Art for episode 1296

1296: Kraken Keeper

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

3h 26m
November 19th, 2020
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Executive Producers: Sunny, Tony Cabrera - NoAgendaShop.com, Sir Shawn Smith, Roz, Becky Anonymous, Marshall Carpenter, Nick Foster, Baron of Kearney Missouri, Jason Mickalowski, Andrew Hall, Kelley Klassen

Associate Executive Producers: Jared Turner, Jared Armitage, Sir Chris Black of the Caricom Islands, Maxwell Mcpherson, Sir ScatMan of Norristown, Anna-Maria Wright, Jesus, Sir StinkkFinger, Dave Boseman, Adrian Danemeyer, Jay Stein

Cover Artist: Darren O'Neill

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Masks and Muzzles
Maine's Rise in COVID-19 Cases Linked to Face Masks; The Data Shows Prolonged Face Mask Use Increases Risk of Catching Respiratory Illness
Tue, 17 Nov 2020 14:38
Back to Fort Fairfield Journal WFFJ-TV Contact Us
Maine's Rise in COVID-19 Cases Linked to Face Masks
Gov. Mills' Face Mask Mandate Not Based on Actual Science
The Data Shows Prolonged Face Mask Use Increases Risk of Catching Respiratory Illness
By: David Deschesne
Fort Fairfield Journal, November 4, 2020
EDITOR'S NOTE: FOR SCREEN SHOTS OF THE REFERENCED DOCUMENTS CITED HEREIN, PLEASE SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE IN THE FOOTNOTE SECTION
The recent rise in COVID-19 cases in Maine could be linked to the prolonged use of face masks by the general public. Scientific data collected in randomized controlled trials over the past sixty years has shown consistently that the use of face masks to stop respiratory viruses is not only ineffective, but face masks may actually cause an increase in respiratory illnesses such as influenza and COVID-19.
Maine's governor, Janet ''Big Sister'' Mills has been mandating face masks among the public since early Spring ostensibly to stop the spread of COVID-19. However, in light of the voluminous amounts of data that were already available at the time, the move by Big Sister seems to be one based more on psychology and brainwashing than on actual, objective, empirical scientific data.
The U.S. CDC reported a meta-analysis of 10 face mask studies in the February, 2020 edition of its medical Journal, Emerging Infectious Diseases1 which concluded face masks do not work to prevent transmission of respiratory viruses.
One of the key studies cited in that CDC report was of 1607 hospital workers in Vietnam, published in the journal BMJ Open on April 22, 2015.2 The study concluded that the use of surgical masks to control viral spread (which they are not designed to do, anyway) was negligible and that the prolonged use of the iconic cloth masks, so popular in today's society, actually increased the cases of respiratory illness significantly.
Furthermore, a more recent study conducted by the US CDC's COVID-19 Response Team and published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report3 showed that there is a 20 times greater chance of catching COVID-19 with prolonged wearing of a face mask when compared to those who never wore a face mask. In that CDC study, it was found that of the 154 new cases of COVID-19, where patients had both a positive PCR test for the purported virus' RNA particle and real symptoms, around 85% reported they wore a face mask often, or always, up to fourteen days prior to symptom onset. The control group in that study also showed symptoms of some sort of respiratory illness, but had a negative COVID-19 PCR test. In that control group, 88% of the people reported often or always wearing a face mask. Around 4% of both groups reported never wearing a face mask prior to symptom onset.
This data continues to be ignored by Big Sister Mills and an establishment corporate media who simply refuses to report these facts on face masks in order to prop up a fear-based narrative that turns people into fearful slaves of the governor, rather than empowered masters of their own lives via a strong, healthy and functional immune system.
Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, M.D., professor at Stanford University Medical School, physician, epidemiologist, health economist and public health policy expert focusing on infectious diseases and vulnerable populations, said he thinks face masks should not be mandated. ''Masks have a use in certain settings where people use them properly. So, for instance, in hospital settings and places where you can't avoid being in very, very close contact with people that are vulnerable,'' said Dr. Bhattacharya. ''Mask mandates, like I've heard some politicians propose, are not supported by the scientific data. For instance, there is no randomized evidence to suggest mask mandates would work to slow the spread of the disease. In fact, for influenza the randomized studies that have been done suggest that they don't work to slow the spread of the disease.''
To be clear, Dr. Bhattacharya is admittedly not against face mask use when used properly. ''As I said, they have appropriate uses in appropriate places. We should take seriously what the scientific evidence is saying and not adopt policies that are far beyond what the scientific evidence has said.''
Most people today aren't even using face masks correctly. Face masks must be changed out after every hour of use to prevent bacterial growth from building up and being re-breathed. Nearly all people in society wear a mask into a business, then when they leave they'll hang it under their chin, stuff it in their purse or pocket, or throw it on the dashboard of their car. At the next stop, they take that dirty, contaminated mask, put it on and begin breathing through it, thinking they are ''stopping the spread'' of a virus, unaware of how their handling of the mask has made it more likely they'll catch a respiratory illness than if they had worn no mask at all.
Dr. Bhattacharya is also disturbed at the collateral damage done to society when governments irresponsibly mandate face masks when there is no scientific evidence to support that position. ''I think there are also enormous social harms caused by these mask mandates. Masks have become a political issue, a partisan issue; you wear a mask if you are a Democrat, you don't wear a mask if you are a Republican and you look on your fellow citizens and say well, you're being irresponsible or you don't care about freedom. I think public health should unite, not divide. Masks, I think, have become an issue, especially these mandates. When it turns into a political issue like this we have to think, as public health workers, very carefully whether we've actually done the right thing. I think we've done a very, very poor job with the messaging, taking the science seriously, and we've created a disunity in the populace around masks - the distrust for one another that public health is not supposed to create.''
In addition to Dr. Bhattacharya sounding the alarm on face masks, the University of Minnesota's Centers for Infectious Disease Research and Prevention (CIDRAP) also posted a commentary4 co-authored by Dr. Lisa Brosseau ScD, a national expert on respiratory protection and infectious diseases and professor (retired) at the University of Illinois, Chicago (UIC) and Dr. Margaret Sietsema, Ph D, an expert on respiratory protection and an assistant professor at UIC. They noted, ''Sweeping mask recommendations - as many have proposed - will not reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission, as evidenced by the widespread practice of wearing masks in Hubei province, China before and during its mass COVID-19 transmission experience earlier this year. Our review of relevant studies indicates that cloth masks will be ineffective at preventing SARS-CoV-2 transmission, whether worn as source control or PPE......we continue to conclude that cloth masks and face coverings are likely to have limited impact on lowering COVID-19 transmission'...''
Notes - hyperlinks with respective screen shots
1. https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/26/5/19-0994_article
2. https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/5/4/e006577
The next screen shot is an addendum added by the study's authors in the above link in footnote 2
3. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/pdfs/mm6936a5-H.pdf
4. https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2020/04/commentary-masks-all-covid-19-not-based-sound-data
Let Us Out!
Even a Military-Enforced Quarantine Can't Stop the Virus, Study Reveals '' AIER
Tue, 17 Nov 2020 14:43
The New England Journal of Medicine has published a study that goes to the heart of the issue of lockdowns. The question has always been whether and to what extent a lockdown, however extreme, is capable of suppressing the virus. If so, you can make an argument that at least lockdowns, despite their astronomical social and economic costs, achieve something. If not, nations of the world have embarked on a catastrophic experiment that has destroyed billions of lives, and all expectation of human rights and liberties, with no payoff at all.
[The earliest version of this article misstated the conditions of the control group. They were equally locked down with those who participated in the study. The difference between the two concerned testing frequency and the isolation response. This does not affect this article's conclusion; indeed it strengthens it: even under extreme measures, the virus spread, and more so with the extra measure intended to control the virus. Nearly all infections were without symptoms.]
AIER has long highlighted studies that show no gain in virus management from lockdowns. Even as early as April, a major data scientist said that this virus becomes endemic in 70 days after the first round of infection, regardless of policies. The largest global study of lockdowns compared with deaths as published in The Lancet found no association between coercive stringencies and deaths per million.
To test further might seem superfluous but, for whatever reason, governments all over the world, including in the US, still are under the impression that they can affect viral transmissions through a range of ''nonpharmaceutical interventions'' (NPIs) like mandatory masks, forced human separation, stay-at-home orders, bans of gatherings, business and school closures, and extreme travel restrictions. Nothing like this has been tried on this scale in the whole of human history, so one might suppose that policy makers have some basis for their confidence that these measures accomplish something.
A study conducted by Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in cooperation with the Naval Medical Research Center sought to test lockdownsm along with testing and isolation. In May, 3,143 new recruits to the Marines were given the option to participate in a study of frequent testing under extreme quarantine. The study was called CHARM, which stands for COVID-19 Health Action Response for Marines. Of the recruits asked, a total of 1,848 young people agreed to be guinea pigs in this experiment which involved ''which included weekly qPCR testing and blood sampling for IgG antibody assessment.'' In addition, the CHARM study volunteers who did test positively ''on the day of enrollment (day 0) or on day 7 or day 14 were separated from their roommates and were placed in isolation.''
What did the recruits have to do? The study explains, and, as you will see, they faced an even more strict regime that has existed in civilian life in most places. All recruits, even those not in the CHARM group, did the following.
All recruits wore double-layered cloth masks at all times indoors and outdoors, except when sleeping or eating; practiced social distancing of at least 6 feet; were not allowed to leave campus; did not have access to personal electronics and other items that might contribute to surface transmission; and routinely washed their hands. They slept in double-occupancy rooms with sinks, ate in shared dining facilities, and used shared bathrooms. All recruits cleaned their rooms daily, sanitized bathrooms after each use with bleach wipes, and ate preplated meals in a dining hall that was cleaned with bleach after each platoon had eaten. Most instruction and exercises were conducted outdoors. All movement of recruits was supervised, and unidirectional flow was implemented, with designated building entry and exit points to minimize contact among persons. All recruits, regardless of participation in the study, underwent daily temperature and symptom screening. Six instructors who were assigned to each platoon worked in 8-hour shifts and enforced the quarantine measures. If recruits reported any signs or symptoms consistent with Covid-19, they reported to sick call, underwent rapid qPCR testing for SARS-CoV-2, and were placed in isolation pending the results of testing.
Instructors were also restricted to campus, were required to wear masks, were provided with preplated meals, and underwent daily temperature checks and symptom screening. Instructors who were assigned to a platoon in which a positive case was diagnosed underwent rapid qPCR testing for SARS-CoV-2, and, if the result was positive, the instructor was removed from duty. Recruits and instructors were prohibited from interacting with campus support staff, such as janitorial and food-service personnel. After each class completed quarantine, a deep bleach cleaning of surfaces was performed in the bathrooms, showers, bedrooms, and hallways in the dormitories, and the dormitory remained unoccupied for at least 72 hours before reoccupancy.
The reputation of Marine basic training is that it is tough going but this really does take it to another level. Also, this is an environment where those in charge do not mess around. There was surely close to 100% compliance, as compared with, for example, a typical college campus.
What were the results? The virus still spread, though 90% of those who tested positive were without symptoms. Incredibly, 2% of the CHARM recruits still contracted the virus, even if all but one remained asymptomatic. ''Our study showed that in a group of predominantly young male military recruits, approximately 2% became positive for SARS-CoV-2, as determined by qPCR assay, during a 2-week, strictly enforced quarantine.''
And how does this compare to the control group that was not tested and not isolated in the case of a positive case?
Have a look at this chart from the study:
Which is to say that the nonparticipants actually contracted the virus at a slightly lower rate than those who were under an extreme regime. Conversely, extreme enforcement of NPIs plus more frequent testing and isolation was associated with a greater degree of infection.
I'm grateful to Don Wolt for drawing my attention to this study, which, so far as I know, has received very little attention from any media source at all, despite having been published in the New England Journal of Medicine on November 11.
Here are four actual media headlines about the study that miss the point entirely:
CNN: ''Many military Covid-19 cases are asymptomatic, studies show''SciTech Daily: ''Asymptomatic COVID-19 Transmission Revealed Through Study of 2,000 Marine Recruits''ABC: ''Broad study of Marine recruits shows limits of COVID-19 symptom screening'' US Navy: ''Navy/Marine Corps COVID-19 Study Findings Published in New England Journal of Medicine''No national news story that I have found highlighted the most important finding of all: extreme quarantine plus frequent testing and isolation among military recruits did nothing to stop the virus.
The study is important because of the social structure of control here. It's one thing to observe no effects from national lockdowns. There are countless variables here that could be invoked as cautionary notes: demographics, population density, preexisting immunities, degree of compliance, and so on. But with this Marine study, you have a near homogeneous group based on age, health, and densities of living. And even here, you see confirmed what so many other studies have shown: lockdowns are pointlessly destructive. They do not manage the disease. They crush human liberty and produce astonishing costs, such as 5.53 million years of lost life from the closing of schools alone.
The lockdowners keep telling us to pay attention to the science. That's what we are doing. When the results contradict their pro-compulsion narrative, they pretend that the studies do not exist and barrel ahead with their scary plans to disable all social functioning in the presence of a virus. Lockdowns are not science. They never have been. They are an experiment in social/political top-down management that is without precedent in cost to life and liberty.
[The earliest version of this article misstated the conditions of the control group. They were equally locked down with those who participated in the study. The difference between the two concerned testing frequency and the isolation response. This does not affect this article's conclusion; indeed it strengthens it: even under extreme measures, the virus spread, and more so with the extra measure intended to control the virus. Nearly all infections were without symptoms.]
Jeffrey A. TuckerJeffrey A. Tucker is Editorial Director for the American Institute for Economic Research.
He is the author of many thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press and nine books in 5 languages, most recently Liberty or Lockdown. He is also the editor of The Best of Mises. He speaks widely on topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture.
Jeffrey is available for speaking and interviews via his email. Tw | FB | LinkedIn
Get notified of new articles from Jeffrey A. Tucker and AIER.
Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner take children out of school amid White House COVID-19 outbreak - New York Daily News
Tue, 17 Nov 2020 17:40
Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner yanked their kids out of school after fellow parents complained about the president's top aide and his daughter failing to follow pandemic protocols amid a COVID-19 outbreak in the White House, according to a report by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
Kushner and Trump withdrew their three children from Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School in Washington, D.C., three weeks after a coronavirus outbreak in the Oval Office and two weeks before Election Day. The couple enrolled their kids in Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy in Maryland on Oct. 19, according to the JTA report.
A source close to the couple told the D.C. news outlet the reason for the move was because Berman offers in-person learning, while Milton had switched to virtual learning. But the Jewish day school is set to return to in-person learning on Nov. 16 '-- information that was known to families before Trump and Kushner withdrew their kids.
Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump walk with their children Arabella and Joseph, at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on September 22, 2020. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Three parents of students at Milton contended Trump and Kushner made the last-minute decision amid complaints from other parents about them being photographed at events failing to social distance or wear masks, according to the report.
The first family's refusal to follow protocol at the Sept. 29 Ohio debate between Trump and Biden, despite guidance by the Cleveland Clinic to wear masks, prompted fears from parents at Milton '-- as did several other events in the lead up to Election Day.
''At the same time of rising cases in the states and children going back to school, we were seeing the Kushners violating quarantine requirements,'' one mother told JTA, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
''There was concern for the safety of children because it was very clear the Kushner parents were violating public health recommendations,'' another anonymous parent told the paper.
Though Kushner and Trump did not attend, the White House Ceremony nominating Amy Coney Barrett for the U.S. Supreme Court '-- from which 11 guests, including the president, later tested positive for the virus '-- further raised concern among parents.
White House spokeswoman Carolina Hurley slammed the report as ''idle gossip.''
''Unnamed sources attacking a family's decision about what is best for their kids in the middle of a pandemic is shameful,'' Hurley told JTA.
''As is true for all families, schooling choices and education are deeply personal decisions and they owe no one, especially idle gossips seeking press attention, an explanation."
Covid 19 coronavirus: South Australia, Adelaide shuts down for six days in immediate lockdown - NZ Herald
Wed, 18 Nov 2020 14:24
South Australian Premier Steven Marshall has announced an immediate six-day lockdown in a bid to squash Adelaide's growing cluster.
Unlike the Melbourne lockdown, where people were allowed to exercise for an hour outside each day, South Australians will not allow any outdoor physical activity.
Marshall said he needed to "go hard and go early" to stop coronavirus spreading further, announcing a six-day "circuit breaker" for the state.
"Time is of the essence and we must act swiftly and decisively. We cannot wait to see how bad this becomes," Marshall said.
"As of midnight tonight we need our community to pause for six days. A series of wide-ranging restrictions will be implemented to significantly reduce mobility in the community to stop the spread, to stamp out this virus."
South Australian Premier Steven Marshall announces an immediate six-day lockdown to stop the cluster from spreading further. Video / SA GovernmentSouth Australians will spend the next six days under the severe lockdown before spending another eight days under eased restrictions.
The Parafield cluster has grown rapidly after a cleaner at one of Adelaide's medi-hotels accidentally caught the virus from a surface before spreading it to her family.
Health authorities discovered the cluster on Friday night after the cleaner's elderly mother tested positive for coronavirus in hospital on Friday night.
"We need a circuit breaker to stay ahead of this," Marshall said. "We need breathing space ... to protect the elderly, to protect the vulnerable, to protect our entire community.
"That is why, today, I am asking you to rise to the challenge again."
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Among the things that will be closed from midnight tonight are schools and universities, pubs, takeaway shops and cafes, factories and shops.
In addition, weddings and funerals will be banned for six days, as is all outdoor sport and physical activity.
South Australia's chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier has confirmed only two new cases for the state.
She described them as "small but critical".
Both cases are linked to the Parafield cluster, taking the number of cases linked to it to 22.
All cases have been able to be linked, Spurrier said.
Health authorities are seen testing people in cars at Victoria Park testing centre in Adelaide, South Australia. Photo / Getty"There are also an additional seven people who are either awaiting test results or we had an initial test that was negative but we are highly suspicious and treating them as infectious," she said.
"We don't have a ring road or a circle of steel that we can put in place," Spurrier said.
"And the other thing is, I don't know if somebody who went and got a pizza at the Woodville Pizza Bar then went and travelled somewhere into our regional centres, so this is applying to everybody in South Australia, and we are all going to do this together."
Major shopping centres won't close across South Australia '' but they will only be open for the "most basic" of supplies.
"As the police commissioner outlined, we need to stay at home as much as possible. So my expectation is that it will only be the most basic supplies that are going to be open and that is food, medical supplies and pharmaceuticals, so we will not be having our major shopping centres open," Spurrier said.
"Of course if there happens to be a supermarket there, we will need to get it open."
No exercise outsideUnlike in Melbourne, where people were allowed to exercise for an hour outside each day, residents of South Australia will not be allowed to participate in any outdoor physical activity.
"There is no permission to exercise for the next six days. When you are at home, you are at home unless you need essential services. You cannot leave the home exercise," Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said.
Schoolies is also off.
"We were optimistic in being able to provide an opportunity for school leavers but school leavers will not be able to participate in those celebrations now," Stevens said.
"They must be at home or at a place of their choosing for a six-day period, they won't be able to move between residences or holiday houses. Holiday houses will not be able to be rented."
South Australia's chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier has confirmed only two new cases for the state today. Photo / news.com.auSouth Australians will then spend another eight days under eased restrictions.
"Six days of significant lockdown moving into an eight-day period where we make some relaxations but still keep things tight so health can get on top of it," Stevens said.
Stevens said health authorities and police were still finalising the second stage of the state's lockdown, but referred to the situation in Victoria.
"I think we should be looking at what was happening in Victoria a few weeks ago and that is probably the level we would have to go to," he said.
"We'll make some concessions after the six days. But the eight days following that, we will have some level of significant restrictions that people can do their jobs and contact tracing and get across the virus."
The Parafield clusterSpurrier said the active coronavirus cases were presenting with very different infections than usual.
"This is still very early days in this cluster and I want to talk you through the rationale of why we are asking every South Australian to do this at this point in time," she said.
"All of the cases, as I said, the positive cases, have been linked, and that is a phenomenal effort and it means that we are very early at the beginning of this, and we have a very, short window of opportunity to close it down and stamp it out in our communities.
"This particular strain has had certain characteristics. It has a very, very short incubation period.
"That means when somebody gets exposed, it is taking 24 hours or even less for that person to become infectious to others and the other characteristic of the cases we have seen so far is they have had minimal symptoms and sometimes no symptoms but have been able to pass it other people.
"We also know, because of that characteristic, that what we call a generation is only about three days and a generation is when one case is passing it on to the next level, and then that level, so if they pass it onto two people, they will pass it onto other people, and that is your third generation."
Spurrier said health authorities had traced down to the fourth generation "but the fifth generation is out there in our community and at the moment we are contact tracing to get onto that fourth generation and that is the Woodville Pizza Bar".
Spurrier said there was "no time to wait" for the fifth and sixth generations to spread the virus around, hence the six-day lockdown.
"If I thought about this all day and then told the police commissioner, the premier, tonight, we would already be 12 hours behind so we really need to act fast under this," she said.
Woodville Pizza BarSpurrier described why it was so important for any customers of Woodville Pizza Bar to isolate immediately, revealing the link between all of the state's cases.
"The one case that we received information about yesterday midday was of a young man who works at one of our medi-hotels, not the Peppers Waymouth where the other two cases have been," she said.
"It was at the Stamford and this person was not a security guard, was not a nurse or police officer but worked in the kitchen and that made us very concerned because we could not work out how on earth that person became infected.
"How were those two medi-hotels linked? We made the link last night where we had a close contact of one of our security guards who was actively working part-time at the pizza bar and the case last night also worked in the pizza bar at the same time as the person who was at the Stamford went and got a pizza.
"We are absolutely certain '... that is what happened.
"That cemented my fears that this virus is reading very, very rapidly. You have a short incubation period and you have three days as those generations move on.
"So I know this is an absolutely big ask but if we leave this any longer and if we have people moving around the community and having a lot of contact with other people, then we're going to be in this for the long haul and it would be like the experience in Victoria where we get increasing cases every single day and we have to go into a significant lockdown for a very long period of time to snuff it out and to get rid of every last bit of community tracing."
A 'particularly sneaky strain'South Australian Premier Steven Marshall said the state was dealing with a "particularly sneaky strain" of the virus.
"A highly contagious strain. Short incubation period. Variable on the way of symptoms and if we don't get on top of that very, very quickly it will get away from us and that will be disastrous for us in South Australia," Marshall said.
"Of course, we know the restrictions are going to be very punishing '... but we know we're doing it for the right reasons to stop a far harsher lockdown which will come if we allow the virus to get away from us.
"We have one chance at this and we know the incubation cycle is extraordinarily short that we do need to stamp it out now before it gets into larger and larger rings."
No more 'panic testing'Spurrier thanked the thousands of South Australians who had turned up for testing this week, but called for an end to "panic testing".
The sheer number of people wanted to get tested for coronavirus has brought Adelaide's testing sites to their knees.
"We will prioritise our testing. We are going to prioritise it so that people who have been told to get tested '... we want them to be the priority and we are working out a plan to make sure that happens," she said.
"The next priority is people who have been to any of the sites on the website.
"It tells you exactly what you need to do if you are in a category. Those with symptoms will need to get tested.
"Going down the list, we want anybody in our community who has symptoms to be tested but what we do not want at the moment is for people with no symptoms and no link at all to any of those venues'... we do not want panic testing because that will just block up testing sites."
There were more than 4000 South Australians in isolation yesterday, however Spurrier said there was "certainly more than that" today.
"I have not got an exact number. Of course, it is very nice to tally up numbers but really our focus has been getting hold of those people and getting them into quarantine," she said.
"We are really at the beginning of this in South Australia and I need everybody to basically find a safe place to be for the next six days and stay there as much as possible.
"Whether this is a Netflix blitz for some people, and I know it is going to be really difficult for many people, but we all need to be doing it and it is quite a different situation to earlier this year."
Berlin protests teargas in water
PCR
Regulatory Concern of Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Carryover Contamination | IntechOpen
Tue, 17 Nov 2020 14:43
Open access peer-reviewed chapter
By Yuan Hu
Submitted: April 19th 2016 Reviewed: October 12th 2016 Published: December 14th 2016
DOI: 10.5772/66294
AbstractCurrently, DNA amplification techniques have become important detection tools. However, the extreme sensitivity of such techniques can easily result in contamination. This is a major problem in using these techniques routinely in a regulatory agency such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) because false-positive polymerase chain reaction (PCR) results will fail our mission. Preventing PCR carryover contamination and a capacity to rapidly determine false PCR positives are crucial. In the past, several methods have been used to prevent amplicon carryover contamination. In this chapter, we provide practical suggestions for PCR carryover contamination detection and prevention that work well with most PCR applications in our laboratory.
Keywordspolymerase chain reaction (PCR)carryover contaminationnested PCRreal-time PCRsingle-tube nested real-time PCRchapter and author infoAuthorYuan Hu* U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Northeast Regional Laboratory, Microbiological Sciences Branch, Jamaica, NY, USA *Address all correspondence to: yuan.hu@fda.hhs.gov
DOI: 10.5772/66294
From the Edited VolumePolymerase Chain Reaction for Biomedical Applications
Edited by Ali Samadikuchaksaraei
Show +1. IntroductionPolymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification techniques have provided means for the rapid and sensitive detection of pathogens [1]. The number of applications of PCR is still growing, and more and more amplification-based techniques are now used in FDA field laboratories to detect pathogens, such as Salmonella, Escherichia coli 0157:H7, Shigella, Vibrio, hepatitis A virus (HAV) and noroviruses (NoVs) [2]. A significant challenge facing us is that the sensitivity of PCR can easily result in contamination and consequently in false-positive PCR. A small amount of previously amplified PCR product or potential target sequences that infiltrate laboratory supplies and equipment or that are present in an aerosol can easily contaminate the sample and PCR reagents in the tests. Therefore, prevention of carryover contamination from previous PCR amplifications has become a high priority. As a first line of defense to prevent contamination of PCR with a previously generated amplicon, mechanical separation of the PCR laboratory into different rooms or laboratory benches is needed. Secondly, chemical, UV, and enzymatic methods can be applied to inactivate any prior amplicon generated in the laboratory. Additionally, rapid identification of contaminants and their sources is needed to prevent false-positive PCR results. For this purpose, we developed a rapid method to detect PCR carryover contamination by DNA sequencing. The combination of the above methods plus good laboratory technique should be able to totally eliminate PCR carryover contamination and allow us to perform accurate and sensitive PCR routinely in regulatory setting.
1.1. Polymerase chain reactionIn 1983, Dr. Kary Mullis at Cetus Corporation conceived of polymerase chain reaction. There is not any technique that has had a greater impact on the practice of molecular biology than PCR. PCR-based methods are powerful techniques [3]. This technique is centered around the ability of sense and anti-sense DNA primers to hybridize to a DNA of interest. When put into use, agents of infectious diseases can be detected at extremely low levels. After extension from the primers on the DNA template by DNA polymerase, the reaction is heat-denatured and allowed once again, to anneal with the primers. After another round of extension, a multiplicative increase in DNA products is observed. When critical controls are set, this technique becomes a quantitative process. Therefore, a minute amount of DNA can be efficiently amplified in an exponential fashion to result in an easily manipulable amount of DNA. The current sensitivity and detection limit is at a level as low as 10''50 copies per ml. Although the PCR is extremely easy and fast, PCR product carryover contamination impedes the routine use of these techniques routinely in regulatory laboratories.
1.2. PCR-based technology1.2.1. Reverse transcription PCR (RT-PCR)PCR uses DNA as a starting material. When RT-PCR is carried out, the starting material is RNA. In this method, RNA is first transcribed into complementary DNA (cDNA) by reverse transcriptase from total RNA or messenger RNA (mRNA). The cDNA is then used as a template for the quantitative PCR (qPCR). Real-time quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) is used in a variety of applications such as food-borne RNA virus and avian flu virus detection. With this technique, we can detect the target RNA at an extremely low level in samples. RT-PCR is an increasingly popular method for RNA virus detection, but DNA contamination in RNA preparations is also a concern. In order to minimize the possibility of carryover contamination in RT-PCR, it is critical to minimize the number of handling and pipetting steps.
1.2.2. Real-time quantitative PCR (qPCR)Traditional detection of amplified PCR product relies upon gel electrophoresis. qPCR is an advanced form of the traditional PCR. It is a major development in PCR technology that enables the reliable detection and measurement of products generated during every cycle of the PCR process. This technique became possible after the introduction of an oligonucleotide probe that was designed to hybridize within the target sequence. Due to the 5'² nuclease activity of Taq polymerase, amplification of the target-specific product can be detected through cleavage of the probe during PCR. These assays are very sensitive and can detect as few as 10''100 viral copies per reaction. qPCR techniques have evolved into a variety of other branches including real-time PCR by Taqman (Roche), LightCycler by (Roche), SmartCycler by (Cepheid), etc. Some of them are now widely in use for virus and bacteria detection in regulatory laboratories. Unlike other PCR methods, qPCR does not require post-PCR product handling, preventing potential PCR product carryover contamination.
1.3. PCR contaminationAll the PCR methods are powerful techniques. Unfortunately, the exquisite sensitivity of these techniques makes them vulnerable to contamination [4, 5]. One of the most important rules when performing PCR is to avoid contamination. This chapter will outline necessary precautions to prevent contamination as well as procedures for detecting and cleaning suspected contamination.
2. Potential sources of contamination2.1. Cross contamination between samplesA large number of target organisms in sample handling may lead to pre-amplification sample cross contamination [6, 7]. The sources of contaminants between samples are diverse and can all contribute to the contamination of the finished PCR product. These sources may include reagents, disposable supplies, sample carryover, improper handling procedures, etc.
2.2. Cross contamination between nucleic acidsCross contamination between nucleic acids is a major problem in all PCR laboratories. Nucleic acids from organisms or plasmid clones derived from organisms that have been previously analyzed and that may be present in large numbers in the laboratory environment could be a source of contamination. Contaminants can also be introduced by unrelated activities in neighboring laboratories. These sources of contamination are problematic as they may lead to pre-amplification cross contamination [8''10].
2.3. PCR product carryover contaminationThe most important source of contamination is from the repeated amplification of the same target sequence, which leads to accumulation of amplification products in the laboratory environment. Even minute amounts of carryover can lead to false-positive results. A typical PCR generates theoretically as many as 108 copies of target sequence [11]. If uncontrolled, amplification products will contaminate laboratory reagents, equipment, and ventilation systems. Carryover of previously accumulated amplified DNA is considered the major source of contamination.
3. Methods to control contaminationContamination between samples and from previous PCR amplicon generation is a significant potential source of invalid PCR results [12]. The first two forms of contamination described above can be easily avoided by using careful technique and good quality control practices. Generally, most PCR-based assays consist of three steps: DNA sample processing, PCR amplification, and amplification product detection (excluding real-time PCR). It is in the latter step that carryover contamination often occurs through methods that include gel electrophoresis, solid phase hybridization, solution hybridization, and capillary electrophoresis [7]. Methods to prevent amplification product carryover contamination have been developed in the past ten years [13''17]. Basically, there are mechanical, chemical, UV light irradiation, and enzymatic methods and closed-tube PCR detection formats, all of which can help to prevent amplification product carryover contamination [7]. The following section will focus on more recent practices and methods that have been used in our laboratory to eliminate carryover contamination.
3.1. Mechanical methodOur laboratory was designed and operated in a way that prevents contamination of reactions with PCR products from previous assays and cross contamination between samples. It includes the separation of areas of the laboratory where samples and reagents are prepared from the areas where amplification is performed and amplification products are analyzed. This unidirectional workflow can reduce the opportunity for contamination to occur. A typical PCR laboratory should be divided into at least three to four different areas'--(1) sample preparation, (2) PCR mix preparation, (3) PCR product detection, and (4) RNase free area'--if the PCR method involves RNA sample.
3.2. Chemical methodGeneral cleaning practices are important for controlling PCR carryover contamination. All surfaces in the PCR area should be routinely decontaminated to prevent cross contamination. The PCR work bench is required to be cleaned with 10''15'‰% sodium hypochlorite solution (bleach), followed by removal of the bleach with 70'‰% ethanol.
3.3. UV irradiation methodUV irradiation is an easy method to inactivate amplification product involved in carryover contamination. The method is based on the ability of UV light to induce thymidine dimer formation in the DNA that makes the contaminating nucleic acid inactive as a template for further amplification (Figure 1). A good practice is to expose all of the PCR supplies to UV light for 5''20 min as the nucleic acid will be damaged by absorbing the UV light energy at 254 nm wavelength [19]. UV irradiation is an integral feature of our PCR laboratory, and the Spectrolinker XL-1500 (Spectronics Corporation, Westbury, NY) is used to eliminate contamination that may occur during PCR tests. All of our PCR tools are stored in a UV light box (C.B.S Scientific, Co. Del Mar, Ca). PCR master mix preparation and specimen setup are also carried out in this UV light box.
Figure 1.Action of UV light on the nucleic acids [18].
3.4. Enzymatic methodUracil-DNA glycosylase (UNG) is a DNA repair enzyme [20] that can recognize and remove uracil residues from DNA (Figure 2). In 1990, the use of UNG to inactivate PCR products was first reported [21]. This method employs uracil (dUTP) instead of thymine (dTTP) during PCR to generate amplification products with distinguishing characteristics relative to the native DNA template. Because the newly synthesized amplicons contain dUTP, they are susceptible to hydrolysis by UNG. This method is the most widely used contamination control technique in our laboratory.
Figure 2.Replace dTTP with dUTP during PCR amplification and the PCR product will contain uracil. Prior to PCR, the PCR mixture is treated with uracil-DNA glycosylase (UNG). During the denaturation step, temperature is elevated to 95°C, resulting in cleavage of apyrimidinic sites and fragmentation of carryover DNA. As the template contains thymidine, it will not be affected by the UNG treatment (source: Sopachem Life Sciences).
Briefly, this carryover prevention technique consists of three steps:
The dUTP is incorporated into all PCR products, substituting dUTP for dTTP or incorporating dUTP during synthesis of the primers [15, 22].
Before PCR, mixtures are treated with UNG (Applied Biosystems, Foster City, CA) at room temperature for 10 min to hydrolyze and remove any contaminating amplification products that may be present in the PCR mixtures. This technique also has a hot start function [15].
UNG is thermally inactivated at 95°C for 5 min prior to the actual PCR.
3.5. Another amplification format without the risk of carryover contamination3.5.1. Real-time PCR-based technology to avoid contaminationIn traditional PCR, amplification and detection of the target DNA sequence occur separately. To determine if a sample contains the target sequence, post-amplification handling of the amplicon is required. A more recent technological development, real-time PCR [23], allows for the simultaneous amplification and detection of a target sequence through the use of fluorescent-labeled probes (Figure 3). In comparison to conventional PCR, real-time PCR can reduce the chance of carryover contamination. The new generation of amplification technology simultaneously amplifies and detects target DNA without exposing the amplification products to the laboratory environment. Currently, we developed several real-time PCR methods, such as single-tube real-time PCR and single-tube nested real-time PCR (Figure 4) to simultaneously detect multiple pathogens in a closed system which has substantially reduced the possibility of false-positive results due to amplification product carryover contamination [24, 25].
Figure 3.A typical result of graphical view from our laboratory.
Figure 4.Single closed-tube nested real-time-PCR system: in order to reduce the chance of carryover contamination, all reactions including reverse transcription, conventional PCR, first PCR, nested PCR, and real-time TaqMan detection are performed in a single closed tube [24].
4. Method to detect contaminationIn the context of this discussion, contamination is defined as the unwanted presence of a PCR amplicon. At times, PCR contamination is present but difficult to ascertain. If a significant contamination problem appears in a PCR laboratory, we need to walk through the procedure of testing for contamination and, if necessary, replace all reagents. The PCR parameters considered for potential sources of contamination include amplification setup, amplification product handling, and DNA aerosol and storage. Carryover contamination is determined by the following methods in our laboratory.
4.1. Internal controlsAppropriate control reactions are helpful in determining whether DNA contamination has occurred. It is important to use a special PCR-positive control which is different from the sample DNA, such as a DNA fragment with a deletion or base alteration in the region of amplification [26]. PCR products can be assessed on a gel to distinguish the control from the native PCR products. Negative controls are also very important and must be included with each run because the first sign of contamination trouble is usually the appearance of an amplification product in the negative or blank controls [27].
4.2. DNA sequencingTechniques to sequence PCR products were developed in our laboratory in the past few years [15, 28]. This confirmatory sequencing ensures that the PCR product has the expected sequence. The direct comparison of PCR product sequences from a sample and a control is the best way to determine whether two PCR products are similar or different. After comparison of the DNA sequence variation between the PCR products and the control, the cross contamination of samples can be detected. In some suspected cases, we directly sequenced PCR products by using the ABI BigDye Terminator Cycle Sequencing kit with a 3500 Genetic Analyzer (Applied Biosystems, Foster City, CA, USA) according to the manufacturer's instructions. Briefly, each cycle consists of denaturation at 96°C for 10 s, annealing at 50°C for 5 s, and extension at 60°C for 4 min. After 25 cycles, the fluorescent extension products are purified by a simple isopropanol precipitation step. Software is available on websites [29] to perform a wide range of different types of sequence alignment. DNA sequence data were analyzed by the Geneious, the GenBank sequence database, and the BLAST program from the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). Accurate identification of any contamination is required for the proper function of FDA field laboratory. The DNA sequencing method should be an ideal technology for this purpose.
5. DiscussionPCR is a very powerful and extremely sensitive amplification technique, but there is always the peril that a tiny amount of contamination of the DNA target may lead to false-positive results. It has become necessary to systematically address the issue of PCR contamination, especially in the FDA, a regulatory agency. To overcome this issue, effective methods have been successfully developed and used to avoid carryover contamination in our regulatory laboratories in the past few years [15, 24, 25].
We have effectively established and maintained a unidirectional workflow from a PCR clean to a PCR dirty area, thereby reducing the opportunity of contamination to occur.
Samples were set up on a bench that was isolated from PCR product testing areas.
All PCR master mixes were prepared in a separate room or at least on a separate bench. Also, we always used a separate laboratory coat, gloves, tubes, and filter pipette tips in the different PCR working areas.
A separate aliquot of water stock for each round of PCR was addressed.
All PCR work benches were decontaminated with 10''15'‰% bleach and 70'‰% alcohol. All the pipettes, pipette tips, tubes, racks, and gloves were UV-irradiated.
A different pipette tip was used when pipetting each of the PCR reagents, even the same master mix to each tube.
The PCR tubes were kept closed during the procedure. The tubes were opened only when necessary because of potential aerosols that are dangerous with respect to contamination. Minimizing the number of pipetting and mixing steps in PCR master mix preparation is also very important from the perspective of aerosol contamination.
It is very important to schedule PCR when not handling plasmids to prevent cross contamination.
dUTP was incorporated into all PCR products which can subsequently be selectively destroyed by UNG.
Optimization of PCRs is also important. G + C-rich products may be more difficult to inactivate by UNG because of the lower concentration of uridine triphosphate(UTP).
Positive controls consisted of a low copy number of the desired nucleic acid target and should never be prepared or stored with the samples.
Other amplification methods, such as real-time PCR [23] or closed-tube PCR [25] which can reduce the chances of carryover contamination, are now being used more routinely in our laboratory.
A rapid DNA sequencing method to precisely detect contamination was established.
6. ConclusionStandard precautions should always be employed during all PCR-based testing, whether it is real-time PCR or conventional PCR. All the regulatory laboratories should have their own appropriate controls and systematic measures to prevent and detect contamination. When contamination does occur, we need to accurately determine which reagent is contaminated. All of us should also understand that our individual working habits directly affect our work quality. We believe all the above methods can reduce the risk of contamination and ensure the efficacy of all PCR results.
AcknowledgmentsNo official support or endorsement of this article by the Food and Drug Administration is intended or should be inferred.
(C) 2016 The Author(s). Licensee IntechOpen. This chapter is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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More About Us\n
1.2. PCR-based technology\n
\n
1.2.1. Reverse transcription PCR (RT-PCR)\n
PCR uses DNA as a starting material. When RT-PCR is carried out, the starting material is RNA. In this method, RNA is first transcribed into complementary DNA (cDNA) by reverse transcriptase from total RNA or messenger RNA (mRNA). The cDNA is then used as a template for the quantitative PCR (qPCR). Real-time quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) is used in a variety of applications such as food-borne RNA virus and avian flu virus detection. With this technique, we can detect the target RNA at an extremely low level in samples. RT-PCR is an increasingly popular method for RNA virus detection, but DNA contamination in RNA preparations is also a concern. In order to minimize the possibility of carryover contamination in RT-PCR, it is critical to minimize the number of handling and pipetting steps.
\n
\n
\n
1.2.2. Real-time quantitative PCR (qPCR)\n
Traditional detection of amplified PCR product relies upon gel electrophoresis. qPCR is an advanced form of the traditional PCR. It is a major development in PCR technology that enables the reliable detection and measurement of products generated during every cycle of the PCR process. This technique became possible after the introduction of an oligonucleotide probe that was designed to hybridize within the target sequence. Due to the 5'² nuclease activity of Taq polymerase, amplification of the target-specific product can be detected through cleavage of the probe during PCR. These assays are very sensitive and can detect as few as 10''100 viral copies per reaction. qPCR techniques have evolved into a variety of other branches including real-time PCR by Taqman (Roche), LightCycler by (Roche), SmartCycler by (Cepheid), etc. Some of them are now widely in use for virus and bacteria detection in regulatory laboratories. Unlike other PCR methods, qPCR does not require post-PCR product handling, preventing potential PCR product carryover contamination.
\n
\n
\n
1.3. PCR contamination\n
All the PCR methods are powerful techniques. Unfortunately, the exquisite sensitivity of these techniques makes them vulnerable to contamination [4, 5]. One of the most important rules when performing PCR is to avoid contamination. This chapter will outline necessary precautions to prevent contamination as well as procedures for detecting and cleaning suspected contamination.
\n
\n
2. Potential sources of contamination\n
\n
2.1. Cross contamination between samples\n
A large number of target organisms in sample handling may lead to pre-amplification sample cross contamination [6, 7]. The sources of contaminants between samples are diverse and can all contribute to the contamination of the finished PCR product. These sources may include reagents, disposable supplies, sample carryover, improper handling procedures, etc.
\n
\n
\n
2.2. Cross contamination between nucleic acids\n
Cross contamination between nucleic acids is a major problem in all PCR laboratories. Nucleic acids from organisms or plasmid clones derived from organisms that have been previously analyzed and that may be present in large numbers in the laboratory environment could be a source of contamination. Contaminants can also be introduced by unrelated activities in neighboring laboratories. These sources of contamination are problematic as they may lead to pre-amplification cross contamination [8''10].
\n
\n
\n
2.3. PCR product carryover contamination\n
The most important source of contamination is from the repeated amplification of the same target sequence, which leads to accumulation of amplification products in the laboratory environment. Even minute amounts of carryover can lead to false-positive results. A typical PCR generates theoretically as many as 108 copies of target sequence [11]. If uncontrolled, amplification products will contaminate laboratory reagents, equipment, and ventilation systems. Carryover of previously accumulated amplified DNA is considered the major source of contamination.
\n
\n
\n
3. Methods to control contamination\n
Contamination between samples and from previous PCR amplicon generation is a significant potential source of invalid PCR results [12]. The first two forms of contamination described above can be easily avoided by using careful technique and good quality control practices. Generally, most PCR-based assays consist of three steps: DNA sample processing, PCR amplification, and amplification product detection (excluding real-time PCR). It is in the latter step that carryover contamination often occurs through methods that include gel electrophoresis, solid phase hybridization, solution hybridization, and capillary electrophoresis [7]. Methods to prevent amplification product carryover contamination have been developed in the past ten years [13''17]. Basically, there are mechanical, chemical, UV light irradiation, and enzymatic methods and closed-tube PCR detection formats, all of which can help to prevent amplification product carryover contamination [7]. The following section will focus on more recent practices and methods that have been used in our laboratory to eliminate carryover contamination.
\n
\n
3.1. Mechanical method\n
Our laboratory was designed and operated in a way that prevents contamination of reactions with PCR products from previous assays and cross contamination between samples. It includes the separation of areas of the laboratory where samples and reagents are prepared from the areas where amplification is performed and amplification products are analyzed. This unidirectional workflow can reduce the opportunity for contamination to occur. A typical PCR laboratory should be divided into at least three to four different areas'--(1) sample preparation, (2) PCR mix preparation, (3) PCR product detection, and (4) RNase free area'--if the PCR method involves RNA sample.
\n
\n
\n
3.2. Chemical method\n
General cleaning practices are important for controlling PCR carryover contamination. All surfaces in the PCR area should be routinely decontaminated to prevent cross contamination. The PCR work bench is required to be cleaned with 10''15'‰% sodium hypochlorite solution (bleach), followed by removal of the bleach with 70'‰% ethanol.
\n
\n
\n
3.3. UV irradiation method\n
UV irradiation is an easy method to inactivate amplification product involved in carryover contamination. The method is based on the ability of UV light to induce thymidine dimer formation in the DNA that makes the contaminating nucleic acid inactive as a template for further amplification (Figure 1). A good practice is to expose all of the PCR supplies to UV light for 5''20 min as the nucleic acid will be damaged by absorbing the UV light energy at 254 nm wavelength [19]. UV irradiation is an integral feature of our PCR laboratory, and the Spectrolinker XL-1500 (Spectronics Corporation, Westbury, NY) is used to eliminate contamination that may occur during PCR tests. All of our PCR tools are stored in a UV light box (C.B.S Scientific, Co. Del Mar, Ca). PCR master mix preparation and specimen setup are also carried out in this UV light box.
\n
Figure 1.Action of UV light on the nucleic acids [18].
\n
\n
\n
3.4. Enzymatic method\n
Uracil-DNA glycosylase (UNG) is a DNA repair enzyme [20] that can recognize and remove uracil residues from DNA (Figure 2). In 1990, the use of UNG to inactivate PCR products was first reported [21]. This method employs uracil (dUTP) instead of thymine (dTTP) during PCR to generate amplification products with distinguishing characteristics relative to the native DNA template. Because the newly synthesized amplicons contain dUTP, they are susceptible to hydrolysis by UNG. This method is the most widely used contamination control technique in our laboratory.
\n
Figure 2.Replace dTTP with dUTP during PCR amplification and the PCR product will contain uracil. Prior to PCR, the PCR mixture is treated with uracil-DNA glycosylase (UNG). During the denaturation step, temperature is elevated to 95°C, resulting in cleavage of apyrimidinic sites and fragmentation of carryover DNA. As the template contains thymidine, it will not be affected by the UNG treatment (source: Sopachem Life Sciences).
\n
Briefly, this carryover prevention technique consists of three steps:
The dUTP is incorporated into all PCR products, substituting dUTP for dTTP or incorporating dUTP during synthesis of the primers [15, 22].
Before PCR, mixtures are treated with UNG (Applied Biosystems, Foster City, CA) at room temperature for 10 min to hydrolyze and remove any contaminating amplification products that may be present in the PCR mixtures. This technique also has a hot start function [15].
UNG is thermally inactivated at 95°C for 5 min prior to the actual PCR.
\n
\n
\n
3.5. Another amplification format without the risk of carryover contamination\n
\n
3.5.1. Real-time PCR-based technology to avoid contamination\n
In traditional PCR, amplification and detection of the target DNA sequence occur separately. To determine if a sample contains the target sequence, post-amplification handling of the amplicon is required. A more recent technological development, real-time PCR [23], allows for the simultaneous amplification and detection of a target sequence through the use of fluorescent-labeled probes (Figure 3). In comparison to conventional PCR, real-time PCR can reduce the chance of carryover contamination. The new generation of amplification technology simultaneously amplifies and detects target DNA without exposing the amplification products to the laboratory environment. Currently, we developed several real-time PCR methods, such as single-tube real-time PCR and single-tube nested real-time PCR (Figure 4) to simultaneously detect multiple pathogens in a closed system which has substantially reduced the possibility of false-positive results due to amplification product carryover contamination [24, 25].
\n
Figure 3.A typical result of graphical view from our laboratory.
\n
Figure 4.Single closed-tube nested real-time-PCR system: in order to reduce the chance of carryover contamination, all reactions including reverse transcription, conventional PCR, first PCR, nested PCR, and real-time TaqMan detection are performed in a single closed tube [24].
\n
\n
\n
\n
4. Method to detect contamination\n
In the context of this discussion, contamination is defined as the unwanted presence of a PCR amplicon. At times, PCR contamination is present but difficult to ascertain. If a significant contamination problem appears in a PCR laboratory, we need to walk through the procedure of testing for contamination and, if necessary, replace all reagents. The PCR parameters considered for potential sources of contamination include amplification setup, amplification product handling, and DNA aerosol and storage. Carryover contamination is determined by the following methods in our laboratory.
\n
\n
4.1. Internal controls\n
Appropriate control reactions are helpful in determining whether DNA contamination has occurred. It is important to use a special PCR-positive control which is different from the sample DNA, such as a DNA fragment with a deletion or base alteration in the region of amplification [26]. PCR products can be assessed on a gel to distinguish the control from the native PCR products. Negative controls are also very important and must be included with each run because the first sign of contamination trouble is usually the appearance of an amplification product in the negative or blank controls [27].
\n
\n
\n
4.2. DNA sequencing\n
Techniques to sequence PCR products were developed in our laboratory in the past few years [15, 28]. This confirmatory sequencing ensures that the PCR product has the expected sequence. The direct comparison of PCR product sequences from a sample and a control is the best way to determine whether two PCR products are similar or different. After comparison of the DNA sequence variation between the PCR products and the control, the cross contamination of samples can be detected. In some suspected cases, we directly sequenced PCR products by using the ABI BigDye Terminator Cycle Sequencing kit with a 3500 Genetic Analyzer (Applied Biosystems, Foster City, CA, USA) according to the manufacturer's instructions. Briefly, each cycle consists of denaturation at 96°C for 10 s, annealing at 50°C for 5 s, and extension at 60°C for 4 min. After 25 cycles, the fluorescent extension products are purified by a simple isopropanol precipitation step. Software is available on websites [29] to perform a wide range of different types of sequence alignment. DNA sequence data were analyzed by the Geneious, the GenBank sequence database, and the BLAST program from the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). Accurate identification of any contamination is required for the proper function of FDA field laboratory. The DNA sequencing method should be an ideal technology for this purpose.
\n
\n
\n
5. Discussion\n
PCR is a very powerful and extremely sensitive amplification technique, but there is always the peril that a tiny amount of contamination of the DNA target may lead to false-positive results. It has become necessary to systematically address the issue of PCR contamination, especially in the FDA, a regulatory agency. To overcome this issue, effective methods have been successfully developed and used to avoid carryover contamination in our regulatory laboratories in the past few years [15, 24, 25].
We have effectively established and maintained a unidirectional workflow from a PCR clean to a PCR dirty area, thereby reducing the opportunity of contamination to occur.
Samples were set up on a bench that was isolated from PCR product testing areas.
All PCR master mixes were prepared in a separate room or at least on a separate bench. Also, we always used a separate laboratory coat, gloves, tubes, and filter pipette tips in the different PCR working areas.
A separate aliquot of water stock for each round of PCR was addressed.
All PCR work benches were decontaminated with 10''15'‰% bleach and 70'‰% alcohol. All the pipettes, pipette tips, tubes, racks, and gloves were UV-irradiated.
A different pipette tip was used when pipetting each of the PCR reagents, even the same master mix to each tube.
The PCR tubes were kept closed during the procedure. The tubes were opened only when necessary because of potential aerosols that are dangerous with respect to contamination. Minimizing the number of pipetting and mixing steps in PCR master mix preparation is also very important from the perspective of aerosol contamination.
It is very important to schedule PCR when not handling plasmids to prevent cross contamination.
dUTP was incorporated into all PCR products which can subsequently be selectively destroyed by UNG.
Optimization of PCRs is also important. G + C-rich products may be more difficult to inactivate by UNG because of the lower concentration of uridine triphosphate(UTP).
Positive controls consisted of a low copy number of the desired nucleic acid target and should never be prepared or stored with the samples.
Other amplification methods, such as real-time PCR [23] or closed-tube PCR [25] which can reduce the chances of carryover contamination, are now being used more routinely in our laboratory.
A rapid DNA sequencing method to precisely detect contamination was established.
\n
\n
6. Conclusion\n
Standard precautions should always be employed during all PCR-based testing, whether it is real-time PCR or conventional PCR. All the regulatory laboratories should have their own appropriate controls and systematic measures to prevent and detect contamination. When contamination does occur, we need to accurately determine which reagent is contaminated. All of us should also understand that our individual working habits directly affect our work quality. We believe all the above methods can reduce the risk of contamination and ensure the efficacy of all PCR results.
\n
\n
1. Introduction\n
Significant research is being conducted on the development of autonomy for underwater robotic vehicles, which are widely employed in many fields of application such as oceanographic, marine archeology [1], military organizations, and cable tracking and inspection [2]. The advent of underwater robotic vehicles has significantly reduced the dangers in deep sea exploration. Two kinds of robotic vehicles used in marine research are remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs). The main difference between the two is that ROVs are connected to the ship by communication cables whereas AUVs operate independently from the ship. AUVs operate without an umbilical; therefore, AUVs are able to conduct a larger range of work area. In this research, AUV intelligent rescue system (AIRS) can minimize the loss of losing or unpredictable catastrophic failure of AUVs caused by emergency conditions.
\n
In recent years, the micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) has almost become a vital technology for modern society because of its small volume, low power consumption, low cost, and ease of integration into systems or modification [3]. The MEMS technology creates entirely innovative kinds of products, such as gyroscope sensor in camera-shake detection systems [4], multi-axis inertial motion sensors for smartphone-based navigation [5], and rehabilitation systems based on inertial measurement units (IMUs) [6]. Additionally, the integration of global positioning system and inertial navigation system (GPS/INS) is usually employed to measure the position of AUVs [7, 8]. Unfortunately, small errors in the measurement of initial data are double integrated into larger errors progressively in attitude data, and such errors increase without bound. Error reduction calibration for initialization of INS is paramount for the systematic parameter, like scale factor, bias, and misalignment of the axes. As the situation depicted above, a calibration method is investigated and adopted in this research. There are many researches utilizing Kalman filter (KF) [9], complementary filter (CF) [10], adaptive Kalman filter (AKF) [11], or extended Kalman filter (EKF) [12] to fuse the gyroscope and accelerometer together, taking advantages of their individual strength. In this research, we use EKF to filter IMU outputs with a balance of noise canceling and adaptability simultaneously used in sensing attitude algorithm for AIRS.
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The sensing algorithm with EKF for sensing the attitude of AUV, while employing the backpropagation network (BPN) to classify motion data that are formed in the AUV. Before classify the data, there is a problem. The problem is compounded by the fact that our system is computationally complex due to values estimation of AUV and causes the high dimension that is called ''curse of dimensionality,'' which donates the drastic rise of computational complexity and the classification error. Therefore, the step of feature extraction (FE) is an important procedure in data classification [26]. Further, we feed the data into eural network to distinguish every AUV motion in each operating period. The neural network consists of multiple artificial neurons to receive inputs, and process them to obtain an output [13]. By repeating amendments to the model weights, the neural network makes central processing unit (CPU) more logical to calculate the nonlinear systems of AUV motion [14]. The neural network has been widely used because of a number of advantages, including estimating which variables are important in classification, detecting possible interactions between predictor variables, and constructing the prediction model with a high accuracy rate. Furthermore, the neural network has emerged as an important tool in classification which has been investigated in many different important applications [15]. In this study, neural network classifier (NNC) is used in the calculation of nonlinear systems AUV attitude data to detect a catastrophic failure of an AUV. Based on the multilayer feed-forward backpropagation algorithm as NNC, we proposed an effective activity recognition method using 10-DOF sensor module.
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The concept of AIRS is inspired from the vehicle safety device: airbags have a flexible fabric bag that can protect and restrict the occupant from being thrown away during a crash accident [16, 17]. Wang and Dragcevic designed the airbags, which fire via a small pyrotechnic charge to increase motorcyclists' safety protections when riding a motorcycle [18, 19]. The airbags are applied to not only fall-protection devices but also automatic inflatable life buoy by the inflatable method of a gas cylinder [20, 21, 22, 23]. We extended the airbag systems to load on the AUV with CO2 cylinder to implement the AIRS. In this research, we developed a malformed detection algorithm for AUV with both EKF and BPN, and the implementation of the airbag system loaded on AUV is underway.
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2. Intelligent rescue system\n
In this section, we introduce the hardware components of an AIRS and its working principles. The hardware of AIRS contains the sensing module and a double-trigger inflator. The 11-DOF sensing module combines the 9-DOF inertial sensor, barometric pressure sensor, and temperature sensor to collect the motion data and the depth of the underwater vehicle. The inflator is used with gas cylinders as the double trigger mechanism, which can be triggered not only by electricity but also by water damage when the waterproof cabin is severely broken. Furthermore, we used the commercial software LabVIEW' to analyze the relation between buoyancy force and inflator device in water, to confirm the inflator specifications (Figure 1).
