Art for episode 1289

1289: Post Orange

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

3h 36m
October 25th, 2020
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Executive Producers: Dame of Queen Creek, Knight of Queen Creek, Dreb Scott - Earl-At-Large, Sir Craig - Knight of the Fishermen, Sir Christian of Phoenix, Sir Veyor of the Realm, Sir JD, Baron of Silicon Valley, Anonymous, Sir John of South London, David Koenen, James Fukumoto, Anonymous, Don Tomaso Di Toronto, James Powers, Kasha Grzelecka, Earl Walkman of Buckeye, Jake, the Knight of the Deep Blue Sea

Associate Executive Producers: Laren Ball, Sir Dave, Duke of America's Heartland and the Arabian Peninsula, Paul Branum, Anonymous, Yaroslav Lapin, Sir Tristan Banning, michael bryan, GummyNerds, Viscount of the Troll Room, Jacob Forrester, Jon Downing

Cover Artist: Mountain Jay

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Let Us Out!
Ireland WILL obey
Hi Adam,
Thanks for covering Ireland In yesterday's show.
John mentioned whether the people of Ireland will put up with these measures. Unfortunately they will.
Irish people are generally passive and don't really stand up for their rights. The majority of the population still watch the national news every night on a station called RTÉ, which is state run. It's basically a propoganda arm for the government.
Each night the 6pm and 9pm news covers the daily PCR test results, designed to inflict fear amongst the people. It's worked. Most people are afraid of the virus and many welcome the new lockdown measures.
We're not even allowed to protest under the current regulations. 11 people were arrested today at a protest in Dublin because they refused to disperse when ordered to do so by the police.
https://www.breakingnews.ie/ireland/gardai-at-the-scene-of-a-protest-in-dublin-city-centre-1024252.html
I fear for the future of this country.
Best regards,
Danilo.
Welsh Lockdown non-essential items
So the Welsh government have put the whole country into lockdown - with a Bizzar twist- no one is allowed to buy 'non-essential' items during the lock-down.
Need a new shirt for work - tough it's not essential. Need a new monitor for work - tough it's not essential. Need a part for your bicycle - tough not essential.
https://news.google.com/articles/CAIiECETmKP0JOUhhNnuEu50fUgqGAgEKg8IACoHCAowqa6gCTCuoHAw2faJAw?hl=en-GB&gl=GB&ceid=GB%3Aen
Ireland pubs still open
There's nowhere in Ireland that isn't walking distance to a pub and the pubs are open.
This model (if close to pub then carry on regardless...) has served us well for 700-800 yrs so far...
WHO Taps 'Anti-Conspiracy' Crusader to Sway Public Opinion on COVID Vaccine ' Children's Health Defense
Sun, 25 Oct 2020 12:08
October 23, 2020
An outspoken proponent of government-led tactics to influence public opinion on policy and to undermine the credibility of ''conspiracy theorists'' will lead the World Health Organization's (WHO) efforts to encourage public acceptance of a COVID-19 vaccine, Children's Health Defense has learned.
Last week, WHO's general director, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, tweeted that he was glad to speak with the organization's Technical Advisory Group (TAG) on Behavioural Insights and Sciences for Health to ''discuss vaccine acceptance and uptake in the context of COVID-19.''
In his next tweet Ghebreyesus announced that Cass Sunstein, founder and director of the Program on Behavioral Economics and Public Policy at Harvard Law School, will chair the advisory group, which was created in July.
Sunstein was former President Barack Obama's head of Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs where he was responsible for overseeing policies relating to information quality.
In 2008, Sunstein wrote a paper proposing that governments employ teams of covert agents to ''cognitively infiltrate'' online dissident groups and websites which advocate ''false conspiracy theories'' about the government. In the paper, Sunstein and his co-authors wrote:
''Our principal claim here involves the potential value of cognitive infiltration of extremist groups, designed to introduce informational diversity into such groups and to expose indefensible conspiracy theories as such.''
The government-led operations described in Sunstein's paper would work to increase faith in government policy and policymakers and undermine the credibility of ''conspiracists'' who question their motives. They would also maintain a vigorous ''counter misinformation establishment'' to counter ''conspiracy'' groups opposed to government policies that aim to protect the common good.
Some of this would be accomplished by sending undercover agents, or government-paid third parties, into ''online social networks or even real space groups.''
Sunstein also advocated in 2008 that the government pay ''independent experts'' to publicly advocate on the government's behalf, whether on television or social media. He says this is effective because people don't trust the government as much as they trust people they believe are ''independent.''
WHO has already contracted the public relations firm, Hill + Knowlton. The PR giant, best known for its role in manufacturing false testimonies in support of the Gulf War, was hired by WHO to ''ensure the science and public health credibility of the WHO in order to ensure WHO's advice and guidance is followed.''
WHO paid Hill + Knowlton $135,000 to identify micro-influencers, macro-influencers and ''hidden heroes'' who could covertly promote WHO's advice and messaging on social media, and also protect and promote the organization's image as a COVID-19 authority.
There's no evidence that WHO has yet implemented any ''cognitive infiltration'' policies similar to what Sunstein advocated in 2008. If the organization were to adopt such a strategy, and use it to convince hesitant populations to take a COVID vaccine, it would raise questions of legality.
As put forward in a report by the Congressional Research Service, illegal ''publicity or propaganda'' is defined by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to mean either (1) self-aggrandizement by public officials; (2) purely partisan activity; or (3) ''covert propaganda.'' By covert propaganda, GAO means information which originates from the government but is unattributed and made to appear as though it came from a third party.
Because WHO is a multinational organization and not a U.S. Government agency, covert ''cognitive infiltration'' policies could fall into a gray area, or even be considered legal.
Dr. Margaret Chan, former general-director of WHO, once stated that the organization's policies are ''driven by what [she called] donor interests.''
According to a 2012 article in Foreign Affairs, ''few policy initiatives or normative standards set by the WHO are announced before they have been casually, unofficially vetted by Gates Foundation staff.'' Or, as other sources told Politico in 2017, ''Gates' priorities have become the WHO's.''
WHO's current general director, Ghebreyesus, was previously on the board of two organizations that Gates founded, provided seed money for and continues to fund to this day: GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, a public''private global health partnership focused on increased access to vaccines in poor countries, and the Global Fund, which says it aims to accelerate the ''development, production and equitable global access to safe, quality, effective, and affordable COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.''
If, as Politico put it, ''Gates priorities have become the WHO's,'' and if WHO's policies are driven by ''donor interests,'' this raises questions as to what online groups, people and websites would be targeted by such covert programs.
The idea of government agents carrying out psychological operations on social media is not far fetched. Earlier this year the head of editorial for Twitter's Middle East and Africa office was outed as an active officer in the British Army's psychological warfare unit, known as the 77th brigade, which specializes in online behavioral change operations.
Jeremy Loffredo is a reporter for Children's Health Defense.
Sign up for free news and updates from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and the Children's Health Defense. CHD is implementing many strategies, including legal, in an effort to defend the health of our children and obtain justice for those already injured. Your support is essential to CHD's successful mission.
Covid in Scotland: Sturgeon to set out five-tier alert system - BBC News
Fri, 23 Oct 2020 14:02
Published duration 13 hours ago
image copyright PA Media
image caption Ms Sturgeon will set out plans for the new system at her daily coronavirus briefingThe Scottish government is to publish details later of a new five-tier alert system of Covid-19 restrictions.
The new system - which adds two levels to the three tiers used in England - will come into force from 2 November.
It will set out different levels of measures that can be applied either nationally or regionally, depending on the rate of infection across Scotland.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said this would provide clarity about rules and flexibility for different areas.
The new "strategic framework" will also include details of support for businesses hit by restrictions and a new testing strategy.
Temporary restrictions targeting the hospitality industry in the central belt of Scotland in particular have been extended to cover the gap until the new system comes into force.
Details of how it will work are to be published on Friday, but Ms Sturgeon has already revealed that it will feature five different levels.
The three tiers currently used in the English system - of "medium", "high" and "very high" alert - will be broadly equivalent to the middle of the Scottish system.
An extra level will be added at the bottom, which Ms Sturgeon said would be "the closest to normality that we can reasonably expect to live with until we have a vaccine".
And another tier will be added at the top, featuring harsh restrictions similar to those imposed at the outset of the pandemic in March.
Ms Sturgeon said: "When England published their [system] the chief medical officer in England at the time said he thought the top level was not enough to necessarily, in all circumstances, get the virus down. So we think we need one above that which is closer to a full lockdown if things got to be that serious."
image copyright Getty Images
image caption MSPs will hold a vote on the proposed framework next weekOpposition parties were consulted while the new framework was being drawn up, and MSPs will put the broad principles to a vote when Holyrood returns from its half term recess.
Ms Sturgeon has said decisions about where levels will be set for each region of Scotland would be taken on a "collaborative" basis, but said she would ultimately bear accountability for them.
The first minister said she wanted to avoid a standoff like that between the UK government and local leaders in the Greater Manchester region, adding: "I believe it's really important that the buck for these difficult decisions stops here, with me and government."
Testing strategy
The strategic framework comes alongside an expanded testing strategy, which includes a commitment to expand Scotland's testing capacity to 65,000 tests per day by the end of the year.
This will include boosting the number of tests that can be processed at the UK government's Lighthouse laboratory in Glasgow, as well as NHS facilities and some smaller commercial ones.
New NHS regional hubs are under construction in Grampian, Lothian and Greater Glasgow and Clyde, and are expected to take on all of the daily routine testing done in care homes around Scotland.
Alongside the Scottish government's paper, the Office for National Statistics is expected to publish the initial results of a Covid infection survey north of the border.
This estimates how many people in private households were infected with the virus over a two-week period, which Ms Sturgeon said would provide "an additional tool to track the spread and prevalence of the virus and tailor our response to it accordingly".
Roderick Veelo - Hoeveel dood en verderf heeft een gemeenschap nodig om te ontwaken? | ThePostOnline
Fri, 23 Oct 2020 23:36
''Ils ne passeront pas.'' De Franse president Macron sprak oorlogstaal. ''Ze komen er niet door'' citeerde hij een beroemde strijdkreet tegen het fascisme uit de Spaanse burgeroorlog.
Macron stelt daarmee de radicale islam gelijk aan het fascisme en toont zich vastberaden de intolerante en gewelddadige variant van de islam de toegang tot Frankrijk te ontzeggen.
Na de onthoofding van meester Samuel Paty lijkt Frankrijk van temperament en koers veranderd. Nog geen maand geleden was er een aanslag met een hakmes op twee journalisten nabij de voormalige burelen van Charlie Hebdo. Macron weet: er moet nu iets gebeuren.
In een eerste stap zet hij 200 moslimextremisten het land uit en wordt een aantal islamitische organisaties verboden. Zo'n 50 islamitische verenigingen, scholen en culturele instellingen krijgen bezoek van de inspectie.
Het zal nog een hele klus zijn die 200 extremisten ergens anders af te leveren, maar de urgentie is er. Hoeveel dood en verderf heeft een gemeenschap nodig om te ontwaken?
Ontwaken waaruit?
Uit een vriendelijke maar complexe droom waarin het uiteindelijk goed komt met de uitwassen van de islam in Europa. Een droom waarin seculiere moslims de overhand hebben, die westerse waarden zoals vrijheid, democratie en tolerantie omarmen.
Seculiere moslims die vooral ook de groep radicale intolerante geloofsgenoten eronder krijgen.
Na 28 aanslagen en 267 vermoorde burgers is die droom inmiddels uitgedroomd. Zondag vulden de straten in heel Frankrijk zich met rechts (C)n links in een nationale veroordeling van de onthoofding van Samuel Paty en de jihad tegen het Franse onderwijs.
De Franse minister van Binnenlandse Zaken Darmanin had het over 'de vijanden van de republiek'.
De olifant in de kamer krijgt eindelijk het naambord omgehangen dat al zo lang op 'm wacht: de radicale islam als de vijand van de vrije samenleving.
Om te zien hoe groot de haat en de vijand inmiddels zijn moeten we bij alle aanslagen ook de mislukte aanslagen optellen. Volgens de Franse minister Darmanin hebben inlichtingendiensten en politie alleen al de afgelopen 3 jaar 32 aanslagen voorkomen.
En niet alleen in Frankrijk, maar in heel Europa staan politie en veiligheidsdiensten dag en nacht aan.
In de rechtszaak tegen de Arnhemse jihadclub rond Hardi N. bleek dat Nederland ontsnapt is aan ten minste drie grote aanslagen. Een op een festival, een waarschijnlijk bedoeld voor veteranendag en een op de Amsterdamse Pride.
Maandag zagen we terrorist Samir A. van de Hofstadgroep op televisie bekennen dat 'wapens gebruikt zouden zijn, als de levering ervan gelukt was'. En ook in Duitsland, Denemarken, Zweden, Groot-Brittanni en Belgi worden jihadisten gestopt voordat zij hun religieuze waan kunnen uitleven op Europese burgers.
De gelukte en mislukte aanslagen zijn samen nog maar de punt van de ijsberg.
Want ouders van leerlingen waren al in actie gekomen om de leraar weg te krijgen, vanwege zijn lessen over de vrijheid van meningsuiting. Er was 'een fatwa' uitgesproken tegen Paty, omdat hij de Mohammed-cartoons van Charlie Hebdo toonde. En op sociale media telde de politie ten minste tachtig steunbetuigingen voor de onthoofding van de leraar.
Uit een onderzoek onder moslimjongeren in Frankrijk blijkt dat een kwart van hen van mening is dat de redactie van Charlie Hebdo de aanslag in 2015 zelf heeft uitgelokt. Er werden 12 mensen vermoord. Twintig procent is bereid met geweld zijn religie te 'verdedigen'.
De vijandschap tegenover de vrije meningsuiting is niet nieuw. De bereidheid tot geweld is niet nieuw. En ook de terreinwinst van radicale moslims in Europa is niet nieuw.
Wat nieuw is is het brede besef in Frankrijk dat de radicale islam de bijl aan de wortel van de vrije samenleving is. En dat die vrije samenleving alleen toekomst heeft als het de radicale islam de oorlog verklaart.
Woorden die daden vereisen. Door het politieke midden jarenlang laf geparkeerd bij populistisch rechts. Zo kon er door progressieven en liberalen nog even worden door gedroomd.
Wat geldt voor Frankrijk geldt voor heel Europa. En uiteraard ook voor Nederland.
Maar de islamisten, die de Nederlandse samenleving afwijzen en bezig zijn hun aanhang met jonge moslims in rap tempo uit te breiden, genieten hier nog altijd de status van kwetsbare religieuze minderheid.
Een status die hen in staat stelt vrouwen als minderwaardig te behandelen, homoseksuelen dood te wensen en critici de mond te snoeren met een term die hen door de vrije samenleving zelf is aangereikt: 'islamofobie'.
Een van de eerste organisaties die Frankrijk gaat verbieden is het 'Collectief tegen Islamofobie'. Een gezelschap dat het tot haar religieuze plicht ziet moslims te beschermen tegen cartoons en de hetze ondersteunde die de leraar zo gruwelijk fataal werd.
De slappe Nederlandse reacties op de noodkreet van Macron zijn een verontrustend signaal. Maar als Frankrijk te ver weg is, vraag dan eens aan de Arnhemse burgemeester Ahmed Marcouch of aan voormalig PvdA-kamerlid Keklik Y¼cel hoe laat het is.
Fransen kunnen een vijand nog de oorlog verklaren. Maar ik vrees dat wij met deze barbaren vrijheden voor vrede blijven ruilen. En zolang dat lukt maken we onszelf weer wijs, dat er 'voorshands nog geen enkele reden is om werkelijk ongerust te zijn'.
Deze column werd eerder gepubliceerd op RTLNieuws.nl.
Garda­ arrest 11 people at anti-lockdown protest in Dublin
Fri, 23 Oct 2020 23:52
Garda­ have arrested 11 people for public order offences at an anti-lockdown protest in Dublin city centre.
A full Garda operation was in place from early afternoon as the protestors assembled at O'Connell Bridge and later moved to East Wall Road and onto Grafton Street.
Garda­ said they engaged with the protestors on a number of occasions using the graduated policing response during which Garda members engage, explain, encourage and, as a last resort, enforce.
Gadai observe protestors gathered on O'Connell Street, Dublin, calling for the country to be opened on the first day of nationwide Level 5 restrictions in Ireland.
On a number of occasions protestors were informed that they were in breach of public health regulations and asked to disperse.
At approximately 5:30pm, as protestors began to disperse, a small group started to become involved in public disorder incidents on Grafton Street.
Garda­ arrested 11 people for public order offences following a number of incidents in the area. No injuries were reported and the rest of the group dispersed from the area without serious incident.
The 11 people arrested are currently detained at Garda Stations in Dublin.
Protestors gather at O'Connell Street, Dublin, calling for the country to be opened on the first day of nationwide Level 5 restrictions in Ireland.
Members of the Garda Public Order Unit were deployed in 'soft cap' mode at the protest in support of uniform colleagues, in support of the graduated policing response.
Garda­ said: "'Soft Cap' is Public Order members in Public Order Suits and Baseball Caps NOT public order helmets, body pads and shields."
An investigation focused on the organisers of this protest is now underway. The advices of the Director of Public Prosecutions will be sought in respect of any further actions to be taken.
Opinion | When Libertarianism Goes Bad - The New York Times
Sat, 24 Oct 2020 11:50
Opinion | When Libertarianism Goes BadLiberty doesn't mean freedom to infect other people.
Oct. 22, 2020 Credit... Michael Reynolds/EPA, via Shutterstock A long time ago, in an America far, far away '-- actually just last spring '-- many conservatives dismissed Covid-19 as a New York problem. It's true that in the first few months of the pandemic, the New York area, the port of entry for many infected visitors from Europe, was hit very hard. But the focus on New York also played into right-wing ''American carnage'' narratives about the evils of densely populated, diverse cities. Rural white states imagined themselves immune.
But New York eventually controlled its viral surge, in large part via widespread mask-wearing, and at this point the ''anarchist jurisdiction'' is one of the safest places in the country. Despite a worrying uptick in some neighborhoods, especially in religious communities that have been flouting rules on social distancing, New York City's positivity rate '-- the fraction of tests showing presence of the coronavirus '-- is only a bit over 1 percent.
Even as New York contained its pandemic, however, the coronavirus surged out of control in other parts of the country. There was a deadly summer spike in much of the Sunbelt. And right now the virus is running wild in much of the Midwest; in particular, the most dangerous places in America may be the Dakotas.
Last weekend North Dakota, which is averaging more than 700 new coronavirus cases every day, was down to only 17 available I.C.U. beds. South Dakota now has a terrifying 35 percent positivity rate. Deaths tend to lag behind infections and hospitalizations, but more people are already dying daily in the Dakotas than in New York State, which has 10 times their combined population. And there's every reason to fear that things will get worse as cold weather forces people indoors and Covid-19 interacts with the flu season.
But why does this keep happening? Why does America keep making the same mistakes?
Donald Trump's disastrous leadership is, of course, an important factor. But I also blame Ayn Rand '-- or, more generally, libertarianism gone bad, a misunderstanding of what freedom is all about.
If you look at what Republican politicians are saying as the pandemic rips through their states, you see a lot of science denial. Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota, has gone full Trump '-- questioning the usefulness of masks and encouraging potential super-spreader events. (The Sturgis motorcycle rally, which drew almost a half-million bikers to her state, may have played a key role in setting off the viral surge.)
But you also see a lot of libertarian rhetoric '-- a lot of talk about ''freedom'' and ''personal responsibility.'' Even politicians willing to say that people should cover their faces and avoid indoor gatherings refuse to use their power to impose rules to that effect, insisting that it should be a matter of individual choice.
Which is nonsense.
Many things should be matters of individual choice. The government has no business dictating your cultural tastes, your faith or what you decide to do with other consenting adults.
But refusing to wear a face covering during a pandemic, or insisting on mingling indoors with large groups, isn't like following the church of your choice. It's more like dumping raw sewage into a reservoir that supplies other people's drinking water.
Remarkably, many prominent figures still don't seem to understand (or aren't willing to understand) why we should be practicing social distancing. It's not primarily about protecting ourselves '-- if it were, it would indeed be a personal choice. Instead, it's about not endangering others. Wearing a mask may provide some protection to the wearer, but mostly it limits the chance that you'll infect other people.
Or to put it another way, irresponsible behavior right now is essentially a form of pollution. The only difference is in the level at which behavior needs to be changed. For the most part, controlling pollution involves regulating institutions '-- limiting sulfur dioxide emissions from power plants, requiring cars to have catalytic converters. Individual choices '-- paper versus plastic, walking instead of driving '-- aren't completely irrelevant, but they have only a marginal effect.
Controlling a pandemic, on the other hand, mainly requires that individuals change their behavior '-- covering their faces, refraining from hanging out in bars. But the principle is the same.
Now, I know that some people are enraged by any suggestion that they should bear some inconvenience to protect the common good. Indeed, for reasons I don't fully understand, the rage seems most intense when the inconvenience is trivial. Case in point: with around 5,000 Americans dying each week from Covid-19, Donald Trump seems obsessed with the problems he apparently has with low-flush toilets.
But this is no time for people to indulge their petty obsessions. Trump may complain that ''all you hear is Covid, Covid, Covid.'' The fact, however, is that the current path of the pandemic is terrifying. And we desperately need leadership from politicians who will take it seriously.
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Coronavirus: Supermarkets in Wales have cordoned off 'non-essential items' - shoppers are furious | UK News | Sky News
Sat, 24 Oct 2020 12:11
Shoppers in Wales have criticised government measures which mean "non-essential items" have been put behind metal barriers or covered with plastic sheeting in supermarkets.
Photos on social media show products such as pillows and bedsheets under a plastic covering at a Tesco store, while a photo from a Morrisons supermarket shows children's clothes behind a cordon.
One social media user has pointed how baby clothes have been deemed to be non-essential in a Tesco supermarket in Cardiff, while vodka is still available on the shelves in the same store.
A photo from a Tesco store in Pengam Green shows products including cups and plates behind metal barriers too.
''Non essential'' items sealed off in a supermarket in Monmouth. One customer tells me he thinks ''the Welsh Government have lost the plot''. pic.twitter.com/33hIqskzX1
'-- Becky Johnson (@BeckyJohnsonSky) October 24, 2020 Interesting which ''non essential'' items Welsh Government have said need to be removed from sale. It would seem socks and tights are not essential, but Halloween decorations, Christmas crackers and advent calendars are? pic.twitter.com/RGYG7F3OPj
'-- Becky Johnson (@BeckyJohnsonSky) October 24, 2020Live updates on coronavirus from UK and around world
Sainsbury's has emptied shelves and closed part of its store in Tenby that would usually be selling non-essential items.
A sign in the store reads: "Following latest government public health restrictions, we are unable to sell certain items, including plants & flowers, general merchandise, homeware or clothing."
Sky's correspondent Becky Johnson, says socks and tights have been cordoned off at a supermarket in Monmouth - but Halloween decorations, Christmas crackers and advent calendars can still be purchased.
One shopper told her that he thinks "the Welsh government has lost the plot".
Members of the public have expressed their disbelief at the government measures.
Image: Children's clothes are now behind a cordon at a Morrisons in Cardiff Bay Image: Stationery is also unavailable to shoppers at the Pengam Green storeA user with the Twitter name Milena ZP wrote: "Not impressed with not being able to purchase items.
"Not thinking of anybody least of all disabled people. Kettle breaks down like ours did in last lockdown at least we could buy one in the supermarket.
"Using a pan of hot water is not viable whilst waiting for delivery for a disabled person like myself. These items are essential and not just for making tea, it's for hot water bottles helping ease pain.
"So classing these items as non essential is wrong."
Image: Empty shelves are seen a closed part of a Sainsbury's storeTwitter user Philippa Smallwood wrote: "It's absolutely ridiculous what is going on in Wales btw (by the way).
"Supermarkets having to tape off aisles as it is not essential items. Pretty sure that if you are isolated for 17 days and your kettle packs in, you should be able to buy a new one."
Image: Home products are kept behind a plastic barrier at a Tesco in CardiffFellow Twitter user Lucy Heath wrote: "Words fail me. How is a microwave not essential for someone if theirs breaks? Same with a kettle?
"Or a duvet/blanket with the weather getting colder? Yet again it's the people struggling financially that are the hit the hardest... definitely not "in this together" in Wales!"
Image: Shoppers have expressed disbelief at the measures in place in Tesco stores in WalesThe images have emerged as Wales entered a 17-day "firebreak" lockdown on Friday.
Police in England have said they will attempt to block non-essential journeys out of Wales during the country's two-week lockdown.
Gloucestershire Constabulary confirmed they will patrol routes into the Forest of Dean area and pull over vehicles they suspect of making long journeys.
The force said drivers who were found to have driven out of Wales without a valid excuse would be advised to turn around and, if they refused, would then be reported to police in Wales who can issue fines.
It said it would form part of a wider police operation in response to high numbers of people from outside the Forest of Dean area visiting Cannop cycle centre and causing congestion by parking on grass verges near it.
13.3% of ICU beds are Covid-19 related. '†' 735 admitted to ICU OK State Population: 3,911,338 ' Statewide Population in ICU: 0.000187915235145% Fear mongering. https://t.co/ChER4fPtaC" / Twitter
Sat, 24 Oct 2020 12:15
Angela ðŸ(C)º : @BonnieWA @FridaGhitis 13.3% of ICU beds are Covid-19 related. '†' 735 admitted to ICU'†' OK State Population: 3,911'... https://t.co/xGTJ54JNjt
Fri Oct 16 10:00:50 +0000 2020
Utah's packed ICUs could mean trouble for COVID and non-COVID patients
Sat, 24 Oct 2020 12:18
The University of Utah Hospital's intensive care unit is at 99% capacity. (Photo: KUTV)
SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) '--The University of Utah Hospital's intensive care unit is at 99% capacity.
KUTV
Friday, Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall and caregivers from the hospital gathered together to plead for Utahns to realize the gravity of the situation.
The 99% capacity refers to the staffed ICU beds. Currently, 110 of their 111 beds are full, including a surge ICU.
The University of Utah hospital admitted its first COVID-19 ICU patient on March 13. Since then, it's been seven months of COVID-19 patients in and out, but Friday marked a grim milestone when the hospital had more active coronavirus patients in their ICU than ever before.
"It is a big deal. We have multiple patients in our ICU right now that are under the age of 30,'' said Dr. Kencee Graves, the associate chief medical officer for inpatient care.
Dr. Kencee Graves, the associate chief medical officer for inpatient care at University of Utah Hospital. (Photo: KUTV)
Graves said getting more beds isn't the solution, as the hospital system's healthcare providers are already stretched thin. Graves also said the situation will likely get worse.
She said the time between exposure to COVID-19 and severe illness takes a few days, then any deaths from the virus usually happen around four weeks later.
"I work really hard, I take care of sick patients. I'm used to being stressed," Graves said. "I'm really stressed about what a month from now will look like."
The 99% capacity refers to the staffed ICU beds. Currently, 110 of their 111 beds are full, including a surge ICU. (Photo: U of U Health)
She said while Utah has seen low mortality rates, that could change.
We have not had overwhelmed hospitals. If we wait until our hospitals are overwhelmed and we wait until our mortality rate is high, then we are way too late."Graves said she knows Utahns are sick of hearing about the coronavirus, sick of not seeing their friends and family '-- but now is when sacrifices must be made.
If we continue to have almost 2,000 cases a day, people will die. They will."The packed ICUs affects non-COVID patients as well. The hospital has had to cancel surgeries to make room, some for people facing life-threatening issues.
Strained ICUs meant 2.5 hours to find a bed for near-death non-COVID patient
The 99% capacity refers to the staffed ICU beds. Currently, 110 of their 111 beds are full, including a surge ICU. (Photo: U of U Health)
Graves said she doesn't want to get to the point where they don't have room for someone with heart trouble or someone who was in a car accident.
So many people want to help and support healthcare providers, but what they need most is simple.
I would rather have our community respond to us asking them to mask up, then to call me a hero and to bring us food. We need them to take care of us, that's what we need."The hospital staff said they will never turn someone away from the emergency room, but if things continue as they are, they will have to divert patients to other area hospitals, which are close to capacity themselves.
The doctors and nurses said the patients in their packed ICUs are afraid and lonely, and they don't want anyone else's family to join them.
Dr. Kencee Graves, the associate chief medical officer for inpatient care at University of Utah Hospital. (Photo: KUTV)
"We physically distance now, so that when we get back together later, no one is missing,'' Graves said.
The hospital said they will keep stretching their staff to meet the needs of patients, but that impacts the quality of care they receive '-- and that goes for all patients, not just those there because of COVID-19.
Coronavirus: Neil Ferguson says NHS will be unable to cope | News Shopper
Sun, 25 Oct 2020 11:11
Professor Neil Ferguson has said the NHS may not be able to cope soon as coronavirus infections continue to rise
The NHS will be unable to cope if coronavirus cases continue to increase at the present rate, a scientist has warned.
Professor Neil Ferguson, whose modelling led to the original lockdown in March, said that while infections among 18 to 21-year-olds were falling, they were continuing to rise in other age groups.
He also predicted that "people will die" if households mix over Christmas, although he thinks the impact would be limited if it was for just one or two days.
"Unfortunately, in every other age group case numbers continue to rise at about the same rate they were.
"There are little hints of slowing, for instance in the North East of England, but we are not seeing the sort of slowing that we really need to to get on top of this," he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.
Professor Neil Ferguson
"It is a worrying situation. We now have 8,000 people in hospital with Covid. That is about a third of the level we were at the peak of the pandemic in March.
"If the rate of growth continues as it is, it means that in a month's time we will be above that peak level in March and that is probably unsustainable.
"We are in a critical time right now. The health system will not be able to cope with this rate of growth for much longer."
Professor Ferguson said it will be a "political judgment" whether restrictions on households mixing should be relaxed over Christmas.
"It risks some transmission and there will be consequences of that. Some people will die because of getting infected on that day," he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.
"But if it is only one or two days the impact is likely to be limited. So that is really a political judgment about the cost versus the benefits."
The professor's warning comes after more than 100,000 people tested positive for coronavirus in a week.
SEE ALSO:
Doctor explains why less people are dying from COVID-19 New coronavirus symptom could be added to official UK list Coronavirus symptoms to look out for in children Coronavirus r rate in south east second worst in England Weekly statistics from the part-privatised NHS Test and Trace system show 101,494 people tested positive at least once in the week to October 14.
This is an rise of 12 per cent on the previous week and is the highest since Test and Trace launched at the end of May.
Yet the percentage of contacts actually tracked down by private firms Serco and Sitel took another nose-dive.
Just 59.6 per cent of close contacts of people who tested positive were reached by Test and Trace.
This is down from 63 per cent the previous week and once again sets a new record low for contacts traced.
It means more than 100,000 people who had close contact with a Covid-19 patient in the latest week were not contacted by Test and Trace and told to self-isolate.
Shops installing CCTV that refuses entry if you aren't wearing a face mask - Birmingham Live
Sun, 25 Oct 2020 11:55
A new CCTV security system that can tell if shoppers are wearing a face mask - and refuse entry to those who aren't - is now being installed at a number of stores across the UK.
The technology is being fitted by shops to ban awkward customers who refuse to wear a face covering during the coronavirus pandemic.
BirminghamLive discovered that as many as HALF of people visiting one branch of Morrisons were not bothering to wear a face covering after the city first went into lockdown.
The new CCTV system can tell if a person is wearing a mask - and won't let them in if they aren't (Image: CCTV.co.uk)And one Midlands attraction said it has experienced 'aggressive' behaviour from visitors when they were asked to put on a mask, or to wear it properly. It warned that anyone being abusive would be asked to leave immediately.
With coronavirus cases on the rise and England now in a three-tier system of lockdown restrictions, some stores are turning to technology to deal with non-compliant members of the public.
The camera system works out if a potential customer approaching the entry doors is wearing a mask or not and then displays a message on a screen to allow or deny access.
Read MoreRelated ArticlesLorraine's bizarre four-word explanation why the Queen doesn't need a face maskRead MoreRelated ArticlesDr Hilary issues alarming warning on how face masks can turn useless"The technology is just fantastic; the CCTV system automatically allows or denies access to the shop and means staff don't have to be put at risk from difficult customers complaining, or potentially worse", explained James Ritchey from CCTV.co.uk
How the Face Mask Detecting CCTV works: A customer walks towards the shop entrance The CCTV system works out using artificial intelligence if the person is wearing a mask or not A green or red message is displayed on a screen If the customer is wearing a mask, access is allowed If not, entry is refused One garden centre in Yorkshire got the system up and running last week.
Whiteley's Garden Centre in Mirfield is using a Videcon system to control customers behaviour at the main entrance to the store.
They welcome 450 visitors a day, and said staffing the door was a full-time job. They say they have seen a 50 per cent decrease in customer non-compliance.
It said customers not wearing a mask see a message appear on a screen as a prompt to put one on if they are able to (and not exempt) - but it is still allowing anyone to enter the garden centre whether they are wearing a face covering or not.
The solution has been developed because it is now the shops' responsibility to protect both their own staff and the health of their customers.
Mr Ritchey added: "Retailers are working so hard to stay open during these most difficult times, and this system means staff aren't in the firing line from customers unhappy about current restrictions.
"The other side of using an automated system is it gives customers worried about the virus confidence as they enter a tightly controlled secure Covid-19 store."
Read MoreRelated ArticlesWales confirms travel ban on England's tier two or tier three lockdown areasRead MoreRelated ArticlesEngland coronavirus deaths 'will hit 690 a day in less than fortnight' scientists warnUnder the latest Government guidance for England, you must wear a face covering in the following indoor settings:
public transport (aeroplanes, trains, trams and buses) taxis and private hire vehicles (PHVs) transport hubs (airports, rail and tram stations and terminals, maritime ports and terminals, bus and coach stations and terminals) shops and supermarkets (places which offer goods or services for retail sale or hire) shopping centres (malls and indoor markets) auction houses premises providing hospitality (bars, pubs, restaurants, cafes), except when seated at a table to eat or drink (see exemptions ) post offices, banks, building societies, high-street solicitors and accountants, credit unions, short-term loan providers, savings clubs and money service businesses estate and lettings agents theatres premises providing personal care and beauty treatments (hair salons, barbers, nail salons, massage centres, tattoo and piercing parlours) premises providing veterinary services visitor attractions and entertainment venues (museums, galleries, cinemas, theatres, concert halls, cultural and heritage sites, aquariums, indoor zoos and visitor farms, bingo halls, amusement arcades, adventure activity centres, indoor sports stadiums, funfairs, theme parks, casinos, skating rinks, bowling alleys, indoor play areas including soft-play areas) libraries and public reading rooms places of worship funeral service providers (funeral homes, crematoria and burial ground chapels) community centres, youth centres and social clubs exhibition halls and conference centres public areas in hotels and hostels storage and distribution facilities Read MoreRelated ArticlesNHS 'in talks' over coronavirus vaccine programme by as soon as DecemberRead MoreRelated ArticlesTier 2 and 3 lockdown shopping rules at Aldi, Asda, Primark, M&S, Tesco, Sainsbury's and MorrisonsThe Government says people are expected to wear a face covering before entering any of these settings and must keep it on until they leave unless there is a reasonable excuse for removing it.
You should also wear a face covering in indoor places not listed above where social distancing may be difficult and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet.
Face coverings are needed in NHS settings, including hospitals and primary or community care settings, such as GP surgeries. They are also advised to be worn in care homes.
Check latest coronavirus cases for your area by typing the postcode in the box below:
What can legally be done about it if you don't wear one?Premises where face coverings are required "should take reasonable steps to promote compliance with the law", the Government said.
Police can take action if members of the public do not comply with the law without a valid exemption and transport operators can deny access if a passenger is not wearing a face covering, or direct them to either put one on or get off the service.
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Police and Transport for London officers have enforcement powers including issuing fines of £200 (reduced to £100 if paid within 14 days) for the first offence.
Repeat offenders receiving fines on public transport or in an indoor setting will have their fines doubled at each offence.
Receiving a second fine will amount to £400 and a third fine will be £800, up to a maximum value of £6,400.
Boston University students must show digital COVID-19 badges on campus - The Boston Globe
Sun, 25 Oct 2020 12:13
Boston University has begun requiring students to show a digital badge indicating they're up to date with COVID-19 testing and symptom screening to gain entry to campus dining halls, libraries, and other facilities, school officials said.
BU officials said the policy, which went into effect Thursday, was necessary due to ''declining compliance'' and a ''worrisome increase in the daily numbers of cases of the virus among our student body, as well as our staff, over the last week.''
In a letter posted Tuesday on the university's website, Boston University president Robert A. Brown and Kenneth Elmore, associate provost and dean of students, reminded students they must also continue to follow protocols for testing, screening, and social distancing, as well as be ready to show the badges on their phones.
''We hope this will be a reminder to everyone of the importance of daily symptom attestation and testing for keeping our campus safe,'' they wrote.
According to a report in BU Today, a dozen students were suspended after they participated in at least one of three parties held Oct. 3 at off-campus residences in Allston. Five others who attended the parties were placed on deferred suspension for the rest of the academic year, according to the report.
University officials told BU Today that mask-wearing and social distancing were disregarded at the parties, and that a physical assault occurred at one when one student threw a beer can that ricocheted off a building and into another student. Officials said there was no evidence any of the students involved had COVID-19 or that the coronavirus was spread at any of the three parties.
The digital badges are not new; students and employees at BU have been using them since the start of the semester. But they will now need to be shown to access the dining halls, libraries, the George Sherman Union, and other spaces on campus, officials said in the letter.
