''It presented a new kind of red flag,'' Piccolo said. He said there wasn't ever such a large gap between someone testing positive for COVID and when they passed away.
He said he expects skepticism about Wednesday's action.
''They think we manipulate the data and everything else," Piccolo said. "But it's really one of those things that you gotta know if someone is dying of COVID or if they're not. Then you can legitimately say, here are the numbers.''
He said they realized that something was off in the numbers when they received Tuesday night's data on Wednesday morning. He said when they looked into the data they were finding people who tested positive way back in the beginning of the pandemic but were listed as having died of COVID in October.
''It's just a matter of making sure we're cataloging things the right way,'' he explained.
Local health officials said the state health department has asked them for weeks to work harder at reporting death data in a timely manner and make sure that COVID-19 is the actual cause of death, rather than a gunshot wound, car accident or other injury.
All deaths entered into the health data system are supposed to be reviewed by an epidemiologist to avoid errors. In most counties, the backlog in medical examiners offices has been cleared, leading Rivkees to question on Wednesday why a COVID-19 death during the summer months would be reported now.
Darren Caprara, director of operations at Miami Dade County Medical Examiner Office, said that as of Aug. 15, the state medical examiner's commission no longer made it their responsibility to certify COVID-19 deaths. He said they only certify deaths that come to their office from regular channels, such as a presumed homicide, a presumed accident or no primary care physician.
''Our COVID exposure, in terms of the number of cases that we are certifying, dropped drastically,'' Caprara said, adding they are no longer the ''gate guard'' from a medical examiner standpoint. ''We are not just kind of on the outer edge.''
He said at this point, the people certifying COVID deaths in most cases are primary care providers.
Paul Petrino, operations manager for the Palm Beach County Medical Examiner's Office, said he is not sure whether primary care doctors might be taking longer than county medical examiner's offices to process COVID deaths.
''I can't account for the level of review that they are doing now,'' he said.
Petrino said a county medical examiner tends to process bodies quickly. ''We have to complete death certificates and keep the process moving.'' He said he can't account for how timely other doctors are. ''But I think, obviously, we are in the business of processing bodies that way.''
He said he's wondering about the reporting delays. ''I'm curious, too, what is broken in the system," Petrino said. "Especially in Palm Beach County where it stands out so much.''
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Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, a Democrat, said the death data may not match the narrative that the governor wants to reflect '-- a portrait of COVID-19 being in the rearview mirror. But ''there are ways to deal with the issues they are raising other than choosing to massage the information, which is very dangerous,'' Rodriguez said.
If there is a delay in reporting death information, that still is no reason to discount the data, he said. ''Because the data took as long as two months to arrive is not a reason not to report it,'' said Rodriguez. ''The only conclusion to draw is maybe the portal needs to be more robust.''
State health officials meanwhile reported 2,145 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, which was down from Tuesday's tally of 3,662 new infections.
Also as of Wednesday, 16,210 residents and 203 non-residents have died from COVID-19 illness, according to the state figures that are now under scrutiny.
Marc Freeman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @marcjfreeman.
Could Weird Austin Go Red? Local GOP Says Dems Are Donating to Republicans in Record Numbers
Wed, 21 Oct 2020 22:16
Austin has long been the blue dot in Texas' red sea. But that could change soon.
The Travis County GOP Communications Director Andy Hogue says there's every reason for citizens of Austin to be optimistic about Republican races this year. Hogue told PJ Media, ''Democrats are donating to us in unprecedented numbers. We've never seen this before.'' Hogue says that the local GOP recognizes regular donors but when new names started coming in, they started looking them up to see who they are.
''We kept finding Democrats who have never donated before.''
Two seats on the all-Democrat Austin City Council are hotly contested. Newcomer Republican candidate Mackenzie Kelly is challenging in District 6, doing well, and could deliver an upset.
Here's our new TV ad supporting @mkelly007 over @JimmyFlannigan based on their views and records on public safety.https://t.co/C4D1D116mz
Help us keep the ad on the air: https://t.co/6W6aM0r1Yn#ATXcouncil pic.twitter.com/oD4xKdUICZ
'-- Fight for Austin (@fight4austin) October 21, 2020
Hogue says that Austin has become a tent city since the far-left takeover of the city council. The people of Austin are not happy with the mess and the huge increase in crime that came with defunding the police budget by a third. Louis C. Herrin III is running for the other contested seat on the council, opposing the far-left agenda and supporting law and order.
Austin was safer before Greg Casar! Vote him out! This is not humane, compassionate or safe! One of my top priorities is to reinstate the public camping ban! #votelouisherrin pic.twitter.com/FH8eOaAh1P
'-- Louis C Herrin, III (@herrin_iii) October 21, 2020
Hogue also reports that Austin area bars and restaurants that wouldn't normally host events for Republicans are signing up to host fundraisers. He believes that the strict coronavirus restrictions on businesses imposed by Mayor Steve Adler, a Democrat, have turned many business owners away from the Democrat Party.
''The COVID responses were hypocritical,'' Hogue says.
Thank you, @KXAN!https://t.co/BuxlRquwgt
'-- Travis County GOP (@TravisGOP) October 18, 2020
Another important race for Republicans is in the 21st Congressional District, with Rep. Chip Roy running against ''Abortion Barbie'' Wendy Davis. You may remember Davis from her days of encouraging mobs of women wearing tampons as earrings to descend on the state capitol to protest abortion restrictions.
The former pro-abortion state senator from Texas is now running for a U.S. congressional seat that Republicans need to hold. Though tight, Hogue says Roy will do it. One advantage the Texas GOP has is its willingness to walk the districts and knock on doors. ''The Democrats stopped walking the districts because of COVID-19,'' said Hogue. ''We do.''
While everyone is distracted by the presidential election, it's easy to forget that so many local races need our attention and support. Get in touch with your local GOP office and find out how you can help. No matter who wins the White House, it's imperative to keep the Senate and take back the House.
Editor's Note: Want to support PJ Media so we can continue telling the truth about the 2020 election? Join PJ Media VIP TODAY and use the promo code LAWANDORDER to get 25% off your VIP membership.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Proposes Legislation to 'Defund Cities that Defund the Police' Loading ...
Dogfish on Twitter: "@HotepJesus What's happening in Nigeria is a direct result of the Obama administration. https://t.co/x5Rmt010Aj" / Twitter
Wed, 21 Oct 2020 21:59
Dogfish : @HotepJesus What's happening in Nigeria is a direct result of the Obama administration. https://t.co/x5Rmt010Aj
Wed Oct 21 19:03:01 +0000 2020
Dogfish : @HotepJesus Paul Biya and the Obamas in the White House. Some good stuff going on in Camaroon. https://t.co/JhY3BvC5Ep
Wed Oct 21 20:33:09 +0000 2020
The Wizard of the Crow : @JohnPeterPruden @HotepJesus It had nothing to do with obama
Wed Oct 21 20:16:00 +0000 2020
Hotep Jesus : @JohnPeterPruden This is amazing. Got a link?
Wed Oct 21 19:19:54 +0000 2020
The Allusionist has left the Radiotopia network '-- The Allusionist
Wed, 21 Oct 2020 18:41
On 21 October 2014, six years ago today, I went to a party on Washington Square in Manhattan. It was for a Kickstarter to fund the Radiotopia network, newly formed a few months before, and at that party, they announced that as a stretch goal they would be adding new shows: Criminal, The Heart, and a then-untitled show about language from me.
(The following day I came up with the name 'The Allusionist' , with the help of Roman Mars and the thesaurus function on the Dictionary.com app.)
I was very daunted going to that party, entering into the unfamiliar world of US audio, meeting all these exceptional producers. I was a self-taught amateur podcaster from a different country, where all of my regular jobs had just been cancelled, promising to make a new podcast I had absolutely no idea how to make - indeed am still learning how to make.
My life changed at that party. It's very rare to get an opportunity to do whatever you want, with complete creative control and ownership; and so ever since then, I've been trying to make the most of it, and to live up to it. To have people believe in me like that was incredibly empowering, and made me respect myself for the first time in my life. The Allusionist is the best work I've ever done. It has taken me around the world. It has been more educational than the 17 years I spent in full-time formal education. And thanks to it, I have met so many wonderful people - listeners, live show audience, other podcasters.
I don't know that any of this would have happened without Radiotopia.
So it has been heartbreaking over the past few weeks to decide that I am leaving Radiotopia. A couple of months ago, PRX, the company that runs Radiotopia, were called out for institutional racism by former employee Palace Shaw - read her exit statement here, and here is a response from some PRX staff. Here is my Twitter statement from when I found out about it all, and another a few days later in support of the PRX staff . A lot of brilliant people work at PRX and they run some terrific projects, so I really hope the organisation can radically reform and be better. There are few media organisations in the USA (and the UK) that are not pervaded with racial bias and white failure. There is so much fundamental change that needs to happen.
Bear in mind that I don't work at PRX and therefore have limited insight into what has happened and is happening there.
I have, however, been part of Radiotopia, a network with a mostly white line-up. I never had the power to change that line-up, but tried to use the powers I did have: over the years I have raised this fact repeatedly, recommended existing shows or potential showmakers to approach, questioned the excuses given for why the line-up stayed very white - small capacity and limited resources and insufficient money were frequently cited. So I offered money. And now, in case it makes more space and resources available, I'm removing myself.
It's easier for me to do this than most; I make the show by myself, so I don't have staff whose jobs I'd jeopardise. I don't have kids, I don't have a mortgage. It's a decision I can make that might not be feasible for others.
Why am I telling you about this? Well, as a message to white people in organisations which are failing on inclusion: we have to speak up, and keep speaking up; to use pester power even if we have no other power. Yes, you might feel like a jerk. That's fine! This isn't about you! Do what you can do. And if there is limited space and resources, you may have to get out of the way. You're not losing out yourself; it's sharing as it always should have been shared. I've done this before with festivals, panels, interviews, hosting jobs, events, and now I'm doing it with Radiotopia. It hurts. I really care about these people. I never had a bunch of colleagues before them, and leaving feels like a lonesome choice. Radiotopia gave me the opportunity to make my best work, and I hope they will do that for many many others.
The Allusionist will continue, though! I have always made it by myself, with 100% ownership and editorial control, so the show itself won't be affected in those respects. The financial side is more TBD though. The relevant part for you is if you have donated to Radiotopia to support this show, your largesse will no longer reach me. If you would like to help keep the Allusionist going, I've set up a Patreon at patreon.com/allusionist , and there'll be spoilers, behind the scenes peeks and various other fun things for you.
But this is absolutely optional, and please only do it if you have the spare cash - times are tight, and there are lots of pressing financial concerns. Be assured, the podcast will continue to be available for free; and while the podcast industry is rapidly building up walls and making it more difficult for you and me to convene in your brain, I plan to keep my work available as widely as possible with as few obstacles for you listeners as possible, until such time as it is no longer technologically possible, or I am shrivelled into silent dust.
Thanks so much for your support of the Allusionist, because you letting me into your brain is the greatest joy and privilege I can imagine.
Pope Francis calls for civil union law for same-sex couples, in shift from Vatican stance
Wed, 21 Oct 2020 18:27
CNA Staff, Oct 21, 2020 / 06:35 am MT (CNA) .-
In a documentary that premiered Wednesday in Rome, Pope Francis called for the passage of civil union laws for same-sex couples, departing from the position of the Vatican's doctrinal office and the pope's predecessors on the issue.
The remarks came amid a portion of the documentary that reflected on pastoral care for those who identify as LGBT.
''Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family. They're children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it,'' Pope Francis said in the film, of his approach to pastoral care.
After those remarks, and in comments likely to spark controversy among Catholics, Pope Francis weighed in directly on the issue of civil unions for same-sex couples.
''What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered,'' the pope said. ''I stood up for that.''
The remarks come in ''Francesco,'' a documentary on the life and ministry of Pope Francis which premiered Oct. 21 as part of the Rome Film Festival, and is set to make its North American premiere on Sunday.
The film chronicles the approach of Pope Francis to pressing social issues, and to pastoral ministry among those who live, in the words of the pontiff, ''on the existential peripheries.''
Featuring interviews with Vatican figures including Cardinal Luis Tagle and other collaborators of the pope, ''Francesco'' looks at the pope's advocacy for migrants and refugees, the poor, his work on the issue of clerical sexual abuse, the role of women in society, and the disposition of Catholics and others toward those who identify as LGBT.
The film addresses the pastoral outreach of Pope Francis to those who identify as LGBT, including a story of the pontiff encouraging two Italian men in a same-sex relationship to raise their children in their parish church, which, one of the men said, was greatly beneficial to his children.
''He didn't mention what was his opinion on my family. Probably he's following the doctrine on this point,'' the man said, while praising the pope for a disposition and attitude of welcome and encouragement.
The pope's remarks on civil unions come amid that part of the documentary. Filmmaker Evgeny Afineevsky told CNA that the pope made his call for civil unions during an interview the documentarian conducted with the pope.
The pope's direct call for civil union laws represents a shift from the perspective of his predecessors, and from his own more circumspect positions on civil unions in the past.
In 2010, while he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis opposed efforts to legalize same-sex marriage. While Sergio Rubin, the future pope's biographer, suggested that Francis supported the idea of civil unions as a way to prevent the wholesale adoption of same-sex marriage in Argentina, Miguel Woites, director of the Argentinian Catholic news outlet AICA, dismissed in 2013 that claim as false.
But the pope's mention of having previously ''stood up'' for civil unions seems to confirm the reports of Rubin and others who said that then-Cardinal Bergoglio supported privately the idea of civil unions as a compromise in Argentina.
In the 2013 book ''On Heaven and Earth,'' Pope Francis did not reject the possibility of civil unions outright, but did say that laws ''assimilating'' homosexual relationships to marriage are ''an anthropological regression,'' and he expressed concern that if same-sex couples ''are given adoption rights, there could be affected children. Every person needs a male father and a female mother that can help them shape their identity.''
In 2014, Fr. Thomas Rosica, who was then working in the Holy See's press office told CNA that Pope Francis had not expressed support for same-sex civil unions, after some journalists reported that he had done so in an an interview that year. While a civil unions proposal was debated in Italy, Rosica emphasized that Francis would not weigh in on the debate, but would emphasize Catholic teaching on marriage.
In 2003, under the leadership of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and at the direction of Pope John Paul II, the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith taught that ''respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behaviour or to legal recognition of homosexual unions. The common good requires that laws recognize, promote and protect marriage as the basis of the family, the primary unit of society.''
''Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean not only the approval of deviant behaviour, with the consequence of making it a model in present-day society, but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity. The Church cannot fail to defend these values, for the good of men and women and for the good of society itself,'' the CDF added, calling support for such unions from politicians ''gravely immoral.''
''Not even in a remote analogous sense do homosexual unions fulfil the purpose for which marriage and family deserve specific categorical recognition. On the contrary, there are good reasons for holding that such unions are harmful to the proper development of human society, especially if their impact on society were to increase,'' the document said.
The Vatican's press office did not respond to questions from CNA on the pope's remarks in the film.
While bishops in some countries have not opposed same-sex civil unions proposals, and tried instead to distinguish them from civil marriage, opponents of civil unions have long warned that they serve as a legislative and cultural bridge to same-sex marraige initiatives, give tacit approval to immorality, and fail to protect the rights of children to be parented by both a mother and father.
Afineevsky told EWTN News this month that he tried in ''Francesco'' to present the pope as he saw him, and that the film might not please all Catholics. He told CNA Wednesday that in his view, the film is not ''about'' the pope's call for civil unions, but ''about many other global issues.''
"I'm looking at him not as the pope, I'm looking at him as a humble human being, great role model to younger generation, leader for the older generation, a leader to many people not in the sense of the Catholic Church, but in the sense of pure leadership, on the ground, on the streets,'' Afineevsky added.
The documentarian said he began working with the Vatican to produce a film on Pope Francis in 2018, and was given unprecedented access to Pope Francis until filming completed in June, amid Italy's coronavirus lockdowns.
Afineevsky, a Russian-born filmmaker living in the U.S., was in 2015 nominated for both an Academy Award and an Emmy Award for his work ''Winter on Fire,'' a documentary that chronicled Ukraine's 2013 and 2014 Euromaidan protests. His 2017 film ''Cries from Syria'' was nominated for four News and Documentary Emmy Awards and three Critics' Choice Awards.
On Thursday, Afineevsky will be presented in the Vatican Gardens with the prestigious Kineo Movie for Humanity Award, which recognizes filmmakers who present social and humanitarian issues through filmmaking. The award was established in 2002 by the Italian Ministry of Culture.
Rosetta Sannelli, the creator of the Kineo Awards, noted that ''every trip of Pope Francis to various parts of the world is documented in Afineevsky's work, in images and news footage, and reveals itself as an authentic glimpse into the events of our time, a historical work in all respects.''
Nigeria: Protesters 'shot dead' by security forces in Lagos | Nigeria | Al Jazeera
Wed, 21 Oct 2020 15:38
Footage posted on social media shows several hundred people demonstrating, in defiance of a curfew imposed hours earlier by authorities.
Nigeria's security forces have reportedly shot dead demonstrators protesting against police brutality in Lagos, according to several witnesses, as authorities imposed a curfew and promised an investigation.
Four witnesses told Reuters news agency that soldiers fired at the protesters who had gathered in the Lekki district of Nigeria's largest city in defiance of an indefinite curfew imposed hours earlier by the authorities.
Hundreds of people were at the site at the time of the shooting, which witnesses said took place around 7pm local time (18:00 GMT).
''They started firing ammunition toward the crowd. They were firing into the crowd,'' said Alfred Ononugbo, 55, a security officer. ''I saw the bullet hit one or two persons,'' he said.
Inyene Akpan, 26, a photographer, said more than 20 soldiers arrived at the toll gate in Lekki and opened fire. He said he saw two people being shot. Akinbosola Ogunsanya, a third witness, also told Reuters he saw soldiers remove bodies.
#Lekki #LekkiProtest #Lekkitollgate #Lagos#Nigeria#EndSARS pic.twitter.com/yxqhtbVgmU
'-- Amnesty International Nigeria (@AmnestyNigeria) October 20, 2020
Scenes of protesters removing a bullet from someone's wound and pleading for help were broadcast in a live video on Instagram by DJ Switch, a popular disc jockey.
Amnesty International said it had received ''credible but disturbing evidence of excessive use of force occasioning deaths of protesters at Lekki toll gate in Lagos'', adding that it was investigating ''the killings''.
Another witness, Chika Dibia, said soldiers hemmed in people as they shot at them.
Video verified by Reuters showed men walking slowly in formation toward demonstrators, followed by trucks with flashing lights, and the sound of gunfire popping. Another video showed the toll gate itself, with a protester waving a Nigerian flag, as people ran amid the sound of gunfire.
In a Twitter post, the Nigerian Army said no soldiers were at the scene of the shooting on Tuesday night.
'Unfortunate incident'The state government earlier said it would open an investigation into the shooting. A Nigerian army spokesman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu tweeted pictures of him visiting people in hospital who were victims of what he referred to as the ''unfortunate shooting incident at Lekki''.
He said 25 people were being treated for mild to moderate injuries, two were receiving intensive care and three had been discharged.
''As the Governor of our state, I recognise the buck stops at my table and I will work with the FG (federal government) to get to the root of this unfortunate incident and stabilise all security operations to protect the lives of our residents,'' Sanwo-Olu said, adding that he would give a state broadcast on Wednesday morning.
They are still shooting in lekki toll gate!!!!! pic.twitter.com/jQlvEuJ1Ee
'-- Free Spirit. (Uncle W) (@DimejiWilliams1) October 20, 2020
Earlier, Sanwo-Olu alleged that criminals had hijacked the protest movement ''to unleash mayhem'' and announced a curfew in the city.
Lagos is one of five of Nigeria's 36 states to have announced movement restrictions in the last two days. Protesters pledged to remain on Lagos's streets regardless.
''Are you afraid?'' a man shouted to the flag-waving crowd from a stage. ''We will stay here peacefully,'' 32-year-old demonstrator Akin told AFP. ''This is our new home.''
Separately on Tuesday, the national police chief ordered the immediate deployment of anti-riot forces nationwide following increased attacks on police facilities, according to a police spokesman.
Tens of thousands of people have been taking to the streets every day for nearly two weeks across Nigeria to demand an end to police violence.
The protests, organised under the #EndSARS hashtag, began with calls to scrap a notorious police unit, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), which has long been accused of extortion, torture and extrajudicial killings.
After days of widespread demonstrations, the authorities announced SARS would be disbanded, ordering all personnel to report to the police headquarters in Abuja for debriefing and psychological and medical examinations.
Officials said SARS would be replaced by a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team.
The announcements have not satisfied the protesters, who see the changes as nothing but a renaming exercise. On Monday, Amnesty said at least 15 people have been killed since the demonstrations began.
After Seeing Biden's Tax Plan, Rapper 50 Cent Hops On The Trump Train
Wed, 21 Oct 2020 15:27
Rap icon 50 Cent, also known as Fif, announced he is endorsing President Trump in the upcoming 2020 election after a look at Joe Biden's tax plan. The Grammy award-winning musician shared a photo on Instagram of the top tax rates by state under the new Biden tax plan.
The rapper, who lives in New York, where the top tax bracket will be 62 percent under a Biden presidency, wrote in his caption: ''ðWHAT THE F**K! (VOTE ForTRUMP) IM OUT, ð''¸ð'¨F**K NEW YORK The KNICKS never win anyway. ð¤·ð½''¸I don't care Trump doesn't like black people 62% are you out of ya fucking mind. ð¤''
The post is a big turn-around from 2016, when Fif endorsed Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
Until now, Fif has expressed a distaste for Trump's policies. This April, he said of President Trump's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, ''You wanted a reality show host as president, well now you're on 'Survivor.'''
Fif has said many times that Trump has the ''attitude of a rapper.'' What is a rapper attitude? Fif explained in 2018 when he went on Conan O'Brian's late-night talk show.
It appears that, despite previous reservations, Fif has decided to vote with his wallet in the 2020 election. It shouldn't be all that surprising since Fif has a compelling rags-to-riches story, working hard for every cent (pun intended).
After an early life of crime, drugs, and violence in Queens, New York, he turned to rap and rocketed to stardom with the album ''Get Rich or Die Tryin''' in 2003. Since then, he has made investments, been featured in ad campaigns, become an actor, and currently has a $30 million net worth.
Whether Fif's endorsement of Trump will affect his fan base is yet to be seen. That hasn't stopped leftist and woke media mob from viciously condemning the influential rapper for expressing his political point of view.
Maybe their anger stems from the fact that they know Biden needs to resist losing black voters. Trump has worried many Democrats with his direct appeal to black voters through historic criminal justice reform, school choice promotion, and his ''Black Voices for Trump'' movement.
Fif isn't the only rapper to endorse President Trump. Kanye West endorsed Trump in 2018. Currently, West is running for president, so it's unclear if his endorsement still stands. However, like Fif, Kanye was also subjected to constant harassment for his affinity for Trump and his policies.
Just this week, Kanye's wife, Kim Kardashian, told Netflix host David Letterman that she was told working with Donald Trump and his administration on criminal justice reform would destroy her career and reputation in Hollywood.
Another rapper/actor, ''Ice Cube,'' also received backlash for joining with President Trump to create a ''Platinum Plan'' for black Americans that includes creating neighborhoods with high policing standards and replacing failing schools with full school choice. Black influencers like these who make the taboo decision to align themselves with Trump are experiencing the social abuse that many black conservatives face everyday for daring to go against the grain.
Perhaps Fif's Instagram post may entice another high-profile New York rapper, Cardi B, since she too showed concern over punishing tax rates. In a hilarious and viral video Cardi B asked what many Americans want to know: Where do tax dollars actually go?
''Alright, so you know the government is taking 40 percent of my taxes and Uncle Sam, I want to know what you're doing with my f-cking tax money,'' demanded the self-made rap star. Despite how much she spends on taxes, prisons are underfunded and ''there's still rats on the d-mn trains'' in New York, she complained.
In the 2020 election, however, Cardi B first endorsed Bernie Sanders and then Joe Biden. Maybe she and free-thinking Americans, concerned about the high cost of big government and its damage to an already-struggling economy, will also see Biden's tax plan and reconsider.
Nigeria Protests Show Bitcoin Adoption Is Not Coming: It's Here - CoinDesk
Wed, 21 Oct 2020 15:25
Nigeria Protests Show Bitcoin Adoption Is Not Coming: It's HereAs protests sweep across the country, with multiple regions placed under curfew, Nigerians are using social media and bitcoin in their fight against police corruption.
Nigerians called for the disbandment of the special anti-robbery squad (SARS) in 2017, and the government supposedly complied. But after reports of SARS officers allegedly killing a young boy in southern Nigeria surfaced on Oct. 3 of this year, protests erupted again. The police unit stands accused of illegal killings, extortion and torture of innocent civilians: many of its victims over the years were young men between the ages of 18 and 35.
On Oct. 9, Yele Bademosi, CEO of Binance-backed payments app Bundle, took to Twitter to share his own brutal encounter with SARS. Youths marched through the streets of Lagos while the hashtag #EndSARS went viral on social media, leading to protests in countries with large Nigerian diaspora populations including the U.K., U.S., Canada and Germany.
The next day, Bademosi's firm set up crypto wallets to help raise funds for the protests, highlighting projects already underway. Local activist groups such as the Feminist Coalition had already started raising funds in multiple fiat currencies to help sustain the protests.
Within days the coalition's bank accounts were frozen and the coalition asked donors to divert their funds to bitcoin wallets. As of Oct. 18, the group had raised more than 7.2 bitcoin (or $82,000) accounting for 44% of the total funds raised for the movement. The message spread far and wide: Even Twitter founder Jack Dorsey used his platform to promote bitcoin donations. On Oct. 20, reports surfaced that Nigerian security forces had opened fire on protesters. The coalition announced it was continuing its efforts to support the injured.
''I knew that it was going to kind of snowball into what it has become and it's kind of crazy that all of this has happened in just, like, six or seven days,'' Bademosi told CoinDesk.
This is all part of a larger story. Nigeria's predominantly young population, its status as a regional tech hub, an inflationary local currency, along with a large diaspora looking to send remittances home have been driving crypto adoption and innovation in Africa's most populated country. Now, Nigeria's federal government is making plans to facilitate national blockchain adoption.
A Chainalysis report on the geography of crypto revealed Nigeria ranked eighth (out of 154 countries) in its 2019-2020 global adoption index. The country ranked first among African countries in peer-to-peer (P2P) payments moving $139 million in the past year, the report said.
Scale of Adoption
In late 2018, Ahmed Rasheed, 29, opened a bitcoin wallet for his unborn daughter in Nigeria's southwestern state of Oyo.
The previous year, after a friend had introduced him to crypto, he quickly amassed $720, the equivalent of his six months of his then-salary as a physics and mathematics teacher. He received the crypto through airdrops, where projects deliver small amounts to wallets for free, usually as a marketing strategy.
With the money, Rasheed bought a laptop, quit his job and immediately opened bitcoin wallets for his wife and elder daughter. He eventually found work in marketing at a blockchain firm and his wife also found work with a blockchain project. Now, when he has to pay his daughter's school fees, he converts savings from her designated wallet into naira.
''We're definitely a blockchain family,'' Rasheed told CoinDesk.
Rasheed's enthusiasm for investing in crypto is happening at a national scale. According to Nena Nwachukwu, Nigeria regional manager at peer-to-peer (P2P) bitcoin exchange Paxful, in the period between January and September 2020, new registrations at the exchange rose 137% compared to the same period last year. Now, the exchange has over 600,000 Nigerian users, Nwachukwu told CoinDesk.
Read more: Nigerian Banks Shut Them Out, so These Activists Are Using Bitcoin to Battle Police Brutality
''This year cryptocurrency popularity and usage by Nigerians has grown by leaps and bounds,'' Nwachukwu said, adding the COVID-19 pandemic and the Central Bank of Nigeria's (CBN) recent devaluation of the naira, are compelling more people to actively search for other means to secure their wealth.
According to Senator Ihenyen, fintech lawyer and general secretary of Nigeria's blockchain association SiBAN, a self-regulatory body in the industry, adoption trends show that the largest use cases for crypto are in remittances and P2P trading.
Nwachukwu confirmed this, adding that Paxful's Nigerian customers are very knowledgeable and have evolved from using bitcoin only as a form of speculative investment to making online payments, cross-border remittances, freelancer payments and e-commerce.
According to Ihenyen, there are about 10 international and local exchanges in Nigeria, some of which are currently registered with SiBAN, but he suspects there might be more operating in the country.
Mayowa Tudonu, a software engineer who is building crypto exchange products on the Ethereum blockchain, helped Africa-based digital payments platform InterSwitch to develop a cross-border payments system. Tudonu calls remittances a ''core application'' of blockchain that can severely disrupt international payments.
''People who have to pay their kids' school fees, to send money to families, are beginning to adopt bitcoin as a form of remittance. I mean, we are looking at transaction volumes in terms of billions of naira,'' Tudonu said.
According to a report from consulting company PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Nigerian migrants sent home a whopping $23.63 billion in remittances in 2018.
Additionally, since bitcoin allows for the quick transfer of large volumes, particularly for international trade deals, intermediaries would facilitate fiat-to-crypto transfers between Nigeria and other countries like China. Bernard Parah, 28, got started in the crypto space by personally handing large over-the-counter (OTC) transfers on behalf of businessmen.
P2P lending platforms Paxful and LocalBitcoins saw dramatic surges in trading volumes in the first seven months of 2020, which began to decline in the following months. Although Nigerians are looking for a hedge against the continued pressure on the naira, Nwachukwu said the devaluation of the currency meant people had less money to spend.
''We have seen cases of active customers, very much interested in trading but cannot continue due to a lack of sufficient funds or job loss,'' Nwachukwu said.
Software developer Tudonu began building Ethereum-based digital payments infrastructure after completing a course on Ethereum development with ConsenSys in 2018. He told CoinDesk he was one of the high scorers, and has since gone on to build a successful career in the industry. Tudonu often mentors Nigerian developers interested in breaking into blockchain.
An underlying reason why blockchain is gaining traction fast in Nigeria is because its young and tech-savvy population is showing an eagerness to learn more about Web3.0, a decentralized internet powered by blockchain technology.
Awosika Israel Ayodeji is a project designer at Web3Bridge, a blockchain education platform created to onboard developers in Africa.
Read more: Nigerians Are Using Bitcoin to Bypass Trade Hurdles With China
''Blockchain has a lot of potential for us in terms of building system infrastructure, government infrastructure '... also, I personally saw how if you are heading into the blockchain space, it's easier to create a name, brand and niche for yourself,'' Ayojedi told CoinDesk.
He acknowledged that airdrops are not necessarily enough. His efforts to teach the ''tech behind the airdrops'' so far introduced 40 developers to the space in the last year.
SiBAN's Ihenyen said educators have done great work so far. ''Some of them work online. Some of them also go to cities across Nigeria, trying to educate people, especially young people about cryptocurrency and blockchain,'' Ihenyen said, adding that some used WhatsApp groups to organize classes and communicate.
In Nigeria's northwestern state of Kano, 29-year-old Sani Musa Sharu, who is managing his family's savings in crypto, was excited to find that his government was officially supporting blockchain adoption in the country.
Sharu saw a draft framework that was obtained by a local news outlet last week that revealed key government ministries were involved in developing strategies for nationwide blockchain adoption, which included the creation of comprehensive regulatory oversight.
Before this, the government had left the crypto industry largely alone. Apart from the CBN in 2017 declaring digital currencies are not legal tender in Nigeria, the country's Securities and Exchange Commission issuing a warning about investing in crypto and later classifying all crypto assets as securities, there had been no major efforts by the government to regulate crypto.
Read more: Nigeria Is Developing Strategies for National Blockchain Adoption
Earlier this year, when Parah decided to launch his crypto payments app Bitnob; he said did not have to obtain a license to launch the app and exchange. He only needed to register his business with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
Earlier this month, while protesting in Lagos, Parah was multitasking by pushing updates for his app, which he says has been gaining traction since May.
''We have to keep things moving as well,'' he said.
Study: Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon Trash Trump 97 Percent Over Biden
Wed, 21 Oct 2020 15:22
Left-wing late-night hosts Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon have targeted President Donald Trump in their jokes 97 percent of the time over his Democratic rival Joe Biden, according to a new study from the Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University.
The study found that NBC's Fallon and and CBS's Colbert told 455 jokes about Trump and 64 jokes about his family and the workings of his administration. Meanwhile, the pair cracked just 14 jokes about Biden, despite the 77-year-old also being a ripe target for humor, from his almost daily gaffes and brain freezes.
''When Trump's onstage, everyone else is blacked out,'' Robert Lichter, a communications professor at George Mason, told the AP. ''I think they will find a way to keep making jokes about Trump, even after he leaves office.''
Researchers found that although late-night hosts typically target Republicans more than Democrats, the difference has never been so stark. During the 2016 presidential election, Trump was the target of around 78 percent of the jokes, compared to Hillary Clinton on 28 percent.
Fallon used to attempt to portray himself as more of a neutral political actor, although he appears to have all have given up on that image over the past few years, throwing his weight behind numerous left-wing causes.
Colbert, meanwhile, has never made any secret of his Democratic Party leanings and his disdain for Trump. Earlier this year Colbert described Trump as a ''monster'' over his response to the Chinese coronavirus pandemic.
On Monday, Colbert even hosted a fundraiser with Sen. Kamala Harris in aid of the Biden Victory Fund, where the pair discussed the ''importance of this election, clean energy, and the plan to build back better.'' Tickets for the virtual event topped out at a staggering $100,000.
Although no such figures were provided for other late-night comedians such as Seth Meyers, Jimmy Kimmel, Samantha Bee, and Conan O'Brien, all of them similarly disdain the president and use their platform to lampoon him on nightly basis.
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Hunter Biden: What was he doing in Ukraine and China? - BBC News
Wed, 21 Oct 2020 15:18
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Vice-President Biden in 2016 with his son Hunter looking on President Donald Trump has repeatedly accused his Democratic White House challenger Joe Biden of wrongdoing in regards to Ukraine and China while he was vice-president, which he denies.
The issue has resurfaced following a New York Post article about an alleged email in which an adviser from a Ukrainian energy company apparently thanked Mr Biden's son, Hunter, for inviting him to meet his father.
Asked about the allegations, Joe Biden told a reporter it was a "smear campaign".
Claims of influence-peddling are common in Washington DC and Mr Trump's children have also been accused of conflicts of interest in lucrative business deals overseas. They, too, deny wrongdoing.
Mr Biden will face Mr Trump, a Republican, in next month's presidential election.
What does the New York Post article say?An article has appeared in the New York Post focused on an email from April 2015, in which an adviser to Burisma apparently thanked Hunter Biden for inviting him to meet his father in Washington.
Hunter, Joe Biden's second son, was a director on the board of Burisma - a Ukrainian-owned private energy company while his father was the Obama administration's pointman on US-Ukrainian relations. Hunter was one of several foreigners on its board.
The New York Post article did not provide evidence that the meeting ever took place. The Biden election campaign said there was no record of any such meeting on the former vice-president's "official schedule" from the time.
But in a statement to Politico, the campaign also acknowledged that Mr Biden could have had an "informal interaction" with the Burisma adviser that did not appear on his official schedule, though it said any such encounter would have been "cursory".
"Investigations by the press, during impeachment, and even by two Republican-led Senate committees whose work was decried as 'not legitimate' and political by a GOP colleague, have all reached the same conclusion: that Joe Biden carried out official US policy toward Ukraine and engaged in no wrongdoing," said Andrew Bates, a spokesman for Mr Biden.
Video caption What we know about Biden-Ukraine corruption claims The campaign also decried the New York Post story as "Russian disinformation", though it did not say the emails were bogus.
The New York Post article has been shared by President Trump and his allies. Two of his former advisers, Steve Bannon and Rudy Giuliani, were involved in providing the story and the hard drive containing the alleged emails, to the newspaper.
Other US media say they have been unable to verify the authenticity of the emails.
Hunter joined Burisma in 2014, and remained on the board until April 2019, when he decided to leave.
Twitter and Facebook's action over Joe Biden article reignites bias claimsWhat are the Bidens accused of in China?The New York Post also cited a purported email from Hunter Biden indicating that he was receiving a $10m annual fee from a Chinese billionaire for "introductions alone", though it is unclear who was involved in the alleged introductions.
Hunter flew in 2013 aboard Air Force Two with his father, who was US vice-president, on an official visit to Beijing, where the younger Biden met investment banker Jonathan Li.
Hunter told the New Yorker he just met Mr Li for "a cup of coffee", but 12 days after the trip a private equity fund, BHR Partners, was approved by the Chinese authorities. Mr Li was chief executive and Hunter was a board member. He would hold a 10% stake.
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Joe Biden walks out of Air Force Two with his granddaughter and son, Hunter Biden BHR is backed by some of China's largest state banks and by local governments, according to US media.
Hunter Biden's lawyer said he had joined the board in an unpaid position "based on his interest in seeking ways to bring Chinese capital to international markets".
His lawyer also said his client did not acquire his financial stake in BHR until 2017, after his father had left office in the US.
Hunter resigned from the board of BHR in April 2020, but still held his 10% stake in BHR as of July this year, according to the company report.
What are the Bidens accused of in Ukraine?President Trump and his allies have accused Joe Biden of wrongdoing because he pushed, while vice-president, for the Ukrainian government to fire its top prosecutor, who was investigating the company for which Hunter worked.
In 2016, Joe Biden called for the dismissal of the Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin, whose office had Burisma and other companies under investigation.
However, other Western leaders and major bodies that give financial support to Ukraine also wanted the prosecutor dismissed because they believed he was not active enough in tackling corruption.
What did this have to do with impeachment?In 2019, details emerged of a phone call President Trump had made to the president of Ukraine, in which he had urged the Ukrainian leader to investigate the Bidens.
President Trump's impeachment explainedThis led to charges by the Democrats that Mr Trump was trying to illegally pressure Ukraine to help damage his election rival, resulting in impeachment by the House of Representatives.
Mr Trump denied he'd done anything wrong, and he was later acquitted by the Republican-controlled US Senate.
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption President Trump holds a copy of The Washington Post the day after the US Senate acquitted him on two articles of impeachment Has anything been proven against the Bidens?No criminal activity has been proven, and no evidence has emerged that Joe Biden did anything to intentionally benefit his son. But it has raised questions about potential conflicts of interest.
A senior State Department official raised such concerns as far back as 2015.
Joe Biden's son defends foreign dealingsUS Republican lawmakers launched an investigation and found that Hunter's work for the Ukrainian firm was "problematic" - but there wasn't evidence that US foreign policy was influenced by it.
No criminal charges were proven against Burisma either. The company issued a statement in 2017 saying "all legal proceedings and pending criminal allegations" against it were closed.
Last year, Yuriy Lutsenko, the prosecutor in Ukraine who succeeded Viktor Shokin, told the BBC that there was no reason to investigate the Bidens under Ukrainian law.
There's nothing illegal about sitting on a board of a company whilst family members serve in government, although Hunter Biden now says that serving on the Burisma board may have been "poor judgement".
Hunter Biden's lawyers said in statement in October 2019 that he had undertaken "these business activities independently. He did not believe it appropriate to discuss them with his father, nor did he."
Hunter told the New Yorker magazine that on the only occasion he had mentioned Burisma: "Dad said, 'I hope you know what you are doing.'"
Amid all the scrutiny, the Democratic White House nominee said last year that if he is elected president, no-one in his family will hold a job or have a business relationship with a foreign corporation or foreign government.
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The Hunter Biden story was a test for tech platforms. They barely passed | Silicon Valley | The Guardian
Wed, 21 Oct 2020 15:18
Show caption 'Only in 2020 have tech companies begun to take seriously the dangers of Holocaust denial, massive conspiracies that spark violence, anti-vaccine and other medical misinformation, and disinformation about voting.' Photograph: Yui Mok/PA
OpinionFacebook and Twitter are trying to avoid repeating the 2016 misinformation disaster, but haven't totally figured out how
Mon 19 Oct 2020 09.36 EDT
In 2016, major American news outlets, amplified by YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, did the work of foreign and domestic purveyors of disinformation and propaganda. They took too seriously false, irrelevant and illegally acquired emails from top Democratic campaign officials. They took seriously bogus questions about Hillary Clinton's own email accounts. And they generated a cloud of confusion and mistrust that led directly to Donald Trump's unlikely victory in the electoral college.
Biden article row shows how US election is testing Facebook and Twitter This much is indisputable. What's interesting is how far Facebook, Twitter and to a lesser extent YouTube have at least attempted to avoid contributing to such a mess in 2020 '' while major American news outlets continue to show a willingness to get played.
The latest example is how a tiny, unverifiable, almost-certainly-false story published by Rupert Murdoch's New York Post (the fourth-largest readership of any newspaper in the United States) generated a ridiculous blowback among rightwing pundits and politicians.
The story is almost comical. It alleges that someone delivered three laptops to a computer repair store in Delaware. The owner of that store thinks the man who delivered the computers was Hunter Biden, the son of Vice-President Joe Biden. But he can't be sure it was Hunter Biden. Or maybe he can. He's very confused about how this all went down. Anyway, the owner says he made copies of the hard drives and somehow sent the content, which he deemed suspicious, to some undetermined law enforcement agency and to the former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, one of Trump's personal lawyers. It's all very unclear how and why such a transaction happened '' if at all.
Among the pilfered emails (sound familiar?) was at least one that seemed to suggest that the then vice-president could arrange a meeting with a business associate of Hunter's in Ukraine. You might remember that Hunter's Ukraine business involvement was the subject of the phone call that Trump made to the president of Ukraine to get him to announce an investigation of the Bidens. This call is what triggered Trump's impeachment.
Vice-President Biden says he has never met with anyone affiliated with Hunter Biden's business and there is no evidence even in the new New York Post story that he did.
So, basically, we are dealing with a third-rate, bungled pile of nonsense here. What's a social media company to do?
Platforms like YouTube, Twitter and Facebook have three choices when they flag potentially troublesome content. They can keep their hands off and let their users and algorithms do with the content what they wish to do, risking amplification. This was the standard method of dealing with hate speech, misinformation and propaganda for most of the history of these companies. Second, they can choose to keep the problematic posts up on the service but ''dial down'' the amplifying power of the algorithms, slowing distribution, giving their staff time to research the posts and consider if further action is needed. This is almost always the wisest move.
Third, platforms could choose to block or purge an item completely. Given the scale of Facebook (2.7 billion users), YouTube (2 billion users), and Twitter (330 million users), deleting an item might seem like a major problem for the free flow of information. But it's not. The original source remains untouched and accessible to most of the world. Nonetheless, by making this harshest of choices the platforms expose themselves to vitriol and risk generating the sort of backlash that can energize paranoid, conspiratorial movements like Q-Anon or Trump supporters.
Only in 2020 have tech companies begun to take seriously the dangers of Holocaust denial, massive conspiracies that spark violence, anti-vaccine and other medical misinformation, and disinformation about voting. And each company has handled these issues in different ways at different times. They are all just feeling their way through it. (They also seem solely concerned about these problems within the US, leaving most of the world largely unprotected.)
Well, at first, Twitter took the hard road with the New York Post story. Sensitive to the fact that nonsense travels farther and faster than sense on its service, Twitter blocked users from sharing or retweeting the original story. Later, it temporarily blocked some rightwing accounts that were trafficking in the claims. These included the account of the White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany.
Then, on Friday, Twitter flipped and restored users' ability to share the Post story.
The justification Twitter offered was that the story '' if based on anything at all '' was based on stolen information. That's not a bad reason to block something, given the spectacular errors so many made in 2016. There is so much wrong with the Post story it makes sense to be careful. But, of course, this move brought more attention to the Post story than it might have otherwise generated. The fact that I'm writing about it shows that. Twitter offered no clear reason for changing its decision on Friday. It seems that the social media platform caved to Republican pressure.
Content moderation is a fool's game. A company can't win the PR battle no matter what it does Facebook took a smarter approach, but did not escape being bunched up with Twitter and accused of pandering to the left '' an absurd accusation given all the ways that Mark Zuckerberg and his cronies have actively helped Trump get elected and then protected his interests consistently through the past three years. In the case of the Post story, Facebook simply limited the extent to which its algorithms would display the item in people's News Feed '' thus slowing its distribution and lowering interest and awareness in it while Facebook staff could do more research.
As usual, YouTube did nothing to stem the flow of this unfounded story. A Google search on Friday afternoon of ''Hunter Biden'' and ''emails'' generates a video version of the story on YouTube.
Content moderation, the term of art for such policies and decisions, is a fool's game. A company can't win the public relations battle no matter what it does. Companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google don't owe anyone a commitment to publish and promote their expressions. They need not defend free speech.
There are frequent calls for these companies to be more transparent and consistent in their moderation policies. But that's expecting too much. Given the varieties of human expressions and cruelties, it seems impossible to predict all the different problems that might spring up that threaten people's health, safety or democracy.
Either way, content moderation is necessary. Nobody should want massive systems of content distribution to foster Holocuast denial or call for violence against ethnic groups. Some of these questions feel easy (although for some reason, blocking Holocaust denial seemed like a hard choice for Mark Zuckerberg, raising some serious questions about his capacity for basic moral judgment). Most of them are hard.
As we turn past the US election of 2020, we should recognize that these companies will continue to fail most of the time. They are built to fail our most basic needs for safety and dignity. But sometimes they will make the world a little less cruel and stupid than they otherwise would. That's the best we can hope for.