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Figure 1.The structure of the intelligent rescue system.
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2.1. Sensing module\n
Master control module uses ATmega2560 with the Arduino program written to read motion data of sensor. Ten-axis motion sensor combined with the accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, and the barometer to acquire attitude angle data through the inter-integrated circuit (I2C) is adopted. The communication module uses Bluetooth transmit data wirelessly to the processing software. The block diagram of the 11-DOF sensing module is shown in Figure 2.
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Figure 2.The block diagram of the sensing module.
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2.2. Inflator mechanism\n
In case of failure and sinking of AUVs underwater, we designed an airbag system to increase the buoyancy and reduce the overall density of the AUVs. AIRS is installed on top of AUV, an airbag inflated in a fault condition to force the AUVs to surface up. In this section, we are going to introduce how to manufacture an inflator mechanism of the AIRS for the AUV, including the specification analysis and the mechanism design.
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2.2.1. Specification analysis\n
The AIRS mechanism is installed on top of the AUV and dives down into the ocean. One should note that the hydrostatic pressure exerted by a liquid increases with increase in ocean depth, which influences the specification of the cylinder. Not only that, the full displacement and weight of the AUV also affect the size of the airbag and cylinder. These interrelated factors cause the different performance of the airbag inflation time and rescue time. To analyze the inflator specification more accurately and conveniently, we have engineered the specification calculator for the inflator to ensure that the airbag can be inflated and can bring the AUV to surface successfully. From the required buoyancy and the depth of the location, the calculator analyzes the required gas cylinders and airbag volume.
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From the result of the calculation illustrated in Figure 3(b), it takes 68.1 seconds to make nylon airbags fill with CO2 and provides 42.1 N buoyancy for AUV. The design of added buoyancy can bring 7.47 kgw of underwater vehicle to the surface (assume that the full load displacement is fixed). With this technology, we can install the appropriate number of gas cylinders and airbags in accordance with different displacements of AUV accurately and conveniently.
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Figure 3.The result of calculation specification analysis. (a) The front panel of the specification calculator. (b) The growth rate between the water depth and the airbag volume.
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2.2.2. Mechanism design\n
After the above analysis by the calculator, we found out the appropriate gas cylinder and airbag, and designed the corresponding mechanism parts for the selected gas cylinder and airbag. We are going to elaborate on the design concept of the inflator mechanism in the following. Figure 4 illustrates a double-trigger inflator including a servomotor, horn, spring, spring case, crowbar-striker, water-soluble PVA fiber, release button, and CO2 cylinder. The designed double-trigger inflator can be triggered not only by electricity but also by water damage when the waterproof cabin is severely broken.
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After the above analysis by the calculator, we found out the appropriate gas cylinder and airbag, and design the corresponding mechanism parts for the selected gas cylinder and airbag.
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Figure 4.The design diagram of a double-trigger inflator. (a) before release. (b) release by servo motor. (c) release by spring.
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There are two operating mechanisms to trigger the inflator. To begin with the electricity trigger mechanism as shown in Figure 4(b), we assume that the waterproof cabin is watertight; after detecting the failure of AUVs, servo motor rotates for pushing the crowbar-striker, and the crowbar-striker punches the release button, which needs 35 N normal force to release into the airbag through the air tube. We chose MG995 for servomotor, which has product size 40.7 — 19.7 — 42.9 mm and weight 55 g; MG995 is sufficient to move the horn for the release button with its maximum torque 127 N-cm.
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Besides, if the AUV is severely impacted and causes cabin seepage, so that the power system is damaged, the AUV cannot resurface by the thruster or the electricity-trigger inflator. Hence, we designed the water-trigger inflator for this kind of case. When the cabin is broken, water melts the water-soluble PVA fiber and releases the spring case as shown in Figure 4(c). Within the spring case, the music wire is selected to spring; the true maximum load of spring is 27.985 N, which is not enough to press the release button. Thus, we extended the striker into a crowbar-striker, and amplified the spring force by the lever principle to release the push button. The final part is the airbag, which is made of nylon 6/6 and folded under a cover. The airbag weighs 150 g and the value of tensile strength is 809.3 atm, which can withstand the pressure caused by gas cylinders.
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3. Sensor with activity recognition algorithm\n
The method and the procedure of data processing and activity recognition are described in Section 3. The former includes the signal calibration and extended Kalman filter algorithm; the latter is constructed of FE and BPN classifier.
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3.1. Data processing of 11-DOF sensing module\n
The 10-DOF sensing module including the 9-DOF IMU (three accelerometers, three gyroscopes, three magnetometers), barometer, and thermometer integrated with a microcontroller (Arduino Mega2560). The six-axis inertial sensor (MPU6050), which is a complete triple-axis gyroscope and triple-axis accelerometer inertial sensing system, is the most suitable sensor for stabilization and attitude measurement. MPU6050 contains the digital motion processor (DMP) which performs the motion processing algorithm itself. However, the horizontal attitude (yaw) is not a possible measurement. We used a magnetometer (HMC5883L) with fusion algorithm accordingly for eliminating the gyroscope offset to recognize the AUV activity context more reliably. The barometer (BMP180) is used in AIRS to detect the depth of the AUV and control the pressure of the airbag for supplying the perfect buoyancy. In addition, BMP180 also includes a temperature sensor, which does not only measure the underwater temperature but also thermal compensation for the MPU6050. Although the development of the MEMS technology has made a great progress, the IMUs are still difficult to collect precise data in the presence of various errors. Calibration is the process of comparing the measurement outputs with known reference data and determining the coefficients that drive the output to agree with the reference data over a range of output. We calibrated the sensor in terms of its thermal noise, bias, and scale factor.
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3.2. EKF strategy\n
A quaternion-based EKF is proposed in this section for determining the attitude of the AUV from the outputs of IMU. Attitude estimation is a very important part of the AIRS. If the initial data are double integrated into larger errors without bound, it brings on the misclassification of ANN algorithm with wrong attitude values. For the sake of this error, we used a series of measurements and observed over time for signal processing. The main advantage of the KF is its ability to provide the quality of the estimate, but the KF only applies to linear and Gaussian models. The EKF conversely is a nonlinear version of the KF which linearizes about an estimate of the current mean and covariance. In view of this, we chose the EKF to filter IMU outputs with a balance of noise canceling and adaptability simultaneously, used in sensing attitude algorithm for AIRS. We proposed the EKF fusing with the accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer integrated with sensor calibration (SC). SCEKF results in an improvement of the orientation accuracy from IMU. A flow-chart of structure performed by the proposed SCEKF is capsuled in Figure 5.
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Figure 5.Overview of the SCEKF structure.
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3.2.1. Prediction step\n
\n\n\n\nx\n̂\n\nk\n\n=\nÎ...\n\n\nT\ns\n\n\n\nω\n̂\n\n\nk\n''\n1\n\n\n\n\nx\n\nk\n''\n1\n\n\n2\n\n\n+\n\n\nν\n̂\n\n\nk\n''\n1\n\n\n\n E1
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\n\n\n\nP\n̂\n\nk\n\n=\n\nF\n\nk\n''\n1\n\n\n\nP\n\nk\n''\n1\n\n\n2\n\n\n\n\nF\n\nk\n''\n1\n\n\nT\n\n+\n\nB\n\nk\n''\n1\n\n\n\nQB\n\nk\n''\n1\n\nT\n\n\n E2
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The first step of EKF predicts a current state and covariance matrix at time \n\nk\n\n . We estimated a current state based on the previous states \n\n\n\nx\n̂\n\n\nk\n''\n1\n\n\n=\n\n\n\n\n\na\n̂\n\n\nk\n''\n1\n\n\n\n\nω\n̂\n\n\nk\n''\n1\n\n\n\n\nm\n̂\n\n\nk\n''\n1\n\n\n\n\nT\n\n\n that are composed of the gyroscope measurement \n\n\n\nω\n̂\n\n\nk\n''\n1\n\n\n\n and white noise \n\n\n\nν\n̂\n\n\nk\n''\n1\n\n\n=\n\n\n\n\n\n\nν\n̂\n\n\n\na\n\n\nk\n''\n1\n\n\n\n\n\nν\n̂\n\n\n\nω\n\n\nk\n''\n1\n\n\n\n\n\nν\n̂\n\n\n\nm\n\n\nk\n''\n1\n\n\n\n\nT\n\n\n and the priori covariance matrix \n\n\n\nP\n̂\n\nk\n\n\n based on a previous covariance matrix \n\n\nP\n\nk\n''\n1\n\n\n2\n\n\n\n , covariance \n\nQ\n\n and a state noise coefficient matrix \n\n\nB\n\nk\n''\n1\n\n\n\n .
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3.2.2. Jacobian computation\n
\n\n\nF\n\nk\n''\n1\n\n\n=\n\n'‚Î...\n\n'‚\nx\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nT\ns\n\n,\n\n\nω\n̂\n\n\nk\n''\n1\n\n\n\n\n\n=\n\nJ\nf\n\n\n\nT\ns\n\n\n\nω\n̂\n\n\nk\n''\n1\n\n\n\n\n E3
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\n\n\n\ny\nË'\n\nk\n\n=\n\nz\nk\n\n''\nh\n\n\n\nx\n̂\n\nk\n\n0\n\n,\n\n\nH\nk\n\n=\n\n\n'‚\nh\n\n\n'‚\nx\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nx\n̂\n\nk\n\n\n\n=\n\nJ\nh\n\n\n\n\nx\n̂\n\nk\n\n\n\n E4
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However, in view of the nonlinear process of state transition \n\n\nF\n\nk\n''\n1\n\n\n\n and observation \n\n\nH\nk\n\n\n directly, the EKF approach requires estimation by computing the Jacobian.
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3.2.3. Gravity corrections\n\n
\n\n\nS\nk\n\n=\n\nH\nk\n\n\n\nP\n̂\n\nk\n\n\n\nH\nk\n\nT\n\n+\nR\n\n\n\n\na\n\n\n\n E5
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\n\n\nK\nk\n\n=\n\n\nP\n̂\n\nk\n\n\n\nH\nk\n\nT\n\n\n\n\n\nH\nk\n\n\n\nP\n̂\n\nk\n\n\n\nH\nk\n\nT\n\n+\nR\n\n\n\n\na\n\n\n\n\n\n''\n1\n\n\n\n E6
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\n\n\nx\nk\n\n1\n\n\n=\n\n\nx\n̂\n\nk\n\n+\n\nK\nk\n\n\n\n\na\nk\n\n''\n\nH\nk\n\n\n\nx\n̂\n\nk\n\n\n\n\n E7
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\n\n\nP\nk\n\n1\n\n\n=\n\n\n\nI\n\n4\n—\n4\n\n\n''\n\nK\nk\n\n\nH\nk\n\n\n\n\n\nP\n̂\n\nk\n\n\n E8
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where the innovation covariance matrix \n\n\nS\nk\n\n\n is based on the a priori error covariance matrix \n\n\n\nP\n̂\n\nk\n\n\n and the measurement covariance matrix of accelerometer \n\nR\n\n\n\n\na\n\n\n\n , whose main diagonal elements are from the accelerometer values, and nonmain diagonal elements are all zero conversely. The Kalman gain \n\n\nK\nk\n\n\n is the error covariance matrix after gravity measurement is corrected.
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3.2.4. Yaw corrections\n
\n\n\nS\nk\n\n=\n\nH\nk\n\n\nP\nk\n\n1\n\n\n\nH\nk\nT\n\n+\n\nR\nm\n\n\n E9
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\n\n\nK\nk\n\n=\n\nP\nk\n\n1\n\n\n\n\nH\nk\n\nT\n\n\n\n\n\nH\nk\n\n\nP\nk\n\n1\n\n\n\n\nH\nk\n\nT\n\n+\n\nR\nm\n\n\n\n\n''\n1\n\n\n\n E10
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\n\n\nx\nk\n\n2\n\n\n=\n\nx\nk\n\n1\n\n\n+\n\nK\nk\n\n\n\n\nm\nk\n\n''\n\nH\nk\n\n\nx\nk\n\n1\n\n\n\n\n\n E11
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\n\n\nP\nk\n\n2\n\n\n=\n\n\n\nI\n\n4\n—\n4\n\n\n''\n\nS\nk\n\n\nH\nk\n\n\n\n\nP\nk\n\n1\n\n\n\n E12
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where the measurement covariance matrix of magnetometers \n\nR\n\n\n\n\nm\n\n\n\n , which main diagonal elements are from the magnetometer values, non-main diagonal elements are all zero conversely. \n\n\nP\nk\n\n2\n\n\n\n is the error covariance matrix after yaw measurement is corrected.
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3.3. Feature extraction (FE)\n
AUV motions are defined by the six degrees of freedom, including heave, surge, sway, pitch, roll, and yaw, and they are coupling by the vehicle shape, trends, and current interaction. Therefore, the attitude data of AUV is of high dimension and very complex. The value of FE is to reduce the dimension of the large measurement data and prevent program operation to run out of memories. The characteristics of a data segment are to keep the most meaningful features and remove the redundant data. Therefore, the FE methods have been applied for activity detection from accelerometer data [24, 25]. Ä°n order to extract features easily, the continuous measurement data of sensors are divided into many overlapping segments of which each is 20 seconds long, as illustrated in Figure 6. A sliding window technique cuts the sensors' data into 20 seconds (550 samples) in each short-term window with 50% overlapping. As previous studies found that the effectiveness of FE on windows with 50% overlap is an effective window size [24].
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Figure 6.Attitude data with a long-term window, which consists of many overlapping short-term windows.
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In this chapter, we adopted principal component analysis (PCA) as the feature selection procedure to lower the dimension of the original features. Feature extraction is highly subjective in nature, it depends on applications. Here, we introduced the following features that are beneficial to the classification of AUV failure detection, and used these features to discriminate the type of AUV activity: (1) min, max; (2) mean; (3) interquartile range (IQR); (4) root mean square (RMS); (5) standard deviation (STD); (6) root mean square error (RMSE); (7) signal magnitude area (SMA); (8) signal vector magnitude (SVM); and (9) averaged acceleration energy (AEE).
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3.4. BPN classifier\n
Finally, this feature extraction by the PCA is fed into the short-term classifier and long-term classifier sequentially, and then output the AUV conditions. In order to detect the AUV condition accurately, reliably, stably, and robustly, we divided the recognition system into three classifiers which are based on BPN. BPN is considered the workhorse of ANNs and is the multilayer perceptron (MLP) based on a feed-forward algorithm. The hidden layers, between input and output layers, use the error backpropagation (BP) algorithm to compute the nonlinear relationship in supervised learning as shown in Figure 7. The main features of BPN are as follows: high learning accuracy, fast response, and ability to process the nonlinear problems.
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Figure 7.The topology of the BPN classifier.
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In this chapter, a three-layer BPN is used for classifying AUV failure conditions. The topology of the BPN classifier is shown in Figure 7 [26]. The input layer has R neurons, equal to the dimension of the feature vectors \n\nI\n=\n\n\n\nI\n1\n\n1\n\n\n\n\n\nI\nr\n\n1\n\n\n\n'...\n\nI\nR\n\n1\n\n\n\nT\n\n\n , where superscript 1 indicates the first layer. The hidden layer has J neurons, and the output layer has P neurons, equal to the number of AUV conditions \n\nO\n=\n\n\n\nO\n1\n\n3\n\n\n\n\n\nO\np\n\n3\n\n\n\n'...\n\nO\nP\n\n3\n\n\n\nT\n\n\n , where superscript 3 indicates the third layer. \n\n\nw\npj\n\n3\n\n\n\n and \n\n\nw\njr\n\n2\n\n\n\n denote the weight from the hidden to the output layer and from the input to the hidden layer, respectively. \n\n\nb\n\n3\n\n\n\n and \n\n\nb\n\n2\n\n\n\n denote the bias in the third and second layers, respectively. \n\n\ni\n\nn\n\n\n\n and \n\n\no\n\nn\n\n\n\n are the input value and the activation of a neuron in the nth layer \n\n\n\nn\n'\nN\n:\n\nn\n\n'‰¤\n3\n\n\n\n . We take the interval between the hidden layer (second) and the output layer (third) as an example. The function of the neurons in each step is defined as follows [27]:
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In the BPN, the intermediate quantity \n\n\nnet\nj\n\n3\n\n\n\n is the weighted input to the neurons in the third layer, and implements a nonlinear transformation from the output values of the second layer to the output values of the third layer. \n\nσ\n\n is called the sigmoid function and is in general nonlinear and differentiable. The functions of the pth neuron are given by:
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\n\n\no\np\n\n3\n\n\n=\nσ\n\n\nnet\nj\n\n3\n\n\n\n=\nσ\n\n\n\n'‘\n\nj\n=\n1\n\nJ\n\n\nw\npj\n\n3\n\n\n\no\nj\n\n2\n\n\n+\n\nb\np\n\n3\n\n\n\n\n\n E13
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The discrepancy \n\n\nE\n\n3\n\n\n\n between the desired output \n\n\nt\np\n\n3\n\n\n\n and the real output \n\n\nO\np\n\n3\n\n\n\n in the third layer can motivate the BP learning algorithm as gradient descent on the sum-squared discrepancy. The factor of \n\n1\n/\n2\n\n will simplify the exponent when differentiating later. The function is defined as:
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\n\n\nE\n\n3\n\n\n=\n\n1\n2\n\n\n'‘\np\n\n\n\n\n\nt\np\n\n3\n\n\n''\n\nO\np\n\n3\n\n\n\n\n2\n\n\n E14
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Then, the weights are adjusted to find the partial derivative \n\nE\n\n with respect to a weight \n\n\nw\npj\n\n3\n\n\n\n : \n\nÎ--\n\nw\npj\n\n3\n\n\n''\n''\nη\n\n\n'‚\n\nE\n\n3\n\n\n/\n'‚\n\nw\npj\n\n3\n\n\n\n\n\n . However, the discrepancy is not directly the function of weights. Calculating the derivative of the discrepancy is done using the chain rule twice.
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\n\nÎ--\n\nw\npj\n\n3\n\n\n=\n''\nη\n\n\n'‚\n\nE\n\n3\n\n\n\n\n'‚\n\no\np\n\n3\n\n\n\n\n\n\n'‚\n\no\np\n\n3\n\n\n\n\n'‚\n\nnet\np\n\n3\n\n\n\n\n\n\n'‚\n\nnet\np\n\n3\n\n\n\n\n'‚\n\nw\npj\n\n3\n\n\n\n\n\n E15
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Let us discuss each of partial derivatives in turn. In the last term of Eq. (15) is the derivative of the net \n\n\nnet\np\n\n3\n\n\n\n with respect to a weight \n\n\nw\npj\n\n3\n\n\n\n :
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\n\n\n\n'‚\n\nnet\np\n\n3\n\n\n\n\n'‚\n\nw\npj\n\n3\n\n\n\n\n=\n\n'‚\n\n'‚\n\nw\npj\n\n3\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n'‘\n\nj\n=\n1\n\nJ\n\n\nw\npj\n\n3\n\n\n\no\nj\n\n2\n\n\n+\n\nb\np\n\n3\n\n\n\n\n=\n\no\nj\n\n2\n\n\n\n E16
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Next, the derivative of the activation \n\n\no\np\n\n3\n\n\n\n with respect to the net input \n\n\nnet\np\n\n3\n\n\n\n :
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\n\n\n\n\n\n\n'‚\n\no\np\n\n3\n\n\n\n\n'‚\n\nnet\np\n\n3\n\n\n\n\n=\n\n'‚\n\n'‚\n\nnet\np\n\n3\n\n\n\n\nσ\n\n\nnet\np\n\n3\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n=\nσ\n\n\nnet\np\n\n3\n\n\n\n\n\n1\n''\nσ\n\n\nnet\np\n\n3\n\n\n\n\n\n=\n\no\np\n\n3\n\n\n\n\n1\n''\n\no\np\n\n3\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n E17
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Last, we consider the derivative of \n\nE\n\n with respect to the activation. Since the neuron is in the output layer, then \n\n\nO\np\n\n3\n\n\n\n is equal to \n\n\no\np\n\n3\n\n\n\n .
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\n\n\n\n'‚\nE\n\n\n'‚\n\no\np\n\n3\n\n\n\n\n=\n\n\n'‚\nE\n\n\n'‚\n\nO\np\n\n3\n\n\n\n\n=\n\n\n'‚\n\n\n1\n/\n2\n\n\n\n\nt\np\n\n3\n\n\n''\n\nO\np\n\n3\n\n\n\n\n2\n\n\n\n\n\n'‚\n\nO\np\n\n3\n\n\n\n\n=\n''\n\n\n\nt\np\n\n3\n\n\n''\n\no\np\n\n3\n\n\n\n\n\n E18
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Finally, we substitute these results Eqs. (15)''(17) back into original Eq. (17) to find the weight change \n\nÎ--\n\nw\npj\n\n3\n\n\n\n rule,
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\n\nÎ--\n\nw\npj\n\n3\n\n\n=\nη\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nt\np\n\n3\n\n\n''\n\no\np\n\n3\n\n\n\n\n\no\np\n\n3\n\n\n\n\n1\n''\n\no\np\n\n3\n\n\n\n\n\n¸·\n\n\n\nε\np\n\n\n\n\no\nj\n\n3\n\n\n=\n\nηε\np\n\n\no\nj\n\n3\n\n\n\n E19
\n
We can find the weight change \n\nÎ--\n\nw\njr\n\n2\n\n\n\n in the same processes as above and it is defined as:
\n
\n\nÎ--\n\nw\njr\n\n2\n\n\n=\nη\n\n\n\n\n\n\n'‘\nj\nJ\n\n\nε\np\n\n\nw\npj\n\n3\n\n\n\no\nj\n\n2\n\n\n\n\n1\n''\n\no\nj\n\n2\n\n\n\n\n\n¸·\n\n\n\nε\nj\n\n\n\n\no\nr\n\n1\n\n\n=\n\nηε\nj\n\n\no\nr\n\n1\n\n\n\n E20
\n
The BPN algorithm approach to recognize and intelligently detect failures is based on changes in weight values \n\nÎ--\n\nw\npj\n\n3\n\n\n\n \n\nÎ--\n\nw\njr\n\n2\n\n\n\n of the AUV feature parameters.
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4. Experimental test and result\n
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4.1. SCEKF\n
To validate the sensor calibration and fusion method proposed in this chapter, this section covers the results obtained from the 10-DOF sensor module with operating system of Windows 8.1, 2.20 GHz CPU, 8 GB memory, and experiments are performed with the Arduino program described in Section 2.1. The system was fixed on an anti-vibration table to minimize interference. The proposed SCEKF algorithm was used to estimate accelerometer and orientation with 27-Hz updating rate.
\n
As the calculation process of sensor algorithm, we used the rotary platform with outputting the quantitative and stable signal to observe the relative signal output. The first process is fixing IMU at the center and along the rotation axis of the platform and fixing it by valves. After installation, setting the required rate or angle of rotation as a reference data by the user interface, we measured the output corresponding to the reference data. The performance of the orientation before/after SCEKF algorithm is presented in Figure 8(a''c), respectively; it produced reasonable output values within the expected ranges. It is seen that each component of Euler orientation (i.e., roll, pitch, and yaw) is within 0·1 degree after SCEKF processing in the static test.
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Figure 8.The calibration results from the static condition produced by the SCEKF processing. (a) Roll angle calibration.(b) Pitch angle calibration. (c) Yaw angle calibration.
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\n
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4.2. AUVs' attitude simulation and experiment\n
\nFigure 9 shows the whole system of the TrenchRoDer equipped with the proposed AIRS. The whole equipment includes the TrenchRoDer, a camera, an AIRS, a Bluetooth box, and a floating board. We put a camera in the waterproof bags and tied them to a fixed plate in order to observe the situation when the airbag is inflated. The function of the floating board is to protect the Bluetooth box from immersing into the water.
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Figure 9.The TrenchRoDer equipped with the proposed AIRS.
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In order to construct a robust underwater vehicle fault attitude database, we simulated the underwater vehicle motion model with different situations in the water environment, which can provide the particular case of attitude data, such as if the AUVs suffered a crash or a disabled propeller. Moreover, we built the fault simulator GUI interface for a more convenient operation, in other words, the AIRS starts with the fault simulator GUI interface, after inputting the required AUV's dimensions, hydrodynamic coefficients, buoyancy center, and inertia coefficients. Next, the simulator calculates the different AUV motion data under different cases through the Matlab' program as shown in Figure 10. The above results from simulator will combine with the experimental data as the database for the training and verification of BPN classifier. Last but not least, the real AUV motion signal is set as the testing dataset to ensure the establishment of the AIRS. The modular modeling equation of AUVs is selected from [28]. The modeling method of Prestero's which id without considering the sea conditions of emission can help us to generate the dynamic models of AUVs quickly and conveniently. The dynamics model and kinematics model of AUVs are established by analysis of the force working on AUVs moving underwater, based on the theorem of the momentum of the rotation around the buoyancy center and the theorem of the motion of mass center. The motion in 6-DOF of the AUVs is determined. And then, the attitude data of AUVs at any instant are determined.
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Figure 10.The AUV's fault simulator diagram.
\n
Since we simulated the AUV motion in the underwater environment without considering the influence of currents and waves, we did the wave maker experiment in NCKU's ship model towing tank to observe the changes and effects on the AUV motion data for different wave heights. By experimenting with simulation, we can be closer to the state of the real ocean environment. The experiment of the AUVs affected by wave maker in NCKU's ship model towing tank is illustrated in Figure 11.
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Figure 11.The wave maker of the NCKU's ship model towing tank.
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\n
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4.3. Classification results\n
In this chapter, we focused on 10 conditions of AUV, which are listed in Table 1.
\n
\n\n\n\n\nNumber\nActivity description\n\n\n\n\n1\nFunctional condition after horizontal sinking\n\n\n2\nMalfunction after horizontal sinking\n\n\n3\nFunctional condition after vertical sinking\n\n\n4\nMalfunction after vertical sinking\n\n\n5\nFunctional condition after ramped sinking\n\n\n6\nMalfunction after ramped sinking\n\n\n7\nFunctional condition after turbulence\n\n\n8\nMalfunction after turbulence\n\n\n9\nFunctional condition after collision\n\n\n10\nMalfunction after collision\n\n\nTable 1.Activities performed in this experiment.
\n
There are two types of these AUV conditions. One of them is failure situation and the other is functional condition and both include five motion status of the AUV. We carried out 20 experiments for capturing data and verifying classifier. The data from 17 experiments were adopted in the training program of the recognition scheme; the data obtained from the other experiments were used for testing the recognition performance. Note that, since the sampling frequency is 27.5 Hz, the total number of the short-term and long-term samplings for each activity of each experiment is 550 and 2200, respectively, which means 20 seconds per short-term window and 80 seconds per long-term window. The feature extraction of this chapter was based on 50% overlapping windows using 550 samples of window sizes to avoid information loss at the boundary of a single window. The dimension of a feature vector was 45 (an accelerometer — 3 axes — 9 features + a gyroscope — 3 axes — 6 features). Figure 12 illustrates the first 2200 data of accelerations and Euler orientations collected from the first experiment. The selected features of sensor's data enabled effective recognition of the conditions and were suggested for BPN training procedure. A computation program adopted the input features and activated the feature classifier learning procedure with the BP algorithm, and outputted the results to short-term classifier. Then, an AUV condition was distinguished by a long-term classifier, of which the input is from the short-term classifier to raise the accuracy of failure recognition. The number of neurons in each hidden layer is 4, 6, and 7 for the feature classifier, short-term classifier, and long-term classifier, respectively, and the number of epochs is 700 for each neural training. The BPN classifier was trained on the training data set and tested on the test set which are from the experiment values. The classifier was created by neural network toolbox of MATLABTM for practical implementation and for validating the proposed model.
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Figure 12.The accelerations and Euler orientation of the first experiment.
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After building up our prediction algorithm, we apply our chosen prediction algorithm on our new test set which is from the real signal of AUV, in order to have an idea about the algorithm's performance on unseen data. The confusion matrix measured in the real AUV test is shown in Table 2, which recorded the results from 20 times experiments on each condition of AUV. We have implemented in two different ways under MATLABTM environment. In the first, we conducted in our proposed classifier system with feature extraction and the results indicate that the AUV failure detection on the average 97% of the time, and a successful functional condition accuracy of 93% is achieved. Second, we chose a classifier in ANN learning algorithm without feature extraction for comparing with the classifier that we proposed. The performance indicated that the ANN classifier without feature extraction performs poorer than our proposed classifier. From the confusion matrix, we can know that the malfunction and functional conditions are not easy to be confused. However, the motions within functional condition may be misclassified between each other, because these activities contain similar amplitude peaks and waveforms at the AUV.
\n
\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n20 times of testing experiments\n\n\nClassified Type\n1\n2\n3\n4\n5\n6\n7\n8\n9\n10\nRecognition rate (%)\nDetection accuracy (%)\n\n\n\n\n1\n14/13\n0/0\n1/2\n0/0\n5/6\n0/0\n0/0\n0/0\n0/0\n0/1\n70/65\nMalfunction\n97/92\n\n\n2\n1/2\n16/14\n0/0\n0/0\n0/0\n1/2\n0/0\n0/1\n2/3\n2/4\n80/70\nFunctional condition\n93/88\n\n\n3\n1/1\n0/0\n15/13\n0/0\n0/1\n0/0\n0/0\n0/0\n1/1\n0/0\n75/65\n\n\n\n\n4\n0/0\n0/0\n0/0\n18/16\n0/0\n2/2\n0/1\n0/0\n0/0\n0/0\n90/80\n\n\n\n\n5\n4/3\n0/0\n2/4\n0/1\n15/13\n0/0\n0/0\n0/0\n0/1\n0/0\n75/65\n\n\n\n\n6\n0/1\n1/1\n0/0\n2/3\n0/0\n16/15\n0/0\n3/4\n0/0\n0/0\n80/75\n\n\n\n\n7\n0/0\n0/0\n0/0\n0/0\n0/0\n0/0\n17/15\n1/2\n0/0\n0/0\n85/75\n\n\n\n\n8\n0/0\n0/0\n0/0\n0/0\n0/0\n1/1\n3/4\n16/13\n0/0\n0/0\n80/65\n\n\n\n\n9\n0/0\n1/2\n2/1\n0/0\n0/2\n0/0\n0/0\n0/0\n16/14\n1/2\n80/70\n\n\n\n\n10\n0/0\n2/3\n0/0\n0/0\n0/0\n0/0\n0/0\n0/0\n1/1\n17/14\n85/70\n\n\n\n\nTable 2.Confusion matrix for all the testing experiments.
\n* Proposed classifier with feature extraction in BP algorithm/ANN classifier without feature extraction.
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\n
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5. Conclusions and future works\n
The main objective of this work was to develop an intelligent AUV rescue system (AIRS) for detecting failure to minimize loss of an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV). We combined three main ideas to construct the AIRS, including sensors algorithm, classifier conducting, and airbag system. Complex data acquisition was done by the 10-DOF sensor module with sensor calibration and extended Kalman filter (SCEKF), where Euler orientation fused with gravity and magnetic field are state variables, can benefit to get the precise attitude from the AUV. After SCEKF processed, we extracted the features of these signals from the 10-DOF sensor module and selected these features by principal component analysis (PCA) method. The results were incorporated with feature classifier, short-term classifier, and long-term classifier in order to recognize 10 types of AUV conditions. According to the experimental test in Section 3, we have shown that the 20 experimental data sets are categorized into ''malfunction'' or ''functional condition'' categories. The outcomes of the proposed classification with features extracted, whose failure detection accuracy is 97%, were more accurate than those of the ANN without features extracted. These results confirmed that the technology of the AIRS was feasible and that the proposed methods were accurate. Furthermore, we designed an inflatable mechanism, which fills CO2 in the airbags to generate buoyancy for AUV during failure detection.
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The attitude estimation and classification applied in the underwater environment are a new field. Considering future work, we will try to extend more condition types of AUV for classifying more complex situations and accomplish the airbag system for setting on the AUV. We can have the ability to construct a variety of different models for the AUV's fault simulation, such as underwater turbulence or underwater creatures' interference. Providing a more comprehensive AIRS, to not have to do the experiment in the real underwater environment, also can improve the performance and convenience of installation to the AIRS. With this technology, we can install the appropriate number of gas cylinders and airbags in accordance with the different displacements of AUV to avoid the loss of AUV; this can even be used in rescuing vessels to reduce shipwreck in the future, thereby minimizing loss of life and property. This study will have outstanding contributions for the next generation of underwater vehicles. We are looking forward to the application of the SIRS being used widely in the future.
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Acknowledgments\n
The authors hereby extend sincere thanks to the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) and Fisheries Agency for their financial support of this research, whose project codes are MOST 106-2221-E-006-121, MOST 107-2218-E-006-031, MOST 107-2218-E-110-004-and 107AS-14.2.7-FA-F1(3) and 107農科-14.2.7-漁-F1(3). We thank to the generous patronage of the MOST and Fisheries Agency that this study has been smoothly performed.
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Vaccines and such
What's Not Being Said About Pfizer Coronavirus Vaccine | New Eastern Outlook
Thu, 19 Nov 2020 04:57
What's Not Being Said About Pfizer Coronavirus Vaccine P 13.11.2020 U F. William Engdahl
Bill Gates is actively financing and promoting new untested vaccines supposed to keep us at least somewhat safe from a ghastly death from the novel coronavirus and supposedly allow us to resume somewhat ''normal'' lives. The Pharma giant Pfizer has now announced what they claim were spectacular results in initial human tests. They use an experimental technology known as gene editing, specifically mRNA gene-editing, something never before used in vaccines. Before we rush to get jabbed in hopes of some immunity, we should know more about the radical experimental technology and its lack of precision.
The financial world went ballistic on November 9 when the pharma giant Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, announced in a company press release that it had developed a vaccine for Covid19 that was ''90%'' effective. The controversial US head of NIAID, Tony Fauci, rushed to greet the news and the EU announced it had purchased 300 million doses of the costly new vaccine. If you believe financial markets, the pandemic is all but past history.
Suspicious events
However it seems Albert Bourla, the CEO of Pfizer, doesn't share the confidence of his own claims. On the day his company issued its press release on the proposed vaccine trials, he sold 62% of his stock in Pfizer, making millions profit in the deal. He made the sell order in a special option in August so it would not appear as ''insider selling'', however he also timed it just after the US elections and the mainstream media illegitimately declared Joe Biden President-elect. It seems from appearances that Bourla had a pretty clear conflict of interest in the timing of his press release on the same day.
Bourla lied and denied to press that his company had received any funds from the Trump Administration to develop the vaccine when it came out they contracted in summer to deliver 100 million doses to the US Government. Further adding to the suspect actions of Pfized was the fact the company first informed the team of Joe biden rather than the relevant US government agencies.
But this is far from the only thing alarming about the much-hyped Pfizer announcement.
The German Partner
Pfizer, famous for its Viagra and other drugs, has partnered with a small Mainz, Germany company, BioNTech, which has developed the radical mRNA technique used to produce the new corona vaccine. BioNTech was only founded in 2008. BioNTech signed an agreement with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in September, 2019, just before announcement in Wuhan China of the Novel Coronavirus and just before BioNTech made its stock market debut. The agreement involved cooperation on developing new mRNA techniques to treat cancer and HIV. Curiously that press release, ''The Gates Foundation sees BioNTech potential to 'dramatically reduce global HIV and tuberculosis''' 05. September 2019, has now been deleted.
BioNTech also has an agreement with one of the largest drug producers in China, Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd (''Fosun Pharma'') to develop a version of its mRNA vaccine for novel coronavirus for the Chinese market. Ai-Min Hui, President of Global R&D of Fosun Pharma said in an August statement, ''Dosing the first Chinese subject with BNT162b1 marks a milestone of the global co-development program in China. We are closely working with BioNTech and regulatory authorities to evaluate the safety and efficacy of BNT162b1 and other mRNA vaccine candidates'...''
This means that the same German biotech company is behind the covid vaccines being rushed out in China as well as the USA and EU. The vaccine is being rushed through to eventual approval in an alarmingly short time.
Both US and EU authorities and presumably also Chinese, waived the standard animal tests using ferrets or mice and have gone straight to human ''guinea pigs.'' Human tests began in late July and early August. Three months is unheard of for testing a new vaccine. Several years is the norm. Because of the degree of global panic engendered by WHO over the coronavirus, caution is thrown to the wind. Vaccine makers all have legal indemnity, meaning they can't be sued if people die or are maimed from the new vaccine. But the most alarming fact about the new Pfizer-BioNTech gene edited vaccine is that the gene edited mRNA for human vaccine application has never before been approved. Notably, two year peer reviewed tests with mice fed genetically modified corn sprayed with Monsanto glyphosate-rich Roundup first showed cancer tumors after nine months as well as liver and other organ damage. Earlier Monsanto company tests ended at three months and claimed no harm. A similar situation exists with the gene edited mRNA vaccines that are being rushed out after less than 90 days human tests.
''Explicitly experimental''
Dr. Michael Yeadon replied in a recent public social media comment to a colleague in the UK, ''All vaccines against the SARS-COV-2 virus are by definition novel. No candidate vaccine has been'... in development for more than a few months.'' Yeadon then went on to declare, ''If any such vaccine is approved for use under any circumstances that are not EXPLICITLY experimental, I believe that recipients are being misled to a criminal extent. This is because there are precisely zero human volunteers for'...whom there could possibly be more than a few months past-dose safety information.''
Yeadon is well qualified to make the critique. As he notes in the comment, ''I have a degree in Biochemistry & Toxicology & a research based PhD in pharmacology. I have spent 32 years working in pharmaceutical R&D, mostly in new medicines for disorders of lung & skin. I was a VP at Pfizer & CEO'.... of a biotech I founded (Ziarco '' acquired by Novartis). I'm knowledgeable about new medicine R&D.'' He was formerly with Pfizer at a very senior level.
Human guinea pigs?
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is experimental and far from guaranteed safe, despite the fact that Pfizer, the EU and the notorious Dr Tony Fauci seem ready to roll it out even before year end to hundreds of millions of humans.
The experimental technology is based on a rather new gene manipulation known as gene editing. In a major article in the 2018 New York Council on Foreign Relations magazine, Foreign Affairs , Bill Gates effusively promoted the novel gene editing CRISPR technology as being able to ''transform global development.'' He noted that his Gates Foundation had been financing gene editing developments for vaccines and other applications for a decade.
But is the technology for breaking and splicing of human genes so absolutely safe that it is worth risking on a novel experimental vaccine never before used on humans? Contrary to what Bill Gates claims, the scientific answer is no, it is not proven so safe.
In a peer reviewed article in the October, 2020 journal Trends in Genetics , the authors conclude that ''the range of possible molecular events resulting from genome editing has been underestimated and the technology remains unpredictable on, and away from, the target locus.''
Dr. Romeo Quijano, retired professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the College of Medicine, University of the Philippines Manila, noted some of the dangers of the experimental gene editing when applied to human vaccines. Quijano warns of, ''the danger that the vaccine might actually ''enhance'' the pathogenicity of the virus, or make it more aggressive possibly due to antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE), as what happened with previous studies on test vaccines in animals. If that should happen in a major human trial the outcome could be disastrous. This serious adverse effect may not even be detected by a clinical trial especially in highly biased clinical trials laden with conflicts of interest involving vaccine companies. Even when a serious adverse event is detected, this is usually swept under the rug.'' He cites the case of another Gates mRNA vaccine candidate, Moderna, where ''three of the 15 human experimental subjects in the high dose group suffered serious and medically significant symptoms. Moderna, however, concluded that the vaccine was ''generally safe and well tolerated,'' which the corporate-dominated media dutifully reported, covering-up the real danger'...''
He notes, ''Exogenous mRNA is inherently immune-stimulatory, and this feature of mRNA could be beneficial or detrimental. It may provide adjuvant activity and it may inhibit antigen expression and negatively affect the immune response. The paradoxical effects of innate immune sensing on different formats of mRNA vaccines are incompletely understood.'' Quijano adds, ''A mRNA-based vaccine could also induce potent type I interferon responses, which have been associated not only with inflammation but also potentially with autoimmunity'... and may promote blood coagulation and pathological thrombus formation.''
Quijano writes in the extensively documented article, ''among other dangers, the virus-vectored vaccines could undergo recombination with naturally occurring viruses and produce hybrid viruses that could have undesirable properties affecting transmission or virulence. The'...possible outcomes of recombination are practically impossible to quantify accurately given existing tools and knowledge. The risks, however, are real, as exemplified by the emergence of mutant types of viruses, enhanced pathogenicity and unexpected serious adverse events (including death) following haphazard mass vaccination campaigns and previous failed attempts to develop chimeric vaccines using genetic engineering technology.''
Bill Gates, the mRNA vaccine makers including Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, and their close allies such as Dr. Tony Fauci of the NIAID are clearly playing fast and loose with human lives in their rush to get these experimental vaccines into our bodies. Notably, the same Dr. Fauci and his NIAID owns the patent on a vaccine for dengue fever known as Dengvaxia, marketed by Sanofi-Pasteur and promoted as an ''essential'' vaccine by Tedros' WHO since 2016. Robert F. Kennedy jr. noted that Fauci and NIAID ''knew from the clinical trials that there was a problem with paradoxical immune response,'' but they gave it to several hundred thousand Filipino kids anyway. It was estimated that as many as 600 vaccinated children died before the government stopped the vaccinations.
Clearly the well-established Precautionary Principle''if in serious doubt, don't'' is being ignored by Fauci, Pfizer/BioNTech and others in rushing to approve the new mRNA vaccine for coronavirus. Messenger RNA technology has yet to produce an approved medicine, let alone a vaccine.
F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine ''New Eastern Outlook''.
Recent Posts
Research Pipeline: MMA, CMV, Zika & Rare Diseases - Moderna
Thu, 19 Nov 2020 05:24
*Life -cycle to mRNA-1893Abbreviations: AZ, AstraZeneca; α-GAL, alpha galaxtosidase; CMV, cytomegalovirus; CRC, colorectal cancer; G6Pase, glucose 6-phosphatase; hMPV, human metapneumovirus; IL12, interleukin 12; IL23, interleukin 23; IL36Î", interleukin 36 gamma; MUT, methylmalonyl-CoA mutase; NSCLC, non-small cell lung cancer; PAH, phenylalanine hydroxylase; PCCA/PCCB, propionyl-CoA carboxylase subunit A/B; PCV, personalized cancer vaccine; PIV3, human parainfluenza 3; RSV, respiratory syncytial virus; VEGF-A, vascular endothelial growth factor A; VZV, varicella zoster virus.
COVID-19 | BioNTech
Thu, 19 Nov 2020 05:18
We feel a duty to exploit our full technology and immunotherapy expertise to help address the COVID-19 pandemic emergency. Our aim is clear: Making a potential vaccine available to the public as quickly as possible '' worldwide.
Prof. Ugur Sahin, M.D., Chief Executive Officer
Aiming to address the global coronavirus pandemic: Project LightspeedWe are developing a potential vaccine based on our proprietary mRNA technology to induce immunity and prevent COVID-19 infections in response to the growing global health threat. In order to accelerate the rapid development of our product candidate BNT162 we initiated the global development program Lightspeed. The program leverages
BioNTech's proprietary mRNA platforms for infectious diseases, its fully-owned GMP manufacturing infrastructure for mRNA vaccine production, its global clinical development capabilities, and collaborations with Pfizer and Fosun PharmaBioNTech was able to bring its first vaccine candidates from concept into clinical development in less than three months. Safety, speed and flexibility are of the utmost importance in reacting to the current pandemic. Efforts to manufacture the leading candidates, at our risk, are gearing up. In case the safety and efficacy study is successful, BioNTech and Pfizer plan to seek regulatory review as early as October 2020 and, if regulatory authorization or approval is obtained, expect to manufacture up to 100 million doses by the end of 2020 and potentially more than 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021.
Our COVID-19 vaccine development process
Our mRNA-based approach for a COVID-19 vaccine
SARS-CoV-2 is a member of a large family of coronaviruses consisting of spherically-shaped viral particles covered with spike proteins protruding from their surface, which give the virus its crown-like appearance. These spikes bind onto human cells, allowing the virus to infect them. Our vaccine consists of a short segment of genetic material, called messenger RNA, that provides instructions for a human cell to make a harmless version of a target protein, or immunogen, which activates the body's immune response against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. We expect that our vaccination approach will stimulate the immune system to generate protective antibodies. This means the immune systems learns how to recognize the SARS-CoV-2 virus upon exposure and prevent subsequent infection. Unlike other vaccines, mRNA vaccines do not contain the virus itself and therefore pose no risk of infection.
mRNA vaccines consist of genetic material, called messenger RNA, that provides instructions for a human cell to make a target protein, or immunogen, which activates the body's immune response against the respective virus. The goal of a vaccine is to stimulate the immune system to generate protective, long-lasting antibody and T cell responses against SARS-CoV-2 and prevent subsequent infection upon exposure to the virus. mRNA vaccines are a potent new developmental class of vaccines with potential for high versatility and favourable safety properties.
Our global clinical program BioNTech was one of the first European company to enter clinical testing, having started a clinical trial in Germany in April and a further clinical trial in the United States at the beginning of May. BioNTech's development programme for BNT162 is one of the broadest development programmes globally, with four vaccine candidates being tested in parallel. The BNT162 program is evaluating at least four experimental vaccines, each of which represent a unique combination of messenger RNA (mRNA) format and target antigen.
Pivotal Global Phase 2/3 Study In July, BioNTech and Pfizer announced their lead candidate: BNT162b2. The nucleoside-modified messenger RNA (modRNA) candidate BNT162b2 from their BNT162 mRNA-based vaccine program against SARS-CoV-2 will be tested at a 30 µg dose level in a two dose regimen into a global Phase 2/3 Study. By the end of the trial, the Phase 2/3 study is expected to be active at approximately 120 clinical investigational sites around the world, including 39 states across the United States and countries including Argentina, Brazil, and Germany.
The candidate and dose level selection was informed by an extensive review of preclinical and clinical data obtained in Phase 1/2 studies conducted in the U.S. and Germany, and in consultation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER). BNT162b2, one of the two BNT162 candidates to recently have received Fast Track designation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), encodes an optimized SARS-CoV-2 full length spike glycoprotein (S), which is the target of neutralizing antibodies that are believed to inactivate the virus.
During preclinical and clinical studies of four BNT162 RNA vaccine candidates, BNT162b1 and BNT162b2 emerged as strong candidates based on assessments of safety and immune response. Pfizer and BioNTech selected BNT162b2 as the candidate to progress to a Phase 2/3 study based on the totality of available data from our preclinical and clinical studies, including selected immune response and tolerability parameters.
In the preclinical studies, BNT162b1 and BNT162b2 candidates induced favorable viral antigen specific CD4+ and CD8+T cell responses, high levels of neutralizing antibody in various animal species, and beneficial protective effects in a primate SARS-CoV-2 challenge model.
Preliminary clinical data for the nucleoside-modified messenger RNA (modRNA) candidate, BNT162b1Preliminary U.S. data from the most advanced of the four investigational vaccine candidates from our BNT162 mRNA-based vaccine program were announced on 1 July 2020. Overall, the preliminary data it was demonstrated that BNT162b1 could be administered in a dose that was well tolerated and generated dose dependent immunogenicity, as measured by RBD-binding IgG concentrations and SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibody titers.
On July 20, 2020, BioNTech and Pfizer announced preliminary data from our ongoing German Phase 1/2 trial of BNT162b1. The initial part of this open-label, non-randomized, non-placebo-controlled study is evaluating the safety, tolerability and immunogenicity of escalating dose levels of BNT162b1, one of four vaccine candidate variants in development as part of our BNT162 program. In 34 of the 36 subjects who received two vaccinations at 10µg, 30µg, or 50µg dose levels of BNT162b1, RBD-specific CD4+ T cell responses were observed. All subjects but the two exceptions at the lowest dose level had cytokine profiling of the RBD-specific CD4+ T cells that demonstrated a TH1-dominant profile for these cells.
FDA fast track designation for two investigational mRNA-based vaccine candidates against SARS-CoV-2Fast Track is a process designed to facilitate the development, and expedite the review, of new drugs and vaccines that are intended to treat or prevent serious conditions that have the potential to address an unmet medical need. This designation was granted based on preliminary data from Phase 1/2 studies that are currently ongoing in the United States and Germany as well as animal immunogenicity studies.
At a glance: COVID-19 vaccine program
Concept: mRNA-based vaccine targeting SARS-CoV-2 Spike-Protein and RBD.mRNA Format: uridine-containing mRNA (uRNA), nucleoside modified mRNA (modRNA), and self-amplifying mRNA (saRNA) providing high immunogenicity.mRNA Delivery Formulation: Lipid nanoparticles (LNPs).Development Approach: Global development program, in collaboration with Pfizer and Fosun Pharma.Lead Candidate: BNT162b2 (modRNA).Our collaborations to accelerate global COVID-19 vaccine development: Pfizer and Fosun The collaboration with Pfizer builds on the 2018 agreement to jointly develop an mRNA-based influenza vaccine. It aims to rapidly advance multiple COVID-19 vaccine candidates into human clinical testing based on BioNTech's proprietary mRNA vaccine platforms, with the objective of ensuring rapid worldwide access to the vaccine, if approved. The collaboration will leverage Pfizer's broad expertise in vaccine research and development, regulatory capabilities, and global manufacturing and distribution network. During the clinical development stage, BioNTech and its partners will provide clinical supply of the vaccine from its GMP-certified mRNA manufacturing facilities in Europe. BioNTech and Pfizer will work together to scale-up manufacturing capacity at risk to provide worldwide supply in response to the pandemic. BioNTech and Pfizer will also work jointly to commercialize the vaccine worldwide (excluding China which is already covered by BioNTech's collaboration with Fosun Pharma) upon regulatory approval.
As part of their strategic collaboration announced in March 2020, BioNTech and Fosun Pharma will jointly conduct clinical trials of BNT162 in China, leveraging BioNTech's proprietary mRNA vaccine technology and Fosun Pharma's clinical development and commercialization capabilities in China. Fosun Pharma will commercialize the vaccine in China upon regulatory approval.
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BioNTech - Wikipedia
Thu, 19 Nov 2020 05:02
BioNTech SE () is a German biotechnology company that develops and manufactures active immunotherapies for patient-specific approaches to the treatment of diseases. It develops pharmaceutical candidates based on messenger RNA (mRNA) for use as individualized cancer immunotherapies, as vaccines against infectious diseases and as protein replacement therapies for rare diseases, and also engineered cell therapy, novel antibodies and small molecule immunomodulators as treatment options for cancer. The company developed an mRNA-based human therapeutic for intravenous administration to bring individualized mRNA-based cancer immunotherapy to clinical trials and to establish its own manufacturing process.[2]
BioNTech headquarters in An der Goldgrube street,
MainzIn 2020, the company's lead vaccine candidate for preventing COVID-19 infections, BNT2b2, was in Phase III clinical trials in the United States.[3]
History Edit BioNTech was founded in 2008 in Mainz, Germany, by Turkish[4]-German scientists Uğur Şahin, and –zlem T¼reci, with the Austrian oncologist Christoph Huber.[5] It has been supported by a scientific advisory board under the direction of Rolf M. Zinkernagel.[2]
In August 2018, the company announced that it had entered into a multi-year research and development (R&D) collaboration with the US company Pfizer Inc. to develop mRNA-based vaccines for prevention of influenza.[6] Under the terms of the agreement, following BioNTech's completion of a first in human clinical study, Pfizer would assume sole responsibility for further clinical development and commercialization of mRNA-based flu vaccines.
In September 2019, it signed an agreement with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop HIV and tuberculosis programs to identify and develop preclinical vaccine and immunotherapy candidates for the prevention of HIV and tuberculosis infections and for the long-term antiretroviral therapy-free remission of HIV diseases.[7]
In June 2020, BioNTech received '‚¬250 million from Singapore's Temasek Holdings and other investors through a private placement of mandatory convertible bonds.[8]
COVID-19 response Edit The company is working to develop the BNT162b2 vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 with Pfizer[9] and Fosun.[10][11]
BioNTech and Pfizer signed contracts to supply 300 million doses of a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine for the European Union,[12] 30 million doses for the United Kingdom,[13][14] 100 million doses for the United States[15] and 120 million doses for Japan,[16] if proven safe.
References Edit ^ "BioNTech SE, Investors and Media". BioNTech SE. 2020 . Retrieved 10 November 2020 . ^ a b Form F-1 BioNTech SE (Report). U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. 9 September 2019 . Retrieved 13 October 2019 . ^ "Covid vaccine: First 'milestone' vaccine offers 90% protection". BBC News. 2020-11-09 . Retrieved 2020-11-11 . ^ "Turkish Germans raise new Covid vaccine hopes". BBC News 10 Nov. 2020 . Retrieved 13 November 2020 . ^ "German 'Dream Team' Behind Vaccine". The Guardian (US Edition) 12 Nov. 2020 . Retrieved 12 November 2020 . ^ "BioNTech Signs Collaboration Agreement with Pfizer to Develop mRNA-based Vaccines for Prevention of Influenza". 16 August 2018 . Retrieved 12 November 2020 . ^ "The Gates Foundation sees BioNTech potential to 'dramatically reduce global HIV and tuberculosis ' ". The Pharma Letter. 5 September 2019 . Retrieved 20 September 2019 . ^ Burger, Ludwig (29 June 2020). "Temasek-led investor group in $250 million vaccine bet on Germany's BioNTech". Reuters. Frankfurt . Retrieved 2 August 2020 . ^ Lovelace Jr., Berkeley (27 July 2020). "Pfizer and BioNTech began late-stage human trial for coronavirus vaccine Monday". CNBC . Retrieved 2 August 2020 . ^ "BioNTech in China alliance with Fosun over coronavirus vaccine candidate". Reuters. Frankfurt. 15 March 2020 . Retrieved 2 August 2020 . ^ Burger, Ludwig (22 April 2020). "Germany approves trials of COVID-19 vaccine candidate". Reuters. Berlin . Retrieved 2 August 2020 . ^ "Coronavirus: EU buys 300m doses of BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine". BBC News. United Kingdom. 11 November 2020 . Retrieved 12 November 2020 . ^ Gallagher, James (20 July 2020). "Coronavirus vaccine: UK government signs deals for 90 million doses". BBC News . Retrieved 2 August 2020 . ^ Smout, Alistair (20 July 2020). "Britain secures 90 million possible COVID-19 vaccine doses from Pfizer/BioNTech, Valneva". Reuters. London . Retrieved 2 August 2020 . ^ Erman, Michael; Banerjee, Ankur (22 July 2020). "U.S. to pay Pfizer, BioNTech $1.95 billion for COVID-19 vaccine". Reuters . Retrieved 2 August 2020 . ^ Shakil, Ismail; Mishra, Manas (31 July 2020). "Pfizer, BioNTech to supply 120 million doses of coronavirus vaccine to Japan". Reuters. Bengaluru . Retrieved 3 August 2020 . External links Edit Official website Mutanome Engineered RNA Immunotherapy (MERIT) Project '' EU-funded initiativeGenentec. Individualized Neoantigen-Specific Immunotherapy (iNeST)
Forced Vaccination Law in Denmark Abandoned After Public Protests '' Summit News
Thu, 19 Nov 2020 14:56
Top pathologist Dr. Roger Hodkinson told government officials in Alberta during a zoom conference call that the current coronavirus crisis is ''the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on an unsuspecting public.''
Hodkinson's comments were made during a discussion involving the Community and Public Services Committee and the clip was subsequently uploaded to YouTube.
Noting that he was also an expert in virology, Hodkinson pointed out that his role as CEO of a biotech company that manufactures COVID tests means, ''I might know a little bit about all this.''
''There is utterly unfounded public hysteria driven by the media and politicians, it's outrageous, this is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on an unsuspecting public,'' said Hodkinson.
The doctor said that nothing could be done to stop the spread of the virus besides protecting older more vulnerable people and that the whole situation represented ''politics playing medicine, and that's a very dangerous game.''
Hodkinson remarked that ''social distancing is useless because COVID is spread by aerosols which travel 30 meters or so before landing,'' as he called for society to be re-opened immediately to prevent the debilitating damage being caused by lockdowns.
Hodkinson also slammed mandatory mask mandates as completely pointless.
''Masks are utterly useless. There is no evidence base for their effectiveness whatsoever,'' he said.
''Paper masks and fabric masks are simply virtue signalling. They're not even worn effectively most of the time. It's utterly ridiculous. Seeing these unfortunate, uneducated people '' I'm not saying that in a pejorative sense '' seeing these people walking around like lemmings obeying without any knowledge base to put the mask on their face.''
The doctor also slammed the unreliability of PCR tests, noting that ''positive test results do not, underlined in neon, mean a clinical infection,'' and that all testing should stop because the false numbers are ''driving public hysteria.''
Hodkinson said that the risk of death in the province of Alberta for people under the age of 65 was ''one in three hundred thousand,'' and that it was simply ''outrageous'' to shut down society for what the doctor said ''was just another bad flu.''
''I'm absolutely outraged that this has reached this level, it should all stop tomorrow,'' concluded Dr. Hodkinson.