According to the COVID-19 policies posted on Boston University's website, students who are up to date with testing and daily screening receive a green-colored badge that appears on their mobile device. Students who test positive for COVID-19 receive a red ''isolation'' badge; those who who have been in close contact with someone who is positive or if they answered yes to their daily symptom screening receive an orange ''quarantine'' badge. Students who need to get tested or have not completed their daily symptom screenings get a yellow ''overdue'' badge.
Faculty can ask students to show their badges prior to starting class. Students who are unable to produce a green badge may be asked to leave class.
Starting Thursday, BU students are required to show a green badge '' that can be downloaded on a school website using their name and student ID '' that they have tested negative for COVID-19 before they can enter certain public spaces on campus like the dining hall. John Tlumacki/Globe Staff ''You should not return to that class session, and must resolve any issues you have with testing or attestation before attending the next in-person class,'' the website states. ''If you refuse to leave the class, the faculty member will inform the class that they will not proceed with instruction until you leave the room. If you still refuse to leave the room, the faculty member will dismiss the class and contact your academic Dean's office for follow up.''
In their Tuesday letter, Brown and Elmore wrote that over the previous seven days the university had seen the largest number of new cases since the final week of move-in back in August. As of Wednesday, 34 BU students who tested positive were in isolation, and 108 had recovered from the virus.
''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," the letter states.
Emily Sweeney can be reached at emily.sweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.
The Great Reset
COVID-19 lockdowns are in lockstep with the 'Great Reset' - Modern Diplomacy
Sat, 24 Oct 2020 12:22
There are currently three types of intelligence transformations, namely conceptual, technological and operational.
In the first case, we are dealing with a new and original intelligence paradigm.
From a mechanism based on the identification of the need for information-research-processing and analysis-dissemination-feedback, we are shifting to what some people already call ''position intelligence''.
In other words, we are coming to an information mechanism that continuously perceives data and processes it, and then spreads it permanently and continuously to those who have to use it.
While the old intelligence model was ''positivist'', i.e it concerned single objective and empirical data to be included in a decision-making process that is not determined by intelligence, currently it is instead a matter of building acontinuous follow-up not of data, but of political behaviours, perceptions of reality by the enemy-opponent, as well as complex phenomena that constantly reach the intelligence matrix from different parts and areas.
While in the past intelligence was rhapsodic and temporary, la carte of politicians, and sometimes even unsolicited and not requested, it currently becomes the stable core of political, strategic, economic and industrial decisions.
This obviously results in a new relationship between politicians and Intelligence Services.
While, in an era we have already defined as ''positivist'', facts, news and the unknown novelties of the enemy-opponent counted, what currently matters is the ever more evident integration between the intelligence system and politicians.
There is obviously a danger not to be overlooked, i.e. the danger that '' without even realizing it '' the Intelligence Services take on responsibilities which must be typical of elective bodies only.
But certainly intelligence currently plays a much greater role than in the past.
Another key element of the conceptual transformation of intelligence is the use not only of highly advanced and powerful information technologies, but also of scientific paradigms which were unknown to us only a few years ago.
Just think about Artificial Intelligence, but also cloud computing, algorithm theory and Markov chains '' and here we confine ourselves to the mathematics that sustains current IT and computing.
But there is also human ethology, an extraordinary evolution of Konrad Lorenz's animal ethology, as well as social psychology, sociological analysis and scientific depth psychology.
A whole universe of theories that, in Kant's words, have recently shifted from metaphysics to science.
It must certainly be used to analyse, for example, mass behaviours that seem unpredictable, as well as the psychological reactions of both the ruling classes and the crowds, and the interactions between the various group behaviours of a country.
Nothing to do with the old Habsburg Evidenzbureau, which informed the General Staff of enemy troops' movements or of the various generals' lovers.
We here witness a substantial union between intelligence and political decision-making or, rather, between the thought produced by intelligence and the foundations of political decision-making.
CIA has often tried to poison Fidel Castro's beard.
Today, apart from the doubtful rationality of that operation, it would be a matter of using '' for example '' advertising, TV series, Hollywood movies, the sugar, tourist or tobacco market cycles, not to poison late Fidel's beard, but to put the Cuban economy and decision-making system into structural crisis.
The typical idea of Anglo-Saxon political culture ''whereby, once the ''tyrant'' is eliminated, everything can be fine and back in place '' has been largely denied by facts.
All this obviously without being noticed, as far as the operations for disrupting a country are concerned.
Another factor of the conceptual transformation of intelligence is speed: currently the IT networks are such as to allow data collection in real time with respect to facts and hence favour wide-ranging decisions.
As far as technology is concerned, it is well known that both the AI networks, the new calculation structures, and the networks for listening and manipulating the enemy-opponent data are such as to allow operations which were previously not even imaginable.
At this juncture, however, there are two problems: everybody has all the same tools available and hence the danger of not ''successfully completing'' the operation is great, unlike when the Intelligence Services' operations were based on the skills, role and dissimulation abilities of some operatives '' or on confidential and restricted technologies.
The other problem is intelligence manipulation: a country that thinks to be a target can spread '' in ad hoc networks '' manipulated news, malware, data and information which are completely false, but plausible, and can modify the whole information system of the country under attack.
Another problem of current intelligence technologies is their distance from the ''traditional'' political decision-making centres.
A politician, a Minister, a Premier must know what comes out of the intelligence system. Nevertheless, it is so specialised and sectorial that the distance between technical data processing and the ''natural language'' of politics is likely to make data ambiguous or unclear and of little use.
Moreover, there is a purely conceptual factor to be noted: if we put together the analysis of financial cycles, of technology change, of public finance and of political and military systems, we must connect systems that operate relatively autonomously from each other.
In other words, there is no ''science of the whole'' that can significantly connect such different sectors.
Therefore, there is the danger of projecting the effects of one sector onto another that is only slightly influenced by it, or of believing that, possibly, if the economy goes well, also the public debt '' for example -will go well.
The room for political decision-making is therefore much wider than modern intelligence analysts believe.
Political decision-making is still made up of history, political-cultural traditions and of perceptions of reality which are shaped by many years of psychological and conceptual training.
With specific reference to operativity, once again we are dealing with radical changes.
Years ago, there was the single ''operative'' who had to decide alone '' or with very little support from the ''Centre'' '' what to do on the spot and with whom to deal.
Today, obviously, there is still the individual operative, but he/she is connected to the ''Centre'' in a different way and, in any case, imagines his/her role differently.
On the level of political decision-making, intelligence is always operative, because reality is so complex and technically subtle that it no longer enables even the most experienced statesman to ''follow their nose''.
The primary paradox of the issue, however, is that intelligence cannot take on political roles that imply a choice between equivalent options.
This is inevitably the sphere of politics.
Another factor of the operational transformation is the inevitable presence of intelligence operatives in finance, in the scientific world, in high-level business consulting, in advertising, communication and media.
Intelligence has therefore progressively demilitarised itself and is increasingly operating in sectors that we would have previously thought to be completely alien to Intelligence Services. Instead, they are currently the central ones.
Moreover, we are currently witnessing a particular mix of strategic intelligence, geopolitics and financial analysis.
Why finance? Because it is the most mobile and widespread economic function.
We are witnessing the birth of a new profession, namely currency geopolitics.
Hence we are also witnessing the evolution of two new types of intelligence, namely market intelligence (MARKINT) and financial intelligence (FININT).
An old and new problem is secrecy. The greater the extent to which old and new intelligence is used, the less it can keep secrecy, which is essential now as it was in the past.
What has always been the aim of strategic intelligence? To predict phenomena starting from a given context.
Contexts, however, change quickly and the interaction between sectors is such as to change the effect of forecasts.
The formalised techniques for analysis-decision making are manifold: intelligence data mining, ''grid technologies'', knowledge creation and sharing, semantic analysis, key intelligence needs (KINS) and many others.
All operations which are often necessary, but currently we need to highlight two factors typical of the North American intelligence culture which, unfortunately, also negatively affects the models used by U.S. allies.
The first aspect is that, strangely enough, the same formal models are proposed for both companies and States.
A State does not have to maximize profits, while a corporation does, at least on a level playing field with its competitors.
A State is not a ''competitor'' of the others and ultimately a State has no specific ''comparative advantage'' but, on the contrary, some of its companies have, if this happens.
Therefore, the overlap between business intelligence, which is currently necessary, and States' intelligence is a conceptual bias, typical of those who believe that a State is, as Von Mises said, ''the joint stock company of those who pay taxes to it''.
For companies, it is obvious that all specific and original intelligence operations must be known to the State apparata, which may coordinate them or not, considering that they inevitably have additional data.
On the other hand, some business operations can become very useful for intelligence.
Hence a structure would be needed to put the two ''lines'' of operations together, and above all, a new intelligence concept is needed.
In the past, the Intelligence Services' operations were largely defensive: to know something just before it happened, to avoid the adverse operations of a State hitting its own resources, but all with often minimal time limits.
Now we need expressly offensive intelligence which can hit the opponents' (commercial, economic and strategic) networks before they move and in good time.
The Great Reset: How to Build a Better World Post-COVID-19 | TIME
Sun, 25 Oct 2020 10:46
The COVID-19 pandemic has provided a unique opportunity to think about the kind of future we want. TIME partnered with the World Economic Forum to ask leading thinkers to share ideas for how to transform the way we live and work.IN PARTNERSHIP WITH SOMPO HOLDINGS
It's 2023. Here's How We Fixed the Economy | TIME
Sun, 25 Oct 2020 12:03
T he year is 2023. The COVID-19 pandemic has come to an end, and the global economy is on the path to recovery. How did we get here? How did our economy and society evolve to overcome the greatest crisis of our age?
Let's begin in the summer of 2020, when the unabated spread of disease was heralding an increasingly dire outlook for economies and societies. The pandemic had exposed critical vulnerabilities around the world'--underpaid essential workers, an unregulated financial sector and major corporations neglecting investment in favor of higher stock prices. With economies shrinking, governments recognized that both households and businesses needed help'--and fast. But with memories of the 2008 financial crisis still fresh, the question was how governments could structure bailouts so they would benefit society, rather than prop up corporate profits and a failing system.
In an echo of the ''golden age'' of capitalism'--the period after 1945 when Western nations steered finance toward the right parts of the economy'--it became clear that new policies were needed to address climate risks, incentivize green lending, scale up financial institutions tackling social and environmental goals, and ban financial-sector activity that didn't serve a clear public purpose. The European Union was the first to take concrete steps in this direction after agreeing in August to a historic '‚¬1.8 trillion recovery package. As part of the package, the E.U. made it mandatory for governments receiving the funds to implement strong strategies for addressing climate change, reducing the digital divide and strengthening health systems.
In late 2020, this ambitious recovery plan helped the euro stabilize and ushered in a new European renaissance, with citizens helping to set the agenda. The European leadership used challenge-oriented policies to create 100 carbon-neutral cities across the Continent. This approach led to a resurgence of new energy-efficient buildings; revamped public transport designed to be sustainable, accessible and free; and an artistic revival in public squares, with artists and designers rethinking city life with citizenship and civic life at its heart. Governments used a digital revolution to improve public services, from digital health to e-cards, and create a citizen-centered welfare state. This transformation required both supply-side investments and demand-side pulls, with public procurement becoming a tool for innovative thinking that funneled through all branches of government.
The U.S. began to change its approach after Nov. 3, 2020, when Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump in the presidential election and the Democrats held the majority in both houses of Congress. Following his Inauguration in January 2021, President Biden moved quickly to rebuild frayed ties between America and Europe, setting up a forum to share collective intelligence that could inform a smarter form of government. European governments were eager to learn from the investment strategies used by the U.S. government'--like those led by defense research agency DARPA'--to spur research and development in high-risk technologies. And the U.S. was eager to learn from Europe how to create sustainable cities and reinvigorate civic participation.
With COVID-19 still rampant, the world woke up to the need to prioritize collective intelligence and put public value at the center of health innovation. The U.S. and other countries dropped opposition to a mandatory patent pool run by the World Health Organization that prevented pharmaceutical companies from abusing patents to create monopoly profits. Bold conditions were placed on the governance of intellectual property, pricing and manufacturing of COVID-19 treatments and vaccines to ensure the therapies were both affordable and universally accessible.
As a result, pharmaceutical companies could no longer charge whatever they wished for drugs or vaccines; governments made it mandatory for the pricing to reflect the substantial public contribution to their research and development. This extended beyond COVID-19 therapies, impacting the pricing of a range of medicines from cancer therapies to insulin. Richer countries also committed to increasing manufacturing capabilities globally and using mass global procurement to buy vaccines for poorer countries.
On Feb. 11, 2021, the FDA approved the most promising COVID-19 vaccine for manufacture in the U.S. Mass production began immediately, plans for swift global distribution kicked in, and the first citizens received their shots within three weeks, free at the point of use. It was the fastest development and manufacture of a vaccine on record, and a monumental success in health innovation.
When the vaccine was ready for distribution, national health authorities worked constructively with a coalition of global health actors'--led by the WHO, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and others'--to collectively devise an equitable global distribution plan that supported public-health goals. Low- and middle-income countries, along with health workers and essential workers, were granted priority access to the vaccine, while higher-income countries rolled out immunization programs in parallel.
The end was in sight for our health crisis. But in June 2021, the global economy was still in a depressed state. As governments started debating their options for new stimulus packages, a wave of public protests broke out, with taxpayers in Brazil, Germany, Canada and elsewhere calling for shared rewards in exchange for bailing out corporate giants.
With Biden in office, the U.S. took those demands seriously and attached strong conditions to the next wave of corporate bailouts. Companies receiving funds were required to maintain payrolls and pay their workers a minimum wage of $15 per hour. Firms were permanently banned from engaging in stock buybacks and barred from paying out dividends or executive bonuses until 2024. Businesses were required to provide at least one seat on their boards of directors to workers, and corporate boards had to have all political spending approved by shareholders. Collective bargaining agreements remained intact. And CEOs had to certify that their companies were complying with the rules'--or face criminal penalties for violating them.
Globally, gold-standard bailouts were those that safeguarded workers and sustained viable businesses that provided value to society. This was not always a clear-cut exercise, especially in industries whose business models were incompatible with a sustainable future. Governments were also eager to avoid the moral hazard of sustaining unviable companies. So the U.S. shale sector, which was unprofitable before the crisis, was mostly allowed to fail, and workers were retrained for the Permian Basin's fast-growing solar industry.
In the summer of 2022, the other major crisis of our age took a turn for the apocalyptic. Climate breakdown finally landed in the developed world, testing the resilience of social systems. In the Midwestern U.S., a severe drought wiped out crops that supplied one-sixth of the world's grain output. People woke up to the need for governments to form a coordinated response to climate change and direct global fiscal stimulus in support of a green economy.
Yet this was not about just Big Government, but Smart Government. The transition to a green economy required innovation on an enormous scale, spanning multiple sectors, entire supply chains and every stage of technological development, from R&D to deployment. At regional, national and supranational levels, ambitious Green New Deal programs rose to the occasion, combining job-guarantee schemes with focused industrial strategy. Governments used procurement, grants and loans to stimulate as much innovation as possible, helping fund solutions to rid the ocean of plastic, reduce the digital divide, and tackle poverty and inequality.
A new concept of a Healthy Green Deal emerged, in which climate targets and well-being targets were seen as complementary and required both supply- and demand-side policies. The concept of ''social infrastructure'' became as important as physical infrastructure. For the energy transition, this meant focusing on a future of mobility strategy and creating an ambitious platform for public transportation, cycling paths, pedestrian pathways and new ways to stimulate healthy living. In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti successfully turned one lane of the 405 freeway into a bicycle lane and broke ground in late 2022 on a zero-carbon underground metro system, free at the point of use.
Rising to the role of the ''entrepreneurial state,'' government had finally become an investor of first resort that co-created value with the public sector and civil society. Just as in the days of the Apollo program, working for government'--rather than for Google or Goldman Sachs'--became the ambition for top talent coming out of university. Government jobs became so desirable and competitive, in fact, that a new curriculum was formed for a global master in public administration degree for people who wanted to become civil servants.
And so we stand here in 2023 the same people but in a different society. COVID-19 convinced us we could not go back to business as usual.
The world has embraced a ''new normal'' that ensures public-private collaborations are driven by public interest, not private profit. Instead of prioritizing shareholders, companies value all stakeholders, and financialization has given way to investments in workers, technology and sustainability.
Today, we recognize that our most valuable citizens are those who work in health and social care, education, public transport, supermarkets and delivery services. By ending precarious work and properly funding our public institutions, we are valuing those who hold our society together, and strengthening our civic infrastructure for the crises yet to come.
The COVID-19 pandemic took so much from us, in lives lost and livelihoods shattered. But it also presented us with an opportunity to reshape our global economy, and we overcame our pain and trauma to unite and seize the moment. To secure a better future for all, it was the only thing to do.
Contact us at letters@time.com.
COVID-19's Legacy: This Is How to Get the Great Reset Right | UPS - United States
Sun, 25 Oct 2020 12:04
Already, in barely six months, the COVID-19 pandemic has plunged our world in its entirety '-- and each of us individually '-- into the most challenging times we've faced in generations.
It is a defining moment '-- we will be dealing with its fallout for years, and many things will change forever. It has wrought (and will continue to do so) economic disruption of monumental proportions, creating risk and volatility on multiple fronts '-- political, social, geopolitical '-- while exacerbating deep concerns about the environment and also extending the reach of technology into our lives.
No industry or business will avoid the impact of these changes. Millions of companies risk falling behind, and many industries face an uncertain future; a few will thrive.
On an individual basis, for many, life as they've always known it is unraveling at alarming speed. This said, acute crises favor introspection and foster the potential for transformation.
''On an individual basis, for many, life as they've always known it is unraveling at alarming speed. This said, acute crises favor introspection and foster the potential for transformation.''Systematic connectivityA new world could emerge, the contours of which it is incumbent on us to reimagine and redraw.
The sudden and violent nature of the shock the pandemic is inflicting can make the scale of this challenge seem overwhelming.
This impression is due in no small measure to the fact that in today's interdependent and hyper-connected world risks amplify each other: Individual risks or issues harbor the potential to create ricochet effects by provoking others (like unemployment potentially fuelling social unrest and impoverishment triggering involuntary mass migration).
The defining feature of today's world is systemic connectivity: In such a world, silo-doing and silo-thinking have no place because risks converge. All the macro issues that exert direct and daily impacts on our societies, the global economy, geopolitics, the environment and technology do not evolve in a linear fashion.
They play out as complex adaptive systems, and as such, share a fundamental attribute: susceptibility to matters cascading out of control and in so doing producing extreme consequences that often come as a surprise. COVID-19 has already given us a foretaste of this phenomenon.
''The defining feature of today's world is systemic connectivity: In such a world, silo-doing and silo-thinking have no place because risks converge.''Examining fault linesTo a considerable extent, occurrences as different as the sharp and dramatic rise in unemployment (an economic risk), the global wave of social unrest unleashed by the Black Lives Matter protests (a societal issue) and the growing fracture between China and the U.S. (a geopolitical risk) wouldn't have taken place without the pandemic. At the very least, coronavirus exacerbated those trends.
The concurrence and severity of these fault lines mean that we are now at a critical juncture: The potential for change is unlimited and bound only by our imagination '-- for better or for worse.
Societies could be poised to become either more equitable or the opposite; geared toward more solidarity or greater individualism; favoring the interests of the few or looking to the needs of the many; economies, when they recover, could be characterized by greater inclusivity and more attuned to our global connection, or they could simply return to business as usual '-- now revealed to be (in so many ways) an untenable status quo.
This is the fundamental question upon which the success of the Great Reset depends. The scope of change required is immense, ranging from elaborating a new social contract to forging improved international collaboration. Immense but far from insurmountable, as the case for smart investment in the environment shows.
''The concurrence and severity of these fault lines mean that we are now at a critical juncture: The potential for change is unlimited and bound only by our imagination '-- for better or for worse.''Getting it rightThe immediate post-crisis period offers a small window to build back better by not wasting the $10 trillion that governments around the world are investing to alleviate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
One way to invest smartly is to embed climate and environmental resilience into stimulus packages and recovery programs.
A recent policy paper to which the World Economic Forum contributed estimates that building a nature-positive economy could represent more than $10 trillion per year by 2030 '-- in terms of new economic opportunities, as well as avoided economic costs.
In the short term, deploying around $250 billion of stimulus funding could generate up to 37 million nature-positive jobs in a highly cost-effective manner. We should not view resetting the environment as a cost but rather an investment that will generate economic activity and employment opportunities.
We must get the Great Reset right. The challenges before us could be more consequential than ever imagined, but our capacity to reset could also be greater than we had previously hoped.
This article accompanies the launch of COVID-19: The Great Reset, the new book by Klaus Schwab and Thierry Malleret on the COVID crisis and its impacts.
Republished with permission, this article first appeared on World Economic Forum.
China
China 2 plans
BGY & 3F
Bill and Melinda replaced
Rumor has it Bill and Melinda were killed in a African village a few years back. The story is the villagers got pissed when their children were dying minutes after taking a vaccine of sorts. Villagers chased them, cornered them and hung them. I believe they have been replaced. Photo below
Masks and Muzzles
Mandatory Masks Could Save 130K Lives
Sat, 24 Oct 2020 11:51
October 23, 2020 at 2:55 pm EDT By Taegan Goddard Leave a Comment
New York Times: ''Universal mask use could prevent nearly 130,000 deaths from Covid-19 in the United States through next spring, scientists reported on Friday.''
''The new study, published in the journal Nature Medicine, also offered a rough estimate of the pandemic's toll in the United States: perhaps 500,000 deaths by March 2021, even with social distancing mandates reinstated in most states.''
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Possible new therapeutic
Thought you might put this therapeutic on your radar. A couple of my fellow physicians feel this is a very strong candidate to keep people off the vents and out of the ICU.
https://relieftherapeutics.com/newsblog/114-neurorx-and-relief-announce-topline-efficacy-data-from-patients-treated-with-rlf-100-aviptadil-under-the-u-s-fda-expanded-access-protocol-authorization-for-respiratory-failure-related-to-critical-covid-19
RLF-100
This is something we all innately possess in our bodies, but it seems to block replication as well as protect the lungs and the production of surfactant.
It is currently pending EUA approval ahead of its phase III trial completion.
Just something to know is out there.
PCR
Legacy PCR cycle articles
I could not find an old WHO standard for the number of cycles.
1 - Oldest PCR article cites 20 cycles
2 - Short Article with odd reference to use PCR for cloning
3 - Long vaccine court case - Snyder v. Scy of the HHS:
page 111, "By convention, no more than 40-45 PCR cycles should be run on any sample. In general, results at 35 cycles or below are acceptable. Results above 35 cycles can be a cause for concern."
page 112, "(2) Contamination. DNA contamination is the "Achilles' heel" of PCR testing. Contamination is frequent even in the most compulsively monitored laboratories."
Jeff in Ohio
Sir Don PhD in Analytical Chemistry
Hi Adam,
Been listening to your PCR rant and was thinking "is this really 40 cycles they are running"?. FYI I have a PhD in analytical chemistry, which means I focus on chemical measurements, I taught lab techs when I was in grad school, so I understand this stuff. I talked to a lab tech in a large Massachusetts testing lab who currently use PCR equipment from Cepheid (cepheid.com) and just purchased some new high throughput PCR equipment from Thermo Fisher utilizing 96 well sample plates (BTW I used to work for them, but not in this area). Both machines use 45 cycles for the Covid test which is allowed under under FDA "Emergency Approval" (see https://www.fda.gov/media/136314/download for FDA approval of Cephid machine and here is the approval for one of the test kits used with the machines which interestingly enough is Chinese (https://www.fda.gov/media/141246/download) but there are other kits out there as well, some from USA, example: (https://perkinelmer-appliedgenomics.com/home/products/new-coronavirus-2019-ncov-nucleic-acid-detection-kit/ )). There are arguments that more than 29 cycles are not effective (MIT study at https://genome.cshlp.org/content/3/3/S18.full.pdf) but as always, there are varying opinions. It is true that with a very large number of cycles, most quote over 45, that you can get a lot of false positives. If you look at the MIT paper, you will see that the initial cycles cause an exponential amplification and then the amplification tends to become linear or plateau, so additional cycles don't gain you much and it does start to get into the false positive regimen. My guess is, because these "tests", or this "process: as you like to say, are generally under FDA "Emergency Approval", they cranked it up cause they don't know what the optimal conditions really are, typical knee jerk reaction.
BUT, I think what is really interesting can be found in this article here:( https://www.cebm.net/covid-19/pcr-positives-what-do-they-mean/ ). In a nutshell what they say is that testing positive does not mean you have covid or that you are infectious. This is because the test may be incorrect (false positive) or that you had the virus (and may or may not have known that).
"Conclusion: A TRUE POSITIVE in PCR does not always mean that the person presents any danger to society. The virus cannot be transmitted when cell culture shows that the virus is not infective. Unfortunately relating PCR POSITIVE to infectivity is not easy if we consider the whole population. This would need 1) a model (correlation) that maps PCR POSITIVES and/or symptoms to infectivity as tested by viral culture or 2) viral culture for every individual case"
The only way to know if you can transmit the disease is to do a viral culture, and there is no good data for this and is very difficult to do.
What is also really interesting in this article is they make a point that the "2nd wave of deaths" in Europe (a pretty small bump) can be attributed to the later than usual Aug-September heat wave as it could Covid (Figure 10)! This paper is well worth reading. I did some background checking on this outfit SEBM (Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine out of Oxford) and they seem pretty legit and claim they take no money from bad guys (e.g. pharma).
So, while perhaps a bit more complicated than the number of PCR cycles run, it is clear we should not believe the results from this testing in the way it is presented to us slaves by the governments and media.
Enjoy,
Sir Don, Baron of New Hampshire
Chief medical Examiner Florida - PCR
Hi Adam,
I would like to stay somewhat anonymous... I am the Chief Medical Examiner for 6 counties in Florida. During the beginning of all the covid shenanigans us medical examiners were responsible for signing all the death certificates for anyone who were positive for the rona RNA....I reviewed around 150 cases and signed the DCs on them.
On Thursday's show you were talking about the FDA and rona "testing" and you got most of all the PCR stuff correct, but I wanted to point out some things I noticed when I was looking at all those tests. These are things on top of everything else that just produces bad data and has made me even more frustrated.
The tests are not actually approved by the FDA. Most of them are being allowed on an emergency use basis.
The other thing is the tests are not all testing/amplifying the same things. Some of the tests are using a single strand of RNA where others are using multiple strands, and among the different tests they are not looking for the same strands.
I have attached a pdf with 3 examples from different labs for your viewing delight. I had to edit them to remove the patient data which I hope I did right, so all patient info is gone. I would rather you not post the .pdf because I am super paranoid would not want to risk someone being able to pull up patient data.
Nursing homes false positives
A good friend of mine who is a nurse- works in a nursing home here in Pennsylvania. She told me 5 of her colleagues tested positive for Covid using the government test kits that were sent to the facility. They all have serial numbers that have to be registered into the website. Same day, the 5 nurses went to the nearby hospital to get retested and all tests came back negative.
More cases lowers the case fatality rate
The term 'Infected'
How the media uses the term "infected" is correct. "Infected" doesn't even mean the pathogen has entered your body necessarily or caused any disease. To me the word "infected" is being used property, but the word "case" is not. When has anyone ever said someone had a "case of X" just because they had the pathogen responsible for the disease? For example, almost everyone has herpes simplex 1 or 2 but most people never have symptoms. We call don't say those without symptoms "have herpes" or hear them being discussed as "cases". Generally a "case" is something with clinical symptoms (something a doctor can see/hear/feel in a clinic setting).
CSI DNA
Hi Adam,
I have a degree in biology and my partner is a PhD in criminology and together we have been working with prisoners who claim their innocence.
Regarding forensic evidence in the courtroom there is a phenomena we call the "CSI effect", this is the instant-results "enhance" TV magic that the jury has seen on shows like CSI and primes their thinking to believe as truth before they step into a courtroom. One area of forensics that is effected by the CSI effect is DNA evidence. People think that DNA is infallible, and that when one's DNA is at a crime scene or on the murder weapon, it is an indication of guilt. However mis-interpreted DNA evidence has lead to several wrongful convictions.
It fails in two main ways:
1) "Secondary Transfer" or "Touch DNA" this is DNA that can be passively picked up from items two people who have commonly come in contact with, such as a doorknob, subway handrail, or shaking hands and then transferred to a crime scene. Examples of real cases and experiments supporting this below.
2) Laboratory contamination. Basically the crime scene sample and the comparison sample contaminate laboratory instruments, reagents, etc. This trace contamination is then amplified via PCR and tests positive. A comprehensive list is here: https://agscientific.com/blog/2020/10/sources-of-dna-contamination-in-the-laboratory/
Its hard to imagine with the volume of testing for COVID that there plenty of opportunity for lab contamination as well as false-positive transfer. Unfortunately, if its good enough for the state to falsely convict people of murder and sentence them to death, it certainly is good enough for them to mark you COVID-POSTIVE.
Also, you are correct that PCR is an amplification technique to simply make enough DNA to then test. Here is a 9min video that does a good job of simply explaining PCR: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gubLAtn2o4s. It clearly states it is a TECHNIQUE to amplify a sample of DNA [ timecode: 2:04 ]
Best,
Sir Jimmy Vee
Michael Levitt - Stanford Prof. of Biophysics, Cambridge PhD and DSc, 2013 Chemistry Nobel Laureate uninvited
My keynote uninvited from biodesign-conference.com/index.php
"... too many calls by other speakers threatening to quit if you were there. They all complained about your COVID claims".
Computational biology & biodesign are based on my work. Time to cancel them & me.
New Dark Age Cometh.
Passengers 'use fake negative Covid test certificates'
Fri, 23 Oct 2020 14:06
An online travel agent has been offering fake Covid - 19 test results to clientsPassengers to certain countries need a negative Covid-19 before flying abroadOne passenger claimed an online agent offered to provide fake test certificatesSome travellers are using fake negative Covid-19 test 'certificates' so they can board flights to Pakistan, it has emerged.
People are able to doctor the name on negative test emails, print them out and hand them to check-in staff at UK airports.
Many airlines now require proof of a negative Covid-19 test before travellers are permitted to board a plane to certain countries.
An online travel agent has been offering fake Covid 19 test results to allow passengers to fly to Pakistan, file photograph Some airports such as Heathrow are offering passengers the chance to take a Covid-19 tests before boarding their aircraft to encourage people to travel safely Some private clinics are charging up to £150 for a Covid-19 test which will allow people to flyTo keep NHS Covid tests clear for those with greater clinical need or for NHS workers, travellers must arrange a private test, costing up to £150.
From October 5, all international travellers to Pakistan were required to present evidence of a negative Covid-19 test taken within 96 hours of the start of travel.
According to the Lancashire Telegraph, one Blackburn man said he was handed a negative test by a friend and then changed the name to his and printed it out.
He was able to travel to Pakistan with what was a fake Covid-19 test certificate.
The man, who did not wish to be named, said: 'It is quite simple. Everyone knows someone who has had a Covid test.
Click here to resize this module
'You can simply get their negative test and change the name and birthdate to your own. You also put a test date on which is within the time limit required.
'People are doing this as you can't get a Covid test if you have to travel to Pakistan in case of an emergency. It is difficult to get one unless you are a key worker.
'If you put down you have symptoms then you don't get the test. How can you travel then?'
The Covid-19 certificate is handed in at check-in but only for those countries which are requesting a test note.
Those wanting fake certificates can also pay for the service. The Lancashire Telegraph has learned in Bradford some people are charging £150 for a fake certificate for last-minute travellers while in Blackburn the charge was £50.
Another traveller said: 'We needed a Covid-19 test for a family member and I spoke to one travel agent and he said, "Get it done and even if it comes out positive we will provide a negative one for you for £50".'
Official government advice states: 'Some airlines require passengers to have recent Covid-19 test results in order to fly. You should not use the NHS testing service to get a test in order to facilitate your travel to another country. You should arrange to take a private test. Contact your travel company for the latest information.'
Airlines flying to Pakistan were contacted for comment as was the Civil Aviation Authority.
Shabaz Ilyas, whose parents had to go back home to Pakistan because his uncle was seriously ill, was told he needed a negative Covid-19 test before he could fly.
He paid to have a legitimate test done just in time.
He said: 'Obviously, it's not ideal travelling whilst we have a pandemic, but needs must. Then I found out the airlines were demanding a PCR test certificate before allowing passengers on the flight.
'It turns out the NHS Covid-19 test for many of the airlines was inadequate and we needed to go through a private clinic which was offering these tests. I was astounded to find out they were charging £150 per person.
'This is in addition to the extortionate prices the airlines are already charging. I thought competition was supposed to drive prices down, but for long-haul flights, the prices seem to be going up.
'As usual, a mini industry has been created to exploit people. This is just another example of discriminating against the poor, who are already facing financial problems.
'The Government should prevent these private clinics from charging extortionate prices and ideally the NHS and the airlines should be working in conjunction in providing the appropriate tests.'
Are you infectious if you have a positive PCR test result for COVID-19? - CEBM
Fri, 23 Oct 2020 14:13
August 5, 2020
Tom Jefferson, Carl Heneghan, Elizabeth Spencer, Jon Brassey
PCR detection of viruses is helpful so long as its accuracy can be understood: it offers the capacity to detect RNA in minute quantities, but whether that RNA represents infectious virus may not be clear.
During our Open Evidence Review of oral-fecal transmission of Covid-19, we noticed how few studies had attempted or reported culturing live SARS-CoV-2 virus from human samples.
This surprised us, as viral culture is regarded as a gold standard or reference test against which any diagnostic index test for viruses must be measured and calibrated, to understand the predictive properties of that test. In viral culture, viruses are injected in the laboratory cell lines to see if they cause cell damage and death, thus releasing a whole set of new viruses that can go on to infect other cells.
We, therefore, reviewed the evidence from studies reporting data on viral culture or isolation as well as reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), to understand more about how the PCR results reflect infectivity.
Viral cultures for COVID-19 infectivity assessment. Systematic review. Tom Jefferson, Elizabeth Spencer, Jon Brassey, Carl Heneghan medRxiv 2020.08.04.20167932; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.08.04.20167932
What did we find?
We searched for studies that reported culture or isolation of SARS-CoV-2 using samples from Covid-19 patients.
We identified fourteen studies that succeeded in culturing or observing tissue invasion by SARS-CoV from various samples from patients diagnosed with Covid-19. The quality of these studies was moderate with a lack of protocols, standardised methods and reporting.
Data are sparse on how the PCR results relate to viral culture results. There is some evidence of a relationship between the time from collection of a specimen to test, symptom severity and the chances that someone is infectious.
One of the studies we found (Bullard et al) investigated viral culture in samples from a group of patients and compared the results with PCR testing data and time of their symptom onset.
The figure below reported in Bullard shows how the probability of SARS-CoV-2 infectious virus is greater (the red bars) when the cycle threshold is lower (the blue line) and when symptoms to test time is shorter '' beyond 8 days, no live virus was detected.
Shedding of infectious virus in hospitalized patients with coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19): duration and key determinants medRxiv 2020.06.08.20125310.
Kampen and colleagues studied the shedding of infectious virus in 129 hospitalized patients with COVID-19. The duration of infectious virus shedding ranged from 0 to 20 days post-onset of symptoms, and the probability of detecting infectious virus dropped below 5% after 15 days post-onset of symptoms. They also report that the amount of virus is associated with the detection of infectious SARS-CoV-2, and once neutralizing antibodies are detected in the serum the virus becomes non-infectious.
When the samples were taken seemed important for viral culture. In a case report, SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR continued to detect the virus until the 63rd day after symptom onset whereas the virus could only be isolated from respiratory specimens collected within the first 18 days. In a cohort of 59 patients, fecal discharge was longer after respiratory shedding stopped. Gupta et al. w15 reported the duration for fecal shedding of viral RNA after clearance of respiratory samples ranged from 1 to 33 days and in one patient was up to 47 days from symptom onset.
It was not possible to make a precise quantitative assessment of the association between RT-PCR results and the success rate of viral culture within these studies. These studies were not adequately sized nor performed in a sufficiently standardised manner and may be subject to reporting bias.
Furthermore, context matters. The cycle threshold level for detecting live virus will vary by setting (hospital vs. community); depending on the symptom severity and the duration of symptoms, as well as the quality of the testing. Cycle thresholds are the times that the amplifying test has to be repeated to get a positive result. The higher the viral concentration the lower amplification cycles are necessary.
Why does the cycle threshold cut-off matter?
RT-PCR uses an enzyme called reverse transcriptase to change a specific piece of RNA into a matching piece of DNA. The PCR then amplifies the DNA exponentially, by doubling the number of molecules time and again. A fluorescent signal can be attached to the copies of the DNA, and a test is considered positive when the fluorescent signal is amplified sufficiently to be detectable.
The cycle threshold (referred to as the Ct value) is the number of amplification cycles required for the fluorescent signal to cross a certain threshold. This allows very small samples of RNA to be amplified and detected.
The lower the cycle threshold level the greater the amount of RNA (genetic material) there is in the sample. The higher the cycle number, the less RNA there is in the sample.
What does this mean?
This detection problem is ubiquitous for RNA viruses detection. SARS-CoV, MERS, Influenza Ebola and Zika viral RNA can be detected long after the disappearance of the infectious virus.
The immune system works to neutralise the virus and prevent further infection. Whilst an infectious stage may last a week or so, because inactivated RNA degrades slowly over time it may still be detected many weeks after infectiousness has dissipated.
PCR detection of viruses is helpful so long as its limitations are understood; while it detects RNA in minute quantities, caution needs to be applied to the results as it often does not detect infectious virus.
What can we conclude?
These studies provided limited data of variable quality that PCR results per se are unlikely to predict viral culture from human samples. Insufficient attention may have been paid how PCR results relate to disease. The relation with infectiousness is unclear and more data are needed on this.
