Cover for No Agenda Show 1301: BINO
December 6th, 2020 • 3h 15m

1301: BINO


Every new episode of No Agenda is accompanied by a comprehensive list of shownotes curated by Adam while preparing for the show. Clips played by the hosts during the show can also be found here.

Let Us Out!
True Pandemic Toll in the U.S. Reaches 345,000 - The New York Times
Sat, 05 Dec 2020 17:19
Deaths above normal are peaking now in 18 states.They peaked in the summer in 17 states and Puerto Rico.They peaked in the spring in 15 states and Washington, D.C.Deaths in every state of the country are higher than they would be in a normal year, according to an analysis of estimates from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
The data show how the coronavirus pandemic, which is peaking in many states, is bringing with it unusual patterns of death, higher than the official totals of deaths that have been directly linked to the virus.
Deaths nationwide were 19 percent higher than normal from March 15 to Nov. 14. Altogether, the analysis shows that 345,000 more people than normal have died in the United States during that period, a number that may be an undercount since recent death statistics are still being updated.
Total U.S. Deaths Above Normal Our analysis examines deaths from all causes '-- not just confirmed cases of coronavirus '-- beginning when the virus took hold. That allows comparisons that do not depend on the accuracy of cause-of-death reporting, and includes deaths related to disruptions caused by the pandemic as well as the virus itself. Epidemiologists refer to fatalities in the gap between the observed and normal numbers of deaths as ''excess deaths.''
As coronavirus cases spread across the country, the geographic patterns of deaths above normal have followed.
Where deaths above normal are peaking now Deaths above normal in these places peaked in October or later.
March 15 '' Nov. 21
March 15 '' Nov. 21
March 15 '' Nov. 21
North Dakota
March 15 '' Nov. 14
South Dakota
March 15 '' Nov. 14
March 15 '' Nov. 21
March 15 '' Nov. 21
March 15 '' Nov. 21
March 15 '' Nov. 21
March 15 '' Nov. 14
March 15 '' Nov. 21
March 15 '' Nov. 14
March 15 '' Nov. 21
March 15 '' Nov. 14
Excess deaths right now look worst in parts of the Midwest where coronavirus cases have been high. But in the summer, when the virus was more common in the South and Southwest, excess deaths were higher in those regions.
Where deaths above normal peaked in the summer Deaths above normal in these places peaked from July to October.
March 15 '' Nov. 21
March 15 '' Nov. 21
South Carolina
March 15 '' Nov. 14
March 15 '' Nov. 14
March 15 '' Nov. 14
March 15 '' Nov. 14
March 15 '' Nov. 14
March 15 '' Nov. 14
New Mexico
March 15 '' Nov. 14
Puerto Rico
March 15 '' Oct. 10
North Carolina
March 15 '' Aug. 15
Washington State
March 15 '' Nov. 21
West Virginia
March 15 '' Oct. 10
March 15 '' Nov. 14
March 15 '' Nov. 14
March 15 '' Oct. 31
In the early months of the pandemic, deaths were most common in the Northeast, as states like New York and New Jersey saw huge surges.
Where deaths above normal peaked in the spring Deaths above normal in these places peaked before July.
New York City
March 15 '' Nov. 21
New Jersey
March 15 '' Nov. 21
Washington, D.C.
March 15 '' Nov. 7
March 15 '' Oct. 24
March 15 '' Nov. 14
March 15 '' Nov. 21
New York (excluding N.Y.C.)
March 15 '' Nov. 21
March 15 '' Nov. 14
March 15 '' Nov. 21
March 15 '' Nov. 14
March 15 '' Nov. 21
March 15 '' Nov. 21
Rhode Island
March 15 '' Nov. 14
March 15 '' Nov. 21
March 15 '' Nov. 14
March 15 '' Nov. 21
New Hampshire
March 15 '' Nov. 21
Counting deaths takes time, and many states are weeks or months behind in reporting. These estimates from the C.D.C. are adjusted based on how mortality data has lagged in previous years. It will take several months before all these numbers are finalized.
From March 15 through Nov. 14, the most recent date with reliable statistics, estimated excess deaths were 41 percent higher than the official coronavirus fatality count. If this pattern held through Dec. 2, the total death toll would be about 380,000.
Public health researchers use such methods to measure the impact of catastrophic events when official measures of mortality are flawed.
Measuring excess deaths does not tell us precisely how each person died. Most of the excess deaths in this period are because of the coronavirus itself. But it is also possible that deaths from other causes have risen too, as hospitals in some hot spots have become overwhelmed and people have been scared to seek care for ailments that are typically survivable. Some causes of death may be declining, as people stay inside more, drive less and limit their contact with others.
Drug deaths have also risen steeply so far this year over last year, according to preliminary mortality data collected by The New York Times, though this increase had already started before the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting social disruptions.
Total death numbers are estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which are based on death certificates counted by the centers and adjusted to account for typical lags in the reporting of deaths.
Our charts show weekly deaths above or below normal. They include weeks in which the C.D.C. estimates the data to be at least 90 percent complete or estimated deaths are above expected death numbers. Because states vary somewhat in their speed in reporting deaths to the federal government, these state charts show death trends for slightly different time periods. We have not included weeks in which reported deaths were less than 50 percent of the C.D.C. estimate.
Expected deaths were calculated with a simple model based on the weekly number of all-cause deaths from 2017 to 2019 released by the C.D.C., adjusted to account for trends, like population changes, over time.
Excess death numbers are rounded.
What the stay-at-home order means for Southern California - Los Angeles Times
Sun, 06 Dec 2020 11:51
Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley will come under a new stay-at-home order beginning Sunday night after their available intensive care unit capacity fell below 15%, creating a critical shortage of ICU bed space in hospitals.
They will join several counties in the San Francisco Bay Area, which are planning to implement similar stay-at-home orders Sunday night and Monday morning, without waiting to cross into the threshold that would require action by the state.
By Tuesday, the stay-at-home orders will be in effect in 28 counties encompassing 84% of California's population, affecting more than 33 million Californians.
When does the stay-at-home order go into effect?The order goes into effect at these times in the following counties:
San Francisco, Santa Clara and Contra Costa counties: Sunday at 10 p.m.Southern California region and the San Joaquin Valley: Sunday at 11:59 p.m.Alameda County: Monday at 12:01 a.m.Marin County: Tuesday at noon
How long does the order last?For Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley, the order will last at least until Dec. 28 '-- and will only lift, at that time, if available ICU capacity projections for the following month reach 15% or greater.
The Bay Area orders are expected to remain in effect through Jan. 4, unless crowding in the region's intensive care units improves earlier than anticipated.
How crowded are the intensive care units? They're getting more crowded than ever, and unless something is done to turn the tide, California's intensive care unit capacity will be overwhelmed.
Mortality rates can dramatically increase when ICUs are stretched beyond capacity, and officials have already warned there are a limited number of doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers adequately trained in intensive care.
Quality of care can decrease substantially if hospitals are forced to transfer critically ill patients to other parts of the medical facilities that are not normally designed to care for such patients.
Nearly 20,000 Californians have died after being infected with the coronavirus, responsible for the worst global pandemic in more than a century. Unless the current surge in cases is turned around, California's death toll could double by the end of winter.
Here's a look at the remaining capacity of ICU wards in the five regions of California, as of Saturday, according to the the state Department of Public Health.
Bay Area: 21.7%Greater Sacramento Region: 21.4%Rural Northern California: 24.1%Southern California: 12.5%San Joaquin Valley: 8.6%When other regions' ICU availability falls below 15%, as is expected this month, the state will order the stay-at-home order to take effect within 24 hours.
How does this stay-at-home differ from the spring one? All retail stores will be allowed to remain open, at a reduced capacity, as will outdoor spaces like parks and beaches.
What closes once a region hits the thresholdOutdoor restaurant dining Hair salons, barbershops, nail salons and other personal care servicesPlaygroundsOutdoor cardrooms and satellite wagering and casinosOutdoor museums, zoos and aquariumsOutdoor movie theatersOutdoor wineries Overnight stays at campgroundsFood, drink or alcohol sales at outdoor recreational facilitiesRetail would stay open, but with limitsAll retail would be allowed to remain open under this stay-at-home order, although at a reduced capacity. Counties can impose tougher rules than the state's.
Most of California: In much of the state, essential retail, like supermarkets and drug stores, were at 50% of capacity; nonessential retail, like other stores and malls, at 25%. The new order lowers capacity of all retail to 20%. Los Angeles County: L.A. County already had recently tightened capacity limits at retail. When L.A. County falls into the scope of the new order, nonessential retail capacity limits would remain the same at 20%. Essential retail capacity would fall from 35% of capacity to 20%.Santa Clara County: Santa Clara County also had already tightened capacity limits. When the county falls into the scope of the new order, the local, tougher limit for nonessential retail (10%) will be loosened to conform with the state's limit, 20%. Essential retail capacity would fall from 25% to 20%.Shopping centers would also be capped at 20% of capacity. Eating and drinking in stores would be prohibited. Special hours should be imposed for seniors or those with compromised immune systems. Use of hotels and lodging for tourism and leisure prohibitedAfter the first statewide stay-at-home order imposed in the spring, California allowed counties to reopen hotels for tourism and individual travel in June.
The new regional stay-at-home order, when effective, again prohibits hotel use for nonessential travel, whether it be a vacation or a road trip to see family or friends.
Specifically, it allows hotel and lodging for essential reasons only, defined as supporting ''critical infrastructure sectors,'' including workers in healthcare, food, agriculture, energy, utilities, transportation, communications, government operations, manufacturing, financial services and the entertainment industry.
What stays open Entertainment productionProfessional sports without live audiences, except for Santa Clara County. It has its own order banning contact sports, which has forced the San Francisco 49ers to temporarily relocate to Arizona for December home gamesSchools that are already open for in-person learning can remain openOutdoor areas like beaches, parks, and hiking trailsMedical offices, dentist officesChild care and prekindergartenRestaurants for takeout and delivery serviceCritical infrastructure sectors Gatherings would be bannedIn early October, the state began to allow counties to permit small gatherings of people from different households, provided they occurred outdoors for no more than two hours and involved people from at most three households, who stayed at least six feet from one another and wore masks when not eating or drinking.
The new order would prohibit gatherings involving different households. L.A. County implemented the same ban Monday.
Outdoor church services and political demonstrations are still allowed.
How will the order be enforced?The order will work only if most Californians comply.
Newsom said he's seen support for enforcing the order from a number of local officials, although he acknowledged that some have said they're not planning to enforce the rules. Newsom said he will withhold pandemic funds from counties unwilling to enforce rules or adopt measures to reduce the spread of disease.
Nonessential travel restrictedOnce the order goes into effect, the state is asking people to stay at home and not mix and move around. Part of the recent surge in California was caused by travelers from out of state.
''All nonessential travel we are ordering to be temporarily restricted,'' Gov. Gavin Newsom said.
The directive to cancel nonessential travel plans is a requirement, not an advisory. The requirement really isn't enforceable, but Dr. Mark Ghaly, the California health and human services secretary, said he hoped that labeling it a requirement would encourage compliance.
Why use a regional approach?The regional approach is being used because that's how hospitals and healthcare delivery systems work when some hospitals reach capacity, Ghaly said. When one county is full, it leans on a nearby county for help.
This is how the state's regions are defined under the new order:
Rural Northern California: Del Norte, Glenn, Humboldt, Lake, Lassen, Mendocino, Modoc, Shasta, Siskiyou, Tehama, Trinity
Bay Area: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma
Greater Sacramento: Alpine, Amador, Butte, Colusa, El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, Sierra, Sutter, Yolo, Yuba
San Joaquin Valley: Calaveras, Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, San Benito, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Tulare, Tuolumne
Southern California: Imperial, Inyo, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura
Bay Area orders 8.5 million people to stay home from Monday as state hits record 22,000 cases a day | Daily Mail Online
Sun, 06 Dec 2020 12:33
The Bay Area health officials pre-empted California Governor Gavin Newsom's new rules - announced on Thursday - and on Friday declared their own lockdown would come into effect on Sunday and last until January 4
Six San Francisco Bay Area regions issued a new stay-at-home order on Friday as the number of virus cases surge and hospitals fill.
Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, said on Thursday that the area was exempt from his regional lockdown.
But the local health officials overrode him and decided to pre-emptively enforce a lockdown, to stem what they see as a tsunami of new cases coming their way.
'We cannot wait until after we have driven off the cliff to pull the emergency [brake],' said Santa Clara County Health Officer Sara Cody.
The changes will take effect for most of the area at 10pm on Sunday and last through January 4.
The counties have not yet reached Newsom's threshold, announced a day earlier requiring such an order when 85 per cent of ICU beds at regional hospitals are full, but officials said the hospital system will be overwhelmed before the end of December when Newsom's order would apply.
'We don't think we can wait for the state's new restrictions to go into effect later this month. This is an emergency,' said Contra Costa Health Officer Chris Farnitano.
The order came the same day the state recorded another daily record number of cases, with 22,018, and hospitalizations topped 9,000 for first time.
As of Friday, California has 1,286,557 confirmed cases of COVID-19, resulting in 19,582 deaths.
The number of COVID-related deaths increased by 0.7 per cent from the prior day total of 19,437.
This week's Thursday-to-Friday jump is one of the largest day-over-day case count increases of the pandemic. Only two others are higher, one in August and the one from Tuesday to Wednesday of this week.
The number of hospitalizations due to confirmed and suspected COVID-19 cases in California reached a total of 9,948 on Friday - an increase of 246 from the prior day total.
The number of ICU patients due to confirmed and suspected COVID-19 cases in California reached a total of 2,248, an increase of 101 from the prior day total.
The state's current test positivity rate is now 7.3 per cent, up from 7 per cent just 24 hours earlier. That's very close to where it was during the pandemic's late July peak, at 7.5 per cent despite the fact that the number of tests is up 10 per cent since then. That usually decreases the positivity rate.
It means restaurants will have to close to indoor and outdoor dining, bars and wineries must close along with hair and nail salons and playgrounds.
Shoppers at Costco in Santa Clarita fill their trolleys on Friday, ahead of Monday's lockdown
Food is loaded on Friday as drivers in their vehicles wait in line on arrival at a 'Let's Feed LA County' food distribution
LA County sheriff refuses to enforce Newsom's lockdown In Los Angeles County, the nation's largest with 10 million residents, Sheriff Alex Villanueva announced that his department would not be clamping down on businesses, but rather would be conducting 'targeted enforcement on super-spreader events.'
The sheriff previously said he had relied on voluntary compliance with health orders.
'I want to stay away from businesses that are trying to comply the best they can,' he told KTTV.
'They bent over backwards to modify their entire operation to conform to these current health orders, and then they have the rug yanked out from under them '-- that's a disservice.
'I don't want to make their lives any more miserable.'
Retail stores and shopping centers can operate with just 20 per cent customer capacity. Gatherings of any size with people outside of your household are banned.
Berkeley Health Officer Lisa Hernandez said people should not meet in person with anyone they don't live with, 'even in a small group, and even outdoors with precautions.'
'If you have a social bubble, it is now popped,' Hernandez said.
'Do not let this be the last holiday with your family.'
The new stay-at-home order will cut sharply into the most profitable shopping season and threaten financial ruin for businesses already struggling after 10 months of on-again, off-again restrictions and slow sales because of the pandemic.
The five Bay Area counties, along with San Mateo County, were the first region in the country to order a lockdown on March 17 when the area of seven million people had fewer than 280 cases and just three deaths.
San Mateo County officials were not part of the news conference Friday announcing the changes.
Officials said it was much easier to implement such an order regionally, since the Bay Area counties are so closely connected.
In Santa Clara County, the most populated in the region and home to two million residents and the headquarters of Apple and Google, officials previously banned all high school, collegiate and professional sports and imposed a quarantine for people traveling to the region from areas more than 150 miles away after officials began seeing an uptick in cases following Thanksgiving Day.
Compliance officers fanned out throughout the county on Thanksgiving Day and continue to visit business to make sure they follow capacity rules and other precautions.
All the counties, except for Marin, are in the most restrictive purple tier in the state's pandemic blueprint for the economy, forcing most non-essential indoor activities to stop.
A street blocked off for outdoor dining is mostly empty on Friday in Sausalito, California
Chandeliers hangs above a space where outdoor dining had been set up at Flemings Prime Steakhouse in Woodland Hills
Empty tables are seen outside of a restaurant set up for outdoor dining on Friday in Burbank, California
Public health officials have warned that the toll from Thanksgiving gatherings could start to swamp hospitals by Christmas.
Concern over hospital staffing shortages While the spring surge was more limited in scope, with some parts of California being hit harder than others.
That allowed more room for shifting resources and bringing in medical professionals from areas that could spare them.
The current surge is not only larger than the spring one but also much more widespread, leaving fewer areas with nurses and doctors to spare.
In the last month, the state imposed restrictions in 52 of the state's 58 counties, including asking people not to leave the state and implementing an overnight curfew for all but essential trips, such as getting groceries.
But it has not worked, because data shows people are ignoring the rules, Dr Mark Ghaly, the state's top public health officer, acknowledged on Thursday.
California issued a statewide order for its 39.5 million residents, 8.5 million of whom live in the Bay Area.
The state has almost double the population of New York state and 10 million more than Texas.
Another concern is that the state may struggle to staff its medical facilities.
While the spring surge was more limited in scope, with some parts of California being hit harder than others.
That allowed more room for shifting resources and bringing in medical professionals from areas that could spare them.
The current surge is not only larger than the spring one but also much more widespread, leaving fewer areas with nurses and doctors to spare.
Newsom's order divides the state into five regions - none of which currently meet the threshold for the new restrictions.
He said four out of five regions - Greater Sacramento, Northern California, San Joaquin Valley and Southern California - are on track to hit that threshold within a few days and the fifth - the Bay Area - is expected to meet it by the middle of the month.
Bay Area officials decided not to wait that long.
Newsom said that when the areas do surpass 85 per cent capacity, the state will order affected regions to close hair salons and barber shops, limit retail stores to 20 per cent capacity and only allow restaurants to offer take-out and delivery for at least three weeks.
Northern California has 15 per cent of its ICU beds available, San Joaquin Valley has 22 per cent, Greater Sacramento has 24 per cent, Southern California has 26 per cent and the Bay Area has 28 per cent.
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The announcement on Thursday came after California broke its record for daily new cases on Wednesday with more than 20,000, bringing the state's total to 1,264,539 with 19,437 deaths.
Newsom's new lockdown rules California's latest lockdown order will go into effect in regions that drop below 15 percent available ICU bed capacity, with restrictions lasting for three weeks.
- Limit mixing with other households as much as possible
- Retail held to 20 percent capacity
- Restaurants limited to takeout and delivery
- Full closure of: Playgrounds; indoor recreational facilities; hair salons and barbershops; personal care services; museums, zoos, and aquariums; movie theaters; wineries, bars, breweries, and distilleries; family entertainment centers; cardrooms and satellite wagering; live audience sports; amusement parks
Travel for essential services such as medical care and groceries
Distanced outdoor activity such as hiking
Schools already holding in-person classes
Outdoor religious services
Offices where remote work is not possible
'The bottom line is if we don't act now, our hospital system will be overwhelmed,' Newsom said while announcing the order, which he called 'Pulling an Emergency brake', at a video press conference.
Infections have exploded in recent weeks to the point that the state is averaging 15,000 new cases a day and the positivity rate has more than doubled, reaching seven percent in the two-week period ended Wednesday.
Newsom, who is quarantining at home after three of his children were exposed to the virus, warned earlier this week that he would take 'drastic action' if the numbers didn't improve.
Public health officials have said the current figures don't include the COVID-19 infections expected to arise from Thanksgiving holiday travel and gatherings.
Those cases probably will start showing up in hospitals around Christmas, experts say.
During Thursday's press conference Newsom emphasized the state's recent surge in coronavirus deaths - noting there were two consecutive days this week with a record 113 fatalities.
A month ago the state was reporting an average of less than 20 deaths per day.
Residents of the areas under the restrictions will be required to stay home as much as possible, with a blanket ban on nonessential gatherings, but they will be allowed to continue essential activities including seeking medical care and buying groceries.
The order also allows outdoor religious ceremonies and distanced outdoor exercise such as hiking.
It does not affect schools that have already reopened for in-person classes.
Retail businesses will be limited to 20 per cent capacity while all playgrounds, salons and barbershops, museums, movie theaters, wineries, bars, casinos and amusement parks must close entirely.
'We are at a tipping point in our fight against the virus and we need to take decisive action now to prevent California's hospital system from being overwhelmed in the coming weeks,' Newsom said.
'I'm clear-eyed that this is hard on all of us - especially our small businesses who are struggling to get by.'
Newsom's latest order mirrors the one he imposed at the start of the pandemic in March, except that it is broken down by region rather than statewide.
Newsom ramped up restrictions a week before Thanksgiving, imposing a nighttime curfew on nonessential gatherings and business in counties that are in the strictest purple tier of the state's color-coded system for reopening the economy. Fifty-one of the state's 58 counties are currently in that tier, comprising more than 99 percent of the population
Percentage of available ICU units by region Bay Area: 28%
Greater Sacramento: 24%
Northern California: 15%
San Joaquin Valley: 22%
Southern California: 26%
The governor and members of his office acknowledged that it won't be easy for Californians to go back into isolation, but said locking down will give the state its best chance of curbing the spread of the virus.
'We know what a struggle this pandemic has been for so many California families, but our actions have saved countless lives,' Dr Mark Ghaly, California Health and Human Services Secretary, said in a written statement.
'This targeted action will preserve vital ICU beds for people who need them - whether they're COVID-19 patients or someone who has suffered a heart attack or a stroke.'
Newsom already ramped up restrictions a week before Thanksgiving, imposing a nighttime curfew on nonessential gatherings and business in counties that are in the purple tier of the state's color-coded system for reopening the economy.
Fifty-one of the state's 58 counties are currently in that tier, comprising more than 99 per cent of the population.
Los Angeles County was placed under even stricter rules than those set by the state on Wednesday as Mayor Eric Garcetti announced an order closing non-essential businesses, banning all travel including walking and prohibiting social gatherings outside a single household.
On Friday, Garcetti gave an astonishingly grim forecast of the death toll, telling a press conference: 'We are facing a decade of homicides'.
He warned his county is on track to surpass 11,000 deaths by the end of the year, with more than 500,000 cases.
Garcetti urged people to 'control' the spread and stay home for Christmas.
On Friday evening, Eric Garcetti told his city of the future toll: 'We are facing a decade of homicides'
Customers wait in line outside a store in Los Angeles' Third Street Promenade on Thursday after the county was placed under new lockdown restrictions
The Third Street Promenade was nearly entirely deserted on Thursday after Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti's new lockdown went into effect
Customers are screened before entering an Apple store in downtown Los Angeles
It came as the county - the nation's most populous with more than 10 million residents, sees 'terrifying' surges in daily cases with 6,000 infections recorded Tuesday.
Garcetti's order said Los Angeles 'is now close to a devastating tipping point' that could overwhelm the hospital system, 'in turn risking needless suffering and death'.
The mayor urged police and the city attorney to enforce the order, which carries misdemeanor penalties.
In Los Angeles County, sheriffs are refusing to enforce Newsom's order, and will instead focus on targeting 'superspreader events'.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva said late Thursday that his department, which oversees 10 million residents, has concentrated on education and voluntary compliance since March regarding health orders pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic.
'Moving forward, we will additionally be conducting targeted enforcement on super-spreader events,' Villanueva tweeted.
But he said his deputies will not descend on businesses if and when Newsom's new stay-at-home order announced Thursday is triggered.
'I want to stay away from businesses that are trying to comply the best they can,' Villanueva told KTTV.
'They bent over backwards to modify their entire operation to conform to these current health orders, and then they have the rug yanked out from under them '-- that's a disservice.
'I don't want to make their lives any more miserable.'
A normally busy Ventura Blvd in Tarzana is almost empty on Thursday during the second coronavirus lockdown to hit Los Angeles
The 101 freeway in Los Angeles is seen with little traffic on Thursday
Bill Gates - How To Lie with Statistics Book
Sat, 05 Dec 2020 17:30
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Amazon Review of How to Lie with Statistics Review
"There is terror in numbers," writes Darrell Huff in How to Lie with Statistics. And nowhere does this terror translate to blind acceptance of authority more than in the slippery world of averages, correlations, graphs, and trends. Huff sought to break through "the daze that follows the collision of statistics with the human mind" with this slim volume, first published in 1954. The book remains relevant as a wake-up call for people unaccustomed to examining the endless flow of numbers pouring from Wall Street, Madison Avenue, and everywhere else someone has an axe to grind, a point to prove, or a product to sell. "The secret language of statistics, so appealing in a fact-minded culture, is employed to sensationalize, inflate, confuse, and oversimplify," warns Huff.
Although many of the examples used in the book are charmingly dated, the cautions are timeless. Statistics are rife with opportunities for misuse, from "gee-whiz graphs" that add nonexistent drama to trends, to "results" detached from their method and meaning, to statistics' ultimate bugaboo--faulty cause-and-effect reasoning. Huff's tone is tolerant and amused, but no-nonsense. Like a lecturing father, he expects you to learn something useful from the book, and start applying it every day. Never be a sucker again, he cries!
Even if you can't find a source of demonstrable bias, allow yourself some degree of skepticism about the results as long as there is a possibility of bias somewhere. There always is.
Read How to Lie with Statistics. Whether you encounter statistics at work, at school, or in advertising, you'll remember its simple lessons. Don't be terrorized by numbers, Huff implores. "The fact is that, despite its mathematical base, statistics is as much an art as it is a science." --Therese Littleton
“A hilarious exploration of mathematical mendacity.… Every time you pick it up, what happens? Bang goes another illusion!”
- New York Times
“A pleasantly subversive little book guaranteed to undermine your faith in the almighty statistic.”
- Atlantic
Coronavirus: Southern California, San Joaquin Valley trigger stay-at-home order
Sun, 06 Dec 2020 05:04
Published Sat, Dec 5 2020 5:51 PM EST
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Two regions in California, San Joaquin Valley and Southern California, have triggered the state's new stay-at-home order, according to the California Department of Public Health.Both regions have ICU capacities below the 15% threshold set by the state, the CDPH said on Saturday.The order, which will last for at least three weeks, places restrictions on many businesses, including bars, wineries, personal services, hair salons, barbershops, retail stores and restaurants. A waitress serves guests as people dine outdoors in Pasadena, California, the only city in Los Angeles County still allowing that service on December 2, 2020.
Frederic J. Brown | AFP | Getty Images
Two regions in California, San Joaquin Valley and Southern California, have triggered the state's new stay-at-home order after capacity in their intensive-care units fell below 15%, according to the California Department of Public Health.
The new restrictions, which will last for at least three weeks beginning late Sunday, come as the state reports a record 25,068 new Covid-19 cases on Friday, according to the CDPH.
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday said the state would be split into five regions '-- the Bay Area, Greater Sacramento, Northern California, San Joaquin Valley and Southern California. If the remaining ICU capacity in a region falls below 15%, it will trigger the stay-at-home order, he said. Newsom warned that every area was projected to drop below 15% ICU capacity at some point in December.
San Joaquin Valley's ICU capacity dropped to 8.6% as of Saturday, while Southern California's capacity, which includes Los Angeles and San Diego counties, dipped to 12.5%, according to a statement from CDPH.
The order will require bars, wineries, personal services, hair salons and barbershops to temporarily close. Personal services are businesses like nail salons, tattoo parlors and body waxing, according to the state's website.
Schools that meet the state's health requirements and critical infrastructure would be allowed to remain open. Retail stores could operate at 20% capacity and restaurants would be allowed to offer take-out and delivery.
The new measures are intended to prevent Californians from mixing with people who don't live in their household and to keep gatherings outside rather than inside. However, people are still encouraged to do things outdoors, like walk their dog, exercise, go sledding or walk on the beach, Newsom said.
On Friday, San Francisco Bay Area health officials announced they wouldn't wait for their ICU capacity to dip below the 15% threshold and said they would implement the order early.
"Our hospitalization rates are rising locally, especially in our ICU right now. And just as importantly, hospitalizations are rising everywhere, so if we run out of beds, there won't be another county that can help us," San Francisco Mayor London Breed said during a press briefing Friday.
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'At least' four strains of COVID-19 found in Baltimore Ravens' facility
Sat, 05 Dec 2020 20:31
2:34 PM ET Jamison Hensley ESPN Staff Writer
CloseUniversity of Maryland graduateLives in the Baltimore area with his wife and sonOWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens on Saturday said they were informed by the NFL that "at least four unique strains" of COVID-19 were found inside their facility during the team's outbreak.
"Three of the four were stopped and not spread within our organization," Ravens president Dick Cass said in a statement. "Unfortunately, the fourth was a highly-contagious strain and spread throughout our organization."
The outbreak in Baltimore was one of the biggest in professional sports.
At least one Ravens player tested positive for 10 straight days. Baltimore placed 23 players on the reserve/COVID-19 list during that span.
"From the outset, we have taken the virus seriously, very seriously," Cass said. "... Despite our best efforts, the protocol is only as effective as our weakest link. With a dangerous virus like this, everyone must comply with the protocol to avoid infecting many. We now know that not everyone at the Ravens followed the protocol thoroughly."
The Ravens recently announced a staff member had been disciplined. According to a source, the team's strength and conditioning coach was suspended for not always wearing a mask and contact-tracing device in the facility.
The outbreak forced the recent Ravens-Steelers game to be postponed three times.
The Ravens, who have had four straight days without a positive test, reduced its reserve/COVID-19 list to 10 players on Saturday.
"We cannot undo what has occurred," Cass said. "But, we can do our best to learn from what has happened and be vigilant moving forward to ensure that it does not happen again. As the recent experience has shown us, this virus does not need a large opening to spread within an organization, and 99% compliance is not a passing grade when dealing with this virus."