Siva Vaidhyanathan is a professor of media studies at the University of Virginia and the author of Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy
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NWO Plans Exposed By Insider In 1969
Wed, 21 Oct 2020 14:21
'This is a transcript of two out of three tapes on the "New World System." Tapes one and two were recorded in 1988 and are the recollections of Dr. Lawrence Dunegan regarding a lecture he attended on March 20, 1969 at a meeting of the Pittsburgh Paediatric Society. The lecturer at that gathering of paediatricians (identified in tape three recorded in 1991) was a Dr. Richard Day (who died in 1989). At the time, Dr. Day was Professor of Paediatrics at Mount Sinai Medical School in New York. Previously he had served as Medical Director of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Dr. Dunegan was formerly a student of Dr. Day at the University of Pittsburgh and was well acquainted with him, though not intimately. He describes Dr. Day as an insider of the "Order" and although Dr. Dunegan's memory was somewhat dimmed by the intervening years, he is able to provide enough details of the lecture to enable any enlightened person to discern the real purposes behind the trends of our time. This is a transcript of a loose, conversational monologue that makes for better listening than reading.' New World System This is a transcript of two out of three tapes on the "New World System." Tapes one and two were recorded in 1988 and are the recollections of Dr. Lawrence Dunegan regarding a lecture he attended on March 20, 1969 at a meeting of the Pittsburgh Paediatric Society. The lecturer at that gathering of paediatricians (identified in tape three recorded in 1991) was a Dr. Richard Day (who died in 1989). At the time, Dr. Day was Professor of Paediatrics at Mount Sinai Medical School in New York. Previously he had served as Medical Director of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Dr. Dunegan was formerly a student of Dr. Day at the University of Pittsburgh and was well acquainted with him, though not intimately. He describes Dr. Day as an insider of the "Order" and although Dr. Dunegan's memory was somewhat dimmed by the intervening years, he is able to provide enough details of the lecture to enable any enlightened person to discern the real purposes behind the trends of our time. This is a transcript of a loose, conversational monologue that makes for better listening than reading. The transcripts of Tape 1 and Tape 2 have been very slightly edited to remove verbal mannerisms and to improve readability. The original unedited transcript may be found using the following link <http://100777.com/node/19>http://100777.com/node/19 Tape 3 is an interview by Randy Engel, Director of the U.S. Coalition for Life, with Dr. Larry Dunegan and was recorded on Oct. 10, 1991 in Pittsburgh, Penn. This set of three audio tapes may be ordered from the Florida Pro-family Forum, P.O. Box 1059, Highland City, FL 33846-1059 ($20.00). CONTENTS IS THERE A POWER, A FORCE OR A GROUP OF MEN ORGANIZING AND REDIRECTING CHANGE? EVERYTHING IS IN PLACE AND NOBODY CAN STOP US NOW PEOPLE WILL HAVE TO GET USED TO CHANGE THE REAL AND THE STATED GOALS POPULATION CONTROL PERMISSION TO HAVE BABIES REDIRECTING THE PURPOSE OF SEX CONTRACEPTION UNIVERSALLY AVAILABLE TO ALL SEX EDUCATION AS A TOOL OF WORLD GOVERNMENT TAX FUNDED ABORTION AS POPULATION CONTROL ENCOURAGING HOMOSEXUALITY TECHNOLOGY FAMILIES TO DIMINISH IN IMPORTANCE EUTHANASIA AND THE 'DEMISE PILL' LIMITING ACCESS TO AFFORDABLE MEDICAL PLANNING THE CONTROL OVER MEDICINE ELIMINATION OF PRIVATE DOCTORS NEW DIFFICULT TO DIAGNOSE AND UNTREATABLE DISEASES SUPPRESSING CANCER CURES AS A MEANS OF POPULATION CONTROL INDUCING HEART ATTACKS AS A FORM OF ASSASSINATION EDUCATION AS A TOOL FOR ACCELERATING ONSET OF PUBERTY AND EVOLUTION BLENDING ALL RELIGIONS, THE OLD RELIGIONS WILL HAVE TO GO CHANGING THE BIBLE THROUGH REVISIONS OF KEY WORDS THE CHURCHES WILL HELP US RESTRUCTURING EDUCATION AS A TOOL OF INDOCTRINATION MORE TIME IN SCHOOLS, BUT THEY WOULDN'T LEARN ANYTHING CONTROLLING WHO HAS ACCESS TO INFORMATION SCHOOLS AS THE HUB OF THE COMMUNITY BOOKS WOULD JUST DISAPPEAR FROM THE LIBRARIES CHANGING LAWS THE ENCOURAGEMENT OF DRUG ABUSE TO CREATE A JUNGLE ATMOSPHERE ALCOHOL ABUSE RESTRICTIONS ON TRAVEL THE NEED FOR MORE JAILS, AND USING HOSPITALS AS JAILS NO MORE SECURITY CRIME USED TO MANAGE SOCIETY CURTAILMENT OF AMERICAN INDUSTRIAL PRE-EMINENCE SHIFTING POPULATIONS AND ECONOMIES - TEARING THE SOCIAL ROOTS SPORTS AS A TOOL OF SOCIAL CHANGE SEX AND VIOLENCE INCULCATED THROUGH ENTERTAINMENT TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS AND IMPLANTED ID FOOD CONTROL WEATHER CONTROL KNOW HOW PEOPLE RESPOND - MAKING THEM DO WHAT YOU WANT FALSIFIED SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH TERRORISM FINANCIAL CONTROL SURVEILLANCE, IMPLANTS, AND TELEVISIONS THAT WATCH YOU HOME OWNERSHIP A THING OF THE PAST THE ARRIVAL OF THE TOTALITARIAN GLOBAL SYSTEM IS THERE A POWER, A FORCE OR A GROUP OF MEN ORGANIZING AND REDIRECTING CHANGE? There has been much written, and much said, by some people who have looked at all the changes that have occurred in American society in the past 20 years or so, and who have looked retrospectively to earlier history of the United States, and indeed, of the world, and come to the conclusion that there is a conspiracy of sorts which influences, indeed controls. major historical events, not only in the United States, but also around the world. This conspiratorial interpretation of history is based on people making observations from the outside, gathering evidence and concluding that from the outside they see a conspiracy. Their evidence and conclusions are based on evidence gathered in retrospect. I want to now describe what I heard from a speaker in 1969, which in several weeks will now be 20 years ago. The speaker did not speak in terms of retrospect, but rather predicting changes that would be brought about in the future. The speaker was not looking from the outside in, thinking that he saw conspiracy, rather, he was on the inside, admitting that, indeed, there was an organised power, force, group of men, who wielded enough influence to determine major events involving countries around the world. In addition, he predicted, or rather expounded on, changes that were planned for the remainder of this century. As you listen, if you can recall the situation, at least in the United States in 1969 and the few years there after, and then recall the kinds of changes which have occurred between then and now, almost 20 years later, I believe you will be impressed with the degree to which the things that were planned to be brought about have already been accomplished. Some of the things that were discussed were not intended to be accomplished yet by 1988. [Note: the year of this recording] but are intended to be accomplished before the end of this century. There is a timetable; and it was during this session that some of the elements of the timetable were brought out. Anyone who recalls early in the days of the Kennedy campaign when he spoke of progress in the decade of the 60's": That was kind of a clich(C) in those days - "the decade of the 60's." Well, by 1969 our speaker was talking about the decade of the 70's, the decade of the 80's, and the decade of the 90's. Prior to that time, I don't remember anybody saying "the decade of the 40's and the decade of the 50's. So I think this overall plan and timetable had taken important shape with more predictability to those who control it, sometime in the late 50's. That's speculation on my part. In any event, the speaker said that his purpose was to tell us about changes which would be brought about in the next 30 years or so, so that an entirely new world-wide system would be in operation before the turn of the century. As he put it, "We plan to enter the 21st Century with a running start." [emphasis supplied] EVERYTHING IS IN PLACE AND NOBODY CAN STOP US NOW He said, as we listened to what he was about to present, "Some of you will think I'm talking about Communism. Well, what I'm talking about is much bigger than Communism!" At that time he indicated that there is much more co-operation between East and West than most people realise. In his introductory remarks, he commented that he was free to speak at this time. He would not have been able to say what he was about to say, even a few years earlier. But he was free to speak at this time because now, and I'm quoting here, "everything is in place and nobody can stop us now." He went on to say that most people don't understand how governments operate and even people in high positions in governments, including our own, don't really understand how and where decisions are made. He went on to say that people who really influence decisions are names that for the most part would be familiar to most of us, but he would not use individuals' names or names of any specific organisation. But that, if he did, most of the people would be names that were recognised by most of his audience. He went on to say that they were not primarily people in public office, but people of prominence who were primarily known in their private occupations or private positions. The speaker was Dr. Richard Day, a doctor of medicine and a former professor at a large Eastern university, and he was addressing a group of doctors of medicine, about 80 in number. His name would not be widely recognised by anybody likely to hear this. The only purpose in recording this is that it may give a perspective to those who hear it regarding the changes which have already been accomplished in the past 20 years or so, and a bit of a preview to what at least some people are planning for the remainder of this century, so that they would enter the 21st Century with a flying start. Some of us may not enter that Century. His purpose in telling our group about these changes that were to be brought about was to make it easier for us to adapt to these changes. Indeed, as he quite accurately said, "they would be changes that would be very surprising, and in some ways difficult for people to accept," and he hoped that we, as sort of his friends, would make the adaptation more easily if we knew somewhat beforehand what to expect. PEOPLE WILL HAVE TO GET USED TO CHANGE Somewhere in the introductory remarks he insisted that nobody have a tape recorder and that nobody take notes, which for a professor was a very remarkable kind of thing to expect from an audience. Something in his remarks suggested that there could be negative repercussions against him if it became widely known that indeed he had spilled the beans, so to speak. When I first heard that, I thought maybe that was sort of an ego trip, somebody enhancing his own importance. But as the revelations unfolded, I began to understand why he might have had some concern about not having it widely known what was said although this was a fairly public forum where he was speaking. Nonetheless, he asked that no notes be taken, no tape recording be used. This was suggesting there might be some personal danger to himself if these revelations were widely publicised. Again, as the remarks began to unfold, and heard the rather outrageous things that were said, I made it a point to try to remember as much of what he said as I could and to connect my recollections to simple events around me to aid my memory for the future, in case I wanted to do what I'm doing now - recording this. I also wanted to try to maintain a perspective on what would be developing, if indeed, it followed the predicted pattern - which it has! At this point, so that I don't forget to include it later, I'll just include some statements that were made from time to time throughout the presentation. One of the statements was having to do with change. The statement was, "People will have to get used to the idea of change, so used to change, that they'll be expecting change. Nothing will be permanent." This often came out in the context of a society where people seemed to have no roots or moorings, but would be passively willing to accept change simply because it was all they had ever known. This was sort of in contrast to generations of people up until this time where certain things you expected to be, and remain in place as reference points for your life. So change was to be brought about, change was to be anticipated and expected, and accepted, no questions asked. Another comment that was made from time to time during the presentation was. "People are too trusting, people don't ask the right questions." Sometimes, being too trusting was equated with being too dumb. But sometimes when he would say that "People don't ask the right questions," it was almost with a sense of regret as if he were uneasy with what he was part of, and wished that people would challenge it and maybe not be so trusting. THE REAL AND THE STATED GOALS Another comment that was repeated from time to time, particularly in relation to changing laws and customs was, "Everything has two purposes. One is the ostensible purpose which will make it acceptable to people and second is the real purpose which would further the goals of establishing the new system. Frequently he would say, "There is just no other way, there's just no other way!" This seemed to come as a sort of an apology, particularly at the conclusion of describing some particularly offensive changes. For example, the promotion of drug addiction which we'll get into later. POPULATION CONTROL He was very active with population control groups, the population control movement, and population control was really the entry point into specifics following the introduction. He said the population is growing too fast. Numbers of people living at any one time on the planet must be limited or we will run out of space to live. We will outgrow our food supply and will pollute the world with our waste. PERMISSION TO HAVE BABIES People won't be allowed to have babies just because they want to or because they are careless. Most families would be limited to two. Some people would be allowed only one, however outstanding people might be selected and allowed to have three. But most people would be allowed to have only two babies. That's because the zero population growth rate is 2.1 children per completed family. So something like every 10th family might be allowed the privilege of the third baby. To me, up to this point, the words 'population control' primarily connoted limiting the number of babies to be born. But this remark about what people would be 'allowed' and then what followed, made it quite clear that when you hear 'population control' that means more than just controlling births. It means control of every endeavour of an entire world population; a much broader meaning to that term than I had ever attached to it before hearing this. As you listen and reflect back on some of the things you hear, you will begin to recognise how one aspect dovetails with other aspects in terms of controlling human endeavours. REDIRECTING THE PURPOSE OF SEX Well, from population control, the natural next step then was sex. He said sex must be separated from reproduction. Sex is too pleasurable, and the urges are too strong, to expect people to give it up. Chemicals in food and in the water supply to reduce the sex drive are not practical. The strategy then would be not to diminish sex activity, but to increase sex activity, but in such a way, that people won't be having babies. CONTRACEPTION UNIVERSALLY AVAILABLE TO ALL The first consideration here was contraception. Contraception would be very strongly encouraged, and it would be connected closely in people's minds with sex. They would automatically think contraception when they were thinking or preparing for sex, and contraception would be made universally available. Contraceptives would be displayed much more prominently in drug stores, right up with the cigarettes and chewing gum. Out in the open rather than hidden under the counter where people would have to ask for them and maybe be embarrassed. This kind of openness was a way of suggesting that contraceptives are just as much a part of life as any other items sold in the store. Contraceptives would be advertised and also dispensed in the schools in association with sex education! SEX EDUCATION AS A TOOL OF WORLD GOVERNMENT The sex education was to get kids interested early, making the connection between sex and the need for contraception early in their lives, even before they became very active. At this point I was recalling some of my teachers, particularly in high school and found it totally unbelievable to think of them agreeing, much less participating in, and distributing of contraceptives to students. But, that only reflected my lack of understanding of how these people operate. That was before the school-based clinic programs got started. Many cities in the United States by this time have already set up school-based clinics, which are primarily contraception, birth control, population control clinics. The idea then is that the connection between sex and contraception introduced and reinforced in school would carry over into marriage. Indeed, if young people when they matured decided to get married, marriage itself would be diminished in importance. He indicated some recognition that most people probably would want to be married, but this certainly would not be any longer considered necessary for sexual activity. TAX FUNDED ABORTION AS POPULATION CONTROL No surprise then that the next item was abortion. And this, now back in 1969, four years before Roe vs. Wade, he said, "Abortion will no longer be a crime." Abortion will be accepted as normal, and would be paid for by taxes for people who could not pay for their own abortions. Contraceptives would be made available by tax money so that nobody would have to do without contraceptives. If school sex programs would lead to more pregnancies in children, that was really seen as no problem. Parents who think they are opposed to abortion on moral or religious grounds will change their minds when it is their own child who is pregnant. So this will help overcome opposition to abortion. Before long, only a few die-hards will still refuse to see abortion as acceptable, and they won't matter anymore. ENCOURAGING HOMOSEXUALITY "People will be given permission to be homosexual," that's the way it was stated. They won't have to hide it. In addition, elderly people will be encouraged to continue to have active sex lives into the very old ages, just as long as they can. Everyone will be given permission to have sex, to enjoy however they want. Anything goes. This is the way it was put. In addition, I remember thinking, "How arrogant for this individual, or whoever he represents, to feel that they can give or withhold permission for people to do things!" But that was the terminology that was used. In this regard, clothing was mentioned. Clothing styles would be made more stimulating and provocative. Back in 1969 was the time of the mini skirt, when those mini-skirts were very, very high and very revealing. He said, "It is not just the amount of skin that is exposed that makes clothing sexually seductive, but other, more subtle things are often suggestive." Things like movement, and the cut of clothing, and the kind of fabric, the positioning of accessories on the clothing. "If a woman has an attractive body, why should she not show it?" was one of the statements. There was no detail on what was meant by 'provocative clothing', but since that time if you watched the change in clothing styles, blue jeans are cut in a way that they're more tight-fitting in the crotch. They form wrinkles. Wrinkles are essentially arrows. Lines which direct one's vision to certain anatomic areas. This was around the time of the 'burn your bra' activity. He indicated that a lot of women should not go without a bra. They need a bra to be attractive, so instead of banning bras and burning them, bras would come back. But they would be thinner and softer allowing more natural movement. It was not specifically stated, but certainly, a very thin bra is much more revealing of the nipple and what else is underneath, than the heavier bras that were in style up to that time. TECHNOLOGY Earlier he said that sex and reproduction would be separated. You would have sex without reproduction and then technology was reproduction without sex. This would be done in the laboratory. He indicated that already much, much research was underway about making babies in the laboratory. There was some elaboration on that, but I don't remember the details. How much of that technology has come to my attention since that time. I don't remember in a way that I can distinguish what was said from what I subsequently have learned as general medical information. FAMILIES TO DIMINISH IN IMPORTANCE Families would be limited in size. We already alluded to not being allowed more than two children. Divorce would be made easier and more prevalent. Most people who marry will marry more than once. More people will not marry. Unmarried people would stay in hotels and even live together. That would be very common - nobody would even ask questions about it. It would be widely accepted as no different from married people being together. More women will work outside the home. More men will be transferred to other cities and in their jobs, more men would travel. Therefore, it would be harder for families to stay together. This would tend to make the marriage relationship less stable and, therefore, tend to make people less willing to have babies. The extended families would be smaller, and more remote. Travel would be easier, less expensive, for a while, so that people who did have to travel would feel they could get back to their families, not that they were abruptly being made remote from their families. But one of the net effects of easier divorce laws combined with the promotion of travel, and transferring families from one city to another, was to create instability in the families. If both husband and wife are working and one partner is transferred, the other one may not be easily transferred. Soon, either gives up his or her job and stays behind while the other leaves, or else gives up the job and risks not finding employment in the new location. Rather a diabolical approach to this whole thing! EUTHANASIA AND THE 'DEMISE PILL' Everybody has a right to live only so long. The old are no longer useful. They become a burden. You should be ready to accept death. Most people are. An arbitrary age limit could be established. After all, you have a right to only so many steak dinners, so many orgasms, and so many good pleasures in life. After you have had enough of them and you're no longer productive, working, and contributing, then you should be ready to step aside for the next generation. Some things that would help people realise that they had lived long enough, he mentioned several of these. I don't remember them all but here are a few, the use of very pale printing ink on forms that people are necessary to fill out. Older people wouldn't be able to read the pale ink as easily and would need to go to younger people for help. Automobile traffic patterns, there would be more high-speed traffic lanes that older people with their slower reflexes would have trouble dealing with and thus, loses some of their independence. LIMITING ACCESS TO AFFORDABLE MEDICAL A big item that was elaborated on at some length was the cost of medical care would be made burdensomely high. Medical care would be connected very closely with one's work but also would be made very, very high in cost so that it would simply be unavailable to people beyond a certain time. Unless they had a remarkably rich, supporting family, they would just have to do without care. And the idea was that if everybody says, "Enough! What a burden it is on the young to try to maintain the old people," then the young would become agreeable to helping Mom and Dad along the way, provided this was done humanely and with dignity. Then the example was - there could be a nice, farewell party, a real celebration. Mom and Dad had done a good job. Then after the party's over they take the 'demise pill'. PLANNING THE CONTROL OVER MEDICINE The next topic is Medicine. There would be profound changes in the practice of medicine. Overall, medicine would be much more tightly controlled. The observation that was made in 1969 that, "Congress is not going to go along with national health insurance, is now, abundantly evident. But it's not necessary, we have other ways to control health care". These would come about more gradually, but all health care delivery would come under tight control. Medical care would be closely connected to work. If you don't work or can't work, you won't have access to medical care. The days of hospitals giving away free care would gradually wind down, to where it was virtually non-existent. Costs would be forced up so that people won't be able to afford to go without insurance. People pay for it, you're entitled to it. It was only subsequently that I began to realise the extent to which you would not be paying for it. Your medical care would be paid for by others. Therefore, you would gratefully accept, on bended knee, what was offered to you as a privilege. Your role being responsible for your own care would be diminished. As an aside here, this is not something that was developed at that time; I didn't understand it at the time that it was an aside. The way this works, everybody has made dependent on insurance and if you don't have insurance then you pay directly; the cost of your care is enormous. The insurance company, however, paying for your care, does not pay that same amount. If you are charged, say, $600 for the use of an operating room, the insurance company does not pay $600; they only pay $300 or $400. That differential in billing has the desired effect: It enables the insurance company to pay for that which you could never pay for. They get a discount that's unavailable to you. When you see your bill you're grateful that the insurance company could do that. And in this way you are dependent, and virtually required to have insurance. The whole billing is fraudulent. Access to hospitals would be tightly controlled and identification would be needed to get into the building. The security in and around hospitals would be established and gradually increased so that nobody without identification could get in or move around inside the building. Theft of hospital equipment, things like typewriters and microscopes and so forth would be 'allowed' and exaggerated; reports of it would be exaggerated so that this would be the excuse needed to establish the need for strict security until people got used to it. Anybody moving about the hospital would be required to wear an identification badge with a photograph and telling why he was there, employee or lab technician or visitor or whatever. This is to be brought in gradually, getting everybody used to the idea of identifying themselves - until it was just accepted. This need for ID to move about would start in small ways: hospitals, some businesses, but gradually expand to include everybody in all places! It was observed that hospitals can be used to confine people and for the treatment of criminals. This did not mean, necessarily, medical treatment. At that time I did not know the term 'Psycho-Prison' they are in the Soviet Union, but, without trying to recall all the details, basically, he was describing the use of hospitals both for treating the sick, and for confinement of criminals for reasons other than the medical well-being of the criminal. The definition of criminal was not given. ELIMINATION OF PRIVATE DOCTORS The image of the doctor would change. No longer would he be seen as an individual professional in service to individual patients. But the doctor would be gradually recognized as a highly skilled technician - and his job would change. The job is to include things like executions by lethal injection. The image of the doctor being a powerful, independent person would have to be changed. He went on to say, "Doctors are making entirely too much money. They should advertise like any other product." Lawyers would be advertising too. Keep in mind, this was an audience of doctors; being addressed by a doctor. And it was interesting that he would make some rather insulting statements to his audience without fear of antagonizing us. The solo practitioner would become a thing of the past. A few die-hards might try to hold out, but most doctors would be employed by an institution of one kind or another. Group practice would be encouraged, corporations would be encouraged, and then once the corporate image of medical care gradually became more and more acceptable, doctors would more and more become employees rather than independent contractors. Along with that, of course, unstated but necessary, is the employee serves his employer, not his patient. So we've already seen quite a lot of that in the last 20 years. And apparently more on the horizon. The term HMO was not used at that time, but as you look at HMO's you see this is the way that medical care is being taken over since the National Health Insurance approach did not get through the Congress. A few die-hard doctors may try to make a go of it, remaining in solo practice, remaining independent, which, parenthetically, is me but they would suffer a great loss of income. They'd be able to scrape by, maybe, but never really live comfortably as would those who were willing to become employees of the system. Ultimately, there would be no room at all for the solo practitioner after the system is entrenched. NEW DIFFICULT TO DIAGNOSE AND UNTREATABLE DISEASES The next heading to talk about is Health and Disease. He said there would be new diseases to appear which had not ever been seen before. Would be very difficult to diagnose and be untreatable - at least for along time. No elaboration was made on this, but I remember, not long after hearing this presentation, when I had a puzzling diagnosis to make, I would be wondering, "Is this a case of what he was talking about?" Some years later AIDS developed. I think AIDS was at least one example of what he was talking about. I now think that AIDS probably was a manufactured disease. SUPPRESSING CANCER CURES AS A MEANS OF POPULATION CONTROL Cancer. He said. "We can cure almost every cancer right now. Information is on file in the Rockefeller Institute, if it's ever decided that it should be released. But consider - if people stop dying of cancer, how rapidly we would become overpopulated. You may as well die of cancer as of something else." Efforts at cancer treatment would be geared more toward comfort than toward cure. There was some statement that ultimately the cancer cures which were being hidden in the Rockefeller Institute would come to light because independent researchers might bring them out, despite these efforts to suppress them. But at least for the time being, letting people die of cancer was a good thing to do because it would slow down the problem of overpopulation. INDUCING HEART ATTACKS AS A FORM OF ASSASSINATION Another very interesting thing was heart attacks. He said, "There is now a way to simulate a real heart attack. It can be used as a means of assassination." Only a very skilled pathologist who knew exactly what to look for at an autopsy, could distinguish this from the real thing. I thought that was a very surprising and shocking thing to hear from this particular man at that particular time. This, and the business of the cancer cure, really still stand out sharply in my memory, because they were so shocking and, at that time, seemed to me out of character. He then went on to talk about nutrition and exercise sort of in the same framework. People would have to eat right and exercise right to live as long as before. Most won't. This in the connection of nutrition, there was no specific statement that I can recall as to particular nutrients that would be either inadequate or in excess. In retrospect, I tend to think he meant high salt diets and high fat diets would predispose toward high blood pressure and premature arteriosclerotic heart disease. And that if people who were too dumb or too lazy to exercise as they should then their circulating fats go up and predispose to disease. He also said something about diet information would be widely available, but most people, particularly stupid people, who had no right to continue living anyway, would ignore the advice and just go on and eat what was convenient and tasted good. There were some other unpleasant things said about food. I just can't recall what they were. But I do remember having reflections about wanting to plant a garden in the backyard to get around whatever these contaminated foods would be. I regret I don't remember the details about nutrition and hazardous nutrition. With regard to exercise, he went on to say that more people would be exercising more, especially running, because everybody can run. You don't need any special equipment or place. You can run wherever you are. As he put it. "people will be running all over the place." And in this vein, he pointed out how supply produces demand. And this was in reference to athletic clothing and equipment. As this would be made more widely available and glamorised, particularly as regards running shoes, this would stimulate people to develop an interest in running as part of a whole sort of public propaganda campaign. People would be encouraged then to buy the attractive sports equipment and to get into exercise. In connection with nutrition he also mentioned that public eating places would rapidly increase. That this had a connection with the family too. As more and more people eat out, eating at home would become less important. People would be less dependent on their kitchens at home. And then this also connected to convenience foods being made widely available - things like you could pop into the microwave. Whole meals would be available pre-fixed. And of course we've now seen this. But this whole different approach to eating out and to previously prepared meals being eaten in the home was predicted at that time to be brought about. The convenience foods would be part of the hazards. Anybody who was lazy enough to want the convenience foods rather than fixing his own also had better be energetic enough to exercise. Because if he was too lazy to exercise and too lazy to fix his own food, then he didn't deserve to live very long. This was all presented as sort of a moral judgement about people and what they should do with their energies. People who are smart, who would learn about nutrition, and who are disciplined enough to eat right and exercise right are better people - and the kind you want to live longer. EDUCATION AS A TOOL FOR ACCELERATING ONSET OF PUBERTY AND EVOLUTION Somewhere along in here there was also something about accelerating the onset of puberty. And this was said in connection with health, and later in connection with education, and connecting to accelerating the process of evolutionary change. There was a statement that "we think that we can push evolution faster and in the direction we want it to go." I remember this only as a general statement. I don't recall if any details were given beyond that. BLENDING ALL RELIGIONS Another area of discussion was Religion. This is an avowed atheist speaking. He said, "Religion is not necessarily bad. A lot of people seem to need religion, with it's mysteries and rituals - so they will have religion. But the major religions of today have to be changed because they are not compatible with the changes to come. The old religions will have to go especially Christianity. Once the Roman Catholic Church is brought down, the rest of Christianity will follow easily. Then a new religion can be accepted for use all over the world. It will incorporate something from all of the old ones to make it more easy for people to accept , and feel at home. Most people won't be too concerned with religion. They will realise that they don't need it." CHANGING THE BIBLE THROUGH REVISIONS OF KEY WORDS In order to do this, the Bible will be changed. It will be rewritten to fit the new religion. Gradually, key words will be replaced with new words having various shades of meaning. Then the meaning attached to the new word can be close to the old word - and as time goes on, other shades of meaning of that word can be emphasised. and then gradually that word replaced with another word." I don't know if I'm making that clear, but the idea is that everything in Scripture need not be rewritten, just key words replaced by other words. The variability in meaning attached to any word can be used as a tool to change the entire meaning of Scripture, and therefore make it acceptable to this new religion. Most people won't know the difference; and this was another one of the times where he said, "the few who do notice the difference won't be enough to matter." THE CHURCHES WILL HELP US Then followed one of the most surprising statements of the whole presentation: He said, "Some of you probably think the Churches won't stand for this," and he went on to say, "the churches will help us!" There was no elaboration on this, it was unclear just what he had in mind when he said, "the churches will help us!" In retrospect I think some of us now can understand what he might have meant at that time. I recall then only of thinking, "no they won't!" and remembering our Lord's words where he said to Peter, "Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church, and gates of Hell will not prevail against it." So yes, some people in the Churches might help and in the subsequent 20 years we've seen how some people in Churches have helped. But we also know that our Lord's Words will stand, and the gates of Hell will not prevail. RESTRUCTURING EDUCATION AS A TOOL OF INDOCTRINATION Another area of discussion was Education. In connection with education and remembering what he said about religion, was in addition to changing the Bible he said that the classics in Literature would be changed. I seem to recall Mark Twain's writings was given as one example. But he said that the casual reader reading a revised version of a classic would never even suspect that there was any change. Somebody would have to go through word by word to even recognise that any change was made in these classics, the changes would be so subtle. But the changes would be such as to promote the acceptability of the new system. MORE TIME IN SCHOOLS, BUT THEY WOULDN'T LEARN ANYTHING As regards education, he indicated that kids would spend more time in schools, but in many schools they wouldn't learn anything. They'll learn some things, but not as much as formerly. Better schools in better areas with better people, their kids will learn more. In the better schools Iearning would be accelerated. This is another time where he said, "We think we can push evolution." By pushing kids to learn more he seemed to be suggesting that their brains would evolve, that their offspring would evolve; sort of pushing evolution where kids would learn and be more intelligent at a younger age. As if this pushing would alter their physiology. Overall, schooling would be prolonged. This meant prolonged through the school year. I'm not sure what he said about a long school day, I do remember he said that school was planned to go all summer, that the summer school vacation would become a thing of the past. Not only for schools, but for other reasons. People would begin to think of vacation times year round, not just in the summer. For most people it would take longer to complete their education. To get what originally had been in a bachelor's program would now require advanced degrees and more schooling. So that a lot of school time would be just wasted time. Good schools would become more competitive. I inferred when he said that, that he was including all schools - elementary up through college - but I don't recall if he actually said that. Students would have to decide at a younger age what they would want to study and get onto their track early. It would be harder to change to another field of study once you get started. Studies would be concentrated in much greater depth, but narrowed. You wouldn't have access to material in other fields, outside your own area of study, without approval. This seem to be more where he talked about limited access to other fields. I seem to recall this as being more at the college level perhaps. People would be very specialised in their own area of expertise. But they won't be able to get a broad education and won't be able to understand what is going on overall. CONTROLLING WHO HAS ACCESS TO INFORMATION He was already talking about computers in education, and at that time he said anybody who wanted computer access, or access to books that were not directly related to their field of study would have to have a very good reason for so doing. Otherwise, access would be denied. SCHOOLS AS THE HUB OF THE COMMUNITY Another angle was that the schools would become more important in people's overall life. Kids in addition to their academics would have to get into school activities unless they wanted to feel completely out of it. But spontaneous activities among kids; the thing that came to my mind when I heard this was - sand lot football and sand lot baseball teams that we worked up as kids growing up. I said the kids wanting any activities outside of school would be almost forced to get them through the school. There would be few opportunities outside. Now the pressures of the accelerated academic program, the accelerated demands where kids would feel they had to be part of something - one or another athletic club or some school activity - these pressures he recognized would cause some students to burn out. He said. "The smartest ones will learn how to cope with pressures and to survive. There will be some help available to students in handling stress, but the unfit won't be able to make it. They will then move on to other things." In this connection and later on with drug abuse and alcohol abuse he indicated that psychiatric services to help would be increased dramatically. In all the pushing for achievement, it was recognized that many people would need help, and the people worth keeping around would be able to accept and benefit from that help, and still be super achievers. Those who could not would fall by the wayside and therefore were sort of dispensable 'expendable' I guess is the word I want. Education would be lifelong and adults would be going to school. There'll always be new information that adults must have to keep up. When you can't keep up anymore, you're too old. This was another way of letting older people know that the time had come for them to move on and take the demise pill. If you got too tired to keep up with your education, or you got too old to learn new information, then this was a signal - you begin to prepare to get ready to step aside. SOME BOOKS WOULD JUST DISAPPEAR FROM THE LIBRARIES In addition to revising the classics, which I alluded to awhile ago and with revising the Bible, he said, "Some books would just disappear from the libraries." This was in the vein that some books contain information or contain ideas that should not be kept around. Therefore, those books would disappear. I don't remember exactly if he said how this was to be accomplished. But I seem to recall carrying away this idea that this would include thefts. That certain people would be designated to go to certain libraries and pick up certain books and just get rid of them. Not necessarily as a matter of policy - just simply steal it. Further down the line, not everybody will be allowed to own books. And some books nobody will be allowed to own.
Koninklijk paar gaat Rutteriaans door het stof voor Griekse tragedie
Wed, 21 Oct 2020 13:41
Hij zegt het op lage toon. In alles moet het diepe berouw doorklinken. Iedere woordgroep wordt als een zin uitgesproken: 'Het doet pijn. Uw vertrouwen in ons. Beschaamd te hebben.'
Koning Willem-Alexander maakte vandaag, met aan zijn zijde Koningin Mxima, een diepe knieval aan het Nederlandse volk. In een video, verspreid door de RVD, spreekt hij over de reis met zijn gezin naar Griekenland. Ieder woord op een goudschaal gewogen. 'Ook al paste de reis binnen de voorschriften', zegt de koning in een bijzin, zonder de toon van rechtvaardiging. 'Het was heel onverstandig geen rekening te houden met de inwerking van de nieuwe beperkingen in onze samenleving.'
Daarna laat hij subtiel weten dat er geen ministerile, maar een eigen, morele keuze ten grondslag lag om het vliegtuig terug te nemen: 'Ons besluit terug te keren is genomen vanuit het besef dat we niet hadden moeten gaan.'
Historische waardeKoning Willem-Alexander gaat vervolgens in op hoeveel begrip hij heeft en heeft gehad voor de moeilijke tijd waarin Nederlanders zich nu bevinden. 'We hebben de aangrijpende verhalen gehoord in vele ontmoetingen, in persoon en digitaal.'
Vervolgens adresseert hij zijn excuses persoonlijk aan de kijker. 'Met u' zegt hij, 'en met al die mensen die direct of indirect geraakt zijn voelen we ons verbonden Wij blijven ons samen met u inzetten om het coronavirus eronder te krijgen.'
Daarmee gaat hij naar het einde van zijn excuses; 'Daar gaan wij mee door, naar ons beste kunnen'.
Het is de opmaat naar de laatste zin, die nu al historische waarde heeft: 'We zijn betrokken, maar niet onfeilbaar.'
Flu cases 'drop' 95% compared to last year. Are patients being misdiagnosed as having COVID-19?
Wed, 21 Oct 2020 13:30
COVID-19 is caused by a coronavirus and the flu is caused by an influenza virus. These are two similar but distinct types of viruses that can be easily differentiated in a lab. But new data from the CDC may point to the flu being misdiagnosed as COVID-19, resulting in higher coronavirus numbers but much lower flu numbers. In fact, there has been a 95% decrease in flu cases during current weeks 40-41.
This time last year, there were 1251 flu cases reported to the CDC during weeks 40-41. This is about average. But in 2020, we're seeing a record low number of 61 total flu cases reported in the same time period. It doesn't take a medical degree to come to the logical conclusion that the flu didn't suddenly disappear but that it's simply being misdiagnosed as COVID-19.
There are two most likely scenarios causing this. The first is nefarious; doctors and hospitals are misdiagnosing on purpose. Whether for political or financial reasons, medical professionals are reporting flu cases as COVID-19. The second and more likely scenario is that people who have been infected with COVID-19 and did not see symptoms were subsequently infected with the flu and then went to the doctor. They were tested and since they had both viruses in their system, they were reported as the higher-paying COVID-19 diagnosis.
On the Ingraham Angle last night, Laura Ingraham and Phil Kerpen discussed this trend and pointed to the likelihood that the flu isn't really gone, but COVID-19 numbers are more politically and financially expedient to report.
COVID-19 may take down an independent news outletNobody said running a media site would be easy. We could use some help keeping this site afloat.Colleagues have called me the worst fundraiser ever. My skills are squarely rooted on the journalistic side of running a news outlet. Paying the bills has never been my forte, but we've survived. We have ads on the site that help, but since the site's inception this has been a labor of love that otherwise doesn't bring in the level of revenue necessary to justify it.
Connect with one of hundreds of physicians nationwide who believe in HCQ as a prophylaxis and treatment for COVID-19.When I left a nice, corporate career in 2017, I did so knowing I wouldn't make nearly as much money. But what we do at NOQ Report to deliver the truth and fight the progressive mainstream media narrative that has plagued this nation is too important for me to sacrifice it for the sake of wealth. We know we'll never make a ton of money this way, and we're okay with that.
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The best way NOQ Report readers can help is to donate. Our Giving Fuel page makes it easy to donate one-time or monthly. Alternatively, you can donate through PayPal as well. We need approximately $11,500 to stay afloat for the rest of 2020, but more would be wonderful and any amount that brings us closer to our goal is greatly appreciated.
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The Solution for Privacy in Podcasting
Wed, 21 Oct 2020 13:18
October 13, 2020 · By Bryan Barletta · 11.4 minutes to read
While very little has changed in the podcasting privacy space over the last two years, the conversation has taken center stage. But there's a straightforward fix that isn't being implemented because of a lack of collaboration.
Digital PrivacyOver the last few years we've seen a rise in personal privacy regulation. GDPR, an opt-in system for the EU came in May 2018, then in January this year was CCPA, an opt-out system only for California, and then the LGPD in Brazil, an opt-in system which became law in August. I'm sure you can see the problem here: the world is more than just Europe, California and Brazil.
On top of that we've seen moves from Google, Apple, and Firefox to end third party cookies in their browsers, followed by Apple pledging to require consent from users to share their Mobile App ID with developers.
Pro adtech does not mean anti-privacy.
But creepy ads still follow us around the internet and more than a few people in podcasting have concerns that adtech might have damning implications on our industry.
Podcasting stands out from all other forms of digital media specifically because of the way listeners interact with it. The RSS feed enables great reach for the podcaster and nearly limitless flexibility for the listener. Listeners can use any number of apps or websites to experience the content by requesting the episode from the hosting provider. Most of the content on podcasting costs nothing other than the sharing of session data that allows the internet to function, like IP address and user agent.
Imagine being able to watch your favorite Netflix show with your Hulu app. Or a song listed on Spotify, but with your Tidal player. It will never happen.
And yet, that's the foundation that podcasting is built on.
The Holes in Privacy RegulationRegulations like the GDPR or CCPA only cover some people: and there are far more areas of the world where these rules don't apply. It's important to keep that in mind.
For people who are covered by GDPR/CCPA it's a little different. First, there's a lot of debate on whether an IP address on its own is ''PII'' - personally identifiable information. I'm not a lawyer; and smarter people than I suggest that IP addresses on their own can be PII, but especially when combined with other data, so it's sensible to treat IP addresses as PII in all circumstances.
For listeners covered under GDPR - any EU citizen (including the UK) - unless they actively opt-in, using an IP address to identify anything more than their country could be illegal. In the website world, this lack of legal targeting means that many websites - like the Arizona Daily Star, for example - simply block visitors from GDPR countries. In podcasting, that doesn't happen.
CCPA on the other hand is an opt-out platform, which currently in podcasting is pretty unfriendly for the user. Let's say I use Spotify to listen to Fake Doctors, Real Friends by iHeart, hosted on Megaphone, and tracked by both Podtrac and Chartable. At a minimum I would have to go and visit Spotify, iHeart, and Megaphone and tell all three companies that they cannot use my personal data.
Podcast apps don't share listener opt out data with podcast publishers.
For example - even if you opt out of Spotify using your personal data for tailored advertising - which you have to do on their website - they don't let podcast hosting companies know that you've opted out. So podcast hosts will still try to serve you targeted ads, even though you told Spotify you don't want that. (And Spotify aren't alone here).
Who Owns The DataThere are some really important terms in GDPR and CCPA that describe how an entity interacts with data. In GDPR the terms are ''controller'' and ''processor''. In CCPA they're ''business'' and ''service provider''. They mean relatively similar things, so for the sake of clarity I'll stick with the GDPR terms.
A controller is the entity that ultimately owns the data. A processor is an entity that handles the data with permission from the controller. Every hosting provider and attribution partner I've interacted with in podcasting has identified themselves as a processor, which leaves the publishers of the podcasts as the ''controller'', the absolute owner of that data.
Ultimately what that means is that nobody but the publisher can do anything with that data without consent. Agreements between publishers and their hosting and attribution partners provide the most limited access to that data for the processors. I can confidently say that any processor getting rights to sell the data or combine it with data from other publishers would require substantial legal work.
If the publisher, who doesn't have direct access to the listener, is the ''controller'' and their hosting provider, which is one step closer to the listener, is a ''processor'', where do the podcast players (the apps used by listeners to subscribe and/or listen to an episode of the podcast) fit in?
Podcast Players Hold All the PowerDid you know that there are no privacy standards associated with podcast players? These apps, which anyone can make, only exist because of the open content of podcast publishers. Yet they don't have to share any data with the hosts or publishers.
Spotify is a great example. It's a platform whose content includes podcasting. It's a data rich, sign-in-required walled garden, just like Facebook. It serves ads in real time like streaming services such as Pandora. While they do serve ads to people who listen to podcasts, Spotify is not offering podcast advertising. Spotify is offering in-app advertising, and app advertising heavily utilizes PII '-- really personally identifiable information pulled from the profiles users create, including all of the actions taken by a user inside the app. Why wouldn't they? Spotify's listeners gave Spotify the right to use their personal data.
It's easy to make an argument that podcasting wouldn't be where it is today without the podcast players. But would the podcast players even exist without the publishers? Did Serial make Apple Podcasts popular or did the availability of Apple Podcasts allow for Serial's success?
But do the apps identify as data ''controllers''? Clearly, apps are not joint controllers with the publisher because apps don't share all the data collected with the publishers. I suspect Spotify views themselves as a controller, but not every small app would want to take on that responsibility.
Let me be clear: every podcast app, big or small, knows much more about the listeners than any podcast publisher does.
All FUD, No SolutionsEveryone is talking about podcast privacy lately. Some of the articles I've seen provide a really great overview but no suggestion on a solution. Others are confusingly written by ad agencies who apparently want to tell everyone reading Tech Crunch that this space is a mess (in two parts).
But behind all that mainstream overview of the issue, there are some within the podcasting space being unnecessarily alarmist.
Overcast is a popular, iOS only, privacy-aware podcast app that recently released a new feature that shows you a privacy screen for each podcast.
On the privacy screen screen, it shows you all the services the app can detect that the show you're listening to is using.Stats and hosting are displayed with no indicator, but you'll notice that tracking and DAI have big caution signs next to them. Listeners can't take any action to opt-out of this behaviour, so most will simply ignore it - and this might desensitize them for next time.
On the surface this looks really cool, but when you peel it back it's not quite as cool as you'd think. Is it bad that the publisher of this podcast is ensuring the ads you hear will be less irrelevant and the product is at least available in your country? Does NPR's Consider This, which uses dynamic content insertion to insert local news stories into a podcast, need a ''warning''? Or is it actually a feature?
Developer Marco Arment doesn't list anywhere how he identifies what hosts should have DAI listed next to them. And whatever list he's using, it's inaccurate. The most blatant example of this is Libsyn, a podcast host that says it offers DAI (''ad stitching tools that inject ads in your episodes targeting specific geographic regions for custom delivery''), but lacks a ''warning'' identifier on Overcast.
That's curious: because Rob Walch, VP of Podcaster Relations at Libsyn, has aggressively used screenshots of Overcast's privacy page more than a dozen times to try and shame podcasters on Twitter for using service providers that offer tracking or DAI features. Several of those tweets were aimed at former Libsyn customers that have migrated to other hosting providers.
The fear campaign doesn't stop there. Rob Walch was also a guest on the (Libsyn-hosted) podcast In A Few Minutes back in September, talking about tracking and privacy, and made the following point:
''What about an LGBTQ podcast and you travel to Dubai and you step off the plane with your partner and someone's following you because you were in a database having listened to multiple LGBTQ podcasts?''
Rob got the important bit right: this is terrifying, since the UAE is one of the countries where homosexuality is illegal. But what he got wrong is how this could be tracked. Yes, you could combine IP data with other signals through the third-party services Libsyn support to potentially be able to discover a person's name and address, though as we've seen above it's hard to do so and the data is unlikely to be available to authorities. But the real risk for the individual he described is listening to a podcast hosted by Libsyn.
LibsynPro publishes both secure (HTTPS) and unsecure (HTTP) RSS feeds for all their customers. Libsyn's support documentation gives examples of entering the unsecure HTTP version of their RSS feed, rather than the secure HTTPS version that Apple Podcasts ''strongly encourages''.
In my tests, many shows hosted on Libsyn Pro with adult content, like Friday's, or Stories from the Street, will - in the Apple Podcasts app or in Apple's Safari browser - play from an unsecure URL: and will advertise that fact to anyone who cares to monitor your internet traffic. (Chrome, incidentally, switches it to the secure version).
So, when you use unsecure HTTP then everyone who can see your internet traffic can also see what RSS feeds you've requested, or what audio you're listening to. Who do I mean by ''everyone''? Anyone: your workmates, your employer, your internet service provider, or even the government.
When that user in Dubai requests an LGBTQ+ podcast hosted on LibsynPro, it's not adtech that could get the listener arrested: it's the unsecure Libsyn URL that their internet service provider can openly read, identify the show, and forward the information to the police.
It's 2020. You don't get credit for pointing at a problem and yelling that it's wrong, especially when you're in a position capable of effecting change.
The Solution To All ThisImagine if all the major podcast publishers or hosting platforms got together and defined very straightforward obligations (not best practices) for privacy that podcast players had to follow to get access to their content. I don't think apps like Spotify, Apple, Google, and Amazon would tell their users that they can't access NPR or Crooked Media because the apps refuse to tell the publishers if the listener has opted out of tracking.
We need a consent framework in podcasting. A uniform way for apps to pass signals down to hosts and service providers, notifying them of user preferences. This progress has been blocked by the lack of communication between publishers and hosts. Outside of the IAB's focus on download reporting for the hosting companies, there's no collaboration. Each company views themselves as an island, unwilling to collaborate with their perceived competitors.
After spending 50+ hours in the last 30 days talking to amazing and highly intelligent people in the podcasting space, I can confidently say that everyone wants to collaborate on this. They just don't all have permission to do so.
As a pro adtech independent in the podcasting space, I would like to use my neutrality to help organize this solution. Let's come together and build this consent framework.
If you're interested, please reach out to me directly. I truly hope Rob and Marco are the first to join.
No Homework This WeekInstead of homework this week, I want to use this space to remind everyone that I specifically started writing Sounds Profitable so I could talk to everyone in podcasting and bridge gaps between companies. My goal is to improve this space for everyone. I've had nothing but amazing conversations with highly educated and opinionated people at many different companies. They all express the same desire to talk about these topics and collaborate with others on a resolution, but their companies see each other as competitive.
You'll find going forward that I'm unlikely to quote people or reference companies. It's become abundantly clear that I'll be able to learn about and discuss far more important issues if I don't have to ask everyone to run their comments by their PR department.
I appreciate your support of Sounds Profitable and I am truly excited to continue to deep dive into tough topics and collaborate with you on solutions.
Please consider sponsoring Sounds Profitable or reaching out to me directly to discuss ideas for how we can collaborate to make this space better.
It's our goal to highlight the amazing people and companies that are helping Sounds Profitable grow.
This week marks our sixth newsletter, and we'd like to personally thank our latest sponsor: NPR, a daily source of unbiased independent news and inspiring insights on life and the arts.
I have worked with NPR in some capacity nearly my entire career and I am over the moon to have their support in continuing Sounds Profitable.
SponsorsOur sponsors support a collaborative and educated podcasting space and are committed to raising up the whole industry together. Find out how you can become a sponsor today
Bryan Barletta (He/Him) is the voice behind Sounds Profitable. He started in the adtech industry so long ago that they used to ask, ''Mobile advertising? Like on taxis?'' (2008) before shifting into podcasting in 2015. His goal is to make in-depth adtech more accessible for readers and listeners. And, yes, it is sunny and warm in Austin today.Previously...
End SARS: Anonymous confirms hacking CBN, EFCC websites, targets more - Daily Post Nigeria
Wed, 21 Oct 2020 13:05
The websites of the Central Bank of Nigerian (CBN) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have been hacked.
Anonymous, a band of unknown individuals, has claimed responsibility, with a threat to seize control of more government websites.
Earlier on Friday, they took over the Twitter handle of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).
The account is still under their control and has grown from 10,000 followers to 22,500.
The group said they support the weak against the powerful and stand for justice.
They listed their values as human rights, autonomy and self-governance, resistance against tyranny, a more humane society.
Anonymous noted that its actions were in support of the End SARS protests.
On Saturday, their handle tweeted about the protest hashtags in Nigeria and other places.
''The fight against impunity and cruelty is global. #WhatIsHappeningInPhilippines#JusticeForBabyRiver #whatisHappeninginThailand #WhatsHappeningInIndonesia #OmnibusLaw #EndPoliceBrutality #EndSars'', it read.
Anonymous first announced the attacks on state platforms on Thursday, two days after posting a video showing demonstrators.
''#Nigeria: Anonymous hacks multiple government websites in solidarity with #EndSARS protestors and retribution for violence by police. #OpNigeria #EndSARSProtest'', they tweeted.
Confirming the CBN and EFCC hit, they put up messages and screenshots.
''#Nigeria: International hackers & Anonymous continue the cyber campaign against the government to call out corruption, demand police reform, and show solidarity with brave protestors. #OpNigeria #EndSARS #EndPoliceBrutality #ReformTheNigerianPolice.''
''#Anonymous #OpNigeria #EndSARS #EndSARSNow #ENDSARSOPPRESSION. Official website of @officialEFCC has been taken down in support of #EndSARSProtest. You should have expected us! #EndCorruptionInNigeria.''
Now Day 10, protests are continuing in several locations across Nigeria.
The youths insist on total reform of the Police as well as justice and compensation for families of victims of brutality.
San Francisco Board of Supervisors votes on 'CAREN Act,' making racially biased 911 calls illegal - CNN
Wed, 21 Oct 2020 12:59
By Alisha Ebrahimji and Amanda Jackson, CNN
Updated 11:54 PM EDT, Tue October 20, 2020
(CNN) It may soon be illegal to make discriminatory, racially biased 911 calls in San Francisco.
The "CAREN Act" (Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies) was introduced in July at a San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting by Supervisor Shamann Walton.
The ordinance is one step closer to becoming a law. On Tuesday, the board unanimously passed the act on first read. Next week, the bill has to be voted on again by the board, and then it will be sent to Mayor London Breed to sign.
The ordinance's name is a twist on "Karen," the name social media gives people making racially biased 911 calls.
And it's not just "Karen." There are also names like "Becky," which has also come to symbolize a stereotype of whiteness. And "Susan." And "Chad."
The "CAREN Act" has been met with support and opposition since it was proposed. Several residents wrote letters to the board urging them to reconsider renaming the ordinance, citing it is sexist and targets people with the name of "Karen."
"The name of the act places a target on my name as a racist and I am not," one resident wrote in a letter to the board. "By associating the name 'Caren' or anyone elses name with such a law, really is offensive."
"I do not have objection to this act; the issue it is trying to address is wrong," wrote another resident. " I do strongly object to the the name. The insensitive choice of many people to use the name Karen as a general purpose term of disapproval for middle age white women needs to stop."
The ordinance is similar to the statewide AB 1550 bill introduced by California Assemblyman Rob Bonta, making it unlawful and accountable for a caller to "fabricate false racially biased emergency reports.".
"Using 911 as a tool for your prejudice towards marginalized communities is unjust and wrong!" Bonta tweeted.
Racially motivated 911 calls aren't a new occurrence across the country, in spite of a recent uptick following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man killed in police custody in Minneapolis.
Earlier this summer, a White hotel employee in North Carolina called the police on a guest, a Black woman and her children, who were using the hotel's swimming pool. And in May, a White woman called 911 on a Black man who was birdwatching in New York's Central Park.
Bonta said the intent of AB 1550 isn't to discourage Californians in real danger from calling 911.
"This bill could protect millions of Californians from becoming targets of hate and prevent the weaponization of our law enforcement against communities of color," he said in an online release.
"Racist false reports put people in danger and waste resources," the ordinance's co-author, Supervisor Matt Haney, tweeted.
Though making a false police report is a misdemeanor or felony offense in many states, including California, accountability is lacking for making racially biased calls to law enforcement.
Other cities have already begun the process to pass similar legislation.
Los Angeles City Councilman Curren Price introduced a similar motion to the City Council in June exploring "criminal penalties, rights of victims to bring private civil actions and cost recovery by the City," he tweeted.
In 2019, the City Commission in Grand Rapids, Michigan, held a public hearing on a "proposed human rights ordinance" criminalizing racially motivated calls to 911 with a fine of up to $500.
In 2018, former New York state Sen. Jesse Hamilton proposed a bill after a woman called 911 on him for campaigning, that would require the local district attorney to investigate these incidents as hate crimes. If the calls were deemed racially motivated, a number of consequences such as fines, sensitivity training or jail time would be issued.
CNN's Leah Asmelash and David Williams contributed to this report.
Climate change may have driven early human species to extinction | New Scientist
Wed, 21 Oct 2020 12:55
By Donna Lu
Was Homo erectus driven extinct by climate change?The Natural History Museum/Alamy
Sudden climatic changes may have been a significant driver of the extinction of early human species.
Pasquale Raia at the University of Naples Federico II in Italy and his colleagues have used climate modelling and fossil records to determine the effect climate change had on the survival of the species in our Homo genus.
The researchers used a database of 2754 archaeological records of the remains of several species alive over the past 2.5 million years, including Homo habilis, Homo ergaster, Homo erectus, Homo heidelbergensis, Homo neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens.
They cross-referenced these records with a climate emulator, which modelled temperature, rainfall and other weather data over the past 5 million years. The aim was to determine the climatic niche for each species '' a range of conditions including temperature and precipitation that are optimal for survival '' and how widely distributed the niche area was through time.
The team found that H. erectus, H. heidelbergensis and H. neanderthalensis all lost a significant portion of their climatic niche area just before they became extinct.
''Species are good at surviving when they have a large area at their disposal to live in,'' says Raia. But when liveable areas decrease and the result is small patches that are geographically isolated from each other, species enter what is known as an extinction vortex.
The reductions in liveable area resulted from sudden climatic changes, the team found. H. erectus, for example, went extinct during the last glacial period, which began about 115,000'years ago. The researchers suggest this was the coldest period the species had ever experienced.
The team found that for the Neanderthals, competition with H. sapiens was also a factor, but that even without the presence of our species the effect of climate change alone may have been enough to lead to extinction. Even species with the ability to control their local environment '' such as by wearing clothes or creating fires '' were susceptible to the effects of climate change, says Raia.
But gaps in data may compromise the certainty of the conclusion that climate change was the primary extinction driver, say researchers who weren't involved in the study.
Aside from Neanderthals, there is scarcely any fossil evidence for the other species studied, says Bernard Wood at George Washington University in Washington DC. ''Individuals belonging to these taxa lived at times, and in places, not sampled by the existing fossil record,'' he says.
''Plus, the first appearance date of a taxon almost certainly underestimates when a taxon appeared, and its last appearance date almost certainly underestimates when a taxon became extinct,'' he says.
As species approach extinction, regardless of the cause '' whether it be competition, being hunted or breeding problems '' their range necessarily declines, says Corey Bradshaw at Flinders University in Australia. If a species' range was already in decline, that could give the false impression that the climate niche area was also declining, he says.