If this is not understood, PCR results may lead to restrictions for large groups of people who do not present an infection risk.
The results indicate that viral RNA load cut-offs should be used: to understand who is infectious, the extent of any outbreak and for controlling transmission.
What next?
Our review is an Open Evidence Review. We will update the findings as additional evidence becomes available. We submitted the manuscript to the preprint server MedRxiv. (see here) We will continue to search for and find further studies (such as Kampen et al) that will be included in updates.
Meanwhile, if you have comments, if you have other studies to be included, and especially if you have been diagnosed as infected or infectious please send them to tom.jefferson@conted.ox.ac.uk.
We will read all comments but we cannot promise to respond.
Mortality Risk of COVID-19 - Statistics and Research - Our World in Data
Fri, 23 Oct 2020 21:45
Country-by-country data on mortality risk of the COVID-19 pandemicThis page has a number of charts on the pandemic. In the box below you can select any country you are interested in '' or several, if you want to compare countries.
The primary charts on this page will then show data for the countries that you selected.
What does the data on deaths and cases tell us about the mortality risk of COVID-19?To understand the risks and respond appropriately we would also want to know the mortality risk of COVID-19 '' the likelihood that someone who catches the disease will die from it.
We look into this question in more detail here and explain that this requires us to know '' or estimate '' the number of total cases and the final number of deaths for a given infected population. Because these are not known, we discuss what the current data can and can not tell us about the risk of death (here).
How did confirmed deaths and cases change over time?So far we focused first on confirmed deaths and then on confirmed cases.
This chart shows both metrics.
How you can interact with this chartBy now you know that in these charts it is always possible to switch to any other country in the world by choosing Change Country in the bottom left corner.You can sort the table by any of the columns by clicking on the column header.
The case fatality rateThe case fatality rate is simply the ratio of the two metrics shown in the chart above.
The case fatality rate is the number of confirmed deaths divided by the number of confirmed cases.
This chart here plots the CFR calculated in just that way.
During an outbreak '' and especially when the total number of cases is not known '' one has to be very careful in interpreting the CFR. We wrote a detailed explainer on what can and can not be said based on current CFR figures.
There is a straightforward question that most people would like answered. If someone is infected with COVID-19, how likely is that person to die?
This question is simple, but surprisingly hard to answer.
Here we explain why that is. We'll discuss the ''case fatality rate'', the ''crude mortality rate'', and the ''infection fatality rate'', and why they're all different.
The key point is that the ''case fatality rate'', the most commonly discussed measure of the risk of dying, is not the answer to the question, for two reasons. One, it relies on the number of confirmed cases, and many cases are not confirmed; and two, it relies on the total number of deaths, and with COVID-19, some people who are sick and will die soon have not yet died. These two facts mean that it is extremely difficult to make accurate estimates of the true risk of death.
The case fatality rate (CFR)In the media, it is often the ''case fatality rate'' that is talked about when the risk of death from COVID-19 is discussed.1 This measure is sometimes called case fatality risk or case fatality ratio, or CFR.
But this is not the same as the risk of death for an infected person '' even though, unfortunately, journalists often suggest that it is. It is relevant and important, but far from the whole story.
The CFR is very easy to calculate. You take the number of people who have died, and you divide it by the total number of people diagnosed with the disease. So if 10 people have died, and 100 people have been diagnosed with the disease, the CFR is [10 / 100], or 10%.
But it's important to note that it is the ratio between the number of confirmed deaths from the disease and the number of confirmed cases, not total cases. That means that it is not the same as '' and, in fast-moving situations like COVID-19, probably not even very close to '' the true risk for an infected person.
Another important metric, which should not be confused with the CFR, is the crude mortality rate.
The ''crude mortality rate'' is another very simple measure, which like the CFR gives something that might sound like the answer to the question that we asked earlier: if someone is infected, how likely are they to die?
But, just as with CFR, it is actually very different.
The crude mortality rate '' sometimes called the crude death rate '' measures the probability that any individual in the population will die from the disease; not just those who are infected, or are confirmed as being infected. It's calculated by dividing the number of deaths from the disease by the total population. For instance, if there were 10 deaths in a population of 1,000, the crude mortality rate would be [10 / 1,000], or 1%, even if only 100 people had been diagnosed with the disease.
This difference is important: unfortunately, people sometimes confuse case fatality rates with crude death rates. A common example is the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918. One estimate, by Johnson and Mueller (2002), is that that pandemic killed 50 million people.2 That would have been 2.7% of the world population at the time. This means the crude mortality rate was 2.7%.
But 2.7% is often misreported as the case fatality rate '' which is wrong, because not everyone in the world was infected with Spanish flu. If the crude mortality rate really was 2.7%, then the case fatality rate was much higher '' it would be the percentage of people who died after being diagnosed with the disease. [We look at the global death count of this pandemic and others here.]
What we want to know isn't the case fatality rate: it's the infection fatality rateBefore we look at what the CFR does tell us about the mortality risk, it is helpful to see what it doesn't.
Remember the question we asked at the beginning: if someone is infected with COVID-19, how likely is it that they will die? The answer to that question is captured by the infection fatality rate, or IFR.
The IFR is the number of deaths from a disease divided by the total number of cases. If 10 people die of the disease, and 500 actually have it, then the IFR is [10 / 500], or 2%.3,4,5,6,7
To work out the IFR, we need two numbers: the total number of cases and the total number of deaths.
However, as we explain here, the total number of cases of COVID-19 is not known. That's partly because not everyone with COVID-19 is tested.8,9
We may be able to estimate the total number of cases and use it to calculate the IFR '' and researchers do this. But the total number of cases is not known, so the IFR cannot be accurately calculated. And, despite what some media reports imply, the CFR is not the same as '' or, probably, even similar to '' the IFR. Next, we'll discuss why.
Interpreting the case fatality rateIn order to understand what the case fatality rate can and cannot tell us about a disease outbreak such as COVID-19, it's important to understand why it is difficult to measure and interpret the numbers.
The case fatality rate isn't constant: it changes with the contextSometimes journalists talk about the CFR as if it's a single, steady number, an unchanging fact about the disease. This is a particular bad example from the New York Times in the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak.
But it's not a biological constant; instead, it reflects the severity of the disease in a particular context, at a particular time, in a particular population.
The probability that someone dies from a disease doesn't just depend on the disease itself, but also on the treatment they receive, and on the patient's own ability to recover from it.
This means that the CFR can decrease or increase over time, as responses change; and that it can vary by location and by the characteristics of the infected population, such as age, or sex. For instance, older populations would expect to see a higher CFR from COVID-19 than younger ones.
The CFR of COVID-19 differs by location, and has changed during the early period of the outbreakThe case fatality rate of COVID-19 is not constant. You can see that in the chart below, first published in the Report of the WHO-China Joint Mission on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), in February 2020.10
It shows the CFR values for COVID-19 in several locations in China during the early stages of the outbreak, from the beginning of January to 20th February 2020.
You can see that in the earliest stages of the outbreak the CFR was much higher: 17.3% across China as a whole (in yellow) and greater than 20% in the centre of the outbreak, in Wuhan (in blue).
But in the weeks that followed, the CFR declined, reaching as low as 0.7% for patients who first showed symptoms after February 1st. The WHO says that that is because ''the standard of care has evolved over the course of the outbreak''.
You can also see that the CFR was different in different places. By 1st February, the CFR in Wuhan was still 5.8% while it was 0.7% across the rest of China.
This shows that what we said about the CFR generally '' that it changes from time to time and place to place '' is true for the CFR of COVID-19 specifically. When we talk about the CFR of a disease, we need to talk about it in a specific time and place '' the CFR in Wuhan on 23rd February, or in Italy on 4th March '' rather than as a single unchanging value.
Case fatality ratio for COVID-19 in China over time and by location, as of 20 February 2020 '' Figure 4 in WHO (2020)11There are two reasons why the case fatality rate does not reflect the risk of deathIf the case fatality rate does not tell us the risk of death for someone infected with the disease, what does it tell us? And how does the CFR compare with the actual (unknown) probability?
There are two reasons why we would expect the CFR not to represent the real risk. One of them would tend to make the CFR an overestimate '' the other would tend to make it an underestimate.
When there are people who have the disease but are not diagnosed, the CFR will overestimate the true risk of death. With COVID-19, we think there are many undiagnosed people.
As we saw above, in our discussion on the difference between total and confirmed cases (here), we do not know the number of total cases. Not everyone is tested for COVID-19, so the total number of cases is higher than the number of confirmed cases.
And whenever there are cases of the disease that are not counted, then the probability of dying from the disease is lower than the reported case fatality rate. Remember our imaginary scenario with 10 deaths and 100 cases. The CFR in that example is 10% '' but if there are 500 real cases, then the real risk (the IFR) is just 2%.
Or in one sentence. If the number of total cases is higher than the number of confirmed cases, then the ratio between deaths and total cases is smaller than the ratio between deaths and confirmed cases. This of course assumes that there is not also significant undercounting in the number of deaths; it's plausible that some deaths are missed or go unreported, but we'd expect the magnitude of undercounting to be less than for cases.
Importantly, this means that the number of tests carried out affects the CFR '' you can only confirm a case by testing a patient. So when we compare the CFR between different countries, the differences do not only reflect rates of mortality, but also differences in the scale of testing efforts.
When some people are currently sick and will die of the disease, but have not died yet, the CFR will underestimate the true risk of death. With COVID-19, there are many who are currently sick and will die, but have not yet died. Or, they may die from the disease but be listed as having died from something else.
In ongoing outbreaks, people who are currently sick will eventually die from the disease. This means that they are currently counted as a case, but will eventually be counted as a death too. This means the CFR right now is an underestimate of what it will be when the disease has run its course.
With the COVID-19 outbreak, it can take between two to eight weeks for people to go from first symptoms to death, according to data from early cases (we discuss this here).12
This is not a problem once an outbreak has finished. Afterwards, the total number of deaths will be known, and we can use it to calculate the CFR. But during an outbreak, we need to be careful with how to interpret the CFR because the outcome (recovery or death) of a large number of cases is still unknown.
This is a common source for misinterpretation of a rising CFR in the earlier stages of an outbreak.13
This is what happened during the SARS-CoV outbreak in 2003: the CFR was initially reported to be 3-5% during the early stages of the outbreak, but had risen to around 10% by the end.14,15
This is not just a problem for statisticians: it had real negative consequences for our understanding of the outbreak. The low numbers that were published initially resulted in an underestimate of the severity of the outbreak. And the rise of the CFR over time gave the wrong impression that SARS was becoming more deadly over time. These errors made it harder to come up with the right response.
The current case fatality rate of COVID-19We should stress again that there is no single figure of CFR for any particular disease. The CFR varies by location, and is typically changing over time.
As this paper shows16, CFRs vary widely between countries, from 0.2% in Germany to 7.7% in Italy. But it says that this is not necessarily an accurate comparison of the true likelihood that someone with COVID-19 will die of it.
We do not know how many cases are asymptomatic versus symptomatic, or whether the same criteria for testing are being applied between countries. Without better and more standardised criteria for testing and for the recording of deaths, the real mortality rate is unknown. As the paper says, to understand the differences in CFR and how they should guide decision-making, we need better data.
But if we're careful to acknowledge its limitations, CFR can help us to better understand the severity of the disease and what we should do about it.
This chart shows how these early CFR values compare. You can see the total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 (on the x-axis, going across) versus the total number of deaths (on the y-axis, going up).
The grey lines show a range of CFR values '' from 0.25% to 10%.
Where each country lies indicates its CFR '' for instance, if a country lies along the 2% line, its current confirmed cases and death figures indicate it has a CFR of 2%.
The second chart shows how the CFR has changed over time in countries that have had over 100 confirmed cases.
We have excluded countries which still have a relatively small number of confirmed cases, because CFR is a particularly poor metric to understand mortality risk with a small sample size.
We see this if we look at the trajectory of cases and deaths in Iran: on February 24th it had 2 confirmed cases and 2 deaths, an implausible CFR of 100%. With time its CFR begins to fall, as the number of confirmed cases increases. By the time it has seen hundreds of cases, the CFR drops to around the level seen in other countries.
Case fatality rate of COVID-19 by ageCurrent data across countries suggests that the elderly are most at riskIt's helpful to estimate the risk of death across a population '' the average IFR, the chance of death if a random person in the country were to catch the disease, which we discussed above. It helps us know the severity of an outbreak.
But during an outbreak, it's also crucial to know which groups within a population are most at risk. If we know which sections of society are most likely to die, or suffer other serious consequences, then that allows us to direct our resources towards the most vulnerable, who need them the most.
In the chart below, we see a breakdown of the CFR by age group across various countries who have made demographic data on confirmed cases and deaths available. It shows very large differences of the CFR by age.
This data is based on the number of confirmed cases and deaths in each age group as reported by national agencies. The figures come from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as of 17th February; Spanish Ministry of Health as of 24th March; Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) as of 24th March; and the Italian National Institute of Health, as presented in the paper by Onder et al. (2020) as of 17th March.17,18
Again it's important to stress that the CFR simply represents the number of deaths divided by the number of confirmed cases. It does not tell us the true risk of death, which (as we say above) is much harder to estimate. The CFR changes over time, and differences between countries do not necessarily reflect real differences in the risk of dying from COVID-19. Instead, they may reflect differences in the extent of testing, or the stage a country is in its trajectory through the outbreak.
For many infectious diseases young children are most at risk. For instance, in the case of malaria, the majority of deaths (57% globally) are in children under five. The same was true for the largest pandemic in recorded history: During the 'Spanish flu' in 1918, children and young adults were at the greatest risk from the pandemic (we write more about this in the article here).
For COVID-19 cases the opposite seems to be true. The elderly are at the greatest risk of dying, if infected with this virus.
It may not simply be that the older you get, the more at risk you are, though. As we show in the next section, the CFR for people with underlying health conditions '' such as cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases or diabetes '' is higher than for those without. Elderly people are more likely to have those conditions, which is likely to be part of the reason why the elderly are most at risk from COVID-19.
Case fatality rate of COVID-19 by age group across countries.19,20Case fatality rate of COVID-19 by preexisting health conditionsEarly data from China suggests that those with underlying health conditions are at a higher riskThe chart here shows the case fatality rate for populations within China based on their health status or underlying health condition.
This is based on the same data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention as we discussed in the section on age.21 This analysis was based on recorded deaths and cases in China in the period up to February 11th 2020.
The researchers found that the CFR for those with an underlying health condition is much higher than for those without. For instance, more than 10% of people with a cardiovascular disease, and who were diagnosed with COVID-19, died. Diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases, hypertension, and cancer were all risk factors as well, as we see in the chart.
By comparison, the CFR was 0.9% '' more than ten times lower '' for those without a preexisting health condition.
Above we saw that the elderly are most at risk of dying from COVID-19. As we said there, that might be partly explained by the fact that they are also most likely to have underlying health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease and diabetes; these health conditions make it more difficult to recover from the COVID-19 infection.
Case fatality rate of COVID-19 compared to other diseasesHow does the case fatality rate (CFR) of COVID-19 compare to other virus outbreaks and diseases?Once again, we should stress what we discussed above. One has to understand the measurement challenges and the definitions to interpret estimates of the CFR for COVID-19, particularly those relating to an ongoing outbreak.
As comparisons, the table shows the case fatality rates for other disease outbreaks. The CFR of SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV were high: 10% and 34%, respectively.22
The US seasonal flu has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1% to 0.2% '' lower than the current CFR for COVID-19.23
Sources of data shown in the table:SARS-CoV: Venkatesh, S. & Memish, Z.A. ('Ž2004)'Ž. SARS: the new challenge to international health and travel medicine. EMHJ '' Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal, 10 ('Ž4-5)'Ž, 655-662, 2004.SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV: Munster, V. J., Koopmans, M., van Doremalen, N., van Riel, D., & de Wit, E. (2020). A novel coronavirus emerging in China'--key questions for impact assessment. New England Journal of Medicine, 382(8), 692-694.Seasonal flu: US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Influenza Burden, 2018-19.Ebola: Shultz, J. M., Espinel, Z., Espinola, M., & Rechkemmer, A. (2016). Distinguishing epidemiological features of the 2013''2016 West Africa Ebola virus disease outbreak. Disaster Health, 3(3), 78-88.Ebola: World Health Organization (2020). Ebola virus disease: Factsheet.
DiseaseEstimated case fatality rate (CFR)SARS-CoV10%Venkatesh and Memish ('Ž2004)'ŽMunster et al. (2020)MERS-CoV34%Munster et al. (2020)Seasonal flu (US)0.1 to 0.2% US CDCEbola50%40% in the 2013-16 outbreakWHO (2020)Shultz et al. (2016)
We would like to acknowledge and thank a number of people in the development of this work: Carl Bergstrom, Bernadeta Dadonaite, Natalie Dean, Jason Hendry, Adam Kucharski, Moritz Kraemer and Eric Topol for their very helpful and detailed comments and suggestions on earlier versions of this work. Tom Chivers we would like to thank for his editorial review and feedback.
And we would like to thank the many hundreds of readers who give us feedback on this work every day. Your feedback is what allows us to continuously clarify and improve it. We very much appreciate you taking the time to write. We cannot respond to every message we receive, but we do read all feedback and aim to take the many helpful ideas into account. Thank you all.
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Max Roser, Hannah Ritchie, Esteban Ortiz-Ospina and Joe Hasell (2020) - "Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19)". Published online at OurWorldInData.org. Retrieved from: 'https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus' [Online Resource]BibTeX citation
@article{owidcoronavirus,    author = {Max Roser, Hannah Ritchie, Esteban Ortiz-Ospina and Joe Hasell},    title = {Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19)},    journal = {Our World in Data},    year = {2020},    note = {https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus}}
Mortality Analyses - Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
Fri, 23 Oct 2020 21:35
Mortality in the most affected countriesFor the twenty countries currently most affected by COVID-19 worldwide, the bars in the chart below show the number of deaths either per 100 confirmed cases (observed case-fatality ratio) or per 100,000 population (this represents a country's general population, with both confirmed cases and healthy people). Countries at the top of this figure have the most deaths proportionally to their COVID-19 cases or population, not necessarily the most deaths overall.
Worldwide mortalityThe diagonal lines on the chart below correspond to different case fatality ratios (the number of deaths divided by the number of confirmed cases). Countries falling on the uppermost lines have the highest observed case fatality ratios. Points with a black border correspond to the 20 most affected countries by COVID-19 worldwide, based on the number of deaths. Hover over the circles to see the country name and a ratio value. Use the boxes on the top to toggle between: 1) mortality per absolute number of cases (total confirmed cases within a country); and mortality per 100,000 people (this represents a country's general population, with both confirmed cases and healthy people).
Cases and mortality by countrySan Marino802425.2%124.32Peru879,87633,9843.9%106.24Belgium270,13210,5883.9%92.70Andorra3,811631.7%81.81Bolivia140,4458,5846.1%75.61Brazil5,323,630155,9002.9%74.43Spain1,026,28134,5213.4%73.88Chile497,13113,7922.8%73.64Ecuador156,45112,5008.0%73.17Mexico874,17187,41510.0%69.27US8,407,702223,0322.7%68.17United Kingdom813,45144,4375.5%66.83Argentina1,053,65027,9572.7%62.83Panama127,2272,6122.1%62.53Italy465,72636,9687.9%61.17Colombia990,37329,6373.0%59.69Sweden108,9695,9305.4%58.23France1,041,99134,2373.3%51.11Moldova69,5681,6412.4%46.28North Macedonia25,4738743.4%41.96Montenegro16,2592531.6%40.65Netherlands268,5176,9812.6%40.51Iran550,75731,6505.7%38.69Ireland54,4761,8713.4%38.55Armenia70,8361,1311.6%38.32Kosovo17,2636573.8%35.60Bahamas6,1351302.1%33.71South Africa710,51518,8432.7%32.61Romania196,0046,1633.1%31.65Bosnia and Herzegovina37,3141,0512.8%31.62Iraq442,16410,4652.4%27.23Honduras91,5092,6042.8%27.16Canada211,6179,9164.7%26.76Israel308,2472,3190.8%26.10Costa Rica100,6161,2511.2%25.02Switzerland97,0192,0462.1%24.02Oman111,8371,1471.0%23.75Luxembourg12,3331401.1%23.04Portugal109,5412,2452.0%21.83Dominican Republic122,8732,2121.8%20.81Guatemala103,1723,5803.5%20.76Bahrain79,2113080.4%19.62Suriname5,1541092.1%18.92Paraguay57,5261,2622.2%18.14Kyrgyzstan54,0061,1222.1%17.76Kuwait119,4207300.6%17.64Czechia223,0651,8450.8%17.36Russia1,453,92325,0721.7%17.35Cabo Verde8,122911.1%16.74Albania18,2504652.5%16.22Saudi Arabia343,7745,2501.5%15.58Bulgaria34,9301,0643.0%15.15Guyana3,8771173.0%15.02El Salvador32,2629362.9%14.58Ukraine332,2626,2131.9%13.92Hungary52,2121,3052.5%13.36Germany403,8749,9602.5%12.01Belize2,995461.5%12.01Denmark38,2706941.8%11.97Turkey355,5289,5842.7%11.64Libya52,6207681.5%11.50Serbia37,5367832.1%11.21Austria71,8449411.3%10.64Poland214,6864,0191.9%10.58Eswatini5,8141162.0%10.21Slovenia17,6462111.2%10.21Malta5,137491.0%10.13Belarus90,3809451.0%9.96Croatia29,8504061.4%9.93Kazakhstan110,0861,7961.6%9.83West Bank and Gaza49,1344350.9%9.52Morocco186,7313,1321.7%8.69India7,706,946116,6161.5%8.62Qatar130,4622280.2%8.20Lebanon67,0275520.8%8.06Trinidad and Tobago5,4461031.9%7.41Maldives11,358370.3%7.17Sao Tome and Principe935151.6%7.11Azerbaijan47,4186481.4%6.52Finland14,2553552.5%6.43Tunisia45,8927401.6%6.40Djibouti5,522611.1%6.36Philippines363,8886,7831.9%6.36Equatorial Guinea5,074831.6%6.34Egypt106,0606,1665.8%6.26Jamaica8,6001792.1%6.10Namibia12,4601331.1%5.43Estonia4,247711.7%5.38Norway17,2342791.6%5.25Gambia3,6591193.3%5.22Greece28,2165491.9%5.12United Arab Emirates120,7104740.4%4.92Indonesia377,54112,9593.4%4.84Jordan46,4414811.0%4.83Georgia22,8031780.8%4.77Lithuania8,6631251.4%4.48Algeria55,3571,8883.4%4.47Afghanistan40,6261,5053.7%4.05Mauritania7,6501632.1%3.70Australia27,4769053.3%3.62Bangladesh394,8275,7471.5%3.56Pakistan326,2166,7152.1%3.16Antigua and Barbuda12232.5%3.12Iceland4,268110.3%3.11Nepal148,5098120.5%2.89Venezuela88,4167590.9%2.63Gabon8,901540.6%2.55Latvia3,958491.2%2.54Barbados22473.1%2.44Nicaragua5,4341552.9%2.40Guinea-Bissau2,403411.7%2.19Slovakia35,3301150.3%2.11Cyprus3,154250.8%2.10Yemen2,05759729.0%2.09Haiti9,0072312.6%2.08Lesotho1,923432.2%2.04Senegal15,5083212.1%2.02Sudan13,7248366.1%2.00Zambia16,0353462.2%1.99Burma41,0081,0052.5%1.87Congo (Brazzaville)5,156921.8%1.75Liberia1,385825.9%1.70Kenya47,2128701.8%1.69Cameroon21,5704252.0%1.69Uzbekistan64,4395400.8%1.64Zimbabwe8,2422362.9%1.63Syria5,2672604.9%1.54Uruguay2,701532.0%1.54Japan95,1341,6971.8%1.34Central African Republic4,862621.3%1.33Ethiopia91,6931,3961.5%1.28Cuba6,4211282.0%1.13Ghana47,5383120.7%1.05Malawi5,8741833.1%1.01Sierra Leone2,340733.1%0.95Botswana5,923210.4%0.93Madagascar16,8102381.4%0.91Tajikistan10,653810.8%0.89Korea, South25,6984551.8%0.88Angola8,5822603.0%0.84Comoros51771.4%0.84Mauritius425102.4%0.79Brunei14832.0%0.70Mali3,4401323.8%0.69Somalia3,8971022.6%0.68Togo2,139522.4%0.66Malaysia23,8042040.9%0.65Chad1,410966.8%0.62Nigeria61,8051,1271.8%0.58Guinea11,635710.6%0.57New Zealand1,923251.3%0.51South Sudan2,872551.9%0.50Singapore57,941280.0%0.50Cote d'Ivoire20,3901210.6%0.48Congo (Kinshasa)11,0973042.7%0.36Benin2,557411.6%0.36China91,0734,7395.2%0.34Burkina Faso2,414652.7%0.33Niger1,215695.7%0.31Rwanda5,017340.7%0.28Mozambique11,559810.7%0.27Uganda11,041980.9%0.23Thailand3,727591.6%0.08Papua New Guinea58371.2%0.08Sri Lanka6,287140.2%0.06Tanzania509214.1%0.04Vietnam1,148353.0%0.04Taiwan*54871.3%0.03
Epstein
Maxwell accuser shares QAnon messages before deposition unsealed
Thu, 22 Oct 2020 21:13
News
By Lee Brown
October 22, 2020 | 10:36am
Ghislaine Maxwell accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre shared a series of QAnon messages hinting at a rumored global network of powerful pedophiles before the alleged madam's deposition was unsealed Thursday.
Just hours before the key document was released '-- despite Maxwell's long battle to keep it hidden '-- Giuffre retweeted a photo of a young girl and a teddy bear inside a giant ''Q.''
''We've Awoken, Stop Pedophilia,'' read the caption to the image, which Giuffre posted along with a series of hashtags including #TheGreatAwakeningWorldwide, a key QAnon phrase.
She used the same hashtag late Wednesday as she reshared a message saying #WWG1WGA '-- the acronym for QAnon's most central slogan, ''Where we go one, we go all.''
In that message, she tagged other accusers '-- and even socialite Paris Hilton.
Giuffre has long been the most outspoken Jeffrey Epstein accuser, also going after Maxwell and Prince Andrew, whom she says she was forced to have sex with three times.
But she is not previously known to have supported QAnon, the conspiracy theory that has claimed that a vast network of people in power are behind a huge pedophile ring '-- including the viral ''pizzagate'' conspiracy that falsely claimed one ran out of a Washington, DC, pizza shop. Many social media companies have since moved to try to crack down on QAnon posts.
Ghislaine Maxwell Paul Bruinooge/Patrick McMullan''If you're a Q follower you've lost credibility,'' one follower, Cynthia Lawson, told her, while another said it ''hurts everything you are fighting for.''
''So admire you & 2day is a big day I know '... [but] don't get the Q Memes,'' another follower, calling herself The Boudica, replied.
''Protect our children, prosecute pedophiles but a Cult saying Liberals sacrifice & drink babies blood, hasn't got anything 2 do wi real issues. Q is hurting international agencies tackling sex trafficking.''
In an earlier message Wednesday, Giuffre said she was ''very grateful'' at the unsealing of the deposition Maxwell made in her now-settled civil defamation lawsuit.
''This journey to justice has taken decades for my fellow abuse survivors and me, including years in which our voices were ignored. Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein did not act alone,'' she said.
''With more transparency, I am hopeful that all who helped perpetrate these heinous crimes will be held accountable.''
FedNow
Alibaba founder Jack Ma on Ant Group IPO pricing
Sun, 25 Oct 2020 11:19
Wang Dingchang | Xinhua | Getty Images
The mammoth dual listing for Chinese fintech giant Ant Group will be the world's biggest, according to a pricing determined on Friday night, Alibaba founder Jack Ma said on Saturday.
"It's the first time that the pricing of such a big listing '-- the largest in human history '-- has been determined outside New York City" he told the Bund Summit in the eastern financial hub of Shanghai.
"We didn't dare to think about it five years ago, or even three years ago. But a miracle just occurred," he told the audience, which included officials from China's regulators.
He did not give exact details of the pricing which is expected to be officially announced next week.
Backed by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, Ant plans to list simultaneously in Hong Kong and on Shanghai's STAR Market in the coming weeks.
Sources have said the listing could be worth $35 billion, surpassing the record set by Saudi Aramco's $29.4 billion float last December.
Ma said the financial and regulatory system stifles innovation, calling for a revamp to extend financial services to more small firms and individuals on the basis of technology '-- an ethos that Ant is largely based on.
He said the global system established after World War II is outdated and too risk-averse, calling the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision "an old men's club" and warning that risks are accumulating in the whole economy.
In China, banks still operate with a strong "pawnshop" mentality, demanding collateral and guarantees before lending, a model that will fail to fuel future growth, he said.
Instead, he said a new, inclusive and universal banking system that lends to small businesses and individuals on the basis of big data should be established.
Ant, which has an extensive payment and micro-lending business that is largely based on big data, has faced rising scrutiny from regulators.
"Today's financial system is the legacy of the Industrial Age," Ma said. "We must set up a new one for the next generation and young people. We must reform the current system."
Bitcoin is The Mycelium of Money - Brandon Quittem
Thu, 22 Oct 2020 21:27
ForewardThis is the entire bitcoin+fungi series combined into a single article. I have more unpublished material, should I turn this into a book? Let me know on twitter, my DMs are open. Also, would you like to be notified when I publish new articles? Signup here.
I need to give credit to Dan Held for publishing his 4-part series comparing bitcoin's origin to planting a tree. While I loved his series, I believe a more robust analogy is comparing bitcoin to fungi. If you're new to this topic, strap in '-- it is my honor to initiate you into the fascinating world of fungi.
Polymathic responsibility: Just as Satoshi combined separate disciplines to stitch together a franken-technology we call bitcoin'... It is my belief that each of us has the responsibility to explore our unique cross sections of knowledge. Here's my exploration of fungi and bitcoin '-- the parallels are astounding.
Bitcoin appears superficially simple upon first glance, however truly understanding the system is a daunting task.
''Intellectual traps'' exist along the way, tricking observers into making hasty assumptions. I liken the pursuit of understanding bitcoin to a mountain climber continually reaching ''false peaks'' that momentarily fool the climber into thinking they've reached the actual summit.
As soon as you think you have bitcoin figured out, you discover how little you actually know (false peak).
Competing narratives make it even more challenging'... Magic internet money, speculative mania, fintech revolution, bitcoin boils the oceans, rat poison squared, libertarian idealism, digital gold, apex predator of monetary media, gordian knot of interlocking incentives, etc.
To make matters more complicated, bitcoin is a living system constantly changing based on environmental stimuli. True understanding is a moving target unlikely to ever be hit.
Attempting to answer the question ''what is bitcoin,'' I found exploring parallels to the natural world to be particularly illuminating.
In particular, some of bitcoin's best characteristics are simply reflections of successful evolutionary strategies found in nature, specifically in the fungi kingdom.
Fungi are predominantly made up of ''mycelium'' '-- an underground decentralized intelligence network described by Paul Stamets as ''earth's natural internet.''
Image credit: John Upton''I believe that mycelium is the neurological network of nature. Interlacing mosaics of mycelium infuse habitats with information-sharing membranes. These membranes are aware, react to change, and collectively have the long-term health of the host environment in mind. The mycelium stays in constant molecular communication with its environment, devising diverse enzymatic and chemical responses to complex challenges.'''• Paul Stamets, Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the WorldIn this article, I'm going to explore the similarities between fungi and bitcoin. Originally this was published as separate articles. If you've already read some parts of this series, feel free to fast forward ðŸ‚
Chapter 1: Bitcoin is a Decentralized Organism (Mycelium)Chapter 2: Bitcoin is a Social Creature (Mushroom)Chapter 3: Bitcoin is the Antivirus to Macro Uncertainty (Medicine)Chapter 4: Bitcoin is a Catalyst for Human EvolutionIntroduction to FungiFungi are in their own separate kingdom just like plants and animals. There are more fungi species than plants and animals combined.
Animals are more closely related to fungi than we are to plants. Both fungi and animals inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. Plants produce their own food through photosynthesis (autotrophic) while animals and fungi must find their own food (heterotrophic). Animals evolved to have internal stomachs/brains whereas fungi pursued external stomachs/brains.
Fungi Fact #1: humans share over 50% of their DNA with fungi. Scientists proposed a new super kingdom called Opisthokon combining Fungi and Animals.Fungi can take many forms. Most organize in an underground ''root structure'' called mycelium that's found nearly everywhere on this planet.
When conditions are right, fungi produce mushrooms which then release spores (seeds) that attempt to colonize life in a nearby location. Mushrooms are simply the reproductive organ. Mushrooms are to the mycelium what apples are to a tree.
Fungi are paramount to life on earth:
The largest organism on our planet is a fungal networkFungi are the best chemists on our planet, much of our medicine comes from fungiTrees cannot survive without underground fungal alliesFungi have been around for 1.3b years surviving all 5 great extinction eventsFungi are capable of saving the beesFungi are Decentralized Intelligence NetworksFungal networks don't have a centralized ''brain.'' Instead, they are a one-cell walled ''root system'' called Mycelium. This underground stomach and distributed intelligence network is capable of sending information bi-directionally over long distances and even across species lines. These fungal networks constantly evolve based on feedback from their environment.
At any one point, a fungal network contains millions of end points each searching for food, defending their territory, or inventing new molecules to subvert their competition (other fungi, bacteria, etc). These networks form a decentralized consensus on how to use resources, when to reproduce, and what strategy best defends the organism.
This mirrors the decentralized consensus (social contract) formed in bitcoin. Nodes determine what software they wish to run and enforce the consensus rules they support accordingly. Miners determine which transactions to include in blocks. Exchanges, wallets, and merchants each steward large groups of users. Each participant in bitcoin voluntarily chooses how they wish to participate and the aggregate consensus represents the network.
Decentralized Networks are Older Than HumanityDecentralized networks have existed long before humans were around. In fact, fungi have been successfully implementing such systems for 1.3 billion years making them the most successful kingdom on our planet.
Besides fungi, there are several examples of distributed network archetypes found throughout nature (mycelium, dark matter, neurons, the internet, etc). Clearly this strategy works otherwise nature wouldn't insist on replicating it.
When seen in the context of this long history of the decentralized network archetype, the advent of decentralized digital money seems less novel and more inevitable.
The decentralized network archetype is Lindy.
During a Billion Years of Evolution, Fungi Have Become Masters of SurvivalFungi are uniquely adaptive and continue surviving mass extinction events.
65 million years ago a giant asteroid hit our planet killing most life (including the dinosaurs) on our planet. The impact created a cloud of smoke so thick that it blocked sunlight from reaching the earth's surface for many years. Without sunlight, plants died off and with them most animals. Fungi however do not rely on sunlight to survive, they can adapt quickly, and can find their own food.
After each extinction event, fungi ''inherit the earth'' and slowly rebuild until conditions stabilize and life can continue again.
Bitcoin will become the most successful monetary specie because its decentralized, adapts (relatively) quickly, finds it's own food (unmet demand), and doesn't need government support. In the event of a mass monetary extinction event, bitcoin will ''inherit the earth.''
Japanese Government vs the Humble Slime MoldWhether it's central banks trying to steer the economy or hierarchical corporations trying to maximize value in the information age'... Central planning has many flaws.
When making decisions in the ''information economy,'' decentralized or flat organizations are more effective. They resist corruption, minimize bureaucracy, and push decision making to the extremities where individuals (nodes) have the most up to date information about the problem at hand.
Let's take a look at the Tokyo subway system to illustrate the power of decentralized networks.
Scientists conducted an experiment where an ancient fungus (slime mold) was incentivized to recreate the Tokyo subway system. Each subway stop (node) was marked with the slime molds favorite food (oat flakes).
After a short while, the slime mold grew to connect all the nodes/stops in a more efficient design than the centrally planned committee of engineers hired by the Japanese government.
Slime Mold designing Tokyo Subway SystemFrom the Abstract:
Transport networks are ubiquitous in both social and biological systems. Robust network performance involves a complex trade-off involving cost, transport efficiency, and fault tolerance. Biological networks have been honed by many cycles of evolutionary selection pressure and are likely to yield reasonable solutions to such combinatorial optimization problems. Furthermore, they develop without centralized control and may represent a readily scalable solution for growing networks in general. We show that the slime mold Physarum polycephalum forms networks with comparable efficiency, fault tolerance, and cost to those of real-world infrastructure networks '-- in this case, the Tokyo rail system. The core mechanisms needed for adaptive network formation can be captured in a biologically inspired mathematical model that may be useful to guide network construction in other domains.When you think of the costs and complexities involved in such an infrastructure project, it's quite sobering to realize a slime mold can design a better network in a single day.
Satoshi understood the power of the slime mold.
Bitcoin is a non-sovereign monetary good that pushes complexity and decision making to the edge just like fungi. Over time, this free market decentralization allows bitcoin to out-compete various legacy financial systems who have little skin in the game, suffer from the innovator's dilemma, become more fragile over time, and often drown in bureaucracy (or worse).
Life Without a Centralized Point of FailureMycelium has no ''central point of control.'' Any individual part can be removed but the system as a whole survives.
''If you come at the king, you best not miss'' '-- Omar Little (The Wire)Nation states and central banks face a paradoxical challenge. If they attempt to destroy their competition, they'll highlight the very need for bitcoin in the first place. And yet, the longer they wait, the stronger bitcoin becomes.
Hardened from hostility
Both mycelium and bitcoin endure in the most competitive ecosystems on our planet and must constantly adapt in order to survive. They have skin in the game and become hardened from hostility.
Fungi are in a 24/7 competitive environment, constantly fighting little underground battles against various bacteria, microbes, and competing fungi.