Viral cultures for COVID-19 infectious potential assessment '' a systematic review | Clinical Infectious Diseases | Oxford Academic
Sat, 05 Dec 2020 16:23
Skip Nav Destination Accepted manuscript
T Jefferson , Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford, Radcliffe Observatory Quarter
, Oxford
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E A Spencer , Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford, Radcliffe Observatory Quarter
, Oxford
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J Brassey , Search for other works by this author on:
C Heneghan Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford, Radcliffe Observatory Quarter
, Oxford
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06 October 2020
03 December 2020
to review the evidence from studies relating SARS-CoV-2 culture with the results of reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and other variables which may influence the interpretation of the test, such as time from symptom onset
We searched LitCovid, medRxiv, Google Scholar and the WHO Covid-19 database for Covid-19 to 10 September 2020. We included studies attempting to culture or observe SARS-CoV-2 in specimens with RT-PCR positivity. Studies were dual extracted and the data summarised narratively by specimen type. Where necessary we contacted corresponding authors of included papers for additional information. We assessed quality using a modified QUADAS 2 risk of bias tool.
We included 29 studies reporting attempts at culturing, or observing tissue infection by, SARS-CoV-2 in sputum, nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal, urine, stool, blood and environmental specimens. The quality of the studies was moderate with lack of standardised reporting. The data suggest a relationship between the time from onset of symptom to the timing of the specimen test, cycle threshold (Ct) and symptom severity. Twelve studies reported that Ct values were significantly lower and log copies higher in specimens producing live virus culture. Two studies reported the odds of live virus culture reduced by approximately 33% for every one unit increase in Ct. Six of eight studies reported detectable RNA for longer than 14 days but infectious potential declined after day 8 even among cases with ongoing high viral loads. Four studies reported viral culture from stool specimens.
Complete live viruses are necessary for transmission, not the fragments identified by PCR. Prospective routine testing of reference and culture specimens and their relationship to symptoms, signs and patient co-factors should be used to define the reliability of PCR for assessing infectious potential. Those with high cycle threshold are unlikely to have infectious potential.
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Vaccines and such
Vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 will have side effects '' that's a good thing
Sun, 06 Dec 2020 12:51
Temporary side effects from vaccines are a normal sign of a developing immune response.
Vaccines work by training your immune system to recognize and remember a pathogen in a safe way.
Expected side effects from a COVID-19 vaccine include redness and swelling at the injection site and stiffness and soreness in the muscle.
A potent vaccine may even cause fever. It does not mean that the vaccine gave you COVID-19.
In 2021 hundreds of millions of people will be vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2. The success of that COVID-19 vaccination campaign will heavily depend on public trust that the vaccines are not only effective, but also safe. To build that trust, the medical and scientific communities have a responsibility to engage in difficult discussions with the public about the significant fraction of people who will experience temporary side effects from these vaccines.
I am an immunologist who studies the fundamentals of immune responses to vaccination, so part of that responsibility falls on me.
Simply put, receiving these vaccines will likely make a whole lot of people feel crappy for a few days. That's probably a good thing, and it's a far better prospect than long-term illness or death.
Immunology's 'dirty little secret'In 1989, immunologist Charles Janeway published an article summarizing the state of the field of immunology. Until that point, immunologists had accepted that immune responses were initiated when encountering something foreign '' bacteria, viruses, and parasites '' that was ''non-self.''
Janeway suspected that there was more to the story, and famously laid out what he referred to as ''the immunologist's dirty little secret'': Your immune system doesn't just respond just to foreign things. It responds to foreign things that it perceives to be dangerous.
Now, 30 years later, immunologists know that your immune system uses a complex set of sensors to understand not only whether or not something is foreign, but also what kind of threat, if any, a microbe might pose. It can tell the difference between viruses '' like SARS-CoV-2 '' and parasites, like tapeworms, and activate specialized arms of your immune system to deal with those specific threats accordingly. It can even monitor the level of tissue damage caused by an invader, and ramp up your immune response to match.
Sensing the type of threat posed by a microbe, and the level of intensity of that threat, allows your immune system to select the right set of responses, wield them precisely, and avoid the very real danger of immune overreaction.
Vaccine adjuvants bring the danger we needVaccines work by introducing a safe version of a pathogen to a patient's immune system. Your immune system remembers its past encounters and responds more efficiently if it sees the same pathogen again. However, it generates memory only if the vaccine packs enough danger signals to kick off a solid immune response.
As a result, your immune system's need to sense danger before responding is at once extremely important (imagine if it started attacking the thousands of species of friendly bacteria in your gut!) and highly problematic. The requirement for danger means that your immune system is programmed not to respond unless a clear threat is identified. It also means that if I'm developing a vaccine, I have to convince your immune system that the vaccine itself is a threat worth taking seriously.
This can be accomplished in a number of ways. One is to inject a weakened '' what immunologists call attenuated '' or even killed version of a pathogen. This approach has the benefit of looking almost identical to the ''real'' pathogen, triggering many of the same danger signals and often resulting in strong, long-term immunity, as is seen in polio vaccination. It can also be risky '' if you haven't weakened the pathogen enough and roll out the vaccine too fast, there is a possibility of unintentionally infecting a large number of vaccine recipients. In addition to this unacceptable human cost, the resulting loss of trust in vaccines could lead to additional suffering as fewer people take other, safer vaccines.
A safer approach is to use individual components of the pathogen, harmless by themselves but capable of training your immune system to recognize the real thing. However, these pieces of the pathogen don't often contain the danger signals necessary to stimulate a strong memory response. As a result, they need to be supplemented with synthetic danger signals, which immunologists refer to as ''adjuvants.''
Adjuvants are safe, but designed to inflameTo make vaccines more effective, whole labs have been dedicated to the testing and development of new adjuvants. All are designed with the same basic purpose '' to kick the immune system into action in a way that maximizes the effectiveness and longevity of the response. In doing so, we maximize the number of people that will benefit from the vaccine and the length of time those people are protected.
To do this, we take advantage of the same sensors that your immune system uses to sense damage in an active infection. That means that while they will stimulate an effective immune response, they will do so by producing temporary inflammatory effects. At a cellular level, the vaccine triggers inflammation at the injection site. Blood vessels in the area become a little more ''leaky'' to help recruit immune cells into the muscle tissue, causing the area to become red and swell. All of this kicks off a full-blown immune response in a lymph node somewhere nearby that will play out over the course of weeks.
In terms of symptoms, this can result in redness and swelling at the injection site, stiffness and soreness in the muscle, tenderness and swelling of the local lymph nodes and, if the vaccine is potent enough, even fever (and that associated generally crappy feeling).
This is the balance of vaccine design '' maximizing protection and benefits while minimizing their uncomfortable, but necessary, side effects. That's not to say that serious side effects don't occur '' they do '' but they are exceedingly rare. Two of the most discussed serious side effects, anaphalaxis (a severe allergic reaction) and Guillain-Barr(C) Syndrome (nerve damage due to inflammation), occur at a frequency of less than 1 in 500,000 doses.
Side effects are normal. Vaccination against SARS-CoV-2Early data suggest that the mRNA vaccines in development against SARS-CoV-2 are highly effective '' upwards of 90%. That means they are capable of stimulating robust immune responses, complete with sufficient danger signaling, in greater than nine out of 10 patients. That's a high number under any circumstances, and suggests that these vaccines are potent.
So let's be clear here. You should expect to feel sore at the injection site the day after you get vaccinated. You should expect some redness and swelling, and you might even expect to feel generally run down for a day or two post-vaccination. All of these things are normal, anticipated and even intended.
While the data aren't finalized, more than 2% of the Moderna vaccine recipients experienced what they categorized as severe temporary side effects such as fatigue and headache. The percentage of people who experience any side effects will be higher. These are signs that the vaccine is doing what it was designed to do '' train your immune system to respond against something it might otherwise ignore so that you'll be protected later. It does not mean that the vaccine gave you COVID-19.
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It all comes down to this: Some time in the coming months, you will be given a simple choice to protect yourself, your loved ones and your community from a highly transmissible and deadly disease that results in long-term health consequences for a significant number of otherwise healthy people. It may cost you a few days of feeling sick.
Please choose wisely.
Record Card
Sat, 05 Dec 2020 17:21
A Department of Health and Human Services employee holds a COVID-19 vaccine record card Nov. 13, 2020, in Washington D.C. The cards will be sent out as part of vaccination kits from Operation Warp Speed.
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COVID vaccine: Will it be required? What government, employers can do
Sun, 06 Dec 2020 12:09
With two coronavirus vaccines under emergency review by the Food and Drug Administration, the nation's attention is turning to who will get the vaccine first and when.
A big question remains: Will Americans be required to get vaccinated?
For some, the short answer is yes, public health and legal experts say. But a mandate is not likely anytime soon, and likely not to come from the federal government. Instead, employers and states may condition return or access to workplaces, schools and colleges upon getting the vaccine and mandate it once the FDA issues full approval, potentially months later.
"It's much more likely that a private organization or company will require you to be vaccinated to get certain access to places," said Arthur Caplan, a professor of bioethics at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine. "People worry about the president, governor, or county executive telling them what to do. I don't think that's going to happen."
At an August town hall hosted by Healthline, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the vaccine won't be mandatory in the U.S. "I don't think you'll ever see a mandating of vaccine, particularly for the general public," Fauci said. "If someone refuses the vaccine in the general public, then there's nothing you can do about that. You cannot force someone to take a vaccine."
And on Friday, President-elect Joe Biden told reporters that he would not make vaccinations mandatory. "But I would do everything in my power '' just like I don't think masks have to be made mandatory nationwide '' I'll do everything in my power as president of the United States to encourage people to do the right thing," Biden said.
Biden on mask mandates: He can't enforce them. Here's what he could do instead.
Historically, states have had the power to mandate vaccinations. In 1905, as smallpox was spreading through Massachusetts, the Supreme Court upheld the authority of states to enforce compulsory vaccination laws in the case of Jacobson v. Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
"There's a long history in our constitution that permits the state to act for public health and safety, and that has always included vaccination," said Lawrence Gostin, director of the O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University.
"But although they have the power, I think it will be very unlikely that they will exercise that power," he said. "They would be fearful of causing a backlash and politicizing the vaccine."
It's more likely that vaccination requirements will play out as they have in the past. Once fully approved by the FDA, a vaccine may eventually be required for children in public and private schools and daycare settings, for college and university students, and for some health care workers and patients, Gostin said.
Is this ethical? Continuing COVID-19 vaccine trials may put some volunteers at unnecessary risk
All 50 states and Washington, D.C., have laws requiring certain vaccines for students, and exemptions vary by state. All states grant exemptions to children for medical reasons, 45 states grant religious exemptions, and 15 allow philosophical exemptions for those who object to immunizations because of personal, moral or other beliefs, according to the National Conference of Legislatures.
Health care facilities across the country are increasingly requiring health care workers to be vaccinated against various diseases, and some facilities are adding these requirements due to mandates in state statutes and regulations, according to the CDC.
When it comes to the flu, 24 states have flu vaccination requirements for long-term care facility health care workers, and 32 have them for long-term care facility patients, according to the CDC. As of 2016, 18 states had flu vaccination requirements for hospital health care workers.
Other employers also require certain vaccinations.
"Will the general public be required to get it? That's highly unlikely. That's not the American tradition or culture," said Peter Meyers, professor emeritus at the George Washington University law school and former director of the school's vaccine injury litigation clinic.
"We recommend it. We make it as easy as possible to get it. We make it free. If enough people take it, we'll have herd immunity."
Side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine: Means 'your body responded the way it's supposed to,' experts say
But officials have mandated vaccines beyond school and employment settings in the past. Following a 2019 measles outbreak in Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood fueled by a growing movement against vaccinations, New York City ordered mandatory measles vaccinations for anyone living, working or going to school in four ZIP codes in the neighborhood.
The order required all unvaccinated people who may have been exposed to the virus to get the vaccine, including children over 6 months old, unless immune or medically exempt. The city first threatened civil and criminal repercussions but eventually settled on a $1,000 fine. A Brooklyn judge upheld the order.
That order was for a vaccine that had been fully licensed by the FDA. The two coronavirus vaccines currently under review would be "authorized" by the agency based on early data, at the discretion of FDA scientists. The FDA only ever issued an emergency use authorization, known as an EUA, for a vaccine once before '' for an anthrax vaccine in 2005.
If authorized, a coronavirus vaccine's EUA status would make legal questions about theoretical mandates in the immediate future more complicated. There are also logistical issues of supply and distribution. There's no data on how vaccine candidates affect children or pregnant people. And it's still unclear if the vaccines prevent the transmission of the virus, in addition to preventing disease.
"Institutions may require individuals to take an FDA-approved vaccine or apply for an exception. However, EUA products are still considered investigational," FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn told USA TODAY last week.
Fact check: Neither Biden nor Trump is calling for mandated COVID-19 vaccines
It's unclear whether schools or employers could legally mandate a vaccine under an EUA, said Dorit Reiss, a professor at the University of California Hastings College of Law. She submitted comment to the FDA requesting that the agency's EUA documentation offer guidance on the question of mandates.
In the past, members of the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said that employers cannot require a vaccine under EUA, Reiss said. But the Secretary of Health and Human Services, under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, can establish the conditions of an EUA, including whether people have the option to accept or refuse the vaccine, and the consequences of doing so, if any.
"I'm sure no government will be requiring anything in the short run as long as we're operating under EUA," Caplan said. "It would be very strange to require something that hasn't been licensed or approved. The military could certainly require things, but for civilians, no."
Vaccine mandates: Flu vaccine now required for all Massachusetts students
Should employers force workers to get COVID-19 vaccine? Some experts say they should
When a coronavirus vaccine is first authorized and then eventually approved by the FDA, it may well take years before it becomes a requirement for school children or anyone, said Dr. Howard Koh, a professor at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and former Assistant Secretary for Health under Barack Obama.
"For every vaccine that's new, it takes a while to gain familiarity and general acceptance. Much of that involves assuring the effectiveness of the long-term safety profile. There's a comfort level that should be reached by everyone '' parents, families, employees. That process is going to take time," he said.
Some companies in industries that present a high risk of transmitting the virus '' such restaurants, gyms, salons, meatpacking, pro sports and nursing homes '' may also eventually require vaccinations for their employees, Caplan said. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has previously said employers have the right to mandate flu vaccines, but employees can request medical or religious exemptions.
"You could face a situation where your income is dependent on getting a vaccine," said Robert Field, a law and public health professor at Drexel University.
If employers in service industries required vaccinations for employees, once a vaccine is licensed, they would "have a strong argument that termination would be objectively fair," Field said. For the time being, Field said he expects employers to avoid the legal risks of mandating a vaccine that has not been licensed.
The best strategic approach to promote vaccination is to maximize communication and minimize barriers, said Ross Silverman, a professor at Indiana University's Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health and Robert H. McKinney School of Law.
"What can we do to make this as easy as possible for people to say yes to?" he said. "The best approach to be taking in the near term is engaging communities, answering questions, and letting people know what the benefits and risks are, where they're going to be able to get access to it and that there are no costs associated with getting the vaccine."
The question for now isn't who has to be vaccinated but who gets to be, said Michelle Mello, a professor at Stanford Law School.
"Most people will come around, so I'm not even sure that we even need to have a conversation about mandates," Mello said. "If it's eight months from now and we've got ample supply and we've run through all the people who wanted to get the vaccine, and we're still nowhere near herd immunity, it may be a different conversation."
Contributing: Elizabeth Weise and Adrienne Dunn, USA TODAY
Follow Grace Hauck on Twitter at @grace_hauck.
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Child Trafficker Mother Teresa Was Anthony Fauci's Mother - Dark Outpost
Sun, 06 Dec 2020 13:00
New bombshell intel reveals that Dr. Anthony Fauci is the son of the late Mother Teresa, who was a child trafficker for Jeffrey Epstein!
WELCOME TO THE FALL OF THE FALSE IDOLS: We all know the name Mother Teresa. She won a Nobel Peace Prize for her so-called humanitarian work and founded the Missionaries of Charity.
When She was on her world tour she gathered millions (rumored to be billions) of dollars from the rich, because they foolishly believed that she would be able to help the poor and suffering in India. Many people would believe that India was and currently is eternally grateful to her. How wrong they are! But what did she really do with all that money? It surely wasn't used to improve the conditions of the suffering. Mother Teresa was not a living saint and in fact was somewhat morally corrupt '-- with a lot of evidence.
Mother Teresa's money was mostly spent on funding Pedophilia and child rape, and not on the poor. She built a hundred facilities all over the world with her name and organization 'Missionaries of Charity' on each one. Most of them were nunneries and Papist-run children's homes. where millions of children were abused, beaten and sodomised on a daily basis.
Many of these children were brainwashed and conditioned into cult-like-thinking, to make them act like her, thus sprang her ''cult of suffering.'' Ever wondered why the Catholic Church rushed to canonize Mother Teresa after her death? Turns out she was a child trafficker, selling babies & funneling between $50-100 million/year to the Vatican. Mother Teresa's connections include Baby Doc Duvalier, the Haitian dictator, Saving's and Loan criminal Charles Keating, and Robert Maxwell, the father of Jeffrey Epstein's child sex trafficking partner, Ghislaine Maxwell. And here's the kicker! Mother Teresa opened the D.C. based Home for Infant Children with none other than Hillary Clinton. This orphanage of sorts was quietly closed in 2012.
War on Cash
Here's how you can earn cashback on your Christmas shopping in Italy - The Local
Sat, 05 Dec 2020 17:03
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Learn about Project Shield
Tulsi Gabbard 🌺 on Twitter: ".@realDonaldTrump I fully support you on this. Please don't back down. The freedom and future of our country is at stake." / Twitter
Fri, 04 Dec 2020 15:28
Tulsi Gabbard 🌺 : .@realDonaldTrump I fully support you on this. Please don't back down. The freedom and future of our country is at'...
Thu Dec 03 07:53:49 +0000 2020
Bjoern : @TulsiGabbard @realDonaldTrump You forgot to end your tweet with #MAGA
Fri Dec 04 15:26:51 +0000 2020
iVoteAmerica® : @TulsiGabbard @realDonaldTrump Wonderful move from someone who should jettison the DNC, and go independent.Americ'...
Fri Dec 04 15:21:23 +0000 2020
Luis Sifuentes : @TulsiGabbard @realDonaldTrump When are you coming out as a republican?
Fri Dec 04 15:17:27 +0000 2020
Steal the Vote
Georgia Sec. State Raffensperger investigating Stacey Abrams' group for GOTV fraud after it attempted to register his deceased son
Fri, 04 Dec 2020 06:29
Georgia officials have launched investigations into several third-party registration groups, including one founded by former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, for "repeatedly and aggressively" seeking to register "ineligible, out-of-state, or deceased voters" ahead of the state's Jan. 5 Senate runoff elections.
What are the details?In a news release Wednesday, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said that the New Georgia Project, founded by Abrams in 2014, as well as two other organizations '-- America Votes and Vote Forward '-- are subjects in the investigations.
Raffensperger stated that his office had "issued clear warnings several times" to such groups against encouraging illegal action, but nonetheless has "received specific evidence that these groups have solicited voter registrations from ineligible individuals who have passed away or live out of state."
Evidently, some of that evidence arrived directly on Raffensperger's doorstep. The secretary of state announced in a news conference Wednesday that his family had received mailers directed to his deceased son, urging him to register to vote.
"Here's something that came to my house yesterday, we got three of them, all from the same organization and it's to my son Brenton J. Raffensperger who passed away two years ago," he said holding up the mailers.
But that wasn't the only evidence of get-out-the-vote groups encouraging illegal behavior in the state, according to Raffensperger.
"We've had additional information coming in regarding the tactics from these groups including the New Georgia Project sending five voter registrations to the same dead person, and sending applications to ineligible voters," he added.
Raffensperger investigates Stacey Abrams' non-profit, other voter
What else?Raffensperger said that over the past several weeks complaints have been flooding into his office about the New Georgia Project sending voter registration information to out-of-state residents, including a "package of postcards" to an individual living in New York City.
According to the news release, another group, Operation New Voter Registration GA, urged Emory University students to illegally register to vote in the runoffs.
"Your current residence can be another state. You are simply changing your state of residence now; and it can be switched back for future elections (your option)," said a flier sent by the group to students.
In Georgia, false registration is considered a felony and is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
In a statement, Raffensperger vowed, "I will investigate these claims thoroughly and take action against anyone attempting to undermine our elections."
The Senate runoff elections on Jan. 5 will feature face-offs between Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler and Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock, respectively. The elections have attracted a great deal of national attention as the Senate majority hangs in the balance.
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State Supreme Court rejects move to nullify election; federal judge calls idea 'bizarre' | Local Government |
Sat, 05 Dec 2020 06:13
In a pair of stinging rebukes, one from a conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court justice and the other from a federal judge President Donald Trump appointed, two courts Friday balked at efforts by Trump and his supporters to toss out the results of the presidential election in the state and have the Legislature decide the winner.
Joined by the state Supreme Court's three liberal-backed justices, conservative-backed Justice Brian Hagedorn called a request to have the court invalidate the November election ''unprecedented in American history'' and ''the most dramatic invocation of judicial power I have ever seen.''
The court rejected the request 4-3.
''Judicial acquiescence to such entreaties built on so flimsy a foundation would do indelible damage to every future election,'' Hagedorn wrote for the majority. ''Once the door is opened to judicial invalidation of presidential election results, it will be awfully hard to close that door again. This is a dangerous path we are being asked to tread. The loss of public trust in our constitutional order resulting from the exercise of this kind of judicial power would be incalculable.''
The other three conservative-backed justices dissented, arguing the court should ''address the people of Wisconsin's concerns about whether the (Wisconsin Elections Commission's) conduct during the 2020 presidential election violated Wisconsin statutes.''
In the federal case, a judge hearing a separate lawsuit seeking to overturn Democratic President-elect Joe Biden's win in Wisconsin said Trump's request to ''remand'' the case to the GOP-controlled Legislature to pick new electors was ''bizarre.''
Hearings on both Trump campaign lawsuits were scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 10, with the judges noting the importance of resolving the legal battles before the Electoral College meets on Dec. 14.
Trump, who argues that hundreds of thousands of absentee ballots cast in accordance with state guidelines were illegal, wants a judge to give the Republican-controlled Legislature the power to determine who won the election.
''It's a request for pretty remarkable declaratory relief,'' said U.S. District Judge Brett Ludwig during a conference call to set deadlines and a hearing date. Ludwig, who said it was ''an unusual case, obviously,'' also cast doubt on whether a federal court should be considering it at all.
''I have a very, very hard time seeing how this is justiciable in the federal court,'' said Ludwig, a Trump appointee. ''The request to remand this case to the Legislature almost strikes me as bizarre.''
In the state Supreme Court case, a conservative nonprofit, the Wisconsin Voters Alliance, had asked the court to invalidate the election and have the Legislature pick new Electoral College electors.
''At least no one can accuse the petitioners of timidity,'' Hagedorn wrote, adding that the petition contained disputed facts that needed to be sorted out by a lower court first. Hagedorn was joined in the opinion by liberal-backed justices Ann Walsh Bradley, Rebecca Dallet and Jill Karofsky.
In their dissent, Chief Justice Patience Roggensack and Justices Annette Ziegler and Rebecca Bradley, all conservative-backed, said the court was acting too hastily.
''We grant petitions to exercise our jurisdiction based on whether the legal issues presented are of statewide concern, not based on the remedies requested,'' they wrote.
In the hearing on the federal case Friday, Ludwig questioned why Trump wasn't going directly to the Legislature if he wanted lawmakers to get involved with naming electors. Bill Bock, the Trump campaign attorney in the federal lawsuit, said Trump needed the court to rule that the election was ''invalid'' so the Legislature could get involved. He also said that the term ''remand,'' which is typically used to describe when one court sends a case to a lower court, was ''inartful.''
Republican Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke cast serious doubt during the week on whether the Legislature might change the state's electors from Biden to Trump backers. Steineke tweeted a clip of actor Dana Carvey playing President George H.W. Bush saying, ''Not gonna do it.''
Trump has lost multiple lawsuits in other battleground states as part of a longshot effort to overturn Biden's victory. Even if he were to prevail in Wisconsin, the state's 10 Electoral College votes would not be enough to hand him reelection.
Ludwig scheduled a daylong online hearing in Trump's federal lawsuit for Thursday.
Bock urged the judge to expedite the case, noting that the Electoral College members were voting on Dec. 14. Ludwig said he was sensitive to the time concerns, but that Trump could have raised the issues in November.
''There's a little bit of the time crunch being created by the plaintiff,'' Ludwig said.
BREAKING: Sidney Powell files NEW lawsuit in Arizona alleging 412k illegal ballots '' The Right Scoop
Fri, 04 Dec 2020 13:06
Sidney Powell has just filed a new lawsuit in Arizona alleging that 412 illegal ballots were cast in the November 3rd election:
'–ª¸Alleges 412k illegal ballots were cast in the November AZ election'–ª¸Requests an order for Gov Ducey to de-certify results'–ª¸Calls for emergency order to seize voting machines
'-- Merissa Hamilton (@merissahamilton) December 2, 2020
As Hamilton points out in the tweet, Powell is asking for Governor Ducey to decertify election results and requests an emergency order to seize voting machines.
Here's what Hamilton highlighted in the filing:
20. Except for the estimate of illegal out-of-state votes, each of these experts has identified distinct sources of illegal votes in sufficient numbers (i.e., greater than Biden's purported margin of 10,457 votes), not only to affect, but to change the result of the 2020 General Election in Arizona. Taken together, the irregularities, anomalies and physical and statistical impossibilities, account for at least 412,494 illegal ballots that were counted in Arizona. This provides the Court with sufficient grounds to set aside the results of the 2020 General Election and provide the other declaratory and injunctive relief requested herein.
145. For these reasons, Plaintiffs ask this Court to enter a judgment in their favor and provide the following emergency relief:
1. An order directing Governor Ducey and Secretary Hobbs to de-certify the election results;
2. An order enjoining Governor Ducey from transmitting the currently certified election results the Electoral College;
3. An immediate emergency order to seize and impound all servers, software, voting machines, tabulators, printers, portable media, logs'...
9. A permanent injunction prohibiting the Governor and Secretary of State from transmitting the currently certified results to the Electoral College based on the overwhelming evidence of election tampering;
You can read the full 53 page filing below:
Electoral College Deadlines Not 'Set In Stone': Election Integrity Watchdog
Sun, 06 Dec 2020 12:53
An election integrity watchdog said the current Electoral College deadlines not only have ''zero constitutional basis'' but are preventing states from fulfilling their legal and ethical obligations to ensure free and fair elections.
The Amistad Project of the non-partisan Thomas More Society released the study (pdf) on Friday, making the case that the only constitutionally-set date in the election process is Jan. 20, when the next president of the United States will be sworn in. All other dates, including the ''safe harbor'' deadline, the Electoral College vote on Dec. 14, and even the congressional vote count on Jan. 6, are dates set by federal law, which the paper argues are ''arbitrary'' and founded on obsolete concerns.
''Experts believe that the primary basis for these dates was to provide enough time to affect the presidential transition of power, a concern which is fully obsolete in the age of internet and air travel,'' The Amistad Project said in a press release.
The first of these dates, the so-called ''safe harbor'' deadline, is pursuant to federal law (3 U.S. Code § 5) and is understood to free a state from further contest-of-election challenges if it settles legal disputes and certifies its results at least six days before the Dec. 14 Electoral College meeting.
The Amistad Project called the Electoral College deadlines ''both arbitrary and a direct impediment to states' obligations to investigate disputed elections,'' while the research paper argued for the deadlines to be overlooked, if needed, in the broader interest of thoroughly investigating allegations of voter fraud.
The view presented in the paper lines up with remarks made by attorney Sidney Powell, who has spearheaded various election-related legal challenges in battleground states, bringing forward a growing body of evidence in support of claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election.
''With the fraud case, the Dec. 8 deadline doesn't apply,'' Powell told Newsmax in an interview Friday, adding, ''we have at least until Dec. 14.''
Sidney Powell speaking during a press conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington on Nov. 19, 2020. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)''We might file more suits,'' she said, adding that the suits she and other allies of President Donald Trump have been filing ''are not pure election contests.''
''These are massive fraud suits that can set aside the results of the election due to this fraud at any time,'' she said, adding, ''the states should not be certifying election results in the face of it.''
The Amistad Project has also filed litigation in several key swing states, arguing that illegal actions on the part of state and local officials led to more than 1.2 million potentially fraudulent ballots.
''Through rigorous investigations supporting our litigation, we demonstrate that state and local officials brazenly violated election laws in several swing states in order to advance a partisan political agenda,'' said Phill Kline, director of The Amistad Project, in a statement. ''As a result, it is impossible for those states to determine their presidential electors in line with the arbitrary deadline set forth via federal statute in 1948, and thus, the only deadline that matters is Jan. 20, 2021.''
Steps relating to certification and appointment of presidential electors are often regarded as formalities and, as such, have drawn little public interest, but the mechanics of electing a U.S. president have drawn new scrutiny this year as Trump and his allies continue to pursue legal strategies attempting to prove the results were fraudulent.
The results of the Electoral College vote are due to be received, and typically approved, by Congress on Jan. 6, although lawmakers can object to accepting the electors' votes. The Democratic-controlled House and Republican-controlled Senate would both vote separately to resolve any disputes. One has already arisen from Pennsylvania, where 75 Republican lawmakers signed a statement on Friday urging Congress to block the state's electoral votes from being cast for Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
The Trump legal team has pursued numerous legal challenges while continuing to collect evidence in support of allegations of malfeasance. One of the strategies pursued by the Trump team has been to call on Republican state legislatures to appoint a rival set of electors pledged to Trump. This tactic suffered a setback in the battleground state of Arizona on Friday, with the state's Republican speaker of the House of Representatives saying that calls to overturn the certified results of the presidential election are not lawful and will not happen.
According to federal law, both chambers of Congress would need to vote to accept a competing slate of electors. If they don't, the electors appointed by the states' governors must be used.