Hodkinson's credentials are beyond question, with the MedMalDoctors website affirming his credibility.
''He received his general medical degrees from Cambridge University in the UK (M.A., M.B., B. Chir.) where he was a scholar at Corpus Christi College. Following a residency at the University of British Columbia he became a Royal College certified general pathologist (FRCPC) and also a Fellow of the College of American Pathologists (FCAP).''
''He is in good Standing with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta, and has been recognized by the Court of Queen's Bench in Alberta as an expert in pathology.''
In case the above video gets deleted by YouTube, a backup via Bitchute is available here.
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The under 30s: How Generation Covid is losing out / Twitter
Tue, 17 Nov 2020 16:18
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£36m raised by Gen Z social app doing away with 'likes'
Wed, 18 Nov 2020 14:16
Gen Z focussed social network Yubo has completed a Series C funding round of £35.95m ($47.5m).
In September the French-born social network announced two new major hires to its new new London office. It now reports it has attracted over 40 million young people worldwide.
This year the number of users in the UK, its second biggest audience, grew by 80%,with time spent in live stream growing three fold.
The latest round was led by existing investors Idinvest, Iris Capital, Alven and Sweet Capital. New investors include Gaia Capital Partners and Jerry Murdock, co-founder of Insight Partners which previously backed Twitter and Snapchat, TrueCaller who will also become an independent member of the Yubo board.
The new funding round will be used to support further product development of the platform, which is billed as a safe social space for young people. It will build out the app's dedication to live streaming capabilities, adding new features which will diversify the ways in which Yubo users can interact.
Designed to renew the concept of social media driven by likes or followers, it is instead designed to give young users a place where they can socialise without ''any pressure to perform''.
The company seeks to increase its international growth even further, with ambitions to expand its community in Southeast Asia, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea. it also plans to open offices in every key region, in particular strengthening its presence in the US with offices in New York, to further support its largest user base.
Following a successful year in 2019, the company expects to end 2020 with a revenue of $20m, doubling 2019 turnover. It now plans to multiply its workforce by 10.
Yubo is also partnering with Snap Inc. to integrate Camera Kit, bringing Snapchat's camera and AR lenses to the Yubo platform.
This latest investment will also be used to establish additional, regional helplines across every active country, as well as moderation capacities in more than 36 languages, to enhance the platform's capabilities in supporting the safety of its users in all regions in which Yubo is active.
Commenting on the announcement, Sacha Lazimi, CEO and co-founder of Yubo says, ''2020 has been a significant year for Yubo, and we are thrilled to be ending the year on such a high. Five years on from the launch of the platform, we are proud to have created a new social space for young people centered around real-time, one-to-few conversations. Yubo is creating a space where they can hang out and find out about the world and themselves.''
Madrid COVID Gen Propaganda
A couple of weeks ago I sent you a video saying that young adults are not invincible. Madrid apparently realized that that was not working and was not encouraging and adults to stay home. As it basically proved that we are invincible. So now the state of Madrid has started a campaign saying you will kill your grandma, or your boyfriend, or your mom, or your neighbor if you go out. Or if you have people in your house and don't open the windows to ventilate you are going to kill your family. Great, thanks for the fear porn, Madrid. Well the city of Madrid has launched a campaign to get people to use the busses. The disconnect is so frustrating. I can get on a bus with 20 some other people and that's fine, but heaven forbid that I have some friends over for dinner and leave the windows closed.
Thanks for everything you guys do!
Lauren
Post Modern New Media
Parlor and Rumble new socials
Bill Gates comments on social media platform Parler
Thu, 19 Nov 2020 14:18
Post-election, many conservatives, and some extremists, have been heading to Parler, a conservative social media app funded by Republican megadonor Rebekah Mercer, which bills itself as a free speech Twitter-spin off.
But billionaire Bill Gates isn't a fan of the platform, calling some of its content "crazy stuff."
If somebody goes to Parler, they are saying, "I like crazy stuff," Gates said Tuesday at The New York Times DealBook Summit. "If you want Holocaust denial, hey, Parler is going to be great for you," Gates said.
(In October, Facebook announced a ban on content denying or distorting the Holocaust, classifying it as hate speech. Parler, however, does not police any content on its platform, so popular but controversial topics that appear on the site include voter fraud, Holocaust denial and anti-Semitic remarks, according to the Anti-Defamation League.)
Parler, which was founded by Mercer, John Matze and Jared Thomson in 2018, was the most downloaded app for both Android and iPhone users during the week of Nov. 9 to Nov. 15, according to SensorTower, a marketing intelligence company that tracks app downloads. For the week starting on Nov. 16, Parler has so far fallen to No. 2 among Android users and No. 11 among iPhone users.
The app has attracted the likes Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo, Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and celebrities Kristie Alley and Scott Baio. On Nov. 12, Wired reported that Parler grew from 4.5 million users to more than 8 million, compared to Twitter's 330 million users and Facebook's more than 2 billion.
Many high-profile conservatives have been urging their followers to join Parler after Twitter and Facebook have been adding alerts to posts that spread misinformation, including to posts shared by President Donald Trump about election and voter fraud.
Gates, who has been targeted by online anti-vaxxer conspiracy theorists (who believe Gates is trying to microchip humans through coronavirus vaccines, an accusation to which there is no truth), said there needs to be regulation to manage misinformation on social media platforms.
"Facebook services are the primary way people access news and they get drawn in to more and more extreme stories, including some of these anti-vaccines or conspiracy things," Gates said at DealBook.
"So that person who hasn't started out saying, 'I want crazy stuff,' they get drawn down and see things that are very titillating and that is where it is almost a human weakness," Gates said.
Asking social media platforms to "be the arbiter of all these things is pretty tough," Gates said. But over the last few months, particularly around medical information, Gates said social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have been doing a better job at screening posts and adding labels to misinformation.
"I think we are sort of finding our way, which will be either leave it alone all the time or strict liability, which you know if you got strict liability, it's not clear that they can even stay in business," Gates said at DealBook. (Strict liability is a legal construct that holds a party responsible for injuries caused by its actions or products, without the need for negligence or fault.)
A spokesperson for Twitter tells CNBC Make It that its users are the ones who requested "more context around high profile content that has the potential to cause offline harm, particularly around elections."
Representatives for Parler and Facebook did not immediately respond to Make It's request for comment.
This story has been updated to include a statement from Twitter.
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Fox News' Viewer Exodus Is So Bad That MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' Just Unseated 'Fox & Friends' | Zero Hedge
Thu, 19 Nov 2020 14:25
The ongoing backlash against Fox News over the network's anti-Trump election coverage and never-Trump anchors (including Biden debate wingman Chris Wallace) has put the network in a viewership crisis which has not gone unnoticed by their competitors.
Last week, President Trump knocked the network, which called Arizona way early on election night - saying that their 'daytime ratings have completely collapsed,' adding that it's 'Very sad to watch this happen.'
'They forgot what made them successful, what got them there," Trump continued. "They forgot the Golden Goose."
👠https://t.co/RfBtEjWPug
'-- 🇺🇸ERIC BOLLING🇺🇸 (@ericbolling) November 12, 2020As a result, Trump-voting Fox viewers have been flocking to rivals Newsmax and OAN - both of which Trump promoted heavily after the election.
MASSIVE CROWD CHANTING "FOX NEWS SUCKS!"If FOX news want's to report like CNN, they will get ratings like CNN. pic.twitter.com/enV336Rzu0
'-- Million Maga March (@MilionMagaMarch) November 14, 2020NewsMax TV has spiked in viewership as Trump's diehard fans are enraged at Fox News, @brianstelter writes. ''On Monday the channel averaged 347,000 viewers. On Tuesday, 437,000 viewers...'' https://t.co/BQgyOjLroq
'-- Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) November 12, 2020Fox's clear bias has also caused internal strife, with pro-Trump anchors publicly calling out the network over partisan reporting.
And in the latest evidence of Fox's taking shrapnel from the landmine of wokeness, MSNBC's "Morning Joe" just overtook "Fox & Friends" for the first time since 2001 as the #1 cable news morning show - a distinction the network openly bragged about on social media.
TV RATINGS: MSNBC's Morning Joe finished last week as the No. 1 cable news morning show for the first time since 2001:1.6 million total viewers vs. Fox & Friends' 1.4 million.https://t.co/aasPslCnDs @morningmika @JoeNBC pic.twitter.com/Dkrca7fr9R
'-- TV News HQ (@TVNewsHQ) November 17, 2020(h/t Twitchy)
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Ezra Cohen-Watnick: Inside the Rise of Trump's Invisible Man in the White House
Thu, 19 Nov 2020 00:27
Updated | The well-manicured Washington, D.C., suburb of Chevy Chase, Maryland, is probably what President Donald Trump's supporters imagine when they whoop about draining the capital's "swamp." A high-income enclave of Volvo-driving, wine-sipping, NPR-listening lawyers, lobbyists, journalists and government bureaucrats, Chevy Chase is such a liberal stronghold that local Republicans said last year they were afraid to plant Trump campaign posters on their lawns.
All of which makes the town an unlikely launch pad for Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the suddenly prominent White House National Security Council official at the center of a bizarre backdoor maneuver to provide House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes with top-secret documents on government surveillance. Cohen-Watnick reportedly retrieved the documents from a classified CIA terminal in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next to the White House and gave them to Nunes, a California Republican who had been a member of Trump's transition team. They were intended to prove that former President Barack Obama was "wire tapping" Trump during the 2016 campaign. The documents did no such thing, other members of the panel concluded after studying them. What they actually showed is that U.S. intelligence agencies did have Trump's associates on their radar'--but only because they were tracking Russian agents.
President Donald Trump walks along the West Wing colonnade with his daughter Ivanka Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is senior adviser to the president for strategic planning, in Washington, D.C., on March 17. Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesThe incident triggered a House Ethics Committee probe into Nunes and forced him to recuse himself from his own panel's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections. But it also prompted questions from longtime intelligence officials about how Cohen-Watnick, a 30-year-old with apparently only a single, allegedly trouble-filled, junior-level tour of duty with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in Afghanistan on his r(C)sum(C), managed to secure one of the most consequential jobs in the White House: coordinating all of the U.S. intelligence community's operations with the Oval Office and Congress. In less than a year, Cohen-Watnick had been raised from the equivalent rank of an army captain to a three-star general.
Related: After Nunes Recusal, a Still-Dysfunctional Investigation'--and House
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"He makes sure they carry out the president's agenda," says a former White House National Security Council official, who, like every intelligence source consulted by Newsweek, declined to be identified discussing such sensitive issues. And that agenda, the president and his men have made clear, is to whittle down the power of the CIA.
How this young man amassed such influence mystifies longtime intelligence officials. How he hung on to his job after Army Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, successor to fired White House national security adviser Michael Flynn, reportedly tried to oust him following the Nunes affair is another part of the puzzle.
From String Bean to Spook
Ezra Cohen-Watnick's unlikely journey from Chevy Chase's liberal cocoon to backroom shenanigans in the Trump White House was less a straight shot than a dotted line. It may well have begun with Frank Gaffney, a former Ronald Reagan administration official who has emerged as a leading conspiracy theorist and believes that Muslim militants have infiltrated the U.S. government and even the Republican Party. At Bethesda''Chevy Chase High, Cohen-Watnick was close to Gaffney's daughter. As the years went by, he gravitated to Gaffney associates, who eventually took him into the White House.
Cohen-Watnick was a sophomore on September 11, 2001, when Al-Qaeda militants flew hijacked airliners into the World Trade Center and Pentagon. The attacks prompted a wave of patriotic fervor among young people, who volunteered in droves for the military services and intelligence agencies.. The affable, string bean teenager was too young to enlist, but he joined his high school's tiny Young Republicans club. And at the University of Pennsylvania, where he enrolled in 2004, he signed up for the Naval Reserve Officers Training Course, according to a 2006 account in the school paper, The Daily Pennsylvanian. "[I]t was very important to him to be able to give back to something he has benefitted from'--in this case, the national security that has kept generations of his family safe," the paper said.
Cohen's professed patriotism found other outlets at Penn. He joined the members-only Union Club, "Philadelphia's iconic bastion of GOP conservatism," according to a local columnist. But Cohen was also moving beyond the conservative mainstream. In 2007, he helped organize a campus "Terrorism Awareness Week" (originally called "Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week") in concert with David Horowitz, a close Gaffney ally whose crusade against "liberal elites" on campus has been supported by top Trump aides Kellyanne Conway and Steve Bannon. At some point, a close family friend recalls, asking for anonymity in exchange for talking about personal matters, Gaffney offered the budding young hawk internships at his D.C. think tank, the Center for Security Policy. (Gaffney tells Newsweek in a brief telephone interview that he barely recalls Cohen-Watnick from as a high schooler and has had no contact with him since.)
Some of Cohen's liberal family friends, who asked not to be identified so as not to upset longstanding relationships, were disturbed by what they call his growing anti-Muslim fervor, especially when they heard him express sympathy for illegal Israeli settlements and other hard-line political views. Another family friend tried to persuade the young man that the Middle East was far more complicated than he thought.
Whatever his emerging politics, Cohen-Watnick evidently decided a career in a Navy uniform was not for him. He dropped out of the ROTC program in 2007, according to a spokesman for the Naval Service Training Command. "He participated for two years and did not [receive a] commission," Lieutenant Sean Brophy tells Newsweek. Instead, the young man found a spooky route into national service: the Office of Naval Intelligence, or ONI.
In the spring semester of 2008, the Penn in Washington program listed Cohen-Watnick as one of a half-dozen students doing an internship with ONI, according to a website cache dug up by Laura Rozen, a veteran Washington correspondent with Al-Monitor, a Middle East news and analysis site. According to a friend of Cohen-Watnick who talked with Rozen, he failed to land a job with the CIA and instead joined the Defense Department. The friend told Rozen he "spent a significant time in Haiti while working out of DoD's Miami office."
Apparently, the intelligence world suited him. In 2012, he was accepted into a training program with the Defense Clandestine Service, the undercover overseas spying arm of the DIA. It was there that he met a mutual friend of Gaffney, General Michael Flynn. And that's when his career gained altitude.
Flynn Facts and CIA Beef
Michael Flynn arrives prior to a joint news conference between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, February 13. Carlos Barria/ReutersAccounts of Cohen-Watnick's time with the DIA are fuzzy. The agency would not confirm his dates of employment or assignments. But according to the fragmentary recollections of a half-dozen former intelligence officials, all of whom spoke only in exchange for anonymity to discuss such sensitive matters, Cohen-Watnick's DIA career did not go well, except in one regard: his bond with Flynn.
In 2013, the DIA assigned Cohen-Watnick to "the Farm," the CIA training facility outside Williamsburg, Virginia, to learn the rudiments of recruiting and managing foreign spies, according to two intelligence sources. During his time there, his reputation among his classmates "was poor," says a former CIA employee. "He was not a team player and would also 'leak' denigrating information about his fellow trainees" to their instructors, the former employee claimed. "While we expect each student to do their own work," this person adds, "we also demand they develop positive and healthy partnering skills." Following the course, Cohen-Watnick "was assigned to go to the Middle East, but "he was reluctant to do so," the source says. Instead, he did "a rotation" at the CIA. Two sources tell Newsweek he was eventually assigned to Afghanistan, with the rank of GS-12, equivalent to a captain in the army.
Flynn was already creating turmoil at the DIA with his impulsive management style and fervid embrace of conspiracy theories, such as his conviction that Iran was behind the attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya. "Flynn facts," his aides snickered, according to a profile in The New Yorker. Years earlier, he had co-authored a widely publicized paper excoriating the conduct of U.S. intelligence operations in Afghanistan, and he was particularly critical of the CIA for its support of Afghan President Hamid Karzai's notoriously corrupt brother Ahmed Wali Karzai. Cohen-Watnick developed a similar antipathy for Langley and was not quiet about it, according to one former intelligence official. Other than that, Cohen-Watnick apparently operated far below the radar of key officials who worked intensely on Afghanistan. "I never came across this kid, and I knew Flynn and his team in Afghanistan and at DIA," says a former Defense Department official, who like all such sources consulted by Newsweek, insisted on anonymity in exchange for discussing classified matters.
Back at DIA headquarters in 2014, however, Cohen-Watnick's status rose with Flynn. "He was an excellent briefer," says an official familiar with DIA operations, meaning Cohen-Watnick had a talent for presenting himself well with superiors and synthesizing info for his boss. "And that impressed Flynn."
'I'm Thinking Ollie North'
In 2014, Obama fired Flynn, and since then administration officials have dumped on him in the press. But the surprise election of Trump in November 2016 gave Flynn a chance for redemption'--and revenge. With his rising prominence in the Trump campaign, Flynn's adversaries recycled stories about his DIA ouster, but now there were also questions about Kremlin-financed trips to Moscow and ties to Turkish lobbyists. And Flynn was swimming in ever deeper conspiracy waters, now with activists who alleged that the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooter did not act alone, and that Hillary Clinton's campaign manager John Podesta was involved in a pedophile ring run beneath a Washington, D.C., family restaurant. Cohen-Watnick joined him in the so-called "Pizzagate" fray, tweeting about "Podesta's obsession with the occult." In another tweet, he referenced "the disgusting and potentially criminal behavior of the Clinton crime syndicate."
In January, Cohen-Watnick swept into office with Flynn and other associates from Gaffney's circle, including Bannon, Conway and Sebastian Gorka, another anti-Muslim hard-liner with ties to a Hungarian Nazi party. Meanwhile, Cohen-Watnick was getting married to a woman who, like Flynn and several other Trump aides, had ties to Russia. Rebecca Miller, four years younger than Cohen-Watnick, had worked on the Russian account in the D.C. office of Ketchum, the global powerhouse lobbying and public relations firm, according to her mother, Victoria Fraser, head of Washington University's Department of Medicine in St. Louis. During a 2014 event at the State Historical Society of Missouri, Fraser said her daughter's "big challenges right now are, Ketchum is responsible for providing PR and marketing to try to make Russia look better, which is particularly difficult when they're invading other countries and when Putin is somewhat out of control." Ketchum took a public relations blow when ProPublica reported that it had "placed pro-Russia op-eds in American publications by businesspeople and others without disclosing the role of the Russian government." The following year, it drew flak for placing an op-ed purporting to be written by Russian President Vladimir Putin in The New York Times arguing that Syrian rebels, not President Bashar al-Assad, were responsible for chemical attacks on civilians. According to a Ketchum spokesperson, Miller's work on the Russia account ended in September 2012. The company severed its ties with the Russian Federation in March 2015.
Cohen-Watnick and his wife have been reluctant to acknowledge anything about their professional lives or their history together. On November 11, 2016, the Ohr Kodesh Congregation, a conservative synagogue in Chevy Chase, held a kiddush, or small social ceremony, in honor of their "upcoming marriage." But despite prominent parents on both sides of the aisle, there is no account of their marriage in either The Washington Post or St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Miller's hometown newspaper. Nor do multiple search engines reveal a marriage license for the couple, who married in November 2016. In addition, records searches do not show them living together in Chevy Chase or another residence Cohen-Watnick claims in Miami. (According to Florida voting records, Cohen-Watnick is registered in Miami as a Republican "Hispanic male.") The White House has refused to release even a thumbnail biography of its senior director for intelligence at the National Security Council.
He's a ghost. And he seems to like it that way. "Ezra is really a big fan of covert-y action stuff," an official who worked with him at the NSC told The Washington Post, after "several current American officials" fingered Cohen-Watnick as one of two Trump aides who accessed those top-secret surveillance files for Nunes.
Long before that incident, though, veteran national security officials were astounded by the appointment of such a junior man as senior NSC adviser for intelligence issues. Among his predecessors were people who had deep familiarity with clandestine operations, such as future CIA Directors Robert Gates and George Tenet (who had previously been chief of staff on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence). In that job, says a former high-ranking intelligence official, you "need experience, not family connections."
"No one at his level could have possibly had the experience to be made senior director for intelligence programs'--no way, no how," says Daniel Benjamin, an NSC staffer in the Bill Clinton administration who later became the State Department's top counterterrorism official. "So the fact that he got that job and that CIA, which usually controls that billet, was so eager to move him out, tells you a lot about the oddity of the situation," Benjamin tells Newsweek.
Cohen-Watnick's principal credentials seem to be ideological. "He's a 30-year-old version of Michael Flynn, from an affection for the Russians to hatred of Iran," a senior former intelligence official who has worked with him asserted. And right from the start, he wore his enmity for the CIA like a badge of honor, the official says.
"There's no question that during the transition that he was airing his antipathy to the CIA," the senior former intelligence official who worked with Cohen-Watnick says. "I got the impression he had an ax to grind, and this was an opportunity to demonstrate who was in charge." He also "was very clear that he was entitled'..., that he had access'...and a voice in policy meetings.
"He made it very clear," the former official adds, "that he was speaking on behalf of Flynn." Adding to his value, says a former high-ranking Defense Department intelligence official: "His parents knew Jared Kushner," the Trump son-in-law and confidante who was emerging as a major force in the administration. "Flynn saw that as extremely valuable."
Representative Devin Nunes, chairman of the U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, briefs reporters at the U.S. Capitol, in Washington, D.C., on March 24. Jonathan Ernst/ReutersFlynn would soon be gone from the White House, sunk by his undisclosed conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. But his departure failed to end Cohen-Watnick's tenure. When Flynn's successor as national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, tried to get rid of him, Cohen-Watnick went straight to Bannon and Kushner, who in turn persuaded Trump to tell McMaster to back off, according to reports.
Since Flynn's departure, Cohen-Watnick has moved to tame the CIA by taking away its primacy in covert action operations, handing some to the Pentagon, and pulling the decisions on who does what and when inside the NSC. "He was looking to get the military into the space where CIA operated," says a former intelligence official who worked with Cohen-Watnick during the transition. And taking the fight to Iran'--"tightening the pressure points," as this person puts it'--is high on his agenda.
All of which portends trouble, former national security officials say, pointing to calamities that befell previous administrations that politicized the intelligence process. The George W. Bush White House put pressure on the CIA to report that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. And it found ideological bedmates in the Pentagon to produce WMD reports to help gin up the case'--false, as it turned out'--to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Decades earlier, an attempt by officials in the Reagan White House to get around congressionally prohibited aid to anti-communist Contra guerrillas fighting to overthrow the leftist Nicaraguan government ended in disaster.
"I'm thinking Ollie North," says a senior intelligence community official, rolling his eyes and imagining the damage an ideologically driven staffer can do. "That went well." North, a Marine lieutenant colonel in Reagan's national security council, ran a bizarre, back-channel operation to sell weapons to Iran (officially designated a state sponsor of terrorism) in exchange for cash to support the Contras. After the skullduggery was exposed, the resulting uproar prompted the appointment of a special prosecutor and nearly led to Reagan's impeachment.
Now, almost 30 years to the month after Congress opened hearings into that scandal, Cohen-Watnick finds himself facing a possible summons in the House Ethics Committee's investigation into the Nunes''White House matter.
Back in Chevy Chase, however, old friends, even staunch Trump opponents, are not ready to abandon him. "Everyone in our family has a great deal of affection for Ezra, despite the fact that our political views are almost diametrically opposite," says one, who has known Cohen-Watnick since his high school days. "As far as we're concerned, he's a delightful guy, and it's always great to see him."
Other old acquaintances share that affection, but worry that he's not grown much since his formative years. "Ezra was impervious," one says, "to anything that challenged his ideological view of the world."
With reporting by Alex Graves
Correction: A previous version of this story stated that Cohen-Watnick is 31 and entered high school not long before September 11. 2001. He is actually 30 and was a sophomore on that date.
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DOD Audit
From a financial newsletter I follow....
Government in action: The Pentagon says it won't have a "clean" audit until at least 2027 — a full 31 years behind schedule.
"A clean report is issued when an auditor finds no misrepresentation in financial records and that those records have been maintained according to established standards," says a story at Military.com. This year's attempted audit by outside accounting firms set Uncle Sam back $203 million.
Didgital ID
Coronavirus - How the app works
Tue, 17 Nov 2020 14:47
How the MI COVID Alert app worksHow the MI COVID Alert app worksMI COVID Alert is a free app for your mobile phone. It will help us to protect each other and slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
If you use the app you will:
be told if you may have been in close contact with another app user who has tested positive for coronavirusbe able to anonymously warn close contacts if you test positive for coronavirusmake contact tracing quicker for the health servicehelp map and predict the spread of the virusWhy use the MI COVID Alert app
EXPOSURESContact tracing finds people who may be at risk from coronavirus because they were in close contact with someone who has the virus. They can then be alerted and advised on what action to take to protect themselves and others.
HOW IT WORKSThe app is part of our contact tracing operation. It uses Bluetooth and anonymous IDs to log:
any phone you are in close contact with that also has the appthe distance between your phone and another app users' phonethe length of time your phone is near another app users' phoneEvery 2 hours the app downloads a list of anonymous IDs.
If you have been within 6 feet of someone for 15 minutes or more and they anonymously share a positive COVID-19 result, you'll get an alert that you may have been exposed.
The app does this work in the background. This means you can use your phone as normal. MI COVID Alert mobile app close contact notification
WHAT A CLOSE CONTACT EXPOSURE NOTIFICATION LOOKS LIKEIf the app finds that you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus, you will get a notification. The notification will appear in 2 places. This is to make sure you see it.
The notification will appear on your phone's home screen.It may disappear from your phone after a period of time if your phone thinks you have seen it.The notification will also show within the app. This is to make sure that if you miss the notification on your phone, you can still see it in the app. This notification will not disappear. It will remain within the app on your phone.CHECK FOR NOTIFICATION WHEN YOU OPEN THE APPIf you are unsure if you received a notification or think you may have missed a notification, open the app and check for notification. If there is a notification when you open the app, you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. The notification will advise you on what to do next.
BLUETOOTHYou'll be asked to give the app permission to use Bluetooth on your phone. Bluetooth needs to remain on for contact tracing to work.
The app uses Bluetooth low energy (LE) to estimate the distance and time between app users. It has been designed to make the best use of this technology.
Most of the time it will also give an accurate estimate of the distance between you and this other app user. No method of contact tracing is 100% perfect.
ANONYMOUS IDSThe app uses the Exposure Notification System (ENS) developed by Apple and Google. This allows phones to share anonymous IDs using Bluetooth. These IDs contain information about how close you were to another app user and how long you were close to them.
The anonymous IDs are codes made up of letters and numbers. You never see them. They cannot be used to identify users or their phones.
Using an anonymous ID means any information is collected anonymously. No one will ever know your personal details unless you choose to share them. This includes the MDHHS.
No one will know:
your namewho you metwhat locations you were inwho tested positive for coronavirusRead more about privacy and how we use your data
NOTIFY OTHERSWhen you click on the SHARE A POSITIVE RESULT button in the app notify others tab you'll see 100% Transparency Checklist screen
On next screen Enter the PIN received from MDHHS or local health department
On next screen you can review and share your postive result
On next screen app will ask permission to share your device Random IDs
Allowing app to upload device Random IDs completes the process. MI COVID Alert mobile app notify others.
INSTALLATION AND USEThe app is part of our contact tracing operation. It uses Bluetooth and anonymous IDs to log:
Download the free app from your usual app store.Choose what information you want to share, or not.Use your phone and other apps as normal - the app does its work in the backgroundYou should be able to use the app if your phone:
is less than 5 years olduses Apple's iOS 13.5 or higher or Google's Android 6.0 or higherMOBILE DATA USEThe app uses about 1MB of data per week. This is about the same amount of data you would use for 6 minutes browsing the internet.
Read about privacy and how we use your data
BATTERY LIFEUsing the app shouldn't make a difference to your phone's battery life. The app uses Bluetooth Low Energy. This is the same technology used by smartwatches or wireless earphones. It's designed to be energy efficient.
How the Biden Administration Will Tackle Travel - WSJ
Wed, 18 Nov 2020 17:48
Dear Sec. Somebody,
We don't know who you are yet. But we do know you've got a lot of work ahead of you shaping national policy on planes, trains and automobiles.
The new secretary of transportation in Joe Biden's cabinet will face consumer aviation issues unresolved during the Trump administration, starting with enforcement of refund requirements for airlines that canceled flights during the pandemic. New rules on emotional-support animals on planes haven't been completed, and the DOT has missed deadlines on multiple aviation issues, including seat dimensions, evacuation safety and cockpit barriers. New rules, or at least enforcement of existing rules, might be tied to any future airline industry bailout.
''There will be a sea-change reversal in the attitude towards customer-oriented regulation,'' says Jeff Davis, senior fellow at the Eno Center for Transportation, a nonpartisan transportation think tank.
Big new regulations on airlines, especially with the industry hurting, will face scorn from Republicans who have been happy with the Trump administration's policy to reduce regulatory requirements on businesses.
A federal mask mandate for airlines also seems likely. Airlines have required mask-wearing for passengers and crew, but compliance has been occasionally lax. While hundreds of people have been placed on airline no-fly lists, flight attendants and some airlines have complained enforcement would be easier if there were federal penalties for not wearing a mask on a flight.
Covid-19 and international travel policies and protocols will also need swift attention. Veteran transportation experts say the U.S. could reclaim some world-wide leadership by implementation of rules on testing, quarantines, vaccination requirements and passenger screening. None of that exists at a national level now. Getting countries to agree on rules for entry, similar to what the U.S. did with passenger-screening requirements after the 2001 terrorist attacks, will be key to restarting international air travel.
''There needs to be some hands-on diplomacy,'' says Jeff Shane, a former Transportation Department undersecretary for policy who spent 25 years in government under five presidents. ''It's a huge opportunity for Biden to set a whole different tone and to really put the U.S. back in a much more visible position of leadership.''
The new administration has already signaled that roads and rail will likely be top transportation priorities. With that comes an emphasis on rebuilding infrastructure, a bipartisan issue in the recent past, and on reducing carbon emissions.
At least nine of the 19 members of the Biden transportation transition advisory panel have experience in urban mass transit systems. Two have airport experience. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who served as a national co-chair of Mr. Biden's campaign and helped with his vice presidential search process, is viewed as a potential transportation secretary in Mr. Biden's administration.
High-speed rail projects like those common in Asia and Europe may find new love, though it's unlikely that trains will roll at 200 mph before the end of the next four-year presidential term. Several projects are gasping for air around the country. One, in California, is actually under construction.
''There's a couple projects that, if you really pushed them, they could really demonstrate what high-speed rail could do,'' says Rick Harnish, executive director for the High Speed Rail Alliance.
For now, all high-speed rail projects in the U.S. face plenty of opposition and practical problems. California's high-speed rail is under construction between Bakersfield and Merced'--not exactly a well-traveled route. It got funded under the Obama administration and could be the midsection of a significant line.
But the rest of the project that would link San Francisco to Los Angeles with high-speed trains needs to find $30 billion and a way to overcome a lot of opposition, according to Mr. Davis of Eno. Opponents say the project is far too expensive, boasts inflated ridership projections and will take too long to be useful.
Another project to build high-speed rail between Los Angeles and Las Vegas just postponed sale of $3 billion in bonds that would have funded initial work.
In Texas, a privately funded Dallas-Houston line has cleared several regulatory hurdles but faces more. In Florida, another private company is working on rail projects linking some major cities, though at slower speeds than typical bullet trains.
There are also projects planned to speed up Amtrak trains running between Chicago and both St. Louis and Detroit.
Amtrak, the national passenger rail service, isn't in immediate danger of default, Mr. Davis says, but has already spent $1 billion in Covid-19 aid that came in the Cares Act. Big-city rail systems also have been whacked by the decline in ridership during the pandemic, and likely will need some bailout money.
Amtrak says it needs at least $15 billion to improve the Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington, D.C., where most of its ridership lives. It needs to build a new tunnel under the Hudson River into New York City and to expand Penn Station in Midtown Manhattan. Other tunnels and bridges need replacement. To speed up trains, land must be acquired to smooth out curves.
Amtrak, says Mr. Davis, has a history of ''just enough funding to keep going and not enough to improve things.''
He thinks there likely will be a revival of a move to dedicate a portion of the federal gasoline tax to Amtrak. Two senators and a congressman, all Democrats, introduced a bill doing that in July.
Of course, transportation funding needs are vast. Highways need more money for infrastructure repair, and Mr. Biden has talked about creating a network of electric-vehicle recharging stations along interstates. Developing electric city buses and freight rail lines also will likely become priorities.
Mr. Shane, the former DOT official, who is Republican, doesn't think throwing more money at Amtrak will dramatically improve passenger rail without a fundamental change in structure. One idea: putting the government in charge of maintaining and upgrading tracks, much like the interstate highway system, and letting private companies offer competitive train service.
Mr. Shane, who retired in June as general counsel for the International Air Transport Association in Geneva, says no matter how much attention trains get, airlines will remain a major focus.
''I don't see how they [airlines] can be left out,'' he says. ''The airlines are going to be the key driver of economic recovery.''
Another issue that needs attention: creating a backup to the Global Positioning Satellite system used by airplanes, ships, cars and all of our phones. An advisory board was established in President George W. Bush's administration, but no administration has signed off on a plan.
''This is a vitally important part of our infrastructure, and probably the most easily compromised,'' says Mr. Shane, who is a member of the advisory board. ''GPS is just taken for granted everywhere.''
OK, Sec. Somebody. Get to work.
Write to Scott McCartney at middleseat@wsj.com
Digital travel credential one step closer with ICAO implementation model approval | Biometric Update
Thu, 19 Nov 2020 13:45
Specifications for the first digital travel credential (DTC) type have been endorsed by the ICAO Technical Advisory Group for the Traveller Identification Programme (TAG/TRIP), bringing digital identity-based travel one step closer to reality, according to the International Civil Aviation Organization's (ICAO's) Uniting Aviation.
A subgroup of the ICAO New Technologies Working Group (NTWG) has developed three different implementation types for DTCs, each based on the biometrics embedded in ICAO-compliant passports.
Type 1 DTC checks consist of a DTC 'Virtual Component' only, with the electronic Machine-Readable Travel Document (the eMRTD, or ePassport) as a physical authenticator. Data is extracted from the physical credential and stored in a digital container, such as on the smart phone. The physical document acts as a back-up credential.
Type 2 is made up of a DTC-VC and DTC 'Physical Component' in addition to the eMRTD, with data extracted from the issuer database and digitally signed by the issuing authority. A digital container is the primary backup, the physical document a secondary back-up. Type 3 implementations involve no eMRTD, but only the DTC.
ICAO warns the industry against blocking interoperability with proprietary global passenger facilitation schemes based on digital identity credentials.
UN launches Digital ID wallet with biometric security
A solution combining biometrics, blockchain and mobile technology developed for UN personnel by the UN Digital Solutions Center (UN DSC) has won a technology challenge, the agency announced.
UN DSC is a pilot project of the World Food Programme and UNHCR with operational support from UNICC, intended to create digital solutions to help UN agencies with common operational and transactional tasks.
The UN Digital ID is a digital wallet that agency personnel can use for data related to human resources, medical status, travel, payroll and pensions, which can also be used for onboarding new employees, leaving or retiring from the organization. It is intended to reduce data fragmentation while streamlining processes.
A video produced by the UN depicts the use of facial recognition to secure the wallet and ensure its privacy.
The project won the recent Reimagine the UN Together Challenge, and the UN Joint Staff Pension Fund, a collaborator on UN Digital ID, is a finalist in the Gartner Eye on Innovation Awards for Government 2020, for its Digital Certificate of Entitlement solution, which is based on the same technology.
Distributed ID standard framework released, digital health passport open-sourced by IOTA
Distributed ledger and cryptocurrency network operator IOTA Foundation has released an alpha version of its own standard framework for digital identity for Rust and Javascript, according to a blog post.
IOTA Identity can help encourage the adoption of IOTA and decentralized identity (DID) or self-sovereign identity (SSI) with a zero-fee protocol for both payments and identification.
The announcement includes open sourcing the Selv app, a digital health passport co-developed with Dentons which allows verifiable credentials to be shared with websites or peer-to-peer through QR codes. The applications is just the first step in a planned identity wallet, and according to the post should provide enough functionality to use IOTA Identity in hackathon projects.
The Odyssey Hackathon, which is focussed on distributed ledger technology and artificial intelligence, launched last week, and in 2019 nine different teams used IOTA for their Odyssey entries.
The IOTA foundation has also launched an IOTA Identity Experience Team (X-Team) to participate in the preparation of tools, libraries and documentation for the IOTA Identity framework.
Article Topicsbiometric passport | biometrics | credentials | digital identity | ICAO | identity document | interoperability | self-sovereign identity | standards | United Nations
Coming for your pets!
Are Dogs Spreading SARS-CoV-2? Study Finds Living With a Dog Increases Risk of Contracting COVID-19
Mon, 16 Nov 2020 17:57
A study conducted by the University of Granada and the Andalusian School of Public Health has analyzed the main risk factors in the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 during the national lockdown in Spain, including going out to work or living with patients diagnosed with COVID-19 .
The authors warn of the need among dog-lovers to take extreme hygiene measures regarding their pets, as it is not yet clear whether the owners were infected because the animal acted as the host for the virus and transmitted it directly, or whether they picked it up indirectly due to the increased exposure of the dog to vehicles of the virus (that is, objects or surfaces where the virus lies).
''From a scientific point of view, there is no justification for children's playgrounds being closed to prevent infections while parks where dogs are walked are allowed to remain open, when there are numerous objects there that can act as vehicles for SARS-CoV-2,'' observe the authors.
A study carried out by researchers from the University of Granada (UGR) and the Andalusian School of Public Health has analyzed the main risk factors in the transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus during the national lockdown in Spain, between March and May 2020.
The study, published in the journal Environmental Research, has revealed that living with a dog and buying basic products in the supermarket with home delivery were two of the socio-demographic variables (of those analyzed) that most increased the risk of contracting COVID-19 during the period under study'--by 78% in the case of living with a dog, and by 94% in that of supermarket home delivery.
The authors warn dog-owners of the need to take extreme hygiene measures in relation to their pets, as it is not yet clear whether the owners were infected because the animal acted as a host for the virus (and transmitted it) or due to having taken it out for a walk in public.
As explained by Cristina Snchez Gonzlez, a researcher at the UGR's Biomedical Research Centre and the main author of this work, ''in view of the rapid spread of the virus even during lockdown, we consider it important to study the socio-demographic characteristics, habits, and comorbidities of the SARS-CoV-2 infection in order to implement effective prevention strategies.''
To this end, the researchers designed a survey to capture variables of interest during the lockdown period that might help explain the exponential spread of the virus, despite the highly restrictive mobility conditions implemented nationally in Spain.
Study based on 2,086 individualsThis study, carried out throughout Spain, sought to shed light on other possible routes of transmission of the COVID-19 disease, risk factors, and the effectiveness of the hygiene measures recommended by the Authorities, in order to detect critical points of exposure to the virus and thus minimize its spread'--not only in this pandemic but also for any future events that could compromise public health.
Based on a sample of 2,086 individuals, 41% of the population surveyed were aged between 40 and 54 years and had studied to degree (44%) or postgraduate (32%) level. This collective presented a prevalence of the disease of 4.7%.
The results showed that the risk of suffering from COVID-19 is 60 times higher among those who cohabit with a COVID-19 patient. In addition, of all the socio-demographic variables analyzed, the one with the most powerful effect in terms of increasing the risk of contracting the disease (by up to 78%) was living with a dog and taking it for a walk. By contrast, having cats or other types of pets had no significant effect on the prevalence of the disease.
''The results of our research warn of increased contagion among dog-owners, and the reason for this higher prevalence has yet to be elucidated. Taking into account the current scarcity of resources to carry out the diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 in humans, the possibility of diagnosis in dogs is extremely unlikely,'' notes Snchez Gonzlez.
These results point to cohabiting with dogs as being a strong risk factor for COVID-19 infection, although further studies are needed to determine whether the reason for this sharp increase in the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection is due to transmission between humans and dogs, to the dog acting as a vehicle for the virus, or to the increased contact with other vehicles for the virus (that is, objects or surfaces where the virus is present). The latter could be caused by greater exposure to the virus due to the unhygienic behaviors and habits of dogs when out in the street and their subsequent return to the home.
''At the international level, there are several studies that have obtained results similar to ours regarding Coronavirus infection in dogs, but it is necessary to dig deeper on this issue and establish whether this prevalence of the virus among dog-owners is due to one reason or another,'' explains the UGR researcher.
Snchez Gonzlez warns that, ''in the midst of a pandemic and in the absence of an effective treatment or vaccine, preventive hygiene measures are the only salvation, and these measures should also be applied to dogs, which, according to our study, appear to directly or indirectly increase the risk of contracting the virus.''
The researcher also points out that ''from a scientific point of view, there is no justification for children's playgrounds being closed to prevent infections while parks, where dogs are walked, are allowed to remain open, when there are numerous objects there that can act as vehicles for SARS-CoV-2. At the same time, we should not rule out the possibility that the virus may be transmitted via fecal matter.''
Disinfecting supermarket productsIn this study, the effect of certain variables'--gender, age, educational level, type of residence, size of household, cohabitation with children or adolescents, the presence of workers among the household members, the presence of domestic workers in the home during lockdown, or having any type of pet other than a dog'--was found to have no statistical significance.
The most effective hygiene measure in helping to reduce the prevalence of the disease was to disinfect products purchased from the market once back home (which reduced the risk by 94%). This was found to be more effective than other hygiene measures, such as the use of facemasks, gloves, disinfecting with ethanol or bleach, disinfecting shoes, and washing clothes when returning home.
Among mobility variables that were studied, those with the greatest effect in terms of increasing the prevalence of the virus were working outside the home (which increased the risk by 76%) and the use of public transport (particularly the underground system or tram network). A higher prevalence of the disease was also detected among those surveyed who had purchased their basic products at a supermarket and then used the home delivery service, compared to those who brought their shopping home themselves (the risk increased by 94% among the former group).
The authors emphasize that this was an epidemiological study, which neither addresses the mechanisms surrounding the virus nor establishes causal relationships. This was a descriptive study in which the selected variables were statistically associated with prevalence.
Reference: ''The spread of SARS-CoV-2 in Spain: Hygiene habits, sociodemographic profile, mobility patterns and comorbidities'' by Miguel Rodr­guez-Barranco, Lorenzo Rivas-Garc­a, Jos(C) L. Quiles, Daniel Redondo-Snchez, Pilar Aranda-Ram­rez, Juan Llopis-Gonzlez, Mar­a Jos(C) Snchez P(C)rez and Cristina Snchez-Gonzlez, 22 September 2020, Environmental Research.DOI: 10.1016/j.envres.2020.110223
Big Tech
Dorsey testimony choosing your own algorithm for presentation layer
Zuckerbergs on addictiveness of social media in research
Big tech wants to “build on section 230”
Steal the Vote
Trump Lawyer Sidney Powell: 'We're Getting Ready to Overturn Election Results in Multiple States'
Sun, 15 Nov 2020 22:31
Former federal prosecutor Sidney Powell, a Trump campaign lawyer, suggested in a Sunday interview that the president's legal team is receiving a deluge of evidence concerning voter fraud and irregularities.
''We're getting ready to overturn election results in multiple states,'' Powell said on Fox Business, adding that she has enough evidence of election fraud to launch a widespread criminal investigation. ''I don't make comments without having the evidence to back it up.''
Powell claimed that elections software switched ''millions of votes'' from Trump to Democratic presidential nominee nominee Joe Biden.
Powell is notably the counsel to former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, engineering a stunning comeback with the Department of Justice moving to drop charges.
Powell said a whistleblower has come forward alleging that the voting software was designed to ''rig elections.''
''He saw it happen in other countries,'' she said, apparently referring to election hardware and software by Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic, or perhaps other software and machines.
''We have so much evidence, I feel like it's coming in through a fire hose,'' Powell said. She declined to elaborate when prompted by Fox News host Maria Bartiromo.
''They can stick a thumb drive in the [voting] machine, they can upload software to it even from the Internet '... from Germany or Venezuela even,'' Powell said, adding that operations ''can watch votes in real-time'' and ''can shift votes in real-time,'' or alleged bad actors can ''remote access anything.''
''We've identified mathematically the exact algorithm they've used'--and planned to use from the beginning'' that allegedly switched votes to Biden, Powell said.
Powell also referred to a 2019 investigation by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), as well as other Democratic lawmakers into Dominion Voting Systems, Election Systems & Software, and Hart InterCivic. The senators had expressed concerns about the security of the voting systems.
''(W)e have concerns about the spread and effect of private equity investment in many sectors of the economy, including the election technology industry'--an integral part of our nation's democratic process,'' wrote the lawmakers in their letters to the firms about a year ago. ''These problems threaten the integrity of our elections and demonstrate the importance of election systems that are strong, durable, and not vulnerable to attack.''
Later in the Sunday morning interview, Powell said that her team has ''detected voting irregularities that are inexplicable'' in states where officials believe they have valid systems.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, left, and President Donald Trump in file photographs. (Getty Images; Reuters)
During the election, Republicans in the House were able to flip at least 11 seats while the GOP is poised to maintain control of the Senate. Some conservatives have questioned how such a voting pattern is possible for Biden to win the presidential election, let alone receive more votes than any other presidential candidate in American history, including President Barack Obama's victory in 2008.
Companies RespondThe Department of Homeland Security's cybersecurity agency issued a statement on Thursday calling the 2020 general election the ''most secure in American history,'' despite legal challenges alleging voting irregularities in some battleground states.
''The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history. Right now, across the country, election officials are reviewing and double-checking the entire election process prior to finalizing the result,'' read the statement released by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).
Smartmatic, in a statement on Saturday, said that it has no ties with Dominion Voting Systems. Powell suggested that Smartmatic is operated by Dominion in the interview.
Dominion, over the past several weeks, has repeatedly denied its systems were compromised in some way.
''In the aftermath of the 2020 general election, there has been a great deal of misinformation being circulated about Smartmatic and other companies that provide election technology to voting jurisdictions in the US. We would like to dispel these incorrect statements with facts,'' the firm wrote, adding that it ''has never owned any shares or had any financial stake in Dominion Voting Systems.''
Dominion also refuted allegations that its machines changed votes from Trump to Biden on Election Day and beyond.
''Dominion Voting Systems categorically denies any claims about any vote switching or alleged software issues with our voting systems,'' a company spokesperson said in a statement to The Denver Post. ''Our systems continue to reliably and accurately count ballots, and state and local election authorities have publicly confirmed the integrity of the process.''
EXCLUSIVE: How a Philly mob boss stole the election '-- and why he may flip on Joe Biden | The Buffalo Chronicle
Tue, 17 Nov 2020 03:05
The innermost circles of the American mafia are abuzz. The Boss of the Philly mob '-- 'Skinny Joey' Merlino '-- is taking a victory strut, hobnobbing around the highest echelons of old-time mafia folk, mostly in Florida, describing what may have been the heist of the century: the 2020 presidential election.
The feat is drawing praise from far-flung corners of the Italian American business community, which sees the thanks of a grateful administration as key to the revival of the community's political influence.
But an associate says that Merlino might just be willing to flip on Joe Biden and the Pennsylvania political operatives who ordered up some 300,000 election ballots marked for Biden. The source alleges that Merlino and a lean team of associates manufactured those ballots at a rate of $10 per ballot '-- a whopping $3 million for three days of work. They were then packaged into non-descript cardboard boxes and dropped off outside the Philadelphia Convention Center.
Sources who spoke to The Chronicle on the condition of anonymity say that Merlino picked up those ballots from two private households where a trusted handful of associates were busily marking ballots with Sharpie markers. They were paid more than $1,000 per hour, often producing thousands of ballots every hour for more than 60 nearly-consecutive hours.
The ballots were purchased in cash.
'Skinny Joey' Merlino was granted early release from a two-year prison stint earlier this year. If President Trump is willing to offer him a full pardon for current misdeeds and an expungement of past misdeeds, Merlino would be likely to offer stunning testimony before Congress about how the election was stolen. It's thought that Democratic Party operatives working inside Philadelphia's election office provided Merlino with crates of raw ballots just hours before polls closed on election night, which he transported to two private households in South Philadelphia. By 10 p.m. that night Merlino's operation was already generating more than 3,000 ballots per hour, which quickly scaled to more than 6,000 ballots per hour before midnight.
But now, Merlino might just be willing to flip on Biden '-- in primetime Congressional testimony '-- if President Donald J. Trump is willing to issue the longtime mobster a full expungement of his decades-long criminal record. And, of course, Merlino wants to be pardoned for the election fraud itself and any crimes to which he may incriminate himself during his testimony.
''He wants a clean record. He wants to fish and hunt on federal lands. He'd really like a job with the National Parks Service. You need a clean record to get those things,'' explains one confidant. ''But most of all he wants the thanks of a grateful nation for coming forward.''
Some have postulated that Merlino would be well suited to host a new Bravo series under development called ''The Real Gentlemen of Philadelphia'', modeled loosely on that network's 'Real Housewives' franchise. That deal could come with a $2 million per season paycheck. ''He wouldn't mind a little fame '-- or a lot of fame,'' he jokes. ''If he comes forward he'll probably get a book deal and a movie franchise.''
Political observers believe that Merlino could sell the rights of his story to a major Hollywood production studio for more than $20 million, and a book deal could yield as much as $10 million.
''You have to understand the thing about Skinny Joey is that he is very charismatic and knows how to tell an enthralling story,'' the associate explains. ''He'd be an incredible movie narrator, and he'd perform excellently in congressional testimony. He could hit that testimony so far out of the ballpark that he becomes a superstar instantaneously '-- a real celebrity presence.''
The damning congressional testimony '-- being tentatively dubbed 'The Biggest Heist in Political History' '-- could make it politically impossible for the Republican-controlled legislature in Pennsylvania to certify the State's 20 electoral votes.
It's alleged that Skinny Joey Merlino manufactured more than 300,000 ballots for Joe Biden, and then transported them in nondescript cardboard boxes to a backroom at the Philadelphia Convention Center. From there, the ballots were scanned into ballot boxes and were then co-located with actual election ballots being prepared for processing, according to an associate who was made familar with the operation.
1824 United States presidential election - Wikipedia
Tue, 17 Nov 2020 14:52
'Bold text
1824 United States presidential election '† 1820October 26 '' December 1, 1824 February 9, 1825 (contingent election)1828 '†'2 of the Electoral College132 electoral votes needed to winTurnout26.9%[1] 16.8 ppPresidential election results map. Blue denotes states won by Jackson, orange denotes those won by Crawford, green denotes those won by Adams, light yellow denotes those won by Clay. Numbers indicate the number of electoral votes allotted to each state.
1825 contingent U.S. presidential election
24 state delegations of the House of Representatives13 state votes needed to winHouse of Representatives votes by state. States in orange voted for Crawford, states in green for Adams, states in blue for Jackson.
The 1824 United States presidential election was the tenth quadrennial presidential election. It was held from Tuesday, October 26 to Wednesday, December 1, 1824. Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay and William Crawford were the primary contenders for the presidency. The result of the election was inconclusive, as no candidate won a majority of the electoral vote. In the election for vice president, John C. Calhoun was elected with a comfortable majority of the vote. Because none of the candidates for president garnered an electoral vote majority, the U.S. House of Representatives, under the provisions of the Twelfth Amendment, held a contingent election. On February 9, 1825, John Quincy Adams was elected as president.[2][3]
The Democratic-Republican Party had won six consecutive presidential elections and by 1824 was the only national political party. However, as the election approached, the presence of multiple viable candidates resulted in there being multiple nominations by the contending factions, signaling the splintering of the party and an end to the Era of Good Feelings.
Adams won New England, Jackson and Adams split the mid-Atlantic states, Jackson and Clay split the Western states, and Jackson and Crawford split the Southern states. Jackson finished with a plurality of the electoral and popular vote, while the other three candidates each finished with a significant share of the votes. Clay, who had finished fourth, was eliminated. Because he shared many of Adams's positions on the major issues, he lent him his support, allowing Adams to win the contingent election on the first ballot.
This is one of three presidential elections (along with the 1800 election and 1876 election) that have been decided in the House. It is also one of five in which the winner did not achieve at least a plurality of the national popular vote, and the only U.S. election in which the candidate who had the plurality of votes in the Electoral College did not win the election.
Background Edit The Era of Good Feelings associated with the administration of President James Monroe was a time of reduced emphasis on political party identity.[4] With the Federalists discredited, Democratic-Republicans adopted some key Federalist economic programs and institutions.[5][6] The economic nationalism of the Era of Good Feelings that would authorize the Tariff of 1816 and incorporate the Second Bank of the United States portended abandonment of the Jeffersonian political formula for strict construction of the Constitution, limited central government, and primacy of Southern slaveholding interests.[7][8][9]
An unintended consequence of wide single-party identification was reduced party discipline. Rather than political harmony, factions arose within the party.[10] Monroe attempted to improve discipline by appointing leading statesmen to his Cabinet, including Secretary of State John Quincy Adams of Massachusetts, Secretary of the Treasury William H. Crawford of Georgia, and Secretary of War John C. Calhoun of South Carolina. General Andrew Jackson of Tennessee led high-profile military missions. Only House Speaker Henry Clay of Kentucky held political power independent of Monroe. He refused to join the cabinet and remained critical of the administration.
Two key events, the Panic of 1819 and the Missouri crisis of 1820, influenced and reshaped politics.[11] The economic downturn broadly harmed workers, the sectional disputes over slavery expansion raised tensions, and both events plus other factors drove demand for increased democratic control.[12] Social disaffection would help motivate revival of rivalrous political parties in the near future, though these had not yet formed at the time of the 1824 election.[13]
Nomination process Edit The previous competition between the Federalist Party and the Democratic-Republican Party collapsed after the War of 1812 due to the disintegration of the Federalists' popular appeal. President James Monroe of the Democratic-Republicans was able to run without opposition in the election of 1820. Like previous presidents who had been elected to two terms, Monroe declined to seek re-nomination for a third term.[14] Vice President Daniel D. Tompkins had long-since been dismissed as a viable successor to Monroe due to a combination of health problems and a financial dispute with the federal government, and he formally ruled himself out of making a presidential run at the start of 1824.[15] The presidential nomination was thus left wide open within the Democratic-Republican Party, the only major national political entity remaining in the United States.
The Congressional caucus nominated Crawford for president and Albert Gallatin for vice president, but it was sparsely attended and was widely attacked as undemocratic. Gallatin had not sought the nomination and soon withdrew at Crawford's request. Gallatin was also dissatisfied with repeated attacks on his credibility made by the other candidates. He was replaced by North Carolina Senator Nathaniel Macon. State legislatures also convened state caucuses to nominate candidates.[16]
General election Edit Candidates who withdrew before election Edit Candidates Edit All four candidates were nominated by at least one state legislature.[17] Andrew Jackson was recruited to run for the office of the president by the state legislature of Tennessee. Jackson did not seek the task of running for president. Instead, he wished to retire to his estate on the outskirts of Nashville called the Hermitage. However, Jackson was not one to decline such a request.[18][better source needed ]
Results by county explicitly indicating the percentage of the winning candidate in each county. Shades of blue are for Jackson (Democratic-Republican), shades of red are for Adams (Democratic-Republican), shades of yellow are for Clay (Democratic-Republican), and shades of green are for Crawford (Democratic-Republican).
Campaign Edit Candidates drew voter support by different states and sections. Adams dominated the popular vote in New England and won some support elsewhere, Clay dominated his home state of Kentucky and won pluralities in two neighboring states, and Crawford won the Virginia vote overwhelmingly and polled well in North Carolina. Jackson had geographically the broadest support, though there were heavy vote concentrations in his home state of Tennessee and in Pennsylvania and populous areas where even he ran poorly.
Policy played a reduced role in the election, though positions on tariffs and internal improvements did create significant disagreements. Both Adams and Jackson supporters backed Secretary of War John C. Calhoun of South Carolina for vice president. He easily secured the majority of electoral votes for that office. In reality, Calhoun was vehemently opposed to nearly all of Adams's policies, but he did nothing to dissuade Adams supporters from voting for him for vice president.
The campaigning for presidential election of 1824 took many forms. Contrafacta, or well known songs and tunes whose lyrics have been altered, were used to promote political agendas and presidential candidates. Below can be found a sound clip featuring "Hunters of Kentucky", a tune written by Samuel Woodsworth in 1815 under the title "The Unfortunate Miss Bailey". Contrafacta such as this one, which promoted Andrew Jackson as a national hero, have been a long-standing tradition in presidential elections. Another form of campaigning during this election was through newsprint. Political cartoons and partisan writings were best circulated among the voting public through newspapers. Presidential candidate John C. Calhoun was one of the candidates most directly involved through his participation in the publishing of the newspaper The Patriot as a member of the editorial staff. This was a sure way to promote his own political agendas and campaign. In contrast, most candidates involved in early 19th century elections did not run their own political campaigns. Instead it was left to volunteer citizens and partisans to speak on their behalf.[19][20][21][22]
Results Edit The 1824 presidential election marked the final collapse of the Republican-Federalist political framework. The electoral map confirmed the candidates' sectional support, with Adams winning in New England, Jackson having wide voter appeal, Clay attracting votes from the West, and Crawford attracting votes from the eastern South. This sectionalism is also reflected in the fact that all four candidates had ballot access in only six of the 18 states with a popular vote. Jackson earned only a plurality of electoral votes. Thus, the election was decided by the House of Representatives, which elected John Quincy Adams on the first ballot. John C. Calhoun, supported by Adams and Jackson, easily won the vice presidency.