If one mycelial ''node'' senses a predator/prey, it sends information to the ''mushroom scientists'' who then create a new enzyme to target the predator/prey. The fungal network distributes this new enzyme where needed.
Fungi fact #2: As humans, we benefit from medicinal compounds created by fungi. Most famously: Penicillin, which came from an accidental discovery by Alexander Fleming. Penicillin has been used to combat bacterial epidemics that historically have decimated human populations. Since the discovery of Penicillin our population has tripled.Bitcoin responds to its environment in a similar manner. As bugs/threats/opportunities are found in the system, information travels to the ''bitcoin scientists'' (developers) who create an ''enzyme'' (software patch) and this update propagates through the system. This enables greater ecology success for bitcoin too. Bitcoin is antifragile.
Both fungi and bitcoin harden their defenses over time and learn to consume new food sources. This has a compounding effect increasing antifragility as well as life expectancy over time.
In one extreme case, let's take a look at the largest organism on our planet, the Honey Mushroom (Armillaria sp). Found in the Blue Mountains in Eastern Oregon, this single organism is over 2.4 miles (3.8 km) across. It's estimated to be between 1,900 and 8,650 years old and is currently consuming an entire forest.
Dealing with CompetitionFungal networks steal competitive advantages from their neighbors in the form of genetic information just like bitcoin absorbs competitive advantages displayed by altcoins.
There is a (misguided) belief in which people assume that altcoins will implement cool new features that will eventually outcompete bitcoin.
The opposing camp believes that bitcoin will eventually absorb all the best features after they've been tested in the market which makes alternative currencies unable to compete over the long term. I stand in this camp.
Let's take a look at how fungi approach their competition'...
First we need to understand some basic genetics. Genes are typically passed down from parent to offspring in what's known as ''Vertical Gene Transfer.''
Interestingly, fungi perform ''Horizontal Gene transfer'' '-- effectively slurping up genetic information from different species competing in the same ecosystem.
This process of horizontal gene transfer demonstrated by fungi foreshadows the future state where bitcoin integrates any proven ideas produced by alt coins at large.
For example: Combining the Lightning Joule Browser extension with a node (launch your own, use Casa, or otherwise) enables micro-transactions through your browser. This effectively eliminates the need for tokens like BAT.
You could even make the argument that bitcoin has been performing horizontal gene transfer since Satoshi first combined technologies used in previous attempts at electronic cash systems such as Hash Cash, E-gold, etc.
Arbitrage, Incentives, and Finding Their Place in EcologyFungi perform two ecological roles on this planet: they recycle all matter into base elements & act as our planet's immune system.
''Mycelia are the grand disassemblers of nature'' '-- Paul StametsFungi spend their days quietly decomposing organic matter. They transform rocks, branches, leaf litter, dead animals, and oil spills into their base elements (carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, etc). Then fungi trade these valuable elements with nearby organisms.
Fungi fact #3: Our forests would be buried in hundreds of feet of leaves and branches if fungi didn't decompose them and redistribute the nutrients.In other words, fungi unlock stranded resources. A tree cannot re-use its own leaves or branches as the carbon/nitrogen/phosphorus are locked in an unusable form. Fungi exploit arbitrage opportunities in their ecosystem.
Bitcoin, Through its PoW Mechanism, Unlocks Stranded Resources in the Form of EnergyBefore we tackle bitcoin, let's explore a fascinating historical example: How aluminum was used to ''export stranded renewable energy'' from a country like Iceland.
Iceland produces renewable geothermal energy, often in remote places. This leads to an excess supply that cannot reach the demand (energy doesn't travel well over long distances).
Iceland took advantage of their excess energy by producing aluminum, which is a very energy intensive process. Iceland effectively turns excess energy into a durable store of value (Aluminum) which can be exported.
Bitcoin does the same thing. Instead of stranded energy ''dying on the vine,'' producers can mine bitcoin (or just sell excess energy to miners). This, too, enables excess energy production to be turned into a durable store of value. The second order effect is that bitcoin is effectively subsidizing renewable energy projects.
To explore this concept in depth, check out Dan Held's Article: PoW is Efficient.
Fungi Fact #4: Fungi eating rocks is the main reason we have topsoil. Topsoil enables us to grow food. It took fungi over 1b years to produce just the ~18 inches of topsoil that we have today.Fungi (and Bitcoin) Are Ecological Immune SystemsFungi are the immune systems for both the ecosystems in which they live and the planet at large.
Fungi produce medicinal compounds and protect their ecosystems through complex symbiotic relationships. Fungi broker resources underground (via mycelium) between species to ensure the health of the entire ecosystem.
How trees secretly talk to each other in the forest
What do trees talk about? In the Douglas fir forests of Canada, see how trees ''talk'' to each other by forming'...
In crude terms, the fungi mine minerals underground for trees in exchange for sugars (food) that the tree produces through photosynthesis. Trees get increased protection from invaders and crucial minerals which they cannot find on their own. Ever wonder why the baby oak tree can survive on a forest floor where it receives no sunlight?
Each organism participating in this shared incentive system improves the evolutionary fitness of the forest. I believe forests are living super-organisms consisting of a variety of different species.
Bitcoin performs a similar ecological role
The market sends signals for bitcoin to create features that satisfy unmet demands or improve security as new threats emerge.
Block space demand increases above capacity, Lightning Network is born.China cracks down on exchanges, LocalBitcoins.com flourishes.As Venezuela, Turkey, and Argentina hyper-inflate their currency, bitcoin steps in as a non-sovereign SoV.Blockstream launches Satellites able to broadcast bitcoin transactions to mitigate catastrophic events.Positive feedback loop
Bitcoin also benefits from the aligned incentives between users, full nodes, miners, exchanges, and merchants. As bitcoin better adapts to its environment, it better meets the demands of its growing constituents, which in turn recruits more network participants. This positive feedback loop promotes sustained growth of the network.
Like the honey mushroom consuming entire forests in Oregon, bitcoin is getting bigger and stronger over time.
Fungi fact #5: I wrote most of this essay while consuming medicinal mushrooms used for cognitive enhancement (Lions Mane, Chaga, and Cordyceps).Exploring Hype Cycles, Ethnomycology, and the Cult of Satoshi
In the first section, we explored bitcoin's decentralized architecture through the lens of mycelium. We covered the decentralized network archetype, antifragility, PoW, arbitrage, bitcoin's role in it's ecology, and the merits of decentralization.
However, our fungi story is not yet complete. The next stage in the fungal life cycle is to reproduce and this all happens inside the mushroom. After reaching maturity, mushrooms release little mushroom seeds called spores capable of colonizing new territory.
Although the fungi kingdom is quite alien compared to life in the animal kingdom, humans have had a relationship with mushrooms for a long time. Historically, mushrooms have represented mystery, fear, opportunity, impermanence, and to some a cult-like reverence.
In Chapter 2, we're going to explore bitcoin as a social phenomenon through the lens of the mysterious mushroom.
Let's dive in!
Bitcoin is made up of individual constituents each with their own perspectives, motivations, and abilities. Collectively they form consensus on the rules of the bitcoin game. The code simply ratifies this social consensus.
From Hasu's seminal piece Unpacking Bitcoin's Social Contract:
''The Bitcoin protocol automates the contract that is agreed upon on the social layer, while the social layer determines the rules of Bitcoin, based on the consensus of its users. They are symbiotic: Neither would be sufficient without the other.''Humans are messy, emotional, predictably irrational beings. Bitcoin, being comprised of a network of humans, is no different.
Fungi exist primarily in their ''mycelium form'' which you can think of as an underground root system connecting trees and plants. Humans wouldn't even know mycelium exists as it stays quiet underground for the majority of its life.
However, when fungi sense that conditions are favorable (temperature, humidity, etc), it sends up a mushroom above ground. These mushrooms are the sexual organs of fungi '-- essentially phallic spore (seed) delivery systems.
Before mushrooms break the ground, fungi concentrate energy into a tiny mass of cells underground called ''pinheads'' which persist until the perfect moment. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, mushrooms explode out of the ground doubling in size each day until reaching maturity.
Fungi Fact #6: Some fungi can produce mushrooms with enough force to break through asphalt.After the mushroom is fully mature it crescendos with a release of millions of spores (mushroom ''seeds'') before quickly decomposing back into the ground.
The mushroom only lives for a few triumphant days and most spores perish before infancy, however a small percentage of the spores will travel nearby and form new fungal colonies. These new colonies might stay underground for several years before the reproductive cycle continues again.
Fungi Fact #7: Spores are lighter than air which makes travel easy. Theoretically spores could catch an updraft and leave earth's orbit. Luckily, they're on a short list of biological matter capable of surviving the cold vacuum and radiation of space. Panspermia anyone?Bitcoin's Hype Cycles Parallel Fungal ReproductionTo the casual observer, most of bitcoin's life is boring '-- months go by with relatively little action. Then when conditions are just right, bitcoin explodes into life, growing massively in size, and hijacking the consciousness of observers. Price goes to the ''moon,'' media is flooded with hyperbole, and ''DMs from normies'' flood in.
Then almost as soon as it crescendos, bitcoin fades away, dying back into obscurity as casual participants write it off as a fad, hype, or a failed experiment. Like the mushroom spores, most new users exit the ecosystem. However a small percentage form new colonies in bitcoin land. These bear market survivors become new ''hodlers of last resort.''
Unsurprisingly, the bear market narrative is driven by surface level activity (price).
Bitcoin Detractors Mistake the Hype Cycle (Mushroom) for the Big Picture (Mycelial Network)Amnesiac pundits proudly pile on proclaiming bitcoin has perished (for the 335th time). Fiat maximalists take victory laps on twitter by posting 12 month charts.
"You're missing the mycelium for the mushroom!'' h/t Nic CarterRoubini celebrates by hosting his 3rd bear market barbecue. Detractors gather to roast the proverbial (bitcoin) mushroom while patting each other on the back.
However to be fair, bitcoin is complicated. Many ''crypto people'' still think bitcoin is myspace and Ripplecoin is the ''standard.'' Unsurprisingly most journalists don't grasp what's going on. Imagine being assigned the ''bitcoin beat'' as a well intentioned, run-of-the-mill journalist.
While the mushroom has died (recent hype cycle), the mycelium (bitcoin) is thriving underground.Like a mushroom past its prime, bitcoin exuberance decays and the price plummets. This bear market will shake out weak hands, hedge funds will fail, ICOs will give back investor money or worse, projects will fail, and some charlatans will be exposed.
However hodlers, new and old, collectively go underground and quietly make bitcoin better: building, learning, and forming alliances.
Bitcoin Improved Dramatically during the 2018-2019 Bear MarketLightning Network is picking up momentumNew services such as SwanBitcoin make acquiring bitcoin easier then ever (auto DCA)SegWit adoption grows to around 50% improving transaction throughoutNew developers being groomed by Jimmy Song & Justin MoonCasa, Pierre, Nodl, and others make running full nodes easierNomics producing cleaner data than CMCBitcoin Financial Services being built out (Unchained, River, Blockfi)Foundations laid for inevitable financialization (Fidelity, Bakkt, etc)Schnorr signatures are being built out (tech specs / whitepaper / TL;DR)''Proof of Keys'' to minimize risk of rehypothecation + stress test ecosystem + remind new users about self sovereigntyBlockstream enables bitcoin transactions via satellite. Things get interesting when combined with mesh networks.Metrics for measuring health of cryptocurrencies emerge such as Realized Cap, Economic Throughput, Economic Density ($/bytes), and MVRV.Passed the peak of miner centralization (bye bye Bitmain)Coinshares report says 77% of bitcoin's energy consumption is from renewable sourcesNew scribblers stand on the shoulders of giants attempting to describe bitcoin in novel ways.As time goes on, narratives evolve as bitcoin continues to reveal herself (himself? itself?) to curious onlookers.
Eventually the market bottoms. Hodlers cling together like a Band of Brothers creating a strong foundation capable of sustaining future growth.
As hodlers hoard more bitcoin, the ''float'' (supply actively being traded) is increasingly constrained. With a decreasing available supply, each new user puts more upward pressure on the price. As price rises, media shines a spotlight, new users are pulled in, and before long we're back in another hype cycle.
Mycophobia, Maria Sabina, and the Cult of SatoshiSometimes people say crypto can be a bit ''culty.'' This is both true and a net positive. Before we get into bitcoin's religious tendencies, let's learn from our history with mushrooms.
The modern western world has been inflicted with ''mycophobia'' '-- the irrational fear of fungi. People fear what they do not understand, and let's face it: most people think mushrooms are ''vegetables.''
Mushrooms are strange. They represent the life-and-death cycle of impermanence that humans subconsciously fear. Facing our own mortality is no fun, better to just avoid it.
However, it hasn't always been this way. In fact, humans have had a relationship with mushrooms for a long time. From food, to medicine, to superstitions and religious artifacts. Mushrooms can save your life, kill you, feed you, and even alter your consciousness.
Anthropological evidence suggests that humans who partnered with fungi had an evolutionary advantage. As more people understand fungi (and bitcoin), they'll soon realize how important they just might be.
Humans Who Partner with Fungi have an Evolutionary AdvantageAncient man relied on mushrooms to survive in the Alps of northern Italy. –tzi, the Ice Man, who died nearly 5,300 years ago, was discovered carrying two mushrooms (Amadou and Birch Polypore) tethered on a leather strap. One of the mushrooms was used to start fires and the other was discovered to be medicinally active against the parasite discovered in his gut.
As far back as 19,000 years ago, a particularly high status woman dubbed the ''red lady'' consumed mushrooms as evidenced by the spores recovered from her teeth. Whether this mushrooms was for food, religious purposes, or otherwise is unknown.
One of our oldest examples of cave paintings was discovered in northern Algeria, estimated to be over 6,000 years old. This painting depicted ''bee man'' who has mushrooms in his hands and growing out of his body.
Cave painting: ''Bee man'' covered in mushrooms. Circa 4,000 BCIn Siberia, the Koryak people revered the ''Fly Agaric'' mushroom (Amanita Muscaria) which is the iconic ''red and white'' mushroom famously portrayed in Super Mario Brothers and Alice in Wonderland. The Koryak loved this mushroom so much they would drink the urine of humans and reindeer who recently consumed the mushroom. Apparently you can recycle urine in this way up to 5x while achieving desired effects. How they discovered this phenomenon is another question all together'...
Get your tinfoil hat, the Fly Agaric may have inspired our Christmas traditions.
The Mazatec Culture from present day Mexico revered the mushroom as sacred. Discovered relatively recently by Gordon Wasson which he detailed in a famous article in a 1955 edition of Life Magazine. Many tourists have since visited this region in Mexico seeking to learn from the famous Mushroom Shaman, Maria Sabina, and her kin.
Mushroom artifacts from Central AmericaClearly the mushroom has captured the attention of our ancestors.
Bitcoin Conjures up a Similar Quasi-Religious FervorDescribed brilliantly by Yuval Noah Harari, Homo Sapiens are uniquely capable of cooperating flexibly in large numbers. This enables us to collectively agree on abstract concepts such as nations, gods, and money.
Just as humans formed religious cults around the mushroom, one way to describe bitcoin is a neo-money religious movement.
The Mystery of Satoshi created a strong foundation enabling emergent religious tendencies.
Bitcoin was created through immaculate conception by a mythical character (Satoshi) who later sacrificed himself for the greater good.
The Cult of Satoshi inspires some fanatics to dedicate their lives to promoting the ''good word.'' Not all bitcoiners fall into the same religious sect. Some scholars cling to the ancient religious text (whitepaper) while others interpret Satoshi's vision through his early forum posts.
Disagreements about priorities evidenced by the scaling debates have lead to hard forks and fractured ''congregations.'' Not unlike Martin Luther fracturing the catholic church by pinning the ''Ninety-five Theses'' on the church door in 1517.
Roger Ver was known as ''Bitcoin Jesus'' from his early days spreading the good word by gifting satoshis to fiat afflicted restaurateurs.
Messianic figures like Faketoshi (Craig Wright) spring up claiming to be the real Satoshi Nakamoto. Faketoshi, the fundamentalist, brands his sacrament as ''Satoshi's Vision,'' the one true bitcoin as laid out in the ''bible'' (whitepaper).
''The functional details are not covered in the paper, but the sourcecode is coming soon.'' '-- Satoshi Nakamoto
Nevermind how incomplete or how many errors are found in the whitepaper, Faketoshi claims his fork of a fork is the real ''Satoshi's Vision.'' Even if Faketoshi's fork WAS closest to Satoshi's original vision (it wasn't), does it even matter?
The answer is no. The essence of bitcoin is intimately tied to the ever evolving social consensus surrounding the protocol.
Each Rival Sect is a Competing Social ContractBitcoin's social contract coalesces around a few simple rules. These agreed upon rules (a Schelling point) are then ratified in the bitcoin protocol automating social consensus.
Let's use the ''great scaling debate'' as an example. One group (BCH) believed we should focus on ''cheap payments'' at the expense of ''decentralization,'' while the other (BTC) believed we need to prioritize ''decentralization'' on the base layer and scale payments off chain.
As a competing religious sect in a free market, the BCash gang was free to fork the bitcoin code and test their hypothesis. One year later, it's clear that the social consensus surrounding bitcoin doesn't agree with the BCH approach as the market doesn't value BCH or any other fork spawn.
Detractors of bitcoin might then say ''forking bitcoin code inflates supply.''
However, that's like saying when Zimbabwe prints more money it devalues the US Dollar. [h/t Murad]
In the case of the failed BCash fork(s), they copied the code (bitcoin protocol) but failed to mobilize the people (social layer) resulting in an asset with relatively minimal value. A prime example of bitcoin resisting corruption from bad actors by requiring social consensus in order to change the network.
In other words, bitcoin replaces social assumptions with mathematical assumptions. We will dive deeper into the consequences this has on our social scalability in chapter 4.
Religious Fanatic Behavior is an Indicator of Future Success?We're witnessing a new scarce commodity being monetized in real time. No living person has witnessed such a phenomenon.
In order to actually pull this off, the collective consciousness of the planet will need to change. Convincing people that money isn't green paper and it doesn't need to come from our government will take time.
In order to overcome the inevitable adversity required to create a new global reserve currency, it just might require some ''religious zeal.'' As each new disciple converts to the cult of Satoshi, the chances of hyperbitcoinization increase.
That being said, there are risks of over-politicizing bitcoin. [h/t Hasu]
Some factions of the community portray bitcoin as a club for Austrian Economists who only eat meat that they personally shot with one of their many guns. While those things are well and fine, they are not prerequisites for being a bitcoiner. Let's not entangle the two at the cost of repelling prospective bitcoiners.
Now, be sure to convince all your friends and family to read the New Testament (The Bitcoin Standard) at least twice before heading out on your next FUD Crushing Crusade.
Good Cults Have Incentives to EvangelizeMoney is the ultimate network effect '-- its value is determined by the number of people you can interact with.
In bitcoin, not only does it capture its user's imagination in a religious sense, but there are also financial incentives to recruit new members into the congregation. With each new user that buys bitcoin, the value of bitcoin directionally increases, benefiting previous hodlers. Then that new user is incentivized to convert their friends. Who then convert their friends. And the cycle continues.
As price increases, so do the incentives to improve security as evidenced by the difficulty adjustment '-- one of Satoshi's most brilliant contributions.
Price increases '†' mining becomes more profitable '†' more miners contribute hash power '†' better security makes bitcoin more valuable.
The Fungus Is SpreadingIf the bear market blues make you frown, just look underground. There are countless developments (some listed above) to be optimistic about.
The bitcoin fungus is quietly spreading underground.
With each passing day bitcoin is eating more fiat, becoming more robust, more decentralized, and more Lindy.
Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.
We've all heard the incredible potential of a Bitcoin future. I'm certainly on board for sound money and social scalability.
However, this drama will take decades. What if Bitcoin doesn't survive long enough to realize it's full potential?
Thankfully Satoshi learned from failed attempts at private money. Bitcoin's genetic code was engineered for maximum survivability.
In this section, we're going to explore the fertile macro environment and Bitcoin's survivability through the lens of fungi.
Let's dive in!
Honey Bees, Varroa Mites, and Mushroom MedicinesIn 1997 a curious Mycologist by the name of Paul Stamets observed a unique behavior demonstrated by honey bees. The bees went out of their way to consume water containing mushroom spores. ''Hmm that's interesting'' thought Paul.
15 years later, Paul started to connect the dots. Honey bees were dying at an unprecedented rate due to colony collapse disorder (CCD). The bees were dying in part, by infestations of Varroa Mites which transmit deadly viruses such as Deformed Wing Virus and Lake Sinai Virus.
Chemicals used in modern agriculture poisoned the bees so their immune systems are too weak to fend off the Varroa Mites. As bees travel around they spread the Mites to all nearby bees leading to a 70% decline in Bee populations since 2005.
Who cares about the bees?
Bees are a bedrock species responsible for pollinating a large percentage of our food sources (avocados, almonds, etc). If we lose the bees, there are countless downstream effects such as lost jobs, destroyed ecosystems, and reduced food security.
Back to our mycologist Paul, who in 2012 made a monumental realization: fungi are known to support immune systems '-- the bees must have instinctively known to drink the fungal water. Paul tested his hypothesis and soon after demonstrated that using a simple antivirus ''mushroom medicine,'' we can reduce the effects of Deformed Wing Virus / Colony Collapse by 80%.
Our current monetary regime is the Varroa Mite
Our current central banking based monetary regime is just like the pesky Varroa Mites attacking our financial markets.
Varroa Mites are hard to kill '-- fiat currency regimes benefit from a monopoly on violenceThey spread viruses on everything they touch '-- market distortions, cronyism, regulatory captureNegative downstream effects '-- capital misallocation, increased time preference, limits human productivity, increases risk of catastrophe.Bitcoin is the antivirus (mushroom medicine) that ''saves the bees.''
Bitcoin (mushroom medicine) prevents the spread of our destructive financial hegemony (Varroa Mites) which will usher in a new era of human achievement (saving the bees has secondary effects such as ensuring food security).
Heading into the Great UnknownWe're heading into a period of uncertainty never before witnessed by our civilization. The fiat money experiment is on shaky ground and our social systems are beginning to break down.
Globally, we're facing unprecedented debt-to-GDP levels. The Fed, European Central Bank, Bank of Japan, and the Bank of England now appear to ''own a fifth of their governments' total debt.'' Central banks are running out of moves.
In a last ditch effort, European Central Banks are pushing negative interest rates. Are we really going to allow the hegemonic banking system to CHARGE depositors for storing our digital fiat in their insecure panopticon banks?
How about China?
China's real estate market is shaky and long overdue for a correction. Capital controls and seeking yields in a cooling economy have led to inflated real estate prices in China. What happens when the market corrects and everyone rushes for the door? Better have a plan '‚.
And the US?
The US is currently over $22 Trillion in debt, however don't expect the US to default on their obligations. Former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan said ''the United States can pay any debt because we can always print money to do that.''
In an enlightening article titled This is Water, Ben Hunt explains how artificially suppressed interest rates (easy money) lead to decreased productivity and a zombification of our financial markets. This same pattern foreshadowed the 08/09 financial collapse.
Social structures are showing weakness
Countries around the world are seeking to eliminate physical cash. Cash is a fundamental tool for privacy and is a requirement to maintain an open society. Without physical cash (or Bitcoin), citizens are at the mercy of the financial surveillance machine. A slippery slope indeed.
Can't forget China's Social Credit System. Soon China's surveillance technology will be exported all around the world.
Young people don't trust their governments or financial institutions. 40% of Americans cannot afford an unexpected $400 expense. No wonder potential Democratic nominee Andrew Yang is gaining steam in the polls while campaigning for Universal Basic Income.
An uncertain future is a perfect substrate to breed extremism. Democratic Socialism, Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), Negative Interest Rates Policy (NIRP), the war on cash, widespread consumerism, and mounting student debt are merely symptoms of a derelict regime.
Our Legacy Institutions are Simply Not Equipped to Deal With the Complexity of the Information Age.Current attempts to fix the political-economical machine from the inside are unironically powered by the ''waste heat of war machine'' (h/t Vinay Gupta). We need a systemic change. Something cut from a different cloth.
What if a sound money regime (Bitcoin) is an antidote to the madness?
It is my hope that in the future, we'll look back on our current ''fiat banking experiment'' with disgust. How could we live under such an archaic regime for so long?
Just like fungi transforms dead and dying organic matter into new life, Bitcoin will transform our decrepit banking system into a robust financial foundation upon which new growth can occur.
The Great Filter of CryptocurrenciesCan bitcoin survive long enough to reach its full potential?
Cypherpunks, Anarchists, and Voluntarists have been trying to create private, non-government money for a very long time. In fact, modern attempts date back more than 30 years, since the early days of Chaumian Ecash, to E-gold, and B-Money.
Despite moderate success of private money before Bitcoin, eventually they were all shut down by overreaching governments and/or business interests.
The Great Filter Theory
The Great Filter theory was developed after noticing our lack of success finding intelligent life in the universe. Where is everybody?
The theory predicts: during life's evolutionary process, there are some obstacles that are extremely unlikely or impossible for to overcome. That obstacle is ''The Great Filter.''
For example, what if every time an advanced civilization created nuclear bombs it ended up destroying itself? In this scenario, it might be statistically improbable to survive long after inventing nuclear weapons.
For Cryptocurrencies, The Great Filter is surviving nation-state level attacks.
Bitcoin is the only monetary species that has a chance of surviving the great filter. More on this below.
Why would a nation-state or entrenched business want to attack a competitive form of money?
In short: he who has the gold, makes the rules.
The two main benefits of controlling the money supply are the ability to inflate the money supply (shadow tax) and the Cantillon effect .
The Cantillon effect describes the uneven expansion of the money supply. When the central bank prints new money, those closest to the money (banks and big corporations) profit from new ''cheap money.'' By the time the rest of the population receive the new money, price inflation has already begun.
The Cantillon effect results in a wealth redistribution from the poor to the rich.
The government goes to great lengths to protect their monopoly
Like E-gold in the 1990s, any competing cryptocurrency can thrive in times of peace. However, when sufficiently agitated, those in power will lash out to protect their interests. History is littered with examples.
Between 2006''2008, the US government expanded the definition of the 'money transmitter license' (under the Patriot Act) to target E-gold. In its peak, E-gold was processing over $2B worth of purchases per year. Unfortunately, the US government took advantage of the centralized nature of E-gold, busted down the door, and shut it down.
Moral of the story? Governments do not like competition.
In fact, Congressman Sherman from California recently called for a complete ban of Bitcoin. Sherman is surprisingly enlightened. He understands Bitcoin's true mission: Creating a new global base money that cannot be weaponized by the global superpower du jour.
Time For a New Strategy: Be Unstoppable
In 1984, famous Austrian Economist, Friedrich August von Hayek, unknowingly laid the foundation of Bitcoin's evolutionary strategy: be unstoppable.
''I don't believe we shall ever have a good money again before we take the thing out of the hands of government, that is, we can't take it violently out of the hands of government, all we can do is by some sly roundabout way introduce something that they can't stop.'' '-- Friedrich HayekWith chilling foresight, Hayek predicted Bitcoin some 25 years prior.
Satoshi obviously read Hayek and he understood ''The Great Filter of Cryptocurrencies''
In 2009 Satoshi Nakamoto released an implementation of Hayek's ''unstoppable money.'' From day one, Bitcoin was engineered to survive ''The Great Filter.''
''A lot of people automatically dismiss e-currency as a lost cause because of all the companies that failed since the 1990's. I hope it's obvious it was only the centrally controlled nature of those systems that doomed them. I think this is the first time we're trying a decentralized, non-trust-based system.'' '-- Satoshi NakamotoIn order for the full potential of Bitcoin to be realized, it needs to be so resilient that even nation state level actors cannot successfully kill Bitcoin. This meant preventing any party from having full control over the system.
Parallels with Fungi: the most resilient species on our planet
Ancient mushrooms called PrototaxitesOver 1.3b years of evolution, fungi have perfected the art of staying alive. Unlike plants, fungi do not rely on sunlight, instead they find/create their own food. Fungi do not have a centralized point of failure making them resilient to attacks. When sufficiently perturbed, fungi steal genetic code from their ecological neighbors (Horizontal Gene Transfer).
Since complex life evolved on our planet, we've experienced 5 great extinction events where 75''96% of all life on earth perished.
During each cataclysmic event, fungi inherited the earth due to their anti-fragile nature. In an effort to survive ''the great filter,'' Bitcoin mimics effective evolutionary strategies observed in the fungi kingdom.
Can Bitcoin Survive ''The Great Filter?''How could you kill bitcoin? Turn off the internet? Make it illegal to use? Tax it to hell?
Any cryptocurrency that cannot (feasibly) survive a nation-state level attack is pointless. Simply delaying their inevitable demise.
Satoshi designed the Bitcoin super-organism to survive ''The Great Filter'' and to resist corruption. This lofty goal kick-started an evolutionary path separating bitcoin from all the other cryptocurrencies and ''blockchain projects.''
Does this mean Bitcoin is guaranteed to survive the great filter?
Not necessarily. It's impossible to know until the day it suffers a coordinated attack by a state-level actor. However, Bitcoin is the only existing cryptocurrency that stands a chance. Let's explore some positive trends in Bitcoin's survivability toolbox.
Bitcoin is unregulatable. No one person or entity in charge. Code is free speech. Each country has their own competing jurisdiction.Game theory protects Bitcoin from a global coordinated attack. Nation states compete with each other. Unlikely to see top nations cooperate. If the US bans BTC, China has incentive to adopt. Nations not benefiting from the current USD regime have incentive to adopt BTC.Bitcoin's PoW protects the ledger with an ''energy shield.'' By anchoring Bitcoin to real economic value (energy), the only way to change the ledger is to ''re-do all the work'' aka spend the same amount of money in the form of electricity. h/t @danheldBitcoin inspires a religious fervor from its supporters. Ideologically motivated ''hardliners'' act as an immune system. Surviving the scaling wars (NYA/S2X) demonstrates this. Bitcoiners ''provide cover fire'' until Bitcoin gets through the door. (h/t Bitcoin Sign Guy)Bitcoin can route around ISP censorship. Bitcoin has a growing network of alternatives to the mainstream internet (mesh networks, HAM radios, and satellites). Maybe even routing transactions through a mycelial network(theoretically possible).Bitcoin is an idea, ideas are eternal. Bitcoin spreads like a mind virus. Even if somehow the current form was ''killed,'' the idea will live forever. ''This Snow Crash thing '-- is it a virus, a drug, or a religion?'' Juanita shrugs. 'What's the difference?''' h/t @nealstephensonBitcoin's privacy improvements reduce taxability. CoinJoins and other privacy technologies will minimize the ability for governments to attack Bitcoin through predatory tax legislation. Thank you @wasabiwallet @SamouraiWalletBitcoin minimizes the ability to cheat. Bitcoin doesn't rely on trust. Think ''can't be changed'' instead of trusting that a system ''won't be changed.'' Bitcoin recognizes leaders, formalized governance, and concentration of power as attack vectors waiting to be exploited.Nation states underestimate Bitcoin. This buys time for Bitcoin to get stronger + harder to kill. The hegemonic banking system is digging their own grave with shovel made of 100% pure hubris. If only we had a '‚ackup planSo far, we haven't seen any serious state level attack on Bitcoin. However, if Bitcoin continues to absorb value there is an incentive to attack it. In the future, we'll call this period in Bitcoin's life the ''great peace.''
Alternative Game Theory: Honey Badger Lives Here
Bitcoin only needs to convince a few super powers that the reward of adopting it outweighs the risk of attacking it.
This game theory is similar to having a sign in front of your house that says ''Security system installed'' or ''big angry dog lives here.'' Doesn't matter if you actually have a dog or security system, the threat alone acts like a deterrent to would-be attackers.
Bitcoin has a sign in the front yard that says ''Beware of Honey Badger.'' This sign reminds nation states that they cannot easily kill Bitcoin.
If nation-states attempt to destroy their monetary competition, they'll highlight the very need for bitcoin in the first place. And yet, the longer they wait, the stronger Bitcoin becomes.
First, it's important to understand that blockchainers, stable coiners, security tokenizers, and corporate chainers do NOT compete with Bitcoin. They taxonomically branched off and are attempting to satisfy a separate niche.
By and large, the ''blockchain industry'' is a Red Herring, leading businesses and governments to false conclusions. It serves as a distraction and unwillingly provides cover fire for Bitcoin.
Does that mean we should shun the blockchainers? No. They simply mistake Blockchain Hype (Mushroom) for Bitcoin (Mycelial Network).
We should first attempt to educate them as most people were not born Bitcoiners. That being said, deliberate scammers deserve to be flamed.
How the ''blockchain industry'' helps Bitcoin'...
Blockchainers tie up government resources, train future developers, confuse incumbent businesses, and lull banksters to sleep.
Banks like JP Morgan will train hundreds of blockchain developers. Eventually they'll discover Bitcoin and say goodbye to boring bank coin & and instead join the peaceful revolution. JP Morgan is funding their own demise? How poetic.
Zuckerberg will soon put a ''crypto wallet'' in everyone's pocket. Instead of competing with Bitcoin, ZuckBucks may actually attempt to compete with USD. Either way, it gets people comfortable with non-state money on their phone similar to WeChat and Alipay. The first widespread censorship of ZuckBucks will nicely demonstrate the need for BTC in the first place.
Blockchainers and scammers claim Bitcoin is old and can't scale. It's Beanie Babies and myspace. They paint Bitcoin has a friendly, but limited-use fungus, that ''brought us the blockchain.''
While the blockchain zeitgeist chases their tail, Bitcoin is quietly growing underground, fusing with the ''roots'' of the legacy finance system, building resilience, recruiting volunteers, infecting curious minds like a cordyceps mushroom, and preparing for ''The Great Filter.''
If we're lucky, Blockchainers will distract global superpowers just long enough for Bitcoin to become ''too big to fail.''
Exploring Bitcoin through the lens of natural selection, evolution, and symbiosis
This is a story of how symbiotic relationships can change the course of history forever.
Just as fungi and plants formed a symbiotic relationship to successfully colonize dry land, humans can form symbiosis with Bitcoin to improve individually and to advance our species.
In this article we're going to explore Bitcoin as a catalyst for human evolution, through the lens of geological timescales, evolution, and symbiosis.
Definition of Symbiosis: when two dissimilar organisms live together in intimate association (as in parasitism or mutualism). Example: Clownfish and Sea AnemonesBootstrapping Life on Terra IncognitaFive hundred million years ago, all biological life lived in the oceans. Dry land as we know it was a sterile volcanic wasteland devoid of life. That is, until plants and fungi formed a fateful partnership that changed the course of history forever.
This symbiotic partnership created a cascade of evolutionary forces leading to the creation of all terrestrial life, including homo sapiens.
Fast forward to modernity, humans now organize around network based technologies, such as the internet and Bitcoin, which are reincarnations of the ancient mycelial archetype out of which we emerged.
Take a deep breath. Life is amazing.
Ok, so how did we get here?
First, a quick biology lesson. Organisms are classified as either Autotrophic or Heterotrophic.
Autotrophs are organisms that make their food. For example: plants convert sunlight and carbon dioxide into food via photosynthesis.
Heterotrophs are organisms that find their food. For example: lions eat the gazelles and fungi produce enzymes to externally digest their environment.
Like human settlers, organisms colonizing new territory are most vulnerable in the early days. In order for fungi to colonize dry land (terra), they needed to secure a reliable food source.
Fungi effectively domesticated photosynthesis machines (algae) to harness a self sustaining food source. We can think of these algae as little solar panels bolted onto fungal networks which made colonizing virgin dry land possible.
Soon after getting established, the fungi began digesting the volcanic rock upon which they sat. This ultimately liberated valuable nutrients which were then traded with other nearby fungi, algae, bacteria, etc. Together, these early settlers bootstrapped life on dry land. Let's see how this compares to Bitcoin.
How Satoshi Bootstrapped Embryonic BitcoinIn order to colonize the internet (terra incognita) with a new form of money, Satoshi needed to form a symbiotic partnership.
Fortunately, he found the perfect partnership and made a series of wise decisions that maximized Bitcoin's chance of survival during the bootstrapping phase.
How satoshi ''partnered with the algae'' to bootstrap Bitcoin's life on the internet
High early issuance rate disproportionately rewarded early adopters (the early issuance rate might have been too aggressive)Launched on the Cryptography mailing list (if anyone could incubate Bitcoin it was the Cypherpunks on that email list)Timing the launch during the 08/09 financial crisis (was this blind luck?)Satoshi's message in the genesis block ''Chancellor on the second brink of bailout'' (rallying cry to gain ideologically motivated supporters)Mutualism or Parasitism: Examining the Cypherpunk-Satoshi-SymbiosisWere the algae complicit in the fungal partnership (mutualism)? Or were the fungi taking advantage of the algae's ability to make food at the expense of the algae (parasitism)?
It appears to be mutualism. The algae may have been initially kidnapped, however in exchange for photosynthesizing, they gained a mycelial security system, and the opportunity to colonize a new niche.
Were the cypherpunks complicit and did they benefit in the partnership (mutualism)? Or did satoshi take advantage of the cyberpunks because he needed an initial distribution strategy (parasitism)?
''It's very attractive to the libertarian viewpoint if we can explain it properly. I'm better with code than with words though.'' '-- Satoshi NakamotoMost cypherpunks dismissed Bitcoin initially, however a select few (most notably: Hal Finney) jumped onboard. Considering they were first to learn about Bitcoin, they had a chance to acquire Bitcoin's native monetary units in exchange for the marginal electricity cost to mine (essentially nothing). With the advantage of hindsight, acquiring Bitcoin during the first few years would lead to wealth beyond measure.