After the Electoral College casts its votes, the last remaining move to block the election would be an effort to vote down the electors in Congress. This tactic has been attempted before, when a handful of congressional Democrats in 2000, 2004, and 2016 objected to officially making both George W. Bush and Trump president. Their numbers were not enough to block the two men from taking office.
The Amistad Project, in the white paper, argues that there is ''significant flexibility and precedent in U.S. law for changing the date that electors are appointed, changing the date electors convene to vote, and changing the date electors have their vote certified by Congress,'' which, if acted upon, could provide more runway than the current deadlines suggest for Trump to prove his case of election fraud.
''For the sake of American democracy and to strengthen our fraying social fabric, it is preferable to address the fraud issues before determining who is the next president,'' The Amistad Project noted in the paper, adding that ''rigorous'' fraud investigations would continue past Inauguration Day.
The paper called on Biden and his allies to welcome such a probe, ''otherwise, a dark cloud will hang over the Biden administration if it becomes clear his election was illegitimate, and the socio-political fragmentation that is occurring in the United States will only worsen.''
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Flynn knocks Comey: 'I know where he's going'
Fri, 04 Dec 2020 15:13
| December 04, 2020 09:45 AM
Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn shared some critical words for former FBI Director James Comey, even if he won't get into it fully now.
Fresh off a pardon from President Trump, Flynn is on a media tour this week and told conservative radio host Dan Bongino what he thinks of the man who dispatched agents to interview the then-White House national security adviser during the early days of the Trump administration.
He specifically alluded to Comey admitting giving the orders on a whim in 2018 during an event with MSNBC anchor Nicolle Wallace, prompting laughter from the audience.
"I don't know how that guy can look at himself in the mirror," Flynn said. "I know where he's going to go at the end of the day. And I know where people like him should go. I won't say it here on your show."
Flynn didn't get into it there, but U.S. Attorney John Durham, who was elevated to special counsel in October, is investigating criminality in the Russia inquiry.
Comey, was fired from his FBI director role in May 2017, denied in September that he went "rogue" with the Flynn interview. This was after former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates criticized him for "acting unilaterally" by not coordinating with her in advance of the interview.
Flynn ended up pleading guilty to lying to the FBI about conversations he had with a Russian envoy but later claimed he was innocent and set up by the bureau. The Justice Department moved to dismiss the case but with the presiding judge resisting such a move and a Biden administration incoming, Trump pardoned Flynn last week.
Flynn also reacted to the news that Comey will begin teaching at Columbia Law School in January, quipping that the education system must be "broken."
Anti-Voter Fraud Group Finds Link Between NV and Pakistani Company
Sun, 06 Dec 2020 03:12
An anti-voter fraud organization has alerted state and federal government authorities after it found a suspicious link between a Nevada state government website and a Pakistani company that is allegedly linked to Pakistani intelligence services, Breitbart News has learned.
The organization, True the Vote, alerted state and federal authorities after it requested a Nevada voter registration list through the Nevada secretary of state's website, and received an email back with a downloadable voter file. That email arrived with an employee of Pakistani company Kavtech carbon copied.
True the Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht wrote Thursday in a letter to the Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers obtained exclusively by Breitbart News that when the email arrived, ''I was shocked to see the inclusion of another email address in the CC line.''
''The address was Waqas Butt is the CEO of Kavtech Solutions Ltd.. Kavtech is a Pakistani owned company, located in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan, with ties to Pakistani intelligence, military, and the interior,'' she wrote.
Election researchers aware of the situation said the inclusion of the email could be anything from an accident by a contractor who worked on the Nevada secretary of state's website, to an indication of an unauthorized intrusion into the backend of the state government website's system by a company allegedly linked to Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
Such an intrusion could be problematic if downloading the voter registration list also worked as a phishing attack, where hackers could gain entry into the servers of those requesting the lists, or if hackers had access to state government email communications.
''The fact that this company was cc'ed on an email containing access to the Nevada voter registration database appears to be evidence of a breach within the Nevada Secretary of State's email system,'' Engelbrecht wrote to Demers.
She added:
Obviously, the problems that such a breach may evidence include access to at least the voter registration information of Nevada residents. At worst it could reveal a breach that gives a foreign power access to not only the State of Nevada's systems, but also to the email systems of anyone whom the State communicates with via email.
Engelbrecht also included in her letter to Demers a copy of the email True the Vote received from the Nevada secretary of state's office with the link to the downloadable voter registration list with cc'ed.
The Nevada secretary of state email explicitly states that ''the information must only be used for the purposes authorized by local, state and/or federal laws and regulations.''
''By submitting the Request for List of Registered Voters, all users acknowledge that any improper use of the information compiled in the statewide voter registration database may constitute a felony pursuant to NRS 239.330,'' it said.
Engelbrecht said in an interview with Breitbart News on Friday about the Pakistani company, ''Why would they be getting this information? Why would they show up on a cc line? There's no good way to look at that that should make anyone feel confident in the security of this process.''
''Further, all we can speak to is our experience. Who knows where else that is showing up and what else they're tracking? If it's embedded in a form like that, they could be doing that for any number of things,'' she added. ''The implication here that a foreign national company with known ties to the intelligence community in Pakistan '-- there's no way to overlook that. It's inexplicable and it should be investigated.''
The security breach flies in the face of election security officials who claim that the elections were the most secure in history.
''While we know there are many unfounded claims and opportunities for misinformation about the process of our elections, we can assure you we have the utmost confidence in the security and integrity of our elections, and you should too,'' a Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) executive committee said in a statement on November 12.
''When you have questions, turn to elections officials as trusted voices as they administer elections,'' it said.
Breitbart News sent requests for comment to the Arizona secretary of state and the Justice Department but has not yet received a response.
Follow Breitbart News's Kristina Wong on Twitter or on Facebook.
China Whistleblower with Royal Ancestry Steps Forward - Reveals Video, Photos of Alleged Chinese Counterfeit Ballot Printing Operations of US Ballots for MS, FL and NC
Sun, 06 Dec 2020 05:19
As reported last weekend at The Gateway Pundit '-- video was released on Friday in Mandarin Chinese of a phone call request for fake ballots customized by Chinese factory.
The manufacturer is reportedly in Kwangtung, China.
In the video a caller is heard requesting a bulk order of ballots to ship to the United States.Here is the video with the translation.
FYI- Our Mandarin speaker confirmed the translation is accurate.
TRENDING: China Whistleblower with Royal Ancestry Steps Forward - Reveals Video, Photos of Alleged Chinese Counterfeit Ballot Printing Operations of US Ballots for MS, FL and NC
The order was reportedly for 5 million votes.
Two readers noticed that at the 0.54 second mark you can see ''Charlotte County Florida'' on the ballots.
Here is a sample ballot from Charlotte Votes'...
Since our original report we spoke with the creator of this video. His name is Venice.
And the story he told us is explosive!
Here is the original report reported in Taiwan.
Here are more photos of the alleged printing house and samples of the Nor.
More photos from the printing house. ¼1¼‰æ›´å¤šä¾†è‡ªå°å·å·¥å>> çšç…§ç‰‡ã‚¼1¼‰@gatewaypundit @scrowder @JennaEllisEsq @benshapiro @realDonaldTrump @DonaldJTrumpJr @SecPompeo @michaeljknowles @SteveDeaceShow @glennbeck @RudyGiuliani @SidneyPowell1 @marklevinshow @tedcruz @vialoysia
'-- 薇羽ç'‹ä¸–é–' (@weiyuksj1) November 29, 2020
Here are templates of the Mississipi counterfeit ballots printed in China.
Dialogue on Wechat between printing house and Cmmedia. äå‚"åª'假è£'印選票¼Œå'Œå°å·å>> çšå¾®ä對è(C)±ã‚@gatewaypundit @scrowder @JennaEllisEsq @benshapiro @realDonaldTrump @SecPompeo @michaeljknowles @SteveDeaceShow @glennbeck @RudyGiuliani @SidneyPowell1
'-- 薇羽ç'‹ä¸–é–' (@weiyuksj1) November 29, 2020
And Mr. Vinness A. Ollervides confirmed this information during a phone call.
He was also the source for this information.
Mr. Ollervides (@vialoysia), former political insider of Chinese Communist Party, has corroborated that around 1.5 million bogus ballots from swing states were unaccounted for after being exported from China to Canada and Mexico since July @gatewaypundit @JennaEllisEsq
'-- 薇羽ç'‹ä¸–é–' (@weiyuksj1) November 29, 2020
Vinness who comes from royal bloodline wants this information to get out.
As the whistleblower of this video and the person who has a conscience and belief in God who fished to expose China's interference in the US election, I will expose more information to prove that this election is false! #TRUMP2020ToSaveAmerica
'-- Vinness.A.Ollervides (@vialoysia) December 3, 2020
Vinness Ollervides
Vinness Ollervides has an amazing life story and background. He studied in the West, speaks six languages, and is a writer and artist. his father died in prison for his role in Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign.
Ollervides is now a political activist and the third generation of CCP aristocrat. He is banned from China for his public speech about democracy of Taiwan, Tibet and Manchu.
We are passing this information on to our contacts in the intelligence community.
Vinness and his mother at Isangga's tomb, the ancestral tomb of Ollervides' family. The photograph was taken during ancestor veneration.
John Ratcliffe: China attempting blackmail and bribery against members of Congress
Sun, 06 Dec 2020 03:13
| December 04, 2020 01:38 PM
T he nation's spy chief said the Chinese Communist Party is conducting a ''massive influence campaign'' aimed at dozens of members of Congress and their staffs in an effort involving attempted blackmail and bribery.
Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, a former Republican congressman from Texas who has overseen the United States's 17 intelligence agencies since May, said Thursday that he briefed the House and Senate Intelligence Committees about the Chinese influence operations. He did so as he went on a small media tour warning about the growing challenge posed by the Chinese Communist Party. Ratcliffe said the intelligence indicates it is the greatest national security threat facing the U.S.
''This year China engaged in a massive influence campaign that included targeting several dozen members of Congress and congressional aides,'' Ratcliffe wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, saying that China uses both public and secretive pressure to push lawmakers to do its bidding, wittingly or unwittingly.
''Our intelligence shows that Beijing regularly directs this type of influence operation in the U.S. I briefed the House and Senate Intelligence committees that China is targeting members of Congress with six times the frequency of Russia and 12 times the frequency of Iran," he added.
Ratcliffe described a representative hypothetical scenario to illustrate how China carries out such influence operations.
''A Chinese-owned manufacturing facility in the U.S. employs several thousand Americans. One day, the plant's union leader is approached by a representative of the Chinese firm. The businessman explains that the local congresswoman is taking a hard-line position on legislation that runs counter to Beijing's interests '-- even though it has nothing to do with the industry the company is involved in '-- and says the union leader must urge her to shift positions or the plant and all its jobs will soon be gone,'' Ratcliffe wrote. ''The union leader contacts his congresswoman and indicates that his members won't support her re-election without a change in position. He tells himself he's protecting his members, but in that moment he's doing China's bidding, and the congresswoman is being influenced by China, whether she realizes it or not.''
The spy chief added further details during an interview with Catherine Herridge of CBS News.
''They want laws and policies out of the United States that are favorable to China, and what they're really trying to do is, through blackmail, through bribery, through overt and covert influence, trying to make sure that only laws that are favorable to China are passed,'' Ratcliffe said. ''I was so troubled by what I saw from the position as the director of national intelligence that I went and briefed both the House and the Senate intelligence committees on this information, which they found surprising and troubling.''
Ratcliffe's revelation came the day after William Evanina, the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, warned during an Aspen Cyber Summit that China was seeking to influence members of President-elect Joe Biden's incoming team.
''We've also seen an uptick, which was planned and we predicted, that China would now revector their influence campaigns to the new administration. And when I say that, that malign foreign influence, that diplomatic influence plus, or on steroids, we're starting to see that play across the country to not only the folks starting in the new administration, but those who are around those folks in the new administration,'' Evanina said. ''So that's one area we're going to be very keen on making sure the new administration understands that influence, what it looks like, what it tastes like, what it feels like when you see it.''
Last month, the Washington Examiner learned about the Trump administration's intentions to ramp up pressure on China over the next weeks. Trump refuses to concede to Biden, but part of the goal of the Trump administration's China moves is to make it untenable for the next president to backpedal on the China crackdown.
FBI Director Christopher Wray issued a warning similar to Ratcliffe's during a speech at the Hudson Institute in July.
''China is engaged in a highly sophisticated malign foreign influence campaign, and its methods include bribery, blackmail, and covert deals. Chinese diplomats also use both open, naked economic pressure and seemingly independent middlemen to push China's preferences on American officials,'' Wray said at the time.
The FBI chief presented ''one all-too-common illustration'' of such Chinese activity.
''Let's say China gets wind that some American official is planning to travel to Taiwan '-- think a governor, a state senator, a member of Congress. China does not want that to happen, because that travel might appear to legitimize Taiwanese independence from China '-- and legitimizing Taiwan would, of course, be contrary to China's 'One China' policy,'' Wray said, adding that ''China will sometimes start by trying to influence the American official overtly and directly. China might openly warn that if the American official goes ahead and takes that trip to Taiwan, China will take it out on a company from that official's home state by withholding the company's license to manufacture in China. That could be economically ruinous for the company, would directly pressure the American official to alter his travel plans, and the official would know that China was trying to influence him.''
But Wray said that ''the Chinese Communist Party often doesn't stop there."
''China will work relentlessly to identify the people closest to that official '-- the people that official trusts most. China will then work to influence those people to act on China's behalf as middlemen to influence the official,'' Wray said. ''The co-opted middlemen may then whisper in the official's ear and try to sway the official's travel plans or public positions on Chinese policy.''
Wray also said that the FBI has more than 2,000 active investigations traced back to the Chinese government.
China targeting Biden team, intelligence chief warns, amid fresh trade war measures | China | The Guardian
Sun, 06 Dec 2020 05:25
A counterintelligence chief in the US has warned that Chinese agents are already targeting the personnel of President-elect Joe Biden, as well as those close to his team, as Congress unveiled more measures targeting big Chinese companies.
William Evanina, from the office of the US Director of National Intelligence, told the Aspen Institute Cyber Summit on Wednesday it was an influence campaign ''on steroids''.
''So that's one area we're going to be very keen on making sure the new administration understands that influence, what it looks like, what it tastes like, what it feels like when you see it,'' he said.
He spoke as the US House of Representatives passed a law to kick Chinese companies off American stock exchanges unless they comply with the country's auditing rules.
The measure passed the House by unanimous voice vote, after passing the Senate unanimously in May, sending it to Donald Trump, who the White House said was expected to sign it into law.
It applies to companies from any country, but the legislation's sponsors intended it to target Chinese companies listed in the US, such as Alibaba, tech firm Pinduoduo and oil giant PetroChina.
The Trump administration added further economic pressure on China on Wednesday, banning cotton imports from a powerful Chinese quasi-military organisation in Xinjiang that it says uses the forced labor of detained Uighur Muslims.
The US Customs and Border Protection agency said the ''withhold release order'' would ban cotton and cotton products from the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC), one of China's largest producers. XPCC produced 30% of China's cotton in 2015.
The House passed auditing measures under the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act, which bars the securities of foreign companies from being listed on any US exchange if they have failed to comply with the US Public Accounting Oversight Board's audits for three years in a row.
Measures taking a harder line on Chinese business and trade practices generally pass Congress with large margins. Both Democrats and Trump's fellow Republicans echo the president's stance against Beijing, which hardened this year as Trump blamed China for the coronavirus ravaging the US.
In an interview with the New York Times, Biden said his priority on China was to build an alliance and pursue trade policies that tackle China's ''abusive practices''.
''The best China strategy, I think, is one which gets every one of our '' or at least what used to be our '' allies on the same page. It's going to be a major priority for me in the opening weeks of my presidency to try to get us back on the same page with our allies,'' he said.
At the Aspen Institute Cyber Summit, John Demers, the US Justice Department's top national security official, said more than 1,000 Chinese researchers had left the US amid a US crackdown on alleged technology theft.
Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen, who co-wrote the audit bill with Republican Senator John Kennedy, said in a statement that American investors ''have been cheated out of their money after investing in seemingly legitimate Chinese companies that are not held to the same standards as other publicly listed companies''.
Kennedy said China was using US exchanges to ''exploit'' Americans. ''The House joined the Senate in rejecting a toxic status quo,'' he said in a statement.
The act would also require public companies to disclose whether they are owned or controlled by a foreign government.
The American Securities Association praised the passage of the bill, saying it was necessary to protect Americans from ''fraudulent companies controlled by the Chinese Communist party''.
The Chinese embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said before the vote that it was a discriminatory policy that politically oppressed Chinese firms.
''Instead of setting up layers of barriers, we hope the US can provide a fair and non-discriminatory environment for foreign firms to invest and operate in the US,'' Hua told a news conference.
A spokesman for Alibaba pointed to a comment on the bill from May, when it was passed by the Senate. Chief financial officer Maggie Wu told investors the firm would ''endeavour to comply with any legislation whose aim is to protect and bring transparency to investors who buy securities on US stock exchanges''.
Chinese authorities have long been reluctant to let overseas regulators inspect local accounting firms, citing national security concerns.
Officials at China's securities regulator indicated earlier this year they were willing to allow inspections of audit documents in some circumstances, but past agreements aimed at solving the dispute have failed to work in practice.
Shaun Wu, a Hong Kong-based partner at law firm Paul Hastings, said increased enforcement against Chinese companies was likely even when Biden becomes president in January.
He said if the bill becomes law, ''all Chinese companies listed in the US will face enhanced scrutiny by the US authorities and inevitably consider all available options''.
This could include listing in Hong Kong or elsewhere, he said. Several US-listed Chinese firms, including Alibaba and KFC China operator Yum China, have recently carried out secondary listings in Hong Kong.
With Reuters
Brexit trade talks at a critical point as UK says chances are receding
Fri, 04 Dec 2020 15:24
Published Fri, Dec 4 2020 7:20 AM EST
Updated Fri, Dec 4 2020 9:20 AM EST
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A senior U.K. government official told the BBC on Friday morning that the chances of reaching an agreement were "receding."Meanwhile, on the European side, Council President Charles Michel said, "We want a deal '... but we are ready for all the possible options."In addition to the ongoing negotiations, the U.K. government also has to deal with opposition at home over legislation that would override previous commitments with the EU.Michel Barnier, European Union (EU) chief negotiator, departs from his hotel to attend Brexit talks in London, U.K.
Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images
LONDON '-- The U.K. and European Union have reached a critical point in their Brexit negotiations, as the deadline for a trade deal nears but an agreement remains elusive.
The U.K. left the European Union in January but agreed to continue following EU trade rules until the end of the year so both sides could come to a new trade agreement. However, their negotiations have dragged on for months, and without a clear end in sight, there are growing concerns the talks could collapse without a deal.
In this scenario, exporters on both sides would face higher costs and barriers in their day-to-day business.
A senior U.K. government official told the BBC on Friday morning that the chances of reaching an agreement were "receding," after EU negotiators brought "new elements" to the table. The U.K. government told CNBC on Friday that the talks were ongoing, but did not comment on whether a breakthrough looked less likely.
Meanwhile, on the European side, Council President Charles Michel said, "We want a deal '... but we are ready for all the possible options."
Speaking in Brussels on Friday, he added: "I respect the full British sovereignty, but it will be the British choice, the choice of the British government what do they want for their own future, which kind of standards do they want to follow and the real question is: which political, economic, social project do they want for their own future?"
The contentious issuesOne of the main stumbling blocks has been over what sort of regulations the U.K. will adopt once the transition period is over. The issue is particularly important for the EU, which is worried about being undercut if the U.K. reduces food standards and similar regulations significantly.
But their outstanding differences go beyond that. The EU also wants to ensure its fishermen and women can keep working in U.K. waters '-- but Prime Minister Boris Johnson argues that as an independent nation, it will prioritize U.K. boats. Fishing represents a tiny portion of the U.K. economy, but the industry was among the most vocal supporters of leaving the EU.
This is also a vital political issue for the French government: Prime Minister Jean Castex visited fishermen and women on Thursday and said they shall not become the losers of Brexit.
Speaking on Friday morning, France's Europe minister, Clement Beaune, said, "I want to tell our fishermen, our producers, and our citizens '... that we will not accept a deal with bad terms."
France, or any EU country, could ultimately veto a trade agreement with the U.K. if it disagrees with any of the conditions.
Time pressureThe European Parliament, as well as U.K. lawmakers, have to greenlight any potential trade deal before the end of December to avoid harsher exporting conditions from January.
"Ultimately for a deal to come together, we remain of the view that Johnson will probably need to connect with French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen," Mujtaba Rahman, managing director at consultancy firm Eurasia Group, said Thursday.
For now, there are no high-level political meetings scheduled.
In addition to the ongoing negotiations, the U.K. government also has to deal with opposition at home over legislation that would override previous commitments with the EU.
The U.K.'s House of Lords, its upper parliamentary chamber, have said no to new laws proposed by Johnson's team that would reverse parts of its exit deal with the EU. Europe has said that it will not sign a trade deal while previous commitments are not honored.
Sterling traded mostly flat on Friday morning against the euro and U.S. dollar, after seesawing in recent days on speculation over whether a deal will be reached.
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Build Back Biden Better
The Biden administration can tackle social media regulation without chilling free speech.
Fri, 04 Dec 2020 15:36
As people across the U.S. finished Thanksgiving dinner, the man who refuses to accept his impending eviction from the White House threw a temper tantrum on social media. After thousands of Twitter users mocked him with the hashtag #DiaperDon, Trump accused the social media company of fabricating trending hashtags and endangering national security and once again called for an end to Section 230, the federal law that empowers internet platforms to set and enforce their own content rules. He is now threatening to veto the annual defense spending bill unless it includes an unrelated provision that rescinds Section 230.
Trump complains of censorship when Twitter and Facebook fact-check and label his posts as misleading, or when they restrict or remove his rants containing blatant disinformation about the voting process. But his Thanksgiving tantrum was at least honest: He wants free speech for himself and his supporters—but not for his critics. Now that election recounts and lawsuits have failed to overturn the election result, conservatives like Sen. Ted Cruz are baselessly blaming “big tech censorship” for Trump’s defeat. They make these claims despite the fact that, as is well documented, conservative speech is thriving on Facebook and election disinformation is abundant on YouTube.
Trump’s supporters are painting the incoming Biden-Harris administration as a cabal of censorious liberal elites who are pushing Big Tech to stifle conservative speech. Regardless of whether such claims have any basis in provable fact, the accusations are likely to intensify after the inauguration—and they will be used to undermine the legitimacy of the new administration’s efforts to address urgent crises like COVID-19 and the economy.
The Biden-Harris administration can neutralize such attacks by articulating a clear vision of free speech and civil rights in the digital age that transcends partisanship. We need a road map for protecting the rights of all Americans, regardless of how they voted in 2020. Otherwise, the cause of free speech will continue to be weaponized—even if cynically and hypocritically.
To accomplish this, the new administration should appoint a bipartisan commission including people from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to develop policy recommendations for platforms that reinforce the importance of free speech for democratic, open, and inclusive societies. Their work should be guided by four shared principles that transcend the partisan warfare that falsely and destructively pits values of free speech and civil rights against one another.
1. Free speech and civil rights are interdependent. Billions of people around the world depend upon Facebook for information and civic discourse—yet the platform is shaped by a business model based on targeted advertising, which prioritizes content that is most likely to go viral and thereby maximize engagement. Often the content most likely to go viral is that which arouses strong emotions and tends to be extreme, especially when it emanates from influential people. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has invoked his commitment to free speech to explain why he allows prominent politicians to violate the platform’s rules against certain types of disinformation and even incitement to violence. But free speech is not served when some users are more “equal” than others—to borrow from Orwell’s Animal Farm.
In her final report from a two-year civil rights audit of Facebook published in July 2020, civil rights expert Laura W. Murphy slammed Facebook’s top management for making no credible efforts to seek out civil rights expertise or to understand the company’s impact on civil rights, with “devastating” consequences. When a social media platform enforces its rules differently for different types of people, it ends up discriminating against society’s least powerful, who must abide by community guidelines or risk having their postings deleted or accounts deactivated. Public figures deemed “newsworthy” enjoy greater freedom—and, therefore, greater power. Moreover, people with marketing and advertising budgets can take advantage of platforms’ targeted advertising business model to “boost” and promote messages so that they can reach bigger audiences. When political debates, campaigns, and social activism rely so heavily on such a skewed and unequal information environment, democracy suffers.
Online harassment is another example of how free speech and civil rights are inextricably linked. Women, ethnic minorities, and LGBTQ people who are targeted by physical threats to themselves, their families, or their homes are effectively forced to risk their safety and emotional well-being in order to exercise their right to free speech online. Harassment of journalists and writers (sometimes encouraged by public figures) has gotten so bad that PEN America created a field manual for individuals and media organizations to fight back. Recognizing this civil rights challenge for the digital age, Biden has already pledged to convene a National Task Force on Online Harassment and Abuse as part of a plan to counter violence against women. His campaign website says the task force will be asked to develop “cutting-edge strategies and recommendations” for government policy as well as actions that can be taken by “private entities” from companies to schools and nonprofits.
Some right-wing media outlets have already fingered the proposed task force as evidence of the incoming administration’s censorious intentions. Such accusations can be neutralized if the more narrowly focused anti-harassment task force is folded into the broader bipartisan commission I propose. The commission’s mandate should address all types of speech, from harassment to disinformation and violent extremism, that can threaten people’s safety, health, or ability to exercise fundamental rights including the right to vote. The commission should be led by people from across the political spectrum who share a commitment not just to free speech but to all civil rights enshrined in the Constitution as well as universal human rights standards.
The commission will need to work pragmatically in light of a harsh reality. As partisan posturing and mudslinging at the most recent Senate Big Tech hearing made abundantly clear, this country lacks any semblance of consensus about the definitions or perpetrators of “disinformation” or “extremism.” Trump is not the only politician to have seized upon the idea of revoking internet platforms’ immunity as a political cudgel to achieve partisan objectives. For this reason, until progress can be made in advancing policies around which there is stronger bipartisan consensus, the new administration should avoid wading into the political black hole of Section 230 reform. Instead, the commission can help build trust by focusing on measures that strengthen transparency and accountability for government actors as well as for companies.
Anybody with power to shape or track the flow of digital information must be subject to appropriate oversight so that when our rights are violated, we know who is responsible and can hold them accountable using the law and the courts, our choices as consumers and investors, or our votes. Research has shown that when writers believe that their online activities are being tracked without sufficient safeguards, they censor themselves. Activism, investigative journalism, and political dissent suffer as a result. For that reason among others, surveillance reform and passage of a strong federal privacy law should be vital components of the next administration’s free speech agenda, demonstrating a strong commitment to protect the rights of all Americans.
2. Transparency is the first step toward accountability. We are citizens of a democracy, and our freedom of expression and opinion is threatened when we are unwittingly manipulated through unaccountable and untransparent algorithms. Targeted advertising mechanisms enable paying customers to target us with messages tailored to provoke us, based on detailed digital dossiers that social media companies now compile about us. Digital platforms’ targeted advertising business models must be subject to strong requirements for transparency, accountability, and consumer choice.
Such requirements are essential so that people can understand—and also control—how certain content is promoted to or targeted at them. Alongside federal privacy regulation, disclosure rules about how content is policed, curated, amplified, and targeted would strengthen the power of American consumers and investors to hold companies accountable if they fail to mitigate and prevent harms. Transparency rules would also strengthen cross-border trust necessary for American businesses that offer digital products and services to maintain their appeal to global consumers and be welcomed by regulators around the world. My colleagues at New America’s Ranking Digital Rights program have published extensive recommendations for specific types of disclosures companies should be required to make. (New America is a partner with Slate and Arizona State University in Future Tense.) Such disclosures will enable companies to demonstrate respect for the human rights of all users regardless of nationality or citizenship.
3. Human rights standards are a tool for corporate accountability. The First Amendment applies to government generally and Congress specifically, forbidding it from restricting anyone’s freedom of speech or freedom of the press. While conservative politicians and some tech CEOs like Zuckerberg invoke the First Amendment in relation to users’ speech on social media, it does not actually apply to speech hosted or transmitted by private companies. International human rights standards, on the other hand, do apply to companies.
Human rights standards offer tools to hold companies accountable for harms caused by online speech without needing to change the scope of platforms’ legal liability. The U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights assign companies a responsibility to respect human rights, even while governments hold the primary duty (and power) to protect human rights. To meet their responsibility, companies not only need policies outlining their commitment to human rights, but they also need to disclose credible evidence that they conduct due diligence—often in the form of impact assessments—to determine how their business operations affect human rights.
Equipped with this information, tech companies can take actions to ensure that they do not cause or contribute to violations of their users’ human rights, including privacy and freedom of expression. Importantly, Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights defines “the right to freedom of opinion and expression” to include the “freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” Disinformation campaigns waged by politicians to achieve political outcomes are arguably a violation of people’s right to freedom of opinion without interference, especially when platforms are not transparent about how content is prioritized and amplified to users.
By setting the expectation that U.S. tech companies should make and meet commitments to respect the human rights of users (as well as their employees and contractors), the new administration would strengthen the case for regulators like the Federal Trade Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission to require tech companies to disclose measures they are taking to identify and mitigate harms that their businesses may cause.
4. In the digital age, free speech depends on internet access. Even more fundamentally, without access to basic information and communication channels (like the internet), people cannot fully exercise their right to free speech. The incoming administration is rightly making universal broadband a priority for all kinds of reasons, including economic recovery and social justice. Building on that, the commission should make a case for how free speech is moot for people who do not have basic access to the channels and platforms where most public discourse occurs.
Finally, there is the issue of who controls the platforms most people use once they get connected. Free speech is not well protected or served when a small handful of companies control a few platforms that most Americans depend upon for information and political discourse. It is vital for regulators to foster more robust competition so that people have more choice across a much broader range of different types of platforms with different rules and business models. Only then can we keep the public discourse from being dominated and even manipulated by particular groups of people.