''No species that we know of has ever gone extinct from a single mechanism. It's always a combination,'' says Bradshaw. ''For example, in the case of many megafauna species in the late Pleistocene, it's coming to light that there were a lot of interaction effects between human hunting and climate change.''
Journal reference: One Earth, DOI: 10.1016/j.oneear.2020.09.007
More on these topics:
climate change ancient humans
Mental Health Parity Act - Wikipedia
Wed, 21 Oct 2020 12:55
The Mental Health Parity Act (MHPA) is legislation signed into United States law on September 26, 1996 that requires annual or lifetime dollar limits on mental health benefits to be no lower than any such dollar limits for medical and surgical benefits offered by a group health plan or health insurance issuer offering coverage in connection with a group health plan. Prior to MHPA and similar legislation, insurers were not required to cover mental health care and so access to treatment was limited, underscoring the importance of the act.
Mental Health Parity ActOther short titlesNational Aeronautics and Space Administration Federal Employment Reduction Assistance Act of 1996Newborns' and Mothers' Health Protection Act of 1996Long titleDepartments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development, and Independent Agencies Appropriations Act, 1997Acronyms (colloquial) MHPAEnacted bythe 104th United States CongressCitationsPublic lawPub.L. 104''204Legislative historyIntroduced in the House as H.R. 3666 by Jerry Lewis (R''CA) on 18 June 1996Committee consideration by House Appropriations; Senate AppropriationsPassed the House on 26 June 1996 (269 - 147)Passed the Senate on 5 September 1996 (95 - 2)Reported by the joint conference committee on 20 September 1996; agreed to by the House on 24 September 1996 (388 - 25) and by the Senate on 25 September 1996 (Unanimous Consent)Signed into law by President Bill Clinton on 26 September 1996The MHPA was largely superseded by the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA), which the 110th United States Congress passed as rider legislation on the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), signed into law by President George W. Bush in October 2008. Notably, the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act extended the reach of MHPAEA provisions to many health insurance plans outside its previous scope.
Scope Edit The MHPA applies to group health plans for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 1998. The original sunset provision provided that the parity requirements would not apply to benefits for services furnished on or after September 30, 2001. It was extended six times, with the final extension running through December 31, 2007.[citation needed ] Insurers promptly were able to "circumvent" the consumer protections arguably intended in the legislation by imposing maximum numbers of provider visits and/or caps on the number of days an insurer would cover for inpatient psychiatric hospitalizations. In essence, the law had little or no effect on mental health coverage by group insurance plans. The rider on TARP prohibits all group health plans that offer mental health coverage from imposing any greater limit on co-pays, co-insurance, numbers of visits, and/or number of days covered for hospital stays due to mental health conditions. The rider legislation was the culmination of a long campaign fought by Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-MN) and his successors to enact mental health parity at the federal level. The new law's requirements will be phased in over several years. Still unsure is whether non-"biologically-based" mental illnesses such as PTSD and eating disorders are mandated to be covered by the new law.
Requirements Edit Generally the act required parity of mental health benefits with medical and surgical benefits with respect to the application of aggregate lifetime and annual dollar limits under a group health plan. It provided that employers retain discretion regarding the extent and scope of mental health benefits offered to workers and their families, including cost sharing, limits on numbers of visits or days of coverage, and requirements relating to medical necessity.
The law also contained three exemptions:
No mental health coverageBusiness that chose not to provide mental health coverage.Small employersBusinesses with fewer than 50 employees.Increased costBusinesses that documented at least one percent increase in premiums due to implementation of parity requirements.Issues with the MHPA Edit Immediately after MHPA was enacted, insurers and employers began finding ways to circumvent the legislation. Larger emphasis on cost sharing, primarily implemented through higher copayments, deductibles, and out-of-pocket maximums, was one strategy used by insurers. In addition, limits and caps on the number of visits with a care provider or number of days in a hospital visit were imposed.: 201 MHPA also did not provide benefits for substance abuse and dependency issues.: 2 Lastly, MHPA contained a sunset provision that meant that the law would go out of effect after a certain date. The original sunset date was extended six times, through 2007.
Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act Edit Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 Other short titlesLong titleA bill to provide authority for the Federal Government to purchase and insure certain types of troubled assets for the purposes of providing stability to and preventing disruption in the economy and financial system and protecting taxpayers, to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide incentives for energy production and conservation, to extend certain expiring provisions, to provide individual income tax relief, and for other purposes.Acronyms (colloquial) MHPAEAEnacted bythe 110th United States CongressEffective1 January 2010CitationsPublic lawPub.L. 110''343 Statutes at Large 122 Stat. 3765Legislative historyThe Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) was enacted in October 2008 and took effect on 1 January 2009. The main purpose of MHPAEA was to fill the loopholes left by the MHPA.[citation needed ] The act requires health insurers as well as group health plans to guarantee that financial requirements on benefits, including co-pays, deductibles, and out-of-pocket maximums, and limitations on treatment benefits such as caps on visits with a provider or days in a hospital visit, for mental health or substance use disorders are not more restrictive than the insurer's requirements and restrictions for medical and surgical benefits. MHPAEA only applies to insurance plans for public and private sector employers with over 50 employees and health insurance issuers who sell coverage to employers with more than 50 employees.: 1 Similar to MHPA, MHPAEA requires parity in terms of total annual dollar limits, as well as aggregate lifetime benefits. It is important to note however, that MHPAEA does not explicitly require that any insurance plan offer benefits for mental health and substance abuse disorders.: 1 Instead, it enacts parity rules for plans that choose to offer both medical and surgical benefits as well as mental health and substance abuse disorder benefits.: 1''2 This includes out-of-network benefits.: 3 If plans choose to offer both types of benefits, MHPAEA mandates that insurers define and make available specific criteria for medical necessity when it comes to mental health and substance abuse disorder benefits. In addition, MHPAEA also requires that insurers provide specific information and reasons in the event that reimbursement or payment for treatment is denied.: 3
Implementation challenges Edit One main challenge to the implementation of MHPAEA is what is known as "carve-out" health benefits. This refers to mental health benefits that are purchased by employers separately from medical benefits. The "carve-out" vendor may be separate from any number of other vendors providing medical benefits. The law would require the "carve-out" vendor to ensure parity with medical benefits provided by a separate vendor or vendors. In addition, the legislation itself did not create a mechanism to regularly monitor or evaluate the enforcement or implementation of the act.
The Federal Parity Law and the follow-up regulatory/sub-regulatory guidance is complex and sometimes ambiguous. Solutions are needed to help implement and enforce the Federal Parity Law and applicable state laws. This includes opportunities to help automate and document NQTL comparability analyses in writing and in operation to further validate that the plan is treating MH/SUD coverage requirements/payments in the same manner as medical/surgical care. Several tools exist that can help promote parity compliance including the U.S. DOL Self-Compliance Tool, the CMS Parity Compliance Toolkit for Medicaid/CHIP, the Six Step Parity Compliance Guide, and ClearHealth Quality Institute's Online Parity Tool.
References Edit Further reading Edit Beronio, Kirsten; Po, Rosa; Skopec, Laura; Glied, Sherry (20 February 2013). Affordable Care Act Expands Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Benefits and Federal Parity Protections for 62 Million Americans (Report). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of The Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. Internal Revenue Service; Employee Benefits Security Administration; Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (13 November 2013). "Final rules under the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008; technical amendment to external review for multi-state plan program: Final rules". Federal Register. 78 (219): 68239''96. PMID 24228295. 78 FR 68239Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (30 March 2016). "Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Programs; Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008; the Application of Mental Health Parity Requirements to Coverage Offered by Medicaid Managed Care Organizations, the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and Alternative Benefit Plans: Final rule". Federal Register. 81 (61): 18389''445. PMID 27029080. 81 FR 18389
Tech prints sensors right onto human skin - Futurity
Wed, 21 Oct 2020 12:53
Researchers have developed a way to print sensors directly on human skin without using heat.
Wearable sensors are evolving from watches and electrodes to bendable devices that provide far more precise biometric measurements and comfort for users.
''In this article, we report a simple yet universally applicable fabrication technique with the use of a novel sintering aid layer to enable direct printing for on-body sensors,'' says Ling Zhang, a researcher in the Harbin Institute of Technology in China and in Huanyu ''Larry'' Cheng's laboratory in the Penn State engineering science and mechanics department. Zhang is first author of the study, published in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.
Lowering the temperature for wearable sensorsThe researchers previously developed flexible printed circuit boards for use in wearable sensors, but the bonding process for the metallic components in the sensor has hindered printing directly on skin. Called sintering, this process typically requires temperatures of around 572 degrees Fahrenheit (300 degrees Celsius) to bond the sensor's silver nanoparticles together.
''The skin surface cannot withstand such a high temperature, obviously,'' Cheng says. ''To get around this limitation, we proposed a sintering aid layer'--something that would not hurt the skin and could help the material sinter together at a lower temperature.''
By adding a nanoparticle to the mix, the silver particles sinter at a lower temperature of about 212 F (100 C).
''That can be used to print sensors on clothing and paper, which is useful, but it's still higher than we can stand at skin temperature,'' Cheng says, who noted that about 104 F (40 C) could still burn skin tissue. ''We changed the formula of the aid layer, changed the printing material, and found that we could sinter at room temperature.''
The room temperature sintering aid layer consists of polyvinyl alcohol paste'--the main ingredient in peelable face masks'--and calcium carbonate'--which comprises eggshells. The layer reduces printing surface roughness and allows for an ultrathin layer of metal patterns that can bend and fold while maintaining electromechanical capabilities. When the sensor is printed, the researchers use an air blower, such as a hair dryer set on cool, to remove the water that is used as a solvent in the ink.
''The outcome is profound,'' Cheng says. ''We don't need to rely on heat to sinter.''
On-body sensors for health monitoringThe sensors are capable of precisely and continuously capturing temperature, humidity, blood oxygen levels, and heart performance signals, according to Cheng.
The researchers also linked the on-body sensors into a network with wireless transmission capabilities to monitor the combination of signals as they progress.
The process is also environmentally friendly, Cheng says. The sensor remains robust in tepid water for a few days, but a hot shower will easily remove it.
''It could be recycled, since removal doesn't damage the device,'' Cheng says. ''And, importantly, removal doesn't damage the skin, either. That's especially important for people with sensitive skin, like the elderly and babies. The device can be useful without being an extra burden to the person using it or to the environment.''
Next, the researchers plan to alter the technology to target specific applications as needed, such as a precise on-body sensor network placed to monitor the particular symptoms associated with COVID-19.
Additional contributors are from the Harbin Institute of Technology, the Beijing Institute of Technology, and the Penn State Department of Materials Science and Engineering.
Support for the work came from Penn State, the National Science Foundation, the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund, the Shenzhen Science and Technology Program, the Bureau of Industry and Information Technology of Shenzhen, and the National Science Foundation of China.
Source: Penn State
The Mystery of the Immaculate Concussion | GQ
Wed, 21 Oct 2020 12:49
Marc Polymeropoulos awoke with a start. The feeling of nausea was overwhelming. Food poisoning, he thought, and decided to head for the bathroom. But when he tried to get out of bed, he fell over. He tried to stand up and fell again. It was the early morning hours of December 5, 2017, and his Moscow hotel room was spinning around him. His ears were ringing. He felt, he recalled, ''like I was going to both throw up and pass out at the same time.''
Polymeropoulos was a covert CIA operative, a jovial, burly man who likes to refer to himself as ''grizzled.'' Moscow was not the first time he had been on enemy territory. He had spent most of his career in the Middle East, fighting America's long war on terrorism. He had hunted terrorists in Pakistan and Yemen. He did the same in Iraq and Afghanistan. He had been shot at, ducked under rocket fire, and had shrapnel whiz by uncomfortably close to his head. But that night, paralyzed with seasickness in the landlocked Russian capital, Polymeropoulos felt terrified and utterly helpless for the first time.
Struggling to regain control over his body, Polymeropoulos couldn't have imagined that this incident would upend his life. It would end a promising career that had just catapulted him into the ranks of senior CIA leadership, and threw him into the middle of a growing international mystery that has puzzled diplomats and scientists, and raised concerns on Capitol Hill. In the months ahead, he would come to realize that it wasn't a spoiled sandwich that had mowed him down. Rather, it was his macabre initiation into a growing club of dozens of American diplomats, spies, and government employees posted abroad who were suffering in much the same way he was'--targets of what some experts and doctors now believe were attacks perpetrated by unknown assailants wielding novel directed energy weapons. Though many of these apparent attacks have been publicized, including those that took place in Cuba and China, others have not been revealed until now, including at least three incidents that officials from the CIA and Capitol Hill say targeted American citizens on American soil.
Former CIA official Marc Polymeropoulos visiting Moscow in late 2017, where he says he was attacked by a microwave weapon. Courtesy of Marc PolymeropoulosA loyal soldier of the CIA even after his untimely retirement, Polymeropoulos has never detailed publicly what he calls his ''silent wounds.'' But in the year since he left, he has become increasingly frustrated by the Agency's reluctance to give him and the other CIA officers affected with the medical care they need. ''It's incumbent on them to provide the medical help we require, which does not include telling us that we're all making it up,'' he told me. ''I want the Agency to treat this as a combat injury.'' He has also grown alarmed that the Agency and this administration are neither investigating nor pushing back against the apparent perpetrators who are targeting his old comrades'--and other Americans'--in increasingly brazen ways. (In a statement to GQ, CIA representatives said that ''the Agency's top priority is the health and well-being of our officers followed very closely by collecting on hard targets, including Russia, and providing that intelligence to policymakers. Suggestions otherwise in your story are simply not true.'')
''There is a lot of incredible unease and disgust with the Agency leadership and the Office of Medical Services on this issue,'' Polymeropoulos told me. That leadership, he says, ''has not done right by us.'' ''There's a lot of people who are very upset. And how can I say this? The Agency is going to have to answer for this.''
Polymeropoulos arrived in Moscow at the end of Donald Trump's first, chaotic year in the White House. Shortly before Trump was inaugurated, the intelligence community released its conclusions that the Russian government had successfully meddled in the 2016 presidential election. It was the kind of high-confidence, public assessment that rarely came out of the fractious world of U.S. intelligence. Yet the new president dismissed their findings and denigrated intelligence officers as the ''deep state'' who wanted nothing more than to thwart his agenda. He also seemed determined to make nice with the Kremlin, even going so far as inviting the Russian foreign minister into the Oval Office in May 2017, and using the occasion to mock ousted FBI director James Comey and to share highly classified Israeli intelligence with the Russians'--without Jerusalem's sign-off. ''I remember thinking this is like George W. Bush inviting bin Laden after 9/11 and saying, 'Eh, we're good,' '' Polymeropoulos told me. ''Stuff like that that really alarmed us considerably.'' Some of it, he added, made his ''head explode.''
Not only were the president's overtures to Vladimir Putin concerning, they were also in direct contradiction to the work Polymeropoulos was doing at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. In late January 2017, Polymeropoulos had been transferred from the CIA's counterterrorism division and promoted to a new role: deputy chief of operations for the Europe and Eurasia Mission Center, the EEMC. The CIA's leadership, along with then director Mike Pompeo, decided that it was time to start pushing back on Russian active-measures campaigns more aggressively and that the best way to show the Kremlin that the Americans were serious was to bring in the tough guys who had spent the past 15 years in the Middle East. These people, like Polymeropoulos, didn't know much about Russia, its history, or its culture. ''We knew nothing on Russia,'' Polymeropoulos admits. But, like his Russian counterparts, he and his counterterrorism comrades were fluent in the language of force.
Polymeropoulos's new job was to run clandestine operations across the Center's approximately 50 stations, which dotted the landscape from Ireland to Azerbaijan. As far as the Agency and Polymeropoulos saw it, the area in between'--Europe, Ukraine, Turkey, the Caucasus'--was now a battleground between the United States and Russia. Polymeropoulos issued what he refers to as ''a call to arms.'' ''Every station was directed to refocus its efforts on Russia,'' he explained. ''It goes back to the old days where, in every station around the world, there was a Soviet branch. We wanted to reconstitute that because Russia can't be ignored anymore.'' Though Polymeropoulos and the other counterterrorism officers brought in for this new mission were mostly skilled at tracking suspected terrorists, they had to rely on a different skill set in dealing with the Russians. ''The best way you do covert influence traditionally is with the truth,'' Polymeropoulos told me. ''And Russian operations and covert influence is so easy because we never have to say, like, you know, Putin likes little boys in the back of his car. You don't make stuff up to embarrass him. You just say what they do.'' This involved exposing Russian operations across the continent'--like the efforts to stop Macedonia from changing its name and to sponsor a coup in Montenegro'--by working with local intelligence services to make sure that the European public knew that the Kremlin was trying to manipulate them. (The Russian government has denied its involvement in these events.)
To this day, Polymeropoulos doesn't know how much President Trump knew of the work he was doing at the EEMC. ''Did he go down and brief the president?'' Polymeropoulos said of Pompeo. ''I don't know, and it doesn't even matter because we were given kind of the green light to go ahead and do it'... It was simply a matter of us deciding internally in the CIA, this is what we're going to do. We don't need any kind of approval on that. It's not like we were killing Russians.'' (That would require high-level permission because physically targeting the officers of a sovereign country creates a different level of political risk. Polymeropoulos, along with other sources familiar with the CIA's counterintelligence efforts, insists that at no point did these efforts involve physically harming Russian operatives.)
In the fall of 2017, Polymeropoulos and an Agency colleague decided they wanted to go to Russia. Polymeropoulos had never been before, and he and his colleague thought a trip might be useful. They could meet with the American ambassador and embassy staff, and perhaps open a more direct and fruitful line of communication with their counterparts in Russian intelligence. They told the Russians they wanted to meet with American embassy staff in Moscow'--and to talk with the Russian government about counterterrorism cooperation, which is one of the few areas where the United States and Russia still work together, at least formally. This was despite the feeling'--widely held at the agency'--that the efforts have yielded little in recent years and have become, according to Polymeropoulos, a ''staggering waste of time.''
Moscow granted Polymeropoulos and his colleague visas, but the Russian embassy in Washington told Polymeropoulos directly that they did not want him to make the trip. According to Polymeropoulos, they said they did not buy the Americans' excuse of wanting to further counterterrorism cooperation and feared they were actually coming to Russia to run covert operations, an allegation Polymeropoulos denies. It is just not how espionage works, Polymeropoulos explained. At the time, he was the equivalent of a four-star general, and no one of his high rank, on either the American or the Russian side, would ever go and run operations on the ground in person. Moreover, Polymeropoulos explained, it was normal for the top officials in the clandestine services to meet and talk. ''We have liaison with them,'' he told me, using Agency-speak for having a channel of communication. ''And that's not a bad thing at all. We have to meet them. Even in the worst times, during [the existence of] the Soviet Union, there was always liaison between the Agency and the KGB. There's got to be a channel. And there's been trips all the time.''
Despite the Russians' warnings, Polymeropoulos and his colleague set off for Moscow in December 2017. The trip started off well. He and his colleague, who declined to be interviewed for this article, checked into the Marriott near the U.S. embassy. They met with then ambassador Jon Huntsman and other embassy staffers. They were ostentatiously followed everywhere by half a dozen FSB tails, but it didn't stop Polymeropoulos and his colleague from seeing the sights'--a local McDonald's, the fabled Moscow Metro, and dive bars where Russian patrons earnestly asked them why Americans hate Russians so much.
The official part of the visit was less fun. The meeting with the FSB was numbingly boring and the meeting with the SVR, the Russian foreign intelligence service, quickly devolved into bitter recriminations. SVR officers told Polymeropoulos and his colleague bluntly that they had not wanted them to come and could not understand why they had shown up in Moscow anyway. ''You are not welcome here,'' Polymeropoulos remembers them telling him. Then the Russians launched into a long lecture on America's systemic racism and the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. Polymeropoulos turned to one of his colleagues and asked, ''Is this guy fucking kidding? Like, are you serious?'' The colleague assured Polymeropoulos that this was a standard Russian practice going back more than half a century. Polymeropoulos countered by warning the Russians to stop meddling in American elections. The Russians denied they would ever do such a thing. It was the way most Russian officials behave in such meetings at all levels of government'--a lecture about American racism, theatrical incredulity and hurt feelings that the Americans would think the Russians had meddled in American politics. Still, Polymeropoulos was stunned by how unabashedly combative his Russian counterparts were. He had spent his career in a region where people were exceedingly polite, rolling out banquets and plying him with tea, even as he knew they were plotting to kill him. He knew the Russians didn't like him, but ''I would have expected them to be a little more polite,'' Polymeropoulos told me.
Nonetheless, he figured that this was little more than bluster. He knew he had to be careful in Russia and to be wary of Russian agents trying to entrap him in compromising situations'--for example, the beautiful young women at the rooftop bar of the Moscow Ritz-Carlton who seemed determined to chat up him and his colleague. But Polymeropoulos figured he had no reason to fear for his physical safety. Even after that awful night in the Marriott, Polymeropoulos did not immediately suspect anything malicious. By morning, the worst of the symptoms had passed and he seemed to be doing better, confirming his suspicion that it had just been something he'd eaten. Just a few hours after he'd been incapacitated, he managed to get on a train to St. Petersburg, where he felt well enough to walk for miles, duck into more dive bars, and even glimpse the famous troll factory. He even did some Christmas shopping for his wife and kids. That miserable, terrifying night in his Moscow hotel room receded in his memory.
Two days before the end of his trip, Polymeropoulos and his colleagues were eating dinner at Pushkin, a posh Moscow restaurant, when he suddenly felt the room begin to spin again, just as it had in the hotel room that night. A wave of nausea hit, and he was suddenly drenched in sweat. He barely made it back to his hotel room, where, having canceled all his meetings, he stayed for the rest of his trip, unable to move. His body was in revolt, and he had no idea why. ''I made it back on the airplane somehow,'' Polymeropoulos said.
It wasn't until Polymeropoulos got home to the Virginia suburbs that it occurred to him that what had happened in Moscow was possibly the result of something far more sinister that what he'd originally suspected. In February, after a few weeks of relative normalcy, he started feeling an intense and painful pressure that started in the back of his head and radiated forward into his face. He went to an ear, nose, and throat specialist, who, Polymeropoulos says, thought it might be a sinus infection. But Polymeropoulos's scans were clear, and a course of antibiotics did not alleviate the pain. If anything, it was growing steadily worse. The vertigo and nausea came roaring back. His ears started ringing again. His brain was swathed in a dense fog. By March, his long-distance vision started going and he could no longer drive. Repeated MRI and CAT scans showed nothing suspicious, but Polymeropoulos was now feeling so ill that he started calling out sick.
There was no way this was all the result of food poisoning two months prior, Polymeropoulos realized. But what could it have been? He told me his colleagues at the CIA believed he could have been the target of some kind of technical attack in Moscow. But what kind? Polymeropoulos wondered if the Russians had inadvertently injured him while trying to collect the data in his phone remotely. It was the kind of thing all intelligence services did, the Americans included. Polymeropoulos figured the Russians had just ''turned up the juice too much.''
But as his symptoms grew worse, Polymeropoulos and his Agency colleagues noticed that his symptoms lined up with those of American diplomats who had apparently been attacked in Havana.
In late 2016, some two dozen Americans stationed in the revived embassy in Cuba began reporting strange new phenomena. Some heard a strange noise'--sometimes high-pitched, sometimes low'--and felt a sudden pressure in the skull. Others heard nothing at all, but many of them developed vertigo and nausea, and had trouble sleeping, difficulty concentrating, persistent headaches, and changes in vision and hearing. Like Polymeropoulos's constellation of symptoms, some of these effects waxed and waned at seemingly random intervals, while others seemed impossible to cure'--all to maddening effect.
As word of what was happening in Havana seeped out into the press, everyone seemed to have an opinion on the events, but no one, not even the CIA, knew for certain who was responsible'--or even what had happened. Some speculated that it had been an acoustic attack. Some believed the culprits were hardliners in the Cuban security services who had been determined to sabotage Havana's new d(C)tente with Washington. Still others believed it was all made up, the product of paranoid imaginations or collective anxiety.
Some of the two dozen Americans affected in Havana had been CIA officers under diplomatic cover. Though these apparent attacks baffled officials at the Agency, there was growing suspicion inside CIA headquarters, according to two sources familiar with the discussions, that these attacks had been the work of Russian security services. It was not a wild stretch, and many in Washington's foreign policy and national security universe were thinking along the same lines. Since 2014, the Russians had become increasingly brazen in going after the U.S. and its allies, and they had every reason to peel their old Cuban allies away from the Americans' embrace. ''These guys have been told they can take the gloves off and do whatever they want to hurt Americans,'' says a former national security official. ''They're trying to weaken us generally, and they've obviously taken the gloves off quite some time ago.''
By the spring of 2018, Polymeropoulos was convinced he was a new addition to the Havana victims' ranks. What's more, he told me, the Agency colleague who had accompanied him to Moscow was now also sick and had lost hearing in one of his ears. But, according to Polymeropoulos, the leadership of the CIA's Office of Medical Services (OMS) told him they didn't agree. They put Polymeropoulos through a series of tests they had developed in an attempt to see if he had, in fact, suffered the same brain injuries as the CIA officers in Havana. They asked him to walk in a straight line and to perform simple cognitive tasks. But by this time, Polymeropoulos's vertigo had disappeared. Despite the pain and debilitating fatigue, he could now walk just fine, even if he hadn't been able to stand up without falling over that night in Moscow. It didn't seem to matter. The OMS doctors declared that he had passed the test: no Havana Syndrome. Polymeropoulos told me that his colleague was also cleared. (In a statement to GQ, Keith Bass, the director of the Office of Medical Services, said, ''CIA's Office of Medical Services would, of course, never comment on anyone's physical or mental health, but I will reiterate that our top priority is taking care of Agency personnel.'')
Still, the intense pressure and pain in Polymeropoulos's head would not abate. He started seeing doctors on his own'--neurologists, infectious-disease specialists, allergists, dentists, eye doctors, sleep specialists, pain experts, neck and spine doctors. Countless tests, scans, injections, rounds of steroids, and antibiotics did nothing to diagnose or alleviate the now round-the-clock migraine he had developed. He was in constant pain, which was exacerbated by his staring at a computer for long periods of time. Sitting still for more than an hour or two would sap his energy completely. But the demands of Polymeropoulos's job didn't let up. Running the CIA's clandestine operations across Europe and Eurasia and managing thousands of agents required 12-hour days, packed with long meetings and hours spent in front of computer screens. Before long, he had taken a total of four months off of work, maxing out his sick leave.
Meanwhile, the roster of victims was growing ever longer. In June 2018, the U.S. State Department evacuated nearly a dozen people from Guangzhou, China, where American diplomats and trade representatives reported feeling symptoms eerily similar to those their colleagues had experienced in Cuba. One victim, Catherine Werner, said that her symptoms began in late 2017, just as Polymeropoulos's had: a splitting headache, nausea, loss of balance. When her mother went to Guangzhou to help her, she, too, fell ill. Even Werner's dogs were affected, her mother told NBC News. They began vomiting blood and avoiding the room where Werner and her mother heard the sounds and felt the symptoms start.
Yet Polymeropoulos was still having trouble getting the CIA's medical bureaucracy to take his condition seriously. As far as they were concerned, he says, he had passed the test they had administered, even though they could not explain his persistent migraine. Frustrated by their inability to help him, Polymeropoulos asked OMS to refer him to the Center for Brain Injury and Repair, at the University of Pennsylvania, where some of the Havana victims had gone for treatment. The team had published a study in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association about what had come to be widely known as the Havana Syndrome. They evaluated 21 of the Havana victims and found the kind of damage to cognitive, balance, motor, and sensory functions associated with a severe concussion. Unlike with most concussions, however, these symptoms did not quickly dissipate. Instead, they lasted for months, waxing and waning over time.
The neurologists at the University of Pennsylvania found that some explanations for the Havana Syndrome, including mass hysteria and group psychosis, were highly unlikely. Many of the patients didn't know each other, their performance on these tests could not have been faked, and they did not wallow in their pain. In fact, according to the study, they were desperately trying to get better and ''were largely determined to continue to work or return to full duty, even when encouraged by health care professionals to take sick leave.'' The study also concluded that these injuries were likely not caused by exposure to chemicals, since no organs other than the brain were involved. Nor were they likely to have been the product of a viral infection, the doctors said, because these patients did not display associated symptoms, like a spiking fever. Still, the University of Pennsylvania researchers couldn't explain what actually had happened to these patients. Their brain scans were basically normal, and the doctors could not fathom what could have caused this kind of brain injury, one that refused to heal. ''These individuals appeared to have sustained injury to widespread brain networks without an associated history of head trauma,'' the study's authors concluded. Doctors and patients began referring to it as the ''immaculate concussion.''
In the spring of 2018, a private neurologist gave Polymeropoulos a diagnosis: occipital neuralgia, a condition resulting from damage to the two nerves that run from the base of the skull, curving toward the front of the head. Despite the private diagnosis, Polymeropoulos says the Agency kept refusing to refer him to the University of Pennsylvania, telling him it wasn't necessary.
As he grasped for an explanation, Polymeropoulos was paying careful attention to what was being discovered about the incidents in Cuba and China. By the summer of 2018, scientists, intelligence officials, and journalists were zeroing in on a potential culprit: microwave weapons.
The notion of weaponizing microwaves dates back to the Cold War, when, in 1961, an American biologist named Allan Frey discovered that irradiating a human head with microwaves could produce the sensation of sound'--even in deaf ears, even from thousands of feet away. Playing with the frequency and intensity of the microwave beam could produce a range of different sensations in a person. In 2018, Frey told the New York Times that the Soviets took immediate notice of his work and flew him to Moscow, where they squired him around secret military facilities and asked him to give lectures about the effects of microwaves on the brain.
As the Cold War progressed, both the United States and the Soviet Union raced to find military uses for what came to be called directed energy weapons. American researchers had studied things like beaming words into subjects' heads'--great for psychological warfare'--while also researching the thermal aspects of microwaves. Packaged in the right way, researchers theorized, a microwave weapon could be mounted on a truck, where it could cast a beam outward to create an invisible barrier anywhere, anytime, capable of immobilizing any person who got within its range. This research ultimately culminated in the development of a weapon the Pentagon calls an Active Denial System, or ADS. In a video touting its capabilities, the U.S. military boasts that this highly portable weapon can be attached to a military vehicle and used to direct precise beams of electromagnetic radiation at, say, an armed militant in a crowd or a suspicious person approaching a military checkpoint. The beam would instantaneously produce a sensation of heat on the skin, which would trigger a person's reflex to flee. (This summer, a military official inquired about deploying the technology against American protesters who flooded into the streets of Washington, D.C., to protest police brutality.)
On the other side of the world, the Soviets focused on the non-thermal applications of microwave radiation. A 1976 report compiled by the Pentagon's intelligence branch, the Defense Intelligence Agency, reviewed Soviet research on the topic. The report detailed Moscow's investigation of the effects of microwaves on the nervous system. Soviet, and later Russian, scientists found that exposing an animal's brain to microwaves changed the frequency at which neurons fired. Neurons also became suddenly out of sync with one another. Some brain cells in mice were found to have withered. Nerves became damaged. The radiation also showed the potential to disturb the sacrosanct blood-brain barrier and, according to the DIA, resulted in ''the alterations of brain function.'' The most common symptoms reported in humans who had been exposed to microwaves for long periods of time sounded familiar: headache, fatigue, perspiration, dizziness, insomnia, depression, anxiety, forgetfulness, and lack of concentration.
Like Frey, Soviet researchers found that turning the intensity of the beam up or down could produce differing effects in its target. A target's unique physiology'--a slightly different curvature of the skull, for example'--also determined how this directed energy would affect them. A weapon that created an ever-changing kaleidoscope of neurological symptoms would have a powerful psychological dimension. If everyone's symptoms are all slightly different, victims might question whether they'd all been exposed to the same thing'--or if they'd been hit at all.
In September 2018, a California physician and scientist named Beatrice Golomb published a paper that tried to link the suffering of American diplomats to directed microwaves. She connected what came to be known as the Frey effect'--using microwaves to create the false sensation of sound'--with the fact that some, but not all, of the diplomats in Havana reported hearing the kinds of noise described by Allan Frey. This would suggest that these symptoms were not the result of sonic attacks, as some had speculated. She also offered an insight that could explain Polymeropoulos's persistent migraines. ''Brain injury may be a predisposing factor for'...[microwave] injury,'' she wrote. That is, people like Polymeropoulos, who was frequently around explosions in his time in Middle Eastern war zones, may be especially vulnerable to brain injury from directed microwave weapons.
Not all scientists agree with Golomb's conclusions, and some challenge her methodology. Andrei Pakhomov, a scientist who studied microwaves both in Russia and in the United States and wrote a comprehensive review of Soviet research on the subject, told me he is still not convinced that microwaves could do this kind of damage. Douglas Smith, a neurosurgeon who heads the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Brain Injury and Repair and was the principal investigator on the JAMA study, says he doesn't understand how microwaves could target an organ so precisely, damaging the brain but not any peripheral nerves. Still, the fact that the Havana victims felt the buzzing and tingling on one side of their face, or that the sensation stopped when they moved to another room, indicated to Smith that these injuries were caused by some kind of directed energy weapon. ''We believe there was something directed, but we don't know what it was,'' he told me. ''It is quite a mystery. There's no question that something happened, but there's not a fingerprint for this kind of injury.''
If the incidents were connected to directed energy weapons, the question remained: Who was deploying them against U.S. personnel? Russia certainly had the technology, but several other countries had also developed or purchased these capabilities. A Ukrainian researcher had reportedly sold the technology to the Saudi government. The Chinese and possibly the Iranian governments are also said to possess these capabilities. The Cuban government adamantly denied hitting American diplomats, but their security services were notoriously close to Moscow's. Surely, the Russians could have shared the technology with their old anti-American allies?
Sitting in his office in Langley, Polymeropoulos was convinced he knew who was behind these apparent attacks: Moscow. He had been charged with pushing back against the Russians, and now, he figured, the Russians were retaliating, including against him personally. Without conclusive intelligence linking the attacks to the Kremlin, however, there was little he could do. As the 2018 holiday season'--and the one-year anniversary of that night in the Marriott'--rolled around, Polymeropoulos had an idea. It was customary for the heads of the Russian and American clandestine services to exchange holiday cards. By now he understood the Russians well enough to know that the ritual of these kinds of holiday swaps was extremely important in Russian culture, especially in the world of Russian bureaucracy. It was a sign of respect and an acknowledgment of status. Before the cards went out, Polymeropoulos wrote to the new CIA director, his old comrade Gina Haspel, and asked her not to send holiday cards to the Russians that year. According to sources familiar with the incident, Polymeropoulos had hit his mark: The Russians were furious.
In April 2019, after 26 years at the agency, Polymeropoulos decided to retire from the CIA. He was a decorated senior intelligence officer serving in a top post, and he was still relatively young'--there had been talk of promotions, an even bigger future. But whatever happened in the Moscow Marriott had changed all that. ''I had a lot more to offer,'' Polymeropoulos told me. ''I was 50, but I had to retire because these goddamn headaches don't go away.'' In July of that year, he walked out of Langley for the last time.
Gradually, Polymeropoulos settled into his post-CIA life. He got a contract to write a book about leadership. A speaking agent promised him a few lucrative turns on the lecture circuit before the pandemic put an end to all that. But he was still struggling with constant migraines, fatigue, and an inability to concentrate. He had heard that some people suffering from the Havana Syndrome were getting effective treatment at Walter Reed, the nation's top military hospital, but he would need a referral from CIA doctors to go there. Even after his injury had forced his retirement, he says, the leadership at the OMS refused to help.
Polymeropoulos was still in touch with his friends and colleagues at Langley, and what they told him alarmed him. Apparent attacks were continuing around the world. Two sources with knowledge of the situation'--and who asked for anonymity to discuss matters that they did not have authorization to disclose to the press'--told me about the ongoing attacks. In the fall of 2019, two top CIA officials, both in the clandestine service, traveled to Australia to meet with officials in that country's spy agency. (Australia is part of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance with the U.S., the U.K., Canada, and New Zealand.) While in their hotel rooms in Australia, both of the Americans felt it: the strange sound, the pressure in their heads, the ringing in their ears. According to these sources, they became nauseous and dizzy. They then traveled on to Taiwan to meet with intelligence officials there. They felt it again while in their hotel rooms on the island.
By now, this was no longer a novel occurrence, and CIA people had come to call it ''getting hit.'' One senior intelligence officer in EEMC, the Center Polymeropoulos used to run, had gotten hit twice while traveling under cover, first in Poland in the spring of 2019, then again in Tbilisi, Georgia, that fall. He, too, was diagnosed with occipital neuralgia and experienced symptoms similar to Polymeropoulos's. (He declined to be interviewed for this article.)
According to these sources, the attacks were becoming increasingly daring: One of the CIA officials hit in Australia and Taiwan was among the agency's five highest-ranking officials.
Whoever was behind the attacks also began going after Americans on American soil. An American diplomat and his spouse, who had been hit when they were stationed in China, traveled to Philadelphia to get specialized treatment at the University of Pennsylvania. One night in June 2018, according to three government sources, the couple was startled awake by a sound and pressure in their heads similar to what they had felt back in China. On the advice of FBI agents, the family moved to a hotel, but on their second night there, they were again awoken in the early morning hours. Terrified, the parents ran into the room where their children were sleeping to find them moving in their sleep, bizarrely and in unison. In the weeks afterward, the children developed vision and balance difficulties. The family members, whose identities GQ is not revealing for privacy reasons, declined to be interviewed for this story. ''I can't say anything about that,'' says attorney Janine Brookner, who represents the family.
Then, shortly after Thanksgiving 2019, according to three sources familiar with the incident, a White House staffer was hit while walking her dog in Arlington, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C. According to a government source familiar with the incident, the staffer passed a parked van. A man got out and walked past her. Her dog started seizing up. Then she felt it too: a high-pitched ringing in her ears, an intense headache, and a tingling on the side of her face.
According to the source, this had happened to the staffer before. In August 2019, she had accompanied John Bolton, who was then the national security adviser, on a trip to London. The staffer, whom GQ is not identifying out of concerns for her privacy, did not respond to requests for comment. According to the government source, she was in her hotel room when she suddenly felt a tingling in the side of her head that was facing the window. The intense pressure in her head was accompanied by a tinning in her ears. When she left the room, the symptoms stopped. She reported the incident to the Secret Service because it was uncannily similar to the symptoms described by American diplomats who had served in Cuba and China.
While the CIA is not typically involved in investigations of domestic incidents, two sources familiar with the attack on the White House staffer told me that the Agency began looking into the matter and, last December, briefed the National Security Council's unit on biodefense. But by the end of the month, the unit had become completely consumed with a brand new threat coming from overseas: COVID-19. (The White House did not respond to GQ's request for comment.)
In the meantime, a team was assembled at Langley to investigate the incidents overseas. Investigators came to believe that the injuries to victims' brains were caused by a microwave weapon, which could be beamed at its target through walls and windows, and could even be effective from a couple miles away. Given the work Polymeropoulos and his team had been doing to thwart the Russians since 2017, and the fact that much of the scientific literature on the biological effects of microwaves had been published in the Soviet Union and Russia, it seemed plausible to the investigators that the Russians could be behind this.
The most compelling evidence, however, came from publicly available data. As has been widely reported, mobile phones track people's movements, and location-data companies accumulate this information and sell it. Using this sort of data, CIA investigators were able to deduce the whereabouts of Russian agents, and place them in close physical proximity to the CIA officers at the time they had been attacked when they were in Poland, Georgia, Australia, and Taiwan. In each case, individuals believed to be FSB agents were within range of the CIA officers who had been hit in 2019. In two of the incidents, location data apparently showed FSB agents in the same hotel at the same time their targets experienced the onset of symptoms.
When I asked Polymeropoulos about the CIA investigation, he said that it was conducted after he retired and that, because he did not have direct knowledge of it, he could not comment on it. He did say, however, that it would not be difficult to use the same techniques, analyzing publicly available data, that had been used by organizations like Bellingcat, which have employed similar methods to expose Russian operations in Europe. ''Anyone can buy the cell-phone data on the open market, and you can see where people went,'' Polymeropoulos explained. ''And perhaps the reason why it seems to have worked is because, just like you saw with all of the GRU activities, they're sloppy.'' GRU machinations were discovered because officers had made several embarrassing missteps, like leaving behind taxi receipts that showed their starting address as GRU headquarters. In the case of the microwave attacks, it seemed FSB operatives had brought their phones with them while carrying out their missions'--typically a no-no in the world of covert operations. ''There's ways intelligence officers cover their tracks,'' Polymeropoulos marveled. ''If I'm going off to do something like that, I'm not taking my phone. It's insane. It's so sloppy.''
(Asked for comment about the CIA investigation linking Russian security services to the attacks on CIA officers, Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, said, ''I will not try to confirm whether they are the victims of 'an acoustic attack,' paranoia, or Russophobia. That's a question for the doctors.'')
According to people familiar with the investigation, the geolocation data did not provide a slam dunk, but made a good circumstantial case that could link the Russian government to the apparent attacks on CIA officers. It was a starting point, a lead that some people aware of the investigation hoped Agency leaders would pick up on and continue to probe. They would soon be deeply disappointed.
The attacks on CIA officers infuriated people in the Agency. ''There's a gentlemen's agreement not to do these things,'' Polymeropoulos explained. ''There's never any physical stuff.'' (When I asked him if the CIA had ever physically hurt Russians when he was running EEMC, Polymeropoulos was adamant, saying, ''We never harm other officials like that. It's counterproductive.'') But the Russian government was clearly feeling more emboldened. ''They know that our president is at war with our intelligence community, so kick them when they're down, get back at them for everything they've done before,'' the former national security official told me. ''It's a kick in the balls, isn't it?'' Whatever punishment Washington had meted out for, say, meddling in the 2016 election was clearly not deterring the Russians. ''The Russians have factored all this in,'' the former national security official said. ''They don't care about sanctions.'' As a result, the Russians seemed to be going further than ever. In 2019, according to two sources, Russian operatives even slipped date-rape drugs into the drinks of an undercover CIA officer at a diplomatic reception.
On December 23, 2019, the CIA team investigating the attacks brought its findings to CIA director Gina Haspel. According to two sources, after listening to the investigators lay out their evidence that suggested the Russian security services were behind the hits on Agency personnel, Haspel challenged them. They say she accused the investigators of both hiding information from her and lying to her about what their inquiry uncovered. The sources say that the director questioned the motives of those looking into the mysterious attacks. ''This is why we need to clean out Russia House,'' she said, referring to the CIA's operations unit focused on Russia, according to two sources. ''You're just trying to stir up trouble on Russia.'' A third source confirmed that ''the meeting did not go well.''
One possible explanation for such a reaction from Haspel is that she did not find the intelligence convincing. In a statement to GQ, Brittany Bramell, the director of public affairs at the Agency, said, ''If there was credible intelligence that showed an adversary purposefully harmed a CIA officer, you can bet Director Haspel would act swiftly and decisively.''
But the other explanation for dismissing the conclusions of the investigative team is more troubling. According to reporting in Politico, Haspel has seemed to be reluctant with what information on Russia she brings to the White House, given President Trump's obstinate lack of willingness to condemn Vladimir Putin or Russian attacks in any way. ''No one's going to brief anything on Russia to the president,'' Polymeropoulos told me. ''They're terrified of doing that. I know that from the briefers. Because he'll explode and the whole thing will get derailed, because he has this weird affinity for Putin.'' Asked why Putin remains such an untouchable subject for the American president, the former national security official said, ''He doesn't want to be embarrassed in front of Putin, that's part of the dilemma. He wants Putin to like him. Just look at how he behaves with the Queen. That's how he behaves with everyone who has any glamour and cachet.'' Moreover, the former official added, ''Putin has everything he doesn't have.''
There are some at Langley who regard Haspel's motives as noble, if shortsighted. In their view, she may be engaged in an effort to protect the agency, even at the cost of not protecting individual CIA employees. According to two sources, Haspel was worried that, if she upset Trump too often by boxing him in with more news of alleged Russian malfeasance that he'd be asked to condemn publicly, he would gut the CIA'--which he already distrusts'--just like he did with the State Department. And though Polymeropoulos told me that Haspel ''hates the Russians,'' she is hamstrung by the fact that Russia has become such an explosive issue in American domestic politics. One former CIA official quipped that ''a good day for Gina is when we don't talk about Russia.'' Haspel apparently sees herself as someone who can steer the CIA ship through the stormy waters of the Trump era, at least until a new administration can calm the waters. She is, after all, very much a creature of the Agency; she started her career as a clandestine operative and even headed Russia House for a time. Sources familiar with her thinking say she warns that if the CIA pushes Trump too hard on Russia, he will replace her with someone like Senator Tom Cotton, a Trump loyalist'--and an outsider.
Whatever her logic, according to two sources familiar with the situation, Haspel has yet to take the evidence of Russian involvement in the attacks to President Trump.
Nearly three years after that terrifying night in the Moscow Marriott, Polymeropoulos's constant migraines have still not abated. Botox, plasma, steroid injections, visits to a chiropractor'--nothing has helped, and painkillers don't seem to touch it. He is enrolled in an NIH study for which, once a year, he is hooked up to an elaborate machine that spins him around to test his balance. It takes him days to recover from the nausea and dizziness it triggers.
He's not alone. Smith, of the University of Pennsylvania, told me that ''the good news is that everyone improved and many people's symptoms resolved.'' Yet many of the State Department staffers affected in Cuba and China are still disabled. Some are wheelchair-bound; others have to wear weighted vests for the rest of their lives to correct their balance. Many have had to retire prematurely.
Polymeropoulos says the CIA still refuses to send him to Walter Reed for medical treatment, but according to a source on the Hill working with affected diplomats, the State Department and Department of Commerce have treated their employees far worse than the Agency has. ''These employees were struggling not only with their injuries, but they were ostracized and some were even reprimanded for saying they were sick,'' says New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen. In 2018, she was approached by a constituent who had been hit in China. Since then, Shaheen and her staff have become unofficial case workers for dozens of diplomats and trade officers affected by the Havana Syndrome in Cuba and China. ''There has been very little progress, from what I've seen,'' Shaheen says. ''Sadly, it sometimes seems like those tasked with unearthing the truth of the matter are more concerned with limiting the patients' understanding of their own ailments and burying the issue.'' Shaheen is also aware of similar attacks on Americans on American soil, but says she doesn't know of anything that's being done to counter that threat.
In the meantime, according to several sources on Capitol Hill and at the CIA, the National Academy of Sciences has completed a report, commissioned by the State Department, assessing the potential causes of the Havana Syndrome. The report, now under review at State, apparently reached many of the same conclusions that Smith and his colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania did. David Relman, a Stanford immunologist and microbiologist who chaired the Academy's committee on investigating the Havana Syndrome, told me that he is deeply frustrated that their report still has not been made public. He says it ''describes distinct clinical findings and plausible mechanisms'' responsible for the injuries, and that the ''American people, and their elected representatives, deserve to read what we have found.''
Smith's ongoing research has offered new insights into the Havana Syndrome'--if little encouraging news for those suffering from it. In 2019, Smith and his team published a follow-up study that used advanced neuroimaging and brain-connectivity studies to look at the brains of diplomats hit in Havana. This technique showed what less sophisticated imaging had missed. The patients' brain connectivity was severely affected, especially in the cerebellum and brain networks that control auditory and visuospatial functions. Their volumes of white matter'--the inner, deeper part of the brain'--were significantly reduced. White matter is made up of axons, the delicate wiring of the central nervous system. According to Smith, it was the axons and their carefully arranged structure that were damaged in people suffering from the syndrome. ''If the axons break, that's it,'' he told me. ''They won't reconnect. And you're not going to grow new axons. You only have the ones you're born with.'' The brain can learn to make up for and work around some of the damage, Smith says, but that takes time and the compensatory mechanisms are often far from perfect.
Is it so farfetched to imagine that the Russian government is inflicting potentially permanent brain damage on U.S. government personnel? ''In general, the Russians have no compunction about doing this kind of thing,'' says John Sipher, who was a clandestine CIA officer in Russia and was deputy director of Russia House during George W. Bush's presidency. ''They don't give a shit,'' he says, about physically harming American officers. He and other CIA veterans pointed to reports of the KGB bathing the American embassy in Moscow in microwaves for decades during the Cold War, as well as other intelligence tricks that potentially compromised the health of American diplomats and spies. He says he remembers the Russian security services zapping him and his colleagues in Moscow with radiation to see if they were carrying electronic equipment. The CIA officers all joked about their testicles and the potential health consequences, but as far as Sipher could tell, none of it was done to deliberately cause injury. Whatever health effects occurred seemed like unintentional collateral damage. If the Russians were now targeting U.S. personnel to knowingly cause brain damage, ''this is definitely an escalation,'' Sipher says. ''It's the asymmetrical way of doing things. You push until you get pushback.''
This is a fairly accurate assessment of how the Russian government operates abroad, especially under Vladimir Putin's leadership. Historically, he has kept pushing the boundaries until he's met resistance, though in recent years, he has become far more brazen. Neither sanctions nor the expulsion of Russian diplomats from the United States and other Western countries for deploying the nerve agent Novichok against former Russian spy Sergei Skripal on British soil seems to have made much of a difference. Last summer, a man was assassinated in a Berlin park in broad daylight, an attack the German government blamed on Moscow. In August, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was poisoned with Novichok in Siberia. And there is no sense that the Russians are letting up: This year, the American intelligence community announced that Russia was again interfering in the presidential election with the aim of helping reelect Donald Trump.
American foreign policy specialists who want to reinvent the U.S.-Russia relationship can't quite understand why the Russian security services are still doing this'--other than because they can, and because, with Trump in office, they will most certainly get away with it. ''They create the reason to keep fighting with them,'' says the former national security official about the Russian government. ''We don't even know why they're doing this. We don't even want anything from each other anymore, other than an arms-control agreement. We have to kind of push back, we have to do that, but we also have to find a way of living together too.'' Yet the Russians, the former official explains, ''can't get used to the fact that we've moved on. They want to pull us back into the fight again'--the question is for what? This is what we kept telling [Russian officials], that if you want to have a relationship of equals and get stuff done, knock this other crap off.''
Until recently, the details of the CIA investigation that links Russian intelligence services to the attacks have been tightly held at Langley. Earlier this month, according to three sources, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence asked for and received a briefing on the matter from the CIA. ''The Committee has long-standing concern related to whether foreign adversaries might be seeking to do harm to Americans abroad, particularly the men and women of the intelligence community who often toil in shadows with no public recognition of their many sacrifices,'' said Chairman Adam Schiff in a statement to GQ. ''We have conducted, and will continue to conduct, rigorous oversight to ensure the health and safety of all intelligence community personnel.'' But Schiff and his staff declined to comment on whether a briefing had even happened, let alone on its substance. It is not clear if information from the December 2019 briefing to the NSC ever made it to the president, and the White House has not been briefed since.