Results by state Edit Andrew JacksonDemocratic-RepublicanJohn Quincy AdamsDemocratic-RepublicanHenry ClayDemocratic-RepublicanWilliam CrawfordDemocratic-RepublicanState totalStateelectoralvotes#%electoralvotes#%electoralvotes#%electoralvotes#%electoralvotes#Alabama59,42969.3252,42217.800960.7101,65612.17013,603ALConnecticut8no ballots07,49470.398no ballots01,96518.46010,647CTDelaware3no popular vote0no popular vote1no popular vote0no popular vote2''DEGeorgia9no popular vote0no popular vote0no popular vote0no popular vote9''GAIllinois31,27227.2321,51632.4611,03622.18084718.1304,671ILIndiana57,34346.6153,09519.6505,31533.740no ballots015,753INKentucky146,35627.230no ballots016,98272.7714no ballots023,338KYLouisiana5no popular vote3no popular vote2no popular vote0no popular vote0''LAMaine9no ballots010,28981.509no ballots02,33618.50012,625MEMaryland1114,52343.73714,63244.0536952.0903,36410.13133,214MDMassachusetts15no ballots030,68772.9715no ballots0no ballots042,056MAMississippi33,12163.7731,65433.800no ballots01192.4304,894MSMissouri31,16633.9701594.6302,04259.503320.9303,273MONew Hampshire8Bold textno ballots09,389Bold text93.598no ballots06436.41010,032NHNew Jersey810,33252.0888,309'Bold text41.890no ballots01,1966.03019,837NJNew York36no popular vote1no popular vote26no popular vote4no popular vote5''NYNorth Carolina1520,23156.0315no ballots0no ballots015,62243.26036,109NCOhio1618,48936.96012,28024.55019,25538.4916no ballots050,024OHPennsylvania2835,92976.04285,43611.5001,7053.6104,1828.85047,252PARhode Island4no ballots02,14591.474no ballots02008.5302,345RISouth Carolina11no popular vote11no popular vote0no popular vote0no popular vote0''SCTennessee1120,19797.45112161.040no ballots03121.51020,725TNVermont7no popular vote0no popular vote7no popular vote0no popular vote0''VTVirginia242,97519.3503,41922.2404192.7308,55855.682415,371VATOTALS:261151,36341.3699113,14230.928447,54512.993741,03211.2141365,928USTO WIN:131Breakdown by ticket Edit Electoral votes for PresidentTotalAndrewJacksonJohn Q.AdamsWilliam H.CrawfordHenryClayJohn C. Calhoun182997427Nathan Sanford30''''228Nathaniel Macon24''''24''Andrew Jackson13''913Martin Van Buren9''''9''Henry Clay2''''2''(No vote for vice president)1''1''''Total26199844038Close states Edit States where the margin of victory was under 5%:
Maryland 0.32%Ohio 1.53%States where the margin of victory was under 10%:
Illinois 5.23%Popular voteJackson41.36%Adams30.92%Clay12.99%Crawford11.21%Unpledged electors1.81%Others1.71%Electoral voteJackson37.93%Adams32.18%Crawford15.71%Clay14.17%1825 contingent election Edit As no presidential candidate had won an absolute electoral vote majority, the responsibility for electing a new president devolved upon the U.S. House of Representatives, which held a contingent election on February 5, 1825. As prescribed by the Twelfth Amendment, the House was limited to choosing from among the three candidates who received the most electoral votes: Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, and William Crawford; Henry Clay, who had finished fourth, was eliminated.[25] Each state delegation, voting en bloc, had a single vote. There were 24 states at the time, thus an absolute majority of 13 votes was required for victory.
Clay detested Jackson and had said of him, "I cannot believe that killing 2,500 Englishmen at New Orleans qualifies for the various, difficult, and complicated duties of the Chief Magistracy."[26] Moreover, Clay's American System was closer to Adams's position on tariffs and internal improvements than Jackson's. Even if Clay had wished to align with Crawford over Jackson, which was highly unlikely in any event since Clay's policy differences with Crawford were even deeper, especially on matters of the tariff, and the fact Crawford had been in poor health, no path to victory was evident.
Ignoring the nonbinding directive of the Kentucky legislature that its House delegation choose Jackson, the delegation voted 8''4 for Adams instead. Clay used his political influence in the House to motivate House delegations in states where he had won at least a voting plurality to vote for Adams.[27] Thus, Adams was elected president on the first ballot,[28][29] with 13 states, followed by Jackson with seven, and Crawford with four.
Balloting in the contingent election Edit Map of House of Representatives delegation votes
Aftermath Edit Adams' victory shocked Jackson, who, as the winner of a plurality of both the popular and electoral votes, expected the House to choose him. Not long before the contingent House election, an anonymous statement appeared in a Philadelphia paper, called the Columbian Observer. The statement, said to be from a member of Congress, essentially accused Clay of selling Adams his support for the office of Secretary of State. No formal investigation was conducted, so the matter was neither confirmed nor denied. When Clay was indeed offered the position after Adams was victorious, he opted to accept and continue to support the administration he voted for, knowing that declining the position would not have helped to dispel the rumors brought against him.[33]
By appointing Clay his Secretary of State, President Adams essentially declared him heir to the presidency, as Adams and his three predecessors had all served as Secretary of State. Jackson and his followers accused Adams and Clay of striking a "corrupt bargain", and the Jacksonians would campaign on this claim for the next four years, ultimately helping Jackson defeat Adams in 1828.
Electoral College selection Edit Caucus curs in full yell, by
James Akin, 1824 (critique of "the press's treatment of Andrew Jackson, and on the practice of nominating candidates by
caucus")
[34]Notes Edit ^ a b c d e The popular vote figures exclude Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana, New York, South Carolina, and Vermont. In all of these states, the Electors were chosen by the state legislatures rather than by popular vote.[23] ^ Jackson was nominated by the Tennessee state legislature and by the Democratic Party of Pennsylvania. ^ Adams was nominated by the Massachusetts state legislature. ^ Crawford was nominated by a caucus of 66 congressmen that called itself the "Democratic members of Congress". ^ Clay was nominated by the Kentucky state legislature. References Edit Citations Edit ^ "National General Election VEP Turnout Rates, 1789-Present". United States Election Project. CQ Press. ^ Robin Kolodny, "The Several Elections of 1824." Congress & the Presidency: A Journal of Capital Studies 23#2 (1996) online. ^ George Dangerfield, George. The Awakening of American Nationalism: 1815-1828 (1965) pp 212''230. ^ Ammon, 1958, p. 4: "The phrase 'Era of Good Feelings", so inextricably associated with the administration of James Monroe ..." ^ Ammon, 1958, p. 5: "Most Republicans like former President [James] Madison readily acknowledged the shift that had taken place within the Republican party towards Federalist principles and viewed the process without qualms." And p. 4: "The Republicans had taken over (as they saw it) that which was of permanent value in the Federal program." And p. 10: "Federalists had vanished" from national politics. ^ Brown, 1966, p. 23: "a new theory of party amalgamation preached the doctrine that party division was bad and that a one-party system best served the national interest" and "After 1815, stirred by the nationalism of the post-war era, and with the Federalists in decline, the Republicans took up the Federalist positions on a number of the great public issues of the day, sweeping all before them as they did. The Federalists gave up the ghost." ^ Brown, 1966, p. 23: The amalgamated Republicans, "as a party of the whole nation ... ceased to be responsive to any particular elements in its constituency. It ceased to be responsive to the South." And "The insistence that slavery was uniquely a Southern concern, not to be touched by outsiders, had been from the outset a sine qua non for Southern participation in national politics. It underlay the Constitution and its creation of a government of limited powers ..." ^ Brown, 1966, p. 24: "Not only did the Missouri crisis make these matters clear [the need to revive strict constructionist principles and quiet anti-slavery agitation], but 'it gave marked impetus to a reaction against nationalism and amalgamation of postwar Republicanism ' " and the rise of the Old Republicans. ^ Ammon, 1971 (James Monroe bio) p. 463: "The problems presented by the [consequences of promoting Federalist economic nationalism] gave an opportunity to the older, more conservative [Old] Republicans to reassert themselves by attributing the economic dislocation to a departure from the principles of the Jeffersonian era." ^ Parsons, 2009, p. 56: "Animosity between Federalists and Republicans had been replaced by animosity between Republicans themselves, often over the same issues that had once separated them from the Federalists." ^ Wilentz, 2008, p. 251''252: "The panic ... was pivotal ... the hard times of 1819 and early 1820s revive[d] ... fundamental questions about the nationalist economic policies of the new-style Republicans under Madison and Monroe, and focused inchoate popular resentments on the banks, especially the Second BUS." p. 252: "The Missouri controversy ... proved for more important than the [incidental] outbursts." ^ Wilentz, 2008, p. 252: "Both the panic and the Missouri debates underscored in different ways the overriding question of democracy as Americans perceived it. In economic matters, the questions arose primarily as a matter of privilege. Should unelected private interests, well connected to government, be permitted to control, to their own benefit, the economic destiny of the entire nation?" ^ Hofstadter, 1947, p. 51: The "general mass of the disaffection to the Government was not sufficiently concentrated to prevent re-election, unopposed, of President Monroe in 1820 in the absence of a national opposition party; but it soon transformed politics in many states. Debtors rushed into politics to defend themselves, and secured moratoriums and relief laws from the legislatures of several Western states ... A popular demand arose for laws to prevent imprisonment for debt, for a national bankruptcy law, and for a new tariff and public land policies. For the first time Americans thought of politics as having an intimate relation to their welfare." ^ Ratcliffe, Donald (2015). The One-Party Presidential Contest: Adams, Jackson, and 1824's Five-Horse Race. [full citation needed ] ^ Daniel D. Tompkins, 6th Vice President (1817-1825) ^ Patrick, John J.; Pious, Richard M.; Ritchie, Donald A. (2001). The Oxford Guide to the United States Government . Oxford University Press. p. 93. ^ Presidential Elections, 1789-2008 County, State, and National Mapping of Election Data; Donald R. Deskins, Jr., Hanes Walton, Jr., and Sherman C. Puckett; University of Michigan Press, 2010; p. 80 ^ Bradley, Harold. "Andrew Jackson". Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica, inc . Retrieved September 15, 2017 . ^ Hansen, Liane (October 5, 2008). "Songs Along The Campaign Trail". Election 2008: On The Campaign Trail (Radio series episode). National Public Radio. ^ Hay, Thomas R. (October 1934). "John C. Calhoun and the Presidential Campaign of 1824, Some Unpublished Calhoun Letters". The American Historical Review. 40 (1): 82''96. doi:10.1086/ahr/40.1.82. JSTOR 1838676. ^ McNamara, R. (September 2007). "The Election of 1824 Was Decided in the House of Representatives". About.com . Retrieved October 27, 2008 . ^ Schimler, Stuart (February 12, 2002). "Singing to the Oval Office: A Written History of the Political Campaign Song". President Elect Articles. Archived from the original on December 28, 2008 . Retrieved October 28, 2008 . ^ Leip, David. "1824 Presidential Election Results". Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections . Retrieved July 26, 2005 . ^ "Electoral College Box Scores 1789''1996". National Archives and Records Administration . Retrieved July 30, 2005 . ^ McNamara, Robert (February 11, 2020). "The Election of 1824 Was Decided in the House of Representatives". thoughtco.com . Retrieved March 14, 2020 . ^ Henry Clay to Francis Preston Blair, January 29, 1825.[full citation needed ] ^ "Biographies of the Secretaries of State: Henry Clay (1777''1852)". Office of the Historian. ^ Adams, John Quincy; Adams, Charles Francis (1874). Memoirs of John Quincy Adams: Comprising Portions of His Diary from 1795 to 1848. J.B. Lippincott & Co. pp. 501''505. ISBN 978-0-8369-5021-2 . Retrieved August 2, 2006 '' via Internet Archive. ^ United States Congress (1825). House Journal. 18th Congress, 2nd Session, February 9. pp. 219''222 . Retrieved August 2, 2006 . ^ "1 Cong. Deb. 527 (1825)". A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774''1875. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress . Retrieved August 8, 2019 . ^ McMaster, J. B. (1900). History of the People of the United States... vol. V. New York: D. Appleton and Company. p. 81. Reprinted in Bemis, Samuel Flagg (1965). John Quincy Adams and the Union. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. p. 54. ^ "US President House Run-off (Contingent Election, 1825)". ourcampaigns.com . Retrieved August 8, 2019 . ^ Schlesinger, Arthur Meier; Israel, Fred L. (1971). History of American Presidential Elections, 1789''1968, Volume I, 1789''1844. New York: Chelsea House. pp. 379''381. ISBN 978-0070797864 . Retrieved November 19, 2008 '' via Google Books. ^ Akin (1824). "Caucus curs in full yell, or a war whoop, to saddle on the people, a pappoose president / J[ames] Akin, Aquafortis". Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division . Retrieved April 24, 2012 . Sources Edit Ammons, Harry. 1959. "James Monroe and the Era of Good Feelings". Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, LXVI, No. 4 (October 1958), pp. 387''398, in Essays on Jacksonian America, Ed. Frank Otto Gatell. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1970.Brown, Richard H. 1966. "The Missouri Crisis, Slavery, and the Politics of Jacksonianism". South Atlantic Quarterly, pp. 55''72, in Essays on Jacksonian America, Ed. Frank Otto Gatell. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1970.Dangerfield, George. 1965. The Awakening of American Nationalism: 1815-1828. New York: Harper & Row. onlineRatcliffe, Donald (2014). "Popular Preferences in the Presidential Election of 1824". Journal of the Early Republic. 34 (1): 45''77. doi:10.1353/jer.2014.0009. JSTOR 24486931. Kolodny, Robin. "The Several Elections of 1824." Congress & the Presidency: A Journal of Capital Studies 23#2 (1996) online.Wilentz, Sean. 2008. The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln. New York: Horton.Further reading Edit Brown, Everett S. (1925). "The Presidential Election of 1824''1825". Political Science Quarterly. 40 (3): 384''403. doi:10.2307/2142211. JSTOR 2142211. Nagel, Paul C. (1960). "The Election of 1824: A Reconsideration Based on Newspaper Opinion". Journal of Southern History. 26 (3): 315''329. doi:10.2307/2204522. JSTOR 2204522. Ratcliffe, Donald J. The One-Party Presidential Contest: Adams, Jackson, and 1824's Five-Horse Race (University Press of Kansas, 2015) xiv, 354 pp.Murphy, Sharon Ann. "A Not-So-Corrupt Bargain". Review of The One-Party Presidential Contest: Adams, Jackson and 1824's Five-Horse Race by Donald Ratcliffe. Common-place, Vol. 16, No. 4.External links Edit United States presidential election of 1824 at the Encyclop...dia Britannica"A Historical Analysis of the Electoral College". The Green Papers . Retrieved March 20, 2005 . Presidential Election of 1824: A Resource Guide from the Library of CongressElection of 1824 in Counting the Votes
Pair Charged With Voter Fraud Allegedly Submitted Thousands of Fraudulent Applications on Behalf of Homeless People '' NBC Los Angeles
Tue, 17 Nov 2020 21:04
A man who tried to run for mayor in Hawthorne is among two people charged in a voter fraud case in which thousands of fraudulent voter registration applications were allegedly submitted on behalf of homeless people, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office announced Tuesday.
Carlos Antonio De Bourbon Montenegro -- also known as Mark Anthony Gonsalves -- was set to be arraigned Tuesday in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom on 18 felony counts of voter fraud, 11 felony counts of procuring a false or forged instrument, two felony counts of perjury and one felony count of conspiracy to commit voter fraud, along with nine misdemeanor counts of interference with a prompt transfer of a completed affidavit, according to the District Attorney's Office.
Montenegro, 53, allegedly submitted more than 8,000 fraudulent voter registration applications between July and October, as well as allegedly falsifying names, addresses and signatures on nomination papers under penalty of perjury to run for mayor in Hawthorne.
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View the full criminal complaint here
The conspiracy charge alleges that Montenegro submitted and filed signed nomination papers containing 41 signatures and addresses to the city clerk this summer and that just 18 of the names, addresses and signatures on the nomination papers were validated by the Los Angeles County Registrar- Recorder's Office.
The conspiracy charge also alleges that Montenegro was subsequently issued write-in candidate nomination papers and that he "submitted and filed signed write-in candidate nomination papers containing 32 signatures and addresses for fictitious, non-existent or deceased person'' with the city clerk's office. It further alleges that he and co-defendant Marcos Raul Arevalo "and other unknown co-conspirators'' used three post office boxes in Hawthorne as well as Montenegro's home address "as mailing addresses for over 8,000 voter registration applications for fictitious, non-existent or deceased persons, that were submitted for processing to the Los Angeles County Registrar- Recorder's Office and the California Secretary of State.''
Montenegro could face up to 15 years and eight months in state prison if convicted as charged, according to prosecutors.
Arevalo, 34, is charged with eight counts of voter fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit voter fraud and four counts of procuring and offering a false or forged instrument, along with four misdemeanor counts of interference with a prompt transfer of a completed affidavit, and could face a maximum seven-year prison term if convicted as charged, according to the District Attorney's Office.
The case stemmed from an investigation by the DA's Bureau of Investigation. The Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk's Office, FBI, Covina Police Department and the California Secretary of State's Office also assisted in the initial investigation, according to the District Attorney's Office.
New Normal
Joe Biden Promises to Raise Annual U.S. Refugee Target by 800%
Sun, 15 Nov 2020 21:31
Joe Biden told the Jesuit Refugee Service this week that he plans to drastically increase the annual number of refugees taken in by the United States by over 800 percent of current figures.
While the Trump administration established a ceiling of 15,000 refugees for the current fiscal year, Biden said Thursday that he will raise that number to 125,000, Religion News Service (RNS) reported.
''The United States has long stood as a beacon of hope for the downtrodden and the oppressed, a leader of resettling refugees in our humanitarian response,'' Biden said in a prerecorded video for a virtual celebration of the 40th anniversary of Jesuit Refugee Service.
''I promise, as president, I will reclaim that proud legacy for our country,'' Biden continued. ''The Biden-Harris administration will restore America's historic role in protecting the vulnerable and defending the rights of refugees everywhere and raising our annual refugee admission target to 125,000.''
In his video message, Biden said the Jesuit Refugee Service is a ''great organization'' and framed the country's historic commitment to refugee resettlement in theological terms.
''This organization was founded to serve the needs of some of the most vulnerable among us: refugees and displaced people. JRS believes that, in the stranger, we actually meet our neighbor. And that every society is ultimately judged by how we treat those most in need,'' he said.
During the presidential campaign, Biden enjoyed the vocal support of a number of prominent American Jesuits despite Biden's promises to expand abortion availability in the U.S. and abroad.
Jesuit Refugee Service Director of Advocacy and Operations Giulia McPherson declared that Biden's move to expand U.S. reception of refugees reflects his commitment to the Catholic faith.
''That he chose to make this announcement with us tonight is an indication that President-elect Joe Biden is following his faith when it comes to American policy to protect and welcome refugees,'' McPherson said in a statement.
''Not only is it exciting that the United States will once again welcome refugees at an historically high number, but it is also significant that we are hearing the President-elect speak in the language of social justice about the rights of refugees and our call as people of faith and as Americans to accompany them to safety,'' she added.
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BIG TECH BIDEN: Former Facebook leaders involved in transition | Gregg Jarrett
Wed, 18 Nov 2020 20:25
It is no secret that Big Tech and the left-wing media served as arms of the Biden campaign, helping to promote his ideas while censoring '' and even blocking '' President Trump's.
These companies, like Facebook and Twitter, assisted on the outside using tactics like flagging posts and blocking accounts, all while pushing the narrative that they are protecting users from ''fake news'' and ''misinformation.''
But, what happens if Big Tech makes its way inside the walls of the White House?
In a Biden administration, that just may happen.
People with close ties to Facebook and CEO Mark Zuckerberg have found themselves inside the Biden transition, suggesting that the media's president-elect supports their despicable behavior.
Former Facebook board member Jeff Zients is co-chairing Biden's transition team, while another former board member is an adviser. Two others '' one who was a Facebook director and another who was a lobbyist for the company '' have taken leadership roles as well, according to Politico.
And the icing on top; Biden has a friendly relationship with a top Facebook executive, former U.K. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.
Additionally, the transition's general counsel, Jessica Hertz, was mose recently a director at Facebook where she helped the company navigate the FTC's investigation on data privacy and Cambridge Analytic; Former Faecbook lobbyist Louisa Terrell is heading up the transition's congressional relations; Austin Lin, a program manager at Facebook for a year is on the 4-person agency review team; and Erskine Bowles spent 8 years on Facebook's board and has been advising the team, Politico reports.
In a statement, the Biden transition team said it supports the campaign's efforts to call out Facebook and that it ''is committed to implementing the policy ideas presented by the campaign,''
Republicans aren't the only ones that have a problem with Big Tech.
Democrats have been bitter towards Facebook since 2016, when they believed the company let Russian disinformation and conservatives run the show and post fake news. Biden campaign officials also argue that in the 2020 election, Facebook let misinformation run free, distracting the public and media with ads and failing to crack down on Trump.
Even though he's been censored 65 times.
The Federal Trade Commission is expected to file an antitrust case against Facebook this month. Congress, the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission have explored overhauling the legal protections on what users are able to post to online platforms like Facebook.
Biden may eventually reach a fork in the road.
He can either go down the first path, focusing energy on Facebook to push real action and even potentially breaking up the company.
Or the second, taking a lighter approach and letting Facebook conduct their own business.
Biden Calls for Stimulus Ahead of a 'Dark Winter' for the Country - The New York Times
Tue, 17 Nov 2020 06:15
The president-elect looked to forge unity between business and unions in a speech on the economy.
Joseph R. Biden delivered his first major policy speech as president-elect on Monday in Wilmington, Del. Credit... Ruth Fremson/The New York Times WASHINGTON '-- President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. warned on Monday of a ''very dark winter'' ahead and called on Congress to pass a large economic stimulus package immediately to help workers, businesses, and state and local governments struggling to cope with the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr. Biden gave his first major policy speech since he won the election after participating in a virtual meeting with business and union leaders, including the chief executives of General Motors, Microsoft, Target and the Gap and the head of the United Auto Workers. The group, meeting over Zoom, discussed how to safely reopen the American economy when virus cases continue to surge across the nation, prompting renewed lockdowns.
The president-elect's decision to highlight his meeting with labor groups and businesses underscores the immense challenge facing his administration, which will have to contend with a spike in coronavirus infections and deaths, a faltering economic recovery and a public weary of restrictions on everyday life.
Many businesses continue to struggle with reduced activity and are eager to bring workers '-- and customers '-- back, while unions continue to insist that corporations don't needlessly expose workers to risk.
Participants said the discussion, which was closed to reporters, focused heavily on how to keep businesses operating and on workplace safety, including union leaders' push for enhanced worker protections through the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
''The majority of the discussion with G.M. was on Covid protocols and the importance of keeping manufacturing running,'' said a G.M. official familiar with the discussion. ''There's a lot of interest in how we are working with the U.A.W. to keep the work force safe and keep the plants running.''
Rory Gamble, the president of the autoworkers' union, said in an interview that he had urged Mr. Biden to make sure OSHA issued ''strong enforceable standards'' to keep workers safe during the pandemic. Under the Trump administration, OSHA has declined to put out specific coronavirus-related regulations, opting instead for recommendations, and has largely avoided inspecting facilities outside of a few high-risk industries like health care and emergency response.
Mr. Biden sought to project unity among the group, saying, ''We all agreed that we want to get the economy back on track, we need our workers to be back on the job by getting the virus under control.'' But the United States is ''going into a very dark winter,'' he said. ''Things are going to get much tougher before they get easier.''
To help businesses and workers make it through, Mr. Biden said, Congress needs to quickly pass another round of stimulus, but he offered no hint of the sort of policy compromise that could help break a partisan impasse in Washington over a new round of economic assistance. He instead reaffirmed his support for a $3.4 trillion plan that House Democrats approved in May and that Senate Republicans have rejected for months.
Mr. Biden said he hoped that a dozen or more Republican senators would join Democrats in passing the type of expansive package they approved in the spring. That aid included $1,200 checks to low- and middle-income Americans, new loans for hard-hit small businesses, state and local government assistance, and expanded federal testing and tracing programs.
As Mr. Biden warned of economic darkness, financial markets rallied Monday after the drugmaker Moderna announced that its coronavirus vaccine was 94.5 percent effective, fueling hopes that deployment of a highly effective vaccine could hasten the end of the pandemic and its economic damage.
The disconnect highlights the dangers for the economy in the coming months. Rising optimism for a vaccine could breed complacency among lawmakers when it comes to supporting the recovery, which is already losing steam and could be further hindered as critical spending programs expire at year end. It could also encourage individuals to disregard health officials' warnings against activities that raise the risk of contracting the virus before a vaccine can be widely deployed.
States and cities have already begun to impose new restrictions on economic activity in an effort to tamp down the spread. Chicago announced a new ''stay at home'' order on Monday and advised residents to avoid travel, keep guests from their homes and cancel Thanksgiving celebrations. Gov. Gavin Newsom of California said on Monday that he was pulling an ''emergency brake'' to stop the state's reopening plans.
A variety of indicators suggest that the recovery from the depths of the pandemic recession is nowhere near complete and that, in many ways, the economy is stalling or backsliding. Ten million fewer Americans are working now than in February. Supplemental benefits for the unemployed expired months ago, and federally funded benefits for the long-term unemployed are set to run out at year's end barring congressional action.
Credit card data and other indicators suggest consumers began to pull back spending this month as infection, hospitalization and death rates from the virus surge nationwide.
Mr. Trump has refused to concede the results of this month's presidential election, when he was defeated by Mr. Biden. But in the weeks after the vote, he has done little to champion additional stimulus for the recovery or mitigate the toll that the new wave of infections is exacting on the economy.
Image Mr. Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris during the virtual meeting with business and union leaders on Monday. Credit... Ruth Fremson/The New York Times Widespread distribution of a vaccine that would allow Americans to resume anything close to normal levels of travel, dining out and other types of spending on services that have been crushed by the pandemic is most likely months away. Economists continue to call for a new and immediate round of aid from Congress to help people and businesses weather the difficult time before the rebound is complete.
There is little chance that lawmakers will use the lame-duck session after the election to approve anything close to the $3.4 trillion House bill that Mr. Biden championed on Monday. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, has called for a ''highly targeted'' bill, and his Republican caucus has backed a package that would cost around $500 billion.
Republicans suggested that Mr. Biden's comments had done little to sway them. ''I don't think it's helpful,'' Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri said, adding that Mr. Biden has ''plenty to be thinking about right now'' besides the scope of the relief package. A deal, Mr. Blunt said, ''is less and less likely the more divergent views are out there.''
Senator Shelley Moore Capito, Republican of West Virginia, said she did not believe ''it was a reasonable ask'' for a package close to $3 trillion.
Business leaders in Washington have pressed the sides to compromise. ''There's no advantage for Democrats or Republicans in waiting until the new year,'' Neil Bradley, the executive vice president and chief policy officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said this month.
Among the business and labor leaders Mr. Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris spoke with were Mary T. Barra, chief executive of G.M.; Sonia Syngal, chief executive of the Gap; Satya Nadella, chief executive of Microsoft; Brian Cornell, chairman and chief executive of Target; Richard Trumka, president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O.; Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union; and Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
Ms. Harris said the group ''had an important conversation about the impact that this pandemic has had on workers, especially essential workers, frontline workers, who have risked their own health and the health of their families, and many who have given their own lives to keep us safe and keep our economy running.''
Mr. Trumka told Mr. Biden that the economy needed more investment in personal protective equipment and funding to retrofit businesses and schools so they have better ventilation and can meet social distancing guidelines. He also called for spending on more robust testing and contact tracing to contain the virus.
Mr. Saunders urged Mr. Biden to provide relief for states and cities, saying that when public service workers are laid off, local businesses suffer.
Mr. Cornell told Mr. Biden about the role that the retail industry plays for American consumers and said he hoped the government would provide ''clear, consistent guidance around safety, regulations and the future rollout of a coronavirus vaccine.''
Target noted that it had kept its stores and supply chains operating during the pandemic '-- and that it was steering clear of politics.
Reporting was contributed by Noam Scheiber, Neal E. Boudette, Gillian Friedman and Emily Cochrane.
Dominion
Distinguished Senior Fellow Admiral Peter Neffenger Named as Volunteer for Biden's Agency Review Team | Global Resilience Institute
Sun, 15 Nov 2020 22:54
We are pleased to report that GRI Distinguished Senior Fellow, Admiral Peter Neffenger (USCG Ret.), has joined President-Elect Joe Biden's Agency Review team under the Department of Homeland Security team. Agency review teams are responsible for understanding the operations of each agency, ensuring a smooth transfer of power, and preparing for President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris and their cabinet to hit the ground running on Day One. Members of the team are highly experienced and talented professionals with deep backgrounds in crucial policy areas across the federal government. The teams have been crafted to ensure they not only reflect the values and priorities of the incoming administration, but reflect the diversity of perspectives crucial for addressing America's most urgent and complex challenges.1
As a volunteer, Admiral Neffenger has joined the team in his personal capacity. In his career, Admiral Neffenger previously served as the Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) from July 2015 to January 2017. He was also the 29th Vice Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, earning the rank of Vice Admiral.
Admiral Neffenger holds a Master's in Public Administration from Harvard University, an MA in National Security and Strategy from the U.S. Naval War College, and an MA in Business Management from Central Michigan University. He received a BA in English from Baldwin Wallace University. He is also a distinguished fellow with the Atlantic Council's Adrienne Arsht Center for Resilience, a member of the Pacific Council on International Policy and a former fellow of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
In his role with the Biden transition team, he will also be joined by Northeastern's Mary Beech.
Source: https://buildbackbetter.com/the-transition/agency-review-teams/
Cyber Manipulation Of The 2020 Vote Is Far More Insidious Thanks To Bill Gates - Loomered
Tue, 17 Nov 2020 19:44
As an investigative journalist, my examination of the Dominion computerized voter systems which has a long and storied history of manipulating voter results with documented complaints from both Democrat and Republican officials, has made me realize that the problem of voter fraud with the computerized technology used is far broader than Dominion. While Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell has made an articulate case regarding the specifics of Dominion's corruption of the 2020 election results, a closer examination shows that the issue is far more widespread and grave, and that none other than Microsoft Founder Bill Gates himself is the ringmaster at this much more extensive circus.
Microsoft developed the program that was used to change votes and then licensed the software to not only Dominion, but essentially every other computerized voter machine operated tabulation system.
In an official press release published by Microsoft on September 24, 2019, Microsoft's CEO Satya Nadella announced the availability of ''Election Guard''.
''ElectionGuard is accessible by design and will make voting more secure, verifiable and efficient anywhere it's used in the United States or in democratic nations around the world. Today we're announcing that ElectionGuard is now available on GitHub so that major election technology suppliers can begin integrating ElectionGuard into their voting systems.
''As we've previously announced, all major manufacturers of voting systems in the United States are working with us to explore ways to incorporate ElectionGuard into their systems including Clear Ballot, Democracy Live, Election Systems & Software, Dominion Voting Systems, Hart InterCivic, BPro, MicroVote, Smartmatic and VotingWorks. We've worked deeply with many of these companies over the summer to prepare them for today's SDK release.''
The ElectionGuard specification includes both ''informal'' and ''formal'' road maps for how ElectionGuard works. The informal spec is authored by Dr. Josh Benaloh of Microsoft Research and provides the conceptual and mathematical basis for end-to-end verifiable elections with ElectionGuard. The formal spec contains detailed guidance manufacturers will need to incorporate ElectionGuard into their systems, including a full description of the API '' which is the way voting systems communicate with the ElectionGuard software '' and the stages of an end-to-end verifiable election.
So in other words, through his ''Defending Democracy'' program, which was established in 2018, Bill Gates has infected the voting machinery across the country in an effort that would eventually eradicate in person voting and result in our future elections being carried out on the Internet.
WATCH:
Two days after the election, Dr. Josh Benaloh, the Senior Principal Cryptographer at Microsoft Research appeared on the V-NEXT podcast to talk about his work with Microsoft developing the ''ElectionGuard'' software and ''end to end verifiability'' and his push to move future elections and voting online, which would eliminate in person voting, assign voters' digital identities through a federal registry, and establish a technocracy over our elections systems.
WATCH: At 26:52 in the podcast, the host asked Dr. Benaloh about ''Internet based voting'' , using biometrics for voting, and getting voters ''digital identities'' in the future.
During the podcast Dr. Benaloh also discussed how Microsoft was working to ''combat disinformation'' and was asked by the host whether Microsoft would be partnering with Facebook and Twitter in their ''ElectionGuard'' efforts. Benaloh dodged the question, but the fact that the idea of a Microsoft, Twitter and Facebook partnership in the future with the goal of moving our elections online should terrify all Americans.
A close examination of Microsofts ''Defending Democracy'' Program reveals that one of its core goals is ''Defending against disinformation campaigns''.
The Democrats and their mainstream media and Silicon Valley Big Tech allies are engaged in a brutal effort to suppress the truth and to ridicule anyone who disagrees with their ''facts'' as a conspiracy theorists or ''extremists.'' Big Tech has declared themselves as the arbiter of truth, going so far as banning people for tweeting or posting about voter fraud, questioning vaccinations, debating the severity of COVID-19, and ''fact checking'' the president's tweets about voter fraud and issues surrounding mail in voting.
A deeper dive reveals that Bill Gates and Microsoft have a vested interest in controlling Global voting systems because their push for electronic vote tabulation and virtual voting is parallel to their multi million dollar investment into COVID-19 research and their push for global COVID vaccinations.
In April, 2020, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced their commitment of $250 Million towards global COVID research and in August, 2020, Bill Gates said he was spending $150 Million to try to make a COVID-19 vaccine.
When Coronavirus was declared a global pandemic in March, 2020, the Democrats immediately began their vote by mail crusade and their attack on all in person political events, i.e Trump rallies. Billions of people around the world were ordered to lockdown and only communicate on social media and via the Internet. Lockdowns, COVID-19 restrictions, and mask mandates completely transformed the 2020 elections and opened up the discussion for ''virtual elections' and ''online voting''.
We were told that due to COVID-19, it was too unsafe to vote in person at the polls and that for the sake of humanity, we should vote by mail. All opposition to mail in ballots and the threat of COVID-19 were met with heavy Internet censorship that was excused as ''combatting Internet disinformation''.
Sound familiar?
How can Americans trust that their elections are free and fair if the election software being developed and placed on voting machines throughout the nation, and throughout the world, is being managed by mega rich Silicon Valley and Big Tech billionaires who also happen to be Democrat Party mega donors, or in the case of Dominion and Smartmatics, have ties to third world dictators like Venezuela's Hugo Chavez?
Bill Gates has enjoyed a cozy relationship with Joe Biden via the Obama administrationAmericans are in danger of having their speech and votes entirely controlled by Big tech tyrants who have shown incredible disdain and hatred from the highest levels within their companies towards Conservative Americans.
The growing threat and takedown of of Constitutional Republic by Big Tech tyrants like Bill Gates, Jack Dorsey, Mark Zuckerberg, and Sundar Pichai is why I agreed to join the #StopTheSteal movement.
For years, I have been warning the American public about how Big Tech would work with the Democrat Party to undermine our elections and steal our elections. And now they are openly doing it in front of our eyes.
The truth remains that the 2020 elections were manipulated for a desired result. Since Dominion was use in Florida, and because Smartmatics is headquartered in Boca Raton, FL where Lois Frankel's office is located, I'm beginning to suspect that there was voter fraud in my own congressional race against Lois Frankel where the final results did not match any of the anecdotal information about my campaign. Internal and Independent polls taken for my campaign showed me well within striking distance of Lois Frankel. To her own admission, Frankel said she was not running a campaign and her alleged violations of FEC rules by using her tax payer funded congressional office in Boca Raton, FL for the sake of campaigning was documented by the press here in Florida.
As a 2020 Congressional candidate in Florida's 21st District who was also the first ever universally de-platformed and banned candidate for office in the United States, I can testify to the difficulties of running a campaign no social media access in an era where Big Tech is trying to establish a technocracy in America.
The evidence of simple voter fraud is already overwhelming and compelling , and now the evidence of cyber manipulation of the vote is even more credible. When we say there is overwhelming and compelling evidence of corruption, fraud and manipulation of the 2020 elections, we are censored, muzzled or ridiculed.
Adding more suspicion to voter fraud occurring in my own congressional race is the fact that Attorney Sidney Powell, who is now part of the Trump campaign legal team investigating alleged election fraud, said she has found ''massive election fraud'' resulting from the software produced by Smartmatic and Dominion Voting Systems.
Following President Trump endorsing my congressional campaign, Joe Biden's Presidential campaign issued a statement condemning President Trump for embracing me.
''The Trump campaign's embrace of Loomer and her values is another in a ceaseless stream of urgent reminders that we must win this battle for the soul of our nation,'' said Biden campaign spokesperson Andrew Bates.
I am the only Republican Congressional candidate that Joe Biden's campaign issued a statement about.
Days following the November 3, 2020 election, Joe Biden announced that Peter Neffenger would be appointed as part of the Biden-Harris transition team. Neffenger currently serves as the chairman on the board of directors at Smartmatic, one of the election software companies at the center of the 2020 voter fraud scandal. According to Trump lawyer Sidney Powell,Neffenger may be included in the Trump campaign's lawsuit.
Smartmatic's office just happens to be located in Boca Raton, FL which is part of Florida's 21st District where I ran for Congress in what was arguably the most high profile Congressional race in the nation. Florida 21 is President Trump and Mrs. Trump's home district.
I have no regrets about running for Congress, which was a great and enriching experience. Despite being robbed of my election victory by Big Tech election interference and I now I suspect mail in ballot and cyber voter fraud, I will never quit fighting for the freedom and liberty of this country and the American people. I will continue my fight to expose the growing technocracy in America and the threats Big Tech pose to the sanctity of our elections, our Constitutional values and liberties, Big Tech's alliance with the radical Left and their war on free speech and free flowing information, and their quest to make every global citizen a slave to technology.
Stay tuned on this front. I am going to be revamping my website with a lot more incisive content, and will be preparing some special reports.
The fight continues.
Dominion Engineer Told Antifa He'd 'Made Sure' Trump Wouldn't Win, Report Says | News Thud
Mon, 16 Nov 2020 17:56
Vice President of U.S. Engineering Eric Coomer shared anti-Trump posts onlineDominion's top engineer told Antifa he'd 'made f**king sure' Trump wouldn't win
Dominion's top engineer assured Antifa activists that he had ''made f**king sure'' that President Donald Trump wouldn't win the presidential race, according to reports.
Dominion Voting Systems' Vice President of U.S. Engineering Eric Coomer allegedly spoke with Antifa members on conference calls and reportedly assured the other participants by saying:
''Don't worry about the election, Trump's not gonna win. I made f**king sure of that!''
Dominion Voting Systems is one of the largest voting technology companies in the United States.
It provides voting machines and tabulators to many local governments.
More than 30 states use these voting machines to scan ballots in US elections and tabulate votes.
Eric Coomer's profile as director at Dominion Voting Systems was recently scrubbed from their website
Coomer joined Dominion as VP of engineering in 2010, according to the GWP.
His bio says he graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a Ph.D. in Nuclear Physics.
Eric Coomer was later promoted to Voting Systems Officer of Strategy and Security although Coomer has since been removed from the Dominion page of directors.
In a stunning interview conducted by Michelle Malkin, FEC (Faith Education Commerce) United founder Joe Oltman reveals how he infiltrated Antifa.
While working undercover, Oltman says that he was involved in a conversation with Antifa members when he discovered ''Eric from Dominion'' was allegedly part of the chat during the week of September 27, 2020.
Oltman explained that ''Eric'' was telling the Antifa members they needed to ''keep up the pressure.''
When Oltman asked, ''Who's Eric?'' someone answered, ''Eric, he's the Dominion guy.''
Oltman said that as the conversation continued, someone asked, ''What are we gonna do if F**king Trump wins?''
Oltman paraphrased how Eric (the Dominion guy) responded: ''Don't worry about the election, Trump's not gonna win. I made f**king sure of that!''
After Oltman, who runs a data company, finished the call, he started to investigate ''Eric from Dominion,'' in Denver, CO, and came upon Eric Coomer.
Oltman admitted that it didn't make sense that Eric Coomer would be the Antifa member on the call and that at the time, he knew nothing about Dominion Voting Systems.
It wasn't until after he started hearing about Dominion Voting Systems in the news following the election that he remembered the remarks made by ''Eric from Dominion'' on the Antifa chat.
Oltman began digging into Eric Coomer, trying to find anything he could about him.
Oltman finally hit gold when he was able to (legally) access what he claims is Dominion VP, Eric Coomer's Facebook page.
What he found was stunning.
Joe Oltman said he never saw such hate and vitriol coming from someone who has a Ph.D. in Nuclear Physics.
Oltman explained to Malkin that Coomer actually re-posted the Antifa manifesto to President Trump on his Facebook page.
The Gateway Pundit posted a copy of that Antifa letter to Trump in a previous report.
Joe Oltman was removed from Twitter this week.
His tweets on Eric Coomer upset big tech.
Oltman admits that by revealing this information about Coomer, he is putting himself in danger.
WATCH:
He may have a Ph.D. in Nuclear Physics, but when it comes to hiding his hatred for President Trump, Trump supporters, law enforcement, or even for Texans, Dominion's Eric Coomer isn't very smart.
In 2017, when Coomer was in Nevada, he mocked President Trump's Election Integrity Commission on Facebook.
Coomer shared a Washington Post article titled, ''The voting commission is a fraud itself. Shut it down.''
The article, written by the unhinged Trump hater Jennifer Rubin, was an attack on President Trump's May 11, 2017, Executive Order on the Establishment of Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.
What about Trump's Election Integrity Commission triggered Coomer?
Was it the part about ''Vulnerabilities in voting systems and practices used for Federal elections that could lead to improper voter registrations and improper voting, including fraudulent voter registrations and fraudulent voting,'' that caused Coomer to have a childish meltdown on his Facebook page?
Dominion's Director of Strategy and Security's response to Rubin's article appears to be a bit unhinged: ''And in other news'...There be some serious fuckery going on right here fueled by our Cheeto-in-chief stocking lie after lie on the flames of [former Kansas Sec. of State Chris] Kobach'...
''You want something serious to worry about? This is it.''
Here's what Coomer had to say to his ''friends'' on Facebook on July 21, 2016, who are Trump supporters (language editted):
Facebook friend land- open call-
If you are planning to vote for the autocratic, narcissistic, fascists, ass-hat blowhard and his Christian jihadist VP pic, UNFRIEND ME NOW!
No, I'm not joking.
I'm all for reasoned political discourse and healthy debate- I'm looking at you ( 3 names of friends).
I disagree with you three on many philosophical grounds but respect your opinions.
Only and absolute F**KING IDIOT could ever vote for that wind-bag f**k-tard FASCIST RACIST F**K!
No bulls**t, I don't give a damn if you're friend, family, or random acquaintance, pull the lever, mark an oval, touch a screen for that carnival barker'--UNFRIEND ME NOW.
I have no desire whatsoever to ever interact with you.
You are beyond hope, beyond reason. you are controlled by fear, reaction, and bulls**t. Get your s**t together.
Oh, it that doesn't persuade you, F**K YOU! Seriously, this f**king ass-clown stands against everything that makes this country awesome!
You want in on that? You deserve nothing but contempt.
Coomer then appears to have second thoughts about covering his tracks, and edits his post to include a disclaimer:
These opinions are rational and completely my own.
They are based in reason and highly credible.
Though they are not necessarily the thoughts of my employer, though if not, I should probably find another job.
Who wants to work for complete morons?
None of my personal opinions affect my professional conduct or attitudes.
I am non-partisan.
According to Oltman, Eric Coomer isn't a big fan of the police.
During his interview with Malkin, he shared several screenshots of anti-police rhetoric like an image a link to YouTube from the hip-hop song ''Dead Prez.''
Here's a portion of the lyrics from the ''Dead Prez'' song in case it's not on your personal playlist:
Is there heaven for us hip-hop heathensBig Pop and Pac, even Eazy had 'em leanin'We all children lookin' for a reasonWhat do you believe in, betrayal, treason?I'm out for dead presidencyI'm out for dead presidencyI'm out for dead presidencyI'm out for dead f**kin' presidents that represent me
[RELATED] FEC Chair Drops the Hammer: The Election Results Are 'Illegitimate'READ MORE: NEON NETTLE
Denver Business Owner: Dominion's Eric Coomer Is an Unhinged Sociopath '-- His Internet Profile Is Being Deleted and Erased (AUDIO) - i-NEWS
Tue, 17 Nov 2020 06:09
Denver Business Owner: Dominion's Eric Coomer Is an Unhinged Sociopath '-- His Internet Profile Is Being Deleted and Erased (AUDIO)2020-11-16 23:30:31
In 2010 Eric Coomer joined Dominion as Vice President of U.S. Engineering. According to his bio, Coomer graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a Ph.D. in Nuclear Physics.
Eric Coomer was later promoted to Voting Systems Officer of Strategy and Security at Dominion. Coomer has since been removed from the Dominion page of directors.
In fact, in our interview with Denver native Joe Oltmann, Eric Coomer's presence is being SCRUBBED FROM THE INTERNET!
The Gateway Pundit's Jim Hoft interviewed Denver business owner Joe Oltmann on Sunday. Oltmann, the founder of FEC (Faith Education Commerce) United, revealed how he infiltrated Antifa and how during a conversation with Antifa members, he discovered ''Eric from Dominion'' was allegedly part of the chat during the week of September 27, 2020.
Oltmann told TGP that ''Eric'' was telling the Antifa members they needed to ''keep up the pressure.'' When one of the caller's on a September group call asked, ''Who's Eric?'' someone answered, ''Eric, he's the Dominion guy.''
Oltmann said that as the conversation continued, someone asked, ''What are we gonna do if F*cking Trump wins?'' Oltmann paraphrased how Eric (the Dominion guy) responded, ''Don't worry about the election, Trump's not gonna win. I made f*cking sure of that!''
Oltmann, who runs a Denver data company, started to investigate ''Eric from Dominion,'' following the call and came upon Eric Coomer.
Oltmann admitted that it didn't make sense that Eric Coomer would be the Antifa member on the call and that at the time, he knew nothing about Dominion Voting Systems.
It wasn't until after he started hearing about Dominion Voting Systems in the news following the election that he remembered the remarks made by ''Eric from Dominion'' on the Antifa chat.
Oltmann began digging into Eric Coomer, trying to find anything he could about him. Oltmann finally hit gold when he was able to (legally) access what he claims is Dominion VP, Eric Coomer's Facebook page.
Joe Oltmann said he never saw such hate and vitriol coming from someone who has a Ph.D. in Nuclear Physics. Oltmann explained to Malkin that Coomer actually re-posted the Antifa manifesto to President Trump on his Facebook page.
Oltmann told The Gateway Pundit he believes Eric Coomer is mentally ill and a sociopath. Coomer plays the corporate executive during the day and an unhinged Trump hater and Antifa supporter in his private life.
The Gateway Pundit posted a copy of that Antifa letter to Trump in a previous report that Coomer posted on his Facebook page before it was taken down.
Joe Oltmann was removed from Twitter last week after he exposed Eric Coomer from Dominion.
Joe's tweets on Eric Coomer obviously upset big tech.
Oltman admits that by revealing this information about Coomer, he is putting himself in danger but he is resolute in exposing Coomer and the company he works for.
Joe Oltmann later in the interview told The Gateway Pundit that he is receiving numerous death threats after exposing Coomer and Dominion systems.
According to Oltmann, Coomer may have a Ph.D. in Nuclear Physics, but when it comes to hiding his hatred for President Trump, Trump supporters, law enforcement, or even for Texans, Dominion's Eric Coomer isn't very smart.
Dominion's Director of Strategy and Security's response to Rubin's article appears to be a bit unhinged: ''And in other news'...There be some serious fuckery going on right here fueled by our Cheeto-in-chief stocking lie after lie on the flames of [former Kansas Sec. of State Chris] Kobach'...You want something serious to worry about? This is it. ''
Here's what Coomer had to say to his ''friends'' on Facebook on July 21, 2016, who are Trump supporters.
From Coomer's Facebook post:
Facebook friend land- open call-
If you are planning to vote for the autocratic, narcissistic, fascists, ass-hat blowhard and his Christian jihadist VP pic, UNFRIEND ME NOW! No, I'm not joking. I'm all for reasoned political discourse and healthy debate- I'm looking at you ( 3 names of friends). I disagree with you three on many philosophical grounds but respect your opinions. Only and absolute FUCKING IDIOT could ever vote for that wind-bag fuck-tard FASCIST RACIST FUCK! No bullshit, I don't give a damn if you're friend, family, or random acquaintance, pull the lever, mark an oval, touch a screen for that carnival barker'--UNFRIEND ME NOW. I have no desire whatsoever to ever interact with you. You are beyond hope, beyond reason. you are controlled by fear, reaction, and bullshit. Get your shit together.
Oh, it that doesn't persuade you, FUCK YOU! Seriously, this fucking ass-clown stands against everything that makes this country awesome! You want in on that? You deserve nothing but contempt.
Near the bottom of his rant, Coomer clarifies: ''These opinions are rational and completely my own. They are based in reason and highly credible. Though they are not necessarily the thoughts of my employer, though if not, I should probably find another job. Who wants to work for complete morons?'' Comer appears to be trying to cover his tracks, ''None of my personal opinions affect my professional conduct or attitudes,'' adding, ''I am non-partisan.''
According to Oltmann, Eric Coomer isn't a big fan of the police. During his interview with Michelle Malkin, he shared several screenshots of anti-police rhetoric like an image a link to YouTube from the hip-hop song ''Dead Prez.''
As reported earlier, here's a portion of the lyrics from the ''Dead Prez'' song in case it's not on your personal playlist:
Is there heaven for us hip-hop heathensBig Pop and Pac, even Eazy had 'em leanin'We all children lookin' for a reasonWhat do you believe in, betrayal, treason?I'm out for dead presidencyI'm out for dead presidencyI'm out for dead presidencyI'm out for dead fuckin' presidents that represent me
This screenshot, captured by Joe Oltmann, makes one wonder if Eric's not a fan of the United States either.
A lot of people may be glad to know that Texas rejected using Dominion Voting Systems in their state after reading this garbage!
30 states in America, including every critical swing state in the November election, used Dominion Voting Systems.
Here is our interview with Joe Oltmann on Sunday night.
The post Denver Business Owner: Dominion's Eric Coomer Is an Unhinged Sociopath '-- His Internet Profile Is Being Deleted and Erased (AUDIO) appeared first on The Gateway Pundit.
Leadership - Smartmatic
Tue, 17 Nov 2020 03:27
Our leadership team comprises U.S. election and technology experts proficient in all aspects of election systems and voting technologies across all U.S. voting jurisdictions.
Smartmatic Facts '' The Truth About The Electronic Voting Company
Tue, 17 Nov 2020 03:30
Corporate FactsQ: What is the International Elections Advisory Council?FACT: In 2015, Smartmatic established the International Elections Advisory Council, a body within their corporation that is meant to guide the employees in the complex landscape of the industry. Richard Soudriette is...Read More.
Q: Who is on the board of directors?FACT: The board of directors is made up of a diverse team from all over the world. The board includes Chairman Lord Mark Malloch-Brown, David Giampaolo, and Sir Nigel Knowles. ...Read More.
Q: How does the company structure operate?FACT: Smartmatic has an international ownership structure comparable to many multi-national companies. This structure was designed so that Smartmatic can operate efficiently and effectively in different markets and regions around the world. Robert Cook is the Smartmatic President for ...Read More.
Product FactsQ: Is it true that Smartmatic machines are low-grade and are developed in Venezuela?FACT: False. Smartmatic is a multi-national firm founded in the USA, with its headquarters in London. The company's founders are from Venezuela and nationals from over 30 countries working from different offices around the world. Smartmatic invests heavily in...Read More.
Q: Besides software and hardware, what is the scope of Smartmatic's services?FACT: Smartmatic provides both software, hardware, and services to its clients. Smartmatic has the industry experience and knowledge to offer services such as consulting, training, planning, managing, monitoring and implementation '' covering all stages of the electoral process. Smartmatic provides...Read More.
Q: Does Smartmatic manufacture election technology?FACT: Yes. Smartmatic has designed, manufactured and sold more electronic voting machines and election optical scanners than...Read More.
Security FactsQ: Is it true that automated elections cannot be audited? FACT: False. One of the strengths of Smartmatic's electronic voting systems is that, it is fully auditable. Unlike a manual 'system', a well-designed automated election, by contrast, produces...Read More.
Q: Can someone pre-program Smartmatic machines before the day of elections and rig the electronic results? FACT: No. Following the 2013 midterm elections in the Philippines, some groups claimed that results were predetermined following a fixed-share voting pattern: 60% for one party, 30% for another and 10% split between remaining candidates. The claim was investigated and ...Read More.
Q: Can hackers easily penetrate Smartmatic machines and alter the electronic results? FACT: No. Smartmatic utilizes a range of mechanisms to safeguard security and privacy of votes, from: security fragmentation, security layering, device identity assurance, multi-key combination and opposing-party auditing. This is very similar to... Read More.
German City Is CIA Remote Hacking Base: 28 States Sent Election Results There - Conservative Daily Post
Tue, 17 Nov 2020 06:44
If you thought the election 'glitches' were weird'... the connections between the Central Intelligence Agency's remote hacking base and the election software used to modify the counts just got weirder.
At least 28 states sent their election results to Frankfurt, to be tallied by Sctyl servers.
https://twitter.com/kylenabecker/status/1327696985550434305?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
But, this city is a hotbed of scary CIA spying operations'... which were exposed a few years ago from WikiLeaks.
DW reported:
The release included 8,761 documents that it claimed revealed details of ''malware, viruses, trojans, weaponized 'zero day' exploits, malware remote control systems and associated documentation.''
The leaks purportedly revealed that a top secret CIA unit used the German city of Frankfurt am Main as the starting point for numerous hacking attacks on Europe, China and the Middle East.
Frankfurt base
WikiLeaks reported that the group developed trojans and other malicious software in the American Consulate General Office, the largest US consulate in the world. The programs focused on targets in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
The documents revealed that CIA experts worked in the building under cover and included advice for life in Germany.
''Do not leave anything electronic or sensitive unattended in your room,'' it told employees, also advising them to enjoy Lufthansa's free alcohol ''in moderation.''
The Frankfurt hackers, part of the Center for Cyber Intelligence Europe, were said to be given diplomatic passports and a State Department identity. It instructed employees how to safely enter Germany. A WikiLeaks tweet published an section of the Frankfurt information.
The consulate was the focus of a German investigation into US intelligence capabilities following the 2013 revelation that NSA agents had tapped Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone.
German daily ''S¼ddeutsche Zeitung'' reported the building was known to be home to a vast network of intelligence personnel including CIA agents, NSA spies, military secret service personnel, Department of Homeland Security employees and Secret Service employees. It reported the Americans had also established a dense network of outposts and shell companies in Frankfurt.
Televisions turned into bugs
An intelligence expert who examined the dump, Rendition Infosec founder Jake Williams, told news agency Associated Press the documents appeared legitimate.
Bob Ayers, a retired US intelligence official currently working as a security analyst told AP the release was ''real bad'' for the agency.
Jonathan Liu, a spokesman for the CIA, told AP: ''We do not comment on the authenticity or content of purported intelligence documents.''
According to WikiLeaks the documents revealed that the CIA could remotely activate certain Samsung smart televisions equipped with cameras and microphones to turn them into bugs.
Smartphones hacked
WikiLeaks also claimed that if the CIA had hacked a cell phone, it could then bypass encryption methods used by popular chat programs such as Whatsapp, Telegram, Signal and Confide. This prompted some concern at first online that all such messaging ''Apps'' were no longer effectively encrypted '' but the exploit only applied to people whose phones are already compromised. According to the leaks, the CIA has undocumented exploits on popular smartphone models.
In a series of tweets NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden said deliberately leaving vulnerabilities in software and hardware open left public users susceptible to attacks.
Snowden said the documents appeared to be genuine.
The documents also revealed that the CIA had the ability to conduct false flag attacks using malware stolen from other nations.
According to WikiLeaks the trove showed that the CIA had lost control of its arsenal of hacking tools.
WikiLeaks said it was given the files by an anonymous source who wanted to shed public light on the hacking programs.
The collection of documents vastly outnumbered the trove on the NSA released by Snowden.
Great Game India has compiled a list of the problems associated with Dominion voting systems and Sctyl:
Days after it was revealed how 2020 US Elections were rigged by Canadian Crown Agent Dominion Voting Systems through a so-called ''glitch'', now GreatGameIndia has found involvement of another dubious foreign company in US Election meddling. The votes cast by Americans were counted by a bankrupted Spanish company Scytl in Spain.