Antitrust enforcement is an essential first step toward improving those odds. So are policies and regulations that enable the emergence of nonprofit “digital public infrastructure” projects that can empower citizens to design and govern platforms for information sharing and discussion that are better suited for community discourse and problem-solving, rather than maximizing targeted advertising revenue. Regulatory changes requiring data portability and interoperability could support new types of businesses, like “middleware” companies recently proposed by Francis Fukuyama and other members of a working group convened by Stanford University: Such companies could operate decentralized interfaces between social media platforms and their users, enabling different communities to choose and design social media content rules that fit their own values, concerns, priorities, and objectives.
Good policy ideas will need public support across partisan divides in order to overcome the brutal partisanship that now dominates Washington policymaking. To that end, the new bipartisan commission on free speech and civil rights should be led by people with deep ties to a range of communities and constituencies across the country. Policies affecting online speech need to be based on a shared commitment and understanding that free speech and civil rights are interdependent and intertwined—in service of all Americans regardless of whether we supported the winner or loser in the last election.
Portions of this piece were adapted from a research paper titled “Reclaiming Free Speech for Democracy and Human Rights in a Digitally Networked World,” recently published by the University of California National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement, and a two-part report series titled “It’s the Business Model” published by New America’s Ranking Digital Rights.
Future Tense is a partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University that examines emerging technologies, public policy, and society.
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''Build back better'' approach to disaster recovery: Research trends since 2006 - ScienceDirect
Sat, 05 Dec 2020 05:57
AbstractThe ''build back better'' (BBB) approach to disaster recovery was first introduced in 2006 by the United Nations Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery, former US President William Clinton. In 2015, BBB became the second half of Priority 4 of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015''2030, in recognition of its widespread use and adoption among disaster risk management practitioners, policy-makers, and researchers. This paper aims to summarize the significant advances related to BBB research in the past 13'¯years, and is expected to provide an overview of where the BBB concept and the related policy and practice are heading in the coming years. Themes identified from existing research include: the development of a BBB framework and of indicators; the spread of BBB research worldwide; practical examples of how to apply BBB principles; policies, legislation, and governance for supporting BBB; role of different stakeholders and actors; and capacity building for BBB. In theory, BBB is a desirable goal, but numerous experiences have proved that it is quite challenging to implement in practice. Additional research on BBB is needed to contribute to its successful implementation.
KeywordsSendai framework
Priority 4
Theory vs. practice
(C) 2019 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd.
The Big Business of Being an Ally
Sun, 06 Dec 2020 13:08
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On May 29, Chrissy Rutherford set up her phone in her bedroom and pressed Record. A beauty and fashion expert with over 145,000 Instagram followers and a decade-long career working in fashion media (including at Hearst), she was accustomed to using social media to express herself. But this time was different. ''I don't know George Floyd and the many that came before him,'' she said to the camera. ''But understanding that someone has been murdered for having the same skin color I have, it's a lot to deal with. And the last 36 hours, I've just felt so overwhelmed trying to process what's happening.''
Rutherford, 34, described the physical toll the news was taking on her: stressed body, stiff neck, lack of sleep. She went on to explain the differences between covert and overt racism and stressed the importance of speaking out on social media, rather than letting the news cycle pass. ''It's not enough anymore to just be like, 'I have good intentions. I'm not racist.' You need to actually take the time to educate yourselves to be antiracist. And that's where white people are falling short right now,'' she told her followers. ''Antiracism is the name of the game right now. And that's it.''
As the video racked up millions of views, Rutherford began to receive a flood of DMs, texts, and calls from non-Black friends and acquaintances in the fashion world, most of whom were unsure of how to proceed on social media during such a critical moment. They needed guidance on continuing to live life online in a way that was both tactful and impactful. And many of their peers had made missteps they wanted to avoid. ''A lot of influencers I'm friends with'--and these are top girls'--were all blowing up my phone, wanting to get my advice,'' Rutherford tells me. '''‰'Should I post? What should I say?'''
Chrissy Rutherford (left) and Danielle Prescod, photographed in Brooklyn in October. On Rutherford: Belted dress, Thebe Magugu. Sandals, Brother Vellies. Her own Bychari hoop earrings. On Prescod: Sweater and skirt, Victor Glemaud. Earrings, Mateo. Rings, Almasika. Boots, Brother Vellies. Makeda Sandford
Her close friend Danielle Prescod'--a 32-year-old Black woman with a large following and a long career in fashion and beauty'--was in a similar position. The two had spent years trying to advocate for Black representation in fashion and beauty, often struggling to make their voices heard. But during this summer's Black Lives Matter uprising, there was a widespread social media reckoning that pressured many, from giant corporations to small brands, from influencers to civilians, to finally publicly grapple with racism in themselves, in their companies, and in society as a whole. Overnight, everyone needed to ''do the work'''--a call for antiracist education and action that became so widespread it felt like a clich(C) within weeks. But the reality was that most couldn't do the work alone'--they needed help trying to figure things out.
''Danielle and I were DMing each other, commiserating over how everyone was coming to us and it was overwhelming,'' Rutherford says. They wanted to help disseminate antiracist messaging, but they couldn't exactly spend all their waking hours giving friends free advice'--reviewing statements, offering up antiracist resources, gut-checking content. She and Prescod had a mutual epiphany: ''We need to teach them'--and charge them.''
A lot of influencers I'm friends with were all blowing up my phone, wanting to get my advice. 'Should I post? What should I say?'
The ideals of equality and social justice, along with bursts of activism in the wake of police brutality, are not new. But after the murder of George Floyd, something shifted dramatically. With tens of millions of people unemployed, and much of the country sitting at home in quarantine with little to do besides check social media and read the news'--and with a presidential election rapidly approaching'--there was an unprecedented collective opportunity. And it was not just police brutality that drew attention; the downstream effects had implications across every professional and social dynamic. Criminal justice reform, workplace discrimination, the pay gap, and hiring practices that systemically disadvantage Black Americans, to start. There were also more abstract issues to consider: representation of Black people in advertising and pop culture; tokenization in media; and more covert expressions of racism, like microaggressions, tone policing, and spiritual bypassing.
Prescod & Rutherford Break Down Key TermsWhen internal bias reveals itself in subtle ways'--like when, say, people of color are complimented for speaking perfect English'--that leave them feeling uncomfortable or insulted.
Using notions like ''We're all one human race!'' to avoid doing the real work of dismantling systemic racism.
Criticizing or invalidating arguments if they are not delivered in the ''right'' gentle tone rather than addressing the substance.
A white person who provides help to nonwhite people in a self-serving manner. For example: when white people on vacation post photos on social media posing with impoverished orphans of different races.
Taking action to up your own social capital rather than a cause, from posting a black box on Instagram without doing further antiracism work to using Black people as virtue-signaling props in photos.
If you looked, there was more and more evidence of underhanded or overt racism to be found'--and people were keeping track. Spreadsheets began to circulate, tracking how major brands or businesses had responded to George Floyd's death. For some, there was a deafening silence. Others drew ire by making statements so vague as to be meaningless. Predominantly white industries and non-Black individuals were compelled not just to coast on the assumption that they couldn't possibly be racist, but to provide proof that they were proactively investing in an antiracist society. And to do so, they needed professional assistance.
America's economy is crumbling, but the business of allyship is booming. Antiracism, once just a passive stance, has become both an aspiration and an outlet for ambition'--for some, it is yet another realm in which to prove one can excel in a self-improvement-driven culture. ''I don't think there's ever been this kind of outpouring from millions of people in this country to acknowledge, 'Hey, I really don't know enough about racism.' I don't think there's ever been millions of people within a compressed amount of time saying 'Yes, I am willing to do some of this work,''‰'' says Crystal Marie Fleming, PhD, a professor of sociology and Africana studies at SUNY Stony Brook and the author of How to Be Less Stupid About Race. In June, she saw her book sales soar and received an influx of media and public speaking requests'--an exciting turn of events that also felt overwhelming, given the emotional turbulence she was experiencing as a result of the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others.
Fleming was not alone in the increased spotlight she gained as Black Lives Matter activity ramped up. Publications began producing lists of Black-owned businesses to patronize. By late June, the New York Times best-seller list was dominated by titles about race. Print editions of How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi and White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo (who is a white woman) were sold out, with readers eager to post photos of their new reading materials on social media. If they wanted to get more serious, they could pay for an elective training program.
The antiracist educator Monique Melton, for example, offers an antiracism 101 course ($97 for five audio lessons), a 12-week interactive online course ($3,500), and a four-day in-person antiracism intensive. Her Instagram following jumped from 17,000 to 220,000 in a single week. ''I would refresh, and it would be another thousand every couple of minutes. It was overwhelming,'' Melton says. The prominent antiracist educator Rachel Cargle offers a sliding-scale model for access to The Great Unlearn, her program dedicated to deconstructing historical narratives and relearning them through the eyes of educators of color.
For those with less time or a limited budget, there were hundreds of free spreadsheets and documents filled with antiracist resources being passed around on social media. More inventive initiatives began to sprout up, too, like a new program from the text message''based platform The Nudge. For $5, participants could sign up for something called The Ally Nudge, a monthlong antiracism education program developed in collaboration with longtime diversity and inclusion consultant Akilah Cadet. During its first month, over 10,000 people signed up for The Ally Nudge in 1,700 cities.
America's economy is crumbling, but the business of allyship is booming.
Even Black people who previously hadn't been positioned as formal educators were suddenly receiving an influx of attention: ''Chrissy and I both got this surge of followers in June,'' Prescod says. ''Because people realized they weren't following anyone Black.'' As Patia Borja, who compiled a popular antiracist resource guide, said in a podcast interview, social media suddenly began to feel like ''America's Next Top Ally.''
Cadet says she has spent the last five years advising leaders at major corporations on how to make their workforce more ''diverse'' and ''inclusive.'' Before May, those were the kinds of neutered, corporate-friendly terms she needed to use. To many white higher-ups at the companies she worked with, concepts like antiracism and dismantling white supremacy were too confrontational. Cadet says she even struggled to suggest that workplaces should foster a sense of belonging for all their employees.
Then, everything changed. ''On May 27, there was an influx of requests, saying 'What can we do?''‰'' Cadet says. ''What you saw, which was really fascinating, was a lot of big brands and companies saying 'Dismantle white supremacy.' Or 'Being part of the problem, we need to change our leadership. Black lives matter.''‰'' Cadet quickly made some revisions to the language she uses. ''I was able to put 'antiracism' on my website,'' she says. And now ''when people are interested in engaging and putting together a contract, I'm bringing up white supremacy and antiracism.''
Not only did brands understand there were new standards of accountability on social media, Cadet says, but ''a lot of these companies are recognizing the importance of the Black dollar, the $1.3 trillion that Black people spend.'' Emily Heyward, a cofounder and chief brand officer of the branding and business development company Red Antler'--responsible for the brand identities of Casper and Allbirds'--says that antiracism must be part of the DNA of any new brand or company. ''Every human, every business in America is playing a role in social justice,'' Heyward says. ''I would put antiracism more in the category of something like sustainability. Part of launching a modern business is caring about sustainability, and it is also looking at your own hiring processes.''
Danielle Prescod, a 32-year-old with a long career in fashion and beauty, hosts antiracism seminars with her friend and fellow fashion and beauty expert, Chrissy Rutherford. Dress, Victor Glemaud. Earrings, Mateo. Makeda Sandford
Within a week of Rutherford posting her viral antiracism video, she and Prescod had their first brand clients. Soon they launched a weekly antiracism seminar, geared toward fashion and beauty influencers. For $300'--a third of which is donated to a Black charity'--an influencer could participate in a two-hour Zoom call that was part race studies class, part consciousness-raising course, part career coaching session. ''It is very much tailored to the influencer space, [essentially showing] them how they have benefited from and upheld the standards of white supremacy,'' Rutherford says.
Each session is divided into two parts. First, there's an hour-long presentation about race and antiracism. ''We give tips for navigating conversations around race, and tips on how to hold brands accountable. We talk about how to be a good ally,'' Rutherford explains. The second hour is a Q&A during which participants are invited to ask everything from broad theoretical concerns about race to tactical, targeted queries about social media. ''We'll get questions like, 'How do I apologize without making it about myself? How do I navigate this, balance my normal content with my activist content?''‰'' Rutherford says.
Katie Sturino, a body acceptance advocate and founder of the cult skin care brand Megababe, had known Rutherford and Prescod personally for years. When she saw that they were doing seminars, she quickly enrolled. ''My main goals in attending were to listen and learn on behalf of both myself and my business,'' she tells me. ''I read all of my comments and DMs, and I receive a lot of feedback. But you have to be careful about how you value, interpret, and act upon that feedback. Chrissy and Danielle talked about what voices to listen to, and that resonated with me.''
There was even interest from outside the U.S., from influencers who wanted to get a better grasp of what was happening in America. ''Since I don't live in the U.S., hearing what is going on firsthand was very important for me,'' says Xenia Adonts, the founder of Paris-based clothing brand Attire The Studio, who has 1.5 million followers. ''Of course, Europe is not very different; we have similar challenges with racism and the systemic disadvantages faced by minorities. As a white, privileged girl, it's easy to overlook those issues.''
As Patia Borja, who compiled a popular antiracist resource guide, said in a podcast interview, social media suddenly began to feel like ''America's Next Top Ally.''
Of course, participating in an antiracism seminar may give influencers a line of defense against their worst fears: cancellation and public shame. ''Shame is a powerful motivator,'' Prescod admits. In the early Zoom seminars, when dozens of major brands and influencers were being publicly called out, anxiety levels were high. ''Most influencers and brands are pretty paranoid about the potential that they might get canceled,'' Prescod says. ''This is the largest anxiety we see: how to avoid cancellation, what to do if you get called out, how to respond, and how to apologize.''
''For a lot of these girls,'' Rutherford says, ''it's the first time they're really even considering the privilege they have.'' Paying $300 for tutelage was certainly a start. The bigger question was whether they'--along with all the businesses and individuals newly awakened'--could continue to absorb the lessons beyond the Instagrammable moment. ''These seminars give us a formal place to ask questions, listen, and learn in a way that is far from casual conversations,'' Sturino says. ''[But] I know the burden is on me to continue learning.''
People have been listening and learning for decades in a way that hasn't always led to meaningful change. The business of diversity, allyship, anti-bias'--whatever you want to call it'--has cycled through many waves as corporate America has woken up, fallen back asleep, and reawakened. Bias and diversity training took prominence in the late 1990s and 2000s, after a spate of discrimination lawsuits required major financial firms to shell out hundreds of millions of dollars. (In 2013, Bank of America Merrill Lynch alone paid out $160 million to settle a race discrimination suit.) Shaken by the idea of such massive payouts, companies began to expand diversity initiatives. Anti-bias training became de rigueur at seemingly every corporation in America (training that, this summer, many corporations refreshed, made mandatory, or overhauled).
''The positive effects of diversity training rarely last beyond a day or two.''
Yet these initiatives did not result in meaningful change in boardroom representation. A landmark study in 2016 in the Harvard Business Review by Frank Dobbin, PhD, professor of sociology at Harvard University, and Alexandra Kalev, PhD, associate professor of sociology at Tel Aviv University, found exactly the opposite. ''It turns out that while people are easily taught to respond correctly to a questionnaire about bias, they soon forget the right answers,'' they noted. ''The positive effects of diversity training rarely last beyond a day or two.''
This year, a few months removed from the surge in antiracism, some educators have already noticed deflated levels of commitment. ''People are on to talking about blueberry muffins,'' Melton says. ''It was an eight-week time span of demand. And now it's like, 'Oh, we've checked that box.''‰''
According to Dobbin and Kalev's research, companies that institute diversity training to avoid lawsuits found that ''force feeding'' employees could actually activate bias, thwarting progress. What does show lasting impact are programs that spark engagement, increase contact among different groups, and draw upon people's desire to look good to others. Voluntary behavior'--like the elective reading so many have sought out since June'--may also impact attitudes long term. ''We tend to respond more favorably when we believe we have agency,'' Fleming says. ''When we feel we have an opportunity to learn, but we're not being forced to view the world in a particular way.''
By July, Rutherford (pictured) and Prescod had received so much interest that they formalized their antiracism training, launching a new business called 2BG (Two Black Girls) Consulting. Belted dress, Thebe Magugu. Sandals, Brother Vellies. Her own Bychari hoop earrings. Makeda Sandford
Prescod and Rutherford note that once their influencer clients have acknowledged the social justice movement publicly, many have asked, ''How do I go back to my regular content?'' ''Even for girls who've taken our course, it resonates with them in the immediate moment, but it doesn't really have the long tail we'd hoped it would,'' Prescod says. ''It isn't like there's an expiration date on this,'' Rutherford adds. ''Sure, they don't need to be posting 10 slides on antiracism for the rest of eternity. But you know, make sure you're doing the right things. Build relationships with Black creators.''
But some newer elective programming that offers a starting point for a more sustained mindset might be more effective than stodgy corporate versions. By July, Prescod and Rutherford had received so much interest that they formalized their antiracism training, launching a new business called 2BG (Two Black Girls) Consulting. Even if the changes spurred by the post''George Floyd activist movement do not prove to be long-lasting, at least Black educators are being paid for their work. Three months after they began, Prescod and Rutherford are still conducting Zoom antiracism seminars. They now also offer a version for noninfluencers at a discounted rate of $75.
One Friday in August, Prescod and Rutherford hold their first noninfluencer seminar. They begin the class by addressing 21 women on camera. They share a slick PowerPoint primer on racism and antiracism: They discuss the terms and offer a set of dos and don'ts for social media and beyond, folding in personal anecdotes. Crucially, they also give examples of brands and influencers who've gotten it right, and wrong.
After about an hour, it's time to pass the mic to the students. Most questions are not about these attendees' own racism. Many need help navigating racist circumstances at work, or they want to help guide colleagues or family members. One woman says her company decided to feature a number of Black creators on their social media in June, only to receive backlash from non-Black clients. ''Is it best to just ignore them, and write them off as racist?'' she asks. Prescod advises her to respond to these clients openly, explaining why they were taking the initiatives and saying ''We hope you'll join us.''
"Some of the antiracism work has to be recognizing the limitations you have."
Many women preface their inquiries by apologizing for asking ''a really dumb question.'' ''Nothing is too dumb. This is a safe space,'' Rutherford assures them. Then Prescod chimes in: ''We literally had someone ask why it's not okay to say All Lives Matter.'' The group laughs, comfortable in their collective understanding of why this was actually a dumb question.
After one query about dealing with racist colleagues, Prescod gives the group'--a collection of obviously earnest, well-meaning women'--a disclaimer. ''I would not encourage anyone to do something that is going to put your job in danger,'' she says. ''It's almost not worth it. One day you might have the power to hire whomever you want. But it doesn't sound right now like they're receptive to noticing where they have blind spots.
''Some of the antiracism work has to be recognizing the limitations you have,'' she continues. The relief among the group is palpable, as if they've been told they can relax for a moment, and that the future of racial justice in America does not lie squarely on their shoulders.
As the class winds down, one woman asks a tricky question. She's in charge of a campaign at work featuring creators of color, and feels it's necessary to get feedback from a colleague of color on another team. In other words, she wants to ask the lone Black person to do extra unpaid work. ''When is it appropriate to ask a person of color their opinion on something?'' she asks. Prescod and Rutherford take a long pause. After all, doing the work of antiracism doesn't mean shifting more work onto Black people. Unless you're paying them, that is. ''It sounds like your company should hire us,'' Rutherford says. ''Because that's what we do.''
This story appears in the December/January 2021 issue of ELLE.
Carrie Battan Carrie Battan is a staff writer at the New Yorker, and has contributed to GQ, Elle, Bloomberg, and others. This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at
George Clooney Declares Racism is America's 'Great Original Sin'
Sat, 05 Dec 2020 16:53
Hollywood actor George Clooney proclaimed that racism is United States' ''great original sin'' in a newly-published interview with People magazine.
''I've been to so many countries that are really failed states, and they look to this country for leadership,'' Clooney said. ''We come up short a lot'--race being our great original sin and clearly the one we've been the worst at'--but we are in the constant process of trying to find a more perfect union.''
''You can't give up. I believe in the American spirit,'' The Midnight Sky star added.
Clooney also said that while ''2020 has sort of exhausted everyone,'' he remains ''optimistic about this country,'' even though the leftwing actor said ''we fail a great deal.''
Clooney has long used his A-list celebrity status to support the Democrat Party and a slew of progressive causes.
In the wake of George Floyd's death, Clooney made a $500,000 donation to the Equal Justice Initiative and took the opportunity to compare President Donald Trump to segregationist Democrat politician Bull Connor.
''Thank you President Trump for 'making Juneteenth famous.' Much like when Bull Connor made 'Civil Rights' famous. My family will be donating [$500,000] to the Equal Justice Initiative in honor of your heroic efforts,'' the Ocean's Eleven star said in a June statement.
As Breitbart News reported, Clooney is one of several celebrities to donate funds aimed at boosting Georgia Democrat Senate candidate Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock. The Syriana actor dished out $10,000 to the Georgia Federal Election Committee, Federal Election Commission data shows. Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo and Joaquin Phoenix have made donations to Warnock. Jason Bateman, Mandy Moore, Patricia Arquette and Bradley Whitford have given cash to Ossoff.
The outcome of Georgia's twin senate runoffs, scheduled for January 5, will decide whether Democrats will regain a majority in the upper chamber from Republicans.
Indian general strike of 2020 - Wikipedia
Sat, 05 Dec 2020 17:24
On 26 November 2020, a mass general strike was held across India. The strike was organized by 10 trade unions across the country and was supported by the Indian National Congress, Communist Party of India (Marxist), and other left-wing parties.[1][2][3] An estimated 250 million (25 crore) people took part in the strike,[4][5] which Jacobin estimated as the largest in history.[6] The strike was followed by a march to New Delhi, which arrived there on 30 November with tens of thousands of farmers surrounding Delhi,[7] increasing to hundreds of thousands by 3 December.[8]
Strikers' demands Edit The workers' unions presented a list of seven demands:
Direct cash transfer of Rs 7,500 (US $101) to all families who earn less than the income tax threshold10kg free grain ration per person every month to all in need.Expansion of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act to provide employment from the current 100 days to 200 days work in rural areas with enhanced wages, and extension of this programme to urban areasWithdrawal of all anti worker labour code changes and anti-farmer lawsStop privatization of public sector corporations, including those in the finance sector. Stop the corporatization of government-run manufacturing and services entities in railways, ordinance manufacturing, ports and similar areas.Withdraw the draconian circular of forced premature retirement of government and public sector employees.Provide a pension to all, restore earlier pension scheme and improve EPS 95.[9][3]Organisers Edit The trade unions involved included the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS), Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), All India United Trade Union Centre (AIUTUC), Trade Union Coordination Centre (TUCC), Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA), All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU), Labour Progressive Federation (LPF) and United Trade Union Congress (UTUC).[1]
Several other organisations were involved in the strike. The All India Bank Employees' Association (AIBEA) stated that nearly 30 thousand bank employees were to participate in the strike.[3] The Independent Sectoral Federations and Associations (ISFA) released strike notice to workers of all industries, calling scheme workers, construction workers, beedi workers, domestic workers, agricultural workers, vendors, hawkers, and self-employed people in rural as well as urban India to come onto the streets for chakka jam[3], a demonstration meant to block traffic. According to a statement made by the CPIM, there was "massive participation"[10] by people who did not receive strike notice, such as informal sector workers, students, women, and peasants.[2][11][10] Approximately a quarter of all working-aged people in India participated in the general strike.[10]
The date of the general strike converged with the All India Kisan Sangharsh Co-ordination Committee's own strike calling for newly-enacted anti-farmer agricultural laws to be repealed.[6] The worker's unions and the AIKSCC declared their solidarity with each other in the days leading up to the general strike and the AIKSCC's "Chalo Delhi" (Go to Delhi) mobilization.[1][6][9]
Strike and march to New Delhi Edit The initial, 24-hour general strike took place all across India. Five states '' Kerala, Puducherry, Odisha, Assam and Telangana '' were completely shut down.[12] Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh reported 100% strike.[12] Tamil Nadu reported shut-down in 13 of 38 districts, with industrial strike having continued in the remaining districts.[12] In Punjab and Haryana, state transport buses did not leave their depots.[12] The strike saw stoppage of work in banks, financial services, various government services, transport, steel units, port and docks, telecommunication services, plantations, power generating units, coal and other mines, oil and natural gas production units, and millions of other miscellaneous industries.[12]
The strike was followed by the 2020 Indian farmers' protest march to the Indian capital New Delhi. On 30 November, "tens of thousands of farmers and their supporters ... [were] demonstrating at several road junctions".[7] By 3 December, BBC News estimated the number of farmers blocking New Delhi in the hundreds of thousands.[8]
Edit A "photograph of a paramilitary policeman swinging his baton at an elderly Sikh man", Sukhdev Singh, taken by Ravi Choudhury of Press Trust of India (PTI) went viral on online social media. Politicians opposed to the the governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) used the image to criticise police violence. BJP members claimed that the Sikh farmer had not been hit. Choudhury said that the man had been hit by the policeman. A fact-checking website, Boomlive, interviewed Sukhdev Singh, who stated that he had been hit by two policemen, and been injured in his "forearm, back and calf muscle".[8]
References Edit ^ a b c Sarkar, Niladry (26 November 2020). " ' Historic' All India General Strike majorly successful: claim CPIM, Congress in Kolkata". The Statesman. Archived from the original on 28 November 2020 . Retrieved 1 December 2020 . ^ a b "10 Trade unions to hold strike on November 26". The Telegraph. ABP Group. 17 November 2020. Archived from the original on 17 November 2020 . Retrieved 1 December 2020 . ^ a b c d "26 November 2020 strike: Which unions are participating in Bharat Bandh? Who all are backing it? [DETAILS]". Times Now. 25 November 2020. Archived from the original on 30 November 2020 . Retrieved 1 December 2020 . ^ Joy, Shemin (26 November 2020). "At least 25 crore workers participated in general strike; some states saw complete shutdown: Trade unions". Deccan Herald. Archived from the original on 4 December 2020 . Retrieved 5 December 2020 . ^ "Nationwide strike affects normal life in Kerala, Odisha, other states; over 25 crore workers join agitation: Trade unions". The Tribune (Chandigarh). 26 November 2020. Archived from the original on 5 December 2020 . Retrieved 5 December 2020 . ^ a b c Crowley, Thomas (1 December 2020). "This Is a Revolution, Sir". Jacobin. Archived from the original on 1 December 2020 . Retrieved 1 December 2020 . ^ a b Gettleman, Jeffrey; Singh, Karan Deep; Kumar, Hari (30 November 2020). "Angry Farmers Choke India's Capital in Giant Demonstrations". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 30 November 2020. ^ a b c Pandey, Geeta (3 December 2020). "India farmers: The viral image that defines a protest". BBC News. Archived from the original on 5 December 2020 . Retrieved 5 December 2020 . ^ a b "Over 250 million workers join national strike in India". IndustriALL. 26 November 2020 . Retrieved 2 December 2020 . ^ a b c Grevatt, Martha (1 December 2020). "Working class unites across India/250-million-strong strike!". Workers World . Retrieved 4 December 2020 . ^ "Nationwide general strike on 26 November to see participation of 25 crore workers - India News , Firstpost". Firstpost. Network18 Group. 26 November 2020. Archived from the original on 26 November 2020 . Retrieved 1 December 2020 . ^ a b c d e "Shutdown Across Sectors, as Over 25 Crore Workers Join One of the Biggest Strikes Ever". NewsClick. 26 November 2020 . Retrieved 4 December 2020 .
'Havana Syndrome' likely caused by microwave energy, government study finds
Sat, 05 Dec 2020 13:56
Dec. 5, 2020, 12:51 AM EST
By Brenda Breslauer, Ken Dilanian and Josh Lederman
The mysterious neurological symptoms experienced by American diplomats in China and Cuba are consistent with the effects of directed microwave energy, according to a long-awaited report by the National Academies of Sciences that cites medical evidence to support the long-held conviction of American intelligence officials.
The report, obtained Friday by NBC News, does not conclude that the directed energy was delivered intentionally, by a weapon, as some U.S. officials have long believed. But it raises that disturbing possibility.
NBC News reported in 2018 that U.S. intelligence officials considered Russia a leading suspect in what some of them assess to have been deliberate attacks on diplomats and CIA officers overseas. But there was not '-- and is not now '-- conclusive intelligence pointing in that direction, multiple officials who have been briefed on the matter said.
A team of medical and scientific experts who studied the symptoms of as many as 40 State Department and other government employees concluded that nothing like them had previously been documented in medical literature, according to the National Academies of Sciences report. Many reported hearing a loud sound and feeling pressure in their heads, and then experienced dizziness, unsteady gait and visual disturbances. Many suffered longstanding, debilitating effects.
''The committee felt that many of the distinctive and acute signs, symptoms and observations reported by (government) employees are consistent with the effects of directed, pulsed radio frequency (RF) energy,'' the report says. ''Studies published in the open literature more than a half-century ago and over the subsequent decades by Western and Soviet sources provide circumstantial support for this possible mechanism.''
While important questions remain, ''the mere consideration of such a scenario raises grave concerns about a world with disinhibited malevolent actors and new tools for causing harm to others, as if the U.S. government does not have its hands full already with naturally occurring threats,'' says the report, edited by Dr. David Relman, a professor in medicine, microbiolology and immunology at Stanford, and Julie Pavlin, a physician who leads the National Academies of Sciences global health division in Washington.
In the last year, as first reported by GQ Magazine, a number of new incidents have been reported by CIA officers in Europe and Asia, including one involving Marc Polymeropoulos, who retired last year after a long and decorated career as a case officer. He told NBC News he is still suffering the effects of what he believes was a brain injury he sustained on a trip to Moscow.