The secrecy ensures that Russia suffers no consequences for its actions, and the impunity may motivate Russian security services to carry out more attacks. This has caused growing anger at the CIA, that neither their director nor the commander in chief seems willing to protect them or American civilians. This is why intelligence officials leaked the information about Russian bounties on American troops in Afghanistan to the press, and it was the stated motivation of my sources in revealing the highly sensitive information they possessed on the microwave attacks. They felt they had no other recourse. It was also another way to continue the work Polymeropoulos did at the EEMC: expose what he thinks are Russian covert operations with the aim of thwarting them.
The fact that the Agency has not aggressively pursued the investigation or gone after the people involved infuriates Polymeropoulos too. ''If there was an al-Qaeda threat against our officers, we would do everything possible to shut it down, but also to catch the people involved,'' Polymeropoulos told me. ''I don't see any of that happening here. What I would have expected would be this full court press that, you know, if we have senior people traveling and you think the Russians are going to hit him, have teams ready to try to capture'' the people carrying out the attacks. As far as Polymeropoulos knew, the Agency wasn't doing this'--or even sending a private, high-level message to their Russian counterparts warning them to stop. The fact that the CIA still wasn't doing any of this was damning, in Polymeropoulos's eyes.
But Polymeropoulos is largely reluctant to criticize the agency he still loves. He is clearly nostalgic for his time there, and when we met this summer, we escaped the heat into the carpeted cool of his suburban basement, where he proudly showed me his medals, souvenirs, and photographs from his many exploits in the Middle East. He is careful to separate the Agency from the Office of Medical Services, and even then he makes a point of defending the younger doctors, who, he says, were very kind and empathetic. When I pressed him on whether he was angry at the Agency, he grew philosophical. ''Look, it's incredible I was never killed in Afghanistan or Iraq,'' Polymeropoulos told me. ''I'm not mad at the Russians. At the end of the day, we have a lot of adversaries, and you kind of chalk it up to that. I am more looking for what doctor's going to help me stop having these goddamn headaches.''
Julia Ioffe is a GQ correspondent.
[WATCH] Popular Nigerian 'Yahoo Boys' Instagrammers Arrested by FBI After Converting Stolen Millions into Bitcoin - Bitcoin KE
Wed, 21 Oct 2020 12:44
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has arrested two suspected Nigerian scammers for defrauding U.S. citizens and corporations of over $40 million.
The two scammers, popularly known as Mr. Woodbery and Hushpuppi on Instagram, were accused of fraud after converting 1, 500 bitcoins ($6.5m) from the stolen cash.
SEE ALSO: SEC Nigeria Flags Pinkoin and InksNation Blockchain Projects as Illegal, Days after SiBAN Nigeria Calls the Project a Scam
Popularly known as 'Yahoo Boys' in Nigeria, such scammers use '419' emails that promise large sums of money and business email compromise (BEC) schemes that trick recipients into wiring millions of dollars into bank accounts after crafting emails that look like they are coming from a genuine vendor.
Apparently, one of the scammers seemed not be terribly concerned with covering their bitcoin network transactions leading to his arrest following preliminary blockchain analysis that point him to a known bitcoin address he had been using since 2014.
The bitcoin trail was traced to wallets and accounts on the Gemini exchange, a U.S.-based crypto exchange.
The two scammers have been flaunting and documenting their stolen wealth on Instagram and Snapchat which shows flashy cars and lifestyles in Dubai.
Police in The Emirates say they recovered $40m (£32m) in cash, 13 luxury cars worth $6.8m, 21 computers, 47 smartphones and the addresses of nearly two million alleged victims.
View this post on Instagram
What y'all think about my new bespoke black badge Rolls-Royce Wraith? Lol. This post is to everyone who has been made to feel low about themselves, to those who has been told will never amount to anything, to those who has been looked down upon, I want you to know today that as long as you don't see yourself as low as they make you seem, as long as you have a valid dream and work hard, and most importantly if you believe in God, you can achieve anything and everything. This post is specially dedicated to all Hushpuppi fans worldwide, to those who don't know me and has defended and supported me in anyway or the other, to my real friends JJ, Rawflesh, OvaWise, Debo Bentley, SK, Hp and S.p of Ghana and all those that I can't mention, God bless you all. Make una repost and congratulate me o make my success loud pass my failures and shortcomings ð¤£ #RollsRoyce #Bentley #Wraith #Bentayga #BlackBadge #Versace m
A post shared by HUSHPUPPI (@hushpuppi) on Feb 27, 2019 at 4:19am PST
An FBI affidavit on the activities of Hushipuppi reads:
''He finances this opulent lifestyle through crime, and he is one of the leaders of a transnational network that facilitates computer intrusions, fraudulent schemes (including BEC schemes), and money laundering, targeting victims around the world in schemes designed to steal hundreds of millions of dollars.''
These latest arrests follow a recent report by blockchain analytics and tracing platorm, Whale Alert, which showed that crypto scams have reached a new high in 2020 with $24 million stolen so far, the highest recorded so far in the crypto space.
Crypto scams 2017 '' 2020The report forecasts that as much as $50 million could be lost to crypto scams by the end of 2020.
Interestingly, the report notes that with many getting introduction into blockchain through scams, the greatest responsibility lies with the community in educating newcomers on the dangers, in partnership with exchanges, as opposed to normalizing the idea of free money through giveaways.
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Nigerian Scammers Used BTC & Gemini Exchange to Siphon Millions
Wed, 21 Oct 2020 12:24
The two Nigerians jetsetters who filled their Instagram accounts with pictures of their ostentatious wealth were extradited from Dubai to the United States. According to the FBI, they were able to convert millions of dollars into Bitcoin (BTC) via the Gemini exchange.
Transaction summary for Bitcoin address 16AtGJbaxL2kmzx4mW5ocpT2ysTWxmacWn. Source: Crystal Blockchain
The two are Olalekan Jacob Ponle, also known as ''Mr. Woodbery,'' and ''Mark Kain,'' and Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, who used the aliases ''Ray Hushpuppi'' and ''Hush''. The FBI complaint focused on the former's activities and how he used Bitcoin to transfer the stolen funds.
Business email compromise '-- 1,500 BTCAccording to the FBI, Ponle along with his accomplices was engaging in a scheme known as business email compromise or BEC. A criminal would gain access to a legitimate business email account and then manipulate the company's employees into transferring company funds to the criminal's bank account. The complaint alleges that Ponle and his accomplices defrauded American companies of tens of millions of dollars while converting $6.5 million into 1,500 BTC:
''Preliminary blockchain analysis indicates that PONLE received at least 1,494.71506296 bitcoin related to these BEC schemes, valued at approximately $6,599,499.98 at the time he received the proceeds.''
The complaint said it is clear that Ponle was not terribly concerned with covering his tracks on the Bitcoin network as he has been using the same address (16AtGJbaxL2kmzx4mW5ocpT2ysTWxmacWn) since 2014, though the complaint focuses on his illicit activity throughout 2019 only.
Gemini ExchangeGemini was the criminals' favorite exchange. This may seem surprising, considering that the exchange is considered one of the most compliant in the industry. However, this choice can probably be explained by the fact the accused needed a U.S.-based exchange that caters to businesses.
On Feb. 15, 2019, Ponle's associate confirmed that $2,149,000 had been successfully deposited to Gemini and converted to BTC.
A discussion between Ponle and his associate of the Feb. 15, 2019 transaction
These transactions, when traced on the Bitcoin blockchain, amounted to 340 and 261 BTC each, 601 BTC in total. At the time, Bitcoin price was at around $3,500.
Two Bitcoin transactions from Gemini exchange to Ponle's address. Source: Crystal Blockchain
FBI Infiltrates Ponle's Inner CircleAnother transaction took place on Jan. 17, 2019 when Ponle's accomplice converted $119,000 into 33.13 BTC '-- in the FBI complaint, it mistakenly says 3.13 instead. This transaction originated from an unidentified address, but it is one hop away from another American exchange '-- Kraken. Although the latter is not mentioned in the complaint.
In July, the FBI was able to infiltrate Ponle's inner circle when an agent began communicating with Ponle online using the same handle that was previously used by one of his associates. On Sept. 9, 2019, a discussion between Ponle and his associate about converting $5 million to Bitcoin took place.
A discussion between Ponle and his associate of the Sept. 9, 2019 transaction
Unbeknown to Ponle, this time it was an FBI agent at the other end of the chat. Although the complaint does not specify it, this transaction presumably never happened as no associated transaction can be identified with the ''16AtGJ BTC Wallet.''
Cashing Out Via LocalBitcoin & HuobiWhereas Gemini was the exchange of choice for converting stolen fiat into Bitcoin, LocalBitcoins and Huobi were preferable choices for cashing out. According to Crystal Blockchain, 577 BTC was cleared via the former and 539 BTC via the latter. Both have been criticized for lax KYC procedures in the past.
Ponle and his colleague Abbas lived a life of ostentatious wealth, parading their newly acquired fortunes on Instagram. In one of his last posts, Ponle admonished his followers against the guilt associated with wealth:
''YOU ARE WORTH THE PLEASURES OF YOUR LABOR ð' Stop letting people make you feel guilty for the wealth you've acquired, especially when you paid in blood, sweat and tears, to have the things that are deemed '' un-purchase-able''.''
Ponle's Instagram post. Source: Instagram
Now the court will determine his guilt.
Gemini declined to comment on the situation, although their spokesperson told Cointelegraph that the exchange is using Chainalysis to monitor risks.
The FBI declined Cointelegraph's request for comment.
First Tests Of New "Immunity Passports" Will Take Place Wednesday | Zero Hedge
Wed, 21 Oct 2020 11:57
Back in April, when the coronavirus was still new and scary, with cities from New York, to London to Paris in its grip, the professional commentariat was abuzz with speculation about what our not-too-distant post-COVID-19 future might look like. At one point, the mayor of the French city of Nice and Bill Gates were among the most prominent voices discussing health passports, and the WHO was apparently treating the topic with extreme caution.
Since then, discussion has faded somewhat, due in part to the relentless messaging from President Trump and others about the coming vaccines. But as the leading western vaccine projects prepare to apply for emergency use from the FDA as soon as November or December, the World Economic Forum, the same supranational organization that organizes the annual forum in Davos, is taking the lead in testing a global standard to communicate that an individual hasn't been infected with COVID-19.
The project to develop an international standard to communicate whether travelers have been infected with COVID-19 called the CommonPass system is being led by Paul Meyer, the CEO of the Commons Project, a Swiss non-profit financed by the Rockefeller Foundation. Meyer insists countries are looking for better ways to "thoughtfully reopen" their borders as European countries start cutting down intra-EU travel once again.
Right now, travelers' COVID-19 test results are frequently printed out, with the results often obtained from unknown or uncertified labs.
With CommonPass, travelers would take a test at a certified lab, then the results would be uploaded to their phone. Then they would complete any other health-related questionnaires required by the country to which they're traveling. Before boarding, airlines can use CP to check whether travelers have met the entry requirements. This can be done by simply scanning a QR code generated by the app.
Even after the COVID-19 pandemic ends, these 'health passports' could be used to offer evidence that a traveler has been vaccinated - not just for COVID-19, but for any other diseases.
And even once vaccines are widely available, the world will need a system for patients to prove that they have received the vaccine. Some countries might only allow travelers to enter if they have received a specific vaccine.
"It's hard to do that," he told the Guardian. ''It requires being able to assess the health of incoming travellers...Hopefully, we'll soon start to see some vaccines come on to the market, but there is not going to be just one vaccine."
"Some countries are going to probably say, 'OK, I want to see documentation you've gotten one of these vaccines, but not one of those vaccines.'"
The first iteration of these new "health passports" will be put to the test on Wednesday when a small group of passengers flying from the UK to the US.
Passengers flying from London's Heathrow Airport to Newark on a United Airlines flight on Wednesday will be part of the first wave of test subjects. Tests from a private testing company called Prenetics will be administered by the travel and medical services firm Collinson, and the results will be uploaded to the travelers' Swissports.
As of Tuesday, most arrivals to the UK need to quarantine for at least two weeks, with only around 45 countries on the country's quarantine-free ''travel corridor'' list.
Still, many are worried that this technology could be used in the future to try and coerce all travelers to get vaccinations while also creating another way for governments to monitor peoples' movements. Though in a paper published by the Lancet, a group of researchers discussed how these concerns could be mitigated.
East African Truck Drivers Pay Bribes for Negative Coronavirus Tests
Wed, 21 Oct 2020 11:51
Long-distance truck drivers in East Africa are paying bribes to avoid state-enforced coronavirus testing at the Uganda-Kenya border, the head of Uganda's Professional Drivers Network (UPDN) revealed on Monday.
Drivers ''pay bribes of between $14 and $40 to get a certificate indicating negative [coronavirus] status, or to cross the border without being tested,'' UPDN director Omongo Ndugu, who is also vice-chairman of the Uganda Long Distance and Heavy Truck Drivers Association, told Voice of America (VOA).
The Ugandan government currently requires long-distance truck drivers to be designated coronavirus-free before they are allowed to cross the border into any other east African country. To comply with the mandate, Ugandan health authorities have set up checkpoints at major border crossings meant to verify a driver's coronavirus status. These checkpoints cause extremely long backups on major highways leading to the border's main crossing points, Busia and Malaba. Ngudu told VOA that truck drivers often pay bribes just to bypass these traffic jams.
''Last week there was a [traffic] jam stretching for over 65 kilometers [about 40 miles] into Kenya and the drivers were left with no option other than to respond to brokers who approached them and took bribes. And in a short while, they were shocked that they were able to receive negative [coronavirus test] results on their phone,'' he said.
Ugandan newspaper the Daily Monitor spoke with truck drivers last week who confirmed the bribery. John Kairuki, a truck driver from Kenya, told the newspaper that he and his colleagues recently paid for negative coronavirus test results while stuck at a checkpoint: ''[A]fter about an hour, we were cleared to proceed. Why should I spend many days at the border if I can get the money and pay them to cross the border easily?'' he asked.
The Daily Monitor quoted ''sources'' who reportedly told the newspaper that, ''while Kenya tests the drivers freely'' for coronavirus, ''Uganda charges $65'' for a single coronavirus test. ''As a result, Kenya run[s] out of testing kits, and now all drivers are being directed to test from Uganda,'' the newspaper claimed.
According to Ndugu, Uganda's health ministry is ''highly stretched.'' He told VOA that most people working to enforce coronavirus restrictions in the country receive little to no pay.
''So many of these people have chances or can end up taking bribes, because these are like part-time jobs to them. They will have to have a life after COVID [Chinese coronavirus],'' he explained.
Uganda reported 10,788 infections and 97 deaths from the Chinese coronavirus at press time on Tuesday.
Pound jumps as EU's Brexit negotiator says trade deal is within reach
Wed, 21 Oct 2020 11:10
Published Wed, Oct 21 2020 4:20 AM EDT
Updated 2 hours ago
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Michel Barnier's comment provided traders with some optimism that a trade deal between the U.K. and the EU will be reached.British officials were disappointed late last week that European leaders had called on the U.K. "to make the necessary moves to make an agreement possible."BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - FEBRUARY 3: European Union Chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier makes a speech during a press conference in Brussels, Belgium on February 3, 2020.
Sterling jumped more than 0.8% against the U.S. dollar on Wednesday after the EU signaled that a trade deal with the U.K. is still possible.
"Despite the difficulties we've faced, an agreement is within reach if both sides are willing to work constructively, if both sides are willing to compromise and if we are able to make progress in the next few days on the basis of legal texts and if we are ready over the next few days to resolve the sticking points, the trickiest subjects," the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier told the European Parliament.
His comment provided traders with some optimism that a trade deal between the U.K. and the EU will be reached even though their negotiations have been stuck over the same three issues for months.
On Friday, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson struck a gloomy tone when warning exporters to prepare for a no deal with the EU. A spokesperson for the government went further on the same day saying that European negotiators did not need to travel to London this week if the EU wouldn't change its approach to the talks.
British officials were disappointed late last week when European leaders called on the U.K. "to make the necessary moves to make an agreement possible."
These tensions have halted the negotiations, but the EU has now said it is ready to return to the table as soon as the U.K. government chooses to do so too.
'Seek the necessary compromises'"We will seek the necessary compromises on both sides in order to do our utmost to reach an agreement and we will do so up until the very last day that it is possible to so do," Barnier told lawmakers on Wednesday.
"Our doors will always remain open until the very end but ... we will remain firm," he added.
The U.K. ceased its EU membership in January but it's following EU rules until the end of the year so both sides can work on new trade arrangements. These will be different from the zero-tariff regime in place at the moment. Failure to develop new trade rules will mean that exporters will face higher costs and barriers when selling goods between the two blocs.
U.K. government minister Michael Gove told Sky News on Sunday that there was a less than 50% chance of a deal being reached. Earlier this month, he had assigned it with a 66% probability. Negotiators have yet to find compromises over fisheries, competition rules and the future oversight of their potential deal.
In addition, the EU has said that it will not sign any new trade deal while the U.K. government does not fully comply with the Withdrawal Agreement, which they signed earlier this year and which paved the way for the U.K.'s departure from the bloc. The government in London put forward a bill that overrides parts of these previous accords and the EU has demanded that the upcoming legislation is corrected to respect their previous deal.
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Deployments - ATSC : NextGen TV
Wed, 21 Oct 2020 11:03
Broadcasters have announced that they are working together to bring ATSC 3.0 first to 62 markets across the country, which collectively would mean next-generation TV reception by more than 75% of all viewers. Those 62 ''First Markets'' are indicated on this map. Each ''first market'' (in dark blue) will transition to readying broadcasts (in light blue) and then on-the-air with ATSC 3.0 (in orange.)
*DMA ® boundaries shown on this map have been provided courtesy of The Nielsen Company. DMA® is a registered service mark of The Nielsen Company.
Markets in orange indicate that at least one ATSC 3.0 station is now transmitting
Markets in light blue indicate that the FCC application to transmit ATSC 3.0 for at least one station in the market has been submitted, and broadcasters are preparing to launch service.
Markets in dark blue show where broadcasters have announced that they are working together to bring ATSC 3.0 first to 62 markets across the country, which collectively would mean next-generation TV reception by more than 75% of all viewers.
Those 62 first markets are indicated on this map. Each Announced Target Market (in dark blue) will transition to Readying Broadcasts (in light blue) and then On-the-Air with ATSC 3.0 (in orange.)
Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY Albuquerque-Santa Fe, NM Atlanta, GA Austin, TX Baltimore, MD Boise, ID Boston, MA Buffalo, NY Burlington, VT-Plattsburgh, NY Charleston-Huntington, WV Charleston, SC Charlotte, NC Chattanooga, TN Chicago, IL Cincinnati, OH Cleveland-Akron, OH Columbus, OH Dallas-Fort Worth, TX Davenport,IA-Rock Island-Moline, IL Denver, CO Detroit, MI East Lansing, MI
Flint-Saginaw-Bay City, MI Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo, MI Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson, SC & Asheville, NC Hartford-New Haven, CT Houston, TX Indianapolis, IN Kansas City, KS-MO Las Vegas, NV Little Rock-Pine Bluff, AR Los Angeles, CA Memphis, TN Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, FL Milwaukee, WI Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN Mobile, AL-Pensacola, FL Nashville, TN New York, NY Norfolk-Portsmith-Newport News, VA Oklahoma City, OK Omaha, NE
Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne, FL Philadelphia, PA Phoenix, AZ Pittsburgh, PA Portland, OR Providence, RI-New Bedford, MA Raleigh-Durham, NC Rochester, NY Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto, CA Salt Lake City, UT San Antonio, TX San Diego, CA San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, CA Santa Barbara-Santa Marie-San Luis Obispo, CA Seattle-Tacoma, WA Springfield, MO St. Louis, MO Syracuse, NY Tampa-St. Petersburg-Sarasota, FL Washington, D.C. West Palm Beach-Ft. Pierce, FL
South Korea literally paved the road to ATSC 3.0, adopting its Next Gen TV standard in 2016 and launching 4K Ultra High Definition ATSC 3.0 broadcasts in May 2017. Momentum continues to build since the landmark UHD broadcasts of the Winter Olympics, and ATSC 3.0 services now reach over 70% of the population.
In addition to UHD, broadcasters in South Korea continue developing new services on the country's ATSC 3.0 service roadmap.
Cashless Society - The European House Ambrosetti
Wed, 21 Oct 2020 10:52
In 2020, The European House '' Ambrosetti has started the sixth year of activity of the Cashless Society Community, a high-level platform aimed at fostering the electronic payments diffusion in Italy.
The analysis and proposals of the Community will be presented on Thursday 2 April 2020 in a final Round Table which will be held exclusively in digital format. The "digital meeting" will be a moment of confrontation between the business community and the institutions, in the spirit of teaming up and developing actions for the benefit of the country. During the Round Table, the Community's 2020 Final Report will be presented and opportunities for businesses and some intervention proposals will be discussed in order to recover Italy's gap in terms of electronic payments and new cashless instruments. Read the Press Release(available only in italian version) Executive Summary 2020Presentation by di Valerio De Molli(available only in italian version)Conceptual Map Community Cashless Society 2020Tableau de Bord Cashless SocietyLorenzo Tavazzi interviewed by Sky TG24 Economia Read the last piece about Community Cashless SocietySPECIALE PAGAMENTI DIGITALICashless Society, parlano i protagonisti della ''Rivoluzione''Italia Informa '' March/April 2020Click here to discover the press review about the Community#cashlessrevolution
Learn moreReport 2019Cashless revolution: where we standand what remains to be done for ItalyTableau de Bord Cashless Society 2019Electronic payments value chain in ItalyConceptual Map Community Cashless Society 2019Press release(available only the Italian version)Report 2018Cashless revolution: where we stand and what remains to be done for Italy (available only the Italian version)Executive Summary Conceptual mapPresentazione Cashless Revolution: a che punto siamo e cosa resta da fare per l'Italiadi Valerio De Molli(available only the Italian version)Progetto pilota ''Cashless Florence'': la roadmap per una Firenze cashlessdi Lorenzo Tavazzi(available only the Italian version)Final Report 2017The Cashless Revolution:the Positioning of the Country and the Agenda for Italy (It.)Executive Summary '' Conceptual frameworkCashless payment instruments are playing an increasingly central role in business and societyItaly can narrow the digital gap with other European countries by taking advantage of the opportunities offered by cashless payment systems to obtain major benefits: enhanced transaction security, reduction in the cost of money, surfacing of the underground economy and stimulus for consumption and business.
In the wake of these considerations, in 2015 The European House '' Ambrosetti created the Cashless Society Community, a high-level platform to generate ideas and content regarding cashless payments and promote constructive discussion between the business community and institutions in the spirit of developing concrete actions to benefit the nation.
Watch all the interviews with the Members of the Communityon AmbrosettiChannel '' Youtube
Cashless Society 2015/2016 OutputsMembers of the Cashless Society CommunityMain PartnerPartner Send by email
Some COVID-19 vaccines could increase HIV risk: researchers
Wed, 21 Oct 2020 10:30
October 20, 2020 | 4:38pm
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Some coronavirus vaccine candidates currently under development could increase susceptibility to HIV, a group of researchers has warned.
A modified virus being used in four COVID-19 vaccine contenders '-- called adenovirus 5 (Ad5) '-- has been shown to increase transmission of the AIDS virus in the past, the researchers wrote in a ''cautionary tale'' published in The Lancet medical journal Monday.
Adenoviruses '-- a group of common viruses which can cause a range of illnesses, including the common cold '-- are sometimes genetically engineered and used to create inoculations.
But the Ad5 strain used in a potential HIV vaccination a decade ago was found to make some men more vulnerable to HIV in placebo-controlled trials, according to Science Magzine.
It is unclear why Ad5 increased the risk of HIV infection in the trial, but following these findings, the National Institutes of Health, led by Dr. Anthony Fauci, recommended against using the strain in vaccines.
The researchers are warning that more needs to be learned about this side effect before COVID-19 vaccinations are rolled out to vulnerable populations.
''If I were in a sub-Saharan African country and making a decision as to what I would want for my country for a general population use of a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, I don't see why I would pick an Ad5 vector [vaccine] when there are many other alternative choices,'' Professor Lawrence Corey, one of the co-authors of the Lancet warning told Science Mag.
The researchers identify four potential COVID-19 vaccines containing Ad5 that are in development internationally, including in the US.
California-based ImmunityBio received approval from the Food and Drug Administration last week to begin preliminary testing of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, according to the LA Times. The vaccine uses Ad5 to deliver coronavirus proteins into the body to trigger an immune response which hopefully protects against infection.
However, the company's CEO Patrick Soon-Shiong insists that ImmunityBio's Ad5 has four deleted genes that reduce the immune responses it triggers.
''It's 90% muted,'' he told Science Mag.
Two other coronavirus vaccine contenders containing the modified virus are currently in advanced trials in Russia and Pakistan, according to the outlet.
COVID-19 vaccines currently in development by Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca use different adenoviruses as vectors to deliver the proteins, it added.
Whole Foods employees say they're frustrated by a new dress code - Business Insider
Tue, 20 Oct 2020 22:12
Some Whole Foods employees are upset with a new dress code going into effect November 2. The new policy prohibits loud patterns on clothing and face masks, buttons or pins on employee aprons, and hats and shirts provided by Whole Foods vendors, among other rules. Three Whole Foods employees told Business Insider that the new policy points to a shift in the company's culture, which has long prioritized free expression among its employees. "We're worried that it's leaning toward a more super-corporate, you're-just-another-cog-in-the-machine kind of employee situation," an employee at a Portland, Oregon, Whole Foods told Business Insider. A Whole Foods spokesperson told Business Insider that the new policy is intended to "ensure that we are prioritizing operational safety and serving our customers by keeping the focus in our stores on selling the highest quality food and fulfilling Whole Foods Market's purpose of Nourishing People and the Planet."Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.Whole Foods employees say they are frustrated by a new dress code going into effect next month that places stricter limits on what they can wear to work.
The new policy, which was announced internally last week, will apply to the Amazon-owned company's nearly 500 US stores and will go into effect November 2. According to documents obtained by Business Insider, the dress code will now prohibit busy patterns on clothing or face coverings, buttons or pins on employee aprons, ripped jeans, athleisure, and t-shirts with visible logos, slogans, messages, or flags of any kind.
Additionally, employees will no longer be allowed to wear hats and shirts provided by Whole Foods vendors.
The new policy points to a shift in Whole Foods culture, which has long prioritized free expression among its employees, according to three Whole Foods employees, who spoke to Business Insider on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal.
"The overall morale at the store every month is getting lower and lower and lower," an employee at a Philadelphia-area Whole Foods told Business Insider. "It feels like they're cracking down on overall enjoyment."
A Whole Foods employee in Portland, Oregon, told Business Insider that up until now, the dress code had been relaxed and rarely enforced at her store.
"When a lot of us started working at Whole Foods back in the day, it was a place where you could wholly be yourself and express your personality while still working your job," the employee said. "We understand that some parts of that have to go away. But we're worried that it's leaning toward a more super-corporate, you're-just-another-cog-in-the-machine kind of employee situation."
A supervisor at a Boston-area Whole Foods said she and her coworkers had purchased festive masks for Halloween or on-theme masks with vegetables on them, but under the new guidelines, those will be prohibited.
Employees also said they were disappointed over the ban on vendor merchandise.
"Maybe Amazon is just very strict and wants everyone to look like robots and look the same way," said the Boston-area Whole Foods employee. "But we pride ourselves on the vendors that we get '-- they don't have GMOs in their products and are organically sourced."
Two employees said that they will likely have to purchase new clothing in order to adhere to the dress code.
A Whole Foods spokesperson told Business Insider in an emailed statement that the updated dress code provides employees with "one simplified and unified policy to follow when working in our stores."
"Like many of our policies, our dress code is in place to ensure that we are prioritizing operational safety and serving our customers by keeping the focus in our stores on selling the highest quality food and fulfilling Whole Foods Market's purpose of Nourishing People and the Planet," the spokesperson said.
Whole Foods came under scrutiny for its dress code policy earlier this year when employees tried to wear shirts and face masks in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. In July, a Connecticut Whole Foods told employees they weren't allowed to wear shirts printed with the phrase "racism has no place here," Business Insider's Hayley Peterson reported at the time. The same month, employees filed a class-action lawsuit against Whole Foods, claiming that the company forbid them from wearing Black Lives Matter masks and threatened them with termination.
Subscribe to Business Insider to read the full story.If you work at Whole Foods and have a tip or story to share, you can contact this reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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COVID-19 emergency measures and the impending authoritarian pandemic | Journal of Law and the Biosciences | Oxford Academic
Tue, 20 Oct 2020 20:31
Stephen Thomson , School of Law
, City University of
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Eric C Ip Centre for Medical Ethics and Law
, University of
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Stephen Thomson is an Associate Professor, School of Law, City University of Hong Kong. We are grateful to the anonymous reviewers for their thoughtful and constructive comments. Any errors, and the views expressed, remain our own. All URLs were, unless stated otherwise, last accessed on August 8, 2020.
Eric C. Ip is an Associate Professor, Centre for Medical Ethics and Law, University of Hong Kong.
Author NotesRevision received:
27 July 2020
29 September 2020
ABSTRACTCOVID-19 has brought the world grinding to a halt. As of early August 2020, the greatest public health emergency of the century thus far has registered almost 20 million infected people and claimed over 730,000 lives across all inhabited continents, bringing public health systems to their knees, and causing shutdowns of borders and lockdowns of cities, regions, and even nations unprecedented in the modern era. Yet, as this Article demonstrates'--with diverse examples drawn from across the world'--there are unmistakable regressions into authoritarianism in governmental efforts to contain the virus. Despite the unprecedented nature of this challenge, there is no sound justification for systemic erosion of rights-protective democratic ideals and institutions beyond that which is strictly demanded by the exigencies of the pandemic. A Wuhan-inspired all-or-nothing approach to viral containment sets a dangerous precedent for future pandemics and disasters, with the global copycat response indicating an impending 'pandemic' of a different sort, that of authoritarianization. With a gratuitous toll being inflicted on democracy, civil liberties, fundamental freedoms, healthcare ethics, and human dignity, this has the potential to unleash humanitarian crises no less devastating than COVID-19 in the long run.
I. INTRODUCTIONThe severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) that causes the highly contagious 1 coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) was initially discovered in Wuhan, China, in late 2019, and was reported as a pneumonia of unknown cause to the World Health Organization ('WHO') on December 31, 2019. 2 COVID-19 proliferated widely across mainland China, before spreading to almost every state in the world, with the WHO recognizing the outbreak as a public health emergency of international concern on January 30, 2020, and as a pandemic on March 11, 2020. 3 As the rates of infection and mortality have risen exponentially on a global scale, health systems have struggled to cope with the rapid surge in infections and deaths, with both local and global shortages of testing equipment, personal protective equipment and ventilating machines, and insufficient local capacity of intensive care units and mortuaries. 4 Communities, regions, and states have been severely affected with untold economic damage, 5 accompanied by mass unemployment and welfare demand, supply chain disruption, panic buying, and a collapse in global financial and commodities markets. 6 These have, to a great extent, been the result of measures taken by governments to stem the spread of COVID-19 infections, ranging from the compulsory closure of retail establishments and the imposition of home quarantine measures to the closure of borders and prohibitions on human contact and assembly, culminating in lockdowns of entire towns, cities, provinces, and even nations, inspired by the initial example of China's Wuhan on January 23, 2020. 7 The deleterious social and economic effects of this viral outbreak, many times greater than Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome ('SARS') and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome ('MERS'), will be felt for years to come, to say nothing of the extensive loss of human life.
There is no question that governments are confronted with a challenge of mammoth proportions, nor that many persons'--healthcare professionals, public servants, and ordinary citizens'--are endeavoring to do their utmost in an urgent and demanding situation. Nevertheless, as governments attempt to deal with the many adversities that the pandemic presents, there are alarming regressions toward authoritarian governance. 8 Governments must be more interventionist in response to public health emergencies, sometimes even taking extraordinary steps such as the enforcement of social distancing, travel restrictions, and quarantine. 9 In recognition of this reality, there is provision for derogation, and limitation, in key international human rights treaties during times of public emergency, including in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ('ICCPR'), 10 the European Convention on Human Rights ('ECHR'), 11 the American Convention on Human Rights, 12 and the Arab Charter on Human Rights. 13
A public health emergency does not, however, give license to governments to cast aside their obligations to uphold fundamental rights and liberties, for governments are under scarcely disputable moral, and often legal, obligations to take seriously the burdens imposed on affected individuals, such as losses of personal freedom, of income, and of privacy, discrimination, stigmatization, and excessive stress. 14 Not only are some rights non-derogable, 15 according to the Siracusa Principles endorsed by the UN Commission on Human Rights in 1984, the 'severity, duration, and geographic scope' of any emergency measure that derogates from civil and political rights must be 'strictly necessary' to the relevant public health threat, and 'proportionate to its nature and extent'. 16 The Siracusa Principles also provide that measures dealing with a serious threat to the health of the population 'must be specifically aimed at preventing disease or injury or providing care for the sick and injured', 17 and that a proclamation of public emergency and consequent derogations 'that are not made in good faith are violations of international law'. 18 In addition, mandatory measures should only be used as a last resort when voluntary measures cannot reasonably be expected to succeed. 19 '[E]mergency declarations based on the Covid-19 outbreak,' warned another UN body more recently, 'should not function as a cover for repressive action under the guise of protecting health nor should it [sic] be used to silence the work of human rights defenders.' 20
The COVID-19 pandemic has nevertheless sparked authoritarian political behavior worldwide, not merely in regimes already considered to be disciplinarian or tyrannical but also in well-established liberal democracies with robust constitutional protections of fundamental rights. Authoritarian governance in the name of public health intervention is understood in the present context as being characterized by diverse combinations of governmental and administrative overreach, the adoption of excessive and disproportionate emergency measures, override of civil liberties and fundamental freedoms, failure to engage in properly deliberative and transparent decision-making, highly centralized decision-making, and even the suspension of effective democratic control. In a nutshell, the pandemic has served as a powerful justification for authoritarianization'--the process by which state authorities 'slowly undermine institutional constraints on their rule', 21 through various combinations of the above'--and populations have largely responded with obedience.
Global history has witnessed numerous instances of emergency powers serving as catalysts or facilitators of authoritarianization, whether in the use of emergency powers to consolidate presidential authority in the Weimar Republic, 22 commit widespread human rights abuses in India under the tenure of Indira Gandhi, 23 silence the political opposition in Cameroon, 24 or promote the political agenda of the federal government in Malaysia. 25 However, the COVID-19 pandemic is in modern times very different in being a global rather than a local or regional event, triggering legal or de facto states of emergency not just in one or two jurisdictions but successively in most of the world's states. As states have hastily emulated measures adopted elsewhere, in particular through the imposition of curfews, nationwide lockdowns and travel bans, and escalation of citizen surveillance, a wave of authoritarian governance has swept the globe with profound, worldwide implications for democracy, the rule of law, and human rights, dignity, and autonomy. Reinforced by threats of criminal sanction, from fines to imprisonment, states have exerted tremendous vertical, paternalist power on citizens, despite serious questions as to the efficacy, sustainability, and proportionality of adopted measures. Day-to-day life was essentially suspended worldwide, with borders closed, social gatherings banned, business operations ceased, sports events canceled, and religious services suspended; no less than 1.5 billion students in 188 countries were globally affected by school closures. 26 It is now clear, as the pandemic progresses through second and third waves of infection in multiple states, that governments have largely copied the authoritarian example of others, beginning in January 2020 with China's unprecedented lockdown of tens of millions of people in Wuhan and other locations, 27 buttressed by an uncompromising use of quick response code technology, facial recognition cameras, drones, and other means, to monitor citizens' whereabouts. 28
This Article studies a new, constitutional 'pandemic' that is rising in tandem with COVID-19: the regression of governance to authoritarianism, triggered by the invocation of public health emergency powers. This pandemic is constitutional because emergency powers, when abused, pose a grave challenge to the overarching objective of modern constitutionalism to limit state power in order to preserve liberty. 29 The Article is organized as follows. Section II sets out an analytical framework comprising three domains in which authoritarian governance has manifested most significantly'--namely, restrictions on personal movement, surveillance, and regression in healthcare ethics. Section III then considers the use of the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext for the enactment of excessive and disproportionate emergency measures. While the ongoing nature of the pandemic and shortage of comprehensive national information necessarily preclude systematic and conclusive multinational case studies at this stage, examples are drawn from a reasonable geographical spread and regime diversity. These range from semi-authoritarian jurisdictions such as Cambodia and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, to established liberal democracies such as the United Kingdom and France, and illustrate that the multivariate inclination to authoritarian governmental and administrative overreach is not only found in more authoritarian regimes but also in liberal democracies, and that sufficient institutional mechanisms are needed to deal with governmental excesses and the psychological responses of populations in all states.
Section IV examines several examples of governments bypassing or suspending effective democratic control in the name of combating COVID-19, again drawing on experiences of both semi-authoritarian and liberal democratic states. Section V evaluates the imminent authoritarian pandemic brought about by the responses of governments and the international community to COVID-19, emphasizing a shift toward paternalist totalitarianism. Section VI sums up the key findings of the Article, concluding that a constitutional pandemic of this kind is not, and never will be, the right solution to a public health emergency. It must be stated at the outset, however, that this Article's overall argument cannot be interpreted as a wholesale endorsement of a laissez-faire approach to pandemics, such as that adopted by Sweden, 30 without committing the slippery slope fallacy. At issue is not the undesirability of implementing public health interventions but that of implementing disproportionate and excessive public health interventions that, through their content or manner of implementation, will systemically erode rights-protective liberal democratic values and institutions. 31
II. FACETS OF AUTHORITARIAN GOVERNANCE IN THE NAME OF PUBLIC HEALTH INTERVENTIONAs recently as in February 2018, the WHO classed Ebola, Zika, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), and SARS among the 10 major threats to global health. These included a 'disease X', which envisaged that a 'serious international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease'. 32 The following year would see 'disease X' come to life and, like SARS and MERS, it would be another coronavirus. COVID-19 was in this regard described by a WHO decision-maker as 'rapidly becoming the first true pandemic challenge that fits the disease X category'. 33
It is, however, abundantly clear that governments and businesses had not made adequate preparation for a pathogenic outbreak of the extent and severity of SARS-CoV-2. In the UK, for example, 'Exercise Cygnus' took place in October 2016 to assess the 'preparedness of health systems in a pandemic scenario, with involvement at Ministerial level by UK government and the devolved administrations in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland'. 34 Despite the UK ranking second of 195 countries in the 2019 Global Health Security Index (measuring preparedness for epidemics and pandemics), 35 and its already having an Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Strategy in place, 36 Exercise Cygnus'--the report for which was never made public'--is reported to have shown the insufficient capacity of the National Health Service ('NHS') to cope with an epidemic. This included a shortage of intensive care unit beds, 37 personal protective equipment, 38 and ventilation machines; 39 each of which was in insufficient supply during the first few months of the COVID-19 outbreak in the UK. A pandemic had even been assessed for a number of years by the Government's National Risk Register as the greatest risk facing the UK. 40 If governments had been more prepared, including regulatory preparedness, emergency measures may still have had to be adopted, but the palpable lack of preparedness appears to have exaggerated the nature and extent of the response, with profoundly authoritarian overtones.
II.A. Restrictions on Personal MovementOne of the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic is unique, even among pandemics, is that it has occurred in the period of the greatest population mobility in human history. This is not only seen in the unprecedented international movement of people made possible by air travel but also the local and national movement of people by means of public and private transportation. This has enabled the pervasive and rapid spread of COVID-19 on a global scale. The world is also at its current peak population density and interconnectivity, presenting additional barriers to the containment of the virus in both urban and rural settings. It is in that context that states have imposed restrictions on personal movement and interaction in order to contain and slow the spread of COVID-19. While such restrictions may be motivated by legitimate public health goals, their content and manner of implementation not only have the potential to fail to promote those health goals but also to erode civil liberties and fundamental freedoms.
The UK provides a fitting example of that phenomenon. The Secretary of State for Health made regulations, pursuant to the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, imposing broad restrictions on personal liberty enforceable by police authority. In addition to restrictions on the operation of businesses, 41 a general restriction was placed on the population during the emergency period by enacting that 'no person may leave the place where they are living without reasonable excuse'. 42 Among the 'reasonable excuses' were the need to obtain necessities, 43 exercise alone or with members of one's household, 44 seek medical assistance, 45 travel for the purposes of work (where it is not reasonably possible for that person to work from the place where they are living), 46 attend a funeral (generally only of a member of a person's household or a close family member), 47 fulfill a legal obligation, 48 or access childcare facilities. 49 In addition, it was provided that no person may participate in a gathering in a public place of more than two people except where all of the persons in the gathering are members of the same household, the gathering is essential for work purposes, to attend a funeral, or where reasonably necessary to facilitate a house move, provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person, provide emergency assistance, participate in legal proceedings, or fulfill a legal obligation. 50 These requirements were enforceable by the police, who were empowered to direct a person to return to their place of residence, 51 or remove a person to that place 52 using reasonable force if necessary. 53 The police could also disperse a gathering of three or more persons. 54 Breach of the legislative requirements was an offense punishable by a fine, 55 and police had the power to issue a fixed penalty notice of £60, increasing to a maximum of £960 on subsequent fixed penalty notices. 56
There were important protections in the Regulations. First, the Regulations would expire six months after the day on which they came into force, 57 allaying fears of an indefinite application of restrictions. In addition, a police officer could only direct a person to return to their place of residence, or remove a person to their place of residence, if the police officer considered it a 'necessary and proportionate' means of ensuring compliance with the requirement. 58 Though this invested the police with discretion on what was 'necessary and proportionate', it would be required to be interpreted in a legally reasonable manner and otherwise accord with public law duties.
However, there were difficulties with the Regulations' approach to the enumeration of 'reasonable excuses' for being outside one's place of residence. On the one hand, it is commendable that 'reasonable excuse' was not definitively prescribed, as a person may have a reasonable excuse'--perhaps one that is uncommon'--that was not enumerated in the Regulations. On the other hand, the indeterminacy of what is a permissible reason for being outside one's place of residence opens the door to varying enforcement practices and the requirement for police to decide whether an excuse offered by a person is reasonable within the meaning of the Regulations. This does not, in itself, put the police in a straightforward position, and the official guidance to police was the application of four-step escalation principles'--namely, 'engage', 'explain', 'encourage', and 'enforce', with enforcement being a 'last resort'. 59 Litigation would also be necessary to establish whether an individual instance of a person being outside their place of residence for a reason other than one enumerated in the Regulations was lawful.
There is also the potential for, and evidence of, widespread public misunderstanding given the issuance of guidance on social distancing that is not in itself legally enforceable. 60 The presentation of legal requirements in tandem with unenforceable guidelines, without specifically highlighting what is legally required and what is not, can lead to inadvertent unlawful behavior. It is particularly difficult for ordinary members of the public to segregate these when unenforceable guidelines contain specific instructions, such as a walk or exercise being permissible if one maintains a distance of more than two meters from other persons, 61 and that exercise outside is permissible once per day. 62 Furthermore, this can also lead to compliance with guidance on the misapprehension that such compliance is legally required. While this may advance the objectives of COVID-19 containment, it will not necessarily do so in every case. For example, there is no direct causal reason why exercising outside twice per day would put any person at greater risk of spreading or contracting COVID-19 than if a person exercised outside once per day. Moreover, the non-exhaustive listing of reasonable excuses for being outside one's place of residence can lead to dramatic results, such as family members refraining from visiting dying patients in hospitals on the misapprehension that this activity, which was not listed among the statutory reasonable excuses, is prohibited. 63
France had one of the most rigorously enforced COVID-19 lockdowns in Europe and presented an even more authoritarian case of restrictions on personal movement. As in the UK, France opted for a general prohibition on persons being outside their homes subject to various exceptions, though this list, unlike in the UK, was exhaustive. 64 This included a maximum of one hour daily within a radius of one kilometer from the person's home for the purpose of a walk or physical activity. 65 However, persons who sought to exercise their right to any of these exemptions must, when outside the home, carry with them a typed or handwritten document attesting to the reason for the trip. 66 This attestation, 67 which requires a declaration of the time of departure from one's home, served as a legal justification for being in a public place and could be inspected as such by police and other authorized persons. Failure to comply with the lockdown restrictions resulted in fines escalating to '¬3,750 and six months' imprisonment, or community service. 68 Not only has the new French Prime Minister since described the economic consequences of France's national lockdown as 'disastrous', 69 but also these draconian restrictions on personal movement are profoundly authoritarian, with a requirement to carry an attestation justifying one's presence in a public place creating an atmosphere, and engendering a culture, of surveillance and fear. This was accentuated by the French President's repeated references to France being 'at war'. 70
Moreover, individual departments were empowered to adopt more restrictive measures when local circumstances so required. 71 This saw a number of local authorities imposing curfews, such as Perpignan in Pyr(C)n(C)es-Orientales department imposing a curfew from 8 pm to 6 am, 72 the Alpes-Maritimes department imposing a curfew from 10 pm to 5 am, 73 and Paris where all outdoor sports including running were prohibited from 10 am to 7 pm. 74 Some of these excessive restrictions were, however, suspended by local courts such as in Saint-Ouen-sur-Seine and Lisieux. 75 There were also examples of measures being struck down by courts elsewhere in Europe, as in Germany where the Oberverwaltungsgericht (Higher Administrative Court) of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern struck down a state government prohibition on travel to various coastal and lakeland areas over the Easter period on the basis of disproportionate interference with freedom of the person, 76 and the Oberverwaltungsgericht of Nordrhein-Westfalen suspended a local ordinance imposing a lockdown on the district of G¼tersloh on the basis of disproportionality and unconstitutionality. 77 It was likewise ruled by the Constitutional Court of Kosovo that limitations placed on freedom of movement, freedom of assembly, and the right to private and family life to combat the COVID-19 outbreak were unconstitutional. 78 This pushback by courts'--laudable though regrettably not widespread among states'--is evidence of the authoritarian nature of governance during the COVID-19 pandemic, which in such cases has rightly been corrected and reset within more proportionate and lawful parameters.
II.B. SurveillanceEven where personal movement was not so restricted, it could be tracked and disseminated in a manner injurious to social cohesion. The Government of South Korea created a website displaying the movements of COVID-19 infected persons prior to their diagnosis. This was compiled from various sources including GPS phone tracking, credit card records, and video surveillance. 79 The website displayed sufficient information for infected persons to be identified. The National Human Rights Commission of Korea described the publication of personal movements as beyond that necessary for preventing the spread of infectious diseases. 80 It expressed concern about infected persons being ridiculed and disgraced on the Internet, noting a survey conducted in February 2020 by the School of Public Health, Seoul National University, which found that respondents feared being accused of being an infected person more than in fact being infected. 81 Evidence of detrimental social impact has indeed been reported; 82 this being avoidable had the government website not disseminated such excessive information. Stigmatization had already been identified as a negative factor affecting public crisis management; 83 thus, governments should take steps to counter, not facilitate, stigmatization.
In some states, the surveillance attempt was more explicit, as in Slovenia where the Intervention Measures Act to Curb the COVID-19 Epidemic and Mitigate Its Impact on Citizens and the Economy was enacted by the National Assembly, the DrÅ¾avni Zbor. Article 104 of the draft legislation purported to invest the police with powers to track telecommunication devices from mobile network operators without a court warrant. This was one of a range of draft provisions that were considered by various parties within and without the DrÅ¾avni Zbor to be too severe, and several of which were amended to reduce their severity. The draft Article 104 was, however, considered to be so excessive that it was deleted following the view of Zveza PotroÅnikov Slovenije, the Information Commissioner of Slovenia and the Human Rights Ombudsman of the Republic of Slovenia that it undermined the right to privacy and freedom of communication, 84 which is protected by the Slovenian Constitution. 85
The importance of robust, transparent democratic deliberation is therefore emphasized as a backdrop to excessive and authoritarian reactions by governments to the COVID-19 outbreak. However, democratic governance during a pandemic must also account for the possibility of excessive and authoritarian reactions among populations: reactions that should not be promoted or implemented simply because they command popularity. In particular, populations may not identify or challenge governmental and administrative overreach in response to COVID-19, and may even will on more of it. For example, in the UK, there has been widespread 'shaming' of people who have been perceived to be violating the 'rules' on COVID-19, 86 which on many occasions have merely been unenforceable guidelines. The tendency to shame others in such circumstances has been argued to be borne of fear and not always to be altruistically motivated, 87 which underlines the need for governments to respond to public emergencies in a proportionate and measured manner. Yet, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service has even encouraged the shaming of shoppers who refused to wear masks in compliance with a requirement to do so, as an apparent substitute for police enforcement of the law, 88 fueling a culture of fear and inculpation.
Indeed, there can be popular support for authoritarian measures, with polling showing that 65 per cent of British adults would support government surveillance of mobile phone roaming data to track COVID-19 infected patients and their close contacts, and almost half of those surveyed supporting that surveillance to ascertain whether individuals are following social distancing and lockdown rules and to penalize those who do not follow them. 89 The latter purpose would be extremely difficult to enforce without also tracking whether and to what extent persons have a reasonable excuse for being outside their place of residence, and noting that the statutory enumeration of such excuses was non-exhaustive. It is all the more necessary that democracies have sufficient institutional protections in place, not only to deal with the authoritarian tendencies of governments in public emergencies but also with the psychological responses of populations, such as mass pathologization and loss of behavioral control. 90
II.C. Regression in Healthcare EthicsAn overlooked but consequential domain in which authoritarian governance has resulted in regression is healthcare ethics that, as a field of practice, heavily depends on the fundamental norms of constitutional democracy, especially respect for human dignity and the flourishing of individuals and groups, in order to thrive. 91 The erosion of democratic institutions protective of human rights and liberties will to varying degrees likely undermine widely accepted principles of medical ethics like autonomy, justice, beneficence, and non-maleficence. 92 Worrying tendencies have been seen in COVID-19 emergency measures, with dubious healthcare practices generating significant medical ethics controversies.