Like Dominion Voting Systems, Scytl has a long history of election fraud in various nations including injecting backdoors in its election software. The issue has prompted experts to question why the sensitive job of counting votes was outsourced to a foreign company? How could a bankrupted Spanish company count American votes in Spain?
Due to such widespread fraud, the Chairman of the US Federal Election Commission Trey Trainor believes that the 2020 US Presidential Elections is illegitimate.
Scytl involvement in 2020 US Election
Many American states commissioned a foreign company based in Spain to provide various election services '-- including online voting '-- in the 2020 presidential election. Scytl, a Spanish company headquartered in Barcelona offering a suite of election services, has been used by various states and cities in several ways since 2008.
Forbes reported in 2017:
Founded in 2001 in Spain, Scytl organized 12 state-wide implementations, and its technologies were used in another 980 U.S. jurisdictions in 28 states, during the 2016 General Election. Specializing in online voting and elections solutions, the company's products include online voter registration services, poll worker management, and electronic ballot delivery.
Its online voting services employ end-to-end encryption, vote return cords, and a bulletin board audit service. Scytl's customers include France's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the European Green Party, the Parliament of the European Union and the Swiss Canton of Fribourg. In January 2012, the company bought SOE Software. Scytl also holds more than 40 patents and patent applications. In 2008, the company became the first online voting company to receive certification from the Florida Department of State.
Scytl's website shares an overview of election services it provides to governmental clients in U.S.:
Scytl has successfully delivered election modernization projects in the US since 2008, and most recently for the 2018 Midterm Elections, when over 70M voters from more than 900 U.S. counties successfully leveraged Scytl's technology. Also, during 2016 US Presidential Election Scytl's technology provided over 53 million registered voters and thousands of election staff across 28 states the benefits of more efficient, scalable and accessible election processes, consolidating Scytl as the leading election modernization provider in the United States.
Scytl was declared Bankrupt in June 2020
What is interesting is that the Spanish firm Scytl was declared bankrupt in June this year. The company filed for bankruptcy as part of a broader analysis of security vulnerabilities associated with digital voting.Top of FormBottom of Form
On 11 May 2020, facing debts of over 75 million euro, Scytl initiated bankruptcy proceedings with a view to sell its business to the U.S. investment fund Sandton Capital. On 2 June 2020, a Spanish court declared Scytl bankrupt and started the process of auctioning off its assets.
Scytl is funded by Spanish Government
Scytl has been the center of controversy in the past for misuse of European Union funds and mishap with an election. Scytl received large amounts of research funds from the Spanish government which, reporting by Republik shows, was used in ways contrary to what had been stipulated.
Instead of spending it on cooperative work with universities, Scytl used it to stock up its product team and develop new prototypes for its customers. An injection of over 1.5 million euros from Spain's Ministry for Industry was, according to an internal document seen by Republik, used for, among other things, a product demo>> for Neuchtel. And 900'000 euros in EU funds were spent on the development of software modules for Ecuadorian election authorities.
Cases of Scytl Voting Fraud
Scytl's products cover the entire election process, including election planning, online voter registration, poll worker management, electronic ballot delivery, online voting, results consolidation and election night reporting. In 2014, Scytl reported having customers in more than 35 countries. However, Scytl is involved in controversies wherever its products or services were used with allegations as severe as election voting fraud.
Australia
In 2018, the authorities of New South Wales selected Scytl to provide the software for the state's ''iVote'' online voting system until 2022 for $1.9 million. The iVote system is an internet and telephone voting solution that allows persons with disabilities and voters with accessibility problems to vote remotely. During the 2015 election, researchers uncovered vulnerabilities in the iVote system which could be used to manipulate votes, violate ballot privacy and subvert the verification mechanism.
Ecuador
Scytl ran voting machines in several parts of Ecuador in 2014. They were supposed to produce results within 72 hours, but ran into a variety of problems and took over a month.
According to a report by the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), the system was unable to process the amount of scanned information>>. Although technology bloggers later argued that the system hadn't been sufficiently tested in advance, Scytl, in turn, blamed Ecuador's poor infrastructure.
Norway
Scytl deployed electronic voting in Norway in 2011 in partnership with the government. A flaw in their cryptography was discovered in 2013, and 0.75% of all voters managed to vote twice in 2013, once online and once in a polling station. In 2014 Norway abandoned Scytl's Internet Voting project, due to security failures, lack of increase in turnout, and high costs.
Switzerland
In a joint venture with Swiss Post, Scytl provides its sVote e-voting system to several cantons that allow Swiss citizens who live abroad to take part in cantonal and federal elections and referenda electronically.
Scytl said its sVote system used in Switzerland is ''universally verifiable'', but its system has been criticized as overly complex, difficult to audit and not sufficiently transparent. After Swiss authorities launched a public code review, a group of researchers of the University of Melbourne, Universit(C) catholique de Louvain, and the Open Privacy Research Society reported in March 2019 that they discovered a deficiency in the code that would allow the system's operator to alter votes undetected. They found backdoors is Scytl software.
Because of the deficiencies, Swiss authorities disallowed the use of Scytl's e-voting system in the Swiss referenda of 19 May 2019, and it has not been used since. Swiss Post purchased the rights to the software from Scytl in 2020 as the company faced bankruptcy.
Were 2020 US Elections Rigged?
A so-called computer ''glitch'' in the voting machines flipping votes during the 2020 US Elections has caused a major controversy. The source and ownership of the voting machines used in the elections has become an urgent issue because of real fears that hackers, whether foreign or domestic, might tamper with the mechanics of the voting system.
However, GreatGameIndia has found that the vendors and not hackers maybe behind the rigging. One of the vendors, a Denver-based Canadian Crown Agent company Dominion Voting Systems has a long history of allegation of election rigging and interference in elections of various nations, including census data theft in India and interference in US Elections of 2020.
US Military raid Scytl servers in Germany
According to intelligence sources US Military raided voting machine company Scytl servers in Germany for evidence of manipulation in 2020 US Elections after it was exposed in vote switching scandal by GreatGameIndia.
Dominion Confirms Clinton Foundation Donation, Pelosi Staffer Link
Tue, 17 Nov 2020 17:35
Dominion Voting Systems has refuted claims about being biased toward Democratic officials during the Nov. 3 election, including allegations about a raid on a server in Germany as well as ties to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) However, it did note that it made a donation to the Bill- and Hillary Clinton-operated Clinton Foundation and did not dispute that a former staffer of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was hired as a lobbyist.
In a lengthy statement last week, the Colorado-based voting systems provider first refuted that it has no ties to Smartmatic, another voting software maker, but it did note that the two firms worked together in the Philippines and said it bought some assets from Smartmatic-linked Sequoia about 10 years ago, adding that the two companies had legal disputes. Some Trump campaign officials made claims in recent interviews that Smartmatic had links to Dominion.
Dominion has been at the center of controversy since Election Day after Antrim County, Michigan, showed Joe Biden beating President Donald Trump before the results were reversed, with county officials saying the error was due to the county clerk not updating software.
The firm confirmed that it made a donation during a Clinton Global Initiative meeting in 2014, but it asserted that it has ''no company ownership relationships with any member of the Pelosi family, the Feinstein family, or the Clinton Global Initiative, Smartmatic, Scytl, or any ties to Venezuela.''
Dominion linked to an AP report that noted that Pelosi Chief of Staff Nadeam Elshami ''is part of a lobbying team representing Dominion, according to public disclosures,'' adding that the team ''includes Brian Wild, who counts Republicans such as former House Speaker John Boehner and former Vice President Dick Cheney among his past bosses.''
Trump campaign attorney Sidney Powell, over the weekend, alleged that Smartmatic and Dominion were used to bolster Biden over Trump.
''We're getting ready to overturn election results in multiple states,'' Powell said on Fox Business, adding that she has enough evidence of election fraud to launch a widespread criminal investigation. ''I don't make comments without having the evidence to back it up.''
''They can stick a thumb drive in the [voting] machine, they can upload software to it even from the Internet '... from Germany or Venezuela even,'' Powell said, adding that operations ''can watch votes in real-time'' and ''can shift votes in real-time,'' or alleged bad actors can ''remote access anything.''
''We've identified mathematically the exact algorithm they've used'--and planned to use from the beginning'' that allegedly switched votes to Biden, Powell said.
Dominion has not responded to a request for comment about Powell's claims.
Dominion again asserted that claims of voter fraud are ''conspiracies'' and are ''100 percent false.'' The firm cited a statement made recently by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), which called the 2020 election the ''most secure in American history.''
The agency failed to disclose, however, that Dominion Voting Systems is a member of CISA's Election Infrastructure Sector Coordinating Council.
Meanwhile, Smartmatic, in a statement, said last week that it has no ties with Dominion.
A contractor for Dominion said in an affidavit last week that she witnessed fraudulent actions at the TCF Center in Detroit.
Melissa Carone said she saw workers count some ballots four or five times, and noticed that one of the counters had even counted a batch of ballots eight times. ''I confronted my manager, Nick Ikonornakis, saying how big of a problem this was,'' Carone said. ''Nick told me he didn't want to hear that we have a big problem. He told me we are here to do assist with IT work, not to run their election.''
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.
Doug Ross @ Journal: "DNA-LEVEL" STATISTICAL PROOF: "Smartmatic" Vote-Counting System Was Manipulated in PA and GA to Overturn Trump's Victory
Wed, 18 Nov 2020 14:59
The charts below are derived from The New York Times' real-time election feeds (e.g., here). They show "DNA-level" evidence of vote fraud that was systematically used to overcome massive Trump leads with "vote flips" to Biden.
The twin charts below depict the shifts in votes starting on election day. The X-axis is the date/time and the Y-axis represents the change in votes (positive values denote shifts for Trump, negative values represent shifts for Biden, in hundreds).
Notice the similarities in PA and GA? How the right sides of the graph show virtually no movement for Trump; and very predictable vote movements to Biden. How predictable?
You have to see the data to really understand the magnitude of the scam.
Below are excerpts of spreadsheets that show what was happening on the right side of each chart. Vote flips in the same-sized bundles (6,000 in PA and 4,800 in GA) were injected into the system to overcome Trump's lead in both states. You can click either image above to see all of the data.
The highlighted cells show where the vote counts -- stunningly obvious in retrospect -- were manipulated to benefit Biden.
Note the vote flips, represented by the highlighted cells, that occurred in both PA and GA. In PA, late vote flips in bundles of around 6,000 were clear anomalies to slowly overcome Trump's lead. In GA, the bundles were in 4,800 vote swaps.
Again, these are just excerpts. You can see the workbooks for yourself here: just click for Pennsylvania and Georgia.
Scroll down until you start hitting the highlighted cells.
Sorry, Democrats: this is what we call DNA-level statistical proof of fraud.
And there's a lot more where this came from. These are just the excerpts.
p.s., can someone who knows Sidney Powell or Joe DiGenova get this info to them?
Hat tip: BadBlue Uncensored News.
Great Reset
Simulating the pandemic: What COVID forecasters can learn from climate models
Tue, 17 Nov 2020 15:54
A second national lockdown began in England on 5 November. Credit: Hollie Adams/AFP/Getty
Epidemiologists predicting the spread of COVID-19 should adopt climate-modelling methods to make forecasts more reliable, say computer scientists who have spent months auditing one of the most influential models of the pandemic.
In a study that was uploaded to the preprint platform Research Square on 6 November1, researchers commissioned by London's Royal Society used a powerful supercomputer to re-examine CovidSim, a model developed by a group at Imperial College London. In March, that simulation helped convince British and US politicians to introduce lockdowns to prevent projected deaths, but it has since been scrutinized by researchers who doubt the reliability of its results.
The analysis, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, shows that because researchers didn't appreciate how sensitive CovidSim was to small changes in its inputs, their results overestimated the extent to which a lockdown was likely to reduce deaths, says Peter Coveney, a chemist and computer scientist at University College London, who led the study.
Coveney is reluctant to criticize the Imperial group, led by epidemiologist Neil Ferguson, which he says did the best job possible under the circumstances. And the model correctly showed that ''doing nothing at all would have disastrous consequences'', he says. But he argues that epidemiologists should stress-test their simulations by running 'ensemble' models, in which thousands of versions of the model are run with a range of assumptions and inputs, to provide a spread of scenarios with different probabilities. These 'probabilistic' methods are routine in computation-heavy fields, from weather forecasting to molecular dynamics. Coveney's team has now done this for CovidSim: the findings suggest that if the model had been run as an ensemble, it would have forecast a range of probable death tolls under lockdown, with an average twice as high as the original prediction, and closer to the actual figures.
''CovidSim may be vaunted as the most complicated epidemiological model, but it's almost like a toy compared with the really high-end supercomputing applications,'' says Coveney, who was asked to check the model's performance as part of the Royal Society's Rapid Assistance in Modelling the Pandemic (RAMP) initiative.
Ensembles of calculationsCoveney's team used the Eagle supercomputer at the Poznan Supercomputing and Networking Center in Poland to perform 6,000 separate runs of CovidSim, each with a unique set of input parameters. These represent features of the pandemic including the infectiousness and lethality of the virus, the probable number of contacts people make in various settings and the estimated success of measures such as telling people to work from home. Back in March, inputs for many of these parameters were educated guesses, with some drawn from preliminary data on the virus, and others based on experience with diseases such as influenza.
Models that predict the spread of disease often rely on hundreds of parameters '-- but this can introduce uncertainty. ''There was a concern among the circles who set up the RAMP initiative that these models the epidemiologists work with have an absurd number of parameters in them and they can't possibly be right,'' Coveney says.
His team found 940 parameters in the CovidSim code, but whittled these down to the 19 that most affected the output. And up to two-thirds of the differences in the model's results could be put down to changes in just three key variables: the length of the latent period during which an infected person has no symptoms and can't pass the virus on; the effectiveness of social distancing; and how long after getting infected a person goes into isolation.
The study suggests that small variations in these parameters could have an outsized, non-linear impact on the model's output. For example, the majority of the team's thousands of runs suggested that the UK death toll under lockdown would be much higher than the Imperial team's initial projections '-- 5''6 times higher in some cases. Averaging the figures still suggested twice as many deaths as the Imperial group had forecast.
In one modelled scenario, which assumed that the United Kingdom would lock down when 60 people per week needed to be admitted to hospital for intensive care, the March report forecast a total of 8,700 deaths in the country. The probabilistic results produced by Coveney's group put this figure at around 15,000 on average, but said that death tolls of more than 40,000 were possible, depending on what parameters were used. It is hard to compare these projections with the actual figures for COVID-19 deaths in the United Kingdom, because the lockdown started a week later than the results of any of the models assume, by which time significantly higher amounts of the disease were already circulating.
''They didn't get it right,'' says Coveney. ''They ran the simulation correctly: it's just that they didn't know how to extract the correct probabilistic description from it. That would mean having to run ensembles of calculations.'' Coveney said he couldn't comment on whether running an ensemble model would have altered policy, but Rowland Kao, an epidemiologist and data scientist at the University of Edinburgh, UK, points out that the government compares and synthesizes the results of several different COVID-19 models. ''It would be overly simplified to consider that decision-making is based on a single model,'' he says.
Improved modelsFerguson accepts most of Coveney's points about the benefits of performing probabilistic forecasts, but says that ''we just weren't in a position to do that in March''. The Imperial group has significantly improved its models since then, he adds, and can now produce probabilistic results. For example, it now presents the uncertainty in CovidSim inputs using Bayesian statistical tools '-- already common in some epidemiological models of illnesses such as the livestock disease foot-and-mouth. And a simpler model, he adds, was used to inform the UK government's decision to reintroduce lockdown measures in England this month. This model is more agile than CovidSim: ''Because we can run it several times a week, it's much easier to fit the data in real time, allowing for uncertainty,'' Ferguson says.
''This sounds like a step in the right direction, and is aligned with the conclusions of our paper,'' says Coveney.
The choice of technique often comes down to a computational trade-off, Ferguson says. ''If you want to routinely properly characterize all the uncertainty, then that is much easier with a less computationally intensive model.''
Bayesian tools are an improvement, says Tim Palmer, a climate physicist at the University of Oxford, UK, who pioneered the use of ensemble modelling in weather forecasting. But only ensemble modelling techniques that are run on the most powerful computers will deliver the most reliable pandemic projections, he says. Such techniques transformed the reliability of climate models, he adds, helped by the coordination of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
''We need something like the IPCC for these pandemic models. We need some kind of international facilities where these models can be developed properly,'' Palmer says. ''It has been rushed because of the urgency of the situation. But to take this forward, we need some kind of international organization that can work on synthesizing epidemiological models from around the world.''
Gates Ag One: The Recolonisation Of Agriculture - Independent Science News | Food, Health and Agriculture Bioscience News
Tue, 17 Nov 2020 14:39
by Navdanya and Navdanya International
In January 2020, the Gates foundation launched ''The Bill & Melinda Gates Agricultural Innovations LLC'', also known as ''Gates Ag One''. Gates Ag One was formulated to be a subsidiary of the Gates Foundation and is to be led by Joe Cornelius, the previous director of the BMGF Global Growth & Opportunity Division. Cornelius is a former food, nutrition and technology development executive at Bayer Crop Science and in the 1990s was Director for International Development at Monsanto.[1]
Gates Ag One is being hailed as a new non-profit to ''bring scientific breakthroughs to smallholder farmers whose yields are threatened by the effects of climate change'' and shrink the supposed 'productivity gaps' present in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.[2] It will work with the Gates Foundation's Agricultural Development Team and other partners across sectors to ''accelerate the development of innovations'' that are ''needed to improve crop productivity and help smallholder farmers, the majority of whom are women, adapt to climate change''.[3]
Ag One of the Gates FoundationThe goal of Gates Ag One is claimed to be ''to empower smallholder farmers with the affordable, high-quality tools, technologies, and resources they need to lift themselves out of poverty.'' According to its creation document, ''yields on farms in these regions are already far below what farmers elsewhere in the world achieve, and climate change will make their crops even less productive.''[4]
Rodger Voorhies, current president of the Gates Foundation's Global Growth & Opportunity division, has said that Gates Ag One plans to work with partners from the public and private sector to commercialize ''resilient, yield-enhancing seeds and traits''. He adds, ''We needed to accelerate the access to the kinds of products and services that low income people and smallholder farmers need,'' due to the long time it takes to move from invention, to development, to lab testing and then through regulation.[5] Voorhies explains, ''We didn't think that research was flowing down to the crops that matter most to smallholder farmers in a timeframe that could reach them'...But ultimately the Gates Foundation did not see another way to ensure that early-stage discoveries, such as water use efficiency for crops that will face extremes of droughts and floods, are made accessible and affordable to smallholder farmers as quickly as possible.''[6] In short, they are hoping to artificially accelerate the process of introducing 'new technologies' to farmers through increased investment and public and private partnerships while having total freedom in their business model as a separate entity to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Where will it work?In a document released by the Gates Foundation itself, it is claimed that Ag One will work in ''South Asia '' with a population of about 1.8 billion '' and Sub-Saharan Africa- home to around 1 billion people.''[7]
AgOne and AgTec: where they workWhat is not mentioned in their creation statement is the implementation of the Ag One programme in Latin America, 'Ag Tech'. This will operate, through a partnership with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA).[8] The programme's starting point is planned to be in Argentina, followed by the rest of Latin America.
Ag One, Gates Global Commission on Adaptation and the takeover of the CGIAR systemOverlapping behind several of the initiatives launched by Bill and Melinda Gates, is a characteristic urgency that all new technologies and mitigation efforts must be pushed, adopted and quickly implemented in the name of stopping climate change. This rhetoric stands to mask a wide section of the Gates' initiatives, organizations, and funding schemes whose real purpose runs counter to any type of true climate change alleviation.
The same is true for Ag One, as it was launched as the final cornerstone of Gates Global Commission on Adaptation[9] 2019 year of Climate action.[10] The Global Commission on Adaptation is another, separate Gates initiative focused on pushing technological solutions to climate change adaptation and mitigation, through such things as filling in the 'data gap' of the global south, green smart cities, and increased development (and return investment) opportunities through these efforts. Ag One was, launched as the extension of these 'mitigation' efforts into agriculture.
The Global Commission on Adaptation hosts as its co-chairs, along with Gates, some international organization heavyweights such as the previous 8th secretary general of the UN, Ban-Ki Moon who serves as the head of the organization's board, and Kristalina Georgieva, the current managing director at the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Forming part of Ag One's strategy will be the doubling of funding to CGIAR, an organization Gates has had his eye on for quite some time. Hence, in September of 2019 at the UN Climate Summit, and as part of the Gates Global Commission on Adaptation's year of climate action, CGIAR announced the gift of more than $79 million dollars from a coalition headed by Bill Gates, and made up of the World Bank, the UK, the Netherlands, the European Commission, Switzerland, Sweden and Germany. [11] According to the CGIAR announcement, ''US $310 million [is to be given by] the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation over the next three years to support CGIAR's shared agenda to tackle climate change and make food production in the developing world more productive, resilient and sustainable. The foundation is the second largest donor to CGIAR after the US Agency for International Development (USAID), with investments contributing to work in crop breeding, seed systems, gender equity, livestock, nutrition, and policy.''[12] Thus aligning the vision of CGIAR with that of Ag One.
This move is more significant still. As a recent ETC report states, a new System Reference Group (SRG) delivered recommendations in July 2019 calling for the formal consolidation of the 15 Centers of the CGIAR into one. The meeting of the 15 Center Chairs was convened at Biodiversity International (BI) headquarters outside Rome in December 2019 to discuss the ''mega-merger''. The consolidation would involve one international board which would be responsible for all 15 Centers.[13] The dangers of this reorganisation emerges when one looks deeper and sees that the SRG is co-chaired by Tony Cavalieri, Senior Program Officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Marco Ferroni, Chair of the System Management Board and recently retired as head of the Syngenta Foundation. The unification, which is being pushed by the Gates and Syngenta Foundations, USAID, the UK, Canada, Australia and Germany will mean an even stronger blurring of lines between the private and public sectors. Private agendas of making profits will be clothed as the public agenda. These agendas will be even further blurred through the launching of Ag One. This merger also provides unprecedented leverage on individual country policies and mass access to genetic seed resources. This hunger for influencing global food policy comes as no surprise; as the Gates Foundation website itself states, ''a key trigger of agricultural transformation is a conducive policy environment.''[14]
When one reads the agenda of the newly launched Ag One, one can also not help but think of the rhetoric of 2008 which launched the Alliance for the Green Revolution in Africa or AGRA, which essentially served to revamp the ghost of the already dead and failed Green Revolution of the 1960s. Considering its multiple alliances to agrochem companies, one can only assume Ag One is meant to pick up AGRA's baton with a new tech twist and run to the rest of the global south.
The Poison Cartel and the Gates FoundationAg One claims to ''empower smallholder farmers'' by providing more accessible technology to help them face climate change. This sounds eerily like Bayer who also claims, ''by 2030, [they] committed to empowering 100 million smallholder farmers in developing regions by improving access to agronomic knowledge, products, services, and partnerships.''[15] Through looking at examples of current and past co-investments, one can start to see what 'private-partnerships' will most likely emerge in Ag One's quest to ''empower smallholder farmers to lift themselves out of poverty.'' In 2010, a US financial website published the Gates foundation's annual investment portfolio, which showed it had bought 500,000 Monsanto shares at around $23m.[16] Ag One will be based in St. Louis, Missouri USA, home of Monsanto.
More recently, research has revealed Gates' annual investment portfolio, or ''strategic investment fund'' which is tasked with allowing the foundation to advance its 'philanthropic goals' through investments in for-profit companies. For example, his investment portfolio shows a $7 million equity stake in AgBiome, a biotech start-up focused on developing synthetic biological products through CRISPR technology for the agricultural sector.[17] AgBiome investors include agrochem companies Monsanto and Syngenta and it has received a $20 million grant from the Gates foundation to develop pesticides for Africa. [18]
This shows just one of the numerous ventures in which the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Monsanto have co-invested together with a false narrative such as ''helping the poor in South Africa''. As another example, Pivot Bio, a biotech startup that focuses on making nitrogen fixing microbes, received $70 million dollars from the Gates Foundation and holds investments from Monsanto Growth Ventures and the US's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA.[19]
More explicitly, with the launch of the Latin American version of Ag One, 'Ag Tech', IICA has announced implementation partnerships with Microsoft[20], Bayer[21], Corteva (a subsidiary of DuPont)[22], and Syngenta[23], all along with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
By looking to the outcomes of AGRA we can start to see a repeating pattern with all these strategic alliances in the launching of Ag One. Through the Gates Foundation's promotion of chemical and genetically modified inputs, they have worked to open up previously isolated or hard to reach markets in Africa, South Asia and Latin America for the benefit of private corporations, as these patented agricultural technologies and investments are very clearly made to derive profits. The commercialization mentioned by Voorhies means, in effect, private company profit.
AGRAs Focus (Source: https://agra.org/ar-2019/#2019-highlights)To be specific, in 2008, the year AGRA was launched, South Africa was the only African country that had approved the use of GM seeds. Subsequently, GM seeds were expanded to the previously GM-free Egypt, Burkina Faso, and Sudan. Other countries, such as Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Mali, Zimbabwe, and Nigeria have begun conducting research into GM crops. By 2017, some countries had even conducted field trials.[24] This huge expansion of GM crop use, particularly maize, is a consequence of large-scale promotion directly aimed at increasing the market share of the large agribusiness companies that own the patented seed. Those patented GM seeds also go along with their accoutrements of chemical inputs, all promoted through alliances with agrochemical companies under the guise of AGRA. In sum, roughly ten years after the revival of the Green Revolution through AGRA, industrial agriculture expanded in some form or another, from one country to eleven, resulting in a huge expansion in big agribusiness. As explained by Tim Wise in his report on AGRA, in 10 years, productivity rates in these countries only increased due to these inputs being highly subsidized, and were nowhere near enough to alleviate poverty and hunger.[25] Meaning only big agrochemical companies directly benefited from Gates' push for 'agricultural development'.
This comes as no surprise, as in a video shot by the Gates Foundation to explain the necessity of agricultural innovation, Gates describes the Green Revolution as, ''the most significant advancement in human history behind modern medicine, due to its ability to drastically increase yields.''[26] With just this one statement, which shows his full scale support of industrial agriculture, we can almost guarantee this pattern will be repeated with the implementation of Ag One.
Unveiling the rhetoric of Ag OneOnce one begins to look closely at the Ag One concept note, one can quickly start to pick apart how its rhetoric is completely disconnected from any lived experience of the impacts of the first Green Revolution, and its unprecedented global ecological, social, economic and cultural impacts. Contrary to what Bill Gates might think, agroecological food systems are overall more productive, more resilient to climate change, and provide greater livelihood security.
Rhetoric 1: ''Yields on farms in [Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia] are already far below what farmers elsewhere in the world achieve, and climate change will make their crops even less productive.'' Ag One seeks to, ''accelerate the development of innovations'... they need to sustainably improve crop productivity'...'' [27]
Counter: Contrary to the myth that small farmers and their agroecological systems are unproductive, and thus we should leave the future of our food in the hands of the Poison Cartel, small farmers are providing 80% of global food using just 25% of the land that goes into agriculture.[28] There have also been countless studies that have proven that agroecological, organic agriculture, especially those based on biodiversity, are all around more resilient to climate change, more economically viable and lead to increases in crop productivity.[29] For example, biodiversity helps reduce diseases, improving the resilience of crops and leading to higher yields.
The diversity of knowledge embedded in agroecological and traditional farming systems also provides a greater safety net for confronting extreme weather patterns and ecological shifts. As stated by Altieri et al. in the study of the climate resilience of agroecological systems, ''Observations of agricultural performance after extreme climatic events (hurricanes and droughts) in the last two decades have revealed that resiliency to climate disasters is closely linked to farms with increased levels of biodiversity.''[30]
Agroecological resilience (Source: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13593-015-0285-2)Rhetoric 2: ''The goal of Gates Ag One is to help the foundation deliver on its mission to empower smallholder farmers with the affordable, high-quality tools, technologies, and resources they need to lift themselves out of poverty.'' [31]
Counter: Reliance on internal inputs and recycling of resources avoids the cash strain of costly chemical inputs. Coupled with increased productivity, this means farmers are better able to meet their monetary needs and overall livelihoods. This fact was corroborated in a study presented at the 2nd International Conference on Global Food Security, through looking at global comparative data. The study found that adopting agroecological farming practices, generally led to increased crop yield and profitability in comparison to conventional practices. [32]
social and economic performance of agroecology (Source: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/283721240_Social_and_economic_performance_of_Agroecology)So, this begs the question, does being lifted out of poverty mean being folded into the commodity market? Considering Gates' longstanding alliance with giant industrial agriculture companies, this is most likely the objective. While farmers have bred hundreds of thousands of varieties of thousands of species, the Green Revolution helped reduce the agriculture and food base to a handful of globally traded commodities, with only 30 plants supplying 95% of global food demand.[33] Genetic Engineering has further narrowed the commercially planted crops to four '' Corn, Soya, Cotton, Canola and 2 traits '' BT and HT (herbicide tolerant). This reduction of marketable crops also creates an oversupply of commodity crops which keep prices low, making it all the more difficult for small-scale commodity farmers to make a living.
Regardless, such a simplistic view of solving poverty simply with technological innovation reduces the multidimensionality of why certain populations remain poor.
Through this and similar rhetoric, Gates pushes the philanthropist ethic where the rich give to the poor, painting the rich as providing favors to the poor they exploited to gain their wealth. In the end making the poor ever more dependent on the rich. Coupled with his development agenda, a chimera of charity development emerges which reinforces the power structures of inequality in the areas where they work, reiterating the trope of white saviorism.
For example, Gates chief scientist at Microsoft Azure Global, Ranveer Chandra who is in charge of developing sensors for data gathering on farms through the FarmBeats project, has himself, as has Gates, readily admitted they have no expertise in agronomy, biology, farming or related fields, but they still believe that through computer and data science they can solve complex multidimensional ecological and social problems, such as poverty.[34] Reiterating the trope of the technical expert who comes to bestow upon the poor their knowledge, never leading to empowerment but only to dependence. In the end this reductionist way of implementing top-down technologies works to deepen global poverty through creating further dependence on centralized high-cost inputs.
Rhetoric 3: ''Smallholder farmers need new innovations to help them adapt. Without these innovations, farmers will be forced into increasingly unsustainable practices to feed their families while coping with climate change'--like expanding crop production and grazing into forests and other fragile ecosystems. Such tactics would further damage the environment and exacerbate the effects of climate change.'' [35]
Counter: Commodity based, fossil fuel intensive, monocultural industrial agriculture is, by far, more responsible for the effects of climate change and ecosystem destruction.[36] Chemical pesticides are directly responsible for the mass killing of birds and insects.[37] Fossil fuels are used in almost every step of the industrial food system'--in the field through nitrogen fertilizers, diesel fuel for the myriad of industrial agricultural equipment, to transportation of commodities in the international supply chain, their storage, and eventually their disposal.[38] Nitrogen fertilizers also pollute water sources, dry out land and destroy soil.[39] Leading, overall, to more water being necessary in industrial agriculture leading to furthering the global water strain.[40]
The true culprit of large-scale deforestation has been the industrial agriculture sector, which seeks the perpetual amplification of the agricultural frontier and is responsible for 70-90% of global deforestation.[41] The land cleared is then used for the production of chemically intensive monocultures of commodity crops like maize, soy, sugarcane, cotton, palm oil and so on. These crops are then used in industrial food making processes, biofuels, or animal feed '' creating a vicious cycle of GHG emissions with the other areas of the industrialized food system.[42] Gates seems to completely disregard this, as in 2016, he invested $14 million into biofuel conversion company Renmatix. Renmatix produces a technology to aid in the conversion of biomass to cellulose sugars for biofuels.[43] Biofuels have been responsible for the clearance of rainforests all around the world, especially in the Brazilian Amazon, not small farmers.[44]
By framing the narrative in a way that pins the responsibility for climate change on ''smallholder farmers who are involved in unsustainable practices'' the Gates foundation evades responsibility for the destruction it has been instrumental in causing. We cannot address climate change, and its very real consequences, without recognising the central role of the industrial and globalised food system, actively supported by the Gates Foundation. The globalised food system contributes from 44% to 57% of all greenhouse gas emissions through deforestation, industrial inputs (such as chemical fertilizers, petrol, fertilizer, irrigation and so on), animals in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), plastics and aluminium packaging, long distance transport and food waste.[45]
Food Climate Chart (Source: GRAIN https://www.grain.org/e/4357)We cannot solve climate change without small-scale, ecological agriculture, based on biodiversity through living seeds, living soils, and living and local food systems. A proven way to decrease CO2 emissions is exactly through local food economies that eliminate fossil fuel intensive methods and global supply chains, replacing them with resource recycling, low intensity inputs to heal the soil, and biodiversity. Slow, whole, organic diets increase nutrition and lessen climate impact in a multidimensional fashion. [46]
Rhetoric 4: ''At the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we believe that everyone has the right to live a healthy, productive life. But many of the world's poorest people'--those who make their living through agriculture'--will not have that opportunity unless they can access the innovations needed to adapt to the challenges caused by climate change.'''...'.....''Gates Ag One, aims to speed up efforts to provide smallholder farmers in developing countries, the many of whom are women, with access to the affordable tools and innovations they need to'... adapt to the effects of climate change.''[47]
Counter: They make it sound like farmers cannot live a healthy and productive life without technology. They also make it sound like the only way to face climate change is with the help of their ''innovations'' when they will profit massively from them. Through this elevation of technological means to human ends, the corporate agenda is made the human agenda: imposition is defined as ''inclusion'' or ''Democratization''. Corporations endow their tools with inevitability and rob societies of thinking of options and alternatives. However, there is no inevitability in the tools humanity uses. Chemicals and the Green Revolution were not inevitable. They were imposed through conditionalities.[48] The failures of the Green Revolution and its 'innovations' do not provide a solid base for the argument of new technological innovations.[49] Technology itself also greatly impacts climate change through the whole chain of its material extraction, production, distribution and waste processing.[50] A new technological fundamentalism is making corporate tools a measure and indicator of human progress, immune from social and democratic assessments.
With the ecological emergency, climate emergency and the food emergency, the technologies that are needed are participatory and evolutionary, breeding for climate resilience, for increasing nutrition, and making agriculture poison free.
The 10 elements of agroecology (Source : FAO, http://www.fao.org/agroecology/knowledge/10-elements/)The urgency implied around the need for technological solutions to climate change provides the guise through which can be pushed the universal adoption of a new series of data-reliant technologies. Since climate change is 'new' there must also be a 'new, innovative' solution to solve it, leading to a new wave of epistemic colonisation. ''One Agriculture One Science''[51] essentially means ''one research and one knowledge''. In a world of diversity, claiming to be the ''One'' is a design for Imperialism. It is a design for epistemic colonisation. It is a denial of the richness of agroecological knowledges and practices that are resurging around the world.
Ag One: Sowing the Seeds of SurveillanceWe have seen how the new Ag One initiative will line up with previous iterations of Gates' attempt to expand the failed methods of the classic Green Revolution; but Ag One also envisages the unveiling of a new generation of external input technologies. The focus of Ag One is to transition small farmers to use 'new digital tools and technologies'. Principally referenced are the 'yield-enhancing' or drought tolerant seeds which include old and new types of GMOs, as well as the use of gene editing technologies on seeds and living plants.
Gates has been pushing for CRISPR and gene editing for several years now. In 2016 an investment firm called bngO headed by former science advisor to Gates, Boris Nikolic, and of whom Gates is a backer, provided a huge seed investment of $120 million dollars to fund Cambridge's Editas Medicine- one of the first to research and develop CRISPR technology.[52] Since then he has publicly expressed his full-fledged support of CRISPR for its use in agriculture and medicine.
The other most important aspect is the use of digital agricultural extension through sensors to gather data points on everything; from mapping soil moisture, weather patterns, soil nutrient levels, individual plant health and so on. The end purpose of such sensors is to fill the 'data-gap' of the global south and provide data as a resource in order to build maps and predictive models of agricultural systems. Big data, data analytics and machine learning are, hence, being incorporated into agriculture through electronic tracing systems, electronic weather data, smartphone mapping and other remote sensing applications, all in order for AI and machine learning to be able to model such things as: when to plant the next season of crops, when to water, when to fertilize or predicting pest outbreaks.
This new type of data-reliant agriculture is oriented toward the implementation of precision agriculture, which is essentially a ''data-generating agriculture'' as it is based on observing and measuring crops, environment variables using sensors and satellites, to supposedly lower the use of chemical inputs. But in the end precision agriculture is a double edge sword. On the one hand it is just a way to placate critiques of the high costs of using chemical inputs, while on the other providing the means to reduce farmers to possible data sets to generate artificial models. This in turn reduces the world's diversity to merely an environment to improve predictive models through the complete disregard for (even the concept of) living systems.
Data mining from FarmersSuch experiments with data mapping are already underway. For example, in India, Digital Green, an initiative of the Gates Foundation, is described as ''a global development organization that empowers smallholder farmers to lift themselves out of poverty by harnessing the collective power of technology and grassroots-level partnerships.''[53] It is an NGO that focuses on ''training farmers to make and show short videos where they record their problems and share solutions''. Digital Green was first conceived of by Microsoft Research in India in 2006 before becoming an independent NGO.[54] Since then, it has received $1.3 million dollars of funding from the Walmart foundation while their South Asia Food and Nutrition Security Initiative (SAFANSI) is funded by the World Bank. It received Rs 3 crore ($400,600) as a Global Impact Award from Google in 2013. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has provided more than $10 million towards this initiative.
''The data chain of Big Data applications'' is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0Source: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308521X16303754This ''data'' from farms and farmers is being collected without their knowledge or prior consent. Problematically, this ''data'' is also closely tied to farmers' personal information, like the location of the farms, their yields and other sensitive information. Farmers also have little say as to what happens to the data being collected. This brings in questions of data sovereignty, as the data being collected is more than likely to be developed into products that are then sold back to farmers as essential for successful digital farming. In turn, the very institutions that are pushing for this new data-ag and its regulation are indirectly or directly in the hands of the Gates Foundation. The most blatant example being the World Economic Forum's World Food Systems Summit (WFSS), to be hosted in 2021, which is to be headed by former Rwandan Minister of Agriculture and president of (Gates-funded) AGRA (Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa). In the concept paper for the summit there was no mention of agroecology, indigenous peoples or civil society. But it does specifically mention precision agriculture and genetic engineering as important for addressing future food security, while also expressing vocal support for the fourth industrial revolution around data.
For the countries where Ag One is looking to operate there is very little legislation, regulation, nor concrete trade agreements around digital data transfers, leaving countries in the global south with little capacity to handle this new influx of 'data resources'. This leaves them even more vulnerable to further predation by large corporations. Gates' digital agenda with Ag One will also serve to exacerbate this already stark power inequality through a centralization of all farming data out of the hands of farmers. This centralization also then leaves the door open for further biopiracy, centrally managing data that can only be accessed through paywalls, surveillance, and further policing by big corporations of their product use and so on.
The pivotal example of these consequences is the biopiracy being carried out through the convergence of information technology and biotechnology by taking patents through ''mapping'' genomes and genome sequences[55]. While living seed needs to evolve ''in situ'', patents on genomes can be taken through access to seed ''ex situ''. This undermines farmers' rights as permission from the farmers is no longer necessary once the genome has been digitally mapped.153F[56]
Making time an enemy: A Push for DeregulationAll of this is only possible through an agenda of active deregulation. Using the rhetoric of climate change as the cause for extreme urgency, according to Rodger Voorhies, president of Gates' Global Growth & Opportunity division, ''Research and development takes years to get from the lab to the field, and while the Agricultural Development team funds the development of new tools and technologies designed to meet the needs of smallholder farmers, there were delays in translating these discoveries to affordable products''. He added, ''we didn't think that research was flowing down to the crops that matter most to smallholder farmers in a timeframe that could reach them.''[57] But for Ag One this acceleration is only possible through the deregulation of biosafety. The objective of Ag One seems to be to fund these new innovative scientific discoveries with the goal of getting them as quickly as possible to the point of commercialisation with as little testing, assessment and regulation as possible. One such example is of CRISPR and gene editing where they have tried to bypass regulation altogether by claiming that gene editing is a non-GMO technology.
Building on Thousands of Years of Evolution of Thousands of Diverse Agroecological Knowledges and CulturesThere is an illusion that running faster on the chemical and poison cartel treadmill, now equipped with artificial intelligence and robots, will be more effective in producing more food and feeding the hungry. On the contrary, the tools and technologies of the poison cartel have brought the planet and the lives of farmers to the brink with climate havoc, species extinction, water crisis, farmer incomes collapsing to zero, and food related diseases killing larger numbers of people.
In the end it appears that Gates' new Ag One initiative is the same wolf in different clothing, where he is attempting to push faster and harder for the whole world to adopt his version of the already failed Green Revolution with a new tech twist. A worldview which is completely disconnected from the realities of small farmers and their need for food sovereignty.
Indian FarmersAs shown, the future of agriculture is based on biodiversity, seed sovereignty and agroecology, not on ''Ag One'' or ''Ag Tech''. We need to rise up and look past the corporate narrative and look to time tested indigenous knowledge and Agroecology to shape the future of Agriculture based on Biodiversity and Cultural Diversity. We need a rejuvenation of small farms, real farms with real people who care for the land, who care for life, who care for the future and who do produce diverse, healthy, fresh, ecological and real food for all.
This article is extracted from a new multi-author report from Navdanya International titled Gates to a Global Empire documenting the perils of philanthrocapitalism.
Footnotes
[1] Gray, Bryce. ''Gates Foundation Plans Crop Research Center in St. Louis.'' Online Research Library: Questia | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), January 30, 2020. https://www.questia.com/newspaper/1P4-2348219385/gates-foundation-plans-crop-research-center-in-st
[2] ''Overview: Bill & Melinda Gates Agricultural Innovations.'' Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, January 2020. https://docs.gatesfoundation.org/Documents/GatesAg One_OverviewandFAQ.pdf
[3] Ibid.
[4] ''Gates Foundation on Intention to Create Nonprofit Agricultural Research Institute.'' Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation | Press Releases, January 21, 2020. https://www.gatesfoundation.org/Media-Center/Press-Releases/2020/01/Gates-Foundation-Statement-on-Creation-of-Nonprofit-Agricultural-Research-Institute
[5] Cheney, Catherine. ''Exclusive: Gates Foundation Launches New Agriculture-Focused Nonprofit.'' Devex. Last modified January 21, 2020. https://www.devex.com/news/sponsored/exclusive-gates-foundation-launches-new-agriculture-focused-nonprofit-96384
[6] Ibid.
[7] Ibid.
[8] ''Microsoft y El IICA Definieron Hoja de Ruta Para La Transformaci"n Digital Del Agro de Las Am(C)ricas.'' Instituto Interamericano de Cooperaci"n Para La Agricultura (IICA). https://www.iica.int/en/node/16190
[9] ''About.'' Global Center on Adaptation. https://gca.org/about
[10] ''Global Coalition Promises More than $650 Million to Accelerate CGIAR Efforts to Help 300 Million Smallholder Farmers Adapt to Climate Change.'' CGIAR, September 23, 2019. https://www.cgiar.org/news-events/news/uncas-global-coalition-funds-cgiar/
[11] Ibid.
[12] Ibid.
[13] ''The Next Agribusiness Takeover: Multilateral Food Agencies.'' ETC Group. Last modified February 12, 2020. https://www.etcgroup.org/content/next-agribusiness-takeover-multilateral-food-agencies
[14] ''Agricultural Development.'' Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. https://www.gatesfoundation.org/What-We-Do/Global-Growth-and-Opportunity/Agricultural-Development. https://www.gatesfoundation.org/What-We-Do/Global-Growth-and-Opportunity/Agricultural-Development .
[15] ''Our Commitment to Smallholder Farmers.'' Bayer Cropscience, https://www.cropscience.bayer.com/who-we-are/sustainable-agriculture/our-commitment-to-smallholder-farmers. Accessed 30 Oct. 2020.
[16] Vidal, John. ''Why Is the Gates Foundation Investing in GM Giant Monsanto?''. The Guardian, September 29, 2010. http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2010/sep/29/gates-foundation-gm-monsanto
[17] Schwab, Tim. ''Bill Gates's Charity Paradox.'' The Nation, March 17, 2020. https://www.thenation.com/article/society/bill-gates-foundation-philanthropy/
''Platform | AgBiome.'' https://www.agbiome.com/platform/
Burwood-Taylor, Louisa. ''Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Makes First Agtech Investment in AgBiome's $34.5m Series B.'' AgFunderNews, August 20, 2015. https://agfundernews.com/bill-melinda-gates-foundation-first-agtech-investment-agbiome-011.html
[18] Ibid.
[19] Vinluan, Frank. ''Pivot Bio Gets $70M, Led by Bill Gates's Fund, to Replace Fertilizer '' Page 2 of 2.'' Xconomy. Last modified October 2, 2018. https://xconomy.com/san-francisco/2018/10/02/pivot-bio-gets-70m-led-by-bill-gatess-fund-to-replace-fertilizer/
[20] ''Microsoft e IICA Firmaron Un Acuerdo Para Potenciar El Uso de Tecnolog­a En El Agro | Solo Campo.'' Last modified December 24, 2018. http://solocampo.com.ar/index/microsoft-e-iica-firmaron-un-acuerdo-para-potenciar-el-uso-de-tecnologia-en-el-agro/
[21] ''El IICA y Bayer firman acuerdo para promover seguridad alimentaria en Am(C)rica.'' Nuevos Papeles, February 7, 2019. https://www.nuevospapeles.com/nota/17625-el-iica-y-bayer-firman-acuerdo-para-promover-seguridad-alimentaria-en-america
[22] ''Acuerdo entre Corteva Agriscience y el IICA fortalecer producci"n de alimentos de calidad en las Am(C)ricas.'' Instituto Interamericano de Cooperaci"n Para La Agricultura (IICA), October 31, 2019. https://iica.int/es/prensa/noticias/acuerdo-entre-corteva-agriscience-y-el-iica-fortalecera-produccion-de-alimentos-de
[23] ''Syngenta y el IICA se unen para impulsar la innovaci"n en la agricultura de las Am(C)ricas.'' Instituto Interamericano de Cooperaci"n Para La Agricultura (IICA), July 7, 2020. https://iica.int/es/prensa/noticias/syngenta-y-el-iica-se-unen-para-impulsar-la-innovacion-en-la-agricultura-de-las
[24] Curtis, M. 2016. Gated Development: Is the Gates Foundation Always a Force for Good? Second Ed., Global Justice Now. June 2016. Pg. 31. https://www.globaljustice.org.uk/sites/default/files/files/resources/gjn_gates_report_june_2016_web_final_version_2.pdf
[25] Wise, Timothy A. ''AGRA at Ten Years: Searching for Evidence of a Green Revolution in Africa,'' November 2017. https://afsafrica.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/agrawiseprelimfindings2017.pdf
[26] Slideshow: Bill Gates on Agricultural Innovations '' YouTube, 2009. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXcB8k7Ysk4
[27] ''Overview: Bill & Melinda Gates Agricultural Innovations.'' Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, January 2020. https://docs.gatesfoundation.org/Documents/GatesAg One_OverviewandFAQ.pdf
[28] ''Hungry for Land: Small Farmers Feed the World with Less than a Quarter of All Farmland.'' Grain, May 28, 2014. https://www.grain.org/article/entries/4929-hungry-for-land-small-farmers-feed-the-world-with-less-than-a-quarter-of-all-farmland
[29] HLPE. 2019. Agroecological and other innovative approaches for sustainable agriculture and food systems that enhance food security and nutrition. A report by the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition of the Committee on World Food Security, Rome. http://www.fao.org/3/ca5602en/ca5602en.pdf
Shefali , Sharma. ''Agroecology: Key to Agricultural Resilience and Ecosystem Recovery.'' Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy (IATP), June 16, 2019. https://www.iatp.org/agroecology-key-agricultural-resilience-and-ecosystem-recovery
De Schutter Olivier, Report of the Special Rapporteur for the Right to Food, A/HRC/16/49, United Nations '' Human Rights Council, 2010. https://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/food/docs/a-hrc-16-49.pdf .
Mcintyre, Beverly & Herren, Hans & Wakhungu, Judi & Watson, Robert. (2009). Agriculture at a Crossroads: The Global Report. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/258099731_Agriculture_at_a_Crossroads_The_Global_Report
[30] Altieri M.A., Nicholls C., Henao A., Lana M., Agroecology and the design of climate change-resilient farming systems, 869 '' 890, 35 (3), SN 1773-0155, Springer, Agronomy for Sustainable Development, 2015, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13593-015-0285-2
[31] ''Overview: Bill & Melinda Gates Agricultural Innovations.'' Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, January 2020. https://docs.gatesfoundation.org/Documents/GatesAg One_OverviewandFAQ.pdf
[32] D'Annolfo, Raffaele & Gemmill-Herren, Barbara & Graeub, Benjamin & Garibaldi, Lucas. (2015). Social and economic performance of Agroecology. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/283721240_Social_and_economic_performance_of_Agroecology
[33] FAO 2010. The Second Report on the State of the World's Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Rome. http://www.fao.org/3/i1500e/i1500e.pdf
[34] How Data-Driven Farming Could Transform Agriculture | Ranveer Chandra | TEDxUniversityofRochester '' YouTube. TEDx TALKS, 2018. https://youtu.be/dpVylFjT-Cw
[35] ''Overview: Bill & Melinda Gates Agricultural Innovations.'' Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, January 2020. https://docs.gatesfoundation.org/Documents/GatesAg One_OverviewandFAQ.pdf
[36] IPBES (2019): Global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. E. S. Brondizio, J. Settele, S. D­az, and H. T. Ngo (editors). IPBES secretariat, Bonn, Germany. https://ipbes.net/global-assessment
IPCC, 2019: Climate Change and Land: an IPCC special report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems [P.R. Shukla, J. Skea, E. Calvo Buendia, V. Masson-Delmotte, H.-O. P¶rtner, D. C. Roberts, P. Zhai, R. Slade, S. Connors, R. van Diemen, M. Ferrat, E. Haughey, S. Luz, S. Neogi, M. Pathak, J. Petzold, J. Portugal Pereira, P. Vyas, E. Huntley, K. Kissick, M. Belkacemi, J. Malley, (eds.)]. In press. https://www.ipcc.ch/report/srccl/
FAO. 2019. The State of the World's Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture, J. B(C)langer & D. Pilling (eds.). FAO Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture Assessments. Rome. 572 pp. (http://www.fao.org/3/CA3129EN/CA3129EN.pdf ) Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.
[37] Snchez-Bayo, F., & Wyckhuys, K. A. G. (2019). Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: A review of its drivers. Biological Conservation, 232, 8''27. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2019.01.020
Goulson, D., Insect decline and why they matter, Wildlife Trusts, 2019, https://www.somersetwildlife.org/sites/default/files/2019-11/FULL%20AFI%20REPORT%20WEB1_1.pdf
Brain RA, Anderson JC. The agro-enabled urban revolution, pesticides, politics, and popular culture: a case study of land use, birds, and insecticides in the USA. Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2019;26(21):21717-21735. doi:10.1007/s11356-019-05305-9
Gabbatiss, J., 'Shocking' decline in birds across Europe due to pesticide use, say scientists, The Independent, 21 march 2018, https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/europe-bird-population-countryside-reduced-pesticides-france-wildlife-cnrs-a8267246.html
[38] La V­a Campesina and GRAIN. ''Food Sovereignty: Five Steps to Cool the Planet and Feed Its People.'' Grain, December 15, 2014. https://www.grain.org/article/entries/5102-food-sovereignty-five-steps-to-cool-the-planet-and-feed-its-people
[39] Mateo-Sagasta, J., Marjani Zadeh, S., & Turral, H. (2018). More people, more food'... worse water? '' Water Pollution from Agriculture: a global review. FAO. http://www.fao.org/documents/card/en/c/CA0146EN
Rodr­guez-Eugenio, N., McLaughlin, M. and Pennock, D. 2018. Soil Pollution: a hidden reality. Rome, FAO. 142 pp. http://www.fao.org/3/I9183EN/i9183en.pdf
[40] ''Organic vs Conventional.'' Rodale Institute. https://rodaleinstitute.org/why-organic/organic-basics/organic-vs-conventional/
[41] ''Food and Climate Change: The Forgotten Link.'' Grain, September 28, 2011. https://www.grain.org/e/4357
[42] Ibid.
[43] Renmatix. ''Renmatix Secures $14M Investment from Bill Gates and Total, the Global Energy Major, In Concert with Signing of 1 Million Ton Cellulosic Sugar License,'' September 15, 2016. https://renmatix.com/uploads/renmatix-bulletin-gates-press-release.pdf
[44] ''Sugar Cane, Palm Oil, and Biofuels in the Amazon.'' Yale School of the Environment | Global Forest Atlas, n.d. https://globalforestatlas.yale.edu/amazon/land-use-and-agriculture/biofuels
[45] Ibid.
[46] Ibid.
[47] ''Overview: Bill & Melinda Gates Agricultural Innovations.'' Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, January 2020. https://docs.gatesfoundation.org/Documents/GatesAg One_OverviewandFAQ.pdf
[48] Ibid.
[49] Shiva, V. (1991). The Violence of the Green Revolution: Third World Agriculture, Ecology, and Politics. Other India Press. https://books.google.it/books?id=jPNRPgAACAAJ .
[50] ICTworks. ''Digital Technologies Are Part of the Climate Change Problem.'' ICTworks, February 20, 2020. https://www.ictworks.org/digital-technologies-climate-change-problem/
[51] Akbar, Syed. ''One Agriculture-One Science: Partnership to Revitalize Global Farm Education | India News '' Times of India.'' The Times of India, July 22, 2014. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/One-agriculture-one-science-Partnership-to-revitalize-global-farm-education/articleshow/38867896.cms
[52] ''$120 Million-Investment for CRISPR Technology From Bill Gates and Other 13 Investors.'' CD Genomics, October 16, 2018. https://www.cd-genomics.com/blog/120-million-investment-for-crispr-technology-from-bill-gates-and-other-13-investors/
[53] ''About Us.'' Digital Green. https://www.digitalgreen.org/about-us/
[54] ''About Us.'' Digital Green, https://www.digitalgreen.org/about-us/. Accessed 30 Oct. 2020.
[55] Lucchi, N. (2013). Understanding genetic information as a commons: From bioprospecting to personalized medicine. International Journal of the Commons, 7(2), 313''338. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18352/ijc.399
[56] Masucci M., Un accordo per tutelare la biodiversit agricola, Terra Nuova, 16 February 2020, https://www.terranuova.it/Il-Mensile/Un-accordo-per-tutelare-la-biodiversita-agricola/
[57] Cheney, Catherine. ''Exclusive: Gates Foundation Launches New Agriculture-Focused Nonprofit.'' Devex, January 21, 2020. https://www.devex.com/news/sponsored/exclusive-gates-foundation-launches-new-agriculture-focused-nonprofit-96384
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Boris Johnson announces 10-point green plan with 250,000 jobs | Green politics | The Guardian
Thu, 19 Nov 2020 13:09
Boris Johnson has announced plans for the government's self-styled green industrial revolution, bringing praise from environmental groups but also questions about the scale of new funding, and the planned expansion of nuclear and hydrogen power.
In a move aimed at retaking the initiative after a politically turbulent few weeks, the prime minister said the 10-point plan would create up to 250,000 jobs, with much of the focus aimed at the north of England, Midlands, Scotland and Wales.
But Labour called the plan ''deeply, deeply disappointing'' in ambition, saying it would neither properly tackle the climate emergency nor the jobs crisis caused by coronavirus.
One of the points is the previously trailed pledge to end the sale of petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030, 10 years ahead of the previous schedule. Another existing promise is to quadruple the amount of offshore wind power capacity within a decade.
Greenpeace said the measures marked a notable step forward for tackling the climate emergency, saying: ''This landmark announcement signals the end of the road for polluting cars and vans and a historic turning point on climate action.''
However, the group warned the scheme also had flaws. ''It's a shame the prime minister remains fixated on other speculative solutions, such as nuclear and hydrogen from fossil fuels, that will not be taking us to zero emissions anytime soon, if ever,'' said Rebecca Newsom, Greenpeace UK's head of politics.
The programme is billed as costing £12bn, with Downing Street saying £8bn of this is new. However, Labour said it believed only £4bn was new spending.
The 10-point plan comprises:
A ban on combustion engine sales by 2030, with grants for electric cars, and funding for charge points. The sale of some hybrid cars and vans will continue until 2035.
A previously announced pledge to quadruple offshore wind power by 2030, to 40GW, enough to power every UK home.
Moves to boost hydrogen production, with the promise of a town heated entirely by hydrogen by the end of the decade.
Investment of £525m towards new nuclear power, based on ''the next generation of small and advanced reactors''.
£1bn next year for funds to insulate homes and public buildings, using the existing green homes grant and public sector decarbonisation scheme.
An extra £200m invested in carbon capture initiatives.
Support for greener energies in the aviation and maritime sectors, with £20m committed to the latter.
30,000 hectares of trees planted every year, as part of nature conservation efforts.
Moves to promote public transport, cycling and walking, although no new schemes were announced.