''The possibility of generating coins today with a few cents of compute time may be a good bet, a payoff of something like 100 million to 1!'' '-- Hal Finney
With the initial conditions of life on land set into motion, the fungal-plant alliance can start welcoming new market participants (organisms) to enter the ecosystem.
Fungi interact with the world through chemistry. They secrete enzymes to externally digest their environment. Volcanic rock was the only restaurant in town. These early fungi liberated molecular resources by metabolizing the volcanic rock upon which they stood.
This enabled a proto-economy made up of primitive fungi, plants, and bacteria. They traded essential molecules required for carbon based lifeforms (carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, etc).
Fungi were essentially turning rocks into fungible biology tokens. These biology tokens were then traded on top of mycelial rails connecting all nearby life. Fungi both created the market and facilitated trade leading to an explosion of biodiversity on dry land.
Terra Takes Her First BreathBefore plants colonized dry land, our earth's atmosphere wasn't very hospitable. As you know, plants inhale CO2 and exhale O2. This ultimately led to the formation of our oxygen rich atmosphere '-- planet earth was taking her first breath.
In a sense, fungi unleashed free market dynamics in a new market which led to an incredible proliferation of life. Now let's explore the parallels with Bitcoin.
Bitcoin Enables a New Economic ParadigmJust as novel organisms emerge (via speciation) to occupy newly created niches on dry land, Bitcoin evolves it's DNA (code) to produce new phenotypes (novel features) to take advantage of new niches.
In other words, Bitcoin enables novel financial use cases that were not possible before. This increases the size of the economic pie, thus generating wealth for society.
Novelty provided by Bitcoin:
The first and only implementation of absolute scarcity (hard to overstate)A global, near instant, apolitical, settlement systemNeutral money not easily captured by special interests.Uncensorable medium of exchange for black/grey marketsDemocratization of basic financial servicesNon-sovereign store of value with negligible barrier to entryBitcoin and Mycelium Improve TradeMycelial networks act as a resource transport layer and communications network connecting organisms in the biosphere. This enables organisms to voluntarily trade resources and knowledge across species lines. Increasing trade leads to increased specialization (division of labor), further increasing biodiversity (wealth and resilience) in the ecosystem.
Currently, our governments form economic monopolies which prevent many citizens from accessing the global markets.
Think about all the unproductive human capital siloed in countries like Iran, Venezuela, and Argentina. Without access to a common economic language (Bitcoin) many people are unable to participate in global trade.
As Bitcoin becomes ubiquitous, it unleashes human productivity leading to increased innovation, specialization, and trade. We're already seeing some basic examples such as freelancers in Venezuela using Bitcoin as a bridge currency to access USD which effectively evades financial controls.
We can extrapolate ''Bitcoin being used as a bridge currency'' into a grander vision of the future where everyone speaks the same economic language. A global market for talent leads to more goods and services produced for a cheaper price. Not to mention, increased trade with developing countries will help lift people out of poverty.
Bitcoin Enables Economic Evolution by Natural SelectionDarwinian evolution by natural selection is a biological engine designed to reward successful actors and eliminate unsuccessful actors. When the antelope gets eaten by the lion, it dies, no one bails out the antelope. Nature has skin in the game. This feedback loop is crucial. Individuals are fragile in order to ensure the system is antifragile.
Market based economics is an engine designed to seek more efficient uses of capital by rewarding successful ventures and punishing the unsuccessful. However, our current form of ''capitalism'' is more like cronyism or as Travis Kling said: ''socialism for the rich.''
Instead of letting companies fail, we bail them out. This results in broken incentives which create a moral hazard making the entire system more fragile. Not to mention, disproportionately hurting the working class. Heads I win, tails you lose.
A sound money system (like Bitcoin) improves this economic engine by tightening the feedback mechanism that rewards value creation and punishes failure. In a Bitcoin world, bailouts aren't really possible because monetary expansion is restrained by a fixed monetary base. Bitcoin ensures individual people/companies are fragile in order to ensure the economic system remains antifragile.
In other words, Bitcoin increases economic ''skin in the game'' which improves the feedback loop leading to economic evolution by natural selection. Economic Darwinism for the win.
Taming of the TenrecTenrec: the ancestor to all living placental mammalsDue to a symbiotic relationship with fungi and plants, and evolution by natural selection, our pale blue dot was transformed from a barren rock to the garden of eden. Truly marvelous.
Let's zoom in to the tail-end of the Cretaceous period (~65 million years ago). The planet was dominated by dinosaurs both on land and in our oceans. Mammals were hardly relevant. Narrator: but things were about to change.
A giant meteor crashed into present day Mexico ending the dinosaurs and most life on planet earth. The impact caused a short term spike in surface temperatures followed by an extended cooling due to debris blocking out sunlight.
Although most organisms were culled during the cataclysm, some species thrived during the chaos. Most notable for our story are Fungi (of course) and a small shrew-like mammal known as the Tenrec (surprising).
Without sunlight, most plants quickly perished. However, the Fungi thrived because they don't rely on sunlight (remember they find their own food). Fungi were happily decomposing all the newly deceased organisms.
What About the Tenrec?As temperatures declined and food became scarce, most animals who survived the initial shock were killed by fungal pathogens or eventually starved to death as the global food chain seized up. However, not the Tenrec.
Tenrecs are humble shrew like mammals that lived underground which protected them from hostile conditions on the surface. Their favorite foods (insects and aquatic plants) were relatively unaffected.
Tenrecs are capable of hibernating for up to 9 months at a time. This protects them from short term volatility and enables them to outlast their competition. The best offense is a good defense.
Bitcoin reminds me of the tenrec, both live underground and thrive on volatility. Like the tenrec, Bitcoin simply needs to outlast it's competition.
''If you wait by the river long enough, the bodies of your enemies will float by.'' '-- Sun TzuGive thanks to the tenrec
Turns out, the tenrec is the common ancestor to all living placental mammals. In other words, the only reason both you and I are alive today is because the tiny tenrec survived the dinosaur-ending apocalypse 65 million years ago.
Standing on the Shoulders of MyceliumAlthough mammals got off to a slow start, we've really come into our own over the last million years. One particular great ape, the homo sapien, achieved global dominance in a relatively short timespan.
Current evidence suggests Humans have only been around for about ~500k years, making us a relatively young species. For comparison, modern elephants have been around for ~5m years.
Like our fungal forefathers, humans have formed symbiotic relationships with our environment throughout history. In fact, we owe our lives to the networked based organisms we call fungi.
Humans Begin to Settle DownOne especially relevant fungal organism is Saccharomyces cerevisiae, otherwise known as brewers yeast.
Human agriculture appears to have begun around 11,500 years ago (although it might be much older). Interestingly, the first crops we cultivated were also the best grains for brewing beer. This begs the question: did we settle down for food/stability or to brew more beer?
Turns out fermented drinks (beer, wine, etc) provided a safe way to stay hydrated as water often contained pathogens that killed ancient man.
Although we didn't know it at the time, humans formed symbiotic relationships with fungi in order to produce healthy drinking options that saved many lives.
Unbeknownst to most moderns, we still heavily rely on our fungal allies today. Without fungi, say goodbye to all beer, wine, chocolate, bread, and many medicines such as penicillin.
Like ancient man partnered with fungi to survive, us moderns have a similar opportunity to partner with Bitcoin'...
Achieving Symbiosis with BitcoinWe've established how both fungi and Bitcoin symbiotically partner with other organisms to bootstrap life and build antifragile ecosystems. Now let's finish up by exploring how humans can partner with Bitcoin to improve individually and to advance our species.
''The real problem of humanity is the following: we have Paleolithic emotions; medieval institutions; and god-like technology.'' '-- E.O. WilsonMoney is the most important coordination mechanism for society and our existing fiat system is driving our species off a cliff. Instead of arguing red vs blue, it's time we address the root cause of our societal malaise. It's time to unfuck the money.
Fiat money has appeared periodically throughout history, however, it's the exception not the rule. Throughout most of history, humans coordinated around a free market for money. Gold and silver, mainly. Time to wake up from our fiat money coma.
Bitcoin is an Extended Phenotype for HumanityExtended Phenotypes are behaviors that extend an organism's natural capabilities. Beaver dams are a good example. Bitcoin is an Extended Phenotype for humanity '-- it lowers the trust required for a global society to communicate value, which enables more sophisticated cooperation.
This offers a unique opportunity to re-architect society based on the separation of money and state aka ''natural money.'' A huge win for humanity. As such, it's our duty to form symbiosis with such a force.
Take another deep breath as we're fortunate to be alive during such an inflection point.
It all Starts with Individuals Forming Symbiosis with BitcoinBitcoin was the best performing asset of the last decade. This created unimaginable wealth for early adopters. Besides financial gain, individuals also can benefit from bitcoin in other ways. Interestingly, the values imbued into bitcoin seem to rub off on its adherents.
As a deflationary asset, Bitcoin teaches us to delay consumption today in order to reap greater benefits tomorrow (low time preference).
In a world fulfilled with uncertainty, Bitcoin provides something to be optimistic about. Rather than change the system from the inside, we can put our energy towards a parallel system.
Bitcoin forces us to take personal responsibility for our wealth, both a blessing and a curse. In a world that doesn't value personal responsibility, Bitcoin serves as a wakeup call.
Partnering with Bitcoin is good for the individual but is it good for mankind?
Cryptography is Fundamentally About DefenseBitcoin is the largest implementation of public key cryptography the world has ever seen. A world with strong cryptography shifts the balance of power towards defense. Defense from tyranny, censorship, overarching governments, and surveillance capitalism.
Cryptography allows us to assert our natural rights. Bitcoin protects free speech, ensuring we can ''vote with our money.'' Free speech is the foundation of open societies. Forming symbiosis with Bitcoin preserves freedoms for our future generations. A cause worth fighting for.
Bitcoin Metabolizes Fiat InfrastructureWe can use fungi to clean up oil spills, halt erosion, create natural pesticides, and even decompose nuclear waste at Chernobyl. In a similar manner, Bitcoin can be used to clean up our dilapidated fiat infrastructure.
Fungi Fact: Fungi have already solved many of our problems, yet we barely understand them. Mycoremediation is a promising new field that leverages our understanding of mycology to improve our environment, essentially ''applied mycology.''We're experiencing a period of unprecedented monetary expansion. Bitcoin as a fixed supply monetary good serves as a counter force to unfettered money printing. Short term, individuals using Bitcoin to avoid capital controls and hedge against local currency risk. Long term, Bitcoin may force conservatism onto central banks, starting with developing nations.
In the richest country in the world (America), average people work for 40 years and never get ahead. The legacy system was designed to siphon wealth from the bottom to the top, most notably during each financial crisis. Since time is money, this forced wealth transfer system should be considered systemic time theft. Make no mistake about it, we should be radicalized by this.
Every time you buy Bitcoin you're selling dollars. It's time to join the peaceful revolution. Occupy UTXOs.
Opportunity Cost of Delaying BitcoinThink of all the waste created from a fiat system. Bank bailouts, never ending wars, and capital misallocation are greatly reduced (if not eliminated) under a hard money system.
Each year we delay, we incur increasing opportunity costs. Instead of destroying wealth unnecessarily, how can we invest precious capital into worthy causes?
''We were promised flying cars and all we got was 140 characters'' '-- Peter ThielWhat about colonizing mars? Or reducing the risk of civilization ''enders'' such as pandemics or nuclear war? How about dyson spheres? Asteroid mining? Or eliminating infectious disease and infant mortality for good?
Let's embrace the Bitcoin renaissance.
Bitcoin Wears Risk on its SleeveRather than persist in an opaque financial system designed to enrich the few at the expense of the many, let's embrace a more transparent financial system. A system where risks are laid bare for all to see, rather than buried under bureaucracy and deception.
Fiat money is an inorganic system similar to a monocrop industrial farm. Centrally planned, susceptible to disease, unsustainable, and fragile. Fiat offers short term price stability, at the expense of long term systemic risk. In other words, we don't account for the ''fat tail risks'' such as banks blowing up or global pandemics. Both examples lead to wealth transfer furthering wealth gaps.
Bitcoin, on the other hand, is an organic system similar to an old growth rainforest. Fierce competition, incremental growth, sustainable, and antifragile. Bitcoin accepts short term price volatility in exchange for long term systemic stability.
Bitcoin enables an antifragile monetary system, a huge win for humanity.
Bitcoin Promotes Energy IndependenceBitcoin has an insatiable demand for low cost energy. Miners scour the earth for cheap energy assets, acting as the energy buyer of last resort. This incentives innovation in low cost energy production such as excess natural gas and stranded hydroelectric.
Hash rate has been steadily rising, even when price is not. Bitcoin miners are inherently long BTC. What do the miner's know that you don't? Rather than putting our heads in the sand, it's time to form a partnership with reality.
Bitcoin's hash rate continues to rise (source)Let's assume Bitcoin continues it's monetization path. Eventually, Bitcoin mining becomes a matter of national security. Those countries who produce their own energy (and mine Bitcoin) will have further geo-political advantage over countries reliant on importing energy.
Fungi Fact: fossil fuels (hydrocarbons) carry the energy of ancient sunlight originally captured by plants through photosynthesis. Interestingly, earth's entire supply of coal was formed during the ''carboniferous'' period which ended ~300m years ago when fungi learned how to digest lignin. Lignin is the polymer that gives plants their rigid structure AND it's a prerequisite to forming coal. Coal is simply plant material that was ''half-digested'' by primitive fungi. Modern fungi digest lignin which prevents new coal from being produced.This creates another incentive for nations to secure local energy sources '-- whether from fossil fuels, nuclear plants, renewables, or otherwise. Long term, a world with more localized energy production is a more robust world. Like fungi, Bitcoin is an invisible membrane improving the health of the ecosystem it occupies.
Humanity Will Coalesce on Neutral MoneyThe current geo-political game rewards those who exert influence over money production. This means large powerful states, politicized money, and special interests groups competing for influence.
''Give me control of a nation's money and I care not who makes the laws.'' '-- Mayer Amschel RothschildInstead, Bitcoin is a neutral money. A system designed to prevent special interests from exerting undue influence over the money. This creates a more fair game.
Why would any government give up control of their printing press?
In a post-dollar regime, nation-states won't agree on a new reserve currency. Logically, each state prefers to settle debts in their own currency. We're already seeing cracks in the dollar hegemony coming out of places like China, Russia, and Iran. Bitcoin is well suited for this problem.
Bitcoin is fully auditable, hard capped, and offers final settlement quickly. The perfect neutral money for untrusting nation-states to settle debts. Under this light, Bitcoin is money for enemies.
It's time to upgrade humanity by forming symbiosis with Bitcoin.
Let's Wrap UpThe story of life on earth can be summed up as: success comes to those who form symbiotic relationships with network based organisms (particularly fungi).
As humble apes, it's our duty to form a symbiotic relationship with Bitcoin. We must strive to understand this phenomenon so that we may shepherd her through adolescence.
Just like fungi colonizing dry land was the catalyst for biological evolution on terra, Bitcoin is a catalyst for human evolution.
Let's embrace Bitcoin or suffer the fate of the dinosaurs.
Thank you,Brandon
Let's Connect: come say hi on twitter and signup to receive an email when I publish new articles.
I'll alert you when I've published a new article and if/when I turn this thinking into a book.
P.S. Who's driving the ship?
Fungi enabled complex life on earth, which eventually gave way to humans. Now humans are creating the internet (and Bitcoin) which both embody the same mycelial archetype of which we came.
We didn't consciously choose to mimic mycelial networks in these designs. However, animals did taxonomically branch off from fungi millions of years ago. Humans came full circle, the student became the teacher.
Was this inevitable?
The mycelial archetype appears to be embedded into our species. Over time, network based structures continually appear whether due to embedded wisdom or blind luck. These Mycelial inspired network technologies, once discovered, seem to persist due to their antifragile nature.
Many people claim we ''discovered Bitcoin.'' I'm sympathetic to this idea, however it's more accurate to say we rediscovered Bitcoin. The mycelial archetype is an emergent property of biology which means Bitcoin was inevitable.
AcknowledgementsThanks to Dan Held, Gigi, Robert Breedlove, Rob Fox, Danielle Diamond, Dan Liebeskind, Justin Evidon, and Nic Carter for providing thoughtful notes during the editing processThanks to the mycological community for inspiring my fascination with fungi (the bitcoin community welcomes you)
BofA: Fed Will Use Digital Dollars To Unleash Inflation, Universal Basic Income And Debt Forgiveness | Zero Hedge
Sat, 24 Oct 2020 05:17
When we recently described the upcoming "Unprecedented monetary overhaul" which will come in the form of the Fed sending out digital dollars directly to "each American", we explained that "absent a massive burst of inflation in the coming years which inflates away the hundreds of trillions in federal debt, the debt tsunami that is coming would mean the end to the American way of life as we know it. And to do that, the Fed is now finalizing the last steps of a process that revolutionizes the entire fiat monetary system, launching digital dollars which effectively remove commercial banks as financial intermediaries, as they will allow the Fed itself to make direct deposits into Americans' "digital wallets", in the process enabling truly universal basic income, while also making Congress and the entire Legislative branch redundant, as a handful of technocrats quietly take over the United States."
In short, we laid out the Fed's true reasoning behind the coming Digital Dollars not as how Fed Chair Powell recently described them, which as a reminder was as follows:
Faster and cheaper transactions
Addressing a decline in the use of physical currency
Modernizing the payments infrastructure
Reaching consumers who have been traditionally underserved by financial institutions
... but as a short circuit to a clearly broken monetary transmission mechanism, one which seeks to facilitate universal basic income and unlimited helicopter money, by completely overhauling how money reaches Americans.
Of course, it would be heresy to admit that the Fed's true motive is to effectively spark runaway inflation as that would provoke howls of outrage from ordinary Americans if they only learned that the $1000 or so in "free money" they would receive from the Fed was not a gift, but a curse which would make their cost of living unbearable in very short notice. And yet none other than DoubleLine recently penned a scathing op-ed admitting just that, warning that "The Pandora's Box Of Fed's Digital Currency Will Ignite An Inflationary Conflagration."
Today, none other than BofA chief investment strategist also takes the plunge into "tinfoil land", which of course is where the truth can be found, and admits the truth about digital currencies.
Hartnett begins by laying out a short history of revolutionary monetary policies, writing that in the past 13 years central banks have cut interest rates 972 times, bought $19tn of financial assets via QE, introduced NIRP, ZIRP, YCC, TLTROs, resulting in a near-record $16.8tn of negatively-yielding global bonds.
Hartnett lays out the 15 key "revolutionary" events in monetary policy since the Bear Stearns collapse in the table below:
That's the past, what about the future?
Here Hartnett echoes everything we have said recently on the matter, and there's quite a bit of it...
Did The Fed Just Reveal Its Plans For A Digital Dollar Replacement?
House Stimulus Bill Creates "Digital Dollar" To Send Virus-Aid To The 'Unbanked'
The Fed Is Planning To Send Money Directly To Americans In The Next Crisis
Fed's "Direct Money Transfers" Are Coming: Brainard Says Fed Collaborating With MIT On "Hypothetical" Digital Currency
In Unprecedented Monetary Overhaul, The Fed Is Preparing To Deposit "Digital Dollars" Directly To "Each American"
ECB Trademarks "Digital Euro" As It Begins Experiments On Digital Currency Launch
The Circle Is Complete: BOJ Joins Fed And ECB In Preparing Rollout Of Digital Currency
DoubleLine: The Pandora's Box Of Fed's Digital Currency Will Ignite An "Inflationary Conflagration"
... and writes that "the next frontier for central bank revolution is use of digital currencies as conduit for policies such as UBI (universal basic income), MMT (Modern Monetary Theory), student debt forgiveness, to induce sustained rise in inflation expectations."
And since his job is to summarize trends into an actionable recommendation, he has a simple one: "own inflation assets."
That, or just bet on continued dollar debasement as can be seen in the following:
US 5s30s yield curve now steepest (>125bps) since Nov'16, Chinese renminbi at 2-year highs, Bitcoin >$13000, gold best performing asset class 1st time since 2010
Hartnett's conclusion:
"big picture of bigger government, smaller world, excess debt in 2020s will be financed via currency debasement, particularly reserve currency of US dollar; own volatility."
Too simple? Here are the parting thoughts from DoubleLine credit portolfio manager Bill Campbell, which we presented in their entirety 3 weeks ago:
With QE, central banks have printed excess reserves that have benefited only the very wealthy and large institutions. The innovation of a digital currency system as described by Mastercard could deliver stimulus directly to consumers. Such a mechanism could open veritable floodgates of liquidity into the consumer economy and accelerate the rate of inflation. While central banks have been trying without success to increase inflation for the past decade, the temptation to put CBDCs into effect might be very strong among policymakers. However, CBDCs would not only inject liquidity into the economy but also could accelerate the velocity of money. That one-two punch could bring about far more inflation than central bankers bargain for.
When first implementing QE, central banks promised that this measure would be temporary and would be unwound after the crisis ended, a pledge that I have doubted for a while.8 Central banks as we know have perpetuated QE as part of their updated toolbox of monetary policies. The first use of digital currencies in monetary policy might start small as policymakers, out of caution, seek to calibrate this experiment in quasi-fiscal stimulus. However, such initial restraint could give way to growing complacency and greater use of the tool '' just as we saw with QE. The temptations of CBDCs are not limited to excesses in monetary policy. CBDCs also appear to be an effective mechanism for bypassing the taxation, debt issuance and spending prerogatives of government to implement a quasi-fiscal policy. Imagine, for example, the ease of enacting Modern Monetary Theory via CBDCs. With CBDCs, the central banks would possess the necessary plumbing to directly deliver a digital currency to individuals' bank accounts, ready to be spent via debit cards.
Let me quote again from Charles I. Plosser's warning in 2012: ''Once a central bank ventures into fiscal policy, it is likely to find itself under increasing pressure from the private sector, financial markets, or the government to use its balance sheet to substitute for other fiscal decisions.'' With a flick of the digital switch, CBDCs can enable policymakers to meet, or cave in to, those demands '' at the risk of igniting an inflation conflagration, abandoning what little still survives of sovereign fiscal discipline and who knows what else. I hope the leaders of the world's central banks will approach this new financial technology with extreme caution, guarding against its overuse or outright abuse. It's hard to be optimistic. Soon our monetary Pandoras will possess their own box full of new powers, perhaps too enticing to resist.
2020
Trump Chip In
Small share of highly active Twitter users, majority of whom are Democrats, produce bulk of tweets from U.S. adults | Pew Research Center
Sun, 25 Oct 2020 11:31
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Three Red Banners - Wikipedia
Sun, 25 Oct 2020 12:07
Three Red Banners (Chinese: 三é'çºæ—— ) was an ideological slogan in the late 1950s which called on the Chinese people to build a socialist state. The "Three Red Banners" also called the "Three Red Flags," consisted of the General Line for socialist construction, the Great Leap Forward and the people's communes.[1][2][3]
Three Red BannersChinese三é'çºæ—— Literal meaningthree face red bannersAfter the first Five-Year Plan, the People's Republic of China continued its socialist construction by introducing "Three Red Banners Movement". The General Line directed the Chinese people to "go all out, aim high, and build socialism with greater, faster, better, and more economical results."[2] By the end of 1958, nearly all Chinese peasants had been organized into communes averaging 5000 households each. All privately owned property was taken for or contributed to the communes and people were not allowed to cook their own food and instead ate in communal dining halls. The Great Leap Forward, begun in 1958, was a campaign to rapidly modernize by using China's vast labor resources in agricultural and industrial projects. The Leap instead resulted in economic destruction and tens of millions of famine deaths, and had been mostly abandoned by early 1962. Membership in communes was gradually reduced in the early 1960s, with some private property ownership and enterprise again being allowed. The communes continued until being dismantled in the early 1980s under Deng Xiaoping.
References
Inside straight - Florida, Pennsylvania crucial to Trump landing 'inside straight' | wusa9.com
Sat, 24 Oct 2020 14:01
While President Trump has multiple roads to reelection, his most likely route hinges on winning the two crucial battleground states.
WASHINGTON '-- President Donald Trump still has a path to the 270 Electoral College votes he needs to win reelection. But it requires everything to break in his direction a second time.
Persuadable voters in battleground states will need to overwhelmingly swing in his favor. He'll have to win back crucial voting blocs. And his turnout operation will need to dramatically outperform Democrat Joe Biden's in an extraordinarily turbulent year.
''In 2016, his chances of winning the election were those of drawing an inside straight in poker. ... The question this year is whether he can draw an inside straight two hands in a row," said Whit Ayres a veteran Republican pollster. ''It is theoretically possible but practically difficult.''
While Trump has multiple roads to victory, his most likely route hinges on winning two crucial battleground states: Florida and Pennsylvania. If he can claim both and hold onto other Sun Belt states he narrowly carried in 2016 '-- North Carolina and Arizona '-- while playing defense in Georgia and Ohio, which he won handily in 2016 but where Biden is now competitive, he will win.
Trump's campaign is also continuing to pour time and money into Wisconsin and Michigan, longtime Democratic strongholds he flipped his way by the slimmest of margins four years ago, while trying to defend Iowa and Maine's second congressional district and grab Nevada and Minnesota, two states his 2016 rival Hillary Clinton narrowly won.
Trump's campaign points to other factors pointing in their favor: The campaign and the Republican Party have spent years investing in a powerful voter outreach operation and have 2.5 million volunteers knocking on millions of doors each week. They have seen spikes in GOP voter registration in several keys states. And Trump voters are more enthusiastic about their candidate than Democrats are about Biden. The Democrats are driven more by their hate for Trump.
''We feel better about our pathway to victory right now than we have at any point in the campaign this year," Trump's campaign manager, Bill Stepien, told staff on a conference call this week. "And this optimism is based on numbers and data, not feel, not sense.''
But polling shows Trump trailing or closely matched in nearly every state he needs to win to reach 270 Electoral College votes. Barring some kind of major upset, Trump needs to hold onto at least one of the three rustbelt states he won in 2016: Pennsylvania Wisconsin or Michigan, said Paul Maslin, a longtime Democratic pollster based in Wisconsin.
''I don't see any other way for Trump to do this," he said.
Fox News polls released Wednesday show Biden with a clear advantage in Michigan and a slight one in Wisconsin. In Pennsylvania, recent polls show Biden ahead but vary on the size of his lead.
For all of that, though, Trump's team can draw comfort from this historical footnote: In all three states, Clinton led in the polls in the final weeks of 2016.
But Trump's ''fundamental problem,'' said Ayres "is that a large number of states that he won comfortably last time'' are currently close.
While Trump's upset win in 2016 still haunts Democrats and has left many voters deeply distrustful of public polls, close watchers of the race stress that 2020 is not 2016.
Biden is better liked than Clinton and polls suggest there are now fewer undecided voters, who broke for Trump in the race's final weeks four years ago. And Clinton was hobbled in the final weeks by a series of setbacks including the late reopening of an FBI investigation into her emails. The impact of any additional ''October surprise" this time would be limited by the record number of voters who have already cast their ballots.
Trump's team, for its part, has been working to repair his standing with suburban women and older voters soured by his handling of the pandemic, while trying to boost enthusiasm among targeted groups like Catholic and Second Amendment voters as well as aiming to build support among Black and Latino voters.
''He's again at the thread-the-needle stage," said Lee M. Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. He noted that because Trump won key states by so few votes last time around, he has very little margin for error.
Still, Miringoff stressed that while many polls may favor Biden, they do not account for ''cataclysmic events," such as potential voter suppression, election interference, or court challenges that could halt votes from being counted. Democrats are expected to cast far more ballots by mail, which are rejected at higher rates than in-person ballots, even in normal years.
''The polls could both be right and wrong at the same time,'' he said, ''because they could poll those who think they voted" but whose votes end up not counted.
With 29 electoral votes, Florida is arguably the most crucial state for Trump. A loss there would make it nearly impossible for him to retain the White House. But the state, which has sided with the winner of nearly every presidential race for decades, is also known for razor-tight elections '-- most notably in 2000 when Republican George W. Bush defeated Al Gore by 537 votes after a recount.
Both sides point to signs of promise in the state, with Republicans saying they see growing support among Hispanics while Democrats focus on seniors. While polling in early October showed Biden with a slight advantage, two recent polls have the two candidates neck and neck.
''From everything I can see, it's a statistical tie,'' said Jennifer Krantz, a Tampa native and Republican strategist who has worked on multiple state races. If that's the case, she said, ground game could make the difference.
In 2016, Clinton won more votes in the state than Barack Obama in both his races, with commanding leads in Democratic strongholds like Miami-Dade. But Trump ran up the the score with stunning turnout in smaller counties, including across the Florida Panhandle.
Trump's campaign expects do even better this time thanks to a robust turnout operation. Indeed, Republicans say they have registered 146,000 more voters than Democrats since the pandemic hit in March, leaving Democrats with their smallest lead since the state began tracking.
Democrats, meanwhile, hope to run the table when it comes to early voting and vote by mail '-- though some remain cautious after 2016.
''I think we're all in this collective PTSD panic," said Democratic strategist Steve Schale, who runs the pro-Biden super PAC ''Unite The Country.''
It's a similar story in Pennsylvania, where two recent polls show Biden maintaining a clear lead and another suggests a narrow one. Trump won the state by just over 44,000 votes last time, powered by an overwhelming showing in rural areas and small towns and cities.
Trump's team is counting on those trends to hold this time around.
''It's d(C)j vu all over again," said Robert Gleason, the former chair of Pennsylvania's Republican Party who lives in the city and has been helping Trump's campaign ''There's a tremendous amount of enthusiasm."
Just as in Florida, while Democrats hold a substantial voter registration edge, Republicans have narrowed their gap by about 200,000 from four years ago, thanks in part to Democratic party-switchers. Trump campaign aides stress that number is five times Trump's 2016 vote margin.
But Trump's campaign is also facing grimmer prospects in areas like the vote-rich Philadelphia suburbs. And Biden is not Clinton, an historically unpopular candidate who particularly turned off white, working class men. Biden not only comes from the working class bastion of Scranton, but has built his political persona as a champion of those voters and their ideals.
___
AP writers Emily Swanson and Hannah Fingerhut in Washington, Jonathan Lemire in New York and Marc Levy in Harrisburg contributed to this report.
Joe Biden Looking at His Watch During Debate Sparks Jokes, Republican Outrage
Sun, 25 Oct 2020 11:05
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FAQ - USAFacts Steve Ballmer
Thu, 22 Oct 2020 23:55
What is USAFacts?USAFacts is a not-for-profit, nonpartisan civic initiative making government data easy for all Americans to access and understand. Learn more about USAFacts and its principles here.
Will USAFacts always be free? Are there plans for a paid premium version?We're here to provide free access to government data for everyone; no paywalls needed. As long as USAFacts exists, it will be free.
Can I use your data? Do I need to credit USAFacts?You can absolutely use our data! It's really your data. It is shared under a Creative Commons license and we do ask that you credit USAFacts when using our curated material. We also love to see what users create '' be sure to tag us @usafacts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Can I upload my own datasets to the USAFacts website?We offer curated data from government sources. For that reason, we do not accept crowd-sourced datasets. However, we're always interested in learning about potential government data sources. Please email [email protected] if you have data to recommend.
How is USAFacts funded?USAFacts is privately funded by Steve and Connie Ballmer. We do not accept contributions from external donors in any form (no donations, grants, etc.). We're completely nonpartisan and don't answer to a board. We do not receive tax exemption under revenue tax laws and we are not a 501(c)(3) organization. USAFacts is a separate legal entity from the Ballmer Group philanthropy.
Who are Steve and Connie Ballmer and why are they doing this?Steve Ballmer is the former CEO of Microsoft and current chairman of the LA Clippers basketball team. Connie Ballmer is a former marketer with a longstanding interest in the well-being of children. They founded Ballmer Group to make strategic investments in nonprofits to improve economic mobility for US families facing intergenerational poverty. USAFacts grew out of an understanding that government is the largest investor in citizens' economic mobility, and the public needed access to see how the money is spent and the results. We do not make grants and we do not advocate for any views of Steve or Connie Ballmer except for one: that facts matter and public data should be available and understandable.
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Why do you only use government data?We rely solely on government data for consistency and to screen for bias. Data curated by think tanks, academics, or any outlet expressing a viewpoint about the data is not reliably nonpartisan. The US government has a network of statistical agencies tasked with collecting information on government operations and the US population. We believe this is the best source for data to make important decisions. However, government data is not perfect. USAFacts also advocates for higher-quality and more timely government data.
Why is some of your data old?We publish the most up-to-date government numbers available. Due to funding or staffing levels, collection and release of data can have a significant delay. For example, the US Census Bureau does not have a release date for government employment data beyond 2014 and the Department of Homeland Security has only published figures on the unauthorized immigrant population through 2015. Financial data is also slow to publish'--we currently have federal financial data through 2018 and state and local financial data through 2016.
Not all government data is created equal. How do you address reliability and quality issues?While government data is not perfect, we believe it is the best source for verifiable information about the United States. Most government data is collected by career agency statisticians who work throughout, and independently of, various administrations. USAFacts includes collection issue information, such as the last date data has been reported and the number of reporting jurisdictions. USAFacts is working with government agencies and Congress to improve the quality and timeliness of published data.
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Do you adjust for inflation?We allow the option to adjust financial data for inflation on our website, and generally adjust for the effects of inflation in our reports, with a few exceptions.
When is the API going to be available?USAFacts is working to build a public API (Application Programming Interface) to allow other websites to interact with our data. A release date for this product has not been set.
Inside the Left's Web of 'Dark Money' - WSJ
Fri, 23 Oct 2020 14:40
The fight over Amy Coney Barrett's nomination to the Supreme Court is only the beginning of judicial battles to come. If President Trump is re-elected, he will nominate more judges, and Democrats will attack them. If Joe Biden wins, his allies will keep demanding he pack the Supreme Court by adding seats to fill with liberal activists.
Glance at the Twitter feed of Brian Fallon, leader of Demand Justice, the left's top judicial pressure group. Mr. Fallon was the spokesman for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign; Demand Justice is less well known. Its origin story cuts against the left-wing trope that conservative ''dark money'' has ''captured the courts.''
Mr. Fallon sowed the seed of Demand Justice by speaking at a 2018 meeting of the Democracy Alliance, a secretive donor group co-founded by George Soros, who pledged millions in support. But the money didn't go to a new nonprofit. It went to an empire managed by Arabella Advisors, a for-profit consulting firm founded by a Clinton administration alumnus who previously worked at the League of Conservation Voters'--a ''dark money heavyweight,'' as the Center for Public Integrity puts it.
Arabella long flew under the radar, even though its in-house nonprofits raked in $1.2 billion in the 2018 electoral cycle alone, compared with $502 million raised by the Democratic and Republican National Committees combined. Its new prominence arises from its aggressive role in Supreme Court nominations. A colleague of mine discovered it during the Brett Kavanaugh controversy, and during Judge Barrett's hearings Arabella was cited by Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.
Mr. Cruz highlighted Arabella because it belies complaints by Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and others who pretend that ''dark money'' only exists on the right. Arabella's revenues dwarf those of Mr. Whitehouse's bªtes noires like the Federalist Society and Judicial Crisis Network. What's more, Arabella's cash winds through a legal structure that darkens its donors and their dollars far more than normal nonprofits can achieve.
By law, a nonprofit need not reveal its donors, and very few do. But a normal nonprofit, like Mr. Whitehouse's targets, must disclose revenues, assets, board members, salaries, largest vendors, total expenses (broken into categories like fundraising and travel), lobbying, grants to other nonprofits and much more.
The Arabella empire avoids those disclosures. Imagine a pyramid with Arabella Advisors at the apex. Arabella is a for-profit entity and thus has no disclosure obligations. The middle layer is four nonprofits. At the base are hundreds of projects, fiscally sponsored by the four nonprofits, that make up the supposedly grass-roots groups the public sees. These projects fight all sorts of political battles, from judicial nominations and climate policy to abortion and ObamaCare. Their financial backers include some of the wealthiest liberal philanthropies, including Bill Gates's and Warren Buffett's family foundations.
But these hundreds of projects reveal neither their donors nor any details a genuine nonprofit must disclose. Nor can you try to pressure their board members, because they don't have any. Each is merely a website and an accounting code at one of the four umbrella nonprofits in the middle of the pyramid: ''pop-up'' groups that often exist while useful and then disappear. Although the four umbrella nonprofits file the usual disclosures, each one amalgamates data from dozens of pop-up groups, which obscures the details of any particular project.
No major newspaper has ever exposed this pyramid, despite the $2.4 billion Arabella ran through its nonprofits from 2006-18, or the considerable overlap in board membership of those four supposedly independent nonprofits'--which share the same address, general counsel (Andrew Schulz) and chief financial officer (Wil Priester) as Arabella itself.
One of the nonprofits, the Sixteen Thirty Fund, is such a political powerhouse that it's finally receiving some press. Politico calls it a ''liberal secret-money network'' that was ''one of the biggest players in the 2018 political landscape'' as it spent $141 million on TV ads and ''projects'' like Floridians for a Fair Shake and Michigan Families for Economic Prosperity.
The Washington Post editorial board read Politico's reporting and decried Sixteen Thirty as catering to ''big campaign donors who want to have impact but hide their identity.'' The Post was especially incensed that Sixteen Thirty's top three donors anonymously gave $51.7 million, $26.7 million and $10 million. The paper should also know that Sixteen Thirty was set up with seed money from two groups notorious for partisanship and election irregularities: Acorn and Americans United for Change.
Such politicized nonprofits defy the average American's understanding of philanthropy, but left-wing donors have for years invested $100 million or more in 501(c)(3)s every cycle to register Democratic-leaning voters. Arabella CEO Sampriti Ganguli admitted in a February interview that her company's nonprofits provide a ''work-around'' for liberal donors to bypass ''the tax regime'' and its ''constraints'' on charitable giving, presumably including limits on political activity and financial disclosure requirements.