A medical clinic providing NHS services in Wales wrote to patients with illnesses such as incurable cancers, motor neurone disease, and untreatable heart and lung conditions to advise them to sign Do Not Attempt Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation ('DNACPR') forms. These are standard forms published by the Resuscitation Council (UK) that convey the patient's wishes that they do not seek cardiopulmonary resuscitation in the event of cardiac or respiratory arrest. The letter was subsequently found not to be sent on the recommendation of the Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board, the local public health authority, and was followed by an apology to the patients who received the letter. 93 Similarly, residential care homes in parts of England and Wales reportedly encouraged or pressured patients to sign DNACPR forms. 94
These events led to the issuance of a joint statement by the British Medical Association, the Care Provider Alliance, the Care Quality Commission, and the Royal College of General Practitioners describing it as 'unacceptable for advance care plans, with or without [DNACPR] form completion to be applied to groups of people of any description', adding that '[t]hese decisions must continue to be made on an individual basis according to need'. 95 The Resuscitation Council (UK) also made clear that '[i]t is important to have conversations with patients early, when they are well and are able to communicate what care and treatment they would want or not want to receive in an emergency situation', adding that '[t]his is important in patients with COVID-19, especially those that have underlying comorbidities'. 96 Encouragement of vulnerable patients by public health actors to sign forms that may result in a suspension of efforts to maintain life is stark evidence of a departure from patient-centric medical care, and the adoption of excessive state paternalism that fails to respect patient autonomy. Efforts to persuade persons with incurable illnesses and elderly care home residents to sign DNACPR forms were seemingly borne of a desire not to overburden scarce healthcare resources and 'unnecessarily' endanger emergency first responders. However, given that courts are reluctant to scrutinize too closely resource allocation decisions in public healthcare, they would tend to apply a lower intensity of review, thus providing fewer opportunities to challenge decision-making in this field. 97
Most abhorrent and deplorable of all, notwithstanding standard NHS policy to allow only one immediate family member or carer to visit a patient in a hospital who is receiving end-of-life care, 98 hospitals and care facilities have been denying family members access to patients dying from COVID-19 and other terminal conditions in their final moments of life. 99 While decisions of this nature on the part of healthcare facilities may partly be due to the UK Government having failed to procure or make available sufficient personal protective equipment for health workers and visitors, 100 it represents a tyrannical and inhumane approach to medical ethics that is fundamentally degrading to both patient and family. A number of professional health bodies, including the Scottish Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, Marie Curie and Scottish Care, demanded, in that vein, equal access for families to visit dying COVID-19 patients in the spirit of humane, compassionate, and dignified treatment. 101 Though the Government signaled a change of course, 102 it is telling that such an intervention was even necessary. An authoritarian policy of containment of COVID-19 at all costs has resulted in heavily increased distress, reduced autonomy, and impaired dignity for dying patients and their family members in their hour of greatest need and vulnerability. Had a more deliberative and participative form of decision-making been adopted by the Government, it is less likely that such a draconian policy would have been pursued in the first place let alone implemented. It is worth noting that the denial or excessive restriction of access of family members to dying patients could be subject to a challenge under Article 8 of the ECHR, which guarantees the right to respect for private and family life, though it is clearly unreasonable to expect affected parties to have the financial, temporal, and psychological resources to litigate in such desperate circumstances. 103
A final dimension in which to consider healthcare ethics in the context of the authoritarian response to COVID-19 is corruption, which is both a cause and effect of authoritarianism. Corruption remains an underlying obstacle to equitable and consistent enforcement of legal restrictions, procurement of medical supplies, and access to healthcare. A European Commission study concluded that:
corruption in the health sector occurs in all EU [Member States]'... Czech Republic, Latvia, Croatia, Slovakia, Romania, Italy, Bulgaria and Greece are considered [sic] having a widespread corruption problem and seem to encounter more bribery in medical service delivery, procurement corruption and misuse of (high) level positions. More specifically, bribery in medical service delivery occurs most frequently, and is considered systemic, in (former) transition economies of Central and Eastern Europe. 104
In the European context, corruption may also be worse in healthcare systems in non-EU countries such as Serbia. 105 It has been estimated that an average of 10''25 per cent of a public procurement contract's value may be lost to corruption, 106 in addition to at least 50 per cent of medical equipment in developing countries being partly usable or totally unusable. 107 There are multiple opportunities for corruption and waste in the medical equipment procurement chain, 108 including the manipulation of specifications in favor of a supplier, bribery of procurement officials, and overpayment for products. 109 Though procurement mechanisms may be technically improved, enforcement remains an issue. 110 In addition, the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic also brings additional opportunities for corruption and waste. Excessive purchase of equipment such as facial masks, hand sanitizers, and ventilation machines is a real possibility given the rapidly evolving nature of the pandemic, as is the use of direct procurement instead of competitive procurement due to the urgency of demand for such equipment. 111 In the specific context of authoritarianism, the COVID-19 outbreak will doubtless prove lucrative not only to bona fide suppliers of medical equipment but also to corrupt officials, vendors, and brokers. The pandemic gives such networks an opportunity to further entrench their authoritarian objectives in weak democracies and semi-authoritarian states, and even the reliance of those systems on networks of this kind. It also has multifaceted negative implications for labor exploitation and modern slavery, 112 in addition to further regressions in healthcare ethics.
III. EXCESSIVE AND DISPROPORTIONATE EMERGENCY MEASURESOne of the hallmarks of authoritarian governance during the COVID-19 pandemic has been the adoption of excessive and disproportionate emergency measures. Often these measures have simply been unnecessary. The measures have, nevertheless, posed a grave danger to human rights and civil liberties and are seen not only in semi-authoritarian states or weak democracies but also in liberal democratic states.
At the more authoritarian end of the spectrum, the Parliament of Cambodia approved on April 10, 2020, the Law on Governing the Country in a State of Emergency. The Law provided, inter alia, for measures to surveil and keep track of all means of telecommunications, 113 prohibiting or restricting the distribution or broadcast of information that could generate alarm, fear, or unrest, or bring about damage to national security, or bring about confusion regarding the state of emergency 114 and putting in place other measures deemed appropriate and necessary for responding to the state of emergency. 115 A number of criminal offenses were created, such as obstructing operations during a state of emergency, and failure to respect measures, with sanctions of up to 10 years' imprisonment. 116 Furthermore, the state of emergency was not time-limited and can be declared when the nation faces danger in order to defend national security, public order, citizens' lives and health, property, and the environment. 117 These measures are clearly excessive and disproportionate, and the latter provision illustrates the tendency for emergency measures to persist for future repurposing. The legislation serves as a motif of Cambodia's slide into authoritarianism. 118
Another example at the more authoritarian end of the spectrum is Bosnia and Herzegovina, where a multitude of misdeeds have been reported in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These have included the introduction of curfews on an indefinite basis, the publication on the Internet of names of people who had been instructed by authorities to self-isolate due to potential or confirmed infection, and the Minister of Security ordering the quarantining of migrant centers on the basis that migrants were 'the greatest hotspot of the coronavirus in [Bosnia and Herzegovina]' despite no confirmed infections of COVID-19 among migrants at that time. 119 Republika Srpska, within Bosnia and Herzegovina, enacted a regulation prohibiting the dissemination of false news or claims causing panic or disturbing public order or peace, punishable by substantial fines. 120 These measures are far beyond what would be necessary to contain and slow the spread of COVID-19, and in some cases bear little relation to that otherwise legitimate public health objective.
India, which has recently been determined as having declining democratic credentials, 121 adopted a number of excessive and disproportionate measures with a profoundly authoritarian tone. Notices were affixed to homes declaring that they were under quarantine, which reportedly resulted in social discord and psychological issues. 122 The State Government of Karnataka, likely acting in view of its powers under the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897, published the names and home addresses of thousands of people in home quarantine. The decision, which is patently disproportionate, was said by a senior official to be taken after many people had been 'seen breaking government rules'. 123 Police in Karnataka were also reported to have sent persons who were found to be breaching home quarantine rules to a 'government quarantine ward' under the Indian Penal Code. 124 Even where the personal details of persons in home quarantine are not officially released, misuse of personal data remains possible, as where quarantined persons' names, telephone numbers, and passport details were 'leaked' in Hyderabad. 125
Furthermore, the Election Commission of India authorized the use of indelible ink for the purpose of stamping persons in home quarantine due to COVID-19. 126 Nevertheless, the State Government of Maharashtra had already utilized its powers under the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897 to order officials to stamp the left hand of persons in home quarantine with indelible ink indicating that they were in home quarantine. 127 The stamp prominently displayed the term 'proud to protect Mumbaikars', 128 thus implicating the Maharashtra authorities in forcibly applying paternalist propaganda slogans to the bodies of persons, an unnecessary and decidedly authoritarian act. These measures illustrate that, despite the potential practical utility of wide-ranging powers invested in Indian authorities for the management of outbreaks of infectious disease, COVID-19 has resulted in an authoritarianization of the relationship between the government and the governed, with numerous examples of citizens being objectified in the name of combating COVID-19. The ability for India's laws on public health emergencies to be utilized in such an authoritarian and degrading manner demonstrates that those laws are framed and enforced with insufficient protections in place. There is little evidence of the Indian judiciary being sympathetic to concerns about the dilution of rights during the COVID-19 outbreak, with several examples of judges declining to hear bail applications during the state of disaster, 129 in apparent violation of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. The abuse of emergency powers in India is rendered all the more ominous by the experience of Indira Gandhi's 21-month period of emergency rule in the mid-1970s. 130
The attempted adoption of excessive and disproportionate emergency measures can also occur in states framed by liberal democratic models of governance, though these can be checked by properly functioning democratic controls and the rule of law robustly upheld by an independent judiciary. In one example, the Scottish Government attempted to arrogate to itself the power to dispense with the requirement for more serious criminal cases to be heard with a sitting jury. It introduced an emergency Bill which, inter alia, provided that the Scottish Ministers may make regulations providing that trials on indictment are to be conducted by the court sitting without a jury. 131 Though it provided that such regulations may be made only if their making is 'necessary and proportionate, in response to the effects coronavirus is having or is likely to have', 132 and that the Scottish Ministers must before making such regulations consult the Lord Justice General and any other person they consider appropriate, 133 this would result in a major procedural safeguard being removed in serious criminal trials. It is also worth noting that although the bulk of the legislative provisions would expire on September 30, 2020, 134 provision was made for this date to be extended by the Scottish Ministers by regulation to March 31, 2021, and thereafter to September 30, 2021. 135 It is eminently possible that the purported dispensing with the jury requirement would have been the subject of a human rights challenge, particularly given that alternative and more proportionate arrangements could be made in view of the COVID-19 outbreak, such as the attendance of jurors by electronic video link. Indeed, provision was made for attendance at court by electronic means of persons who would otherwise be required to physically attend, including jurors. 136 The Scotland Act 1998 clearly excludes a provision from the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament where that provision is incompatible with any Convention rights, 137 and the Advocate General, Lord Advocate, or Attorney General could have referred to the UK Supreme Court the question of whether the relevant provision of the Bill was within the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament. 138 Alternatively, a person claiming to be a victim of such a Convention violation could have challenged the provision after the enactment of the Bill as an Act of the Scottish Parliament. 139
Liberal democracy on this occasion offered sufficient resilience and the Scottish Government yielded to widespread pressure to remove the attempt to dispense with the jury requirement, emphasizing the importance of broader systemic controls on government decision-making. The Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 subsequently enacted did not include such a provision. It is worth noting that this was not the first time a drastic change to the Scottish criminal justice system was unsuccessfully proposed by the Scottish Government. Under the same political leadership, it introduced a Bill to the Scottish Parliament attempting, inter alia, to abolish the requirement for corroboration of evidence in criminal proceedings. 140 These provisions were removed from the Bill, subsequently enacted as the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2016, following widespread concern in the legal community about the removal of what was considered to be an integral protection in the criminal justice system. 141
IV. SUSPENSION OF EFFECTIVE DEMOCRATIC CONTROLAnother hallmark of authoritarian governance during the COVID-19 pandemic has been the attempted or successful bypassing or suspension of effective democratic controls on government. This is even seen in more democratic states whose governments have resorted to a highly centralized model of decision-making, sometimes without engaging in properly deliberative and transparent decision-making. This not only weakens democratic institutions and a culture of participative democracy but also can result in a chaotic and inept regulatory response. 142 The UK Government has repeatedly justified its response to the pandemic on the basis that it is 'following the science'. 143 Yet, there are three principal objections to this claim. First, it asserts a scientific consensus that simply does not exist, as the President of the Royal Society recently acknowledged. 144 Second, it questions to what extent the Government has sufficiently consulted and deliberated with experts in other relevant fields, such as economics, human rights, and psychology. Third, it seemingly aims to shift responsibility and accountability for pandemic decision-making from elected government officials to the innominate scientific community, a purported divestiture of democratic accountability and shift toward a technocratic model of governance.
In some states, the existing legal framework allowed highly centralized decision-making in a pandemic scenario and the essential bypassing or suspension of effective democratic controls on government. India is such an example. The Indian Government invoked the Disaster Management Act 2005 to declare COVID-19 to be a state of disaster for a period of 21 days with effect from March 25, 2020, 145 with lockdown extended several times until May 31, 2020. 146 While a proclamation of emergency could theoretically have been made under the Indian Constitution, its provisions envisage war, external aggression, and armed rebellion, rather than public health emergencies. 147 The Act allows the National Disaster Management Authority, comprising the Prime Minister of India and up to nine persons nominated by him, 148 to take broad measures including the laying down of policies on disaster management, the laying down of guidelines to be followed by government ministries and departments integrating measures for prevention of a disaster or mitigating the effects of a disaster in their development plans and projects, and to 'take such other measures for the prevention of disaster, or the mitigation, or preparedness and capacity building for dealing with the threatening disaster situation or disaster as it may consider necessary'. 149 The Central Government nevertheless retains broad powers in relation to disaster management, with the power to take 'all such measures as it deems necessary or expedient for the purpose of disaster management', 150 including the coordination of actions of government ministries, departments, state governments, the National Disaster Management Authority, state authorities, governmental and non-governmental organizations, 151 ensuring an effective response to a disaster situation, 152 deployment of armed forces or civilian personnel, 153 and 'such other matters as it deems necessary or expedient for the purpose of securing effective implementation of the provisions of this Act'. 154
While rules made by the Central Government under the Act are subject to modification or annulment by Parliament, this requires the agreement of both Houses of Parliament, and such rules, in any event, would not seem to include any other measures taken by the Central Government. 155 Parliament also has no equivalent oversight over the actions of the National Disaster Management Authority, which results in a highly concentrated command structure in disaster scenarios. Moreover, criminal offenses are broadly framed with, inter alia, any person who refuses to comply with any direction given by or on behalf of the Central Government, the State Government, or a District Authority being liable to imprisonment for up to one year plus a fine. If said refusal 'results in loss of lives or imminent danger thereof', of which refusal to comply could easily be construed in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak, then the person may be imprisoned for up to two years. 156 Among the comprehensive 'guidelines' issued by the Central Government on March 24, 2020, were directions that all passenger transport services, including air, rail, and road transport, be suspended. 157 This in itself was an excessive measure, resulting in the stranding in India of thousands of foreign travelers. However, the most dramatic step taken was the issuance of 'stay at home' orders for all 1.3 billion residents of India, 158 doubtlessly the largest single lockdown in human history.
Importantly, the Disaster Management Act allows the Indian Government to effectively rule by decree, without parliamentary involvement. In addition, State Governments may also rule by decree under the colonial Epidemic Diseases Act 1897, which was enacted to help contain the bubonic plague in Bombay. State Governments may, if satisfied that all or part of the state is visited or threatened by a dangerous epidemic disease:
take, or require or empower any person to take, such measures and, by public notice, prescribe such temporary regulations to be observed by the public or by any person or class of persons as [it] shall deem necessary to prevent the outbreak of such disease or the spread thereof, and may determine in what manner and by whom any expenses incurred (including compensation if any) shall be defrayed. 159
While there are clear operational advantages to such a populous and impoverished country as India having wide-ranging powers at the disposal of Central and State Government under the centralized command of the National Disaster Management Authority in the fight against COVID-19, the invocation of the Disaster Management Act 2005 and the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897 allows central and regional governments to rule by diktat. This allows for a wide variation in regulation and enforcement across India, in addition to a want of democratic accountability during the state of disaster or epidemic. Moreover, powers can be exercised by Magistrates under the Code of Criminal Procedure to order persons to refrain from specified acts, which may include leaving one's place of residence, if the Magistrate considers that such a direction 'is likely to prevent, or tends to prevent'... danger to human life, health or safety'. 160 There is also a provision in the Indian Penal Code for a person who negligently does any act that is 'likely to spread the infection of any disease dangerous to life' to be punishable by up to six months' imprisonment and/or a fine, 161 or, if such act is performed 'malignantly', up to two years' imprisonment and/or a fine. 162 It is additionally provided that a person who disobeys a quarantine rule may be liable to up to six months' imprisonment and/or a fine. 163 These also allow for wide-ranging regulation and enforcement practices across India, with little manner of supervision or control.
In other states, governments sought to suppress democracy during'--and perhaps beyond'--the pandemic. Eastern Europe'--not long relieved of Eastern Bloc traditions of authoritarianism 164'--has witnessed varying regressions in advancements to democratic governance in the name of the fight against COVID-19. In some states, the pandemic has served as a catalyst for authoritarianization, in others an acceleration of an extant turn to authoritarian governance. 165
One of the most draconian introductions of emergency powers in Europe was the enactment in Hungary of the Act on the Containment of Coronavirus. 166 This was enacted by the Hungarian National Assembly, the OrszggyÅ±l(C)s, despite widespread international condemnation. The Act allowed the Hungarian Government to suspend the enforcement of existing laws, depart from statutory requirements, and implement additional extraordinary measures by decree. 167 Although it was provided that this power may only be exercised when necessary and proportionate to the objective of preventing, managing, and eliminating the epidemic, and for preventing and mitigating its harmful effects, 168 there was no sunset clause in relation to this provision. This may allow the Government to take swift and extraordinary action in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak in Hungary, but it removes this aspect of governmental action from effective parliamentary control. The Act would indeed have had to be amended or repealed by the National Assembly in order for this provision to be time-limited or otherwise deemed finite, though the Act itself provided that the decision on the expiry/repeal of the Act shall be made by the National Assembly at the end of the emergency, 169 which had no fixed end date. It was further provided that elections or referenda shall not be held during the indefinite state of emergency in Hungary. 170 The spreading of false or distorted claims about the COVID-19 outbreak was also made an offense punishable by up to five years' imprisonment. 171 These legislative measures are neither necessary nor proportionate, marking an authoritarian turn in Hungarian governance, and were met with concern and condemnation from a number of international actors including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, 172 the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, 173 and the Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. 174 Although the state of emergency was lifted on June 18, 2020, 175 the OrszggyÅ±l(C)s simultaneously enacted the Act on Transitional Arrangements and Epidemiological Preparedness for the Cessation of an Emergency, 176 which allows the Hungarian Government to rule by decree for six-month periods from the declaration of a state of emergency, renewable indefinitely. 177
A less extreme example is found in Slovenia, where Article 110 of the draft Intervention Measures Act to Curb the COVID-19 Epidemic and Mitigate Its Impact on Citizens and the Economy sought to restrict the possibility of calling referenda on certain categories of law, despite the fact that there was already sufficient provision for this issue in the Slovenian Constitution. 178 The draft article was deleted on the basis of constitutional concerns. 179 While the legislature has served as an instrument of further authoritarianization in Hungary, in Slovenia, it operated as a check on authoritarian governance. 180 This suggests that Slovenian democracy is in a healthier condition than its Hungarian counterpart, 181 highlighting the egregiousness of the Hungarian example and underlining the need for robust democratic institutions in the response to public health emergencies. Nevertheless, it demonstrates another attempt to suppress democratic participation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Hong Kong, the four-yearly Legislative Council elections due to be held in September 2020 were postponed for a whole year in the name of public health risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. 182 The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region cited the finding of the Sweden-based International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance that, between February 21, 2020, and July 26, 2020, at least 68 countries and territories had decided to postpone elections due to COVID-19. 183 However, this drastic intervention came in the throes of a rapid period of authoritarianization in Hong Kong unleashed by the attempted passage of a controversial extradition bill that was perceived to undermine critical safeguards in the criminal justice system. In this context, public health emergency regulations have from time to time been enforced on high-profile occasions by riot police during the COVID-19 outbreak: on one such occasion, in July 2020, the Hong Kong Journalists Association had cause to condemn riot police for allegedly abusing public health powers 184 when officers fined at least 17 student reporters for gathering during a protest to commemorate the anniversary of a mob attack in Yuen Long. 185 Among others fined on the scene were three Democratic Party legislators. 186 In addition to concerns about their manner of implementation, it should be noted that the emergency regulations were made by the executive branch and therefore did not proceed through the regular primary legislative process where democratic scrutiny is maximized. 187
Democracy can be suppressed not only in the postponement and cancellation of elections and referenda, but in censorship and the stifling of a free media. The Government of Serbia is one of a number of examples of governments that have attempted to control the flow of information and news about COVID-19 in their respective states. It was prescribed by a decree of the Prime Minister that healthcare facilities and local authorities must direct all COVID-19 information to the 'COVID-19 Crisis Staff' headed by the Prime Minister. The circulation of COVID-19 information to the public by unauthorized persons would attract legal consequences for disseminating misinformation in a time of emergency. 188 Following promulgation of the decree, a Serbian journalist was arrested after a hospital complained to the police following the publication of her article that reported that the hospital was ill equipped to deal with COVID-19. Though the Prime Minister later revoked the decree at the request of the Serbian President, it was reported that charges on the revoked decree had not been dropped against the journalist, potentially punishable by up to five years' imprisonment under the Serbian Criminal Code. 189 Elsewhere, governments suspended the printing and distribution of newspapers as a purported antivirus measure, as in Iran, Jordan, Morocco, Oman, and Yemen. 190
The tendency to manipulate information and stifle avenues of dissent is characteristic of authoritarian and semi-authoritarian governments seeking to convince populations of their competence. 191 The Economist Intelligence Unit's 2019 Democracy Index categorized a number of former Eastern Bloc countries as either 'flawed democracies' or 'hybrid regimes', 192 in other words weak democracies and semi-authoritarian states. While their adoption of excessive measures may accord with their democratically deficient status, it is alarming that the COVID-19 pandemic, which requires governments to make constructive public health interventions, should act as a medium through which further authoritarian control is exerted. The insistence on a centralized control of the COVID-19 narrative, and the adoption of a disciplinarian approach to enforcement of viral control measures, are themselves generators of fear and increased reliance on, and deference toward, the emphatic authority of the state. Moreover, as later discussed, though such measures are enacted in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, they are likely to be retained for or resurrected in future public emergencies. 193
There are two other contexts in which the crucial role of free and independent media scrutiny, and broader public scrutiny, during a pandemic is emphasized. The first is in securing proper political accountability and observance of the rule of law, not least for the better advancement of measures to contain and slow the spread of COVID-19. An example of pivotal media scrutiny in this context was seen in Scotland, where the Chief Medical Officer for Scotland was discovered to have taken at least two trips to her second home while simultaneously being the face of a public campaign to 'stay home' and 'save lives'. Not only was the Chief Medical Officer for Scotland potentially in criminal violation of the legal restrictions on personal movement, 194 not to mention guilty of rank hypocrisy, but she had also acted in a manner injurious to public trust in government COVID-19 containment messaging. In particular, a senior government official failing to follow her own public health advice and (potentially) violating COVID-19 related legal restrictions made it likely that fewer people would trust and comply with government COVID-19 instructions. 195 Following an initial attempt by the First Minister to keep the Chief Medical Officer for Scotland in post, she capitulated to the public outcry over the incident and required the Chief Medical Officer for Scotland to resign. 196
Similar events occurred elsewhere. Neil Ferguson, a professor of epidemiology and influential advisor to the UK Government on COVID-19 policy, resigned from his advisory role after reports that he allowed a married woman to visit his home contrary to government COVID-19 containment messaging. 197 In New Zealand, the Minister for Health was found to have driven his family 20 kilometers to a beach in violation of legal restrictions on personal movement, to which the Prime Minister resolved to take action. 198 The President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, made contact and posed for photographs with members of the public despite government advice to avoid direct contact and maintain a distance of at least two meters from other persons. 199 The President of Mexico, Andr(C)s Manuel L"pez Obrador, defended his shaking the hand of the elderly mother of the imprisoned drug trafficker 'El Chapo', in contravention of his own government's advice not to engage in physical contact during the pandemic, on the basis that it would have been 'disrespectful' not to shake her hand and that he was 'not a robot'. 200 The rule of law demands, however, that government officials comply with all laws and relevant guidance, particularly in the seriousness of a pandemic scenario. Independent media scrutiny allowed for these events to be reported, for accountability to follow and in some cases for dismissal from post.
At the other end of the spectrum, a total absence of free and independent media scrutiny can be seen to have profound implications for COVID-19 containment, not only in the states concerned, but on a global scale. Turkmenistan continued, as of early August 2020, to report no cases of COVID-19 within its territory. With the country having the lowest rating worldwide in Reporters Without Borders' 2019 World Press Freedom Index, 201 it is extremely difficult to independently verify the local situation. However, the officially reported figures have been deemed implausible not least because Turkmenistan has claimed to have no people living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus ('HIV') or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome ('AIDS') over the past decade, in addition to reports of suppressed evidence of previous outbreaks. 202 A highly authoritarian approach to the (probable) concealment of a local COVID-19 outbreak is of global concern, as 'global health is only as strong as its weakest link'. 203 The ability for infections to spread from states in which COVID-19 is concealed or denied undermines containment efforts elsewhere and has the likely effect of prolonging the persistence of containment measures, including excessive measures, in other states. The same principle applies to other authoritarian states that have reported no cases of COVID-19, such as North Korea, which has the second-lowest rating in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index. 204 In a state where citizens can be 'sent to a concentration camp for viewing, reading or listening to content provided by a media outlet based outside the country', 205 and where just one centralized news agency is in existence, it is again extremely difficult to verify the presence or spread of COVID-19 in North Korea. Nevertheless, in view of its land border with China and a significant labor force working outside the country, it is implausible that North Korea would have no cases of infection.
Finally, it should be noted that even where effective democratic controls are not suppressed, they may be bypassed. In just a few months, the UK Government enacted 91 pieces of COVID-19-related delegated legislation subject to the negative procedure, 206 whereby the delegated legislation becomes law at the point of enactment but can be later annulled by either House of Parliament, a procedure that has not been successfully used since 1979. 207 While this form of enacting delegated legislation is ex ante approved by Parliament, it evades rigorous parliamentary scrutiny at the point of enactment, even though the delegated legislation has included the major restrictions on personal movement already discussed, with their far-reaching implications for civil liberties and fundamental freedoms. There may be a need to enact emergency measures, such as by way of delegated legislation, as the exigencies of the pandemic unfold, but these should be as limited as possible in number and scope and be followed by more rigorous parliamentary scrutiny through regular legislative channels where appropriate. In this way, measures taken in response to the pandemic, or any public emergency, will strike a more sustainable balance between the practical requirement for an urgent regulatory response and the preservation of deliberative, transparent, and democratic decision-making. 208
V. THE IMPENDING AUTHORITARIAN PANDEMICThe widespread uses and abuses of emergency powers during the COVID-19 pandemic documented in this Article have coincided with the global retreat of democracy. The Economist Intelligence Unit's 2019 Democracy Index, which was released in January 2020 during the outbreak in Hubei, China, recorded the worst global democracy score (5.44 out of 10) since its launch in 2006. 209 The COVID-19 pandemic has inflicted widespread human suffering, primarily in the guise of health and economic damage, but authoritarian governance and human rights curtailment are a gratuitous toll to exact on populations, particularly when cases of COVID-19 seem to resurge once restrictions are eased, 210 even where, as in Mainland China, lockdowns are carried to extremity.
It is a matter of grave international controversy that Mainland China's authoritarian approach to virus containment'--which has reportedly ranged from censorship 211 and setting up informant hotlines, 212 to isolating people from their families 213 and welding people within their own homes 214'--has been effectively lauded by the WHO's Director-General. 215 Nor has the WHO delivered any meaningful recommendation, consistent with international human rights law, about 'whether, when, and how' member states should implement or lift Wuhan-inspired 'all-out' containment measures. 216 The WHO, obligated by its Constitution to respect the 'fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition', 217 should never condone authoritarian approaches to viral containment, not only because of the deleterious effects that this can have on democracy, civil liberties, and fundamental freedoms'--contrary to the aim of the UN Charter in 'promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms' 218'--but also because it is not necessarily effective in combatting the spread of a highly contagious infectious disease like COVID-19. 219 Moreover, the Organization's own International Health Regulations demand 'full respect for the dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms of persons'. 220
It must not be forgotten that authoritarian information politics neutered an early provincial response to COVID-19 in China, 221 which could have downsized the ensuing global crisis. The Wuhan local authorities' suppression of the freedoms of speech and information before and after the death, from COVID-19, of whistleblower ophthalmologist Dr Li Wenliang on February 7, 2020, may have the effect of escalating fear and inciting people to acquire information from unreliable sources. 222 Centralized, even personalist, authoritarian regimes may have an advantage in mobilizing the masses, but they tend to be ineffective in preventing the spread of infectious diseases from proliferating at the earliest stage, which is feasible only with an open and competitive political climate that empowers journalists, civil society, and government insiders to blow the whistle on public health scandals with little fear of retaliation or even assassination. 223
Technology offers, in the face of a pandemic, both hopes of salvation and a harbinger of dystopia. On the one hand, technological advances, particularly in the field of medicine, present great opportunities for preventing and controlling the spread of, and treating incidences of, infectious disease. However, technological responses to the outbreak of an infectious disease can also invoke an Orwellian sense of totalitarianism that, in relation to COVID-19, is spreading as a pandemic in its own right. Drones have been used to issue public health instructions to individuals and enforce lockdown restrictions in a number of countries including France, 224 Spain, 225 Malaysia, 226 and Mainland China. 227 Police robots have been deployed to enforce lockdown restrictions in Tunisia. 228 Facial recognition cameras have been used to police quarantine and self-isolation compliance in Russia, 229 while quarantine compliance has been enforced through the compulsory wearing of electronic wristbands in Hong Kong, 230 where all asymptomatic inbound air travelers have been required to give deep throat saliva samples prior to mandatory quarantine. 231 Mobile phone location monitoring has been implemented in a number of countries including Austria, 232 Germany, 233 Pakistan, 234 and South Africa, 235 while mobile phone app location monitoring has been used in Singapore. 236 These measures are in addition to freedom of information restrictions in countries such as Hungary, 237 Serbia, 238 and the Philippines. 239 While some may argue that these measures assist virus containment and control efforts, there are residual risks associated with misuse or mishandling of personal data, and the possibility of zero or only partial rollback of surveillance measures after the COVID-19 emergency has passed. The perdurance of surveillance measures'--and a culture of surveillance'--was exemplified by the national responses to the September 11, 2001, attacks in the USA. 240 Justifications offered for, or propensity toward, retaining control measures of this nature are amplified by their potential for repurposing and the probability of future pandemics, health emergencies caused by antimicrobial resistance, and environmental and ecological disasters associated with pollution and climate change.
Moreover, many of these measures are fundamentally dehumanizing, denying human autonomy, dignity, and individuality in the name of a presumed 'greater good', 'communal need', or 'national interest'. They are emblematic of a paternalist totalitarianism in which the individual is a chattel of the state and objectified for their own good. The potential for a camera-carrying drone to appear overhead, the requirement to produce documentation to justify one's being in a public place, and for movements to be monitored and publicized on the Internet'--to merely take some examples from democracies'--create a panopticon that fundamentally alters behavior and attitudes to authority. Individuals are alienated from public spaces that are transposed from the public domain to the government domain. Enforcement officials are transformed from being public servants to being government servants. The inherent paradox of state paternalism is a widening of the gap between the government and the governed, with the drones, facial recognition cameras, electronic wristbands, movement surveillance, and censorship conveying the emphatic and irrefutable authority of the state, with insufficient regard for whether these measures are scientifically effective, democratically endorsed, or morally defensible. COVID-19 is first and foremost a pathological disease, but it is also a plague on liberal democracy, human rights, and good governance.
There is evidence that a link exists between the prevalence of infectious diseases in the local ecology and an authoritarian system of governance. 241 It may be that viral outbreaks may be an overlooked but significant factor in accentuating authoritarian tendencies in democracies and consolidating authoritarian rule in the so-called hybrid, semi-authoritarian regimes, and closed autocracies. Authoritarian leaders, unlike their democratic counterparts, tend to be much more difficult to remove from office for their policy blunders and failures to protect public health. 242 They and their supporting elite bases are likely to enjoy private healthcare resources to prevent premature mortality. 243 As autocrats have considerably less incentive to compete for the popular vote than democrats, or even no such incentive, they too have little incentive to disseminate health benefits universally across the country; in fact, it is arguable that autocrats and would-be-autocrats are constantly tempted to suppress human development, for enhanced health security could enable the masses to make greater demands or even advocate for increased political participation in public affairs. 244 Public health requires the involvement of the populace in tackling health problems; yet, such involvement cannot be meaningful without the freedoms of association and speech. 245 If governments are unwilling to properly discharge their duty to fulfill basic health needs, then they will have stultified democracy-enabling rights like the rights to vote and to stand for election of a sizeable proportion of their populations. 246 This, in turn, will reinforce authoritarianism, as is currently the case amid the COVID-19 pandemic, during which incumbent rulers weaken institutions of accountability, assault press freedoms, and weaponize technologies in ways that the global community cannot afford to ignore. 247
VI. CONCLUSIONThe central dilemma in public health law and ethics is that any legal intervention to safeguard population health will inevitably be caught in a tug of war between collective interests and individual rights to bodily integrity, privacy, freedom of association, freedom of movement, freedom of conscience, and other core liberties. 248 This dilemma is most clearly manifest in the implementation by officials of liberty-limiting measures such as quarantine and travel restrictions during a public health emergency amid an outbreak of infectious disease, 249 as in the present COVID-19 pandemic, which has thus far emerged as the greatest global health emergency of the 21st century with almost 20 million confirmed infections and over 730,000 deaths worldwide a mere half year into the outbreak, numbers that were rising exponentially at the time of writing. Under such exceptional circumstances, governments can harness authority that is normally unavailable in the absence of explicit, ongoing, legislative approval, once a legal or de facto state of public health emergency is declared. 250 Sometimes, restraints on government power anchored in individual rights are overridden or relaxed in light of the exigent situation. 251 The culture of fear engendered by alarmist pandemic measures and narratives nevertheless secures high levels of obedience among populations, even in otherwise liberal democratic states.
However, the exercise of emergency powers outside the ordinary structures of checks and balances can be justified only if the relevant harm cannot be defused by way of ordinary procedures. 252 The use of extreme public health emergency measures to combat pandemics underscores an ethical tension between individual interests and the perceived collective good, the resolution of which requires demonstration that restrictions on individual rights and freedoms are necessary and proportionate to the attainment of stated public health objectives. 253 The creation and invocation of emergency powers can set a perilous example for future public health emergencies, with instances of 'temporary' emergency measures in place for unjustifiably long periods being found throughout world history. 254
As this Article has demonstrated, a transnational constitutional pandemic is coming of age: regressions in the thinking of public health authorities to one of containment of COVID-19 at all costs, including its prioritization over matters that impinge on healthcare ethics and human dignity, are effectuating the imposition of disproportionate, uncompromising emergency responses. These same responses are becoming, or on the verge of becoming, a catalyst or agent for a renewed authoritarianization in both democracies and non-democracies'--a constitutional pandemic of devastating magnitude in its own right. An unwarranted authoritarian erosion of civil liberties in the name of protecting public health is counter-productive and self-defeating, as it could trigger an overall decline in public health in the long run, and must not be added to the enormous social and economic costs already incurred, as yet with no end in sight. COVID-19 containment measures, like all public health emergency interventions, must always be based on ongoing scientific risk assessments, a commitment on the part of the state to provide its citizens with tolerably safe environments, rigorous enforcement of due process and procedural justice, and implementation of emergency measures that are the least restrictive to constitutionally enshrined rights and liberties. 255 An authoritarian response to a biomedical pandemic is not, and never will be, a humanitarian solution.
Footnotes 1 S. Sanche et al., High Contagiousness and Rapid Spread of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 26(7) Emerging Infectious Diseases (July 2020).
4 See The Lancet, COVID-19: Protecting Health-Care Workers, vol 395 (10228) The Lancet P922 (2020).
5 See K. Bozorgmehr, V. Saint, A. Kaasch et al., COVID and the Convergence of Three Crises in Europe, The Lancet Public Health 2020 May;5(5):e247''e248.
6 See W. McKibbin and R. Fernando, The Economic Impact of COVID-19 in R. Baldwin and B. Weder di Mauro (eds), Economics in the Time of COVID-19 (London: CEPR Press, 2020) 45''51.
7 See T. Colbourn, COVID-19: Extending or Relaxing Distancing Control Measures, The Lancet Public Health 2020 May;5(5):e236''e237.
9 L.M. Henry, An Overview of Public Health Ethics in Emergency Preparedness and Response in A.C. Mastrolianni, J.P. Kahn and N.E. Kass (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Public Health Ethics (New York: Oxford University Press 2019) 767''773, 770.
10 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, G.A. Res. 2200 A (XXI), U.N. GAOR, 21st session, Supp. No. 16, U.N. Document A/6316 (1966), Art. 4.
11 Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, opened for signature Nov. 4, 1950, 213 U.N.T.S. 221, entered into force Sept. 3, 1953, Art. 15.
12 American Convention on Human Rights, opened for signature Nov. 22, 1969, 1144 U.N.T.S. 123, entered into force July 18, 1978, Art. 27.
13 Arab Charter on Human Rights, 15 September 1994, Art. 4. There are no derogation provisions for public emergencies in the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, or the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The UN Human Rights Committee has stated that Article 38 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child 'clearly indicates' that 'the Convention is applicable in emergency situations''--Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, CCPR General Comment No. 29: Article 4: Derogations during a State of Emergency, adopted July 24, 2001, n.5. However, there are limitation provisions in both treaties.
14 L.M. Henry, An Overview of Public Health Ethics in Emergency Preparedness and Response in A.C. Mastrolianni, J.P. Kahn and N.E. Kass (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Public Health Ethics (New York, Oxford University Press 2019) 767''773, 770.
15 As, for example, provided by ICCPR, Art. 4(2).
16 UN Commission on Human Rights, The Siracusa Principles on the Limitation and Derogation Provisions in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, UN Doc E/CN.4/1985/4 (Sept. 28, 1984), Principle 51.
19 M. Smith and R. Upshur, Pandemic Disease, Public Health, and Ethics in A.C. Mastrolianni, J.P. Kahn and N.E. Kass (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Public Health Ethics (New York: Oxford University Press 2019) 797''811, 798.
21 E. Frantz, Authoritarianism: What Everyone Needs to Know (New York: Oxford University Press 2018) 94.
22 D. Dyzenhaus, Legal Theory in the Collapse of the Weimar: Contemporary Lessons? (1997) 91(1) American Political Science Review 121.
23 A.S. Klieman, Indira's India: Democracy and Crisis Government (1981) 96(2) Political Science Quarterly 241.
24 C.M. Fombad, Cameroon's Emergency Powers: A Recipe for (Un)Constitutional Dictatorship? (2004) 48(1) Journal of African Law 62.
25 H.P. Lee, Constitutionalised emergency powers: a plague on Asian constitutionalism? in V.V. Ramraj and A.K. Thiruvengadam, Emergency Powers in Asia: Exploring the Limits of Legality (New York: Cambridge University Press 2010), 394''395.
26 K. Kupferschmidt, The Lockdowns Worked'--But What Comes Next? (2020) Science vol 368 issue 6488 218, 218.
29 V.V. Ramraj and M. Guruswamy, Emergency Powers in M. Tushnet, T. Fleiner and C. Saunders (eds), Routledge Handbook of Constitutional Law (New York: Routledge 2013) 85''96, 85.
30 See J. Pierre Nudges Against Pandemics: Sweden's COVID-19 Containment Strategy in Perspective (2020) 39(3) Policy and Society 478.
31 It does, however, remain to be seen whether Sweden will have a markedly different COVID-19 death rate from that of other states in the long run'--see J. Giesecke, The Invisible Pandemic (2020) 395 The Lancet e98.
33 M. Koopmans, Sandbags for Disease X (2020) 180 Cell 1034.
35 Nuclear Threat Initiative, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and The Economist Intelligence Unit, Global Health Security Index 2019 (https://www.ghsindex.org/).
41 Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 (S.I. 2020/350), regs. 4 and 5.
63 On family members visiting dying patients in hospital, see further below at 13''14.
64 D(C)cret n° 2020''293 du 23 mars 2020 prescrivant les mesures g(C)n(C)rales n(C)cessaires pour faire face l'(C)pid(C)mie de covid-19 dans le cadre de l'(C)tat d'urgence sanitaire (as amended), Art. 3.
68 D(C)cret n° 2020-357 du 28 mars 2020 relatif la forfaitisation de la contravention de la 5e classe r(C)primant la violation des mesures (C)dict(C)es en cas de menace sanitaire grave et de d(C)claration de l'(C)tat d'urgence sanitaire; Code de la sant(C) publique, Art. L3136-1.
71 D(C)cret n° 2020-293 du 23 mars 2020 prescrivant les mesures g(C)n(C)rales n(C)cessaires pour faire face l'(C)pid(C)mie de covid-19 dans le cadre de l'(C)tat d'urgence sanitaire, Art. 3(III).
72 Arrªt(C) pr(C)fectoral n°PREF/CAB/BSI/2020081''001 du 21 mars 2020 portant restrictions la libert(C) de circulation et la libert(C) d'aller et venir sur la commune de Perpignan.
73 Arrªt(C) N°2020-195 portant restrictions a la libert(C) de circulation et a la liberte d'aller et de venir sur le d(C)partement des Alpes-Maritimes (Mar. 22, 2020).
74 Arrªt(C) N°2020-00280 du 7 avril 2020 portant mesure de restriction des d(C)placements li(C)s aux activit(C)s physiques individuelles des personnes en vue de pr(C)venir la propagation du virus covid-19.
76 Oberverwaltungsgericht Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, 2 KM 281/20 OVG (Apr. 9, 2020).
77 Oberverwaltungsgericht Nordrhein-Westfalen, 13 B 940/20.NE (July 6, 2020).
84 DrÅ¾avni Zbor, 1095-VIII Amandma (K 104. Älenu) 31.03.2020.
85 Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia, Art. 37.
90 See J. Drury, D. Novelli and C. Stott, Representing Crowd Behaviour in Emergency Planning Guidance: 'Mass Panic' or Collective Resilience? (2013) 1(1) International Policies, Practices and Discourses 18.
91 M.Z. Solomon and B. Jennings, Bioethics and Populism: How Should Our Field Respond? (2017) 47(2) The Hastings Center Report 11, 12.
92 See R. Gillon, Ethics Needs Principles'--Four Can Encompass the Rest'--and Respect for Autonomy Should Be ''First Among Equals'' (2003) 29 Journal of Medical Ethics 307''312.
97 R v Cambridge Health Authority, ex parte B  1 WLR 898.
104 European Commission, Study on Corruption in the Healthcare Sector (HOME/2011/ISEC/PR/047-A2) (Oct. 2013) 9.
105 E. Holt, Slovak Bribery Case Sparks Wider Debate in Eastern Europe vol 385, issue 9984, The Lancet, P2242 (2015).
107 World Health Organization, The World Health Report'--Health Systems Financing: the Path to Universal Coverage (2010), 66.
111 Note, in the context of the discussion on Hungary (below at 22''23) that, in the first four months of 2020, the corruption risk in Hungarian public procurement reached its highest level since 2005 and that, by Apr. 30, 2020, the share of contracts without competition was 41 per cent'--Corruption Research Center Budapest, New Trends in Corruption Risk and Intensity of Competition in the Hungarian Public Procurement from January 2005 to April 2020 (May 2020) (http://www.crcb.eu/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/2020_hpp_0520_flash_report_1_200526_.pdf) 9.
113 Law on Governing the Country in a State of Emergency, Art.5(10).
114 Ibid, Art.5(10) and (11).
118 See L. Morgenbesser, Cambodia's Transition to Hegemonic Authoritarianism (2019) 30(1) Journal of Democracy 158.
120 Government of Republika Srpska, Decree No. 04/1-012-2-792/20 (Mar. 16, 2020).
126 Election Commission of India, Use of Indelible Ink for Affixing Stamp Indicating Home Quarantine of People Due to COVID-19, No. 54/2/2020-EMS (Mar. 25, 2020).
130 A.S. Klieman, Indira's India: Democracy and Crisis Government 96(2) Political Science Quarterly 241.
131 Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill (SP Bill 66) (as introduced), Sch. 4, para. 11(1); introduced Mar. 31, 2020.
132 Ibid, Sch. 4, para. 11(2).
133 Ibid, Sch. 4, para. 11(3).
134 Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020, s.12(1).
136 Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill (SP Bill 66) (as introduced), Sch. 4, para.3.
137 Scotland Act 1998, s.29(2)(d). 'Convention rights' is provided by the Scotland Act 1998, s.126(1) to have the same meaning as in the Human Rights Act 1998, wherein it is defined in s.1(1).
138 Scotland Act 1998, s.33(1).
140 Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill (SP Bill 35) (as introduced), ss.57-61; introduced June 20, 2013.
142 In one example, the Scottish Government granted an exemption from 14-day quarantine for arrivals from Spain, only to revoke the exemption a mere three days later at significant cost to travelers and the travel industry'--Health Protection (Coronavirus) (International Travel) (Scotland) Amendment (No. 4) Regulations 2020; Health Protection (Coronavirus) (International Travel) (Scotland) Amendment (No. 5) Regulations 2020.
145 Ministry of Home Affairs, Order No. 40-3/2020-DM-I(A) (Mar. 24, 2020).
146 Ministry of Home Affairs, Order No. 40-3/2020-DM-I(A) (May 17, 2020). Lockdown measures were thereafter subject to varying degrees of relaxation in different parts of India.
147 Constitution of India, Art. 352.
148 Disaster Management Act 2005, s.3(2).
157 Government of India, Guidelines on the measures to be taken by Ministries/Departments of Government of India, State/Union Territory Governments and State/Union Territory Authorities for containment of COVID-19 Epidemic in the Country, Annexure to Ministry of Home Affairs Order No. 40''3/2020-D (Mar. 24, 2020), r.6.
159 Epidemic Diseases Act 1897, s.2(1).
160 Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 (Act No. 2 of 1974), s.144(1).
161 Indian Penal Code 1860 (Act No. 45 of 1860), s.269.
164 J.J. Linz and A. Stepan, Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation: Southern Europe, South America, and Post-Communist Europe (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996) 293.
165 See D. Bochsler and A. Juon, Authoritarian Footprints in Central and Eastern Europe (2020) 36(2) East European Politics 167.
166 2020. (C)vi XII. t¶rv(C)ny a koronavrus elleni v(C)dekez(C)srÅl.
174 Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Newly Declared States of Emergency Must Include a Time Limit and Parliamentary Oversight, OSCE Human Rights Head Says (Mar. 30, 2020) (https://www.osce.org/odihr/449311).
175 2020. (C)vi LVII. t¶rv(C)ny a vesz(C)lyhelyzet megsz¼ntet(C)s(C)rÅl.
176 2020. (C)vi LVIII. t¶rv(C)ny a vesz(C)lyhelyzet megszÅ±n(C)s(C)vel ¶sszef¼ggÅ tmeneti szablyokr"l (C)s a jrvny¼gyi k(C)sz¼lts(C)grÅl.
178 Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia, Art. 90.
179 DrÅ¾avni Zbor, 1095-VIII Amandma (K 110. Älenu) 01.04.2020.
184 Prevention and Control of Disease (Prohibition on Group Gathering) Regulation (cap. 599G); enacted under the Prevention and Control of Disease Ordinance (cap. 599).
188 Government of Serbia, Decree 05 No. 53-2928/2020 (Mar. 28, 2020).
191 S. Guriev and D. Treisman, Informational Autocrats (2019) 33(4) Journal of Economic Perspectives 100.
194 Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 (S.S.I. 2020/103), reg. 5.
208 S. Thomson & E.C. Ip, COVID-19 Emergency Measures Are Hurting Democracy Globally (2020) 110(9) American Journal of Public Health 1356.
210 J. Giesecke, The Invisible Pandemic (2020) 395 The Lancet e98.
216 A. Flahault, COVID-19 Cacophony: Is There Any Orchestra Conductor?, vol 395, issue 10229, The Lancet, P1037 (2020), 1037.
217 Constitution of the World Health Organization, Preamble.
218 Charter of the United Nations, Art. 1(3).
219 See J. Giesecke, The Invisible Pandemic (2020) 395 The Lancet e98. Consider, in that regard, Article 1 of the Constitution of the WHO that declares that the objective of the WHO 'shall be the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health'.
220 International Health Regulations (2005), Art. 3.1.
221 M.M. Kavanagh, Authoritarianism, Outbreaks, and Information Politics, vol 5, issue 3, The Lancet Public Health, PE135-E136 (2020).
222 G.J. Rubin and S. Wessely, The Psychological Effects of Quarantining a City, British Medical Journal 2020; 368.
240 R. Alford, Permanent State of Emergency: Unchecked Executive Power and the Demise of the Rule of Law (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2017); K.D. Haggerty and A. Gazso, Seeing Beyond the Ruins: Surveillance as a Response to Terrorist Threats (2005) 30(2) Canadian Journal of Sociology 169.
241 D.R. Murray, M. Schaller and P. Suedfeld, Pathogens and Politics: Further Evidence That Parasite Prevalence Predicts Authoritarianism (2013) 8(5) PLoS ONE.
242 T. Besley and M. Kudamatsu, Health and Democracy (2006) 96(2) American Economic Review 313''318, 314.
243 S. Wigley and A. Akkoyunlu-Wigley, The Impact of Regime Type on Health: Does Redistribution Explain Everything? (2011) 63(4) World Politics 647''677, 671.
244 M.M. Kavanagh, The Right to Health: Institutional Effects of Constitutional Provisions on Health Outcomes (2016) 51 Studies in Comparative International Development 328''364.
245 M.M. Kavanagh, S.D. Baral, M. Milanga and J. Sugarman, Biometrics and Public Health Surveillance in Criminalized and Key Populations: Policy, Ethics, and Human Rights Considerations, Lancet HIV 2019; 6: e51''59, e53.
246 L.O. Goston, Beyond Moral Claims: A Human Rights Approach in Mental Health (2001) 10(3) Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 264''274, 270.
247 K. Martin and Z. Mullan, The Role of Academia in an Era of Political Turmoil, The Lancet Global Health, vol 8, S1-S2.
248 J.F. Childress, Public Health and Civil Liberties: Resolving Conflicts in J.D. Arras, E. Fenton and R. Kukla (eds), The Routledge Companion to Bioethics (New York: Routledge 2015) 325''338, 325; R.S. Magnusson, Mapping the Scope and Opportunities for Public Health Law in Liberal Democracies (2007) 35(4) Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics 571; R.R. Faden, S. Shebaya and A.W. Siegel, Distinctive Challenges of Public Health Ethics in A.C. Mastroianni, J.P. Kahn and N.E. Kass (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Public Health Ethics (New York: Oxford University Press 2019) 12''20, 19.
249 D. Wikler and R. Cash, Ethical Issues in R. Beaglehole and R. Bonita (eds), Global Public Health: A New Era (2nd edn) (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2009) 249''266; R.G. Bernheim, Public Engagement in Emergency Preparedness and Response: Ethical Perspectives in Public Health Practice in B. Jennings, J.D. Arras, D.H. Barrett and B.A. Ellis (eds), Emergency Ethics: Public Health Preparedness and Response (New York: Oxford University Press 2016) 155''185, 159.