A pledge to make London ''the global centre of green finance''.
While Johnson said the plan would create hundreds of thousands of jobs, while ''making strides towards net zero by 2050'', Labour said it was ''a pale imitation'' of the green stimulus package needed.
Ed Miliband, the shadow business secretary, whose plan for a green Covid recovery involves £30bn spent over 18 months, said the No 10 proposals were low on ambition and contained several ''reheated pledges''.
''People are losing their jobs now,'' Miliband said. ''This isn't fundamentally a green stimulus, it's nowhere near the scale of what is required.
''This announcement doesn't remotely meet the scale of the jobs emergency or the climate emergency. France and Germany are investing tens of billions of euros. This provides, at best, £4bn of new money over several years.
''What we needed was a really bold green economic stimulus, and what we got was a pale imitation of that. It's deeply, deeply disappointing.''
Caroline Lucas, the Green party MP, condemned the plan as vague and underpowered.
She said: ''This is a shopping list, not a plan to address the climate emergency, and it commits only a fraction of the necessary resources.''
Hilary McGrady, the director general of the National Trust, said the plan was ''a fantastic platform'' ahead of the Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow next year.
She said: ''But technology alone can't cut emissions and restore nature. The government will need to follow this up with an ambitious pledge to cut emissions by 2030 in line with the Paris agreement.''
The Confederation of British Industry's acting director general, Josh Hardie, said the plan ''represents a clear statement of intent from the government''.
He said: ''It gives a springboard to the huge opportunities for UK-wide investment and green jobs that a true low-carbon economy can bring.''
Nicola Shaw, the UK executive director of National Grid, said:''The prime minister has set out great ambition for the net zero transition including commitments on offshore wind, hydrogen and carbon capture and storage. We also welcome the earlier ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles and the support for the rollout of electric vehicles which will help improve the country's air quality.
''Now, industry and government must work together to turn this ambition into reality, with transformational investments to deliver real change, which will create jobs in every part of the country.''
NZ's path to United Nations Agenda 2030 | Star News
Thu, 19 Nov 2020 12:44
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Last year Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was the guest speaker at a private gathering in New York hosted by Bill and Melinda Gates.
She told the audience that under her administration New Zealand had taken a lead and embedded the United Nations Agenda 2030 into our legal and regulatory framework:
'''...my Government is doing something not many other countries have tried. We have incorporated the principles of the 2030 Agenda into our domestic policy-making in a way that we hope will drive system-level actions'... I believe that the change in approach that we have adopted in New Zealand is needed at a global scale'...''
The event was arranged by Goalkeepers, an organisation set up by the Gates Foundation in 2017 to accelerate progress towards the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the UN's Agenda 2030.
In her glowing introduction of Jacinda Ardern, Melinda Gates told the audience that our Prime Minister ''has released an international human rights plan in which New Zealand promises to take the lead on, among other things, gender equality and women and girls' empowerment.''
She described our PM as ''a true international leader who understands that the future of the world depends on eliminating inequality.''
It's a shame Jacinda Ardern was not so upfront with New Zealanders when she decided to take the country down this experimental Agenda 2030 path. Most Kiwis would be completely unaware that not only have we adopted UN doctrine, but we are also apparently leading the world in gender equality and women and girls' empowerment.
While the Ardern Government has not hidden the fact that it is committed to implementing the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, they most certainly have not been open and transparent about the agenda that underpins those goals '' nor the policy implications of ''eliminating inequality''.
Agenda 2030 featured in the 2017 Confidence and Supply Agreement between the Labour Party and the Greens '' although not by name. Instead, the parties made a commitment to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that underpin Agenda 2030:
''The Green Party supports a transformative Government which implements the United Nations' 17 Sustainable Development Goals. In this parliamentary term, the Green Party has a number of priorities to progress the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. The Labour-led Government shares and will support these priorities.''
And that is the path the Labour-led Government has taken the country over the last three years.
While this has led to Jacinda Ardern becoming the poster child for Agenda 2030 '' the UN's blueprint for modern socialism '' New Zealanders have remained largely unaware that we are being used as a guinea pig in an international socialist experiment.
In a speech to the International Conference on Sustainable Development in New York in 2018, the Prime Minister signalled her intention to lead the world by fully incorporating the Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into domestic affairs: ''we have decided to try something no other country has done before and embed indicators like the SDGs into everything we do''.
She said her Government would no longer rely on traditional measures of progress such as 'economic growth', but would instead introduce new experimental indicators: '''...we are establishing brand new measures of national achievement that go beyond growth'... We have created a tool called the Living Standards Framework. It puts the notion of sustainable intergenerational wellbeing at the centre of the different decision making processes we have '' policy advice, government expenditure and long term management of our assets.
''Our Statistics department is working on an ambitious project called Indicators Aotearoa New Zealand that aims to create a comprehensive set of indicators across the different dimensions of the current and future wellbeing of New Zealanders; economic, cultural, social and environmental.
''These new tools will help us deliver, and monitor the delivery of goals like the SDGs. Our first test of this new approach will be early next year. That's when we will deliver our first budget using these new measures, and new approach. We've called it the well-being budget, and it will unashamedly look to invest in generational change'...''
Just before the 2019 'wellbeing' Budget was delivered, the Prime Minister explained to a Business New Zealand audience what the Government's new approach entailed: ''while economic growth is important '' and something we will continue to pursue '' it alone does not guarantee improvements to New Zealanders' living standards'... My hope is that this year, with the new Wellbeing Budget, you'll see us setting a strong foundation for both our country and our people.''
The mainstream media doesn't appear to have made much of Jacinda Ardern's commitment to Agenda 2030, but that's not surprising given their lack of balance.
This week's NZCPR Guest Commentator Dr Oliver Hartwich, the Chief Executive of the New Zealand Initiative, describes how difficult it is becoming in this country to speak out openly '' especially against the government:
''Our small population size has fostered a social conformity that makes it hard to speak one's mind. With two-degrees-of-separation, you cannot afford to burn bridges.
''Most of us no longer dare question if it is grounded in reality and anyone who does is called unpatriotic and petty. So, at the risk of being torn to pieces, let me do it anyway.''
Dr Hartwich is especially critical of policy failures relating to housing. As he says, if there is one thing New Zealand is not short of it is space for building houses. Yet the high cost of sections in New Zealand, combined with overly bureaucratic planning laws and excessive building regulations, have led to a housing market that is ''the most expensive in the developed world''.
The lack of affordable housing has become such a scandal over the years, that successive governments have prioritised fixing it. But to little avail, so entrenched is the ideological framework that created the problem in the first place.
The housing crisis has its roots in the forerunner of Agenda 2030, the United Nations' Agenda 21, which for over 20 years, heavily influenced private property rights in New Zealand. 'Smart growth' policies designed to prevent 'urban sprawl' have been imposed by council planners up and down the country, resulting in a severe shortage of land for housing. The effect is plain to see '' higher section prices that have contributed to the current housing affordability crisis.
Agenda 21, with origins dating back to the first Earth Summit in Sweden in 1972, was established by the United Nations in 1992. Based on the notion that humans are destroying the planet, it seeks to control our lives using the benign-sounding but far reaching policy mechanism of ''sustainable development'' '' meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising those of future generations.
In 2015, when the UN updated Agenda 21 to Agenda 2030, they highlighted 17 sustainable development goals to control every aspect of our lives. From an end to poverty, to the intensification of cities, and the elimination of inequality, the UN has mapped it all out.
The following summary of the Agenda 2030 goals from the UN website doesn't do justice to the complexity of the restrictions being proposed '' full details can be found HERE:
'' Goal 1. End poverty in all its forms'' Goal 2. End hunger and promote sustainable agriculture'' Goal 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all ages'' Goal 4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education'' Goal 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls'' Goal 6. Ensure sustainable management of water and sanitation'' Goal 7. Ensure access to sustainable energy'' Goal 8. Promote sustainable economic growth and decent work for all'' Goal 9. Promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization'' Goal 10. Reduce inequality within and among countries'' Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements sustainable'' Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns'' Goal 13. Take urgent action to combat climate change'' Goal 14. Sustainably use the oceans'' Goal 15. Promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems and halt biodiversity loss'' Goal 16. Promote inclusive societies and institutions for sustainable development'' Goal 17. Strengthen the global partnership for sustainable development
The UN's concept was big and bold '' they wanted change that would require all sectors of society to mobilise for a decade of action: ''to secure greater leadership, more resources'... embedding the needed transitions in the policies, budgets, institutions and regulatory frameworks of governments, cities and local authorities'... and people action, including by youth, civil society, the media, the private sector, unions, academia and other stakeholders, to generate an unstoppable movement pushing for the required transformations.''
Central to Agenda 2030, and justifying the need for 'urgent' action, is the ''climate emergency''. It is being used to claim that humanity is destroying the planet, and to justify more regulation and control. That's why every wildfire, drought, flood, or storm is touted as 'evidence' that a global warming Armageddon is just around the corner '' and only avoidable if nations take action to implement the UN's goals, including a significant redistribution of wealth from rich to poor nations.
In reality, this is the new face of socialism '' first, Agenda 21. Now its Agenda 2030. Next it will be ''Agenda 2050''. It will never stop because ''equality'' will never be equal enough for new age socialists like Jacinda Ardern.
While old school socialism pitted the working class against the ruling class '' with an underlying premise that the rich were getting richer by exploiting the poor '' socialism has now morphed into a struggle for equality. The underlying premise nowadays is that it's fair to take from those who have, to give to those who have not.
It's developed into an obsession over wealth equality, instead of the most important principle of all '' equality of opportunity.
It's an issue that is now dividing nations. But the difference between New Zealand and most other counties is that here, there is no open debate. We are being transformed into a socialist state, but without full disclosure by the politicians driving this radical change.
There has been no effective media inquiry about these developments, nor has there been any effective scrutiny from opposition politicians.
As a result, as Dr Hartwich notes, it has become increasingly difficult to freely debate these issues '' especially now the media has become so openly biased to the left. In fact it's a tragedy for our society that the Fourth Estate, that used to stand as a guardian of the truth, has now become part of the problem, with so many in the media crossing the line from critical analysis and reporting facts, into political advocacy.
In light of the present-day scarcity of balanced views, it is indeed ironic that while our access to information has never been easier than it is now, access to the truth has never been harder.
Let's make no mistake that behind the smiles, sits the most radical socialist government in our history, with a Prime Minister intent on embedding the objectives of the world's most socialist organisation into our policy and legislative framework.
To fight back, we have to start calling out socialism for what it is '' but to call it out we first have to lift the veil and expose what is happening.
Next, we have to decide whether we want to become a socialist society that takes from those who achieve to give to those who don't '' or whether our ambition is for New Zealand to be an opportunity society, where everyone has the chance to better themselves and their families.
In other words, should New Zealand go down the path to socialism based on the United Nations' Agenda 2030, or should we respect people's individualism and freedom, and ensure they are given the opportunity to get ahead?
If it is the latter, then we collectively have a lot of standing up and speaking out to do before the next election!
Dr Muriel Newman established the New Zealand Centre for Political Research as a public policy think tank in 2005 after nine years as a Member of Parliament. A former Chamber of Commerce President, her background is in business and education.
China
Asia forms world's biggest trade bloc, a China-backed group excluding U.S. | Reuters
Thu, 19 Nov 2020 13:29
HANOI (Reuters) - Fifteen Asia-Pacific economies formed the world's largest free trade bloc on Sunday, a China-backed deal that excludes the United States, which had left a rival Asia-Pacific grouping under President Donald Trump.
The signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) at a regional summit in Hanoi, is a further blow to the group pushed by former U.S. president Barack Obama, which his successor Trump exited in 2017.
Amid questions over Washington's engagement in Asia, RCEP may cement China's position more firmly as an economic partner with Southeast Asia, Japan and Korea, putting the world's second-biggest economy in a better position to shape the region's trade rules.
The United States is absent from both RCEP and the successor to the Obama-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), leaving the world's biggest economy out of two trade groups that span the fastest-growing region on earth.
By contrast, RCEP could help Beijing cut its dependence on overseas markets and technology, a shift accelerated by a deepening rift with Washington, said Iris Pang, ING chief economist for Greater China.
RCEP groups the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. It aims in coming years to progressively lower tariffs across many areas.
The deal was signed on the sidelines of an online ASEAN summit held as Asian leaders address tensions in the South China Sea and tackle plans for a post-pandemic economic recovery in a region where U.S.-China rivalry has been rising.
Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc chairs the 4th Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Summit as part of the 37th ASEAN Summit in Hanoi, Vietnam November 15, 2020. REUTERS/Kham
In an unusual ceremony, held virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic, leaders of RCEP countries took turns standing behind their trade ministers who, one by one, signed copies of the agreement, which they then showed triumphantly to the cameras.
''RCEP will soon be ratified by signatory countries and take effect, contributing to the post-COVID pandemic economic recovery,'' said Nguyen Xuan Phuc, prime minister of Vietnam, which hosted the ceremony as ASEAN chair.
RCEP will account for 30% of the global economy, 30% of the global population and reach 2.2 billion consumers, Vietnam said.
'HISTORICAL BREAKTHROUGH'
China's finance ministry said the new bloc's promises include eliminating some tariffs within the group, including some immediately and others over 10 years.
There were no details on which products and which countries would see immediate reduction in tariffs.
''For the first time, China and Japan reached a bilateral tariff reduction arrangement, achieving a historic breakthrough,'' the ministry said in a statement, without giving further details.
The deal marks the first time rival East Asian powers China, Japan and South Korea have been in a single free trade agreement.
Despite being outside RCEP and having been in the administration that propelled the TPP, President-elect Joe Biden - Obama's vice president - is unlikely to rejoin the TPP anytime soon, analysts said, as his government will have to prioritise handling the COVID-19 outbreak at home.
''I'm not sure that there will be much focus on trade generally, including efforts to rejoin'' the TPP successor grouping, ''for the first year or so because there will be such a focus on COVID relief,'' Charles Freeman, senior vice president for Asia at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said this month.
RCEP ''will help reduce or remove tariffs on industrial and agricultural products and set out rules for data transmission,'' said Luong Hoang Thai, head of the Multilateral Trade Policy Department at Vietnam's Ministry of Industry and Trade.
The pact will take effect once enough participating countries ratify the agreement domestically within the next two years, Indonesia's trade minister said last week.
For China, the new group, including many U.S. allies, is a windfall largely resulting from Trump's retreat from the TPP, said ING's Pang.
India pulled out of RCEP talks in November last year, but ASEAN leaders said the door remained open for it to join.
Reporting by Khanh Vu and Phuong Nguyen; Additional reporting by James Pearson in Hanoi, Liz Lee in Kuala Lumpur, Gayatri Suroyo and Bernadette Christina Munthe in Jakarta, Hyonhee Shin in Seoul, Neil Jerome Morales in Manilla, Kaori Kaneko in Tokyo, Kirsty Needham in Sydney, and Gabriel Crossley, Roxanne Liu and Shivani Singh in Beijing; Editing by William Mallard
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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Ethiopia crisis: Arrest warrants for officers amid Tigray fighting - BBC News
Thu, 19 Nov 2020 04:51
Published duration 2 hours ago
media caption Ethiopia's federal authorities deny reports that civilians were targeted during air strikes in Mekelle.Ethiopia has issued arrest warrants for 76 army officers accused of being linked to the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF).
Forces loyal to that party are fighting the government in the restive Tigray region.
Ethiopia's prime minister has said that his army is advancing on its capital, Mekelle.
Hundreds have reportedly died and tens of thousands have fled the area after two weeks of clashes.
Verifying information from Tigray is hard because of a blackout on most communications.
The conflict is rooted in long-standing tension between powerful regional party the TPLF and Ethiopia's central government.
When Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed postponed a national election because of coronavirus in June, tension escalated between the two groups. The TPLF sees the central government as illegitimate, arguing Mr Abiy no longer has a mandate to lead the country.
The government accused the TPLF of attacking a military base to steal weapons, which the TPLF denied. In response, Mr Abiy ordered a military offensive, accusing the TPLF of treason.
What's the latest?
On Wednesday federal police announced arrest warrants for 76 army officers, some of whom are reportedly retired. They are accused of conspiring with the TPLF and "committing treason", according to AFP news agency.
Speaking to the BBC, Billene Seyoum - a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed - denied reports that Tigrayans elsewhere in the country were being arrested on the basis of their ethnicity. But she admitted many had been detained for membership of what she called criminal networks.
The news came after government forces seized the towns of Shire and Axum after a three-day deadline given by Prime Minister Abiy to Tigray's forces to surrender expired on Tuesday.
TPLF leader Debretsion Gebremichael, who was born in Shire, confirmed to a local TV station that his soldiers had lost control of the towns in the south and west of Tigray. However he called their victory temporary, and vowed to defeat Mr Abiy's forces.
Sudan says some 36,000 people have fled over the border from Tigray amid the ongoing fighting. The UN has warned of a "full-scale humanitarian crisis".
"There may be massive displacement inside Tigray and that is of course a concern and we try to prepare the best way possible," Jens Laerke, spokesman of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said.
The UN fears the numbers fleeing Ethiopia may be just a fraction of those forced from their homes by the fighting, but for the moment aid agencies have no access to the Tigray region.
Regional powers Kenya and Uganda have called for negotiations to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict. The Ethiopian government has, however, ruled out talks with the TPLF.
media caption 'We came with the clothes on our backs'Five things about Tigray:
1. The Kingdom of Aksum was centred in the region. Described as one of the greatest civilisations of the ancient world, it was once the most powerful state between the Roman and Persian empires.
image copyright Getty Images
image caption Aksum is believed to have been the home of the biblical Queen of Sheba2. The ruins of the city of Aksum are a UN World Heritage Site. The site, dating from between the 1st and 13th Century AD, features obelisks, castles, royal tombs and a church which is believed by some to house the Ark of the Covenant.
3. Most people in Tigray are Ethiopian Orthodox Christians. The region's Christian roots stretch back 1,600 years.
media caption Is this the home of the Ark of the Covenant?4. The region's main language is Tigrinya, a Semitic dialect with at least seven million speakers worldwide.
5. Sesame is a major cash crop, exported to the US, China and other countries.
Go Podcasting!
Why Spotify's Megaphone acquisition will scale targeted podcast ads | Digital | Campaign Asia
Tue, 17 Nov 2020 06:36
Spotify's US$235 million acquisition of podcast hosting and ad platform Megaphone on Tuesday (November 10) further tightens its grip on the growing podcast industry.
Over the past two years, Spotify has spent millions of dollars to acquire its way into the podcast space, from production studio Gimlet, to podcast media network Parcast, to media company The Ringer. Spotify has also shelled out millions on licensing deals, most notably its $100 million exclusive agreement with Joe Rogan.
But Spotify's ambitions go beyond owning and producing podcasts. While a majority of its revenue comes from subscriptions, Spotify has a large and growing programmatic advertising business that it wants to extend to its podcast content. In January, Spotify rolled out Streaming Ad Insertion (SAI), which allows advertisers to target audiences through live streams of Spotify original podcasts and better measure who they reached.
But Spotify has ''way more advertiser demand for [SAI] than inventory to satisfy it,'' said Jay Richman, head of global ads business and platform at Spotify. And Megaphone, which hosts and monetises podcasts by more than 20,000 publishers, satisfies that need for scale.
''The challenge [with SAI] in its current state is that it's premium, but niche,'' Richman continued. ''By acquiring Megaphone, we're able to bring scale.''
Spotify has partnered with Megaphone for years to host and monetise its original podcasts. But the acquisition will extend SAI's targeting and measurement capabilities to publishers outside of Spotify's network for the first time.
That could open the floodgates to new advertisers and ''shrink the gap between time spent listening and ad spend coming into the space,'' Richman said. Podcast advertising is projected to hit $1 billion in 2021, according to the IAB, but it has been slow to attract large consumer brands because of the lack of transparency around how audiences engage with their ads.
''A lot of folks enjoy listening to podcasts, but it's not a sustainable or healthy ecosystem in its current state,'' Richman said. ''We need to get more advertisers into the space.''
The tie-up is beneficial for podcast creators as well as brands because it will broaden the pie of advertisers available to monetise their content, Richman explained. ''More monetisation flowing into the industry will shrink the gap between time spent listening and ad spend coming into the space, so we can fund more creators.''
But Megaphone's clientele is mostly major brand advertisers, who are likely to funnel their budgets toward publishers they trust and further tip the scale toward well-funded players.
How Spotify Is Strengthening Our Investment in Podcast Advertising With Acquisition of Megaphone '-- Spotify
Tue, 17 Nov 2020 21:56
Less than two years ago, we announced that audio'--not just music'--would be the future of Spotify. We believe that streaming audio, including music and podcasts, is poised to be the next great frontier for listeners, creators, and advertisers.
That's why today, we're excited to announce Spotify's acquisition of Megaphone , one of the world's leading podcast advertising and publishing platforms.
The acquisition of Megaphone represents the next step in Spotify's expanding the possibilities of this intimate and screenless medium. At the top of the year, we launched Streaming Ad Insertion , an innovative podcast ad technology that delivers the intimacy and quality of traditional podcast ads with the precision and transparency of modern-day digital marketing. The results of Streaming Ad Insertion have been encouraging to say the least and have further validated our commitment to the significant potential of podcast advertising.
So what does Spotify + Megaphone mean for the growth of the podcast industry?
Delivering Scale to Podcast Advertisers Advertisers are ready to realize the full potential of podcasts. The combination of Spotify and Megaphone will allow them to activate across Spotify's Original & Exclusive podcasts while scaling reach through the Megaphone Targeted Marketplace.
Creating Added Value for Podcast Publishers Together, Spotify and Megaphone will offer podcast publishers innovative tools that will help them earn more from their work. This includes the opportunity to opt in to have their content monetized, matching their loyal listeners with even greater demand from advertisers. And we're excited to share that, once we come together, we will soon make Streaming Ad Insertion available to podcast publishers on Megaphone, the first time this technology will be made available to third-parties. That means that podcast publishers will be able to offer more-valuable podcast audiences to advertisers based on confirmed ad impressions (i.e., that their ad was actually heard).
We've already seen our investment in audio pay off. In our Q3 earnings, we announced that 22% of our total monthly average users (MAUs) engaged with podcasts last quarter and that podcast advertising revenue is up nearly 100% year over year. This comes alongside innovations like our first-of-its-kind format for creators to bring together music and talk , and mixed-media playlists like Your Daily Drive . Our podcast catalog now includes over 1.9 million titles that feature storytelling, sports, education, and wellness from diverse voices across the globe, and the world's top creators'--from Michelle Obama and Bren(C) Brown to Addison Rae and DC Comics'--come to Spotify to connect with their fans and meet new ones.
From groundbreaking authentic voices to can't-miss news and information, podcasting is one of the most exciting mediums of our time. We are excited to collaborate with Megaphone to drive this business forward.
The transaction is subject to customary regulatory review, and it is business as usual until closing.
To learn more, head to the Spotify Advertising blog for a Q&A with Jay Richman , Spotify VP Global Head of Advertising Business, and Megaphone CEO Brendan Monaghan .
FedNow
PayPal's crypto trading goes live in the US
Tue, 17 Nov 2020 16:06
Customers will be able to trade up to $20,000 a week, rather than the originally announced $10,000.
News On Thursday, PayPal's crypto trading and payments went live for all eligible customers in the United States.
Per its updated announcement, PayPal ended its waitlist for customers looking to use cryptocurrency in the U.S. Trading features a limit of $20,000 per week, which is double the originally announced $10,000.
PayPal ultimately plans to make crypto payments available at 26 million merchants globally.
A representative told Cointelegraph that PayPal will notify U.S. customers about the general availability of crypto services in the coming days.
Dan Schulman, CEO of PayPal, noted that the shift to supporting crypto was driven by what he sees as an "inevitable" drift toward virtual currencies.
"The shift to digital forms of currencies is inevitable, bringing with it clear advantages in terms of financial inclusion and access; efficiency, speed and resilience of the payments system; and the ability for governments to disburse funds to citizens quickly."Much-anticipated global services are expected to launch at the beginning of 2021, alongside crypto payments on Venmo. PayPal initially announced its plans to integrate crypto three weeks ago. The announcement led to a boost in BTC price.
As part of its crypto services, PayPal received the first conditional Bitlicense from the New York Department of Financial Services, one of the most hawkish sub-national financial regulators in the U.S. Many noted that the terms of PayPal's crypto services would entail that coins bought on the platform would not be able to leave, likely as part of its compromise with regulators in bringing crypto services to such a wide user base.
Senate Blocks President Trump's Controversial Nominee To The Federal Reserve Board : NPR
Wed, 18 Nov 2020 04:47
Judy Shelton appears before the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee in February. President Trump's nominee to the Federal Reserve has said she supports the gold standard and has questioned the mission of the central bank. J. Scott Applewhite/AP hide caption
toggle caption J. Scott Applewhite/AP Judy Shelton appears before the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee in February. President Trump's nominee to the Federal Reserve has said she supports the gold standard and has questioned the mission of the central bank.
J. Scott Applewhite/AP Judy Shelton's nomination as a member of the Federal Reserve Board is stalled.
The Senate failed to advance President Trump's controversial pick to the powerful central bank on Tuesday after Republicans Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine joined the Senate's Democrats in blocking Shelton's appointment.
The 47-50 vote also came as Sens. Rick Scott, R-Fla., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, both supporters of Shelton, were absent from the chamber and unable to vote. They are at home because of exposure to the coronavirus.
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris dealt another blow to Shelton, who was campaign adviser to Trump in 2016 and whose name was first floated for the position more than a year ago. The senator from California returned to the chamber for the first time since she and President-elect Joe Biden won to cast her vote against Shelton.
Shelton's confirmation was expected to be contentious among the GOP because of her unconventional economic views that place her well outside the mainstream. In the past, she questioned the mission of the central bank. She has also expressed support for the gold standard, which would tie the dollar to physical gold '-- a move that would sharply limit the amount of money in circulation.
The attempt to advance her confirmation for a term that runs through 2024 comes as the Fed will enter a critical stretch under Biden, with key decisions to be made on how much support the central bank can continue to provide to U.S. markets during the coronavirus pandemic.
After the rebuff on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell quickly laid the groundwork for another potential vote.
However, it's unclear if the missing Scott and Grassley will be allowed to return this week. That could push another attempt to take up the Shelton vote until after the Senate's Thanksgiving recess.
But even then, the GOP may not have enough votes to overcome the deficit seen on Tuesday. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., the chamber's majority whip, said it's unclear if Republicans' majority in the chamber could shrink by the time they return. Democratic Sen.-elect Mark Kelly of Arizona could replace Republican Sen. Martha McSally after the recess, Thune noted. Arizona is expected to certify the results of the special election by then.
"There is a little bit of a complicated factor there with the Arizona seat," Thune told a Capitol Hill pool reporter Tuesday.
War on Meat
Vegans have TWICE as much sex as meat-eaters and are more adventurous in the bedroom, survey reveals
Thu, 19 Nov 2020 13:27
By Monica Greep For Mailonline 15:51 15 Nov 2020, updated 16:00 15 Nov 2020
Dating website IllicitEncounters found vegans have more sex than meat-eatersTwo thirds of vegans asked said they are prepared to experiment in the bedroomFamous vegans include Pamela Anderson, Joaquin Phoenix and Thandie NewtonVegans have twice as much sex as meat-eaters and are more willing to experiment in the bedroom, according to a new survey.
Dating website IllicitEncounters.com found over half of the vegans asked claimed they have sex four times a week, while only half of meat-eaters reported having sex twice in the same time period.
The research found two thirds of vegans were prepared to experiment in the bedroom, while over half of the meat-eaters surveyed admitted they were less adventurous between the sheets, reports the Mirror.
Famous vegan celebrities include include Pamela Anderson, Ellie Goulding, Sir Paul McCartney, Joaquin Phoenix and Thandie Newton.
Dating website IllicitEncounters.com found over half of the vegans asked said they have sex four times a week. Pictured, Ellie Goulding who transitioned from vegetarianism to veganism in 2018 The survey also suggested that vegans have a better time in the bedroom. Pictured, PETA advocate and committed vegan Pamela AndersonThe survey also suggested that vegans have a better time in the bedroom with 84 per cent saying they're satisfied with their sex life compared with a measly 59 per cent of those with a meat-based diet.
Meanwhile 35 per cent of those on a meat-based diet describe themselves as 'givers', compared to 58 per cent of vegans.
Click here to resize this module
Spokeswoman Jessica Leoni said: 'Vegans are masters of seduction it would appear. Our statistics don't lie and vegans eat foods known for their aphrodisiac qualities such as ginseng and aniseed.'
Last year a medical experiment suggested that men who have a vegan diet may be better lovers, and that just one meat-free meal could improve their performance in the bedroom.
Last year a medical experiment suggested that men who have a vegan diet may be better lovers. Pictured, Joaquin Phoenix who has been vegan since 1977Famous vegan celebrities also include Thandie Newton who revealed she had become vegan in 2018Netflix documentary The Game Changer includes an experiment led by US urologist Dr Aaron Spitz, which measured the virility of three male athletes after different meals.
The men were given burritos containing grass-fed beef, organic chicken or organic pork on one night, then a plant-based replacement burrito containing soy and pea protein the following night.
The programme stopped short of seeing how well men performed with their partners, but instead looked at their activity as they slept.
After a meat-free meal, the men's night-time sexual arousal lasted three to four times longer through the night.
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VIDEO-U.N. Chief Guterres Wants End to Coal-Fired Power in Reset World
Thu, 19 Nov 2020 13:41
The world must stop building new coal power plants and instead embrace green alternatives in a post-coronavirus reset world, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Saturday.
Speaking via video message to the East Asia Summit 2020, Guterres called on all countries to reject coal and join together in seeking other alternatives.
To that end, Guterres demanded efforts be made to ''use the COVID-19 recovery effort to build green climate-resilient economies and work towards carbon neutrality by 2050.''
''This will, incidentally, also drive the job creation that will reduce inequality and address the air pollution that is choking many Asian cities. I commend the recent decisions of China, Japan and the Republic of Korea committing to net zero emissions,'' the veteran Portugese socialist added.
''Countries also need to put a price on carbon and end subsidies for fossil fuels. Our response to the COVID-19 crisis must be aligned with the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals. In all these efforts, you can count on the support of the United Nations system.''
His call mirrors that by the World Economic Forum (WEF) back in July foreshadowing its desire to rebuild the world in a fashion of its own design once the coronavirus pandemic is over.
COVID-19: The Great Reset https://t.co/2nJsmjFwTm
'-- World Economic Forum (@wef) July 14, 2020
As Breitbart News reported, WEF founder executive chairman Klaus Schwab said the coronavirus crisis presents an opportunity for a ''new kind of capitalism'' and ''great reset'' of global economies, politics, and societies.
An impatient Schwab claimed neo-liberalism is dead and with it traditional notions of economic capitalism.
In their place is a set of ''Stakeholder Capitalism Metrics'' the WEF says enables the world to progress under one set of overarching rules as drawn up by it, with ''social justice'' a key component of this brave new world.
This restructure of the way we do business is the new model for the ''great reset'' Schwab argued, adding he foresees the coronavirus crisis as too good an opportunity not to ''re-evaluate sacred cows of the pre-pandemic system.''
Put simply, Schwab believes the time to ''re-consider capitalism'' has arrived. He adds:
The Great Reset should seek to lend a voice to those who have been left behind, so that everyone who is willing to ''co-shape'' the future can do so. The reset that we need is not a revolution or a shift to some new ideology'... Some of the pillars of the global system will need to be replaced, and others repaired or strengthened. To achieve shared progress, prosperity, and health requires nothing more '' or less.
Ulitmately Schwab says the trade, taxation, and competition rules that reflect decades of neoliberal influence are over.
More will be outlined next year at the 2021 WEF global summit in Switzerland.
Follow Simon Kent on Twitter: Follow @SunSimonKent or e-mail to: skent@breitbart.com
VIDEO-Cyber Analyst on Dominion Voting: Shocking Vulnerabilities - YouTube
Thu, 19 Nov 2020 13:26
VIDEO-An unusual path to a Trump election win; French politician calls out Biden's ties to China | NTD - YouTube
Thu, 19 Nov 2020 13:23
VIDEO-OOTAS special, PCR! - YouTube
Thu, 19 Nov 2020 13:16
VIDEO-More Masking, Rules for Travel:: Pennsylvania Reveals 'Targeted Efforts' as Coronavirus Cases Hit New Record '' NBC10 Philadelphia
Thu, 19 Nov 2020 12:52
What to KnowPennsylvania is strengthening its mask mandate and will require out-of-state travelers to test negative for the coronavirus before arrival. The state health secretary, Dr. Rachel Levine, said the new measures are in response to a sharp increase in infections and hospitalizations.She said Tuesday that masks are now required indoors wherever people from different households are gathered '-- even if they are physically distant.Pennsylvania is taking additional steps on tightened face masking and travel requirements to address a sharp fall increase in coronavirus infections and hospitalizations, the state's top health official said Tuesday.
The state health secretary, Dr. Rachel Levine, teased ''targeted efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania" ahead of Tuesday afternoon's announcement.
Levine didn't announce any widespread closure orders Tuesday, but she did release new orders. Pennsylvania is strengthening its mask mandate and will require out-of-state travelers to test negative for the coronavirus before arrival.
"These strategic actions" are important to protecting communities and keeping businesses open, Levine said.
Pennsylvania already has a statewide mask mandate, limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings and occupancy restrictions at bars and restaurants. On Tuesday, Levine expanded on the masking effort to cover almost every indoor public situation.
The state's "critical" mask order is being extended to cover all indoor situations --even when people are 6 feet apart -- when people not related to each other are near each other.
The state said the order applies to every indoor facility, including private homes, but Levine acknowledged that officials are relying on voluntary compliance rather than on enforcement.
''In the end, people will have the consequences of their actions as well as their families and their communities, and if they do not wear masks, if they do not social distance, then those communities are going to see even more spread of COVID-19," she said.
A separate order mandates that people who are traveling to Pennsylvania from another state, as well as Pennsylvania residents who are returning from out of state, must test negative for the virus within 72 hours prior to arrival. The order, which goes into effect Friday, does not apply to people traveling back and forth for work or medical treatment. People who refuse to be tested will be required to quarantine for 14 days, Levine said.
Again, the state has no plans to enforce that measure, but is asking for voluntary compliance.
"What we ask everyone is to stand united to stop the spread in Pennsylvania," Levine said.
Levine said that people shouldn't travel unless necessary and urged people to avoid Thanksgiving-related travel. She suggested meeting with loved ones virtually instead.
The departments of Health and Education also advised colleges and universities on Tuesday to have a testing plan for students returning to campus after the holidays.
Like the rest of the nation, Pennsylvania has seen coronavirus infections explode in recent weeks. Levine noted that the White House alerted states that current mitigation efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 are inadequate.
The state has been reporting more than 5,000 new infections per day, up more than 115% in just two weeks, and hospitalizations and the percentage of tests coming back positive are up sharply. Deaths are on the rise, as well.
On Tuesday, 5,900 new COVID-19 cases were reported in Pennsylvania, a new daily record in cases. There were at least 2,575 people hospitalized with 558 of those people in intensive care units. There were 30 new deaths reported to bring the statewide total of confirmed deaths to at least 9,355 deaths.
Modeling shows the Pennsylvania's hospitals will run out of intensive care beds by December if actions aren't taken. Levine said the state is working with hospitals to discuss procedures that could be put on hold to allow for more bed capacity.
More testing is being done in Pennsylvania as cases hit new highs, but more people are also testing positive. Statewide the positivity rate for the week of Nov. 6 '' Nov. 12 was 9.6%.
Governors and mayors around the country have been tightening restrictions in response to the worsening pandemic. On Monday, Philadelphia said it would ban indoor gatherings and indoor dining and shutter casinos, gyms, museums and libraries.
Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf imposed a state-at-home order and shuttered businesses deemed ''non-life-sustaining'' early in the pandemic, but Wolf and Levine have consistently said they have no intention of implementing another broad-based shutdown.
Levine of Tuesday said there is no plan at this point to go back to the red, yellow, green system used during the first wave of the pandemic.
VIDEO-Cuomo snaps at reporters during tense COVID briefing where he learns NYC schools were closing - YouTube
Thu, 19 Nov 2020 12:42
VIDEO-THIS is a Meeting Privately Recorded in EDMONTON Alberta Canada last week! - YouTube
Thu, 19 Nov 2020 12:38
VIDEO-Q&A with Dr. James McDonald - YouTube
Thu, 19 Nov 2020 12:36
VIDEO-Retired Air Force General blows whistle on CIA vote hacking - YouTube
Thu, 19 Nov 2020 12:35
VIDEO-Listen to Dr Roger Hodkinson lay out some much needed rational sanity
Thu, 19 Nov 2020 12:04
BitChute is a peer-to-peer content sharing platform. Creators are allowed to post content they produce to the platform, so long as they comply with our
policies. The content posted to the platform is not reflective or representative of the views of Bit Chute Limited, its staff or owners. (C) 2017-2020 Bit Chute Limited, Oxford House, 12-20 Oxford Street, Newbury, Berkshire, RG14 1JB. United Kingdom. Company number 10637289.
VIDEO-Our vision | BioNTech
Thu, 19 Nov 2020 05:11
We are a next generation immunotherapy powerhouse pioneering individualized immunotherapiesBioNTech was founded in 2008 on the understanding that every cancer patient's tumor is unique and therefore each patient's treatment should be individualized. To translate this idea into reality, we have combined ground-breaking research with cutting-edge technologies to develop pioneering therapeutics for cancer and beyond. As we prove the value of our approach in the clinic, we will continue to build the partnerships, manufacturing and team required to bring individualized treatments to patients worldwide. From our roots in Mainz, Germany, we are driven to become the leading global biotechnology company for individualized cancer medicine.
VIDEO-McEnany will 'happily' challenge Harvard over petition to bar Trump officials - YouTube
Thu, 19 Nov 2020 03:35
VIDEO-Alex Jones leads 'Stop the Steal' rally at Georgia's Capitol - YouTube
Thu, 19 Nov 2020 03:30
VIDEO-National Intelligence Analyst Tells Us More Truth About The CoronaVirus Fraud - TGR Intelligence Report
Thu, 19 Nov 2020 03:15
David E. Martin, PhD, founder of IQ100 (NYSE) tells the world the truth about the Coronavirus research, the fraud, the patents, and the criminals'...
''In 1999, there were a million patents digitized by IBM, and those million patents were the first time human innovations had been put into an electronic digital searchable format. We took that information and we did a very simple exercise using our linguistics genomics technology. We made the horrific assessments that approximately 1/3 of all patents, filed in the United States were function of forgeries, meaning, while that they had logistic variations, they actually covered the same subject matter. In 1999 patents on Coronavirus began started showing up and thus began the rabbit trail'...''
''We know that Anthony Fauci, Ralph Baric, the Center for Disease Control, and the laundry list of people who wanted to take credit for inventing Coronavirus, were at the HUB of this story. From 2003-2018, they controlled 100 percent of the cash flow that built the empire around the industrial complex of Coronavirus.''
Post Views: 5,068
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VIDEO-Biden state media appointee advocated using propaganda against Americans and 'rethinking' First Amendment | The Grayzone
Thu, 19 Nov 2020 01:42
The head of the Joe Biden transition team for the US Agency for Global Media, Richard Stengel, has branded himself the ''chief propagandist,'' urged the government to use propaganda against its ''own population,'' and called to ''rethink'' the First Amendment.Richard Stengel, the top state media appointee for US President-elect Joe Biden's transition team, has enthusiastically defended the use of propaganda against Americans.
''My old job at the State Department was what people used to joke as the chief propagandist,'' Stengel said in 2018. ''I'm not against propaganda. Every country does it, and they have to do it to their own population. And I don't necessarily think it's that awful.''
One is Richard Stengel, self described former ''Chief Propagandist'' and supporter of domestic US propaganda pic.twitter.com/pNv1opsKBK https://t.co/LyZCxZaADi
'-- Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) November 11, 2020
Richard ''Rick'' Stengel was the longest serving under-secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs in US history.
At the State Department under President Barack Obama, Stengel boasted that he ''started the only entity in government, non-classified entity, that combated Russian disinformation.'' That institution was known as the Global Engagement Center, and it amounted to a massive vehicle for advancing US government propaganda around the world.
A committed crusader in what he openly describes as a global ''information war,'' Stengel has proudly proclaimed his dedication to the carefully management of the public's access to information.
Stengel outlined his worldview in a book he published this June, entitled ''Information Wars: How We Lost the Global Battle Against Disinformation and What We Can Do About It.''
Stengel has proposed ''rethinking'' the First Amendment that guarantees the freedom of speech and press. In 2018, he stated, ''Having once been almost a First Amendment absolutist, I have really moved my position on it, because I just think for practical reasons in society, we have to kind of rethink some of those things.''
The head of the Joe Biden transition team for state media @USAGMgov, Richard @Stengel, called himself the ''chief propagandist'' and advocated using propaganda against your ''own population.''
In this 2018 video he also calls to "rethink" the First Amendment.https://t.co/Yhbyd2UsME pic.twitter.com/7PNllutRYM
'-- Ben Norton (@BenjaminNorton) November 12, 2020
The Biden transition team's selection of a censorial infowarrior for its top state media position comes as a concerted suppression campaign takes hold on social media. The wave of online censorship has been overseen by US intelligence agencies, the State Department, and Silicon Valley corporations that maintain multibillion-dollar contracts with the US government.
As the state-backed censorship dragnet expands, independent media outlets increasingly find themselves in the crosshairs. In the past year, social media platforms have purged hundreds of accounts of foreign news publications, journalists, activists, and government officials from countries targeted by the United States for regime change.
Stengel's appointment appears to be the clearest signal of a coming escalation by the Biden administration of the censorship and suppression of online media that is seen to threaten US imperatives abroad.
From Obama admin's ''chief propagandist'' to Russiagate-peddling MSNBC punditBefore being appointed as the US State Department's ''chief propagandist'' in 2013, Richard Stengel was a managing editor of TIME Magazine.
In the Obama administration, Stengel not only created the Global Engagement Center propaganda vehicle; he also boasted that he ''led the creation of English for All, a government-wide effort to promote the teaching of English around the world.''
After leaving the State Department in 2016, Stengel became a strategic advisor to Snap Inc., the company that runs the social media apps Snapchat and Bitmoji.
Stengel also found time for a fellowship at the Atlantic Council, a think tank closely linked to NATO and the Biden camp which has received funding from the US government, Britain, the European Union, and NATO itself, along with a host of Western weapons manufacturers, fossil fuel corporations, Gulf monarchies, and Big Tech juggernauts.
Stengel worked closely with the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab, a dubious organization that has fueled efforts to censor independent media outlets in the name of fighting ''disinformation.''
But Stengel is perhaps most well known as a regular political analyst on MSNBC in the Donald Trump era. On the network, he fueled Russiagate conspiracy theories, portraying the Republican president as a useful idiot of Russia and claiming Trump had a ''one-sided bromance'' with Vladimir Putin.
Stengel left MSNBC this November to join Biden's presidential transition. The campaign announced that he was tapped to lead the Biden-Harris agency review team for the United States Agency for Global Media (USAGM).
Agency review teams are an integral part of the transition process, responsible for evaluating the operations of federal agencies.
Our teams are composed of diverse experts with deep policy expertise, ready to ensure we're prepared to lead on Day One.https://t.co/2gY1E0Ey5k
'-- Biden-Harris Presidential Transition (@Transition46) November 10, 2020
USAGM is a state media propaganda organization that has its origins in a Cold War vehicle created by the CIA to spread disinformation against the Soviet Union and communist China. (The agency was previously called the Broadcasting Board of Governors, or BBG, until it rebranded in 2018.)
USAGM states on its website that its most important mission is to ''Be consistent with the broad foreign policy objectives of the United States.''
An agency shakeup this year produced revelations that USAGM provided clandestine assistance to separatist activists during the protests that consumed Hong Kong in 2019. The program earmarked secure communications assistance for protesters and $2 million in ''rapid response'' payouts for anti-China activists.
One project of US Agency for Global Media proposed a cybersecurity incident response team'' to provide Hong Kong protesters with ''secure communications apps. Another was ''a rapid response fund'' which ''made several payouts to groups in Hong Kong.'' https://t.co/mpMd12b3U5
'-- Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) July 23, 2020
Richard Stengel's ''obsessive'' crusade against Russian ''disinformation''When Richard Stengel referred to himself as the State Department's ''chief propagandist,'' advocated the use of propaganda against the American people, and proposed to ''rethink'' the First Amendment, he was participating in a May 3, 2018 panel discussion at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).
During the CFR event, titled ''Political Disruptions: Combating Disinformation and Fake News,'' Stengel hyped up the threat of supposed ''Russian disinformation,'' a vague term that is increasingly used as an empty signifier for any narrative that offends the sensibilities of Washington's foreign policy establishment.
Stengel stated that he was ''obsessed with'' fighting ''disinformation,'' and made it clear he has a particular obsession with Moscow, accusing ''the Russians'' of engaging in ''full spectrum'' disinformation.
Joining him on stage was political scientist Kelly M. Greenhill, who mourned that alternative media platforms publish ''things that seem like they could be true'... that's the sphere where it's particularly difficult to debunk them'... it's this gray region, this gray zone, where it's not traditional disinformation, but a combination of misinformation and play on rumors, conspiracy theories, sort of gray propaganda, that's where I think the nub or the crux of the problem lies.''
Stengel approved, adding, ''By the way those terms, the gray zone, are all from Russian active measures, that they've been doing for a million years.''
The panelists made no effort to hide their disdain for independent and foreign media outlets. Stengel stated clearly that a ''news cartel'' of mainstream corporate media outlets had long dominated US society, but he bemoaned that those ''cartels don't have hegemony like they used to.''
Stengel made it clear that his mission is to counter the alternative perspectives given a voice by foreign media platforms that challenge the US-dominated media landscape.
''The bad actors use journalistic objectivity against us. And the Russians in particular are smart about this,'' Stengel grumbled.
He singled out Russia's state-funded media network, RT, lamenting that ''Vladimir Putin, when they launched Russia Today, said it was an antidote to the American English hegemony over the world media system. That's how people saw it.''
Ben Decker, a research fellow at the Misinformation Project at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, lamented that ''RT is invading every weekly finance media space.''
But Decker was cheered by the proliferation of US oligarchs committed to retaking control of the narrative. ''In America and across the world,'' he stated, ''the donor community is very eager to address this problem, and very eager to work with communities of researchers, academics, journalists, etc. to target this problem.''
''I think that there is an appetite to solve this from the top down,'' he continued, urging the many academics in the audience ''to apply for grant money'' in order to fight this Russian ''disinformation.''
The CFR panel culminated with an African audience member rising from the crowd and confronting Stengel: ''Because what is happening in America is what the United States flipped on the Global South and in the Third World, which we lived with, for many, many years, in terms of a master narrative that was and still is propaganda,'' the man declared.
Rather than respond, Stengel rudely ignored the question and made his way hurriedly for the exit: ''You know what, I hate last questions. Don't you? I never, I usually just want to end something before the last question.''
The video of the revealing confrontation caused such a furor that CFR's YouTube account disabled comments and made the video unlisted. It cannot be found in a search on Google or YouTube; it can only be found with the direct link.
The video of the full discussion is embedded below:
VIDEO-492: Pet Food Stamps - No Agenda
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VIDEO-Asian Dog Karma.mp3
Thu, 19 Nov 2020 00:34
VIDEO-UN Watch on Twitter: "🇷🇺 Russia reviews 🇺🇸U.S. human rights record at U.N.: "The U.S. should stop overpopulating its prisons, guarantee freedom of the media and ensure the voting rights of citizens. We also strongly recommend putting an
Thu, 19 Nov 2020 00:32
UN Watch : 🇷🇺 Russia reviews 🇺🇸U.S. human rights record at U.N.: "The U.S. should stop overpopulating its prisons, guarantee f'... https://t.co/zaCFG5RIiJ
Wed Nov 18 12:05:15 +0000 2020
VIDEO-NY Gov. Cuomo shouts at reporters, denies NYC schools will close minutes before closures announced | Fox News
Wed, 18 Nov 2020 22:38
Published November 18, 2020
The Empire State's top Democrat loses his patience after being pressed about school closures in the nation's biggest cityNew York Gov. Andrew Cuomo got into a shouting match with reporters Wednesday while denying that New York City public schools would be shut down due to a spike in coronavirus cases -- only for Mayor Bill De Blasio to announce the closures minutes later.
The exchange began when Wall Street Journal reporter Jimmy Vielkind pressed Cuomo about whether he would overrule any decision by city officials to close schools.
"What are you talking about? 'You're now going to override,' we did it already! That's the law!" Cuomo shouted. "An orange zone and a red zone, follow the facts!"
"I'm still confused," Viekind responded.
"Then you're confused!" Cuomo shouted back.
"I'm confused and parents are still confused as well," Viekind asserted.
"No, they're not confused. You're confused," Cuomo told the reporter. "Read the law and you won't be confused."
Another reporter asked point-blank if schools will be open "tomorrow," to which Cuomo responded, "The schools are open by state law," but the reporter called out the dodge and backed up Viekind's line of questioning.
CNN FINALLY CRACKS DOWN ON GOV. CUOMO'S NURSING HOME CONTROVERSY AFTER GIVING ANCHOR'S BROTHER SOFTBALL TREATMENT
"Well, I don't really care what you think. Of course, you agree with him because you're in the same business with him,'' Cuomo said.
Moments later, New York Times reporter Jesse McKinley broke the news to Cuomo that de Blasio's office had announced the school closures beginning Thursday, something the governor eventually acknowledged.
''That 3% [benchmark], the mayor set, in my opinion, in a collaborative with the parents,'' Cuomo said. ''That was the agreement and the agreement should be honored.''
CLICK HERE FOR THE FOX NEWS APP
Mayor de Blasio issued a statement on Wednesday afternoon confirming the closures.
"New York City has reached the 3% testing positivity 7-day average threshold. Unfortunately, this means public school buildings will be closed as of tomorrow, Thursday Nov. 19, out an abundance of caution. We must fight back the second wave of COVID-19," the mayor tweeted.
VIDEO-BREAKING: Josh Hawley Uncovers SECRET Facebook Content Monitoring... - YouTube
Wed, 18 Nov 2020 19:34
VIDEO-Video: Dan Farley: Arizona Was Stripped of Election Protections
Wed, 18 Nov 2020 17:31
Ahead of the 2020 presidential elections, Arizona lost one of its key protections on voter integrity through federal regulations on voter forms. In this episode of Crossroads we sit down with Dan Farley, Tea Party Phoenix Metro President, about how this happened, and its potential impact. We also discuss how centralization is overriding freedom, how government subsidies lead to corporate control, how big business preys on the uninformed, and how failure is institutionalized by government expansion.
These stories and more in this episode of Crossroads.
Crossroads is an Epoch Times show available on Facebook and YouTube.
Join Patreon to Support Crossroads: https://www.patreon.com/Crossroads_Josh
VIDEO-Jack Posobiec 🇺🇸 on Twitter: "Democrat @NedStaebler threatening county officials when he didn't get his way https://t.co/VilOJ9JXa7" / Twitter
Wed, 18 Nov 2020 15:36
Jack Posobiec 🇺🇸 : Democrat @NedStaebler threatening county officials when he didn't get his way https://t.co/VilOJ9JXa7
Wed Nov 18 03:53:07 +0000 2020
VIDEO-Hot Takes with Matt Gaetz on Twitter: "FLASHBACK: Smartmatic CEO Antonio Mugica in 2017 estimated 1 MILLION votes in the Venezuelan election were fraudulent. "...this would not have occurred if the auditors of all political parties had been present
Wed, 18 Nov 2020 15:35
Hot Takes with Matt Gaetz : FLASHBACK: Smartmatic CEO Antonio Mugica in 2017 estimated 1 MILLION votes in the Venezuelan election were fraudule'... https://t.co/S07WOmfyCs
Tue Nov 17 20:19:52 +0000 2020
VIDEO-"Next Crisis Bigger than COVID" - Power Grid/Finance Down - WEF Cyber Polygon - YouTube
Wed, 18 Nov 2020 14:27
VIDEO-Breaking Now: Alan Dershowitz says Trump will win if it goes to SCOTUS or House - YouTube
Wed, 18 Nov 2020 14:25
VIDEO-Nostragratus on Twitter: "PCR-test exposed. https://t.co/xl503xpBCK" / Twitter
Wed, 18 Nov 2020 14:22
Nostragratus : PCR-test exposed. https://t.co/xl503xpBCK
Mon Nov 16 17:38:58 +0000 2020
President Elect IvAncA TruMp da Ditadura🇵🇹 : @Noster20240123 https://t.co/I1xAqco2yk
Wed Nov 18 13:31:01 +0000 2020
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Wed Nov 18 13:30:38 +0000 2020
fringianity podcast : @Noster20240123 @dukeperspective https://t.co/Gg698Uy53g
Wed Nov 18 12:49:51 +0000 2020
VIDEO-UN Announces Biometric Digital ID Wallet - YouTube
Wed, 18 Nov 2020 14:19
VIDEO-China warns of 'inevitable countermeasures' over Australia-Japan defence deal - YouTube
Wed, 18 Nov 2020 14:18
VIDEO-Sen. Hawley Reveals Secret Info From FB Whistleblower That Leaves Zuckerberg SPEECHLESS - YouTube
Wed, 18 Nov 2020 14:16
VIDEO-MeidasTouch.com on Twitter: "ðŸ'º NEW VIDEO Tell Emily Murphy to #SignThePapers https://t.co/DDsrNUlwpr" / Twitter
Wed, 18 Nov 2020 06:01
MeidasTouch.com : ðŸ'º NEW VIDEOTell Emily Murphy to #SignThePapers https://t.co/DDsrNUlwpr
Tue Nov 17 03:39:10 +0000 2020
VIDEO-Breaking Now: Alan Dershowitz says Trump will win if it goes to SCOTUS or House - YouTube
Wed, 18 Nov 2020 05:56
VIDEO-Major developments in key states | Sidney Powell - YouTube
Wed, 18 Nov 2020 05:55
VIDEO-President-Elect Henry Clay on Twitter: "Spread this far and wide. It must be known! We must #SaveOurPresident @realDonaldTrump https://t.co/CKt8y1zKND" / Twitter
Wed, 18 Nov 2020 05:52
President-Elect Henry Clay : Spread this far and wide. It must be known! We must #SaveOurPresident @realDonaldTrumphttps://t.co/CKt8y1zKND
Wed Nov 18 03:34:56 +0000 2020
VIDEO-NRx Authors - TRUMP WON - #StopTheSteal on Twitter: "@RexChapman @NedStaebler @HartmannDude @monicaspalmer clip of the day @adamcurry" / Twitter
Wed, 18 Nov 2020 05:51
NRx Authors - TRUMP WON - #StopTheSteal : @RexChapman @NedStaebler @HartmannDude @monicaspalmer clip of the day @adamcurry
Wed Nov 18 04:02:49 +0000 2020
VIDEO-Sidney Powell With Mark Steyn - YouTube
Wed, 18 Nov 2020 05:50
VIDEO-Some Walmart stores see shortages of toilet paper, cleaning supplies, executives say | Fox Business
Wed, 18 Nov 2020 04:48
Published November 17, 2020
Walmart's hand sanitizer and mask inventory is still 'very good'Strategic Wealth Partners President and CEO Mark Tepper on how coronavirus restrictions impact the economy and what to look for in the markets.
As coronavirus cases surge across the country, some Walmart locations are experiencing shortages of certain products.
During an earnings call with analysts on Tuesday, Walmart U.S. CEO John Furner said some stores have had trouble keeping toilet paper and cleaning supplies in stock.
''It really depends on what's going on in the state and the city that we're in,'' Furner said, according to a transcript of the call. ''The specific categories where we had the most strain at the present time would be bath tissue and cleaning supplies, and our inventory position on hand sanitizer and masks is very good.''
WALMART OFFERS FREE THANKSGIVING DINNER TO SHOPPERS
He added that some stores have struggled to maintain inventory for other items as well.
''We still see some stress in things like deli, bacon, and breakfast foods, but in general there is product available, just assortments of it smaller than it was,'' Furner said.
WALMART CEO EAGER TO WORK WITH BIDEN, CONGRESS
Walmart Inc. CEO Doug McMillon told analysts that the locations with the shortages correspond to areas with higher coronavirus cases.
''I think the way to think of this is locally it really does have everything to do with what's happening with COVID cases in any particular community,'' McMillon said. ''I was in stores last week and I saw variance from one state to the other, one location to the other, just depends on how people are feeling in that moment.''
Major retailer spreading deals throughout the holiday season, and adding more online bargains.
WALMART EARNINGS SURGE AS CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC BOOSTS GROCERY, ELECTRONICS SALES
McMillon said it was ''disappointing'' that some items have been out of stock, but added that Walmart is better equipped than it was in the spring.
''It feels to me that we'll work through this period of time better than we did in the first wave,'' he said.
Walmart reported its third-quarter earnings on Tuesday.