Recently, the Trusted Elections Fund, an Arabella pop-up, was cited in a legal brief filed against Michigan's secretary of state, because the secretary had urged donors to send money via that fund to election officials who, the lawsuit claims, will steer it to Democratic-leaning precincts. Welcome to the left's brave new ''nonprofit'' world.
Mr. Walter is president of the Capital Research Center.
DHS Responds To Claims 545 Immigrant Children Have Yet To Be Reunited, Says Some Parents 'Refused' Reunions | The Daily Wire
Fri, 23 Oct 2020 23:37
The Department of Homeland Security responded to an NPR report from earlier this week alleging that the agency cannot find the parents of 545 minors separated from their adult caretakers during the short time the Trump administration was enforcing a ''no tolerance'' policy at the United States-Mexican border.
Despite their best efforts, DHS says, many of the children's parents have refused a reunion, leaving the children orphaned in DHS's care.
The policy of separating adults seeking asylum from accompanying minor children at the border began during the Obama administration, after a judicial ruling barring the Obama administration from holding asylum-seeking families for more than two weeks. The Obama administration reasoned that, if the families were separated, it would both allow immigration officials to extend the time adults could spend in custody and could deter families from seeking asylum in the United States.
The Trump administration adopted the policy as part of its ''zero tolerance'' anti-immigration efforts back in 2018 but ended the practice after public outcry. Hundreds of children, though, remain in DHS custody, according to litigation filed this week.
Department of Homeland Security spokesperson Chase Jennings was clear in responding to the lawsuit this week, calling the report ''wholly inaccurate,'' and pointing to evidence in the plaintiffs' own filings noting that, of the 545 children yet to be reunited with their parents, a shocking 485 children have been left in DHS custody because their parents or family members ''refused'' a reunion.
''This story is wholly inaccurate,'' Jennings said on Twitter. ''In the current litigation, for example, out of the parents of 485 children whom Plaintiffs' counsel has been able to contact, they've yet to identify a single family that wants their child reunited with them in their country of origin.''
DHS is trying to reunite the children with their parents or, if they are unable to do that, with family members, but that's proving more difficult than anticipated, Jennings added in a later statement.
Full statement: pic.twitter.com/cpiQkUPVDt
'-- Chase Jennings (@SpoxDHS) October 21, 2020
''DHS has taken every step to facilitate the reunification of these families where the parents wanted such reunifications to occur. The simple fact is this: after contact has been made with the parents to reunite them with their children, many parents have refused,'' Jennings noted.
''In the current litigation, for example, out of the parents of 485 children whom Plaintiffs' counsel has been able to contact, they have yet to identify a single family that wants their child reunited with them in their country of origin. The result is that the children remain in the U.S. white the parents remain in their home country. The reunification process is a whole-of-government approach involving CBP, ICE, and HHS.''
The ACLU notes that, in some cases, the coronavirus pandemic has created an extra layer of difficulty for those seeking to reunite children with deported parents.
''The filing estimates that two-thirds of the separated parents are believed to have returned to their home countries. Nongovernmental groups appointed by the court have 'engaged in time-consuming and arduous on-the-ground searches for parents in their respective countries of origin,''' the organization notes.
Efforts to press for reunification are resuming.
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Ratings drop to 55M for final Trump-Biden debate | TheHill
Sat, 24 Oct 2020 12:08
More than 55 million viewers tuned in for the second and final presidential debate between President Trump Donald John TrumpIvanka Trump, Jared Kusher's lawyer threatens to sue Lincoln Project over Times Square billboards Facebook, Twitter CEOs to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee on Nov. 17 Sanders hits back at Trump's attack on 'socialized medicine' MORE and Democratic nominee Joe Biden Joe BidenFacebook, Twitter CEOs to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee on Nov. 17 Sanders hits back at Trump's attack on 'socialized medicine' Senate GOP to drop documentary series days before election hitting China, Democrats over coronavirus MORE on Thursday night, according to overnight ratings data by Nielsen Media Research.
The 55 million watching the comparatively civil event in Nashville marked a considerable decline from the first debate between the two last month, when more than 73 million tuned in.
Fox News led all broadcast and cable networks with 14.7 million viewers, according to Nielsen.
ABC finished second with 10.8 million total viewers, followed by NBC with 10.2 million. CNN was fourth with 7.2 million viewers, followed by MSNBC's 6.7 million and CBS's 5.5 million.
In the 25- to 54-year-old demographic sought by advertisers, Fox News delivered 4.2 million viewers, followed by NBC with 3.9 million. ABC was fourth with 3.85 million, followed by CNN's 2.85 million and MSNBC's 1.5 million.
For context, the final 2016 debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton Hillary Diane Rodham ClintonBon Jovi to campaign with Biden in Pennsylvania The Hill's Campaign Report: 2020 spending wars | Biden looks to clean up oil comments | Debate ratings are in Biden gets late boost with key union endorsement MORE drew 73.2 million viewers.
In 2012, the third debate between then-President Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney Willard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyRatings drop to 55M for final Trump-Biden debate Bipartisan group of senators call on Trump to sanction Russia over Navalny poisoning Mitt Romney did not vote for Trump in 2020 election MORE drew 59.2 million viewers.
Biden leads Trump in the RealClearPolitics index of polls in key states Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida and Arizona by 3.8 percent.
On this day in 2016, Clinton led Trump by the same amount, 3.8 percent, in the same battleground states before going on to lose the election. Biden, however, has a larger lead than Clinton held in national polls, as well as a substantial funding advantage over Trump.
Dark Winter
About the Exercise | Dark Winter
Fri, 23 Oct 2020 04:21
On June 22-23, 2001, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Studies, the ANSER Institute for Homeland Security, and the Oklahoma City National Memorial Institute for the Prevention Terrorism, hosted a senior-level war game examining the national security, intergovernmental, and information challenges of a biological attack on the American homeland. (See also: Dark Winter Script ' Article: Shining Light on Dark Winter)
With tensions rising in the Taiwan Straits, and a major crisis developing in Southwest Asia, a smallpox outbreak was confirmed by the CDC in Oklahoma City. During the thirteen days of the game, the disease spread to 25 states and 15 other countries. Fourteen participants and 60 observers witnessed terrorism/warfare in slow motion. Discussions, debates (some rather heated), and decisions focused on the public health response, lack of an adequate supply of smallpox vaccine, roles and missions of federal and state governments, civil liberties associated with quarantine and isolation, the role of DoD, and potential military responses to the anonymous attack. Additionally, a predictable 24/7 news cycle quickly developed that focused the nation and the world on the attack and response. Five representatives from the national press corps (including print and broadcast) participated in the game and conducted a lengthy press conference with the President. See briefing slides.
Key PlayersPresident: The Hon. Sam NunnNational Security Advisor: The Hon. David GergenDirector of Central Intelligence: The Hon. R. James WoolseySecretary of Defense: The Hon. John WhiteChairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff: General John Tilelli (USA, Ret.)Secretary of Health & Human Services: The Hon. Margaret HamburgSecretary of State: The Hon. Frank WisnerAttorney General: The Hon. George TerwilligerDirector, Federal Emergency Management Agency: Mr. Jerome HauerDirector, Federal Bureau of Investigation: The Hon. William SessionsGovernor of Oklahoma: The Hon. Frank KeatingPress Secretary of Gov. Frank Keating (OK): Mr. Dan MahoneyCorrespondent, NBC News: Mr. Jim MiklaszewskiPentagon Producer, CBS News: Ms. Mary WalshReporter, British Broadcasting Corporation: Ms. Sian EdwardsReporter, The New York Times: Ms. Judith MillerReporter, Freelance: Mr. Lester ReingoldThe players were introduced to this crisis during a National Security Council meeting scheduled to address several emerging crises, including the deployment of a carrier task force to the Middle East. At the start of the meeting, the Director of Health and Human Services informed the President of a confirmed case of smallpox in Oklahoma City. Additional smallpox cases were soon identified in Georgia and Pennsylvania. More cases were reported in Oklahoma. The source of the infection was unknown, and exposure was presumed to have taken place at least nine days earlier due to the lengthy incubation period of smallpox. Consequently, exposed individuals had likely traveled far from the loci of what was now presumed to be a biological attack. The scenario spanned 13 days.
FindingsAn attack on the United States with biological weapons could threaten vital national security interests. Massive civilian casualties, breakdown in essential institutions, violation of democratic processes, civil disorder, loss of confidence in government and reduced U.S. strategic flexibility abroad are among the ways a biological attack might compromise U.S. security.
Current organizational structures and capabilities are not well suited for the management of a BW attack. Major "fault lines" exist between different levels of government (federal, state, and local), between government and the private sector, among different institutions and agencies, and within the public and private sector. These "disconnects" could impede situational awareness and compromise the ability to limit loss of life, suffering, and economic damage.
There is no surge capability in the U.S. healthcare and public health systems, or in the pharmaceutical and vaccine industries. This institutionally limited surge capacity could result in hospitals being overwhelmed and becoming inoperable, and it could impede public health agencies' analysis of the scope, source and progress of the epidemic, their ability to educate and reassure the public, and their capacity to limit causalities and the spread of disease.
Dealing with the media will be a major immediate challenge for all levels of government. Information management and communication (e.g., dealing with the press effectively, communication with citizens, maintaining the information flows necessary for command and control at all institutional levels) will be a critical element in crisis/consequence management.
Should a contagious bioweapon pathogen be used, containing the spread of disease will present significant ethical, political, cultural, operational, and legal challenges.
Smallpox, because of its high case-fatality rates and transmissibility, represents one of the most serious biological warfare threats to the civilian population. In 1980, the World Health Assembly announced that smallpox had been eradicated and recommended that all countries cease vaccination. Although labs in two countries still officially store smallpox samples (U.S. and Russia), its re-appearance would almost certainly indicate an intentional outbreak.
Aerosol release of smallpox virus disseminated among a relatively small population could result in a significant epidemic. Evidence suggests the infectious dose is very small. Several factors are cause for concern: the disease has historically been feared as one of the most serious of all pestilential diseases; it is physically disfiguring; it bears a 30 percent case-fatality rate; there is no treatment; it is communicable from person to person. Vaccination ceased in this country in 1972, and vaccination immunity acquired before that time has undoubtedly waned. Prior to eradication, data on smallpox outbreaks in Europe indicated that victims had the potential to infect 10 to 20 others. However, there has never been a smallpox outbreak in such a densely populated, highly mobile, unvaccinated population such as exists today.
In 1947, in response to a single case of smallpox in New York City, 6,350,000 people were immunized (500,000 in one day), including President Harry Truman. In 1972, after disappearing from Yugoslavia for four decades, a single case of smallpox emerged. There are two ways to control a smallpox epidemic - vaccine and isolation. Yugoslavia's Communist leader, Josip Tito, used both. He instituted a nation-wide quarantine, and immunized the entire country of 20 million people using vaccine supplied by the World Health Organization.
Estimates of the current U.S. supply of smallpox vaccine range from 7 to 12 million doses. This stock cannot be immediately replenished, since all vaccine production facilities were dismantled after 1980, and renewed vaccine production is estimated to require at least 24-36 months. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently contracted with Acambis Inc. of Cambridge MA to produce 40 million doses of new vaccine.
Operation Dark Winter - Wikipedia
Fri, 23 Oct 2020 17:00
Senior-level U.S. bio-terrorist attack simulation exercise
Operation Dark Winter was the code name for a senior-level bio-terrorist attack simulation conducted from June 22''23, 2001.[1][2][3] It was designed to carry out a mock version of a covert and widespread smallpox attack on the United States. Tara O'Toole and Thomas Inglesby of the Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Strategies (CCBS) / Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), and Randy Larsen and Mark DeMier of Analytic Services were the principal designers, authors, and controllers of the Dark Winter project.
Overview [ edit ] Objective [ edit ] Dark Winter was focused on evaluating the inadequacies of a national emergency response during the use of a biological weapon against the American populace. The exercise was solely[citation needed ] intended to establish preventive measures and response strategies by increasing governmental and public awareness of the magnitude and potential of such a threat posed by biological weapons.
Scenario [ edit ] Dark Winter's simulated scenario involved an initial localized smallpox attack on Oklahoma City, Oklahoma with additional smallpox attack cases in Georgia and Pennsylvania. The simulation was then designed to spiral out of control. This would create a contingency in which the National Security Council struggles to determine both the origin of the attack as well as deal with containing the spreading virus. By not being able to keep pace with the disease's rate of spread, a new catastrophic contingency emerges in which massive civilian casualties would overwhelm America's emergency response capabilities.
The disastrous contingencies that would result in the massive loss of civilian life were used to exploit the weaknesses of the U.S. health care infrastructure and its inability to handle such a threat. The contingencies were also meant to address the widespread panic that would emerge and which would result in mass social breakdown and mob violence. Exploits would also include the many difficulties that the media would face when providing American citizens with the necessary information regarding safety procedures.
Summary of findings [ edit ] According to UPMC's Center for Health Security, Dark Winter outlined several key findings with respect to the United States healthcare system's ability to respond to a localized bioterrorism event:
An attack on the United States with biological weapons could threaten vital national security interests.[4]In addition to the possibility of massive civilian casualties, Dark Winter outlined the possible breakdown in essential institutions, resulting in a loss of confidence in government, followed by civil disorder, and a violation of democratic processes by authorities attempting to restore order. Shortages of vaccines and other drugs affected the response available to contain the epidemic, as well as the ability of political leaders to offer reassurance to the American people.[5] This led to great public anxiety and flight by people desperate to get vaccinated, and it had a significant effect on the decisions taken by the political leadership.[5] In addition, Dark Winter revealed that a catastrophic biowarfare event in the United States would lead to considerably reduced U.S. strategic flexibility abroad.[4]
Current organizational structures and capabilities are not well suited for the management of a biowarfare attack.[4]Dark Winter revealed that major "fault lines" exist between different levels of government (federal, state, and local), between government and the private sector, among different institutions and agencies, and within the public and private sector. Leaders are unfamiliar with the character of bioterrorist attacks, available policy options, and their consequences. Federal and state priorities may be unclear, differ, or conflict; authorities may be uncertain; and constitutional issues may arise.[5] For example, state leaders wanted control of decisions regarding the imposition of disease-containment measures (e.g., mandatory vs. voluntary isolation and vaccination),[5] the closure of state borders to all traffic and transportation,[5] and when or whether to close airports.[5] Federal officials, on the other hand, argued that such issues were best decided on a national basis to ensure consistency and to give the President maximum control of military and public-safety assets.[5] Leaders in states most affected by smallpox wanted immediate access to smallpox vaccine for all citizens of their states,[5] but the federal government had to balance these requests against military and other national priorities.[5] State leaders were opposed to federalizing the National Guard, which they were relying on to support logistical and public supply needs,[5] while a number of federal leaders argued that the National Guard should be federalized.[5]
There is no surge capability in the U.S. healthcare and public health systems,[5] or in the pharmaceutical and vaccine industries.[4]The exercise was designed to simulate a sudden and unexpected biowarfare event for which the United States healthcare system was unprepared. In the absence of sufficient preparation, Dark Winter revealed that the lack of sufficient vaccine or drugs to prevent the spread of disease severely limited management options.[5] Due to the institutionally limited "surge capacity" of the American healthcare system, hospitals quickly became overwhelmed and rendered effectively inoperable by the sudden and continued influx of new cases, exacerbated by patients with common illnesses who feared they might have smallpox,[5] and people who were otherwise healthy, but concerned about their possible exposure.[5] The challenges of making correct diagnoses and rationing scarce resources, combined with shortages of health care staff, who were themselves worried about becoming infected or bringing infection home to their families, imposed a huge burden on the health care system.[4] The simulation also noted that while demand was highest in cities and states that had been directly attacked,[5] by the time victims became symptomatic, they were geographically dispersed, with some having traveled far from the original attack site.[5]
The simulation also found that without sufficient surge capability, public health agencies' analysis of the scope, source and progress of the epidemic was greatly impeded, as was their ability to educate and reassure the public, and their capacity to limit casualties and the spread of disease.[4] For example, even after the smallpox attack was recognized, decision makers were confronted with many uncertainties and wanted information that was not immediately available. (In fact, they were given more information on locations and numbers of infected people than would likely be available in reality.)[5] Without accurate and timely information, participants found it difficult to quickly identify the locations of the original attacks; to immediately predict the likely size of the epidemic on the basis of initial cases; to know how many people were exposed; to find out how many were hospitalized and where; or to keep track of how many had been vaccinated.[5]
Dealing with the media will be a major immediate challenge for all levels of government.[4]Dark Winter revealed that information management and communication (e.g., dealing with the press effectively, communication with citizens, maintaining the information flows necessary for command and control at all institutional levels) will be a critical element in crisis/consequence management. For example, participants worried that it would not be possible to forcibly impose vaccination or travel restrictions on large groups of the population without their general cooperation.[5] To gain that cooperation, the President and other leaders in Dark Winter recognized the importance of persuading their constituents that there was fairness in the distribution of vaccine and other scarce resources,[5] that the disease-containment measures were for the general good of society,[5] that all possible measures were being taken to prevent the further spread of the disease,[5] and that the government remained firmly in control despite the expanding epidemic.[5]
Should a contagious bioweapon pathogen be used, containing the spread of disease will present significant ethical, political, cultural, operational, and legal challenges.[4]In Dark Winter, some members advised the imposition of geographic quarantines around affected areas, but the implications of these measures (e.g., interruption of the normal flow of medicines, food and energy supplies, and other critical needs) were not clearly understood at first.[5] In the end, it is not clear whether such draconian measures would have led to a more effective interruption of disease spread.[5] What's more allocation of scarce resources necessitated some degree of rationing,[5] creating conflict and significant debate between participants representing competing interests.
Key participants [ edit ] PresidentThe Hon. Sam NunnNational Security AdvisorThe Hon. David GergenDirector of Central IntelligenceThe Hon. R. James Woolsey, Jr.Secretary of DefenseThe Hon. John P. WhiteChairman, Joint Chiefs of StaffGeneral John Tilelli, USA (Ret.)Secretary of Health and Human ServicesThe Hon. Margaret HamburgSecretary of StateThe Hon. Frank WisnerAttorney GeneralThe Hon. George TerwilligerDirector, Federal Emergency Management AgencyMr. Jerome HauerDirector, Federal Bureau of InvestigationThe Hon. William SessionsGovernor of OklahomaThe Hon. Frank KeatingPress Secretary, Gov. Frank Keating (OK)Mr. Dan MahoneyCorrespondent, NBC NewsMr. Jim MiklaszewskiPentagon Producer, CBS NewsMs. Mary WalshReporter, British Broadcasting CorporationMs. Sian EdwardsReporter, The New York TimesMs. Judith MillerReporter, FreelanceMr. Lester ReingoldIn popular culture [ edit ] Tom Clancy's The Division, a video game inspired by Dark Winter.I am Pilgrim, a novel by Terry Hayes, Corgi. p. 313-315See also [ edit ] 2001 anthrax attacksReferences [ edit ] External links [ edit ] Operation Dark WinterShining Light on ''Dark Winter'' (from the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases)Local Response to a National ThreatPreventing ''Dark Winter''CNN: Dark Winter and lack of USA PreparednessDark Winter Teaches Bioterror LessonsDark Winter at SourceWatch
Center for Biosecurity | Dark Winter | Bioterrorism exercise .
Sun, 25 Oct 2020 11:15
Home > Events > Dark Winter. Exercise Overview
June 22-23, 2001
The Dark Winter exercise portrayed a fictional scenario depicting a covert smallpox attack on U.S. citizens. The scenario is set in three successive National Security Council (NSC) meetings (Segments 1,2 and 3) which take place over a period of 14 days. Former senior government officials played the roles of NSC members responding to the evolving epidemic; representatives from the media were among the observers of these mock NSC meetings and played journalists during the scenario's press conferences (see Players List). The exercise itself was held at Andrews Air Force Base, Washington, D.C., on June 22-23, 2001.
The Dark Winter exercise was the collaborative effort of four organizations. John Hamre of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) initiated and conceived of an exercise wherein senior former officials would respond to a bioterrorist induced national security crisis. Tara O'Toole and Tom Inglesby of the Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Studies and Randy Larsen and Mark DeMier of Analytic Services Inc. (ANSER) were the principal designers, authors and controllers of Dark Winter. Sue Reingold of CSIS managed administrative and logistical arrangements. General Dennis Reimer of the Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism (MIPT) provided funding for Dark Winter.
Additional Information
July 23, 2001 House Hearing on Combating Terrorism: Federal Response to a Biological Weapons Attack
I was honored to play the part of the President in the exercise Dark Winter.... You often don't know what you don't know until you've been tested. And it's a lucky thing for the United States that, as the emergency broadcast network used to say, 'this is just a test, this is not a real emergency.' But Mr. Chairman, our lack of preparation is a real emergency.
'-- The Honorable Sam Nunn in testimony before the House Government Reform Committee,Subcommittee onNational Security,Veterans Affairs and International Relations, July 23, 2001
Shining Light on "Dark Winter" article published electronically on 02/19/02 in Confronting Biological Weapons: a special section in Clinical Infectious Diseases
Drain The Swamp
Opinion | Trump's 'Schedule F' executive order is an attempt to bend the civil service to his will - The Washington Post
Sat, 24 Oct 2020 05:32
PRESIDENT TRUMP'S newest executive order, signed without fanfare this week, could prove one of his most insidious.
The directive from the White House, issued late Wednesday, sounds technical: creating a new ''Schedule F'' within the ''excepted service'' of the federal government for employees in policymaking roles, and directing agencies to determine who qualifies. Its implications, however, are profound and alarming. It gives those in power the authority to fire more or less at will as many as tens of thousands of workers currently in the competitive civil service, from managers to lawyers to economists to, yes, scientists. This week's order is a major salvo in the president's onslaught against the cadre of dedicated civil servants whom he calls the ''deep state'' '-- and who are really the greatest strength of the U.S. government.
The administration grounds its action in the need to rid itself of ''poor performers.'' Certainly, there's room for reform to the cumbersome process required to remove those who fall short of standards. But this president's criteria for determining satisfactory performance begin and end with personal loyalty. The White House admitted last winter to seeking to purge from payrolls those deemed insufficiently reliable '-- the ''bad people,'' in Mr. Trump's words. The protections for career civil servants currently in place at least put some roadblocks on that path, hence this legally dubious plan to erase those protections with a touch of organizational sleight of hand. Not only will politically motivated firing become easier, but it will also be easier to hire those who meet Mr. Trump's standards: obsequiousness and, more often than not, a lack of qualifications. With no competitive process in place, leaders can appoint whom they please '-- or rather, who pleases them.
The order is so vaguely written it is unclear exactly who would fall into the category it conjures up. It is clear, though, that the targets are the cream of the civil service crop '-- precisely those who have frustrated the administration in its attempts to impose its agenda over ethics, evidence and good sense. Think of the Federal Aviation Administration employee evaluating whether an airliner is safe to fly, or the federal prosecutor deciding in a sensitive case whether to seek an indictment. Think of the Food and Drug Administration employee evaluating the efficacy of a vaccine.
This scheme, if it stands up in court, would transform a substantial portion of the professional federal workforce into a political federal workforce. Evidence-based decision-making would fall to cronyism; expertise would go out the window and patronage would fly in. The repository of knowledge that distinguishes our nation's government, ready to be furnished no matter who sits in the Oval Office, would drain away. This is, of course, what today's occupant of the Oval Office has wanted all along. The deadline for agencies to complete their review is Jan. 19, the day before the inauguration '-- which means Mr. Trump will try to realize his sad vision in his second term, unless voters are wise enough to stop him.
Read more:
The Post's View: Four more years of Trump's contempt for competence would be devastating
The Post's View: The latest Trump challenge to an independent civil service
Fred Hiatt: Yes, Trump is incompetent. But he's becoming alarmingly good at corrupting the government.
Alexander Vindman: Coming forward ended my career. I still believe doing what's right matters.
Anne Applebaum: The Trump White House is destroying our civil service
Trump just quietly passed an executive order that could destroy a future Biden administration | The Independent
Sat, 24 Oct 2020 11:41
Donald Trump's latest executive order could give him the power to mount a scorched-earth campaign which would cripple a future Biden administration.
In the event the incumbent president loses his re-election bid, this order could give him largely unfettered authority to fire experts like Dr Anthony Fauci while leaving behind a corps of embedded loyalists to undermine his successor, according to federal employment law experts.
The order, which the White House released late Wednesday evening, would strip civil service protections from a broad swath of career civil servants if it is decided that they are in ''confidential, policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating positions'' '-- a description previously reserved for the political appointees who come and go with each change in administration. It does that by creating a new category for such positions that do not turn over from administration to administration and reclassifying them as part of that category. The Office of Personnel Management '-- essentially the executive branch's human resources department '-- has been charged with implementing the order by publishing a ''preliminary'' list of positions to be moved into the new category on what could President Donald Trump's last full day in office: January 19, 2021.
The range of workers who could be stripped of protections and placed in this new category is vast, experts say, and could include most of the non-partisan experts '-- scientists, doctors, lawyers, economists '-- whose work to advise and inform policymakers is supposed to be done in a way that is fact-driven and devoid of politics. Trump has repeatedly clashed with such career workers on a variety of settings, ranging from his desire to present the Covid-19 pandemic as largely over, to his attempts to enable his allies to escape punishment for federal crimes, to his quixotic insistence that National Weather Service scientists back up his erroneous claim that the state of Alabama was threatened by a hurricane which was not heading in its direction.
Creating the new category '-- known as ''Schedule F'' '-- and moving current civil servants into it could allow a lame-duck President Trump to cripple his successor's administration by firing any career federal employees who've been included on the list. It also could allow Trump administration officials to skirt prohibitions against ''burrowing in'' '-- the heavily restricted practice of converting political appointees (known as ''Schedule C'' employees) into career civil servants '-- by hiring them under the new category for positions which would not end with Trump's term. Another provision orders agencies to take steps to prohibit removing ''Schedule F'' appointees from their jobs on the grounds of ''political affiliation,'' which could potentially prevent a future administration from firing unqualified appointees because of their association with President Trump.
''It's a two-pronged attack '-- a Hail Mary pass to enable them to do some burrowing in if they lose the election,'' said Walter Shaub, who ran the US Office of Government Ethics during the last four years of the Obama administration and first six months of the Trump administration. ''But if they win the election, then anything goes for the destruction of the civil service'... [This could] take us back to the spoils system and all the corruption that comes with it.''
Shaub explained that at the core of it, a non-partisan civil service is one of the most basic anti-corruption measures that any government can implement ''because they free federal employees to disobey illegal orders, be ethical, and resist fraud, waste, and abuse''.
''Taking those away creates a cadre of people who are either too intimidated by or loyal to a politician instead of the rule of law and the Constitution,'' he said. ''That's the goal here.''
The head of the largest federal employee union, American Federation of Government Employees National President Everett Kelley, decried the move in a statement on Thursday, calling it ''the most profound undermining of the civil service in our lifetimes''.
''Through this order, President Trump has declared war on the professional civil service by giving himself the authority to fill the government with his political cronies who will pledge their unwavering loyalty to him, not to America,'' Kelley added. ''By targeting federal workers whose jobs involve government policies, the real-world implications of this order will be disastrous for public health, the environment, the defense of our nation, and virtually every facet of our lives.''
Virginia Democratic Representative Gerry Connolly, who chairs the House of Representatives subcommittee overseeing civil service issues, called the order ''yet another attack on federal employees that addresses absolutely none of the issues that can hinder effective federal recruitment and hiring''. He added that he saw it as ''a cheap ploy to let the Trump administration replace talent and acumen with fealty and self-dealing.'' And Max Stier, president and CEO of the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service, called the order ''deeply troubling'' and warned that it ''has the potential to impact wide swathes of federal employees over the next few months without engagement from Congress, civil servants and other key stakeholders''.
''Being able to place any number of existing career positions into this new Schedule F not only blurs the line between politics and the neutral competency of the career civil service, it obliterates it,'' he added.
A Republican source who served as a top federal personnel executive under previous Republican administrations offered a far more succinct review of Trump's latest executive action: ''It's just bad no matter how you view it.''
Administration sources say this latest directive is largely the brainchild of James Sherk, a top Trump aide whose work on the Domestic Policy Council has been largely focused on devising methods by which the Trump administration can undermine government employee unions and render toothless the civil service system. Such endeavors are longstanding goals of the American conservative movement, which has for years viewed the largely unionized, highly educated, racially diverse federal workforce as a hostile occupying army loyal to the more reliably pro-union Democratic Party.
But while past Republican presidents were willing to at least pay lip service to the advantages of having a skilled, professionalized and non-political federal workforce, advocates of gutting the civil service have found a willing ally in Trump, who has regularly attacked the federal workforce as a Democrat-aligned ''deep state'' that has worked to undermine his presidency.
Earlier this year, then-White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley said the White House planned on taking steps to remove what he said were ''people in the bowels of the federal government working against this president'' and pursuing ''their own selfish political agenda'' rather than showing loyalty to Trump.
''It's not a secret that we want people in positions that work with this president, not against him, and too often we have people in this government '-- I mean the federal government is massive, with millions of people '-- and there are a lot people out there taking action against this president and when we find them we will take appropriate action,'' said Gidley, who left the White House in July and is now the national press secretary for Trump's re-election campaign.
The administration's disdain for career civil servants has only hardened under the pressure of running for a second term bid amid Covid-19.
Trump has reserved a special level of rage for scientists like Dr Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert. On a call with campaign staffers last week, the president reportedly complained that he could not fire Fauci because doing so would be a PR ''bomb''.
But should he lose his re-election bid in just under two weeks, New Jersey Chief Innovation Officer Beth Noveck '-- an NYU professor who served as the first US Deputy Chief Technology Officer '-- said the order appears to be designed to enable him to exact revenge on Fauci and any other federal officials he blames for his loss.
''It's the twin danger of both firing Fauci and replacing him with Eric Trump's wedding planner permanently,'' said Noveck. She compared the order to the fictional ''infinity gauntlet'' weapon made famous by the Avengers films, citing the way it could enable Trump to get rid of countless tenured federal workers with the stroke of a pen.
''There's definitely a 'snap your fingers and get rid of half the civil service' quality to this,'' she added, noting that the order lays out vague and subjective criteria for determining whether an employee reclassified under ''Schedule F'' can be fired for ''poor performance''.
Noveck added that such vagueness made it possible that Trump could use the ''preliminary'' list he has ordered OPM to prepare to cripple a Biden administration's Covid plans by targeting Fauci and other scientists or the administration as a whole by removing large numbers of experienced workers.
''It's unclear whether this becomes'... a blunt instrument in order to do some surgical removal of people they don't like, or whether they're going to actually attempt some sort of bloodletting or purge,'' she explained.
As for the possibility that Trump could use the order to install scores of cronies to sabotage Biden, a former top Department of Health and Human Services official says it is already happening.
Dr Rick Bright '-- the former Director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response who left government service after Trump officials demoted him for contradicting the President's attempts to downplay the Covid-19 pandemic '-- said the Trump administration has already been seeding the government with unqualified loyalists.
''With an administration change, there are rules in place that say you really don't embed any people, especially in the last period of time, whether it's a year or six months or so,'' he said. ''But what we've seen over the last three years is them embedding people all along. So when the [Trump administration] Schedule C's and their other political appointees all go away, there will still be this base of [Trump] people that are in the federal service.''
''Many of those who were brought in,'' Bright said, are ''friends and family'' of Trump administration officials who initially showed up as contractors: ''And then the next thing you know, they've changed their business card and their email address and they're federal employees.''
Although Trump and his advisors have often struggled with a steep learning curve when it comes to the arcane rules and regulations which govern the federal bureaucracy, both Noveck and Shaub said the order's dense language was meant to deliberately obscure the purpose of it. They believe it is a sign that Trumpworld is finally getting the hang of manipulating the government it leads to its own ends.
And while Connolly and other critics of the move presented the harm it would do as ''potential,'' Shaub said the 90-day clock appeared deliberately timed to give Trump a way to fire a parting shot at his successor should he lose next month. He also suggested that, given the White House's stated intent to purge disloyal civil servants, there might already be a list of people to fire waiting for use.
''I think there's a very realistic chance that they could have everything ready to go and cause harm,'' he said, ''and in the case of a new administration standing up, their actions may not be noticed by the people who can fix it until the harm has really taken effect.''
OTG
Small share of highly active Twitter users, majority of whom are Democrats, produce bulk of tweets from U.S. adults | Pew Research Center
Sun, 25 Oct 2020 11:31
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masto.host for your 9 euro a month instance!
Google is testing a way to activate Assistant without wake words | Engadget
Fri, 23 Oct 2020 02:54
A leaker triggered the voice assistant just by getting close to a Nest Hub Max.
Google is said to be testing a smart display feature that would activate Google Assistant by proximity instead of using the "Hey Google" or "OK Google" wake words. Leaker Jan Boromeusz posted a YouTube video (via Android Central) that shows the feature in an apparent internal Nest Hub Max firmware build.
Boromeusz is able to use the voice assistant without first saying one of the wake words. The Assistant UI disappears whenever Boromeusz stays still or stops talking, but you can see it pop back up when he moves a little closer to the smart display.
It's unclear whether Google has plans to bring the feature, which is codenamed Blue Steel, to the public version of the firmware. It merely appears to be in testing for now. Nor is it completely clear how the feature works. However, Nest devices have ultrasound capabilities that can help them detect how far away you are without activating the camera.
Whether Google uses ultrasound or the Nest camera's facial recognition function for Blue Steel, you can turn off those features on the smart display if you're concerned about your privacy or Assistant picking up something you wouldn't want it to. It seems there'd be an option to disable just this feature too.
That said, if you're comfortable with using Blue Steel, it could make the Assistant experience more frictionless on smart displays. Amazon, meanwhile, has also explored the notion of activating Alexa without a wake word too.
Novel location platform What3Words to be installed in 150 million vehicles
Fri, 23 Oct 2020 16:39
London tech start-up what3words has partnered with location data and tech platform HERE, adding its three-word location method to over 100 million vehicles worldwide.
Co-founded in London in 2013 by Chris Sheldrick, what3words uses a system which covers the entire world in a grid, each section of which has a unique three-word address.
The platform was designed to be human friendly, and easy to use with voice input alone.
This platform will now be integrated in HERE's in-car navigation platform, currently found in in 150 million vehicles worldwide.
Drivers can input a what3words address directly into their car head unit or connected car app, just as they would a street address or point of interest.
what3words' technology has been adopted by global car companies, logistics providers and mobility apps, including Mercedes-Benz, Tata Motors, DB Schenker, Hermes and Cabify.
Chris Sheldrick, CEO and co-founder of what3words said, ''HERE is the richest, most accurate and freshest mapping system on the market and it now comes with the easiest way to communicate a location.
''Using a traditional address in a vehicle can be a bad experience. They are clunky and lengthy to type, and even a voice assistant will often mishear you. Once the address is accepted, it won't take you to a precise location, such as the specific entrance you need, it'll route you to where the pin drops '' which is often the centre of the building.
J¸rgen Behrens, Senior Vice President and Chief Product Officer at HERE Technologies said: ''Our partnership with what3words is a solid example of how HERE continues to innovate in the area of navigation.
''Automotive OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers can now provide the what3words service to their customers through the HERE Search API instead of having to integrate it themselves. This will allow drivers to navigate easily in dense, urban environments with non-standard addressing schemes or seamlessly get to any location, be it a local pub or a trailhead.''
Noodle Gun
Expensify CEO email Noodle Gun
From: David Barrett
Date: Oct 23, 2020, 4:38 AM -0500
To: camerondodd@firstchurch.com
Subject: [Expensify] Protect democracy, vote for Biden.
I know you don't want to hear this from me. And I guarantee I don't want to say it. But we are facing an unprecedented attack on the foundations of democracy itself. If you are a US citizen, anything less than a vote for Biden is a vote against democracy.
That's right, I'm saying a vote for Trump, a vote for a third-party candidate, or simply not voting at all -- they're all the same, and they all mean:
"I care more about my favorite issue than democracy. I believe Trump winning is more important than democracy. I am comfortable standing aside and allowing democracy to be methodically dismantled, in plain sight."
If the polls are accurate, there's a roughly 50% chance that you agree Trump needs to go. You know what to do: show up on November 3rd and vote for Biden. Or even better, don't wait until then: vote today. Go to Vote.org if you need help figuring out how.
The rest of this email is intended to address the concerns of those who disagree, and I'll try to take the most likely questions in turn:
Q: Why do you care so much about democracy?
Democracy is core to our business success, in a variety of ways. Internally, we are a famously "flat" organization -- nobody reports to anyone else, and advancement is the result of meeting well defined criteria as judged by the vote of those who have already advanced. How we compensate each other is left up to a team vote as well. Even our external business model depends on individual employees "electing" to adopt Expensify as individuals, and then "campaigning" internally to get it adopted companywide. At every layer, democracy is our core competitive advantage -- both as a company, and as a nation. But that advantage is only as strong as the clarity of our rules and the fairness of their application. Any attempt to disrupt the rules or apply them unfairly is a direct threat to the strength of our company, and the strength of our nation.
Q: What gives you the right to tell me what to do?
The first amendment. To be clear, you don't need to listen. But the first amendment exists to encourage people like you and me to find some way to talk about the issues that matter, set aside our differences, and find a common ground on which to collectively govern 331 million citizens. Yes democratic self-rule can be inconvenient. But a burden of democracy is that this is literally our job, so I'm asking all of us to take it seriously.
Q: But you're a company, shouldn't you remain neutral?