250 R. Haffajee, W.E. Parmet and M.M. Mello, What Is a Public Health ''Emergency''?, New England Journal of Medicine 2014; 371: 986''988, 986.
251 L.O. Gostin and L.F. Wiley, Public Health Law: Power, Duty, Restraint (3rd edition) (Oakland: University of California Press 2016) 398.
252 R. Haffajee, W.E. Parmet and M.M. Mello, What Is a Public Health ''Emergency''?, New England Journal of Medicine 2014; 371: 986''988, 986.
253 M. Smith and R. Upshur, Pandemic Disease, Public Health, and Ethics in A.C. Mastrolianni, J.P. Kahn and N.E. Kass (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Public Health Ethics (New York: Oxford University Press 2019) 797''811.
254 M. Head, Emergency Powers in Theory and Practice: The Long Shadow of Carl Schmitt (New York: Routledge, 2017).
255 L.O. Gostin and L.F. Wiley, Public Health Law: Power, Duty, Restraint (3rd edition) (Oakland: University of California Press 2016) 432''433.
Author notesStephen Thomson is an Associate Professor, School of Law, City University of Hong Kong. We are grateful to the anonymous reviewers for their thoughtful and constructive comments. Any errors, and the views expressed, remain our own. All URLs were, unless stated otherwise, last accessed on August 8, 2020.
Eric C. Ip is an Associate Professor, Centre for Medical Ethics and Law, University of Hong Kong.
(C) The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Duke University School of Law, Harvard Law School, Oxford University Press, and Stanford Law School.
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SEAL Team 6 and what really happened on America's deadliest day in Afghanistan
Tue, 20 Oct 2020 18:06
On a moonless night, an Army Chinook helicopter swept low over the Tangi Valley, a strip of forbidding terrain in eastern Afghanistan teeming with Taliban and located just 35 miles south of the capital, Kabul.
Among the 38 occupants inside the Chinook were some of the most highly trained and battle-seasoned fighters in the U.S. military, including 15 commandos from the Navy's SEAL Team 6, the unit that three months earlier had killed Osama bin Laden. Their target was a Taliban commander responsible for ambushes and other attacks against U.S. and Afghan forces.
Missions like this one to insert or remove an assault force are the military equivalent of a perfect 10 in the Olympics -- equal parts skill, experience and daring.
Flying low, the pilots have to maneuver a machine weighing up to 50,000 pounds over mountains, under cover of darkness, in swirling wind and dust, wearing night vision goggles. Then they have to stick the landing. At any moment, they could come under rocket attack.
Despite the risk, operations like these were taking place with such frequency in Afghanistan they only made news when they produced a spectacular success, like the bin Laden mission. Or when something went terribly wrong.
On this night, Aug. 6, 2011, something went terribly wrong. And to this day, people are still debating what really happened.
U.S. soldiers from Bravo Company, 2-87 Infantry Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team and Afghan security forces conduct their final boarding maneuver before departing on a Chinook helicopter at Forward Operating Base Pasab in Zahri district, Kandahar province southern Afghanistan on August 15, 2011 to conduct a combined air and ground assault operation. (Romeo Gacad / Getty Images) The Texas commanderJustin ''Buddy'' Lee will never forget that night six years ago. Lee is 36 now, a civil attorney in Dallas, a world away from Afghanistan. He grew up in Tyler, went to Texas A&M, joined the Corps of Cadets and stared in shock at the news that two planes slammed into the World Trade Center and another into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. That same day he obtained a medical waiver he needed to pursue an Army commission -- to serve an eight-year hitch before going to law school. A junior, he was ready to fight, but the war would be over, he figured, before he even got out of college.
Lee earned his wings at Fort Rucker, Ala., then deployed to Pakistan, where he did humanitarian missions, learning to fly into and out of mountainous terrain.
In 2006, he was called into Afghanistan, where he turned 25. He would eventually do two tours and become commander of a Chinook unit during his second deployment in 2011.
His unit called itself ''Extortion Company.'' One of his Chinooks, flying under the call sign Extortion 17 (''one-seven''), was tasked with the special operations mission the night of Aug. 6. He knew the pilots and crew members aboard Extortion 17. They were part of his command. He would not have hesitated to fly with any of them.
Lee had just flown the night before on a similar mission with one of the pilots, David Carter. A chief warrant officer 5, a member of the Colorado National Guard, Carter had over 4,500 flying hours, including more than 1,000 hours during combat deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. He taught helicopter pilots how to fly in high altitudes at an aviation training site in Colorado.
''He was probably in the top 1 percent of Army aviators,'' Lee said. ''The guy was incredibly skilled.''
Justin "Buddy" Lee (left) enjoys a cigar with fellow Chinook pilot Bryan Nichols at Forward Operating Base Shank, Afghanistan. Nichols was one of the pilots flying the Chinook shot down on Aug. 6, 2011. (Justin "Buddy" Lee)The co-pilot, Bryan Nichols, was one of Lee's closest friends in the Chinook company. They were part of the same Army Reserve unit, 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment based in Gardner, Kan. Nichols, with three combat tours of duty, also had plenty of experience flying dangerous missions.
Joining the 15 members of SEAL Team 6, two pilots and three-man crew inside Extortion 17: ten other Navy and Air Force personnel, eight Afghans and a combat assault dog named Bart.
That night, nearly 10 years after the U.S. had gone to war in Afghanistan, Lee believed they were the best team for this dangerous mission.
Extreme conditionsNothing tests the capabilities of a young helicopter pilot like flying in the extreme conditions of Afghanistan.
"So much of the war is fought in areas where these helicopters have to fly at high altitudes," where the thin air can strain the performance of the engines and rotor blades, said Ed Darack, author of the recently published book, The Final Mission of Extortion 17: Special Ops, Helicopter Support, SEAL Team Six and the Deadliest Day of the U.S. War in Afghanistan.
A typical combat mission in Afghanistan leaves little margin for error, requiring Chinook pilots to land on tiny, makeshift sites on mountain slopes where any tree, bush or rock could be hiding an enemy fighter with a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.
''They're going after [enemy fighters] in very hostile environments, who know the terrain very well, who know the battlescape very well,'' Darack said. ''It requires the highest level of skills from the pilots ... because they are some of the most dangerous operations.''
Every mission is potentially life-threatening.
''The reality is, every time a helicopter lifts off the ground in a war zone, it might get shot down,'' Darack said. ''There is still a tremendous level of chance for a tragedy of such huge magnitude.''
Chinook workhorseThe workhorse in Army aviation, the tandem rotor, heavy-lift Chinook helicopter is used for carrying troops, equipment, supplies and even the mail. The Chinook is often used to assist in disaster relief, delivering food and water after earthquakes and floods.
In combat, its mission is to transport large teams of elite assault troops, including Army Rangers and Navy SEALs, to and from the battlefield.
On such missions, the Chinook pilots nearly always fly at night, wearing night vision goggles, or NVGs. While the goggles are better than nothing, they turn everything green, distort depth perception and limit peripheral vision.
''It's like taking a paper towel roll, cutting it in half and strapping it to your eye,'' Lee said.
A CH-47 Chinook helicopter takes off after dropping soldiers in Zabul province in Afghanistan (FILE 2005 / AP)Landing in deserts or mountainsides, the helicopter rotors kick up clouds of sand and dust, causing brownouts that can blind a pilot.
''I had to learn how to land while browned-out, wearing NVGs, on the side of a mountain or an uneven field,'' Lee said. ''It's crazy how many times I can think of where me or the guys I was with had to do that.''
On his first deployment, he felt fortunate to be surrounded by veteran pilots he could learn from. ''We had guys who had flown in Desert Storm, guys who had just come off active duty,'' Lee said.
''The sheer amount of experience with our pilots, flight engineers and back-seaters and mechanics offered a wealth of knowledge,'' he said. ''We were told at that time we were the first unit to make it through a rotation without having anyone killed.''
Bin Laden killedLee's second deployment started in May of 2011. The night before he left to go to Fort Hood, where he would board a plane to Afghanistan, the biggest event of the 10-year war occurred: Osama bin Laden was killed in Pakistan during a raid by Navy SEALs.
Lee's wife, Christy, hoped the news would bring a sudden end to the war. She had just given birth to their first child. In fact, the conflict was heating up.
Lee, now a captain, was placed in command of a Chinook helicopter unit at Forward Operating Base Shank. Located in a remote and dangerous province in eastern Afghanistan, the base was the target of near-constant rocket attacks from Taliban insurgents. Six weeks into his deployment, Lee experienced his worst day as a helicopter pilot to that point.
Lee, at his house in Rockwall, Texas in 2017, was commander of the helicopter company that included the Chinook that was shot down. (Nathan Hunsinger / Staff Photographer)That June, the U.S. military launched Operation Hammer Down to drive out insurgents entrenched in remote strongholds of eastern Afghanistan. Lee and his friend Bryan Nichols flew their Chinook into battle several times the first night, dropping off troops at a landing zone (''LZ'') almost 10,000 feet above sea level.
''The hardest LZ I'd ever been into,'' Lee said.
The next night, the pair had orders to drop off more troops in the same spot. As they made their approach, there was a line of thunderstorms nearby. Winds whipped through the fir trees. As they started their descent, Lee heard a loud popping noise. The aircraft jerked. ''I thought I hit a tree,''he said.
The helicopter plunged tail first. A catastrophic crash seemed unavoidable. ''I was terrified. I didn't want to die.''
He remembered the words of his old flight instructor: ''Never stop flying the aircraft.''
He pushed hard on the cyclic stick to tilt the helicopter forward. As he did, he felt the craft leveling off. The Chinook smashed into the ground, the force ripping off his goggles. The front rotor shattered, and the back pylon sheared off. One of the engines flew off, and the other caught fire. It was a hard landing, but it would have been worse if they had landed tail first.
About a dozen of the 33 troops in the back of the helicopter suffered broken bones, heavy bruises and scrapes. But no one died. The worst of the wounded was one of Lee's crew members, who suffered what was later diagnosed as a severe traumatic brain injury.
Two investigations of the incident proved inconclusive. Whether enemy fire brought down the Chinook or a tree strike would never be known for sure.
For Lee, there was no time to reflect on how close he had come to dying. The tempo of the missions did not decrease. Neither did the risk he and his pilots faced every night.
A U.S. Marine speaks into a radio on a mountaintop after an insert of troops by a CH-47D Chinook (same model as Extortion 17) during a combat operation in Afghanistan. (Ed Darack) Fallen AngelSix weeks later, at around 10:40 p.m., an assault team of Army Rangers and Afghan special operations forces were dropped into an LZ on a mission to capture or kill a Taliban commander named Qari Tahir, who had been responsible for a series of attacks and ambushes in the Tangi Valley, not far from Shank.
That assault team captured Tahir's compound and some of his men. But Tahir and a group of his fighters escaped. The mission's commanders decided to insert another team to go after Tahir while the Rangers held the compound.
Darack did extensive research of what happened next. The quick reaction force included SEAL Team 6 and other special operations personnel. The team boarded Extortion 17 with Dave Carter and Bryan Nichols at the controls. The Chinook headed to a different landing zone than the first assault team -- one in the narrowest part of the Tangi Valley.
''You never want to use the same landing zone twice,'' Darack said. '' You also want to come in from a different direction for the element of surprise.''
The landing zone was small, and the commanders didn't want to split up the strike force. So the whole team went in one Chinook helicopter -- Extortion 17. As is routine on such missions, two Apache attack helicopters provided extra cover and security for Extortion 17, while circling above was an AC-130 aircraft, a gunship that also provides surveillance.
At the pilots' request, the AC-130 flashed an infrared spotlight, which could be seen only through night vision goggles, to light up the landing zone.
In the darkNearby, there were two enemy fighters with rocket-propelled grenade launchers. ''The insurgents had no way of knowing the helicopter would be coming in, at the speed it was coming and at the altitude,'' Darack said.
''They heard a helicopter coming, they grabbed their RPGs, and they fired in quick succession,'' Darack said.
They got lucky.
The first grenade missed Extortion 17. The Taliban shot at the Chinooks all the time with RPGs and rifles, Darack said. ''It's almost always a miss.''
The second shot hit the rear tail rotor assembly.
Around 2:40 a.m., an Apache pilot flying in support came on the radio and shouted: ''Fallen Angel. Fallen Angel.''
Lee heard the call, and he knew what it meant.
The RPG that struck Extortion 17 threw the helicopter into an uncontrollable spin.
''The extreme G-forces killed everyone on board within a fraction of a second,'' Darack said.
The shootdown was the single, deadliest loss of U.S. forces in the war.
Wreckage of the Chinook helicopter at the site of the crash killing 30 Americans and eight Afghans. The helicopter that insurgents shot down burst into flames before hitting the ground, leaving wreckage scattered on both sides of a river, witnesses told The Associated Press. (Mohammad Nasir / AP) Conspiracy theoriesConspiracy theories started almost immediately.
An Afghan official, speaking anonymously a few days after the attack, speculated that the Taliban had laid a trap, that they had purposely put out false information about a meeting involving the Taliban commander.
Some news stories reported that investigators couldn't find the helicopter's ''black box,'' referring to the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder. The helicopter crashed into a creek bed and a flash flood shortly afterward washed away some parts of the wreckage.
Stephen M. Mills, 35, of Fort Worth, was one of the U.S. Navy SEALS killed in the helicopter crash.But the CH-47D has neither a flight nor voice recorder, only an engine performance data recorder for maintenance.
The conspiracy theories didn't bother Lee at first. He was too busy. But over time, they became more disturbing, including one that suggested the Taliban had been tipped off by someone inside the Afghan government as revenge for bin Laden's killing.
''Just as ridiculous as saying [President George W.] Bush was responsible for 9/11,'' Lee said.
An official investigation found no evidence of a pre-planned ambush, though it did suggest that other helicopter activity in the area could have tipped off Taliban fighters that more helicopters could be approaching, according to the report.
''This was preventable only if they just had not taken off that night,'' Lee said. ''If this [operation] was survivable, that was the right crew to have. There was a lot of experience in that cockpit, the flight engineers and the door gunners. It was a good crew, it really was. One of the best crews in my company. It wasn't preventable. It just wasn't.''
Finding meaningLee remained in Afghanistan flying combat missions for another eight months before returning home in the spring of 2012. He finished his contract with the Army shortly afterward, and that September enrolled in Southern Methodist University's Dedman School of Law.
For the last two years, he's been an attorney with the law firm Jackson Walker. When asked what lessons Americans can draw from the crash of Extortion 17, Lee's answer is simple: Americans should care about what happens in Afghanistan because they've sent Americans to war there.
''We're asking people to do incredible things. We're handing rifles to 20-year-olds and asking them to shoot people. And that's fine; that's what you signed up for,'' Lee said. ''But at least you should care about them and appreciate what we're asking of them.''
Lee keeps a piece of a wall that was signed by his men. (Nathan Hunsinger / Staff Photographer)Caring is more than just slapping a bumper sticker on your car, he said. It means being informed.
''No one is planting victory gardens, and we're not rationing. But we are still sending people to another country to fight, and we need to understand why we're doing that,'' he said.
As for himself, he speaks out about Extortion 17 because he wants to remember the men on that mission. On his right wrist, he wears a bracelet with the names of the five crew members of Extortion 17.
''One of the things I vowed, I will never forget. I will never forget what they did,'' he said.
''Over time, certain memories will fade, certain details will fade. But one thing that doesn't fade is never forgetting what they did.''
A grave for remains of Navy SEALs aboard a helicopter with the call sign Extortion 17, which crashed in 2011 in Afghanistan, at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., March 22, 2015. The downing claimed 15 Gold Squadron members and two bomb specialists -- the most devastating day in the history of Navy SEAL Team 6. (Gabriella Demczuk / NYT)["Not Found"]
Finland PM Sanna Marin's photoshoot for Trendi magazine sparks sexism debate - CNN Style
Tue, 20 Oct 2020 15:58
A photoshoot involving Finland's Prime Minister,
Sanna Marin, has sparked a debate about sexism in the country.
Marin, who became the world's youngest Prime Minister when she took office aged 34 last year, posed for the October issue of Trendi magazine wearing a blazer, with no shirt underneath.
Mari Paalosalo-Jussinm¤ki, director of women's media at A-lehdet magazine group -- publisher of Trendi -- told CNN that there was an "enormous" backlash against the photoshoot and cover story in Finland. She said the magazine received fierce criticism on social media soon after it was released on October 9.
The photoshoot sparked "enormous" backlash in Finland. Credit: Jonas Lundqvist/A-Lehdet Oy
"If you had to generalize it, it will be men saying it was wrong, and women saying it was fabulous," Paalosalo-Jussinm¤ki said.
"It was a little bit surprising," she said, adding: "We've had that sort of photo before, obviously, in a woman's glossy fashion magazine: we have portrayed women in blazers with nothing underneath for years and years, with famous people, and they had never created any response like this."
Paalosalo-Jussinm¤ki told CNN that many critics of the cover story seemed upset that the Prime Minister had featured in a women's lifestyle magazine, and some were angry that she did so as the government deals with the coronavirus pandemic.
"This was seen as a waste of the Prime Minister's time," she said.
But the cover story -- which featured Marin speaking about the demands of her work, exhaustion, and the difficulty of balancing work and family life -- also prompted an outpouring of support on social media. In response, women and men have been posting their own images in blazers, under the hashtag #imwithsanna.
"I think it speaks of women being tired and fed up with being restricted and told how to act and look and behave, and being judged by their looks -- if you're young and beautiful, then you can't be taken seriously," Paalosalo-Jussinm¤ki said.
Marin is far from the first female politician to face criticism for her appearance -- both in public life, and in magazine appearances. In 2016, former British Prime Minister Theresa May faced scrutiny from the tabloid press after being pictured in leather trousers for the Sunday Times Magazine. Meanwhile, British lawmaker
Tracy Brabin was this year forced to respond to online trolls after receiving abuse on social media after her shoulder became exposed during a debate in the House of Commons, with some questioning if the MP's outfit was "appropriate attire."
CNN has approached Sanna Marin's office for comment.
TDW Pedes just discovered the AirBNB location of a HUNTER BIDEN photograph adding a new layer of AUTHENTICITY to the story (SEE LINKS INSIDE) - The Donald - America First
Tue, 20 Oct 2020 15:54
EXIF data from the picture of Hunter in a bathtub with his arms crossed includes a longitude and latitude location (34°07'03.6"N 118°21'34.8"W). This location corresponds to an Airbnb in Hollywood Hills, California (7556 Jalmia Way). The Airbnb listing of this house includes pictures of a bathroom with the same wall tile, tub, and wall niche (with bottle of Aveeno, see left side) found in Hunter's picture.The EXIF data also includes an August 27th, 2018 date. This date corresponds to an article by the Washington Examiner detailing a Hollywood Hills Airbnb in which Hunter was staying during the same time.Original photograph: https://nypost.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2020/10/hunter-biden-2-1.jpgAirbnb: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/27929213?source_impression_id=p3_1603166488_JMYawcKDvoyqQfviBathroom: https://a0.muscache.com/im/pictures/34c70e79-53f5-48ba-b0cb-fba7d5f92a15.jpg?im_w=1440Washington Examiner story: https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/politics/hunter-biden-renting-12-000-per-month-hollywood-home-while-defying-child-support-suitOriginal TDW post: https://thedonald.win/p/HrhePBC8/the-new-york-post-pics-contain-e/c/
Exclusive '-- Peter Schweizer: Hunter Biden's Flipped Business Partner Provided 26,000 Emails
Tue, 20 Oct 2020 15:51
The business partner of Hunter Biden who flipped on the Biden family from prison provided access to 26,000 emails, Breitbart News senior contributor Peter Schweizer said in a Saturday morning radio appearance.
Schweizer, appearing on Breitbart News Saturday on SiriusXM 125 the Patriot Channel, said that former Hunter Biden business partner Bevan Cooney provided 26,000 emails to him'--the first of which were published late last week in a Breitbart News exclusive investigation by Schweizer and author Seamus Bruner. Cooney is currently serving a sentence in federal prison due to his conviction over financial deals he made connected to Hunter Biden and his other partner Devon Archer. Archer, who was also convicted by a jury in federal court, saw his conviction vacated by a federal judge. That conviction was later'--just a couple weeks ago'--reinstated by an appellate court, which overruled the lower court judge's decision to vacate it. Archer awaits sentencing.
In the meantime, however, Cooney'--who is serving his sentence in federal prison'--reached out to Schweizer via conservative journalist Matthew Tyrmand and provided written authorization to access his Gmail account. He provided the password and username, and written authorization to publish emails because Schweizer says he believes he was the ''fall guy'' for the Biden family's corruption and that he believes the public needs to know what really happened in Hunter Biden's universe. The first article on these emails was published Friday afternoon, and detailed how Hunter Biden and his partners secured meetings with senior White House officials in November 2011 for Chinese Communist elites'--including, as the Chinese elites who were present revealed, a secret meeting with then-Vice President Joe Biden himself. The Biden campaign has not responded to requests for comment about this from Breitbart News.
''Bevan Cooney was business partners with Hunter Biden and Devon Archer,'' Schweizer said on Breitbart News Saturday. ''He was a nightclub owner'--he owns the Viper Room in Los Angeles, and got involved in these financial deals. He ended up going to jail and really feels that he was the fall guy. Devon Archer is now going to be going to jail as well, because of the same deals, but he [Cooney] really feels like Hunter Biden was able to walk off scot-free. He had reached out to me in 2019 after my book Secret Empires came out in 2018. He talked about sharing his emails, but it never happened. He ended up going to jail. He recently reached out through Matt Tyrmand, a journalist, and said I want to give you access to all of my emails in my Gmail account. He gave us written approval to do that, and gave us the password. We have been going through the 26,000 emails. The article that we ran on Breitbart, about China, Inc., is the first of what are going to be several. In this particular story what we lay out is how Hunter Biden and his business partners set up a meeting for this group called the China Entrepreneurs Club. Don't let that benign name fool you; this is regarded as joined at the hip with the Chinese communist government. This China Entrepreneurs Club wanted meeting at the highest levels of the White House and Hunter Biden arranged them. What's very curious about this is not only that they got these meetings on November 14, 2011, but they actually, according to members, had a private, secret meeting with Joe Biden himself. We don't know about this because it appeared on the White House visitors logs or the White House calendar'--it doesn't. We know about it because the Chinese that were on that trip bragged about it in their blog posts back in China that they had this private, secret meeting with Joe Biden. Out of that sprang relationships and business deals that Hunter Biden and his business partners were apparently able to take advantage of, so it demonstrates how this access, with the participation of Joe Biden, translated into commercial deals down the road.''
Schweizer said this first round of emails published late last week'--only a handful of the 26,000 obtained'--is just the beginning. There are more, he said, including ones that further illustrate the relationship between Hunter Biden and the ex-wife of the former Moscow mayor Yelene Baturina'--a payment from her to Hunter Biden was a major revelation in a recent U.S. Senate report on the Biden family corruption'--as well as a clearer, more vivid description of just how the Bidens worked to develop a system to use Joe Biden's position in government to enrich themselves.
''The emails, there are different types of emails,'' Schweizer said. ''Many of the emails are the business partners discussing, without Hunter's participation, what Hunter's role is in all of this. What's very clear, and we will have reporting on this at Breitbart, what's very clear is Hunter brings no money to the table. But he is considered the avenue to the administration. There are emails that talk about how they are going to do business deals where they want to get union pension money and that Hunter is going to leverage the relationships that his dad has with public employee unions to get that money. So part of it is just kind of a feel for what is the Biden business model, and we kind of knew this in a way but here it's very explicit that it is trading off the Biden name, the Biden connections, and the Biden access. The other way I would categorize this is geographical. The one we have already broke was a story related to China. There are other emails involving China. The private equity deal'--the billion and a half dollar private equity deal'--that we've reported on. There are emails concerning that, which we will bring out which are quite interesting. There are ones that pertain to Yelena Baturina, she's the Moscow mayor's ex-wife who we should add the U.S. State Department has implicated as being tied with Russian organized crime. We're going to be able to show that that relationship is much deeper and much longer than previously known and that Hunter Biden and his business partners performed various services for her in terms of deals in the United States. And then there are other geographical areas covered. There are deals involving Kazakhstan. There are deals in other parts of the world. There are references to Hunter Biden's dealings in the Middle East. So there's quite a bit of material there'--26,000 emails, some of them obviously are personal. We're not going to disclose anything that is personal. It's all going to be business-related, but we'll be rolling it out in the days ahead.''
That ''underbelly'' of how the Biden family'--Schweizer calls them the ''Biden Five,'' whereas President Donald Trump calls them the ''Biden Crime Family'''--operates is further exposed in these emails from Hunter Biden's flipped former partner Bevan Cooney.
''What you're really seeing in these emails is the underbelly of how these relationships and corrupt deals happen,'' Schweizer said. ''There's no question about that, and that's one of the things I think people are going to get. They're going to get an inside look because as we are doing'--we did on the first story and we'll do it on all of them, we're not just going to be reporting on the emails. We're actually going to place the emails up so people can read them themselves. To your point, to underline your point, yes these are totally separate from the New York Post emails. I don't have access and have not had access to those emails and what we are dealing with in our case is'--you're exactly 100 percent right. These are not printouts, these are not PDFs'--we actually go into the Gmail account and pull the emails out and download them. They are timestamped. These are real. These are genuine. That's one of the reasons we felt it was so important to pursue this. Cooney is taking a risk because he's trusting us with this trove of emails which includes personal information. So he's taking quite a risk in sharing this information but he feels like it needs to get out because people need to understand how these deals were done.''
LISTEN TO PETER SCHWEIZER ON BREITBART NEWS SATURDAY:
Whistleblower: Hunter Biden Raped Chinese Children
Tue, 20 Oct 2020 15:50
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Sign up today!WASHINGTON (ChurchMilitant.com) - A whistleblower is claiming there are multiple videos on Hunter Biden's laptop showing him raping and torturing underage Chinese girls, and that the Chinese Communist Party is using these videos as blackmail against Democrat presidential contender Joe Biden.
DingGang Wang, a member of Miles Guo's team, which has worked with Steve Bannon and Rudy Giuliani for many months, said in a Sept. 24 broadcast for Lude Media '-- two weeks before the New York Post bombshell '-- that he has reviewed the contents of a laptop owned by Hunter Biden.
"So what about Hunter Biden? Sex tapes, pedo tapes, one by one '-- Hunter Biden," said Wang. "Extremely disturbing and obscene ..."
Indicating extreme abuse, he continued, "Not treating the Chinese as human beings."
"Who filmed these?" he asked. "The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) did it!"
Wang indicates there is much more compromising material on the laptop, and that the CCP is using the child porn videos as blackmail against Joe Biden, whom they hope is elected president.
DingGang Wang with Rudy Giuliani and Steve
Bannon at an October conference in New York
"The message of the CCP is: Don't ever think I don't have your secrets in possession," Wang explained. "To give you this hard drive is to let you know that, don't forget, we have evidence of your crimes. You have to win this election."
Sexual blackmail is a classic tactic of the communists, and was routinely used by the KGB. In addition to the famed "honeytrap," wherein female KGB agents seduced American men and caught their misdeeds on tape, there is evidence General Secretary Yuri Andropov created pedophile rings in order to blackmail businessmen and political leaders.
The tactic is also used in communist China.
"The CCP was accused in 2015 of using attractive women to seduce spies from the British MI6 intelligence agency and lure them into honeytraps to obtain state secrets," writes Joshua Philipp. "A top-secret MI6 memo obtained by the UK's Mirror news outlet said Chinese spies were 'aggressively' targeting spies and their families."
The New York Post confirmed porn was found on Hunter's laptop: "A computer camera roll of nearly 25,000 images is loaded with sexually explicit selfies and porn (which The Post is not publishing) ... ."
Hunter Biden's attorney has acknowledged the laptop belongs to his client in an email requesting that it be returned to his client.
One of Hunter's former business partners, Bevan Cooney, independently verified the authenticity of the emails, a number of which included him.
The New York Post spent a week independently verifying and authenticating the laptop's ownership.
Tucker Carlson of Fox News also confirmed that his own team independently authenticated the contents of the laptop.
"This afternoon we received nonpublic information that proves, conclusively, this was indeed Hunter Biden's laptop, period," Carlson said during a broadcast last week. "The materials on the hard drive of that computer that no one but Hunter Biden could've known about or have replicated. This is not a Russian hoax."
"We are saying this definitively. We are not speculating," he added. "The laptop in question is real. It belonged to Hunter Biden."
The President must confront the director of the FBI on why the information housed on this hard drive was not moved on immediately.
Steve Bannon, who has been working with former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani to ensure the trove gets to various news outfits, confirms the explicit content on the laptop:
Joe Biden is a liar, a fraud, and compromised by Chinese cash. In short, he is a national security crisis. The hard drive combines emails and text messages that show a massive involvement with companies controlled by the Chinese Communist Party. Also, there are 25,000 images that show a drug-addled, depraved lifestyle '-- one that decent hardworking Americans will not want near the White House.
As to why the FBI, which has had the laptop since December 2019, has not acted on the reportedly illegal content, Bannon said, "The President must confront the director of the FBI on why the information housed on this hard drive was not moved on immediately."
He urged President Trump to confront FBI Director Christopher Wray: "If Wray doesn't have a bulletproof reason, he should be fired in the room."
The FBI subpoena from December 2019 shows Joshua Wilson is the agent who signed the order to seize Hunter's laptop. Wilson is the top FBI agent specializing in investigation of child porn.
Agent Joshua Wilson, the FBI's top prosecutor of child porn, signed the subpoena for Hunter Biden's laptop
Senator Ron Johnson, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, told Fox News host Maria Bartiromo, "I think you've made the connection," when she noted that the FBI's top prosecutor for child porn signed the subpoena to seize Hunter Biden's laptop.
"His name is Joshua Wilson, and over the last five years, he has been working on child pornography issues," said Bartiromo. "Connect the dots. If an FBI agent is working on child pornography issues for five years, why is he subpoenaing the laptop of Hunter Biden? Is there a connection here? Should this suggest that there is a child pornography issue here on that laptop?"
"Well, I think you just made the connection," Johnson said.
Giuliani said Monday on Fox and Friends that explicit photos and videos on the laptop will "shock the hell out of you" and reveal "federal crimes."
"And really, the photographs will shock the hell out of you," said Giuliani. "These photographs are disgusting, and they make him a national security risk for the United States of America, because every photograph I have, China has, plus a lot more."
"They reveal federal crimes, they reveal disgusting sexual behavior, and then they reveal sexual behavior," he added.
Giuliani did not specify what federal crimes are contained in the photos and videos, but he could not have been referring to consensual sex between two adults, which is legal. Sex with minors as well as possession of child porn, however, are federal crimes.
In a recent Warroom: Pandemic broadcast, Bannon warns the Bidens there is much more coming.
"You're going to be buried in an avalanche of evidence of your corruption and how you've sold out America," Bannon said. "You've sold out America to the equivalent of the Nazi Party in the 1930s. That's what the Chinese Communist Party is."
While Joe Biden called this a "smear campaign" on Friday, he has not denied the authenticity of the emails. And while Democrats and left-leaning media have accused Giuliani and Bannon of working with Russian operatives, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe confirmed Monday Russian collusion is not involved.
"Hunter Biden's laptop is not part of some Russian disinformation campaign," said Ratcliffe on Fox News. "Let me be clear. The intelligence community doesn't believe that because there is no intelligence that supports that."
Hunter Biden's laptop is not part of some Russian disinformation campaign.
He rebuked Democrats for spreading the Russia narrative.
"And this is exactly what I said would I stop when I became the director of national intelligence" he explained, "and that's people using the intelligence community to leverage some political narrative."
"Don't drag the intelligence community into this," he added. "Hunter Biden's laptop is not part of some Russian disinformation campaign. And I think it's clear that the American people know that."
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Apple Launches 'Apple Music TV,' a 24-Hour Music Video Livestream - Variety
Tue, 20 Oct 2020 15:33
Apple has launched Apple Music TV, a free 24-hour curated livestream of popular music videos that will also include ''exclusive new music videos and premiers, special curated music video blocks, and live shows and events as well as chart countdowns and guests,'' according to the announcement.
Apple Music TV will be available to U.S. residents only on the Apple Music app and the Apple TV app. It can be found at apple.co/AppleMusicTV and in the browse tab in the Apple Music and Apple TV app.
The service premiered Monday morning (Oct. 19) with a countdown of the top 100 all-time most-streamed songs in the U.S. on Apple Music. On Thursday (October 22), it will celebrate the upcoming release of Bruce Springsteens's ''Letter to You'' album with an ''all day Bruce takeover'' featuring music-video blocks of his most popular videos, an interview with Zane Lowe, anchor of Apple Music's radio station, and a special livestream fan event.
It will also have two exclusive video premieres on Friday at 12 p.m. ET/9 a.m. PT, Joji's ''777'' and Saint Jhn's ''Gorgeous''; the channel will premiere new videos every Friday at that time.
Further details were scant before launch, but Lowe's involvement implies a connection between the new TV channel and Apple Music 1 radio station (formerly called Beats 1), its on-air hosts and its purview, which is geared toward hits but features adventurous programming, largely overseen by Lowe. However, the fact that the channel is launching with a heritage artist like Springsteen implies a difference in scope.
The move is the long-anticipated culmination of years of speculation and talk about when and how the company would move into the music video space, which has long been dominated by YouTube, Vevo and, in the past, MTV.
Surprisingly, the announcement includes no specific mention of music documentaries, which is a format the company has already invested in '-- most notably the forthcoming Billie Eilish feature-length doc ''The World's a Little Blurry,'' which is scheduled for release in February.
Apple Music has created a bounty of original content since its official launch in 2015, including concert films, interviews and more '-- ''that content will now also have a home on Apple Music TV,'' the announcement promises.
Nation State of Mind on Twitter: "Somebody needs to hear this: Black liberation isn't brought to you by AT&T, sponsored by Wells Fargo, or managed by Roc Nation. And it certainly doesn't come with a Warner Bros. Television deal, or a shoe from Nik
Tue, 20 Oct 2020 15:33
Nation State of Mind : Somebody needs to hear this:Black liberation isn't brought to you by AT&T, sponsored by Wells Fargo, or managed b'... https://t.co/UD6qNInSf9
Sat Oct 17 18:42:51 +0000 2020
Bizcaptain : @OmowaleAfrika @WarTimeGirl She is a sell out because she was never real
Tue Oct 20 15:15:03 +0000 2020
Paul Marks : @OmowaleAfrika @PrisonPlanet Profitable being a Marxist terrorist - Big Business falls over themselves to throw mon'... https://t.co/f21ZcNeIgZ
Tue Oct 20 11:46:05 +0000 2020
Audio's Opportunity and Who Will Capture It '-- MatthewBall.vc
Tue, 20 Oct 2020 15:28
As most of the major media categories '-- music, video and video games '-- have existed for decades, we tend to forget that media is technology. Instead, we think of technology as being used to express media, rather than media itself. Spotify, for example, is an internet streaming music service, while iTunes is a download music service, SiriusXM is satellite broadcast music service, and radio is a terrestrial broadcast technology. This focus on delivery ignores the classic definition of media: '' outlets or tools used to store and deliver information or data.''
While the above might seem preoccupied with theory and philosophy, all analysis of the past and future of a given media category must start from the fact that media is technology. This is because technology not only enables content categories, it defines their business models and shapes the content, too. And as we know, technology is in a constant process of change.
Chapter 1: How Technology Created Recorded Media, Then Continually Redefined It
Music offers a great view into the interplay between technology, business model and content. Consider the following triptych, which covers seven decades, two decades and one year, respectively.
When the flat record first emerged in the 1850s, it standardized around the 78. The 78 (as in 78 rotations per minute) came in a 10-inch version that held three minutes of music and a 12-inch version that held four. This meant that after centuries of variability, music suddenly had a defined run-time.
This length was reaffirmed by the first mass market standard for consumer media: the 45 RPM vinyl single, which launched in 1948 and held roughly three minutes. The music industry coalesced around this format (and its runtime) for a variety of tech-based reasons. The 45 was far cheaper for consumers than a 78 album, which was important given the high cost of record players and the ubiquity of free (singles-focused) radio. The 45's cost advantage also meant it was the primary way labels delivered singles to thousands of radio stations across the country for local airplay. In addition, RCA quickly figured out how to make a stackable version of 45s, which was important to jukebox manufacturers. The rise of the 45 naturally led the length of the average song to decline; a four-minute song simply couldn't fit on the most important audio format in the world.
As the physical and financial limitations of the 78 and 45 were relieved, and the far more flexible cassette and CD emerged, the length of the average single grew rapidly, adding nearly two minutes (or 78%) from 1959 to 1992. Still, almost all tracks conformed to the three-to-four minute standard. After decades, the West had become used to the idea that a song was roughly between three minutes and 20 seconds and four minutes and 10 seconds long.
On its surface, the shift to digital audio should have led to further increases in song length. After all, there was no longer any limitation to run-time. However, the reverse occurred. Technology might have relaxed its grip on music's length, but it had strengthened its hold on business models.
As is well known, iTunes unbundled the physical album in individually downloadable (and bought) tracks. But in doing so, it penalized artists for bundling a multi-part song into a single track. Pink Floyd's decision to split the 26-minute and nine-part Shine on You Crazy Diamond into two discrete tracks didn't matter in 1975; all nine parts fit on a single record and no one wanted to buy just a single half let alone a single part. But in 2005, such a move could mean missing out on 75% of revenues '-- why sell two things when you could sell nine? And why would a consumer buy an entire $10 album if all they wanted was two $1 portions of Shine on You Crazy Diamond? These incentives naturally led to artists that were publishing new music to split their longer/multi-section songs into separate '-- and shorter '-- preludes, interludes and segments.
This behaviour has been greatly exacerbated by the advent of a new and even more disruptive digital music technology: on-demand streaming. While iTunes was technically innovative, its business model was not. Consumers, after all, primarily owned copies of individual tracks in the 1950s and 1960s. Spotify and Apple Music, meanwhile, meant consumers adopted not just a new music technology, but also bought an entirely different product: ongoing access to all music ever created.
But as technology has shifted consumers away from discrete and attributable transactions (buying record A on date B) to ongoing and general ones (subscribing to service C in perpetuity), musical talent needed a new compensation model. Spotify, therefore, decided to pay talent as and to the degree consumers listened to their works. Matching revenue with usage is intuitive, but it was never before possible in music. There was no way to track at-home record spins or CD plays, let alone charge for them. Nor was it practical for iTunes to ask users to download an individual song to their devices and pay several pennies per play when they later synched their iPod to iTunes. (This would have been rife with abuse, too.)
Engagement-based monetization is arguably more fair. Consider, for example, that the Beatles' Yesterday and Psy's Gangnam Style would each generate $1 when sold on iTunes, even if the former was played 2,000 times over ten years and the latter 30 times in the month it was bought and then never again. But the more that business models change, the more that incentives and content change, too.
To support engagement-based monetization, Spotify and its label suppliers had to define engagement. And they chose to do this on a per stream basis with a minimum stream time of 30 seconds (to avoid accidental plays, track skipping, etc.). However, this meant that a 10-minute track, five-minute track and 31-second track generated the same royalties.
So as the music industry has transitioned the majority of its revenues from CDs and downloads to streaming, major artists have relentlessly shortened and split their tracks. Why release a five-minute song if you can make it a two and a half-minute song that's played twice? Or two different two and a half-minute songs? This meant artists had yet another reason to reduce track lengths
All of this helps to explain the extraordinary success of the 2019's top track, Old Town Road by Lil Nas X, which is also Billboard's longest running #1 ever, at 19 consecutive weeks. While the song is awesome, it's also only one minute and 53 seconds '-- roughly half of 2019's average song length. This means that four minutes of listening generated two times the average revenue and charting lift of every other hit song that year.
Old Town Road isn't an exception, either. Up until 2017, Billboard's Hot 100 Chart has never had a year with more than 2% of its charting tracks shorter than two minutes and 30 seconds (most years had none). In the past three years, this sum has skyrocketed to over 12%, or roughly one in every eight tracks.
Notably, labels are also encouraging artists to simplify the name of their songs and albums in order to ensure they're optimized for voice-controlled speakers and touchscreen-based searches. A track with five words is more likely to be misunderstood or suffer from autocorrect than one with two. Similarly, voice assistants are known to struggle with accents, such as Irish or even Texan. Being hard to say means you might not get played.
Old Town Road isn't the first time technology made a hit. In fact, the modern day dominance of rap and R&B comes from how changes in technology '' not for delivery, but sales recognition '' afforded Lil Nas X the opportunity to top the charts in the first place.
Prior to the 1990s, Black artists and music fans had spent decades arguing the record industry conspired against ''urban contemporary'' music by refusing it radio play and ignoring its sales. It took only five weeks after Billboard adopted SoundScan, a computerized sales database, to prove this theory right.
Until 1991, Billboard charts weren't based on actual unit sales or radio play. Instead, it was assembled using (white) retail clerk estimates of what was selling best and what (white) DJs considered to be ''hottest'' each week. According to The Atlantic, both groups had reasons to lie. For example, labels would pressure radio stations to favour ''hand-picked hits'' if they wanted to keep receiving the newest single on time (stations sometimes received bribes to play specific tracks, too). Meanwhile, labels would force inventory on their retailers, who would then overreport sales to convince music fans to buy excess inventory.
Naturally, those who ran the music industry saw little need to overhaul how it worked. And thus while the book and film industries had shifted to computerized sales databases in the 1980s, not one of the top six record distributors signed onto SoundScan before its release in June 1991. But this resistance didn't stop N.W.A.'s N***az4life from debuting #2 on the Billboard Top 100 the very next month under SoundScan. This was the highest charting performance in rap history '' and happened without any radio airplay, music video airings on MTV, or a concert tour. The failings of the old honour system were further demonstrated by the fact that N.W.A. debuted at only #21 on Billboard's R&B chart, which wasn't yet on SoundScan. Somehow it was possible that N***az4life was the second biggest album in the country by units purchased, but 21st in its own genre when it came to what was ''selling'' and ''hottest.'' One week after it's release, the album hit #1 on the Billboard chart (displacing R.E.M) as hundreds of thousands flocked to the record store in search of the ''surprise'' hit.
In the following years, the R&B/hip hop genre achieved three other industry ''firsts." It saw the fastest rise from a non-top ten genre to Billboard's most popular one, has been the most dominant #1 by share, and holds the longest run as #1 (note the chart below ends in 2010, but this reign persists through to date).
Even the Beatles, though doubtlessly destined for success, were elevated by changing technology. Between 1954 and 1962, 5.5 million transistor radios were sold in the United States. In 1963 this install base nearly doubled to 10 million, many of which were received as Christmas gifts. The top use case (or ''killer app'') for this newly ubiquitous device? Listening to the Beatles' I Want to Hold Your Hand, which was coincidentally released for radio play on December 26th. Within a month, the song had become the Beatles' first Billboard #1, thereby landing the group its February appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show and jump-starting Beatlemania.
Sixty years later, the significance of the transistor radio is easy to forget, or to otherwise lump in with less disruptive 20th century audio inventions such as the 8-track or cassette deck. However, the device ''was the technological spark that lit the fuse of teen culture in the 60s,'' CBS wrote in 2014. ''It enabled both public and private listening behaviours in a combination equaled by neither prior nor subsequent technologies. Public, because you could take it anywhere and share music with your friends in the schoolyard, on the beach, wherever, in an unprecedented fashion. Private, because you could listen through an earplug as you walked down the street, or sat in the back of the class, or lay in your bed at night, under the covers, so your parents wouldn't know.'' It is difficult to think of an artist or group that better deserved the promotional platform that the transistor radio offered the Beatles. However, no amount of marketing spend could have bought the band such an enormous opportunity '-- only technology.
Chapter 2: Sisyphus' Soundtrack
Although music offers many examples of how changes in media technology lead to changed business models and content, the category is nevertheless considered a tragic outlier in the media industry because of its economic non-responsiveness to technology.
Consider the chart below, which shows how recorded music technologies have spanned six different mediums (vinyl, 8-track, cassette, disc, offline download, streaming) across a seven-decade period, but only to see industry revenues replaced at best and reduced at worst. This is despite the fact that new genres were created, new sounds and instruments emerged, and monetization was transformed twice over. Note, too, that the core listening experience was also continuously improved: cassettes brought portability to recorded music, CDs brought quality and defined track starts/stops, downloads meant your entire library traveled with you and streaming meant the entire library of music was available at all times. In fact, these advances were so great that audiences spent billions re-buying music they already owned on a new format. But re-buying old music isn't a growth market.
TV Outgrew the Radio Star
Compare the audio chart to video, which grew with the addition of broadcast TV atop film, cable television atop broadcast, with satellite and fibre-optic video driving further gains, and now digital video. Netflix might be disrupting Hollywood and cord cutting might be at all-time highs, but video revenues have never been greater.
This is because over-the-top video, as with prior video innovations, did more than just discover new genres and talent. It fundamentally transformed video delivery, creation and monetization, as well as the video content itself.
It was obvious that the addition of at-home viewership would expand the video market. However, the first technology used to deliver it, broadcast, had many great advantages. Chief among them was ubiquitous coverage and no marginal costs. Every household in a given area '' and every room in the household '' received a broadcast transmission from a single tower. In addition, there was no cost to setting up a household nor sending content. This meant that broadcast TV was easy to get and could also be free. These two attributes enabled TV to penetrate the American market at an unprecedented rate. Only two in 10 Americans had seen a television in operation in 1945. By 1950, one in 10 owned one, and by 1962, nine in ten did.
However, broadcast had significant constraints. For example, there was only enough broadcast spectrum for a few channels. There was no ability to customer discriminate '' every customer received the same service, or none at all '' or charge, either. These limitations meant that rather than sell consumers entertainment, the video industry effectively bought consumer attention with entertainment and then sold this attention to third parties through ads. Thus the focus of competition was not the best content, but reaching the most viewers at any point. There was no space '' literally '' for niche or specialty programming, nor content that might offend advertisers, the sole source of revenues. Broadcast distribution also meant all content aired live. As a result, all shows ran exactly 30 or 60 minutes, including ads, which informed how long an act or scene might be.
Cable removed a number of broadcast restraints. For the first time in TV history, it was now possible to discriminate between households and charge, too. Neighbour A might get no cable service, Neighbour B a basic tier, and Neighbour C a premium one. This meant that television could add a new business model: consumer fees. Coaxial cable massively expanded the number of concurrent video feeds a household could receive. These two changes allowed new TV networks that focused on serving niche populations rather than the broadest possible audience to emerge, including ESPN, CNN, MTV, BET and HBO. These channels, in turn, helped convince audiences to abandon free TV for pay TV. It also helped increase TV watch time. While the share of U.S. homes with TV didn't grow from 1961 to 2010, usage jumped from five hours to eight and a half hours per day. Nobody liked their cable bill, but they sure liked what it got them. The more they watched, the more money they paid, and the more content the industry could produce and the better it could be.
Specialty channels also made it easier to target specific audiences, which helped increase TV's ad revenues. Meanwhile, HBO used cable distribution to skip advertising altogether, which allowed it to distribute feature films without censors or edits, and, later, produce original series with levels of nudity and violence that no advertiser would have allowed. By 2010, HBO had become the single most profitable network in the U.S.
Of course, cable technology also introduced new constraints. The high cost of installing and operating cable meant it was now necessary for consumers to pay for television. Since television networks didn't have the skills or capital to lay down cable themselves, they had to be dis-intermediated by dedicated cable companies that bought the right to distribute these networks and charge the consumer for access.
The difficulty and cost of laying cable had other impacts. Most households didn't want their lawns dug up for two different cable companies, nor two different cable boxes set to different TV inputs. Accordingly, every home received video from only one provider. In addition, infrastructure costs were so high that many markets had only one provider in the first place '' it rarely made sense for a second entrant to duplicate a first entrant's footprint. This meant TV service was uncompetitive and prices were high '-- though it also meant consumers didn't face exclusives. If we could have picked between Comcast or Time Warner Cable or Charter or BrightHouse or Verizon, you can bet the channels would have been different. ''Showtime, now a Verizon exclusive network.''
Early cable technology also meant that households couldn't access select channels or technically receive them on a selective basis (hence packages being ''first 50'', then ''all''). This eventually led to an overstuffed bundle that forced channels on households. This also meant that all the major media companies were sold together and shared customers '' they competed for time, but not access nor individual customers.
The advent of digital video opened up the technology/business model/content loop yet again. Today, a network can reach consumers without dedicated infrastructure (i.e. the multi-purpose internet versus TV-specific coaxial cable), and so they sell directly and individually. This means exclusives are frequent, content fragmentation is high, and some networks (e.g. Netflix) have many times the customers as another (e.g. Epix).
OTT video has also transformed content. As content has shifted online, serialized long-form storytelling has become dominant. Rich, plot driven series like Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones aren't viable if the audience can't catch most (if not all) original airings exactly when they start. Without the ability to catch up on a show mid-run, these series would never be able to attract new viewers and would decline in reach with every episode forever. The removal of commercials, meanwhile, meant that series no longer needed to be structured around ad breaks that occur every four to six minutes, or plotted so that scene would be exciting and/or funny enough to get a viewer to come back after a commercial. Similarly, a show could be any length.
Not all changes have been good. Some have argued the shift to serialized storytelling has also led to overlong, bloated series. The fact that every comedy had only 22 minutes meant good jokes were left on the cutting room floor, but so too were bad jokes and narrative fat. And just as it was hard to keep a viewer watching when every episode was filled with ads and aired 167 hours apart, it has arguably become too easy to keep a viewer watching when all they need to do is sit on their couch and wait for ad-free autoplays. Netflix Co-CEO Ted Sarandos has effectively admitted that streaming allows less compelling shows to survive, saying he was a big fan of Succession on HBO, but ''If I liked the show a little bit less I'd probably burn out on it. Because I get aggravated every week waiting for the next episode." (Craig Mazin is the writer-director-showrunner of HBO's Chernobyl, and the forthcoming HBO series The Last of Us).
Similarly, Netflix has said its primary driver of retention and pricing power is total watch time. This means there are network-based incentives to squeeze a little more out of every series. Of course, all networks have hoped to keep their shows running as long as possible. However, having a string of dull-to-fine episodes meant viewers wouldn't come back a week later. What's more, the studios behind streaming TV series are paid a markup on their total production costs '' so they, too, have incentives to elongate a season.
Finally, the key important innovation in streaming video wasn't how it affected pay TV models or content, but how it created altogether new formats. The most popular video service in the United States is now YouTube, which is almost entirely user-generated content. Twitch delivers more hours of entertainment daily than all but 25 traditional pay TV networks. US TikTok revenue remains unknown, but obviously large. Collectively, UGC video services generated over $10 billion in 2019, representing roughly 25% of growth since 2010. The economic models here are incredibly unique versus broadcast, cable or digital television.