GET FOX BUSINESS ON THE GO BY CLICKING HERE
Many companies struggled with inventory shortages in the spring, as the first wave of the coronavirus led to mandated lockdowns and restrictions. About 64% of shoppers made a stockpile of products in March, according to research from Inmar Intelligence.
The company found that leading up to the election and in the face of the second wave of the coronavirus, another 57% of shoppers were considering stockpiling goods again.
CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ON FOX BUSINESS
VIDEO-Dominion Voting shares office with far-left George Soros linked group - YouTube
Wed, 18 Nov 2020 03:13
VIDEO - Pfizer coronavirus vaccine participant shares clinical trial experience | Fox Business Video
Tue, 17 Nov 2020 23:00
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VIDEO-Protesters Take to Streets in Paris to Oppose 'Global Security' Bill - YouTube
Tue, 17 Nov 2020 17:54
VIDEO-2.7 Million Votes Potentially Lost; Dominion Voting Strong Ties to CCP and Dems| Beyond The Noise - YouTube
Tue, 17 Nov 2020 16:51
VIDEO-WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus: 'vaccine on its own will not end the pandemic' | AFP - YouTube
Tue, 17 Nov 2020 16:47
VIDEO-Trump legal team zeroes in on expulsion of election observers, data irregularities | Just The News
Tue, 17 Nov 2020 16:35
President Trump's campaign legal team has beefed up with several senior lawyers as it prepares to challenge hundreds of thousands of votes cast in Democratic stronghold cities like Detroit and Philadelphia without required GOP observers, arguing the expulsions created disparate treatment or unequal protection of voters in violation of the Constitution.
The team led by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and longtime Trump private lawyer Jay Sekulow has been expanded to include former Justice Department officials Victoria Toensing and Sidney Powell, former U.S. Attorney Joseph diGenova and trusted campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis.
Paul Clement, a George W. Bush administration solicitor general with a strong record of arguing in front of the Supreme Court, would likely argue any cases that reached the nine justices, officials told Just the News.
The lawyers are prepared to argue that votes that were counted on election night and the day after without GOP observers present in Democrat-led cities should be thrown out because they were tainted by a process that was left open to fraud and abuse and illegally treated voters differently in various jurisdictions. The Trump campaign lawyers have identified 680,000-plus votes in Pennsylvania and about 250,000 in Michigan they believe fall into the category.
To augment the case, the lawyers are securing affidavits and declarations from citizens who allege:
they went to the polls to vote and were told they had already voted when they had not cast ballotsthey are listed as voting in a state where they did not cast ballotsthey witnessed fraudulent or improper vote counting activities as observers or election officialsextreme statistical anomalies uncovered in a handful of battleground states' vote totals are prima facie proof of fraudulent or untoward vote collection and counting activitiesThe request to discount large numbers of votes is a high legal and political hurdle to surmount, but it is not without precedent. In the last year, North Carolina threw out an entire special congressional election in its 9th District after evidence emerged that mail-in ballots were tainted by a ballot harvesting scheme tied to a GOP operative. And in New Jersey, a state judge earlier this year ordered new municipal election in Patterson, N.J., after evidence of ballot fraud emerged.
Both cases involve mail-in ballots, which are at the heart of the Trump campaign's arguments that rule changes by state officials '-- not approved by their legislatures as required by the Constitution '-- coupled with the exclusion of bipartisan vote count observers created election irregularities in parts of Michigan, Pennsylvania and other states that violate the equal protection clause of the Constitution.
"The President's election integrity efforts have always focused on guaranteeing that every legal vote is counted fairly, accurately, and according to the law. This is what our system requires and demands. The campaign has passionately advocated for his re-election and over 73 million Americans agreed the President deserves a second term. The litigation, however, is not a political endeavor; it is a legal one," Ellis told Just the News.
"President Trump is fighting to ensure that the people can have confidence in the legitimacy of the results for this election and every election in the future. Led by Mayor Giuliani, our legal team is aggressively pursuing the best legal remedies to stop the coordinated, systematic, pervasive irregularities, fraud, and outright disregard for the law that hijacked the 2020 election. Our U.S. Constitution contemplates that our election system may be attacked through corruption and our founders provided the remedies to safeguard our free and fair elections through our Electoral College system. The President will fight to preserve and protect our constitutional republic and our great nation."
Alan Dershowitz, the famed Harvard law professor and successful appellate lawyer, told Just the News that the Trump campaign's strategy appears aimed at throwing the results of three battleground states' elections where Biden leads into doubt and forcing the House of Representatives to choose a winner because neither candidate can lawfully claim he has the 270 electoral votes necessary to win.
"Their goal is not to get Trump to 270 or more electoral votes, it's to keep Biden from getting 270 electoral votes and throw the election to the House," he said in an interview Monday evening.
Dershowitz said the Trump team must go beyond sufficient legal arguments and also provide the courts evidence that the number of votes cast into question is enough to have swung each challenged state's election.
He also sharply criticized news media and Democrats for attacking Trump's lawyers for waging the court cases. Some activists have even doxed certain lawyers, outing their contacts and addresses. "It's abhorrent that his lawyers are being attacked," he said. "The lawyers are doing exactly what lawyers are supposed to do."
Editor's Note: The author, John Solomon, hired Joseph diGenova and Victoria Toensing as personal lawyers to represent him on matters in 2018 and 2019.
VIDEO-Coronavirus: Dr Mike Yeadon claims 50% of UK was already immune by June - YouTube
Tue, 17 Nov 2020 16:17
VIDEO-Dr. Fauci's Lecture from MIT's Free Course on COVID-19: It's Now Online | Open Culture
Tue, 17 Nov 2020 15:54
Back in September, we gave you a heads up on MIT's free course on COVID-19. As we mentioned, ''COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2 and the Pandemic'' runs from September 1, 2020 through December 8, 2020. And it features a combination of MIT faculty and guest speakers, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, covering the science of the pandemic. Since our original post, Dr. Fauci's presentation, ''Insights from the COVID-19 pandemic,'' has gone online. You can watch it above. Then find all of the other lectures here.
MIT's course has been added to the Biology section of our meta collection, 1,500 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.
Would you like to support the mission of Open Culture? Please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us continue providing the best free cultural and educational materials to learners everywhere.
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VIDEO-Sidney Powell Reads Statements From Smartmatic Whistleblower
Tue, 17 Nov 2020 15:21
BonginoReport Published November 16, 2020 209,726 Views 1816 rumbles
Rumble '-- Sidney Powell breaks down Dominion Software illegalities and Lou Dobbs reveals the FBI has a team investigating the 2020 election
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VIDEO-Woods (MI COVID Alert) - YouTube
Tue, 17 Nov 2020 14:44
VIDEO-Courteliza(@courteliza) on TikTok: #fyp #vaccine #vaccination #newworldorder #agenda2020 #conspiracy
Tue, 17 Nov 2020 14:23
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VIDEO-Nicholas Fondacaro on Twitter: "Pointing to the camera, Cuomo then threatens Dr. Scott Atlas for telling people to resist abusive restrictions. "Maybe we will go back to old school," Cuomo warns. "Maybe the questions will come find you. Maybe when y
Tue, 17 Nov 2020 06:47
Nicholas Fondacaro : Pointing to the camera, Cuomo then threatens Dr. Scott Atlas for telling people to resist abusive restrictions."Ma'... https://t.co/t79vtPJrq2
Tue Nov 17 02:55:04 +0000 2020
gingerpal 👾RELEASE THE KRAKENðŸ...Ž : @NickFondacaro Says the man who lied about his own infection, didn't wear a mask then tried to beat up an older man'... https://t.co/6OE3AWe8aF
Tue Nov 17 06:34:25 +0000 2020
#ResisttheLeft : @NickFondacaro @ChrisCuomo https://t.co/ITgd5dvDBU
Tue Nov 17 05:05:03 +0000 2020
VIDEO-President Biden & Election Fraud? | Know More News LIVE feat. Jim Condit Jr.
Mon, 16 Nov 2020 21:01
BitChute is a peer-to-peer content sharing platform. Creators are allowed to post content they produce to the platform, so long as they comply with our
policies. The content posted to the platform is not reflective or representative of the views of Bit Chute Limited, its staff or owners. (C) 2017-2020 Bit Chute Limited, Oxford House, 12-20 Oxford Street, Newbury, Berkshire, RG14 1JB. United Kingdom. Company number 10637289.
VIDEO-Obituary pages show human toll of COVID-19 in northern Italy - YouTube
Mon, 16 Nov 2020 17:59
VIDEO-MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski Just Came Up with a Trump Smear Campaign You NEED to See to Believe - YouTube
Mon, 16 Nov 2020 17:46
VIDEO-WhipLash on Twitter: "BOOM all watch" / Twitter
Mon, 16 Nov 2020 17:26
WhipLash : BOOM all watch https://t.co/qnWvZeKdJQ
Mon Nov 16 15:35:00 +0000 2020
VIDEO-flyingpadre on Twitter: "New World Order Freudian slip from Australia. https://t.co/oRKmdsjUX7" / Twitter
Mon, 16 Nov 2020 15:59
flyingpadre : New World Order Freudian slip from Australia. https://t.co/oRKmdsjUX7
Mon Nov 16 14:06:24 +0000 2020
VIDEO-flyingpadre on Twitter: "Mayor Lightfoot of Chicago lays out her plans for installing the New World Order in her city. https://t.co/MaKGHnY8YY" / Twitter
Mon, 16 Nov 2020 15:59
flyingpadre : Mayor Lightfoot of Chicago lays out her plans for installing the New World Order in her city. https://t.co/MaKGHnY8YY
Mon Nov 16 14:09:32 +0000 2020
Christine : @flyingpadre1 @BarackObama SHES GIVING AWAY YOUR SECRETS
Mon Nov 16 15:18:09 +0000 2020
J : @flyingpadre1 Who said Beetlejuice 3 times?!?!?
Mon Nov 16 14:42:09 +0000 2020
CJ LeDuck : @flyingpadre1 WOW ðŸ"
Mon Nov 16 14:41:58 +0000 2020
OneSavioR : @flyingpadre1 The Truth is Learned Never Toldhttps://t.co/Wxq1GcKJkh
Mon Nov 16 14:16:26 +0000 2020
VIDEO-flyingpadre on Twitter: "Georg Soros wanted Barry Soetoro to include China in the New World Order. The truth is right in front of you. https://t.co/BmyyjqOBnG" / Twitter
Mon, 16 Nov 2020 15:58
flyingpadre : Georg Soros wanted Barry Soetoro to include China in the New World Order. The truth is right in front of you. https://t.co/BmyyjqOBnG
Mon Nov 16 14:39:48 +0000 2020
TrueNorthPolitics : @flyingpadre1 You guys are trying to cling to a common expression that people use when talking about geopolitical p'... https://t.co/RMGhDlw0HN
Mon Nov 16 14:44:40 +0000 2020
VIDEO-REVOLUTIONARY: Alex Jones' Most Epic Speech Ever At Million MAGA March
Mon, 16 Nov 2020 15:05
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VIDEO-3 Dangers of Biden/Harris Administration - YouTube
Mon, 16 Nov 2020 14:58
VIDEO-U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson self-isolating after coronavirus exposure
Mon, 16 Nov 2020 05:09
Coronavirus He battled a coronavirus infection earlier this year in an intensive care unit.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at No. 10 Downing Street in London on Oct. 31. Alberto Pezzali / Pool via Getty ImagesNov. 15, 2020, 6:11 PM EST / Updated Nov. 15, 2020, 6:18 PM EST
By Tim Stelloh
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who battled a coronavirus infection in intensive care earlier this year, is in self-isolation after having been exposed to the virus again, officials said Sunday.
In a statement, No. 10 Downing Street said Johnson wasn't experiencing symptoms but would follow guidance from Britain's National Health Service, which recommends self-isolation after prolonged exposure to someone who has the virus.
"He will carry on working from Downing Street, including on leading the government's response to the coronavirus pandemic," the statement said.
Johnson met with Lee Anderson, a member of Parliament, on Thursday. Anderson developed symptoms after the meeting and later tested positive for the coronavirus.
After he contracted the virus in March, Johnson, 56, said he survived with "liters and liters of oxygen." Doctors were preparing to announce his death, he said.
There have been few documented cases of people becoming reinfected with the virus, but experts have said it's unclear how widespread the phenomenon is.
Two weeks ago, Johnson announced new lockdown measures after a sharp rise in case numbers in the U.K. during October, according to data from the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center. As of Saturday, the country had recorded 1.3 million cases and more than 51,000 deaths since the pandemic began.
Sunday's announcement came after a tumultuous week at No. 10 Downing Street, which saw the resignations of Johnson's top political strategist and chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, and communications adviser Lee Cain.
Tim Stelloh Tim Stelloh is a reporter for NBC News based in California.
VIDEO-Klaus Schwab: Cyberattack Worse than COVID-19 Crisis - Power Grid Down, Banking Offline - YouTube
Mon, 16 Nov 2020 04:59
VIDEO-Sidney Powell Releases the Kraken on Sunday Morning Futures - She Has Proof of Fraud - YouTube
Sun, 15 Nov 2020 21:26
STORIES
The Treehouse is Deplatformed'... | The Last Refuge
Thu, 19 Nov 2020 13:27
Most CTH readers are likely aware of the term ''deplatforming.'' Unfortunately, the big tech control mechanism to shut down speech & assembly has now arrived on our doorstep.
One week after the 2020 presidential election, The Conservative Treehouse received the following notification:
'...''given the incompatibility between your site's content and our terms, you need to find a new hosting provider and must migrate the site by Wednesday, December 2nd.
What does this mean? It means CTH is being kicked-off the WordPress website hosting platform because the content of our research and discussion does not align with the ideology of those who define what is acceptable speech and what is not.
What was our violation? After ten years of brutally honest discussion, opinion, deep research and crowdsourcing work -with undeniable citations on the events we outline- there is no cited violation of any term of service because CTH has never violated one.
The WordPress company is not explaining the reason for deplatforming because there is no justifiable reason for it. At the same time, they are bold in their position. Perhaps this is the most alarming part; and everyone should pay attention. They don't care.
Truthful assembly is now the risk. CTH is now too big; with a site reach of 500,000 to a million unique readers each day; and with well over 200,000 subscribers; our assembly is too large, too influential, and presents a risk'... we guard the flickering flame.
Ten years of work assembling a library of factual citations and explanations of those discoveries, positions CTH to be a leading force in the rebel alliance push-back. [Heck, that's why this place was started'... that was our purpose: ''The Truth Has No Agenda.''] However, that also makes us a target; hence the deplatforming.
Accepting -at its core- this move is all about politics, this is yet another reference point in the tenuous nature of where we stand. There's no hate-speech on this website; there's no graphic, violent, foul or abusive speech here. The 'content' of the Treehouse is the same discussion that happens around your kitchen table or back porch discussion with friends. We would never cheapen or insult that conversation with vulgarity because that's not who we are'... because that's not who our nation is. So consider this next part very carefully'...
The 'content' is not compatible with WordPress, the world's largest website and blog hosting service. The content within the largest blog on that global platform is what has become troublesome. ''The content''.
The content on these pages is simply an ongoing discussion about freedom with criticism against any political party or entity that diminishes it. Apparently, immediately after the 2020 election, that discussion became problematic. After writing about the COVID-19 agenda,'...the notification: the website will be removed.
Let that settle in'.... friends and adversaries alike. Think very hard about what exactly is being represented by these actions. That's the bad news.
So what are we going to do?
First three priorities: #1 is the security of the site content and research files with over a decade of work; #2) ensuring the ability of our assembly to remain; #3) continue the mission.
In the past several days I have begun contacting people to inform and gather counsel on what is the best course of action. On a very positive note, the Rebel Alliance is stronger than ever and no amount of effort by Big Tech is going to be able to weaken the resolve or block the message.
We will take this challenge head-on and we will use this attack against our freedom as fuel to launch CTH 2.0, a new version of The Conservative Treehouse.
I have no idea yet what it will look like'... hopefully not too dissimilar to what we are already comfortable with. However, a lot has changed in the technological world since 2010/2011. There are many new and innovative ways to develop, build and create proprietary platforms.
I don't like anything about having to be forced to do this. Readers here know I prefer comfortable quality that lasts a long time; but there is no alternative. We are being kicked-off WordPress and will have to assemble on a platform that allows free expression, free thought and free ideas to be shared, valued and appreciated.
Additionally, as I look at preliminary options for Treehouse 2.0, one guiding element is priority: I will continue to work earnestly to be deserving of your support and fellowship.
When this site was launched it was for all of us. A refuge, a place of comfort:
However each of us got here, it's probably a fact that we have the turmoil of those storms in common, perhaps some unease that we could share and always, we also find fresh ground to cover from day to day. We're developing valuable relationships as we trust one another in our community in the woods. The chatting in the branches encourages, strengthens and equips for some serious walking.
We think the Treehouse is a good armory for those who doing long distance walking for the sake of our nation. We hope you'll think so, too. Find yourself a good branch'....or just pull up a rock to the campfire.
YOU are what matters!
We have shared laughs. We have lost friends. We have lost family together. We have comforted each-other. We have prayed together'... and we have sat still together. Sometimes we are not able to find the words of comfort, yet we know it is just as valuable to be there, quietly, steadfast and eliminate the loneliness. We have cried together and rejoiced in each-other's milestones'... This is the source of my resolve.
We have achieved great victories; confronted injustice; done incredible crowdsourcing work that has made lives better, and we have successfully found the truth behind a multitude of frauds and schemes. Let there be no doubt, that will continue.
I have been somewhat quiet lately as I try to figure out what exactly is the next thing to do. Much like our nation, there is trepidation all around us. It is likely that CTH will look different and we may have to engage and learn some new stuff. But it will be OK.
The rebel alliance is strong'... and we are angry.
.
Prepare for the Great Decoupling '' Deplatforming moves downstream to Wordpress.com and Mailchimp
Thu, 19 Nov 2020 13:05
The unrelenting deplatforming pressure from the left leaves non-leftists no choice but to prepare for decoupling on our own terms.
In the past day there have been two very disturbing developments in internet deplatforming.
We are all familiar with deplatforming from major social media services such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as those platforms outright silencing important news that harms Democrats, like the Biden family influence peddling scandal. Twitter regularly now places notices or restrictions even on Trump's tweet on the allegation that his opinions on the election are disputed. In the four years Trump as been the subject of dishonest and malicious conspiracy claims, particularly Russia collusion, I can't remember Twitter ever placing such restrictions on the tweets from Adam Schiff, other Democrat politicians, or mainstream media outlets peddling that disinformation.
The two recent developments take it to a new level.
First , The Conservative Treehouse website says it received notification from WordPress.com that '''... given the incompatibility between your site's content and our terms, you need to find a new hosting provider and must migrate the site by Wednesday, December 2nd.''
WordPress.com should not be confused with the WordPress website software. WordPress.com is a hosting platform owned by Automattic:
Automattic owns and operates WordPress.com, which is a hosted version of the open source WordPress software with added features for security, speed and support. Please append ''.com'' when referencing our product name.
WordPress is open source software, which is written, maintained, and supported by thousands of independent contributors worldwide. Automattic is a major contributor to the WordPress open source project.
Legal Insurrection uses WordPress software, but we are not hosted by WordPress.com.
I have emailed Automattic asking them to confirm or deny the story as related by the Treehouse, but have received no response. This form of deplatforming is particularly troubling. Longtime readers may recall that one of the main reasons we left Google Blogger (blogspot.com) in 2011 was fear of being deplatformed by Google.
Two and one-half years later, after almost 8 million visits and 10 million page views, I'm moving away from Blogger. I made the decision even before the Big Blogger Blackout of 2011, but that event confirmed my view that I no longer was comfortable relying on the goodwill of Google.
We are now self-hosted, but retain the fear that our host could turn out the lights on a whim or more likely, under some sort of political pressure. We back up the website off-platform every night, and have been assured by our tech team that we would be up and running elsewhere quickly if that were to happen.
But what if that ''elsewhere'' refused to take us under the same pressure. If we were a left-wing website, we would have no such worries because leftists almost never get deplatformed. At least WordPress.com gave the Treehouse notice, but the chilling effect is there. Not only do non-leftists risk deplatforming on Twitter and Facebook, now it's moved to hosting services.
Second , the Northern Virginia Tea Party has been deplatformed by Mailchimp, as Luke Rosiak reports:
Mailchimp, a common email delivery service, has refused to provide service to the Northern Virginia Tea Party, citing that it violates their terms of agreement about ''potential'... misinformation.'' It had attempted to notify members about a recount rally.
Mailchimp, a common email delivery service, has refused to provide service to the Northern Virginia Tea Party, citing that it violates their terms of agreement about "potential'... misinformation." It had attempted to notify members about a recount rally. pic.twitter.com/o156shaKq9
'-- Luke Rosiak (@lukerosiak) November 16, 2020
We used to use Mailchimp for our Morning Insurrection newsletter. We switched to Salsa Labs for reasons unrelated to Mailchimp itself (Salsa Labs integrates many functions into one platform, including donations). While I worried about being deplatformed by Google Blogger, I never even considered that an email service like Mailchimp would review the content of our newsletters and refuse service because it disapproved of our opinions (as opposed to using the service for an illegal purpose).
Deplatforming is moving downstream when two of the best-known and largest hosting and email marketing services start censoring users who otherwise are conducting lawful business on their platforms.
Non-leftists (notice, I didn't say ''conservatives'') need to prepare to decouple. The creation of Parler, funded by conservative Rebekka Mercer, is the future. We need our own platforms, and we need to decouple on our own terms.
There needs to be a place to go. We're at Parler, and in two months have amassed over 200,000 followers, by contrast, we've been on Twitter for a decade and have been stuck a under 40,000 followers for years. We've also opened a platform at MeWe, as a refuge for the day when we are deplatformed by Facebook, where our ''reach'' has stagnated and decreased in the past couple of years. Hopefully alternative non-leftist internet platforms will continue to expand.
The unrelenting pressure from the left leaves us no choice but to prepare for decoupling on our own terms. Others should prepare for the eventuality as well.
The kids aren't alright: How Generation Covid is losing out | Free to read | Financial Times
Thu, 19 Nov 2020 13:02
When Mary Finnegan, 27, and her sister Meg, 22, left their Brooklyn apartment to return to their parents' home in March, they took enough clothes to last two weeks.
Their stay stretched into months. ''It was like a return to homeschooling: no boys, no play dates, nowhere to go, except home and the liquor store,'' Mary told the Financial Times.
As the coronavirus pandemic worsened and universities closed, Mary and Meg were followed by three other siblings, turning the parental four-bedroom house in Washington, New Jersey, into a ''food hall, a bakery and a gym'', according to their mother Lori.
The Finnegans are among the millions of young adults around the world who have moved back in with their parents since Covid-19 struck. In the US, the share of 18- to 29-year-olds living at home is the highest ever recorded.
While they are less at risk of developing severe forms of Covid-19, students and young workers are suffering from the pandemic's economic fallout more harshly than other groups, data show. The pandemic has also amplified previous trends including low wages, stagnant job markets and rising student debt.
A global survey by the Financial Times, to which more than 800 16- to 30-year-olds responded, shows that these difficulties are translating into growing resentment towards older generations, which are both better off and holding greater political sway.
''We are not in this together, millennials have to take the brunt of the sacrifice in the situation,'' said Polina R, 30, from Montreal, Canada. ''If you won't watch out that we don't end up jobless and poorer, why should we protect you?''
Here is what they told the FT about their experiences during the pandemic:
'I feel I am worthless' Komal Kadam, who lives in Maharashtra, India, and Juyeon Lee, from Daegu in South Korea, have both found it difficult to find jobs amid dwindling vacanciesSince graduating in August, 25-year-old Juyeon Lee from Daegu, South Korea, has submitted dozens of job applications. Although she has had a few interviews, she has grown rattled by the dwindling number of vacancies.
''I don't want to get infected because if I do, job hunting would be harder'‰.'‰.'‰.'‰I feel I am worthless and I would never get proper work even though I was a confident graduate when I had interviews,'' she said.
Those aged 25 and under are 2.5 times more likely to be without a job because of the pandemic than the 26-64 age group, according to the OECD. Studies have also shown that graduating during a recession can have a scarring effect on wages.
Among those still working, almost half reported a reduction in income, with young women and those in lower paid jobs the hardest hit, according to the OECD and the International Labour Organization. Many who wrote to the FT said they had to abandon business plans and dip into their savings.
In the developing world, unemployment often means no longer being able to support multiple generations of dependants: Komal Kadam, 28, from Maharashtra, India, was the only one in the family who earned money until she lost her job in March.
''I am scared of everything'‰.'‰.'‰.'‰Can I get a new job? How will I pay my loans? [There are] lots of things on my mind,'' she said.
'I refuse to stop enjoying life'Toader Mateoc from the US and Juan from Colombia have seen attitudes to lockdown vary hugelyMany surveyed by the FT said they were afraid of catching or transmitting the virus, but others admitted to a more nonchalant attitude '-- a behaviour that has been criticised by political leaders as one reason for a resurgence of the pandemic in Europe and the US after the summer.
During the peak of the lockdown in the spring, Polina from Montreal had friends over. ''I did not follow recommendations,'' she said. ''I travelled out of the country twice and have gone to bars, restaurants and theatres a dozen times.
''My risk tolerance is high and I refuse to stop enjoying life when no one has a plan and the people in power have no skin in the game.''
In many places, notably the US but also in Europe and south Asia, many respondents pointed out that it was often older people who defied public health regulations.
''Older generations believe whatever the internet tells them. They are misguided by WhatsApp forwards and YouTube videos,'' Ajitha, 28, from Chennai, India, noted.
In their own words''I did break rules. I went on several dates with a girl I met during this period. I don't know what was scarier, my mom finding out I was meeting other people and exposing everyone or the fear of getting caught by the police''
Juan, 25, Colombia
''Everybody's attitude reminds me of drivers' attitudes on the highway: everybody faster than me is crazy, while everybody slower than me is an imbecile''
Toader Mateoc, 28, US
''Pivoting on a dime just as I had been getting acquainted with the 'real world' was a bit jarring''
Marco Angelo Felizardo, 22, Philippines
'We are all being blamed for a crisis in leadership'A protest over education costs in Edinburgh and a message projected on a building protesting against President Jair Bolsonaro's decision not to lock down Sao PauloMany respondents said they were losing faith in their leaders and felt that the pandemic had been poorly handled '-- with the exception of some Europeans and respondents from parts of Asia.
''We are all being blamed for a crisis in leadership,'' Anthony, 23, from Annecy, France, told the FT.
From his kitchen table-cum-office in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Danilo Ventura, 29, has watched his country cycle through three different health ministers since the start of the pandemic. ''The world was saying A and Brazilian politics were screaming Z,'' he said.
That lack of direction took a toll: Brazil has the second-worst death toll in the world after the US. Danilo and his wife quarantined following the regional government's instructions, even though the country's populist president Jair Bolsonaro attended crowded events.
Trust in government among young people has declined across the developed world since 2016, according to the OECD. ''Their confidence in public institutions and their perception of having political influence and representation in decision-making have stalled,'' said Elsa Pilichowski, who runs the OECD's Directorate of Public Governance.
In the US and the UK, in particular, many told the FT that they felt the government had been inconsistent and slow to act.
''The airports were opened too long. The messaging on masks was disgraceful. I never got one until mid-June,'' said John, 28, from Glasgow, Scotland. ''My perception is that, shy of America, we really are handling this terribly.''
The pandemic has deepened political disenchantment, according to Naumi Haque, senior vice-president of research at Ipsos. ''Gen Z and millennials are more likely to feel like things in their country are out of control right now than older generations,'' he said.
'A lot of very difficult, intense feelings'Mary Finnegan was one of several respondents who pointed to the mental health impact of lockdown, with anxiety over education and getting a job adding to the burdenMany contacted the FT saying they had entertained thoughts of harming themselves. ''Unemployment, mental health difficulties, and uncertainty about when this will all end make for a pretty despairing outlook,'' James, 30, from London, said. ''At one point I was considering suicide,'' he added.
Public health specialists have warned that the mental health impact of the pandemic will outlast the virus, as millions cope with depression, anxiety and isolation. Studies conducted in the UK and the US showed that those aged 18 to 29 experienced higher level of distress compared to other age groups during this period.
Back in New Jersey, five of the 10 Finnegan children have started going to therapy since the pandemic began. ''Someone had a breakdown about once a week,'' Mary said.
Mar­a Rodr­guez, 25, originally from Spain but living in Krakow, Poland, said she decided to risk getting Covid-19 rather than falling into depression because of isolation.
''I am not afraid of going to caf(C)s and [meeting] multiple people since I won't get my family sick,'' she said. ''I chose my mental health over Covid.''
In May, Ola Demkowicz, a lecturer in psychology of education at Manchester university, surveyed hundreds of teenagers in the UK. Many of them described experiencing ''a lot of very difficult, intense feelings'' as they adapted to the uncertainty in their lives. ''For those with existing mental health difficulties this appears to have been really quite a challenge,'' she said.
In their own words''I was very strict when living at home with my older parents. Now, after becoming an alcoholic nun for six months, I will risk Covid for a chance to go on a date again''
Mary Finnegan, 27, US
''You face hours of Zoom university every day, a devalued degree at full freight, diminished job prospects, fear for your elder relatives, and fewer (if any) chances to see your friends or make new ones. It's enough to make anyone a little nihilistic''
Will, 23, US
''Teacher expectations have risen exponentially and everything I do has to be several times better than usual, for the examiners suspect and expect foul play. The pressure's been steadily rising in the past six months, but I hope that when everything settles down, so will the stress''
Alistair Woo, 16, Hong Kong
''Young people are hustlers, every youth out there wants to be better but this pandemic ruined things, restricted movements, schools were shut down, some businesses crashed''
Victoria Chidiebere, 22, Nigeria
'A door to many new horizons'Alistair Woo, left, points to rising expectations from teachers, while Victoria Chidiebere says that the pandemic has halted young people's natural entrepreneurshipSeveral respondents, however, said that the pandemic had allowed them to reconnect with their families and nature, as well as tick things off their bucket list.
Joshua, 26, from the UK, said that one morning in August he packed his car and headed for Spain, leaving behind a small flat and a toxic office environment.
''I now spend less than a third of my salary on a three-bedroom apartment by the sea to myself. A couple of friends have visited but I'm mostly living the socially distant bachelor life,'' he said.
In February, researchers from Thailand observed a group of college students in Wuhan, China, where the virus originated, to find out how they were coping with the lockdown. They found that several them were reacting with resilience.
Dr Demkowicz found similar evidence in the UK: the first lockdown provided teenagers with the opportunity to decide how to structure their day freed from social obligations and schoolwork, she said: ''They could'‰.'‰.'‰.'‰explore what they wanted out of life and kind of find ways to grow and develop and re-evaluate what directions they were taking.''
In the FT survey, Anders Furze, 30, from Albury, Australia, said he had realised that he was burning the candle at both ends before the pandemic: ''I was out five nights a week: having dinners, attending film screenings, theatre shows.''
He recently gave his career a rethink and enrolled in a postgraduate law degree. ''It feels like it is opening up a door to many new horizons,'' he said.
Production: Adrienne Klasa
Latest coronavirus newsFollow FT's live coverage and analysis of the global pandemic and the rapidly evolving economic crisis here.
Ubisoft apologises for ableist description in Assassin's Creed Valhalla | GamesIndustry.biz
Thu, 19 Nov 2020 12:28
The publisher said it will address the issue in an upcoming update
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Ubisoft apologised for using ableist language in Assassin's Creed Valhalla.
Courtney Craven, founder of Can I Play That -- a games publication for disabled gamers, focusing on accessibility -- called out Ubisoft for the way it described a character with severe burns in the latest Assassin's Creed entry, PC Gamer reported.
The description read: "Horribly burned in a childhood accident, Eorforwine is terrified someone will see her disfigured face. She relieves her fury with bursts of violence."
Craven said on Twitter that it is important to address such language, adding that it is "unacceptable to talk about facial differences this way."
"Writers for games and otherwise need to do better," they said. "GF, who is a burn victim and spent many years ashamed of her scars, was sitting beside me when I came upon this bit in the game and the look on her face... I was embarrassed that this was her impression of this industry I love so much."
Ubisoft replied on Twitter, apologising for "unintentionally reinforcing ableism through this language," and said it will remove it in an upcoming update. When it will do so is unclear at this stage.
Assassin's Creed Valhalla released yesterday. In our Critical Consensus, we noted that critics agreed that it is one of the very best games in the series, but its underlying themes are tainted by Ubisoft's year of scandal.
D.A.-Elect Jos(C) Garza Taps Reform Advocates for His Team: It's a new day in court for Austin's top law enforcement office - News - The Austin Chronicle
Thu, 19 Nov 2020 12:10
It's a new day in court for Austin's top law enforcement office By Austin Sanders, 9:00AM, Wed. Nov. 18, 2020 Travis County District Attorney-elect Jos(C) Garza and his newly named top deputy Trudy Strassburger (photo by David Brendan Hall)
Travis County District Attorney-elect Jos(C) Garza announced today that Trudy Strassburger, managing director of The Justice Collaborative, will serve as the top deputy in his office.
Strassburger has spent her career in public defense and in crafting policy to reform the criminal justice system, and her hire sends a clear message to the Austin establishment that Garza remains committed to bringing a new vision to the top law enforcement office in the county.
Strassburger started her legal career in Philadelphia in 2002 before moving on in 2007 to the Bronx Public Defenders, an iconic nonprofit that has pioneered transforming the legal system for marginalized groups since its founding in 1997. More recently and locally, Strassburger advocated for the creation of the new Public Defenders' Office in Travis County '' a cause that led to some clashes with former colleagues at the Capital Area Private Defender Service, where she served as deputy director. In 2017, Strassburger helped lead the materiality review of cases potentially tainted by the now-shuttered DNA crime lab run by the Austin Police Department.
Now, she prepares to take on her first job as a prosecutor, under the leadership of fellow first-time prosecutor Garza. To help the duo prepare for the daunting task of taking the reins of a 200-person law firm '' while fundamentally changing the way it prosecutes cases '' Garza also announced an eight-person transition team, chaired by Texas Civil Rights Project president Mimi Marziani, that will help the D.A.-elect engage with community groups, craft policy changes, and conduct personnel searches.
Despite her bitter primary battle with, and landslide loss to, Garza earlier this year, Travis County's outgoing D.A. Margaret Moore has already met with her successor multiple times and is said to be helping ensure a smooth transition. Courthouse observers are closely watching how much turnover the DA's office will experience; it was a given that Moore's first assistant Mindy Montford would not continue on, but it's not yet confirmed how much of the current executive team will remain in place. One position to watch will be director of the Civil Rights Unit, the only executive who reports directly to the D.A. instead of the first assistant. Currently, the position is occupied by Dexter Gilford, who was brought in by Moore and is well respected in the community.
Garza told the Chronicle that he and the transition team will spend the next six weeks preparing to implement as many of the reforms he campaigned on, and to handle some of the tough cases that will be waiting for him, as soon as possible. ''We have a team that we are confident in and excited about to start the year,'' Garza said. ''With respect to the reforms we have talked about for 18 months, we will be working every day to ensure they are ready to implement on Day One. I am also working to be as prepared as I can be to fight for justice for all of the families, survivors, and victims who depend on the D.A. to deliver them justice.''
The transition team includes experts in several areas of reform '' signaling to the public that Garza is reaching out to leading advocates for change locally and across the country. It includes Gretta Gordy Gardner, who founded Ujima: The National Center on Violence Against Women in the Black Community; Anita Gupta, a staff attorney with the Immigrant Legal Resource Center; and longtime Travis County defense attorney Jackie Wood, who is helping Garza learn the ins-and-outs of the courthouse world. The team also includes non-attorneys, such as social worker Randi Chavez with Texas Defenders Service, who coordinates defendant mitigation '' investigating a person's personal and family history to better understand the circumstances that may have led to a crime.
One of the early goals of the new D.A. and his team will be to eliminate the reflexive use of cash bail that has become a focus of criminal justice reform efforts. Reducing the Travis County jail population, which typically hovers around 2,000 people, was an important part of Garza's campaign platform, and has taken on increased urgency in light of surging COVID-19 cases.
But as powerful as the D.A. is, the office cannot unilaterally end cash bail, a decision that rests with individual judges who determine if defendants should remain in custody. Those judges tend to defer to the will of prosecutors, though, and Garza intends for his to only request that defendants who pose a public safety threat remain behind bars.
Cash bail disproportionately harms lower-income defendants who are unable to buy their way out of jail; their pretrial confinement can lead to lost jobs, strained family bonds, and overcrowded jails. Beyond that, experts believe those released from jail before trial are better able to prepare for their day in court and less likely to accept unfair plea deals. In 2016, researchers at Princeton, Harvard, and Stanford studying the effects of cash bail found that released defendants are 15.6% less likely to be convicted at trial and 12% less likely to plead guilty.
The thought of poor, usually Black and Latino, defendants enjoying pretrial release at rates close to those for affluent white people accused of crimes leads many conservatives to clutch their pearls. Garza's new D.A. office does not intend to request personal recognizance bonds for every defendant, but rather to review each case and assess its unique circumstances to understand if pretrial release could pose a threat to the public.
That individual perspective is key to how Garza and Strassburger want to approach changing the criminal justice system from within to create more equitable outcomes for all participants. ''If we think of the criminal justice system as an assembly line,'' Strassburger told us, ''we've lost. Every person comes into this system with their own story, whether they're accused of a crime or [the] victim of a crime. We have to figure out what made a person commit a crime to make sure it doesn't happen again.''
That's the goal Garza and Strassburger hope to achieve: a criminal system that delivers true justice more often than it hands out punishments too often confused with justice. From Marziani's perspective, Austinites interested in justice reform should see the new players and their views as encouraging. ''To make a safer community and to restore trust in the D.A.,'' Marziani told us ''you need someone like Jos(C) [who] is going to listen to communities. You need someone like Trudy who is thoughtful about all of the pressures coming to bear on someone when they are accused of a crime. And you need a transition team composed of diverse voices with broad perspectives. We have all of that, and I'm confident we'll succeed in transforming the justice system in Travis County.''
Per the Garza campaign, the transition team members are:
'— Mimi Marziani : Chair of the Transition Team and President of the Texas Civil RightsProject; '— Gretta Gordy Gardner: Deputy Director and co-founder of Ujima, Inc.: The NationalCenter on Violence Against Women in the Black Community; former sexual assaultprosecutor in the Baltimore City State's Attorney's Office; '— Randi Chavez: MSW and Mitigation Director at the Texas Defender Service; '— Anita Gupta: Staff Attorney with the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC); '— Dana Mulhauser: Founding chief of the Conviction and Incident Review Unit at the St.Louis County Prosecuting Attorney's Office; former prosecutor with the Civil RightsDivision of the Department of Justice; '— Ranjana Natarajan: Director, Civil Rights Clinic at the University of Texas School ofLaw; former attorney at the ACLU of Southern California; '— Jackie Wood: Defense Lawyer in Travis County; former Travis County AssistantDistrict Attorney. '— Darwin Hamilton: Co-Chair of the Grassroots Leadership Board of Directors; executivecommittee of the Austin/Travis County Re-entry Roundtable; co-chair of the Re-entryAdvocacy Project.
A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin's independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community's political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.
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New impact fee plan makes its first trip to the dais
Nov. 13, 2020Back to business at City Hall
Nov. 13, 2020KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST
Jos(C) Garza, Trudy Strassburger, district attorney, Mimi Marziani, Civil Rights Unit, Dexter Gilford, Mindy Montford, Gretta Gordy Gardner, criminal justice reform, Anita Gupta, Jackie Wood, Randi Chavez, cash bail
Will The Turkish Economy Kill Erdogan's New Ottoman Empire? | New Eastern Outlook
Thu, 19 Nov 2020 04:51
Will The Turkish Economy Kill Erdogan's New Ottoman Empire? P 05.11.2020 U F. William Engdahl
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's Turkey in the past two years has engaged in a remarkable series of active geopolitical foreign interventions from Syria to Libya to Cyprus and most recently on the side of Azerbaijan in the territory conflict with Armenia over the status of Nagorno-Karabakh. Some have called it Erdogan's 'New Ottoman Empire' strategy. Yet a free-falling Lira and a collapsing domestic economy threaten to put an unplanned end to his grand geopolitical ambitions. How serious is the economic crisis in Turkey today and does Erdogan have a Plan B?
Lira Freefall
By the end of October, as open conflict between President Erdogan, who demands low interest rates from the central bank to stimulate growth, and financial markets who demand higher rates to ''offset risk,'' the Turkish Lira dropped a sharp 3% in a day. To date in 2020 the Lira is down 34% against the US dollar and by 70% over the past five years. While some think it would stimulate Turkish goods exports, what it is doing is exposing the entire Turkish banking system and economy to a colossal debt blowout. The problem is that to spur Erdogan's growth agenda, Turkish banks have turned to the dollar-based low-interest rate inter-bank market to borrow funds to lend on to Turkish consumers to build houses or open hotels and other small businesses. Every time the Lira falls against the dollar, it needs that much more Lira to repay the old dollar debts, 34% more since January as of this writing.
Foreign investors, seeing the data, are rushing to liquidate Turkish stocks and bonds and exit, sending the Lira down further and hitting financial assets that back loans throughout the economy. Moreover inflation officially near 12% is adding to the crisis.
In recent years, spurred by Erdogan, the Turkish economy has expanded at an annual rate above that of China or India pre-corona. Most of that has been in the construction sector with new homes, shopping centers and tourism hotels booming. The problem is that now, with the Lira crisis showing no sign of end, and the EU states going into lockdown for coronavirus, Turkish tourism, the is being devastated. In August, peak foreign tourism season, tourism arrivals were down a huge 70% from August 2019. And with a world economic slump since the corona crisis, all exports are down.
Crisis of Foreign Debt
Erdogan's problems are compounded by the fact that Turkish businesses and banks have largely turned to foreign markets to borrow at lower interest rates, something attractive if the Lira is stable or even rising. When the Lira falls 34% this year or more, it is a catastrophe for the borrowers. To prevent that Lira fall the central bank has used much of its hard currency foreign reserves and even drawn on foreign currency swap lines to avoid rate increases. This is bringing the situation to a new potential crisis in many ways similar to the 1997 Asia Crisis. The falling Lira means construction companies are unable to repay foreign loans in dollars or Euros. Bankruptcy is next. In 2018 Turkish banks and private companies as well as government owed some $467 billion in foreign currencies. The central bank foreign currency reserves as of September, 2020 amount to $36 billion or less, after losing some $65 billion of foreign currency reserves in a fruitless defense of the Lira. Gold reserves decreased to USD 42 billion. This is not stable.
To make matters worse, in September Moodys' credit rating agency lowered the rating on Turkish government debt to 5 grades below ''junk,'' the lowest ever. At this point, Erdogan has limited options to salvage the economy and with it, his re-election in three years. Extremely low interest rates from 2012 through until 2018 created an unprecedented economic boom, but in reality a debt-financed construction and real estate bubble dependent on foreign credits. That is now unravelling and it will have major consequences for Erdogan's ''active'' foreign policy.
Geopolitical Agenda Threatened
In 2010 Erdogan's then-Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu proclaimed the famous ''Zero Problems Policy'' with its neighbors. That has long since vanished along with the foreign minister. Today Erdogan seems intent on creating clashes with all Turkey's once-allies.
Erdogan's bold attempt to place Turkish gas exploration ships in recent months into territorial waters of EU member Cyprus and Greece, claiming sovereignty over the offshore region, has brought it into direct clash with fellow NATO member Greece which plans a gas pipeline from Israel and Cyprus to Greece and on to Italy, as well as with France. Turkey has refused to sign the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
To further complicate matters, some months ago Erdogan openly backed the embattled Muslim Brotherhood-led Government of National Accord in Tripoli Libya against a strong military advance by General Haftar. In June Erdogan, who supports the Muslim Brotherhood, sent Turkish troops to support Tripoli. Haftar is backed by Russia, Egypt, the UAE and France. The Turkey-Libya Special Economic Zone declared earlier this year provocatively cuts across the planned EastMed Israel-Cyprus-Greece gas pipeline path.
In Syria, France supports the Syrian Kurds, bitter foes of Erdogan who maintains a military presence in the border region of Syria to control the Kurds. As well France backs the Cyprus-Greek position on their rights to the offshore gas, against Turkey. The French Total energy group is active in the Cyprus project.
Most recently, in the wake of the gruesome beheadings in France by Jihadists, Erdogan has called for a boycott of French goods and called Macron mentally ill after Macron defended the free speech rights of a French satire magazine for reprinting a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed.
Straining ties with Russia in addition to Libyan adventures, has been the open backing from Erdogan, including reportedly of military supplies and possible troops, in Azerbaijan's clash with Russian ally Armenia over Nogorno-Karabakh. A new factor in Turk-Azeri relations is the Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline from Arerbaijan to Turkey where Turkey imported for the first time 5.44 bcm Azrei gas in the first half of this year, a 23 percent increase compared to the same period of 2019.
Yet Erdogan has gone to great lengths to cultivate good relations with Russia's Putin among other things to buy the advanced Russian S-400 Russian anti-missile defense system, earning the condemnation of NATO and Washington.
At this point the hyper-active foreign interventions by Erdogan's Turkey have met little serious sanction or opposition by the EU. One obvious reason is the large exposure of EU banks to Turkish loans. According to a September 17 report in the German Die Welt newspaper, Spanish, French, British and German banks have over a hundred billion dollars invested in Turkey. Spain is most exposed with $62 billion, followed by France with $29 billion. That means the EU is walking on eggshells, not eager to sink more money into Turkey but leery of precipitating a full clash of economic sanctions.
As Erdogan for many reasons refuses to go hat in hand to the IMF, his options at present are to drastically reduce his foreign geopolitical operations to concentrate on stabilizing the domestic economy, or find a Plan B. At this point, the only possible contender for a Plan B financial rescue would be China.
Can China Fill the Gap?
In recent years Erdogan has taken remarkable steps to better relations with Xi Jinping and China. In 2019 during a visit to Beijing Erdogan shocked many by refusing to condemn China's reported harsh treatment of the large Muslim Uyghur population in Xinjiang region. For decades, Turkey, which calls the Uyghur region ''East Turkestan,'' accepted Uyghur Muslim refugees and condemned what Erdogan once called China's ''genocide'' in Xinjiang. In July 2019 during a visit in Beijing, Erdogan buried all mention of the Uyghurs and praised Turkey cooperation with China. Cynics might suggest hopes of huge China financial largesse influnced Erdogan's shift.
During the previous Lira crisis in 2018 when the Lira plunged by 40%, China's state-owned Industrial and Commercial Bank of China loaned the Turkish government $3.6 billion for energy and transportation projects. In June 2019, in the wake of Istanbul municipal elections that indicated crumbling support for Erdogan, China's central bank transferred $1 billion'--the largest cash inflow, under a swap agreement. The July, 2019 Beijing meeting with Xi Jinping came just after that election setback at a time Erdogan was vulnerable as never before on the economy. Chinese Uyghurs might be fellow Muslims, but they don't vote in Turkish elections.
Beijing has responded. Under the umbrella of China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), earlier this year China's Export and Credit Insurance Corp. committed up to $5 billion for Turkey's Sovereign Wealth Fund, to be used for BRI projects. Previously China has invested in a railroad from Kars in eastern Turkey via Tbilisi, Georgia, to Baku, Azerbaijan, on the Caspian Sea, where it links to transportation networks to China. In 2015, a Chinese consortium bought 65 percent of Turkey's third-largest container terminal, Kumport, in Istanbul. Chinese investors this January saved an Erdogan prestige project buying 51 percent of the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge connecting Europe and Asia across the Bosporus when an Italian-Turkish consortium controlling the bridge opted out. And Beijing is now allowing Turkish companies to use the Chinese yuan to make trade payments, allowing them easier access to Chinese liquidity.
While the Chinese involvement clearly gives Erdogan some aid, it has not been able to stop the latest free-fall of the Lira or to be enough to replace the $100 billion EU and related borrowings to revive the Turkish economy. China yuan-Lira trade and swap agreements help Turkey import more Chinese goods, but she needs dollars to repay the EU and other dollar loans. China, despite optimistic headlines in media, has been severely hit by the global lockdowns and trade collapse from the coronavirus this year. Exports from China have by no means recovered to 2019 levels and domestic food problems from severe flooding and locust plague this year have put added strains on the world's second largest economy.
With Beijing beefing up its military responses in the East China Sea and around Taiwan as well as being forced to renegotiate many debt deals with BRI countries in Africa and elsewhere that have been unable to pay, it is questionable whether Xi Jinping regards his recent alliance with the unpredictable Erdogan as his highest priority during China's present redirection of its economy inward.
2023, the year of next elections was to be the glory year for Erdogan's AKP as Turkey celebrated 100 years since founding. The party's ''2023 Vision'' program calls for Turkey to become a Top Ten economy with autos, steel and defense industries of world class and a GDP of some $2.6 trillion.
That all now looks very implausible. The next months for Erdogan and the Turkish economy look to be quite turbulent and far from clear. The shrewd Erdogan is rapidly running out of winning cards to play.
F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine ''New Eastern Outlook''.
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Google Deprecated A Huge Chunk of Group Policy Today (Chrome 87): sysadmin
Thu, 19 Nov 2020 04:20
https://imgur.com/1xjf2Iy
Anything with 'whitelist' or 'blacklist' in the policy name was deprecated by Google today because of "racism". They say that the deprecated policy is still working, but judging from what happened to our shipping/receiving centers across the globe, that's not the case. So if you're like us, and were using these policies to control kiosk systems, that control is now, likely, gone. You'll need to get the new templates and re-build your policies with the "not racist" names.
Thanks a ton, Google.
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Thu, 19 Nov 2020 03:24
All data are preliminary and may change as more reports are received. A description of the surveillance systems summarized in COVIDView, including methodology and detailed descriptions of each data component, is available on the surveillance methods page. Nationally, surveillance indicators tracking levels of SARS-CoV-2 virus circulation and associated illnesses have been increasing since September. The percentage of deaths due to pneumonia, influenza and COVID-19 (PIC) increased during the first three weeks of October. Both COVID-19 related hospitalizations and PIC mortality for the most recent weeks may increase as more data are received. Key Updates for Week 45, ending November 7, 2020 Mild/Moderate Illness: Outpatient and Emergency Department Visits Virus: Public Health, Commercial and Clinical Laboratories Severe Disease: Hospitalizations and Deaths Nationally, the overall percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing COVID-19, increased from 8.4% during week 44 to 10.5% during week 45. Percent positivity increased among all age groups. Regionally, the percentages of respiratory specimens testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 increased in all ten HHS regions. Nationally, the overall percentage of visits to outpatient providers or emergency departments (EDs) for influenza-like illness (ILI) or COVID-like illness (CLI) has been increasing since mid-September; CLI and ILI increased in week 45 compared with week 44. All ten surveillance regions reported an increase in at least one indicator of mild/moderate illness. Since the week ending September 26 (MMWR week 39), overall weekly hospitalization rates have increased. Overall increases have been driven primarily by an increase in rates among adults aged 50 years and older. Based on death certificate data, the percentage of deaths attributed to PIC for week 45 was 8.9% and, while declining compared to week 44 (12.3%), remains above the epidemic threshold. The weekly percentages of deaths due to PIC increased during the first three weeks of October and are expected to increase for the most recent weeks as additional data are reported. Hospitalization rates for the most recent week are expected to increase as additional data are reported. 0246810051015202530Percent CLI and Percent ILI Percent Positive, Percent PIC and Hospitalization RateWeekNational COVID-19 Activity Indicators: Laboratory, Outpatient/Emergency Department, Hospitalization and Mortality DataMarch 1, 2020 ''November 7, 2020*Percent PositiveHospitalization RatePercent of Deaths due to PICPercent CLI (NSSP)Percent ILI (ILINet)*Data are preliminary and may change as more reports are
2 COVIDView Week 45, ending November 7, 2020 Key Points o Nationally, all surveillance indicators included in COVIDView are showing increases in SARS-CoV-2 virus circulation and associated illnesses and deaths. o The percentage of specimens testing positive for SARS-CoV-2, the percentages of visits to EDs or outpatient providers for ILI and CLI, and COVID-19-associated hospitalization rates have been increasing since September. Hospitalization rates for the most recent week is expected to increase as additional data are reported in future weeks. o The percentage of deaths due to PIC has been increasing since the beginning of October. Data for the most recent two weeks currently show a decline, but that is likely to change as additional death certificates are processed. o At least one indicator used to monitor COVID-19 activity is increasing in each of the ten HHS regions, and many regions are reporting increases in multiple indicators. o The percentages of specimens testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 increased in all ten regions. o The percentages of visits for ILI, CLI or both increased in all ten regions. o For some indicators and regions, the increases have been small but consistent from week to week over the last several weeks; other indicators have increased more rapidly in some regions. o Two regions (Regions 7 [Central] and 8 [Mountain]) have a least two surveillance indicators that were higher during week 45 than at any other time during the pandemic. o The overall cumulative COVID-19-associated hospitalization rate through the week ending November 7, 2020 was 217.2 hospitalizations per 100,000 population. o Since the week ending September 26 (MMWR week 39), weekly hospitalization rates have increased. Overall increases have been driven primarily by an increase in rates among adults aged 50 years and older. Weekly hospitalization rates among children have had a two-week sustained increase from October 24 (MMWR week 43) to November 7 (MMWR week 45). Data for the most recent weeks may change as additional admissions occurring during those weeks are reported. o The age-adjusted hospitalization rate for Hispanic or Latino persons was approximately 4.2 times that of non-Hispanic White persons. Age-adjusted hospitalization rates for non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native persons and non-Hispanic Black persons were approximately 4.1 and 3.9 times those of non-Hispanic White persons, respectively. o These surveillance systems aim to provide the most complete data available. Estimates from previous weeks are subject to change as data are updated with the most complete data available.
3 COVIDView Week 45, ending November 7, 2020 U.S. Virologic Surveillance Based on data reported to CDC by public health laboratories and a subset of clinical and commercial laboratories in the United States, 71,827,520 specimens were tested for SARS-CoV-2 using a molecular assay since March 1, 2020. The percentages of specimens testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 each week, based on week of specimen collection, are summarized below. Nationally, during week 45, 3,128,187 specimens were tested for SARS-CoV-2 for diagnostic purposes and 328,119 (10.5%) were positive. This is an increase compared with week 44, during which 8.4% of specimens tested were positive. The percentages of specimens testing positive increased among all age groups. The percentages of specimens testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 increased in all ten HHS regions. The regions with the highest percent positivity during week 45 were in the central part of the country, Regions 5 (Midwest, 16.2%), 6 (South Central, 13.7%), 7 (Central, 23.5%) and 8 (Mountain, 15.5%). These regions also reported the largest increases in percent positivity during week 45 compared with week 44. Additional virologic surveillance information: Surveillance Methods *Note: Different laboratory types came on board with testing during different weeks. This graph includes public health laboratory data beginning in week 10, clinical laboratory data beginning in week 11 and commercial laboratory data beginning in week 14. 0510152025300500,0001,000,0001,500,0002,000,0002,500,0003,000,0003,500,000Percent PositiveNumber of Specimens TestedWeekNumber of Specimens Tested and Percent Positive for SARS-CoV-2: Combined Laboratories Reporting to CDC (Public Health Laboratories, Subset of Commercial and Clinical Laboratories)March 1, 2020 ''November 7, 2020Specimens TestedPercent Pos. OverallPercent Pos. 0-4 yrsPercent Pos. 5-17 yrsPercent Pos. 18-49 yrsPercent Pos. 50-64 yrsPercent Pos. 65+ yrs
4 COVIDView Week 45, ending November 7, 2020 Outpatient/Emergency Department Illness Two syndromic surveillance systems, the U.S. Outpatient Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Network (ILINet) and the National Syndromic Surveillance Project (NSSP), are being used to monitor trends in outpatient and emergency department (ED) visits that may be associated with COVID-19 illness. Each system monitors activity in a slightly different set of providers/facilities. ILINet provides information about visits to outpatient providers or emergency departments for influenza-like illness (ILI; fever plus cough and/or sore throat) and NSSP provides information about visits to EDs for ILI and COVID-like illness (CLI; fever plus cough and/or shortness of breath or difficulty breathing). Some EDs contribute ILI data to both ILINet and NSSP. Both systems are currently being affected by changes in health care seeking behavior, including increased use of telemedicine and increased social distancing. These changes affect the numbers of people seeking care in the outpatient and ED settings and their reasons for doing so. Nationally, the overall percentage of visits to outpatient providers or EDs for ILI or CLI has been increasing since mid-September. During week 45, the percentages of ED visits captured in NSSP for CLI and ILI were 3.9% and 1.2%, respectively and, compared to week 44, increased (CLI) or remained stable (change of'‰¤0.1%; ILI). In ILINet, 1.5% of visits reported were for ILI and, while increasing compared with week 44 (1.3%), remains below the national baseline (2.4% for October 2019 through September 2020; 2.6% since October 2020) for the 30th consecutive week. This level of ILI is typical for ILINet during this time of year. 012345678Percent of Visits for ILI or CLIWeekPercentage of Outpatient and Emergency Department Visits for ILI and CLI: ILINet and NSSP September 29, 2019 ''November 7, 2020 Percent of Visits for CLI (NSSP)Percent of Visits for ILI (NSSP)Percent of Visits for ILI (ILINet)
5 COVIDView Week 45, ending November 7, 2020 For those 5''24 years, the percentage of visits for ILI increased during week 45 (1.9%) compared with week 44 (1.7%). For all other age groups, (0''4 years, 25''49 years, 50''64 years, 65 years and older) the percentage of visits for ILI remained stable (change of '‰¤0.1%). All age groups have experienced an increasing percentage of visits for ILI since September. On a regional level, all ten regions reported an increase in at least one indicator of mild/moderate CLI or ILI in week 45 compared to week 44 and eight regions (Regions 2 [New Jersey/New York/Puerto Rico], 3 [Mid-Atlantic], 5 [Midwest], 6 [Southwest], 7 [Central], 8 [Mountain], 9 [South West/Coast], and 10 [Pacific Northwest]) reported an increase in at least two indicators. The percentage of visits for ILI to ILINet providers remained below the region-specific baseline in 9 regions; however, Region 7 (Central) reported ILI activity above baseline due to increased COVID activity. ILI Activity Levels Data collected in ILINet are used to produce a measure of ILI activity for all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the District of Columbia, and New York City and for each core-based statistical area (CBSA) where at least one provider is located. The mean reported percentage of visits due to ILI for the current week is compared with the mean reported during non-influenza weeks, and the activity levels correspond to the number of standard deviations below, at, or above the mean. The number of jurisdictions at each activity level during week 45 and the previous week are summarized in the table below.