A source directly familiar with the matter told NBC News the CIA, using mobile phone location data, had determined that some Russian intelligence agents who had worked on microwave weapons programs were present in the same cities at the same time that CIA officers suffered mysterious symptoms. CIA officials consider that a promising lead but not conclusive evidence.
The State Department and the CIA did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Friday. Russia has denied any involvement in the incidents.
The study examined four possibilities to explain the symptoms: Infection, chemicals, psychological factors and microwave energy.
''Overall, directed pulsed RF energy '... appears to be the most plausible mechanism in explaining these cases among those that the committee considered. ... The committee cannot rule out other possible mechanisms and considers it likely that a multiplicity of factors explains some cases and the differences between others.''
The report says more investigation is required.
Tourists in a vintage car pass by the U.S. Embassy in Havana on Nov. 1, 2018. Alexandre Meneghini / ReutersElectromagnetic energy, including frequencies such as radio and microwave, have been considered a leading possibility since the earliest days of the mystery. Early on, investigators also considered the possibility that sound waves, toxins or other mechanisms could have been involved, although no evidence is known to have emerged to support those theories.
Over the years, the FBI, CIA, U.S. military, State Department's Diplomatic Security Service, National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have investigated the incidents. None has come forward with any conclusions, and the State Department has quietly ceased using the word ''attacks'' to describe what happened, as then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and other top officials did in the early days after the incidents first came to light publicly in 2017.
RelatedStarting in late 2016, U.S. diplomats and other government workers stationed in Havana began hearing strange sounds and experiencing bizarre physical sensations and then fell ill. The incidents caused hearing, balance and cognitive changes along with mild traumatic brain injury, also known as concussion.
More than two dozen U.S. workers who served in Cuba and a smaller number of Canadians were confirmed to have been affected, in addition to one U.S. government worker in China who was judged in 2018 to have experienced similar symptoms.
For some of the affected employees, those symptoms have resolved and the individuals have eventually been able to return to relatively normal lives. For others, the effects have lingered and posed an ongoing and significant obstacle to their work and well-being, according to NBC News interviews with U.S. officials who were assessed by the government to have been affected.
Cuba has adamantly and consistently denied any knowledge or involvement in the incidents. In late 2018, NBC News reported that U.S. intelligence agencies investigating the incidents considered Russia to be the main suspect, based on interviews with three U.S. officials and two others briefed on the investigation.
Some outside medical experts uninvolved in the investigation have speculated the workers might have simply suffered from mass hysteria. But doctors who evaluated the patients at the University of Pennsylvania, including through advanced brain imaging, found differences in their brains, including less white matter and connectivity in the areas that control vision and hearing than similar healthy people.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, asked in October about the investigation, indicated there was still no firm conclusion, although he bristled at the allegations that have been raised by many of the affected diplomats that the State Department took insufficient steps to protect them and ensure adequate care after they were injured.
''We've done a lot of work to try and identify how this all took place,'' Pompeo said. ''And we continue to try and determine precisely the causation of this while doing our best to make sure we're taking care of the health and safety of these people.''
The report recommends that the State Department establish a response mechanism for similar incidents that allows new cases to be studied more quickly and effectively.
Brenda Breslauer Brenda Breslauer is a producer with the NBC News Investigative Unit.
Ken Dilanian Ken Dilanian is a correspondent covering intelligence and national security for the NBC News Investigative Unit.
Josh Lederman Josh Lederman is a national political reporter for NBC News.
Online Privacy Leaders launch Global Privacy Control (GPC) Standard
Fri, 04 Dec 2020 15:39
Announcing a New Standard for Online PrivacyAnnounced today, the Global Privacy Control (''GPC'') is a new standard web browsers and websites can use, to simplify making and handling online privacy requests '' particularly requests like ''Do Not Sell'' (do not sell my data to third parties without my consent).
Such online privacy requests have recently been possible due to new consumer privacy laws like the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and Europe's GDPR, but consumers have lacked tools and standards to invoke their newly-won privacy rights.
Now, rather than having to click on individual links across many websites, internet users can invoke their rights in one step via the ''Global Privacy Control'' (GPC), which is required under the California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA). Europe similarly empowers citizens with the ability to object to third party processing under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
It's Time for a Much-Needed ChangeMaking digital privacy laws both simple for consumers and clear enough for the industry, has long been the Achilles heel of such regulation. In fact, the industry has relied upon this ''nothing will happen in practice'' understanding to avoid both real investment and real change.
This industry attitude towards privacy / digital relevant laws like data breach notification, or the prior Do Not Track standard (which produced only stagnation) needs to change.
At Abine, we support the GPC as a necessary step to change this culture of indifference in the industry. How will this change the status quo? By offering a clear, simple standard with a growing list of web distribution partners to seed it with consumers '' and, most importantly, a standard that is tied to legally-enforceable edicts. Together, these can provide a potentially effective cocktail '' and one that has not yet been tried.
How to Add GPC to Your BrowserAs a consumer, you can enable Global Privacy Control by installing a supported browser or extension such as Blur by Abine or by going to the official Global Privacy Control website to download one of the other participating browsers and extensions from the EFF, DuckDuckGo, Brave, Mozilla, and Disconnect. Soon more browsers and websites will support GPC.
Abine Blur and Setting Your GPC in Google ChromeIf you are an existing Blur user, you can simply make sure you have the latest version of Blur running and click on the ''B'' browser icon. Clicking on the blue top bar ''Trackers Blocked'' section will reveal a window you can toggle your GPC setting on at any site.
Here's how you can choose to turn on the setting for a single website:
Here's how you can turn on the GPC setting globally for all websites you visit:
Here's what Blur will look like when you enable the GPC setting when visiting a GPC compliant website:
Here's what Blur will look like when you visit a website that doesn't yet support GPC standards:
With the Blur extension powered by Global Privacy Control, that's all you need to do to start invoking your privacy rights automatically as you browse.
What's Next for Global Privacy ControlThe launch of GPC is a meaningful step in changing how the industry accepts and handles privacy requests, ensuring consumers have more control over what is done with their private data. As more users assert their rights using Global Privacy Control tools and more websites adopt the standard handling these requests, pressure will increase on other websites to adopt the GPC standard.
At present, the Global Privacy Control signal is intended to communicate two privacy preferences '' a specific Do Not Sell request, as protected by the CCPA, and a general request to limit the sale of data, as protected by GDPR. However, with time, the GPC signal may evolve to communicate additional rights in other jurisdictions.
blur Global privacy control online privacy
Last modified: October 16, 2020
About the Author / Will Simonds Will Simonds is the Head of Customer Success and Marketing at Abine, Inc., The Online Privacy Company. Since 2015, Will has lead a team of privacy-minded individuals to help Abine's customers reach their ultimate goal: feeling safe and private online. As a privacy advocate himself, Will has managed The Online Privacy Blog as its chief contributor and editor.
Massive Microsoft Edge update will introduce all the features you've been waiting for | TechRadar
Sun, 06 Dec 2020 12:11
Over the past few months, Microsoft has drip-fed information about upcoming features for its flagship web browser Edge, from vertical tabs to increased control over cookies and more.
It has now been revealed, as per the company's product roadmap, that a number of these features will land wholesale with Microsoft Edge version 88, scheduled to land imminently.
Currently available via Microsoft's early access program, the new Edge v.88 features are set to be deployed in public builds over the course of the next two months, with rollout completed by the end of January 2021.
Check out our list of the best VPN services right nowWe've built a list of the best Windows 10 VPN services availableHere's our rundown of the best business VPNs right nowMicrosoft Edge updateAlthough version 88 comes with a host of different upgrades, the change most likely to excite Microsoft Edge fans is an overhaul to the way the browser handles tabs.
The new build will allow users to reorient the tab bar to sit vertically at the side of the window, instead of at the top. While a little unorthodox, this option makes better use of the extra real estate on offer with widescreen and ultrawide monitors, and also makes for an interesting aesthetic.
''As the number of horizontal tabs grows, site titles start to get cut off and tab controls are lost as each tab shrinks. This interrupts user workflow as they spend more time finding, switching, and managing their tabs and less time on the task at hand,'' explained Microsoft.
''Vertical tabs let users move their tabs to the side, where vertically aligned icons and longer site titles make it easier to scan quickly, identify and switch to the tab they want to open.''
The new version of Edge will also handle inactive tabs differently. A new feature referred to as ''sleeping tabs'' is designed to improve performance by minimizing the system resources used up by tabs that have sat open for an extended period without use.
In a similar vein, Microsoft will also introduce its new startup boost feature with Edge v.88, which launches certain browser processes when a device is powered on. With these processes already running in the background, Edge will exist in a state of readiness that should improve launch times.
From a security and data privacy perspective, the new browser will alert users whose passwords have been compromised in a known data breach and will also allow third-party cookies (used to track browsing activity for advertising purposes) to be deleted without affecting first-party cookies (which generally improve user experience).
Here's our list of the best proxy services right now
This New Technology Will Dangerously Expand Government Spying On Citizens | Zero Hedge
Sun, 06 Dec 2020 12:43
Authored by Jack Rasmus via,
If you're worried about the capability of government to conduct surveillance of citizens engaged in political assembly and protest, or even just personal activity, then you should be aware the technological capability of government surveillance is about to expand exponentially.
The US Air Force's Research Lab (yes, it has its own lab) has recently signed a contract to test new software of a company called SignalFrame, a Washington DC wireless tech company. The company's new software is able to access smartphones, and from your phone jump off to access any other wireless or bluetooth device in the near vicinity. To quote from the article today in the Wall St. Journal, the smartphone is used ''as a window onto usage of hundreds of millions of computers,s routers, fitness trackers, modern automobiles and other networked devices, known collectively as the 'Internet of Things'.''
Your smartphone in effect becomes a government listening device that detects and accesses all nearby wireless or bluetooth devices, or anything that has a MAC address for that matter. How 'near' is nearby is not revealed by the company, or the Air Force, both of which refused to comment on the Wall St. Journal story. But with the expansion of 5G wireless, it should be assumed it's more than just a couple steps from your smartphone.
One can imagine some scary scenarios with this capability in the hands of government snoops:
Not only would the government know your geographical location via the GPS signal to your cellphone. They'd know what you are doing. And with whom.
A political gathering would allow them to see all the owners of other cellphones in the vicinity of a protest or demonstration. How many are gathering at a particular street or location. The direction they might be heading. Or whether there's an organization meeting in a hall or room and who (with a cellphone as well) might be attending.
If you're driving on a winding coastal or mountain road, it would know, and could possibly access, your car's various electronic systems to turn them off. It might access your car's circuit board that governs your power steering when you're driving in an area of winding roads. Or it might be able to just shut down your car's electrical system and remotely lock all your doors. The police no longer have to engage in highway chases until capture.
The new tech would allow the government to access the data on your fitbit device while you're jogging. Or worse, maybe even interfere with the signal on your heart pacemaker device.
The technology might be used to access your smartphone, and from there to turn on your home Alexa device to listen in and record conversations without you ever knowing. Or to listen in on your zoom conferencing on your laptop. Or maybe even worse, to shut down or bypass the safety features on your home furnace equipment. Or turn off your home security system.
And with 5G wireless broadband, the tracking might be extended well beyond the range of a bluetooth device. Add 5G broadband wireless to SignalFrame's technology, and then wed that to the capability of machine learning and artificial intelligence, and you get instant processing of a massive amount of data on any targeted person or gathering!
This problem of government surveillance on free citizen activity is not new. It took a giant leap after 9-11 with the Patriot Act and acquisition of phone data by Homeland Security and other government agencies. It was supposed to have stopped. But it hasn't. The snoops have continued to ignore Congressional resolutions and court decisions on privacy invasion of citizens. The latest Air Force lab testing is likely just a recent 'tip of the iceberg' revelation. And if the Air Force is doing it, be assured so are the Army, Navy, the NSA, CIA, FBI and all the other government snoops.
Certainly this kind of technology would be used not only by the US government. If the USA has it, you can bet other governments do too''especially China, Russia, Israel, and probably some of the Europeans as well.
Unlike in 2001, in 2020 SignalFrame's technology takes government surveillance to a new level''given the ubiquity of smartphones, Internet of Things (IOT) devices, digital circuit board dependent autos, and all the many household devices now with MAC wireless access addresses. And now, unlike circa 2001 and the passage of the Patriot Act (and its continuation in annual NDAA legislation), we have AI, machine learning, neural nets everywhere, and massive government data processing power.
In short, Technology is becoming a growing tool and power in the hands of governments, to use to thwart democratic and constitutional rights''as well as to detect, apprehend, and 'deal with' those who protest and oppose those governments.
The coming decade in the USA will be not only increasingly difficult economically, increasingly unstable politically, but will prove to be a period in which technology is increasingly threatening basic civil rights as well as the very foundations of Democracy itself.
The Substackerati - Columbia Journalism Review
Fri, 04 Dec 2020 19:55
By Clio Chang Winter 2020 T he first week of March, Patrice Peck, a freelance journalist living in New York, started sanitizing everything. She went to Nitehawk, a dine-in movie theater, and brought Clorox to wipe down the little table by her seat, her drinking glass, the utensils. In those early days, she felt like she was the only one obsessing over the coronavirus. As the pandemic spread, she started exchanging updates with a friend via text message and calling her grandmother in Jamaica to discuss the situation there. Peck anticipated that Black people would be hit the hardest, and that this aspect of the story would not receive enough coverage. ''It was just very obvious to me,'' she said.
By April, shelter-in-place orders were in effect. Peck'--who is thirty-three and stylish, lately with cat-eye glasses and short hair'--was holed up in her apartment. She and her partner set up to work side by side, their laptops perched on the kitchen island; Peck scoured the internet for news as Black people in America began dying from covid-19 , the disease caused by the coronavirus, at twice the rate of whites. ''I wanted to write something that would be valuable to readers and informative and empowering, particularly to Black audiences,'' she said. So she did what so many other independent journalists were doing'--she started a Substack.
Substack, established in 2017 by three tech-and-media guys'--Chris Best, Hamish McKenzie, and Jairaj Sethi'--is a newsletter platform that allows writers and other creative types to distribute their work at tiered subscription rates. Newsletters go back at least as far as the Middle Ages, but these days, with full-time jobs at stable media companies evaporating'--between the 2008 recession and 2019, newsroom employment dropped by 23 percent'--Substack offers an appealing alternative. And, for many, it's a viable source of income. In three years, Substack's newsletters'--covering almost every conceivable topic, from Australian Aboriginal rights to bread recipes to local Tennessee politics'--have drawn more than two hundred fifty thousand paid subscribers. The top newsletter authors can earn six figures, an unheard-of amount for freelance journalists. Emily Atkin, who runs Heated, on the climate crisis, told me that her gross annual income surpassed $200,000'--and among paid-readership Substacks, she's ranked fifteenth. ''I literally opened my first savings account,'' she said.
Peck had been mulling the idea of starting a newsletter for a while. She began thinking seriously about Substack when she saw Beauty IRL, a newsletter by Darian Harvin. Like Peck, Harvin is a freelancer'--it was ''really a matter of time'' until she was laid off from one media job or another, she figured'--and she was using Substack as a place for surplus ideas. ''I take some of my pitches and just write them for my newsletter,'' Harvin said. ''Publications are only paying me three hundred dollars per piece, so I thought, What would happen if I took some of them and grew my audience?'' Her efforts were getting noticed; eventually, Substack gave her a $3,000 stipend and a $25,000 advance (in the latter arrangement, Substack takes 50 percent of her subscription fees until the advance is paid off, but if she doesn't reach that number, Harvin won't owe Substack the rest).
Peck settled on a name for her project: Coronavirus News for Black Folks. She'd produce it a few times a week, with a reading list of recommended articles and original interviews with Black essential workers, accompanied by images she'd commission from Black illustrators. At least at the start, she decided, her newsletter would be free'--she wanted her writing to be accessible, especially as Black people were suffering disproportionately from the pandemic-induced economic downturn. Her first installments were about Black men afraid of being racially profiled for wearing masks and coronavirus conspiracies circulating online; the tone was direct and conversational. (''As Belcalis Marlenis Almnzar famously said about covid-19 , 'Sh*t is getting real,''‰'' Peck wrote in an early dispatch.) After a couple weeks, Adriana Lacy, another Black journalist, interviewed Peck for her own Substack'--The Intersection, focused on journalism, technology, and innovation'--and Nieman Lab picked it up. A month into developing her newsletter, Peck had nine hundred seventy-eight subscribers. Not long after, that number rose to two thousand.
Peck quickly recognized the possibilities of Substack: a wandering journalist, disenchanted by an industry that was never all that equitable to begin with and is now in financial free fall, could, perhaps, claim control of her work. As more people signed up for Coronavirus News for Black Folks, Peck imagined all the ways it might grow, and wondered whether it could become a full-time job. ''In an ideal world, I'm the editor in chief or editor at large of the newsletter; I'm using it to allow other journalists who like to cover these communities to have a place to write,'' she mused. ''And I'm able to compensate them during a time when there are so many layoffs.''
Patrice Peck When she started Coronavirus News for Black Folks, Peck was the sole producer of an ambitious project.
S ubstack started the same way many media ventures do'--with a personal essay. In 2017, Best, a programmer from a Vancouver suburb who cofounded a messaging app called Kik, had taken some time off work and, finding himself an avid reader, began thinking about writing something himself. He drafted a piece bemoaning how the journalism industry's failing business models incentivized clicks, retweets, and likes over incisive prose. At the time, the media apocalypse was in full force'--the limits of digital media were apparent (that year, Mic and Vice instituted mass layoffs after bowing to Facebook in an ill-fated ''pivot to video'') and legacy media was bleeding (Cond(C) Nast faced perennial ad revenue loss; a desperate Tribune Publishing changed its name to Tronc). ''Now we're in this world where social media feeds optimize for engagement, because that's how they make money, and just as kind of an unintentional collateral damage they end up amplifying all the things that drive us crazy,'' Best argued. ''It's bad for us as readers and bad for society.'' Best sent a first draft to McKenzie, with whom he'd worked at Kik.
''He was like, 'First of all, you're a bad writer and you shouldn't do this,''‰'' Best recalled. In McKenzie's telling, he gently informed Best that he thought he was stating the obvious: everyone in media already understood what the problems were; what was missing was a solution. Before working in technology, McKenzie had grown up in a small town on the South Island of New Zealand and attended journalism school with the hope of becoming a foreign correspondent. He spent four years in Hong Kong, where he ended up writing mostly about indie music and drinking dens. Later, he worked as a reporter for PandoDaily, a tech news site, then transitioned into writing for companies'--first Tesla, then Kik. McKenzie encouraged Best to think about more than a diagnosis. Through the spring of 2017, the two sent emails back and forth, had video calls, and brainstormed in Google Docs about what models might better serve journalism. Subscriptions, they decided, seemed the most promising'--but not in the form of journals or magazines. ''Paid newsletters'' felt more familiar, personal, trustworthy'--and more monetizable.
They had good reason to think it could work. Best and McKenzie were both fans of Stratechery, the newsletter by Ben Thompson, a former employee of Apple and Microsoft based in Taipei, who since 2014 had been writing about tech full-time, charging readers directly. ''This guy was writing this newsletter from his bedroom in Taiwan and, as far as we know, making like a million dollars a year,'' Best said. (An exaggeration, perhaps, but Thompson was earning a solid living.) They wondered why his approach, which took advantage of the internet's strengths'--a global distribution network, easy payment systems'--hadn't been replicated more widely. The Skimm and Axios had built companies around monetizing newsletters, but it wasn't an idea widely embraced by individual journalists.
The guys devised a system of taking a 10 percent cut from subscriptions (Stripe, the credit card service that processed the fees, would take 2.9 percent, plus thirty cents per transaction), which they felt tied them to the writers. They reached out to Sethi, a developer they knew from Kik, to build out the technology. Their tagline was ''We literally only make money when the writers do.'' Substack's mission, announced upon the company's official debut, sounded more grandiose: ''When it has reached maturity, the subscription-based news industry could well be much larger than the newspaper business ever was, much like the ride-hailing industry in San Francisco is bigger than the taxi industry was before Lyft and Uber,'' the founders wrote. ''Democratizing this subscription-based future will enable more writers to earn more money by writing about what truly matters. It puts the media's destiny into the right hands.''
To get the future started, they recruited some contributors. The first was Bill Bishop, someone McKenzie knew from his time in Hong Kong. Bishop already ran a popular free newsletter, Sinocism, analyzing China-related news, and was thinking about going behind a paywall. He agreed to move his subscriber base'--thirty thousand readers'--to Substack. On launch day, in October 2017, he turned his newsletter into a six-figure business. (Bishop also became an angel investor in Substack.)
In the winter of 2018, the founders successfully applied for seed funding from Y Combinator, a company that helps startups get off the ground. By the summer of 2019, they announced that they had raised $15.3 million in Series A funding, with Andreessen Horowitz, the venture capital firm, as the lead backer. ''Substack can solve the structural issues between publishers/writers and readers in a way that aligns the incentives between all of them,'' Andrew Chen, a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, wrote at the time. ''This is the moment the next generation of media is being built.'' Chen joined Substack's board; they signed a lease on an office in San Francisco. As more people signed up to join the Substackerati, the company garnered praise from journalists. ''Substack represents a radically different alternative, in which the 'media company' is a service and the journalists are in charge,'' Ben Smith wrote in the New York Times. A Taste Media piece, anointing newsletters as the future of food coverage, argued that Substack is ''allowing voices to be heard'--through simple and free publishing tools'--but it also allows creators to flip the switch for monetization.'' Last year, BuzzFeed's Alex Kantrowitz wrote that ''paid email newsletters can bring in real money for writers with small, dedicated subscriber bases''; this year, Kantrowitz announced that he was leaving BuzzFeed to start a Substack.
Including McKenzie, who is thirty-nine; Best, thirty-three; and Sethi, thirty-one, the team now comprises seventeen people. Since the pandemic started, they've let the lease on their headquarters lapse. Recently, McKenzie and Best met with me over Zoom from their respective makeshift home setups. Both wore soft-gray T-shirts, the kind that represent the day-to-night look of media company founders everywhere; Best was working on a beard. Their lives had changed a lot since the spring'--not just because of the coronavirus, they explained; each of them had newborns. (''Chris and I have dueling babies; they arrived within ten days of each other,'' McKenzie said.) It was also the case that the pandemic had boosted their company's growth'--in the first three months, as hundreds of journalists lost their jobs, the number of active writers on Substack doubled and revenue increased by 60 percent. In the same week in July, Substack was covered in the New York Times and the Washington Post. McKenzie told me, ''There's been a huge 'Oh, everyone's paying attention to Substack now' kind of feeling.''
They continued to approach potential contributors. When I asked what, exactly, they thought made someone a promising Substack writer, Best turned to McKenzie and asked, in a jokey hush, ''Do we keep the Baschez score a secret?'' McKenzie laughed. They have a system, created by a former employee named Nathan Baschez, that measures a Twitter user's engagement level'--retweets, likes, replies'--among their followers. This person is then assigned a score on a logarithmic scale of fire emojis. Four fire emojis is very good'--Substack material. Best and McKenzie will reach out and suggest that the person try a newsletter. The four-fire-emoji method turned up Heather Cox Richardson, a history professor at Boston College, whose Substack, Letters from an American'--political with a historical eye'--is now the second-top-paid. (The most popular newsletter on Substack is The Dispatch, a conservative publication founded by Jonah Goldberg, Steve Hayes, and Toby Stock.) ''We called it giving them 'the religion,' because it wasn't about Let's type into this box and make money because people will pay you,'' McKenzie said, of recruits. ''It was like, We think there's going to be a cultural shift here.'' Lately, it seemed like everyone was a convert.
A wandering journalist, disenchanted by an industry that was never all that equitable and is now in free fall, could, perhaps, claim control of her work.
B ecause newsletter creators retain control of their email list, archives, and intellectual property, Substack's main selling point is independence'--from bosses, from ad-dependent corporate media models, from the whims of tech monopolies like Google and Facebook. The founders don't claim that Substack will ''save'' media'--a promise that's bound to disappoint'--but they argue that their model is a core part of a better, more worker-centric and reader-friendly future for journalism. All of that was attractive to Peck, who had decided in 2019 to leave a staff job at BuzzFeed, where she had been a beauty writer covering race, identity, diversity, and intersectional representation for underrepresented audiences. She'd had a bad experience there; after a round of layoffs, she was shuffled into a content-farm role; her new manager was unsupportive. She felt like the media industry offered her few alternatives (''Where can we go, as Black journalists?'' she wondered aloud), so she quit her job to figure out what might come next. Ultimately, she decided to work only for herself.
That, of course, has its downsides. A hallmark of freelance life is isolation. Peck soon found that the labor of producing a newsletter can be grueling. Because Coronavirus News for Black Folks includes outside links, it requires lots of time-intensive reading'--more than three days' worth, if she doesn't cram. The editing, compiling, and writing requires discipline; sometimes she stays up all night to finish. Then there's production and the rest. Peck gradually slowed her pace, sending out installments a few times per month. ''I'm creating graphics on Instagram to promote it, tweeting it, doing everything,'' she said. ''It's a one-woman show. That gets exhausting. I don't put it out as frequently as I'd like to.''
Complicating work was life during a pandemic: in the middle of the spring, Peck began living part-time in Los Angeles, where her partner had gotten a job. Without vacation days, she kept on filing new dispatches'--about the pandemic's effect in the Caribbean, about a pharmacist living paycheck to paycheck and receiving a ''pitiful excuse'' for hazard pay. She kept accumulating subscribers. But she realized how the intensity of her efforts, and the fact that the newsletter fell entirely on her shoulders, could lead quickly to burnout.
Writing is often considered an individualistic enterprise, but journalism is a collective endeavor. And that is the paradox of Substack: it's a way out of a newsroom'--and the racism or harassment or vulture-venture capitalism one encountered there'--but it's all the way out, on one's own. ''Holy shit, I work anywhere from fifty to sixty hours a week,'' Atkin, of Heated, told me. ''It's a lot.'' Harvin, the Beauty IRL writer, said she missed the infrastructure'--legal and editorial'--of a traditional outlet. ''I just know how valuable it is to have a second ear to bounce ideas off of, someone to challenge you,'' she said. ''I'm very not big into writing in a vacuum, and I think that is the thing I miss the most.'' Kelsey McKinney, a journalist whose literary Substack, Written Out, has accounted for about a third of her income during the pandemic, doesn't do any reporting for her newsletter because of the lack of legal and editorial backing. Investigative journalism seems particularly difficult as a solo enterprise on Substack, which doesn't reward slowly developed, uncertain projects that come out sporadically.
Substack has taken a few steps to address these concerns. Using its venture funding, the company has offered financial assistance to some newsletter writers'--from small, no-strings-attached cash grants to $25,000 advances and $100,000 fellowships. In July, it introduced the Substack Defender program, through which writers with paid subscriptions could apply for third-party legal support. In the announcement, the founders promised more to come: ''We will make a large investment in a services program that includes initiatives related to healthcare, personal finance, editing, distribution, design, and coworking spaces.'' What all that entails, exactly, McKenzie told me they're still figuring out; for now, they've started a pilot program to connect writers with editors and healthcare. ''The solution to helping support a healthy ecosystem for writers and journalists is not a beautiful CMS or the blockchain or any other gimmicky thing,'' he said. ''It's the entire support structure.'' A few newsletters, finding the corporate help insufficient, created their own iterations of newsrooms that use Substack mainly as a platform to publish (The Dispatch, for instance).
''Substack is not the sort of thing that is going to create a sustainable next phase, but it can open the door to things that we don't have doors for yet,'' Nathan Schneider, a media studies professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder, told me. To the extent that Substack fixes something in the journalism industry, it might be compared to GoFundMe'--a survival mechanism whose resources are unevenly, arbitrarily distributed, laying bare systemic problems without directly tackling them. ''GoFundMe can help us see things we're not seeing and put money where it would not go,'' Schneider said. ''Of course, we don't want a GoFundMe society.''
In my conversations with Substack writers, most told me that their newsletters didn't amount to full-time work; they still had to hold on to other gigs. Peck earns her income primarily from one-off freelance pieces and speaking opportunities; she's only been able to take a break from regular employment thanks to the support of her partner. Some writers use their Substacks to promote other projects they've been working on. A few consider it a place to get weird (see: Ellie Shechet's Horrible Lists, with entries like ''How to give up on your dream of moving home to become an herb farmer in 11 easy steps''). J.P. Brammer, who moved his popular advice column Hola Papi! from one magazine to another before arriving at Substack, called it his ''retirement home from queer media.'' When he's not writing his newsletter, he's finishing up a memoir. He appreciates Substack for what it is. ''If there wasn't a flood, you wouldn't need to build a dam,'' he said. ''You wouldn't be like, 'Oh, I love this dam.' It's sort of something you have to do to get by.''
Illustration by Olivia Fields. Click to enlarge.
I f you visit Substack's website, you'll see leaderboards of the top twenty-five paid and free newsletters; the writers' names are accompanied by their little circular avatars. The intention is declarative'--you, too, can make it on Substack. But as you peruse the lists, something becomes clear: the most successful people on Substack are those who have already been well-served by existing media power structures. Most are white and male; several are conservative. Matt Taibbi, Andrew Sullivan, and most recently, Glenn Greenwald'--who offer similar screeds about the dangers of cancel culture and the left'--all land in the top ten. (Greenwald's arrival bumped the like-minded Yascha Mounk to eleventh position; soon, Matthew Yglesias signed up for Substack, too.)
None of that is so surprising'--it's hard to earn four-fire-emoji status without having already built up a reputation within established institutions. And, as this year's anti-racist activism has made all the more visible, those institutions are built from prejudiced systems, which form working environments that are often unsustainable for people who are nonwhite or non-elite. ''I think one of the reasons why we often see that the top-twenty-five board at Substack is mostly white authors is because that's an extension of the type of audience and recognition they get for their work on other platforms,'' Harvin said.