Expensify depends on a functioning society and economy; not many expense reports get filed during a civil war. As CEO of this business, it's my job to plot a course through any storm -- and all evidence suggests that another 4 (or as Trump has hinted -- 8, or more?) years of Trump leadership will damage our democracy to such an extent, I'm obligated on behalf of shareholders to take any action I can to avoid it. I am confident our democracy (and Expensify) can survive a Biden presidency. I can't say the same about Trump. It's truly as simple as that.
Q: Don't you think you're... exaggerating a bit?
I truly wish I was. I wouldn't be sending this email if this election were just about "normal issues" -- taxes, legislative priorities, healthcare, etc. But it isn't. This election is a referendum on what limits, if any, we place on our elected leaders to govern us in a fair and representative way. This election will decide if widespread voter suppression is an acceptable governing tactic.
Q: Doesn't everyone suppress votes?
Not like Trump. This is the most heavily litigated election in history, with over 300 lawsuits rushing through the courts before election day. And in every case, Biden is pushing to enable voters while Trump is pushing to suppress them. The trend couldn't be more clear: Biden wants democracy, Trump does not. A vote for Trump is to endorse voter suppression, it really is very basic. This isn't about party politics: if Biden were advocating for half of the voter suppression that Trump is actively doing, then I'd be fighting against Biden, too. This is bigger than politics as usual: this is about the very foundation of our nation.
Q: Isn't Trump just trying to prevent voter fraud?
Voter fraud is virtually nonexistent, as overwhelmingly shown by data showcased by the White House itself. That data comes from the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank counting every single known case of voter fraud since 1948, which adds up to only 1,290 distinct votes over 78 years. In 2016 alone there were 138 million votes. There is just no credible argument that voter fraud is significant, even based on Trump's own data.
Q: Isn't Biden just using more widespread voting to get elected?
Absolutely. This is the heart of the issue. Biden believes that enabling more people to vote will help him win. Biden wins by promoting democracy; Trump wins by suppressing it. A vote for Biden is a vote for democracy.
Q: So what if Trump gets elected by voter suppression, all's fair right?
Well that's what we're going to decide, on November 3rd. Do you want your elected official to win based on the merits of their ideas? Or based on the ruthlessness of their voter suppression? And if you're ok with "just a little suppression" -- where do you draw the line?
Q: Why send me this when the polls say Biden is going to win?
The polls said Trump was going to lose last time, and he didn't. But even if the polls can be trusted, that might still not be enough. Trump has stated repeatedly he will only honor an election that he personally feels is fair. So much depending on his personal judgement is worrying, because he has rejected the overwhelming expert consensus that voter fraud has been negligible historically, and has also said he believes it would be impossible to lose a fair election. Accordingly, the only way to ensure a peaceful transition of power is to ensure this election is an overwhelming, undeniable landslide in favor of Biden. Any excuse to question the election is an opportunity for Trump to refuse to leave the White House, plunging this country into a Constitutional crisis bordering on civil war. No matter how slight that risk might be, the consequences of it happening would be so catastrophic to society and the economy, we need to do all we can to prevent it.
So one final plea. As a fellow citizen, I fully support and respect your Constitutional right to disagree -- and as an avid supporter of democracy, I value that disagreement. Constructive, well-informed debate (hopefully using the most accurate, least biased news source available) is what makes this nation so exceptional.
But the Constitution is only as strong as the respect we give it. I'm asking you to cherish it close to your heart, and demand that those you elect do the same.
-david
Founder and CEO of Expensify
PS: Agree or disagree? Reply to this email to share your thoughts with Concierge, or hit me up on Twitter @dbarrett to discuss!
PPS: Want to do even more? Support the National Popular Vote to make every vote count equally toward the presidential election, even if you aren't in one of the 12 states deciding this election.
PPPS: Are you annoyed that you received this as a non-US citizen? If you're lucky enough to live in a democracy, then I'd encourage you to protect it and be willing to do uncomfortable things -- like emailing millions of customers -- to defend it.Sent by: Expensify, Inc. - 548 Market St #61434 - San Francisco, CA 94103
To unsubscribe, please click here
Woke Equestrians
Tampax on Twitter: "Fact: Not all women have periods. Also a fact: Not all people with periods are women. Let's celebrate the diversity of all people who bleed! ðŸ'🎨: @gobeeharris #mythbusting #periodtruths #transisbeautiful https://t.co/5s1416cZBw" /
Sun, 25 Oct 2020 10:48
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SkyLight : @Tampax @gobeeharris Wow! Disgraceful a company such as this is trying to double their customer base by difying med'... https://t.co/0sdoBsRtC8
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🏁 Mags Francis : @Tampax @gobeeharris Gonna have to find myself a new brand of tampons then.... Any suggestions GC folks?
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Sun Oct 25 10:40:35 +0000 2020
Holy Wars
Catholic leaders condemn pope's endorsement of same-sex unions
Sat, 24 Oct 2020 05:34
News
By Lia Eustachewich
October 23, 2020 | 12:56pm
Pope Francis' support for same-sex unions is being openly criticized by several Roman Catholic leaders in America '-- who say his recently revealed pro-gay remarks cause ''confusion and error'' and fly in the face of church teachings.
Cardinal Raymond Burke, a frequent critic of Francis, said the pope's comments should be ''rightly interpreted as simple private opinions of the person who made them.''
''Such declarations generate great bewilderment and cause confusion and error among Catholic faithful,'' Burke, a member of the Vatican's highest court, said in a statement Thursday on his website.
He added that Francis' views were contrary to Catholic teachings.
The pontiff, 83, endorsed civil unions for same-sex couples in a 2019 interview with Mexican broadcaster Televisa. The never-before-seen clip was aired in the new documentary ''Francesco,'' the Washington Post reported.
''Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family. They're children of God and have a right to a family,'' Francis says.
''Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it.''
On Thursday night, Televisa spokesman Ruben Acosta Montoya confirmed the pope's comments in the 2019 interview to the Washington Post and accused the Vatican '-- which owned and controlled the cameras '-- of removing it from the segment.
''Someone at the Vatican gave us the part that we did broadcast, and later they gave the rest of the material to someone else,'' Acosta Montoya wrote in an email.
Burke blasted Francis' endorsement as doing more harm than good.
Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke and Pope Francis Getty Images''They cause wonderment and error regarding the Church's teaching among people of good will, who sincerely wish to know what the Catholic Church teaches,'' he said. ''They impose upon pastors of souls the duty of conscience to make fitting and necessary clarifications.''
Bishop Thomas Tobin, of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, also agreed with Burke that the pope's statement ''clearly contradicts what has been the long-standing teaching of the Church about same-sex unions.''
''The Church cannot support the acceptance of objectively immoral relationships,'' Tobin said in a statement. ''Individuals with same-sex attraction are beloved children of God and must have their personal human rights and civil rights recognized and protected by law. However, the legalization of their civil unions, which seek to simulate holy matrimony, is not admissible.''
Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, went even further, calling the pope's gay support ''confusing and very dangerous,'' according to the National Catholic Reporter.
''The church is weak. The church is not clear,'' he told radio host Cy Kellett, adding that support for civil unions is just ''Pope Francis' opinion.''
''We were relying on the papacy to be this beacon of clarity and stability, and it just doesn't feel clear and stable anymore,'' said Strickland, a frequent critic of the pope.
Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston, however, seemed to defend the Holy Father's comments, as he released a statement saying the pope's ''endorsement of civil unions is not an endorsement of homosexual activity,'' according to The Pilot, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Boston.
''Father recognizes that in civil society there can be cogent reasons to enact such laws providing for civil unions which are not the same as the institution of marriage,'' he said. ''The Holy Father is very aware of the suffering and alienation of homosexual individuals, gay people, who are rejected by family and society.''
NWO
BBC's upcoming White Helmets 'documentary' gears up to be a character assassination of those who challenge Syria war narratives '-- RT Op-ed
Sat, 24 Oct 2020 15:28
Vanessa Beeley
is an independent journalist and photographer who has worked extensively in the Middle East '' on the ground in Syria, Egypt, Iraq and Palestine, while also covering the conflict in Yemen since 2015. Follow her on Twitter @VanessaBeeley
is an independent journalist and photographer who has worked extensively in the Middle East '' on the ground in Syria, Egypt, Iraq and Palestine, while also covering the conflict in Yemen since 2015. Follow her on Twitter @VanessaBeeley
The BBC is preparing an attack against journalists, former diplomats, academics and scientists who challenge the dominant pro-war narratives against Syria underpinned by the pseudo-humanitarian White Helmets.
The British public broadcaster has sent out requests for comments to those who have dared to expose the role the UK government and its intelligence agencies have played in the destabilization of Syria, which look more like neo-McCarthyist charge sheets. The producer of an upcoming Radio 4 documentary series had been in email and telephone conversation with the author of this article, as well as Peter Ford, former UK ambassador to Syria, and members of the Working Group on Syria, Media and Propaganda (WGSMP) since June 2020. The result of those conversations, during which the evidence emanating from serious scientific research and on-the-ground testimony was presented to the producer, was a familiar list of accusations of ''conspiracy theorism'' and suggestions of ''incentivized'' Russian or Syrian bias.
2. I stand by my statements to that effect. This was threat fm BBC: "That you call the White Helmets a 'legit target' in order to back the right of the Syrian and Russian military in their efforts to bomb them." .....
'-- vanessa beeley (@VanessaBeeley) October 13, 2020Fellow independent journalist Eva Bartlett has spent long periods of time inside Syria, reporting from many of the most high-risk areas during the Syrian Arab Army allied campaigns to liberate swathes of Syrian territory from the US coalition-proxy occupation. She had this to say about the email she received a few days ago:
''The questions emailed to me by the BBC evidence a predetermined intent to character assassination. This approach shows an utter lack of journalistic integrity on the part of the BBC.
The BBC's hostile insinuations against me arrogantly infer that neither I nor the Syrians I interview think for ourselves, but are puppets of the Syrian and Russian governments. My journalism dates back to 2007 and is quite extensive, with 13 years of on the ground experience, from Palestine and Syria, to Venezuela and eastern Ukraine, and elsewhere.
My focuses have been on giving voice to Syrians disappeared by corporate media, highlighting the terrorism they endured by terrorist groups which the West dubs ''rebels,'' and highlighting war propaganda by outlets such as the BBC.''
It was clear from the BBC's line of questioning that this was not a genuine investigation into the life and times of White Helmets founder, and former British military intelligence officer, James Le Mesurier. It is effectively a damage limitation exercise designed to discredit the evidence that points to the White Helmets being a propaganda construct with extremist connections funded by the US/UK coalition to vilify the Syrian government and allies, thus justifying military intervention by proxy and aggression against a sovereign nation. The aggression includes economic sanctions that have devastated the Syrian economy and caused widespread poverty and food insecurity among the Syrian people.
The upcoming BBC programme '' 'Mayday' '' appears to be an attempt to whitewash British intelligence operations inside Syria. Operations that were recently further exposed following the leak of alleged UK Foreign Office documents, reported by Grayzone, which detailed the extent to which the UK government provided media and PR support to the armed groups in Syria. Those groups effectively include Al Qaeda and Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) affiliates such as Jaysh Al-Islam and Ahrar Al-Sham, who are responsible for the horrific bloodshed and devastation of infrastructure in the areas they invaded and occupied.
The UK and EU government-funded Mayday Rescue organisation was established by Le Mesurier to provide an intermediary management of the funds the UK government was providing to the White Helmets as they embedded themselves with armed groups in extremist-controlled areas throughout Syria, more recently exclusively in Idlib, the last remaining and ''largest Al Qaeda haven since 9/11.'' Le Mesurier died in November 2019 having fallen from the balcony of his Istanbul home which he shared with his third wife, Emma Winberg. Three days before his death, which was ruled a suicide, Le Mesurier had reportedly admitted to defrauding Mayday Rescue of funds provided by UK and European governments.
Also on rt.com White Helmets co-founder stole aid money destined for Syria '' report It is also worth a reminder that the Dutch government had withdrawn funding from Mayday Rescue in 2018 following an extensive investigation that had concluded a lack of assurances that funds were not being hijacked by the armed groups in Syria, including Al Qaeda.
The BBC pins its arguments on the view that the White Helmets are a ''humanitarian'' organisation '' an Oscar-winning illusion that has been dismantled by some of the most acclaimed independent journalists and researchers of our time, including Cory Morningstar, Rick Sterling, Eva Bartlett, Stephen Kinzer, Robert Parry, John Pilger, Gareth Porter, Ray McGovern, Phillip Giraldi, Craig Murray and former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter, to name just a few.
Former White Helmets says all you need to know about this natural born liar. The image is from Yemen; the Russian bombers were photoshopped in. How this known Al Qaeda sympathizer was allowed to live in NYC is beyond me. Below find the original photo. See anything different? pic.twitter.com/rgJaM701Xo
'-- Scott Ritter (@RealScottRitter) October 20, 2020The former UK ambassador to Syria, Peter Ford, also received the BBC bill of indictment and he issued this statement in response:
''The BBC have systematically tried to suppress views on Syria which run counter to the standard one-sided narrative. This programme's efforts to smear dissenters takes BBC conduct to a new low. By alleging conspiracy theorising where there is only evidence-based reporting and analysis, the BBC is showing its frustration at being unable to stifle truth-telling.
The only conspiracy here is whatever coordination has taken place between the BBC and British authorities responsible for failing to achieve regime change in Syria despite throwing many millions of taxpayer money at the effort. Why is the BBC not drawing attention to the biggest failure of British foreign policy since Suez, as judged by its self-proclaimed objective of removing Assad, rather than busying itself with trying to take down unsupported individual dissenters who have ranged against them the vast wealth and resources of the establishment?
The charge of biggest failure since Suez as judged by its own objective of regime change is stinging because palpably true, and will with luck get some play in the follow up. It's an angle that has been largely lost in the welter of detail.''
On October 5, the US and UK envoys to the UN Security Council (UNSC) led the campaign to ban the former Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) director general, Jose Bustani, from briefing the UNSC meeting presided over by Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia. Nebenzia accused the US/UK-led truth-suppressors of bringing the UNSC into disrepute. One week later, the BBC, a de facto UK-state-media outlet, kicked off its attack on the individuals responsible for highlighting the corruption of the OPCW and the fraud that was the final report on the alleged Douma chemical attack in April 2018.
One member of the WGSMP, Paul McKeigue, has published his conversations with the producer. Regarding the Douma incident, McKeigue informs us that ''a reader of this correspondence could reasonably conclude that [..]Raed Saleh (White Helmets leader) has something to hide, and further that [the BBC producer] is, for some reason, colluding with him by helping him to avoid having to respond'' to questions regarding the whereabouts of the bodies of the alleged chemical weapon attack victims. Part of my response to the BBC also alludes to the apparent suppression of evidence:
''A BBC producer, Riam Dalati, has stated publicly that the Douma hospital scenes, the site of the alleged chemical weapon attack in Syria, 2018, were staged. As has been pointed out repeatedly to Riam Dalati and the BBC, if the hospital scenes at Douma were staged so too were the films of the deceased in the Douma apartment block. The BBC have never reported this information, nor has it passed the information obtained by its producer to either the OPCW FFM or the IIT. It is extraordinary and completely unjustifiable that the BBC should be withholding this vital information from a UN linked organisation.''
Dr. Piers Robinson, the co-founder of the WGSMP, accused the BBC of suppressing truth:
''The BBC is also attempting to smear academics researching alleged chemical weapons attacks in Syria as 'conspiracy theorists', even though their work has been supported by the leading chemical and biological weapons expert the late Julian Perry Robinson and vindicated by whistleblowers and leaks from the OPCW itself. The BBC is not engaging in journalism but rather suppression of the truth.''
In conclusion, the BBC is not an honest broker. Our work as journalists and researchers is to mine for the truth. The BBC's output, especially with regards to foreign affairs, is produced in lock-step with UK foreign policy objectives. In the context of the war against Syria, this has resulted in a pattern of omission and censorship that has underpinned UK FCO efforts to foment conflict within Syria and to overthrow the internationally recognised Syrian government.
The result has been an illegal war that has caused death and suffering for millions of Syrian people. Regarding the UK/US intelligence-incubated, Al Qaeda-linked, White Helmets, the BBC could be considered complicit in manufacturing consent for another ''humanitarian war'' through their lack of ''rigorous journalism'' and omission of the facts surrounding this UK state-client-propaganda-manufacturer. Just as the BBC defended the WMD ''dodgy dossier'' that decimated Iraq and led to the deaths of millions of Iraqis, we now see the BBC rallying around the chemical weapon ''dodgy dossier'' that has enabled the prolongation of the barbaric war against the Syrian people.
Editor's note: RT has reached out to the BBC producer for comment on issues raised in Vanessa's article. A BBC spokesperson gave this response:
''The BBC's journalism is rigorous, independent and impartial, and that will be evident to anyone who listens to this new series.''
Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
War on Poppies
Walmart sues United States government over opioid case | US & Canada News | Al Jazeera
Fri, 23 Oct 2020 02:53
Walmart filed a lawsuit against the US Department of Justice and the US Drug Enforcement Administration on Thursday.
Retail giant Walmart Inc announced on Thursday that it had filed a lawsuit against the United States government, seeking clarity on the roles and legal responsibilities of pharmacists and pharmacies in filling opioid prescriptions.
Walmart said certain officials in the US Department of Justice (DOJ) are threatening to sue the retail giant, claiming pharmacists should have refused to fill otherwise valid opioid prescriptions.
''We are bringing this lawsuit because there is no federal law requiring pharmacists to interfere in the doctor-patient relationship to the degree DOJ is demanding,'' Walmart, which runs one of the largest pharmacy chains in the country, said in a statement.
In its lawsuit against the DOJ and the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Walmart said federal authorities are seeking civil penalties related to its alleged failure to submit suspicious order reports, adding that this potential move would be ''unprecedented''.
The DOJ and the DEA did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters news agency Thursday.
On Wednesday, a West Virginia court ruled that Walmart must turn over information about federal and state investigations into its opioid-related practices to hospitals suing the company for allegedly contributing to the epidemic.
Opioid addiction claimed roughly 400,000 lives in the US from 1999 to 2017, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Critics of the pharmaceutical industry said opioid makers hid the addiction and abuse risks of prolonged use from consumers, spurring the crisis.
Earlier this week, Purdue Pharma LP agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges over the handling of its addictive prescription opioid OxyContin and pay $225m in a deal with US prosecutors that effectively sidestepped paying billions of dollars in penalties and stopped short of criminally charging its executives or wealthy Sackler family owners.
H1B
Two More Major Lawsuits Filed Against Trump H-1B Visa Restrictions
Sat, 24 Oct 2020 11:23
Donald Trump gives a speech on May 16, 2019, on a never-released immigration proposal that he said ... [+] would prioritize foreign nationals with high skills. Two October 2020 H-1B regulations from his administration would make it difficult for many high-skilled foreign nationals to work in the United States. (Photo by Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
NurPhoto via Getty ImagesU.S. companies, universities and associations have combined to file two lawsuits against the Trump administration's new H-1B visa regulations. Critics say the purpose of the rules is to make it virtually impossible for U.S. employers to hire high-skilled foreign nationals or sponsor them for permanent residence. Plaintiffs believe the new rules could force about 200,000 foreign-born scientists, engineers and other professionals in H-1B status to leave America when their cases become subject to renewal.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, along with the National Association of Manufacturers, the Presidents' Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, and other organizations and universities that include Stanford, Cornell and the University of Southern California, filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against both the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) H-1B rule and the Department of Labor (DOL) H-1B wage rule. The two rules were published on October 8, 2020.
In a second (''Purdue'') lawsuit, Purdue University, the University of Michigan and several other universities and organizations, including the Information Technology Industry Council, filed a complaint against the DOL H-1B wage rule in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) spearheaded the lawsuit, with attorneys who included Jesse Bless, Jeff Joseph, Charles Kuck and Greg Siskind. (Another major lawsuit against the DOL H-1B wage rule was filed on October 16, 2020.)
In the U.S. Chamber of Commerce lawsuit against the DHS and DOL rules, the lead counsel is Paul Hughes of McDermott Will & Emery, who successfully litigated for a preliminary injunction against the Trump administration's June 2020 proclamation that suspended the entry of foreign nationals on H-1B and other temporary visas. In the Chamber complaint, stinging opening paragraphs refer to the Trump administration's defeat in that case.
''Five days later, having failed to demolish the H-1B program by imposing an entry ban, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor announced interim final rules designed to substantially restrict, if not outright eliminate, the H-1B visa category,'' according to the complaint. ''These rules are extraordinary: If left unchecked, they would sever the employment relationship of hundreds of thousands of existing employees in the United States, and they would virtually foreclose the hiring of new individuals via the H-1B program. They would also gut EB-2 and EB-3 immigrant visas, which provide for employment-based permanent residence in the United States.''
''Despite their massive impact, defendants promulgated these Rules without the notice-and-comment rulemaking required by the Administrative Procedure Act (APA),'' continues the complaint. ''Because defendants have no 'good cause' to dispense with the APA's most fundamental protection for the regulated public, the Court should swiftly set these Rules aside.''
The plaintiffs dispute that the defendants (DHS and DOL) had 'good cause' under the Administrative Procedure Act to put the H-1B rules into effect without permitting the public to comment because of U.S. unemployment. The Chamber plaintiffs cited a National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data that revealed: ''The U.S. unemployment rate for individuals in computer occupations stood at 3.5% in September 2020, not changed significantly from the 3% unemployment rate in January 2020 (before the pandemic spread in the U.S.).''
The complaint cites the NFAP analysis to respond to another point argued by DHS to justify a ''good cause'' exception under the Administrative Procedure Act. ''For its part, the DHS Rule also asserts 'a significant jump in unemployment due to Covid-19 between August 2019 and August 2020 in two industry sectors where a large number of H-1B workers are employed,' citing numbers for 'the Information sector' and 'the Professional and Business Services Sector,''' notes the Chamber complaint. ''But the unemployment figures for those 'sectors' consist of all jobs in the companies that constitute those sectors '' janitors, receptionists, and all. In fact, only roughly 10% of jobs in the information and professional services sectors are in occupations similar to those occupied by high-skilled H-1B professionals. Sector-wide unemployment figures are therefore not probative with respect to competition from H-1B workers.''
The Chamber and Purdue lawsuits emphasized the ''reliance interests'' for employers and foreign nationals in the United States. ''[B]oth rules '' and their aggressive implementation schedules '' seriously erode the 'significant reliance interests' of universities, businesses, research facilities, and healthcare providers that have organized themselves around the existing regulations, and of the foreign workers who set up their lives here in reliance on those policies,'' according to the Chamber complaint. ''As defendants see it, roughly one-third of the existing approximately 580,000 employees currently in the United States [in H-1B status] will be rendered ineligible to renew their visas '' and thus separated from their job and the home that they have made in America.''
Both lawsuits cite the unusual rush to publish the Department of Labor rule and bypass the standard review process. ''Prior to issuance, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) made the surprise, unexplained decision to waive review,'' notes the Purdue complaint. ''Under Executive Order 12866, any rulemaking that 'is likely to result in a rule that may . . . have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more or adversely affect in a material way the economy, a sector of the economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public health or safety, or State, local, or tribal governments or communities' requires further review by OIRA.''
The Chamber complaint focuses on two particular aspects of the DHS and DOL rules. The complaint explains the required salary ''increases are staggering'' when one compares the prevailing wage requirements under the prior system to those mandated under the new DOL rule. The complaint cites a National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) analysis and notes: ''For example, the required minimum wage for software developers '' a common H-1B occupation '' is about 45% higher under the DOL rule than under the agency's prior practice; for computer network architects, the new minimum is about 40% higher. The same pattern is seen across many occupations frequently held by H-1B workers.'' The complaint reprints the table below from the NFAP analysis.
''H-1B, EB-2 [employment-based second preference] and EB-3 [employment-based third preference] applications, and especially H-1B renewals, occur on a rolling basis,'' the Chamber plaintiffs argue. ''Because the DOL Rule is effective now, it is causing ongoing harm to employers under these programs. Likewise, as soon as it is operative, the DHS Rule will cause immediate harm to H-1B employers. An immediate injunction is necessary.''
A second significant argument the Chamber complaint raises is the potential for the DHS rule, in effect, to destroy any practical use of the H-1B visa category by disqualifying large numbers of talented and highly educated individuals, including many current H-1B visa holders. ''The DHS Rule's new requirement that a specialized degree must always be a minimum requirement for an occupation to qualify as specialized is also arbitrary and capricious. For example, DHS 'failed to consider an important aspect of the problem' . . . by not recognizing that this places an insurmountable barrier to specialty occupation in many cases simply because such proof does not exist.''
''In particular, DHS states that it will continue to use DOL's Occupational Outlook Handbook in determining the minimum requirements of a position '' but that handbook generally only speaks to what qualifications a position 'usually' or 'normally' requires (not what it always requires) and thus cannot satisfy DHS's new evidentiary standard,'' explains the Chamber complaint. ''The requirement is also contrary to the purpose of the H-1B statute, which is to balance the needs of the American economy and American labor, not to make it impossible to hire needed temporary foreign workers. For new and emerging fields, it will be difficult, and often impossible, to show that a particular degree is 'always' required for a certain occupation.''
The Chamber complaint argues limiting an H-1B visa holder to one year if he or she will work at a customer's location and similarly focused restrictions in the DHS rule serve no policy purpose but instead are aimed at destroying a business model (i.e., information technology consulting). The complaint states specialized services that may require work at a customer's site are ''critical to the competitiveness of American businesses, research facilities and medical institutions.''
To illustrate the Trump administration's haphazard rulemaking process, both complaints cite David Bier of the Cato Institute pointing to an error in the DOL rule and system caused by extreme outliers and a small sample size skewing the Level 4 wage far higher than the 95th percentile, causing the percentages DOL set for Level 2 and Level 3 to be skewed as well. ''This is a massive error, the sort of thing that would have been identified and corrected via notice-and-comment rulemaking,'' notes the Chamber complaint.
Plaintiffs believe the DOL rule will drive away international students by making it unlikely they could work in the United States after graduating. ''Ultimately, the innovation that these students would bring to this country will migrate to other parts of the world,'' according to the Purdue complaint. ''The long-term impact of this regulation will harm American universities and the innovation and technology that makes the United States a global leader.''
''These actions would have serious consequences for international scholars across America,'' said Carol L. Folt, president of the University of Southern California. ''Our country benefits immensely from the work of uniquely talented and innovative people who come from around the world.''
''The rules being implemented by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor undermine high-skilled immigration in the U.S. and a company's ability to retain and recruit the very best talent,'' said U.S. Chamber CEO Thomas J. Donohue in a statement. ''If these rules are allowed to stand, they will devastate companies across various industries. The Chamber is proud to join our partners in fighting against these measures that will discourage investment, diminish economic growth and impede job creation in the U.S.''
In the coming days and weeks, federal judges in California and the District of Columbia will hear arguments in these two cases. All sides agree the stakes are high. The plaintiffs in these lawsuits argue the Trump administration has aimed a dagger at America's future.
Go Podcasting!
iHeart Purchases Spreaker's Parent Company Voxnest - Podcast Business Journal
Fri, 23 Oct 2020 14:36
iHeartMedia has entered into an agreement to acquire Voxnest, which is the parent company of podcast hosting company Spreaker. Launched in January 2018, following the merger of Spreaker and BlogTalkRadio, Voxnest is led by co-founder and President Francesco Baschieri and is headquartered in New York. According to iHeart Baschieri is staying on when the deal closes. Neither side released details about the deal.
iHeartMedia CEO Bob Pittman: ''This is an important addition to the iHeart digital product ecosystem, which includes our SmartAudio suite of data-driven broadcast radio advertising solutions; our position as the No. 1 commercial podcast publisher with massive distribution and promotion across all our broadcast assets; and the iHeartRadio digital platform. The addition of iHeart's offerings to Voxnest will ensure critical mass for the platform and accelerate its growth. As we continue to invest in podcasting and lead the industry, we anticipate this acquisition will have an important impact on iHeart's ability to more fully monetize its podcast inventory, and will also benefit the other podcast publishers that are part of the Voxnest network and the advertisers who are using it.''
Vape Wars
Clips
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Sun, 25 Oct 2020 12:32
VIDEO-Billionaire Paul Singer to relocate massive NYC hedge fund to Florida: Report | Fox Business
Sun, 25 Oct 2020 12:25
Published October 22, 2020
Singer is reportedly relocating Elliott Management to West Palm BeachSen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., on Paul Singer reportedly moving his massive hedge fund from New York to Florida.
Billionaire activist investor Paul Singer is reportedly the latest Wall Street bigwig looking to relocate his hedge fund from New York City for Florida.
Singer is taking his $41 billion firm, Elliott Management, to West Palm Beach, according to a report from Bloomberg, which cited people familiar with the matter.
While planting a new headquarters in West Palm Beach, Singer will also keep space in Midtown Manhattan and open offices in Greenwich so that all of his employees are not required to relocate, the publication said.
A spokesperson for Elliott Management declined FOX Business' request to comment on the report.
NY LOSES MORE RESIDENTS THAN ANY STATE DURING CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC
Even prior to the pandemic, Palm Beach County was experiencing an uptick in financial firms relocating there.
Some notable names that have moved into the Palm Beach area include Paul Tudor Jones and Wexford Capital.
Billionaire investor Carl Icahn has also fled Manhattan, along with his business, for Sunny Isles Beach.
Florida has no statewide income tax, estate tax or inheritance tax. Meanwhile, New York's top income tax rate is more than 8%.
New York is also among a number of high-tax states contending with an exodus of residents to lower-tax states '' a trend that has ramped up after state and local tax (SALT) deductions were capped at $10,000 under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
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Republican Florida Sen. Rick Scott told FOX Business on Thursday said he sends thank you notes to Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio ''all the time'' because they ''send more people to Florida than anybody else.''
During the coronavirus pandemic, New York has seen an outflow of residents who have more remote work flexibility and are not confined to the expensive metro area.
Bloomberg reported that these trends played into Singer's thought process, as he seeks ways to attract new talent in the future.
Like New York, San Francisco has also lost a significant number of residents, as technology companies have increasingly allowed workers the option to telework permanently.
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VIDEO-South Korean PM calls for probe into recent deaths from flu vaccinations - YouTube
Sun, 25 Oct 2020 11:59
VIDEO-Austin police officer resignations increasing | kens5.com
Sun, 25 Oct 2020 11:54
In an Oct. 12 interview with Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday, he said there has been a recent increase in officers resigning from APD.
AUSTIN, Texas '-- In an Oct. 12 interview with Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday, he said there has been an increase in the last several months of officers resigning from the Austin Police Department.
"... but what we did not expect was an average of eight people to resign every month for the last four months," Casaday said. "We have people going to Round Rock PD, down to places like San Marcos, San Antonio..."
Casaday added that he feels it's a dangerous situation for officers and for the citizens since Austin continues to grow.
"What we're seeing is our priority twos and threes, which are, you know, criminal trespass assaults, other types of calls now that are waiting for anywhere from two to six hours. And that's just not acceptable," Casaday said. "We've had Sunday shifts showing up on occasion with, you know, four, five officers and they should have eight to 10..."
According to the APD, there are 1,801 sworn employees in the department. KVUE has not heard back on a request for how that number compares to the years past.
Katrina Ratcliff, a now-former senior police officer with APD, announced this week that she was resigning.
"Austin Police Department, to me, is a phenomenal agency. I was proud to be an officer for them," Ratcliff told KVUE Thursday, adding that the police association's concern about more officers resigning is consistent with what she's seeing. "It's absolutely consistent. People are leaving at an alarming rate. The people that aren't currently leaving, they're talking about it."
Ratcliff was with the police department for more than four years and said she now hopes to find a new part-time job in law enforcement in Bexar County.
"We have one of the most advanced recruiting and training academies yet, yet it's being attacked as if it's not something to be proud of," Ratcliff said. "We go above and beyond the minimal requirements of our officer's license. Some departments do the bare minimum. So, for me was, I finally can speak about the morale and about our department. Tell those guys and gals to keep their head up high."
As for why she decided to leave, she said morale, among other things, was a big factor but not specifically due to the department.
"It's absolutely the profession itself," Ratcliff said. "The department has been wonderful. We tried to improve morale. Unfortunately, morale across the board, across the nation in this profession is at an all-time low."
She added that she believes some resign for their family life.
"The biggest factor for people wanting to resign from Austin Police Department is quality of life, and that goes for any police department," Ratcliff said. "People are starting to prioritize their families and their own mental health and their quality of life, and they're finding options that will enhance their day-to-day."
Ratcliff also said that the series of protests across the country and in Austin also played a part in her decision.
"We are willing to stand and hold that line, listen to the frustrations. I mean, I do that on everyday calls," Ratcliff said. "The amount of blasphemous things that were yelled in my face and my peers' faces '' it's unforgettable the amount of disdain people had for us, the way we were vilified."
Ratcliff was one of multiple officers who responded to a call which involved the shooting death of Mike Ramos. According to the Austin Police Department, Ratcliff did not use force during that incident and therefore was not a subject of the investigation, and was not placed on administrative duty.
KVUE followed up with Ratcliff Friday to see if the incident played a role in her desicion to resign from the department. Ratcliff told KVUE that the incident did not play a role in her decision.
Overall, Ratcliff also believes that more education and understanding for what police officers do is needed.
"Each one of us has a reason we're doing this. And the misconceptions of who we are are making lasting impacts on officers, and they're just not going to sit around and tolerate it," Ratcliff said. "We're not bound to that level of misconception."
Yet, she also said she's hopeful for the future and reccomends the police department to anyone looking to join law enforcement.
"... because I think the pendulum will swing back to support officers no matter what," Ratcliff said. "They're going to show up when you call."
In August, the Austin City Council voted to cut some funds from APD as the city reimagines public safety. $150 million is reallocated, which is roughly 34% of the department's $434 million total budget.
The budget cuts will also cancel all several upcoming cadet classes.
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VIDEO-Trump Announces Sudan Will Move to Normalize Relations With Israel - The New York Times
Sat, 24 Oct 2020 05:31
But the deal appears to fall short of full diplomatic ties, since there was no mention of opening embassies in the others' capitals, as Israel is planning to do with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
Videotranscript
transcript
Trump Announces Sudan and Israel Will Normalize RelationsPresident Trump said Israel and Sudan agreed to start normalizing ties, opening economic and trade relations.The state of Israel and the Republic of Sudan have agreed to make peace. This is '-- for many, many years, they've been at odds, to put it nicely. And to normalize their relations '-- this will be the third country where we're doing this, and we have many, many more coming. We have '-- they're coming at us hot and heavy. In the coming weeks, they will meet to negotiate cooperation agreements. You saw that happen with U.A.E. and Bahrain, recently; in agriculture, technology, aviation, migration and other critical areas. The Sudanese transitional government has demonstrated its commitment to combating terrorism, creating market economy and developing the democratic institution that it's becoming. Today's deal builds on those commitments, and marks a pivotal turning point in Sudan's history. This is, I would say, one of the great days in the history of Sudan. This is an incredible deal for Israel and Sudan. For decades, Sudan has been at a state of war with Israel. They have been in a state of war and boycotted Israeli goods. There was no relationship whatsoever '-- today's peace agreement will enhance Israel's security and end Sudan's long isolation from the world because of what was taking place. It will unlock new opportunities for trade and commerce, education and research, and cooperation and friendship for both peoples.
President Trump said Israel and Sudan agreed to start normalizing ties, opening economic and trade relations. Credit Credit... Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times WASHINGTON '-- President Trump announced on Friday that Israel and Sudan have opened economic ties as a pathway toward normalized relations, with Sudan becoming the third Arab state to formally set aside hostilities in recent weeks as the president looks to score a final foreign policy achievement ahead of the election.
The deal, however, appeared to stop short of establishing full diplomatic recognition between the two countries, as Israel recently has with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain '-- despite Mr. Trump's description of it as a major agreement.
''HUGE win today for the United States and for peace in the world,'' Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter.
Announcing the deal in the Oval Office '-- while on a conference call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and Sudan's civilian and military leaders, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan '-- Mr. Trump did not respond when asked if the accord amounted to full diplomatic normalization between Sudan and Israel.
A joint statement from all three countries that was released by the White House made no mention of Sudan and Israel opening embassies in one another's capitals, and a senior Trump administration official said doing so has not been a part of the negotiations.
That ambiguity appeared to reflect the wider reluctance of Sudan, where public hostility to Israel runs deep. A senior Sudanese official said his government had bowed to months of American pressure over Israel, despite fears of a domestic backlash, in return for Sudan's removal from an American list of state sponsors of terrorism. Sudan has been on the list since 1993, accused of supporting groups like Hamas and Hezbollah.
Mr. Trump appeared to deliver his part of the bargain on Monday when he announced he was removing Sudan from the list. On Friday, he formalized the decision by sending it to Congress for final approval.
The rapprochement will allow economic and trade relations between Israel and Sudan '-- a sprawling, economically struggling East African country that only last year emerged from decades of dictatorship '-- by focusing at first on agricultural products and financial assistance.
Mr. Netanyahu trumpeted Israel's new ties with Sudan as ''another dramatic breakthrough for peace, another Arab country joining the peace circle.''
''What a tremendous turnaround,'' Mr. Netanyahu said.
Israeli analysts, however, gave a more measured welcome. ''It's not a game changer, but it's a step in the right direction,'' said Brig. Gen. Assaf Orion, a veteran Israeli military strategist now at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.
In a tweet, Mr. Hamdok welcomed the American decision to take Sudan off the terrorism list, but made no mention of his country's move toward Israel.
The stakes of the deal are dramatically different for the two countries.
For Israel, the warming with Sudan is a largely symbolic achievement, partnering with an impoverished Arab country that holds little sway across the Middle East.
But for Sudan's fragile transitional government, which came to power after the ouster last year of longtime dictator Omar Hassan al-Bashir, normalization with Israel constitutes a significant gamble.