6 COVIDView Week 45, ending November 7, 2020 Activity Level Number of Jurisdictions Number of CBSAs Week 45 (Week ending Nov. 7, 2020) Week 44 (Week ending Oct. 31, 2020) Week 45 (Week ending Nov. 7, 2020) Week 44 (Week ending Oct. 31, 2020) Very High 1 0 1 0 High 0 0 1 2 Moderate 0 1 4 5 Low 4 1 40 38 Minimal 49 52 540 556 Insufficient Data 1 0 343 328 Additional information about medically attended outpatient and emergency department visits for ILI and CLI: Surveillance Methods *Note: Data collected in ILINet may disproportionally represent certain populations within a state and may not accurately depict the full picture of influenza activity for the whole state. Differences in the data presented here by CDC and independently by some state health departments likely represent differing levels of data completeness with data presented by the state likely being the more complete. ILI Activity Level Map by CBSA Week 45, ending November 7, 2020 ILI Activity Level Map by Jurisdiction Week 45, ending November 7, 2020
7 COVIDView Week 45, ending November 7, 2020 Hospitalizations The COVID-19-Associated Hospitalization Surveillance Network (COVID-NET) conducts population-based surveillance for laboratory-confirmed COVID-19-associated hospitalizations in select counties participating in the Emerging Infections Program (EIP) and the Influenza Hospitalization Surveillance Project (IHSP). A total of 70,825 laboratory-confirmed COVID-19-associated hospitalizations were reported by sites between March 1, 2020, and November 7, 2020. The overall cumulative hospitalization rate was 217.2 per 100,000 population. Since the week ending September 26 (MMWR week 39), overall weekly hospitalization rates have increased, driven primarily by an increase in rates among adults aged 50 and older. Weekly hospitalization rates among children have had a two-week sustained increase from October 24 (MMWR week 43) to November 7 (MMWR week 45). Hospitalization rates for the most recent week are expected to increase as additional data are reported in future weeks. 05101520253035012345678910101214161820222426283032343638404244Rate per 100,000 populationRate per 100,000 populationMMWR WeekWeekly COVID-19-associated hospitalization rates by age group '--COVID-NET, March 1''November 7, 20200-4y (Left Axis)5-17y (Left Axis)18-49y (Right Axis)50-64y (Right Axis)65+y (Right Axis)Overall (Right axis)
8 COVIDView Week 45, ending November 7, 2020 Among the 70,825 laboratory-confirmed COVID-19-associated hospitalizations, 67,259 (95%) had information on race and ethnicity, while collection of race and ethnicity was still pending for 3,566 (5%) cases. When examining overall age-adjusted rates by race and ethnicity, the rate for Hispanic or Latino persons was approximately 4.2 times the rate among non-Hispanic White persons. Rates for non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native persons and non-Hispanic Black persons were approximately 4.1 and 3.9 times the rate among non-Hispanic White persons, respectively. When examining age-stratified crude hospitalization rates by race and ethnicity, compared with non-Hispanic White persons in the same age group, crude hospitalization rates were 6.5 times higher among Hispanic or Latino persons aged 0''17 years; 7.3 times higher among Hispanic or Latino persons aged 18''49 years; 5.2 times higher among non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native persons aged 50''64 years; and 3.1 times higher among non-Hispanic Black persons aged '‰¥65 years. 444.6430.9412.2132.5106.2050100150200250300350400450500Hispanic or LatinoNon-Hispanic AmericanIndian or Alaska NativeNon-Hispanic BlackNon-Hispanic Asian or PacificIslanderNon-Hispanic WhiteRate per 100,000 populationRace and EthnicityAge-adjusted COVID-19-associated hospitalization rates by race and ethnicity '--COVID-NET, March 1''November 7, 2020
9 COVIDView Week 45, ending November 7, 2020 Hospitalization rates per 100,000 population by age and race and ethnicity - COVID-NET, March 1, 2020''November 7, 2020 Non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native Non-Hispanic Black Hispanic or Latino Non-Hispanic Asian or Pacific Islander Non-Hispanic White Age Category Rate1 Rate Ratio2,3 Rate1 Rate Ratio2,3 Rate1 Rate Ratio2,3 Rate1 Rate Ratio2,3 Rate1 Rate Ratio2,3 0''17 years 19.5 4.0 23.3 4.8 31.9 6.5 9.6 2.0 4.9 1 18''49 years 329.7 7.2 226.9 4.9 334.6 7.3 72.0 1.6 46.1 1 50''64 years 744.4 5.2 625.7 4.4 735.5 5.1 208.1 1.4 143.7 1 65+ years 916.9 2.3 1237.3 3.1 1009.5 2.6 400.3 1.0 393.1 1 Overall rate4 (age-adjusted) 430.9 4.1 412.2 3.9 444.6 4.2 132.5 1.2 106.2 1 1 COVID-19-associated hospitalization rates by race and ethnicity are calculated using COVID-NET hospitalizations with known race and ethnicity for the numerator and NCHS bridged-race population estimates for the denominator. 2 For each age category, rate ratios are the ratios between crude hospitalization rates within each racial and ethnic group and the crude hospitalization rate among non-Hispanic White persons in the same age category. 3 The highest rate ratio in each age category is presented in bold. 4 Overall rates are adjusted to account for differences in age distributions within race and ethnicity strata in the COVID-NET catchment area; the age strata used for the adjustment include 0''17, 18''49, 50''64, and 65+ years. Non-Hispanic White persons and non-Hispanic Black persons represented the highest proportions of hospitalizations reported to COVID-NET, followed by Hispanic or Latino, non-Hispanic Asian or Pacific Islander, and non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native persons. However, some racial and ethnic groups are disproportionately represented among hospitalizations compared with the overall population of the catchment area. Prevalence ratios were highest among non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native persons, followed by non-Hispanic Black persons and Hispanic or Latino persons. Comparison of proportions of COVID-19-associated hospitalizations, by race and ethnicity, COVID''NET, March 1''November 7, 2020 Non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native Non-Hispanic Black Hispanic or Latino Non-Hispanic Asian or Pacific Islander Non-Hispanic White Proportion of COVID-NET hospitalizations1 1.3% 30.7% 22.8% 5.2% 34.9% Proportion of population in COVID-NET catchment area 0.7% 17.9% 14.1% 8.9% 58.5% Prevalence ratios2 1.9 1.7 1.6 0.6 0.6 1 Persons of multiple races (0.3%) or unknown race and ethnicity (4.8%) are not represented in the table but are included as part of the denominator. 2 Prevalence ratio is calculated as the ratio of the proportion of COVID-NET hospitalizations over the proportion of population in COVID-NET catchment area.
10 COVIDView Week 45, ending November 7, 2020 For underlying medical conditions, data were restricted to cases reported during March 1''May 31, 2020, due to delays in reporting. During this time frame, sampling was conducted among hospitalized adults; therefore, weighted percentages are reported. No sampling was conducted among hospitalized children. Among 8,426 sampled adults hospitalized during March 1''May 31 with information on underlying medical conditions, 90.6% had at least one reported underlying medical condition. The most reported underlying medical conditions were hypertension, obesity, metabolic disease, and cardiovascular disease. Among 265 children hospitalized during March 1''May 31 with information on underlying conditions, 50.9% had at least one reported underlying medical condition. The most reported underlying medical conditions were obesity, asthma, and neurologic disease. Additional data on demographics, signs and symptoms at admission, underlying conditions, interventions, outcomes, and discharge diagnoses, stratified by age, sex, and race and ethnicity, are available. Additional hospitalization surveillance information: Surveillance Methods | Additional rate data | Additional demographic and clinical data Mortality Surveillance The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) collects death certificate data from vital statistics offices for all deaths occurring in the United States. Based on death certificate data available on November 12, 2020, the percentage of deaths attributed to pneumonia, influenza, or COVID-19 (PIC) for week 45 was 8.9% and, while it is declining compared with the percentage during week 44, it remains above the epidemic threshold. The weekly percentage of deaths due to PIC declined from a second peak at the end of July through mid- September, remained approximately stable from the week ending September 19 through the week ending October 3, and increased during the first three weeks of October. Data for the most recent two weeks currently show a decline, but percentages for recent weeks will likely increase as more death certificates are processed. Weekly mortality surveillance data include a combination of machine coded and manually coded causes of death collected from death certificates. The percentage of deaths due to PIC is higher among manually coded records than more rapidly available machine coded records. Due to the additional time needed for manual coding, the initially reported PIC percentages may be lower than percentages calculated from final data.
11 COVIDView Week 45, ending November 7, 2020 *Data during recent weeks are incomplete because of the lag in time between when the death occurred and when the death certificate is completed, submitted to NCHS and processed for reporting purposes. It is possible that a death certificate includes both influenza and COVID as a cause of death; therefore, the number of influenza and COVID coded deaths may not be mutually exclusive. Additional NCHS mortality surveillance information: Surveillance Methods | Provisional Death Counts for COVID-19 Report prepared: November 12, 2020 Detailed data tables are available on the COVIDView page 02,0004,0006,0008,00010,00012,00014,00016,00018,0000246810121416182022242628405010203040501020304050102030405010203040Number of deaths% of All Deaths Due to PICMMWR WeekNCHS Mortality Reporting System:Pneumonia, Influenza and COVID-19 (PIC) MortalityUnited States, October 2, 2016 ''November 7, 2020*Number Influenza Coded DeathsNumber COVID-19 Coded Deaths% of Deaths Due to PICSeasonal BaselineEpidemic ThresholdEpidemic ThresholdSeasonal Baseline*Data as of November 12, 20202017201820192020
>>Die CIA ist am Wahlbetrug beteiligt
Thu, 19 Nov 2020 02:40
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6 reasons bitcoin is trading at its highest level since 2017 --- and 1 warning - MarketWatch
Thu, 19 Nov 2020 02:31
The popular digital currency, which is arguably one of the most polarizing in financial markets, is approaching heights not seen since the frenzied rush into cryptocurrencies three years ago.
Bitcoin's price BTCUSD, +1.27% on Wednesday briefly hit an intraday peak at 18,358.98, and was pulling back in recent trade but still on pace for the fourth-highest finish in its history since December 2017, when the asset briefly flirted with $20,000 before collapsing in dazzling fashion, according to Dow Jones Market Data, based on a 7 p.m. Eastern close.
But now bitcoin is drawing eyeballs and wallets again, outshining gold prices GOLD, -3.58% and the stock market, with a year-to-date advance that has exceeded 150% so far in 2020.
So why does the asset, based on the distributed-ledger technology, suddenly appear ready to surpass its 2017 peak at $19,783?
There are a few key reasons:
Scarcity factorBitcoin was created in 2009 and as a part of its creation by a person, or persons, using the name Satoshi Nakamoto, who embedded a limit of 21 million coins in the original bitcoin code. That means only 21 million bitcoin can ever exist. Currently, 18.5 million are in circulation, or nearly 90% of that total.
Bitcoins are digitally mined by those who expend outsize sums of computer power to solve puzzles and who are rewarded with coins in exchange for verifying transactions on the anonymous blockchain network.
Nakamoto designed the coins to be harder to get as the network gets closer to the maximum float. It's estimated that it will take 120 years to ''mine'' the remaining 10% of bitcoins needed to get to the 21 million limit.
The perceived scarcity, or supply limit, of an asset doesn't magically confer value to it. But the belief that there will be fewer opportunities to obtain bitcoin, or that it will reside in the hands of a select few, is often cited as a reason that demand for bitcoins has returned.
Familiarity breeds'...buying?Bitcoin doesn't have the cachet or tradition of other assets that have been around for much longer, including gold, which boasts a history stretching back thousands of years as a store of value and medium of exchange.
However, bitcoin's popularity has been growing among average folks and institutional investors alike, supporters say.
Bitcoin as a so-called uncorrelated asset, one not directly linked to price swings in, say, gold, bonds, or the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -1.15% or S&P 500 index SPX, -1.15% , has led to some buying of bitcoin as a financial hedge.
''Derivatives have taken a robust role in these markets, aiding the product variety available for active traders to advance their understanding of market dynamics and core risk management,'' Catherine Coley, CEO of Binance U.S., one of the world's largest crypto exchanges, told MarketWatch in an emailed exchange.
The rise of stablecoinsAnother factor tied to familiarity is the emergence of stablecoins, or those cryptocurrencies that are usually pegged to a fiat currency, like the dollar DXY, +0.17% or the euro EURUSD, -0.08% . These coins don't have nearly the volatility that is associated with a generic cryptocurrency because of their peg to a traditional currency that often underpins it.
Stablecoins have become a major source of liquidity in cryptocurrency markets, experts say.
Such coins backed by governments or corporate groups also have conferred the air of legitimacy of the digital-currency sector, with the Federal Reserve exploring the possibility of issuing its own digital currency, amid reports that China is moving forward with a digital yuan. The second-largest economy in the world launched a trial of a digital currency last month, according to reports.
The U.K. is also pushing the idea of a stablecoin for its central bank, according to a statement from Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak.
Among major institutions, JPMorgan Chase & Co. JPM, -0.74% launched an interbank payment systems using their own blockchain-based technologies to create a dollar-pegged digital asset called JPM coin.
Fall of the buck and gold rivalryWorries that governments are printing heaps of money to paper over problems created partly by the 2008 financial crisis was at least part of the reason that bitcoins were created over a decade ago. That thinking is also the basis for this resurgence in bitcoin, crypto experts said, as the COVID-19 pandemic forces governments and central banks to spend to limit the economic hit.
The dollar is down 4.2% so far in 2020, as measured by the ICE U.S. Dollar Index DXY, +0.17% , a gauge of the buck against a half-dozen currencies, including the euro. That puts the dollar on pace for its worst annual drop since 2017, when bitcoins were on the ascent.
''Bitcoin as a form of digital gold is also seeing its time in the sun as we see the floodgates open on monetary policy. Closing the sluice gate is more difficult than opening it,'' Charles Hayter, founder and CEO of CryptoCompare, a company engaged in bitcoin data and analytics, told MarketWatch.
Anthony Denier, CEO of Webull, a crypto-trading platform said that low interest rates also have diminished the cost of owning bitcoins over dollars or bonds.
In an email exchange, Denier said ''you have an extremely low interest rate environment which takes makes fiat cash stockpiles obsolete.''
Mainstream appeal'...and more PayPal PYPL, -1.13% recently said that users on its platform will be able to purchase bitcoin, as well as other sister cryptos like ethereum, Bitcoin Cash and Litecoin. PayPal's decision last month was a further recognition of the legitimacy of digital currencies, crypto enthusiasts say.
''Today bitcoin has gotten to a place where institutional investors, banks, and family offices are legitimately pondering involvement as a defense against currency devaluation,'' wrote Alex Mashinsky, CEO of Celsius Network, in emailed commentary.
''This isn't a gold rush anymore, it's a good investment,'' he said. He predicts that bitcoin will hit $30,000 by the end of next year.
Read: Bitcoin bull sees digital currency at $55,000 or $60,000 by end of 2021
2017 vs 2020?Some bulls make the case that this rally in bitcoin is different than the one three years ago that resulted in a massive and painful head-fake upward and crash lower for enthusiasts.
As the chart below shows, bitcoin's price is notably higher than it was at this time three years ago, wrote Matthew Weller, head of market research at GAIN Capital in a research note.
Bloomberg, GAIN Capital via Matthew Weller Weller suggested that there is less hype in the move for bitcoin this time around and therefore, it might be more sustainable even if there is a pullback in coming weeks.
''Bitcoin is clearly overbought across most short- and medium-term time frames, so a brief pullback/consolidation is likely soon, but the world's oldest cryptocurrency has closed exactly three days above the current price near $18,000, so there's little in the way of overhead resistance to prevent new all-time highs this year,'' he wrote.
A word of cautionIt's important to note that not everyone is a fan or believer in the inevitability of bitcoin as a legitimate asset in financial markets. Critics say that bitcoin is best used in money laundering and other criminal activities and make distinctions between digital currencies and the blockchain technology that underpins them.
Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, said that bitcoin wasn't his ''cup of tea'' at the New York Times DealBook Summit on Wednesday, even as he extolled the virtues of the blockchain backed JPM coin.
Dimon and others believe that governments can impose regulations on digital currencies that could nullify their appeal.
Read: Dalio says he 'might be missing something about bitcoin' '-- challenges Twitter to change his mind
Rep. Mo Brooks: Congress Has 'Absolute Right' to Reject a State's Electoral College Votes
Wed, 18 Nov 2020 20:28
Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) said that the presidential election's final outcome may boil down to the invocation of the 12th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution in early January when Congress convenes.
''The ultimate say over whether to accept or reject'' Electoral College votes for any state ''is not a court's job,'' he said. ''It is Congress's job under'' Article II of the 12th Amendment of the Constitution ''coupled with federal statutes that govern this issue.''
''Congress has the absolute right to reject the submitted electoral college votes of any state, which we believe has such a shoddy election system that you can't trust the election results that those states are submitting to us, that they're suspect,'' Brooks told Epoch Times this week. ''And I'm not going to put my name in support of any state that employs an election system that I don't have confidence in.''
Brooks noted that he doesn't have confidence in the election results in several states, including Georgia and Pennsylvania, where Democrat Joe Biden is the projected winner by razor-thin margins. President Donald Trump's campaign has filed lawsuits in several states, alleging irregularities, voter fraud, and violations of state election laws.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS)'s cybersecurity division said this week that the Nov. 3 election was the ''most secure'' in history, while several secretaries of state have said there is not enough evidence of voter fraud that would result in overturning the election. However, Federal Elections Commission Chairman Trey Trainor has said otherwise, claiming he believes ''there is voter fraud'' in several key states that went for Biden.
Brooks, perhaps in laying out a potential strategy the GOP will employ, said that ''on January the sixth at 1 p.m. eastern time, the 50 states will report to Congress, the president [of the] Senate will preside over this meeting'' and ''will report to Congress what they contend are their electoral college results in their state.''
''If a House member and a senator objects to the submission of electoral college votes by any state, that immediately triggers a House floor vote and a Senate floor vote on whether to accept or reject those electoral college votes submitted by that particular state,'' the Alabama Republican said. ''The amount of debate on the House and Senate floor is limited to two hours under federal law.''
President John Quincy Adams in 1818 by Gilbert Stuart, 1858. (Public Domain)Brooks said Congress will then determine whether to reject certain Electoral College votes, thereby taking them ''out of the mix.''
His reasoning for removing votes from certain states is because they're ''running a poor election system'' and ''a system so suspect that you can't give credibility to the results that are being reported.''
Brooks said under the 12th Amendment, the House would then determine who the president will be, while the Senate will determine the vice president. In the House, he noted, it's not a simple majority vote, but ''it is a majority of the states who determine who the president '... will be.''
''Based on the election results we just had, the GOP will control 26 states out of 50,'' Brooks said. ''That's a majority with a possible 27th'' as one election hasn't been called yet, he added.
''Presumably, the Republican nominee would be favored, because the GOP controls a majority of the state delegations in the House of Representatives,'' Brooks said.
The congressman noted that a similar situation unfolded nearly 200 years ago during the contingent election of 1824, which saw John Quincy Adams'--who was the ''second-place finisher'''--elected president as no candidate won a majority of the electoral vote.
Several days ago, Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz predicted that Trump might attempt to settle the election in Congress.
''Let's look at the big picture: The big picture now has shifted,'' Dershowitz told Newsmax. ''I do not believe that President Trump is now trying to get to 270 electoral votes. I think he thinks that's out of the question.''
''What he's trying to do is to deny Joe Biden 270 votes, by challenging in Pennsylvania, Georgia, in Nevada, in Michigan, in Arizona,'' Dershowitz said, adding that not allowing Biden to reach 270 out of 538 votes would eventually force House state delegations to vote, where Republicans have an advantage over Democrats. Currently, the GOP has a 26-23-1 state delegation majority in the House of Representatives.
''If he can keep the Biden count below 270, then the matter goes to the House of Representatives, where, of course, there is a Republican majority among the delegations of states, and you vote by state if it goes to the House,'' Dershowitz said. ''He's trying to follow the playbook of three elections of the 19th century.''
Greenville County students
Wed, 18 Nov 2020 19:43
Greenville County Schools released grading information from the first quarter of the 2020-21 school year. (Video above: Discussion on block scheduling for high school students)"We had great concern about students not performing well remotely, and I think that was well-founded concern," Superintendent Dr. Burke Royster said. (Watch the full school board meeting below)According to the report, the number of "F's" for students kindergarten through 12th grade in the first quarter of the school year has more than doubled as the district adjusted learning because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The share of virtual students with at least one "F" grade in the first quarter was double (34% compared to 17%) the share of students who attended brick-and-mortar sessions, according to the district data.Concerning the number of kids failing classes, Jeff McCoy, the Associated Superintendent of Academics, said, "Some kids may have one, some may have two, some may have more, so it's difficult to do a percentage without going through every subject and every schedule to get the potential number of grades."RELATED: Greenville County School Board discusses COVID-19 cases in district, next steps to bring back students"A lot of the failing grades are the result of students not handing in assignments," McCoy said.The district announced it will offer tutoring for students after school hours with six to eight students at a time and will compensate teachers for their time.
GREENVILLE COUNTY, S.C. '--Greenville County Schools released grading information from the first quarter of the 2020-21 school year.
(Video above: Discussion on block scheduling for high school students)
"We had great concern about students not performing well remotely, and I think that was well-founded concern," Superintendent Dr. Burke Royster said.
(Watch the full school board meeting below)
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According to the report, the number of "F's" for students kindergarten through 12th grade in the first quarter of the school year has more than doubled as the district adjusted learning because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Greenville County Schools
The share of virtual students with at least one "F" grade in the first quarter was double (34% compared to 17%) the share of students who attended brick-and-mortar sessions, according to the district data.
Greenville County Schools
Grade statisticsConcerning the number of kids failing classes, Jeff McCoy, the Associated Superintendent of Academics, said, "Some kids may have one, some may have two, some may have more, so it's difficult to do a percentage without going through every subject and every schedule to get the potential number of grades."
RELATED: Greenville County School Board discusses COVID-19 cases in district, next steps to bring back students
"A lot of the failing grades are the result of students not handing in assignments," McCoy said.
The district announced it will offer tutoring for students after school hours with six to eight students at a time and will compensate teachers for their time.
John Stossel's Transformation from Skeptical Libertarian to Polluter Apologist - Greenpeace USA
Wed, 18 Nov 2020 19:40
John Stossel has purposefully and wrongfully denied much of the scientific data that we currently hold to be true regarding our planet's changing climate and its potential consequences
Authored by Samuel Chernow. Edited by Connor Gibson.
Over the years, something has become pretty clear: No amount of evidence will convince John Stossel that we are experiencing a global climate crisis.
Throughout his career as a television host for companies like ABC and Fox Business Network, and now through YouTube, Stossel has purposefully and wrongfully denied much of the scientific data that we currently hold to be true regarding our planet's changing climate and its potential consequences.
John Stossel departed from ABC's 20/20 in 2009 because, as he details in a 2016 interview, ''They were no longer interested in airing my libertarian stories'...'' He quickly found a new platform at Fox Business through Stossel, where he worked to mask racial and environmental injustices under the cloak of ''Libertarian'' ideology.
At Fox, Stossel encouraged skepticism among his viewers with regard to climate change science and often interviewed a handful of discredited scientists tied to industry-funded organizations. Stossel ran a series of TV segments called ''Green Tyranny,'' where he made claims intended to undermine trust in political efforts to mitigate climate change.
One particular ''Green Tyranny'' interview in 2015, archived by DeSmog, involved career climate contrarians Patrick Michaels, Judith Curry, and Alex Epstein. Stossel claimed that an increase in our atmospheric temperature might actually benefit our planet because ''cold waves kill many more people than heat waves.'' This comment is, of course, both wrong and dangerous, as scientists agree that just a few degrees of global warming has a huge impact on ice sheets, sea levels, and many other aspects key to maintaining a stable climate.
Also notable, and unsurprising, is the lack of opposition to discredited positions featured in Stossel's videos for Fox. Respected and accomplished climate scientist generally decline to participate in Stossel's theatrical ''debates,'' de-legitimizing the climate change deniers that Stossel is known to feature. Stossel often frames the absence of respected scientists in his videos as the ''other side'' being unwilling to have a discussion, and allows the panelists to leave viewers with one-sided misinformation.
Stossel on YouTube Stossel left Fox in 2016 to focus on ''new media,'' which consisted of a new program called ''Stossel TV'' on YouTube. While much of the content is centered around his Libertarian views, there are multiple independent and monetized videos focused on the environment. YouTube is profiting from Stossel's dishonest videos.
The Center for Independent Thought (CIT) is Stossel's nonprofit fundraising hub. The CIT hosts ''Stossel TV,'' where Stossel has continued creating anti-environmental segments similar to his work at the Fox Business Network.
One such video, uploaded in 2019, involves the notorious climate science manipulator Patrick Michaels in another unopposed ''debate'' sponsored by The Heartland Institute. Heartland is an organization largely funded by anonymous donors with an agenda that includes intentionally misinforming the public about climate change. Michaels argued that another half-degree temperature increase will inflict little-to-no damage on our planet.
Scientists at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) might have a few words to say to that, given its lengthy 2018 report detailing how a half-degree increase would lead to hundreds of millions of humans at risk of climate-related disasters, including flooding, food scarcity, super-storms, deadly heat, and widespread disease.
Need I continue?
Stossel in the Classroom For years, including during Stossel's time on Fox Business Network, the Center for Independent Thought has administered ''Stossel in the Classroom,'' a program meant to inform and educate students on various topics.
One notable Stossel in the Classroom episode from 2009 features a segment in which Stossel tells viewers that there is still debate, '''...about whether or not human activity is the cause'' of climate change, flying in the face of scientific understanding at the time. Stossel made the unfounded claim that global warming is caused by the sun, which scientists have proven to be a baseless argument. Stossel in the Classroom has featured John Christy, Tim Ball, and Roy Spencer, all well-known climate deniers with ties to groups supported by the fossil fuel industry, including The Heartland Institute.
Stossel has been involved in other anti-environmental organizations, beyond Heartland. The Reason Foundation hosts the libertarian-oriented ''Stossel on Reason'' column, and Stossel has authored numerous articles for Reason Magazine.
As it turns out, both the Reason Foundation and the Center for Independent Thought (CIT) are funded, in some form, through entities with connections to the fossil fuel industry. Billionaire Charles Koch, for example, donated $170,000 to the CIT between 2014 and 2018, comprising 6.7% of the CIT's total grant revenue during the time period. Other notable CIT donors include the Cato Institute, the Atlas Network, and the Reason Foundation itself (all with significant Koch ties). The CIT takes additional funds from the dark money black hole DonorsTrust, which is used by Koch and other corporate benefactors to hide controversial financial trails.
Denial Beyond ScienceStossel's work isn't confined to simply spewing false rhetoric about our environment, though. He often has much to say during controversial times. The current Black Lives Matter movement, and police reform as a whole, is a perfect example of this.
In a 2016 article about the Black Lives Matter movement, Stossel opens his first few paragraphs quoting author Heather MacDonald's claim that ''violent crimes are disproportionately committed by blacks.'' Stossel claims that activist policing is what people in crime-ridden neighborhoods need and want because fearful cops would be too afraid to question anyone or anything that looks suspicious. Rather than opening his article by directly critiquing our current policing system and widespread systemic and institutional racism, he carefully weaves together a narrative that places the burden (once again) at the feet of Black Americans.
Ultimately, Stossel is again using his many privileges to try and downplay our nation's deep-seated racial tensions. He is telling us over and over again to trust him '' to not worry about problems that absolutely deserve to be at the forefront of our thoughts and actions. And it's incredibly dangerous.
Throughout his years at ABC, Fox, and new-age media, Stossel has led his audience to overlook urgent problems, from perpetually burying basic scientific knowledge about our planet's anthropogenic heating, to ''the right to be racist,'' in America, to dismissing the combined threat of environmental racism.
Stossel carefully crafts narratives that directly oppose nearly everything we know to be true about the impacts of unrestricted pollution and unrestrained capitalism. Combine these views with his many other problematic beliefs, and such an obscured fiscal backing, and you might think twice about blindly believing the figureheads on your screen.
Samuel Chernow is a Duke University student who participated in a remote internship with Greenpeace USA during the summer of 2020.
Dog owners who walk pooches at higher risk of contracting COVID-19
Wed, 18 Nov 2020 19:38
News
By Jackie Salo
November 17, 2020 | 2:13pm
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Dog owners who walk their pooches are 78% more likely to come down with COVID-19, a new study claims.
Researchers from the University of Granada surveyed 2,086 people about their daily habits during the pandemic to assess the risk of various activities, according to a paper in the journal Environmental Research.
They found that people who walked their dogs had a significantly higher chance of catching the virus '-- with an increased risk of 78% compared to the average person.
Meanwhile, owning cats or other types of pets didn't appear to put someone at more risk for becoming infected with the virus, researchers said.
''These results point to living with dogs as a strong risk factor for COVID-19 infection,'' researchers wrote.
Getty Images/iStockphotoThough the findings indicated there is a ''higher contagion among dog owners,'' more research is needed to determine whether pooches play a direct role in spreading the virus, the report said.
There is no conclusive research that proves dog-to-human transmission is possible if a dog becomes infected, however, researchers suggest pooches could spread the virus by touching contaminated surfaces in public and then walking the germs throughout their owner's home.
Professor Cristina Sanchez Gonzalez, one of the study's authors, said dog owners should take extra care to practice good hygiene, the Sun reported.
She added that decisions to close areas such as playgrounds ''didn't make sense'' when areas such as dog parks were able to remain open.
''In the midst of a pandemic and in the absence of an effective treatment or vaccine, preventive hygiene measures are the only salvation, and these measures should also be applied to dogs, which, according to our study, appear to directly or indirectly increase the risk of contracting the virus,'' she said.
Amazon Ring Doorbell Hacked in Florida Swatting Incident
Wed, 18 Nov 2020 19:37
In a Florida suburb Friday afternoon, local law enforcement received a call from a man confessing to hoarding explosives and killing his wife after seeing her cheat on him. Seemingly distraught, he gave them a play-by-play of the chaos unraveling. However, the crime didn't happen. The call was made by someone who hacked into his Ring surveillance camera.
NBC 2 reported that Sarah Courtney, the supposed dead wife, was home when she got a call from local authorities asking if she was alive. Nearby, her children's school went into lockdown and the neighborhood was swarming with law enforcement, according to The North Port Sun.
When authorities arrived at Courtney's home, they found her unharmed and couldn't decipher who the incognito caller was. Then the Ring camera started calling them names. It had been hacked and then used in a version of a swatting prank, an escalating, but similar type of prank to a series of Ring hacks that happened last year.
As seen in a video from NBC 2, officers walking out of Courtney's home are met with a, ''Yo, what's up [sic],'' and other insults. One officer turns around, looks awkwardly into the Ring camera, and waves. ''Hello?'' they say, seemingly confused.
The investigation is ongoing, however, Josh Taylor, the City of North Port's communications manager, believes the doorbell hacker is based in Sweden. Taylor said the perpetrator allegedly broke into the home's internet connection and was able to switch the doorbell's password, gaining access to its camera. Once the person knew Courtney was home, he made the call.
''We had a lot of interactions with the previous owners of this address,'' said Taylor in an interview with Motherboard. ''We're not sure but they could have had beef with this hacker. Without knowing the old resident had moved, whoever made the call could have looked up the address and targeted them for whatever reason.''
''I think it was incredibly random. But rattling,'' Courtney said in an interview with the North Port Sun. ''Some creep was watching me walk up to my front door. Just a major invasion of privacy. I was like 'what the heck.' It's a scary side of society.''
As Motherboard has previously reported, Ring cameras had been frequent targets for hackers, who broke into individual cameras of owners who did not use two-factor verification. There is no indication that Ring's servers had been hacked; in this case, a single Ring camera owner's account was hacked. Once a hacker is in, they can watch live stream video from the camera, access archival footage, and even speak through the device's speakers, as displayed in Courtney's case.
''Based on our ongoing investigation, a small number of Ring accounts appear to have been accessed by bad actors using compromised email accounts'--Ring systems were not compromised,'' a Ring spokesperson said in a statement. ''We promptly notified these customers and reset their Ring passwords so they could secure both their Ring and personal email accounts. Swatting is a serious crime and we're working with law enforcement to hold the bad actors accountable and protect customers.''
Courtney said she assumes the hacker was watching and waiting for her to get home. She told local news she thought it was a joke at first, but eventually realized she had been ''swatted.''
Made popular by YouTubers, swatting is a malicious gag where someone calls the police and reports a serious situation like a hostage hold up or murder. Local officials rush to the scene but typically only find a completely innocent citizen caught wildly off guard. It's no joke, though, as swatting has led to multiple deaths in the United States.
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Effectiveness of Adding a Mask Recommendation to Other Public Health Measures to Prevent SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Danish Mask Wearers: A Randomized Controlled Trial: Annals of Internal Medicine: Vol 0, No 0
Wed, 18 Nov 2020 19:19
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the cause of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), has infected more than 54 million persons (1, 2). Measures to impede transmission in health care and community settings are essential (3). The virus is transmitted person-to-person, primarily through the mouth, nose, or eyes via respiratory droplets, aerosols, or fomites (4, 5). It can survive on surfaces for up to 72 hours (6), and touching a contaminated surface followed by face touching is another possible route of transmission (7). Face masks are a plausible means to reduce transmission of respiratory viruses by minimizing the risk that respiratory droplets will reach wearers' nasal or oral mucosa. Face masks are also hypothesized to reduce face touching (8, 9), but frequent face and mask touching has been reported among health care personnel (10). Observational evidence supports the efficacy of face masks in health care settings (11, 12) and as source control in patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 or other coronaviruses (13).
An increasing number of localities recommend masks in community settings on the basis of this observational evidence, but recommendations vary and controversy exists (14). The World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (15) strongly recommend that persons with symptoms or known infection wear masks to prevent transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to others (source control) (16). However, WHO acknowledges that we lack evidence that wearing a mask protects healthy persons from SARS-CoV-2 (prevention) (17). A systematic review of observational studies reported that mask use reduced risk for SARS, Middle East respiratory syndrome, and COVID-19 by 66% overall, 70% in health care workers, and 44% in the community (12). However, surgical and cloth masks were grouped in preventive studies, and none of the 3 included non''health care studies related directly to COVID-19. Another systematic review (18) and American College of Physicians recommendations (19) concluded that evidence on mask effectiveness for respiratory infection prevention is stronger in health care than community settings.
Observational evidence suggests that mask wearing mitigates SARS-CoV-2 transmission, but whether this observed association arises because masks protect uninfected wearers (protective effect) or because transmission is reduced from infected mask wearers (source control) is uncertain. Here, we report a randomized controlled trial (20) that assessed whether a recommendation to wear a surgical mask when outside the home among others reduced wearers' risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection in a setting where public health measures were in effect but community mask wearing was uncommon and not recommended.
MethodsTrial Design and OversightDANMASK-19 (Danish Study to Assess Face Masks for the Protection Against COVID-19 Infection) was an investigator-initiated, nationwide, unblinded, randomized controlled trial (ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT04337541). The trial protocol was registered with the Danish Data Protection Agency (P-2020-311) (Part 10 of the Supplement) and published (21). The researchers presented the protocol to the independent regional scientific ethics committee of the Capital Region of Denmark, which did not require ethics approval (H-20023709) in accordance with Danish legislation (Parts 11 and 12 of the Supplement). The trial was done in accordance with the principles of the Declaration of Helsinki.
Participants and Study PeriodDuring the study period (3 April to 2 June 2020), Danish authorities did not recommend use of masks in the community and mask use was uncommon (<5%) outside hospitals (22). Recommended public health measures included quarantining persons with SARS-CoV-2 infection, social distancing (including in shops and public transportation, which remained open), limiting the number of persons seen, frequent hand hygiene and cleaning, and limiting visitors to hospitals and nursing homes (23, 24). Caf(C)s and restaurants were closed during the study until 18 May 2020.
Eligible persons were community-dwelling adults aged 18 years or older without current or prior symptoms or diagnosis of COVID-19 who reported being outside the home among others for at least 3 hours per day and who did not wear masks during their daily work. Recruitment involved media advertisements and contacting private companies and public organizations. Interested citizens had internet access to detailed study information and to research staff for questions (Part 3 of the Supplement). At baseline, participants completed a demographic survey and provided consent for researchers to access their national registry data (Parts 4 and 5 of the Supplement). Recruitment occurred from 3 through 24 April 2020. Half of participants were randomly assigned to a group on 12 April and half on 24 April.
InterventionParticipants were enrolled and data registered using Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap) software (25). Eligible participants were randomly assigned 1:1 to the mask or control group using a computer algorithm and were stratified by the 5 regions of Denmark (Supplement Table 1). Participants were notified of allocation by e-mail, and study packages were sent by courier (Part 7 of the Supplement). Participants in the mask group were instructed to wear a mask when outside the home during the next month. They received 50 three-layer, disposable, surgical face masks with ear loops (TYPE II EN 14683 [Abena]; filtration rate, 98%; made in China). Participants in both groups received materials and instructions for antibody testing on receipt and at 1 month. They also received materials and instructions for collecting an oropharyngeal/nasal swab sample for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing at 1 month and whenever symptoms compatible with COVID-19 occurred during follow-up. If symptomatic, participants were strongly encouraged to seek medical care. They registered symptoms and results of the antibody test in the online REDCap system. Participants returned the test material by prepaid express courier.
Written instructions and instructional videos guided antibody testing, oropharyngeal/nasal swabbing, and proper use of masks (Part 8 of the Supplement), and a help line was available to participants. In accordance with WHO recommendations for health care settings at that time, participants were instructed to change the mask if outside the home for more than 8 hours. At baseline and in weekly follow-up e-mails, participants in both groups were encouraged to follow current COVID-19 recommendations from the Danish authorities.
Antibody and Viral PCR TestingParticipants tested for SARS-CoV-2 IgM and IgG antibodies in whole blood using a point-of-care test (Lateral Flow test [Zhuhai Livzon Diagnostics]) according to the manufacturer's recommendations and as previously described (26). After puncturing a fingertip with a lancet, they withdrew blood into a capillary tube and placed 1 drop of blood followed by 2 drops of saline in the test chamber in each of the 2 test plates (IgM and IgG). Participants reported IgM and IgG results separately as ''1 line present'' (negative), ''2 lines present'' (positive), or ''I am not sure, or I could not perform the test'' (treated as a negative result). Participants were categorized as seropositive if they had developed IgM, IgG, or both. The manufacturer reported that sensitivity was 90.2% and specificity 99.2%. A previously reported internal validation using 651 samples from blood donors before November 2019 and 155 patients with PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection estimated a sensitivity of 82.5% (95% CI, 75.3% to 88.4%) and specificity of 99.5% (CI, 98.7% to 99.9%) (26). We (27) and others (28) have reported that oropharyngeal/nasal swab sampling for SARS-CoV-2 by participants, as opposed to health care workers, is clinically useful. Descriptions of RNA extraction, primer and probe used, reverse transcription, preamplification, and microfluidic quantitative PCR are detailed in Part 6 of the Supplement.
Data CollectionParticipants received 4 follow-up surveys (Parts 4 and 5 of the Supplement) by e-mail to collect information on antibody test results, adherence to recommendations on time spent outside the home among others, development of symptoms, COVID-19 diagnosis based on PCR testing done in public hospitals, and known COVID-19 exposures.
OutcomesThe primary outcome was SARS-CoV-2 infection, defined as a positive result on an oropharyngeal/nasal swab test for SARS-CoV-2, development of a positive SARS-CoV-2 antibody test result (IgM or IgG) during the study period, or a hospital-based diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 infection or COVID-19. Secondary end points included PCR evidence of infection with other respiratory viruses (Supplement Table 2).
Sample Size CalculationsThe sample size was determined to provide adequate power for assessment of the combined composite primary outcome in the intention-to-treat analysis. Authorities estimated an incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection of at least 2% during the study period. Assuming that wearing a face mask halves risk for infection, we estimated that a sample of 4636 participants would provide the trial with 80% power at a significance level of 5% (2-sided α level). Anticipating 20% loss to follow-up in this community-based study, we aimed to assign at least 6000 participants.
Statistical AnalysisParticipants with a positive result on an antibody test at baseline were excluded from the analyses. We calculated CIs of proportions assuming binomial distribution (Clopper''Pearson).
The primary composite outcome (intention-to-treat) was compared between groups using the χ2 test. Odds ratios and confidence limits were calculated using logistic regression. We did a per protocol analysis that included only participants reporting complete or predominant use of face masks as instructed. A conservative sensitivity analysis assumed that participants with a positive result on an antibody test at the end of the study who had not provided antibody test results at study entrance had had a positive result at entrance. To further examine the uncertainty of loss to follow-up, we did (post hoc) 200 imputations using the R package smcfcs, version 1.4.1 (29), to impute missing values of outcome. We included sex, age, type of work, time out of home, and outcome in this calculation.
Prespecified subgroups were compared by logistic regression analysis. In a post hoc analysis, we explored whether there was a subgroup defined by a constellation of participant characteristics for which a recommendation to wear masks seemed to be effective. We included sex, age, type of work, time out of home, and outcome in this calculation.
Two-sided P values less than 0.05 were considered statistically significant. Analyses were done using R, version 3.6.1 (R Foundation).
Role of the Funding SourceAn unrestricted grant from the Salling Foundations supported the study, and the BESTSELLER Foundation donated the Livzon tests. The funders did not influence study design, conduct, or reporting.
ResultsParticipantsA total of 17 258 Danish citizens responded to recruitment, and 6024 completed the baseline survey and fulfilled eligibility criteria. The first participants (group 1; n = 2995) were randomly assigned on 12 April 2020 and were followed from 14 to 16 April through 15 May 2020. Remaining participants (group 2; n = 3029) were randomly assigned on 24 April 2020 and were followed from 2 to 4 May through 2 June 2020. A total of 3030 participants were randomly assigned to the recommendation to wear face masks, and 2994 were assigned not to wear face masks (Figure); 4862 participants (80.7%) completed the study. Table 1 shows baseline characteristics, which were well balanced between groups. Participants reported having spent a median of 4.5 hours per day outside the home.
Figure. Study flow diagram. Inclusion and exclusion criteria are described in the Methods section, and criteria for completion of the study are given in the Supplement. SARS-CoV-2 = severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2.
Table 1. Characteristics of Participants Completing the StudyAdherenceBased on the lowest adherence reported in the mask group during follow-up, 46% of participants wore the mask as recommended, 47% predominantly as recommended, and 7% not as recommended.
Primary OutcomeThe primary outcome occurred in 42 participants (1.8%) in the mask group and 53 (2.1%) in the control group. In an intention-to-treat analysis, the between-group difference was ''0.3 percentage point (CI, ''1.2 to 0.4 percentage point; P = 0.38) (odds ratio [OR], 0.82 [CI, 0.54 to 1.23]; P = 0.33) in favor of the mask group (Supplement Figure 1). When this analysis was repeated with multiple imputation for missing data due to loss to follow-up, it yielded similar results (OR, 0.81 [CI, 0.53 to 1.23]; P = 0.32). Table 2 provides data on the components of the primary end point, which were similar between groups.
Table 2. Distribution of the Components of the Composite Primary OutcomeIn a per protocol analysis that excluded participants in the mask group who reported nonadherence (7%), SARS-CoV-2 infection occurred in 40 participants (1.8%) in the mask group and 53 (2.1%) in the control group (between-group difference, ''0.4 percentage point [CI, ''1.2 to 0.5 percentage point]; P = 0.40) (OR, 0.84 [CI, 0.55 to 1.26]; P = 0.40). Supplement Figure 2 provides results of the prespecified subgroup analyses of the primary composite end point. No statistically significant interactions were identified.
In the preplanned sensitivity analysis, those who had a positive result on an antibody test at 1 month but had not provided antibody results at baseline were considered to have had positive results at baseline (n = 18)'--that is, they were excluded from the analysis. In this analysis, the primary outcome occurred in 33 participants (1.4%) in the face mask group and 44 (1.8%) in the control group (between-group difference, ''0.4 percentage point [CI, ''1.1 to 0.4 percentage point]; P = 0.22) (OR, 0.77 [CI, 0.49 to 1.22]; P = 0.26).
Three post hoc (not preplanned) analyses were done. In the first, which included only participants reporting wearing face masks ''exactly as instructed,'' infection (the primary outcome) occurred in 22 participants (2.0%) in the face mask group and 53 (2.1%) in the control group (between-group difference, ''0.2 percentage point [CI, ''1.3 to 0.9 percentage point]; P = 0.82) (OR, 0.93 [CI, 0.56 to 1.54]; P = 0.78). The second post hoc analysis excluded participants who did not provide antibody test results at baseline; infection occurred in 33 participants (1.7%) in the face mask group and 44 (2.1%) in the control group (between-group difference, ''0.4 percentage point [CI, ''1.4 to 0.4 percentage point]; P = 0.33) (OR, 0.80 [CI, 0.51 to 1.27]; P = 0.35). In the third post hoc analysis, which investigated constellations of patient characteristics, we did not find a subgroup where face masks were effective at conventional levels of statistical significance (data not shown).
A total of 52 participants in the mask group and 39 control participants reported COVID-19 in their household. Of these, 2 participants in the face mask group and 1 in the control group developed SARS-CoV-2 infection, suggesting that the source of most observed infections was outside the home. Reported symptoms did not differ between groups during the study period (Supplement Table 3).
Secondary OutcomesIn the mask group, 9 participants (0.5%) were positive for 1 or more of the 11 respiratory viruses other than SARS-CoV-2, compared with 11 participants (0.6%) in the control group (between-group difference, ''0.1 percentage point [CI, ''0.6 to 0.4 percentage point]; P = 0.87) (OR, 0.84 [CI, 0.35 to 2.04]; P = 0.71). Positivity for any virus, including SARS-CoV-2, occurred in 9 mask participants (0.5%) versus 16 control participants (0.8%) (between-group difference, ''0.3 percentage point [CI, ''0.9 to 0.2 percentage point]; P = 0.26) (OR, 0.58 [CI, 0.25 to 1.31]; P = 0.19).
DiscussionIn this community-based, randomized controlled trial conducted in a setting where mask wearing was uncommon and was not among other recommended public health measures related to COVID-19, a recommendation to wear a surgical mask when outside the home among others did not reduce, at conventional levels of statistical significance, incident SARS-CoV-2 infection compared with no mask recommendation. We designed the study to detect a reduction in infection rate from 2% to 1%. Although no statistically significant difference in SARS-CoV-2 incidence was observed, the 95% CIs are compatible with a possible 46% reduction to 23% increase in infection among mask wearers. These findings do offer evidence about the degree of protection mask wearers can anticipate in a setting where others are not wearing masks and where other public health measures, including social distancing, are in effect. The findings, however, should not be used to conclude that a recommendation for everyone to wear masks in the community would not be effective in reducing SARS-CoV-2 infections, because the trial did not test the role of masks in source control of SARS-CoV-2 infection. During the study period, authorities did not recommend face mask use outside hospital settings and mask use was rare in community settings (22). This means that study participants' exposure was overwhelmingly to persons not wearing masks.
The observed infection rate was similar to that reported in other large Danish studies during the study period (26, 30). Of note, the observed incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection was higher than we had estimated when planning a sample size that would ensure more than 80% power to detect a 50% decrease in infection. The intervention lasted only 1 month and was carried out during a period when Danish authorities recommended quarantine of diagnosed patients, physical distancing, and hand hygiene as general protective means against SARS-CoV-2 transmission (23). Caf(C)s and restaurants were closed through 18 May, but follow-up of the second randomized group continued through 2 June.
The first randomized group was followed while the Danish society was under lockdown. Reopening occurred (18 May 2020) during follow-up of the second group of participants, but it was not reflected in the outcome because infection rates were similar between groups (Supplement Figure 2). The relative infection rate between mask wearers and those not wearing masks would most likely be affected by changes in applied protective means or in the virulence of SARS-CoV-2, whereas the rate difference between the 2 groups would probably not be affected solely by a higher'--or lower'--number of infected citizens.
Although we saw no statistically significant difference in presence of other respiratory viruses, the study was not sufficiently powered to draw definite conclusions about the protective effect of masks for other viral infections. Likewise, the study had limited power for any of the subgroup analyses.
The primary outcome was mainly defined by antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. This definition was chosen because the viral load of infected patients may be only transiently detectable (31, 32) and because approximately half of persons infected with SARS-CoV-2 are asymptomatic (33, 26). Masks have been hypothesized to reduce inoculum size (34) and could increase the likelihood that infected mask users are asymptomatic, but this hypothesis has been challenged (35). For these reasons, we did not rely solely on identification of SARS-CoV-2 in oropharyngeal/nasal swab samples. As mentioned in the Methods section, an internal validation study estimated that the point-of-care test has 82.5% sensitivity and 99.5% specificity (26).
The observed rate of incident SARS-CoV-2 infection was similar to what was estimated during trial design. These rates were based on thorough screening of all participants using antibody measurements combined with PCR, whereas the observed official infection rates relied solely on PCR test''based estimates during the period. In addition, authorities tested only a small subset of primarily symptomatic citizens of the entire population, yielding low incidence rates. On this basis, the infection rates we report here are not comparable with the official SARS-CoV-2 infection rates in the Danish population. The eligibility requirement of at least 3 hours of exposure to other persons outside the home would add to this difference. Between 6 April and 9 May 2020, we found a similar seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 of 1.9% (CI, 0.8% to 2.3%) in Danish blood donors using the Livzon point-of-care test and assessed by laboratory technicians (36). Testing at the end of follow-up, however, may not have captured any infections contracted during the last part of the study period, but this would have been true in both the mask and control groups and was not expected to influence the overall findings.
The face masks provided to participants were high-quality surgical masks with a filtration rate of 98% (37). A published meta-analysis found no statistically significant difference in preventing influenza in health care workers between respirators (N95 [American standard] or FFP2 [European standard]) and surgical face masks (38). Adherence to mask use may be higher than observed in this study in settings where mask use is common. Some mask group participants (14%) reported adverse reactions from other citizens (Supplement Table 4). Although adherence may influence the protective effect of masks, sensitivity analyses had similar results across reported adherence.
How SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted'--via respiratory droplets, aerosols, or (to a lesser extent) fomites'--is not firmly established. Droplets are larger and rapidly fall to the ground, whereas aerosols are smaller ('‰¤5 μm) and may evaporate and remain in the air for hours (39). Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 may take place through multiple routes. It has been argued that for the primary route of SARS-CoV-2 spread'--that is, via droplets'--face masks would be considered effective, whereas masks would not be effective against spread via aerosols, which might penetrate or circumnavigate a face mask (37, 39). Thus, spread of SARS-CoV-2 via aerosols would at least partially explain the present findings. Lack of eye protection may also have been of importance, and use of face shields also covering the eyes (rather than face masks only) has been advocated to halt the conjunctival route of transmission (40, 41). We observed no statistically significant interaction between wearers and nonwearers of eyeglasses (Supplement Figure 2). Recent reports indicate that transmission of SARS-CoV-2 via fomites is unusual (42), but masks may alter behavior and potentially affect fomite transmission.
The present findings are compatible with the findings of a review of randomized controlled trials of the efficacy of face masks for prevention (as personal protective equipment) against influenza virus (18). A recent meta-analysis that suggested a protective effect of face masks in the non''health care setting was based on 3 observational studies that included a total of 725 participants and focused on transmission of SARS-CoV-1 rather than SARS-CoV-2 (12). Of 725 participants, 138 (19%) were infected, so the transmission rate seems to be higher than for SARS-CoV-2. Further, these studies focused on prevention of infection in healthy mask wearers from patients with a known, diagnosed infection rather than prevention of transmission from persons in their surroundings in general. In addition, identified comparators (control participants) not wearing masks may also have missed other protective means. Recent observational studies that indicate a protective association between mandated mask use in the community and SARS-CoV-2 transmission are limited by study design and simultaneous introduction of other public health interventions (14, 43).
Several challenges regarding wearing disposable face masks in the community exist. These include practical aspects, such as potential incorrect wearing, reduced adherence, reduced durability of the mask depending on type of mask and occupation, and weather. Such circumstances may necessitate the use of multiple face masks during the day. In our study, participants used a mean of 1.7 masks per weekday and 1.3 per weekend day (Supplement Table 4). Wearing a face mask may be physically unpleasant, and psychological barriers and other side effects have been described (44). ''Face mask policing'' between citizens might reinforce use of masks but may be challenging. In addition, the wearer of a face mask may change to a less cautious behavior because of a false sense of security, as pointed out by WHO (17); accordingly, our face mask group seemed less worried (Supplement Table 4), which may explain their increased willingness to wear face masks in the future (Supplement Table 5). These challenges, including costs and availability, may reduce the efficacy of face masks to prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection.
The potential benefits of a community-wide recommendation to wear masks include combined prevention and source control for symptomatic and asymptomatic persons, improved attention, and reduced potential stigmatization of persons wearing masks to prevent infection of others (17). Although masks may also have served as source control in SARS-CoV-2''infected participants, the study was not designed to determine the effectiveness of source control.
The most important limitation is that the findings are inconclusive, with CIs compatible with a 46% decrease to a 23% increase in infection. Other limitations include the following. Participants may have been more cautious and focused on hygiene than the general population; however, the observed infection rate was similar to findings of other studies in Denmark (26, 30). Loss to follow-up was 19%, but results of multiple imputation accounting for missing data were similar to the main results. In addition, we relied on patient-reported findings on home antibody tests, and blinding to the intervention was not possible. Finally, a randomized controlled trial provides high-level evidence for treatment effects but can be prone to reduced external validity.
Our results suggest that the recommendation to wear a surgical mask when outside the home among others did not reduce, at conventional levels of statistical significance, the incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in mask wearers in a setting where social distancing and other public health measures were in effect, mask recommendations were not among those measures, and community use of masks was uncommon. Yet, the findings were inconclusive and cannot definitively exclude a 46% reduction to a 23% increase in infection of mask wearers in such a setting. It is important to emphasize that this trial did not address the effects of masks as source control or as protection in settings where social distancing and other public health measures are not in effect.
Reduction in release of virus from infected persons into the environment may be the mechanism for mitigation of transmission in communities where mask use is common or mandated, as noted in observational studies. Thus, these findings do not provide data on the effectiveness of widespread mask wearing in the community in reducing SARS-CoV-2 infections. They do, however, offer evidence about the degree of protection mask wearers can anticipate in a setting where others are not wearing masks and where other public health measures, including social distancing, are in effect. The findings also suggest that persons should not abandon other COVID-19 safety measures regardless of the use of masks. While we await additional data to inform mask recommendations, communities must balance the seriousness of COVID-19, uncertainty about the degree of source control and protective effect, and the absence of data suggesting serious adverse effects of masks (45).
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Face masks considerably reduce COVID-19 cases in Germany: a synthetic control method approach. IZA Discussion Papers. June 2020. Google Scholar 44. Lazzarino AI , Steptoe A , Hamer M , et al. Covid-19: important potential side effects of wearing face masks that we should bear in mind [Letter]. BMJ . 2020 ;:m2003. [PMID: 32439689] doi:10.1136/bmj.m2003 CrossrefMedlineGoogle Scholar 45. Javid B , Weekes MP , Matheson NJ . Covid-19: should the public wear face masks? [Editorial]. BMJ . 2020 ;:m1442. [PMID: 32273278] doi:10.1136/bmj.m1442 CrossrefMedlineGoogle Scholar This article was published at Annals.org on 18 November 2020
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