Peck was not among those recruited to join Substack. It was only when she started to get publicity that McKenzie tweeted about her project. She's never appeared on Substack's homepage, nor has she heard from any of the founders directly. ''I think Substack should make it easier to discover newsletters on their platform,'' she told me. The way the top-twenty-five lists are organized, she believes, is ''to the detriment of Black journalists.'' (McKenzie told me that Substack will soon revamp its leaderboards, highlighting top revenue earners in different categories.)
In general, will Substack replicate the patterns of marginalization found across the media industry, or will it help people locked out of the dominant media sphere to flourish? To a large extent, the answer depends on whether or not Substack's founders believe they're in the publishing business. When we spoke, they were adamant that Substack is a platform, not a media company'--a familiar refrain of Silicon Valley media ventures. ''We're not hiring writers, and we're not publishing editorial,'' McKenzie said. ''We're enabling writers and enabling editorial.'' He told me that the leaderboards, which were originally conceived to show writers what kind of ''quality work'' was being done on Substack, were organized by audience and revenue metrics, with ''no thumb on the scale'' from the company. When I asked about their views on content moderation, the founders said that, because readers opt in to newsletters'--unlike Facebook, there's no algorithm-based feed'--they have relatively less responsibility to get involved.
It's a bit of a brain twister: Substack, eager to attract customers over Mailchimp or WordPress, has begun to look like it's reverse engineering a media company. But all the while, its founders insist that they simply provide a platform. By not acknowledging the ways in which they are actively encouraging (and discouraging) certain people to use Substack, and the ways they benefit monetarily from doing so, they obscure their role as publishers. As Study Hall's Allegra Hobbs put it over the summer, ''It seems the creators of Substack, in their zeal to become the future of media, are trying to have it both ways'--to keep an appropriate editorial distance while also actively supporting writers beyond merely providing a space to publish.''
In addition, like many media companies, Substack is dependent on large amounts of venture capital. Time and again, journalists have seen venture capitalists barge in on their newsrooms with claims that they'll solve the industry's problems, only to end up losing their jobs or being forced to churn out clickbait. (In the case of Substack, The Atlantic's Kaitlyn Tiffany has argued that tech bros are monetizing an existing form of media'--newsletters'--that had long been used, especially by women, to foster communities that were ''non-remunerative'' and ''artistically strange.'') Substack's founders are open about the fact that media and VC money typically don't mix well; McKenzie told me that journalists who are VC-skeptical feel ''burned for good reasons.'' But he said there was a difference between companies like BuzzFeed and Vox Media taking hundreds of millions in venture capital ''on a big unproven bet that that can scale to a massive return'' and Substack, which he calls ''a platform that has a stable, transparent, and simple business model that is proven to work.'' When I asked if Substack's investors were looking for large returns, Best replied, ''We have expectations for growth for ourselves that are at least as high as our investors'.''
Even if you accept that premise, there remains a broader question'--one that the industry at large will have to answer'--as to whether venture capitalism, driven by the pursuit of high returns on big-bet investments, is, at its core, antithetical to the project of journalism. (The reasons Peck made her newsletter free run at odds with the goals of investors.) I asked Substack's founders about the sentiment, popular among the venture capitalist class, that reporters are too powerful and need to be curbed. ''Our business is a little bound up with Andreessen Horowitz, and our business is a lot bound up with writers,'' McKenzie said. ''We don't look to control or influence the thought of either of those groups. We don't own the attitudes of every Substack writer, and we don't own the attitudes of our investors.''
It was a nonideological, noneditorial stance'--one that he'd taken in conversation with me before. But often, adherence to neutrality only enforces existing power structures. In these moments, Substack's founders veer into unsettling corporate-tech-dude-speak, papering over the fact that a ''nonideological'' vision is, of course, ideology just the same. When Sullivan joined Substack, over the summer, he put the company's positioning to the test: infamous for publishing excerpts from The Bell Curve, a book that promotes bigoted race ''science,'' Sullivan would now produce the Weekly Dish, a political newsletter. (Substack's content guidelines draw a line at hate speech.) Sullivan's Substack quickly rose to become the fifth-most-read among paid subscriptions'--he claimed that his income had risen from less than $200,000 at New York magazine to $500,000. When I asked the founders if they thought his presence might discourage other writers from joining, they gave me a pat reply. ''We're not a media company,'' Best said. ''If somebody joins the company and expects us to have an editorial position and be rigorously enforcing some ideological line, this is probably not the company they wanted to join in the first place.''
''We called it giving them the religion,'' a Substack founder said.
I n a broken industry, even a little agency can start to feel like control. But that won't necessarily translate into the large-scale transformation that Substack's founders pitch. If ''be your own boss'' is a nice slogan in the abstract, it ignores the fact that power dynamics always exist, even where they're not formalized. As time went on, Peck came up against the limits of what she could do alone. ''It's great I don't have to go to anybody for approving stories or things I want to cover,'' she said. ''But I think it's always beneficial having other professional journalists to work with and bounce ideas off of and get feedback from.'' In August, to help with global coverage, she brought on a contributing editor; for any original reporting he does, she pays out of pocket. She wants to keep the newsletter free, though to keep herself going, she's considering adding an option for subscribers to pay.
Ideally, however, her future wouldn't involve Substack at all, Peck told me; if Coronavirus News for Black Folks were picked up by a major outlet, say, she'd have the staff and resources to build it out properly. That's an unlikely scenario, she knows'--for the same reasons that she was driven out of the mainstream media industry to begin with. ''I got into journalism because I wanted to write stories about and for the Black community,'' she said. ''There's not a lot of places where you can do that and get paid a decent amount and have benefits. It varies, but I don't think a lot of Black journalists have a ton of options outside of creating their own things for themselves.'' What she has now is a harbor. ''Substack has some of the materials for free to help us to build our own thing,'' she continued. ''We need so much more, but we're going to work with what we have.''
As more journalists embark on independent careers, the need for support infrastructure, beyond Substack, will become increasingly urgent. Labor organizing, the traditional method for making an industry more equitable, will have to adapt to the new conditions, especially as more and more industries embrace the independent-contractor model. Accountability is harder when the company you work for refuses to acknowledge what field it's operating in. Yet people like Peck are still workers, even if they lack a boss.
''It's sort of something you have to do to get by,'' a Substack writer said.
In September, Discourse Blog, a newsletter on the politics and culture of the left run by a group of journalists who used to work at a now-discontinued site called Splinter (I used to write for it, too), decided they would leave Substack for a competitor called Lede. It was the third time in six months that Discourse, which launched on WordPress, had changed platforms'--perhaps an indication of some of the difficulties of creating ambitious projects independently, even as a team. When they made the announcement, the writers at Discourse said that, at Substack, they were limited in their ability to grow. One of the co-owners noted that it was hard to attract readers through internet search alone; they wanted to track audience data. In essence, they sought, as much as possible, to steer their own destiny.
The guys at Substack aren't sweating the loss, at least for now. Ultimately, they will be judged not by their creative output, but by how much money they can return for those who have invested in their company. The platform is new, but the metrics are not; financial concerns trump all others. When I asked Best and McKenzie about their plans post-pandemic (should that time ever come), they told me that they don't foresee any changes to their fundamentals. ''We did not build Substack to be successful only during disaster times,'' McKenzie said. In a recent column, Ben Smith, of the Times, reported that Twitter has discussed acquiring Substack, though McKenzie quickly tweeted, ''This is not going to happen.''
They're still scouting writers. ''Do you have a Substack?'' Best asked me, at one point. ''Always be closing, Chris,'' McKenzie said, with a grin. I smiled and gave a noncommittal answer. As a freelancer, it seemed more likely than not that one day I would start a Substack, or something similar. What choice did I have?
Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today. Clio Chang is a freelance reporter based in Brooklyn. She writes about politics, culture, media, and more. TOP IMAGE: Olivia Fields
Out There
'Fast Movers' and Transmedium Vehicles - The Pentagon's Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force - The Debrief The Debrief % %
Sat, 05 Dec 2020 15:13
In an exclusive feature for The Debrief , U.S. military and intelligence officials, as well as Pentagon emails, offer an unprecedented glimpse behind the scenes of what's currently going on with The Pentagon's investigation into UFOs, or as they term them, ''Unidentified Aerial Phenomena'' (UAP).
For the last two years, the Department of Defense's newly revamped ''Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force'' (or UAPTF) has been busy briefing lawmakers, Intelligence Community stakeholders, and the highest levels of the U.S. military on encounters with what they say are mysterious airborne objects that defy conventional explanations.
Along with classified briefings, multiple senior U.S. officials with direct knowledge of the matter say two classified intelligence reports on UAP have been widely distributed to the U.S. Intelligence Community. Numerous sources from various government agencies told The Debrief that these reports include clear photographic evidence of UAP. The reports also explicitly state that the Task Force is considering the possibility that these unidentified objects could, as stated by one source from the U.S. Intelligence Community said, be operated by ''intelligences of unknown origin.''
Significantly, a retired U.S. Air Force brigadier general and head of RAND corporation's Space Enterprise Initiative has'--for the first time'--gone on record to discuss some of the most likely explanations for UAP. His responses were surprising.
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Hillary BeckeBriefings At The Highest Levels In June, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence's FY2021 Intelligence Authorization Act contained an intriguing section titled report on ''Advanced Aerial Threats.'' In the inclusion, the committee gave an eye-opening official hint (in recent history) the government takes UFOs seriously by offering its support for the ''efforts of the Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Task Force at the Office of Naval Intelligence.'' The Intelligence Committee additionally requested an unclassified report detailing the analysis of ''UAP'' or ''Anomalous Aerial Vehicles.''
Though already acknowledged by the Intelligence Committee, in mid-August, the Pentagon formally acknowledged they had established a task force looking into UAP. In a press announcement, the Secretary of Defense's Office stated , ''the UAPTF's mission will be to detect, analyze and catalog UAPs that could potentially pose a threat to U.S. national security.'' According to the release, authority for the Task Force was approved by the DoD's chief operating officer, Deputy Secretary of Defense David L. Norquist.
The summer news of the establishment of the UAPTF seemingly suggests'--for the first time since the shuttering of Project Blue Book (the Air Force's official investigations into UFOs) in 1969'--that the Pentagon is now taking the subject of UFOs seriously.
However, an internal email obtained by The Debrief shows that almost one year before the DoD's announcement, the highest levels of the U.S. military were already being briefed on UAP.
Copy of the Email Obtained by The Debrief via FOIA.The email, obtained via Freedom of Information Act request, shows an October 16th, 2019 exchange between then Vice Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Robert Burke, and current Vice Chief of Staff for the Air Force General Stephen ''Steve'' Wilson.
In the email, Adm. Burke tells Gen. Wilson, ''Recommend you take the brief I just received from our Director of Naval Intelligence VADM Matt Kohler, on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP).'' Adm. Burke concludes the email, ''SECNAV [Secretary of the Navy] will get the same brief tomorrow at 1000.''
The ''SECNAV'' referenced in Adm. Burke's email was then-Secretary of the Navy, Richard V. Spencer. A little over a month after this UAP briefing, Spencer was fired by then-Secretary of Defense Mark Esper over public disagreements stemming from a series of controversies involving the court-martial of Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher.
Speaking on background, one U.S. Defense official lamented that a lack of continuity with DoD leadership might have hindered some of the UAPTF's work. Within the past 24 months, there have been four different Secretaries of the Navy and five additional Secretaries of Defense. Vice Admiral Matt Kohler, noted for having provided the briefings, retired after 36 years with the Navy in June of this year.
Vice Adm. Robert Burke '' U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Charles D. Gaddis IVFall was a busy time for the UAPTF. As reported by the New York Times, o n October 21st, 2019, Dr. Eric Davis provided a briefing on UAP at the Pentagon for several Senate Armed Services Committee staffers. Two days later on October 23rd, staffers with the Senate Select Intelligence Committee were provided the same information in a meeting on Capitol Hill.
Attendees at these meetings told The Debrief that they were provided information on two previous DoD-backed UFO programs: The Advanced Aerial Weapons Systems Applications Program (AAWSAP) and the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP). They were also briefed on ''highly sensitive categories of UFO investigations.''
A former private contractor for AAWSAP and AATIP, Dr. Hal Puthoff, confirmed for The Debrief he was one of a handful of persons who have conducted briefings for D.C staffers over the last several years. ''I have been invited to brief congressional staffers on the Senate Armed Services Committee on UAP matters in the last couple of years,'' Puthoff said in an email, ''and have done so on more than one occasion.'' Dr. Puthoff described the staffers during these meetings as being ''engaged,'' and provided ''positive responses, [and] more details always being requested.''
The Pentagon Press Briefing Room seal (Credit: DoD/photo by Lisa Ferdinando)The Debrief reached out to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Office and DoD Executive Services Office and formally requested an interview with someone authorized to speak on the UAP briefings with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In an email, Senior Strategist and Pentagon spokesperson Susan Gough responded, ''To maintain operations security, which includes not disseminating information publicly that may be useful to our adversaries, DOD does not discuss publicly the details of either the observations or the examination of reported incursions into our training ranges or designated airspace, including those incursions initially designated as UAP '' and that includes not discussing the UAPTF publicly, also.''
Official public affairs channels indicate the Pentagon is not interested in sharing any more information on the UAP topic. However, several current and former officials with the DoD and individuals working for multiple U.S. intelligence agencies told The Debrief that there was much more going on behind closed doors.
UAP Intelligence Position Reports Multiple sources confirmed for The Debrief that the UAPTF had issued two classified intelligence position reports, which one individual described as ''shocking.'' Details provided on these reports suggest both a greater degree of Pentagon involvement, and that the UAPTF's hunt for unidentified objects isn't confined only to aerial phenomena.
Two officials with the DoD and one from the U.S. Intelligence community were willing to provide details on the contents of the classified report. An additional three other U.S. Intelligence Officials and a federal law enforcement officer confirmed the report's existence but were only willing to provide comments on their distribution. Given the report's classification and their discussion of a ''sensitive intelligence matter,'' the officials we spoke with did so only under strict conditions of anonymity. While The Debrief has agreed not to provide information on sources, identities, and employers, though everyone we spoke with works within the U.S. Intelligence Community and under the authority of the U.S. Director of National Intelligence.
Aerial view of the headquarters of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) in Chantilly, Virginia, by Trevor Paglen.One of the intelligence reports, released in 2018, is said to have provided a general overview of the UAP topic and included details of previous military encounters. According to sources who had read it, the report also contained an unreleased photograph of an ''aerial phenomena'' categorized as ''unidentified.''
The Debrief was told the accompanying photo was captured from within the cockpit of an F/A-18 fighter jet with a pilot's personal cell phone. According to three U.S. officials who had seen it, the photo showed an unidentified silver ''cube-shaped'' object. The report is said to have indicated the object was ''hovering'' or completely motionless when military pilots encountered it. All three officials agreed that based on the photo, the object appeared to be at an altitude of roughly 30,000 to 35,000 feet and approximately 1,000 feet from the fighter jet.
Defense and intelligence officials willing to discuss the report and those who only wished to confirm its dissemination all expressed shock that it had been so widely distributed amongst the Intelligence community.
''In decades with the [Intelligence Community] I've never seen anything like this,'' said one intelligence official.
One defense official described the report's distribution as having gone through ''normal, non-public, information sharing channels.'' Other officials who'd seen and read the report either declined to elaborate or indicated the report was distributed on various secure systems. One defense official indicated it was distributed on the DoD's Secret Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNet). Two other intelligence officials said they received the information via ''NSANet'' (the NSA's official intranet). An additional source said the report was distributed via the CIA's Intelink system.
According to those willing to discuss the document, the report's most disconcerting aspect was one of the potential explanations for what UAP could represent. Sources say a ''list'' of possible prosaic explanations for these mysterious airborne encounters was provided. However, the report expressly stated that the potential for UAP to be ''alien'' or ''non-human'' technology was of legitimate consideration.
All sources interviewed by The Debrief confirmed that the Task Force issued an updated second UAP position report later in the summer of this year. Like the first, officials say this recent intelligence report was very widely distributed and shared amongst the Intelligence Community.
''It went viral,'' said one intelligence official who had read the report.
Artist's recreation of the image as described in the UAPTF Intelligence Report issued in 2020 (Image by Dave Beaty of The Nimitz Encounters, 2020).Overwhelmingly, everyone The Debrief spoke with said the most striking feature of the recently released UAPTF intelligence position report was the inclusion of new and ''extremely clear'' photograph of an unidentifiable triangular aircraft.
The photograph, which is said to have also been taken from inside the cockpit of a military fighter jet, depicted an apparent aerospace vehicle described as a large equilateral triangle with rounded or ''blunted'' edges and large, perfectly spherical white ''lights'' in each corner. Officials who had seen it said the image was captured in 2019 by an F/A-18 fighter pilot.
Two officials that received the report said the photo was taken after the triangular craft emerged from the ocean and began to ascend straight upwards at a 90-degree angle. It was indicated that this event occurred off the eastern coast of the United States. Several other sources confirmed the photo's existence; however, they declined to provide any further specifics of the incident.
Regarding the overall theme of the recent report, officials who read it say the report primarily focused on ''Unidentified Submersible Phenomena,'' or unidentified ''transmedium'' vehicles capable of operating both under water and in the air.
The three officials we spoke with said the report suggested the UAP Task Force appears to be concerned that the objects being termed as UAP may be originating from within the world's oceans. Strange as this may sound, the idea of ''USOs'' or ''unidentified submersible objects'' is not something exclusive to the current UAPTF.
In various public appearances, astronomer and chief video/image analyst for the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), Marc D'Antonio, has shared an unusual experience involving the detection of an underwater ''Fast Mover,'' which occurred while he was sailing as a civilian aboard one of the U.S. Navy's prized attack submarines.
Last year, defense journalist Tyler Rogoway spoke with several veteran submariners to get their take on D'Antonio's account. While at least one person expressed skepticism about D'Antonio being granted a civilian ride-along, the Navy vets being interviewed almost unanimously acknowledged that unexplained, very high-speed sonar targets are indeed recorded by some of the most sophisticated listening equipment on the planet.
Agreeing only to speak on background, a senior member of the Intelligence Community whose responsibilities for decades involved underwater surveillance and reconnaissance programs told The Debrief there was validity to claims of extremely fast-moving underwater objects being detected by U.S. military systems.
''On occasion, there are detections made of non-cavitational, extremely fast-moving objects within the ocean.'' The intelligence official declined to elaborate further, citing the high-levels of security classification associated with underwater reconnaissance.
Officials who had read the reports say the UAPTF appears particularly interested in ''transmedium vehicles.'' While this may seem unusual, many accounts exist''some going back centuries''in which people say they have observed unidentifiable craft operating in and out of the water.
The Debrief reached out to Steven Zaloga, co-author of the annual World Military Unmanned Aerial Systems Market Profile & Forecast and senior defense analyst for the Teal Group in Virginia, about the state of current or near-future development of ''transmedium'' vehicles or systems. Zaloga indicated he was unaware of any past or present technologies that are close to being capable of transitioning between air and submersible travel. ''I have no idea what-so-ever on objects able to cross the air/water barrier,'' Zaloga said in an email.
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Pedro A. RodriguezWhat is The Pentagon Officially Saying ABOUT UAP? Although The Debrief learned of the issuance and information reportedly detailed in the two UAPTF intelligence position reports, officials we spoke with declined to provide any specifics as to why the most recent report focused on waterborne associations with UAP.
One active defense official familiar with the current UAP investigations said the UAPTF has a wealth of photographic evidence, collected from military pilots' personal devices as well as sophisticated DoD surveillance and reconnaissance platforms. The source also told us some of the best evidence the UAPTF has acquired comes from measurement and signals intelligence (MASINT), rather than from videos or still images.
Although officials we spoke with didn't provide any specifics to this point, it is assumed that any Top-Secret or Sensitive Compartmentalized Information used to help form the UAPTF's current opinions would not have been included in the UAP position reports, based on their wide-spread distribution.
Before publication, The Debrief reached out to The Pentagon for comment on the information leaked from the UAPTF reports. Pentagon Spokesperson Susan Gough did not confirm or deny the existence of the UAP intelligence reports, and declined to make any comment on their contents. We followed up and requested the current media posture outlined by the official public affairs guide for UAP and dictated by Department of Defense policy (DoDI 5405.03). Ms. Gough referred back to her previous statement, indicating that the DoD does not discuss UAP publicly. As noted elsewhere, refusal by the Pentagon to discuss UAP is hardly anything new .
In 2017, then Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Dana White confirmed to Politico that the DoD had studied UFOs under the Advanced Aerial Threat Identification Program (AATIP). Additionally, White said the program had been run by the former Director of National Programs Special Management Staff for the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, Luis Elizondo. However, in an effort to ''correct the record,'' in December 2019 the Pentagon issued a statement saying AATIP was not UAP related, and that Elizondo had ''no responsibilities'' in the program.
In May of this year, The Debrief informed The Pentagon Public Affairs Office that we had conducted a number of interviews with former senior Pentagon officials, a senior White House advisor and obtained documents, which all showed AATIP was involved in UAP investigations, and that indeed Luis Elizondo was the custodian of the AATIP portfolio. Additionally, information obtained showed elements of the Defense Intelligence Agency and National Reconnaissance Office had participated in AATIP.
Though this request was less than six months after The Pentagon's ''no responsibilities'' statement, spokeswoman Gough replied, ''Please keep in mind he [Elizondo] left DoD over three years ago, and there are personnel and privacy matters involved.''
Given the recent Presidential election results and impending transfer of executive power, The Debrief reached out to the transition team for President-Elect Joe Biden. While not explicitly discussing UAP, a transition team spokesperson said Biden intends to ''Immediately return to daily press briefings at the White House, U.S. Department of State, and U.S. Department of Defense. Our foreign policy relies on the informed consent of the American people. That is not possible when our government refuses to communicate with the public.''
U.S. Navy photo/Petty Officer 2nd Class James R. Evans.What Does It All Mean? From closed-door meetings, to senior military leadership and the issuance of classified intelligence reports, all indications suggest the DoD is indeed taking the UAP issue seriously. However, what new information has come to light about the government's UAP investigations provides us with few answers, and certainly raises a number of questions.
Classification has long surrounded the U.S. government's most sophisticated airborne platforms. However, when it comes to underwater systems, the extremity of official secrecy falls into a class by itself. For instance, retired Navy Admiral Bobby Ray Inman acknowledged that he served as director for the National Underwater Reconnaissance Office (NURO) decades ago; yet despite this, to date the government denies that the NURO even exists.
Even if the Senate Select Intelligence Committee's request for an unclassified UAP report ends up being enacted in the FY2021 Intelligence Act, as legislative experts have pointed out, the UAP report provision is not binding law. In essence, there's no guarantee the public will be provided any comprehensive information on UAP. Equally, while Congress is required to have access to classified information, only the executive branch has the authority to declassify national security information in order to make it public.
Should the DoD become more willing to discuss UAP publicly, there are plenty of indications that it might be a disappointment compared to many of the popular myths and narratives intertwined with the UFO subject over the last 70 years.
Every source The Debrief spoke with who had either seen the published position reports or were familiar with the activities of the UAPTF said that no concise estimate of the situation for UAP has been achieved. While they acknowledged that many hypotheses are being explored, the U.S. government presently lacks any definite explanation for UAP-related events.
Focusing on the DoD's statements that the mission of the UAPTF is to ''detect, analyze and catalog UAPs that could potentially pose a threat to U.S. national security,'' The Debrief spoke with retired U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Bruce McClintock.
Official Photo '' Brig Gen Bruce McClintock (U.S. Air Force Photo by Michael Pausic).During his 30-year career with the Air Force, McClintock's assignments included White House Fellow to President George W. Bush, Executive Assistant to the Commander of NORAD, Executive Assistant to the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Special Assistant to the Commander of Air Force Space Command. Before retiring in 2017, Gen. McClintock amassed more than 3,000 flight hours on more than 35 aircraft, including the A-10, F-15B/D, F-16A/B/C/D, and the F-111. Presently, Gen. McClintock heads up the RAND corporation's Space Enterprise Initiative and serves as the focal point for all RAND space-related research for the U.S. government and U.S. allies.
McClintock was dismissive of the idea that U.S. military encounters with UAP could be related to any form of classified aerospace testing.
''It is unlikely that the U.S. government would intentionally conduct tests against its own unwitting military assets,'' he told The Debrief in an interview. ''To do so would require a very high level of coordination and approval for the potential safety and operational security risks.''
In separate interviews last year, aerospace engineer and Area-51 veteran T.D. Barnes and former CIA executive S. Eugene ''Gene'' Poteat both suggested radar detections by the Navy of extreme aerial maneuvers sounded suspiciously similar to a top-secret electronic warfare program they were involved with in the 1960s, codenamed PALLADIUM.
However, Poteat and Barnes acknowledged they had no explanation for any of the physical sightings by military aviators. Coinciding with Gen. McClintock's comments, both men said everyone involved in any classified assessments involving the use of classified aerospace platforms was made aware they were participating in a test. This even included times when the platforms were deemed ''UFOs because they were so secret that they didn't exist.''
McClintock, who also served as Senior Defense Attach(C) to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, seemed equally doubtful that UAP might represent the technology of a foreign adversary.
''It is not outside the realm of the plausible that an adversary would test the ability of the United States to detect some new capability, although it would be more likely they would only do this after testing the capability within or closer to their own territory before trying to penetrate U.S. airspace,'' he stated.
Ultimately, after asking numerous current and former defense officials and subject matter experts, The Debrief has been unable to find anyone of authority''whether on, or off the record''willing to say the UAP encounters reported by military aviators are consistent with black budget testing, or ''ferreting'' of U.S. air defense by foreign governments. Equally, we have been unable to find anyone of credentialed background willing to say what, exactly, this means the source of these UAP could be.
Offering The Pentagon one final opportunity to discuss what we intended to report or comment on McClintock's statement, The Debrief once more reached out to spokeswoman Susan Gough. Our offer went unanswered.
At least from an official position, the source behind unidentified aerial phenomena appears to remain a mystery.
Correction: December 3, 2020
An earlier version of this article inaccurately indicated that Dr. Hal Puthoff had provided meetings for congressional staffers on October 21 and 23 of 2019. Dr. Puthoff contacted us to clarify that indeed he had briefed staffers for principle elected leadership on numerous occasions, however, previous statements to The Debrief there was a miscommunication regarding the specific briefings mentioned. As reported by The New York Times in July of this year, the briefings which occured on October 21st and 23rd of 2019 were provided by Dr. Eric Davis.
VIDEO-Bruce Porter, Jr. on Twitter: "Do you think that Georgia Governor Brian Kemp's daughter's boyfriend, Harrison Deal was assassinated because Kemp had to fold and publicly call for a signature audit after the ''bank heist'' tape was released? Th
Sun, 06 Dec 2020 13:51
Bruce Porter, Jr. : Do you think that Georgia Governor Brian Kemp's daughter's boyfriend, Harrison Deal was assassinated because Kemp h'...
Sat Dec 05 06:20:19 +0000 2020
Amanda Fry : @NetworksManager @chell99
Sun Dec 06 13:48:08 +0000 2020
ðŸ--¥áŽ·áŽ¥áŽ´ááŽ¥áŽ¶á‚Ꮦ Ꮆ : @NetworksManager Weird to say the least.
Sun Dec 06 13:26:19 +0000 2020
Guigeek : @NetworksManager It looks more like an attack than an accident. It reminds me trapped cars in Irak. These guys are'...
Sun Dec 06 12:03:24 +0000 2020
Aneus2 : @NetworksManager Are you really having your fun releasing your conspiracy over the death of this young man? Fascism
Sun Dec 06 10:01:28 +0000 2020
ljuljaj Javore : @NetworksManager @SimplexDavis The "deep state" used the same method of threats, intimidation, violence when it ove'...
Sun Dec 06 08:29:45 +0000 2020
Peggy Cho : @NetworksManager Obviously it didn't look like a car accident.
Sun Dec 06 07:55:18 +0000 2020
Hai man : @NetworksManager It is suitable for Trump to issue Martial Law and announce reelection without any absent ballots a'...
Sun Dec 06 06:56:33 +0000 2020
hnm19 : @NetworksManager @legitgov That's an awful lot of smoke & fire, to be just a normal car. ðŸ¤--
Sun Dec 06 06:48:06 +0000 2020
VIDEO-Rise of Medical Technocracy Lee Merritt, M D - YouTube
Sun, 06 Dec 2020 13:48
VIDEO-EVEN MORE: Georgia Lawyer Finds THOUSANDS of ILLEGAL Ballots - YouTube
Sun, 06 Dec 2020 13:45
VIDEO-Bill Gates on Population Control - YouTube
Sun, 06 Dec 2020 13:36
VIDEO-not inklessPW ðŸ'Ž on Twitter: "ð'ð'¨ð'® ð'°ð'ð'¥ð'¥ ð'§ð'¨ð'­ ð'›ð'žð'¥ð'ð'žð'¯ð'ž ð'°ð'ð'šð'­ ð'²ð'¨ð'® ð'šð'ð'ž ð'šð'›ð'¨ð'®ð'­ ð'­ð'¨ ð'ð'žð'šð' from Chrystia Freeland, Canada's Deputy Prime Minister
Sun, 06 Dec 2020 13:32
not inklessPW ðŸ'Ž : ð'ð'¨ð'® ð'°ð'ð'¥ð'¥ ð'§ð'¨ð'­ ð'›ð'žð'¥ð'ð'žð'¯ð'ž ð'°ð'ð'šð'­ ð'²ð'¨ð'® ð'šð'ð'ž ð'šð'›ð'¨ð'®ð'­ ð'­ð'¨ ð'ð'žð'šð' from Chrystia Freeland, Canada's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister'...
Sat Dec 05 13:25:16 +0000 2020
adam peters : @inklessPW @cafreeland WTF did I just hear?? Give you head a shake @cafreeland ðŸ"ðŸ"ðŸ"
Sun Dec 06 13:32:11 +0000 2020
Tony@ThePines : @inklessPW @cafreeland She has no clue .. the Crystal ball is on her shoulders .