Support for the Palestinians remains strong inside the country, and Sudanese officials have privately complained of being railroaded into a deal over Israel that was driven by American political interests, at a time when Sudan is struggling to get onto its feet.
The Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, blasted Sudan's move toward normalization, while another senior Palestinian official called it a ''new stab in the back.''
Mr. Trump has had at least one eye firmly on the political benefits he might reap from brokering deals between Israel and its Arab adversaries, promoting them as a game-changing feat of diplomacy in the region. He also seeks to broker diplomatic recognition between Israel and additional Gulf States, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, after the deals with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.
In a joint statement on Friday, Mr. Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz said they would not oppose the sale of ''certain weapons systems'' to the U.A.E., in an apparent reference to F-35 fighter jets, Reaper drones and electronic warfare planes. Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Gantz said that they agreed not to oppose the sale of the weapons systems to the U.A.E. because the U.S. is ''upgrading Israel's military capabilities and maintaining Israel's qualitative military edge.''
Though foreign policy issues rarely move votes in American presidential elections, Mr. Trump's campaign hopes to rally Jewish and evangelical Christian support by showing it can coax Arab nations to accept Israel.
''The Trump team is throwing whatever they can muster at the wall and hoping something sticks,'' said Zach Vertin, a foreign policy fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington who, as a State Department policy adviser during the Obama administration, worked for the U.S. special envoy to Sudan.
However, Mr. Vertin said, ''I'm not convinced this gambit delivers Trump much of an electoral bump at this late juncture.''
Earlier this year, Mr. Hamdok repeatedly stated his reticence to recognize Israel. But Sudan's dire economic straits, with long lines for food and fuel snaking through the streets of the capital, Khartoum, forced his hand.
Worried that the growing economic crisis could destabilize or even collapse the government, and derail Sudan's transition to democracy, civilian officials dropped their opposition to ties with Israel in return for removal from the U.S. list of states sponsoring terrorism.
That process, which formally started on Friday, paves the way for Sudan to receive international debt relief, financial aid and a raft of other measures.
That could include donations of wheat and promises of hundreds of millions of dollars in investment that Trump administration officials have promised Sudan in recent weeks, the Sudanese official said.
Unless Congress objects '-- and U.S. officials said that was not expected '-- Sudan will be taken off the terrorism list in December. But lawmakers remain divided over a related issue.
As part of the deal for coming off the list, Sudan has agreed to pay $335 million in compensation to victims of the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and the 2000 attack on the destroyer Cole. American courts have concluded that Sudan was complicit in both attacks, harboring Qaeda militants who carried them out.
In return, Sudan has demanded that it receive immunity from other lawsuits and financial claims resulting from terror activity during Mr. al-Bashir's rule. The $335 million will be released to victims after that happens.
But only Congress can approve immunity legislation. And over the last several months, families of people who were killed in the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, have asked lawmakers to delay giving immunity to Sudan until courts decide whether they, too, are eligible for victims' compensation. That ultimately could cost Sudan billions of dollars and take years to resolve.
A congressional official said lawmakers are now considering a compromise that would make Sudan liable for existing claims filed by 9/11 families, but not future claims.
The reconciliation between the two former foes started in February when General al-Burhan met in Uganda with Mr. Netanyahu. Soon after, in a confidence-building gesture, Israel's national airline, El Al, was allowed to fly through Sudanese airspace on routes between Israel and South America.
But tensions quickly erupted between Sudan's military leaders, who appeared to broadly favor normalization, and civilian leaders under Mr. Hamdok, who were openly hostile toward warmer ties. As Sudan's economic crisis worsened in August, though, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo flew to Khartoum to press the case for normalization again.
Sudan experts warn that recognition of Israel could trigger potentially destabilizing street protests that would weaken the government '-- possibly led by the Islamists who were the backbone of Mr. al-Bashir's regime for decades, although their potential to whip up unrest is unclear.
While some Islamist groups have mounted small antigovernment street protests in recent months, the government has taken steps to purge Islamists from the army and intelligence services said Cameron Hudson, a Sudan expert at the Atlantic Council's Africa Center.
''It's been hard for all of us to have a good sense of what the Islamists are doing in Khartoum,'' Mr. Hudson said. ''Are they in retreat or are they lying in wait? It's hard to know.''
Lara Jakes reported from Washington, Declan Walsh from Nairobi and Adam Rasgon from Jerusalem. Michael Crowley contributed reporting from Washington, and David M. Halbfinger and Ronen Bergman from Jerusalem.
VIDEO-PRESS THE RESET on Twitter: "Giuliani just confirmed on Newsmax that Hunter Biden's laptop contains pornographic images of underage children, that have now been turned in to the Deleware state police. The Biden campaign is finished. https://t.co/v1D
Sat, 24 Oct 2020 05:29
PRESS THE RESET : Giuliani just confirmed on Newsmax that Hunter Biden's laptop contains pornographic images of underage children, th'... https://t.co/LLfs4XFH8M
Tue Oct 20 23:44:37 +0000 2020
I Chose Hampture : @PressResetEarth The real story on Hunter Biden's laptop ought to be how apparently commonplace it is for politicia'... https://t.co/xiRF6GAflG
Fri Oct 23 23:20:56 +0000 2020
Persistent-One : @PressResetEarth Was that before or after @RudyGiuliani was caught with what he thought was an underage young woman'... https://t.co/NdKQFAP62A
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VIDEO-Young Americans for Liberty on Twitter: "Police in New York are now entering PRIVATE residential property to crackdown on Jewish gatherings. Listen to the officer explain it's a "problem" that he found 10 people in the house. This is truly Orwellian
Sat, 24 Oct 2020 04:56
Young Americans for Liberty : Police in New York are now entering PRIVATE residential property to crackdown on Jewish gatherings.Listen to the'... https://t.co/g3IVYHQMkV
Fri Oct 23 18:50:42 +0000 2020
ÐÐ¾Ñ : @YALiberty Next elections - vite for Republicans. Kick out those Democrat governor and Mayor - and you will get Freedom.
Sat Oct 24 04:56:38 +0000 2020
Mike Breslin's antiwrong tweets : @YALiberty Cuomo and Deblasio are partying like it's 1939! https://t.co/buCx6Ggyx8
Sat Oct 24 04:53:40 +0000 2020
MahDude AmaDiddiyad : @YALiberty We all know what happened the last time people "just followed orders" against the Jews
Sat Oct 24 04:53:27 +0000 2020
MahDude AmaDiddiyad : @YALiberty But only against the Jews
Sat Oct 24 04:52:08 +0000 2020
Chip McTrippy : @YALiberty @Chadwick_Moore This is sickening. We all need to stand our ground. I refuse to live under tyranny. Never surrender!
Sat Oct 24 04:51:22 +0000 2020
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VIDEO-Sampriti Ganguli, CEO of Arabella Advisors, Joins Denver Frederick - Denver Frederick
Fri, 23 Oct 2020 14:47
The following is a conversation between Sampriti Ganguli, CEO of Arabella Advisors, and Denver Frederick, Host of The Business of Giving on AM 970 The Answer WNYM in New York City.
Sampriti Ganguli, CEO of Arabella Advisors
Denver: Observers of the philanthropic ecosystem generally focus on the donors and the work of the recipient nonprofit organizations. But another vital force are the advisors, those intermediaries who help direct and guide significant dollars to causes and organizations that have the greatest impact.
Now, some of these firms focus on a particular area such as impact investing, while others provide a whole suite of support services including governance, advocacy, and grants management. Arabella Advisors would be one of the full-service firms, and it's a pleasure to have with us tonight their Chief Executive Officer, Sampriti Ganguli.
Good evening, Sampriti, and welcome to The Business of Giving!
Sampriti: Good evening, Denver. It's such a pleasure to be here. Thank you for having me.
W e essentially help philanthropists and investors take their idea and turn it into impact.
Denver: Eric Kessler, who, of course, founded Arabella, was on the show a number of years ago, and I recall him saying that he was trying to provide the widest range of services possible under one roof. There are a lot more services now than when he first had that thought. So just give us an idea, a sense, of what Arabella Advisors does.
Sampriti: Denver, we essentially help philanthropists and investors take their idea and turn it into impact. So, essentially, we provide a full suite of services '' everything from a strategy to implementation. We are the de facto grant maker for a lot of organizations, all the way through evaluation, asking the fundamental question of: Did my dollars make an impact? Did they make a difference? Arabella is one of the few places where you get all of those services under one roof.
Denver: Maybe some listeners are asking: Well, how hard can it be to give money away? But, of course, I remember Warren Buffet saying that it was a lot easier for him to make his money than to give his money away. Why is it so hard to give away money to charity?
Sampriti: It's hard for three reasons. At a tactical level, there's actually a lot of laws and regulations and compliance around giving, and not all donors essentially know that. I think it's hard at a philosophical level, being able to separate out your heart '' what compels you to give emotionally '' from the rational decision to give is actually two very different muscles that individuals are flexing. And the third is: it's really hard to prioritize depending on one's perspective. There are a lot of urgent problems that we need to solve, many of which have a very long-time horizon on the solution set, and so coming up with a prioritized list can actually be very challenging.
I'll add a nuance, which is, if you are a family, or you come from family wealth, there is the added dimension of family dynamics that are challenging to wrestle with, and that's often why people turn to a philanthropic advisor to help guide them through that journey.
Denver: What are you seeing in terms of the generational differences? How do you bridge those differences when you're dealing with such a family?
Sampriti: We're seeing three things. One is oftentimes, the people who are coming into wealth today '' now in their 30s and 40s '' have very different policy perspectives than their grandparents. And as such, they are trying to maintain the family legacy and good name, while also trying to shift resources to the problems that are urgent today, that may not be the same problems that their grandparents looked at.
The second thing that we're seeing is: gender. Many more women inheriting wealth and earning wealth'... and maybe having a different perspective on who they want to give to and why they want to give, so definitely a greater focus on gender, women in their giving.
And the last thing that we are seeing is a new generation. So if we think about millennials in the workforce, millennials in philanthropy don't want to go it alone necessarily. They are more willing to work with their peers; they want to network, and they want to be more deliberate in terms of their giving. They're starting their giving journey at the age of 20 or 30, and they're saying, ''What do I want my impact to be over a 50-year horizon?'' That's very different than their grandparents, who for the most part earned their wealth and then became philanthropists in their retirement.
Denver: And as you suggest there, social media with these young people is that when they're thinking about a cause they want to support, the first thing they think about is starting a movement or bringing all their buddies along and getting the word out.
Sampriti: Yes. Since you've been in this space, Denver, you know the old philanthropy adage of the three T's: time, talent, and treasure. And I increasingly see today the three V's: voice, values, and vision. The bar has been raised a little bit if you're going to be a strategic donor. And so, the ones with whom we work are being very intentional about thinking of their philanthropic strategy as part of a more holistic strategy around social change, around movement building, if you will.
Denver: And another generational difference that I can cite is that when I started in this field a long time ago, it was pretty much grants and foundations and donors. Now, it's impact investing, it's LLCs like Emerson Collective, and it just continues to evolve. So speak about the different vehicles and partnerships you're seeing coming together to get things done.
Sampriti: I think grant making is a part of a strategy, and today, donors are using a platform of vehicles. You talked about impact investing via an LLC, sometimes we see that through a family office, if you will, the corpus of a family office.
The other vehicle that we see increasingly is a donor-advised fund. So, it is no longer the case that a family foundation or a private foundation is the only mechanism for giving. For some donors, it may never be a mechanism for their giving. Donor-advised funds are simply easier to use, and that is also an additional platform that we see.
On the LLC front, what I would say is: people are thinking about social enterprises and nonprofits interchangeably, and on the nonprofit side, nonprofits are thinking about earned revenue models. So those traditional silos between grantee and grantor are really blurring, and you're seeing an explosion, a blossoming of a lot of these platforms.
Now, from my perspective, what I would say is: these platforms are really solving for an end '' I don't want to say an end run '' but they're a work-around to the tax regime. Structurally, it might be worthwhile to think differently about the tax regime, but nonetheless, these platforms are an evolution of some of the constraints that have been put on these respective platforms, if you will, or respective charitable vehicles.
Sampriti Ganguli and Denver Frederick inside the studio
'...big builds are really about having the right infrastructure to carry out a vision of a philanthropist, and we believe that that is as important as the big idea that they're bringing to bear.
Denver: In the philanthropy world, everyone talks about ''big bets.'' You don't do that so much. You talk about ''big builds.'' What's the difference?
Sampriti: My perspective is that the field of philanthropy has no shortage of good ideas. So it's long ideas, but short execution capacity, and that's really what big builds are.
So, as donors talk about increasingly $100 million, $200 million types of philanthropic initiatives, what is the infrastructure that is necessary to get that done? You asked me earlier why it's hard to give money. Part of it is nonprofits don't have the wherewithal to very quickly receive such large sums of money. They don't have the capacity to be able to put that to good work. They've got a great vision, but when the rubber meets the road, they don't have enough people; they don't have enough bodies to execute on that.
So, big builds are really about having the right infrastructure to carry out a vision of a philanthropist, and we believe that that is as important as the big idea that they're bringing to bear.
Denver: You manage a suite of independent nonprofit organizations that provide fiscal sponsorship and project incubation to this wide range of charitable initiatives. So I want you to unpack that a little bit, Sampriti, starting with: what is fiscal sponsorship and how does this arrangement work?
Sampriti: Fiscal sponsorship is a legal term that essentially allows for a public charity to house multiple nonprofits within its borders, if you will. These ''fiscally sponsored projects'' as we call them have independent advisory boards; they have independent governance and budgetary structures, but they benefit from the 501(c)(3) status, which, by the way, can take up to 18 months to get, and they benefit from a shared back-office, or if you will, shared operating infrastructure. And if you talk to a nonprofit leader, the majority of them are social change agents, and they want to spend their time on the programmatic mission. They don't want to worry about how checks get written. They don't want to worry about ticking and tacking on all the grant agreements.
Denver: No compliance. Have somebody else do that, please.
Sampriti: And so, essentially, a fiscal sponsor provides, if you will, an opportunity to get more efficient on those things that don't bring joy to the social change agent, while ensuring that they are compliant with all of the different regulations and norms across all 50 states. So, that's essentially what we provide. The Tides Foundation also has that. There are many, many fiscal sponsors that have sprung up in part because this is such a need in the nonprofit community.
Denver: And it always sounds a little bit like Amazon to me, which is simplifying the process and making it easy for the consumer, or in this particular case, the donor, and getting a lot of that stuff completely out of the way.
Sampriti: I think that's part of it. I think part of it is '' we talked about big bets. The philanthropic community is increasingly talking about scale, right? How do we scale our solutions?
Denver: Really hard to do.
Sampriti: It's hard to do, especially if it's one donor and one idea. So, to a certain extent, this operating infrastructure provides scale, at least at the operating level, if not always at the programmatic level, that I think is a real need in today's world of philanthropy.
Denver: You guys are involved in a bunch of issues. We don't have time to go through them all, but I want to talk about a couple of them.
One that you're really well known for, even outside of the philanthropic community, is your good food practice. And that's probably because our food system is at the root of so many of our problems, and it really is pretty badly broken. What are some of these challenges?
Sampriti: Food is an exciting place for a couple of reasons: one, it's a crossover between grant making and impact investing, so you can actually invest in a lot of good food ventures. The second is it's pretty place-based. So to a certain extent, if you want good food, it tends to be proximate to you; it tends to be close. And that's what philanthropy at its heart is '' it's often pretty proximate.
So, three challenges in food. One is demand '' how do we make sure that we increase the demand for healthy food? Two is supply '' how do we get good food to where it needs to be? And three is '' what policy changes do we need to make in order to make good food more accessible? The US Department of Agriculture has already done that through making, for example, farmer's markets very accessible, but there is more work to be done in the area of child nutrition, for example, and others.
And so, Arabella really provides support in all three of those areas. We help bring together investors who collectively invest in early stage food ventures that have a social purpose that is associated with that. We help donors think about the advocacy lovers that stitch together a lot of different legislation, both at the state level and at the national level. And then we think about how to increase the supply, especially in the Heartland, of good, sustainable food and an economic model that works for them.
Denver: My sense would be the demand is pretty well spoken for right now. Boy, I see such demand for healthy food, and the younger you get, the greater the demand, but it is across every single demographic. The other two were probably a bit more challenging.
Let's get to this one about the capital flows though, and the impact investing you were talking about. Give us an idea of the kind of things that are being done where you're working with them to direct this capital to some of these interesting food startups.
Sampriti: I think there are some common ones that everyone knows'' things like ugly produce, for example, where there's misshapen vegetables and fruits, and they don't make it into the grocery store, but they're healthy; they're nutritious. That's a pretty common one.
Denver: I heard a guy talk the other day'' heirloom vegetables and fruits.
Sampriti: That's right. Heirloom vegetables and fruits, beans, lots of different kinds of alternatives. The things that we're seeing '' plant-based alternative to meat. A cool opportunity we looked at was tomato-based alternatives to tuna. We had a client who was very interested in sustainable seafood '' how do you make sure that you protect the apex predator? That's the tuna. There are now companies that are thinking about tomato that essentially tastes like tuna, mimics that taste and consistency.
Denver: I live on tuna. Have you tried this?
Sampriti: I know. I have. It actually tastes pretty good.
Denver: Does it really?
Sampriti: Yes. I'll tell you another alternative, which was neat. This was a company that had a technology that was essentially a bitter blocker. It blocked bitterness, and as such, it reduces the need to put added sugars into food. This has not just health-related outcomes, but it has alternatives to the cultural perception of what good food actually is.
And so, we look for a lot of these companies that cross the spectrum of equity '' so equitable access, health, agriculture, and seafood, and waters. Food is also very interesting because it's cross-sectional or intersectional, and helps us think differently about impact outcomes.
Denver: Yes, it's so interesting.
Another piece of work that you do and work with your clients on is the intersection of housing and health. Now, what's going on there?
Sampriti: There's another place where I would say there's a lot of innovative solutions. Health and housing are highly correlated, meaning if you don't have secure housing, your health outcomes are diminished, or vice versa. If you have reduced health outcomes, it's because you often don't have secure housing.
So we are beginning to see very large housing providers, or interested in housing like Fannie Mae, reach out to large hospital communities and say, ''What can we do together? What are some shared solutions?''
I'll give you a great example that I heard about recently. It was a developer who was thinking about affordable housing units that placed grandparents alongside foster kids who are aging out of foster care '' so 18-year-olds '' with those that were looking to downsize their homes and bringing together two different generations, generations that are often displaced, to create a nurturing environment of care and support. This was more on the social and emotional health rather than physical health, but those are some of those intersections that we're seeing and the creative end of solving social problems that are highly interconnected.
Denver: Generations United.
Sampriti: Generations United.
Denver: We're also beginning to see philanthropy play a big, big role in prison reform efforts. And this is one where you do get that bipartisan support, perhaps for different motives and different reasons, but who cares? It's there. What impact has philanthropy had on this issue, and where do you see that going?
Sampriti: I would say this is an area where we've seen a lot of new money come into, if you will, come into use, even in the last six months since there was a pretty significant legislation passed in the Senate around prison reform.
Three interesting areas. One is a movement around prison divestment. I would say that the child separation has really accelerated the awareness around private prisons and the profiteering associated with that. So, we are seeing more and more institutions divest away from private prisons as part of their investment portfolio and their investment strategy, and we're seeing banks essentially saying, ''We are not going to fund private prison building.'' That's one aspect of it.
The second is: we are seeing some technology donors saying, ''How do we erase, using technology, a criminal record so that your background can be expunged without you having to go through all of the hoops associated with that?''
And then the third movement that we're seeing is essentially some advocacy-related matters that only individual donors can participate in, that institutional foundations can't, but essentially saying, ''How do we re-enfranchise returning citizens?'' So how do we give them back the ballot, if you will.? And the Florida Initiative restored the rights for 1.4 million returning citizens was one of those.
So, what I would say is: those individuals that are really interested in prison reform are thinking very holistically about what it takes to have returning citizens. And I don't mean to be cynical. I do think this is a bipartisan issue, but I also think it is a very real function of an economy that is at full employment where you essentially say, ''Look. There is an entire part of our workforce that is underemployed or unemployed. How do we make sure that that's a great pathway?''
One of the amazing companies, B Corps, that I really look at '' I don't know if you're familiar with them '' Greyston Bakery.
Denver: Yes. They've been on the show.
Sampriti: They have an open hiring process, and they have a large portion of returning citizens. They really are a model of the kindness that you can exhibit to returning citizens and really make them part of our broader economy. So we see, if you will, the gamut of philanthropic initiatives associated. It's one of those cultural norms that has changed very rapidly, just as the LGBTQ movement has also changed, where I think there is a different cultural undertone that is driving a lot of this philanthropic capital.
Denver: Greyston is incredible. You walk into their office, and you put your name down. And when a spot opens up, they take it in order '' it's like a deli counter in some ways, or a bakery maybe '' and everybody gets a job without a question, and they save a fortune on recruitment.
Sampriti: Absolutely. They also get very high retention rates as a result of that. And so, kind of end to end, if you will, there's a huge value. And I will just say, as someone who is an employer, many of the laws and regulations in place really make it hard for someone who has a criminal background to be employed, in addition to the cultural norm. So, I admire the fact that they are bucking that trend.
Denver: Absolutely. And people should remember that next time they have Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream because they're probably'... the chocolate in that came from Greyston Bakery.
Let's turn our attention to the field of philanthropy for a moment. Some of the core practices that we go about may unwittingly be leading funders to perpetuate the inequities that they're trying to eliminate. Now, do you see this implicit bias, and if so, what can be done to address it?
Sampriti: I think there's a very real conversation around implicit bias in philanthropy for good reasons. One is, we are seeing a high concentration of wealth in the 1% of the 1%, and I think there's a very natural and real question around the power that those individuals have with their very large gifts and grants. And so, I think the optics of ''How large is my grant? What does that do to the power dynamic with my grantee organization?'' is an important conversation to have, so that donors don't unwittingly exercise greater voice and influence than they may wish to have.
I think the second is ''How do we do our grant making?'' So, for example, we see donors that say, ''I want to get money out to frontline grassroots organizations. But I have a due diligence process that requires three years of audited financials, and you have to fill out my grant report in English, when in fact, we're trying to advance causes led by Latino communities,'' as an example. So, there's some very stylized processes that need to change in order for us to get rid of this implicit bias.
I think the last thing I would say is representation. I walk into a room, and when I hear about people saying, ''How do we affect communities of color?'' and there's not a single person of color in the room, that's like check number one to say, ''Maybe we've got a bigger problem here.''
The interesting part of philanthropy is it's a pretty clubby field. The bad part of philanthropy is it's a really clubby field. So I always encourage our donors to say, ''How do you look beyond your networks? How do you get comfortable going into rooms where you're not the representative of everyone else there to actually have that conversation?'' I've really admired Jeff Raikes from afar, who I think is having very, very honest conversations about that. So I am cautiously optimistic that the conversations are being had. But it's a field that's a little slow to change. There's not an urgency. And so, it will take some time, I think, to make those changes.
Just one other side note, like many fields, there is a generational transfer in the executives that are managing large foundations. And I am seeing those changes to a certain extent based on who's coming into the foundation today.
Denver: And I think sometimes, donors are too worried about making a mistake. So often, with some of these newer startup organizations that are really on the ground, some of them may be a little sketchy, but 99% of them are not, and they're afraid how this is going to come back to them. So they go to the tried and true, and that's why we stay within this narrow band and really don't get the expansive problem solving that the sector so badly needs.
Sampriti: And I will often talk to a donor, especially if they've come from a business background to say, ''You have to think about your grant making from a portfolio strategy.'' You're absolutely right. The reputational risk is so great, and also it is hard to recover sometimes in the grantee community to build that type of trust. So I think there are good reasons for the reputational risk that donors are being thoughtful about.
Denver: How do you see the role of technology changing philanthropy in the next decade''the possibilities that it holds, but also the new things we need to be mindful of?
Sampriti: I often think of philanthropy as the sector that technology has left behind.
Denver: Well, you think about it exactly the way I do.
Sampriti: And I think that will change, quite frankly, as more tech donors make their philanthropy known'... so simply by that fact. I think technology has the great promise to bring more rigor into evaluating impact. I think it also has the ability to change access.
That said, there's no app for philanthropy. And so, I think the real delimiters are that technology is, can be invasive. It really can come in the way of the individual, and to a certain extent, philanthropy is very individualistic. I also think this sector does not think about cyber risks in the way that they should and could. There's a lot of wealth in this sector and there's a lot of opportunity. So I think there are some opportunities to really beef up the cyberinfrastructure across the philanthropic and nonprofit community writ large, as opposed to them going it alone.
Denver: Well, just read the Save the Children's stories and you'll think'...
And also, I would say that the sector doesn't, from my point of view, think enough about risk. When I look at donors and a foundation giving to a nonprofit organization, there's never a discussion about ''this might not work.'' It's like'...it's a four-letter word'... risk, so we just assume everything is going to be fine. You would never do that in the for-profit world.
Sampriti: I think that's completely right. I also don't think that the sector does enough in the area of scenario planning related to risk. Outcome A could happen, but also outcome B and C. And ironically, philanthropy is supposed to have the longest horizon to solve problems, but their grant making is either one year or three years, so their planning horizon and their vision horizon are often mismatched.
Denver: I see a lack of alignment.
Sampriti: I see an opportunity to think a little bit more about building scenario planning and risk mitigation into grant-making strategies.
Denver: Yes. Let's talk about advocacy. $60 billion is given to foundations, maybe 4% of that goes towards advocacy work, but advocacy works. We have to look at Apartheid in South Africa or LGBTQ. What do you advise your clients regarding advocacy, and where have you seen it to be effective?
Sampriti: I do acknowledge that there are limitations to what an institutional foundation can do, based on laws and regulations around advocacy. However, individual donors don't have those limitations. I don't think you can talk about system change without a point-of-view on advocacy. So, we advise donors to fund advocacy organizations; that is something they are able to do. And we do advise them to, if they have the means, to actually participate in direct advocacy measures for system-level change. I think advocacy is critical, not just for policy outcomes, but frankly to change cultural norms. And that is one of those, I would say, safer areas for an advocate in which to invest, which is: What are education and awareness programs that help to change cultural narratives to see the social change we want to sustain over the long run?
We have a culture of learning, and the people that we'd like to learn the most from are inside the organization, our employees; and secondly, outside the organization, our clients. We really try to put a lot of thought and care into what they share with us.
Denver: I had the great pleasure to come to your offices, Sampriti, and speak to members of your staff about the corporate culture there, and I went away with two very distinct impressions.
Let's talk about the first, which is you have a culture of learning. Speak about the organization's commitment to learning and why you believe it's so important.
Sampriti: We have a culture of learning, and the people that we'd like to learn the most from are inside the organization, our employees; and secondly, outside the organization, our clients. We really try to put a lot of thought and care into what they share with us.
Our staff share very direct feedback with us every year. I will share as a CEO, it's really hard to read some of those findings, but I always look for that glimmer of learning within that, beyond the aggravation that employees have. We are fortunate from my perspective, to have a millennial workforce, and they are pushing us as leaders to think differently about the work we do, why we do the work we do, how we do the work we do, and where we do the work we do. So we now have a much more remote workforce. We really focus on work-life fit.
We have screens, business development screens, around work we will not do as an organization to be consistent to our values. Would we have gotten there if we hadn't heard directly from our staff how important they were? Maybe not. I think we would've been happy to not break glass on any of those areas, but that's why we try to learn.
I think the second is: our field is so dynamic. We are a larger organization. We really need to have our ears to the ground to be able to respond to that client need in a meaningful way.
And I think the third part of being a learning culture is: Where, as leaders, can you acknowledge mistakes? Can you be candid about risks that you've taken, where you failed, and permissioning yourself to do that?
I think that another core component to it is radical transparency. We share our financials with every single person in the organization twice a year. I've had staff come up to me and say, ''That's really unusual. I've never had that. I've never had that in a nonprofit. I've never had that in a for-profit. I've never had that at the government agency I've worked for.'' My view is, ''You are part of the success of this organization. You should have visibility into that.'' We also share that staff survey that I shared with you, and it doesn't always paint management in a positive light. I've taken the bet that living the values of transparency matter more than whatever the downsides may be of exposing what some of those failures are.
Denver: Oh, I wish more people would learn that.
In terms of sharing your fiscals, I find that to be so important for a corporate culture because if every single person in the organization doesn't know how the firm makes money, it really hurts you. If everybody understands, then so many other behaviors become logical, and they know how they can contribute to that bottom line. So, it serves so many purposes.
Sampriti: It also allows narratives to foster, and people can come up with their own idea of what is important. So we really do try to share those tradeoffs. I think I focus even more on that because so much of our employee workforce is from the social sector, so just trying to build that financial fluency. I always say, ''That's a great skill to have, whether you apply it in your work, whether you apply it in your life, but I hope you walk away with a fundamental understanding of what it takes to run an enterprise, whether that enterprise is your household, whether that enterprise is a firm one day.'' And I do think our staff generally appreciate that.
Denver: Second takeaway I had, and your millennials answered part of it for me, really had to do with diversity, equity and inclusion. Diversity and inclusion are difficult, but not nearly as difficult as equity. It's really hard to move the needle. You talked a little bit about how you change your work and the work you're taking on, but talk a little bit more of the advice you could give to somebody who's trying to implement equity within their organization.
Sampriti: I think the first is: come up with a good definition that is standard. Otherwise, equity and fairness and treating everybody the same tend to get conflated very quickly. The reality is you have to have a standard definition of what equity is.
For us, it's equitable management practices, and one of the places we do that is in compensation. I wouldn't say it's controversial, but it's surprising to many, which is we have a very standard policy of: we don't negotiate people coming and advocating for their compensation. The reason for that is we have found that that is an inequitable management practice. There are certain individuals, certain personality types '' extroverts, for example '' who tend to disproportionately self-advocate. That is a real disadvantage in our firm, a real disadvantage for individuals who come from a culture where that self-advocacy is not a prized value.
And so, we've essentially said, ''We don't negotiate that way.''
Denver: No teacher's pets.
Sampriti: No teacher's pets. ''And by the way, you, as an individual, here is what your compensation band is at this level and at the next level. And so, you can very easily say, ''I want to make more money, and I want to go somewhere else.'' And people say, ''Well, that's really demoralizing.'' We say, ''That's radical transparency, and that's an equitable management practice.'' It may not always serve us the best when we are trying to retain the highest performers, but it is the equitable management practice to which we can commit. Those are the types of places where I think organizations really need to rethink standard HR policies in order to try to live those equitable management values.
We have a training that we are running across the entire firm this year which has less to do with compensation and a lot more to do with opportunity: How do we decide who is getting these opportunities? How do we make those opportunities most accessible to everyone? How is that an equitable management practice?
So, no teacher's pets and no picking. No favorites either, so this works both ways.
Denver: So interesting. You have one of the best workplace cultures around, but you still have the same challenges with retention that a lot of other consulting firms do, and that gets us back to our prison conversation. There's a lot of opportunities in the workforce right now for people to go.
Speak a little bit about your philosophy of leadership, the influences in your life that have helped shape you as a leader, and maybe a lesson you've learned that has served you well in your current role?
Sampriti: Well, I would like to think that I'm still learning as a leader.
Denver: Well, that's one of the lessons.
Sampriti: That's a lesson. I actively seek feedback, and I try to seek it in a way that is not intimidating to others. There are some power structures that make delivering direct feedback hard, so I try to actively seek that feedback.
I had a former CEO who gave me really good advice, which was: There are times where consensus is a really important tool. There are times where the appearance of consensus is an important tool. And there are times where you have to be an executive and know how to make those decisions.
And so, I've tried to be very clear with teams on: here's where I truly am genuinely seeking your decision. Here's where I've already made a decision. But I think us getting together, airing all of the different spectrum of opportunities, understanding what risks are'... to be able to manage that we'll get to that outcome. And here's where I actually genuinely cannot make a decision, and I need your perspectives.
Where I find points of tension with a leader is when that's not really clear, and where I see a lot of wasted energy in organizations is when you know that a leader has made up his or her mind, and everyone's sitting around the table and not spending a lot of time. I'm a working parent with two teenage kids, so there is nothing I prize more than my time and the time of people I work with. The social sector doesn't always optimize to time, the corporate sector and certainly the consulting business may be over-steerers, but that's always a good guide for me.
The other leadership trick that I have taken is: I'm very particular about meetings. I find people spend a lot of time in meetings. So I tend to look around the room, and I say, ''There's six people here. Do you need me for this meeting? And if so, why? If you don't, let me step out of this meeting. And if you guys can't get to a decision, come to me to help be the umpire on that.'' I think over time, empowering people to come to decisions on their own has just been instrumental. I hope that it's helped leaders in the organization grow and stretch. And frankly, it's given me a little bit more time back in my life, too.
'...first and foremost, giving should give you joy.
I believe that giving at any level is meaningful and purposeful, and I would encourage individuals regardless of how large of a check they can write to spend time thinking about those fundamental values and the expression of that through their philanthropy.
Denver: There you go. Well, I've always hated email because of meetings. Because I started my career long enough ago when there wasn't email, and meetings were pretty small. You had to go around, and you had to get everybody's secretary at the time for a meeting.
Now, you just say, ''I'll invite everybody.'' You know what I mean? And you have more meetings. I would also say just what you mentioned as being a mother of two teenage boys, you can't always have consensus. Every once in a while, you have to make a decision.
Let me close with this, Sampriti. Arabella advises families on their giving to increase impact. Now, many of the families listening probably don't have the wealth of some of your clients, but I guess at least some of that advice would apply to them as well. What should they be thinking about when it comes to their own philanthropic giving?
Sampriti: I think as a general rule, we believe that philanthropy should bring joy. I think the conversations and the field has veered a lot towards the technocratic. But first and foremost, giving should give you joy. So what I would encourage families to do is say: What brings you joy? And is there something that brings joy to you as a family? Or is there something that brings joy to you as an individual? And if you find that your giving is individual, then structure your philanthropy that way. Too many families struggle to be aligned on an issue when sometimes it's not there. So that's the first thing I would say.
I think the second is find a cause that you can not only write checks to, but that you can participate in. It's very rare to see hands-off givers today, but find something for which you can apply both your time and your treasure, I think, is the second thing that we would say to families.
And the third, the joy and the pain of philanthropy is patience. Social change is very hard, and it does take a long time. So if you're going to find something, ask yourself: Can you see yourself doing this 5 years from now, 10 years from now, 20 years from now? Can you see yourself learning the hard way like donors have done in the education reform space, for example? And if so, are you okay with trying something new in this pretty philanthropic space? What I say by that is: if you're really set in your ways already without having done that educational journey, sometimes that's a little bit of a red flag for families. So those are some of the questions that we ask.
I believe that giving at any level is meaningful and purposeful, and I would encourage individuals, regardless of how large of a check they can write, to spend time thinking about those fundamental values and the expression of that through their philanthropy.
Denver: All wonderful advice.
Well, Sampriti Ganguli, the CEO of Arabella Advisors, I want to thank you so much for being here this evening. Tell us about your website and maybe what some of these donors will find there to be useful.
Sampriti: Our website, www.arabellaadvisors.com , will give you an overview of our services. We have some great case studies of how we've helped philanthropists go from idea to impact, and you'll get to meet our great staff along the way.
Denver: Well, there you go. Well, Sampriti, it was a real pleasure to have you on the show. I could have talked to you all day.
Sampriti: It was a pleasure as well. Thank you for your time.
Denver: I'll be back with more of The Business of Giving right after this.
Sampriti Ganguli and Denver Frederick
The Business of Giving can be heard every Sunday evening between 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Eastern on AM 970 The Answer in New York and on iHeartRadio. You can follow us @bizofgive on Twitter, @bizofgive on Instagram and at www.facebook.com/businessofgiving.
VIDEO-Our Story | Arabella Advisors
Fri, 23 Oct 2020 14:46
Arabella Advisors was founded in 2005 to provide strategic guidance for effective philanthropy. Since then, we've evolved into a mission-driven, Certified B Corporation that has helped hundreds of clients representing more than $100 billion in assets increase their philanthropic impact.
Arabella is a team of passionate problem solvers, located in four cities, dedicated to helping clients make a difference on the issues that matter most to them, from climate to women and girls, education, good food, and more. Our people are PhDs and MBAs, thinkers and builders, Peace Corps volunteers and congressional staffers'--people who combine issue expertise, business acumen, policy wonkishness, and a passion for mission that can move mountains.
Our clients increasingly recognize that promising ideas with the power to effect deep social change often require up-front capital, rapid prototyping, and a higher tolerance for risk than governments or the market can provide. So they seek out actors and ideas that have the potential to change systems for the better, whether those systems are related to K-12 education, adolescent mental health, conservation, human rights, or something else. And they invest in programs'--or, in some cases, help to incubate new initiatives or organizations'--that are designed to lead to big, long-term improvements. Not every experiment works, but increased experimentation is moving us all toward scalable solutions that do.
At Arabella, we're inspired by the remarkable growth in the social-impact sector over the last decade, and we think the sector is going to grow even further and faster in the next 10 years. We're motivated daily by the roles we get to play in that growth.
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Look at the bias, hatred and rudeness on behalf of 60 Minutes and CBS. Tonight's anchor, Kristen Welker, is far worse! #MAGA
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Richard Hooper : 🥊CNN vs The Washington Examiner🥊 @brianstelter @susanferrechio and @sarafischer debate the ethics of the Hunter Bid'... https://t.co/ms3sUFddb2
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Deadly Nightshade : @HooperRJ @brianstelter @susanferrechio @sarafischer @amolrajan Susan Ferrechio obliterated Fake News Stelter. And'... https://t.co/f7ej9ueYFY
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