Video Game On
Video gaming is another incredible contrast with audio. Here, we see consistently additive growth. New technologies operate like geological strata, building upon one another, never needing to cannibalize or replace.
When arcades first emerged, they cost at least $2,000 each (roughly $6,000 in 2019 dollars) and played a single game. As a result, the only buyers of an arcade were businesses. This isolated the video gamer audiences to only those who so strongly wanted to game that they'd leave their house, travel to a shop, and wait in line to play. The need to share devices meant games had to be short and simple, and didn't store progression data. It also meant monetization had to focus on pay-per-use (again, technology informs content and business models).
The introduction of consumer-grade gaming hardware (i.e. consoles) in the 1980s represented a ground-breaking change: suddenly you could game at home, play multiple titles, and, most importantly, save your progress. Saving meant games could have richer, longer, story-based narratives, and users could play endlessly without an additional fee. This expanded how many people could regularly play games, how often they could play, the affordability of gaming and the diversity of gaming content.
Online gaming added even more. Now gamers could socialize in a game remotely, rather than crammed together on a couch and split-screen TV. The stories told by a game could be both endless and persistent - EVE Online and World of Warcraft never stop, even when you log off, and are nearing their third decade of operation. Mobile gaming brought portability and touch, not to mention AR-based experiences like Pok(C)mon Go, which turns the world into a game.
Game monetization has evolved and diversified enormously over the past 20 years '' from package sales to downloadable content, monthly subscriptions, season passes, microtransactions to buy extra lives, outfits or dances. More shockingly, the majority of the most valuable games in the world don't require players to spend a dollar. In fact, they're not even games per se.
Roblox, for example, had some 164 million players in July and crossed more than three billion hours in playtime. However, the Roblox Corporation doesn't make or publish any games directly. Instead, Roblox is a ''no code gaming platform'' that enables its players, most of whom are children, to easily create, share and monetize games themselves. Roblox achieves this by focusing on design through icons, rather programming language. In this regard, it is similar to the shift from Microsoft's MS DOS to Microsoft Windows in the 1990s, or BlackBerrys to iPhones in the 2000s, both of which helped turn the personal computer into a device anyone could use.
The results of Roblox's innovative approach to game creation have been profound: More than 50 million games have been made on Roblox Studio, of which 5,000 have had more than one million plays, and more than 20 have had more than one billion plays. The Roblox top game, Adopt Me, had more than 1.6 million concurrent players in April. In total, Roblox counts more than two million developers, of which 345,000 generate income. Between March and August of 2020, 20-year old Anne Shoemaker made more than $500,000. She now employs 14 people. In 2020, Roblox expects developers to net more than $250 million '-- not all of which even comes from their games directly. Roblox Marketplace allows developers to re-sell any of the assets they make for their games, such as a tree, item, or 3D model. Suffice to say this is new in gaming.
Chapter 3: Zooming Out on Audio
The charts and histories above paint a discouraging picture of audio. In it, audio seems to be capped in ways that other mediums aren't; trapped in a Sisyphean economic existence where all that changes is the boulder.
This dynamic stems from audio's technological simplicity compared to other media types. We can see this in how much earlier recorded audio emerged than recorded video or video game arcades, and live audio (radio) versus live TV or online gaming. Or how much easier it was to make and record music than shoot and press a film, or design a video game.
One could even argue audio is simpler than text. Although the printing press emerged centuries before radio, printed text was difficult and costly to distribute, and could not be delivered live. Not only is audio comparatively easier to make (you just speak!), radio broadcast technology means that whether live or pre-recorded, this audio can reach every single American household simultaneously and at no marginal cost.
While audio's simplicity provided it with a head start on other categories, it has also held back its growth. As a general rule, media categories that are strongly affected by technological changes are advantaged over those that are not. We see this through the ways technology changes have increased the diversity of content, delivery and monetization.
Over the past several decades, music has evolved stylistically and in genre, but music content itself has not been dramatically overhauled, expanded or reimagined as video games or TV series have been. More audio is produced and distributed today than ever before, but this growth lags that of other media categories (including text). And while audio is easier to access today, it does not reach a greater share of Americans today than it did 60 years ago. Recorded audio has added a third monetization model in the 21st century '-- subscriptions '-- but it did so in 2001 with XM Radio. And three is still well short of other categories. Since the mid-2000s, it has probably been easier to make, distribute and build an audience around a vlog or blog than a song. Thanks to iOS and Roblox, mini-games are likely easier now, too.
All of which is to say that audio does grow from technological change. But it does so on longer time horizons and a more selective basis than other categories. To this end, it makes little sense that historical summaries of the music, video and video gaming industries all tend to start in the 1970s or 1980s. After all, music preceded video games by more than a century and took longer to evolve, too. In addition, audio analysis should focus less on individual changes in physical media and more on methods of access '-- a distinction other categories don't usually need.
While the past 40 years tell a frustrating story in audio, the 100-year history is very different. Throughout the 20th and 21st century, audio has continually discovered new delivery mediums, formats and monetization models. This began with the launch of the radio broadcast in 1927, which blanketed the country in audio, extended with the transistor radio of the 1950s, which made audio truly portable and private, through to satellite, digital stores, and Spotify streams. Today, the audio category is 40 times bigger in real terms than it was exactly a century ago, two times as big as it was 50 years ago, and up 30% since 1994.
And just as audio needs a broader 20th-century framing, it also needs greater 21st-century context. While it was the first major media category to be disrupted by the internet, it remains the least connected to it when considering both time and revenue. Terrestrial broadcast radio still has more than 40% of non-concert audio-related revenues and listening time '' a feat maintained since 1930.
This is good news. The reallocation of revenue and time will fund an enormous set of new content creators, production companies, and distributors. And as always, monetization will be affected too. For example, terrestrial broadcast radio pays fixed per-play rates, regardless of the number of listeners, and only a song's writers are compensated, not the performers. On-demand streaming pays per listen and all talent is compensated. In addition, these services pay on a fixed share of revenue basis, which means talent's revenues grow linearly with that of distributors.
More importantly, technology is now affecting the audio category faster than ever before. The diversity of its revenue models, content, and delivery has never been greater. This is inspiring and healthy. And there is a lot more to come.
Audiobooks, Podcasts, And Audio-Only Stories
Audiobooks and podcasts are a great place to start. Some of the former is cannibalized from books '-- which is still good for audio '-- but some is also net new. U.S. audiobook revenues are estimated to hit $1.5 billion in 2020 (roughly 15% of the money spent on recorded music) and continue growing 15 to 35% per year.
Podcasting is more directly competitive with radio, which remains roughly 30% talk and 70% music. But the considerable investments being made by market leaders such as Spotify and Audible/Amazon Music (which recently greenlit several series, including shows from Will Smith and DJ Khaled) should also grow the market, too.
TV achieved full penetration in the United States (90%) by 1961, at which point the average family watched five hours per day. Over the next 40 years, television went from being free to costing a minimum of $60 per month. And while many households expressed annoyance at the volume of unwanted channels they were forced to buy, the diversity and quality of the content in the cable bundle led to a nearly 75% increase in view time. Investments in audio should have a similar impact, while also allowing Spotify to hike its price (thus lifting industry revenues).
Similarly, we need to consider how the scale of today's global on-demand music streaming platforms return (and expand) old opportunities in audio. In 1940, the average family listened to more than five hours of radio per day. By 1960, that was down to two '' much of which was in the car (home listening was primarily focused on sports). This drop, exacerbated by the need to listen live, made it impractical for any mass media company to tell audio-first stories. Of course, an audio story could be pressed to vinyl, thus removing the limitation of live air times. But releasing weekly or monthly audio series on vinyl was prohibitively expensive, especially compared to print-based ones (i.e. comics, weekly magazines or newspaper fiction), and meant the loss of ad revenues.
Today, it is easier than ever to reach national audiences with audio stories. There are two primary points of upload (Spotify and Apple rather than hundreds of radio stations) and two points of access for the listener (Spotify and Apple rather than myriad audio channels), both of which offer on-demand playback. And in the time since Serial proved the potential of the new audio model five years ago, some 40 million more Americans have adopted on-demand audio streaming services.
To this end, we can point to Spotify's recent podcasting deal with comic book publisher DC Entertainment. DC's last audio-native serial ended in 1951, two years after The Lone Ranger premiered on TV and three years after the unofficial start of the TV era (1948's the Ed Sullivan Show). Of course, one can debate the size of this opportunity at a time in which blockbuster filmmaking and video games are bigger than ever. But what matters is this is a new and net incremental opportunity for audio. Notably, less than 5% of podcast listenership today is narrative fiction.
More important than how new technology expands the economics for old content categories, however, is how it unlocks new ones.
Low-cost, ubiquitous RSS-based distribution of podcasts is doubtlessly responsible for the medium's growth to date. Without it, it would have been too hard to find Pod Save America or Serial, to share episodes and to build podcasting habits. But RSS is also a limiter. The RSS standard allows for only a single version of a file to be distributed (which cannot be updated) and almost no audience-side data is returned. This means there's no detailed listener or listening data (where the audience skipped, whether they completed a file, etc.), no potential for dynamic ad insertion or programmatic advertising and no interactivity. This might not seem like a big deal if you're a podcast fan today, but the evolution of mobile-phone messaging is an interesting case study.
SMS took off during the late 1990s and early 2000s thanks to the standard maintained by the GSMA, which ensured all mobile devices on all networks and in all countries could send, receive, and read SMS. However, it was the later shift to private and partly closed messaging apps that led to incredible, and largely unexpected innovation in messaging: from read receipts to photo-based communications, filters, stories, auto-deleting messages, avatars, GIFs and more. If the introduction of these features had depended on a global consortium of wireless carriers, they would probably not exist today. To this end, the consolidation of podcast listening to a selection of predominantly closed platforms is likely to bring considerable enhancements and revenue growth to the industry.
Just this week, Spotify demonstrated the burgeoning opportunity here. The company's self-service podcast creation platform, Anchor, now allows podcasters to instantly integrate any of Spotify's 40 million licensed songs into their shows and without needing to manage licensing, royalties, etc. This means anyone can be a fully-fledged DJ and produce their own radio shows. In addition, audio journalists can feature as much music (and as much of an individual track) as they'd like in their reports or discussions, rather than needing to just talk about a song or limit playback to a few seconds. Spotify's interactive platform also allows the user to instantly add songs they hear snippets of to their library or pause the podcast to listen to the entire track.
This new feature breaks RSS and requires Spotify-based distribution, both of which have downsides. But it also makes podcasts a far more powerful medium for content creation, listening, and discovery. This required not just integration into a closed platform, but one that already delivered music digitally and on-demand, via subscription, and with a baked-in rights/royalty management system. All of this required technology that didn't exist 15 years ago.
Despite the technical and administrative complexity of the above, Spotify's innovation is relatively modest. Music has been in professional radio shows for a century, and consumers have been able to play individual tracks on the internet for a decade. Bringing music to UGC radio shows and integrating web-playback into these shows is incremental. Imagine what happens when we move to something truly new, different and unexpected the way Snapchat stories or ephemeral photos were? Today's podcasts and radio shows are still conceptually rooted in technological limitations that are decades old and being rapidly unlocked.
The New Concerts
I see a lot of fundamental potential in remote and virtual concerts. In general, live experiences tend to be the most valuable aspects of the media and entertainment industry. Today, almost all of the value in the pay TV bundle comes from (and depends on) live sports and live news. Nearly all of the top video games are based in live, online play, as is the majority of industry growth. And despite enormous increases in TV broadcast rights to live sports, ticket revenue remained the largest source of revenue for the major U.S. leagues throughout the past decade.
Live generates such a premium because of how much it adds to the standard media experience '-- from FOMO to greater immersion, an elevated sense of stakes and a feeling of community. There is a reason we laugh more in a theatre than at home, and more at home with a partner beside us than alone.
Despite this, live represents only a modest portion of audio revenues. Concert revenues hit $9.8 billion in 2019, which isn't small, but falls well short of both paid and ad-supported listening, and represents only a quarter of total consumer spend on music and less than a fifth of total audio revenues. There is no material revenue for live book readings or podcast recordings.
This relative underperformance exists not because audiences are disinterested in live audio, but because of how hard it is to scale live audio experiences and revenue.
Consider the differences between live sports and live concerts. In general, the quality of a live event declines as an attendee moves farther back from the main stage. But for concerts, the experience declines exponentially with distance. Concerts don't have mosh pits 300 feet and a section up, for example, nor are the acoustics well maintained (the majority of concert revenues are generated at venues made for sporting events after all). Most fans would rather watch an NFL game from beside the field than on the upper rim, but the spectator experience declines more gradually than a concert one. In addition, sitting farther back doesn't mean losing out on the fan community (''waves'' and cheers span all sections). In fact, many of the best, die-hard fans are in the nosebleeds because they can't afford to go to three courtside games per week. Many die-hard Taylor Swift fans, however, can save enough for one VIP ticket every year or two. In addition, sporting events typically support a full 360 degrees on stadium seating, while concerts afford only 150 (no one wants to stare at the back of a screen).
Concerts also fit a relatively narrow range of attendee personalities/behaviors than live sports. The only way a Kanye fan can sit and enjoy the live concert is if they're rich enough to afford a box. This means many would-be concert goers can support their favourite artists only by downloading their album or streaming them more on Spotify. Sports fans also benefit dozens of opportunities to see their favourite team in person each year. Music fans, meanwhile, have only a few, if any, chances to see their favourite artists.
Then there's the literal friction to concert operations. Not only does running a concert require considerable effort, most of it is repetitive. Every single city involves a new venue booking; discrete marketing and ticket sales activities; unpacking, setting up and testing, disassembling and repacking equipment, and more. Operating a sporting event two-to-three times a week in the same stadium is far simpler operationally, as are revenues. And not only do these events require less effort, this effort is focused on producing a unique performance. When the Miami Heat plays basketball in three cities in a week, each match is different and consequential. The goal of almost all concert tours is to offer the same show and setlist night to night.
These scaling problems help explain not just the modest value of live in the audio industry, but also the manner in which concert revenues have grown over the past decade. While U.S. concert revenues are up 70% in real terms since 2009 (or $4.35 billion), more than three quarters of this growth comes from non-top 100 tours. After all, Taylor Swift can't really be in more cities each week, nor travel more efficiently than she already does. This means millions of Taylor's fans in tier-three American cities, and even tier-two countries around the world, will never get the chance to see her.
The non-top 100 artists are capped, too, despite the segment's growth. Many artists have thousands of fans (or more) that would love to see a live performance, but they're too spread out for such a tour to be economical.
For a time, label producers and premium television networks like HBO hoped to build audiences (and potentially pay per view ones) around at-home viewing of top 100 tours. These would solve for many of the key constraints faced by in-person concerts. However, even the biggest fans passed on such broadcasts, which offered worse audio and no experiential improvements over the real thing. This differs from live sports broadcasts: not only are they produced for at-home viewing, rather than in-stadium attendees, but the at-home experience is augmented by announcer narration, on-screen graphics, expert commentary during breaks, etc. And while live sports and news have stakes that drive you to watch from home, concerts do not.
Digital concerts will forever lack some of what makes in-person concerts great. However, it is important to understand how they address each of the bottlenecks outlined above. Most obviously, these events are highly scalable. A single production or set-up, no matter however elaborate, can run once and reach every fan globally, or be re-used to target individual markets (e.g. Belgium), segments (new fans or superfans) or audiences (German-language fans). Despite these many permutations, Taylor Swift could support dozens of shows per year without enormous effort, time or travel. For similar reasons, artists with only 5,000 fans globally can finally monetize their live performances even if not one fan lives within 100 miles of another.
But most important is how the rise of digital/remote concerts will change the concerts themselves. Historically, at-home concert viewership was an afterthought; broadcasts were created using footage repurposed from the in-person event and, in many cases, delivered weeks to months later. Today, however, such streams are almost always live, and, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, made specifically for at-home viewers. This, plus the personalization and interactivity afforded by streaming versus broadcast, means that at-home concert experiences can, for the first time, offer real advantages over the ''real thing.''
For example, at-home viewers might be able to vote live on the next song, collectively operate stage lights or digital instruments, and even join the performer live via picture-in-picture. The introduction of virtual goods also means that at-home concerts will include goods that, like a tour t-shirt, can only be collected by attendees.
In November 2018, 11 million people attended Marshmello's concert in Fortnite, and millions more watched via YouTube, Twitch, and other social platforms. Epic didn't charge for the event, but if it had, most would have bucketed this as video game revenue. And certainly, the in-game items Epic sold as part of the event are considered video game revenue.
Yet as I write this nearly two years later, nearly all concerts have become virtual '' distributed over Twitter's video player, Zoom, or Facebook Live. To call those performances a concert but Epic's a video game event is wrong. Whether an artist is reproduced to look ''real'' or fantastic is purely an aesthetic choice; pixels are pixels. What's more, Fortnite's concerts have evolved from experiences designed to ''replicate the real world'' (e.g. a stage, a dance floor, a projection screen) to those that show little regard for it. Travis Scott's April 2020 concert reached 28 million unique in-game attendees, each of which was transported through time and space. And despite the fantastical nature of Astronomical, a 3D immersive experience is more concert-like than a Zoom broadcast. Soon, Fortnite's concerts are likely to involve live motion capture, too. This is a concert.
And just as remote concerts allow more artists to economically operate live performances, virtual ones will give more artists the creative tools to do so. The Boss is an incredible star performer, but not all artists are Bruce nor is all music as conducive to a bare stage, guitar and mic stand. Deadmau5 needs a high tech light show to run a compelling concert. In that sense, we have to recognize that the multi-decade growth in concerts has as much to do with the rise of 360° label deals and piracy as it does improvements in concert technology. The same will be true as these concerts shift from Madison Square Garden to Sweaty Sands.
The rise of remote/digital/virtual concerts will change everything about the concert industry. Not just how a concert is made, delivered, and monetized, or even which artists perform in the first place and for whom. It will change who produces and operates a concert and who delivers them, too.
Live Nation is an operations business and one that thrives because of the complexity and non-scalability of concerts. This includes managing booking, ticketing, admissions, clean-up, and more across countless venues, as well as the collection of revenues that span myriad locations, times, and sales channels. These skills aren't particularly relevant for a globally distributed, online-only YouTube, Twitch or Moment House (I'm an investor) concert with a single point of purchase. And certainly, Live Nation's historical expertise doesn't easily translate into the creation of immersive virtual concerts based in Unreal or Roblox. Notably, Fortnite-maker Epic Games now operates a live events space for Fortnite's concerts series '-- meaning Epic powers, produces, distributes, and collects revenue for these events.
Meanwhile, Spotify and Apple Music have not just the majority of an artists' fans on their platforms, but also the greatest insight into these fans. No one can do a better job of reaching Beyonc(C) fans than Spotify '-- including Beyonc(C). And it costs the company nothing to reach them.
This gets to the broader opportunity for audio going forward: Music is the soundtrack to our lives, and our lives are becoming increasingly virtual. As a result, this soundtrack and how it's delivered needs to change.
Consider the enormity of Travis' Scott's concert. Nearly 30 million people spent nine minutes fully immersed in his music. This included die-hard and casual fans, non-fans and people who didn't even know he existed. There is no other experience on earth '-- including the Super Bowl half-time show '-- that can deliver this degree of reach and attention, COVID-19 or not. The track Scott premiered during the concert (The Scotts, a collaboration with Kid Cudi) debuted at #1 on Billboard a week later. This was Cudi's first Billboard #1 and the biggest debut of 2020. In addition, several of the tracks Scott performed from his two year-old Astroworld album returned to the Billboard charts.
Truly a global event. We saw a massive reaction ex-US as well. New fanbases popping up in Latin America, Europe and Asia where we hadn't seen such reaction in the Spotify & Apple Music charts before.
'-- Wouter Jansen (@WouterRTJ) October 14, 2020Note, too, that virtual celebrities like Lil Miquela are rapidly growing their audio footprints. Miquela has over 50MM+ song streams, has repeatedly hit Spotify's top charts, and appeared at the VMAs and Coachella. Riot Games' virtual K-pop girl group has twice hit #1 on Billboard global streaming charts and the squad's first music video hit 100MM views on YouTube in its first month and is approaching 400MM today.
In Fortnite, you can now listen to Top 40 hits while driving around in a car or helicopter with your squad. This might seem quaint, but it's an incredibly powerful discovery opportunity. When we're having fun with others, we listen to music we might not otherwise, and we fall in love with it for the same reasons. And just as we have Spotify subscriptions in the real world, the rise of the virtual one will lead to altogether new listening subscriptions or add-on fees.
Similarly, Fortnite now allows players to invite their friends into in-game audio chats even if they're not playing the game. For example, a friend that's driving or on the bus can ''tune into'' and talk to a group of friends that are at home playing the game on their consoles and PC. This isn't gaming per se, but it is game-based '' and a new (and newly possible) audio use case, too.
TikTok is obviously an incredible innovation in music discovery and music-based content creation. Most recently, a video made by an independent and largely unknown TikToker led Fleetwood Mac's Dreams to hit the Billboard charts for the first time since 1977. Earlier this year, millions discovered Phil Collins' In The Air Tonight through a TikTok drumming challenge.
Younger generations have always discovered the music of a prior generation. However, this was usually done in small groups via parents and close friends, or to mass audiences via professionally-produced (and incredibly high cost) movie soundtracks. And while labels have theoretical business cases for promoting decades-old music for new generations, this is functionally impractical. Not only are efforts focused on new artists, but just imagine a Sony Music executive trying to figure out why a 15 year old today should care for Billy Joel, how to reach them, and how to overcome the stigma of Joel being their dad's favourite artist. TikTok, which isn't governed by the music labels but is enabled by their rights, has solved this problem. And it does so using entirely 21st-century technology (e.g. smartphones, social networking and algorithms), and thousands of users creating videos that reach millions of viewers.
The dynamic detailed above isn't unique to TikTok, either. All of the major social platforms, such as Twitch, Facebook, and Roblox, are now offering creators the ability to use ''professional music'' as part of their ''user generated content'' and at no-incremental cost. This will mean brand new, highly scaled revenue streams and discovery models for artists.
And from a macro perspective, it's notable that while no one has quite ''cracked'' UGC in audio, the biggest video platform globally (YouTube) is based on it. As is the biggest video game (Roblox). The biggest publisher of news (Facebook) is UGC (we can throw in cabs, ecommerce, hotels, etc., too). Someone will eventually find the right model. And we're probably not that far off. Almost all new music today, with exception of indie rock, is ''all digital'' and thus fully separable by instrument, beat, vocals, etc. In many cases, a hit track is made up of numerous samples, beats, and sounds that come from a patchwork of creators. To return to Lil Nas X, his Old Town Road was based on a $30 (and year old) beat that he bought from an anonymous musician (who had himself re-worked a decade old Nine Inch Nails song). Lil Nas X then created Old Town Road song using stolen software and then self-released the title, too. Today, music-making software and workflow tools remain relatively underdeveloped versus gaming and video (e.g. YouTube), but many, such as SoundCloud, Anchor and Splice, are tackling it.
None of the above is intended to be exhaustive. In recent years, we've seen the rise of spatial audio, Apple AirPods, digital walkie talkies, audio-based meditation and mindfulness services like Headspace (I'm an investor), and social audio experiences like Discord and Clubhouse. And this is what makes audio such a great category in 2020 '' it's not just growing faster than it has in decades, it's diversifying and changing faster too. The cause: technology
Matthew Ball (@ballmatthew)
Covid-19 Mass Vaccination Plan | Vaccines | Public Health
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NORTH DAKOTA COVID-19 VACCINATION PLAN
Updated October 16, 2020 Version 1.2
Acronyms ......................................................................................................................................................... 6 Introduction .................................................................................................................................................... 7 Lessons Learned from H1N1 ................................................................................................................ 8 Response Goals for Pandemic Vaccination ................................................................................... 10 COVID-19 Mass Vaccination Planning Assumptions ............ ............. ............. ............. ............. . 11 Logistical Assumptions ......................................................................................................................... 12 Organizational Structure and Partner Involvement ................................................................... 13 Unified Command Planning Team ............................................................................................... 14 Internal COVID-19 Vaccination Planning Team ...................................................................... 14 Internal/External COVID-19 Vaccination Planning Committee ............ ............. ............. ... 14 CDC/HHS Microplanning ................................................................................................................ 14 Tabletop Exercises ............................................................................................................................. 15 Current Unknowns and Contingency Planning ........................................................................... 15 How persons who have tested positive for C OVID-19 will be prioritized. ............. ....... 15 Type of vaccine that will be available and cold chain requirements of vaccines. ....... 15 Potential adverse effects of a vaccine. ....................................................................................... 16 Vaccine amounts. ............................................................................................................................... 16 Vaccine Timing. ................................................................................................................................... 16 Use of adjuvant. .................................................................................................................................. 16 Multiple FDA approved products with different specifications. ..................... ............. ..... 17 Packaging. ............................................................................................................................................. 17 Current Significant Gaps ...................................................................................................................... 17 Provider Recruitment and Enrollment ................................................................................................. 19 Potential Providers ................................................................................................................................. 22 Vaccine Administration Capacity ...................................................................................................... 23 Vaccination of Out-of-State Residents ................................................................................................ 24 3 Vaccine Prioritization and Critical Populations ............ ............. .............. ............. ............. ............. ... 24 Critical infrastructure workforce ........................................................................................................ 25 People at increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness ............. ............. ............. ............. ............ 25 People at increased risk of acquiring or transmitting COVID-19 ............. ............. ............. ... 25 People with limited access to routine vaccination services .................................................... 25 Estimates of Priority Groups ............................................................................................................... 25 Vaccination of Special and Dependent Populations.................................................................. 28 Homebound ......................................................................................................................................... 28 Long Term Cares ................................................................................................................................ 29 Custodial institutions and special populations ....................................................................... 30 American Indians ................................................................................................................................ 31 New Americans/Foreign Born/Immigrant Populations .............. ............. ............. ............. ... 32 Priority Vaccination of Infrastructure .............................................................................................. 32 Advisory Committee on COVID-19 Vaccination E thics ............ ............. ............. .............. ......... 33 Vaccine Allocation....................................................................................................................................... 34 Vaccine Ordering and Processing ......................................................................................................... 35 Physical Vaccine Management and Cold Chain ............................................................................... 36 Management of Priority Vaccine Unstable at Zero Degrees or Higher ............ ............. ..... 36 Vaccine A: ....................................................................................................................................................... 36 Vaccine B: ....................................................................................................................................................... 36 Models for Distribution of Ultra-Cold Vaccine (Vaccine A) ..................... ............. ............. . 36 Three Phase Distribution .......................................................................................................................... 37 Scenarios for Vaccine Distribution ........................................................................................................ 40 Scenario 1 Background ......................................................................................................................... 40 Vaccine A: Ultra-cold with minimum quantity of 1,000 doses only................................. 40 Phase 2: General Public Added to Phase 1 Target Populations ............. ............. ............. . 43 Scenario 2 .................................................................................................................................................. 46 Vaccine B: Frozen va ccine only with minimum quantity of 100 doses ............. ............. . 46
gov.ie - Ireland is one of the first countries to link contact tracing apps with other EU Member States
Tue, 20 Oct 2020 15:24
Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, has today welcomed EU-wide co-operation to link national COVID-19 apps. This initiative will help to break the chain of coronavirus infections across borders and save lives.
Ireland's COVID Tracker app is one of the first wave of national apps linked through this European interoperability gateway. This will mean that people with the Irish app will receive an alert if they are a close contact with people who are diagnosed with COVID-19 and who have installed an approved EU member state app on their phone.
This EU-wide system was developed by the European Commission, following a request from EU member states. After a successful pilot phase, the system goes live today with the first national apps now linked through this service: Ireland's COVID Tracker, Germany's Corona-Warn-App and Italy's Immuni app.
"I am so proud of what Ireland has achieved, being one of the first countries to interlink apps at an EU level with Germany and Italy.
"Ireland has consistently been a leader in the development of contact tracing apps and had one of the world's most successful contact tracing app launches, with a huge uptake in the first 24 hours. Currently the app has more than 1.3 million active users. The Irish app already works on an all-island basis and today's launch of the European Federated Gateway Service will facilitate apps working on a pan-European basis."
"Today's announcement is another important tool in the effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19. While the general advice in Ireland is currently against non-essential travel overseas, this system will be of benefit for those undertaking essential travel to and from Ireland. I am again asking everyone across the country to download the app. The more people that download the app the more effective the app will be."
The app has had 2.1 million registrations since its launch, and has an active user base of 1.31 million. This represents 34 per cent of the adult population (aged 16+) in Ireland.
When a person receives an alert to inform them that they have had a close contact with an individual that has subsequently been diagnosed as COVID positive, the alert will not identify the patient in any way. It will alert the recipient that they have been a close contact of a COVID positive patient and that they should take the necessary precautions as advised by their national public health authority.
Ireland and Northern Ireland were the first in the world to achieve interoperability between apps from different jurisdictions in 2020.
To date, over 3,000 users of the COVID Tracker app in Ireland who have tested positive have uploaded their random IDs so that others can be alerted of close contacts.
More than 5,800 people have been sent close contact alerts as a result of carrying the app. Some of these may not otherwise have been identified.
NASA and Nokia are putting a 4G network on the moon - CNN
Tue, 20 Oct 2020 15:15
New York (CNN Business)If you're unable to get a cell phone signal when you walk your dog around the block, this will really make your blood boil: NASA is putting a 4G network on the moon.
To reach its 2028 goal to build a lunar base and eventually sustain a human presence on the moon, NASA awarded
$370 million to over a dozen companies to deploy technology on the lunar surface. Those innovations include remote power generation, cryogenic freezing, robotics, safer landing ...
and 4G. Because how else will astronauts tweet their moon golf shots and lunar rover selfies?
NASA says 4G could provide more reliable, longer-distance communication than the current radio standards in place on the moon. Like on Earth, the 4G network will eventually be
upgraded to 5G.
Nokia's ( NOK ) Bell Labs was granted $14.1 million for the project.
Bell LabsJohn Oliver jokes about CNN parent company
( T ) aside, 4G will probably work better on the moon than it does here -- it won't have any trees, buildings or TV signals to interfere with the 4G signal. The moon's cellular network will also be specially designed to withstand the particularities of the lunar surface: extreme temperature, radiation and space's vacuum. It will also stay functional during lunar landings and launches, even though rockets significantly vibrate the moon's surface.
Bell Labs said astronauts will use its wireless network for data transmission, controlling of lunar rovers, real-time navigation over lunar geography (think Google Maps for the moon), and streaming of high-definition video. That could give us stuck on Earth a much better shot of astronauts bouncing around on the lunar surface: Buzz Aldrin was a great cameraman, but he didn't have an iPhone.
The 4G network on Earth is supported by giant cell towers with enormous power generators and radios. But Bell Labs helped create small cell technology that's more limited in range but uses far less power than traditional cell towers and is significantly easier to pack into a rocket ship. That small cell tech is currently being deployed for 5G networks across the world.
Blood glucose monitoring in mandatory quarantine | Better Safer Care
Tue, 20 Oct 2020 15:08
We are now contacting everyone who may have had their blood glucose level tested while in quarantine accommodation before 20 August 2020.
But we want to make sure we have identified everyone.
So if you think you had this test - and we haven't contacted you yet - please call us.
Your health is our immediate concern.
Through the devices used for this test, there is low risk of cross-contamination and transmission of blood borne viruses:
Hepatitis B Hepatitis C HIV The clinical risk of this is low.You are not at risk if you used your own personal device to test your blood glucose level.
You are not at risk if you did not have a blood glucose level test.
A blood glucose level test (also known as a 'finger prick test') involves a finger prick to get a drop of blood.
Most likely, this test would have been done by a nurse or doctor.
But you or a family member may have been given a device to do the finger prick test yourselves.
If you believe (or are unsure if) you had this test, please call 1800 356 061.
We have reviewed all resident health records to identify anyone who may have had their blood glucose level tested while in quarantine accommodation.
This includes anyone who had a condition or episode that may have required their blood glucose level being tested '' like if you fainted or felt generally unwell.
We are already contacting people by phone, or by letter if we can't get through. You may be contacted by staff from the Department of Health and Human Services or Alfred Health, who are supporting this review.
For completeness, we will be writing to all other residents to alert them to this issue.
If you are at risk, a doctor or nurse from Alfred Health will follow up with you, explain the clinical risk and arrange for precautionary screening for blood borne viruses if necessary.
If you have contracted a blood borne virus, we will arrange for free and confidential medical follow up, counselling and support.
We understand you will have many questions about how this happened and why.
While our immediate concern is for your health, we are undertaking a broader review to examine what happened, and to make recommendations for systems improvements.
Read our questions and answers
Page last updated: 19 Oct 2020
Narrative War on American Streets in 2020 - Brian L. Steed
Tue, 20 Oct 2020 14:52
The year 2020 has been a great year for me personally and professionally, but it has also been a tremendously disappointing and frustrating year for me as a citizen of the United States of America. I have been studying ISIS and related extremist ideologies for many years now. I recently completed a doctoral dissertation on how weaker actors like ISIS use narrative to achieve their objectives: narrative war. As I have watched the politicization of the COVID-19 pandemic, the protests and riots associated with controversial police actions, and the presidential campaign, I have been both shocked and profoundly disappointed by the obvious presence of narrative war actions in all of these events and I have been a bit taken aback by the lack of understanding of these very techniques by many of the smartest commentators on news and politics. Each of these people use the word narrative a lot and they talk about ''the narrative'' or ''a narrative'' and yet like in the movie
The Princess Bride, I cannot help but say to myself, ''You use that word a lot. I do not think it means what you think it means.'' I want to provide my observations of how narrative war is playing out in America in 2020 and how we should expect to see it play out in the future.
I truly hate that I have to say this, but I believe that I do have to say this. I am not making a political statement in favor of one narrative or another. I hope that I am conveying the nature of each narrative honestly and openly and doing so without putting my finger too heavily on the scale. I clearly have an opinion and bias. I know the narrative to which I adhere; however, I am still trying to present each narrative so that people who ascribe to the other two can better understand what they are hearing and seeing. More importantly, I want people to know why we cannot seem to talk across these narratives and why each group sees the others as either stupid or evil.
I will briefly describe narrative and story and then I will discuss how various parties use story and narrative to move toward their intended objectives.
The U.S. Military describes narrative in its manual titled Joint Publication 3-24: Counterinsurgency (2018) as ''an organizing framework expressed in story-like form. Narratives are central to representing identity, particularly the collective identity of religious sects, ethnic groupings, and tribal elements. They provide a basis for interpreting information, experiences, and the behavior and intentions of other individuals and communities.'' In essence, a narrative is how a person or group interprets events: it is the filter through which we see or understand the world. Dr Ajit Maan regularly emphasizes that narratives are not about facts or truths, but about how we interpret those facts and truths.
Most people intuitively grasp the meaning of the word story. We have heard, read, and seen them portrayed our entire lives. We regularly tell ourselves stories inside our own minds. The five parts of story come from Kenneth Burke's A Grammar of Motives (1969): actor, action, goal or intention, scene, and instrument. We use stories to make sense of the world and most importantly they are used to solve for problems of dissonance between what we expect from the world and what actually happens. Some people call versions of these stories excuses and maybe they are, but they are also our internal means of solving for dissonance.
Each society has a narrative. As I will explain in a few paragraphs, the United States of America has three such dominant narratives in 2020. The expansion of important narratives contributes to the problems we see on our streets. Each governing person, party, or ideology offers a story for how that person, party or ideology will solve the dissonance for the various voters, citizens, or subjects and help them to achieve what seems to be the objective of the societal narrative.
In narrative war, a narrative entrepreneur also recognizes the dissonance that exists between the societal narrative and the governing story and seeks to further disrupt that story and by so doing weaken the connection between governor and governed. An objective of such disruption is displacement '' moving the governing entity from a given place, service, or function.
What about America? An American narrative might be the American Dream. That narrative could be simply defined as America is a land of opportunity where average people can make of themselves whatever they want through hard work and great ideas. This is a narrative that has been created over generations with numerous stories and experiences as support. It is promulgated with millions of testimonials of hardworking women and men who achieved more than their parents through dedicated commitment. Every weekend, millions of people watch sports events where they hear stories of disadvantaged youth with bad family situations whom they watch as elite stars with large salaries and lucrative product endorsements. Every political candidate in America, either through a personal story, or by attacking the story of the opposing candidate seeks to connect with this narrative. I think there are currently three powerful versions of this American Dream narrative: America is Awesome, I Have a Dream, and 1619.
I will explain each of these narratives, but first I want to address the meaning of powerful or dominant narrative. Every country, nation, or state has multiple societal narratives. Like in linguistics where every language is made up of multiple dialects; however, there is usually a dominant or standard dialect that the majority or plurality of speakers use, the same is true of narratives. Every society has a dominant or standard narrative that seems to be common. For most of American history there tended to be a dominant and subordinate narrative. In 2020, I believe there are three narratives that have some level of equal significance.
America is Awesome is a play on the song title from
The Lego Movie, but I also think it captures the meaning of the narrative. The narrative is based on a premise of opportunity. This is the belief of America's divine founding, inspiration, and destiny. Phrases like manifest destiny, a city on a hill, the indispensable nation, an arsenal of democracy, and others capture the gist of this narrative. America is blessed. People come from all over the world and in America these people can achieve and enjoy their greatest possibilities.
I Have a Dream comes from the famous speech given by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr on 28 August 1963. This speech captures the heart of the narrative which is a vision yet unfulfilled. The foundations of America are good, but the realization of that original vision is yet to be. The foundations may need some repair or amendment and the structure needs to be made true, plumb, and square and then that dream may be realized. It is the dream of achieving America is Awesome for all Americans, because if America is Awesome, it hasn't yet been awesome for everyone, but it can be.
1619 comes from the name of the 1619 Project of The New York Times that began publication in August 2019. The root of this narrative is that the founding of America was flawed. This is an argument of power relationships. White European settlers and colonists established a system where non-white, non-European, and non-Protestant Christians were at a disadvantage. The very systems established are flawed and need correction. Every person, organization, and institution attached to such systems are corrupted by association. To move forward, the structure must be remade with a complete and proper foundation otherwise whatever structure built on such a foundation is flawed.
I want to emphasize that I am not explaining these narratives to express why people are different, but why for each person his or her narrative is right. She is correct for her. It is only once we realize this that some level of productive discourse can begin. A person who holds that America is Awesome needs to see that a 1619 person is right and try to see the world from that perspective. The 1619 person is not being cynical and manipulative when he says that there is systemic injustice. He really believes it to be true and from the 1619 perspective, he is right. The same holds true for the 1619 person looking at the America is Awesome person. She is also right. Now to use politics as an explanation of what happened this year.
I believe that most presidential campaigns prior to 2008 were discussions over which candidate's story best solved for the America is Awesome narrative. Even the 1860 campaign was about who could best solve for the greatness of America and make sure most Americans could enjoy that greatness. We could debate president for president, but most presidential candidates held to the greatness of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and then later Abraham Lincoln. In 2008 and 2012, I believe the narrative shifted, but it shifted for both candidates. Both candidates crafted stories of how they could solve the dissonance between experience and the I Have a Dream narrative. Maybe this was primarily generated by the candidacy of Barack Obama, but I believe that many Americans, and especially the media and academic institutions, came to believe that there were numerous flaws in the America is Awesome narrative.
The 2016 campaign was probably the first campaign where the two presidential candidates had stories solving for dissonance in two different narratives. Donald Trump returned to the America is Awesome narrative with his catchy Make America Great Again slogan. It was simple and attractive to many who still believe in the America is Awesome narrative. Hillary Clinton sought to develop a story that connected to the I Have a Dream narrative as did Barack Obama. The attempt to solve for two different narratives is part of the tremendous division following the 2016 election. Because the two different camps addressed two different narratives neither side believed the other's explanations for events. The two groups are not from two different worlds, they were and are from two different narrative worlds. This is like the 6 October 1967 Star Trek episode ''Mirror, Mirror'' where the Enterprise crew interacts with a parallel universe. Neither side fully understands the other.
The 2020 campaign has faced an even greater divide. If seen on a spectrum, America is Awesome is on one side and 1619 is on the other with I Have A Dream in the middle. Though I don't believe that Joe Biden fully embraces the 1619 narrative, many of his surrogates do and many of the various media outlets do. In this sense, the narrative divide in this current election is even greater and the cognitive dissonance following the election will be more significant as a result.
What does this have to do with narrative war? As the year unfolded, each side sought to disrupt the story-narrative resonance of the other. 1619 sought to disrupt the America is Awesome story-narrative resonance by expressing loudly and clearly the problems with America as various police events unfolded. In most cases, these efforts were peaceful; however, more aggressive elements expanded the disruption into literal displacement through acts of aggression that led to the actual displacement of police precincts or police action in some cities or parts of cities. 1619 adherents displaced certain article, voices, and organizations from social media platforms. America is Awesome adherents sought to disrupt the 1619 story-narrative resonance by implying or stating that such acts made the individuals involved outside the definition of Americans and thereby displacing them from conversations.
My concern is that neither side effectively accomplished their goals as neither side actually understands the other. The efforts at the disruptions and displacements worked primarily from the perspective of the actor and not the audience. People who rioted did not displace those who believed America is Awesome and those who chastised and called out looters did not actually reach those who believe that the entire system is corrupt. At best, these actions served to polarize those of the I Have a Dream narrative and further separate the two camps.
Regardless of who wins on 3 November 2020, the incredulity of the other side will be greater than in 2016. Both sides will claim that the winning side cheated, was corrupt, manipulated the process, etc. Both sides will continue to seek to disrupt the story-narrative resonance and there may be greater efforts at displacement whether that is through social media, mainstream media, protests, riots, or worse.
I believe that for America to become one country we need to have a single dominant narrative, one that both parties agree to solve for. I believe that the effort to reclaim such a position must begin with every person seeking to understand the correctness of the narrative of others.
Dr. Tom Cowan explores the COVID virus invented out of sheer nonsense Jon Rappoport's Blog
Tue, 20 Oct 2020 14:49
'--Cowan analyzes yet another key document posted by the CDC, in their journal, Emerging Infectious Diseases: ''Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 from Patient with Coronavirus Disease, United States'''--
by Jon Rappoport
October 19, 2020
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The hits keep coming. The CDC used an arbitrary computer ''tinker-toy'' process to invent a description of the virus. The virus that no one has proven exists. This is the basic conclusion of Dr. Tom Cowan.
The CDC article was discovered by Sally Fallon Morrell. Her co-author, Dr. Cowan, fleshes out the fraud. Cowan's article is titled, ''Only Poisoned Monkey Cells 'Grew' the 'Virus'.''
Dr. Cowan: ''[The CDC journal article] was published in June 2020 [original publication, March 2020]. The purpose of the article was for a group of about 20 virologists to describe the state of the science of the isolation, purification and biological characteristics of the new SARS-CoV-2 virus, and to share this information with other scientists for their own research. A thorough and careful reading of this important paper reveals some shocking findings.''
''First, in the section titled 'Whole Genome Sequencing,' we find that rather than having isolated the virus and sequencing the genome from end to end, they found 37 base pairs from unpurified samples using PCR probes. This means they actually looked at 37 out of the approximately 30,000 of the base pairs that are claimed to be the genome of the intact virus. They then took these 37 segments and put them into a computer program, which filled in the rest of the base pairs.''
In other words, the sequencing of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was done by assumption and arbitrary inference. If this is science, a penguin is a spaceship.
Cowan: ''To me, this computer-generation step constitutes scientific fraud. Here is an equivalency: A group of researchers claim to have found a unicorn because they found a piece of a hoof, a hair from a tail, and a snippet of a horn. They then add that information into a computer and program it to re-create the unicorn, and they then claim this computer re-creation is the real unicorn. Of course, they had never actually seen a unicorn so could not possibly have examined its genetic makeup to compare their samples with the actual unicorn's hair, hooves and horn.''
''The researchers claim they decided which is the real genome of SARS-CoV-2 by 'consensus,' sort of like a vote. Again, different computer programs will come up with different versions of the imaginary 'unicorn,' so they come together as a group and decide which is the real imaginary unicorn.''
As I've been stating , the ''discovery'' of the ''new virus'' was actually the foisting of a PRE-DETERMINED STORY ABOUT A VIRUS. Nothing real or believable about it.
But once the official pattern is laid down, others follow it dutifully.
Dr. Cowan uncovers more insanity in the CDC journal article. Using the ASSUMED new virus, in an UN-ISOLATED STATE, the researchers try to prove it is harmful by injecting it on to several different types of cells in the lab:
Cowan: ''The real blockbuster finding in this study comes later, a finding so shocking that I had to read it many times before I could believe what I was reading. Let me quote the passage intact:''
'''Therefore, we examined the capacity of SARS-CoV-2 to infect and replicate in several common primate and human cell lines, including human adenocarcinoma cells (A549), human liver cells (HUH 7.0), and human embryonic kidney cells (HEK-293T). In addition to Vero E6 and Vero CCL81 cells [monkey cells]. '... Each cell line was inoculated at high multiplicity of infection and examined 24h post-infection. No CPE was observed in any of the cell lines except in Vero [monkey] cells, which grew to greater than 10 to the 7th power at 24 h post-infection. In contrast, HUH 7.0 and 293T showed only modest viral replication, and A549 cells [human cells] were incompatible with SARS CoV-2 infection'.''
''What does this language actually mean, and why is it the most shocking statement of all from the virology community? When virologists attempt to prove infection, they have three possible 'hosts' or models on which they can test'...''
''The third method virologists use to prove infection and pathogenicity '-- the method they most rely on '-- is inoculation of solutions they say contain the virus onto a variety of tissue cultures. As I have pointed out many times, such inoculation has never been shown to kill (lyse) the tissue, unless the tissue is first starved and poisoned.''
''The shocking thing about the above [CDC journal] quote is that using their own methods, the virologists found that solutions containing SARS-CoV-2 '-- even in high amounts '-- were NOT, I repeat NOT, infective to any of the three human tissue cultures they tested. In plain English, this means they proved, on their terms, that this 'new coronavirus' is not infectious to human beings. It is ONLY infective to monkey kidney cells, and only then when you add two potent drugs (gentamicin and amphotericin), known to be toxic to kidneys, to the mix.''
''My friends, read this again and again. These virologists, published by the CDC, performed a clear proof, on their terms, showing that the SARS-CoV- 2 virus is harmless to human beings. That is the only possible conclusion, but, unfortunately, this result is not even mentioned in their conclusion. They simply say they can provide virus stocks cultured only on monkey Vero cells, thanks for coming.''
So first'...use a process of genetic sequencing that involves concocting, out of an arbitrary computer program'...
The existence and structure of the ''new virus'''...
And then, taking a soup that the researchers claim contains the virus, in an un-isolated state, inject the soup into several types of cells in the lab'...
And discover the prime target'--human cells'--are not infected by the imaginary virus.
And after this good day's work, walk away and pretend nothing odd or self-incriminating happened.
And oh yes, lock down the planet based on this ''science.''
Naturally, we MUST take a toxic vaccine that prevents non-infection by the non-virus.
(To read about Jon's mega-collection, The Matrix Revealed, click here .)
The author of three explosive collections, THE MATRIX REVEALED , EXIT FROM THE MATRIX , and POWER OUTSIDE THE MATRIX , Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. He maintains a consulting practice for private clients, the purpose of which is the expansion of personal creative power. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world. You can sign up for his free NoMoreFakeNews emails here or his free OutsideTheRealityMachine emails here .
China's Box Office Hits $2 Billion, Set to Overtake North America '' Variety
Tue, 20 Oct 2020 14:43
China's year-to-date box office came within a whisker of $2 billion on Sunday, with the latest weekend adding $46.4 million to the running total.
While the latest theatrical weekend total represented a 32% decline compared with the previous session, and lacked a notable new release, the incremental addition has China poised to claim the world's biggest box office this year.
The 2020 China aggregate stands at $1.99 billion, according to consultancy Artisan Gateway, compared with $1.94 billion for the North American market. While these figures would see China overtake North America, Comscore has an aggregate of $2.1 billion for North America, which puts the gross still slightly behind.
The year-to-date total is 75.5% adrift of where the Chinese box office was last year, but after prolonged pain, continued recovery looks to be on the cards. China Monday reported an acceleration of its third quarter GDP recovery, and cinemas are now on a similar track.
The coronavirus outbreak kept mainland Chinese movie theaters closed for nearly six months. But most have now reopened. And government-mandated capacity restrictions were eased at the end of September allowing 75% of seats to be sold.
Popular on Variety
The weekend saw patriotic omnibus film ''My People, My Homeland'' lead for the third successive weekend. It added $19.1 million for a $360 million cumulative score since its debut on Oct. 1.
The only significant new release, ''The Story of Xi Bao'' came second with $5.6 million in three days. It is a romantic drama directed by Wang Danyang adapted from a novel about an adopted son who stokes up a relationship with the daughter of his new family. Guo Caijie and Zhang Guozhu star.
Enlight Pictures' animation ''Legend of Deification'' slipped from second place to third. Its $5.6 million third weekend total lifted its running total to $227 million. Behind that Alibaba Pictures' ''Coffee or Tea'' added $4.9 million for a $33 million cumulative, and Peter Chan Ho-sun's ''Leap'' added $4.8 million for a total of $113 million since Sept. 25.
Twitter's ban almost doubled attention for Biden misinformation | MIT Technology Review
Tue, 20 Oct 2020 14:42
The news: When Twitter banned, and then unbanned, links to a questionably sourced New York Post article about Joe Biden's son Hunter, its stated intention was to prevent people from spreading harmful false material as America heads into the final stretch of the election campaign. But thanks to the cycle of misinformation'--and claims from conservatives that social-media platforms are deliberately censoring their views'--Twitter managed to do the opposite of what it intended.
According to Zignal Labs, a media intelligence firm, shares of the Post article ''nearly doubled'' after Twitter started suppressing it. The poorly-thought-through ban triggered the so-called Streisand Effect and helped turn a sketchy article into a must-share blockbuster. And then on Friday, the Republican National Committee filed a Federal Election Commission complaint against Twitter, claiming that the ban ''amounts to an illegal corporate in-kind political contribution to the Biden campaign.''
The ban: Twitter blocked shares of the story under its policy against hacked materials, in part because of the dubious sourcing by the New York Post, the company said. The article also contained screenshots of emails with the addresses unredacted. Federal investigators are now looking into whether they are tied to a foreign intelligence campaign, according to NBC News.
But on Thursday, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said that blocking the URL was ''wrong,'' and that the company has changed its policy and enforcement procedures in response to the outrage over this decision.