Sun Dec 06 13:31:55 +0000 2020
SissyQ : @inklessPW @cafreeland lmao, We want your money so the lazy asses can sit home. Let me ask her 1 question, are yo'...
Sun Dec 06 13:19:54 +0000 2020
Lostoutwest🇨ðŸ‡... : @inklessPW @cafreeland Savings? Wtf are they. Haven't seen savings in four years. A result of @JustinTrudeau and h'...
Sun Dec 06 13:15:05 +0000 2020
DougG : @inklessPW @cafreeland How much more do we have to endure, more hardships, scandals, corruption, before we start a vote of non-confidence!
Sun Dec 06 13:09:06 +0000 2020
MCGA : @inklessPW @cafreeland @cafreeland lower taxes so that people take home more of what they earned. Then they can sp'...
Sun Dec 06 13:08:24 +0000 2020
Darlene Lambert : @inklessPW @cafreeland Maybe there is a few trust funds that could empty and help out @JustinTrudeau . The people t'...
Sun Dec 06 13:04:42 +0000 2020
The Right Honourable Mr. Uncommon Sense : @inklessPW @cafreeland my initial reaction is to loudly ask her "are you insane?" ...but that's a rhetorical question.
Sun Dec 06 13:03:46 +0000 2020
Darlene Lambert : @inklessPW @cafreeland Omg... she needs to resign. The people that have worked hard to save money over the years'...
Sun Dec 06 13:00:02 +0000 2020
Ken Jones : @inklessPW @cafreeland So she has no idea what she is doing and wants everyone to help her. Here's an idea have the'...
Sun Dec 06 12:55:26 +0000 2020
Venus 🖕the Democrats!!! : @inklessPW @cafreeland Slow down immigration. Open the economy, and get back to work. Get people off welfare.
Sun Dec 06 12:42:02 +0000 2020
VIDEO-Vaccines "Unlikely To COMPLETELY STERILIZE a Population" - YouTube
Sun, 06 Dec 2020 13:27
VIDEO-Cuddling in COVID: 'Hug bubble' lets seniors feel the magic of touch | Reuters
Sun, 06 Dec 2020 13:22
JEUMONT, France (Reuters) - Since the COVID-19 outbreak, French care home resident Colette Dupas's contact with her daughters has been limited to talking via video call, or through a window.
Now the 97-year-old has been able to feel their touch, thanks to an inflatable tunnel and two plastic sleeves.
The ''hug bubble'' allows care home residents, isolated from the outside world to protect them the virus, to hold hands and embrace visiting relatives, because at all times they are separated by a hermetically-sealed plastic film.
Dupas ran a bakery in Boussois, 6 km (3 miles) from the nursing home, until her retirement. Her family still run the business.
When meeting her daughters on Friday, Dupas entered through one end of the tunnel. She stood in front of the plastic sheet and put her arms through two plastic sleeves stitched into the film at shoulder height.
Her daughters, Marie-Paule Dronsart and Marie-Joseph Marchant, approached from the other side. Each of them put one arm through a sleeve. They patted their mother's shoulders and stroked her white hair.
Before leaving, they took turns to kiss their mother on the cheek through the plastic.
''It has brought comfort,'' said Stephanie Loiseau, a nursing assistant at the care home in Jeumont, near the border with Belgium.
Before the bubble was installed at the home, she added, ''residents would see their relatives through a window or through a camera and they were really missing having real contact''.
Once Dupas and her daughters left the bubble, a care home worker disinfected the plastic, ready for the next encounter: Fabienne Dewille meeting her mother, Raymonde Loire.
Dewille used the plastic sleeves to grip her mother's hands. ''It feels good to be able to meet like this, doesn't it?'' she said to her mother.
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VIDEO-President Trump Spoke Forcefully in Georgia Declared "We Will Still Win!" - YouTube
Sun, 06 Dec 2020 13:12
VIDEO-Maryland Man Gets Year in Jail for Hosting Parties Violating COVID-19 Crowd Restrictions '' NBC4 Washington
Sun, 06 Dec 2020 12:38
A judgesentenced a Maryland man to a year in the Charles County DetentionCenter for throwing parties that exceeded capacity restrictions at the beginningof the governor's coronavirus emergency order.
ShawnMarshall Myers, 42, of Hughesville was arrested in March when officers foundmore than 50 people hanging out around a bonfire at his home.
Download our free NBC Washington app for iOS or Android to get the latest local news and weather.Atthe time, Gov. Larry Hogan's emergency order prohibited gatherings of more than10 people.
The CharlesCounty Sheriff's Office said it was the second time Myers hosted a largegathering at his house and he was accused of being argumentative with officersin both times.
''He was given a warning,'' Charles County State's Attorney Tony Covington said. ''It's not like the police just swooped in there and said you're going to jail. They gave him a warning. He had at least 50 people the first day and then two, three days later, he's doing the same thing. And the second day he's of a mind that he's not going to cooperate, he's going to tell people to keep the music playing.''
On March 22 officers went to Myers' home in the 15200 block ofLukes Lane after the report of a large party, according to the state's attorney.Myers was argumentative but eventually agreed to disband his party.
Then on March 27, officers returned tothe home for another report of a large party, according to the state's attorney.This time, Myers claimed they had a right to congregate, refused to comply andwas arrested.
A judge convicted Myers of two counts of failure to comply withan emergency order Friday after a bench trial and sentenced him immediatelyafter the trial.
Inaddition to jail time, Myers was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine and undergo threeyears of unsupervised probation after his release.
''These decisions were made for the public good, for people's safety,'' Covington said. ''We've got 200,000 people dead because of the attitudes that Mr. Myers demonstrated that particular day.''
Currently,the governor's emergency order allows gatherings up to 50 people.
VIDEO-Jefes Tacos employees robbed at gunpoint while working at east Austin food truck, owner says | KXAN Austin
Sun, 06 Dec 2020 12:14
Chelsea Moreno and Kaitlyn Karmout
9 hours ago
AUSTIN (KXAN) '-- The owner of Jefes Tacos is hoping police will find a man accused of robbing his food truck employees at gunpoint early Friday morning.
''Unfortunately, we're risking our lives out here just trying to make ends meet for our family,'' said Owner of Jefes Tacos, Rogelio Lozano.
Lozano told KXAN while his employees were working around 12:15 a.m. Friday, a man with a gun walked inside of their trailer located at 6305 Cameron Road off East Highway 290.
Surveillance video from inside at the time shows a man who was wearing a face mask go inside the trailer, demand money and point a gun at the fooD truck employee. Lozano says the suspect also got away with the purse of one of his employees. He's now questioning his own operations after he says his employee was hit in her throat with the gun.
''With things like this happening, it's a concern whether or not we're going to stay open so late now,'' said Lozano. ''
Rogelio Lozano, Owner Jefes Tacos
Lozano says this isn't the first time a robbery like this has happened in the area. Austin Police tell him they've been tracking several burglaries near the Rundberg area. Lozano also says the food truck next to him fell victim to a similar robbery two-weeks ago.
''Seeing what he was doing on the video, it didn't seem like he was new to this. He obviously had done this several times,'' said Lozano.
During a time like this Lozano has no choice but to stay open, but now he just wants the person behind the robbery brought to justice.
Lozano says he has filed a report with Austin Police and a detective has been assigned to investigate. KXAN has also reached out to the police department for information.
VIDEO-Dvorak's TED Talk ticket price: "CLIP ''New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern '..." - No Agenda Social
Sun, 06 Dec 2020 05:18
''New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declared a climate emergency, joining 32 other nations pledging urgent government action to address the global crisis for the next generation.''
@ adam
VIDEO-"The View" Threatens Trump With What's Coming If He "Pardons Himself"
Sun, 06 Dec 2020 05:15
Dinesh D'Souza Published December 1, 2020 39,244 Views 753 rumbles
Rumble '-- "She is patting that foot waiting for him to make a step out."
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1m36sSuitcases of Ballots Pulled From Under Table AFTER Poll Watchers Were Told to LeaveDinesh D'Souza
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1m43sPresident Trump coming to KenoshaWTMJMilwaukee
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VIDEO-Xavier G on Twitter: "That's right! Riverside County Sheriff tells Gavin Newsom to go Fuck himself!" / Twitter
Sun, 06 Dec 2020 03:28
Xavier G : That's right! Riverside County Sheriff tells Gavin Newsom to go Fuck himself!
Sat Dec 05 19:31:19 +0000 2020
ansonious1 : @xgmarksthespot That was a very well worded ''eat a dick!'' Everywhere in the country should stand to the few. What g'...
Sun Dec 06 02:10:17 +0000 2020
I go by many names : @xgmarksthespot With that being said are there any Riverside County realtors looking to make an immediate sale in the house tonight?
Sun Dec 06 02:02:12 +0000 2020
St(C)phanie Ouellet : @xgmarksthespot Oh well , it's a US cops, so nothing would surprise me. It's business as usual.
Sun Dec 06 01:53:53 +0000 2020
Tony Barreto : @xgmarksthespot The Sheriff is the only law enforcement official elected by, and held accountable to the people. Th'...
Sun Dec 06 00:39:24 +0000 2020
FuckAuthority : @xgmarksthespot @DollarVigilante @JasonBermas
Sun Dec 06 00:36:55 +0000 2020
Paul D Meehan : @xgmarksthespot Wow. Just wow. Bless the sheriffs!
Sun Dec 06 00:34:58 +0000 2020
Francisco ''Pancho'' Villa : @xgmarksthespot YES YES YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sun Dec 06 00:06:10 +0000 2020
Doc Solammen : @xgmarksthespot Chad Bianco is a patriot and a hero. The people of Riverside County are fortunate to have such a sh'...
Sat Dec 05 23:43:20 +0000 2020
Chip Panico : @xgmarksthespot The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is backing off their bullshit too!
Sat Dec 05 23:34:38 +0000 2020
Mike : @xgmarksthespot I'm proud of my Sheriff. 👍🏽🇺🇸
Sat Dec 05 23:17:25 +0000 2020
VIDEO-Special Segment: General Michael Flynn: The People's General - YouTube
Sun, 06 Dec 2020 03:11
VIDEO-CCP Expert: We Can't Fix Trump Via Wall Street, But with Biden ... - YouTube
Sat, 05 Dec 2020 22:37
VIDEO-Print 5 Million Ballots in China - Keep Secret! - YouTube
Sat, 05 Dec 2020 21:25
VIDEO-Judgement on COVID-19 goes HEAVY METAL [Kenneth Copeland Remix] [I Demand] - YouTube
Sat, 05 Dec 2020 20:38
VIDEO-Chief Medical Officer Says Canadians Who Refuse Vaccine Won't Have "Freedom To Move Around" | Zero Hedge
Sat, 05 Dec 2020 20:36
Authored by Paul Joseph Watson via Summit News,
Ontario's Chief Medical Officer says that those who refuse to take the COVID vaccine won't have ''freedom to move around'' and will have to continue to wear masks.
Dr. David Williams was asked if he ''would make some sort of mandatory vaccination recommendation.''
Williams acknowledged that ''we can't force someone to take a vaccine,'' but when on to explain how people who didn't take it would have their freedom of mobility severely restricted.
''What we can do is to say sometimes for access or ease of getting into certain settings, if you don't have vaccination then you're not allowed into that setting without other protection materials,'' said Williams.
"What may be mandatory, is proof of vaccination, in order to have latitude and freedom to move around without wearing personal protective equipment." - Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Williams
'-- CrasHTalk (@CrasTalk) December 3, 2020''What may be mandatory is proof of'...vaccination in order to have latitude and freedom to move around'...without wearing other types of personal protective equipment,'' he added.
Williams also suggested that people would be prevented from entering certain settings without having been vaccinated if there was a ''risk.''
As we previously highlighted, governments do not have to make the vaccine mandatory, they can simply make life unlivable for people who refuse to take the vaccine.
If bars, restaurants, cinemas, sports venues, airlines, employers and others all make the vaccination a mandatory condition of service, anyone who refuses to take it will be reduced to a personal form of de facto lockdown with their social lives and mobility completely stunted.
* * *
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VIDEO-Gov. Abbott says Texas could be put in charge of policing in Austin
Sat, 05 Dec 2020 17:43
Escalating his fight against Austin over police funding, Gov. Greg Abbott says he's considering a proposal that would put the state in charge of policing a large portion of the city, including downtown, the area near the Capitol and the University of Texas campus.
Abbott teased to the possible takeover this week during a campaign virtual town hall meeting while expanding on his plan during the upcoming legislative session to punish cities that take funding away from their police departments, according to the Texas Tribune, which attended the event.
The governor has repeatedly blasted the Austin City Council's decision in August to restructure the Police Department's budget by cutting $21 million right away and leaving room to cut an additional $129 million by the end of the fiscal year. Earlier threats from Abbott included proposing legislation that would freeze property tax revenue for any city that cuts its police budget. He also proposed stripping the annexation powers of those cities.
"We have people coming from across the world and across the country into our capital city, as well as to the university, we can't make our fellow Texans be victims of crime ... because of the city of Austin leadership," Abbott told his supporters, according to the Tribune.
Abbott last month called Austin's decision to cut police defunding "absurd" after homicides in the city had risen to 44 for the year '-- the highest total in a year in more than two decades.
Abbott said his policing plan would call for Austin officers to patrol a zone from Lady Bird Lake up to 32nd Street and from Interstate 35 west to Lamar Boulevard or MoPac Boulevard (Loop 1).
Mayor Steve Adler hit back with a tweet Friday: "This would be unprecedented commandeering of local law enforcement. Our state has serious challenges with too many uninsured, inadequate funding for education, and an insufficient pandemic response. They need to be our focus."
The budget changes authorized by Adler and the rest of the City Council came after criticism of the Police Department's interactions with people of color, in particular Michael Ramos, a 42-year-old Black and Hispanic man who was shot to death by a white officer outside an Austin apartment complex as Ramos was trying to flee in a vehicle. Police then faced more scrutiny for injuring several people with less-lethal beanbag rounds during protests over the deaths of Ramos and George Floyd, who was killed by a white Minneapolis officer who kneeled on his neck during an arrest.
The $21 million cut from the police budget primarily reflected the cancellation of three cadet classes. The Police Department says that without those new officers, its staffing levels will be comparable to 10 to 12 years ago by the time the next cadet class graduates, which will be in late 2021 at the earliest.
Austin Police Department Association President Ken Casady pumped the brakes on Abbott's proposal, suggesting competing bills would be filed during the legislation session to limit the city government's control over policing in the city. The session begins in January.
"There are different ideas of taking the department away from the city's hands and putting it into (the Texas Department of Public Safety's) hands," Casady said. "It's just a matter of finding the right people to carry those bills."
The Texas Constitution grants the state authority over local matters in the capital city when a statewide importance is determined.
State troopers already are positioned near the UT campus after Abbott deployed them there in October after reports of a string of robberies in the area.
VIDEO-What does the 'still face' experiment teach us about connection? - PsychHelp
Sat, 05 Dec 2020 16:34
Humans are born ready for connection. The way we are parented has long term and ongoing effects on our functioning. The effects of our early life can trigger a cascade of changes genetically, cognitively, socially, and physically which can have either positive or negative lifelong consequences. The 'still face' experiment is a powerful study which shows our need for connection from very early in life. This experiment was developed by Dr Ed Tronick in the 1970's. The still face experiment gives an insight into how a parent's reactions can affect the emotional development of a baby. Early in our lives we were learning about other people's reactions and how our behaviour can affect others. This experiment gives us insight into what it is like when connection does not occur.
Baby's reaction to the still face experiment.
This experiment involves a baby and parent (in this case the mother) sitting facing each other. The mother starts by playing with her baby, smiling at them, and talking to them. The mother then turns away. The next step is that the mother shows a still face or a lack of responsiveness to her baby for 2 mins. After the still face portion of the experiment there is a repair when the mother returns to normal and returns to playing with and talking to her baby. The interesting part of this experiment is not the actions of the mother but rather the reaction of her baby. You start by seeing a smiling happy baby who is engaging with her mother. The baby is making movements and sounds to communicate with her mother and responding to her mother's interactions with her.
Once the still face portion of the experiment begins the baby at first looks confused. She attempts to use all of her abilities to initiate a response from her mother. Babies are limited in the types of sounds and movements they can do, and you see the baby in this video using a range of ways to try to get her mother's attention. She looks around the room, she tries smiling, then pointing. As her attempts to connect continue to be ignored by her mother you see her start to show distress and frustration. She begins crying and then screeching. Babies in this experiment often loose postural control. Their central nervous system become so overwhelmed that they physically collapse. This baby also bites her own hand which may be an attempt at self-comfort. This baby dissolves emotionally and it can be uncomfortable to watch her distress. Towards the end of the experiment the baby becomes withdrawn and hopeless no longer attempting to get her mother's attention.
After the still face portion of the experiment when the mother returns to interacting with the baby. You can see the joyfulness of the reunion and the relief is clear. The baby is quickly able to regulate its emotions once the mother is present again and play resumes easily. The still face is an example of the common everyday occurrences which all parents experience where they need to finish cooking dinner or attend to another child. Having a non-responsive parent is not a problem if it occurs in short doses, however if it occurs over longer periods it can have a detrimental impact on the baby's development.
Dads you are just as importantThis video demonstrates that babies react just as strongly to their fathers 'still face'. Babies demonstrate the same behaviours seeking connection to their father as they do with their mothers. Fathers are often left out in this type of research and it is important that fathers understand how important they are in their child's life.
What about romantic relationships?This video uses actors, but this is not an uncommon scenario in couples' therapy. You can see that one partner shows less emotional reaction and connection. You can see that the wife is using similar behaviours to those displayed by the babies in the previous clips to get a reaction from her husband. She is desperately attempting to engage with him emotionally.
So, what does the 'still face' experiment show?The 'still face' demonstrates how vulnerable we all are to the emotional or non-emotional reactions of the people they are close to. It demonstrates how babies who are just learning about their relational world try to achieve connection. Babies were once thought to be unable to understand emotions. However, in this experiment they have a clear reaction to a lack of emotional connection from their mothers and fathers. Even very young babies have demonstrated that they can respond to emotions of the adults who care for them. Not only are babies able to passively respond to adult interactions but babies are also actively engaging and shaping social interaction with the adults in their lives.
In this scenario, a pattern has been discerned with regard to a number of common stages and reactions. These occur in humans of all ages who are seeking emotional connection. The first stage is the reach which is generally a physical movement of arms out. The second stage the protest is an attempt to engage the other person with emotion to obtain a reaction. The third stage is the turn away when the baby is so overwhelmed trying to get a reaction, they will look around the room or turn away from the parent. The fourth stage involves a final effort to get a connection and usually involves visible distress. This occurs because the baby is so dysregulated and desperate for connection, they use the only means they have of communicating which usually involves crying. The final stage involves the baby ceasing to attempt to get an emotional reaction from the parent. In a healthy relationship there is a reconnection as shown in the videos and this leads to the ability to repair the hurt that has occurred in the relationship.
What if the 'still face' occurs over a long period?There are many reasons a parent may struggle to be emotionally present with their children. Some parents have head injuries or illnesses which make it difficult to show appropriate emotional reactions. For parents in situations where there is domestic violence it can be difficult to show emotions. Drug and alcohol use can also impact emotional availability and both intoxication and the resulting hangover can blunt emotional expression. Parents experiencing severe depression or other mental illness may also struggle to engage with their child. Phones have also become a major part of our lives and it is not uncommon to see parents disconnecting from their children while using their phone. If you had a parent who was not responsive you may struggle yourself and repeat this behaviour with your own children. What is life like for babies whom experience the two minutes of still face for long periods of time? Research has shown that children who have parents who are not responsive to their needs have more trouble trusting others, relating to others, and regulating their emotions.
Questions to ask yourself:
Do you struggle at times to show your emotions?Do you feel shut down?Do you have people in your life who tell you they want to see more of an emotional reaction from you?Were there emotions that were unacceptable to show in your household when you were a child?Do you find it challenging to understand your child's needs?Are you so exhausted or overwhelmed with life that you find it difficult to smile or talk to others?If you are a parent struggling to connect with your child or there is something preventing you from being responsive to your child's emotional needs seeing a PsychHelp Psychologist can help. Learning to understand your child's emotional reactions and needs can help you to connect with your child. If you had a parent who experienced problems connecting with you this can have ongoing impacts on your mental health and general wellbeing. Seeing a PsychHelp Psychologist can give you new insights into what you needed as a baby and help you to identify ways to have these needs met as an adult.
VIDEO-Live with Dr Tedros from the UNGA Special Session on COVID-19 - YouTube
Sat, 05 Dec 2020 16:32
VIDEO-Video shows poll workers pulling out boxes of ballots | Georgia election hearing | NTD - YouTube
Sat, 05 Dec 2020 16:29
VIDEO-Sidney Powell: I Have a Huge Bag of Shredded Ballots in My Office -- Raffensperger and Gabriel Sterling Should Be Investigated (VIDEO)
Sat, 05 Dec 2020 16:12
Sidney Powell joined Grant Stinchfield on Friday night on Newsmax TV.
Sidney gave an update on her current fraud cases in Wisconsin and Georgia.
Powell weighed in on her open-and-shut case in Georgia.And Sidney called for Raffensperger and his sidekick Gabriel Sterling to be investigated!
Sidney Powell: ''In Georgia massive evidence of the shaving of votes and flipping to Biden exists in the machines'... They've been erasing things and destroying evidence as fast as they can do it. I have in my office right now a huge bag of shredded ballots. I can't wait to see what that discloses'... The people of America are not going to allow our president to be defeated by fraudulent election mechanisms. And these people have used every manner of voter fraud you can imagine. It was heavily coordinated. It was heavily funded. They now have 25 lawyers up against us our little team of misfit toys who are trying to fight for truth and justice for the American people'... We have scads of evidence'... Mr. Raffensperger was flat out lying. There should be a criminal investigation of him and his deputy secretary's finances around the $170 million Dominion contract that was suddenly awarded in Georgia when they didn't need a new system.
TRENDING: TRUMP CAMPAIGN Files Lawsuit to Overturn Fraudulent Election in Georgia
VIDEO-Lincoln gym decides to stay open despite statewide pause |
Sat, 05 Dec 2020 15:59
LINCOLN, R.I. (WPRI) '-- Maxx Fitness in Lincoln has nothing to hide, if you call '' they'll answer, and if you drive by '' you'll see they're clearly open.
General Manager Stephen Couture says the state has already come by to talk to them, but that didn't change anything, they're still planning to open for business again on Wednesday.
''We're going to make sure the gym is clean, we are going to make sure we keep you as safe as possible,'' Couture said. ''That's our job, to make you feel safe to come here, and that's what we're doing.''
Gyms were told to shut down for two weeks during the statewide two week pause that started Monday.
12 News asked what led the gym to decide to stay open and defy the orders.
Staff explained that, as always, they are able to track everyone who goes in and out, and they are also taking everyone's temperatures as they come in.
''It was between all the owners, discussing the company and what was best for the company,'' Couture said. ''That's what it is, it's best for the company, it's best for the members and staff, so all around it's the best idea to do right now.''
He added the bottom line is the gym is an outlet for a lot of people during this difficult time, and believes staying open is the best thing for everyone's overall health.
One gym goer, Jadern Frias, said it was a little busy inside, but he was excited that he could go in.
''It's clean, everybody has their mask on, no one is really doing anything they aren't suppose to be, just like before,'' Frias said. ''It's kind of the same thing as the last few months.''
Frias also added that everyone is wearing their masks inside and following the normal rules.
The Maxx Fitness in Warren is also open.
''We're ready to take whatever happens and go from there,'' Couture said. ''We got to do what's best for the company, what's best for our members and their overall health.''
When 12 News asked the governor's office about the situation, we were referred to R.I. Commerce. A spokesperson there says they are aware the gym is refusing to close, but are not able to provide any further comment at this time.
VIDEO-BREAKING: German Lawsuit Against "FactCheckers" Would Force Them To Prove Legitimacy of C0VlD Tests - YouTube
Sat, 05 Dec 2020 15:57
VIDEO-This WITNESS Deserves A MEDAL! "I signed something and if I am wrong I go to PRISON, did YOU?" - YouTube
Sat, 05 Dec 2020 15:29
VIDEO-China is collecting the world's DNA and the reason is sinister: Gordon Chang | Fox News
Sat, 05 Dec 2020 15:23
The Peoples Republic of China (PRC) has been collecting people's DNA for years, and according to Gordon Chang, author of 'The Coming Collapse of China,' the country's sinister motivations should be of great concern to the United States.
With over 80 million health profiles, China has the largest DNA database in the world, and growing. In an interview with Fox News, Chang warned that China plans to use this information to create bioweapons designed to target specific ethnic groups.
''The coronavirus is not the last pathogen that will be generated from Chinese soil. And so we've got to be concerned that the next disease is more transmissible and more deadly than the novel coronavirus,'' said Chang.
China reportedly collects the DNA of its own citizens for purposes of law enforcement, tracking down dissidents, and forming a tightly controlled surveillance state.RATCLIFFE URGES BIDEN TO 'BE HONEST' ABOUT CHINA THREAT, WARNS AGAINST 'POLITICIZING INTELLIGENCE'
They have also found ways to obtain the DNA of foreigners, including Americans.
How exactly do they get this sensitive information?
''Buying American companies which have DNA profiles, subsidizing DNA analysis for ancestry companies, and hacking,'' said Chang.
For example, in 2015 it was discovered that the PRC hacked Anthem, the second-largest insurance company in the U.S. Now the PRC is using the coronavirus to enlarge its DNA database by requiring internationally accepted QR codes for travel in and out of the country and using vaccine diplomacy.
''What they're doing is they are saying: 'We'll get this vaccine to you but we need to complete our trials so we're going to use your population as the test. If you don't participate in these trials, you're not getting the Chinese vaccines,''' said Chang.
He continued, ''Beijing is trying to extend its influence by making its vaccine available.'' While, at the same time, ''collecting very sensitive information about people outside China.''
China currently has five coronavirus vaccine candidates that have reached phase 3 clinical trials. The final phase of trials has been rolled out in at least 16 countries including Brazil, Turkey, Morocco, and UAE.
China's reasons for wanting this information involve dominating the biotechnology industry which ''is very important to them,'' said Chang.
''They included it in their 'Made in China 2025' initiative, he pointed out, ''which is a decade long program to dominate certain industries.''
The second reason is something much more sinister, ''China is probably trying to develop diseases that target not just everybody, but target only certain ethnic or racial groups.''CHINA CONGRATULATES BIDEN, BUT FEW US POLICY CHANGES SEEN
According to Chang, genetic data gives China the ability to create bioweapons that can target certain groups of people. Furthermore, he said the country's behavior of collecting the DNA of foreigners while prohibiting Chinese DNA to foreign researchers supports this theory.
''We've got to be extremely concerned because that is not consistent with a country that wants to cooperate with the rest of the world. That is consistent with a country developing biological weapons,'' he warned.
''People have said biological weapons don't work. Well, we do know they work because we had the coronavirus, which may or may not have been a biological weapon,'' Chang clarified, ''but we do know that it crippled the United States and that's what Beijing is really looking for.''
Now that China has had proof of concept, Chang urged the United States to act swiftly and prevent the superpower from obtaining any more American DNA.
''We should not allow any Chinese or Chinese affiliated organization to test DNA of Americans. And we've got to say to China, either you agree to an inspections regime or we're pulling out of the biological weapons convention.''China has denied allegations that the coronavirus pandemic, which some believe emerged from a government lab in Wuhan, was a biological weapon. In 1984 the PRC signed the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) treaty in 1984 which prohibits them from developing, producing or stockpiling biological or toxin weapons.
VIDEO-1st person in US to try COVID-19 vaccine talks side effects | ABC7 - YouTube
Sat, 05 Dec 2020 15:22
Sat, 05 Dec 2020 15:11
VIDEO-WATCH: Alberta Premier Jason Kenney REJECTS ''The Great Reset'' - YouTube
Sat, 05 Dec 2020 14:56
VIDEO-ZUBY: on Twitter: "New UK speech guidelines being introduced to help slow the spread. 🤣 Please be considerate with your speech to help save lives." / Twitter
Sat, 05 Dec 2020 13:49
ZUBY: : New UK speech guidelines being introduced to help slow the spread. 🤣Please be considerate with your speech to hel'...
Sat Dec 05 12:18:44 +0000 2020
Deplorable Winner : @ZubyMusic This is a joke right? Hard to tell anymore.
Sat Dec 05 13:47:55 +0000 2020
President Elect Palmist : @ZubyMusic And this is not a joke? omg
Sat Dec 05 13:41:59 +0000 2020
Aleksandra Huk : @ZubyMusic Hahahaha! I'm dead
Sat Dec 05 13:37:44 +0000 2020
rob roy : @ZubyMusic Oh Lordy. I was hook, line sinker until he quoted Hancock ðŸ‚
Sat Dec 05 13:36:50 +0000 2020
president-elect kraken : @ZubyMusic @Jemmapalmer what a tosser
Sat Dec 05 13:35:10 +0000 2020
Victor Duran : @ZubyMusic This guy's good.
Sat Dec 05 13:34:07 +0000 2020
Duce : @ZubyMusic Fucking brilliant
Sat Dec 05 13:33:03 +0000 2020
itsjustvince : @ZubyMusic @Jemmapalmer These days you dunno what's a joke and what they're trying to pull
Sat Dec 05 13:31:21 +0000 2020
Fletch : @ZubyMusic If only Ronnie Barker were still with us.
Sat Dec 05 13:31:20 +0000 2020
AnnettaMichelle : @ZubyMusic OMG.. ''No'' to that as well.