The data: Zignal Labs tracked mentions and shares of the Hunter Biden story this week. Looking at the firehose of Twitter shares of the URL'--including original tweets, retweets, and quote tweets'--Zignal found a surge of shares immediately after Twitter instituted the block, jumping from about 5.5 thousand shares every 15 minutes to about 10 thousand. This doesn't necessarily mean the block caused the explosion in interest, but the surge corresponds with a series of widely shared tweets from Trump supporters and conservatives accusing the platform of political censorship.The New York Post story, which was blocked on Twitter for about a day, was shared 352,200 times on the platform. Facebook, meanwhile, didn't block people from linking directly to the story, but did announce that it was treating it as questionable and would limit its reach until third-party fact checkers could examine it (this is a policy Facebook announced in 2019 as part of its plan to combat election misinformation). The story still had 324,000 shares there, not including those inside private groups.
This keeps happening: Earlier this year, we wrote about the cycle of conservative outrage that has, for years, dominated right-wing conversations about Twitter and Facebook, despite a lack of evidence that conservative speech is being systematically targeted. In May, after Twitter fact-checked two of President Trump's tweets for the first time (the tweets contained misinformation about mail-in voting), Trump responded by targeting protections for those companies. In a tweet on Thursday afternoon, Trump repeated his desire to strip those protections. Later, he shared a parody news story about the situation, acting as if it were a real article rather than a joke.
This is an excerpt from The Outcome, our daily email on election integrity and security. Click here to sign up for regular updates.
Retraction to: Electronic Cigarette Use and Myocardial Infarction Among Adults in the US Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health | Journal of the American Heart Association
Tue, 20 Oct 2020 14:27
After becoming aware that the study in the above'referenced article did not fully account for certain information in the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health [PATH] Wave 1 survey, the editors of Journal of the American Heart Association reviewed the peer review process.
During peer review, the reviewers identified the important question of whether the myocardial infarctions occurred before or after the respondents initiated e'cigarette use, and requested that the authors use additional data in the PATH codebook (age of first MI and age of first e'cigarettes use) to address this concern. While the authors did provide some additional analysis, the reviewers and editors did not confirm that the authors had both understood and complied with the request prior to acceptance of the article for publication.
Post publication, the editors requested Dr. Bhatta et al conduct the analysis based on when specific respondents started using e'cigarettes, which required ongoing access to the restricted use dataset from the PATH Wave 1 survey.1 The authors agreed to comply with the editors' request. The deadline set by the editors for completion of the revised analysis was not met because the authors are currently unable to access the PATH database. Given these issues, the editors are concerned that the study conclusion is unreliable.
The editors hereby retract the article from publication in Journal of the American Heart Association. [original article URL: https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/JAHA.119.012317]
Reference1. Bhatta DN, Glantz SA. Electronic Cigarette Use and Myocardial Infarction Among Adults in the US Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health. J Am Heart Assoc. 2019;8:e012317. DOI: 10.1161/JAHA.119.012317.
Major Anti-Vaping Scientific Study Retracted | National Review
Tue, 20 Oct 2020 14:20
(Adnan Abisi/Reuters)Vaping is supposed to be a form of harm reduction, that is, allow nicotine addicts to have access to the drug without the harmful tars and chemicals in cigarettes that cause cancer, heart disease, and other maladies.
Last year, the Journal of the American Heart Association published a study finding that vaping posed as great a heart risk as smoking itself. That study fueled public policies at all levels of government to stifle the industry. A lot of small business people had their livelihoods destroyed or damaged as a result.
Now, the study has been retracted '-- which is a very big deal in science '-- because the editors are ''concerned that the study conclusion is unreliable'' due to what appears to have been an uncompleted peer review process. From the retraction:
During peer review, the reviewers identified the important question of whether the myocardial infarctions occurred before or after the respondents initiated e'cigarette use, and requested that the authors use additional data in the PATH codebook (age of first MI and age of first e'cigarettes use) to address this concern. While the authors did provide some additional analysis, the reviewers and editors did not confirm that the authors had both understood and complied with the request prior to acceptance of the article for publication.
But it was published anyway and an industry received a body blow.
Some might say that this is how science is supposed to work, self correcting, following the data, etc.. Right. But somehow mistakes in science these days always seem to cut in the same direction.
That may be because science journals have grown increasingly ideological. Nature has endorsed Joe Biden for president and promised to publish more political science '-- which isn't ''science'' at all. The New England Journal of Medicine should change its name to the New Ideology Journal of Medicine. Science has endorsed ''nature rights.'' The list goes on and on.
Remember, the same editors that promote ideological agendas choose the articles to be sent out for peer review and the peer reviewers.
I am no longer convinced that establishment science follows the data wherever it leads regardless of the conclusion reached. Too often in areas of cultural or political controversies, there are other agendas at play.
If ''the scientists'' want to understand why many people are increasingly reluctant to blindly ''follow the science,'' they should look in the mirror.
Ireland's Covid tracker app is now linked with similar contact tracing apps from Italy and Germany
Tue, 20 Oct 2020 13:24
IRELAND'S COVID-TRACKER app has become one of the first wave of national apps linked with other countries across the European Union.
From today, the link with Germany's Corona-warn-app and Italy's Immuni app means that people with the Irish app will receive an alert if they are a close contact with people who are diagnosed with Covid-19 and have these apps installed on their phone.
Ireland and Northern Ireland were the first in the world to achieve such co-operation between apps in different jurisdictions earlier this year. This move today is part of wider efforts at EU level to co-operate on tackling the virus.
However, this development also comes at a time when Irish people are encouraged not to travel abroad except for essential air travel.
There are currently no countries on the government's so-called green list '' countries where people can travel back from without the need to restrict their movements upon return.
The EU's new traffic light system for air travel was adopted in Brussels last week, with the government signalling its intention to adhere to the measures under this system.
To date, over 2.1 million registrations have been made to Ireland's Covid Tracker app, and around 5,800 people have been sent close contact alerts as a result of carrying the app.
In a statement today, the Department of Health said this move to allowing the apps to work across jurisdictions will help to break the chain of Covid-19 infections across borders and save lives.
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Minister Stephen Donnelly said: ''Today's announcement is another important tool in the effort to reduce the spread of Covid-19.
''While the general advice in Ireland is currently against non-essential travel overseas, this system will be of benefit for those undertaking essential travel to and from Ireland. I am again asking everyone across the country to download the app. The more people that download the app the more effective the app will be.''
Sex banned indoors for Tier 2 couples living apart, Number 10 confirms | London Evening Standard
Tue, 20 Oct 2020 13:18
The latest headlines in your inbox twice a day Monday - Friday plus breaking news updates
Couples living apart in areas with Tier 2 restrictions are not allowed to have sleepovers unless they are in a ''support bubble'', Downing Street confirmed today.
Boyfriends and girlfriends will be able to meet outdoors in Tier 2 but are expected to adhere to social distancing rules such as hands, face and space. They must also adhere to the rule of six.
The Prime Minister's official spokesman told a briefing of Westminster journalists: ''The rules on household mixing in Tier 2 set out that you should mix with your own household only unless you've formed a support bubble and that obviously does apply to some couples.''
A support bubble is a network between a single-person home and one other household of any size , according to the government rules.
It comes as both London and Essex are set to be plunged into Tier 2 at midnight tonight.
Asked why there was no exemption for people in established relationships in Tier 2, he replied: ''Because the purpose of the measures that were put in place is to break the chain in transmission between households and the scientific advice is there is greater transmission of the virus indoors.''
Asked if couples in Tier 2 can meet outside, he said: ''Yes, as it was set out in the guidance that was published this week the ban on household mixing is in relation to indoors and outdoors the rule of six applies.''
He also said people living in Tier 2 areas should not go to Tier 1 areas to socialise indoors.
He added: ''As has been the case throughout this pandemic '' whether in following guidance or more recently when we placed it into law '' you should behave at all times in the basis of the tier that you live in.
''So if you live in Tier 2, you leave Tier 2, you should continue to behave under the rules for Tier 2.''
This means someone from a Tier 2, he said, could not leave the area to go to socialise a pub in Tier 1 area.
More about: | Coronavirus | Sex
Ghislaine Maxwell loses bid to keep her Jeffrey Epstein testimony secret | Reuters
Tue, 20 Oct 2020 12:34
Tue Oct 20, 2020 / 1:21 PM IST
NEW YORK NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court on Monday dealt Ghislaine Maxwell a blow by refusing to block the release of a deposition she gave concerning her relationship with the late financier and registered sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said there was a presumption the public had a right to see Maxwell's 418-page deposition, which was taken in April 2016 for a now-settled civil defamation lawsuit against her.
In an unsigned order, the court also said U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska in Manhattan did not abuse her discretion in rejecting Maxwell's "meritless arguments" that her interests superseded that presumption.
Lawyers for Maxwell did not immediately respond to requests for comment, including whether they plan a further appeal.
The order upheld Preska's decision in July to release the deposition and hundreds of other documents from the 2015 defamation lawsuit by Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein's accusers.
That case was settled in 2017, and many of the documents have been made public.
But Maxwell's lawyers said bad publicity from disclosing "intimate, sensitive, and personal details" from the deposition could undermine her ability to defend against criminal charges that she enabled Epstein's sexual abuses.
They said the British socialite thought her deposition would remain confidential, and that releasing it would violate her constitutional right against self-incrimination, and imperil a fair trial because jurors might hold its contents against her.
The appeals court separately rejected Maxwell's request to modify a protective order in her criminal case, so she could access confidential materials she hoped would persuade Preska to keep the deposition under wraps.
Maxwell, 58, has pleaded not guilty to helping Epstein recruit and groom underage girls as young as 14 to engage in illegal sexual acts in the mid-1990s, and not guilty to perjury for having denied involvement in the deposition.
A trial is scheduled for next July.
Giuffre said she was a teenager when Maxwell pulled her into Epstein's circle, where she was groomed and trafficked for sex with Epstein and other wealthy, powerful men.
The push to unseal the deposition came from Giuffre and the Miami Herald newspaper, which had investigated Epstein's conduct and his successful effort in 2007 to avoid federal sex trafficking charges.
Lawyers for Giuffre and the newspaper were not immediately available for comment. The U.S. Department of Justice, which opposed modifying the protective order, did not immediately respond to a similar request.
Maxwell was arrested on July 2 in New Hampshire, where prosecutors said she had been hiding out.
She has been locked up in a Brooklyn jail after U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan, who oversees the criminal case, called her an unacceptable flight risk.
Epstein killed himself at age 66 in August 2019 at a Manhattan jail while awaiting trial on federal sex trafficking charges announced the previous month.
The cases in the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals are Giuffre v. Maxwell, No. 20-2413, and U.S. v. Maxwell, No. 20-3061.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)
Jeffrey Toobin Is Suspended by New Yorker After Zoom Incident - The New York Times
Mon, 19 Oct 2020 21:53
In a statement, the magazine said it was investigating a matter involving the author and CNN legal analyst.
The magazine said Jeffrey Toobin had been suspended while it investigates an incident involving a Zoom call. Credit... Evan Agostini/Invision, via Associated Press Oct. 19, 2020 Updated 5:19 p.m. ET The New Yorker said Monday that it had suspended the staff writer Jeffrey Toobin and was investigating a report that he exposed himself during a Zoom call last week among employees of the magazine and WNYC radio.
''I made an embarrassingly stupid mistake, believing I was off-camera,'' Mr. Toobin said in a statement about the report on Monday by Vice. ''I apologize to my wife, family, friends and co-workers.''
''I thought I had muted the Zoom video,'' he added. ''I thought no one on the Zoom call could see me.'' In a text message, he declined to elaborate.
A spokeswoman for The New Yorker, where Mr. Toobin has worked for more than 25 years, said in a statement that Mr. Toobin ''has been suspended while we investigate the matter.''
Mr. Toobin is also a senior legal analyst for CNN. The network said in a statement that Mr. Toobin ''has asked for some time off while he deals with a personal issue, which we have granted.''
Mr. Toobin is the author of nine books, including ''The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court,'' ''The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court'' and ''Too Close to Call.'' His book ''The Run of His Life'' was adapted for television as the FX series ''American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson.''
His latest book is ''True Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Investigation of Donald Trump.'' Doubleday, which published the book, did not immediately respond to an inquiry about Mr. Toobin.
U.S. District judge allows Seattle business owners lawsuit to proceed
Mon, 19 Oct 2020 15:08
SEATTLE, WA- Back at the beginning of summer, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan looked the other way as anarchists took over a section of the city, leading Durkan to say that she envisioned a ''summer of love.''
And a court just upheld the right of local businesses to proceed with their lawsuit against her for the harm they suffered during Mayor Durkan's "Summer of Love" '... https://t.co/j5T4Ev2vX6
'-- Christine Niles (@ChristineNiles1) October 17, 2020
The so-called autonomous zone, initially called CHAZ and then changed to CHOP (Capitol Hill Organized Protest) was in place between June 8 to July 1. Now, a federal judge is allowing a lawsuit brought against the city by 21 businesses to move forward, according to Newsweek.
The lawsuit has accused the city of harming businesses in the city by allowing the existence of CHOP. The zone had barricades set up and blocked all car traffic, which limited access to the businesses by customers, while also hurting the businesses revenue, and affecting that of vendors.
'...@seattletimes'(C) and keep electing mayors like Jenny ''Summer of Love'' Durkan '' supporting protester takeovers of chunks of Seattle '' and you will become Detroit so fast it will make your head spin. https://t.co/QqabmNktwg
'-- The Prisoner (@6number6) October 9, 2020
The lawsuit continues that that Seattle Police effectively abandoned that area of the city, thereby allowing protesters and others to damage business property, as well as to threaten business owners without risk of punishment. Some of the anarchists were seeking protection money from business owners in exchange for not damaging their businesses.
Finally, the lawsuit claims the city provided the concrete barriers, medical supplies, washing and sanitation facilities, portable toilets, lighting, and other material support to the anarchists, while also allowing the use of Cal Anderson Park to the ''nation'' of CHOP.
In addition, police were instructed to implement a ''no response'' policy whereby officers wouldn't be dispatched into the area unless a 911 caller reported ''significant life safety issues.''
Judge Thomas S. Zilly of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington wrote in his decision:
''Plaintiffs plausibly allege that the City's actions'--encouraging CHOP participants to wall off the area and agreeing to a 'no response' zone within and near CHOP's borders'--foreseeably placed Plaintiffs in a worse position.''
Zilly did dismiss the plaintiffs' claim that Seattle had violated their constitutional rights to equal protection by disparate treatment from other city residents or CHOP occupiers, however he did allow the plaintiffs' three other legal claims to proceed.
The additional claims allege that by allowing the autonomous zone to remain in place for a month before police finally shut it down, Seattle had unlawfully taken their private property for public use without compensation, restricted their ability to fully use their property in which to conduct business, and failed to protect the businesses from a danger that was in fact created, facilitated and kept in place by the city itself.
Newsweek reached out to the city of Seattle for comment, but none was given.
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On June 8, the autonomous zone initially called CHAZ (City Hall Autonomous Zone) was created after Seattle police officers had abandoned the department's East Precinct as a means to de-escalate conflicts which had occurred for over a week between racial justice protesters (rioters) and Seattle police.
Wow. Democrat Rep. Pramila Jayapal, Biden Unity Task Force co-chair, just endorsed the Seattle autonomous zone CHOP/CHAZ as "a very effective tactic" and blamed Seattle police. This is the zone where multiple teens were shot and violent assaults occurred. pic.twitter.com/kEAUOaCXHE
'-- Robby Starbuck (@robbystarbuck) July 14, 2020
After seizing the six-block area of the city, the occupiers demanded the release of all protesters who had been arrested, and to cut the $409 million police budget in half, while donating the other half to services in the city's black and minority communities.
CHOP 2.0: Portland Protesters Seize City Streets, Erect Barricades, Declare 'Autonomous Zone' https://t.co/XtxlR3E5bS
'-- Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) July 15, 2020
The anarchists painted a block-long ''Black Lives Matter'' mural on city streets, and set up their own mini-Woodstock, replete with free musical performances, constructed a community vegetable garden, a ''No Cop Co-op'' with food, medical supplies, and other resources.
The zone remained in place and all was fun and games until two black teenagers were shot and killed, four others were injured in shootings and numerous other Seattle residents complained about violent assaults, harassment, and threats. After all of that, Seattle police finally dismantled the zone.
For more on the tourist destination of CHAZ/CHOP, we invite you to:
SEATTLE, WA '-- Fox News reporter Sean Hannity spoke to a Horace Lorenzo Anderson about his 19-year old son, Horace Lorenzo Anderson, Jr. who was killed in a shooting that occurred in the Seattle's Capitol Hill Occupied Protest Zone (CHOP) on June 20.
During the July 1 interview, Anderson said that he found out about his son's death from two of his son's friends, not from authorities.
Anderson stated the Seattle Police have not come to speak with and he hasn't heard from the mayor's office either.
He stated that he thinks the only reason the police did come to talk to him was because the incident was on the news. Anderson agreed to be interviewed on Hannity's show on Wednesday. During the show, he pleaded for answers as to what happened to his son.
"I don't know nothing. He got killed up there. That's Horace Lorenzo Anderson. That's MY son. I loved him."
The father of a 19-year-old killed in Seattle's CHOP breaks down discussing the death of his son and how no official has contacted him about his death. pic.twitter.com/GLMP9Cmh8h
'-- Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) July 2, 2020
During the interview, Anderson said:
''They need to come talk to me and somebody needs to come tell me something, because I still don't know nothing. Somebody needs to come to my house and knock on my door and tell me something. I don't know nothing. All I know is my son got killed up there.
''They say, 'He's just a 19-year-old.' No, that's Horace Lorenzo Anderson [Jr.]. That's my son, and I loved him.''
Anderson told Hannity that he wasn't able to see his son's body for two weeks. He went to the hospital expecting to see his son, but he wasn't allowed. There were also no detectives to be seen.
Fox reported that Anderson, Jr. was killed during a shooting on the early morning of June 20 inside the CHOP zone near Cal Anderson Park on 10th Avenue and East Pine Street. Officers responded at approximately 2:30 am to the shots fired in Cal Anderson Park.
Officers arrived on scene and marched through the zone with their firearms at the ready position but were met by a mob of angry protesters yelling vulgarities at the officers as they approached. This mob blocked officers from reaching the crime scene.
Horace Lorenzo Anderson Jr.
Don't know that name?
That's the 19 year old shot and murdered while the Seattle Mayor allowed terrorists to run her city
BLM inc. is silent.
A young black man is dead because of BLM inc.
RT to start the arrests!
'-- Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) July 2, 2020
Body worn cameras captured the scene as officers approached. Officers attempted to use a bullhorn to advance forward:
''Please move out of the way so we can get to the victim! All we wan to do is get to the victim and provide them aid!''
Many protesters shouted to the police ''put your guns down!'' Eventually, police were alerted that victims were taken to the hospital.
No suspects have been taken into custody, as they've had no cooperation from those who may have been witnesses. They have no suspect leads and no description.
Seattle Police said:
''Homicide detectives responded and are conducting a thorough investigation, despite the challenges presented by the circumstances.''
Father Of Black Teen Killed In CHOP: It's Time To Bring In The National Guard: Horace Lorenzo Anderson, Jr., was the first person killed in CHOP, more than a week ago. ðð¾ðºð¸ The Daily Wire #StopAnarchy https://t.co/kzAWXtQEoN
'-- TheCyberChick (@warriors_mom) June 30, 2020
The Daily Mail reported that Anderson was devastated when he learned about his 19-year-old son's death, and, what's worse, is he still doesn't know what happened.
''It's been almost two weeks, I haven't heard from nobody '' nobody has called. Ain't nobody called me or try to find me. And his ID is my ID, so his number is my number, so it's easy for detectives to say 'hey excuse me' '' knock on my door '' 'excuse me, let's tell you what happened about your son.'''
I'm watching a crying father who lost his son, Horace Lorenzo Anderson, who was murdered because of YOU!! YOU are responsible for his death! And no official has even called his dad!
'-- Sandy W (@swork47) July 2, 2020
The disheartening interview aired the same day as the Seattle Police were able to reclaim their precinct in the CHOP Zone once the mayor issued an early morning executive order to vacate the area.
The CHOP Zone had been occupied by protesters since June 8 and in that time, crime rose more than 500% in a little over three weeks. There were two deadly shootings during that occupation of the area.
Anderson was shaken up by the incident and the fact that he hasn't learned anything from authorities about his son's death. He is burying his son on Thursday.
During the July 1 interview, Anderson said:
''I still don't know what's going on. I'm hearing from YouTube. I don't know nothing. All I know is my son is dead. I'm still trying to figure out answers so I can sleep. I don't sleep. My kids don't sleep. I can't even stay at home. My kids, they feel like they are unsafe at home.''
Here's more on the incident from the CHOP as Law Enforcement Today reported at the time.
Early Saturday morning, at least two people were shot and one was killed inside Seattle's Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) area.
Now police say they are investigating despite it being in a ''no-cop'' zone of the city.
Videos hit the internet showing volunteer medics racing to help the victims. This, after Seattle Police Department radio dispatchers got multiple reports of three to six gunshots.
Police investigating shooting at 10th Avenue and East Pine. Will update with additional information when available.
'-- Seattle Police Dept. (@SeattlePD) June 20, 2020
It happened around 2:20 a.m., and the people involved were seen fleeing the scene north from 10th Avenue and East Pine street.
This is also in the city's Capitol Hill autonomous protest zone, also called CHAZ.
On June 8th, Seattle Police abandoned the closest East Precinct building. The move came after days of confrontations with protesters.
Details are scarce at this point about the shooting.
We do know that officers arrived to the scene on foot and were prepared with riot gear '' or ''anti-protest gear'', as Newsweek referred to it.
According to East Precinct police radio chatter, a second victim had a gunshot wound to the arm and chest and officers on scene were collecting shell casings and evidence.
Capitol Hill Seattle Blog reported Saturday that Seattle Fire had been called to the scene to treat the victim, but that person had already been transported by volunteers to Harborview.
Local videographers from Converge Media first reported that one of the individuals who was shot had been driven by ''non-ambulance locals'' to the Harborview protest camp. That camp is staffed by medical volunteers.
According to the Capitol Hill Seattle Blog, the man was dead when he arrived at the volunteer medical camp '' although medical experts haven't publicly verified this.
In the footage, several people on the street said one of the victims was dead in front of the Rancho Bravo restaurant at 10th and Pine Street.
Earlier this week, a suspected arsonist was detained near the occupied area.
What's more disturbing was the stash of weapons that were located near the scene of the alleged arson and vandalism '' and also that police did not arrest the suspect initially.
According to police, 21-year-old Richard Hanks allegedly broke into Car Tender and attempted to start a fire within the business on June 15th. Keep in mind, this was a mere two blocks from the CHAZ/CHOP occupied area.
Kids in their twenties are making poor choices and hurting their immediate future success '--''Richard Hanks, 21, is a repeat offender accused of breaking into Car Tender, a business less than two blocks outside CHOP in Seattle.''
'-- Speak truth, act on truth! (@JanCookLive) June 18, 2020
John and Mason McDermott happen to be the owners of the business, and personally responded when notified of Hanks allegedly breaking into the business. The father and son business owners also called 911 to inform police of the initial break-in.
Yet, police didn't respond, according to Mason:
''Multiple times, we called them'... They made it seem like they were going to come. We've been bombarded by news station [on June 16th], basically saying, 'Hey, the police department's saying they showed up last night.' Absolutely not. They did not.''
The McDermotts were able to stop Hanks from causing further damage, as the duo had allegedly witnessed Hanks attempting to set a desk on fire.
Mason claimed that they called police somewhere between 16 to 18 times while detaining the suspect, but no one responded.
Then, somewhere between 100 and 200 CHAZ/CHOP inhabitants gathered outside of the Car Tender demanding the release of Hanks. According to a police report related to the incident, this gathering of people had threatened to burn down the business if Hanks wasn't released to them.
Summer of Love#chaz #chop #CHOPseattle pic.twitter.com/8wBhRlM45R
'-- Kafka (@kafka_code) June 16, 2020
Mason described this group of ''peaceful'' demonstrators:
''They were shouting at us from outside the gate of my dad's shop, saying that they were going to kill us and to let him go and, you know, obscenities'... basically, they said, 'let him go or we're gonna kill you guys.
You need to let him go.' And we were just holding him so the police could get there, you know, so this guy could be accountable for trying to burn our family business to the ground and stealing.''
The group had breached the fencing around the business and began to make their way into the business' yard. At that point, the McDermotts released Hanks to the mob.
That's when things got allegedly stranger.
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According to the police report of the incident, the mob had actually detained Hanks and began forcibly searching through his backpack and held him against his will.
Apparently, the crowd had even returned some items that were stolen from the McDermotts '' and then the crowd allegedly delivered their own form of justice to Hanks.
The police report said:
''Eventually a member of the crowd assaulted the suspect, repeatedly punching him in the face.''
It's almost as though CHAZ/CHOP's version of ''policing'' engaged in what some would call police brutality.
This is what CHOP/CHAZ looks like. They need to shut this down asap. Start by shutting off the power and water. When they can't charge their cell phones they will leave. #CHOP #CHAZ #riots2020 pic.twitter.com/bt7SS6YDVx
'-- Dominichi (@TheNeech2) June 14, 2020
Can anyone see the irony of enacting violent mob justice against suspected criminals while engaged in a protest against police brutality, as the entire protests that have erupted typically point to that as being the impetus of the demonstrations.
Hanks was reportedly able to escape the beating from the mob.
While Hanks wasn't immediately taken into custody by police after the alleged break-in and arson attempt at Car Tender, he did get arrested later by a deputy from the King County Sheriff's Office.
The sheriff's deputy witnessed Hanks engaged in a vehicular burglary later on June 15th in White Center, and placed him into custody.
After the scenario that played out at Car Tender, security firm Iconic Global offered to donate time and personnel to the McDermotts to help guard their business. Some of their personnel dispatched made a unique discovery nearby the scene of the alleged arson attempt.
Hey people of #CHAZ! We made a tourism video for anyone who might be curious about experiencing the joys of hypocrisy and anarchy.
So come on down to the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone! Where anarchy meets family. #CHOP pic.twitter.com/gvHKN14ChK
'-- MRCTV (@mrctv) June 17, 2020
Iconic Global employees were said to have located an AK-47, five loaded magazines, a magazine for a Glock, and also some ''explosive hardware''. All of which were reportedly stashed in some bushes nearby Car Tender.
As for Hanks, he's currently facing charges of burglary in the second degree, theft of a motor vehicle, and malicious mischief in the first degree and remains in custody at this time.
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Pat Droney Pat Droney is a retired police officer, having worked in the field in for over 31 years, up to and including the rank of Chief of Police. After retirement, Pat worked as Director of Campus Safety for a private school, as well as Loss Prevention Supervisor in the retail sector. He currently is a supervisor for a large passenger airline. Pat is a proud Reagan conservative patriot, loves his Irish heritage, but especially loves his country and is an unabashed supporter of our military.
JosephXander23 on Twitter: "ð¥ Tractor trailer destroys car & Joe lies & claims he was drunk [no charges are made] ð¥ Jill begins 'babysitting' for Biden's 2 boys [who survived their murder attempt] ð¥ Earlier affair is denied by all e
Mon, 19 Oct 2020 13:41
JosephXander23 : ð¥ Tractor trailer destroys car & Joe lies & claims he was drunk [no charges are made]ð¥ Jill begins 'babysitting' f'... https://t.co/hkp3SPMrwn
Sun Oct 18 00:15:05 +0000 2020
FOOL NELSON on Twitter: "Anna Makanju, @Facebook's public policy and legal expert leading efforts to ensure election integrity, was @JoeBiden's senior policy advisor for Ukraine. She should recuse herself from the @nypost stories. https://t.co/yIbtUEeysp
Mon, 19 Oct 2020 13:36
FOOL NELSON : Anna Makanju, @Facebook's public policy and legal expert leading efforts to ensure election integrity, was'... https://t.co/Mz0J5YMWDl
Fri Oct 16 16:32:13 +0000 2020
UK Space Agency backs healthcare drone start-up founded by NHS staff
Mon, 19 Oct 2020 12:46
Apian founders Hammad Jeilani (right) and Christopher Law. (C)2020 Annalisa Russell-Smith
The UK Space Agency has backed a healthcare drone start-up founded by NHS staff, to help in the response to COVID-19.
Apian, part of the NHS Clinical Entrepreneur Programme, aims to establish a network of secure air corridors for electric drones which can carry COVID-19 samples, test-kits and PPE.
These new air corridors are hoped to avoid courier call-out waiting times, free-up NHS staff, reduce physical contact and minimise the risk of secondary transmission of the virus.
The project will be based at Broomfield Hospital, part of Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust and will be supported by the local Anglia Ruskin University as the academic partner. Befittingly, the hospital stands on a WW1 Royal Flying Corps Airfield.
Apian was founded by Hammad Jeilani and Christopher Law, trainee doctors at the Barts and The London as well as Mid and South Essex NHS Innovation Fellows. Apian is installing 'dronepad' infrastructure so its aircrafts can take-off from and land onto hospitals, laboratories and warehouses. In doing so, the startup is creating new standards and best practice guidelines; written by the NHS, for the NHS.
Apian will scale the work from their drone trials by creating the UK's NHS Air Grid (NAG), a network of secure air corridors designed to safely, rapidly and effectively enable drone delivery across the NHS. Apian is creating these corridors by working closely with the Civil Aviation Authority, UK Space Agency and the emergency services.
Apian Founder Law explained: ''We are confident that by setting up a medical drone delivery service, we'll be able to fly samples to labs more regularly, reliably and quickly, improving patient health outcomes.''
The healthcare drone company is one of three new projects using space-enabled technologies and services to support the NHS in the ongoing battle against COVID-19.
The UK Space Agency is also backing a mobile app that will use satellite technology to provide access to community transport for people wishing to go to and from COVID care providers, and those looking to participate in community sport.
DriverNet will use AI to batch patients by their geolocation and encourage transport sharing, potentially reducing the 15 million missed NHS appointments each year.
NHS workers and patients will get a notification through text or on their app when shuttle services are available in their area.
Also being backed today is the delivery of a remote platform for Earth Observation learning. The collaboration, led by the University of Edinburgh, builds on the Earth Blox cloud-based software for harnessing planetary-scale satellite-intelligence.
The collaboration will provide distance learning support to students who would have been studying Earth Observation science.
The projects '' set to receive £1.3m of funding '' have been selected as part of a joint initiative between the UK Space Agency and the European Space Agency (ESA) which has already provided one round of funding in July, worth £1.1m, to companies developing space based solutions for issues created by COVID-19.
Initial funding went to three initiatives, including a drones company delivering test kits in Scotland and another project that used space data to support vulnerable people through a mobile application.
Emily Gravestock, Head of Applications Strategy at the UK Space Agency, said: Once again, the UK space industry has risen to the challenge. The variety of innovative solutions continues to impress me and I look forward to seeing how satellite applications built by UK industry can improve healthcare services, reduce carbon emissions and enhance education.
Nokia selected by NASA to build first ever cellular network on the Moon | Nokia
Mon, 19 Oct 2020 12:40
Nokia selected by NASA to build first ever cellular network on the Moon
LTE/4G technology promises to revolutionize lunar surface communications by delivering reliable, high data rates while containing power, size and cost.Communications will be a crucial component for NASA's Artemis program, which will establish a sustainable presence on the Moon by the end of the decade. 19 October 2020
Espoo, Finland '' Nokia has announced further details after being named by NASA as a partner to advance ''Tipping Point'' technologies for the Moon, deploying the first LTE/4G communications system in space and helping pave the way towards sustainable human presence on the lunar surface.
Nokia Bell Labs' pioneering innovations will be used to build and deploy the first ultra-compact, low-power, space-hardened, end-to-end LTE solution on the lunar surface in late 2022. Nokia is partnering with Intuitive Machines for this mission to integrate this groundbreaking network into their lunar lander and deliver it to the lunar surface. The network will self-configure upon deployment and establish the first LTE communications system on the Moon.
The network will provide critical communication capabilities for many different data transmission applications, including vital command and control functions, remote control of lunar rovers, real-time navigation and streaming of high definition video. These communication applications are all vital to long-term human presence on the lunar surface.
Nokia's LTE network '' the precursor to 5G '' is ideally suited for providing wireless connectivity for any activity that astronauts need to carry out, enabling voice and video communications capabilities, telemetry and biometric data exchange, and deployment and control of robotic and sensor payloads.
Marcus Weldon, Chief Technology Officer at Nokia and Nokia Bell Labs President, said: "Leveraging our rich and successful history in space technologies, from pioneering satellite communication to discovering the cosmic microwave background radiation produced by the Big Bang, we are now building the first ever cellular communications network on the Moon. Reliable, resilient and high-capacity communications networks will be key to supporting sustainable human presence on the lunar surface. By building the first high performance wireless network solution on the Moon, Nokia Bell Labs is once again planting the flag for pioneering innovation beyond the conventional limits.''
Nokia's lunar network consists of an LTE Base Station with integrated Evolved Packet Core (EPC) functionalities, LTE User Equipment, RF antennas and high-reliability operations and maintenance (O&M) control software. The solution has been specially designed to withstand the harsh conditions of the launch and lunar landing, and to operate in the extreme conditions of space. The fully integrated cellular network meets very stringent size, weight and power constraints of space payloads in an extremely compact form factor.
The same LTE technologies that have met the world's mobile data and voice needs for the last decade are well suited to provide mission critical and state-of-the-art connectivity and communications capabilities for any future space expedition. LTE is a proven commercial technology, has a large ecosystem of technology and component suppliers, and is deployed worldwide. Commercial off-the-shelf communications technologies, particularly the standards-based fourth generation cellular technology (4G Long Term Evolution (LTE)) are mature, proven reliable and robust, easily deployable, and scalable. Nokia plans to supply commercial LTE products and provide technology to expand the commercialization of LTE, and to pursue space applications of LTE's successor technology, 5G.
Through the Tipping Point solicitation, NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate seeks industry-developed space technologies that can foster the development of commercial space capabilities and benefit future NASA missions. The public-private partnerships established through Tipping Point selections combine NASA resources with industry contributions, shepherding the development of critical space technologies. NASA plans to leverage these innovations for its Artemis program, which will establish sustainable operations on the Moon by the end of the decade in preparation for an expedition to Mars.
As a market leader in end-to-end communication technologies for service provider and enterprise customers globally, Nokia develops and provides mission-critical networks adopted by airports, factories, industrial, first-responders, and the harshest mining operations on Earth, for automation, data collection and reliable communications. By deploying its technologies in the most extreme environments, Nokia Bell Labs will validate the solution's performance and technology readiness level, and further optimize it for future terrestrial and space applications.
We create the technology to connect the world. Only Nokia offers a comprehensive portfolio of network equipment, software, services and licensing opportunities across the globe. With our commitment to innovation, driven by the award-winning Nokia Bell Labs, we are a leader in the development and deployment of 5G networks.
Our communications service provider customers support more than 6.4 billion subscriptions with our radio networks, and our enterprise customers have deployed over 1,300 industrial networks worldwide. Adhering to the highest ethical standards, we transform how people live, work and communicate. For our latest updates, please visit us online www.nokia.com and follow us on Twitter @nokia.
Nokia Communications Phone: +358 10 448 4900 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Mon, 19 Oct 2020 03:59
Important story of how the Hunter Biden computer drive was discovered and handed to FBI, per the father of the computer store owner. The article names names and dates.
sonar21.com/yes-the-hunter'...Citizen journalism: "This is the story of an American patriot, an honorable man, John Paul Mac Isaac, who tried to do the right thing and is now being unfairly & maliciously slandered as an agent of foreign intelligence, specifically Russia. He is not an agent or spy for anyone."
3) "He is his own man. How do I know? I have known his dad for more than 20 years."
This is a remarkable story by a blogger who got the story straight from the father of the Delaware computer store man who discovered the
#HunterBidenEmails. Follow along.
4) Key facts in this story, the computer store owner's father:"When the manufactured Ukraine crisis surfaced in August 2019, John Paul realized he was sitting on radioactive material that might be relevant to the investigation...."
5) "...After conferring with his father, Mac and John Paul decided that Mac would take the information to the FBI office in Albuquerque, New Mexico."Mid-Sep 2019: "Mac walked into the Albuquerque FBI office and spoke with an agent who refused to give his name." No FBI interest.
6) NAMES TO SUBSTANTIATE THE STORY: "Two months passed and then, out of the blue, the FBI contacted John Paul Mac Isaac. Two FBI agents from the Wilmington FBI office '' Joshua Williams and Mike Dzielak '' came to John Paul's business."
7) "He offered immediately to give them the hard drive, no strings attached. Agents Williams and Dzielak declined to take the device.""Two weeks later, the intrepid agents called and asked to come and image the hard drive. John Paul agreed..."
8) "but, instead of taking the hard drive or imaging the drive, they gave him a subpoena. It was part of a grand jury proceeding but neither agent said anything about the purpose of the grand jury. John Paul complied with the subpoena & turned over the hard drive & the computer."
9) THIS IS KEY: "In the ensuing months, starting with the impeachment trial of President Trump, he heard nothing from the FBI and knew that none of the evidence from the hard drive had been shared with President Trump's defense team."
10) This is why he sent a copy of Hunter Biden's drive to President Trump's lawyer
@RudyGiuliani: "The lack of action and communication with the FBI led John Paul to make the fateful decision to contact Rudy Giuliani's office and offer a copy of the drive to the former mayor."
11) "We now know that Rudy accepted John Paul's offer and that Rudy's team shared the information with the New York Post."
12) "John Paul Mac Issac is not responsible for the emails, images and videos recovered from Hunter Biden's computer. He was hired to do a job, he did the job and submitted an invoice for the work...."
13) "...Hunter Biden, for some unexplained reason, never responded and never asked for the computer. But that changed last Tuesday, October 13, 2020. A person claiming to be Hunter Biden's lawyer called John Paul Mac Isaac and asked for the computer to be returned. Too late."
14) Isaac's phone record will lead to the caller claiming to be Hunter Biden's lawyer.Bottom line: It's no Russian hack-and-dump if Hunter Biden left his own computer to be repaired and never picked it up.
15) "John Paul, acting under Delaware law, understood that Hunter's computer became the property of his business 90 days after it had been abandoned."At no time did John Paul approach any media outlet or tabloid offering to sell salacious material."
16) John Paul Mac Isaac seems like a decent citizen who tried to do the right thing by going to the president's lawyer, not to the press. This account by Larry C. Johnson, a friend of the family, shows Isaac to have excellent character.
17) Johnson: "At no time did John Paul approach any media outlet or tabloid offering to sell salacious material. A person of lesser character might have tried to profit.... He had information in his possession that he learned ... was relevant to the security of our nation...."
18) "He did what any clear thinking American would do '' he, through his father, contacted the FBI. When the FBI finally responded to his call for help, John cooperated fully and turned over all material requested."
19) "Any news outlet that is publishing the damnable lie that John Paul is part of some subversive effort to interfere in the United States Presidential election is on notice. That is slander and defamation."Lots of good leads here: Names, dates, and a phone number.
' ' '
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Decades of mismanagement led to choked forests '-- now it's time to clear them out, fire experts say
Mon, 19 Oct 2020 03:56
The Western United States is enduring yet another devastating fire year, with more than 4.1 million acres already scorched in California alone, at least 31 people dead and hundreds of others forced to flee their homes.
Wildland fires are increasingly following a now-familiar pattern: bigger, hotter and more destructive. A recent Los Angeles Times headline declaring 2020 to be ''The worst fire season. Again'' illustrated some of the frustration residents feel over the state's fire strategy.
For decades, federal, state and local agencies have prioritized fire suppression over prevention, pouring billions of dollars into hiring and training firefighters, buying and maintaining firefighting equipment and educating the public on fire safety.
But as climate change continues to fuel dry conditions in the American West, many experts say it's long past time to shift the focus back to managing healthy forests that can better withstand fire and add to a more sustainable future.
''Fires have always been part of our ecosystem,'' said Mike Rogers, a former Angeles National Forest supervisor and board member of the National Association of Forest Service Retirees. ''Forest management is a lot like gardening. You have to keep the forest open and thin.''
Federal forest management dates back to the 1870s, when Congress created an office within the U.S. Department of Agriculture tasked with assessing the quality and conditions of forests. In 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt oversaw the birth of the U.S. Forest Service, which manages 193 million acres of public land across the country.
In California, forest management also falls under the purview of the state's Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, known as Cal Fire.
Since 2011, Cal Fire has spent more than $600 million on fire prevention efforts and removed or felled nearly 2 million dead trees. In 2018, California set the goal of treating '-- which can include slashing, burning, sawing or thinning trees '-- 500,000 acres of wildland per year, yet Cal Fire remains far from meeting that target.
''It's an ongoing process,'' said Cal Fire spokeswoman Christine McMorrow. ''There is always going to be more work.''
Cal Fire is steadily receiving injections of money to do what it can to reduce wildfire risk, including better land management and training a new generation of foresters. In 2018, former Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that will allocate $1 billion over five years to Cal Fire to be used on fire prevention measures. But experts warn that more money is needed.
''Is it enough? Well, it's enough for what we're doing right now, but is that enough to get all the work that needs to be done in one year or five years or 10 years? It's going to a take lot,'' McMorrow said.
Long before the country's founding, Spanish explorers documented wildland fires in California. In 1542, conquistador Juan Rodrguez Cabrillo sailed along the coast and noticed smoke billowing up from what is now known as the Los Angeles Basin. He called it ''la baya de los fumos,'' or ''the bay of smoke.''
Studies by archaeologists and historians support a theory that Cabrillo might have been witnessing an early form of land management, including the burning of shrubs and chaparral to clear dry brush and promote better conditions for hunting big game.
Prescribed and controlled burns were integral to the American landscape for generations. In 1910, focus started to shift away from forest management and steer toward fire suppression after ''The Big Burn'' ravaged 3 million acres across Washington, Idaho and Montana, killing at least 85 people and reshaping U.S. fire policy for years to come.
The U.S. Forest Service ordered that all wildland fires be extinguished as soon as possible, eventually settling on the so-called 10 a.m. policy, which emphasized suppressing fires by the morning after they started.
The state's policy to stop fires as soon as they ignite resulted in a backlog of trees in forests now choked with brush and other dry fuels. According to the U.S. Forest Service, one researcher studying the Stanislaus National Forest in Northern California found records from 1911 showing just 19 trees per acre in one section of the forest. More than a century later, the researcher and his team counted 260 trees per acre.
With denser tree cover comes the danger of bigger fires, Rogers said.
''We have more large trees per acre than we've ever had because they have continued to grow, and underneath these large trees are young shrubs that fuel fires in the crown of the trees,'' he said. ''When a fire starts in there, it's unstoppable.''
Drought, climate change and bark-beetle infestations have all contributed to the backlog of trees, leaving some experts to push for creative solutions to managing California's crowded forests.
One potential solution could be turning dead and diseased trees into biomass energy before they start massive wildfires.
Jonathan Kusel founded the nonprofit research organization Sierra Institute for Community and Environment in 1993 in an effort to better understand how state and federal agencies could put leftover organic material to use. The institute is now working with federal and state partners on ways to supply wood chips made from low-value vegetation to biomass facilities that can then burn the organic matter to produce heat and electricity.
Kusel estimates the process, when done correctly in confined barrels, is exponentially cleaner than relying on natural gas for energy. It also facilitates what Kusel calls ''the appropriate thinning of forests,'' or the clearing of smaller growth, to not only lower the risk of wildfires, but also to contribute to cleaner waterways and lower carbon emissions by promoting healthier forests.
''We aren't going to be successful if all we do is try to stop fire,'' he said. ''But we can make it less damaging '... and we can try to introduce smaller fires that can maintain habitats in a healthy state.''
But finding buyers for biomass remains a big question for the Sierra Institute. Biomass is considered a dirty word among environmentalists who warn that burning plant material and releasing it into the air can increase carbon emissions.
Removing small growth from forests is also more expensive and not as economically attractive as focusing on large-growth removal that can be turned into timber, Kusel acknowledged. Still, as wildfires threaten to become bigger and more dangerous, Kusel is hopeful that a new locally based biomass market could offset the cost of thinning out the state's forests by creating smaller, better-maintained facilities that do not release dangerous pollutants into the air.
''Societally we have to think differently about our forests, but we have to invest and manage differently them, too,'' he said. ''We have to do better.''
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Violence erupts in San Francisco as Trump supporters and counter-protesters clash | Daily Mail Online
Sun, 18 Oct 2020 22:13
Violence erupted at San Francisco's United Nations Plaza on Saturday as Trump supporters protesting Twitter censorship clashed with activists from Black Lives Matter and Antifa.
The free speech rally was organized by right-wing group Team Save America after Twitter blocked circulation of a New York Post story about Hunter Biden's emails and locked the Trump campaign account this week.
Hundreds of counter-protesters turned up holding Black Lives Matter signs while others were dressed in black clothing with their faces covered and waving flags for violent left-wing group Antifa. Others wore t-shirts claiming membership of the anti-fascist action group 161 Crew.
The Team Save America event ended up being called off before it even started as violent clashes broke out between the two sides within minutes of people arriving, leaving several in need of medical assistance.
Violence erupted at San Francisco's United Nations Plaza on Saturday as Trump supporters and counter-protesters clashed. A pro-Trump demonstrator is injured
A San Francisco police officer is seen on the ground after suffering injuries during the clash
Team Save America event organizer Philip Anderson later posted graphic photos on social media of his bloodied mouth missing a tooth and wrote that 'Antifa attacked me for no reason'
Some people held Black Lives Matter signs and photos of Breonna Taylor - the black EMT who was shot six times by Louisville cops and killed in March during the botched raid on her home
Counter-protesters held up shields that read 'We keep us safe' as cops tried to act as barriers between the two sides
Pro-Trump supporters are seen wearing military style vests at the event at the United Nations Plaza
A counterprotester throws an egg into the crowd at the event while an Antifa flag is seen in the background
A counterprotester wearing a t-shirt claiming membership in anti-fascist action group 161 Crew is seen about to hit a participant of the pro-Trump rally
Three San Francisco police officers required medical attention, the department said. One officer is seen on the ground
A counterprotester wore a sign mocking Proud Boys as they were expected to attend the event
An activist's face is cleansed with water after the police deployed pepper spray as a crowd control tactic
Counterprotesters hold up shields reading 'We keep us safe' in a wall facing a wall of police officers
The pro-Trump group planned to demonstrate outside the United Nations Plaza before moving to Twitter's Market Street headquarters.
The small group began assembling outside the plaza around midday where they were greatly outnumbered by counterprotesters who arrived with shields reading 'We keep us safe' that they used to then form a wall to prevent the San Francisco police from dispersing their march down Market Street.
Police tried to form a barrier to separate the two sides but fights broke out almost immediately.
Footage posted online showed rally organizer Philip Anderson being pushed by another man.
He took the stage around 1 p.m. and was met with plastic water bottles and glass bottles thrown over police barricades at him.
Anderson later posted graphic photos on social media of his bloodied mouth missing a tooth and wrote that 'Antifa attacked me for no reason'.
Another pro-Trump supporter, sporting a Trump 2020 t-shirt, was seen having a drink poured on him by a counterprotester as he cowered on the ground.
Rally organizer Philip Anderson took the stage around 1 p.m. and was met with plastic water bottles and glass bottles thrown over police barricades at him
Anderson is hit by a counterprotester in a mask. He later revealed on Twitter he lost a tooth after being 'attacked'
A San Francisco police officer's face is cleansed with bottles of water after an activist sprayed him with mace
Counter-protesters form a wall of shields to prevent the San Francisco police from dispersing their march down Market Street
A man in a Trump 2020 t-shirt was seen having a drink poured on him by a counterprotester as he cowered on the ground
He was later seen being wheeled off on a stretcher to an ambulance with his leg in a support
The Trump fan was lifted into an ambulance for medical attention at the event
Police officers are seen trying to hold off counterprotesters as they spar over metal railings put up to cordon off the two sides
Opposing liberal activists march on Market Street with shields as protection from the San Francisco cops
He was later seen being wheeled off on a stretcher to an ambulance with his leg in a support.
Another man was seen being attended to by another activist who was pouring water into his eyes to counter the effects of pepper spraw deployed by cops into the crowd. It wasn't clear which group the man was affiliated with.
A man wearing a 161 Crew t-shirt was seen about to punch a demonstrator, while an Antifa flag was seen waving in the background.
Meanwhile, a San Francisco police officer was also seen injured on the ground being tended to by colleagues.
Cops were pouring water in his face after a demonstrator sprayed mace in his face.
The San Francisco Police Department confirmed three officers suffered non life-threatening injuries caused by pepper spray and caustic chemicals.
One of the officers was taken to a local hospital for treatment.
No arrests have been made.
A man in a Trump 2020 t-shirt is seen being escorted off by law enforcement after he was reportedly attacked
A counterprotester burns a 'Thin Blue Line' flag - the symbol in support of law enforcement - brought by Trump supporters to the rally
Some counterprotesters held up a 'Smash fascism' sign at the event and are dressed head to toe in black
Police tried to separate the two sides but fights broke out almost immediately. Officers used pepper spray on crowds
A counterprotester holds up a shield while cops in helmets and holding batons form a line behind railings
The event protesting Twitter was canceled, but some people on both sides lingered in the area into the afternoon sparking concerns of more violence to come.
Conservatives have hit out at Twitter accusing it of censorship after the social media giant locked Donald Trump's campaign account.
On Wednesday, Twitter first blocked the New York Post's story that Joe Biden met with Ukrainian businessman Vadym Pozharskyi, an associate of his son Hunter, months before Biden pressured Ukrainian officials to fire a prosecutor who was investigating Pozharskyi's firm.
Accounts that posted the story were also locked including White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany's personal account and the Trump campaign account.
Twitter and Facebook - which also limited the circulation of the story citing a need to fact check the allegations - were accused of censorship over the move.
Trump threatened to remove the US legal protections - known as Section 230 - that exempts social media platforms from liability for the material users post on their networks.
The event was canceled, but some people on both sides lingered in the area into the afternoon sparking concerns of more violence to come
The pro-Trump event was scheduled to demonstrate outside the United Nations Plaza before moving to Twitter's Market Street headquarters
A counterprotester holds up a sign reading 'Trump Pence Out Now' in downtown San Francisco Saturday
San Francisco Police Department said no arrests had been made but three officers needed medical attention
Two pro-Trump supporters are seen on the ground after an altercation with counterprotesters
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Wednesday night apologized for the lack of explanation around the social media giant's decision to block the story but stood by the company's move to do so.
Dorsey tweeted that his company's actions had been 'unacceptable' and admitted there had been a lack of communication surrounding Twitter's decision.
'Our communication around our actions on the NYPost article was not great. And blocking URL sharing via tweet or DM with zero context as to why we're blocking: unacceptable,' he said.
He then linked to a statement from the company that said it was restricting the link because 'personal and private information' had been shared in the story.
Senate Republicans vowed Thursday to subpoena Dorsey to appear before the Judiciary Committee days before election day over Twitter blocking the story.
By Friday, people were free to post the links to the story again because Twitter said the 'once-private' information in the article is now 'widely available' in the press and on other platforms.
Twitter also announced it will no longer remove hacked material unless it's directly shared by hackers or those working with them.