Sat Dec 05 13:28:04 +0000 2020
Wont get fooled again #free Assange : @ZubyMusic Unenforceable. He must be joking
Sat Dec 05 13:27:50 +0000 2020
nancy brady : @ZubyMusic Oh my gosh I totally thought this guy was serious ðŸ¤...ðŸ>>''¸. And the sad thing is I wasn't shocked ENOUGH by it
Sat Dec 05 13:24:31 +0000 2020
Yvonne Hazard : @ZubyMusic ðŸ‚ðŸ‚ðŸ‚
Sat Dec 05 13:23:57 +0000 2020
Dennis Cogley : @ZubyMusic That's talent right there
Sat Dec 05 13:17:52 +0000 2020
@nance01 : @ZubyMusic So... let's call it the 'ovid 'irus... and learn sign language 🤟...ðŸ‚ðŸ‚ðŸ‚🤣🤣🤣🤣ðŸ
Sat Dec 05 13:17:46 +0000 2020
Julie #KBF : @ZubyMusic ðŸ¤
Sat Dec 05 13:17:02 +0000 2020
chunk : @ZubyMusic The fuck is wrong with people? Don't let anyone tell you what to do or say. Weather you believe in God o'...
Sat Dec 05 13:16:54 +0000 2020
H 🇮🇱 ðŸ´ó §ó ó ¥ó ®ó §ó ðŸ‡¬ðŸ‡§VIVA LA FRANCE, LIBERTY : @ZubyMusic ðŸ†ðŸ†ðŸ†ðŸ†ðŸ†ðŸ†ðŸ†ðŸ†ðŸ†
Sat Dec 05 13:16:01 +0000 2020
The Commissariat of the Imperium : @ZubyMusic 🤣ðŸ‚🤣
Sat Dec 05 13:15:58 +0000 2020
Simon H : @ZubyMusic If you haven't watched brass eye/day today now is the time it's real....
Sat Dec 05 13:15:55 +0000 2020
VIDEO-Cerno on Twitter: "Haven't seen anyone in conservative media reporting on @sendavidperdue saying how much he looks forward to doing deals with President Biden. And how much easier deals will be without @realDonaldTrump in the way. Seems like this
Sat, 05 Dec 2020 05:54
Cerno : Haven't seen anyone in conservative media reporting on @sendavidperdue saying how much he looks forward to doing de'...
Sat Dec 05 01:37:00 +0000 2020
a clockwork orange man : @Cernovich @sendavidperdue @realDonaldTrump Stop the steal.Drain the swamp. Loeffler and Perdue aren't fighting f'...
Sat Dec 05 05:51:26 +0000 2020
VIDEO-Watch CNBC's Sorkin and Santelli's heated debate on restaurant restrictions - YouTube
Sat, 05 Dec 2020 05:44
Sat, 05 Dec 2020 00:52
VIDEO-Jake Coco ðŸ'🇺🇸🎶ðŸ>> on Twitter: "Bar owner in Los Angeles CA is livid to see that mayor Garcetti has approved an outdoor dining area for a movie company directly across from her outdoor dining area (which was shut down)
Sat, 05 Dec 2020 00:36
Jake Coco ðŸ'🇺🇸🎶ðŸ>> : Bar owner in Los Angeles CA is livid to see that mayor Garcetti has approved an outdoor dining area for a movie com'...
Fri Dec 04 22:51:57 +0000 2020
Leigh : @jakecoco This is inexplicable.
Sat Dec 05 00:36:56 +0000 2020
Make L.A Great Again 🇺🇸 : @jakecoco
Sat Dec 05 00:36:54 +0000 2020
Empress-elect : @jakecoco wow
Sat Dec 05 00:36:53 +0000 2020
Benjijojo cryptobaker🧠: @jakecoco @LTCsolace Was it @davidericc in that servpro truck? The springs almost broke wtf
Sat Dec 05 00:36:50 +0000 2020
winans3392 : @jakecoco Must not be greasing the right palms.
Sat Dec 05 00:36:36 +0000 2020
Fri, 04 Dec 2020 23:54
GEMMA O'DOHERTY is Live From NPHET Which Is Unable to Provide Any Scientific Proof That Covid19 Exists! SERGEANT MAJOR'S TRUTHER INFO [MeWe] [Spreely] [Gab] [Bitchute] [Brighteon] [UGETube] [OurTube] [NewTube] [BrandNewTube] [Lbry]$/invite/@SergeantMajor'sTrutherInfo#21f9aff7cc7c7903e1554b8ca3134badae40e9eb Gemma O'Doherty Note: The SERGEANT MAJOR'S TRUTHER INFO group with 33,500 members was deleted by FaceBook/Government on 01/24/20. The SERGEANT MAJOR'S TRUTHER INFO channel with 50,000 subscribers was deleted by YouTube/Government on 02/14/20. "The 5 Rules to AWAKENING: Rule #1 - Everything you were ever taught is a lie by design; Rule #2 - governments lie 100% of the time, they always have, and they always will; Rule #3 - the Illuminati controlled mainstream media is not reality, but rather is lies, disinformation, half-truths, and fake events carried out by gov/media hired crisis actors (aka role players); Rule #4 - Spirituality and Reincarnation are reality, whereas religions are simply government crowd control measures; and Rule #5 - this plane(t) called earth is a flat, motionless plane, it is not a spinning ball hurling through outer space. Furthermore, the 4 Sources of Disinformation that are ALWAYS FAKE: government, mainstream media news, matrix sciences, and religions." -- Sergeant Major
Show more
VIDEO-HOLLYWOOD PANICS | Emergency Meetings Erupt as WB Declares WAR - YouTube
Fri, 04 Dec 2020 22:59
VIDEO-Zac Bissonnette on Twitter: "This is just so painful. Biden saying now that the risk of spread is highest in elementary schools and that we can't open them without a hundred billion dollars. This is all just completely at odds with all the evidenc
Fri, 04 Dec 2020 15:32
Zac Bissonnette : This is just so painful.Biden saying now that the risk of spread is highest in elementary schools and that we can'...
Fri Dec 04 02:16:19 +0000 2020
Brian Lockley : @ZacBissonnette We can safely open schools right now. My wife is an elementary teacher and has been in school all'...
Fri Dec 04 15:24:07 +0000 2020
Gooselil : @ZacBissonnette Cant fix stupid. Good to see he hasnt figured out how to speak truth or facts. Kids are not spreadi'...
Fri Dec 04 15:16:02 +0000 2020
Debra K Mudd : @ZacBissonnette @DavidLimbaugh He's spewing like Nancy Pelosi - if you want any relief the ''govt'' has to have MORE'...
Fri Dec 04 15:06:38 +0000 2020
Brandon : @ZacBissonnette The doctor advising Biden on opening schools
Fri Dec 04 15:04:39 +0000 2020
Marie 🇺🇸 : @ZacBissonnette Complete bull shit. Demonstrably false. #BidenCheated
Fri Dec 04 15:03:14 +0000 2020
fairbnx : @ZacBissonnette @DrFaucis1 literally just came out and said the opposite. He basically said he lied and has been ly'...
Fri Dec 04 15:02:56 +0000 2020
Jan O'Neill : @ZacBissonnette @AnnCoulter Fake News spreading more lies! Most corrupt bunch of illegally elected officials, The'...
Fri Dec 04 14:52:16 +0000 2020
Alvin Vives : @ZacBissonnette @AnnCoulter The pandemic side-kick , the next sound bite you're hear just do it...
Fri Dec 04 14:50:35 +0000 2020
Jan O'Neill : @ZacBissonnette @AnnCoulter This is a puppet, with someone putting a voice to it and making it move. I didn't know'...
Fri Dec 04 14:48:38 +0000 2020
Bonds21 : @ZacBissonnette That's insane amount of money. Just hand it out to everyone and we'll teach our own kid
Fri Dec 04 14:42:08 +0000 2020
John Machamer : @ZacBissonnette @ClimateDepot When his eyes bug out he is lying.
Fri Dec 04 14:37:07 +0000 2020
CJ Lokton : @ZacBissonnette Good thing we have a very tough (and brave) press corps that will absolutely follow up with him and'...
Fri Dec 04 14:32:48 +0000 2020
Comrade X : @ZacBissonnette @JordenCollins So rona is demanding ransom?What are the covidiots going to do with this? Go with J'...
Fri Dec 04 14:25:56 +0000 2020
mooreorless : @ZacBissonnette If this is the future of America we are in real trouble
Fri Dec 04 14:25:00 +0000 2020
VIDEO-Anne-Marie #iamsovereign on Twitter: "Listen VERY CAREFULLY to Boris at the 8 min 50 mark.... He clearly states "The VIRUS has to be stored at minus 70 degrees" not vaccine, but "THE VIRUS"! ðŸ¤-- Does this vaccine have a virus in??
Fri, 04 Dec 2020 15:31
Anne-Marie #iamsovereign : Listen VERY CAREFULLY to Boris at the 8 min 50 mark.... He clearly states "The VIRUS has to be stored at minus 70 d'...
Wed Dec 02 21:53:16 +0000 2020
Rusper Worthing : @AnneMar45451941 It's a SLIP OF THE TONGUE.If you stored a Virus at minus 70 degrees It would die.
Fri Dec 04 11:35:41 +0000 2020
Steve Hatton : @AnneMar45451941 Video not loading?
Fri Dec 04 09:53:16 +0000 2020
Obsoletedespondantdemocrat : @AnneMar45451941 Don't all vaccinations contain some of the infection it is fighting? I thought that was how it wor'...
Fri Dec 04 09:50:36 +0000 2020
Word-Salad Ratings : @AnneMar45451941 @nicolawitch No it doesn't. Why have people started paying attention to what Boris says about science? ðŸ‚
Fri Dec 04 09:41:24 +0000 2020
VIDEO-China to expand weather modification program to cover 5.5 million square kilometers - CNN
Fri, 04 Dec 2020 15:31
Hong Kong(CNN) China this week revealed plans to drastically expand an experimental weather modification program to cover an area of over 5.5 million square kilometers (2.1 million square miles) -- more than 1.5 times the total size of India.
According to a statement from the State Council, China will have a "developed weather modification system" by 2025, thanks to breakthroughs in fundamental research and key technologies, as well as improvements in "comprehensive prevention against safety risks."
In the next five years, the total area covered by artificial rain or snowfall will reach 5.5 million sq km, while over 580,000 sq km (224,000 sq miles) will be covered by hail suppression technologies. The statement added that the program will help with disaster relief, agricultural production, emergency responses to forest and grassland fires, and dealing with unusually high temperatures or droughts.
China has long sought to control the weather to protect farming areas and to ensure clear skies for key events -- it seeded clouds ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics to reduce smog and avoid rain ahead of the competition. Key political meetings held in the Chinese capital are notorious for enjoying beautiful clear skies, thanks both to weather modification and the shutting down of nearby factories.
A worker fires rockets for cloud seeding in an attempt to make rain in Huangpi, China on May 10, 2011.
As a concept, cloud seeding has been around for decades. It works by injecting small amounts of silver iodide into clouds with a lot of moisture, which then condenses around the new particles, becoming heavier and eventually falling as precipitation.
A study funded by the US National Science Foundation, published earlier this year, found that "cloud seeding can boost snowfall across a wide area if the atmospheric conditions are favorable." The study was one of the first to ascertain definitively that cloud seeding worked, as previously it had been difficult to distinguish precipitation created as a result of the practice from normal snowfall.
That uncertainty had not stopped China investing heavily in the technology: between 2012 and 2017, the country spent over $1.34 billion on various weather modification programs. Last year, according to state news agency Xinhua, weather modification helped reduce 70% of hail damage in China's western region of Xinjiang, a key agricultural area.
And while other countries have also invested in cloud seeding, including the US, China's enthusiasm for the technology has created some alarm, particularly in neighboring India, where agriculture is heavily dependent on the monsoon, which has already been disrupted and become less predictable as a result of climate change.
India and China recently faced off along their shared -- and hotly disputed -- border in the Himalayas, with the two sides engaging in their bloodiest clash in decades earlier this year. For years, some in India have speculated that weather modification could potentially give China the edge in a future conflict, given the importance of conditions to any troop movements in the inhospitable mountain region.
Though the primary focus of Beijing's weather modification appears to be domestic, experts have warned there is the potential for impact beyond the country's borders.
In a paper last year, researchers at National Taiwan University said that the "lack of proper coordination of weather modification activity (could) lead to charges of 'rain stealing' between neighboring regions," both within China and with other countries. They also pointed to the lack of a "system of checks and balances to facilitate the implementation of potentially controversial projects."
"The scientific evidence and political justification for weather modification is not subject to debate or broad discussion (in China)," the authors wrote. "In addition, the leadership's propensity for technological intervention in taming different weather systems is rarely challenged by alternative viewpoints."
Some experts have speculated that success in weather modification could lead China to adopt more ambitious geoengineering projects, particularly as the country suffers from the effects of climate change. Radical solutions such as seeding the atmosphere with reflective particles could theoretically help reduce temperatures, but could also have major unforeseen consequences, and many experts fear what could happen were a country to experiment with such techniques.
"Without regulation, one country's efforts could affect other countries," according to Dhanasree Jayaram, a climate expert at the Manipal Academy of Higher Education in Karnataka, India.
"While China has not yet shown signs of 'unilaterally' deploying geoengineering projects on the ground, the scale of its weather modification and other massive engineering projects, including mega-dam projects (such as the Three Gorges), suggests China is willing to deploy large-scale geoengineering schemes to tackle the impacts of climate change and achieve its Paris targets."
VIDEO-Daily Caller on Twitter: "Joe Biden is asked about his disagreements with Kamala Harris on certain issues: "Like I told Barack, if I reach something where there's a fundamental disagreement we have based on a moral principle, I'll develop some disea
Fri, 04 Dec 2020 14:19
Daily Caller : Joe Biden is asked about his disagreements with Kamala Harris on certain issues:"Like I told Barack, if I reach s'...
Fri Dec 04 02:30:45 +0000 2020
FUD2020 : @DailyCaller Dementia corrupt Biden
Fri Dec 04 14:19:17 +0000 2020
Ash : @DailyCaller I feel sorry for whoever believes that Kamala Harris is genuinely a sincere person.I for one have ne'...
Fri Dec 04 14:19:12 +0000 2020
Viral Fanda : @DailyCaller Both of them in jail for 20 years in this coup d'(C)tat...
Fri Dec 04 14:19:10 +0000 2020
Sara : @DailyCaller And THIS is who they want us to believe would make a great President? What an idiot!
Fri Dec 04 14:18:58 +0000 2020
The Patriette : @DailyCaller
Fri Dec 04 14:18:53 +0000 2020
VIDEO-Georgia Senator CALLS for FULL AUDIT this WEEK in CLOSING Statements at VOTER FRAUD HEARING! - YouTube
Fri, 04 Dec 2020 14:18
VIDEO-GOP Rep. Mo Brooks to challenge certification of electoral college votes | One America News Network
Fri, 04 Dec 2020 13:04
File '' Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) is pictured. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP)
OAN NewsroomUPDATED 11:08 AM PT '' Wednesday, December 2, 2020GOP congressman Mo Brooks said he will challenge the electoral college votes when Congress plans to certify the results on January 6. On Wednesday, the Alabama lawmaker told reporters he will likely challenge the certification process even if no one else joins him.
In order to force Congress to bring the matter to a vote, one senator and one House representative must challenge the electorate. So far, it's not clear if any senators plan to contest the electoral college results.
This comes just weeks after Brooks spoke on the House floor, where he highlighted that Congress certifies the election.
''Earlier I cited constitutional and federal law mandating that Congress, not the Supreme Court, determines whether to accept or reject electoral college votes,'' he stated. ''And Congress, not the Supreme Court, has the final verdict on presidential elections.''
In my most recent House Floor speech, I share my personal experience as a voter fraud & election theft target when, in 1982, as a Republican candidate for Alabama House District 18, Democrats sought to steal the election by rigging voting machines.
'-- Mo Brooks (@RepMoBrooks) November 19, 2020
Meanwhile, the Trump campaign has continued to challenge the election results while making their case before courts and state legislative officials.
RELATED: Whistleblowers testify to fraud in battleground states
VIDEO-Dr Anthony Fauci accuses Britain of rushing to approve the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine too quickly | Daily Mail Online
Fri, 04 Dec 2020 06:36
The nation's top infectious disease expert says he believes the UK should have spent more time thoroughly vetting Pfizer Inc's coronavirus vaccine before approving it for emergency use authorization.
On Wednesday, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency said the shot, developed with German partner BioNTech SE, was safe to roll out for widespread use.
However, in the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has an advisory committee meeting on December 10 to decide whether or not to approve the jab.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) told Major Garrett on CBS' The Takeout podcast that UK officials were too quick to approve the inoculation.
'In all fairness to so many of my UK friends, they kind of ran around the corner of the marathon and joined it in the last mile,' he said.
'I think that would be a good metaphor for that...because they really rushed through that approval.'
However, Britain's Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said the UK was first because it's a 'better country'
It comes on the same day the US recorded the highest number of coronavirus deaths in a single-day at more than 2,804 and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's new three-tier regional lockdown system was approved by the House of Commons despite revolt by 55 Conservative MPs.
Dr Anthony Fauci criticized the UK for approving Pfizer Inc's coronavirus vaccine too quickly during an interview on CBS' The Takeout podcast on Thursday
Fauci said UK officials took Pfizer's own data at face value rather than scrutinizing it as the FDA is currently doing
Last month, Pfizer released data of the final analysis from its Phase III trial declaring the vaccine is 95 percent effective in preventing infections, even in older adults.
At the same time, Johnson was experiencing revolt from within the House of Commons from Conservatives due to his new three-tier system.
The tiers are much stricter than those that were in place before its month-long lockdown with 99 percent of the country effectively under tigh control.
More than 50 Tories defied the whip, but the system was signed off by a margin of 291 to 78 and came into force at midnight after Labour opted to abstain, despite complaining the regime was not tough enough and there was not enough support for hospitality firms which have been crippled by government shutdowns.
This makes the uprising the biggest of this Parliament yet, after 44 previously went against the curfew on UK pubs.
The vaccine was soon after approved, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock declared the end of the pandemic was now 'in sight'.
Guidance from the country's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation recommends older residents of care homes should receive it first followed by frontline health workers.
However, Fauci said he believes UK advisory bodies took the data from Pfizer's trial at face value.
'[T]he Brits...just took the data from the Pfizer company and instead of scrutinizing it really, really carefully, they said: 'Ok, let's approve it. That's it' and they went with it,' he said.
He called the FDA the 'gold standard' of authorizing bodies and said the officials looking over the vaccine safety data are doing so carefully.
'[I]f we did anything that was cutting corners and rushing, we have enough problems with people being skeptical about taking a vaccine anyway,' he said.
'If we had jumped over the hurdle here quickly and inappropriately, to gain an extra week or week-and-a-half, I think that the credibility of our regulatory process would have been damaged.'
Fauci added that when vaccine is approved by the FDA, he'd take the shot on camera to boost public confidence in its safety.
This is similar to plans that are being made by former US Presidents Barack Obama, George W Bush and Bill Clinton.
On Thursday, Fauci met with President-elect Joe Biden, who asked Fauci to stay on as director of the NIAID to serve as a 'chief medical adviser.'
Fauci (right) told CBS' Major Garrett that a rushed process will lead the public to be skeptical about taking, which is why the FDA is going slower
The authorization comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson's new COVID-three tier system was approved by the Commons despite revolt by 55 Conservative MPs. Pictured: Johnson speaks during a news conference on the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, December 2
In an appearance on Sky News on Thursday evening, Fauci said he didn't want to discuss criticism of whether the UK was right or wrong to approve Pfizer's vaccine.
'It's just a different degree of scrutiny,' he said.
'[W]e don't look at it as a race of who won, the product is there, the trial was done the data looked really good, quite efficacious and I believe quite safe and it's just a matter of what kind of scrutiny each country's regulatory agency puts the data through.'
He reiterated that public perception of a rushed approval process would generate vaccine skepticism among the general population.
'The effectiveness of a vaccine program is only as good as the number of people who get vaccinated,' he said.
''And when we did a survey here in the United States there was a certain degree of skepticism and reluctance to get vaccinated and we were concerned that if we did anything that looked like we were cutting corners.
'We're hurrying it up a bit but not nearly as quickly as you did in the UK, which we believe if we had done that here in the US, it would have been to our disadvantage because it would have generated a lot of scepticsm about the speed with which it was approved.'
The European Commission said that its European Medicines Agency (EMA) regulator 'requires a higher level of evidence to be submitted and checked than a temporary use authorization'.
But on Thursday, Britain's Education Secretary Gavin Williamson mocked Europe and the US as he insisted that Britain authorized the vaccine first because it is simply 'a much better country'.
'Well I just reckon we've got the very best people in this country and we've obviously got the best medical regulator, much better than the French have, much better than the Belgians have, much better than the Americans have,' Williamson said on LBC Radio.
'That doesn't surprise me at all because we're a much better country than every single one of them.'
He was backed by deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam, who suggested critics were jealous of the speed at which the UK had moved.
He told BBC Breakfast: 'If you're a regulator who's slightly further behind, what do you say to justify your position, that you are further behind? Words such as the ones you've heard, perhaps.'
Pfizer has now started shipping its coronavirus vaccine to the UK after the British regulator MHRA gave it the green light yesterday (Pictured: A refrigerated truck is photographed leaving a Pfizer factory in Puurs, Belgium, yesterday)
However, Jeremy Farrar, the director of the Wellcome Trust, lashed out at his claims.
'Vaccine nationalism has no place in COVID or other public health matters of global significance. Science has always been the exit strategy from this horrendous pandemic - that science has been global & has needed an unprecedented global partnerships & global financing,' he tweeted.
'Public health interventions, vaccines, diagnostics & treatments now starting to be available because of those partnerships.
'Every single one come about by work across borders. Vaccines made possible by science & support of so many. No country could have delivered these vaccines.'
Meanwhile, the European Commission said there is no point in comparing which country has better regulators.
'We are definitely not in the game of comparing regulators across countries, nor on commenting on claims as to who is better,' said spokesman Eric Mamer.
'This is not a football competition, we are talking about the life and health of people.'
British Conservative peer Lord Michaesl Forsyth added it was 'disappointing to see some folk trying to make political capital out of the brilliant vaccine news'.
He said: 'Frankly it's just unseemly and we should just be united in our thanks to those responsible for this breakthrough and the hope it brings to every person on the planet.'
As the minister faced criticism, Downing Street defended Williamson's comments.
The Prime Minister's official spokesman said he was 'emphasizing his pride in the UK', adding: 'I think what you have seen is the Secretary of State rightly being proud of the United Kingdom.'
Gavin Williamson mocked Europe and the US as he insisted that Britain beat them because it was simply 'a much better country'
Gavin Williamson: The tarantula-owning ex-chief whip who is no stranger to controversyGavin Williamson first rose to political prominence in July 2016 when he was appointed as Theresa May's chief whip.
He initially hit the headlines because of his tarantula Cronus which he kept in a box on his House of Commons desk as he tried to enforce Conservative Party discipline.
But his promotion to the role of Defence Secretary in November 2017 resulted in many more headlines as he landed the senior Cabinet role much to the surprise of many in Westminster.
But the 44-year-old's inexperience and proneness to gaffs saw the newcomer quickly labelled Private Pike - after the hapless teenage Dad's Army character.
The MP for South Staffordshire - Mrs May's campaign manager in her successful 2016 leadership bid - quickly became known for a tendency to put his foot in his mouth.
At the height of the furore over the Salisbury novichok attack in March 2018, Mr Williamson infamously told Russia to 'go away and shut up' - prompting derision from critics.
In December the previous year, he was accused of pursuing a policy that 'belongs in a Netflix series' after saying Islamist fighters should be hunted down and killed.
During his time as Defense Secretary he was also at the center of a cabinet row after he was blamed for offending the Chinese and causing the cancellation of a crucial trade visit to Beijing by Chancellor Philip Hammond.
On that occasion, the then Defense Secretary had made a speech days before the mission in which he talked about sending a Royal Navy warship to the sensitive waters of the Indo Pacific, words that did not go down well in Beijing.
Mr Williamson was sacked by Mrs May in May 2019 after he was accused of leaking information from a National Security Council relating to whether Huawei would be handed a role in building the UK's 5G network.
Mr Williamson, who is married and has two children, strenuously denied any involvement in the leak.
He returned to the backbenches and then backed Boris Johnson during the subsequent Tory leadership battle, playing a key role in the future PM's campaign team.
Mr Williamson was rewarded with a Cabinet return as Mr Johnson appointed him Education Secretary.
But the coronavirus crisis has seen Mr Williamson in hot water on a number of occasions.
He had promised primary schools would fully reopen before the summer holidays in England but had to abandon the plans after head teachers said social distancing rules made the move impossible.
Meanwhile, he was accused of botching the roll out of a free school meals voucher scheme while his Department for Education failed to hit a target for handing out laptops for disadvantaged pupils.
Allegedly, President Donald Trump is said to be 'livid' that the US was not the first country to approve the vaccine.
Sources say the Trump has been angry with the FDA for not moving faster to approve the shots, blaming the fact that a vaccine was not available ahead of the November 3 presidential election in part for his loss.
A US official told Politico: 'It's crazy to imagine the European Union or UK may approve a vaccine developed in the United States before us though, right?'
FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, who was summoned to the White House on Tuesday, said on Wednesday that his scientists need longer to review the data because they analyze it more 'robustly' than anyone else.
The FDA says it won't meet to even discuss emergency authorization for either Pfizer's vaccine or the one that has been developed by Moderna until December 10.
Even then, it will take another five days for the first doses to start being rolled out, according to a document obtained by CNN on Wednesday.
Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, could not even give an exact timeline on Wednesday.
'Operation Warp Speed should start distributing COVID vaccines in the next week or two or three,' he said.
Hahn on Wednesday took part in a 30-minute Facebook live with CBS to explain why he was taking so long.
He didn't criticize the British authorities but suggested his agency was taking greater steps to examine the data.
He refused to say whether or not he met with Trump at the White House on Tuesday or if Trump or anyone else had put pressure on him to speed up the process, saying only that the conversation was 'robust'.
Hahn said that different groups of scientist were currently examining different areas of Pfizer's raw data.
Some will examine safety and others will examine efficacy.
If approved on December 10, the vaccine is expected to be rolled out on December 15.
British Ministers have faced an international backlash after several, including Health Secretary Matt Hancock, claimed the split from the EU and less red tape meant the UK beat the rest of the world to approve the vaccine.
European figures dismissed the idea, as did the UK's regulatory agency, which said the approval was made using provisions under European law, which still binds the UK until the transition period ends in January.
MHRA chief June Raine said it is still bound by EU law until the end of the year and 'our progress has been totally dependent on the availability of data in our rolling review and the independent advice we have received'.
Mr Williamson, pressed today by presenter Nick Ferrari to be clearer on the issue of whether Brexit did help, he added: 'I think just being able to get on with things, deliver it and the brilliant people in our medical regulator making it happen means that people in this country are going to be the first ones in the western world to get that Pfizer, in the world to get that Pfizer vaccine.
'Real competitive advantage, but do you know who it's down to? It's down to those brilliant, brilliant clinicians in the regulator who's made it happen so fast, so our thanks go out to them because by doing want they've done, they're going to have saved lives.'
FDA Commissioner Steve Hahn on Wednesday took part in a 30-minute Facebook live where he defended his administration taking so long to approve the Pfizer vaccine, saying his scientists needed more time even though the UK has reviewed and approved it
WHY THE FDA IS TAKING SO LONG TO APPROVE PFIZER VACCINEFDA Commissioner Steve Hahn said on Wednesday that scientists needed more time to review the raw data from the Pfizer vaccine trial before they'd make a decision.
Before December 10, when the will all meet to discuss it, this is what happens;
Multiple teams examine different data sets
Hahn said that ordinarily, 150 scientists would look at an application. It's unclear if more have been added for the Pfizer application or the Moderna application given the urgency of the situation
They will separately look at data for different components of the vaccine including;
All the different groups will then come together on the 10th to discuss their findings and if, collaboratively, they can recommend approval
The FDA scientists make a recommendation to the advisory council
The advisory council has already started meeting to discuss who would get the vaccine first if it is approved.
They also have to decide, ultimately, if it is safe for approval.
If they do that, the doses will start being shipped out on December 15.
This afternoon Downing Street hit back, with a spokesman saying: 'I would point you back to what Dr June Raine said yesterday where she clearly set out the rigorous processes that had been followed in order to authorise the vaccine.
'She said herself no corners had been cut and again I would point you back to what her and her medical colleagues said.'
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said it has 'acknowledged' the UK's decision to approve a Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and Biotech for mass use.
Dr Siddhartha Sankar Datta, WHO regional adviser for vaccine-preventable diseases and immunisation in Europe, said:
He said: 'The use of vaccine in the UK - for all childhood vaccine and non-childhood vaccine - is ongoing for several decades now.
'The regulatory authority in the UK has been making the decision on use of the vaccine in a country, based on the vaccine characteristics for safety, efficacy and quality, for several decades now.
'The process of using a vaccine, or authorising a vaccine for use in a country, is done very routinely by the regulatory authorities in every country in the globe, including the UK.
'As we have taken a note of the decision being made by the UK's national regulatory authority, (the) WHO is also in touch with European medicine agencies, and also the UK's authority, to understand the decision-making process.
'The decision-making process was shared also with the general public and also with the healthcare professionals on the different modalities that were being assessed - with the final decision being made by the regulatory authority of the UK yesterday.'
The vaccine '-- which requires two doses taken three weeks apart '-- comes in packs of between 975 and 4,875 doses packaged in 1.5ml vials that each have five doses each inside them.
But the MHRA, which regulates the safety of drugs and vaccines, has not yet given permission for these to be split into smaller batches.
German MEP Pieter Liese weighed in to insist individual EU member states could have authorised the vaccine but had chosen to wait for the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to examine more information rather than follow the 'hasty' example of Britain.
The European regulator has criticised the approval of the vaccine using emergency powers, insisting that its own, slower approach is more appropriate.
Meanwhile, Berlin's ambassador to the UK issued a sharp retort after Business Secretary Alok Sharma said history would remember the 'UK led humanity's charge against this disease'.
Andreas Michaelis pointed out that BioNTech was a German firm, adding: 'Why is it so difficult to recognise this important step forward as a great international effort and success?'

Clips & Documents

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